Thursday, August 14, 2008

Moving Blog

I'm moving my blog over to WordPress. I hope to see you there!

Blog Cancer

That would be work. My new job has eaten into, hell it's completely decimated, my blogging time. Plus, there is so much to learn and do on it that by 3 PM my brain has usually been turned to goo and I need to use my headphones to prevent it from leaking out my ears. I "feel" connected because I listen to podcasts, but that connection is an illusion because it's been only one-way. I realize I need to do more to participate, like using my lunch time to keep my blogs up-to-date, at least once a week. Unfortunately the firewall here is somewhat finicky about what I can and can't get to. I can get to Galactica Watercooler, so I will attempt to participate on the forums there more. However, I can't get to Atheist Nexus. I also can't get to Photobucket, so anyone who has images linked from there I just see that lovely little picture with the red x in the corner.

But lately there has been a little writer in the back of my head saying it wants to be heard. So at least once a week, I'm going to let it out.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Arizona S.C.R. 1042 Equates Homosexuality with Incest

It starts innocently enough, in the beginning SCR 1042 proclaims March 29 as Vietnam Veterans’ Day in Arizona. And then it changed, to a strike-everything amendment.

As passed by the Senate, S.C.R. 1042 proclaims March 29 as Vietnam Veterans’
Day in Arizona.

The House of Representatives adopted a strike everything amendment that does the following:

Subject to voter approval, constitutionally defines marriage as a union of one
man and one woman.

Statute prohibits certain people from marrying. Specifically, A.R.S. § 25-101 proscribes and nullifies marriage between parents and children, including grandparents and grandchildren of every degree, and between brothers and sisters, uncles and nieces, aunts and nephews and between first cousins. Section 25-101, A.R.S., also specifies that marriage between persons of the same sex is void and prohibited. Therefore, Arizona law does not recognize a marriage contracted in any other state or country that is between two persons of the same sex.

The 2006 ballot included Proposition 107, which constitutionally stipulated that only a union between one man and one woman is valid or recognized as marriage in Arizona, and prohibited legal status for unmarried persons that is similar to marriage from being created or recognized by this state or its political subdivisions.

Proposition 107 was not passed by the voters.

There is no anticipated fiscal impact associated with this measure.

To Senator Robert Blendu, who voted Yes to this blight,

You are to represent all of your constituents, not just the Fundamentalist Christian constituents. Not just the extremist homophobes. Not all Christians feel threatened by legal unions between members of the same sex. Not all Arizonans are Christian. And many of us believe in reason and compassion over dogma and superstition.

As a registered Libertarian I am often confronted with the assumption of others that I am more likely to vote Republican than Democrat. In the past that may have been true. However, during the past eight years I’ve witnessed our government expand as never before under the current Republican watch. With the growing theocracy of Republican leaders, such as yourself, I can only see the current Republican policy as an affront to the American philosophy of freedom and liberty. The bulleted highlights of your bio list you as a Bible Study teacher, Chairman of the Finance Committee and member of the Official Board of the Glendale Light and Life Church. Since you put so much emphasis on your religious affiliations it is no surprise that you have a failure to understand the secular nature of your position as Senator. SCR1042 equates homosexuality with incest. There is no explanation for restricting marriage to one man and one woman that isn’t fueled by superstition and dogma.

In a free country, consenting unrelated adults should have the right to form whatever configuration of union they wish. It is not government’s business. It is not your business. Whenever I next see your name on the ballot, I will be sure to check the box without your name, regardless of who that person may be.

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Simple Life

In his response in the negative to the Templeton Foundation question, “Does Science Make Belief in God Obsolete?”, Cardinal Schönborn writes,

The increase in leisure and health brought about by our increasing mastery over Nature has not resulted, as the ancient sages supposed, in an increase in wisdom and the contemplation of the good, the true, and the beautiful. Instead, our technology-based leisure is more likely to result in quiet hedonism, consumerism, and mind-numbing mass entertainment. While many still claim belief in God, the course of their lives reflects de facto agnosticism in which the “God hypothesis” is far from everyday experiences and priorities.
A few times I’ve started, but never finished, A Canticle for Leibowitz. Six hundred years after a nuclear holocaust, an abbey of Catholic monks survives during a new Dark Ages and preserves the little that remains of the world's scientific knowledge. “Preserve” meaning they’ve turned found objects into relics, they don’t themselves retain any scientific knowledge. This is because after the nuclear holocaust, those that remained blamed science and intellectuals for their condition and purged humanity of both during the Simplification. What very little knowledge that remained was “preserved” in monasteries.

The world we live in now, at least the U.S., appears to be in danger of undergoing a Simplification of its own. The majority of consumers of technology-based leisure, indeed the majority of people in general, do not have the education level to understand what or how all that technology exists. There aren’t gangs of Biologists shooting it out in territory battles with gangs of Geologists. The tools of our destruction are in the hands of those who didn’t create them. Education does lead to “wisdom and the contemplation of the good, the true, and the beautiful”, and not enough of us are getting that education. Neither our leaders nor our voters are equipped with the education necessary to get us through the complex problems that face our society. Those that do understand the complexities of both the problems and the answers lack the power to act on those answers and are ignored or attacked by those that don’t.

The Discovery Channel, which I love, had to toot its horn over,
“an average audience topping 1.34 million. First quarter was the youngest ever for Discovery, with a median age of 36 largely thanks to hit series Dirty Jobs and Mythbusters.” (Cable360.Net)
With a U.S. population of over 301 million, that’s whole lot more people whose myths aren’t getting busted. I don’t care that more people have the choice to watch So You Think You Can Dance, I care that more people actually choose to watch it. The educated are “elitist”; a word that’s certainly getting thrown around to vilify Obama. The love of learning, of appreciating the world around us at a level that requires our active engagement, isn’t spreading to enough people. And respect for science and those that understand science isn’t either. It isn’t religion that the mind-numbed masses need. What we need is a way, or the will, to un-numb our minds.

Nielson Ratings this week:

Thursday, June 12, 2008


As I'm married to a Belgian, who has for years been pointing out that Europe has been paying $6 - $7 per gallon while we were paying under $3 - so what are you Americans complaining about anyway, suddenly having to pay $63 to fill up the car (when only a year ago I swear I could do it for $45) doesn't surprise me. What does surprise me is how happy it makes me.

Suddenly the freeways aren’t so congested. Suddenly SUV's aren't all the rage anymore. Suddenly driving the speed-limit doesn't feel like being a boob.

I admit, I'm a get-out-the-left-lane-because-I'm-speeding asshole (
and now a check on traffic). I'm also a go-ahead-and-ride-my-ass-I'm-speeding-as-much-as-I'm-going-to asshole. Now, however, I've cultivated being a smug, travel-the-speed-limit-and-piss-everyone-else-off, Hypermiler asshole. Going the speed-limit, and maximizing coasting and deceleration, I've improved my gas mileage by 20% this week.

The Carpool Heretics will also be adding another person to the pool. Though we didn't include religion in our interview so there may be a True Christian™ infiltration of the pool.

I saw on the news about people who literally can't afford to pay the high gas price. They interviewed a couple who have started commuting to work on their bikes, the husband has to go 15 miles each way and has lost 20 pounds now, and have started to grow vegetables to save money. Oh my Shiva, we're getting healthier and driving more responsibly? This is horrible.

High gas prices are making the world a better place because it's forcing us to adopt behaviors we normally wouldn't.

The Curse of the Holy Blood

I've been nudged by Ordinary Girl and The Chaplain reminding me that I've been neglecting the Atheiosphere.

A couple months ago, I was in Belgium visiting my husband's family on vacation. Eight years ago, my husband proposed to me on a beautiful bridge in Brugge (Flemish spelling) in front of the beguinage. Motivated by the recent viewing of a movie called In Bruges (French spelling), we went back to Brugge.

Brugge is home to a holy relic, a bottle made from crystal containing the coagulated blood of Jesus Christ and brought to Brugge during the crusades. I had my chance to go up and honor the blood. No fee was demanded, though a donation of 2 Euros was suggested. My husband, brother and father-in-laws did go up and show their respect. My husband claimed that he only did it because, though he doesn't really believe, his Dad didn't want to do it alone. I called him a hypocrite and stayed smugly behind.
Two weeks later, on April 27, I was laid-off work along with 30 other people.

I must have been punished for my unbelief and blasphemy. Though what the other 29 people did to deserve it I don't know. Jesus does do collateral damage I guess. Woah... I suffered two long weeks of unemployment before finding a job that pays more than I was making and pocketing the other 4 weeks pay from my severance package. Yay I did suffer… I'm now horribly busy doing a job full-time that focuses on the one small aspect of my former job that I considered play; developing in SharePoint. Because of that business I've been unable to spend as much time in the Atheiosphere with the rest of you heretics.

Learn from me, ye heretics! If you're ever in Brugge, be sure to stop at the Chapel of the Holy Blood and disrespect the relic. Afterwards, relax with a Belgian beer in comfort as you await the wrath that is sure to come for you.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Happy Eostre

Ever since reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman I’ve had a great sympathy for Easter. As portrayed in the book, this poor goddess of Spring is unknown while her name and symbols have been stolen by the Christians. I wanted to research this and write a blessy about it. My theme being; give this woman back her holiday! I don’t care that she’s fictional. I don’t care that holidays are “made up”. It breaks up the year and gives the kid inside me free reign to pretend. I’m fully behind Linus and his celebration of The Great Pumpkin.

Then I got sidetracked in my research by the editorial on Easter over at ChristianAnswers.Net. On the one hand they fully acknowledge that Easter was a pagan holiday and that rabbits and eggs are fertility symbols. Their solution to this is to recommend using the phrase "Resurrection Sunday" rather than "Easter". They then use the Bible as their primary historical reference to show how “this terrible false religion” had its origins from the Tower of Babel. Because they believe Tower of Babel was a pyramid-shaped structure, they claim that any culture that built a pyramid-like structure as well were decedents of those scattered away from Babel when god confused their language.
Most, if not all, of these people carried their evil Sun-God-based religion with them.
Their conclusion:
"Easter" is simply one of the names of a woman [Queen Semiramis] who mightily deceived the world and whose religion has caused untold suffering and misery. She was clearly an enemy of Christianity, and her son Tammuz was an anti-Christ, a false messiah that ultimately deceived millions.

How is it possible to be an enemy of a religion that did not even exist at that time? How is it possible to be an anti-something that hasn’t been thought of yet?

The seductive symbols of ancient ungodly religions inspired by Satan have been incorporated into people's everyday lives, even to this day continuing to obscure the truth of God.

Christians naively use symbols and practices that unknowingly perpetuate ancient anti-Christ traditions - symbolic customs followed by the same religious cults that inspired the destruction of great numbers of Christians and Jews.

Yeah, you True Christians ™, if you happen to stumble onto the fact that there were all these pre-Jesus religions that had myths about gods-made-flesh, born to virgin women, that had spring celebrations celebrating their resurrection from the underworld, be assured:
If you are Christian, it is not difficult to discern the bizarre deception and confusion that Satan has successfully orchestrated.
While all those stupid ancient peoples were worshiping the wrong born-of-a-virgin-died-and-resurrected gods, you can be assured that you are in fact worshiping the right one. Because it's all the trick of another supernatural entity that, while having all the powers and abilities of your god (based on his reputation, if he does exist he's obviously a stronger more influental god), isn't considered a god because there's only one true god. A modern person such as you couldn’t possibly be deceived they way those ancients were.

Could you?

Reference: Easter; Its Pagan origins , Eostre

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Nonbelieving Literati Sidetrack

I’m not allowed in bookstores. I’m not allowed on Amazon unless I have a gift card or am strictly using it as a reference for selecting books from the library. This is due to my inability to leave without spending upwards of $100 on books. It’s a compulsion. I love books and have the same reverence for books that Henry Bemis shows in Time Enough at Last. So it was unfortunate that the selection for this session of the Nonbelieving Literati was unavailable at my library;

However they did have, and what I will discuss instead, is David Wellington's zombie-apocalypse trilogy:

From Publishers Weekly: Fans will relish the monster mash finale, in which a Welsh sorcerer, a horde of animated mummies and a decomposing zombie army engage in a pyrotechnic firefight complete with heavy artillery.

Your first question could be why “Monster” and not “Zombie” for the book titles? The answer for that lies in the several twists that Wellington has added to the Zombie genre; conscious zombies, the cause for reanimation lying in something referred to as “the Source” rather than a virus, and reanimated Celtic Bog Mummy from Scotland who turns out to be Mael Mag Och, a druid who believes he is to be the final instrument of judgment on mankind.

In Monster Island we meet Gary, a medical student faced with the inevitable choice of either becoming a zombie or zombie food. Working on the theory that the brain becomes damaged through lack of oxygen between death and reanimation, he decides to try and retain his consciousness by keeping his body packed in ice and his brain oxygenated through using life support medical equipment stolen from the hospital. He awakens to find his experiment a success. He is one of (we later discover) three individuals to make the transition as a conscious zombie.

These three individuals are the driving force of the “Monster” aspect for the trilogy. They have to decide between either retaining their humanity or abandoning it. As Mael explains to Gary; “There’s no debate, Gary. This is what we are. Uamhas. There’s good in this world and there’s evil, and we’re evil. Now either come with me or leave me be, lad. There’s work to do.” The choices the characters make throughout the course of the trilogy span all shades of grey as well as black or white.

Initially “The Source” was ambiguous; it could be either natural or supernatural. The way it was initially described changed depending on the character experiencing or using it. However as the story progressed through the trilogy, the magical and supernatural aspects of it and the characters became clear. I was a little disappointed by this. The traditional viral explanation for zombieism always left the genre in the category of extremely-unlikely-but-ever-so-slightly-possible and made it that much more intriguing. While I appreciate the twists of the genre to create something new to explore, I still wanted there to be logical explanations, even if the explanations weren’t apparent to the character.

As the next book for the Literati is A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf and is ready for me to pick up at the library and I’m going on vacation in a couple weeks involving a long plane ride and plenty of time to read, I’m going to have to come up with a really good excuse for not reading it.**

Maybe I can blame the time spent on making Easy Cheesy Chili Dip.

** I fully intend to read it, but it’s Virgina Woolf for fuck sake. The last time I tried to read Virginia Woolf was Mrs. Dalloway and what a goddamn boring book that was!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

I saw Richard Dawkins… neener neener

BEYOND is a pioneering international center at Arizona State University specifically dedicated to confronting the big questions of existence raised by these stunning scientific advances, and facilitating new research initiatives that transcend traditional subject categories.

You would think that having attended the Richard Dawkins lecture I’d have a lot to talk about. And probably if I were writing an article that I knew would be read by people unfamiliar with Dawkins I would. But I know my audience. Who of you hasn’t read the God Delusion? Who of you hasn’t seen Dawkins several times speak at least on youtube? [crickets chirping] Thought so.

Seeing Richard Dawkins in the flesh was fantastic. I will never understand how he can ever be described as “ranting”. He never raises his voice. In fact I think he’s got a damn sexy voice and would listen to him read his grocery list. His lecture was enjoyable, but it was also like watching your favorite band perform live instead of on television. You know all the songs, so really you’re just there for the shared group experience.

I did get to finally meet some members of the Phoenix Atheists Meetup group. They’re a fun group of people who get together for events that I’ve always been meaning to go to but never got around to it. I think now that I shall try a little harder. One of them mentioned wanting to have a movie event to see Expelled, he envisioned something like going to the Rocky Horror Picture show where we’d talk back to the screen and have squirt guns.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Celebrate Heresy

Two articles about Ahmed An-Na'im

"The Future of Sharia Is the Secular State"
Law professor Abdullahi Ahmed An-Naim supports secularism, in which a neutral state makes the laws for all citizens, while leaving enough room for them to lead their lives according to the rules of their own religion.

"We Muslims Have No Church!"
The Sudanese born Abdullah Ahmed An-Na'im teaches law at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Active in the fields of civil, human and international rights, he sees the Islamic Sharia as an important point of reference for him. The Muslim law system, which dates back to the seventh century, must, in his opinion, always be open to being questioned.

I’m rather confused about this man. Granted, I have only two very short articles to base him on so some further inquiry may be warranted.

On the one hand he says, “Human rights and secularism are so important to me because they create a space within which I may protest” and “I believe that religion and the state should be separate, institutionally.” Right on so far, but then…

“There are many questions in which [secularism] cannot interfere. It can handle the basics about how we can live with and maintain respect for one another. But answers to questions on things like abortion or the right to take one's own life must be sought elsewhere [religion]” and “If I am in need of money so that my children can receive religious education, then the state must help me. These are civil rights.”

I’m not getting a really clear picture about what his world would look like. Yes, in a secular world secularism would not “interfere” with topics like abortion or suicide. Everyone would have to right to live and act according to their own beliefs provided they didn’t interfere with or harm others. But that should not include helping to fund institutions that do want to “interfere”. If he believes that “whatever your value system is, it is you, not the Imam who must decide what is relevant and what isn't” what religious education system is it that would be funded? When he states he has, “difficulties with the idea of someone else defining what my religion should mean to me. No one should be given the power of deciding what is right or wrong” what Islamic religious school teaches that?

There is one quote that I can somewhat agree with though:
Every orthodoxy began as heresy. All religions have their roots in heresy. Christianity began as a Jewish heresy; Islam was once a Christian-Jewish heresy. It is in breaking with tradition that we strike the vein of greatest creativity. This is true of all societies. So celebrate heresy!

I don't think he'd go so far as to celebrate my atheist heresy, but than again who knows. I certainly celebrate my heresy.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Yay, new computer

OK, it's not a real blog entry or an atheist rant, but I thought you might like to see what I've been playing with. My son is the four-legged one, the two-legged one belongs to my friend.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Blogger Burnout Blues

I'm suffering I think from blogger burnout. My goggle reader exceeded 500 unread entries and rather than acting as inspiration for my own writings, they've instead overwhelmed me with...shit I can't even describe it. I'm drowning in words and opinions I guess. Everytime my mind casts about for a topic to write about it's unable to tune into one thought, like receiving all radio stations on a single channel.

But I am listening to podcasts. The one I've linked to above is put together by my fellow atheist bloggers (which is handy since I'm so far behind on reading it's nice I can at least listen to what's going on) and a wonderful addition to my podcast list.

I have a shiny new and powerful computer coming this week. I'm hoping that having a new environment will give me inspiration. In the meantime, as I wait for my Nonbelieving Literati book to arrive (Not the End of the World by Christopher Brookymyre) I'm soothing my tired brain with true literature: Monster Island, Monster Nation, & Monster Planet - A trilogy of zombie novels.

Nothing cures blogger burnout like zombies.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Sick of The Plague

How long has it been since I’ve written anything? I’m afraid to look. I’ve not been inspired lately.


No, actually I’m lying. I’m not really inspired now either. This is a guilt motivated post. I’m here. I exist. This blog hasn’t died. It’s in hibernation waiting for ideas to percolate.

The Nonbelieving Literati book choice, The Plague, couldn’t get me going. I found it dull. I had hoped for some good post-apocalypse, Lucifer’s Hammer, kind of excitement, which is what perhaps set my expectations on the wrong path. The death in the book was too removed. Body counts listed in the paper told of the rising crisis, but it made it easy for me and the characters to ignore it and wonder when things would get back to normal.

The reporter trapped in the town was supposed to, I guess, give me some sense of urgency. Being cut off from his lover in Paris he’s motivated to try and find a way to circumvent the bureaucracy and be allowed to leave. I felt more that he was driven by a sense of entitlement than any true feeling for his lover.

The doctor goes around his business, exhausted and overworked, but mechanical. He recommends the government do more to handle the situation, but seems to have a fatalistic acceptance when they don’t.

Based on the other Literati reviews, the book does pick up after the point I abandoned it. As The Greenbelt wrote,
This book, to use a cliché, has its picture in the dictionary next to "starts slowly".
And for me, that’s also where it ended. I couldn’t find anyone to care about or connect with. The impression I had of the town was hot, dusty, dull, and industrial. Not a place I’d want to spend time in neither in person nor in my mind.

Had they at least thrown in a zombie or two I could have been excited, but I guess zombies don’t qualify as high literature.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Walking the Walk

NPR has a series called This I Believe. They air three-minute essays from a diverse group of people, famous and not, rich and poor. The goal of the series is to
encourage people to begin the much more difficult task of developing respect for beliefs different from their own.
I have to say I always enjoy this series. Often, because the first line is usually, "I believe in xxxx", I’m sure I’ll disagree with the person and then surprised when I can see much to agree with. So this morning, when I heard that the essay was going to be from a Roman Catholic nun, I was positive I’d have much to disagree with and instead found much to admire.

Sister Helen Prejean, Sister Dead-Man-Walking, starts her essay,
I watch what I do to see what I really believe.
Sister Helen embodies the ideal of what I thought the Catholic church should be but fails to live up to. She's the Brother Sun, Sister Moon type Catholic church. People like her are to be found in every religion and are often pointed to as why religion is such a good thing. But Sister Helen and people like her don’t do what they do because of their religion. They mold their religion into a reflection of themselves, fortunately or unfortunately, as do we all.

In her article, Would Jesus pull the switch? she writes:
I cannot believe in a God who metes out hurt for hurt, pain for pain, torture for torture. Nor do I believe that God invests human representatives with such power to torture and kill. The paths of history are stained with the blood of those who have fallen victim to "God's Avengers." Kings, popes, military generals, and heads of state have killed, claiming God's authority and God's blessing. I do not believe in such a God.

She speaks often about the gospel of Jesus. Her Jesus is very real to her. He’s the Jesus that many good people have created. He’s an externalized projection of her best self. He’s the “moral compass” that believers think atheists lack. Because they think that this projection is some external entity, they don’t realize that we have that moral compass as well. People who fear secularisation, and I’m not speaking of Sister Helen here but people like Mitt Romney, believe that we have the ability to take that external projection away. Because they don’t realize that the good part of people comes from within those good people, they think there is a danger of getting separated from that good part.

In the cartoons, the devil and the angel sitting on a character’s shoulder always look like the character they’re fighting over. Perhaps those cartoonists recognize what most people fail to see. We are god and we are the devil and we daily fight the battles within ourselves over who will win. There are no outside supernatural forces at work.

Sister Helen Prejean is working to fight capitol punishment as well as helping the families of victims of violence. While she and I are definately on different sides when it comes to abortion or euthanasia, I can at least honor her consistancy in her pro-life stance. I also honor her belief when she writes:

The only way I know what I really believe is by keeping watch over what I do.