Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Forget Pedro, Vote Malala

Malala Yousafzai is a young girl who dared to want an education.  Even worse, she dared to write about it publicly.  As a result, the Taliban attempted to assassinate her.  Apparently 15 year old girls being educated are something the Taliban finds threatening.

Maybe it's just me, but I don't think the desire for education justifies a bullet to the head.  Nevertheless, she knew the risk she was taking and continued on.  Then cowards shot her in the head, and luckily failed to kill her.  And hopefully they also failed to silence her.  This is the reason she got my vote for Time's Person of the Year.  She certainly earned it.

And she definitely deserves it more than Kim Jong Un or Mohamed Morsi.  In other words, go vote for Malala.

(Found via @hatalbott)

Don't Be Afraid To Call A Hate Group A Hate Group

Multiple times, I've been told by defenders of the American Family Association that they're not a hate group. Multiple times, I've been told by anti-Islam Christians that Christianity is superior to Islam because it isn't violent.  But it isn't Islam that has the head of the American Family Association supporting the Ugandan law that punishes homosexuality with death.  And it sure as fuck isn't love.
Bryan Fischer, the public face of the certified anti-gay hate group, American Family Association, Sunday came out in favor of Uganda‘s anti-homosexuality law. Via Twitter, Fischer praised Uganda, falsely suggesting Uganda had just made homosexuality illegal. In fact, homosexuality has been illegal since British 19th century colonial rule. It’s rather embarrassing for Fischer to be unaware of the state of Uganda’s anti-homosexuality law.
And he wants to do the same here in the United States. 
“Homosexuality now against the law in Uganda, just as it was for 200 years in the US. It can be done,” Fischer wrote.
If you know someone who learns this about Bryan Fischer and the American Family Association and doesn't think they're a hate group, please let me know so we can begin the fundraiser to help them get the surgery required to remove their head from the ass.

(Found via @AtheismResource sharing a post on WWJTD)

Monday, November 26, 2012

There Is No Dilemma - An Open Letter To John MacArthur

Mr MacArthur,

Your recent piece in the Washington Times has been making the rounds, and I feel a responsibility to respond.

In it, you expressed confusion about what atheists can thankful for without a god to thank.  However, you answered your own question.
One atheist has practically made a hobby of writing articles to explain why atheists feel the need to be thankful and to answer the question of whom they might thank. His best answer? He says atheists can be grateful to farmers for the food we eat, to doctors for the health we enjoy, to engineers for the advantages of modern technology, to city workers for keeping our environment clean and orderly — and so on.
It's a pity that you so easily dismiss the answer to your question in the very next paragraph.
Here’s the problem with that: Tipping the waitress or tipping one’s hat to sanitation workers doesn’t even come close to resolving the problem of whom Mr. Dawkins should thank when he looks at the stars, stands at the edge of the Grand Canyon, or studies the world of countless wonders his microscope reveals in a single drop of pond water.
The problem here isn't that Richard Dawkins doesn't know who to thank when he looks at the stars.  The problem here is your assumption that there is a who at all.  Sometimes there is a who to thank, like the waiters and sanitation workers.  Other times, there may not be anyone behind it.

You assume there is someone behind it all.  People like myself and Dawkins are not so presumptuous.

Throughout the entire article, you're attempting to figure out what atheists think but do so only through your own theistic mindset.  If you truly do wish to know what atheists think, I suggest you try to see things through our eyes.  Not yours.  

When you can only look at people different from through your own worldview, you make counterproductive, inaccurate assumptions about them.  For instance, 
That’s an odd and ironic answer from a point of view that repudiates theism on the grounds that it is not “rational” to believe in God. After all, the starting point for atheistic materialism is the equation nobody times nothing equals everything. What could possibly be more irrational?
No one has ever claimed "nobody times nothing equals everything."
Furthermore, chance (luck, fortune, happenstance, fate—whatever label you want to put on it) is not a force or intelligence. “Chance” has to do with mathematical probability. Flip a coin and there’s a 50-50 chance it will come up tails. But “chance” has no power to flip the coin, much less design an ordered universe.
Nevertheless, that’s how atheistic materialists have trained themselves to think. Chance is the ultimate creator. In the words of one Nobel Prize-winning atheist, “Pure chance, absolutely free but blind, is at the very root of the stupendous edifice of evolution.” Fortune has thus been personified — imbued with the power to determine, order and cause everything that happens.
That’s mythology, not science. At the end of the day, the atheist is no more rational and no less superstitious than the astrologist who thanks impersonal “lucky stars” for good fortune.
Your assessment of what atheists think is grotesquely inaccurate.  I suppose it could be seen as mythology if you go to such lengths to over simplify an extremely complicated subject such as this.  I'm not aware of a single atheist who thinks the way you have described.  Perhaps one does out there somewhere, as we are a diverse bunch, it certainly is not even remotely a common occurrence.

Also, why would you refer to someone as a "Nobel Prize-winning atheist"?  No one wins the Nobel for being an atheist.  The science people do to win the Nobel is entirely separate from their belief in a god, or lack thereof.
On some level, atheists themselves surely realize this. Proof of their internal angst is seen in the fact that so many of them are not content merely to disbelieve. They are militant in their opposition to God. They hate the very thought of God and would love to have every mention of Him removed from public discourse — as if that would somehow remove the burden of their own ingratitude and relieve the pangs of a guilty conscience.
Again, no.  On both issues in that paragraph.  Firstly, I most certainly do not "realize this".  I have never believed in any god.  I've never been inclined to.  I've never felt angst over it, and angst is certainly not the source of my disbelief.  As I'm sure you've already been told countless times by atheists, my disbelief is the result of a lack of evidence to prove any god's existence.  That's it.  There's no angst, no desire rebel, no desire to escape accountability, no all the other strawman claims about why we do not believe.

On the second issue there, I am an ardent proponent of the Freedom of Religion and would oppose any effort to restrict your right to believe in your god or speak of it, even in public.  I do have a problem when people attempt to force their religion into government, just as I would have a problem with an atheist attempting to put atheism into government.  This is to protect your right to believe as you wish as much as it is to protect my right to not believe in your god or anyone else's.

It's a pity that you put your effort into writing an article attacking atheists instead of actually trying to understand us.  Your use of the term "dogmatic atheists" is as insulting as it is in error.  Atheism has no dogma and it's irresponsible, dishonest, or both of you to use the term.

Before you ever speak or write about atheism or atheists, please take the time to actually talk to, and more importantly, listen to some atheists.  I say "some" on purpose.  Don't just talk to one.  Talk to many.  Atheists are far from a homogeneous group, as the only thing we all have in common is that lack of belief in god(s).

Sadly, I don't expect you to heed any of this, or to ever actually take an effort to understand us instead of simply doing what you did this Thanksgiving by blindly attacking us with what amount to lies about what we believe.  So, I'll just have to take the consolation prize of the ad next your article being for the American Humanist Association's new endeavor, Kids Without God.  They're doing good things for good kids.  

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Quotes On The Separation Of Church And State

Earlier this year, The Examiner published an article on the issue of Church and State.  It features quotes from history in defense of this foundation of American freedom.

The two worth sharing, to me, are:
4. "I hold that in this country there must be complete severance of Church and State; that public moneys shall not be used for the purpose of advancing any particular creed; and therefore that the public schools shall be nonsectarian and no public moneys appropriated for sectarian schools." - President Teddy Roosevelt, Carnegie Hall address, October 12, 1915
7. "We should not have teacher-led prayers in public schools, and school officials should never favor one religion over another, or favor religion over no religion" - President George W. Bush 2000
I'm admittedly biased toward Roosevelt's because TR is one my favorite people in history.  But the fact that even George "God told me to invade Iraq" Bush respected the Separation of Church and state when it came to prayer and endorsement of religion in public schools is noteworthy.

We have so many people hellbent (pun intended) on pushing Christianity in public schools, and even Dubya knows they're wrong.  That's how grotesquely wrong they are.  If only they were capable of recognizing it.  Or least cared whether or not they were wrong.

(Found via Godless Heathens of America)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Kentucky Hates The Constitution And Freedom

I wish that title were hyperbole, but I don't know how else to phrase it when a state makes a particular set of religious views illegal.
“The safety and security of the Commonwealth cannot be achieved apart from reliance upon Almighty God as set forth in the public speeches and proclamations of American Presidents, including Abraham Lincoln’s historic March 30, 1863, presidential proclamation urging Americans to pray and fast during one of the most dangerous hours in American history, and the text of President John F. Kennedy’s November 22, 1963, national security speech which concluded: ‘For as was written long ago: Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.’
That's an actual law in The United States of America.  How low have we fallen that such thing can become law at all.  How much further have we fallen that it's been allowed to stand for 6 years?

And on top of that, we've reached a place where the article about it asks,
What do you think about the Kentucky law? Do you think atheists should go to jail for not believing in the security of God?
What do you think I think?  It's a travesty.  It's a travesty that it's a law at all.  And it's a disgrace that it's been there so long, and has a real chance of being upheld by our conservative Supreme Court.  The authors of that law have betrayed the spirit of religious freedom that was fundamental to this nation's founding.

They might as well drive to Washington, DC and take a shit directly on the Constitution.  That's what I think about that Kentucky Law.

Introducing Gusts of Atheos

In creating our atheist blogging network Storms of Atheos we had a discussion about how to give people, who didn't want to blog regularly, an outlet when they had something to say.  We came up with the idea of a dedicated blog, with all the authors being guest writers & named it Gusts of Atheos.

There is no set topic.  Posts can be on any topic you want, as long as there's at least some connection to atheism or religion. We have no intention to censor opinions or content, except to keep content within the limits of the law and/or reason. In other words, we won't allow threats of violence, copyright infringement, hate speech, misinformation, etc.  Other than that, just about anything goes.  If you have something say on the subject of religion or atheism, this is a place you can do it.

I will happily allow people to post opinions I do not agree with, as disagreement is how we learn and grow.  The purpose of this project is to give voice to many people, of differing opinions (save the one thing about not buying into the god thing).

We do prefer posts be made in your real name whenever possible but also understand the risk that being publicly atheist involves for many. We will make accommodations for posts to be made anonymously for anyone who has something to say but does not feel safe being "out" as an atheist.

To submit a post, just email us at or contact us via our Twitter or Facebook.

I hope to hear from many of you, with ideas of all kinds.  Especially those of you I've already talked to about contributing to this effort.

Please Do Not Put Money In The Bucket

I am pretty careful about where my donations to charity go.  This is because of a combination of me not having a lot to give and me caring about how that money is used.  It's mostly the latter, because even if I were a millionaire, I would still not give to certain charities and would still be opposed to my donations being misused.

At the top of that list is The Salvation Army.  I think their immoral practices are well known enough by now, I needn't bother detailing them too much.  Among they're many flaws, is their anti-gay policy.  Like most bigots, they attempt to disguise it as adherence to their religion, as if that makes bigotry suddenly okay instead of pointing out the obvious flaws in their religion.

They site many Bible verses to justify their bigotry, but there's a particular one that sticks out like a beacon of  ignorance and hate.  Leviticus 18:22, 23

I'll be quoting the NIV Bible, as that's the one they say is theirs.

Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.
Okay.  It's bigoted, but that certainly is what their religion's book says about the gays.  They also included   Leviticus 18:23:
Do not have sexual relations with an animal and defile yourself with it. A woman must not present herself to an animal to have sexual relations with it; that is a perversion.
That's right.  The Salvation Army is citing their Bible's words about beastiality on their page dedicated to their stance on homosexuality.  They are comparing homosexuality to beastiality.  I wonder if Dan Savage is aware of this.

This is what you're supporting if you put money into their buckets, or otherwise give to this organization.  If you would like to send them a message, there is this:

It's meant to be put into the buckets in place of cash.  Atheism Resource has been nice enough to put up a .pdf of these for easy printing.  Whether you use these vouchers or not, I have a couple of requests of you.

Please do not berate the bell ringers.  They probably do not understand how immoral Salvation Army is, and being rude will not do anything to convince them to change their minds.  Talk to them calmly if you must, but do so civilly, back it up with facts, and know when it's time to walk away.

If you're able, please be sure to donate to good organizations.  Last year, The Examiner published a list of worthy, secular charities and linked to a longer list.

The non-profits I've donated to this year were:

Please feel free to share your favorite non-profits in the comments.

(Found via a friend linking to Atheism Resource and New York City Atheists)

(2012-11-25) EDIT:  There was some understandable dislike of the term "voucher".  One of the people who disliked it took the initiative to create an alternate version of it.

I like this one better and it's the one I'll be using.  Click here to download a pdf for printing.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

I am often a moderately cynical person.  But I do think it's important to make a point to be thankful for the good bits of life.  Thanksgiving Day seems like an appropriate time to do that.

So, here's a short list of things I'm thankful for:
  • My Parents - They were/are Christian, but they did teach me critical thinking.  I've always been atheist, and they knew it before I did.  But they never tried to shame me over it, and they never used the despicable indoctrination tactics used by fundamentalists.  We only rarely said a prayer before meals, and we certainly didn't today.
  • Omaha Atheists - I'm not someone who makes friends easily, and for most of my life, I've felt alone in being a nonbeliever.  Just by joining an atheist group, both of those problems have simply disappeared.  I'm thankful to have met this community of such wonderful, intelligent, caring people.  Now I get to focus on other problems (of which the world and I have plenty more).
  • Table Top Games - Games like Settler of Catan, etc, provide a fun way to exercise the brain, while also socializing with friends.  I'm thankful for the people who created these games as well as the people I get to share them with.
  • Indoor Plumbing - For millions of years, we shit outside.  Toilet paper didn't exist.  By comparison, the time since we first used the first remedial indoor toilets and toilet paper is relatively short.  Even shorter for the time since flush toilets and rolls of toilet paper.  Not only does it let us do our business without going outside in Winter, it also makes our society a whole lot more sanitary.
What are you thankful for this year?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Eric Hovind, I Have A Question For You - An Open Letter

Mr Hovind, I've seen this video of you, talking to an 11 year old boy named Chad, shared in numerous places today.  It appears to have had an impact.  

Chad's question was a good one.  I was disappointed that he did not get to make an excellent point that he appeared, to me, to be headed toward.

In your response to him you said "If you don't know everything, then you can't know anything to be absolutely true," and "You would have to know everything in order to say you know one thing to be absolutely certain."  It seems appropriate to apply those rules to your belief in your god.

By your own rules, you cannot possibly be certain of your god's existence unless you know everything.  Unless you know everything, you cannot rely on that god's "divine revelation" as you put it, because, according to your own rules, without knowing everything you cannot know that it actually is a divine revelation.

So, now that we've established that you cannot know your god exists unless you know everything, I now have only question for you.

What is in my pocket?

Matching Donation Offer For Recovering From Religion

My favorite national atheist organization is Recovering From Religion.  The local chapters function as support groups for people negatively impacted by religion.  They are for everyone from lifelong atheists to people who still believe but are questioning or otherwise experiencing problems.  They address the problems of religion right where they are occurring.  With people.

I bring them now because they have some news worth sharing:
We have exciting news that we are SO thankful for! After Darrel Ray's talk in Tucson on his book Sex and God, Steven Uhl stood up and challenged all 120 people in the audience to donate to RR AND he would match dollar for dollar any giving through the end of the tax year, up to $2,000. We are overwhelmed with his generosity and wonderfully surprised as well. The group gave $800 which matched equals $1600 for RR. He has said he will match up to another $1400 and maybe more! What better way to double your money than to send your tax-deductible donation to Recovering From Religion at
We are growing fast and can only sustain our growth with your support. Our motto is, "There are thousands of groups that will get you into religion, ours is the only one that will help you get out." We need your help so we can help others!
So, if you were ever inclined to donate to this wonderful organization, now's the time.  If you want to help, but cannot afford a donation, you can help by using the link on their website when making purchases from Amazon.  They get a small percentage from those purchases, without it affecting the price you pay.

Monday, November 19, 2012

30+ Examples of Christian Privilege

Thanksgiving is this week, which means the War On Christmas is just around the corner.  This means we're going to get a heavier dose of how oppressed some Christians think they are.

My favorites:
6.  You can worship freely, without fear of violence or threats.
7.  A bumper sticker supporting your religion won’t likely lead to your car being vandalized.
10.  When swearing an oath, you will place your hand on a religious scripture pertaining to your faith.
15.  You can reasonably assume that anyone you encounter will have a decent understanding of your beliefs.
17.  Your faith is accepted/supported at your workplace.
33.  You can complain about your religion being under attack without it being perceived as an attack on another religion.
34.  You can dismiss the idea that identifying with your faith bears certain privileges.
 (Found via a friend sharing a link shared by The God Article)

Anti-Gay Activist Is Gay

In a completely shocking, never before seen twist, an anti-gay activist has been caught engaging in same-sex behavior.
A Manchester lawyer took a teenage girl to Canada, had her engage in sexual activity and convinced her to let it be filmed, according to federal indictments.
My favorite line of the article:
On Biron’s Facebook page, which was taken down in recent weeks, she had listed the Bible as her favorite book.
I want to rant about the hypocrisy of it, but there really isn't any left to say about it.  It's become so commonplace now, there's nothing surprising about it.  At least this time it was a female anti-gay hypocrite, but that wasn't all that surprising either.  

These stories are just going to keep coming.  They're going to keep hating gays, while being gay themselves. They'll eventually stop when the bigots die out.  This kind of bigotry will eventually go the way of the Jim Crow style racists.  But for now, they're going to keep getting caught trying to sneak a ride in the back of the bus.

In case it wasn't clear, by "back of the bus", I mean gay sex.

(Found via "God of the week")

Why Does Nordstrom Hate Christmas?

Is Nordstrom firing the first shot of this year's War On Christmas?  They certainly seem to be participating in the War On Christmas, as they are flagrantly refusing to celebrate Christmas until after Thanksgiving is over.

Do the people at Nordstrom know they're going to Hell?

(Found via Angelo Carusone)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Please Help JT Help Matt & Beth

I opened Facebook yesterday to pictures and posts from Beth Presswood (wife to Matt Dillahunty) of their ransacked house.

Today, I opened to a link to a post from JT Eberhard and his, not unexpected efforts to help them.  All three of them are excellent examples of what it means to be "Good Without God".
Matt is seriously a great guy.  So…I’m not in a place right now where I can donate.     Maybe at the first of next month.  If you feel like chipping in, you can send Matt a donation via paypal at the address sans.deity[at!]
Here’s what I can do: all the money I make off this post, I will donate to Matt next month.  I make $100 per 25,000 hits, so unless this post goes viral (or gets some help from reddit), it probably won’t be much.  But it’s money that none of us has to cough up individually, and I’ve made damn near $1,000 from a viral post before, so it’s possible.  It’s what I can do.
Please visit his post, upvote the post on Reddit, and share it wherever you can, to get it more attention so it can do more good.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Skepticon 5 Postscript

I've been home from Skepticon 5 for a few days.  I made several posts about it while I was there.  I had a lot more to say that I just didn't have time to get typed.  I also had a few smaller things that warranted mention, but not their own individual posts:
  • Matt Dillahunty and JT Eberhard need to do a magic off.
  • Atheists enjoy jokes referencing Schrödinger's cat.
  • Local groups in different towns need to do more communicating and idea sharing.  Events like Skepticon are perfect for this, but we should be doing so all year round.
  • Atheists wear an interesting variety of hats. Both literal and metaphorical.
  • A lot of atheists have active groups in their town and don't even know it.  I referred multiple people to active groups in their own towns.
  • JT Eberhard was right about how easy it is to make new friends at Skepticon. 
Also, check these out.

Thanks to this trip to Skepticon, I now know what I'm doing every November for as long as they're having it and for as long as I'm able.

Pro Life Kills

On Gawker today:
A 31-year-old woman admitted to a hospital in Galway, Ireland, late last month with severe back pain was revealed to be miscarrying, but doctors repeatedly refused to abort the fetus.
Savita Halappanavar, who was 17 weeks pregnant at the time, eventually developed a life-threatening infection to which she succumbed a week later.
People who call themselves "Pro Life" often claim they respect the sanctity of human life.  I call bullshit.

I am someone who personally opposes the practice of abortion.  I hate that it exists, and I hate that it is sometimes (while still rarely) used as a backup birth control.  But I'm not so selfish as to attempt to force my personal opinion on other people's bodies.  And I don't have my head so far up my as that I would let a woman die because I dislike a procedure that would save her life.

The very least that should happen is these doctors immediately losing their licenses to practice medicine.  Although, manslaughter is an appropriate word to use here.

(Found via Recovering From Religion-Tucson, Arizona)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Protesters At Skepticon

We have Christian protesters for a 2nd day at Skepticon.  Those here today didn't run away as quickly as yesterday's.  It wasn't much different than I usually see.  Conversations on proof.  Morality.  The same general stuff these encounters always have.  One new thing I did notice was the civility.  These protesters weren't as angry, "You're all going to Hell", firebrand, as I'm used to.  So that was nice, at least.

I usually am eager to have someone fail to convert me, but between the pain I'm still in from Friday night, and the lack of anything new happening, I wasn't really in the mood to engage with the Christians.  Plus, the atheists I observed were already doing a fine job of it.  And this guy hadn't even stepped into yet.

I probably picked the wrong time to walk away, since I left right after Dillahunty walked over to where AronRa was talking to the guy with the cross pictured at the top of this post.  

As a bonus, there was this guy, who wasn't with the protesters.  He was with one of the other conventions also happening here this weekend.  But I had to sneak a picture anyway.  
His back really loves the instrument used to kill Jesus.

Yay Science!

Greta Christina is someone who constantly does stuff to make me love her more.  So, her not being at Skepticon 5 was a disappointment.  Especially considering the reason she's not here.

But even in recovery from major surgery, she gave an amazing talk (via Skype). 

She's had a shitty year, but remains positive.  A positivity that may only be rivaled by Jerry DeWitt (more on that in a future post).

She praised her doctors for the surgery, and the inventors of the technology that allowed her to deliver this talk.  She also mentioned the weird things her brain has been doing during this time, and how being a skeptic & atheist helped her recognize it.

But the best line was clearly, "I don't have cancer. . . Yay science."

Yay science indeed.  We already lost Hitchens to cancer.  But we got to keep the perpetually awesome Greta Christina around for a bit longer.  Science may not solve all problems.  But it makes our world better than it otherwise would be.

Skepticon & Activism

My posts on Skepticon will pretty much all be on a time delay.  It's difficult to get stuff posted with so much going on.  Fun now.  Posts later.

Skepticon 5 is barely started and has already been a blast.  Oddly enough, it has a lot to do with JT Eberhard.  Well, it's not all that odd, since he is one of the people responsible for the creation of Skepticon.  Today, it was his workshop on activism.

Some of the takeaways from it are:
  • This year has a lot of newcomers.  When JT asked how many there were at Skepticon for the first time, and most of the hands went up (including mine).  The same thing happened after lunch, at Todd Stiefel's workshop on Strategy & Leadership.
  • Make activism entertaining.  That's how you get people to be involved.  For instance, the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster adopted a highway under the name "The Flying Spaghetti Monster".
  • Everyone is a confrontationalist when they are being an activist.
  • Activism: if you're doing it, you're doing it right
To illustrate the point about making it fun, he had us leave the cramped room we were in, make signs, and go out and show them to the Christian visitors we had outside.  They left almost as soon as we got out there.  Maybe we had more people than their god could handle.  More did come back

After the sign fun was finished, people started chalking.  This was all done in about 15 minutes.

Although, the convention center staff didn't let it stay long.

I was initially annoyed, but that passed after I though about it and realized we're not the only convention in here today.  So, I don't really blame them.  But I do still think it was worth it to do it.  It's always worth it if you had fun doing it (within reason, of course).

Friday, November 9, 2012

What Do Atheists Do?

A question we often get about atheist organizations is about what we do.  They seem to think all we do is sit around and talk about how we don't believe in a god.  That's not even close to all we do.  Among the many things we do in Omaha Atheists are our regular game nights.  Nothing to do with religion.  Just people getting together and playing games.

Atheists attending Skepticon are no different.  We stumbled upon JT Eberhard last night at dinner and he was nice enough to invite us to a Nerf War happening at his friend's house in Springfield.

Part of the arsenal available.
This was my weapon for a bit.

My friend Kayla, being all badass

So, yeah.  We don't just sit around talking about how we don't believe in a god.

Prayer In My Damn Bed

In my 33 years, I've stayed in tens of hotels.  I do not recall ever finding a prayer card on my bed.  Until today.

I'm in Springfield, Missouri for Skepticon 5.  This is what I found on my bed:
In ancient times there was a prayer for
"The Stranger within our gates"
Because this hotel is a human institution to serve people, and not solely a money making organization, we hope that God will grant you peace and rest while you are under our roof.
May this suite and hotel be your "second" home. May those you love be near you   in thoughts and dreams.  Even though we may not get to know you, we that you will be comfortable and happy as if you were in your own house.
May the business that brought you our way prosper.   May every call you make  and every message you receive add to your joy.  When you leave, may your journey be safe.
We are all travelers.  From "birth till death" we travel between the eternities.  May  these days be pleasant for you, profitable for society, helpful for those you meet, and a joy to those who know and love you best.

It states they hope we are comfortable in our stay.  Then how about not subjecting me to this subtle reminder of your religion?

I wonder if it was even suggested that, for the conference of atheists filling their hotel, they not put these things in the rooms.  Even on nights when their hotel is not full of atheists, had it ever occurred to them that some guests might this offensive?

I'm tired of the religious just assuming everyone shares their superstitions.  It certainly would be nice if they'd think beyond their own world view for a change.

For more on these prayer cards, see JT Eberhard's post on them.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

We Should Try Science In America

I doubt I have to convince many inclined to read a blog with the word "atheist" in the title how awesome science is.  It brings us new and amazing things on a regular basis.  And that brings us to Glow-in-the-Dark Highways.  
By mid-2013, the country will use photo-luminizing powder to replace road markings and ultimately produce glow-in-the-dark tarmacs, Wired.Co.UK reports.
The powder will charge on sunlight, soaking up enough energy to power 10 hours worth of highway light during nighttime. Special paint will also be used to draw snowflakes across the roads. The snowflakes will only become visible when the temperature dips to a certain point, indicating to commuters that the surface is likely slippery.
This is in the Netherlands.  Not America.  The Netherlands.  And this is just one thing.  They have further plans.
Within the next five years, the Netherlands hopes to add interactive lights along highway routes that power on when cars pass them and even wind-powered illumination.
I'm not so jingoistic as to think European shouldn't be doing cool stuff.  But it would be nice if it were that they doing cool stuff too, instead of them doing it while we do nothing.  Can you see something innovative like that happening in America?  I can't.  At least not with today's current political environment.  We're too worried about cutting everyone's taxes instead of paying our bills.  How could we be expected to actually make the investments that would get us the technology of the future?

(found via @mashable)

Skepticon Needs Some Help

Skepticon 5 will be my first one, and I'm as excited about it as someone with my limited emotional capacity can be.  It's a free event for its guests, but it is far from free for its organizers.  JT Eberhard, one of the minds behind the creation of this event, is asking for help in the funding that allows them to make it a free event.
I’m writing you to ask that you make the lives of those organizers a little easier.  As Skepticon grows, the price grows up, and the cost of that free price tag in human effort becomes even more daunting.  At peak last year, Skepticon had about 1200 attendees.  This year, given the conversations I’ve had with atheist groups around the country over the last year, I’d say they can expect about 1600.  If every one of those people donated $5, that would make up the difference and then some.  Of course, Skepticon strives to cater to the poor, so we know not every person will be able to donate $5.  So if you are one of the lucky ones who has $10, toss that in.
If you're able to donate, please do so.

(Found via @Teresamacbain)

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Mike Huckabee Can Go Fuck Himself

Perhaps could be nicer about it than the title of this post, but nothing says how I feel about his recent video better than that.

It talks about how, in generations past, the church has pressured people to vote a particular way as if that's a good thing.

It talks about "protecting marriage" as if it's under attack and as if the real attack isn't on gays and the fact that they are unjustly denied marriage equality.  But, of course, it doesn't actually mention gays.  

It talks about the Affordable Care Act's mandate for insurance to cover birth control (again without actually mentioning what he's referring to) as if it's an attack on religious liberty instead of a common sense policy that would actually save money in the long run.  It talks about birth control as if it takes "innocent human life" instead of preventing the abortions he claims to oppose.

It talks about these reprehensible stances as if they are moral "values" instead of bigotry and a false sense of entitlement.

It talks about all this stuff as if it's a "test of fire" instead of a pile of horseshit meant to guilt the religious into voting for Republicans.

In other words, Mike Huckabee can go fuck himself.