No Explusion

Posted by tungtide on August 15, 2008, 1:15 pm

I’ll keep this short. Webster Cook, the student who unintentionally started the whole sequence of cracker-related shenanigans, has been cleared of all “charges.”

I’ll link to the Friendly Atheist version and leave it at that. Back to studying.


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Posted by tungtide on August 12, 2008, 12:18 pm

For the remainder of the month I’m going to be light on posts. I have a major qualifying exam to deal with at the end of the month that is already sapping the vast majority of my time.

A small diversion: My new favorite game while wandering around campus is to deliberately get in the way of bicyclists who are riding in inappropriate areas (sidewalks, no-bike zones). At times they’ll yell at me to move, and I can often point to the clearly displayed signs that surround the area. For the sidewalks I simply have to point to the bike roads that cross the campus (usually empty while they are riding on the sidewalk).

The game can be turned around when I’m riding my bike instead. Pedetrians will completely block the bike paths (in shared pedestrian/bicycle areas). After a few rounds of “excuse me” being ignored I’ll follow up with the “MOVE!” command. Somehow this annoys them. One pedestrian even told me to “go around,” indicating that I should move the opposite direction around the traffic circle and likely cause a major addicdent.

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Posted by tungtide on August 8, 2008, 9:48 pm

I have a variety of subjects that I am combining into a single post, mainly because I have it all in my head at one time.

First – A couple signs of times, or at least the economy. A local casino is offering to help casino-goers avoid making difficult decisions. Rather than having to decide whether to fill you gas tank or gamble away your paycheck, you can do both. (Seeing as how this is a promotion, the link will probably be incorrect after August 24, 2008. The screenshot below shows the state of the webpage on August 8.

Casinos are attempting to draw in crowds by offsetting the cost of driving to the casino. Other casinos are running monthly prize and cash giveaways. Even with the dip in gas prices back below the $4/gallon mark, it would appear that some forms of entertainment are beginning to suffer.

The other sign that people are seriously considering the cost of simply getting around can be found in shopping carts. There are a number of apartment complexes within walking distance of the nearby supermarket. In the last three weeks, though, I’ve seen a greater number of shopping carts appearing at distances farther from the store. My apartment is maybe a mile from the store and over the course of the two years I’ve lived here I saw only a single cart lying around the complex. In the past three weeks I’ve seen at least ten carts. Even some of the houses I pass on my bike route into campus have carts appearing in their yards. Things will unfortunately get worse long before they get better too.

Second – I’m a day late in coming across the post at Possummomma’s page, but was angered to find that there’s a counter-blog specifically designed to thwart her efforts. I don’t know P-momma personally and have only had limited communication with her, but have found her to be nothing but friendly and thoughtful. Her accounts of her life and family make it clear that she is a dedicated, successful, loving mother. The actions of the No Possum Zone are reprehensible and done under the guise of “love.” Oh yes, they don’t get a link because I don’t like them. If anyone’s really interested the NPZ is linked through the P-momma page at the beginning of this paragraph.

Finally – since anyone who’s read this far deserves a small treat. The Senate finally has a new album (also available on iTunes). I saw them live while in Seattle two years ago (on the birthday of one of the members. I even got to talk with his mom for a while which made the experience that much better) and highly recommend them. (Try to ignore my poor sentence structure and semi-channeling of (((Billy))), it will pass, really). To those of you in Seattle, find them and watch a show.

Update (a few minutes after the original post): The newer Senate album was released back in March, but I just found it yesterday. Based on when I was in Seattle it was Andrew’s birthday and I saw them in Cafe Allegro (under the College Inn off University Way near the University of Washington campus).

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Free Speech Zones II

Posted by tungtide on August 6, 2008, 9:57 pm

My original post covered the restriction of free speech in regard to where protesters are allowed to, well, protest. The upcoming Democratic National convention in Denver (Aug 25-28) was one of the examples. As much as I may disagree with the message that DNC protests might bring, I fully support the rights of dissenters to protest and disagree.

It is with a heavy heart that I must update the situation. A federal judge has ruled that the defined “free speech zones” are, in fact, legal.

U.S. District Judge Marcia Krieger agreed that the protesters would suffer some infringement on their freedom of expression but said those interests had to be balanced with security concerns.

I officially call bullshit.

This is the same tired argument that the White House has been using for almost eight years as an excuse to chip away at our civil liberties. It’s always in the “best interest of security” and delivered with a father-knows-best attitude (or in this case, mother-knows-best).

Should we sacrifice security? Of course not. Is it possible to balance the need for security with the rights of citizens to express themselves peacefully? If not, we are doing something seriously wrong. I can’t think or write straight right now, so I’m just going to end this here.

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Lazy Update II

Posted by tungtide on August 6, 2008, 2:03 am

This is more of a link dump than anything else. (It is almost 2am right now and I still can’t sleep).

Over at Friendly Atheist, Hemant linked an article from the Freedom From Religion Foundation. It details the difficulties that the FFRF’s new legal intern faced growing up as a Jehova’s Witness. She lived in fear and oppression before finally gaining the courage to step away.

On the eve of my sixteenth birthday, I called the police. After obtaining a six-month restraining order against my father, I sat in the car, in front of the courthouse, with my maternal grandmother, while my mother attempted to console my father.

Her tale is one that details the negative impact that religion has on families and the growth of children.

Six months later, after six months of peace and quiet and tranquility, I got down on my hands and knees in front of my mother and pleaded and begged her not to let my father back into the house. She said no. She chose him, because she thought that’s what Jehovah wanted her to do.

Her mother chose to live in an abusive, unhealthy relationship that was harmful to her children, all in the name of religion. I was truly at a loss for words by the end.

Second, I have a link from The Information Paradox where author Pariahjane has a simple request

Her post is in response to an attempt to update the “Conscience Clause” for pharmacists who are unwilling to dispense birth control due to religious objections. In recent years (I’m too lazy to find links right now) there have been cases of pharmacists refusing to fill birth control prescriptions and holding those prescriptions without transferring them to another pharmacist or pharmacy to be filled. Currently it is illegal for a pharmacist to refuse to transfer the prescription. They must allow another willing pahrmacist fill the order.

In areas with limited pharmacies and/or limited public transportation, an updated conscience clause would allow these pharmacists to completely (and legally) restrict access to birth control.

Pharmacists, just like everyone else, are entitled to their beliefs. They are not, however, allowed to use their position as a means to promote their own world view.

Finally, I’ve added links to three more blogs on the right. PhillyChief’s You Made Me Say it, The Exterminator’s No More Hornets, and (((Billy))) The Atheist. With the exception of Billy, I’ve been reading the other two blogs for a while now. I got into a discussion with those three in the No More Hornets comment section, so I’ve decided to shamelessly plug them.

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Comment Policy Update

Posted by tungtide on August 4, 2008, 4:35 pm

I had meant this to just be a new post, but instead it ended up as a new page.

I’ve amended the comment policy in two ways:

First was to change the policy of deletion of comments with identifying information. Those comments will be edited to remove personal information.

Second, I’ve specifically listed linking to pornography as a deletable offense. I have nothing against porn, it just has no place on this blog.

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Not A Doctor

Posted by tungtide on August 1, 2008, 9:43 pm

Wanted to pass this along and recommend reading Cecitc.

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Book Reviews

Posted by tungtide on July 31, 2008, 1:22 pm

As part of the ongoing development of my disbelief I felt that it would be a good idea to see what other, more prominent, members of the community are writing. Over the last couple months in the limited free time that I have, I’ve read three atheism-related books: The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens, and I Sold My Soul on eBay by Hemant Mehta (see Friendly Atheist).

Both Dawkins and Hitchens are written for an audience that already agrees with them. They take a fundamental stance (not to be compared to Fundamental, as in the belief structure) that assumes atheism should be the default position and continue from there. Dawkins is patient and reasonable in his arguments, avoiding confrontation when necessary, working to build a case that supports atheism as viable world view. Hitchens is more combative and while moderated somewhat in the book, he’s more likely to be forthright and offensive to those who disagree. I’m not saying that either of those books are bad. They do cater to a specific audience and are not likely to be well-received as tools of conversion (if that’s your ultimate goal).

Mehta’s book is different in a very good way. He takes his role as a friendly atheist seriously as he chronicles his journey visiting various churches around the country. The purpose of his initial eBay auction was to see if he was missing something in Christianity after leaving behind Jainism to become an atheist. Hemant enters these churches with an open mind and a notepad, characterizing the good and the bad of churches large, small, and mega.

Again, not a tool for conversion, but rather a great conversation piece. This is the kind of book that can help atheists and Christians understand their common ground and dispel many of the misappropriated beliefs placed on each group.

All in all I would recommend I Sold My Soul on eBay over the other books.

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Stand Up, Do Something

Posted by tungtide on July 29, 2008, 12:38 pm

Richard Wade, one of the authors at Hemant Mehta’s Friendly Atheist site has written an excellent post on why the Christian population is seen as accepting the views of the loud-mouthed minority in their ranks. It’s because there are not enough people standing up to denounce these sorts of actions.

For instance, why aren’t you picketing outside The Christian Action League of North Carolina and other institutions of faith-based hate in every city? When atheists protest such things they’re dismissed as, well, atheists. If six Christian churches did the same protesting wherever it occurs it would be big news.

It is as much the responsibility of the believers as it is of the non-believers to stand up for justice and equality. Whether I believe in him or not, whether he was fictional or not, Jesus preached a message of tolerance, acceptance, and equality. This message is supposed to shape the actions of Christians and the way they interact with the world.

And Mary called me a hater 🙂

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A Response

Posted by tungtide on July 28, 2008, 10:11 am

In response to my End of A Cracker post, commenter Mary had this to say:

Remain objective? He’s launched his own emotionally charged, unprovoked mission against our beliefs, that he can’t stand, and now you try to laud him as a hero? He’s not the victim here, mister, we are. He couldn’t even do the dirty work himself; stealing consecrated hosts. He had to solicit other base persons to do it for him. Intellectuals? You and your kind have bypassed reason and gone directly to full blown hatred to insanity. Your hero is a coward. You’re not atheists, either. You’re anti-theists, and militants at that. Besides, you have a misspelling/typo.

Mary’s right on one point, I did have a typo. I has since been corrected.

I’ll begin by saying that Myers is not my hero and I did not set out to paint him as one. In an older post I said that his actions were in poor taste but did serve to illustrate a point. The message behind that has quickly been lost as the situation surrounding the involved parties had degenerated.

Mary, as you should likely know by now this whole kerfluffle started with Webster Cook taking the Eucharist from mass and bringing it home rather than eating it. I have, at one time in my life, been Catholic and I understand the rituals behind Communion and the importance of the sacrament to those who believe. (As an aside, the communion wafer tastes like those biodegradable rice packing peanuts). Groups of bloggers on both sides of the issue sprung up in protest against the way Webster was being treated. He’s returned the wafer, unharmed, and yet still faces expulsion from his university over what should be a non issue. He didn’t take the wafer in malice or even in jest, and was willing to make amends.

PZ had a more exuberant response and decided to desecrate a bledded communion wafer. As I said, I felt that this was in poor taste (especially the way it was originally described) but the point remains that a communion wafer is simply a small piece of a bread-like substance. It has no mystical, magical, or trans-substantive (that might be a made-up word) powers. Even after being blessed it remains exactly what it was beforehand.

I disklike being called an intellictual mainly because I don’t consider myself one. I have not, however, given up on reason, nor have I done anything close to what you consider “full blown hatred.” Please, point out where I have done anything of the sort. I have not made death threats against anyone. I have not tried to tamper with the future of two students. I have not tried to get anyone fired from their positions. What I have done is explain my thoughts and opinions on the series of events surrounding Webster and PZ and provided appropriate links to back up my assertions.

I am many things on top of being an atheist. An anti-theist is not one of them, and certainly not militant. I’m not all that big on firing guns. What I am looking to do is point out where irrational beliefs of the religious infringe on the rights of others in society. You are welcome to believe that a priest can bless a communion wafer and chalice of wine, turning them literally into the body and blood of your savior. What you are not allowed to do is use that belief to control others, especially those outside your faith. The Eucharist may be important to you but in the end it really is just a cracker. Actions taken against it are irrelevant.

I am willing to continue discussing this issue, but I’ll ask you to refrain from making unbased assertions about who I am. I will attempt to do the same.

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