Friday, February 11, 2011

My wonderful Wife.

I turned 50 last December, and my wife gave me a card. Not just any card, this was a card she made herself. On the front was a picture taken on a hike we did last Summer, a very long and somewhat arduous hike to Crestone Lake. The caption on the front is "Bruce is turning 50!" Inside it says "Which must mean there are 50 reasons I love him. The first reason was "He Married Me", written inside the car. Below that it said "now go find the others".  For the next three weeks I found little slips of paper hidden all over the house. Some were in the 'fridge, others in the bathroom, others stuck in various pieces of clothing. It was the sweetest thing anyone has ever done for me, and I still get a little choked up just writing about it. Apparently, she wrote them all on the evening of December 16th, the night before my Birthday. Here they are few: 

1. Bread
2. You clean the Rat cage. 
3. You convinced me that rats are cute.
4. You like chick flicks.
5. Coffee every morning.
6. Worlds best hugs whenever I want them.
7. Pizza.
8. Unbridled curiosity.
9. You are nicer to people than anyone I know. 
13. You are fearless underground.
15. You like Bollywood.
16. You love to travel.
20. You listen to cheesy Christmas music. 
23. You like to hold babies. 
27. Waffles. 
28. Game meat.
48. You're a  goofball.
50. You look hot on a motorcycle.

She also threw me a wonderful party with tons of our friends, and great food. Good thing I have four years to think of something for her 50th.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Forgive me readers, for I have been lazy

And not finished my "Flame War" thread. I promise I will do it today. Right after I paint my bench. And set up my slide scanner. And clean my desk.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Thanks for the comments unbob. I would have to say that, although in principle I agree with a lot of what Dawkins says, I think his "religion as a virus-like meme" ideas are probably off the mark. The best book I have read about the subject of religion is "How we Believe" by Michael Shermer. In fact, I can highly recommend anything by Shermer. He's an excellent and thoughtful writer, and unlike a lot of polemical writing on both sides of the debate, he's usually got some good hard statistics on his side.

For those of you too lazy to cut and paste, here's a link to the article unbob was talking about in his comment. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

the Flame War - part two: Blowback.

Blow Back

So, after my less than cordial response, the Spouse and I went out to do our grocery shopping, get some lunch etc. After a few hours we were back home, and I noticed that I had a few e-mails. Uh oh, I thought...

The first response was from my Cousin.


You know, I believe that everyone is entitled to their own opinion when it comes to politics, religion etc….I do respect your opinion regardless whether I agree or disagree. I am not one to debate or get confrontational when it comes to these topics.  I have my beliefs and I will leave it at that.   My problem is why would you be so mean as to send your opinion to everybody that mom sent this to.  If you disagreed, by all means, email her and her alone. All you had to do was let her know you don’t want these kind of emails. I think this was a mean spirited thing you did and it really hurt my mother.  When it comes to my mother and her feelings, yes, I will get confrontational!!  This was a very callous thing you did. The woman is 68 years old and deserves respect regardless of the fact you disagree with her.


She was right about one thing; my response was mean spirited. My Aunt and Cousins are really lovely people, even if they are 100% wrong about religion and politics, and I really didn't want to hurt anyones feelings. The only thing I disagreed with in my Cousins letter was the idea that I shouldn't have responded to everyone. That was the one thing I did right. Since the e-mail was sent using an open distribution list, everyone on it saw who received it. I needed to make sure that everyone knew that I did not agree with this message in any way shape or form. I just should have been more tactful. The next message is from my Aunt.

From: [the Relative in Question]
Sent: Sunday, October 04, 2009 2:15 PM
To: [the Lazy Atheist]
Cc: And everyone else again 

Subject: Re: I scored 0, like all good Americans

Lazy Atheist,

I certainly didn’t mean to make anyone angry.  Disagreement is one thing, but to be deliberately nasty and condescending to a member of your own family just because you got a harmless email is a bit surprising to me.  I know that being a Christian is certainly “out of vogue” these days, but it’s attitudes like yours that make us see that even the mere mention of Jesus seems to set off a tirade.

Calling people names and looking down on them doesn’t help your case.  But maybe you don’t have a case.  Maybe you just get a kick out of “putting us ignorant Christians in our place.”  What a lofty and admirable goal.  Perhaps you can actually destroy someone’s faith with those tactics.  Bravo!!

By the way, I won’t bother to send you the proof, but you don’t know your history.  Even a cursory study of the quotations from all of the founding fathers reveals numerous references to Jesus Christ, the Christian religion, prayer, the Bible, and God as the creator of the universe.  They were deeply committed to the freedom of all people and they plainly stated in the Declaration Of Independence that all are “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.”  Individual liberty was unheard of until Jesus, and the founding fathers knew that in order to be a free people, they must be free to choose any religion, or no religion at all.   But when God was mentioned in those days, everyone knew who they were talking about and it wasn’t “sky pixies.”

But what do they know, George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, etc.    Just a bunch of “lunatic right wing” nut cases , right?

Congratulations on being such a good American.

Your Aunt   

Well, now I felt pretty bad. In hindsight, you can see that we are actually talking past one another here. My relative is putting words in my mouth with the remarks about “out of vogue" and "putting us Christians in our place”, and I was heaping my visceral response to this e-mail all upon my Aunt, along with my feelings about the wonderfully Christian government we enjoyed in the past Presidential administration. In my defense, however, I will say that the e-mail was in no way a celebration of the Deist or Christian influence of the Founding Fathers. It was a call to create a Christian government out of our secular government. The last line of the e-mail says it all.

Here's my response to my Aunt:

Hello Everyone,

First of all, i did not mean to insult or wound anyone by my reply. If I anyone was insulted I apologize.  However, when you send out a blanket e-mail with a (and some of you might want to stop reading now) silly statement like "In removing God, it is no longer America", this is the kind of reply you are going to get from some people. Like me. As far as destroying someone's faith with these tactics, I wish! Unfortunately, people become wedded to their ideas, and even something as patently absurd as fundamentalist Christianity, Islam or Judaism has millions of rabid followers.

By the way, this is one founding fathers idea of religion. Looks pretty different from today's Christianity, at the way Republicans seem to practice it. 

With love (And I mean that),

Lazy Atheist

The link is to the article in Wikipedia about the Jefferson bible. If you don't know about this, take a minute and read it - it is a fascinating glimpse into the mind of one of the great men of the 18th Century. Go ahead, I'll wait.  Now, on with the (rapidly cooling) flames. This was my response to my Cousin: 

Hello Cousin,

I agree that the tone of my reply was not civil, and I am sorry if I hurt anyones feelings. By now you have probably read my reply to your Mother and the rest of the list. I will say however that if you send out a blanket e-mail, especially one as (and I will say this again) silly as this one was, you'd better expect some heat. And I wanted to make very sure that everyone on this distribution list knows my feelings on the matter. The last thing I want is to be associated with this kind of nonsense.

That being said, I do love you, your Mother, and the rest of your family, political beliefs aside. You are all among the sweetest people I know. And no e-mail, from either side, is going to change that.


Lazy Atheist

Next, the final two. 

Monday, October 19, 2009

Flame war, part one

This is how it all began, with a simple chain e-mail. I received this from my Aunt last Saturday. I woke up at the crack of 9 or so, a little bleary and possibly somewhat the worse for having a few beers and a glass of wine the night before. I had not had my coffee, and in hindsight this was my first mistake. I’ll quote the entire e-mail here, and then the various responses.

Re: I Scored 100
 America was founded by people who were divinely inspired.  Whether Christian or Deist, they recognized that it is God who is the foundation upon which this country was built.  In removing God, it is no longer America.

Your Aunt

From: R..... K..... [] 
Sent: Saturday, October 03, 2009 11:03 PM 
To: a whole lotta people, some relatives, some folks I don’t know. 
Subject: Fwd: I Scored 100

--- On Sat, 10/3/09, <..........> wrote:

From:  <................>
Subject: Fwd: I Scored 100
 To: a lot of people I don’t know (Probably Republicans). >
Date: Saturday, October 3, 2009, 2:32 PM

----- Forwarded Message -----
From: "b..... s.....(and yes, those are the correct initials)

Subject: Fw: I Scored 100

Hope you score 100

The sentence at the end of this page tells
you how to score 100. Enjoy the pictures
as you scroll down.

Paintings of Christ

I'm not ashamed. He is the only one that can save this
country and they want him removed from the government.

Our great nation will not stand if we delete HIM from all
aspects of our government as the atheists want.

Jesus Test

This is an easy test, you score 100 or zero. It's your
choice. If you aren't ashamed to do this, please follow
the directions. Jesus said, if you are ashamed of me, I
will be ashamed of you before my Father. 'This is the
simplest test. If you Love God, and are not ashamed of
all the marvelous things he has done for you..
Send this to ten people.

So, this was how I started my day. As you might imagine, I was pretty irritated at getting this e-mail from a relative who is well aware of my feelings and beliefs, and even worse, being on a ‘public’ distribution list. I felt I had to respond, just to let everyone else on the list know that these are not in any way, shape or form my beliefs. Now, one could argue that the way I responded left something to be desired.....

From: Me 

Sent: Sunday, October 04, 2009 2:15 PM

To: Them

Cc: To everyone else on the list, including my sister, Brother and Mother, and lot of folks I don’t know.
Subject: I scored 0, like all good Americans
Of all the silly lies from the lunatic fringe right, this is one of the silliest. God did not have to be removed from America (And I'm inferring that you mean the Constitution and the Federal government) he was never there in the first place. The founders were wise enough to leave god, God's or what ever sky pixie people believed in out, so that one religion could not oppress another. And I have to tell you, the saccharine sweet Wal-Mart Jesus images in the e-mail do not help your cause.

Ouch! I have to admit I feel a little embarrassed re-reading this. But of course things get better....

Next: Blow-back.


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Don't e-mail angry

Especially if you are responding to an e-mail from your very conservative and religious relatives. I learned this lesson the hard way last week. I'll post the whole sordid mess as soon as I have edited it down to a reasonable level.