Someone I used to know decided today that if I happen to state my views as an atheist on an atheist Facebook page that she can tell me that I’m forcing my religion down her throat. People might say that I could have directed the comment to be read by friends only or by acquaintances only; I always try to make sure that I direct any of my comments to those who I know will not be offended or feel as if I’m forcing things upon them. This woman (who I know is a Christian) told me that I was “forcing my religion down her throat.”
If I remember right, I was giving my opinion about the new Pope. I don’t recall forcing her to read what I wrote, or telling her to read it, or telling anyone else to tell her to read it. She knows that I’m an atheist, and that a great many things I write on FB have something to do with atheism or skepticism or freethought or agnosticism or science. But I put up comments about music, classic television, sports, weather, my family members, my friends, teaching, the education system, epilepsy, vertigo, cats, my students, other people’s children, my wife, my opinion of the medical profession, and anything else that crosses my mind.
She’s as welcome as anyone else to read or to ignore anything I post on FB. I do the same for about 1/4 of what gets put on my wall; I’m not always interested in everything people have to say, and some of it, frankly, just makes me want to grab people and shake them. I don’t think I’m smarter than anyone else, because how smart you appear has a lot to do with your surroundings. I’d be an idiot in front of a sewing machine or in a mechanic’s shop, but when it comes to trivia, I’m genius-like. But I do know that I know enough about being an atheist to be able to tell when someone doesn’t know the first thing and is trying to force their beliefs on me.
I refuse to compromise my thought process to satisfy the bronze-age thinking of someone who doesn’t know that atheism is not a religion, nor is it even a belief system. Atheism is the absence of belief in the existence of gods. An atheist is a person who does not believe that gods exist, plain and simple. There are more complicated concepts within that idea, but for the beginner, that’s the essence.
It has no connections to politics, it has no great philosophical beliefs, and it implies no beliefs about society, science, or religion (Buddhism, for example, is an atheistic religion). Each atheist has their own beliefs and attitudes. If you know that a person is an atheist, all you know about them is that they do not believe in gods.
I am an atheist. I do not believe gods exist.
Drunk Driver Pleads Guilty to Charges of Four Counts of Dangerous Driving Causing Death and Dangerous Driving Causing Bodily Harm
The man, facing a number of charges stemming from a fatal crash that rocked Grande Prairie in October, 2011, pleaded guilty to five charges laid against him Tuesday.
On Tuesday, Brandon Holubowich, 23, pleaded guilty to four counts of dangerous driving causing death and dangerous driving causing bodily harm.
The charges were laid following a fatal crash on Highway 668, near Highway 40 in the early hours of October 22, 2011.
Four teenaged boys were killed in the crash – 16-year-olds Matthew Deller and Vincent Stover, along with 15-year-olds Walter Borden-Wilkins and Tanner Hildebrand.
A fifth teen, Zach Judd, was seriously injured in the collision, but has since recovered.
In court Tuesday, the defence and Crown Prosecutor submitted a joint recommendation for Holubowich’s sentence.
It was recommended Holubowich serve three years in jail, with a three-year driving prohibition.
According to the agreed statement of facts, Holubowich had been drinking with friends before the collision – but the Crown and defence asked the judge to take into account that speed played a major role in the crash.
Court documents state Holubowich had been driving at 151 kilometres an hour when the collision happened – the car carrying the teenagers had been making a U-turn when it was hit.
Later Tuesday, court will hear victim impact statements.
This is RIDICULOUS!
A comment on Facebook:
“He is NOT being convicted of drinking and driving causing death…..He has plead guilty to dangerous driving causing death…..the same charge that could be laid if you are texting and kill someone……Our judicial system is designed such that you are innocent until proven guilty. Well boys and girls he is NOT guilty of drinking and driving or impaired causing death”
…led me to respond with the following:
“Pleading guilty to avoid a conviction of a more serious crime doesn’t make his crime any less wrong. By the way, the court NEVER finds anyone to be INNOCENT of a crime, even after “proof” has been provided. The term is “NOT GUILTY.” Even if you were acquitted, you were found to be “not guilty” because the evidence didn’t prove your guilt. Acquittal does not equal innocence, and pleading guilty is admitting gullt. Stop feeling sorry for him. Instead, feel sorry for the families and friends of the four young men who died because of someone else’s stupidity.”
I like dealing with people who are proactive rather than reactive; people who guide their world rather than get pushed around; people who are a force for change rather than sitting back and watching.
What matters to me is that people should think and not simply believe. Belief requires faith, which disregards evidence. Without evidence, there is no proof, and without proof, there is no fact. I separate fact from truth quite simply: people once believed that the earth is flat, and held that as truth. Once sufficient evidence began accumulating to provide proof that earth is round (actually, it’s an oblate sphere), people had no reason to believe it was flat. Fact doesn’t require belief; it is self-evident.
That search for fact leads to my next point: people must possess and promote a desire for lifelong learning. A day has been wasted if spent without acquiring a new idea, a new piece of information or a new skill. There is too much we haven’t discovered for us to be satisfied with what we already know. If mankind hadn’t sought to learn (consciously or unconsciously) , we’d still be “hunter-gathering” our way through life, living in groups of 20-30 individuals, dying young of mysterious causes and existing as potential victims of predators and whatever weather system blew over us.
Following naturally from that is knowing your family’s history. In a world that is increasingly capable of greater and more impressive technology, I still think it’s important to know about your family and your origins. As has been famously said, how can you know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been?
That’s not to say you should spend all of your time with your family. Some of my most productive and satisfying moments have come from times when I’ve been doing things which I enjoy for myself. From time to time, I immerse myself in obscure sports statistics and histories; my wife doesn’t always understand it, but she doesn’t have to, and I don’t understand some of the things she likes to do for herself. None of it is harmful or breaks any laws, nor do we have to explain any of it to anyone. As long as we don’t offend anyone, what we do for ourselves relieves stress and lets us get on with our productive, industrious lives.
Of course, that’s not to say we shouldn’t care about nor do things for other people. To the contrary; time spent doing things for others is the noblest and least selfish way to live. It doesn’t take much, either; five percent of your time works out to about an hour and a quarter each day during which you can volunteer at a seniors’ home, do yardwork for a neighbour, join a service club, coach a junior sports team; the possibilities are almost endless.
If you want to have a life worth living, get involved and do things that matter. Do things without expectation of reward or compensation. Do things because they should be done. Then be satisfied with taking care of people who needed your time and attention — including yourself and your family.
Gerin Oil intoxication can drive previously sane individuals to run away from a normally fulfilled human life and retreat to closed communities of confirmed addicts. These communities are usually limited to one sex only, and they vigorously, often obsessively, forbid sexual activity. Indeed, a tendency towards agonized sexual prohibition emerges as a drably recurring theme amid all the colourful variations of Gerin Oil symptomatology. Gerin Oil does not seem to reduce the libido per se, but it frequently leads to a preoccupation with reducing the sexual pleasure of others. A current example is the prurience with which many habitual ‘Oilers’ condemn homosexuality.
As with other drugs, refined Gerin Oil in low doses is largely harmless, and can serve as a lubricant on social occasions such as marriages, funerals, and state ceremonies. Experts differ over whether such social tripping, though harmless in itself, is a risk factor for upgrading to harder and more addictive forms of the drug.
Medium doses of Gerin Oil, though not in themselves dangerous, can distort perceptions of reality. Beliefs that have no basis in fact are immunized, by the drug’s direct effects on the nervous system, against evidence from the real world. ‘Oil-heads’ can be heard talking to thin air or muttering to themselves, apparently in the belief that private wishes so expressed will come true, even at the cost of other people’s welfare and mild violation of the laws of physics. This autolocutory disorder is often accompanied by weird tics and hand gestures, manic stereotypies such as rhythmic head-nodding toward a wall, or Obsessive Compulsive Orientation Syndrome’ (OCOS: facing towards the east five times a day).
Gerin Oil in strong doses is hallucinogenic. Hardcore mainliners may hear voices in the head, or experience visual illusions which seem to the sufferers so real that they often succeed in persuading others of their reality. An individual who convincingly reports high-grade hallucinations may be venerated, and even followed as some kind of leader, by others who regard themselves as less fortunate. Such follower-pathology can long post-date the original leader’s death, and may expand into bizarre psychedelia such as the cannibalistic fantasy of ‘drinking the blood and eating the flesh’ of the leader.
Chronic abuse of Geriniol can lead to ‘bad trips’, in which the user suffers terrifying delusions, including fears of being tortured, not in the real world but in a postmortem fantasy world. Bad trips of this kind are bound up with a morbid punishment-lore which is as characteristic of this drug as the obsessive fear of sexuality already noted. The punishment-culture fostered by Gerin Oil ranges from ‘smack’ through ‘lash’ to getting ‘stoned’ (especially adulteresses and rape victims), and ‘demanifestation’ (amputation of one hand), up to the sinister fantasy of allo-punishment or ‘cross-topping’, the execution of one individual for the sins of others.
You might think that such a potentially dangerous and addictive drug would head the list of proscribed intoxicants, with exemplary sentences handed out for pushing it. But no, it is readily obtainable anywhere in the world and you don’t even need a prescription. Professional traffickers are numerous, and organized in hierarchical cartels, openly trading on street corners and in purpose-made buildings. Some of these cartels are adept at fleecing poor people desperate to feed their habit. ‘Godfathers’ occupy influential positions in high places, and they have the ear of Royalty, of Presidents and Prime Ministers. Governments don’t just turn a blind eye to the trade, they grant it tax-exempt status. Worse, they subsidize schools founded with the specific intention of getting children hooked.
I was prompted to write this article by the smiling face of a happy man in Bali. He was ecstatically greeting his death sentence for the brutal murder of large numbers of innocent holidaymakers whom he had never met, and against whom he bore no personal grudge. Some people in the court were shocked at his lack of remorse. Far from remorse, his response was one of obvious exhilaration. He punched the air, delirious with joy that he was to be ‘martyred’, to use the jargon of his group of abusers. Make no mistake about it, that beatific smile, looking forward with unalloyed pleasure to the firing squad, is the smile of a junkie. Here we have the archetypal mainliner, doped up with hard, unrefined, unadulterated, high-octane Gerin Oil.
Whatever your view of the vengeance and deterrence theories of capital punishment, it should be obvious that this case is special. Martyrdom is a strange revenge against those who crave it, and, far from deterring, it always recruits more martyrs than it kills. The important point is that the problem would not arise in the first place if children were protected from getting hooked on a drug with such a bad prognosis for their adult minds.
Don’t you think?
Today I went to Subway to get Tammy her lunch. Tammy’d given me her order this morning before I dropped her off at work.
About half an hour before her lunch break – knowing how busy places can be in the middle of the day – I went to get her lunch. She wanted a six-inch tuna sub on toasted flatbread with just the flatbread toasted so it didn’t get soggy.
So that’s what I ordered. Pretty simple, right?
The “sandwich artist” put the flatbread in the oven to toast it then turned around to ask me what kind of cheese I wanted.
I asked her “Does it make sense to ask me what kind of cheese I want when you have no bread in front of you on which to put it?”
The guy waiting behind me laughed once while the poor bewildered “sandwich artist” stared at me in apparent confusion.
She said “I just have to get it ready.”
“So once you pull a few pieces of cheese out, where do you plan to put them?” I asked.
“On the tuna,” she replied.
The guy behind me laughed again, a little louder.
I asked “Where’s the tuna?”
Looking at the counter in front of her, she said “On the bre … oh, yeah.”
The guy behind me left.
I don’t know how many times I’ve been blinded by the headlights of oncoming vehicles. I’m not a scientist, but I’m sure it’s not necessary to have your high-beams on when you’re driving in an area that has street lights. I also doubt the necessity of using your fog lamps when it isn’t foggy, snowing, or for that matter, even dark.
According to www.danielsternlighting.com,
“A good fog lamp produces a wide, bar-shaped beam of light with a sharp horizontal cut-off (dark above, bright below) at the top of the beam, and minimal upward light above the cut-off. Almost all factory-installed or dealer-optional fog lamps, and a great many aftermarket units, are essentially useless for any purpose, especially for extremely demanding poor-weather driving. Many of them are too small to produce enough light to make a difference, produce beam patterns too narrow to help, lack a sufficiently-sharp cutoff, and throw too much glare light into the eyes of other drivers, no matter how they’re aimed.
“Good (and legal) fog lamps produce white or Selective Yellow light, and use tungsten-halogen bulbs. Xenon or HID bulbs are inherently unsuitable for use in fog lamps, and blue or other-coloured lights are also the wrong choice.
“The fog lamps’ job is to show you the edges of the road, the lane markings, and the immediate foreground. When used in combination with the headlamps, good fog lamps weight the overall beam pattern towards the foreground so that even though there may be a relatively high level of upward stray light from the headlamps causing glareback from the fog or falling rain or snow, there will be more foreground light than usual without a corresponding increase in upward stray light, giving back some of the vision you lose to precipitation.
“When used without headlamps in conditions of extremely poor visibility due to snow, fog or heavy rain, good fog lamps light the foreground and the road edges only, so you can see your way safely at reduced speeds.
In clear conditions, more foreground light is not a good thing, it’s a bad thing. Some foreground light is necessary so you can use your peripheral vision to see where you are relative to the road edges, the lane markings and that pothole 10 feet in front of your left wheels. But foreground light is far less safety-critical than light cast well down the road into the distance, because at any significant speed (much above 30 mph), what’s in the foreground is too close for you to do much about. If you increase the foreground light, your pupils react to the bright, wide pool of light by constricting, which in turn substantially reduces your distance vision—especially since there’s no increase in down-the-road distance light to go along with the increased foreground light. It’s insidious, because high levels of foreground light give the illusion, the subjective impression, of comfort and security and “good lighting”.
US-DOT headlamps have historically tended to provide relatively low, arguably inadequate levels of light in the foreground and to the sides. Many US DOT headlamps have what seems to be a “black hole” in front of the car, with essentially the entire beam concentrated in a narrow band or ball of light thrown into the distance. With headlamps like these, a decent argument can be made for the use of fog lamps to fill the “black hole”, that is, to add-back the missing foreground and lateral-spread light when driving at moderate speeds on dark and/or twisty roads. Of course, lamps to rectify inadequate foreground light must be thoughtfully and carefully selected, correctly aimed and properly used. Otherwise, they’re useless at best and dangerous at worst.
In some places, the law prohibits the use of fog lamps without the low beam headlamps also being on. Whether or not this is the case where you drive, it’s vital to realize that fog lamp beams, by definition, have a much shorter reach than headlamp beams. If you drive in conditions foul enough to call for the use of fog lamps without headlamps, it’s essential to have good fog lamps that are up to the task and are properly aimed, and it’s imperative that you slow down because even with high-performance fog lamps, you can’t see as far with fog lamps and in poor weather as you can with headlamps and in clear weather.
If the road is wet or slick with ice, but there’s no falling precipitation, fog lamps should be used with discretion. Their extra downward light can help compensate for the tendency of water to “soak up” the light on the road from your headlamps. But, this extra downward light hitting a road surface shiny with water or ice will also create high levels of reflected glare for other drivers. Since we’re all “other drivers” to everybody else on the road, it’s well to think of roadway safety as a cooperative effort. In most driving situations, fog lamps are neither useful nor necessary, but more people use their fog lamps when the prevailing conditions don’t call for their use, than use them when the conditions do call for their use. Nobody thinks your car is cool because it has fog lamps, and glare is dangerous, so do yourself and everyone a favour: choose them carefully, aim them properly, use them thoughtfully, and leave them off except when they’re genuinely necessary.”
So turn the things off!