Archive | December, 2009

Basic travel rules

27 Dec

After years of traveling around, be it on international flights, road trips, or boat trips, there are a few rules I have developed:

You and YOU alone are responsible for your own comfort. DO NOT rely on others to see to it.

This is the underlining principle to all my rules. Also!:

If at all possible, make sure you are the one driving. (If on a road trip) This will give you control over your environment, i.e. when you stop to get food/restroom, what music is played, and the temperature of the car. If not, the following are very important:

Food– Be sure to pack a good amount of snacks and drinks. You can’t be sure when exactly your next meal will be, and you don’t want to go hungry.

Clothing– Wear loose, cool clothes. You won’t be in control of the temperature of whatever you’re traveling in, an it is easier to put a sweater on to warm up than it is to cool down.

Entertainment– The last thing you want is to be stuck in a car/plane/bus listening to babies cry, or somebody else’s music, or a movie you don’t want to watch. Take a music player with you! Or at the very least a pair of ear plugs.

Medicine– There is a chance that you might become ill during the trip. This will kill your comfort zone faster than anything else, and will make the trip miserable. Be sure to always have headache or stomach medicine on hand! You don’t need a lot, but just enough to make you feel better. Having your own tissues is also very important.

Money– It is also important that you don’t travel without at least some backup money. You don’t want to be stuck needing something, only to not have any money with which to buy it.

Lastly, two very important things to keep in mind:

Expect the unexpected! I know that sounds cliche, but it’s true. Always leave buffer room in your trip. If a road trip take 8 hours, leave 9 hours before you have to be at your destination. I guarantee things will happen! (Also, this way you’re not rushed)

If you think you’ll need it, bring it!!! Seriously, even if you have the slightest feeling you need it, take it with you. Every time I think to myself “Nah, I won’t need it” I end up being sorry. EVERY TIME! Save yourself the pain. Better to be prepared and not need it, than need it and not be prepared.

Follow these rules and you’ll have comfortable trips all the time. 🙂

Oh progress…..

26 Dec

A lot of wind was taken out of my zealous sails the other day during a talk with my girlfriend on politics. She got me thinking about some of my positions and my initial gut reactions to them. I was furious about the healthcare bill because it was not liberal enough, but I guess she’s showed me that it was the best pragmatic solution possible. So perhaps I’m becoming more of a pragmatist. I don’t really have energy anymore for long, drawn out ideological fights over politics anymore.

With the progress on healthcare in mind, I wanted to sit down and examine my thoughts on where liberals and conservatives fall within the fight for progress.

For starters, I guess I should define what I think of as “liberal” and “conservative”. Conservatives, in my mind, are concerned with maintaining the status quo. This is to the benefit of their majority, or primarily White, Anglo-Saxon Protestants. Conservatives dream of the “good old days” of the past, and seek to return America to an idealistic version of the 50’s.

Liberals on the other hand are constantly fighting the status quo. The liberal base is made up of not just WASP, but of all types of minorities, be they racial, religious, or sexual minorities. This heterogeneous nature of liberals sometimes leads to in-fighting, and a lack of cohesion, which the conservatives exploit.  For liberals, the “good old days” were only good if you were a WASP male. It was back then that only men could vote, women were excluded from the workplace and equal education, and racial minorities were brutally kept in their place with violence and Jim Crow laws. Liberals fight the “good old days” of total WASP male domination in an effort to make the country’s laws more just for all. (It will be interesting to see what happens in 2050 when WASP becomes the minority)

To this end, when I look at U.S. history I can get a sense of progress towards the liberal goal of a more just and equal world. Sure there have been setbacks before, but progress eventually steamrolls through the resistance. Progress usually comes slowly, it’s a generational thing. A black man would by lynched if he was seen holding a white woman’s hand in the 50’s. Today nobody thinks twice. Each generation is slowly more and more tolerant than their parents, and so progress continues.

But if this progress is inevitable, then conservatives only act to retard it. They might want to completely reverse all the progress made, but being unable to change the mindset of entire generations, they fail to do this. My question is, if the social change is inevitable, why fight it? You’re just going to lose, like you always have in the past.

“The world is not ready yet” is what I would expect in response, which leads into the idea that if we changed, society would collapse. This is ridiculous. Society is not going to collapse. The only time a society collapsed in US History was when the south lost the Civil War. Their society based on the enslavement of an entire race of people collapsed, and in turn was replaced by a new society that had to undergo the growing pains of the civil right’s movement.

Lets pretend for a moment that when we wake up tomorrow, all the liberal dreams for society come true. The economy would not crash because women were being paid equal money for equal work. Straight marriages would not be worthless and destroyed because Bob and Dan down the street got married and now receive the legal benefits of marriage. God would not come down and smite the country if the various racial and ethnic groups lived together in mutual respect. No, the conservative fears about liberal social progress are unfounded. It just means that WASP males would no longer have privilege above all others, they would be equal, just like the rest of us.

It just frustrates me when conservatives slow the inevitable, because while we’re here arguing, people are suffering in an unjust country.

Some thoughts on getting a job

17 Dec

So as my last year of college winds down, I’m starting to think about employment for after I graduate. To be honest, the coming change is kinda scary. I’ve never been paid anything above a wage before, and the idea of someone paying me thousands of dollars a year to do something blows my mind. I’m not sure if I’ll be good enough to do whatever it is I need to do.

As if the job market was not already tough, I have a few…..principles…I refuse to compromise on. My biggest fear is becoming a wage/corporate slave. I would rather starve than worship some evil overlords and thank them that in their mercy they allowed me to become their slave in return for barely enough money to live.

I refuse to prostrate myself before my employers, or potential employers. The relationship will be balanced, or there will be no relationship at all.

I refuse to have my cellphone turned into a leash my boss holds tightly in his hand.

I refuse to work in a barren cubicle that constantly reminds me how tenuous my employment is, that I could easily be replaced tomorrow.

I refuse to grovel for my vacation time. If I put in the hours, it’s mine.

I refuse to work unpaid hours to prove my loyalty to a company that has none for me.

I refuse to work in a top-down, one way communication, management environment.

I refuse to tolerate abusive and screaming bosses.

I refuse to spend the vast majority of my life working a job I hate in the hopes that when I am old I can retire and be happy for the 10 years before I die.

Live free or die.

Exam time at “Liberty” “University”

14 Dec

So the other day my girlfriend and I decided to go down to Panera bread to get lunch, and the place was swamped with “Liberty” students studying for exams.

I could not help but laugh. What’s the point? Nobody is going to take your degree seriously unless you’re applying for a ministry position. The “university” is not a university. It’s a religious joke school that brainwashes their students.

Higher education depends on constantly asking questions, challanging the status quo, and exploring new ideas. This is not encouraged at “Liberty” “University”. An LU student once told me when asked why they chose LU “I wanted to be told what to believe”. WOW! Really? Well you went to the right place.

There was once a secular speaker that came to Lynchburg College to give a lecture on religion and Atheism, and after the lecture I noticed an entire group of LU students had gathered around their “teachers” who were trying to un-teach everything the lecturer had talked about.
The kids were given no chance to think about the subject matter on their own.

The school even banned democrats! Now I can understand not agreeing with a political party or ideology, but shouldn’t ideas stand on their own merit without the arbitrary intervention of the administration?

So here were all these preppy conservative christian kids with their apple notebooks pretending to be going to a real university, studying for their exams. The one that blew me away the most was the kids who were studying for biology exams. “Liberty” “University” doesn’t even accept the fact of evolution! How can you have biology without evolution!?!?!? These people think the world is 6,000 years old and that man walked with dinosaurs, and they’re trying to teach biology. I’d like to get my hands on their biology book and see what page Noah’s ark is on.

Here, check this excerpt out from their biology department page:

“The biology faculty at Liberty University are committed to academic excellence and to training students to represent Christ in the fields of medicine, scientific research, and teaching…”

So basically, they already have their conclusions in Christ, so whatever the science tells them they must either ignore, distort, or misrepresent.

“However, our faculty are not only concerned about our student’s academic and professional preparation, but are equally concerned about the personal and spiritual well-being of every student.”

Read as “Don’t worry parents, we’ll make sure not to contaminate your children with actual science”

Give me a break, this “school” is a joke.

America is fucked

9 Dec

I have officially lost all hope in the United States. The worst part is that I feel helpless to do anything about it. Public healthcare is dead, much to the delight of the evil healthcare corporations and their bought and paid for republican supporters.

60 % of all bankruptcies in the US are because of healthcare bills!

Despite that alarming fact, nobody gives a shit! We just don’t! American’s have been so beaten over the head by their politicians since Watergate, that there is no such thing as a shocking scandal. We have been desensitized to corruption, greed, war, and hypocricy. Nothing is new! It’s like politicians can do the most insane shit that would never fly in other contries, and then they can look straight into the camera and DARE the American populace to do something about it. They have no problem doing this because they know we won’t lift a finger!

Sure, a small group of citizens will be outraged, make a few signs, and go shouting around out in the cold, but the majority of people will do NOTHING. The worst part is that the most active block of citizenry is the least informed!

That’s right, the Tea Baggers. They are the biggest group of clueless fucktards that I have EVER seen. I wish these idiots were politically dead, being so extreme, but they’re not. They’ve taken the republican party hostage and pushed out moderates. Facts don’t mean shit to them. The saddest part about this whole thing is how they’ve been duped by the evil corporations who are trying to screw them over, especially on healthcare!

My prediction for the future of America: Big corporations will become increasingly more and more powerful. Democrats will lose power to Teabaggers over an economic crisis that grew out of hand under Bush. Liberals will start to lose culture wars as the religious fanatics push back hard, spurred on by the election of “reality doesn’t matter” teabaggers. Nothing real will be done about global warming. The big businesses have that in their pockets with elaborate PR campaigns. Lowland countries will go underwater, but we won’t care until Florida starts going under due to the polar ice caps melting. Religious nuts will also manage to overturn Roe v. Wade and destroy a woman’s right to control her body. Science will be pushed out of the classroom along with abortion-reducing sex education. News agencies will fall even more into corporate hands than they have already. (Unbiased mass media already doesn’t exist)

I could go on, but I don’t want to. Basically everything that progressives have worked hard for is going to be for naught. The standard of living and opportunity will continue to plummet as America looses her place among rivals like China. I’m depressed and cynical. I feel there is no hope, and that resistance is futile. This was once a country with great potential founded by liberal deists, now it’s a joke, a hopeless corporate joke.

Should terrorists get fair trials?

9 Dec

In this short clip, FOX’s Judge Napolitano argues with Bill’O over whether the 9/11 conspirators should be given a fair trial in a NYC civilian court, or prosecuted in a military tribunal.

(I especially love the part where Bill’O admits he doesn’t care about the constitution)

From good ol’ Bill’O’s point of view, Bush declared a war on terror, therefore terrorists are enemy combatants, therefore the rights in the constitution do not apply.

If the government declares a war on terror, and that means “terrorists” are enemy combatants and thus subject to military tribunals, regardless of what the constitution demands, the extreme danger is that anyone the government declares a “terrorist” would be immediately stripped of all their rights. Bill’O has no problem doing this to some Arabs, but what if the government started prosecuting white supremacists and abortion clinic bombers in the same way? “Terrorism” does have a legal definition, and it applies to these groups as well.

Napolitano sees this, but Bill’O will have none of it. After all, Bill’O and his mindless followers are infallible, patriotic, god fearing Americans. They don’t need to be bothered by some document written hundreds of years ago.

But let me ask this: Suppose we adopted Bill’O’s view, that combatants in a war on an idea or condition (not a country) should be stripped of all rights, what would we have? What about the war on poverty? Are poor people enemy combatants? What about the war on hunger? Drugs? Crime? What about the war on Cancer?

This is where conservative readers will object: “Oh that’s ridiculous. This would only apply to terrorists! Don’t you hate terrorists?”

Yes, I hate terrorists, but if you disregard what separates us from them out of fear and hate, namely the rule of law and the constitution, then they have already one. You destroyed yourself without them firing a shot. Congratulations. No, as horrible as terrorists are, we must be better than them. We must abide by the constitution we claim to defend, even when it is most difficult and painful.

An Athiest picks up a hitch-hiker

8 Dec

So the other night my girlfriend and I went out to Sheetz to get some late night food. She was up working on a paper, and I was busy playing computer games. While we were at Sheetz I ran into this poor looking black man in his 50’s. He and I started chatting while I was waiting for my food, and he made up some story about his family members leaving him at Sheetz, and asked if he could get a ride just two miles up the road.

Well, it was cold and windy out, and it looked like it was going to rain, so I said yes. I subtly looked him over to make sure he didn’t have a bulge in his pockets that would indicate a gun or a knife, and checked to see if it alright with my girlfriend. She didn’t object so we picked him up and started driving.

Well, apparently he can’t count because 2 miles turned out to be 18, and we were driving for a while. He talked about how he was a migrant construction worker, and how I was really nice for helping him out, and how nobody else would even give him the time of day. He also started to talk about believing in god, to which I just chuckled quietly to myself. I thought about telling him that two Atheists were the ones giving him a ride, but I didn’t want to start that discussion, and I didn’t know how he might react to that.

When we finally stopped, he mentioned how hungry he was, and so I gave him my food that I got at Sheetz. He needed it more than me. My girlfriend was a bit annoyed that we were now 30 minutes away from the college, on the night she had a huge paper due in the morning, but she understood that I was just being a good person. It was kinda thrilling, and I was glad I could help my fellow man out. I wonder if he saw my Atheist bumperstickers as I drove away…. ~_^

Reality doesn’t matter

3 Dec

I’m slowly coming to the conclusion that reality doesn’t matter to my opponents, religious and political. I’ve realized that they have their minds made up, and they don’t give a shit about the facts. If need be they will make up their own facts out of thin air, like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Sean Hannity, etc.

If that doesn’t even work they will just vehemently deny reality until you faceplam yourself to death. I think they get pleasure out of watching intelligent people explode after they spend all this time presenting them with evidence and reasons, etc. Kirk Cameron and other religious fundamentalists love this!

It doesn’t matter that evolution is back up by mountains and mountains of evidence. It just doesn’t fucking matter. They know the truth and everything else must be the work of Satan.

I’ve come to the conclusion that it is useless to waste my energy talking to these people. It’s like talking to a brick wall, and I’m only hurting myself. They have no interest in a rational debate where the facts matter. It’s like trying to play a game within a set of rules, and they don’t give a fuck about the rules, and run all out of bounds and still declare themselves victorious. It would be easy to ignore these people if they didn’t have real world impacts, but unfortunately I’m starting to worry that much of the worlds population is just as retarded as them.

Atheists demonized in movies

2 Dec

You know what I’m sick and tired of? Atheists and skeptics being demonized in movies. atheists and skeptics are always portrayed as the bad guys. By the end of the movie they either are defeated by the righteous believer character, or realize the error of their ways and convert.

Take this clip from the movie Breach:

No, the USSR did not fall because of atheism. It fell because of a number of reasons, namely bad economics and poor organization.

Skeptics are always the first to go in horror movies. This I can sort of understand, but it doesn’t make me any happier. For one, in the movie, the beast (or whatever it is) IS real, not like in real life where it is not and the skeptic is right. (It is just a movie after all) In real life the skeptic would not be freaking out and screaming, they would try and find the actual natural reason for whatever the problem is, but this does not make for scary horror movies and so he has to go. This is pretty much universal in horror movies, but one I can remember doing this was the Lady in water.

Take this clip from I am Legend, here Will Smith’s character explains the reason he believes there is no god, namely the sudden and horrible death of billions and billions of people (nice god eh?):

Unfortunately, at the end of the movie Will Smith’s character “sees the light” because of some stupid coincidence with a butterfly tattoo and repents. (This still doesn’t change the fact that billions of people are dead

The movie Sohpie Scholl: The final days, a film about a woman of that name who was beheaded by the Nazi’s for distributing anti-war pamphlets. There is a seen where Sophie is being interrogated by a Nazi officer and she makes some comment about how what she is doing is write because of god or something. The Nazi officer bursts out angrily that there is no god. Way to go.

The film (which I love) claims to be based off of unpublished interrogation transcripts. If that out burst from the interrogate actually happened, then I’m not going to argue with it. There are good atheists and bad atheists, just like there are good theists and bad theists, but the Nazi’s were not atheists as a whole, they persecuted atheists along with everyone else, and firmly believed they were doing god’s work by killing the Jews, just like Christians had done for centuries prior, just not on this scale. (Kinder, Kirche, Kueche anyone?)

Hell, you even find Atheists being attacked in Star Wars!

While I’m on the sci-fi leg, Battle Star Galactica (the remake series) did the exact same thing with Gaius Baltar! He started out as my favorite character, this extremely smart atheist scientist, he even had this whole monologue with 6 about how there was no god, but then as the series progresses, he converts and becomes a religious zealot, and a major scumbag responsible for the near extinction of humanity.

Just this whole theme of “unbeliever repenting by the end of the movie” infuriates me. I’d like to see a movie where the believers repent at the end of the movie and realize that there is no god, and that being a skeptic is perfectly fine.