Buttle's World

30 August, 2011

Atheists Need a Holiday

Filed under: Posts — clgood @ 16:37

Steve Martin has the hymnal covered. Or at least started. But I’m thinking we need a holiday. Now, I’m perfectly aware of the etymology of holiday. The word now also means a day exempt from work, and a period of relaxation.

The other night I went to see Penn Jillette at a book store in Marin where he was pimping his new book, God, No!. He was, as usual, funny, charming, and profane. It was the first time we had seen each other in person in something over ten years. When he recognized me I pointed out that, the last time we spoke face to face, I was heavier and still a Mormon.

Anyway, after the long line of autograph-seekers dissipated the people at the store gave Penn a nicely-wrapped gift. Smiling like a big, goofy kid, Penn asked, “Ooh! Can I open it now?” I was about to make a crack about waiting for Christmas when it hit me. “Penn, atheists need a holiday!” We ended up chatting for a minute about Christmas. I like it. (I”ve called myself “The Merry Christmas Atheist”). So does Penn. His wife, not so much. I mean, there’s a lot to like about Christmas, but it has baggage.

In his book there’s a touching chapter about why New Years is the Jillette family “special night”, complete with a simply lovely new family tradition. I wouldn’t want to hijack that because it’s so personal. But I still want a holiday. And if an FBI stool pigeon in jail can invent a holiday out of whole cloth then, dammit, so can I. But mine won’t be restricted to members of a certain race, ethnicity, nationality or religion.

Operating on the shoot from the hip idea that most atheists are humanists, I propose that the new holiday be called Human Day. What could be a better cause for celebration? Family, history, love, and kindness are uniquely human traits. (Basic levels of meta-cognition required for entry.) We are the only species that cooks, writes music, and builds space ships. We came up with the best idea in the history of ideas: Science. Right there you’ve got enough to celebrate. But we’re also the only ones who can think and organize ourselves in ways to help each other, and create art for the sake of creating it. We’re a damn fine animal.

I’m not married to the name, though. If you’ve got a better one, sing out.

When should the holiday be? I say December 25th. “Wait!”, I hear certain Christians shout. “That’s our holiday!” You do know, don’t you, that it was the pagan Roman holiday of Saturnalia (plus a mish-mash of winter lights festivals) before it was Christmas. Some have said that “atheist is the new gay” because so many are “coming out of the closet” in the face of persecution by much of society. In America many (but, as Penn points out, certainly not all) religious types think that atheists must be immoral, unhappy, or (if the person really flunked theology) satanic. Don’t think atheists are persecuted in America? Ask yourself what the odds are of one being elected president. The early Christians were also a persecuted group in ancient Rome so, to run under the radar, they moved their holiday to line up with the Roman festivities. Nobody questioned the parties that way.

The proximity to the winter solstice makes it a nice time, at least in our hemisphere, to decorate. Adorning the house with lights, putting an evergreen tree in the living room, having friends and family over for a nice meal, exchanging presents, singing songs (as soon as Steve writes us some more) – what’s not to like? “Happy Human Day!”, you greet your neighbor. It means “I’m happy that you are alive, that I am alive, and that we have a chance to be happy.” And you don’t have to worry about accidentally offending anybody because everybody you talk to just happens to be human!

Peace on earth, good will toward men, is a fine idea and not unique to just one religion. I know that the quotidian reality is war. Starvation has been the rule through most of history. But I agree with Penn that most people are good. Let’s celebrate that at least one day of the year.

Besides – having Sundays free is nice, but how about a day off work?


18 August, 2011


Filed under: Posts — clgood @ 13:56

It is so frustrating trying to find a presidential candidate with even a little basic knowledge of the constitution! Rick Perry is solid on the Second Amendment, which is as good a single metric as you’ll find. He’d probably help shrink government, and he wouldn’t blame corporate jet owners for the country’s problems. Pretty obviously he’d be a better chief executive than President Downgrade. An admittedly low bar.

But then he goes and says something mind-numbingly stupid like this.

If he expects me to cheer on a guy this clueless he’s, well, clueless. If the Republicans find someone at least as good as a syphilitic camel I’ll vote against Obama. But, damn, it would be nice for once to have someone to vote for.

A word to creationists, especially young-earth creationists. You are wrong. Period. And you should not expect the government to fund the preaching of your religion, especially in school.

14 August, 2011

Don’t Get Cocky

Filed under: Posts — clgood @ 20:50

People believe lots of crazy things. That doesn’t mean the people are crazy, or stupid, just human. It’s awfully tempting, though, to see the other guy’s crazy beliefs as a sign of some sort of mental or moral deficit. What with Rick Perry jumping into the race for president, it’s a good time to go over this.

Let’s take young-earth creationism, for example. It has several features we can identify:

  • Somebody made it up out of thin air
  • It has no plausible mechanism of action
  • Belief in it stems from either ignorance of reality, or an ideological view
  • Modern experience shows it to be utterly, incontrovertibly false

Most conservatives are not creationists, but most creationists are conservatives. This causes a lot of Lefties to forget that correlation is not causation and, further, to brand conservatives as stupid and/or crazy for believing such a thing. Indeed, it is no longer possible for reasonable people to disagree about the fact of evolution. Failure to believe in evolution as the explanation of speciation is not reasonable, it’s religious or, what is the same thing, ideological.

This is the typical Leftie’s cue to get all smug and to make outrageous claims like “reality has a distinct leftward bias”. Oh, really? Let’s take a belief, clung to as bitterly as any religion, by our friends on the Left: Keynesian Economics. It has several features we can identify:

  • Somebody made it up out of thin air
  • It has no plausible mechanism of action
  • Belief in it stems from either ignorance of reality, or an ideological view
  • Modern experience shows it to be utterly, incontrovertibly false

Sound familiar? It should. Not only has it never made any sense to anybody with any sense, and not only has it failed to work, ever, but the last few years should have made it painfully obvious to all and sundry that it is an unmitigated failure. And yet the Paul Krugmans of the world still say we need more “stimulus”.

Borrowing your way to prosperity is just as likely as the historicity of Adam and Eve. They’re both fairy tales.

It doesn’t mean that Lefties are insane or stupid. (Let’s set Krugman aside for now – I’m not sure he’s not royally bonkers.) It merely means they’re wrong, and that they believe in crazy things just like everybody else.

Told You So

Filed under: Posts — clgood @ 19:27

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you know that I’ve been saying for years that Great Britain is dead.

The British lost their freedom decades ago but didn’t notice. Hint: If you can’t buy a gun and use it legally for self defense, you have no liberty in any meaningful sense of the word. Add in so-called “multiculturalism“, and you have the death of a civilization.

Well, none other than Peter Hitchens says that it’s now official. The “Left-wingers at last meet the filthy thing they have created.

They have all learned what most British politicians somehow cannot grasp – that the more encounters you have with our justice system, the less you fear it. A few ‘exemplary’ sentences – none of which will be served in full, or anything near it – will only help to spread the word that arson, robbery, violence, spite and selfishness are not punished here any more. Indeed these are the things we are now famous for around a world that once respected us.

And that is why we have many more nasty surprises waiting for  us, here in The Country Formerly Known as Great Britain.


4 August, 2011

Psalm 44:21

Filed under: Posts — clgood @ 22:39

Update: Yes, this post has been altered.

Some friends of mine recently vacationed at a remote fishing lodge off the coast of British Columbia. It’s small, and guests are encouraged to get to know one another. One couple, however, acted oddly – they kept to themselves and refused to be photographed together. Naturally, this aroused suspicion.

To me, the rest of the story played out as a joke with a punch line. The woman turned out to be a wealthy divorcee who had a high-profile break-up from her developer husband. No big deal there. The punch line was that the man was a Catholic priest. And not just any, but a Veep at a large Catholic university. This blog post used to feature their names and his photo.

Some friends, and a commenter, pointed out the less funny parts of all this, and I have reconsidered. I’m no fan of the Catholic Church but, at least, this guy was having a consenting relationship with an adult woman. That’s a lot different than raping little boys. And, while he’s clearly being less than honest with his employer, hypocrisy is not the unforgivable sin that some folks (particularly on the Left) would have us think. It was never my motivation in posting the info anyway. I just thought it was funny. And I have an admittedly weird sense of humor sometimes.

I still stand by the veracity of the story. And it’s still a cautionary tale about how one should not assume anonymity when one has to register at a hotel, no matter how small, with one’s real name.

Anybody clever and determined enough can find out who they are. For everyone else, my apologies, and move along: there’s nothing more to see here.


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