Archive for November, 2010


So, it’s Thanksgiving, traditionally a day of giving thanks to God and the semi-official beginning of the holiday season (and therefore of people whining about calling it the “holiday” season and all that crap — I may have more on that later). So what’s an atheist to do?

I say, be thankful. It’s not like you have to state or imply that you’re thankful to some magical sky-wizard. Do you think all the theists reciting their lists of things they’re thankful for are really stating or implying that those things are primarily the providence of their sky-wizard of choice? I don’t. I think “thanksgiving” generally translates to just stepping back, taking a breath, and remembering all the ways in which your life doesn’t suck right now.

Personally, I’m kind of thankful that I have the day off from my job (even though I have to work tomorrow and therefore can’t be with my family back home in Wisconsin), and I’m really, really, REALLY thankful that I have a job to have the day off from. I spent 1 year, 9 months and 11 days being unemployed before I started my current job in September, and while I don’t attribute that change of fortune to any divine activity, I’m thankful as all hell for it.

And while I’m at it, I’m thankful to anyone reading this, just for reading it. This is a tiny little blog, with pageviews numbering a few dozen per day, but it just knocks me over that even a few dozen people are interested enough in what I have to say that they come here and visit when I put up a new post. I’m thankful for the encouraging comments I received when I said I’d have to cut back on the blogging a bit now that I’m working at a job that doesn’t allow any goofing off at all, and I’m thankful for all the suggestions, comments and even arguments that people have brought to this tiny little outpost in the blogosphere. Thank you, thank you, thank you, every one of you.

(awesome version of Tim Minchin’s “White Wine In The Sun” via Pharyngula)

Sunday Sermon: Gene therapy

I’m delighted to learn that one of my favorite writers, the Washington Post’s Gene Weingarten (best known for his Pulitzer-winning “Pearls Before Breakfast” experiment as well as a great, must-read piece on children’s party clown The Great Zucchini), is an atheist, and today’s column is devoted to the recent Pew study showing atheists know more about religion than religious folks.

So I’m turning my Sunday Sermon microphone over to Brother Gene. Here’s a brief taste:

Q: If God didn’t create the universe, how do you atheists think it began?

A: With a Big Bang.

Q: Oh, yeah? Well, what came before the Big Bang?

A: The Big Diamond Ring.

You may have to sign up with to read it, but IMO it’s well worth it (I generally go there on Sundays for Gene and the Style Invitational).

Theists I Admire(d): Uncle Howard

A couple weeks ago I lost my Uncle Howard and his wife, my Aunt Mary (they’re on the right in this family photo from 19mmhmm), who died within a few days of each other, both in their ’90s and suffering from various ailments

Uncle Howard was my “funny uncle,” the one who always had a joke I’d never heard before, and who read me weird poems like “The Cremation of Sam McGee” and “The Barefoot Boy With Shoes On.” He was deeply religious (either that or he did a good job of faking it after marrying a deeply religious woman), and later in life he became the one who’d send out a Christmas poem, meticulously rhymed but with little regard for meter, that would reliably make me groan (and not in a good way) at the mawkishness of it.

Anyway, I just received (in the mail, from my folks) the program for the memorial service held for the couple, that included 3 Catholic priests as celebrants of the funeral Mass, and a variety of religious hymns and songs. But this struck me — at the bottom are two places listed for memorial donations, and neither are churches or religious organizations or faith-based anything, just the two secular hospices where they spent their last days.

I could be wrong, but I suspect that was a deliberate choice. Howard’s family (my dad’s side) wasn’t particularly religious, and Howard was always an exemplary model of how to live an obviously religious life without ever being overbearing about it. I’m gonna miss him.

(BTW, if you’re wondering, that’s me in the light-colored cowboy hat, along with my brother, my parents and my dad’s mother).

Hope, and change

I voted today, in my local polling place, the American Legion hall. At one end, on the wall was a big sign with the Legion’s constitution, which begins “For God and country …”, and at the other end was the bar, with a big sign saying “Miller Time.” Is this a great country, or what?

On an unrelated note, this blog (and my main one) might be going into semi-hibernation for a while, as I’ll be pretty busy. Here’s the deal: Have you ever seen someone in a particular job, and thought to yourself, “I want to be that guy! I want to have that job”? The thing is, “that guy’s” boss just reached out to me to let me know that “that guy” is retiring, and that I might have a pretty good shot at being “that guy.”

But first I have to pass a whole boatload of IT certifications, in just a few months. So I’ll be working all day at my current IT job (which is a nice job, but not one I ever coveted) and coming home to bone up on Microsoft and Cisco stuff to get the certifications I need for the job that I actually do covet.

I’m not going to stop posting here (I’ve still got things to say, or just to work out by writing them down and putting them out there), but I’m going to (try to) stop worrying about how many days it’s been since I posted something.