I'm just not feeling very blasphemous.
I do, of course, emphatically support blasphemy. I look forward to a day when it will be unthinkable for a government to imprison an individual for the crime of insulting a concept, no matter how revered that concept may be, and I firmly believe that such a day will only come when acts of blasphemy are so commonplace that those seeking to criminalize such expression will be met only with ridicule.
While I remain rather aggressively anti-theistic, my activist fire has temporarily been dampened. On the surface, my priorities have shifted to place an emphasis on university, which commands not only a great deal of my time, but also a great deal of my mental energy. On a deeper level, I've reached a place in my recovery from religion where my fueling anger has been replaced by a muted sadness that leaves me somewhat avoidant.
I feel a profound sense of sadness for the True Believer; those who feel they cannot stand without their faith, who offer praises to their deity for both triumph and suffering, who endure this life rather than living it, who exist as long as they must in pursuit of the day they finally achieve death, who are wracked with guilt for undiscovered sins, who ascribe self-accusing meaning to tragedy and self-degrading meaning to joy, who define themselves as unworthy and unclean, who are compelled to neglect and debase the ones they love, who act in fear of unknowable forces, who chain themselves to accidents of birth, who call their own power by a fraudulent name.
So, for blasphemy day, I offer this simple observation:
Religion is a sinister parasite so psychologically enfeebling that its favored victims apologize for lacking the strength to bleed.
For me, that truth is blasphemy enough.
Gearing up for the War on Christmas, or as I like to call it, the Annual Fuck All Other Holidays Campaign, the American Family Association is now offering these yard signs on their website:
No, really. I'm serious. Let the money shot jokes commence.
I often rely on my favorite bloggers to act as a news aggregation service of sorts, to deliver the interesting happenings of the day to me in tight little bundles, complete with commentary. I go through a number of more traditional news sources most days as well, of course, but I appreciate the filter that is applied with blogged news - I follow the bloggers I do, in large part, because they're interested in the same sorts of things I'm interested in, so the news they blog about also tends to be the sorts of news I'm interested in. In fact, what first attracted me to blogging was the potential for spreading the word about news that I found interesting along with my related opinions and comments.
Reality, however, is a bitch and I've learned over the last couple of years that blogging bits of news requires a couple of skills I simply don't possess:
First and foremost - posting frequency. For example, it's not unusual for
Secondly - succinctness. When I do manage to blog about something current, I generally find myself wanting to either simply Tweet a link to an article or write up a "proper" blog post... which often takes me so long that I wind up not posting it at all because I no longer feel it's relevant. Tweeting article links is all well and good, especially as it posts to my Facebook as well, but I really prefer the "one stop shopping" that blogging bits of news gives.
As it turns out, Freethought blogger Al Stefanelli recently
It's possible my little fledgling paper will die of neglect in less than a month, but for now, the
Yeah.. yeah... I'll never be a Famous Blogger™ if I don't learn to update consistently. Thing is, working against one's nature is hard, and well... doing hard things without the promise of fabulous reward isn't really in my nature either. Being casually insulting, however, is. So... um... consistency is for pussies.
I stumbled upon the
1. What was the first song you ever bought?
I haven't the vaguest of ideas. I do, however, know the first song I ever owned - "Take the Long Way Home", by
I owned it as a 45 that I played on my plastic Fisher Price record player. This one:
Not the crappy little music box sold to be drooled on by the infants of parents who didn't want to expose their spawn to "devil music":
2. What song always gets you dancing?
Blerg... SO. MANY. I'm a former dancer, I did a little bit of everything - Jazz, Ballet, Tap, Contemporary, Ballroom, Broadway... moving to music is just what I do. I will say, however, that Ska motivates me to move more than other genres, so I'm going to go with "Zoot Suit Riot", by
"Now you sinners know where your women come for love!" Indeed.
3. What song takes you back to your childhood?
Anyone familiar with the lyrics of this song is probably mildly alarmed that it reminds me of my childhood. That it reminds me of my childhood for the sole reason that it reminds me of my father is probably more than mildly alarming. There is, of course, a perfectly innocent explanation for this connection.
One of my fondest childhood memories is of my father and I dancing in jazzy circles, my tiny feet perched upon his, through our sunbeam swept living room as he sang the chorus of Popsicle Toes to me through my uncontrollable giggles. I was maybe four or five and, for me, the song was about the frigid tootsies that I so enjoyed planting on my daddy's belly while he watched tv. An action he dutifully rewarded with comical jumps and tickle-laden jokes about how I'd kill him with frostbite.
It wasn't until I listened to the song again as a teenager, armed with a map, that I realized just how pervy the song really is. Regardless, it still took Herculean restraint to not use it for the daddy-daughter dance at my wedding.
A close second, for very similar reasons, is "Thank Heaven for Little Girls", as performed by
I listened to this song perched on my grandfather's toes as we waltzed around the finished basement that once served as my great-grandmother's apartment. It just doesn't sound right without the static and scratches that accompanied anything played on his old crank phonograph.
4. What is your perfect love song?
"Love Cats", by
No real explanation beyond the fact that it isn't covered in syrupy, fantasy-laden bullshit like so many other love songs and has the added benefit of actually being enjoyable to listen to.
As an aside, the video linked above is from the German music video program Formel Eins because UMG, who apparently owns the rights to the official music video, has blocked it from being posted to YouTube like utter asshats. Seriously, UMG, you lose nothing by granting YouTube distribution of a video from the 20th century. Yeesh.
5. What song would you want at your funeral?
Seriously, I don't really know... whatever songs bring to mind favorable memories among those that gather there. Less seriously, "The Ride of the Fucking Valkyries" by
6. Time for the encore. One last song that makes you, you.
As much as I would love to be brilliantly academic or existentially deep here, nothing flatteringly pompus would be as honest as "Somebody Hates Me", by
The realization that I actually have very little control over the opinions others will form about me, especially those that I only know tangentially, has had a more profound effect on the person I have become than just about anything else.
For fuck's sake, people. If you're going to use your alcohol-sodden vocal cords to hoot, holler, or (gods forbid) sing over the band, don't bother posting the video of the musical performance you've so blissfully humiliated yourself to on your vapid YouTube channel. I'm sure it was an awesome concert, especially considering how you screamed just how awesome it was at seemingly random intervals throughout the video, and you should totally keep that shit on your iPod to remind you of just how awesome it was, especially considering the long-term effects frequent binge-drinking may have on one's memory, but you're annoying the fuck out of everyone who's casually searching for a version they can actually, you know, HEAR.
For the third year in a row, the U. S. Forest Service has
White-nose syndrome is an aggressive and deadly disease, killing nearly 7 million bats across 19 U.S. states and 4 Canadian provinces in just 6 years. Identified by white fungus growth on the wings and fur of affected bats, particularly around the muzzle, the disease causes erratic behaviors including premature rousing from hibernation, affinity for cold temperatures, day flight, and aimless activity leading to exhaustion. The fungus is also responsible for damage and scarring of the wing membranes, but uncharacteristic behaviors and associated starvation are typically the ultimate cause of death.
Nine hibernating bat species are currently affected by the disease, at least five of which have suffered devastating losses. With mortality rates exceeding 90 percent in some affected caves, experts expect the disease to continue its spread across the United States, inevitably driving some species to extinction.
What you can do to help:
While researchers agree that bat-to-bat transmission is the predominant infection factor, there is evidence to suggest that human exploration of caves may be responsible for the spread of fungus spores into previously uninfected colonies. It is currently believed that a single fungus, Geomyces destructans, is responsible for white-nose syndrome and carefully disinfecting clothing and equipment after cave exploration may help to prevent spore transmission to unaffected sites.
There is also evidence that some bats are adapting to the crisis by roosting alone, or in very small groups, rather than in large colonies. One way to encourage this protective behavior is to provide a bat house and fresh water on your property, or sponsor a community effort to build multiple roosting habitats which can be monitored for fungal infection. If erratic behavior, or white fungus growth on the wings, fur, or muzzle of roosting bats is observed, report your observations to your state conservation agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, or to the USGS National Wildlife Health Center. Instructions for reporting white-nose syndrome related mortalities can be found on the
For more information on white-nose syndrome and its effect on bat populations, visit the
P.S. - for those of you that, unfathomably, dislike bats, it has been estimated that at least 2.4 million pounds of bugs would have been eaten by the bats that have died due to white-nose syndrome, and scientists have estimated that bats provide some $53 billion worth of pest-control services to the American agriculture industry. They may give you the huzz, what with you being certifiably crazy, but they're working hard to make your world a better place for you to live.
My day is better because this exists.
Now your day is better too.
Today was my last day as an administrative assistant, and August 20th will be my first day as a full-time student.
Today represents an end to the financial security I've been so lucky to have. It represents the end of bi-monthly paychecks that actually covered the bills, "free" health insurance, and annual bonuses. It represents the end of a familiar routine and the security that comes with a position one is adept at. It represents the beginning of a new form of social insecurity as a "non-traditional student" on campus. It represents fear and doubt and hope and anticipation. It represents the possibility of a future in which I can spend my days immersed in a field that lights my shit right right up. It represents the possibility of failure and its consequences. It represents an adventure of exploration and discovery and stress and worry. It represents change and growth. It represents the person I've become and the person I want to be.
I think I may be in shock.
This last weekend, I once again trekked across the barren wastelands between my home and Omaha, Nebraska to attend the
Earlier today, I was informed by another conference attendee that the man in question is a
1 - He didn't tell me himself. Blogging came up, but I don't believe he mentioned that he was among the ranks of the internet content producing hordes*. Granted, I didn't manage to mention that I was a blogger until it came out that I story I was busy telling sounded familiar, but in the spirit of "do as I say, not as I do"... bloggers - please tell the people you meet, especially at functions where like minded people congregate, that you blog. You are your public relations and advertising department. Don't let yourself down by failing to do your job.
2 - Having read through his archives, it seems we have more than a passing commonality. Being an Arrogant Cunt™, I'm instantaneously amused by individuals that remind me of myself... as long as they only remind me of the things I actually LIKE about myself. Essentially - we've got a lot of shit in common, I think very highly of myself**, therefore he must be pretty fucking awesome.
3 - His writing is focused and introspective without losing the charm and personality that made speaking with him enjoyable. Seriously, it's a pretty good blog.
* It's also possible that he DID mention it, and I had just phased out. It was late and I am, as I have stated, an Arrogant Cunt™.
** Yes, one can both think very highly of themselves AND think that they're shite. Humans are complicated.
I last wrote about Hank Skinner's death row case in November, and just thought to check up on it again today. It seems that the Texas Attorney General's office
It doesn't really matter to me whether or not Skinner committed the murders he was convicted of in 1995. I'm just happy that science will finally get a crack at the evidence. I'm not a fan of the death penalty, but if we're determined to kill someone for their crimes, we ought at least do our damnest to make sure they actually committed them.
If approximately half a cent of every dollar I pay in Federal taxes goes to fund NASA, as has been stated by Neil deGrasse Tyson, I dropped just over $25 into their budget last year. What did I get for my $25? I got this:
Why, yes... that IS a freakin' color photograph of the craggy surface of a planet casually circling the sun more than 33.9 million miles* from Earth.
Seriously, we're having some kind of freaky robot party on the red planet so you'll all have to excuse me if I take just a little break from bitching about the annoyingly large segment of our population busily stuffing their faces with delicious waffle fries as a testament to their obsession with the inevitability of consenting men touching each other's penises with wedding ring adorned hands to marvel at the fact that we live in the fucking future and SCIENCE. IS. AWESOME.
*33.9 million miles is the closest Mars will ever be to Earth, at least without the addition of some seriously fucked up disaster that would most certainly take emphasis off any trifling disagreement over distance measurements. 33.9 million miles distance represents a scenario in which Mars would reach its perihelion, or closest point to the sun, at the same time Earth reached its aphelion, or farthest point from the sun.