Charlie's Blog: May 2020


Shave Your Head or Not?

Combovers are for losers.

I feel sorry for women who are losing their hair because of alopecia or cancer treatments. Society expects women to have a full head of hair. Fortunately for women, hair loss is a rare thing. For men, it is a common thing. 85% of men will experience some level of hair loss in their lives. For some guys, they may have some thinning or a receding hairline. For other guys, they lose it all until they have the infamous horseshoe that wraps around the skull. This loss of hair often brings with it a crisis for a lot of guys. They don't know how to deal with it.

The first response to male pattern baldness is denial. Guys will try to ignore what is happening up there. Eventually, it becomes obvious to them and to others that they are losing their hair. This creates a fork in the road which prompts the second response. Do you try to save what you have and/or try to disguise it? Or, do you own it? I will tell you what lies at the end of those two paths.


Pretty boys can't deal with male pattern baldness, so they will choose to fight it. The first and most obvious option is to go with some sort of topical remedy like Rogaine. I had a friend who went this route, and he complained of headaches as a side effect. I don't know if all men experience this. What I do know is that the results of using that stuff didn't do much for him. He had more hair with Rogaine than without it, but he was still visibly losing his hair.

The next vain attempt to deal with the baldness is to try some variation of a combover. Guys will grow their hair long and try to assemble a haystack over the bald areas. This sort of works until wind, rain, or a splash in the pool reveals the reality. This strategy always looks messy and desperate.

The third vain attempt is a rug strategy where you resort to using fake hair to augment the real hair that you have. It might be a spray at first that paints the scalp. There is a product that amounts to sprinkle hair that sticks to the bald spots. Then, there are toupees and wigs. When these inevitably fail, they provide a great deal of comedy for people. And when they don't fail, people can tell that your hair is fake. No one is being fooled but you.

The final and most desperate attempt is to have surgery. Don't do this. There are variations of hair transplantation and scalp reduction surgery. I had a coworker who tried this desperate measure with the doctor slicing out a row of his scalp from their rear to put in the front. That gash was painful and would not heal properly. Blood oozed out of the back of his head. I felt sorry for him because he had literally mutilated himself.

I don't think any of these strategies work. There is only one proper response to reality, and that is to face it like a man. This brings us to the second path which is ownership.


Inevitably, you are going to turn around on the pathetic path and go back to the fork in the road. This may happen when you are young or when you are older and have quit caring. But you are going to own that baldness. And when you do, you will find that you care about it more than other people do. They don't have a problem accepting your male pattern baldness. You have the problem.

Once you accept the reality of hair loss, your life will get better. Reality stings at first, but you get used to it. If you own it, you will survive it much better than if you deny it.

There are two ways to own your baldness. You can just let what remains to grow as it is. I call this simple ownership. This is when you rock the horseshoe or let the wispy remains hover over the bald spots. I see no dishonor in this. This tells me that these men have gotten over their vanity, but they don't care to become bad asses.

The second way is extreme ownership. This is when you take out some clippers or a razor and shave off what remains. This is a bold move. Many men don't have the confidence to pull this off. Yet, I think this extreme ownership is the best option.

There are advantages to being bald, but you can only enjoy them fully by shaving your head. Hair makes you look young. Balding makes you look old. A shaved head makes you look ageless. That is the first advantage. When I meet people, my age is a guessing game because I don't have any markers like gray hair or a receding hairline to indicate how old I am.

A second advantage to shaving your head is that you can dispense with a lot of hair care. You don't have to go to the barbershop anymore. You don't need to buy shampoo or hair gel. You don't need a comb or a hairbrush. Shaving your head takes time, but you get it back not tending your locks.

A third advantage is cleanliness. Your dandruff is gone. You never worry about lice. A shaved head is the most hygienic haircut that exists.

A fourth advantage is that it feels awesome. Having a shaved head is a plus during the summertime and places that have warm climates. Shaving your head is like turning on the air conditioner for your skull.

A fifth advantage is that a shaved head makes you look meaner and tougher. If you can't be a pretty boy, you should at least look like you will kick a pretty boy's ass. A shaved head is very masculine looking. It also sends the message of supreme self-confidence. Fortunately, we have celebrities and athletes who have gone with the extreme ownership and have made the shaved head an awesome look.

There are disadvantages to having a shaved head. The first one is that you might get a sunburn. But this would happen with any form of male pattern baldness. Wear a hat.

A second disadvantage is that your head may get cold in the winter resulting in a brain freeze. But this will happen with male pattern baldness. Wear a hat.

That brings us to a sixth and final advantage of shaving your head. Your hats will fit better. It is aggravating trying to get your hair underneath a hat, and it looks awful when you take the hat off. These issues vanish with a shaved head.

Now, there are issues some men have with shaving their heads. What if their skull is not elegantly shaped? The reality is that every man's skull is different. If you look at many famous baldies, you will notice that their skulls have weird shapes. Some even have scars. I recommend that you own that, too.

The other issue is with women. Some women don't like bald guys. They want a pretty boy. That is actually awesome for you because those women are usually vain whores that you are better off not dating. And I can say from personal experience that the women you lose over the hair thing will be more than made up by the women who absolutely dig a man who has the confidence of having a shaved head. When I had hair, I couldn't get a date. When I shaved my head, I couldn't beat women off with a stick. The point is that women are weird like that.


The best argument that I can give for shaving your head is to talk to guys who have already done it. Virtually all of them are happy with going down the path of extreme ownership and wish they had done it sooner. It is a liberating experience. This is because shaving your head frees you from vanity and self-consciousness. It is so awesome that some guys without male pattern baldness have tried it. It is a popular option which makes it easier to do now. The bottom line is that shaving your head turns a negative into a positive. If you're losing your hair, you may as well enjoy the full benefits of not having hair. Shave that melon and enjoy the new life.


Kazoo: The Musical Secret Weapon

You give me a @#$%& kazoo and I'll write you a good song.

The kazoo is an instrument that gets zero respect. When you play the kazoo, it is hard not to laugh. It's also hard for people to not laugh at you when you are playing it. I used to think it was the sound the kazoo made, but it has a certain saxophone vibe to it. You can also make it sound like some exotic Middle Eastern instrument if you know what you're doing. But the comedy of the instrument comes from the fact that it is ridiculously easy to play. If you can hum a tune, you can play the kazoo. That fact is what negates the kazoo as a serious instrument. But that fact is also what makes the kazoo a musical secret weapon.

It is easy to dismiss the kazoo until you realize that Jimi Hendrix played kazoo on "Crosstown Traffic." I have listened to that song for years and wondered how he played the kazoo part because I never realized it was a kazoo. In fact, it was a homemade kazoo made from a comb and a piece of cellophane. I thought it was something weird he did with a guitar or something. Finding out the truth blew me away. Kazoo can be a serious instrument.

Now, there is a wide world of serious instruments. There is the guitar, the bass guitar, and the drums that make up the elements of a rock band. There is the piano, the flute, the cello, the oboe, and other various instruments. The problems with these serious instruments are that they cost a great deal of money and require many hours of study and practice to be any good at playing them. This would be fine until you realize that most musicians can't make a living playing the instrument they spent considerable time and money learning to play. Even Jimi Hendrix would be forced to pawn his guitar just to eat and pay rent before he got famous.

People with day jobs and families don't have time to be really good at learning to play musical instruments. For most people, music becomes a hobby that they never get very good at because the bulk of their time is spent on making a living and tending their children. Their instruments are usually cheap, and their skills are amateur. Improving these things requires spending time and money that is probably better spent on more valuable things like vacuum cleaners, microwave ovens, and paying off credit cards. A dad who blows $4K on a Gibson Les Paul he can't play is an idiot.

Now, there is one great advantage to playing musical instruments. Once you part with the cash and spend time learning how to play them to a level of decency, they are fun. It's like how a fellow will lay out thousands of dollars on golf clubs and country club fees to have fun playing bad golf. Yet, he could probably have fun playing frisbee golf or mini-golf at a fraction of the price. The problem with those cheap and fun options are that they are not "serious." So, what?

People take themselves too seriously. They can't buy a beach cruiser from Walmart. They have to buy an expensive and very uncomfortable name brand road bike costing more than a good used car. They can't drink grape juice. They have to buy expensive wines and build a cellar to store them. They can't make a day trip to see a roadside attraction up the road from where they live. They have to spend thousands of dollars on airfare and accommodations to cross the Eiffel Tower off their bucket lists. Where is the fun in all of this?

You should be serious about your faith, your politics, your education, your family, and your job. Beyond this, you shouldn't be serious at all. You should have fun. And this is where the kazoo comes in.

If you are a musician in the symphony, you should be serious about your music and instrument. The same applies if you are a church organist or a music teacher or playing in a rock band that performs paying gigs for people. But if you aren't paid for it and have no great talent at it, you should not be serious about it at all. This means not spending serious time and money on your hobby. This means having fun. This means getting a kazoo.

A kazoo is cheap. My kazoo cost me less than five bucks. You can get 10 plastic ones for less than 10 bucks on Amazon. And you don't have to learn anything harder than how to hum. There are no notes, scales, or fingerings with the kazoo. You just need a decent ear. A kazoo is a low time and money investment.

Whenever I feel a bit musical, I whip out the kazoo and play things. Sometimes, I play a cover tune that people recognize. Or, I will improvise a melody. I play until I get winded, or my wife stops laughing and gets annoyed. When I stop playing, I congratulate myself on not blowing $4K on a Gibson Les Paul and wasting countless hours trying to learn "Purple Haze." And I can play the kazoo part from "Crosstown Traffic" as good as Jimi did. My musical itch has been scratched, and I can move on with the serious things in my life.

The supreme value in playing the kazoo is that it allows you to have fun and stop taking yourself so seriously. It is cheap, portable, and easy to play. You could learn to play harmonica or an English flute, but these require learning notes and practicing. You still won't be as good as you would be on the kazoo. I can't play the theme from Hawaii Five-O on a harmonica, a guitar, an accordion, or a saxophone. But I can do it on my kazoo. I am the master of my instrument. Few people can say that about their instruments. And that is what makes the kazoo a musical secret weapon. Anyone can play it and become a musician.


The Echo Chamber Advantage

Merely having an open mind is nothing. The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid. Otherwise, it could end up like a city sewer, rejecting nothing.

Once upon a time, I subscribed to a philosophy I will call the "omnivore strategy." Basically, I maintained an open mind on things taking in all the information that I could gather and digest. I still had viewpoints on things and believed in them quite firmly. But I also believed that I might be wrong on those viewpoints which meant that I always looking over the fence at the green grass in other fields. Then, I rejected that omnivore strategy in favor of an echo chamber strategy. I don't waste my time looking over that fence anymore. Here is the story of that decision and why I think it makes sense.

Imagine a kid named Junior who learns in school and/or from his sensible parents that 2 + 2 = 4. He comes to accept the truth and common sense of that proposition. Then, he goes to college where sophisticated types try to disabuse him of that silly notion. They convince him for awhile that 2 + 2 = 5. He tries it for awhile until he decides 5 is a silly answer. The professors then tell him it is 6 or 7 or whatever. The possible wrong answers are infinite, but the professors encourage Junior to keep an "open mind."

Now, this sort of thing doesn't happen in such an elementary fashion. Instead of giving wrong answers to math problems, these sophisticates give wrong answers to much bigger questions. The answer to your emotional and mental problems is Freud. The answer to our origins and nature is Darwin. The answer to our economic problems is Marx. The antidote to the drudgery of married life is free love and contraception. All of these answers are wrong, but people who know better just can't seem to reject them because they feel the need to be "open minded."

The madness of this open minded approach can be seen in the NPR listening liberal who supports LGBT issues, Marxist solutions to problems, and disdains religion. Yet, this same liberal will be faithfully married to his spouse, raise his children in a faith he no longer practices, and send those kids to conservative private schools. You figure that there would be some separation and repudiation of one set of ideas over the other. But there isn't. Why? The answer is these types of people feel the need to keep an open mind, That is the sad fruit of getting a university level education.

People blessed with the inability to attend college end up being pretty closed minded on things. They go through life under the delusion that 2 +2 = 4, and that is the one right answer and the one that matters. It is very helpful when it comes to balancing the checkbook and sawing lumber to frame a house. These blue collar rubes go through life deprived of all that university book learning and seem to be better off for it. The rest of us should learn a lesson from them.

There are two ways you can go with this. You can accept that 2 + 2 = 4 without question. Or, you can accept it without question after a period of questioning. The important thing is to abandon working through the infinity of wrong answers to assure yourself that you have the right answer. We work through the wrong answers when we listen to NPR and read The New York Times when we know better.

I don't read the Times. I only listen to NPR for the classical music. I change the station when the news comes on. That's when I switch to the AM dial to listen to conservative talk radio. Except for local coverage, my news sources are overwhelmingly conservative. The same thing applies to my reading of religious information. I turn to conservative and traditional Catholic sources. I don't waste time on Protestant or modernist garbage.

The criticism of this approach to news and information is called the "echo chamber." It gets castigated by the sophisticated types who are always complaining about the conservative bias on Fox News and talk radio. Somehow, there is no progressive bias in their left wing echo chambers. The reality is these Marxists want some pretext to censor opposing viewpoints. And that is a neat trick of theirs. The ones who preach the value of having an open mind have no trouble closing their minds to opposing viewpoints and even censoring them out of existence. They will even flunk students and ruin lives for having these opposing viewpoints.

We need to drop the fiction of this nonsense of having an open mind. There is no such thing. There are simply closed minds on what is true or false. Once you find the truth, go ahead and close your mind on it. You're not missing out on anything valuable.

The way to close your mind is to go ahead and build that echo chamber. This approach gives you two overwhelming advantages. The first is that it saves you time as it cuts down on your reading and information uptake. The second is that it ends the instability of having a double mind. The disadvantages of not having an echo chamber is that you spend a lot of mental and emotional energy worrying that you have made the wrong choices or have the wrong ideas, and you waste a lot of time researching the infinity of wrong answers.

How do you build your echo chamber? The first thing is to know if you have the right answer. If you have the wrong answer, the echo chamber will actually work to your detriment. You will have closed your mind onto a lie. How do we know that 2 + 2 = 4? The answer is what we know as "common sense." It is impossible to work through that infinity of wrong answers, but the right answers click immediately. Truth has a simplicity to it. It is also a well worn path. Once you find the right answer, have confidence in it.

The second thing is to know if you have the wrong answer. When you have the wrong answer, you should keep looking until you find the right answer. This is where having an open mind matters. But finding the right answer is often a process of elimination of the wrong answers. It's like the way Edison and his assistants would try various filaments before they hit upon the one that worked for their incandescent light bulb. Once they tried something that didn't work, they didn't keep trying it. They moved on.

The third thing is to know if there are multiple right answers. This happens. Some answers are better than others. They've made better light bulbs since Edison. You can make a fire by rubbing two sticks together, but flicking your Bic is a lot easier. On the other hand, if you don't have a lighter, knowing how to rub those sticks together can be handy. When there are multiple right answers, we call these "options." The main thing is that an option works. An option that doesn't work is no longer an option.

The fourth thing is learning to separate the true from the false. Your mind should be like a filter as you let errors flow through while the more solid truth remains. In time, these truths will accumulate into a body of wisdom and useful knowledge. This structure will assemble itself into your echo chamber.

The fifth thing is learning to ignore those fools who claim there is no truth, or that truth can't be known. You can dismiss these people without further argument as their own position is self-defeating. These people's minds are so open that their brains have fallen out. The reality is that they have built an echo chamber around a body of lies, and they have to close themselves off to common sense in order for those lies to become true. Just ignore these idiots.

The bottom line is that the echo chamber is designed to help you not waste your valuable time and energy on what is false. This means neither accepting nor rejecting everything you're told but doing the hard work of weeding out the true from the false. It doesn't mean that you stop searching for truth and answers. It means you stop looking at or considering those things you have learned are false. The only value in studying bad ideas is to refute them and save others the time they would have wasted on traveling that dead end.