Dr Who


I've lost my 14 yr old daughter to Dr Who.

What I'm Reading

Well worth the rental


You will swoon.
You will be mesmerized.
OMG and David Bowie, yes, that Bowie who sung the hell out Scott Walker's Nite Flight shows his beautiful face.
Personally I would love a tribute CD to be released with Bowie and Peter Murphy tackling Walker's songs -as well as the Jacque Brel songs he covered.

Food for The Eagle

I want to start by saying that, to me, any discourse from me about how one can live a moral existence without religion or the church would sound improperly defensive. That there's an opposite to be defended is absurd and based on a provably false premise. So let's dispense with that.

(To be clear: I'm referring to the humanist axiom "Good without God," whereby "good" means morality. It's provably false that there exists no morality outside of religion, therefore the statement sounds defensive to me.)

By what route does anyone come to believe what they believe? We all like to imagine that it's based on a set of logical facts, but it's often a much more circuitous route.

For me it was pretty simple. I'm actually the fourth generation in my family to have no practical use for the church, or God, or religion. My children continue this trend.

Here are a few things I've learned.

Prayer doesn't work because someone out there is listening, it works because someone in here is listening. I've paid attention. I've pictured what I want to happen in my life. I've meditated extensively on my family, my future, my past actions and what did and didn't work for me about them. I've looked hard at problems and thought hard about their solutions.

See, I order my life by the same mechanism that I use to build things. I cannot proceed to move tools around in the real world until my brain has a clear picture in it of what I'm building. The same goes for my life. I've tried to pay attention. I've tried to picture the way I want things to be, and I've noticed that when I had a clear picture, things often turned out the way I wanted them to.

I've concluded by this that someone is paying attention—I've concluded that it's me. I've noticed that if I'm paying attention to those around me, to myself, to my surroundings, then that is the very definition of empathy. I've noticed that when I pay attention, I'm less selfish, I'm happier—and that the inverse holds true as well.

I think one of the defining moments of adulthood is the realization that nobody's going to take care of you. That you have to do the heavy lifting while you're here. And when you don't, well, you suffer the consequences. At least I have. (And in the empirical study I'm performing about interacting with the universe, I am unfortunately the only test subject I have complete access to, so my data is, as they say, self-selected.) While nobody's going to take care of us, it's incumbent upon us to take care of those around us. That's community.

The fiction of continuity and stability that your parents have painted for you is totally necessary for a growing child. When you realize that it's not the way the world works, it's a chilling moment. It's supremely lonely.

So I understand the desire for someone to be in charge. (As a side note, I believe that the need for conspiracy theories is similar to the need for God.) We'd all like our good and evil to be like it is in the movies: specific and horrible, easy to defeat. But it's not. It's banal.

There's a quote I love: "Evil is a little man afraid for his job." I always thought some famous author said it, but I asked my 200,000 followers on Twitter today, and it turns out that Roy Scheider said it in Blue Thunder.

No one is in charge. And honestly, that's even cooler.

The idea of an ordered and elegant universe is a lovely one. One worth clinging to. But you don't need religion to appreciate the ordered existence. It's not just an idea, it's reality. We're discovering the hidden orders of the universe every day. The inverse square law of gravitation is amazing. Fractals, the theory of relativity, the genome: these are magnificently beautiful constructs.

The nearly infinite set of dominoes that have fallen into each other in order for us to be here tonight is unfathomable. Truly unfathomable. But it is logical. We don't know all the steps in that logic, but we're learning more about it every day. Learning, expanding our consciousness, singly and universally.

As far as I can see, the three main intolerant religions in the world aren't helping in that mission.

For all their talk of charity and knowledge, that they close their eyes to so much—to science, to birth control education, to abuses of power by some of their leaders, to evolution as provable and therefore factual (the list is staggering)—illustrates a wide scope of bigotry.

Now, just to be clear. If you want to believe, or find solace in believing, that someone or something set these particular dominoes in motion—a cosmic finger tipping the balance and then leaving everything else to chance—I can't say anything to that. I don't know.

Though a primary mover is the most complex and thus (given Occam's razor) the least likely of all possible solutions to the particular problem of how we got here, I can't prove it true or false, and there's nothing to really discuss about it.

If Daniel Dennett is right— that there's a human genetic need for religion— then I'd like to imagine that my atheism is proof of evolutionary biology in action.

There may be no purpose, but its always good to have a mission. And I know of one fine allegory for an excellent mission should you choose to charge yourself with one: Carlos Castaneda's series of books about his training with a Yaqui indian mystic named Don Juan. There's a lot of controversy about these books being represented as nonfiction. But if you dispense with that representation, and instead take their stories as allegories, they're quite lovely.

At the end of The Eagle's Gift, Don Juan reveals to his student that there's no point to existence. That we're given our brief 70-100 years of consciousness by something the mystics call "The Eagle," named for it's cold, killer demeanor. And when we die, the eagle gobbles our consciousness right back up again.

He explains that the mystics, to give thanks to the eagle for the brief bout of consciousness they're granted, attempt to widen their consciousness as much as possible. This provides a particularly delicious meal for the eagle when it gobbles one up at the end of one's life.

And that, to me, is a fine mission.


By Adam Savage— Delivered to the Harvard Humanist Society, April 2010

Stargazing



Well it was a beautiful weekend for stargazing over in Rayle. My Dad emailed these pictures today.

Atheist Barbie


http://www.blaghag.com/2010/04/atheist-barbie.html

A few words about Christian terrorism.

Pitts: Walking the thin line of religious terrorism || OnlineAthens.com

And I suppose the first words should be about those words: "Christian terrorism." The term will seem jarring to those who've grown comfortable regarding terrorism as something exclusive to Islam.

That this is a self-deluding fallacy should have long since been apparent to anyone who's been paying attention. From Eric Rudolph's bombing of the Atlanta Olympics, a gay nightclub and two abortion clinics to the so-called Phineas Priests who bombed banks, a newspaper and a Planned Parenthood Office in Spokane, from Matt Hale soliciting the murder of a federal judge in Chicago to Scott Roeder's assassination of abortion provider Dr. George Tiller, from brothers Matthew and Tyler Williams murdering a gay couple near Redding, Calif., to Timothy McVeigh destroying a federal building and 168 lives in Oklahoma City, we have seen no shortage of "Christians" who believe Jesus requires - or at least allows - them to commit murder.

If federal officials are correct, we now have one more name to add to the dishonor roll. That name would be Hutaree, a self-styled Christian militia in Michigan, nine members of which have been arrested and accused of plotting to kill police officers in hopes of sparking an anti-government uprising.

Many of us would doubtless resist referring to plots like this as Christian terrorism, feeling it unfair to tar the great body of Christendom with the actions of its fringe radicals. And here, we will pause for Muslim readers to clear their throats loudly.

While they do, let the rest of us note that there is a larger moral to this story and it has less to do with terminologies than similarities.

We are conditioned to think of terror wrought by Islamic fundamentalists as something strange and alien and other. It is the violence of men with long beards who jabber in weird languages and kill for mysterious reasons while worshipping God in ways that seem outlandish to middle American sensibilities. And whatever quirk of nature or deficiency of humanity it is that allows them to do what they do, is, we think, unique. There is, we are pleased to believe, a hard, immutable line between us and Them.

Then you consider Hutaree and its alleged plan to kill in the name of God, and the idea of some innate, saving difference between us and those bearded others in other places begins to feel like a fiction we conjured to help us sleep at night.

"Preparing for the end time battles to keep the testimony of Jesus Christ alive," it says on Hutaree's Web site. And you wonder: Who is this Jesus they worship, and in what Bible is he found? Why does he bear so little resemblance to the Jesus others find in their Bibles, the one who said that if someone hits you on your right cheek, offer him your left, the one who said if someone forces you to go one mile with him, go two, the one who said love your enemies?

Why does their Jesus need the help of men in camo fatigues with guns and bombs? In this, he is much like the Allah for whom certain Muslims blow up marketplaces and crowded buses. Muslim and American terrorists, it seems, both apparently serve a puny and impotent God who can't do anything without their help.

Sometimes, I think the only thing that keeps us from becoming, say, Afghanistan, is a strong central government and a diverse population with a robust tradition of free speech. The idea that there is something more is a conceit that blows apart like confetti every time there is, as there is now, a sense of cultural dislocation and economic uncertainty.

That combination unfailingly moves people out to the fringes where they seek out scapegoats and embrace that feeble God. And watching, you can't help but realize the troubling truth about that line between "us" and "Them."

It's thinner than you think.

• Leonard Pitts Jr., winner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, is a columnist for the Miami Herald. Send e-mail to lpitts@miamiherald.com.

It's a good thing...

I don't have violent tendancies and own a gun because right now my dryer would have multiple gun shot wounds.

Well it finally happened, the dryer gave up the ghost 2 yrs and 2 months after I purchased it and 2 months post warranty.

The replacement part for the one thing I know is dead is 110.00 plus S/H. I think I can connect it, but that leaves me with a second possibly bad part if the start knob, which has been wonky for a while, is also dead. I won't know until the timer/cycle knob is replaced. The price of one is a third of a new dryer cost. The cost of both puts me well over half the cost of a new one. If this were a fancy model I could see the repair cost at 125-250 MAYBE being worth it, but it was a $300 model.

Tomorrow I dissect the bad part and see if I can figure out a fix. I can't screw it up any worse than it is and irregardless it's learning experience-yeah right! Three dryers in a 15 year marriage is a little ridiculous. But hey, we have friends whose dryers have lasted longer than their marriages so I guess there is a bright side.

What I'm Reading

Obit

Awoke this morning to find Dixie Carter of Designing Women has died. Here is my favorite quote from the show:

Julia: I'm saying this is the South. And we're proud of our crazy people. We don't hide them up in the attic. We bring 'em right down to the living room and show 'em off. See, Phyllis, no one in the South ever asks if you have crazy people in your family. They just ask what side they're on.

Phyllis: Oh? And which side are yours on Mrs. Sugarbaker?

Julia: Both.

This quote always resonated with me. Growing up, my Macon side of the family would say, "Poor Cousin Sherry, she's crazy like her Aunt Joyce," who had spent time in Milledgeville. Later my mother would succumb to the same illness, manifesting itself at its worst in hoarding syndrome. Unfortunately, with hoarding it's hard to bring the crazy people into the living room: there's no place to sit.

Why does the shit hit the fan over and over?

WTF is going on? Why does everything break all at once?
New Tires for Toyota plus alignment $421.00
The county still hasn't fixed the road 3 months on so I went from good tread on my tires to no tread in 3 months and a major alignment problem.
Front and Rear Brakes for Toyota $367.00
Dryer - timer is screwed so I now have 10 minute cycles
1 Computer Monitor - dead- purchased 3 yrs ago, 2 yr warranty.
Lawn Mower - Frozen blades - repaired but now the drive train belt came off and when it's on, the mower won't go up and down hills, only along them. 2+ acres total, but I mow 3/4 acre now by hand with...
Push Mower - Leaky gas tank
Tiller - no idea! No lettuce planted.
Septic backed up in the house- many hours of cleaning with clorox and water plus $315.00 to pump the 1000 gallon tank which should have been the 1500 gallon tank we paid for.
2 downed pine trees, both over 60 yrs old- massive!
1 half ass chain saw and 2 half broken down middle age adults to tackle it because the tree companies want $600-$1000 to deal with it. Hey! Less lawn to mow!
Dish washer - broken upper shelf
Broken AC in the Honda- Who knows how much? The brakes and tires needed work first.
Front end work on Honda $200- waiting
2 broken door handles and broken automatic windows on Toyota- waiting
Eye exams $100 for two plus glasses for one, maybe 2 but we don't know, haven't gone to the eye doctor -
instead-
Sent the kids for dental exams $335 with the news that there's
Possible braces on 1 or 2 kids - $2500-$5000
Blood work and exam for tumor follow up $150.00
Bone Scan later this month with $250 deductible per procedure
Monthly medicine costs $1000- that's the usual bullshit - and yes, we have insurance-that's our share! Two brain tumors later along with 6 weeks of 5 day a week radiation.

Waiting to see what happens next.