Saturday, August 11, 2012

I just wonder.... many years of his tax returns did Congressman Ryan have to provide to the Romney team as part of the vetting process?

Just saying.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Anti-atheist discrimination

Interesting article over at Salon about the discrimination faced by atheists. I've run into it occasionally. The first time I explicitly hit it was in junior high, when it was made very clear by my peers, and my teachers, that some opinions were simply wrong and should be kept to myself in any event. 

My views on religious issues have waxed and waned over the years since then, though I'm currently  back in my default strongly-doubting agnostic mode.  (Making the positive claim that something doesn't exist is much more difficult than the observation that there's a notable lack of evidence for something existing.) 

The only sort I've bumped up against lately is the informal variety. The sort that's perfectly legal, and that our society says is acceptable. So, for example, if someone informs me that I couldn't possibly be moral, that I'm not fit to stand in front of a classroom, that I'm not loyal to my country (and too dim-witted to understand what my country is 'really' all about), well, I'm supposed to just thank them for trying to help me be a better human being for pointing out to me how awful it is that I'm not like them. I've had all of those happen, by the way. 

On the other hand, I've also not had problems (at my current job) with people evangelizing me on the job, knocking my performance appraisal, or spamming me with "god will hate you if you don't forward this" emails.  Updating my filters has taken care of the emails from friends, former friends, people with whom I took high-school classes in the same building, distant cousins, etc. I've learned from experience, they won't take you off their "Emails For Jesus" list no matter how often you ask, so it's easier, and kinder, with less hurt feelings all the way around, to just update the filters so it's not taking up space in the inbox and be done with it. 

Incidentally...what made me question religion and turn to the more austere, but reality-based, appeal of reason in the first place? Reading the Bible. All of it, cover to cover. But that's another story, for another day.... 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Friday, June 22, 2012

A pleasant Friday evening

Spending Friday night at an installfest for a beginners Python workshop... Good turnout, much geekery. as stalker has a social-media plugin thingy called MySlate. They really, really want you to use it. They put ads for it on every darn page. Sometimes when you're reading an article, a popup flies over from the side to try to get you to sign up for it.

This morning, I learned that clicking a link to read an article gets a full-page pop-up that blocks you completely because they just want you to know how incredibly amazingly awesome it is And of course, it's got the usual microscopically sized, barely-contrasting-color close button, so it keeps it right there on the screen in front of you as long as possible.

Apparently their theory is this: If they've ignored the other popups and closed them without following the links for the last 50 times, they're obviously just being coy, but if we bomb them enough with intrusive-enough ads for this thing they obviously don't want, they'll relent and give in. The behavior is exactly the same as an abusive stalking would-be lover.

Why do so many sites assume that readers have no other options, and that their precious 'content' is so amazingly unique that users will put up with any amount of harassment to get it? Dear If you annoy me enough, I won't give in; I just won't be back. You're dumping enough cookies on my computer already, a simple flag of "Hm, this guy's turned down joining our incredibly amazingly awesome crappy add-on 20 times already, maybe, just maybe, he's really not interested." Is that so hard?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Obama's 'evolution'

It was announced too late to make a difference in North Carolina. In a way that risked no votes. And while this is his personal view, there is no policy followup, no action behind it, merely a statement of his personal views. Nothing suggesting any official response. And though I'm sure he's saddened by how often people's basic rights are put to to a vote, to make sure that equal treatment under the law doesn't offend the citizenry, that sadness doesn't lead to any commitment to change.

So. Thank you, Mr President, for saying some words.

And once again, Shep Smith demonstrates that Fox isn't an entire wasteland of partisan hackery.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Ugly website update

This was going to be a quick post that's new look could be used as a classroom example of how to make a site uglier, less useful, harder to navigate, and more self-important.

Then I logged in to Blogger to make the post, and saw what Google has wrought upon the control panels. They win. FAR uglier and less useful.

Whatever their target demographic is, I'm apparently not in it.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Mismatched Caption Dept.

I don't know if it's an issue with the website or with my browser, but I've noticed something about Andrew Sullivan's site. The right side of the page has links to various articles at the Daily Beast. Sometimes the linked story changes, but the image attached to the link doesn't. This can  result in things like this:

No, you don't care to know where my mind went with that combination.... 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

On movie atheists

After some discussions with a friend, I've got some ideas bouncing around in my head, none of them original... in fact, I can't escape the feeling that I'm at least paraphrasing someone else. So, with that disclaimer:

There are 2 basic types of atheists depicted in movies.

The first is the person who used to have faith but lost it due to some personal tragedy; the death of a child seems a popular reason here. At any rate, there's no need to worry about this person, because by the end of the movie they will have regained their faith, and come to understand that it's not God's fault their child died, but was rather their own, that of an alcoholic/violent ex-spouse, or (more recently) the fault of dark-complexioned people who follow one of the 'wrong' religions. They will not hold God responsible in any way, and in fact may go so far as to say that it's all for the best, or that while they don't understand why it happened, they know there must be a reason, which they are apparently content never to find out.

(Insert rant here about the frequency with which 'divine justice' is presented as the explanation behind  "God kills a child, in order to teach an adult a Very Important Life Lesson.")

The other type of atheist is the sneering, condescending intellectual, most often a self-important professor, who openly and rudely (since atheists don't have good manners) mocks anyone with any religious belief whatever, and insults religion in general at the slightest excuse. At a critical point of the narrative, this person will either betray the heroes (because you can't have morals or ethics without religion, therefore atheists can't be trusted), abandon someone to a horrible fate in a shocking display of complete self-centeredness (because you can't have concern for other people or compassion of any kind without religion, therefore atheists only think of themselves) or reveal himself as a sniveling coward (because you can't have courage, moral or otherwise, without religion, therefore atheists crumble at the first sign of difficulty). This type of atheist is usually eaten by a velociraptor. Even in movies that don't otherwise feature dinosaurs. Their deaths will be presented in a way designed to make the audience cheer.

There are a few variations ("They only have about a dozen characters, but they mix them around a bit"), but those are the main two types. There might be exceptions out there, but personally I'm not aware of any popular movie that makes it clear that one character is an atheist while those around them are believers, that doesn't give the atheist a good solid comeuppance by the final reel. They're certainly never shown to have any moral strength.

Personally, I've known just as many manipulative creeps, cowards, and self-centered blowhards who happily mouthed bible verses the entire time, while looking down on anyone who didn't share their particular brand of belief, as I have obnoxious agnostics or arrogant atheists. But that's just me. Maybe I should be keeping an eye out for velociraptors, just in case.