Category Archives: Personal

Questions About Facebook

facebook_like_logo_1I know I wrote a while back that I was thinking about simply deleting my Facebook presence, I’ve never done anything about it, mostly because I find very little about it that’s useful.  I find the format of Facebook relatively useless for intelligent discussion, which is what I really care about.  It’s more built for the short-attention-span crowd, not for holding an ongoing, rational conversation.

Over the weekend, I decided to spend a little time cleaning up my social media presence.  I went to Facebook and deleted the page for The Bitchspot Report.  I did it because, silly me, I had never published it anyhow, nobody had ever seen it, nobody had ever posted there and now that it’s officially dead, it seems silly to have a Facebook presence for a defunct podcast.  I need to do the same thing for the Google+ page.  I also fought Tumblr while trying to set up a Tumblr page for my Cephus’ Corner blog, you can’t actually do anything until you verify your e-mail and they simply refused to send out the confirmation e-mail.  I’ve read that this is a common problem, I just kept changing e-mail addresses until one of them got that confirmation, then changed it back to the e-mail address I wanted to use.  Fuck Tumblr.

So after wrestling with Tumblr, I swung by Facebook for the first time in months and just looked at the mess that is my Bitchspot Blog “community” and was at the point of looking up the instructions for deleting it all, when I ended up talking to a friend who actually advocates Facebook.  We talked for a while, he told me that it can be useful if I just take the time to optimize it, but there were some requirements that I have and he had no idea how to do it.  I ran over to a Facebook forum to ask some questions and was met by a lot of rude, obnoxious idiots.  See, my primary issue here is that I want my Bitchspot activities and my Cephus’ Corner activities to be completely and totally separate from my “real life” activities.  Facebook requires that you sign up with your real name.  You can create pages for other things, as I’ve done with Bitchspot and Cephus’ Corner and previously the Bitchspot Report, but if I try to friend anyone or follow anyone, it’s my real name that does the friending or following, not “Bitchspot” or “Cephus” or whatever.  This is a game breaker.  If I have to use my real name for any of this, if my real name is attached to any of this at all, I’m done.  There is no discussion here.  My way or the highway. The idiots at the forum were unbelievably rude, they said “hey, you use your real name or fuck off”.  Yeah, forget that.

So my first question that needs an answer before I go any further, can I actually use Facebook with a pseudonym or not? I can do that with Google+, I can join communities with my various pages, I can jump into Google Hangouts with my page names, my real name never comes into it at all.  If I cannot do that with Facebook, then Facebook goes away, no further questions necessary.  I tried to do it once, to follow someone from my Bitchspot Blog page and it immediately defaulted to my real name. I can find no instructions online how to do it otherwise.

Secondly, and I suppose I’ve asked this in the past but have never gotten a good answer, does Facebook actually give you anything unique that you can’t get without it?  As I’ve said before, the lion’s share of my online effort has been and will continue to be my blogs.  I am going to write new content almost exclusively right here on this blog.  I have neither the time nor the interest to write new content for Facebook and Google+ and Tumblr and Twitter and all of that, my real purpose is to funnel people from these other forums back here to my blog.  Everything I write here gets automatically posted to Facebook and Google+ and Tumblr and Twitter.  It just spreads the content outward, I don’t want to make more work for myself with the expectation that I’m going to go to each of these different social media sites and do extra things there.  So what is it that I’m getting from having a page of my blog postings on Facebook (or Google+ or Tumblr or Twitter for that matter)?  Sorry, I just don’t see it.

I’m sure there are other questions that I’ll come up with, but these two are the most important right now. It feels like I’ve been throwing crap at a fan and seeing where it splatters.  I have limited time and want to put my effort into things that are actually useful and so far, I’ve really been half-assing things across the Internet and I’m really tired of that.  If it isn’t really useful, I’d rather just get rid of it and focus my attention here.

Thanks for your help!

Last Word on The Bitchspot Report

Bitchspot Report New IconI know I’ve been putting this off for a while now and I’ve gotten a couple of e-mails over on the podcast site asking when the show was coming back.  I’m sorry I haven’t answered but I’ve really avoided having to address it because I kept going back and forth on the whole thing and didn’t know exactly what I should say.  But I guess the time has come to say it.

The podcast is dead.

It’s not because I hated doing it, but a whole bunch of shit came up at work and I spent much of the past 4 months doing an absurd number of hours, to the point that I couldn’t even predict from day to day when I might even be available to record a podcast, much less edit one.  While things have stabilized a little bit now, I don’t know when things will be back to normal, if they will ever be back to normal.  I actually consider myself lucky that I had that window of opportunity to record for the shows we did.  Seriously, the amount of time it took to edit the podcast was really prohibitive and I don’t think people understand that. Not only did it take 2-3 hours a week to record, it took another 6-7 hours to edit.  You’re looking at 8-10 hours a week to put out a 90-minute product every single week, that just got to be excessive and instead of looking forward to recording every week, I used to dread it because I knew what it meant.

Beyond that, and this should come as no surprise considering the New Year’s post that I made here, I really felt like we were just retreading old ground  all the time.  I mean, how many “oh look, Pat Robertson said something stupid” or “oh look, Gordon Klingenschmitt is an idiot” stories can you do over and over again?  Nothing new ever happens in the world of religion, it’s the same old stupid people saying the same old stupid things.  Nothing new really ever happens in politics either, it’s just stupid political story A or stupid political story B time and time again.  Whereas I started out looking for really good stories to sink our teeth into every week, it got to be an exercise in “here we go again” and I think that at the end, you could hear it in my voice. Just listen to how many times I’d introduce stories and have to say “again”.  It was a lot.

The other “funny” thing, and I say “funny” because it actually makes me chuckle, is that we never really had a guest on the air that seriously disagreed with us.  We’d get these semi-upset e-mails, people who wanted to come on and take us to task, and by the time they got on the air, it turned out they agreed with us more than not.  We never got any angry guests!  We never got anyone who told us we were wrong and got into a good, solid, adversarial debate on anything.  That’s what I wanted but it never happened.  Granted, I got to meet a lot of really great people and made a lot of really good friends, but really, where were all the liberal atheists who were going to come on and put us evil conservatives in our place?  Where were the theists who were going to put the atheists to shame?  It just never happened.

That’s not to say I’d be averse to doing another podcast sometime.  I loved spending a couple hours with Mike every week, he’s a great guy and a ton of fun to be around and I wish him all the luck in the world in his other podcasting endeavors.  Assuming I had the time, and that’s not a guarantee right now, but I’ll pretend for the moment, I wouldn’t mind jumping into a podcast, probably with a different format, and just having fun recording with some great people.  I think my days as primary editor are done.  I have neither the time nor the interest in spending hour after hour cutting out every gaffe and verbal tic.  Of course, one thing that doing a podcast like that has taught me, I really, really hate all the verbal tics in a lot of podcasts.  There’s one that I’ve listened to for a long time and finally, I couldn’t do it anymore because one host says “uh huh” about 147 times a minute.  I mean, I’m not a perfect radio personality myself, far from it, but come on!

So this officially ends the era of The Bitchspot Report Podcast.  I’m going to leave the other site up so people can listen to the old episodes.  I will take the links from my other blogs down.  Please let me know if any of them go bad and I’ll see what I can do.  Thanks for coming along on the ride, it was a blast.

New Year’s Resolution Time

new-years-resolutions1It’s funny, I’d never been one for doing New Year’s Resolutions until two years ago, when I decided to do one, more as a joke than anything else, and I realized that a well-executed resolution, taken seriously, can be actually useful.

For 2013, I decided that I’d walk away from the endless nonsense that comes out of the Atheism+ idiots and the other social justice morons. I wouldn’t read their blogs, I wouldn’t look at their Twitter feeds, I wouldn’t pay any attention to anything they had to say, I was done. My only exception came when I was confronted with the abject stupidity from a source beyond my control and just had to say something about it, or it was something that came up on the podcast, but I wouldn’t seek it out and I wouldn’t be concerned what a bunch of liberal hyper-feminist, social-jackoff idiots had to say.  It actually served me very well, it kept my blood pressure down and I was much, much happier.

For 2014, I realized that in many of my debates with both liberals and theists, I was really getting nowhere, I was essentially banging my head against the wall of their perpetual stupidity.  I wasn’t having fun, I was just getting frustrated by their pig-headed ignorance and I was tired of it.  Trying to explain reality to people who don’t live in the real world was pointless.  I had given up trying to engage theists in the evolution/creation debate many years earlier because, spending a lot of hours and effort explaining the basics of evolution and science, only to have theist after theist simply reject it out of hand anyhow was just a waste of my time.  I had to learn when enough was enough and in so doing, while frustration hasn’t gone away in my life, it’s gotten a bit more manageable.

So as it came closer to 2015, I started thinking what I ought to do for a Resolution this year and for the longest time I really had no good ideas.  I’d already cut down somewhat on the number of posts I do, somewhat because of a lack of time and quite a bit because of a lack of interest.  In the ten years that I’ve been writing this blog, I think I’ve written hundreds of times on every topic of any kind of interest to me imaginable.  I’ve restarted it several times from scratch and, within the past month, I’ve passed 1000 posts again on just this incarnation alone.  If I had to guesstimate, I’d say that I’ve put in over 3000 posts on Bitchspot alone in the past decade, plus another pile on my other blogs.  That’s a lot of time and effort spent pointing out the utter inanity of religion and politics.

Now I’ll be honest, I’ve sat down at the computer on more than one occasion with the intention of simply deleting Bitchspot forever and walking away from the online debating scene entirely.  I have gotten entirely frustrated with trying to have reasonable discussions with people who have no concept of reason. It’s like talking to 6-year olds about college-level subjects, it simply doesn’t work because they not only don’t have the grounding in the subject matter, they have no interest in finding out.  I was prepared to sit down to write this post and announce my official retirement from the “atheist community” because I’ve really said all that I can say about any of the subjects that I tend to address.

However, instead I think that my Resolution this year is going to be simply to keep going.  It might come off as cheap but given that I’m burned out on religion and politics and all of the things I’ve been covering for the past decade, maybe that’s the best that I can hope for at the moment.  Every time I write a post, I might as well simply link to something I’ve said before because, other than the specific circumstances that bring up the subject, I just give the same advice to the same general stupidity.  Things never change or if they do change, it’s just to get worse.  How many times can I tell the same stupid people to stop being stupid when they refuse to do so?  I predict exactly what these people will do before they do it because I’ve been through the same spiel so many times.

What I really want is some suggestions of what to do to keep things fresh and interesting.  What would people like to see more of?  What would they like to see less of?  I’m honestly out of ideas and having nothing new to say makes me honestly fear that I will break my Resolution for the year.  Maybe that might be best, I don’t know, but I’m willing to keep trying.

The Post-Holiday Holiday

happy_birthday_new[3]I recently realized that there was another holiday this year, hidden between Christmas and New Years, that I ought to acknowledge, even though it probably means nothing to anyone but me.  It was 10 years ago today that I posted my first post to the first iteration of the Bitchspot Blog, back on December 26, 2004.

Believe it or not, even though that version of the blog is long since gone, lost to the winds of time, I still have that first post and I’ll throw it below, just for nostalgia.  Not much has changed on that front, religion is still idiotic and radical liberalism is still suicidal, just as I wrote in the first two posts I ever wrote here.

When you think about it, I’ve written an absurd amount around here.  Just this version, which returned in late April, 2011, has just  crossed the 1,000 post mark.  Considering that I started this blog writing two posts a day, every single day, for at least the first couple of years, the total number of posts must be in the multiple thousands.  It’s hard to believe that I’ve had so much to say over the years!

So thank you to all of my supporters and readers over the years, it’s been fun and I hope that you’ve gotten something out of it.  I know I’ve invited people to let me know what they’d like to see, I encourage you to comment below and let me know if you’ve liked what I’ve done and where I could go from here.

Without further ado, here’s the very first post ever posted to Bitchspot, back on December 26, 2004.  What a blast from the past!

I’ll be honest, I have very little good to say about religion in general, Christianity in particular. Not
that I have anything especially against Christianity, it suffers from the same failings and irrationality
of all religions, but having to live in a country where the President acts proud to say that God is telling
him what to do, when such things should normally get you thrown into a looney bin, is troubling.

I’ll be very up-front about it, I think religion is stupid. It’s illogical, it’s irrational and it’s the
epitome of intellectual suicide for the believer. I certainly understand why people would want to believe,
it’s just like being a child and wanting to be protected and taken care of by your parents. When you
grow up and realize that it’s not all sugarplums and puppydogs out there, that the world can be a cruel,
uncaring place that doesn’t give a damn if you live or die, it’s comforting to turn to an all-powerful
father figure who is going to take care of you and make your life easier. Except it doesn’t work that
way. It’s no more rational to believe in God than it is to believe in Santa Claus. At least kids eventually
get it. Even if they still believe in Santa, eventually those presents stop showing up under the tree and
mom and dad reveal that they’ve been responsible for years. The reality gets handed to you and you’re
forced to accept it, like it or not. But with God, most of the supposed payoff comes after you’re dead and
can’t exactly come back to tell anyone if it’s really there or not. People can go on being delusional their
entire lives, hoping and praying that there’s really something there, that they’re not completely wasting
their time, and by the time they find out that dead means dead and all of their deity-ass-kissing was for
naught, it’s too late. By the time they realize, they’ve already screwed up their lives and the lives of
those around them.

It doesn’t take too much to figure out how dangerous religion is, just look at the local newspaper. The
Middle East, the “Irish Problem”, fundamentalist Christian wackos blowing up abortion clinics, people
trying to get their pet fantasy taught in science class, homosexuals being dragged around behind cars, all
of these groups supremely convinced that they’re right because their God has a bigger dick than everyone
else’s. The fact of the matter is that none of them, absolutely, positively none of them have the slightest
shred of objective evidence that they’re right. It’s all a bunch of wishful thinking. You’ve got Joe Jew
hating Achmed Muslim, not because Achmed is a bad guy, but because he bows down before the wrong fantasy
being a couple times a day. Of course, Achmed isn’t innocent either, he wants to see the Jews slaughtered
so the Muslims can take over the same worthless piece of crap land that their religion has declared “Holy”.
And Billy-Bob Christian is arguably the worst of all, he’s got a couple dozen Christian sects that he can
hate in addition to everyone else. Christianity wins the prize, it even gets to hate itself!

So now we have a whole bunch of irrational, illogical people who can’t even think straight trying to run
the world. Try getting elected to public office in this country if you’re not part of the pet religion.
Doesn’t matter how unqualified the other person is, so long as they pay homage to the right local deity,
they win. They could be a convicted child molester with an IQ of 11 and they’ve got a better shot than
a college-educated, highly experienced atheist. This whole planet is going straight to hell.

What’s even worse though is the fact that the overwhelming majority of people who claim to be religious
don’t have a clue what it is they’re supposed to believe. The Bible might be one of the most purchased
books around, but it’s also one of the least read. Ask most Christians the basics of their religion and
they’ll stare at you with glazed-over eyes and mumble. I term most Christians in this country “Social Christians”.
They only say they believe because they think it’ll make them look good to the neighbors. They don’t know
what they believe, they don’t know why they believe it, but you’d better believe they’re easy to manipulate
and that’s just what the churches want. Tell Christians who to vote for and you’ll get a powerful voting
block. Give them a cause and you’ll get a swell of support. Unfortunately, none of them know what they’re
voting for or why they’re doing it, they just mindlessly march to the polls because someone in a pulpit
told them to. That’s why this country is so screwed up, we not only don’t have an informed electorate,
the electorate is ignorant of pretty much everything in their lives. Just do what the churches say because
they’ve got an in with Jesus and you don’t want to go to hell, do you?

Holy crap, we’re already there.

I Threw Away My Cable Bill

No-CableActually, I did this a while back but I was recently contacted by DirecTV who has been desperate to get me back since I dropped their service more than 5 years ago to go with Verizon’s FIOS.  That kind of got me thinking about the whole thing and while I was thinking, I came up with an idea that I have no idea why they don’t use.

But first, the backstory.  We had DirecTV for probably 10-12 years, it worked great, we never had any problems with the quality, it worked virtually all of the time.  However, when we finally had FIOS available in our area, something we had been looking forward to for several years, we dropped DirecTV in favor of FIOS-TV, simply because there were more channels available and when we bundled our super-high-speed Internet, TV and phone together, it was cheaper than anything DirecTV could do.  We still have our old DirecTV dish on the roof, I could go back to them any time I wanted, I still have the box and all the rest, I just have no desire and they can’t beat the prices.

Back in September, Verizon started  bugging us big time to sign up for a new 2-year contract.  Ours had run out some time during the summer and we figured we’d just keep going month to month because we had no interest in changing anything, but it gave us the opportunity to switch plans if we ever had the need without having to pay fees and all of that.  Verizon kept making thinly veiled threats that our “special deal” that we were getting might “expire”, although we all know that’s a load of nonsense, so we’d better sign up again!  It made us remember something we’d realized a long time ago.  We don’t even watch the damn thing!

It’s true.  We virtually never turned it on and when we did, it was just for background noise.  Anything we watch is either downloaded or on DVD/Bluray.  It was a lot of money to be spending for a box that acted more as a digital clock than a cable box.  Add to that the fact that we were headed into election season and I dreaded the endless political calls.  We virtually never got a single worthwhile call on our landline, it was either advertisers trying to sell us something or political calls trying to sell us something else.  The only reason we’d kept it is out of tradition, we’d had the same number for more than 15 years but we couldn’t come up with a single other reason why we ought to continue to pay for something we got no positive use out of.

So we didn’t.  We called Verizon and cancelled both our FIOS-TV and landline phone, then we boosted our Internet speed to the fastest it could go, both upload and download.  We’re still saving a ton a month, plus we’re not locked into a contract, we’re month-to-month so we can change any time we feel like it.

I told that whole story because I wanted to tell this one.

Pretty much everyone knows I download 100% of my television viewing, I make no secret of it and I don’t feel bad about it at all.  I guess one reason I kept paying for the TV as long as I did was a misguided thought that hey, I’m paying my cable bills which helps to fund these channels and therefore it shouldn’t matter how I get the content, you’re still getting my money.  Of course, nobody cares about that, including Verizon, who really doesn’t give a damn what anyone downloads. Sure, if they get a complaint, they have to pass it along and wag their finger and say “naughty naughty” but they really couldn’t care less.  I momentarily thought, maybe I ought to go download these shows from some of the “legal” sites, where you pay by the episode, but that immediately went out the window, doing that would cost more than just keeping the cable and you’re still stuck with the commercials.  No thanks.

So that got me thinking, why doesn’t Verizon and other ISPs just charge $15-20 a month, give that money to whatever group controls TV piracy, and anyone who pays that can download any TV shows they want, from whatever source they want, with no legal penalty?  Oh, I know the TV producers would never go for it, they want that advertiser revenue, but for people like me, people who are not going to watch their commercials no matter what they do, and who are now not even going to pay the few pennies a month that goes to the individual networks, at least they get something.  They can’t stop piracy, they might as well profit  from it.  I know, it makes sense and ISPs can do similar things for people who download movies and software, or just do a “$50 a month for everything”, where people don’t have to pay for VPNs and spoof their IPs and all the rest of that.  They can do what they’re going to do anyhow and not have to worry that Big Brother is looking over their shoulder.

The unfortunate reality, one that I’ve pointed out before, is that so many of these media companies are living in the dark ages and have to be dragged, kicking and screaming into the light.  The recording industry had to be forced to be successful by iTunes and now, there are tons of sites where you pay a flat fee and listen to as much music as you want all month long. The movie industry hated the idea of home video and fought it tooth and nail.  Now it’s a massive money maker for them. The old ways are old for a reason, the world keeps moving on and these people need to get it through their heads that the world changes, with or without them.

But I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for them to figure it out.  They’ll just go on fighting the wind and losing money while the planet changes around them.

Disabilities Don’t Make You Special

LPA_BODI walked into a store today and immediately, it was clear there was a problem.  There was some crazed lady at the front counter demanding a refund, quite loudly, for a product that she didn’t have a receipt for, even though the policy was clearly stated, no refunds without receipts.  Now sure, this is probably pretty  common in stores across America, there are lots of self-entitled idiots who think that the rules don’t apply to them, but this one was special and not necessarily in a short bus way.  Her excuse for not having her receipt was that she had a disabled child.  Yeah, I know, what the hell does that have to do with anything, right? How does your offspring’s disability have anything to do with your ability to hold on to a sales receipt?  But that was her excuse and she was screaming at the clerk that her disabled child somehow entitled her to ignore the rules and get her money back because I guess disabled kid trumps personal responsibility.

You know, people are born with disabilities all the time.  Disabilities, as far as I’m concerned, is something to be dealt with and worked with, not to be taken advantage of.  You didn’t see Helen Keller bitching about wanting special treatment because she was blind and deaf.  Yeah, I know she couldn’t talk either but that’s beside the point.  This lady didn’t even have a kid with her, she could have been making the whole thing up for all anyone knew, but what difference does it make?  There’s nothing wrong with her, is there?  Well, I guess you could make the case that extreme self-importance is a form of mental retardation, but you know what I mean.

I actually get to complain about this because, as a lot of people know, I have a disabled daughter, she was born with achondroplasia, a form of dwarfism. She’s short, although at the top end of the scale for dwarfs.  She has some physical difficulties and she’s been teased her entire life because of her small size. But have I allowed her to use that as an excuse? Hell no.  She deals with it.  She has been pushed to accept, understand and deal with her difficulties. That’s what responsible people do.

I will be honest that when she was born, we looked at the official dwarf organization, Little People of America. While I don’t want to criticize the whole organization, we found that many of the members were, by and large, really obnoxious, especially the parents of dwarf children.  The ability for these people to delude themselves was amazing.  If you got onto some of the forums and just watched people talk, these weren’t people there to try to deal with their children’s handicaps, they weren’t there to learn how to deal with the difficulties, they were people trying to convince themselves that their kids were special, that somehow, dwarf children were better than kids who were regular sized.  There were literally people who were saying “my kid is in a wheelchair for the rest of his life, isn’t that great?”  No.  You’re an idiot.  Unfortunately they are idiots in good company.  There is a difference between accepting something as a fact of life and reveling in it.  These people have taken something they feel guilty over and turned it into something they now celebrate.  What a bunch of morons.

Now I’m all in favor of making the lives of people with legitimate disabilities easier, I’m cool with making reasonable accommodations for wheelchairs and the like.  While, by and large, we live in a world where a certain range of physical ability is considered normal, I see no reason to punish people who fall outside of that range if it doesn’t cause undue restrictions on most people.  However, that doesn’t mean we have to pretend that people who fall outside of that range don’t have issues to deal with, nor that those issues are, at their core, their own problems.  People need to find a way to live in a “normal” world with “non-normal” restrictions.  It isn’t the world’s responsibility to reconfigure the world so these people are never inconvenienced.  Short people and tall people have to live together.  Fat people and thin people have to live together.  People who are disabled and people who are not have to live together.  It’s not about fault, it’s about facts.  That’s the way the world works.  In my daughter’s case, she has no right to demand that everything come down to her level, she has to find a way to go up to everyone else’s level.  We’ve never gone around lowering all the cabinets in the house to her level, we’ve provided her various steps to come up to the level she’ll need to deal with in the real world.  She handles her disability and she doesn’t complain about it.  Maybe some other parents need to learn to do the same and not use their child’s supposed disabilities as an excuse for getting special treatment.

Facebook is Bugging Me

FACEBOOK sucksI hate Facebook, I have never seen a point to it, I’ve never thought it was at all useful, it doesn’t facilitate intelligent conversations and I fought having an account for a long, long, long time.  In fact, for as long as I’ve had an account, plus a page for all of my various and sundry blogs and podcasts, I don’t think I’ve done more than use it as a dumping ground for blog posts and the like.  I simply have no time and no interest in going over there and friending people and liking pages.  My time is so limited these days that my entire online presences consists of an hour in the morning hitting a few forums and blogs before being off to work.  I’ve almost entirely stopped posting on my other blog and here would be the same if I weren’t well over a month ahead in posts.  My free time has completely vanished and Facebook is about as far down the list of things I have any interest in doing as you can get.

But that doesn’t stop Facebook from e-mailing me an endless amount of spam saying “Come back to Facebook!”  Well, that’s not quite accurate, they’re not asking me to come back, they’re assuming that I’m coming back and have just lost my way.  They expect me to be falling all over myself to be on Facebook. They send me an endless array of suggestions for getting back into Facebook that I find positively annoying and even though I’ve tried to turn these stupid spam e-mails off, they keep on coming.

In fact, it reminds me of their ham-fisted attempts to find me “friends” in the first place.  When I first set up my account, it kept giving me suggestions for people I might know.  The overwhelming majority of them, I had no clue about, I have no idea why they might have thought I’d have ever seen these people before, I’m sure it comes from some shared interest or something, but they were almost all complete strangers.  The ones remaining were people that I had once been acquainted with but now wanted nothing to do with.  If I wanted these people on my friend list, I would have friended them on my own.  I don’t need Facebook’s help.  I’m not a pathetic loser who needs some online service to keep track of people I want to be friends with.  If I lost contact with someone from my past, it’s because I wanted to.  I’m not stupid or forgetful, I actually know what I’m doing.

So I’ve been thinking that maybe I ought to just delete my Facebook account and all of the associated pages because I don’t think they’re useful at all and I’m pretty sure I will never use them again.  Even if I was just sitting around doing nothing in front of a computer every day for the rest of my life, I’m still not going to use Facebook.  It’ll get them to stop bothering me and since I hate clutter on my desktop, that will get rid of one more useless icon in my browser.

While I’m at it, I ought to just delete my various Twitter accounts too.  I haven’t had a Twitter client open for a couple of months, I just dump blog posts there as advertising but I have no interest in debating Twidiots in 140 character chunks. They’re another one who keeps spamming my e-mail with “do you know…” nonsense.  If I knew them, I’d be following them.  In fact, some of them I am following on another account.  Again, it won’t stop sending me crap no matter how many times I tell it to.  Maybe deleting the account is my best option.

So if you see my Facebook and Twitter accounts just go away one day, you’ll know why.  I haven’t had a chance to go through the long and involved process that Facebook requires to actually delete an account, Twitter is more a matter of laziness on my part, but once I get time, this option is looking more and more favorable all the time.

Opinions Are Not Offensive

Heavily TattooedI recently had a guy run up to me at work, proud of his new tattoo and wanted to know my opinion.  Okay, I’ve said this before, I don’t like tattoos.  At all. I don’t think they look good on anyone and I find them ridiculous and childish and the current desire for people to cover their skin in permanent ink is idiotic, at least in my opinion.  So I told the guy as much, very nicely, that I wasn’t the one to come to for an opinion on his tattoo and he got offended that I didn’t gush all over him and tell him how cool it was.

What he was seeking wasn’t really an opinion but validation.  He wanted to be made to feel good about something and went to someone who doesn’t think it’s a good thing.  Oh sure, he can do whatever he wants to his body, it’s his right, but I don’t have to tell him it was a good thing or that I like it.  Company policy states that no visible tattoos are to be showing and I have a couple of people who have to suffer with long-sleeve shirts all year long because they decided to tat themselves up.  I don’t care about that, I care if they can do their jobs and, by and large, they are a great group of people.  But you know, if you come and ask me what I think about something, I’m going to tell you. It might be diplomatically, but I’m going to tell you.  If you don’t want to know, don’t ask.

We live in a society where people want validation for their actions and they get genuinely upset when someone tells them that they don’t think they did the right thing.  Now I didn’t tell this guy that I thought he was stupid or immature or anything else because he got a tattoo… okay, to be fair, *ANOTHER* tattoo. I just said I wasn’t the one to ask about such things.  He got upset, momentarily at least, because I didn’t immediately gratify his desire to be accepted and admired for his actions.  He got over it pretty quickly, I’m sure he sought out other tattoo-enthusiasts in the office and they made him feel better, but it strikes me as pretty silly that things worked out like that in the first place.  People need to stop asking for opinions when what they really want is approval.  They need to realize that asking someone’s honest impression probably won’t get them to lie to you.  You either want honesty or you do not.  If you want honesty, getting offended at that honesty seems rather absurd.

But I guess that’s what happens when the liberals are in charge.

A Question For Bloggers

Folders Icon with variations of colorsIf you’re not a blogger, this is probably not the post for you because I’m seeking opinions from others who run their own blogs, or at least have good suggestions.  See, way back when I restarted this blog a couple of years ago, I ran a blog that appealed to several different sensibilities.  Of course, my primary reason was the absurdity of religion, but I also talked about a lot of politics and I also had my little geeky corner where I talked about other stuff that appealed to me and probably nobody else.  Since then, I have spun off the geeky stuff into a separate blog, but I’ve continued with the atheist and political stuff.

My question today regards categories.  This will make sense mostly to people who use WordPress for their blogging software of choice, but I suppose just about anyone can have an opinion on it.  When I re-started the blog, I didn’t really have a plan on how to construct my categories. I just started  building more and more and more categories and sub-categories as time has gone on and this has, to be perfectly honest, gotten unwieldy.  This problem is twofold and quite mutually contradictory so let me back up a little.

On the one hand, I think I have a lot of categories available, even though I think they are horribly organized.  I’ve accepted that I’m stuck with all the geeky categories because I didn’t move all of those posts to the other blog and never will, it’s just too much work and therefore, people will continue to come here to read the old posts, thus the categories stay.  I’m really just stuck with how to properly organize and/or categorize the posts though and that leads to another problem…

On the other hand, I think I don’t have enough categories available.  I’d really like people to be able to find different articles on different subjects easily, but if you look at my list of categories, most of those have a huge number of articles.  There are 247 articles in the “atheism” category, for instance, and while they are all at least tangentially about atheism, that’s probably a lot to page through for someone interested in just some aspect of atheism.  The same is true of religion.  I don’t even have a way to split up between general-purpose religion posts and posts specifically on one religion.  And then there’s politics, where I had a couple of sub-categories but mostly, everything just falls into the catch-all “politics” category.

I eventually put all of my categories in a pull-down because I thought the list was both too long and too short to really be of much use.  Every time I write a new post, and as most know, I write a ton of them, I cringe every time I have to pick a category or categories for it to fall into. I need a new plan and I’ll be damned if I even know where to start.

So how do you handle your categories?  Do you have a ton of them?  A few?  Do you rely more on tags (which are also a mess IMO)? How do you let readers know that there are more things they might want to look at, without having to do a ton of extra work on every post?  I’d like to actually put my categories out where they’re visible again, assuming I can find a way to do it right.  I’m open to ideas, suggestions and any help that you can give, especially the mental process you go through, or went through, when you set up your system.  Right now, it’s just driving me crazy.

Thanks all!

How Not to be Stupid: The Blog Edition

rulesOver the past couple of weeks, I’ve had to ban two people from this blog, the only two people I have *EVER* had to ban from the blog in the nearly 10 year history that I’ve been around.  This happened after they insisted, even after being told not to, on repeatedly attacking another user, bringing warfare from other sites here, reporting comment after comment for moderation, demanding this other user be banned and, when all that failed, directly insulting me.

Okay, it shouldn’t take a genius to realize that attacking the owner of a site is not going to keep you around very long, that’s common sense 101, but these brain cases did exactly that and that was when they got to take an extended, if perhaps not permanent vacation from the site.  Smart people don’t do that.  These were not smart people.  These were children, in maturity, if not in age.

Therefore that has made me rethink my moderation policy around here and I’m going to be updating it, not because I want to, but because I have to.  I’ve always lightly moderated around here, I don’t want to be heavy handed, I want people to be able to talk rationally, intelligently and without worrying that I’ll come along and cut them off at the knees.  Apparently, I can no longer do that and it’s sad that it isn’t the theists I have to worry about, it’s the self-professed atheists.

Therefore, here is the official comment policy for the blog.  It can always be found if you go up to the top of the page, click on “About Bitchspot” and then on “Comment Policy.”  This is what everyone here is agreeing to abide by when they post a comment.  You don’t get to opt out. You inherently agree to do these things and if you do not like it, by all means, don’t  comment at all.

Therefore, the rules:

  1. Civil discourse is expected.  You can attack ideas, you cannot directly attack other posters.  Direct insults against others can and will result in deletion of your comments and possible ban of your posting privileges.
  2. I will not censor comments based on the ideas within the comments.  Feel free to speak your mind, so long as you do it politely and intelligently.  However, that doesn’t mean that one is welcome to post nonsense.  If you are asked to back up your statements, you are expected to do so.
  3. You are not the moderator here.  If you see a comment that specifically violates one of these rules, by all means report it.  I appreciate the help.  You are not allowed to ask that I ban another user, nor that I delete comments simply because you do not like the content of that comment.  If you don’t like what is said, by all means, don’t read it.
  4. Comments here are specifically meant to relate to posts on this blog.  Do not carry over discussions and debates from other blogs. If it applies directly, I don’t mind if you post a link to the other blog or forum.  Do not wage a war across the whole of the Internet.  Such posts will be immediately deleted and, if continued, the user will be banned.
  5. Profanity is permitted so long as it is not directed toward anyone else.  We are supposed to be adults here.  That’s not to say you have an unlimited license to cuss like a sailor just because you feel like it, but I will not censor a comment strictly because it contains some four-letter invective.
  6. Spam will be immediately deleted.  All spammers will be dropped into the block bin, never to be removed.  No spam has ever made it past my filters, please save yourself the trouble and don’t bother.  Any comment which contains a link to a business site will, at my option, be deleted, or if I think it’s a legitimate comment, have the link deleted.
  7. While I don’t play grammar police here, you are expected to at least make an attempt to communicate in proper English.  I understand if English isn’t your first language, I will make allowances for those have legitimate reasons, but for people who are just lazy, forget it.  You’ll get a warning.  “U” is not a word.
  8. I will warn people once for violating the comment policy.  If you continue to violate the rules, or your violation is egregious enough, you will be moved back to moderation status.  That means I will hand-moderate every single comment you make for as long as I think it’s necessary.  Comments that do not violate the policy will be approved.  I have no interest in permanently blocking any legitimate user, I have yet to do so, don’t be the first.
  9. Please understand, Bitchspot is not a democracy.  It is a dictatorship.  I am willing to discuss well-intentioned disagreements, but I am the final word on any decision.  If you don’t like these rules, by all means, feel free to go elsewhere, or better yet, start your own blog so that you can make the rules.

Them’s the rules folks.  Follow them or pay the consequences.  I now return you to your previously scheduled blog, already in progress.

My Apologies

Google-Analytics-IconReal quick, found out that the Google Analytics plugin, which updated today, totally blows WordPress sites offline.  I didn’t realize this until the site had been offline for several hours until I noticed hardly anyone had been on the site all day!  I deactivated the plugin and things appear to be back to normal.  Sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused.

Edit:  They have since put out an update that fixed the problem, apparently this was very widespread, I have seen tons of complaints about it.  I wish they’d test things before they put them out!

All the News That’s Fit to…

newsI got an e-mail today asking why I don’t usually post about current events and news stories very often on the blog. Certainly, I used to, back in the day, but of late, it’s become a rarer and rarer thing.  I think it’s a fair question and deserves an answer, but I’ll do it here on the blog, rather than in e-mail, if anyone else is curious about the same thing.

1.  Most of the news stories that I’d want to discuss end up on The  Bitchspot Report Podcast.  I have to come up with a minimum of two stories per week and often, I end up finding 5-6 of them, depending on the week.  Therefore, I’m already doing lots of new stories, just not here.

2.  My lead time around here is so ridiculous that by the time most of these stories would come up, they’d no longer be topical.  Currently, as I write this on 5/1/14, my next regularly scheduled blog opening is July 7th.  That means that I’m writing blog posts at least 2 full months ahead of time, not counting the Horror Show Sunday posts that are already fully written and scheduled through October or November.

3.  The other issue, and I suspect the biggest one, is that there really isn’t that much new under the sun.  I’ve kind of talked about this a little on the podcast, but most stories that we cover are just minor variations on stories we’ve already covered.  It’s more clergy molesting kids, it’s more stupid school districts trying to shove creationism into the science classrooms, it’s nothing hugely different because religion really doesn’t change.  Virtually everything that I might do has been done before, only the names have been changed.

Now I have thought about saving one day per week, just in case an interesting story came up, but by and large, when there’s nothing I’m overly interested in talking about, I’d just have to write something quickly or reschedule a different article to fill that hole and that’s a hassle.  It’s just easier  for me to fill the holes as I come to them and not go back and mess around with a good thing.  I currently have almost 50 articles written and scheduled here, that’s more than 5 articles per week on average over the next 9 weeks and I committed back at the beginning of the year to keep it to 4 articles a week.  That didn’t go so well, did it?  I’m honestly writing 6-7 articles per week, every week.  It’s not a bad thing, there’s lots to say, but most of it doesn’t fall under the major breaking news story heading.  If I find something that I feel I have something to say about, rest assured that I’ll pound out a post about it and fit it in somehow, but for the rest, I recommend that you take a look at The Bitchspot Report Podcast. It comes out every week and we spend a long, long time examining the news in great detail.  It might just scratch that itch for you.

I’m Not Good at Breaks!

Man_sitting_under_beach_umbrellaYeah, I know, I’m supposed to be taking a break, enjoying life, not worrying about the blog.  Well too bad!  It’s weird, I originally decided to take a break because I was just burned out on all the things that I wrote over and over and over again, but since I didn’t feel committed to writing posts, I figured I might as well get to some of the things that I hadn’t found time to do otherwise.

The first day of my break, I decided to go through the mounds of drafts I had piled up, unwritten.  When I started, there were more than 75 articles that I had started at some point and never completed.  Many of these were Religious Horror Show stories so those immediately got a pass, but there were things, some going back more than 2 years, that I had either forgotten about or just was never enthused enough about to get to work on.  Surprisingly, as I started to go through them, I found that a lot of them were virtually completed and, with a few sentences or paragraphs tacked on the end, I could just schedule them and be done with it.  Surprisingly few were either outdated, dealing with stories that had a limited shelf-life, or just such bad ideas that they ended up in the rubbish bin.  Therefore, I completed 7 new articles on the first day of my break.  The second day was about the same.  In fact, on virtually every day since my break started, I’ve written more articles for this blog than I did before the break.

I don’t do breaks well.  I never have.  I don’t take vacations to sit around and relax, I have a goal in mind, I have things I want to accomplish, places I want to go, things I want to do.  I’m constantly in motion, thinking about what I ought to get done and plotting an efficient course between the next dozen things on my agenda.  My weekends are like that too.  My wife wants to sit around and relax, I’m up constantly, working, cleaning, organizing, getting things done and looking for more things to add to my list.  Life is a never-ending to-do list.

So this break thing, I know it’s not really working for me, I just can’t turn it off and I can’t walk away from it. Religion and politics continue to piss me off, even if I’m not blogging and my whole reason for blogging in the first place is as somewhere to blow off steam.  That’s why I write virtually every day.  That’s why I probably will never be able to stop.

Now if only I could find something else to do with my time, and don’t say rest.  That’s not me.

Time for a Break

taking_a_breakLike so many of my fellow atheist bloggers, I get really sick of posting the same things over and over and over again.  Let’s face it, religion never changes and we atheists have probably destroyed everything that has been said about religion and everything that is likely to be said about religion, the theists simply haven’t figured out that they have nothing worth saying and they aren’t listening to atheists anyhow.  The same goes for politics, nothing really changes under the sun, pointing out the foibles of American political life over and over again makes no sense.

Therefore, like many of my brethren, I’m going to take a break.  I didn’t have to say anything because honestly, I have enough posts scheduled now for more than a month in the future, nobody would probably have noticed.  I’m only bringing this up because I’m going to stop responding to comments, although I will still moderate them on a regular basis and delete those that are little more than a personal attack.  Do yourself a favor and if you’re just attacking the other poster, don’t waste your time or mine, it will get deleted.

If anyone has any particular questions they want to ask me, please feel free to contact me via e-mail.  I do not plan on going through the hundreds of comments that will invariably be left in my absence, therefore don’t expect me to go back and answer your questions in the future.  I’m probably not going to do that.

How long will I be gone?  I don’t know for sure.  At least a week, maybe as long as a month, I haven’t decided yet.  This break will only affect this blog, I plan to continue to keep up my Cephus’ Corner blog and will continue with the Bitchspot Report Podcast every week.  Like I said, you’ll never know I’m gone, the stories will keep on publishing and the Religious Horror Show is almost a year ahead of schedule now, which is absolutely absurd, so the world will keep revolving without me at the helm.

See you all when I get back.  Behave, I’ll be watching!

Bitchspot’s Book Corner

books-pileI’ve read a  ton of books from an atheist and/or rationalist perspective.  In fact, in looking over my bookshelves recently, the number of books I’ve consumed over the years is really kind of astounding, but as time has gone one, I’ve realized that most of the new books that come out today are pretty much the same thing by a different author.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, after all, Christian apologetics really doesn’t change significantly over time, nor do the answers to it, so there’s only so much that can be said about the religious nonsense that gets published.

Therefore, I thought it would be interesting to publish a list of the books that I’ve read, at least the ones that I have close at hand, I know that I have a lot of these packed away somewhere and they’ll get overlooked, but I’ll try.  I’m hoping that my loyal readers may have some ideas for things to look for that are different than what I’ve already consumed.  So here, alphabetically by author, are at least some small portion of the books that I’ve read in the science and anti-apologetic realm.

Manfred Barthel:

What the Bible Really Says

Peter Boghossian:

A Manual for Creating Atheists

Russell Blackford:

50 Great Myths about Atheism

Joseph Campbell:

The Hero With a Thousand Faces

The Masks of God (all volumes)

The Power of Myth

Richard Carrier:

Proving History: Bayes’s Theorem and the Quest for the Historical Jesus

Sense and Goodness Without God:  A Defense of Metaphysical Naturalism

Why I Am Not a Christian: Four Conclusive Reasons to Reject the Faith

Richard Dawkins:

A Devil’s Chaplain:  Reflections on Hope, Lies, Science, and Love

The Ancestor’s Tale:  A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution

The Blind Watchmaker:  Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe without Design

The God Delusion

The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution

The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True

The Selfish Gene

Unweaving the Rainbow:  Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder

Daniel Dennett:

Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon

Darwin’s Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life

Kinds of Minds: Toward an Understanding of Consciousness

Earl Doherty:

The Jesus Puzzle: Did Christianity Begin with a Mythical Christ? : Challenging the Existence of an Historical Jesus

Bart Ehrman:

Apocryphal Gospels: Texts and Translations

Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth

Forged: Writing in the Name of God–Why the Bible’s Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are

Forgery and Counterforgery: The Use of Literary Deceit in Early Christian Polemics

God’s Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question–Why We Suffer

How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee (haven’t read it yet but it’s on order)

Jesus Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (And Why We Don’t Know About Them)

Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew

Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why

The Other Gospels:  Accounts of Jesus from Outside the New Testament

Thomas Gilovich:

How We Know What Isn’t So: The Fallibility of Human Reason in Everyday Life

Lloyd M. Graham:

Deceptions and Myths of the Bible

Guy P. Harrison:

50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God

50 Simple Questions for Every Christian

Lawrence Krauss:

A Universe From Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing

The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True

John C. Lennox:

God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God?

Sam Harris:

The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason

Letter to a Christian Nation

The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values

Christopher Hitchens:

God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything

The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever

Michael Martin:

Atheism: A Philosophical Justification

The Case Against Christianity

The Impossibility of God

Dale McGowan:

Atheism for Dummies

David Mills:

Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism

Stephen Pinker:

The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature

The Better  Angels of our Nature: Why Violence has Declined

How the Mind Works

The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language

The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature

Carl Sagan:

The Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

The Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence

The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God

D. Jason Slone:

Theological Incorrectness: Why Religious People Believe What They Shouldn’t

George H. Smith:

Atheism: The Case Against God

The problem is, this list doesn’t include many of my pro-evolution, pro-science, anti-creationism books, that’s another whole list of it’s own.  It also doesn’t include any of my books on apologetics and creationism from a religious perspective, although certainly there are many fewer of those, I really only have them for reference.  I might post some of those at a later date.

When a lot of new atheist books come out, I really find myself thinking that anything they’re likely to say, I’ve read already, is there really anything new under the sun when it comes to pro-atheist, anti-religious books or have I read all there is to read?  Help me out people!

Not Predictably Irrational

irrational2It’s somewhat rare when I get to sit down and read a book, especially a heavy-duty, intellectual book.  I might manage to muddle through the latest Richard Dawkins tome, usually many months after it comes out, but that’s not a common occurrence.  I did have someone recommend to me that I pick up Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces that Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely, specifically because I am often extremely critical of the ability of most people to act in rational, intellectual ways.  However, I don’t think I’m getting the lesson from it that I was expected to.  Please note, I’m writing this as I’m reading the book and therefore, it might feel a bit disconnected, but please try to muddle through.

Ariely notes that people’s reactions are typically not rational, they will make decisions based on emotional responses and social pressures that really, if they had stopped to think about it for a moment, make no sense at all and are often the worst choice of those available.  He describes numerous social experiments that have been performed that show that people will pay more money overall, buying things they don’t even want, to get “free shipping” than they would have paid just for the product they wanted and shipping alone.  I tested myself on every single example he gave and honestly, I’d be the guy who broke their test model because I do act rationally on every decision I make.  I would never have bought things I didn’t want in order to get free shipping.

In fact, I think there are some cases where he didn’t think out the test parameters very carefully.  In one, he offered an expensive brand of French chocolate vs. a Hershey’s Kiss and showed that the rational choice would have been to get the more expensive chocolate and bypass the cheaper (or even free) Kiss.  That’s not what would be going through my mind. I’m diabetic.  I can’t have either chocolate.  If I was going to be picking one, I’d be doing it to give to someone else, thus I’d choose something based on what I know they like, not any kind of financial motivation.  But to be honest, I think there is something he wasn’t considering at all in his free vs. pay scenarios. People are much more likely to take something for free, even if they have no interest in it, simply because it’s available.  That’s why people who hand out flyers and coupons get so many people taking them, even if they have no interest whatsoever in the subject matter and why most of those coupons end up deposited in trashcans nearby.  It’s a matter of convenience, not a matter of cost.  But I digress.

There was a bit on the division between social norms and financial norms, how the expectations and actions of people who are being paid for a task differ from the expectations and actions of people who are asked to do something in a social setting, “as a favor”.  The conclusions were that most people would work harder, the more money they got paid, but people doing it out of perceived social expectations would work harder still.  However, I don’t look at it that way at all.  If I give my word that I will do a thing, whether I get paid or not and no matter how much I get paid, I will give it my all and perform my best regardless.  Even with no financial gain and no potential for any social advance at all, after all, I’m almost certainly never going to see these people doing the test again, if I am willing to perform the task, it will be performed to the highest standard of which I am capable.  I am neither motivated by financial gain or social status.  I am motivated by dignity and self-respect.

Likewise, when he spoke of the “Running of the Brides”, where brides-to-be will fight each other over drastically discounted designer wedding gowns, I see no use in that at all either.  It’s like the Black Friday sales, where people will give up dinner with their families at Thanksgiving to stand in a line at a store and hopefully score some cheap booty.  I’d never do that.  I don’t care what’s being given away.  I simply don’t have that mentality.  I’d rather pay full price and maintain my dignity than run around like an animal, punching and kicking other people to save a couple of bucks.  He describes how most people in a given situation would screw over their neighbors in a heartbeat but I don’t understand that kind of thought process.  I pay the fair rate and I take no more than I need, regardless of the situation, because I am not an evil or cruel person.  In fact, I’m more likely to take less than I might want, just to leave things for others, even complete strangers.  I don’t get why so many people are dicks.

In another experiment, he told his class that they had to turn in three papers over the course of the semester, they could select any date they wanted for those papers to be due, but once chosen, they could not change the dates, nor be late. The most rational choice, of course, is to pick the last day of the semester for all of them since you could turn them in early without penalty, this was a study on people’s willingness to procrastinate.  I don’t procrastinate.  I get things done early, not just early in fact, but absurdly early.  The idea of leaving anything for the last minute is anathema to me.  I’ve been in situations like the above, where I could decide when my work was due and invariably, I turn it in virtually immediately.  Just knowing that I have work to do is enough to spur me to finish it right away.  I’d have had all three papers turned in within the first two weeks, had I been in his class.

Now it’s not my intention to go through this book, experiment by experiment, study by study, and say I have nothing in common with the conclusions because that much is true.  Whether you’re talking about self-control (I have it), the influence emotion has on decisions (it doesn’t affect me), etc., I simply do not line up with any of the test groups that he describes.  Why?  Because I’m a rational individual.  No matter how many experiments and studies Mr. Ariely describes, I always fall on the rational side.  I evaluate claims fairly, I neither fall for dishonest ideas, nor am unjustifiably critical.  I think logically about claims and do not allow emotion to run away with me. I see things as they actually are but apparently, I am virtually alone in this, if Ariely’s results are to be believed and I have no reason to doubt them.  It seems that when a person can get away with lying for a reward, far too many people will do it.  I will not.  For me, character counts.  I am an inherently honest person.  Even if nobody else knows I’m lying, I know and I simply won’t do it.  He argues that most people would steal a pencil from work but I won’t.  It’s not mine.  There are no circumstances whatsoever under which I would steal from my employer or take someone else’s food from a refrigerator or abscond with an abandoned piece of property.  It’s just  not right, yet his findings show that most people will do so without a second thought.  What’s wrong with people?

And before anyone says anything, I’m not trying to claim to be special.  I’m not.  I honestly don’t understand the actions of people in any of these studies.  I cannot relate to them at all.  Apparently, most people will happily steal, screw others over, rip off their employers, make bad decisions and do just about anything you ask them to if you get them horny first.  What the actual fuck?  Maybe the human species is more screwed up than even I thought.  I don’t think any of this comes from upbringing either.  While I think my parents were good people, I don’t think they had any special tricks or secrets to childrearing.  They taught me the importance of being honest and the importance of hard work.  They didn’t necessarily push me to be rational and critical, I grew up in a very religious household and asking questions, especially about religion, is frowned upon, yet I picked that up somewhere along the line and that’s what caused me to jettison religion.  So please, I don’t see how the people in most of Ariely’s studies qualify as decent human beings, at least not the ones who cheated, stole, etc.  These are not things to be lauded, they’re things to be punished and maybe, with the lax liberal ideals on punishment, that explains a lot of what we see, after all, the majority of the studies were conducted on college students.

Oh, there are a few things that I had to question in general of course.  He wrote of an experience he had at Burning Man, where no one exchanged money, they just traded gifts and services as payment for everything they needed and he seemed genuinely surprised how it worked.  Why?  The barter system is how every economy gets started.  If you have a goat and you want grain, you trade your goat to the farmer and he milks the goat or slaughters it for meat.  Money is simply a unit of transfer that represents some undefined barter property.  It has an agreed upon value so that when deciding whether or not to trade, you can weigh the intrinsic value of the property against the artificial value of the paper to see if it makes sense.  This isn’t something new, this is something tremendously old. It’s just an observation that I thought should be pointed out.

Now I honestly don’t know what to think.  This was an interesting books, I’m neither telling people to go buy it or not, it’s available from the Amazon link at the top if you want to check it out but I get nothing one way or the other.  Clearly, people don’t have to be the dicks that I see in these studies.  People can choose to be moral, rational, intellectual individuals.  I did it.  I know others who have done it.  Why can’t everyone?  That’s the real question and we need a good answer to it.  Why has humanity failed so miserably?  Chime in if you think you know.

The Solution to Frustration is Giving Up?

keep-strong-and-never-give-up-2I’ve become increasingly frustrated with stupidity of late, not just in the religious or political realm, but in dealing with people in general.  People are stupid cattle that I’m becoming convinced ought to be run off a cliff for their own good.  I took a look online, just to see what people suggested when you’ve come to the end of your frustration rope and can’t take the stupid any longer and you know what the #1 suggestion is?

Give up.  Lower your expectations.  Stop worrying about it.

I can’t tell you how stupid that idea actually is.  It’s like saying that when people are tired of being robbed and beaten and raped and murdered, instead of doing something to stop it, they ought to just give up and let it happen because it’s going to happen anyhow.

The whole point ought to be to fix the problem and I know that the problem is difficult to fix, at least as a whole in a single go.  In fact, if we remember back just a couple of years, most atheists, myself included, were convinced that religion would be with us for many centuries to come, but recently it’s become clear that religion in the first world is rapidly losing it’s grip and we’re seeing much larger changes than anyone, especially myself, would have ever dreamed of.

Of course, in that time period, I’ve also become convinced that the real problem is human irrationality. Religion is just  a symptom, it isn’t the cause of the problem  Once we throw off the shackles of religion, people are still apt to be stupid and irrational and that might go on for several centuries.

But isn’t that what we said about religion?  We were wrong there, maybe we’re wrong about irrationality too?  Maybe, in a mere 10-20 years, people will start to think more intelligently and more critically and all the other things, the conspiracy theories, the nonsensical woo, that’ll all start to go away too?  I certainly hope so

So what do we do in the meantime?  Just like I have no interest in dealing with the religious loony-toons, the people who haven’t an intelligent thought in their head regarding their faith, I also don’t want to deal with the other woo-mongers.  I don’t want to be around the anti-vaccers, the anti-GMO idiots, the conspiracy theorists, those that are so intellectually bankrupt that they’ll fall for anything that gives them an emotional ego boost.  It’s even absurdly prevalent among many atheists who are not interested in thinking intelligently about their beliefs, sometimes even about religion, they just want their egos stroked and they’ll believe any load of crap that comes floating down the river.

I’m hoping that, in very short order, we’ll start seeing rationalist communities online, just as we saw atheist communities a decade ago. People who are sick and tired of dealing with the morons that surround them and want to join together for intellectual discussions.  I’ll be the first in line to join, even though I am not a joiner by nature.

Anyone want to help start such a community?

Fine, Educate the White Folk

white-privilegeI came across this quote from Katie McDonough of Salon Magazine on Tumblr earlier today and it struck me as strange, not because it’s anything new, but because, like most similar quotes, I doubt Ms. McDonough has any real clue what she’s talking about.  Therefore, I thought I’d invite liberals who agree with Ms. McDonough’s position to educate the white folk.
The quote in question is:
… like many white people – he doesn’t want to confront racism and white privilege because those things have — and will continue to — really, really help him out in life. And the reality is that he doesn’t have to confront this stuff, either…. That’s exactly how white privilege works.
Katie McDonough of Salon tries to explain racism to a privileged white racist Princeton freshman.

Now I’ve run into people who make these exact same claims in the past and I’ve asked them, since clearly I don’t want to confront racism and white privilege, why don’t they point out specific instances of demonstrable white privilege in the world.  Not their opinions, not their feelings, actual cases that can be proven to be white privilege.  And you know something?  None of them can do it!  Oh sure, they can tell you things that they think are white privilege but they can’t demonstrate that it actually is caused by it.

There is a lot of anecdotal information thrown around, such as claims that more white people are admitted into college than black people with the same grades.  Where is that data?  Let’s see how you factored out other potential data that may influence the results?  For example, if more whites have the money for college than blacks, then you would expect them to be represented at a higher rate.  We might have a discussion about why blacks are less able to pay for college, assuming that turned out to be the case, but that does not prove that college enrollment is racist.  To do that, you’d have to show that college enrollment boards specifically sideline non-white applicants on purpose, for the specific reason that they are non-white.  Where is that data?  Do you have it, or do you just assume that, because there are more whites than blacks in these colleges, it must be racism at work?

The same is true of the prison population.  Lots of liberals think that can only be attributed to racism.  Maybe it’s more attributable to the fact that blacks commit a disproportionate percentage of the serious crimes in America. Oh sure, there have been times where specific drug crimes, for instance, that were more prevalent in the black community got a harsher sentence but those times are long time now.  It’s also not racism when people with private legal representation get better treatment than people who have to rely on a public defender.  It’s stupid, it’s legal inequity, but it’s not racism.  This whole thing can be better explained by the fact that there are more blacks living in poverty than whites.  And no, that’s not racism either.

In fact, while the FBI reports 3x the number of whites arrested for violent crime, taken as a percentage of the population, blacks are still over-represented, particularly in crimes like murder, robbery and for some reason gambling.  Maybe if they don’t want to go to prison for these crimes, they shouldn’t be committing these crimes. In the last census, blacks made up 12.7% of American citizens, yet they commit 28.4% of the crimes.  In virtually every crime category, more than 12,7% of the crimes are committed by blacks.  In fact, the only category I could find where they were under-represented was DUI.  Tragically, black juveniles commit 51.4% of all violent crimes in America and this often leads to not only a life of crime but a life of incarceration.  This just isn’t a product of racism, but of a culture that pushes black kids to become criminals.

Then I see people complain that blacks are pulled over on routine traffic stops at a rate higher than whites. Sure, they commit crimes at a rate higher than whites!  If we want to look at this a different way, men of all racial groups are pulled over at a rate far, far higher than women.  Why?  Because men commit a disproportionate number of the crimes!  Is this now a sexist issue?  No, it’s a realistic issue.  Police have to use their time efficiently and when they see something they identify as odd going on, they need to take what they know about criminal behavior and apply it.  Heck, I’ve been pulled over by the police for no reason before.  They ran my license and registration, it came back clean and they sent me on my way.  There were two officers in the car, one black and one white.  Was it an inconvenience?  Sure.  Was that a racist stop?  Certainly not.

I’ve yet to see anyone demonstrate that white privilege actually exists.  It’s a perception, brought on by liberals and the toxic “black community”, pushed by people like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, who make their living off of the poor blacks who think the world owes them a living.  The Democrats have told them for years that they deserve special rights and privileges because of what’s happened in the distant past, it’s what keeps the poor black community voting for the political left.  You don’t see the left standing up and telling the blacks or the Hispanics or anyone else in their political pocket, that they need to get up and get to work and make something of themselves. That would be political suicide, they’d lose votes by the ton.  Yet that’s really where whites, by and large, have gotten successful.

So please, let’s stop with these ridiculously absurd complaints about white privilege.  It doesn’t exist and until you can prove that it does, you’re just doing the ever-popular liberal emotional whine.  In fact, I’d argue that the liberals have been far more damaging toward the health and welfare and success of black Americans, by far, than anything that white privilege might be responsible for.  Maybe if the left wants to see blacks succeed, which of course, they don’t, they might want to start empowering blacks to make something of themselves, make good decisions and get out of the ghetto altogether.  Of course, they won’t do that, it might cost them votes.

Fuck the Internet

fuck-you-internet (1)There’s a lot to like about the Internet, at least the concept of the Internet, but there’s a lot to hate about the way the Internet actually functions and how people actually use it.  Whereas I’d love to think that the Internet can help mankind to embrace diversity, increase knowledge and help bring us together, most of the time, it’s used for the stupidest things.

The Internet that I started out on is not what we have now. The Internet started as a means for military and government communications and then moved to be widely available in universities.  While I agree, lots of college students are pretty stupid, at least they have some form of basic education at hand and I’d like to think that they can at least get some intelligent, or at least reasonably coherent ideas across.  That seems to be gone today.  Here’s my list of things about the Internet that I really, really hate, especially in the atheist and political realm.

Fuck Memes

Memes are a concept coined by Richard Dawkins for an idea that spreads among people within a culture.  In the online world and especially in social media, this often takes the form of a picture with some pithy comment written on it.  Memes are stupid, especially because they tend to be overused.  When a new one pops up on Twitter or Tumblr, you can be sure that you’ll see it absolutely everywhere as desperate short-attention-span losers spam it to the world as fast as their little fingers will point and click at it.  Unfortunately, they don’t really accomplish anything.  Having the face of House, M.D. staring at you while you read a quote from an imaginary person on a TV show doesn’t mean anything.

Fuck Quotes

What I really hate are the people whose entire output online, especially on social media sites like Twitter, consists of nothing but other people’s quotes.  They can’t even say anything interesting on their own, they have to rely on other people to produce content for them, which they then endlessly repeat.  You want to know something though?  I really don’t give a damn what Ricky Gervais has to say.  I don’t care what clever George Carlin quotes you can come up with.  I don’t care about Hume, Voltaire or any other philosopher have to say.  If I did, I’d be following their Twitter feed.  If you don’t have anything intelligent to say on your own, shut the fuck up.

Fuck Re-Tweeters

I don’t mind if you have something particularly interesting that you want to show to your followers, but there are a ton of people on Twitter and elsewhere who do nothing at all but retweet other people’s material.  They have nothing to say on their own, just like the quoters and the memers, they ride on the coat-tails of other people’s content.  If you have nothing intelligent to say on your own, stop talking, you’re just contributing to the constant background hum of idiocy.

 Fuck Self-Promotion

I’ve gotten into this on my other blog but it applies here too.  Why is it that virtually every social media site bursts at the seams with people trying to shove their latest book, blog post or online article into your face whether you want to see it or not?  Most of them are trying to make a buck, get ad revenue, bring more eyes to their advertising, etc.  Whatever happened to having something worthwhile of your own to say?  Okay, I know that, to some small degree, I’m part of this crowd because everything I blog about gets announced to social media sites, but I do it once, I don’t repeat it over and over and over again, ad nauseum.

Fuck Trolls

I’ll be honest, I have never used my block/mute abilities so much in my entire life as I have since I started using Twitter.  I have literally thousands of people on permanent mute, I will never see anything they say ever again and there are many, many more that deserve the same treatment.  These are trolls, the kind that purposely try to piss people off, as well as people who are just too damn stupid to be tolerated.  These aren’t necessarily kids though, often they are people clearly in their 30s and 40s who act like they’re 6.

Fuck Stupid People

This is certainly not limited to the Internet but I seriously wonder how these people manage to dress themselves in the morning.  They can’t spell, they can’t string a complete sentence together and they cannot post a coherent thought to save their lives.  These aren’t trolls because trolls are obnoxious on purpose.  These people just don’t know any better and what’s worse, they just don’t care.  Unfortunately, it’s not just the clueless and idiotic, I also say…

Fuck Wilfully Ignorant People

These are perhaps the worst of the bunch because, where trolls purposely try to upset people and stupid people don’t have the capacity to have an intelligent discussion, these people can do it, they just choose not to.  They’re not interested in reality, they don’t care about the facts, they don’t want to know the truth, they are satisfied wallowing in self-imposed ignorance because it makes them feel good.  These are the people that we ought to be able to reach, they’re just not open to being reached and have no interest in logic and no knowledge of reason.

We have this wonderful tool that can do a lot of good in the world and look at what we’re doing with it.  There are more people out there trolling than there are learning.  There are somehow a huge number of people managing to type with their fingers in their ears and their eyes clenched tightly closed.  Regrettably, it’s just getting worse as time goes on, the number of people capable, interested or competent to discuss subjects rationally is decreasing and these are the people who most need to get some common sense knocked into their religion-addled brains.

So what do we do?  I’m looking for solutions.

Republicans, You’re Just Laughable!

laughing-and-pointing-300x199I just got off the phone with a guy looking for money for the Republican Party.  He called to ask some questions about the direction of the Republican Party  and where I thought they needed to go.  I told him they needed to focus on the economy as their major direction in the upcoming election and he goes into this long, canned script about how we need to fight the liberals and all that and how I can help with with a one-time financial gift of $75-100.  I told him no, I’m not donating because the Republican Party hasn’t earned my loyalty, they put up rotten candidates with absurd religious social platforms, they fight against equality, both gender, racial and sexual orientation and they spend like drunken sailors, showing no fiscal responsibility and so long as their platform is based around religion and acting just like the liberals, they’re not getting one red cent from me.

And the guy just hangs up on me.  Typical.

Unfortunately, it really is typical, and not just for the fund-raising arm of the party, but of the entire party as a whole.  I’ve mentioned before that I get an endless stream of e-mail from the GOP, begging me to answer questionnaires, take surveys and otherwise advise them on what they ought to be doing to get back into power. I always take the opportunity to give my honest thoughts and opinions, but let’s be forthright about this, they don’t give a damn about anything I have to say because I am not a neo-con.  I don’t represent the thought patterns at the top of the Republican Party, therefore, my views and opinions mean absolutely nothing to them.

I’m sure the same thing is true over on the Democrat side, I’m sure they’re trying to get people to give their views and opinions, but especially their money to support the cause.  If your opinions fall outside of the liberal mainstream though, if you don’t agree with the people at the top of the political ladder, I’m sure you’re just as ignored as I am.

And this ought to piss us off.  Sure, the parties want our votes, they want our checks, but they really don’t care what we have to say.  The parties as a whole aren’t willing to entertain or consider new ideas, which is why both parties have diverged so radically, one heading completely to the left and the other heading completely to the right.

It’s really too bad that there isn’t an actual conservative party in this country, where the ideals of conservatism actually matter and are a driving force forward.  When I said the Republican Party needed to relocate fiscal responsibility, this guy I talked to didn’t have a clue what I meant.  He had to fumble around and find a scripted talking point that he could make fit the conversation.  He was clueless and so are the Republicans as a whole.  The Republican Party is not my party, but they’re a damn sight better in a lot of ways than the Democrats and even moreso better than the Libertarians and all the third parties.  They have to earn my vote and my check and recently, they haven’t been doing it.  However, actually being responsive to the voters apparently isn’t on the agenda for American political parties.  They just want to fast talk you into supporting them without having to actually do anything that you want them to do.

Republicans, like Democrats and all the rest, are just absurdly laughable.

Tolerance is Only for the Tolerable

shut_the_fuck_upI’ve realized recently that my level of tolerance for stupidity is at an all time low.  There was a time when I’d delve into the most idiotic and asinine apologetics without hesitation and it would be virtually impossible for a theist to make me block them or ignore them, no matter how troll-like they got.  Those days are  gone now and good riddance to them.

It started on Twitter, where trolls roam free.  I probably had my most recent Twitter account for a year or so before I dropped anyone into the black hole of my client’s mute function.  However, I started to recognize that there were some people that I had no interest in reading, even in passing, ever again so they started vanishing from my timeline.  Then, there was the Muslim invasion of the #atheism hashtag, where literally hundreds of messages a day from Muslim spammers and their ilk would flood the screen for hours on end.  At first, I tried to report them to Twitter for spam and when it became clear that Twitter didn’t give a damn about policing their own system, I started muting them wholesale.  I didn’t stop there, I decided that because there were so many theist trolls on Twitter, not just ignorant, stupid theists  but theists who were actively trolling the atheist hashtags, that they’d go away too.  I have no idea how many people are on permanent mute, my client doesn’t give numbers and I have no interest in counting the literally thousands of people I’ll never see a tweet  from again, but I don’t miss them at all and seriously, I probably ought to double the number that are dead to me and I might actually make Twitter something occasionally worth looking at.

This has extended to other things I read online as well.  I once prided myself in never actually blocking anyone but life is just too short to deal with morons.  Most recently, I block on every site that has it available with gleeful abandon.  I determine if the individual is likely to ever recognize the broad side of reason and if not, away they go.  I have no interest in beating my head against the wall of blatant stupidity.  I tend to give them some broad latitude but once they cross a certain level of absurdity, they get flushed and I honestly don’t see me ever clearing my block lists again.  Once I did, I’d empty them on the first of every month and give people a chance over and over and over again.  No longer, if they earn their spot there, they can stay there for the rest of their misbegotten lives.

And really, why should I be tolerant of stupidity?  There are lots of people who say I should learn to be tolerant. Why?  Nobody ever suggests we should be tolerant of child molestation, rape, murder, etc.  The only things that I ought to be tolerant of, that anyone ought to be tolerant of, are things that are actually tolerable.  Stupidity isn’t tolerable, especially when it’s self-imposed and vehemently maintained.  This isn’t ignorance, where someone just doesn’t know what they’re talking about, this is stupidity, where they know and don’t care.  If that makes me a grumpy old man, so be it. Get the fuck off my lawn.

Is This Really Blogging?

bloggingThis really has nothing to do with anything important, just an observation I’ve made over the past couple of days as I’ve run across a bunch of sites that are essentially doing the same thing. These blogs will quote, usually in full, a news story or article and will add virtually none of their own content, maybe a sentence or two at the top and a sentence or two at the bottom.  Otherwise, the entire content is quoted from elsewhere.

I don’t know, that kind of bugs me.  If you’re not going to write your own content, why bother blogging at all?  Why not just be a link-farmer?  It isn’t like they’re trying to get hits for ad revenue or some other nonsense, they’re clearly staying on topic and they have something, although not much, to say about the subject matter.  It’s just that’s all they do, day in and day out, copy a story, say a few words and move on.  If you don’t have something worthwhile to say, if you’re just stealing someone else’s content, which is essentially what this is, why don’t you stop wasting everyone’s time?

Now sure, I don’t have to read it and mostly I don’t, I just keep stumbling across blogs that are doing this and I really don’t get it.  Anyone else want to try explaining it to me?

Why Are They Pointing Racist Fingers?


I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, after all, this tends to happen any time that the subject of racism is brought up in a discussion, but in a recent forum debate on the distinct disadvantage that poor blacks have in climbing out of the ghettos, I again pointed out that it’s not so much whitey holding them down, it’s them holding themselves down.  As expected, the liberal whining squad immediately leapt on my back, claiming that anything bad that happens to blacks, no matter what it is, must be the fault of inherent racism by whites and that blacks needed constant help to succeed in the world, otherwise they’d end up back on the plantation.

Surprisingly, a large number of people agreed with me.  There were a considerable number who pointed out that there are social, political and racial sub-cultures that do everything they can to shoot themselves in the face and cause themselves to epically fail.  It’s not just the black ghetto culture, we see the same thing among typically white hillbilly types as well.  Is whitey holding them down too?  The fact remains that groups of people who grow up in destitute neighborhoods tend to do things that specifically cause themselves to fail and that’s really my objection to it all.  I don’t think that people who acted responsibly, who didn’t consistently harm their own future achievements through their own actions and who stopped feeling constantly sorry for themselves have any reason they can’t better their lot in life.

Since it was a thread focused on the black community, I posted the following.  Show me a black person who does all of the following and does not improve their lives:

  1. Stays in school and gets good grades.
  2. Avoids involvement in drugs and gangs.
  3. Does not become pregnant or  get anyone pregnant out of wedlock.
  4. Gets a job, works hard, develops a work ethic and does not get terminated from that job for cause.
  5. Follows the law and stays out of jail.
  6. Lives a responsible life.

Predictably, a lot of people on the left called me a racist for even suggesting that.  It’s whitey’s fault that blacks fail!  Yet point to anything on my list that isn’t completely and totally under the control of the individual.  Does whitey have a gun to the head of young black men, forcing them to violate the law, sleep around and drop out of school?  Let’s see the pictures, I don’t believe it for a second.

What I do believe is that there are a lot of people who are willing to point the fingers at everyone around them rather than take personal responsibility for their lives.  They aren’t willing to accept that success isn’t easy, quick or comes in tiny steps.  There are people who think that if they can’t be the CEO of a billion dollar corporation, it’s not worth trying at all.  No, you’re probably not going to drive a Ferrari.  No, you’re probably not going to own a million dollar mansion, but you’ll be better off than you would have had you done nothing and your kids will probably do even better than you if they’re raised to respect the same ethics that you do.  That’s how things improve, incrementally.  Nobody has a magic wand that’s going to take you from virtual illiteracy to riches, you’ve got to earn it.

But isn’t that the problem?  Nobody wants to earn anything these days, they want it handed to them on a silver platter.  It’s not just the black community, it’s young people everywhere.  Everyone expects a trophy just for showing up, kids expect to be handed a $100,000 paycheck for graduating from college.  Nobody wants to start at the bottom and work their way up, they want to start at the top because they’re special!  Sorry, that’s not the way the world works.

Even Bill Cosby saw that, he’s been a proponent of blacks getting out of the black ghetto sub-culture and earning their way to success.  That’s exactly what he did.  He wasn’t well off growing up, although his father actually stuck around unlike in so many poor black families.  He got married and he stayed that way.  He worked hard, joined the military, never quit and earned several college degrees in addition to his acting and stand up comedy careers.  This is a guy living the American dream and he achieved it on his own merits.  He’s also a very strong critic of the way blacks live in the ghettos and has been routinely attacked by the poverty mongers and racist apologists like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson.

I’ll just leave off with a couple of videos where Bill Cosby explains it himself.  Imagine, a black man, a successful black man, who actually criticizes black culture.

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Liberals: Doing it Wrong Again

Your Rights EndI really get tired of stupid liberals thinking they can impose their social justice beliefs on people like this.  In British Columbia, Canada, there’s a private Christian college called Trinity Western that is having it’s accreditation for it’s law school withheld because the accreditation agencies are unhappy with the fact that it forbids homosexuality on campus. Okay, I agree, that’s stupid, I think anyone who is anti-gay is a moron, but what they allow and do not allow on campus has nothing whatsoever to do with their ability to run a law school.

Similarly, there’s been a furor over the Hugo Awards, a science-fiction literary award, because one of the people who has made it to the finals, Vox Day, is also an outspoken racist, sexist and rape apologist, at least according to the liberals who think that this alone should stop him from winning.

Fuck you idiot liberals.

hugo-awards_size3Okay, I’ll address the second one first, just to be contrary.  The Hugo Awards exist to reward authors for their outstanding science fiction books.  It has nothing whatsoever to do with the personal politics of the individual authors.  It’s a book award.  Liberals want to be able to punish people they don’t agree with for things that are completely and totally unassociated with their ability to write.  These people are incapable of separating their absurd social justice wishful thinking from their ability to read and enjoy a work of fiction.

The fact is, if you can’t vote based on what’s between the covers of the book and nothing else, you have no place voting at all.  Hell, I think Orson Scott Card is an asshole, I detest his personal views but I wouldn’t go trying to ruin his chances of winning a literary award because I think he’s a dick.  I’ve read Ender’s Game, it was a pretty good book, I ignored the movie because I didn’t want to put money in his pocket, but you didn’t see me giving it a bad review, did you?  I couldn’t, I didn’t see it and I never will.  I’m not a dick.  Lots of liberals are.

The first is pretty much the same.  The only criteria for getting accredited ought to be whether or not the school meets the requirements for accreditation.  If they are producing people who can pass the Bar exam, or whatever they have in Canada, then they ought to be accredited, no matter what other social or political beliefs the school happens to have.  I don’t care if they’re racist, I don’t care if they’re sexist, I don’t care if they’re anti-gay or anything else.  So long as they meet the same requirements as any other school that has gotten accreditation, they ought to get it as well.  Sure, if you want to fight the school on it’s policies, go ahead, but do it reputably and through proper channels, using accepted and legal methods for doing so.  Liberals don’t do that, the second they get any power, they want to use that power to push their social agenda.

We’ve seen this a lot over the years.  Take the case of Justin Vacula, who has been on the podcast and is a very nice guy.  The second he pissed off the Atheism+ assholes, they went after him whole hog, forcing him to step down from a directorship with the secular organization, Secular Coalition for America.  Why?  Because they didn’t like what he said about feminism.  Sorry, what does feminism have to do with being an atheist again?  Yeah, these are the wrong people to ask but it’s a valid question and they don’t have a valid answer.

Even back when Bill Donohue and his moron Catholic League tried to get PZ Myers fired for desecrating their silly crackers, I stood up and defended Myers’ right to do it and the absurdity of their actions because, regardless of their feelings about the desecration, what he did on his blog has nothing whatsoever with his ability to perform his job as associate professor.  Yet Myers is the king of these kinds of social justice attacks, it’s something he and his ilk have advocated time and time again.  I guess there’s no such thing as practicing what you preach among the liberals.

It’s no wonder why I hate these people, they absolutely deserve it and they earn it over and over again.  I wouldn’t say if they had legitimate beefs, they just practice liberal revenge tactics, if you do something they don’t like, they’ll go to any length to get back at you, even if their revenge has nothing whatsoever to do with the actual “wrongs” that they think you’re guilty of.  So long as they get their retribution and harm the individual they think was socially unjust, they’re fine with it.  It’s all about being vindictive.  It’s the liberal way.

Spreading the Blogging Word!

marketing-spread-the-word1Every once in a while, I take a look into blog and/or podcast promotion and am always extremely disappointed by what I find.  I write and podcast because I enjoy it, it’s a hobby and I don’t really measure my success by hits, although to be honest, I do surprisingly well, at least here on the blog, on those rare occasions I bother paying attention to the numbers.  However, where I am always stumped with regard to blogging is what I can do to get the word out to people who are going to come and be dedicated readers of my content.

See, that’s the thing, I don’t want random eyes who will appear once and never be seen again.  I want people who will come back day after day, week after week, because they want to read what it is that I’m writing.  That’s why I totally reject sites like Reddit and StumbleUpon because those do not produce the kind of readers that I’m looking for, they produce a burst of hits, people who are just grazing the Internet, with very few worthwhile quality visitors.

I find I really have two fundamental problems and it’s somewhat surprising what they are:

1.  I’m not selling anything.  Online promotion is generally focused on people trying to make a buck, particularly through ad revenue. They all want eyes and clicks, they don’t care about their content.  You will notice that there isn’t a single ad on the Bitchspot Blog, nor do we have any ads on the Bitchspot Report Podcast.  Our YouTube channel is not monetized and never will be.  Every single time I have gone to an SEO forum or group or community to ask what to do, I am either met with crickets as soon as they realize I’m not selling something, or with derision.  Apparently the only reason to have hits on the Internet is to make money.  If you’re not trying to stampede everyone you can find to your site to make a buck, they don’t want to talk to you.  I suppose that’s not surprising because their only methods revolve around writing attractive crap that makes the search engines sit up and take notice because you’re stuffing every trending keyword into your content that you can.  I don’t just want eyes, I want the right eyes.  I’m not going to modify my content for people who will not appreciate it.  Another suggestion is to run around to all of the most popular blogs and whore yourself out in their comments.  Why would I do that?  Believe it or not, I actually read blogs because I like their content, not because I want to self-promote.  There isn’t a  blog that I visit where I don’t personally respect and enjoy what is written.  If you’re on my blog short-list, it’s because I find you interesting, not because you get a lot of hits.  Content matters, in fact, it not only matters, it’s everything.  I am not going to go to a blog I hate and post there because I want to milk their success.  It’s not going to happen.  I’m not a dishonest little shit and maybe that’s my problem, most of these marketing gurus have zero integrity, honesty or virtue.  They just want a paycheck.  I guess I’m just too moral for them.

2.  I honestly do not have the time to spend the majority of my day finding readers.  This seems to be an issue and I somewhat touched on it above.  I have no time, nor interest, in running around posting comments on the “big fish” blogs, in hopes that some of the smaller fish will follow me home.  I also don’t have time to be creating new content for every social media site on the planet.  It’s bad enough that I’m on Facebook, Google+, Tumblr and Twitter and my posts and podcasts do go to each and every one of them, but somehow, I’m expected to go through each of these sites and create new and special content, just for that site?  Who has time for that? Honestly, I find Facebook so utterly pointless that I may not actually log on for months on end, usually I’ll only bother because I get an e-mail that someone has left a comment or given me a like.  Google+ is somewhat better, at least they have communities that I can interact in, but even though I have identities there for the blogs and the podcast, it does very little to actually funnel readers back to the blog, which is what I really want.  I think that I have spread myself far too thin already, having to juggle the relatively few social network sites I do and there are dozens more that I could be on but I don’t think they’d give me any better rate of return than I already get.  I’d actually be much happier deleting my Facebook account, getting off Twitter and spending 95% of my time here but you don’t get found that way, do you?

There just doesn’t seem to be any way to reasonably do what I want to do, to find those dedicated return readers that care what I have to say.  Maybe they don’t exist, far too many people have a short attention span online after all and I’m alone in my interest to cultivate long-term fans.  I know I’m not alone in this, I’ve watched vjack over on the Atheist Revolution post plenty of articles in his search to find the worthwhile reader too, it’s just sad that for people who produce so much content and I hope that it’s good content, a lot of us get rewarded with relatively few hits, especially compared to those who are loaded chock-full of ads, selling books and whoring themselves out for SEO.

Damn I hate being one of the few respectable, responsible and honest bloggers out there.

Anyone Else as Bored as I Am?

bored-dogsI picked up a couple of books on atheism recently because I wanted something to read and, well, why not?  It’s a wide variety of works by a number of different authors, some I know and some I don’t.  However, I realized as I started to read them that I was really quite bored with the subject matter.  It isn’t the author’s fault, I couldn’t quibble with style or talent, it was the whole topic of atheism that bored the ever-loving crap out of me.

The same is true of the religious, I also picked up a couple of books on apologetics and they bored me too.  It’s the same crazy arguments by the same crazy people, just as the atheist books are the same tired responses to the same tired claims.  Nothing ever really changes in the world of religion, or in the response to such.  I’ve read it all before, there’s nothing new to learn and no real new refutations of the religious insanity. It feels like the whole theistic/atheistic debate is at a stalemate.

Of course, this isn’t the first time I’ve said all of this, I guess I’m just suffering from ennui when it comes to religion.  It’s just not fun anymore.  Debates never go anywhere.  I feel like I’m talking to myself.  It feels like the only people trying to defend religion are the people who are moving toward a fanatical singularity.  Even watching debates seems pointless because they all end up the same way.  I skipped watching the Bill Nye/Ken Ham debate on purpose because I figured no new ground would be covered.  I used to be an avid viewer of debates online but lately, I haven’t.  I’ve tried, but I rarely make it more than 10 minutes into the debate before I call the theist an idiot and turn it off.  They can’t debate rationally and without that, what’s the point?

On Twitter, which we all know is the lowest form of common trash among the social media sites, it’s all the same thing.  The same mindless memes, the same idiotic religious retweets, over and over and over and over.  There’s no intelligent thought on Twitter today, if there ever was.  It’s same shit, different day.  No, wait a minute, same day.  All day.

I even look at the Religious Horror Show and all of the stories feel the same.  I am currently written out as far as September and I have stories almost through the end of the year and they all just run together.  Oh look, another Catholic priest molested a kid.  *YAWN*  Joy, the Muslims murdered someone in the streets again.  It just doesn’t have the impact that it once did on me because it’s all too common.  There was a  time that people got mad at these things, but now it seems like it’s become blasé.  It’s in the news so often, it happens every day, nobody really cares anymore.

Now sure, I could just take a vacation from it all, I have posts written on the blog through June.  Yes, June.  I’ve got so many that, as I’m sure people have noticed, I’ve gone back and started peppering the overflow on days I usually don’t post on.  Now, instead of posting 4x per week, it’s rare when I post less than 6x, but I feel I have an obligation, to myself if no one else, to keep cranking out the same kind of posts that I’ve done a dozen times before because nothing new ever happens.

I’d kill for something legitimately new, something wildly different.  I’d love it if the theists could come up with a new argument that hasn’t been kicked down the stairs repeatedly but we all know they won’t and can’t do such a thing.  I’d love it if the atheists could do more than rehash the same old tired responses, but with nothing new coming from the religious, that’s unlikely as well.  Even on political issues, it’s boring.  Same old stupidity from both sides and nobody ever thinking rationally or critically about anything.  It’s a mess.

And you know something?  Since I started working on my book, I’ve even gotten discouraged there.  I’ve already covered all of these things time and time again.  How many times can you refute the Kalam Cosmological Argument?  How many times can you detail the failures of religion and politics?  How many times can you write the history of Nixon’s Southern Strategy?  I sit down to write and I get bored.  I’ve been there.  I’ve done that.  I don’t get how people can write a dozen books on the same subject, especially a subject that never really changes, and not feel the same way.

It’s not just me either, I’ve seen lots of atheist bloggers say essentially the same thing, they’re bored with the sameness of it all.  They’re tired of the inanity of the religious and the irrationality of the political and the undeniable impossibility of talking anyone into taking a critical look at their own beliefs.  The world is changing for the better but it’s not going nearly fast enough.

Ah well, I’m just venting again, I guess.  I’d really like to have something ignite the fire that once burned in my breast to debate, but I don’t see that happening unless we find a whole new crop of honest and rational theists and… yeah, not likely.