Category Archives: Personal

Is There a Right to Life?

rightlife350Regardless of what it says in the Constitution, I don’t think there’s any demonstrable right for people to live and quite a bit of evidence that no such right exists.  As can be expected, this comes from a discussion with a rabid libertarian and their absurd natural rights nonsense.

People die.  Where is the right to life?  We execute criminals.  Where is the right to life?  People are murdered every day.  Where is the right to life?

I’ve made my thought clear in the past that rights are wholly human-invented and that we can change our minds pretty much any time we like.  We’ve done it plenty of times in the past.  There was a time in American history where blacks had few, if any, rights.  Then we had a war and suddenly, blacks had rights!  Amazing!  There was a time in American history when women had few, if any rights.  Then society decided that they should and passed the 19th Amendment.  Fantastic!  Of course, the libertarians would argue that they always had rights, we just didn’t recognize them, but that makes no sense whatsoever.

The image at the top of the page comes from a Christian t-shirt maker but I think it fits in quite nicely. Can someone please explain to me where this supposed “right to life” is self-evident?  How about inalienable?  I’ve already shown how it can be removed (alienable), thus the second is plainly incorrect. At best, believers can argue that they do not want it to be alienable, but wishes have no bearing whatsoever on reality.  I’m not going to go into the absurd fantasies that the religious go through to justify a supernatural cause for such things except to say that they have to actually prove that such a deity actually exists and actually wants those rights to exist and until they can, I’m not going to take their word for it.

Of course, we as a society can grant a right to life, after all, society is where rights actually come from, but we also get to decide the extent and limitations of any rights we want to grant.  We could, as a social unit, decide that life is the most important thing of all and follow more of a Jainist path.  We could decide, as a social unit, that life is only important for humans and nothing else counts, in fact, that’s mostly what we do in the western world.

There might be flowery language in a document that was written 250 years ago but that doesn’t necessarily mean that said document accurately describes the rights that we allow in the modern world.  Almost certainly, society has changed over the centuries and our views today do not necessarily reflect what our founding fathers might have wished for.

What this all comes down to is telling the difference between someone’s belief that things ought to be a certain way and their claims that things actually are a certain way.  I can appreciate people wishing for change, I’m down with that, but not when one’s only argument for change is that things are actually already different, so there. Let’s deal with things on a rational level instead of pretending that magically, some things are true because we wish that they were.

It’s not necessarily true.

The Craziness of the Calendar

 

Calendar

I’ve said before that I write prolifically and that my blogs, both of them, are scheduled out to an absurd degree.  In fact, I often don’t even remember writing many of the posts that come up during the week, I have to go back and re-read them because it’s been literally months since I last thought about it.

 

Therefore, I thought I’d post a picture of my calendar.  I had to get a 3-month calendar just so I can keep track of how much gets written and when I have to schedule my next post.  I know it’s not the clearest picture, but if you strain, you can see that there are two marks, a pink one and a blue one.  Pink marks indicate a post scheduled here.  Blue marks indicate a post scheduled over on my Cephus’ Corner Blog.  Keep in mind, these are only posts that are actually completely written and scheduled, not just planned..

 

As of this writing on March 15, 2014, I have scheduled regular posts out to May 9 here on the Bitchspot Blog. That’s a minimum of 4 posts per week, most weeks have more and as time goes on, I will fill in a lot of those “empty” days.  The Religious Horror Show posts are another matter entirely.  I decided, as I said on the Bitchspot Report Podcast, to do a “Religious Horror Show Week” in June and the number of stories that are actually written at the moment goes up into mid-September.  The number of stories just waiting to be written goes out into late January.  There are far too many religious horrors to be believed.

 

Yeah, it’s insane.

22 Answers to 22 Creationists Part 1

Over on Buzzfeed, Matt Stopera interviewed a number of creationists following the Bill Nye/Ken Ham debate and asked them to write a question about science in a notebook.  Here are the first 11 pictures that Matt took, along with my answers to these questions.  I’ve seen a lot of very short answers to these, I wanted to do something a little more indepth.  I’ll do a part 2 with the last 11 images.  So away we go!

Creationist1

I’d say absolutely, a lot moreso than the religious do.  After all, to my knowledge, Bill Nye has never molested a child, even though I did encounter a theist who was convinced that he must have, because that’s what atheists do.  Apparently, said theist has not kept up with the news. Teaching children about the real world as it actually exists, without lies, faith and idiocy, certainly strikes me as a positive influence and one that a lot of religious children would do well to experience more often.

Creationist2

Why would anyone be afraid of something that there is no reason to think actually exists?  Is this theist scared of Krishna?  Or Odin?  The Atheism Wiki estimates that there have been approximately 28,000 potential gods and goddesses that have been worshiped by man during his 15,000 year history, perhaps more.  Do we think she’s scared of any of them?  Probably not, mostly because she doesn’t think any of them, with one exception, is real. Atheists just take that one step further.  We  don’t fear what we don’t think is real.  We’re not afraid of your God any more than we’re afraid of getting speared by a unicorn.

Creationist3

Yes, I would argue it is completely and totally illogical.  First off, there’s no evidence for it and secondly, it just makes your God a liar and thus totally undeserving of any respect or admiration.  Ask yourself why your God, who you think wants everyone to believe in him and worship him, would purposely mislead people to make the planet look exactly like it was not created?  What is the purpose?  Then realize that your God is purposely sending people to hell, he knows exactly what will happen because you think he’s all-knowing.  So he knows that by misleading people, leaving faulty evidence and hiding behind the trees to watch what we do, most humans are going to burn forever in eternal damnation.  Your God is a dick.

Creationist4

No, you don’t know what the second law of thermodynamics is, which is clearly a problem for more than one of the people in this photo survey.  The second law of thermodynamics states that the entropy of an isolated system never decreases, because isolated systems spontaneously evolve toward thermodynamic equilibrium—the state of maximum entropy.  The Earth is clearly not an isolated system, we constantly get new energy from that big glowing ball in the sky, the sun.  Thus, the second law of thermodynamics has limited application to evolution, as you’d know if you had the slightest scientific education whatsoever.

Creationist5

I’d like to answer this with a picture:

Sunset
Click to enlarge

 

I’d also like to invite this woman to learn how to spell, it’s very difficult to take her seriously when she cannot even use the word “their” properly.

Creationist6

They don’t.  Go talk to your friend above.  You’re just wrong.

Creationist7

There’s no evidence that “noetics” has any application in the real world.  It is a particular belief in some schools of philosophy that has never been demonstrated.  This also might apply to “noetic science”, which was a nonsensical woo-claim, most famously pushed by Dan Brown in his book The Lost Symbol.  It’s largely the product of The Noetic Institute, a pseudoscience outfit started by former astronaut Edgar Mitchell and woo-believing-billionaire Paul N. Temple and is associated with the fundamentalist Christian group The Family.  The Noetic Institute has been placed by the pseudoscience watchdog group QuackWatch on their “questionable organizations” list.

Creationist8

There is no objective meaning of life.  Each individual is responsible for determining what meaning and purpose they wish their meaning to have.  You’re on your own, dude.

Creationist9

This has nothing whatsoever to do with evolution, which requires pre-existing life to operate, but most Christians are completely clueless of this fact.  However, there is a lot of solid research into abiogenesis, the beginning of the first life on the planet and we have a lot of possibilities, none of which require an imaginary father figure in the sky.

Creationist10

 

Um… yeah.  Blonde.  Figures.  Anyhow, that’s really stupid and  you ought not smile when you say it, people might think you’re serious.  Or maybe you are and people ought to think you’re an idiot.  Either way, not worth a serious response.

Creationist11

 

You’d have to show me where anyone credible accepts that, I have yet to see anyone claim that they actually believe that really happened in reality.  There are some that have said it’s a possibility but the only ones that really buy into that tend to be the crackpots like Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramsinghe.  You ought not listen to your religious heroes, they don’t tend to tell the truth.

So that’s the first 11 of the series.  Is there anything you disagree on?  Any of them that you think are remotely credible?  I just look at these things and say “there’s your problem, you’re ignorant gits!”  Next up, the last 11.

The Dead are Dead, Leave Them Be

deathtoetagI’ll be honest, I don’t give a damn when celebrities die.  As I write this, Peter O’Toole and Nelson Mandela are still being whined about, as well as the tons of atheists who are remembering the death of Christopher Hitchens two years ago, but you know something?  None of these things bother me in the least.  Why?  Because people die.  Everyone dies.  Death is a natural part of life. It’s as natural as going to the bathroom, yet you don’t see many people wailing and gnashing their teeth because someone takes a shit.  Maybe if you only did it once in your life, they might, I don’t know.

The reality is, about 6100 people die every single hour worldwide.  You don’t see the Internet community falling down about the overwhelming majority of those deaths, do you? Why?  Because virtually all of them are nameless unknowns.  They weren’t on TV.  They weren’t in movies.  They didn’t run with a football or do anything else notable.  But honestly, what makes the people who did any of those things inherently better than the factory worker who died or the doctor who died or the teacher who died?  Absolutely nothing.  The world doesn’t remember 99.99% of the people who drop dead, why should they remember the .01% that might have been relatively well known?

As far as I’m concerned, when you’re dead, you’re dead.  We enjoyed what you did when you were here, but after you’re gone, you’re really of no more use to the world.  You’re just a lump of flesh.  You are not an ongoing concern.  The people that I know personally who die, I grieve for, but for the rest, no matter how much I might have liked their on-screen work, I have no personal connection and so there is no grief.  I didn’t feel horrible when George Carlin died, even though he was my favorite comedian.  I didn’t tear my hair out when Christopher Hitchens died, even though I enjoyed at least some of his work.  I accept that people die.  I don’t wallow in it.

People need to learn to deal with reality.  Everyone dies.  Everyone you know is going to die.  That’s life.  I’m going to die.  You’re going to die.  Most people don’t know me and won’t grieve for me because there’s no point to it.  I probably don’t know you and won’t grieve for you.  I don’t view death of a single human being to be a tragedy, it’s simple reality.  This is especially true when most of these celebrities are in their 80s and 90s and are dropping dead of natural causes and people are acting like this is some sort of horrible happenstance.  Why? That’s how most death occurs!

So why are so many atheists so caught up in death?  Is this a recent thing?  Is it because of the Internet?  Is it a result of hero worship?  Please, someone explain it to me because I don’t get it.  How can someone that you’ve never even met mean so much to you?  Of course, it’s not just the famous, random people who die get nearly as much attention.  Some kid blows their brains out?  Holy shit!  Rally the troops!  Some school gets shot up?  What the hell?  It’ll be the top topic for weeks!  Every single one of the dead will be a victim or a martyr, just you wait and see.  It’ll spread like wildfire across Twitter and the blogosphere.  There will be Facebook memorials set up. Why?  Because nobody ever ought to die and certainly, they shouldn’t die violently, yet that’s exactly what’s happened since man came down from the trees and I just don’t get the attraction to mourning the loss of every single human being that makes the news.  They’re dead.  It’s a shame.  I feel bad for their families.  I don’t feel the need to go beyond that.

Why do you?

My Views on Transsexuals

transgenderGrimachu, over at The Atheist Fist wrote an apology over a debate he had a while back from a transsexual that ended badly, mostly because he describes the actions of the transsexual as assholish. While I can’t speak to that debate, I can say that I’m sure the LGBTQABCDEFG community would probably hate my take on the whole thing, which is fine because I have even less respect for the “social justice” morons than Grimachu does.

Now I am entirely fine and completely supportive of the idea that people may have one physical and genetic sex and one mental gender identity. We really don’t know enough about the inner workings of the brain to say that one may be genetically one  gender and mentally predisposed to be another gender.  Again, if this is how you feel, if you think you’re a woman trapped in a man’s body or a man trapped in a woman’s body, I am wholly supportive of you correcting this genetic oversight.

See, I have a good friend who is a transsexual.  He spent his early life really, really pissed off at gays, mostly because his parents were hard-core fundamentalists who pounded it into his head.  However, he was part of my gaming group and he only played female characters.  It was his only escape from the repressive thumb that his parents pushed on him.  After many years of being “in the closet” about his feelings and especially after he was out in the world on his own, he finally decided that he’d be honest about his feelings that he was actually a woman and I am completely behind him on his decision, he’s a much happier person since his transformation.  However, while he’s had the hormone treatments, he hasn’t had any actual gender reassignment surgery.  Until he does, I’m going to think of him as a “he”.  Not to his face, of course, I respect his desires and I want to encourage him to make the actual transition, but growing breasts and putting on women’s clothing and changing your name does not make you a woman, even though he makes a much better looking woman than he ever did a man, to be honest.

tiger-man
This is not a tiger, this is a loser.

A lot of this really reminds me as my association with the furries.  There were a lot of people who really believed that they were animals who were mistakenly born as humans.  Nobody in their right mind is going to take these people seriously.  I don’t care what you do to yourself, what costumes you dress up in, you are not a mighty stallion born into the lowly body of a human.  There has to be a limit to how far we go on these things.  Would we, for example, take someone seriously who said they were certain that they were a black man born into a white man’s body?  How about someone who was convinced they were a tall woman stuck in a short woman’s body?  Or a blonde who was mistakenly given brown hair by an error of genetics?  Where does one draw the line? There has to be a line somewhere, how do we decide what is acceptable and what is not?

Certainly, the mistaken brunette can dye their hair and life life as a blonde without too much difficulty.  The rest is a little more difficult to achieve without significant surgery, but while conceptually, these ideas might strike us as silly, would we really take them seriously if they didn’t go all the way?

Therefore, to take a couple of things from Grimachu’s article, I think the following:

  • I also think that prospective partners should know that you started life as a different gender, in fact, I would argue that you are legally obligated to tell a prospective spouse before your marriage or be guilty of fraud.
  • I really have no strong feelings about sports one way or the other, since I think professional sports are a complete and total waste of time, but in the interest of fairness, transgender women probably ought to be restricted from playing women’s professional sports.  It might not be fair, but whoever said life was fair?
  • I really don’t buy that transgendered people should be able to use the bathroom of their expressed gender until they have been actually surgically altered.  What’s to stop a pervert from putting on a dress and going into the women’s bathroom under the guise of transsexuality?  If you’ve got a dick, use the men’s room until you have it replaced with the plumbing of your choice.
  • While I personally pay little attention to the media freak-show circuit, the fact remains that the people who end up there sign on for it themselves.  I had no sympathy for people who agreed to go on the Jerry Springer Show either.  If you don’t want to be treated like a freak, don’t agree to be interviewed by the media.  It’s that simple.
  • While I’m okay with the idea that a person’s gender identity may differ from their biological sexual identity, I also think that there’s a lot of emphasis in the social justice crowd for people to declare that they are different from white, male, cisgendered whatever.  I’m not saying that there aren’t plenty of legitimate cases of people who are really convinced that they are the wrong gender, but by the same token, I think the social justice idiots have really pushed people who may have some doubts or questions to be something they may not actually be.  It’s the same as them pushing a boy who put on a dress once and liked it to admit that he’s a full-blown homosexual.  That ain’t necessarily true.

I would love it if people could just be who they wanted to be without being pushed by one special interest group or another to do things they may not want to.  I remember a debate on a forum many, many years ago with a woman who was absolutely convinced that everyone, without exception, was a bisexual and anyone who disagreed was risking her wrath.  It was her hot  button issue, you couldn’t mention sexual orientation in any post, no matter how obliquely, without her sticking her nose into the conversation and telling everyone that they were wrong and she was right.  That’s really the vibe that I get from a lot of the social justice jerks, it’s their way or the highway.

Maybe they should just stand out in the middle of the highway and get taken out by a truck.  Nobody would miss them.  Then maybe people could just be people and the world would be a better place.

 

Science in America?

There have been a lot of commercials on TV lately, aired by ExxonMobil, calling for bettering our students in science and math.  I absolutely support that, I think it’s embarrassing that American students rank in such low positions, we ought to be #1, not #25.

But you know something?  There are reasons why we are so low and those reasons aren’t really what you might think.

Liberals:  One of the biggest problems we have in this country in education is the fact that so much time is spent on civil engineering and social work.  Since the late 60s/early 70s, we’ve seen a move across the nation toward irresponsibility.  Parents don’t raise their kids properly, they leave it to the schools to teach them the most basic social skills and then they don’t take any time to engage their child and make sure they’re learning what they need to learn.  Raising children is apparently seen as an inconvenience, the parents have far too much to do on their own, it’s far easier to plop their kids in front of a TV or a computer and let them educate themselves.  This is a massive problem.

Religion:  Even ignoring nonsense like creationism in the classroom, American theists have pushed to eliminate anything in the science classroom which violates their sensitivities.  I’d focus on the Christians, but now it’s also the Muslims who are crying about their myths being criticized.  It’s actually quite easy, when comparing the top countries like France and Norway to countries around the United States, like Italy, where all of the most secular nations lie.  The religious reject reality where reality comes into conflict with their faith.  This is a massive problem.

Politics:  Like it or not, it doesn’t do the political parties any good to produce thinking adults.  If they can produce robots who do as they are told, the political parties can stay in power longer and achieve more than they could otherwise.  Thus, both parties have systematically degraded the public school system over the last 40 years, pushing their own agendas into the schools to the detriment of producing well-educated, literate, logical, critical thinking citizens after graduation.  Kids that can think can ask questions and asking questions, especially embarrassing questions about the political environment makes politicians nervous.  This is a massive problem.

We have to find a way to reverse these trends.  Education ought to be a national imperative, it ought to be the highest calling to which our nation can achieve.  We must fight against all of these social and political groups which seek to produce pliable, stupid, gullible citizens that do what they’re told, that think what they’re told and who believe what they’re told because they lack the tools and the motivation to stand up and ask questions.

It’s our future and the future of our children at stake.

What Social Media Ought To Be

social-media-with-donuts
What if you don’t want any of this?

I’ve talked about this in the past and I know that I am not the target audience for social media, but there simply are no social media sites out there that do what I want them to do.  Social media is, almost by definition, shallow.  It’s meant to appeal to the short-attention-span crowd.  It is designed to transmit short, stupid messages, memes and other incoherent nonsense.  It’s hollow, trivial expressionism, like waving to your neighbor, except to a much wider audience that has as little interest in getting to know you as you do getting to know them.  I weep for this generation.

I don’t want any of that.

What I want is the ability to have a conversation.  I want to be able to debate in great detail.  None of the current social media allows this.

What I’d have to see in a site to make it worthwhile:

  1. Threaded conversations that allow you to easily follow the action
  2. A WYSIWYG editor, complete with the ability to extensively quote, add pictures and graphs, etc.
  3. Intelligent, rational people to debate with.

Yeah, that last one is the hardest to find, I know, but what’s the point of debating over and over with idiots?  That’s why I’ve stopped debating in any real fashion over the last couple of months because finding someone worth debating is even harder than finding somewhere that you can actually debate them.

Honestly, while I’m convinced that forums are the best of the bad options, even most forum software fails in most regards.  A lot of it doesn’t even allow you to quote the message that you’re responding to!  Of all of the forum software that I’ve seen, and I’ve seen a lot, the only one that remotely impresses me is the most recent version of vBulletin, most specifically v4.2.1, with a lot of add-ons.  It’s spiffy.  It tells you if someone has responded to one of your posts and takes you right to it, it allows multi-quoting, it allows numerous pictures, etc. It doesn’t guarantee that there’s anyone worth debating with though.

Now I’m sure scientists and other rational thinkers use the Internet and I’m sure they have intellectual discussions online.  Presumably a lot of it is through e-mail, at least that’s what I’d do, but there has to be somewhere that they can gather collectively to have interesting discussions. Where is that place?  I’m sure it’s got to be a private network to keep the riff-raff out and that’s a bit depressing as well.

I don’t know.  Just thinking about this makes me weep for humanity.

A Book You Say?

typewriter_writingYes, it is true, on this week’s Bitchspot Report Podcast, I sort of touch on a book that I’m working on, which is why I was so tired, so before people ask, I’ll tell you a little bit about it.  I’m just getting started really, I’m about 90 pages in, mostly snippets so far.  It’s  going to detail conservative atheism and skepticism, what it is, why I think it’s the right way to go and why it is superior to religion, liberalism, the neo-cons, libertarianism, etc.

I’ve always wanted to be able to write a very detailed, very well researched explanation why I think that being a conservative and being an atheist not only work well together, but work better than any other combination that I see.  No, I’m not ready to give all that much information at the moment, as I said, it’s in quite a state of disrepair, I don’t even have a single chapter completed or in readable condition and therefore, I have no idea when I’ll be done and when it’ll be out but I’m keeping my metaphorical fingers crossed that it won’t take all that long, assuming I have time to dedicate to the project.

This is not the only book I’ve been playing around with.  In fact, I had another book on atheism, based somewhat on my “answers to Christian questions” concept, that I’ve been sitting on for quite some time and I think that most of that is going to be rolled into my new endeavor. Anyone reading my other blog knows that I’m also kicking around at least one fiction book as well.

So anyhow, that’s as much low-down as I have on the project at the moment, before people start asking.  And now, back to the blog, already in progress.

New Year’s Resolution Time

resolutionNormally, I don’t worry about New Year’s Resolutions, the whole idea of waiting until a certain day to make changes in your life strikes me as really absurd, if there is something that I need to change, why wait, why not just do it?  However, last year, I actually did have a resolution, I totally and completely walked away from the Atheism+/FreethoughtBlog morons and haven’t stepped my electronic foot into their cesspool since.  I have not looked at the Atheism+ forums even once and I haven’t looked at any of the associated FtB blogs that have been a big proponent of that extremist feminist stupidity.  Not one visit to any of those blogs, I don’t listen to their podcasts and when I’ve found that a podcast or a website tends to support that kind of stupidity or talk about it in excessive amounts, I drop those too.

You know something?  I’ve loved it.  I feel so much better, not having to be faced with a daily dose of liberal stupidity.  Not only can I not imagine not having done that, I’m wondering why I didn’t do it much earlier.

That made me start thinking about what I really want to do for this year and as people who have been reading the blog regularly might have noticed, I’ve gotten very critical of  debating theists, especially debating fundamentalist and fanatical theists.  I just don’t think it’s worthwhile, it doesn’t actually accomplish anything and more often than not, it leaves me upset and frustrated.  That’s not good for my blood pressure and it’s not good for my disposition so I’ve asked myself, why do it?  I’ve yet to come up with a good reason so my resolution this year is to know when to give up when debating theists.

I’m not stopping completely, if I were to do that, why bother with this blog at all?  I am, however, going to know the limits of my patience and not push on with debates that aren’t going anywhere, or with people who are just too stupid to be rationally dealt with.  In fact, the more I think about it, I may just apply this to everyone, not just theists because there are a lot of political debates that are just a waste of my time and energy too.  If someone can’t make a reasonable point or provide objective evidence, why should I bother talking to them at all?

I think this one change for the year is going to reduce my stress level, just like last year’s resolution did.  After all, it’s much easier to blog about the foibles of a stupid person than to try to talk them out of their stupidity, especially if they are singularly ill equipped to engage in a worthwhile discussion.

So what’s your resolution for the year?  Inquiring minds want to know.

The Stupidity of Telemarketers

telemarketer_cartoonI have a problem with telemarketers.  I hate them and they’re stupid.  Think that’s mean?  It’s not, honestly.  For one thing, I’ve been on the Federal No-Call List since the thing existed and it doesn’t mean a damn thing and the telemarketers know it.  I’ve even had them laugh in my face when I told them I was on it.  They don’t care and if you go to the website, it even tells you that they won’t do a damn thing about it.

The telemarketers are supposed to stop calling you if you ask them to, but it’s not just to be nice, but let’s be honest, if you tell them to stop calling, they should get it through their little pin heads that they’re not going to make a sale and try elsewhere.  Isn’t the point of telemarketing at all to sell things?  If you piss off everyone you talk to, how many sales are you going to make?  If you call someone who has already told you to piss off back, do you think they’re going to magically change their mind and decide to buy something?  No, of course not, they’re just going to get mad and tell everyone they know never to buy anything from you or your stupid company.

So I had this call earlier today, it’s the same guy who calls at least 3x a week, the same guy I have told for weeks on end to stop calling me and he never does.  I might be able to see it if it was someone else from the same company, maybe the person you told to put you on their no-call list didn’t do it, but it’s the same guy!  So he calls when I’m in the middle of something and I remind him that I’ve told him repeatedly to stop calling and he says “maybe if you said please”.  I said “how about if I tell you to fuck yourself and hang up on you?”  That’s just what I did, but I’m sure he’ll call back in another couple of days.  Is this the worst telemarketer in the history of telemarketing?  I don’t know because he’s got competition.  We’ve also got this cancer charity that calls for my wife every goddamn day. I’ve told them no.  She’s told them no.  They’ve been told in no uncertain terms that they will never get a penny out of us, ever.  What’s worse, they lie.  They’ll call and say my wife  gave them money last year.  That’s utter bullshit.  She’s never given them a red cent.  I’ve taken to telling them I hope they get cancer and their tits fall off.  None of these companies or charities will remove you from their list no matter what you say because they know the FTC is a totally toothless entity.

Unfortunately, these companies are just stupid and obnoxious and no matter how plain you make it that they will never make a penny off of you, no matter how many times you tell them what to do with themselves, no matter how nice you are, they’re going to keep on calling you because apparently, they don’t understand how to sell over the phone.  Maybe they’re hoping that you’ll buy something to make them go away, I don’t know.

These places are just not reputable.  Years ago, there was this local survey company that kept calling, wanting me to take a survey.  I don’t do phone surveys and told them to stop calling.  They called over and over and over again.  I asked to talk to a supervisor and the supervisor told me to fuck off.  They refused to provide their company name and they had a blocked number.  I called the phone company, they said they cannot block the calls and they can’t (or won’t) trace them to tell me who was making them.  Eventually, the guy started making threats over the phone, he said he knows where I live and he’s going to come kick my ass.  I  told him to bring it on, called the police and filed a report.  Don’t know if these idiots got shut down but never heard from them again. Honestly, do they think they’re going to get a survey done if they threaten people?

And no, having an unlisted number doesn’t help, most of these telemarket groups use purchased phone lists that include unlisted numbers.

Now if I wanted to, I could make a lot of money off these idiots, it is a violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA) 47 USC Section 227 for them to call you after being told to put you on the do not call list.  Each and every violation thereafter is $500, but for some of these companies, I’m sure they don’t even have a business license, it’s just some idiots doing things under the table to make a buck, I doubt you could ever collect, although you might be able to put them in jail and that’s almost as good.

So I guess I’ll just keep telling these morons the same thing that they refuse to do over and over again. It won’t do any good because most of them are scams and the scammers don’t care if they’re breaking the law or not.  I just wish there was a way to get them all shut down permanently.

Bored With Atheism Part 2

skepticism

A while back, I wrote about being bored with atheism.  For some reason, I started to re-read some portions of Carl Sagan’s excellent book, The Demon Haunted World recently.  It’s a book I’ve always loved, but as it was published in 1995, nearly 20 years ago now, you’d think that it would be somewhat out of date.  However, as I found odd initially, it just isn’t.  In fact, it made me think back to a still older book, Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science, written by Martin Gardner back in 1952, which covers many of the same topics and proposes many of the same solutions.  It just goes to show that in the land of skepticism, nothing ever changes.  Humans are not getting any more skeptical, they’re not getting any better educated and they’re not getting any smarter.  The same human gullibility that Gardner wrote about in 1952 was present when Sagan was writing in 1995 and will be around when the next firebrand author pens the same kind of book in 2020.  People just aren’t that bright.

The same is true in the realm of religion.  The same beliefs that poisoned human minds in 1950 are still here today.  They haven’t changed significantly since 1850 or 1750 or 550 for that matter.  It doesn’t matter how much human science and knowledge increases, the same kind of emotionally-coddling nonsensical beliefs remain.  People, by and large, aren’t interested in what’s actually true, they’re interested in what makes them feel good.  This results in the same ideas being written over and over and over again.  Martin Gardner’s excellent ideas showed up again in Carl Sagan’s book, not because he copied them, but because the situation hasn’t changed a bit in more than 40 years.

That’s really why I don’t spend a lot of time reading the latest atheist book that comes down the pike.  It doesn’t matter who writes it, be it Dawkins or Hitchens or Harris, it’s all the same because it deals with the same subject matter as dozens or hundreds of books that have come before. Invariably, it demonstrates, once again, that the faithful are laughably wrong, but this doesn’t change anything for the faithful, they don’t care that they’re wrong, they don’t care that their views have been disproven, either evidentially or logically, any more than the people who believe in ghosts are interested in the reality that their beliefs have no rational basis.  Debating a theist is likely remarkably similar to debating a theist two centuries ago, with the possible exception that a theist today cannot call for your death for heresy, and that’s only limited the the religion and region in which you’re operating.

As anyone who routinely debates theists will tell you, virtually all debates are the same, the theist enters with a heartfelt position believed only on faith and, regardless of what happens in the debate, leaves with the same thing. It’s not really possible to change their mind because they never arrived at their beliefs using their mind to begin with.  It’s been said before in many different forms, those beliefs which are arrived at without reason can likewise be rejected without reason and most, perhaps virtually all religious beliefs are adopted on an emotional, not a rational basis.  I know lots of people like to think that they’re debating for the audience, but I think most of us realize that the chances of a similarly adamant audience changing their mind is about as likely as the theistic debater doing so.  Anyone who is questioning their beliefs has a wealth of information at their keyboards, they really don’t need you to help them along.  They’re going to change their mind or they’re not, atheists shouldn’t fool themselves into thinking that they’re leading people to reason in droves.  At best, they may release an individual from the grips of religion, only to have that void filled with two other gullible souls.  People are not coming to reason, they’re just rejecting one silly belief, often for another.

And that’s really why atheism gets so boring.  As I said in my last article, nothing new ever really happens. Atheist blogs cover a limited number of subjects over and over again, even here, I find myself unknowingly recycling old content and trying to present it in a slightly different light.  How much is there to say?  “Yup, theists are still stupid and gullible!”  How many different ways can you say that?  Even the Religious Horror Show gets old.  Oh look, another priest raped a kid!  This time it’s a Muslim!  Next time it’s a Jew!  After that, it’s a Hindu!  Time to get back to the Catholics!  Lather, rinse, repeat.  Now, a theist wigged out and killed a bunch of people because he thinks God told him to!  Insert name of a dozen different religions and start over.  We’re not really changing the landscape, we’re just changing the names.  It’s depressing when you look at things over the long haul.  I remember having these same debates 30 years ago and they didn’t go anywhere then either.

Should we expect to make any major changes?  I honestly don’t think so.  We see short-term gains and short-term losses but we really don’t see any massive course corrections.  Maybe people reject organized religion at a higher rate for a while, but start believing in alien abductions or Bigfoot or ghosts.  Is that a victory?  I don’t think so.  So long as people are willing to be credulous about any topic, so long as they are not willing to use reason and logic and evidence as their basis for making decisions, it’s ultimately not a worthwhile fight.  We’re destined to lose and our children and our grandchildren will be sitting here, just as frustrated as we are, fighting the same enemy that we fought.  And it’s not just the theists we have to worry about, we all know that atheists are just as messed up as theists are, they are just as credulous, they are just as emotional about their beliefs and react in the same way as the theists.  If our own “movement” can’t buck the system, why should we think anyone else will?

So I guess it’s back to the boredom and the frustration and the unfortunate knowledge that 2020 will come soon enough, invariably with it’s own “new” book about the irrationality of human thought.  Wonder how much deja vu I’ll feel?

What Killed Halloween For Me

Haunted HouseIt seems that every year, I write a Halloween post, despondent over the current state of the holiday and wishing things were still the way they used to be, back in the day.  This isn’t just a case of “good old dayism”, where people have a convenient and nostalgic memory of the past, there have been some serious and dramatic changes in the way Halloween has been celebrated over the past 30 years or so and, as far as I’m concerned, all for the worse.

So I sat down and thought about this and I came up with two causes for these changes and, no surprise, they fall to the two most talked about evils on this blog, religion and liberalism.

See, back in the old days, kids went door to door in droves, begging for candy, usually dressed up in creative and inventive costumes that they and their parents put together.  It wasn’t a pre-packaged affair.  You didn’t go buy a costume from a store, you made it yourself and a lot of kids were really, really inventive.  Sure, you saw your fair share of ghosts, white sheets with eye-holes cut out, but you also saw people with elaborate costumes that would fit right into a convention masquerade contest.

It wasn’t just kids though, lots of adults got into the act.  I know that in the half-dozen blocks around where I lived, there were at least 6-8 large, elaborate haunted houses that people built in their garages or back yards, free to anyone who wanted to go through them.  That was really where I stood out, every year, my haunted house got bigger and bigger until it filled the garage, the driveway and the back yard.  It had more than a dozen themed rooms and I pulled no punches.  I made it as scary (not excessively gross) as I possibly could and I put no restrictions on who could go through it.  Sure, I warned people but if some 6-year old kid wanted to go through, I didn’t stop them, that was the job of their parents, not me.

Of course, trick-or-treating has largely gone the way of the dinosaur in a lot of places because it’s “dangerous”.  No, the liberals wanted people to trick-or-treat in the safety of malls, where carefully checked pre-packaged candy was handed out by people who had background checks to make sure they weren’t sex offenders and kids were only allowed to wear pre-approved, non-offensive costumes so everyone had a bland, boring time.  Parents loved it because they didn’t have to worry.  Kids loved it because they didn’t have to walk for miles to fill up their bags with candy.  The only people who hated it were the people who loved Halloween.

On the other side were the religious who were concerned that Halloween was evil and that dressing up in a scary costume was the same as making a pact with the devil.  They forced schools to stop having Halloween parties and made them call it a “Fall Festival”.  They wouldn’t permit anyone to act in a manner disrespecting their religious superiority.  Instantly, schools, which had these big parties with lots of costumes, went to un-costumed affairs with politically correct themes.  It’s not surprising that the schools are largely run by the liberals either.

So now we have an annual safe Halloween down Main Street, held only during the daylight hours of 3-5pm, where helicopter parents carry their commercially costumed kids up and down the street to be filled with perfectly safe candy and pre-approved advertising.  You can’t stand out there and hand out anything, food or otherwise, unless you’ve been properly vetted.  There are some small groups of kids that still go door-to-door, but not where I am, I haven’t had a single trick-or-treater in over a decade.  I stopped decorating long ago, I don’t buy candy to hand out, only a couple of bags for the family to share, I spend my Halloween watching TV.  There’s really nothing else to do.

In the interest of full disclosure though, there might be one thing that the conservatives did to hurt Halloween too.  See, back when we were all putting up our own Haunted Houses, nobody ever had an insurance rider in case something happened.  The building inspectors didn’t come out and make sure it was up to code.  It was just good, clean fun that everyone overlooked for the couple of days it was up and then, it was taken down for another year. Today, that would never fly.  You’d have to have special insurance and government permits to run something, even for free, and your house would have to be properly zoned, just in case someone got hurt (nobody ever did in my experience).  We live in an absurdly litigious society, where anyone will sue anyone else at the drop of a hat if they think there’s money to be made.  That needs to change too.

I really wish the old Halloween would come back, but as society becomes liberalized, as religion’s hold remains powerful, the chances of that are slim.  Halloween used to be fun.  Now it’s a homogenized, sanitized, commercialized celebration of mediocrity.  Where’s the fun in that?

A Name By Any Other Pseudonym…

pseudonymI get asked quite often why I go by a pseudonym online, as though not using my real name somehow makes what I have to say less valuable than someone without a modicum of imagination.

To be honest, there are a lot of reasons.  First off, I first got online back in 1977 on a Texas Instruments TI-99/4 computer and a 300 baud acoustic modem.  At the time, there was no publically accessible Internet, you dialed into a local BBS, where maybe 50-100 other people called in, one at a time, and you talked or played door games or whatever.  When I started, there wasn’t even commercial BBS software, if you wanted to run one, you had to code it yourself.  Back then, the common position was that you never, ever, under any circumstances, used your real name online, it just wasn’t done.  Mostly, I think it was because there were plenty of people involved in legally questionable activity and making it easier for the authorities to find you was frowned upon.  I still remember exactly who told me  this, when they told me and where we were, it made that much of an impression on me as a beginning BBSer.

I’ve never used a pseudonym to hide from anyone, in fact, I’ve only used two long-term pseudonyms in my life.  The first, used from maybe 1977-1983, was The Wyzard, loosely named after the first D&D character I ever created back in 1975.  The second, which I started using in 1983, was Cephus, named after my furry persona and I’ve used it ever since, more out of tradition than anything else.  It’s the name I’ve become known by over 30 years of online history so it’s the name I continue to use.

However, tradition isn’t the only reason I still use a pseudonym.  It’s well known that people like Greg Laden and other pricks among the Atheism+ crowd have made it their mission to go around and drop dox on people and try to disrupt their lives.  While yes, I know it isn’t that hard to figure out my real name, I’m still not going to make it easy for anyone to try to mess with me, and luckily, since I have maintained this disconnect for decades, there isn’t a single picture of me anywhere online, nor is there any simple connection between my handle and my real self.  It’s not impossible, it’s just difficult and since I see no reason to change, it will remain difficult and there’s a certain parity there.

Finally, and perhaps most important, especially since I’ve become an outspoken online atheist and conservative, is symbolic.  I want it known that it doesn’t matter who says a thing, it only matters about the thing that was said.  There are just too many cults of personality running around out there, people who think that big names make things more true.  Nothing could be further from reality.  Science operates, not because of the person who says a thing, but because of what the person says.  It’s not star-power, it’s evidence.  I could be an expert in many fields.  I could be Stephen Hawking or Neil DeGrasse Tyson for all anyone knows.  It doesn’t make a difference.  I have always encouraged people not to take my word for anything, but to go out and check anything I say out for themselves.  I’m not here to make pronouncements, I’m here to give my arguments, present my evidence and debate with others who are doing the same thing.  Completely removing myself as an authority gives people a better chance of focusing on ideas and not identities.

Besides, I’m not in this for the notoriety, I do it because I enjoy it.  If someone asked me to speak at an atheist convention, I’d turn them down.  I’m just not interested.  I don’t want fame, I want to express the ideas that I care about and anyone else who wants to take center stage, more power to them, that’s not anything I’m remotely interested in.

So there you go, that’s why I do it.  Do you think they’re good reasons or bad reasons and why?  Inquiring minds want to know.

The Bitchspot Report Podcast #24

Bitchspot Report New IconIt’s the 24th episode of The Bitchspot Report Podcast and this time, we take on music in Switzerland, demons in vajayjays, lies in the Vatican and racism in America.  Tune in for this episode that we call, Demons Have Commandeered Your Vagina!

33 Better Reasons Not To Be a Feminist Part 1

feminist3I run into really idiotic reasons online for doing various and sundry things, but it’s usually pretty rare that those reasons don’t come from one of two groups.  First, they’re absurdly common from theists who, as we all know, come up with a load of asinine claims for why people ought to adopt their worldview.  Second, though, I see a ton of stupidity coming from the mouths of liberals, especially feminists and this is no exception.  I ran into this list of 33 reasons why people ought to be a feminist and just reading through the list made me facepalm continuously.

The Amazing Atheist did a YouTube video of his responses, but after watching it, I found most of his answers lacking and incomplete, mostly because of the format and time constraints, so I wanted to give a shot to a more complete reason why these “reasons” are just absurd.  The original list, at least in the only form I’ve seen it, is 33 pictures with captions, which you can see here.  I’m going to address the arguments themselves and, unlike TAA, I’m going to address the claimed statistics to see if they’re actually valid.  As this will take some space, I’m going to split the list into 3 sections and take it on 1/3 at a time.  If you want to watch T.J.’s video, here it is:

[youtuber youtube=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xlSh6wBXePM’]

1.  Because this type of violence-glorifying and misogynist commercials is not unusual and get to exist in our society without many  reactions.

Exactly what is violence-glorifying or misogynist about that particular commercial again?  Sorry, I just don’t see it.  Of course, lots of feminists will, simply because they are trained to see sexism in everything, whether it exists or not.  I’d be curious to see an objective means of determining what is “sexism” and what is not, from a feminist perspective.  I honestly don’t think they could come up with a single metric which could separate “sexist” content from “non-sexist” content.  It seems like it’s in the eye of the beholder, they can’t define it but they know it when they see it and unfortunately for the rest of us, they see it in everything.

2.  Because women don’t get to decide over their own bodies.

For the most part, they do and have for many years.  Most women in the western world have no problem whatsoever deciding to get an abortion if they want, etc.  I honestly think this is aimed at women who choose to make choices contrary to the feminist mantra though, it isn’t that women *CAN’T* decide something, it’s that many don’t do what the feminists want them to do, therefore it must be the “Patriarchy” that stops them.  It’s absurd.  However, on the flip side, men have no say whatsoever in what happens to a fetus they helped to create.  What’s worse, they are completely under the control of the woman’s whims if she decides to have a baby that the man doesn’t want, she can hold him financially hostage for 18 years and never allow him to see the child if she doesn’t want to.  She holds all the cards.  Of course, feminists don’t complain about this bit of extreme inequity, they never open their mouths when women have superior rights to men, only when it’s the other way around.  Of course, I just wish people would be responsible in the first place, if you’re not willing to commit to supporting and raising a child in the first place, stay out of each other’s pants.  Yeah, I know, that would never fly in the modern-day liberal worldview but that’s the way it ought to be.

3.  Because women are constantly sexualized and objectified, while men get credit for their skills and professions.

playgirl-coverI think there’s a whole metric that feminists don’t consider here and this will apply again to another point later.  Yes, the women on the GQ covers are posed sexually because whether feminists like it or not, sex sells.  However, whether they understand or like that fact or not, there’s something else that we have to consider.  The women on those covers chose to pose that way of their own free will.  Nobody held a gun to their heads.  Nobody forced them with threats of violence.  These are women who got into these industries knowing full well what the work was and they did it anyhow.  Feminists are essentially telling these women that they’re stupid cows, led around by the nose and forced to do things against their will… or what their will really ought to be, according to the feminists.  That’s absurd.  Worse yet, it’s funny how the feminists only talk about the covers of men’s magazines, they completely ignore the covers of magazines intended for women, which objectify and sexualize men.  It’s all “do as we say, not as we do.”

4/5.  Because this gets banned on Facebook… while this is fine.

That’s because the one image is expressly banned on Facebook and the other is not.  It has nothing to do with being female body parts, if it was male body parts, it would be deleted just as quickly.  There is no nudity allowed on Facebook whatsoever.  This is an example of an argument that I see far too often among feminists, they don’t bother to think about the substance of their argument, they just pick something that ostensibly concerns women and get upset about it.  As for the second imagine, I agree that it’s offensive and tasteless, but what feminists, and indeed most liberals just don’t understand is that there’s no right not to be offended.  Just because something bothers you doesn’t mean you get to stand there like a Donald Sutherland pod person, screaming until someone makes it go away.  If you find something that offends you, the best way to handle it is to stop looking at it.  Welcome to reality, feminists.

6.  Because 97% of all rapists never have to spend a day in jail.

Even going by their own statistics, this figure is wrong.  According to the data their own groups put out, 6% of rapists ever go to jail, putting the 97% figure into laughable territory.  The problem is, nobody ever cites their sources for making these claims.  how do they know what percentage of rapes (claims range from 50-90%) go unreported?  By definition, they’re unreported!  The only way to get this data is to survey a large number of women and hope that you get honest responses, but since most of these surveys are done by groups with a particular agenda, how they phrase their questions has a huge impact on the data they get.  This strikes me as a made up statistic that cannot be validated by actual, demonstrable evidence.

7.  Because model agencies are scouting models outside of anorexia clinics.

You’d have to blame society for that one, it’s certainly not just men who are responsible.  In fact, since most of these models are wearing clothing intended for women, it’s really the women who have unrealistic expectations for body types that are pushing this kind of thing.  If women would refuse to buy clothing worn by these undernourished cretins, advertising and modeling agencies would stop using them.  Besides, isn’t one of the main battle cries for feminism that women should be self-sufficient and not have to look the way men want them to look or act the way men want them to act?  Listen to your own feminist mantra and just don’t do it!  Of course, that would be too easy, they don’t want to free themselves from the expectations of others, they want to change the expectations of others to exactly what they want, which is stupid.

8.  Because women are being discriminated against in the workplace because they have children, or may have children in the future.

I hate to say if but that’s the reality of female biology.  Business, whether you like it or not, requires a long-term commitment from it’s workers at every level of the company.  People who are apt to take extended periods of time off, who are apt to leave early or come in late because they have to take care of their children, are a hindrance to the  company.  Is it fair?  I don’t know that fair has anything to do with it.  Someone who is sickly, who takes a lot of time off or has to leave to go to the doctor, is going to have the same problem, they probably won’t advance as far because of something they have no control over either.  Nobody said life was fair.  Certainly we ought to do our best to limit disparities, but there are some differences which are dictated by biology, not society.  A woman who works just as hard and just as long as a man should not be discriminated against.

9.  Because women still make less money for doing the same job as men.

Like it or not, as with #7 above, this is largely because women pursue different job paths than men do.  Men tend to work longer hours, take less time off and work their way up the corporate ladder than women do.  Many women take time off to have children and that’s going to affect how well they are paid.  It’s not the non-existent “patriarchy” that does this to women, it’s human biology and women’s choices.  If you compare two men, one of whom works a lot harder and longer than the other, the one that works hardest will invariably make more money, even if they have the same job.  That’s how American business culture works.

10.  Because there are parts of the world where women get punished after being sexually assaulted.

Yes there are and it’s a terrible thing, but what do you think that you’re going to do about it, being a feminist in a kooshy house, sitting behind a monitor, somewhere in the western world?  There are so many of these statements that will not be solved by slapping a feminist label on your forehead.  I see feminists complaining about things like this, and they should, I just don’t see them proposing any real-world solutions to the problems.  If the only reason to be a feminist is to whine, I don’t see how that’s helpful.

11.  Because there are actually people who think it’s not rape if the person is sleeping.

That’s reprehensible, but being a feminist isn’t going to change that.  There are bad people in the world, that’s a simple fact of life.  There are people who are going to use others for their own benefit.  There are people who are going to kill others, torture others and rape others.  It sucks, but nobody said the world was going to be a magical, happy land.  These people deserve to be prosecuted to the furthest extent of the law, just like anyone who harms others.  I don’t need to be a feminist to want justice.  Why do you?

12.  Because 1 out of every 6 American women has been a victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime.

false rapeThis comes from a study performed by the Center for Policy Research and it has a lot of questionable data, much of it is pulled out of context for use in feminist literature.  For instance, I’ve seen it said that 52% of women have been physically assaulted, neglecting that the study makes it clear this refers only to women who were “assaulted” in childhood, including being spanked.  That’s not assault, that’s discipline.  When looking at legitimate assault, suffered in recent history, only 1.9% of women reported they’d been assaulted.  There are no specifics provided of the details of these assaults either, there is no differentiation between assaults by men or assaults by women, although feminists simply assert that all of the assaults were committed by man on women.  Similarly for this claim, it says that 18% of women report they’ve either been raped or someone attempted to rape them, it gives no details on who may have raped them or the conditions under which they were raped.  Since these were all anonymous reports given over the phone with no verification that anything said was true, the results are extremely subjective.  We don’t even know if the women who claimed to have been raped had ever had those cases prosecuted.  Of course, we know that up to 40% of rape cases reported to police are fabricated and there are many cases of retroactive rape claims, where a woman changes her mind after the fact and claims that she was raped when, indeed, it was wholly consensual at the time.  The Air Force did a comprehensive study of 556 rape allegations and found that when questioned, 27% of accusers recanted and 60% of cases were found to be false during independent investigations.  Of course, feminists love to claim that 1-in-4 women in college will be raped but they have never been able to validate that claim.  In fact, studies that have been done show that the number is actually closer to 1-in-1877.  Crime statistics used in these studies are publically available from Carnegie Mellon University, Duquesne University and the University of Pittsburgh.  Feminists have this bizarre idea that anything that comes out of a woman’s mouth must be true because she has a vagina.  Women are no more or less honest or trustworthy than men are.  I think we ought to take all claims of abuse seriously and investigate them rigorously to determine whether they’re true or not.  A claim of rape without evidence is no more credible than a man’s claim that he slept with a particular woman without evidence.

In part 2 of this series, I’ll take on the next 11 ridiculous reasons.  Don’t miss it!

Reddit: People Need a Clue

RedditI was having a discussion on a Google+ group and people still seem utterly enamored with Reddit and it’s ability to funnel a huge number of hits to your blog.  Sure, if all you care about are raw hits, if driving traffic, just for the sake of having traffic is all you want, then Reddit will bring you that in spades.  However, that’s not what I want.

I want quality readers.  I want people who are engaged and involved, people who want to discuss the topics I post about, people who want to debate, people who are going to tell their friends and come back day after day.  I want people who are long-term readers.  I do not want people who are just churning through Reddit content, covering the Internet like locusts, consuming but not giving anything back.  Sure, you might occasionally pick up one or two decent readers now and then, but the percentages are absurdly low.  Being involved in Reddit or StumbleUpon requires you to put in a lot of effort, without much significant return.  It just isn’t a good cost/benefit ratio.

But then again, I have to wonder why anyone would want a mass of visitors who spend less than 30 seconds actually looking at your content.  That’s the average I’ve ever had from a Reddit hit and, from talking to others, that seems to be pretty standard.  So not only are they just performing a hit and run on your site, they’re not even reading what you write!  The people just don’t care!  If they don’t care, why would you want them?  At best, I guess if you were trying to make money off of raw hits and ad revenue, you might not care if anyone is paying any attention to your content, but for most serious bloggers, myself included, we want quality hits with interested readers who either agree with us, or who disagree and want to debate us.  People who just pop in, care nothing about the content, and just leave again are totally pointless as far as I’m concerned.  Otherwise, maybe these are just shallow bloggers who just want to see lots of hits so they can tell themselves that someone out there likes them and they’re popular.  That’s not true either.

So we return to the oft-asked question, how do you draw in active, interested participants who will read what you write, who will enjoy (or despise) what you blog about and who will come back over and over again?

That seems to be a question nobody has an answer to.

The Bitchspot Report Podcast #19: Not Quite Living on Light

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This week, Cephus and Mike take on atheism and the military, living on sunlight, gay sex scandals in the Vatican, atheist monuments and Jimmy Carter’s wisdom.  Don’t miss it.

Sad End of an Era

fireworks
Fireworks displays are great, but there’s something about doing it yourself. That era is ending.

Happy 4th of July everyone, I hope everyone is having a good time at their BBQs or picnics or whatever it is that you do.  For us, we’re heading off to my mother’s house for a big cook-out and after it gets dark, a fireworks show in the front yard.

But this is the last time that will happen and honestly, I’m pretty sad about that.  See, I’ve been doing this since I was a kid.  My father first let me start lighting fuses back when I was about 10 or so and my daughters have both been raised, not only to enjoy the fireworks, but to set them off as well,  both younger than I was when I started.  My mother happens to live in one of the very few cities around here that permits any kind of fireworks anymore so it’s always been the logical destination to go have some explosive 4th of July fun.

However, that’s ending.  See, a couple of weeks ago, my mother’s boyfriend died of a heart attack and now she’s realizing that the house she’s lived in for 45 years is just too much for her to handle on her own.  Her kids have moved away, her close friends and family members have either moved or passed on and she’s largely alone in a big house.  She’s been thinking of moving for a while now, my sister and her husband have offered to help her move closer to them and in the past week, she has not only found a house around the block from them, she’s put in an offer, had it accepted and will be moving in at the end of July.  Her real estate agent says she’ll have no problem selling her house for far more than she thought, more than enough to buy the new house outright and still have lots left over.  Unfortunately, where she’s moving, fireworks are illegal.  It’s great that she’s going to be closer to me, closer to my sister, where she can get help if she needs it and companionship when she wants it, but there’s something sad realizing that this is going to be the last year, probably in more than 40 years, that we’ll be able to set off fireworks on my own.  My kids are crushed, they’ve been in charge of designing and igniting the annual family fireworks display for the last 6-7 years, but will never be able to again.

I hope everyone else has a great 4th, I know that I will, but it will be tinged with sadness too.  It’s the last year of a long-time family tradition, one that I’m going to miss terribly.

Back to Basics

Back-To-BasicsI’ve come to realize something very important over the last couple of weeks.  I’ve been aware of it peripherally for quite some time, but the more I look at it, the more I turn it over in my head and study it, the more I’m convinced that I’ve been wrong all this time.

The real problem we ought to deal with isn’t religion vs. irreligion, it’s rationality vs. irrationality.  Being irrational is rampant in humanity, it exists widely in every group, in every culture, in every individual who is not aware of how inherently damaging it actually is.  It exists in theists, it exists in atheists.  It exists in liberals and conservatives.  It exists in men and women.  It exists in blacks and whites.  It exists and all of the other quibbles and squabbles that we have, all of the disagreements, those are all consequences of being irrational human beings.

Atheists are not inherently better than theists in this regard.  In fact, while some atheists might be cognizant of the inherent irrationality of religious belief, most of them cannot recognize the same irrationality that they, themselves hold in other aspects of their lives.

I talked about this quite a bit, in a sort of stream-of-consciousness way, on the most recent Bitchspot Report podcast, I related a story of an encounter I had on a Google+ community with someone who had “faith” that Rebecca Watson’s Elevatorgate story was true.  To be sure, he would never identify with the word “faith”, but that’s really what it comes down to.  It is a story that is unverified and unsupported by any sort of objective evidence, it is just accepted as true by someone who is prone, because of their political or social biases, to accept that kind of story might be true.  Now granted, it isn’t a very exceptional claim, the same kind of thing probably happened a thousand times across the country yesterday, but that’s not the point.  This is a story that incited calls to action, or I suppose you could say inaction (guys, don’t do that), across the atheist community, it was a flashpoint for people to take strong, emotional positions.  Unfortunately, most people seem totally uninterested in knowing whether it’s factually true or not.  Like it or not, that’s important!  Events like Elevatorgate and the many that  supposedly followed have spurred demands for harassment policies at conventions, demands that men not be willing to speak at conferences intended for women, etc.  Yet not one of them has ever been independently validated or verified with objective evidence!

Further, these claims are very important because they speak to the general credibility of the people involved.  There have been a lot of claims thrown around by Rebecca Watson and her ilk.  I don’t mean to focus solely on her, the claims of everyone involved on both sides ought to be backed up, but to be honest, at least from where I’m sitting, it’s the Atheism+ side that has made the most unverified claims and therefore, have the most to prove in order to be considered reputable.  So much of what comes from their side are unconfirmed personal anecdotes, presented with no evidence, but a huge dose of emotionalism to push along the faithful.  We, as atheists, would never accept these kinds of stories from theists, who claim that they have anecdotal experiences with the divine, yet so many atheists fall easily for stories that cater to their personal emotional, political and social leans.  And the second you point this simple fact out, just as the theists do, these atheists scream that they’re being unfairly attacked, that they don’t have to verify anything, that they’re doing nothing wrong.  It’s like watching theism in a fun house mirror.  Same crap, different side.

This really can no longer be as simple as “religion vs. non-religion”, it has to be an open and honest evaluation of whether or not the beliefs people hold are rational, objective and supported by evidence and it doesn’t matter what beliefs they hold, every single solitary thing that goes through your head needs to be evaluated by a single standard that is applicable to everything.  Matt Dillahunty has a great definition for faith, “it is the excuse that people give for believing things for which they do not have sufficient evidence”.  People need to think about what the hell they’re doing.  They need to rationally consider *EVERY* position that they take.  I’ve had atheists tell me that humans cannot possibly rationally consider every position they take.  Why not?  Oh sure, there are things that you may do on a moment’s notice, you may run into a burning building to save a puppy, but that’s not a position, that’s an action.  Positions require thought.  We ought to expect that every single position a person takes has been rationally, logically and critically evaluated and evidentially validated.  If you haven’t done that, you have no business pretending to hold a position on it.

So I’m going back to basics.  I’m no longer playing the “I’m on the atheist side” card.  I’m not.  I’m on the side of the rational, intellectual, logical individual.  Someone who is that will naturally come to atheism because there simply is no objective evidence for the existence of any god.  However, if they don’t continue with that line of thinking and likewise reject all other positions for which there is no evidence, then you’re not a rational person.  You’re just one step more rational than a theist or an anti-vaccer or a conspiracy theorist.

I’m calling all of you out and I expect most of you not to give a damn and that’s fine.  You just prove my point.  You all ought to be better people.  It rests on your shoulders to actually do it.

Back to basics.  It’s the only thing that makes sense.

Changes on the Horizon

changeI think it’s time to shake things up around here, or more properly, re-adjust my strategies and priorities.  For a long time, I’ve just dumped anything I wanted to talk about here, but that makes it hard to talk to a single, specific audience because there are always things I talk about that, let’s be honest, a lot of people have no interest in.  Atheism and TV, comics and politics, they don’t make the best bedfellows.

Therefore, effective immediately, I’m moving all of my geeky pursuits to another blog, called Cephus’ Corner, where I can geek out to my heart’s desire and not bore anyone who has come here for religion, atheist or political posts.  That means TV Thursday, my regular weekly TV review post, is moving away.  The only posts that I’ll keep here are the ones specifically directed toward an atheist or political crowd.

Of course, this won’t affect the podcast or anything like that.  One thing that certainly will happen is I will no longer post here every single day.  To be honest, I feel like I’m just posting the same thing over and over and over again anyhow, I’ll still post daily, I’ll just split it between two blogs.

By all means, take a run over to the new digs and check it out.  Feedback is always welcome!

Positive Outcomes in Media

bright-future-ahead
I’d really like to think this was true in entertainment media.

Believe it or not, I’m a die-hard optimist.  I know it might not seem that way to read some of the things I write, but I want people to generally succeed, I want the situation to generally improve and I want people to overcome obstacles and become better people for it.  In fact, that’s one major reason I want to do away with religion because I don’t think the human species can really improve while it’s so weighted down with irrational beliefs.  I want a better world.

Perhaps nowhere is this more clear than in the entertainment media that I consume.  I want to watch generally hopeful stories about a future world that I’d actually want to live in, where the people can and do overcome their problems and generally end up in a better situation than they started in.  Yes, I understand this isn’t necessarily always realistic, but it’s my enjoyment, I can make whatever requirements I wish.

That’s why I generally dislike dystopian futures, where mankind generally fares badly.  I want a story where the “heroes” have issues, and they can be truly horrific issues to overcome, but they succeed in the end and the future looks, if not bright, than at least brighter than it had previously.

This applies to all forms of entertainment: television, movies and books.  It also applies to all genres of entertainment, including, and this might surprise people, horror movies.  I love good horror movies, I’ve talked about it before, but a lot of things that go on in the modern horror genre really are a turn-off for me.  I want humans to win in the end.  I want the monster to be defeated.  That is  very, very important to me. There’s been an unfortunate trend in recent years where the people are doomed, the zombies are going to win and the only point to the movie or the TV show or the book is to put off the inevitable extinction of the human species for a few more days.  Why would I want to read that?

It doesn’t necessarily mean that the heroes in the story have to survive at the end though.  I watched John Carpenter’s 1982 remake of The Thing the other night and I think that’s one of the top 10 best horror films I’ve ever seen.  It hits all of the bases.  It’s got a moderately realistic monster, it sets up the situation well and in the end, while we’re supposed to be left wondering if the monster really died, both MacReady and Childs sit in the snow waiting to freeze to death, with the understanding that they’ve saved the world from alien takeover.  It’s very dark, it’s very depressing, nobody survives and you’re not even positive that the alien isn’t going to go dormant in the snow and still take over the world when the rescue crew shows up in the spring, but there’s a certain hope that these twelve men have, through their sacrifice, saved the world, even if you never know for certain that it’s so.  Take that and compare it to a movie like Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, where the characters spend the whole movie fighting the zombies, finally getting to an island where they’re supposedly safe, only to find that the island is overrun with zombies and they all die.  The end.  Um… what?  Why did I just waste two hours of my life on that depressing crap?

Every book I read, every movie I watch, I want to feel like the people are going to win in the end, that they are going to improve their situation, that they are going to be better off than they were when they started.  It might not be a huge improvement and I certainly don’t want any utopias, but moving forward, even incrementally, is what I’m looking for.  It’s such a shame that so many movies today, especially in the horror genre, but in most genres to a certain degree, only want to show the most dark, dank, awful future possible, one where people are destined to fail, where everyone is going to die and where the bad guys, be it a criminal or a monster, is going to win in the end.

Someone please explain where the positive outcome is in that!

Available Now: The Bitchspot Report Podcast #15

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The latest episode of The Bitchspot Report is out!  Please visit our site for all of your listening or viewing options!

This week, Cephus and Mike look at religious crazies, lying politicians, religious forgeries, pedophile preachers and what we’d like to see in a perfect world.  Don’t miss it!

Games: I Don’t Want to Accomplish Anything

challenge12
I could probably still beat this machine.

To be perfectly honest, I get really tired of people telling me that I need to “accomplish things” in games, that I should struggle and fight to be better than anyone else and that when I complete a goal, I ought to be proud of myself.

Fuck that, I play games to have a good time.  I recognize games for what they are: a way to waste free time and enjoy myself while I’m doing it.  It doesn’t matter what kind of game it is either.  I just want to have some mindless fun to fill those hours that I don’t have anything better to do with myself.

Don’t get me wrong, I am competitive when it matters, I strive to be #1 when it actually makes a difference but playing a game isn’t one of those times.

Let’s look at Tetris.  I’m good at Tetris.  In fact, I’m absurdly good at Tetris.  It’s not that hard to be good at Tetris though, all it takes is an understanding of the game mechanics and decent reflexes.  I can play Tetris all damn day, in fact, I used to.  When I was growing up, there was a liquor store right by my house that had a couple of video games and, at one  time, had a Tetris machine.  I’d go in there and play for hours on a single quarter.  This probably pissed off the owners of the liquor store.  In fact, I virtually never actually lost a game of Tetris, I’d play until I had to leave, then purposely kill myself and walk out the door.  I could play that game forever, at least until I got bored with it.  There was another game called Super Don Super_Don_Quix-ote.jpg.w300h281Quix-ote, a laserdisc-based game in the same vein as Space Ace, that was in the student lounge back when I was in college.  To win, you just had to have quick reflexes and know which way to move the joystick at what time.  Once you have it all down, you never lose and you can go through the entire game over and over and over on a single quarter.  I always had my initials on the leaderboard.  So what?  I usually had an hour or so between classes and I’d spend my time playing.  To be honest, there were times when I got so engrossed in it, I forgot to go to class.  Did anyone ride me around on their shoulders for being good at a game?  Of course not.  Did I ever feel that I accomplished something by rolling the machine over a half-dozen times?  No.  Did I ever have any sense of personal pride because I was good at the game?  Are you insane?

Yet there are so many people who insist that if I’m going to play a game, any game, be it an MMO or a shooter or Angry Birds, I have to be competing against someone, I have to be pushing myself to be #1, I have to be posting my scores online somewhere, I have to sign up for some tracking service, I have to be swinging my e-peen around so that everyone knows how bitchin’ I am.  I understand that everyone is different and some people live such a pathetic existence that they can only feel good about themselves vicariously through playing video games, but I keep running into people who insist that the only way anyone ought to play these games is by being the best, having the strongest build, wearing the best armor and outfits, etc.  In other words, by showing off.

See, I used to play MMOs a lot, back in the day.  I started out with Ultima Online, played through EverCrack, etc.  The games I’ve played over the years are numerous and varied, but I’ve really lost interest in playing most of them and the reason isn’t the games, it’s the mouth-breathers I have to play with.  There really seem to be two kinds of people in most MMOs today.  The old-school “you have to spend 12 hours camping a spawn site before you’re worthwhile” idiots and the “we have to race to end-game faster than everyone else” morons.  I hate both of them.  They’re all a bunch of type-A knuckle-draggers who are only interested in knocking people over with their massive gamer’s cock.  Me, on the other hand, am a very clear type-B gamer.  I place games in what I think are their proper context.  I’m not adverse to a little fun competition from time to time but I recognize that this is a game, a form of light entertainment, an “interactive movie” for lack of a better term and I don’t place any more importance on it than that.  This seems to piss the shit out of people who are convinced that anyone who doesn’t take it all very seriously is somehow doing it wrong.

That’s really why I largely walked away from playing MMOs, the douchebaggery of the majority of players.  Honestly, I’d much rather play the occasional single-player shooter, such as Halo or Crysis or Bulletstorm.  They’re superior games in all respects, plus you don’t have to deal with morons trying to fuck you over, but unfortunately, there aren’t that many of them out there and they don’t tend to last that long.  I can run through a good single-player game in a week or two.  Sure, if you’re talking about something huge like Skyrim or Fallout, especially if it has a lot of downloadable content, it’ll take a while, but otherwise, games just don’t last that long.  MMOs are, although inferior in design and implementation, a place where tons upon tons of content exists.  It takes months at the outside to burn through what an MMO has, and with the wealth of free-to-play MMOs out there, you can go from game to game to game and never really run out of things to do.

Except you have to deal with the competitive asshats who not only think they get to dictate how you’re supposed to play, but they think it’s their job to explain to you constantly that if you’re not doing it their way, you must be doing it wrong.   Is it any reason I largely detest the online gaming community and the games they hang out on?

What Movies Should We Watch Next?

Toler Chan
Sidney Toler as the inscrutable Charlie Chan

My wife and I have been watching a lot of classic television and movies lately, and by classic, I mean old.  Very old.  Black and white old.  I’ve seen most of it, my wife has not so it’s fun to go back and see all the very old series, both television and movies, that I haven’t seen in a long time, plus to share it with someone who is new to them.

So far, we’ve watched all the way through the classic 39 Universal Monsters films, ranging from The Hunchback of Notre Dame in 1923 to The Creature Walks Among Us in 1956.  We’ve rewatched the series of Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes movies from the late 30s to mid 40s.  We did the 8 Mr. Moto movies made between 1937 and 1939.  We’ve seen the majority of Charlie Chan flicks in all of his guises, from Warner Oland,  to Sidney Toler to Roland Winters.  Of those, Toler is my favorite.

There are so many more to watch though, I’m just not sure what I should pick next so I’m opening it to the reading audience.  Which ones, of the following that I have, should be the next on the viewing agenda?

[socialpoll id=”7634″]

 

The Secret to Driving Blog Traffic

trafficSince I’ve started paying a little more attention to traffic in the past month or so, I’ve been reading people’s suggestions for driving more traffic to your blog.  There are no end to blog posts out there, especially from people who want to make money from page hits, for getting a lot more people onto your blog.  I’m part of a Google+ community for blogging and these things are posted almost continuously.

You know what they all conclude the secret for  driving traffic to your blog is?  Lying.  Yes, that’s right, lying.  Doing whatever you can do, saying whatever  you can say to con people into coming to your blog, whether they stick around or not.

Want some examples?  Those are easy.

How about guest posting?  Now I may be naive but my opinion on guest posting has always been that if a fellow blogger needs help, is going to be out of town or is too busy to write posts for a while, I’ll jump in and write some content to help them out.  It’s not about me, it’s about producing the best content for their blog and being a good blogging neighbor.  But no, apparently I’m wrong, the whole point of guest blogging is to get yourself hits.  Fuck the blog you’re writing on.  You should find a blog with a bigger readership than yours and write a link-ridden post that makes your blog look good in hopes of getting a bunch of their readers to become your readers.  I’ve written plenty of guest posts in my day, but you know what I’ve never done?  I’ve never asked anyone if I could do it, I wait until I’m asked.  Why would I waste your time, space and bandwidth trying to get hits on my own blog?  It seems stupid.

How about controversy?  That seems to be on everyone’s list.  Do something specifically to piss people off.  Talk about dishonesty!  It’s one thing to write a post that creates controversy if it’s something that you really feel, it’s another to find a topic people feel strongly about and purposely write something that makes them mad so they swarm like locusts all over your blog.  Now yes, controversy sells, we know that, but running around kicking babies just to make them cry seems a bit absurd.  I can honestly say that I have never written a blog post solely to piss anyone off.  Sure, lots of what I write has that effect, but not that purpose.  Believe it or not, I don’t go out intending to be a dick.

One of the newest I’ve seen is Triberr, a site for people who will go around and post links to your posts, so long as you’ll reciprocate and post links to theirs.  Keep in mind, these aren’t people who are going to read your work ,decide they like it and then personally recommend it to others, these are just link farms.  They don’t bother to read anything  you write, they just post links by rote.  I find that horribly dishonest.  My word means something to me, if I’m going to put out a link to another blog, it means I’ve not only read it, I found it valuable and I am personally recommending it to others.  This is just dishonesty galore.  There is another one called JustRetweet that does the same thing.

The same can be said of randomly following people on Twitter in hopes that they’ll follow you back.  I put this into the  same category as paying for Twitter followers.  I find this mindless, but then again I’m not trying to look impressive, I actually want the people who follow me on Twitter or Google+ or Facebook to be fans of my work.   I’m looking for readers who are actively engaged members of my particular community.  There are so many people who follow me on Twitter and get offended that I don’t follow them back, but I’m just not going to do it unless I look at your timeline and see if you’re saying anything I might care about.  The overwhelming majority do not so they do not get followed.  The ones who try to advertise to me anyhow get reported for spam and blocked.  Honestly, although I shouldn’t, I believe that if I’m going to follow you, I’m advocating what you’re saying in general.  I’m agreeing to some degree with what you’re posting or tweeting.  If I disagree with everything you say and everything you do, why would I follow you around and attach my name to your crap?

Finally, the old StumbleUpon and Reddit trap.  This is an issue because they really don’t produce the effect that I’m after.  You can post your own articles on StumbleUpon or Reddit, or get others to do it for you, and yes, from time to time you’ll get a huge number of hits as your site gets flooded with link-monkeys.  However, the overwhelming majority of them won’t even read your article, almost all of them spend mere seconds on your site before moving on to the next link.  They won’t read, they won’t comment and they won’t be back until the next article that gets Stumbled comes along.  This is utterly pointless, except to those who make a few cents for everyone who clicks on the page.  For those of us who are content providers, who actually produce articles that we want people to read and respond to, there’s no point in StumbleUpon or Reddit and it becomes dishonest when you get groups who just go around Stumbling each other’s posts to avoid getting Ghost Banned.

So maybe that’s my problem, I’m unwilling to be dishonest.  I’m unwilling to screw other people over to get hits.  I’m unwilling to mislead people down a primrose path because I want more hits.  All of these methods could be useful in some small way, I suppose, right up until people want to use them as get rich quick schemes.

I get so sick and tired of being part of the human race sometimes.

 

Some Random Questions

qandaThere are a lot of weird lists of questions floating around online, but this one is different.  See, I’ve avoided giving out too much personal information online and especially here on the blog.  It’s not really about fear of being discovered, I’m an out atheist everywhere, but honestly, it’s that I don’t matter.  I don’t say that in a self-depreciating manner, but in an honest one.  The things I write don’t depend on me, but on the ideas that I write about.  I hate the cult of personality that so much of atheism has become, where people follow heroes around and agree with whatever they say, just because they say them.  I’m not here to be idolized, I’m not here to be followed, I’m here to put out good information, rational arguments and hopefully entertaining reading.

That said though, I came across this list of 25 questions over on Google+ and thought I’d reveal a little about me, for anyone who actually cares.  If anyone has any other questions, I really don’t mind answering them, so long as they’re not too absurdly personal and even then, I won’t get mad, I just won’t answer.

1. Do you have pets?   Yes, I currently have 4 dogs, 5 cats, 4 birds and a snake living in the house with me.  In the past, I have had all manner of other animals, from hamsters and chinchillas to ferrets and weasels.  About the only “common” animal I haven’t had is a horse.

2. Name three things physically close to you?  Right now?  Well, clearly my computer so I won’t say that.  I have my tablet, my headset that I use for recording podcasts and a cat sleeping on my desk.

3. What’s the weather like right now?   Actually, it’s really nice at the moment, sunny and warm without being too hot.  Over the past week, it’s gone from being cold and rainy (right after I washed the cars, naturally) to being very hot and windy.  This is a nice change.

4. Do you drive, if so have you crashed?  Yes, I drive.  I haven’t crashed in a long, long time, the last accident I was involved in was maybe 5-6 years ago, I was pulling out of a parking lot late at night and someone in a red pickup came out of an adjacent driveway without their lights on and without looking.  I had to swing wide to avoid getting t-boned and ended up hitting a street sign, resulting in a huge dent in the bumper and a flat tire.  The guy in the pickup just kept on going.  Insurance paid for it and in fact, the body shop fixed some other non-related damage to the car and billed it to the insurance company anyway.  Shhhhh. And no, I didn’t ask them to, they did it on their own.

5. What time did you wake up this morning?  This morning?  6:04am.  I have a really accurate internal clock, I will wake up and know what time it is, usually accurate to within a few minutes.  I play this stupid little game in the morning where I guess what time it is before I look at the clock.  This morning, I thought it was 6am.  Close enough.

6. When was the last time you showered?  This morning, not long after I woke up, of course.

7. What was the last movie you saw?   The last movie I saw at all?  I rewatched Tron Legacy last night.  The last new movie?  The Hobbit on Bluray.  I don’t go to theaters.

8. What was your last SMS/text message?   Seriously, I don’t text much.  I used to, back when I had some idiot employees who had to ask my opinion on every decision they ever made, but now, it’s just not necessary.  I’m much more of a phone call kind of guy.

9. What is your ring tone?   The theme from the  TV show Psych.  Ought to change it.

10. Have you ever been to a different country?   Yes, many.  However, I’m not a big fan of travel, I don’t want to go someplace, just to say I’ve been there.  Usually, if I’m traveling, it’s for a specific purpose, I have something that I want to do when I get there and the amount of touristy stuff that I’ll do is minimal.  For some people, it’s the journey, not the destination, for me, it’s usually the destination and maybe have a little fun on the journey too.

11. Do you like sushi?  I love it, we’ve got a really great sushi place we go to less than a mile from the house.  I don’t know that I have a favorite type of sushi, although I really like makizushi and onigiri.

12. Where do you buy groceries?  Um… Home Depot?  What kind of a question is that.  It depends on what else I’m doing but the two grocery stores closest to the house are Stater Bros. and Food 4 Less.  I pick whichever one is most convenient.

13. Have you ever taken medication to fall asleep?  Not often, although things like Nyquil just have that side-effect.  They really don’t work on me anyhow, I’ll take something, it won’t work at all the day I take it, but the next day, it’ll knock me on my ass for 12 hours straight or more.  It’s just not worth it.

14. How many siblings do you have?   One, a sister, 3 years younger than I am.

15. Do you have a desktop or laptop?  Both, plus a tablet, a smart-phone, etc.  I have online accessibility pretty much everywhere I go.

16. How old will you be on your next birthday?  My next birthday?  47.

17. Do you wear contacts or glasses?  Neither, I have always had better than average vision.  I guess I wear sunglasses but that’s about as far as it goes.  I also have better than average hearing.

18. Do you color your hair?   Nope, no need or desire.  I don’t get people who are so shallow as to be overly concerned about their looks.

19. Tell me something you’re planning to do today.  I can tell you some of the things I’ve already done, other than the obvious.  I’ve written and recorded another episode of Bitchspot Quickies, I’ve written 3 new blog posts (including this one) and tonight I plan on watching 4 TV episodes so I can put my TV Thursday post to bed for the week.

20. When was the last time you cried?   I don’t know, I don’t cry easily.  There are certainly things, like the death of family members or pets, that can choke me up and a really great emotional scene in a movie can move me to tears, but otherwise, not much of a crier, sorry.

21. What is your perfect pizza topping?  I love meat on pizzas, give me pepperoni, sausage and ham and I’m a happy guy.  I don’t go in for pineapple or anchovies or anything like that, although I’ll certainly eat things like black olives and mushrooms.  I hated mushrooms as a kid but I really like them now.  Go figure.

22. Which do you prefer, hamburgers or cheeseburgers?   Definitely with cheese.  Everything is better with cheese.  My favorite cheese is cheddar, sometimes I’ll just buy a big block of it and eat it as a snack.

23. Have you ever had an all-nighter?   Define all-nighter.  Just staying up all night?  Of course, who hasn’t?  I used to go to conventions and stay up from early morning Friday until late evening Sunday.  I can’t do that anymore.

24. What is your eye color?   Blue.  I’ve had people say they really like my eyes.  Not sure there’s much more to be said about it.

25. Can you taste the difference between Pepsi and Coke?   Don’t know, I don’t drink either.  In fact, I only drink clear drinks and, because I’m diabetic, only sugar-free drinks if I can help it.  My favorite is Mountain Dew, but I can also drink Sprite.  I just don’t care for 7-Up for some  reason.  I’m also good with orange sodas or lemonade.  I do not drink alcohol.  The last time I had a drop of alcohol was about a week after my 21st birthday when a friend and I went out to celebrate at a bar.  We both had two beers and went home.  I haven’t had any, nor wanted any, since.

So, did you learn anything?  Anyone else who wants to answer these questions on their own blog, why not leave a link in the comments?  Sometimes, I guess we forget that there’s a real live person behind the text we see on the screen and maybe this will help to remind people.