Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!


Here is a cool wintery picture I took out the window of the plane. I'm pretty sure it's Mt. Rainier that is sticking through the clouds, but there are so many mountains in the area, and I don't really know how long we had been flying when I snapped it. The clouds look like white waves lapping against an island. I got to come home for 10 days for the holidays. It is so good to be at home with the family. I hope everyone is having as good of a time as I am.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

It's uncomfortably cold here.



I don't like the cold. I've always heard that at least in the cold you can always add more layers to get warm, while in the heat you can only take off so many layers. That sounds like a great idea, but when it comes to putting it in practice I find it less than effective. The main problem has more to do with the army though. The army doesn't pay any of the soldiers by the hour. We get a salary whether we work 23 hours a day, or not at all. As a result of this, it's much easier to have everyone hurry up and get in line, and then wait as long as it takes. In the civilian world it would be more efficient to set up schedules or appointments and manage employee's time. In the army, time is free, so we do a lot of "hurry up and wait". So my main problem with the cold, is balancing between to much cold weather gear, and not enough. If I have to much gear on, I'm comfortable while we are waiting around, but then I'm overheated and sweaty when we start running around playing army games. The exact opposite problem happens if I wear too little cold gear; I end up freezing while we stand around and I'm just right while we are busy. I chose the wrong day to go light on layers. The training that we did ended up being less physical than I had anticipated, and the weather was much colder than I expected. The picture was taken today right after we got back to the barracks. I was standing on the stairs leading up to said barracks when I took both of those pictures.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Meaning of christmas?

Here is a quote from an anonymous poster the other day.
I'm curious what you tell your children the meaning of Christmas is.
I'm curious if you even know what the meaning of christmas is? It really doesn't have the same meaning for everyone. For me it is a time to love and cherish my family. Although, it's hard to love and cherish them more than I already do. Maybe it is just about the toys. There definitely isn't a standard meaning of christmas. It doesn't even have the same general concept from one country to another, and from one time period to another. The history of christmas has far less to do with Christ than most people think. If you'd like a brief overview of the history of christmas, check out this bit on the history channel website. Did you know that christmas used to be illegal in the United States? I had no idea.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

God is great, god is good

You may have heard the prayer god is great, god is good, let us thank him for our food, by his hand we are fed, give us lord our daily bread. I was thinking about saying grace and ended up writing a little poem. It's not as great as anything over at Digital Cuttlefish or anything, but maybe someone will like it. I guess that's what happens when you don't have anything to do riding in the back of a humvee all the time.

God is fable, god is fake
myths, wife's tales, a big mistake
Blindly following and misled
don't they know that god is dead?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Thank you god for choosing me...


Fuck everyone else. That's all I can think of anytime I see someone saying grace. Every meal at the chow hall there is at least one person bowed in prayer thanking god for the wonderful meal they are about to eat. It makes me sick really. Are they completely unaware of how many people are starving in this world? If you are thanking god for your food, then you must think he had something to do with it being in front of you. If he is the one giving people food, then how come there are people in the world without food? Is that because of the devil? God can fight off the devil for you, but not for the millions of little children all over the world? If ever a prayer would be answered, it would be in the case of a starving child. Regardless of what god or religion the child has heard of, that internal voice asking for help would be answered if there truly was a god. If you can't see that, then you must really think you are special.

If you think that evil is in this world in order to give us the power of choice, then you must never have been to Baskin Robbins. They've got more than 31 flavors to choose from, some of those choices are pretty tough to make, and not one of them involves, starving, raping, murder, war, genocide, or nazis. Next time you are thanking god for the delicious meal in front of you, think about who/what you are really thanking, and why.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Hello from Yakima Training Center

Here is a picture of the barracks I'm in right now. They are actually pretty nice, as long as you don't like chairs or desks or dressers or wall lockers that lock. The one chair you can see in the picture is the only one in the barracks. It's so weird the things that you take for granted. I would love to sit down on a couch and watch a little bit of tv. Oh well, what are you going to do. It's really not to bad here. The chow is pretty good, and even though the it's really cold (at least compared to Texas), they gave us very nice cold weather gear. Brand name Polartec cold weather gear with 7 different layers that will keep us warm down to minus 40 degrees (supposedly).

I'm also not the only atheist around, so that is nice. There are 3 other full blown atheists. There is also one spiritual but not religious, and one that is basically a diest that enjoys the community that a church provides. There are also some young earth creationists, and a few very devout catholics. One of the catholics was passing out rosemary beads that were blessed by the pope. I touched one of them and it cured the cancer that I didn't have. It's really quite amazing. I have already sat through two prayers, one praying to a general god, and one to (baby) Jesus. They weren't mandatory per say, but they were both following official military classes that were mandatory. I could have made a stink and gotten released I'm sure, but I don't really mind and I'd rather not have the whole battalion (minus 5 others) against me.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving, etc

I hope everyone has a happy turkey day or whatever kind of day you want it to be. Here is a picture of my family; me, my wife Jess, my daughter Lily, and my son Jack. Actually since I'm wishing you one happy holiday let's just go ahead and knock out all the rest. So, happy christmas, hanukkah, ramadan (a little late on that one), bodhi day, yule, kwanzaa, boxing day, winter solstice, New Year's Eve, and New Year's Day. What the heck, let's go all the way out to Groundhog Day.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Praise Jesus! Proposition 8 has passed!

Good news to all you christians out there, proposition 8 has passed, preserving the sanctity of marriage! Now god will reward your noble efforts by stopping all the fires in California. The whole reason the state had all those fires was because of god's wrath right? Oh wait, what? The state is on fire again? But, what about god's wrath? Shouldn't he be happy now?

How about people stop using religion to support their prejudices? If there is a god he/she/it definitely doesn't care about fires in California and same sex marriages.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Life in the army...

Somnambulist happens to be one of my favorite words. I think I like it because I so often find myself in a state of somnambulism. So often do I find myself in such a state that I might even call myself a somnambulist. And no, I'm not a sesquipedalian, I'm just tired and feel like sending some people to the dictionary. Twice.

I've borrowed a wireless internet fob from a fellow soldier. I'm actually surprised by the speed that I get from it out in the sticks. I've got a few posts in my head that I want to share with everyone (all three or four of you), but they will have to wait until I get a little bit more sleep. Expect them soon.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Obama

I voted the other day. I voted Obama for president, and a mix of libertarian, democratic and republican candidates for all the other offices. Mostly I tried voting out wackaloons. I was disappointed that I couldn't vote out Gail Lowe from the Texas board of education. It turns out that the part of Bell county that I am in, is in a different district than hers. My district here didn't have a board member up for election. Voting for Obama is kind of a throw away vote in Texas since it's so republican (Big Oil + Bible Belt = Republican), but maybe McCain and Palin will do something really stupid to piss off Texas and my vote will actually help...we'll see.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

In polite company... Healthcare

I think it's a grand idea to have health care for all. I'm not sure how exactly it should be funded. I would hate for taxes to be higher so that I can pay for other peoples health care and get rid of the great health care I get through my job. I know that sounds selfish, but honestly I don't see why I should pay for someones survival when I have a long list of things that I need to spend the money on for my family's welfare.

I've also had "free" health care before. I spent four years on active duty military, and an additional two years after that my wife was active duty. If the government's health care is anything like the army health care than it's not worth it. People went to the doctor way to often simply because it was free. Every little cough or sniffle sent people into the waiting room. The doctors had no incentive to give good care. They didn't give a rat's ass in most cases (There were a few good doctors). Everyone was over worked, under appreciated and bitter. I also don't like being forced to do something. If I'm getting taxed an extra 500 dollars a month for health care that sucks, I'd much rather take my money and buy my own. I guess it comes down to how well it was managed. If it's run like medicare and social security have been run then I'd rather keep my money. So I guess I'm for it if they do it right, but I'm mostly against it because I don't think they can. I also don't have the slightest idea how running it the right way would even work. I don't think I would recognize a good plan for universal health care if I saw one. If they could fix all the other disastrous government programs then I would be a lot less hesitant to support government health care.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Go Betty Go

The last post made me think of Go Betty Go, so I thought I'd give you a taste and share a short story.




I went to see Flogging Molly in concert, but had never heard of the two bands that were opening for them. One was called Boston Harbor I think, and the other one was Go Betty Go. While listening to Boston Harbor, I went out into the lobby where you can hear just as well to get some drinks and check out the few vendors that were out there. There were a few tables set up with Go Betty Go merchandise all over it; Shirts, demo cds, stickers, etc. There were four girls behind the tables that were really cool. I was bs'ing with them, finding out about the band, trying to get some free stuff. They were a lot of fun, laughing and joking, it was almost like hanging out with old buddies. I wasn't really interested in the band that was playing, so I sat down and hung out with them. All of a sudden, they were like "Hey, we gotta go! We'll be back in a bit. You should watch us inside." I went into the theatre, and they all got on stage and started playing! I was pretty shocked, I just thought they were sales clerks. They were so cool and laid back, and they were the band. They weren't very big at the time, and they aren't huge now, although they are bigger than they were then. They were on the Fantastic Four soundtrack, and a national deodorant(?) commercial. After the show we talked a little more. I bought their cd, and they took a picture with me. It was pretty fun because they were just regular chicks.

Quite awhile later, maybe a year or so, they opened for some latino band at the same theatre. The band they opened up for had a following of an older conservative hispanic demographic. Basically everyone was there for the other band, and except for their kids, I don't think anyone was under 35 years old. They were all dressed up and ready to salsa. It was a weird booking putting a punk band as there opener. I guess the only reason was to find a larger audience and because some of their songs had a latin twist to them even though they are very punk rock. So me and my friends were there kind of out of place, and only to see Go Betty Go. Before the show they recognized me from the previous show. We talked a little, and then they went on stage. The whole show they basically played just for my friends and I. We knew the lyrics to all their songs, and no one else even knew who they were or even liked their genre. It was a blast.

Since then they have lost the lead singer and the bassist, and now have a new singer. Except for some songs on myspace I haven't really heard the new singer, but they still sound fun. I don't really keep up with music like I used to. It's still fun to reminisce though.

If I ever leave this world alive...

I'd like to dedicate this next song to my beautiful wife. The video is nothing special, but the song is one of my favorites, and that's really the only reason I'm posting it. The best concert I've been to was Go Betty Go opening for Flogging Molly in the Realto Theatre in Tucson Arizona. The theatre is small and old, and almost cozey even though the walls are halfway stripped of their plaster and spray painted with various colors and graffiti. It was the Day before St. Patty's Day, and Flogging Molly was extra energetic. The lead singer said "It's already St. Patty's Day in Ireland" and then took a big gulp from his bottle of whiskey. He then said, "But since I'm Irish, every day is St. Patty's day!", followed by another large gulp. It was a great show. Go Betty Go was pretty fun as well.

Friday, September 19, 2008

AHH, I'm really going to Afghanistan.

So I've been in training with the Texas National Guard lately. It's starting to dawn on me that I'm actually going to be going over to Afghanistan. I've known for awhile now, but it was always kind of a distant reality that might never materialize into existence. Yesterday while in combat life savers class (CLS) it really became tangible. I'm not sure what did it, whether the various grotesque casualty pictures, or learning how to give an IV and actually giving one to a fellow soldier, or maybe the entirety of the experience, but I now know it as truth. I'm going to Afghanistan as a US soldier. I guess it will be a good way to test if there are any atheists in foxholes, even though this isn't a very traditional war and there might not actually be any foxholes.

The worst part about about everything is going to be the seperation from my family for about a year. I'm going to miss them so much.

In polite company... Welfare

As with most topics, especially politics, you end up having to make decisions based on generalities. I understand that in certain cases welfare has significantly helped deserving people that used welfare as a stepping stone to get their life back on track. Unfortunately, I don't think that it represents the majority of people on welfare.

Speaking only from people that I have known on welfare, and not on statistics or any other scientific like study, I'm against welfare. I think it enables laziness, and quite often helps people with drug or alcohol problems continue their lifestyle. If you can't make ends meet, and you need help, then I think the government should be there for help, but not just for free. You want money? There are a lot of jobs in the government that you can do. They may not be "good" jobs, but if you don't want to pick up trash, clean sewers, etc, then go get a job on your own. Did I mention that if you work for the government that you have to submit to random drug tests at least once every 6 months? Oh, and one more thing. If you can't even support the family that you have now, how can you possibly support another child? Guess you'll be thanking the government for your mandatory depo-provera shot? (mandatory only for welfare recepients before everyone jumps on me)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

In polite company... Iraq

From cdk007


This war is a tough topic for me. In a lot of ways I support it, and in many other ways I don't. The above video shows significantly better ways to spend the money we didn't have. On the other hand, Iraq was a horrible place to live. Maybe a lot of people were happy, but only because they made do with what they had. The country was run by a sadist dicktator (sorry Jeff) and his family. The country only had the strength it had because of it's oil, much like many of the other archaic Islamic countries. I personally think that even with the cost of the war being so high, that eventually the war in Iraq will be a good thing once (if) Iraq is stabilized.

I also feel that there are many other countries that deserve to be invaded and toppled. Countries like Iran and North Korea specifically, and many other middle eastern, asian, african, and south american countries. Many countries in this world support/promote/use children soldiers, starve their own people, support drugs (growing, producing, and trafficking), suppress and abuse women and and many other atrocities. If those countries don't want to reform, then I think it's the worlds duty to make them conform. I like to think of it as a mugger attacking an old lady in the street for her purse. If you stood by and watched, you would be immoral, especially if you were Batman. It's a shame that there aren't real super heroes, and that the lady getting mugged is instead humanity in despair.

The unfortunate thing about Iraq, and any other country that you would invade, is that they think we want to rule them. We just want them to be free to do what ever they want (besides what they are already doing ), to end the oppression of humanity. So even though we are there to free Iraqis, the very Iraqis we want to free are fighting us. A huge part is because of their religion, but it's also because national pride. If we were freeing them from an outside oppressor they would be fighting with us.

The same thing happens with religion. As an atheist I don't want to tell other people what to do, but I do want to free them from the oppression of their mind. If you have a conversation with someone deeply entrenched in religion, they think you are attacking them, when in fact you are attacking their religion. The enlightenment must come from inside. The war on Iraq is not a war against anybody, but against ideas.

So in a way, the war in Iraq is one that can't be won. The citizens of Iraq, at least the ones fighting us, are a lost cause. We will never convert them, the only way to stop them is by killing them. Is that such a horrible thing though? We are saying to them, be a decent person. If you don't want to be a decent person then you will die. Are you killing a human or a disease? How do you stop a malevolent meme? The children of Iraq are the reason we are there. We are trying to show them that there is a different way to think and live than the primitive ways of their fathers. When the children see that it is the US that is building the schools, hospitals, and power plants, and their fathers, cousins and brothers are blowing them up, that is where the war is won. When the mothers crying for their lost children realize that it was their fellow countrymen that viciously attacked them, that is when the war is won. When the Iraqi's realize that they are sitting by, as foreigners come into their country to blow up ambulances and soccer games, that is when the war is won. It is won, one person, one family at a time.

In the long run, I think it's the best thing for humanity. Could I be wrong? Of course, these are only my opinions, and please, feel free to disagree.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Gone till October

I'll be gone until October. My national guard unit is training me for the Afghanistan deployment. I don't expect to have internet considering that cell phones barely even work where I'm going to be. I will have my laptop and my brand new copy of Spore though. I had meant to write a lot of posts for while I was gone, but time was short and the to-do list was long. You all will just have to wait.

Monday, September 8, 2008

In polite company... Abortion

I'm pro-choice. I don't think it's an easy choice to make, but I believe it should be a choice. Aside from all the what if stories like, mentally/physically handicapped, rape, incest, etc, the main reason is - who am I to tell someone else what to do with their body? Having a child is a huge commitment, and sometimes mistakes can force you into that commitment. There isn't a shortage of people on this planet, but there is a shortage of food, space and love. Raising a child is difficult even in the most perfect situation.

Another big part of accepting abortion, is my lack of belief in miracles. A pregnant women isn't miraculous. It's beautiful, it's amazing, but it's nothing special. Everyone got here that way. It's just the way things work. There isn't even anything special about a fertilized egg. Eventually it becomes a baby, but until then it's nothing special. A good percentage of fertilized eggs are broken in some way and eventually become a miscarriage. A significant amount of fertilized eggs never even attach to the uterus. An even more significant amount of eggs don't even get fertilized and get discarded in one way or the other. Thousands of eggs lie dormant in the ovaries and never even leave the body, left to die when the woman dies. Don't even get me started on how much sperm is wasted. The point is, there are millions of times a day where all the living parts of the beginning of a child fail to live up to their possibility, and actually become a child. If I'm not bothered by the nearly infinite number of people that fail to become people all the time, why would I be concerned if there are any more? One thing I never understand. If someone is pro-life, how come they aren't screwing every person they meet? Every moment that a pro-lifer isn't reproducing, they are potentially murdering their offspring.

On the other hand, I think there should be limits. If you are 9 months pregnant and you decide to have an abortion, I don't think you should be allowed to. If you've waited past the first trimester to make a decision, then you've already made a decision. Once it has really started to become a baby, with arms and legs, and a heart and brain, then you should have the baby. Basically, if you are showing, you're birthing. Also, if you decide to have the child, then you should do it responsibly. Quit doing drugs, drinking and smoking, and start eating right, it's not just your body anymore. That's all I have to say. It's just my opinion, please feel free to disagree.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

In polite company...

Supposedly you aren't supposed to discuss politics or religion in polite company. Since I already talk about religion and it's follies, and I've even already talked a little bit about politics, I figured what the hay, I'll jump right in and let loose. Besides, how do I even know if it's polite company reading this?

I'm neither a republican nor a democrat. There are so many issues, and I've yet to see a candidate that I fully agree with, much less a party. Some issues I'm middle of the road, others I'm left, and yet others I'm right. So I figured I'd make a short series out of it. I'll be training with the National Guard starting Wednesday for 21 days with no internet. I didn't want to leave everyone without a post for that long, so I wrote some posts all at once and set them to post at a metered rate. I won't be able to respond to comments until I get back, but please don't let that stop you from letting me know what you think.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Stupid post in the future thing.

So I set up some posts for when I'm gone. All you have to do is change the post date. Apparently it doesn't always work, as the last post was supposed to post on the 11th. Oh well, here it is now, and it will make more sense once the other posts ...er...post.

Obama on evolution and global warming

I was over at Jeff's lunchbreak, and I asked him a question I should have answered myself. What does Obama think about evolution and global warming. Here are my answers.

Global Warming -



And from Obama's website

Evolution - This one is not as clear as a video, but apparently the York Daily Record interviewed Obama on ID. I went to the source, but the article isn't available anymore. It's referenced on many blogs, this one in particular. Here is the quote...

Q: York County was recently in the news for a lawsuit involving the teaching of intelligent design. What’s your attitude regarding the teaching of evolution in public schools?
A: “I’m a Christian, and I believe in parents being able to provide children with religious instruction without interference from the state. But I also believe our schools are there to teach worldly knowledge and science. I believe in evolution, and I believe there’s a difference between science and faith. That doesn’t make faith any less important than science. It just means they’re two different things. And I think it’s a mistake to try to cloud the teaching of science with theories that frankly don’t hold up to scientific inquiry.”

Google Alert - Eric Jones

I have a Google alert for Eric Jones in blogs. I mostly do it as a way to see the trail I leave through the internet. Usually it just alerts me to useless stuff that isn't related to me in anyway, but I have found a few interesting websites from it though.

There is my doppelganger over at Transformed Daily. Of Course when I say doppelganger I don't mean all that mythical mumbo jumbo, just that he is quite opposite of me when it comes to religion and he shares my name.

Another interesting site I've come across is My Life In Pictures, by another Eric Jones. I've added it to my blog roll. I usually don't mention when I've added a new blog to the blog roll, but I didn't want anyone to get confused by the blog, thinking it was me. It's an entirely different Eric, that apparently is traveling around in China right now.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Damn you creationists, get out of my science!

I'm in Washington on a business trip. I'm away from my beloved dvr with all my shows pre-recorded on it, and a fast forward button to skip all the commercials. On top of that, I don't even know what all the channels are without looking at a little card with a bunch of network symbols on it. Now I remember why I stopped watching tv before the advent of dvrs, and how great dvrs are. Okay, enough of the dvr plug.

I got all excited because I found a science show. There was an official looking guy talking about global warming. I wasn't paying full attention because I was eating my continental breakfast. The guy was saying blah, blah, blah, global warming, blah, blah, blah, people will die, blah, blah, blah, water level rising, etc. I finished my huge meal, and started actually watching the show with my full attention. Then I get my first sign something wasn't right. Why does this guy have an o-scope behind him, with the intensity turned all the way up and a few sin waves scrolling all over the place. No self respecting scientist or technician would do that to his oscope for any reason. It might be that way when you turn it on if your noob lab assistant was messing with it, but you would quickly adjust it to get something useful out of it. Wait, what did he just say? Genesis? Damn, this is a creationist show. What a bunch of bullshit? Man's dominion over the earth. Global warming is "only" 1.5 degrees. People will die because they don't have access to cheap energy.

Wow, how did this get on tv? Hmmm, what channel is this. Get out the card with all the station icons on there. TBN? Google, what is TBN? Trinity Broadcasting Newtwork. Ah, thanks Google, that explains a lot. I watched a little bit more to see if they had any good points. Closest thing that may actually be science had to do with cosmic rays. They claim that all the warming has to do with a change in the amount of UV rays that come from the sun. While the sun is definitely a variable that determines the earths temperature, it's niave to say that it's the only variable. The commercials in between the show, were for the show. Coral Ridge Ministries is the producer of the film. It looks like the show is on their website. I can't tell if you can watch the film, or if it's just a trailer, but I doubt anyone really wants to torture themselves.. It just says it's buffering for awhile and then fails. I think it's the hotel internet, not the site, but no way to tell from here.

So, to get to the point. Damn you creationists, get out of my science!

Monday, August 18, 2008

I'll sell my soul for a handshake...

So, I tried to sell my soul. It didn't work. I said, Hey, devil. All you have to do to get my soul is come up here and shake my hand. I'll swear away Jesus' salvation if only you'll just come up here and dance a fiery dance with me. We'll do the tortured soul tango into eternity. If you don't come up here and show yourself I'll take Jesus in my heart right before I die, but if you come up here then I'll say the blasphemy challenge right now. Come on Beelzebub, my dinner is cold and I could use some heat. Let's make a deal. The price is right. That's my final answer. Ah, screw you Satan. You're as lame as that god fellow. If you are real then you are a sad pitiful excuse for a demon.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Praise Jeebus


I just wanted to take the opportunity to thank the lord, hallelujah, for blessing me with good vision last Thursday. I've been wearing glasses for years now, cursed by the devil with near-sighted vision and astigmatism, but no more! Jeebus and the Ornery Ghost came down and manipulated photons into magical mysterious laser beams performing a miraculous feat called LASIK! It happened just a few weeks after I saw this sign up in front of a local church offering freemods! It may look like a typo, but a typo wouldn't have been left up for over a week would it? Heck no, it was an offer from the almighty for free modifications to your intelligently designed body. I only had to pay just over 2 grand! Gaymen!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Thank you for lunch!

This weekend I had to do my National Guard drill in Austin. I ate lunch at the Austin Diner today, and a nice family bought my lunch without me knowing it. They finished and left while I was eating. One of them said thank you for serving in the Army as they left, but I had no idea that they paid for my meal as well. When I asked for my check the server was a little confused because it was already closed out and paid for. After talking to the lady at the register she figured it out and happily let me know. So, to the family at the Austin diner, thanks for supporting our troops, and thanks for lunch! Your kids were really cute as well.

Another Mom quote...

Apparently...

"Jesus has a perfect [astrological] chart"

I find that a pretty interesting claim for two reasons. First, what is the "perfect chart", and second, when was Jesus born? I thought that nobody even knew the specific day, much less the time.

asceint

I was looking for a word to describe people that are without science, or don't believe in science, similar to the word atheist for religion. I couldn't find anything, so I thought I would make one up. I thought it should sound similar to atheist, maybe the same amount of syllables. The root is scient which shows up in the etymology of science (on webster) as 'having knowledge', and the "a" part would be as in greek or latin, 'without or not'. So the definition and word would look something like this.

ascient - A person that lacks scientific knowledge or doesn't believe in scientific facts because of a conflicting belief system.


I'm pronouncing it ay-sea-ent. When googled it comes up with about 3700 hits, most I'm guessing as misspellings of ancient. There does seem to be an IT company named ascient though. It may therefore be necessary to spell it differently, maybe asceint which only gets 16 google hits.

Please feel free to use my word if you like it. If you happen to know a word already in existence that would fit the definition, please educate me. Let me know of any ideas you have that may be similar. Maybe I'll use your word instead.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Danger!

I snapped a pic of this warning sign awhile ago and forgot to post it. There are actually a few in the area. I'm not sure the exact meaning of this sign, whether warning about church pedestrians or letting you know traffic might be piling up or some other reason, but I doubt it was the meaning that I got out of it. It's a shame that you don't see more of these around, and that they probably don't warn people away.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Quotes from my Mom...

In an earlier post I mentioned that I will be going to Afghanistan. As a result of this, my mother was kind enough to come live with us while I'm gone to help out with the kids. It's a win win situation for both of us, we get a live in baby sitter (who cooks really well too!), and my mother gets to live without many bills for a year. She has been living in Hawaii, but wanted to move to the main land again because of the cheaper living expenses. Now she can move to Texas without worrying about a job or home for a bit. And of course she gets to play with her grand kids.

I'm making this blog post, and I assume many more, as a way of keeping the peace. We tend to argue because she has some pretty eccentric beliefs, and I'm pretty grounded in reality (at least I like to think so :). Instead of arguing with her when she says kind of out there things, I'll just blog about it and not take it too seriously. So, here are some Mom quotes. They aren't going to be exactly word for word, but my summary of what she said. I won't exaggerate or distort what she says one bit, I don't have to.

After I called her gullible for believing in astrology, she said :
I don't believe in Astrology. I do however believe that the sun, the planets, and the stars have an effect on us daily. They also imprinted certain characteristics on us the day we were born.
How is that not astrology?

The next one had me rolling with laughter. It hurt my sides. Don't worry, I did it in private so as not to offend. To help explain how the quote happened, you have to know a little background info. My mom has lived in Arizona and/or Hawaii for the last 25 years. Neither state has daylight saving time. Everyone else changes (well, not everyone, but you know what I mean), and they just do their own thing. My mother was talking about how she hasn't gotten used to it being light so late here in TX. She said..

I wish they didn't have daylight saving here. You would think that since it's so hot that they wouldn't want the extra hour of sunlight.
What?
Well, that's why they don't have daylight saving in HI and AZ. It's already so hot, if they added another hour it would be way to hot. A lot of people are mad that other hot states have daylight saving because it makes it hotter.


You know that daylight saving doesn't actually make the day longer right? It's just an arbitrary change that has no effect on the sun. The sun is "up" longer in the summer, and less in the winter, but not because of daylight savings time. All daylight savings time does is make the time "line up" with the rising sun. There is still as much sunlight in the day in AZ, as in TX (at the same lat of course) regardless of what time we say it is.

No, daylight saving time makes the day longer. Sunrise happens at the same time, but the sun sets later in the day. I can show you in my farmers almanac (which she uses for astrology, not farming) that the sun rises at roughly the same time, but stays up later.
Yes Mom, you're right. I didn't want to argue about it, and we can't have friendly debates. I could see why you would think what she thinks, regardless of how wrong it is.

Most of you should know this, but in case you don't, the earth is tilted at an angle to the sun. As the earth is spinning around it's axis, it is also going around the sun. One half of the year the northern part of the earth is tilted closer to the sun, while on the other half of the year the southern part is. The hemisphere that is tilted closer to the sun experiences summer, and the hemisphere farthest away from the sun experiences winter. The equator is basically season less, as it stays pointed toward the sun, just slightly higher or lower depending on the time of year. As you are pointed towards the sun, you have longer days, and away from the sun shorter days. The exaggeration of the length of days increases the farther you get away from the equator.

Our system of time is completely arbitrary. You can call 4 Oclock, 12 Oclock, or beer thirty, or 987 space-time units. It's irrelevant to the sun. If I call it one thing, and you call it another, the sun is still the same. Time is just a unit of measurement. Just as an inch is still as long whether it's called an inch, or it's called 2.54 centimeters, daylight is still the same regardless of what time you say it is. The day is longer in the summer, and daylight saving "springs forward". That just means that 7:00, is now 8:00, and the sun is "up" later, even though it rises at roughly the same time.

If I didn't explain it well or you want to know a lot more about it, check out wiki.

Monday, July 28, 2008

a bipedal primate mammal

What is it that makes us human? What characteristics define us? Are we human simply because of our DNA? Are we human no matter what? It is simple to contrast a human with an inanimate object, and even with other species. We are singular and unique on this planet. There isn't anything much like us. We walk on two feet, using our opposable thumbs and our amazing brains to literally change the face of earth. As of yet, we aren't just unique to our planet, or our solar system, but we are unique in the universe. There are likely other intelligent beings in the universe, even though they are undiscovered by us, but they most likely aren't quite like us. We are humans, but what does that mean? According to Webster.com, the title of this post is all that human, the noun means.

Describing myself as an atheist doesn't say much in the way of my beliefs. It simply says that I don't believe in a god, not what I do believe in. I'm an atheist because I'm a freethinker, not because I'm ignorant of the gods. As a freethinker I've thought about many of the things I do believe in. I've also looked at a lot of beliefs that other atheists have that I don't share. I like to try on their ideals and see if they fit, and if not, why. Humanism is what has been on my mind lately. The basic gist of Humanism is kind of like the beginning part of the second paragraph of the declaration of independence, but slightly more politically correct. All humans have certain rights that should be guaranteed simply because they are human.

I agree one hundred percent that all humans deserve the chance to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Where I disagree, is the definition of human. I don't think that just having 23 pairs of the right chromosomes makes you human. There are people with down syndrome that definitely deserve the name human. On the other hand, there are people in this world with the right amount of chromosomes that don't deserve to be called humans. Basically, I think that everyone that is born has the potential to be a "human", but because of the person they become, they may lose that privilege. If someone chooses not to live by the very basic principles of the golden rule, then they forfeit their right to be treated by said rule. I don't mean minor infractions like praying or not, or some other trivial thing, but big things like physical abuse, murder, stealing, etc. If you don't want to act like a decent human being, then I don't think that you deserve the basic rights of a human being.

So essentially, I don't think I could exactly call myself a humanist. There are too many people in the world that I don't think deserve basic human rights.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

I want to be a genetic engineer when I grow up...



Not that fluorescent fish aren't cool, but when are we going to really crack this genetic code? I know that we have sequenced a lot genomes, made clones, and of course made lots of creatures glow in the dark. I'm not talking about that. That's the equivalent of (if not worse) than my computer coding skills. I don't know how to write code. I know how to view html. I know how to look in the code and identify what bit of code does what, and then transplant that little bit of code into another bit of coding to usually get the results I want, but that's not actual coding. I'm not a computer programmer, and no one (yet) is a genetic engineer. Maybe there are genetic code manipulators, or genetic code transcribers, but there aren't any genetic engineers yet.

I'm talking about fully understanding the genetic code and using it to it's full advantage. I'm talking true intelligent design, not that baloney that the creationists claim. We are currently in the beggining stages of understanding genetics. Our genetic knowledge today is analogous to when we were building computers the size of rooms with less computing power than the pocket calculator of today. I'm not one prone to prophesy, but here is my prediction for the future; Our understanding of DNA is going to grow exponentialy. I envision buildings being not just organic and green, but actuall living creations. Our lights will be provided by living chemical reactions, our air purified and our water provided by our house photosynthesizing. Our fecal matter will be taken into the living house as fertilizer. Instead of buying a desk made from chopped up trees, you will grow a tree in the shape of a desk. Why build a guitar or violin? It would sound much better if it were grown as one single piece of tight grained wood. Instead of growing crops at a farm, and butchering animals for meat, your house will just grow fruits, vegetables, and juicy ribeyes.

Another serious improvement to life as we know it will be concerning our health. Have a gene that causes heart disease? Not in the future you won't. Genetic disorder? Nope, not in the future. Viruses, bacterial infections or allergies? Please, those were the first to go. Think I'm crazy? Sure, maybe now I'm crazy, but here in the future, crazy doesn't really happen all that often anymore. Wow, you were in a tragic accident and lost your legs? That's okay, we'll grow you a new pair. Don't even get me started on aging and death.

This kind of sounds utopic, but let's not get hasty. There are going to be some things that aren't going to be perfect. Genetic discrimination, genetic inequalities, and loss of genetic diversity. The way that marketing is, everyone would end up being identical if things played out wrong. Another important thing to consider is reproduction. We already can't feed everyone in the world, and we definitely can't sustain the current rate of growth. If life expectancy suddenly jumped to 300 years, we would have some serious overcrowding issues. There would have to be some kind of limitation in place to slow population growth. If it wasn't enforced, people wouldn't listen, if it was enforced, it would be considered an attack on our basic human rights, and people wouldn't listen. I suppose that if we are all genetically modified to be more intelligent, and less selfish than it wouldn't be that big of a deal. We are setting the stage for the possibility of real life distopias (my favorite type of book that I still want to blog about sometime) coming into existence.

Now, these aren't all original ideas, and even the ones that are original and creative from me, I'm sure someone has already had them. It seems that nothing in this world hasn't been thought at least once. I'm sure there is probably already a web page that talks about all of this in much better detail, and I'll get a link to it after I post this. That's cool though, that's whats great about the internet, anything you are interested in can be read about with just a little googling. So if anyone knows about a distopia book with genetic engineering, please let me know. Oh, and I don't mean Brave New World because cloning, birth control, and alcohol in the babies' test tubes isn't exactly cutting edge science (anymore), and I've already read it. :)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A Fantastical Story

I made this post awhile ago. I wanted to edit it, and apparently I left it half finished and never re-posted it. Oops! Well here is the video. I'll have to redo the rest of the post when I have more time.

This video has an agenda, but I don't think that the points made are any less valid. The sources check out, and the agenda is actually pro-religion (albeit a different religion). There is a huge abundance of information on this topic available, I just personally liked this video. If this video peeks your interest and you want to know more then google "DNA and Mormon".

Monday, July 14, 2008

Edward Current and youtube.

If you haven't seen Ed's stuff on youtube, it's worth a few minutes to check it out. Here is one of my favorites.


That's called logic atheists, suck on it!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Scarlet A

image


I put an OUT campaign scarlet A on my blog a little while back, but neglected to explain why I did. The main reason I put it up isn't because I agree with the capaign's ideals (I do agree btw), but instead to help show sarcasm. Sarcasm is hard to show or translate in writing. I don't take religion very seriously, and like to jest. If you aren't a regular reader or you are unaware that I am indeed an atheist you may get confused when I'm being sarcastic, and not realize that I'm just being facetious. If you have to explain the joke, it's never as funny. So, that's the main reason why I have a Scarlet A on my blog. It's a reference point grounded in reality, easily visible, and generally recognizable.

Offensive vs insulting

I had a falling out with a friend recently, and it was mostly because he didn't understand the difference between the words offend and insult. For anyone that isn't aware of the subtle, but important difference, I quote Webster.com. Note that they don't always mean different things, but often do.

offend - 2 a: to cause difficulty, discomfort, or injury b: to cause dislike, anger, or vexation (offend needlessly)

offend need not imply an intentional hurting but it may indicate merely a violation of the victim's sense of what is proper or fitting



insult - : to treat with insolence, indignity, or contempt

insult suggests deliberately causing humiliation, hurt pride, or shame
Basically, the difference is the intent. Someone can be insulting and yet not offend anyone, and someone can be offended by someone who isn't insulting. Calling someone an asshole is being insulting, even if the person being called an asshole doesn't take it personal and get offended. On the other hand, if someone doesn't believe something just because someone else does (without any evidence for, and in spite of evidence against) it does not make the skeptic insulting even if the believer is offended. Does this example seem like it may have a real life parallel, maybe based on a true story?

If you ever find yourself being offended, you might consider taking a step back for a little bit of self reflection. Why are you being offended? What nerve did someone hit?

As far as being insulting goes, just because I find you insulting, doesn't mean that what you said has any clout. Instead, it could mean that you are just generally unpleasant to be around.

Next subtly different synonym comparison - pride vs arrogance
Coming soon!

"I used to be an Atheist."

I've heard it a lot, as I'm sure many other Atheists have, the phrase - "I used to be an Atheist." You hear it from older, "wiser" people usually when they are trying to convert you. You also hear it anytime there is a video, article, or speaker that claims they can scientifically prove the existence of god. It supposedly adds more weight to the strength of their claim, because they too used to "be an Atheist" just like you! If you have heard enough conversion stories then you know that it actually makes them less credible. It shows one of a few things. The most common possibility is that they are just lying, the second is they were atheist because it was the cool, defiant thing to do, or last that they were atheist because they were ignorant or unaware of religion, not because they recognized it for the quackery that it is. So if you haven't already noticed this phrase, look out for it, logical fallacies and general religious silliness are bound to follow. Anyone that is a true Atheist will more likely than not remain one forever. Of course part of being open minded is to be, well, open minded, so it is possible that an atheist would be converted if there really were a god. The only problem is that every time you hear someone say they used to be an Atheist they never have a good logical reason for the change of heart.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Circular farming!

Edward had a comment on the last post about another urban farming idea that is even better than the two that I had posted. I think all three of them have benefits, but the Omega Garden seems to be the best. If you had the Omega Garden on every floor of a tall building you would have a considerable amount of farming space. I'm curious to see which of these ideas, or a combination of them, will turn out to be the future of farming. Here is a short video on the Omega Garden. Thanks Edward.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Vertical farming!

It's not everyday that you hear an idea that could literally change the world. I vaguely heard about this a few years ago, but for what ever reason didn't look into it more. I saw it again on the Colbert Report a few weeks ago, and it renewed my interest. Here are two similar but different approaches to growing crops. Both of them are more efficient, healthier, and bound to help feed the masses. Now to educate the masses to stop reproducing like rabits! Science can only save us so much.

I think this one is the best idea, but may take awhile until it's actually in place.



This one is pretty cool too. Maybe the above one would be combined with this.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

christian god’s Gay Pride

PZ Myers made a post about how silly Ray Comfort is. Prompting this post was one that Ray made in which he condemns gays in California and blames CA wildfires on them. Ray Comfort is an archaic tool that still thinks the gods control the weather, punishing anyone who transgresses. Now we know why New Orleans was hit so badly; it was god's wrath for New Orleans eating all that shellfish. The best thing about Ray's post is something PZ missed, the post directly under it.

The title is "Thank god for Science". The whole post is all about light, the bible and god. Ray states that "god is light", and to help illustrate his point he uses a nice visual aid. It's the above picture which I have renamed to "god is Gay and Proud". Not only does the picture suggest that god is gay, but it also suggests that it's natural, because it's from light. I personally agree that being gay is natural and that there isn't anything wrong with it. I'm surprised that a conservative christian would think so though. Honestly, if you think about it, if god is all knowing then he must know what really great butt sex feels like. He must also know what it's like to give a bj, and to get snowballed, right? Blumpkin? Yeah, he knows how to give one helluva good one.

Thanks for the laugh and the great picture Ray, hope god doesn't punish you for calling him gay.

Monday, June 23, 2008

His name was George Carlin.

His name was George Carlin.
His name was George Carlin.
His name was George Carlin.
Repeat Ad infinitum.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Two small blog things.

First - Blogger added a different blogroll page element. I switched to using it because it uses RSS feeds. It now arranges them by most frequent post, and adds the title of some of their posts. It will only display the top ten most recent, so once my blogroll gets a little longer it won't take up to much space.

Second - Anyone with Blogger know how to make pages that have a "fold" to them? I tried using Blogger's help section but it wasn't too clear. The very first bit of code it says to insert, I can't figure out where to insert it. If any of my readers don't know then I will try the group help feature, but thought I would ask here first. Just trying to fold some of my really long posts to clean up my blog a little.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Afghanistan...

I was in the army for four years starting in November of 2001. By the end of my time I knew it wasn't for me. I didn't like that I had no choice in my life. The army decides everything. When I first joined I was single and care free. I would go anywhere and do anything. I spent a year in South Korea and really had a great time.
More after the fold.

My goals in life changed drastically when I met my wife, also a soldier, and we started a family. Being in the army is terrible for families, especially now with the Iraq war going on. I wouldn't have been against going when I was single, but married with children is entirely different. Long deployments are bad for everyone in the family, and that's if no one gets injured or killed while over there. So when my time came up to reenlist, I didn't.

One thing many people don't realize is that when you join the army, even if it's only for 2yrs, you have an 8 year commitment. However many years you join up for active army is subtracted from 8, and what ever number you get is how long you will serve in the inactive reserves after you complete your active portion. So no matter what you sign up for, you get at least an 8 year commitment. I signed up for 4 years active, and 4 years inactive. Inactive didn't really mean anything before Iraq because they had no need to pull you from inactive to active. When I was getting out of active I knew of a few people that had already gotten pulled from inactive. My job (MOS) in the army was fixing electronic military intelligence systems. My MOS is a shortage MOS, meaning they never have as many of us as they want to. Since my chances were pretty high that I would be activated and sent to Iraq, I decided to join the Texas National guard. They gave me 2yrs stability (meaning I can't deploy), and a decent bonus. They would pay for college classes and would also give me an extra few hundred dollars a month for drilling.

Gambling with 2yrs instead of 4yrs seemed like the better bet, especially since they were paying me also. It seemed like a good idea, but it didn't work. My unit is going to Afghanistan, and they fully intend to take me with them. I'll be starting training probably in September, and once I start I'll basically be gone for 5 months. At the end of the 5 months I'll go to Afghanistan, supposedly only for 9 months. The only good thing about it is that when I come back my contract will be completely fulfilled and they can never touch me again, even if they add a draft (supposedly). What really sucks is that even though I'm going to be deploying (perhaps because I'm deploying), my civilian job is still going to send me on two business trips. One of them will be 4 weeks long, and the other one will be 3 weeks long. The four week long one will be in Austin, so my wife and kids can visit me, but I will be very busy.

I'll give more info about it later once I know more about it.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

How does an Atheist respond to a sneeze?

I have photic sneeze reflex. I sneeze anytime there is a significant change in the light from dark to bright. It's actually quite sensitive and I end up sneezing a lot. Living in the bible belt I get a lot of "god bless you"s. Depending on the mood I'm in, and with whom I am in the company of, I respond differently to sneezes and blessings than most might to reflect my heathenistic ways (I'm an atheist if you don't know it). With strangers and at work, I tend to stay with the polite, simple and god free "gesundheit" (German for good health) if they sneeze, and "thank you" if they bless me after I sneeze.

When it comes to family and friends I prefer to be a little more controversial. I don't say any of the following in a mean way, they are just jokes. I don't give anyone too hard of a time because they were after all just being polite. I also realize that most people that say god bless you aren't even aware of the words they are saying; it's probably more of an obligatory remark as uncontrollable as a sneeze to anyone raised to be polite. The main reason I don't just say gesundheit or thanks and ignore the topic is specifically because people aren't aware of what they are saying. If you are just robotically repeating something that you don't even believe is it really politeness? The majority of people that say god bless you don't actually think that god is going to take time out of his busy schedule and perform a miraculous exorcism of the offending dust particle in my nose. So if they don't believe it, why say it? There are many ways to be polite regarding sneezes with out invoking the power of a god. For some generic things to say from various languages and some general info check out this wiki article. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sneeze


Here are some phrases I have said to friends and family when they say "(god) bless you" to me after I sneeze.


Are you sure you are qualified to wield that kind of power? I'm going to have to see your license.

Woh, careful with that, I'm allergic.

Ahhhh, it burns! (Followed by me running around and flailing about�)

Don't you think god has more important things to worry about?

Can I re-gift? I'd rather one of the starving kids in the world have his blessing.

Can I choose which god? I like Loki, he's funny.

No thanks, but thanks for the offer.

Thanks, but I'm full. I had a big breakfast.

Thanks Allah

Things I say when someone else sneezes. I try to avoid the awkward silence following a sneeze by replacing it with an awkward religious comment.

Our Father, who art in heaven, bless this child for he hath sinned against you. Cast out the evil spirit and protect him from evil (sometimes said in the kneeling position or at least with my head bowed down and my hands clasped; always said very dramatically and serious.)

God bleeee… god bleeee… god bleeee…hmm, god won't let me say it.

My authority having been revoked I must instead only wish you good health.

Bob (or dog) bless you.

High five! (Insert Borat voice here)

Ewww, you got your soul on me.

God damn you! Oh wait, is that how you are supposed to say it? I get so confused by your human customs.

That's really all the ones I'll say, or at least versions of those. I don't get up in arms about this or anything so don't take this as an angry atheist post. It's really all in fun. It doesn't even end at the god part, as I think it's funny that we say anything at all. So the next time you are around a sneeze whether it be your own or someone else's consider having a little fun with it. Don't be afraid to step out of the societal mold.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Dublin Dr Pepper Bottling Company

Here is a short video from the Dublin bottling company. It's a little shaky because I hadn't had anything to drink all day and I was probably dehydrated. To top it off, right before shooting this at the start of the tour I downed two free Dublin Dr Peppers. My wife doesn't like Dr Pepper so I got hers as well as mine. It was very tasty.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Happy Birthday Dr Pepper!

Today was Dublin Dr. Pepper's Birthday. We drove about 2 hrs to go celebrate it in Dublin, Tx. It was a little hot, but other than that it was a lot of fun. There were free museum and bottling company tours. There was also an arts and crafts kind of show going on. They had a magician and a band. We never did see the magician because we kept forgetting to go back to the stage at the right time. Here are some pictures.


My Daughter and a Dr Pepper fan.


The sign over the bottling factory.

Two really cool DP trucks in front of the Bottling factory.

The town is renamed to Dr Pepper, TX for a week a year in celebration. Notice the population is 10-2-4, the actual population is a little over 3000. The man wearing pink pants was an Elvis impersonator. He served me some fajitas. I said thank you, he said "Thank you, Thank you very much". It was rather amusing to me.

This place makes Dr Pepper floats that are worth the drive on their own.

Here is a shot of the bottling process. These ones are complete and awaiting three shakes to mix the soda water and the syrup and then the light inspection to check for foreign debris, coloration and cracks.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Dublin Dr. Pepper

This weekend is father's day, and also happens to be Dublin Dr. Pepper's birthday. For this whole week the town of Dublin will be renamed to Dr. Pepper, Texas. On Saturday there is going to be a celebration with free museum/bottling plant tours, a marathon, some music and magic shows, and of course free Dublin Dr. Pepper. If you don't know what Dublin Dr. Pepper is, it's the only DP that is made that still uses Imperial cane sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup. They only distribute in a 44 mile radius and online. Technically where I live is out of the range of the distribution, but it's usually in our HEB (grocery stores for you non Texans). It's a little sweeter and doesn't seem to leave that coating sodas leave in your mouth nearly as much. I've heard that it's not nearly as bad to drink as regular DP because your body processes sugar much better than high fructose corn syrup. Either way, except for this coming weekend, I've been drinking the diet Dr Pepper anyways. Well, point of this post is that I'm going to be there as one of my Father's day presents. I'll take some pictures with my other father's day present, my new camera! Expect a follow up post soon.

The bible was right!

http://dsc.discovery.com/news/2008/06/11/unicorn-deer-italy.html
There is such a thing as a unicorn! Maybe there is some hope for bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, and the cockatrice! Renew the hunt! When can we cut the unicorn's horn off for it's magical powers?

Monday, June 9, 2008

God?

As usual, I'm always thinking of the phenomenon of the belief in god. I've found an interesting way to explain the lack of such a phenomenon. I'm sure this isn't the first time it's been put this way, but it's the first time I've put it this way. This is a long post, and may or may not be worth the read 

First, I want to describe someone, and you think about who/what it is.

Omnipotent
Omniscient
Source of morals
Maintains justice and equality
Punishes injustice
Listens to and answers prayers

Who might that be? Sound like god? How about some more descriptions to narrow it down a little?

Steeped in tradition
Red and white traditional attire worn on special occasions
White beard
When he laughs his belly shakes like a bowlful of jelly?

Okay, I'm talking about Santa Claus. He's not exactly omnipotent, specifically, but he does have some amazing powers that defy logic/physics. He can visit every house in the world in one night, squeeze through chimneys that are much too small for his large stature, even making chimneys for houses that don't have them, to deliver toys to all the good kids. He must stop time, or transcend reality and be in multiple places at once to accomplish such a feat. Aside from the short time line, he also has all those toys for every good little girl and boy in one sack that he carries on a flying sleigh led by flying reindeer (one such reindeer purportedly even has a glowing red nose!). So maybe not capable of making a rock that he couldn't lift, but still pretty amazing. Omnipotent may be a stretch of the word, but it may not, seeing as we don't know his limitations, just some of his abilities.

I admit omniscient may be a stretch as well, but it may not be. He knows if you have been good or bad, if you are sleeping, etc. He may actually know everything and not just a whole lot that he couldn't know through natural means. He is at least locally omniscient. I would say that he is a source of morals, but that he doesn't tell you what they are. He obviously has a list of good and bad, and judges you based on it. Unfortunately you won't know what you did wrong, just that you did something wrong. He also doesn't do much in the way of justice and equality. He really only encourages the right thing by bribing you with goodies or giving you coal in your stocking if you are bad.

He doesn't exactly listen to and answer prayers either. He does let you write a letter with all of your wishes (prayers), and he sometimes gives you what you want, and sometimes doesn't.

Do you believe in Santa Claus? Not St. Nicholas, but the modern magical Santa Claus. If you are an adult, then I would presume no.

Do you believe in god?

Is that a fair question?

They really don't have all that much in common do they? God listens to and answers prayers (in mysterious ways), and provides you with a source of morals (homosexuals are bad mmkay?). He is omniscient (What's pi again?) and omnipotent (Chariots of iron? You don't say) and maintains justice (Who's O.J.?).

What if I said that if you don't believe in Santa Claus you are going to hell? You will burn in a lake of fire for all eternity because of your lack of belief. It really doesn't change anything does it? Santa Claus isn't real. Parents buy the presents, wrap them, put them under the tree, and eat the chocolate cookies (my favorite tradition!). I assume that most adults know this. Once you know the truth, you can't go back. If you don't believe, and you have never heard of Santa, it's possible I could convince you to believe. Maybe I could show you all the good things that he has done; all the gifts that he has given, all the great children that were raised believing in him, etc. If you happen to have already heard of him, and know that it's a lie, could I convince you? Would it matter what I showed you? You do know that N.O.R.A.D tracks Santa Claus every year right?

The whole point of this is that Santa Claus and god are both imaginary. Many good things are done in both of their names, but the fact of the matter is, they are not done by them. If Santa is so great, how come he doesn't give presents to all the kids in the world? What about all the starving kids in the world? Does he give them a present and no food? How come Santa gives more and nicer presents to richer families than poorer families? As someone who knows that Santa is make believe, these questions are easy to answer.

The main difference between god and Santa is that the parents that deceive their kids about Santa actually know that Santa is a lie, while the parents that deceive their kids about god actually believe in god. They grew up with their imaginary friend and never stopped believing. This belief in a god has been passed down from parent to child for thousands of years. It originated because humanity was naïve of how the world worked and yearning to explain the chaos did the best they could in that time. Now we are stuck with all these weird religions and all of these even weirder traditions.

If you happen to believe in god and you feel like sharing, please think of it like Santa. Could I convince you that Santa was real?

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Coming out!

This article on the american atheist's website is about "coming out" of the other closet, atheism. It talks about 5 degrees of outness.

Degree 1:
Completely closeted. Not even your spouse knows. You tell everyone you're a believer, and you may even attend church services to convince those around you. You're living a lie, terrified that someone may learn the truth.

If you fit into this category something must change in the near term. Your spouse, who loves and trusts you for who you are, needs and has the right to know.

Degree 2:
Mostly secret. Your spouse knows, but most of your family and friends don't. You avoid the subject at all costs at work, and if it does come up, you will hide your atheism.

Degree 3:
Somewhat open. Some family members and most friends know, but you are hesitant to bring it up in conversation. It's still a secret at work, unless you are very close friends with a coworker or two who know. You have friends who are atheists, and may belong to an organization like American Atheists for moral support and connectivity. You may write a letter to a congressperson, but not to the local paper, because you don't really want your atheism published. You may avoid the subject when it comes up, but if pressed you will not call yourself a believer (though you may soften the blow by using the term "agnostic" or "freethinker", even if you're an atheist by definition).

Degree 4:
Mostly open. Almost anyone who knows you knows you don't practice religion. Coworkers, perhaps including your boss, all your friends and your entire family is aware. You don't shout it from rooftops, but you make no effort to hide your atheism when it comes up in conversation, and may occasionally raise the conversation yourself.

Degree 5:
Completely open. Every time the subject comes up, you state your disbelief with pride and frankness. Anyone who doesn't like you because of your atheism is a bigot and is not your concern. You've written letters to the editors of newspapers on the topic, and you may have an atheist bumper sticker on your car.
I've never really been in the first and second degree. My process of realizing that I've pretty much always been an atheist and defining what kind of atheist I was, was done with my wife and a few of my close friends. I guess that basically put me in to the 3rd degree to start out with. My only friend (that I've met in person at least) that is an atheist is my wonderful wife.

I inadvertently jumped into the 4th degree when I took my copy of The God Delusion with me to my TEXAS National Guard drill weekend. I took it because I was right in the middle of the book and didn't want to wait to finish reading it. I wasn't really aware of how many fundamentalist christians there were in Texas until then. I barely got to read anything because of all the questions, debates, and proselytizing. It was good in a way though because it made me more comfortable in my atheist skin. Not long after my drill weekend, I brought it up with a few of my coworkers at my real job. I was pretty uncomfortable about it because there are quite a few bible thumpers, including my boss. I haven't really talked about it with my boss, but I wouldn't be surprised if he has gotten wind of it. So far everyone has taken it pretty well. There have been a few debates, but not very heated ones at all. There has been a falling out with a friend/coworker of mine, but that's another story for another post and has less to do with my atheism and more to do with other differences.

When I read Dale's post on his blog The Meming of Life about Mr. Cunningham I was inspired by one of his statements...

That’s why it’s important for those who differ from the majority — blue people in red states, red people in blue states, gays, atheists, the works — to be out of the closet, to be a smiling, normal, ethical contradiction to all the fearful assumptions. So I try to convince nonreligious folks to seize those “Hey, Mr. Cunningham” moments and put a human face on disbelief. And it’s equally important for us to avoid drawing a caricature of all religious belief — to recognize the normal, sane, ethical believers all around us. That’s the way the caricature crumbles — one person at a time.


So I've jumped into the 5th degree at least in one aspect. Here are my new bumper stickers.

Exploring life's Origins

Here is a good website on abiogenesis, it is detailed, but not incredibly long winded. There are also a lot of short videos and pictures, all available for download. Could be pretty helpful if you are a teacher. I just liked all the pretty colors.

I have a proto cell as my desktop background now :)

http://exploringorigins.org/index.html

Friday, May 30, 2008

Sorrow - Bad Religion

I like this song a lot and it fits in with atheist thoughts.

:) So apparently this didn't work posting from my work. Oh, well, fixed now.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Catholic church bans women priests

The catholic church is going to excommunicate female catholic priests. I'm not exactly sure how bad it is to be excommunicated, but it doesn't sound like fun. You would think that the vatican would jump at the chance to have a priest that wasn't going to molest little boys.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24878944/

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Some kind of test...

I came across this "test" on this website. Some bible thumping site, Christian I think, but honestly I didn't look hard at it. I hope I pass! It wasn't very specific on the type of test it was, true/false, short answer, essay, etc, so I chose short answer. That cool god? K.

If you are an atheist, a materialist, a pantheist, or a naturalist, try to answer the following 11 questions:

1. "If all of life is meaningless, and ultimately absurd, why bother to march straight forward, why stand in the queue as though life as a whole makes sense?" —Francis Schaeffer, The God Who Is There

Is this a trick question? Life isn't meaningless or absurd. I enjoy myself daily. I love being with my wife and my beautiful kids. Life is a joy. Life makes perfect sense, especially in these times with our much greater understanding of the universe. Life without god certainly makes more sense than life with god. I'll answer your question with some questions. Why would god create a creature capable of sin, know for a fact that person was going to sin, and then condemn that person for the choices they made? Isn't that in fact making a choice on behalf of someone and then blaming them? Did god ask me if I wanted to be created and then judged for my sins? I thought that the reason for good and evil was so that we could have choice? Why have life at all? How about we just skip life, and get right to the punishments and rewards? God already knows what we are going to do, so lets get on with the real joy (heaven) and the real suffering (hell), not this only sort of joy and suffering here on earth.

2. If everyone completely passes out of existence when they die, what ultimate meaning has life? Even if a man's life is important because of his influence on others or by his effect on the course of history, of what ultimate significance is that if there is no immortality and all other lives, events, and even history itself is ultimately meaningless?

Again, why is it meaningless? Life is here to enjoy it. Paintings and music are "meaningless", but I still enjoy them. See answer number 1 as these questions are basically the same.

3. Suppose the universe had never existed. Apart form God, what ultimate difference would that make?

Another question that's basically the same as the first two, this one is just a silly hypothetical question. If it never existed then there wouldn't be anyone to worry about it. Since we are here worrying about it, it must exist. If it's only here for god, what difference does that make? Does he need his ego stroked? Are you saying that the universe was created to create a god?

4. In a universe without God or immortality, how is mankind ultimately different from a swarm of mosquitoes or a barnyard of pigs?

With or with out god, biologically, we aren't that different from mosquitoes or pigs. The difference is in our consciousness, and in that respect it is that we are self aware. We understand the concept of time. We understand that others have feelings very similar to our own. We can even write silly questions to put on the internet!

5. What viable basis exists for justice or law if man is nothing but a sophisticated, programmed machine?

Who says we are a sophisticated, programmed machine? We are sophisticated, and I suppose in a sense we are programmed to try and survive, but we are not programmed with right and wrong. The basics are eat, poop, hump, but anything beyond that is learned. Since not everyone learns the same, some will be evil, and some will be good. A form of justice/law must be there to mediate.

6. Why does research, discovery, diplomacy, art, music, sacrifice, compassion, feelings of love, or affectionate and caring relationships mean anything if it all ultimately comes to naught anyway?

This question is very much like the first few, but okay, I'll try again. If you are going to die and go to heaven why does anything on this earth matter? Why not everyone just stop eating and await the judgment? This question is silly. Life matters because pain doesn't feel good, and pleasure does.

7. Without absolute morals, what ultimate difference is there between Saddam Hussein and Billy Graham?

The difference is non absolute morals. It is immoral to take another's life, so Saddam is immoral in that sense, and Billy Graham is not (allegedly). Billy Graham is immoral for spreading untruths. If mother Teresa decided on her death bed that Jesus was a lie she would go to hell according to the bible. If Hitler on his death bed decided that everything he did was wrong and accepted Jesus, then according to the bible he would go to heaven.

8. If there is no immortality, why shouldn't all things be permitted?(Dostoyevsky)
Morality stems from the fact that no person on the earth is the only person on earth. Everything should be permitted except for things that inhibit/prohibit others from doing what they want to do. For example, murder, should not be allowed because it takes away other peoples happiness and choice of freedom.

If god is going to judge everyone's sins, then why would you ever stop anyone from doing anything they wanted? Why not let everyone do whatever they want. Tell them it's wrong to cover your own ass, and then let god figure it out. How can you tell if someone is evil, or if he is doing what god says to do? There are genocides in the bible that were done because god said to do it, and yet you judge Hitler as evil because he did genocide? What if he was doing gods work?

9. If morality is only a relative social construct, on what basis could or should anyone ever move to interfere with cultures that practice apartheid, female circumcision, cannibalism, or ethnic cleansing?

If people's rights are being taken then it is a duty to try and stop or change whatever is taking those rights

10. If there is no God, on what basis is there any meaning or hope for fairness, comfort, or better times?

I bought a toy for my daughter at the store. When I opened the box, the toy inside was broken. I took it back to the store. They gave me a new one in exchange for the broken one. That seems pretty fair to me.

I have a really nice couch at home. When I get home from work I'm usually very tired, and I like to sit on it. That is very comfortable.

Someday I hope that humanity will be free of the disease of religion. That would be better times for sure; no suicide bombings, no female circumcision, no ethnic cleansing.

11. Without a personal Creator-God, how are you anything other than the coincidental, purposeless miscarriage of nature, spinning round and round on a lonely planet in the blackness of space for just a little while before you and all memory of your futile, pointless, meaningless life finally blinks out forever in the endless darkness?

I guess what you are trying to say is that life is pointless. I guess in a way you could say it is, even if there is a god, but the difference between my pointless life and a christian's pointless life is that my "pointless" life isn't lived for a lie.

EDIT: I edited this, but only to make the quotes have blockquote formating. It was confusing to read earlier. When I post from work it loses all formatting.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Blog roll

Well I got around to adding a blog roll. I have an excuse though, I'm new to blogging. I just added the ones that I check at least weekly, if not daily. I read a lot of other blogs, but not regularly, so I didn't add them. I also read a lot of family/friend blogs, but they don't really have anything to do with this blog, so they aren't on there. I'm sure I'll update the list as I add more into my regular reading. I'm sure I'm already missing some that I wanted on there.