Observations and inanities by a second-shift assistant supervisor in the Puppy-Grinding division of the Evil Atheist Conspiracy® (our motto: "Sure it's cruel, but think of the jobs!"), your host, Brent Rasmussen.
I thought I would repost this item from the end of 2006. Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all - I hope yours have the meaning you create.
I had lunch the other day with an old friend and fellow atheist. It’s ironic that we really only get to see one another during the Christmas period, when he is in town to visit family.
In the course of the wide-ranging conversation (we share many opinions, and differ just enough on some others to keep things lively), he mentioned that he thought that what my wife and I were doing in caring for her mom was praiseworthy.
My mother is a great believer in forwarding emails of the Republican or Christian variety. I've seen most of them before, and generally I don't respond. Eh. My mom is awesome, but a little far right politically and religiously at this point in her life - and I'm too damned tired to start a war. Heh.
But when she forwarded this essay (quoted in it's entirety below the fold), and claimed it was written by our own curmudgeonly atheist Andy Rooney, I had to reply:
This was actually written by a sports writer by the name of Nick Gholson who worked for the "Times New Record" newspaper in Wichita Falls, Texas, back in 1999, NOT Andy Rooney. Andy Rooney is actually an atheist!
"Why am I an atheist? I ask you: Why is anybody not an atheist? Everyone starts out being an atheist. No one is born with belief in anything. Infants are atheists until they are indoctrinated. I resent anyone pushing their religion on me. I don't push my atheism on anybody else. Live and let live. Not many people practice that when it comes to religion." -Andy Rooney, Boston Globe, May 30, 1982.
"I am an atheist... I don't understand religion at all. I'm sure I'll offend a lot of people by saying this, but I think it's all nonsense." -Andy Rooney, from a speech at Tufts University, Nov. 18, 2004.
And as for agreeing with Gholson's essay below, obviously I don't. I think it's a pretty desperate argument to claim that "might makes right" like Gholson does here - especially in America! Adult Americans don't usually agree or use petty, childish, playground arguments like that. We usually stand up for the little guy, don't we? Defend those who need defending? We say, "I disagree with what you say, but I would die defending your right to say it!" Right??
Our Constitution and Bill of Rights are designed to counteract the sort of "tyranny of the majority" that Gholson is promoting, and to protect the rights of the minority from being trampled by all the frothing "Christian Nation" kooks in the majority who want to have MY kids pray to THEIR god in public schools paid for by my taxes. You can say your prayers any time you want - on the street corner, in church, in your home, heck, even at a football game! What you *can't* do is have public school officials lead *my* children in saying *your* prayers to *your* god, to the exclusion of all other religions, or non-religion - and then expect me to pay for the privilege!
Argh! It drives me nuts! :)
I love you Ma, and I'm really not trying to make you upset, but I think you're 180 degrees off-center on this issue. I hope you'll reconsider your position.
Ugh. I hate writing to my family about this stuff. It's going to make the holidays interesting, in any case! :)
Mrs. Inscrutable and I will be heading up to the cool pines in Flagstaff this weekend to participate in the American Cancer Society's Climb to Conquer Cancer walk. My mom is a cancer survivor, and we're doing it for her and all of the people who can still beat this thing with the additional research and whatnot that can be achieved with our donations.
Now, I'm not an exercise-y sort of guy. I walk - to the couch. And I "exercise" when I mow the lawn, weed-wack the backyard, take a ride around the
galaxy neighborhood on Starship Rasmussen at a leisurely warp 2, or head down the road to recover the day's mail from the mailbox. But I don't exercise in the traditional sense.
So, I have been thinking about my choice of shoes to wear while walking up the mountain in Flagstaff - 7 miles uphill! I mean, I wear flip-flops 350 days out of the year. I asked Mrs. Inscrutable, seeing as she is a former high school and college track star, and predictably she says, "Wear your running shoes."
Gah. My "running shoes", as she puts it so delicately, are an old pair of Reeboks that I got from the bargain rack at The Sports Authority for 11 dollars about 5 years ago. I bought them because I needed shoes that I could trash while working on a friend's roof re-shingling job. They have seen better days, in other words. And, because this seems to be an very important point in my consideration of potential footwear, I have to mention that I have never really walked anywhere in them. I've stood around on a hot rooftop in Phoenix, and lugged buckets of tar and nails across said rooftop in them. Climbed up and down a ladder. Driven in them. But never "walked" walked.
I actually thought about wearing my flips. I am used to them, they are comfortable, and like I said, I wear them all the frickin' time. But that'd be stupid I guess. Sure, I have walked a lot more than 7 miles in them, but never all at one time, uphill. And they have no arch support. (Hell-oo flat feet in a few more years! Woo!)
I about to conclude that I was going to need to make a trip to the shoe store and get a new pair of comfortable walking shoes when it hits me...
I hunt about twice a year. In my hunts I walk, and walk, and walk, and walk, etc., ad infinitum, for miles. Up the mountain, down the mountain, through rushing rivers, over rocks and boulders, on dirt roads, and pavement sometimes - in my hunting boots. Perfect! They are comfortable, broken in, have arch support, and fit my feet like a, um, a shoe I guess. :) (I was about to say "glove", but that didn't sound right at all. Heh.)
So, if you happen to be at the Climb to Conquer Cancer walk this weekend in Flagstaff, keep an eye out for me. I'll be the ugly redneck in shorts, a tshirt, my cowboy hat, and my calf-high camo hunting boots.
I have gotten a late start in my fundraising this year, and my personal goal is to try to donate a minimum of $500 to the organization. I have already kicked in 40 bucks, and my good friend Dave De Neui contributed $200 (thanks again Dave!). If you would like to contribute (no matter how large or small - even a buck will help!) and help me achieve my goal, please go to:
2. Click the "DONATE" button and make your donation.
3. Win. (heheh)
Once you have donated, it will add to my (and our team's) total goal.
We will be walking with the Palo Verde Nuclear Power Plant Team and supporting this wonderful cause. With the current economic downturn, we need to try a little harder this year to raise the money that is needed to continue the treatments and research that our peers, colleagues, friends, or family needs.
Thank you in advance for anything you may be able to give and feel free to let others know how to donate. Although the donation is under my name, I am just the messenger who will hopefully deliver a large amount from all of us.
Thanks again! :)
Hey folks! As I indicated in the subject this has no bearing on the topics that are usually discussed on this blog.
We're looking to expand our home. We've got the loan malarky under control. What I'm looking for is your tips and suggestions on how to choose a general contractor for the work. We are adding around 1400 square feet and if anyone has any tips or suggestions on how to choose the right contractor I'd appreciate them! My sidebar email is a perfectly valid place to reply. Thanks in advance!
Hi. Yeah, it's me. Got back to KC a little bit ago. Uh-huh. Just left the airport. Should be home by 10:30. But I don't think we're going to make it. No. See, the windshield is covered with ice, and the driver doesn't want to pull over to get it fixed. No, I mean really covered. *Really covered.* I think the driver's driving by E.S.P. or something. Uh-huh. Yeah. I'm just laying down because I don't want to see it when we die.
That was from the idiot woman who sat behind us in the shuttle from Kansas City. Who felt it incumbent upon her to call several friends and family members and relay that particular narrative of our imminent demise.
So, I went to a funeral the other day.
It was a nice funeral, as funerals go, but it was a decidedly Catholic funeral. You see, Mrs. Inscrutable and I did the flowers for the funeral. My brother's wife's mother died way too young, and we were only happy to put together a wonderful flower arrangement for the family. We asked if they wanted us to stay for the service, and they said it was okay to leave after dropping off the flowers, but we thought that it would be nice if we stuck around and offered some moral support for my brother, his wife, and her family.
Can you say "uncomfortable"?
The priest - "Father Joe", had a high-pitched, whiny voice, which he acknowledged right up front, and had a tendency to repeat himself, to make his points. He insisted on calling the deceased "mom" and "grandma". Over and over. "Mom, and grandma, would have said...", would have wanted, would have been, etc. All I could think was, "didn't this guy have the decency to actually get to know the deceased and her family a bit before spouting off about her "wants" and "needs"? He also sang. In latin. Acapella.
My youngest was lamenting the fact that Christmas was very thin this year. Not in a bad, whiny, selfish way, but rather in the general "aw, it's too bad that everyone is so broke this year due to the economy." (His 12 year old brain is finally beginning to realize that there is a wider world out there, and it's all connected - somehow - by this 'economy' thing, among other equally nebulous concepts. And it affects him. Wow! :)) So, we had a little talk about Christmas, the holidays in general, and what is really important.
I asked him to remember back to Christmas, two years ago, and tell me about one gift that he still has and enjoys.
He thought about it for a good thirty seconds - an eternity in 12-year-old land - and admitted that he doesn't have a clue what he got two years ago. He couldn't remember a single thing.
Then I asked him what he does remember about Christmastime two years ago.
"I remember when all of the family came over and we made peanut butter balls and sat around the firepit and played guitar and I jumped on the trampoline with my cousins. Then Uncle Kris fell over the dog and tipped over the pretzels!"
Point made. Family, friends, getting together and just enjoying each other's company, singing songs and laughing - that is the true meaning of Christmas for this atheist family. All that other stuff - the holiday sales, the gift-giving, the decorations, the music, Santa Claus - just gives us the perfect excuse to get together and be a family together. I love this time of year because of that.
I hope your holiday time was happy, all.
You may or may not have noticed that I've been an absentee blogee recently. I've been extremely busy since we got back from our trip. In between work, the holidays, other family obligations and working on getting our house renovated I haven't had a lot of time to blog. I am hoping to jump back in, starting with this post.
In the meantime, if you're interested, most of our trip photos are available online at the picasa website.
You can find the 2 albums here:
Here in California we've got a stupid ballot initiative that seeks to amend the state constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman. Well the money has poured into the state from the Mormons and Dobson's Focus on the Family group and they're blanketing the airwaves, planting signs, and fielding troops on the ground to stand and street corners in matching shirts who wave Yes on 8 signs.
I just read an article about some high school kids who are doing their part to fight against this. Here is a great quote from one of them:
"Prop. 8 is not only a religious issue. It's an issue of discrimination and prejudice. Who's to say atheists and agnostics won't be next?"
This is a kid who started a school club called the "Freethinking Atheist and Agnostic Kinship student club"
Just maybe there's hope after all...
Happy Fourth, everyone, and particularly those who are celebrating one or more birthdays today!
I'll ask my fellow Americans (non-Americans welcome to join in as well, of course) what your plans are to observe Independence Day?
My plans are always also colored a bit by the fact that it is my birthday (as mentioned in this comment by a friend), but still tied to the general holiday.
Each year I wait in bed until I hear NPR's reading of the Declaration of Independence - it sort of sets the tone of the day for me. (Bonus question - how many framed copies of the Declaration do you have on display?) One thing I like to do each year is to watch the movie Gettysburg (all 4+ hours of it), which is an excellent adaptation of the book The Killer Angels. Why? Well, primarily due to the role that the Battle of Gettysburg played as a turning point in the Civil War, and therefore (as I see it) in redeeming the promise initially made in the Revolution.
I knew it!
[link] Q. Dad, will you explain the theory of relativity to me? I don't understand why time goes slower at great speed.
A. It's because you keep changing time zones. See, if you fly to California, you gain three hours on a five-hour flight, right? So if you go at the speed of light, you gain more time, because it doesn't take as long to get there. Of course, the theory of relativity only works if you're going west.
So, I'm curious - given some kind of time-travel technology, what would you like to witness from the past? Let's say that something about the technology prohibits you from interacting with the past - all you can do is passively watch/listen.
And note I said "from the past", not "from history", because while I would want to see some of the famous events, I think I would actually more like to see little things that seldom show up in history books. Like the building of our house (go down to the "Hurst John" house second from the bottom). Or maybe something from my childhood, since I remember so little of it. Sure, everyone would want to resolve some of the mysteries from history, and to witness specific events, but it's more interesting to hear what personal moments of the time would attract your attention.
When would you go?
(Cross posted to Communion of Dreams.)
A few weeks ago my brother invited us to come out and see him play at a popular country & western steakhouse called "San Tan Flat". San Tan Flat is a fun, family place. There is a large outdoor area where you can sit and have dinner, and where the band plays. There's also a small, circular dance floor in front of the stage.
Now, Mrs. Inscrutable and I like to cut a rug now and then, and I was excited to be able to dance with her this time. "Man," I said to my brother, "It's been a while since we've been able to come out and see you play! It'll be fun to dance!"
"You can't dance there," said Mike. "It's against the law."
More below the fold...
It's a serious question. Many of us who are non-believers nonetheless are in family or other situations where some kind of participation or observation of this most important of Christian holidays.
Many times, even after I had left my Catholic faith far behind, I would attend Easter sunrise services with friends, or spend the day with family. My maternal grandmother always put out a big spread of food, and throughout the day the family would come by and try to avoid eating it (she was an OK cook, but her safe-food-handling skills were notoriously bad, and almost always someone in the family would get hit with a mild case of food poisoning).
Lots of atheists will still decorate eggs, or give the kids candy for Easter, because it is so much a part of the culture.
For me and my wife, it is just a routine day - since my mother-in-law passed on last month, we no longer need to even pretend to observe the holiday. But this is perhaps the first time in several years when I'm not doing *anything* in connection with the day.
So, what are you doing today?
What I've been up to recently, and perhaps why I haven't been as vocal.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Lisa, our regular hospice nurse, arrived while we were getting my MIL dressed this morning. She sat and watched, observing my MIL, seeing how she interacted with us, how she moved, how she looked. Then she went through her usual examination, checking vital signs, listening to heart, lungs, intestines, asking the usual questions about sleep, and appetite, and signs of pain. She sat back, looked at my MIL, and said pleasantly to her: "you always have such a beautiful smile."
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
There is light snow falling, but the winter storm which had been predicted has missed us for the most part. The grey fits my mood.
Possummomma needs our help! Her Lupus-related light sensitivity has gotten worse, and she needs to light-proof her home. Even a couple of bucks, from each of us baby-eating evil atheist scum-sucking lowlifes will help.
Hang in there P-Momma!
I wrote this personal item for my blog this morning, but then realized that it was in many ways a perfect summation of how I see the world. Feel free to ignore.
I commented via email to a close friend yesterday about the persistent fever my MIL has been running, 2 to 2.5 degrees above her normal. We'd seen fevers come and go for the last several months, but this one seems to have settled in for a while. I got back this:
Any particular reason for it, or is she just being like a star that's going into its final flameout?
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
*This post previously ran last year. And while some of the personal details mentioned in it have changed - I did indeed keep that promise to tweak my manuscript - the sentiment is the same.
This has been a hell of a day. Not as bad as some, perhaps, but as far as routine days go, not the sort you want to pop up often in the queue. It started with my mother-in-law being ill. Now, most adults know how a young child (either their own or one they've babysat) can be when sick. Think intestinal bug. Think explosive diarrhea, of the toxic/caustic variety. Poor kid doesn't understand what's going on, or how to best cope with their misbehaving body (if they are capable of that on their own yet). Then picture that not in a toddler, but in a 95-pound woman well into dementia before the effects of dehydration and fever kick in. Took my wife and I two full hours to get her and the bedroom cleaned up.