Monday, February 27, 2012

Miscellany

Just a quick post here today...

In my last post, I announced my drive to raise $566 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Light The Night in support of research for blood cancer treatments.  I was originally going to post screenshots of my receipts as proof of donation, but since I found their flash widget that automatically updates with the donated amount, that doesn't seem necessary.  I don't really want to create a bunch of content-free posts just for self promotion.


So just check out the right margin or go to my fundraiser page to see my progress.


Second, as I was looking at the donors for the Foundation Beyond Belief's effort, I saw someone used their blog/website as their donor name: http://atheistramblings.net/.  Its a nice whimsical blog with short postings usually consisting of an internet meme pic, quote or link.  Here's one of my favorites:





Finally, from PZ Myer's Pharyngula, a lovely pic and the typical reaction from the nutbags:






Monday, February 20, 2012

What Are You Doing for Lent?



Ahh, Lent!  My favorite time of year when Facebook is filled with notices of trivial sacrifices of harmless indulgences (chocolate, soda, reality tv, etc.  I wonder if anyone ever gives up religion for Lent?).  Certainly there's nothing particularly wrong with this practice, but it does raise some questions to my mind.

First, is this anything more than a public display of one's religiosity as a proxy for their morality?  In American culture, there is a strong implicit association between religiosity and morality, fallacious though it may be.  I imagine that for some part of the impetus for such self-deprivation is to prove to one's self their ability to maintain a goal and reach it, which is probably a useful exercise.

However, if such displays are, indeed, meant to convey a sense of morality, why not cut out the intermediary of religion?  That is, instead of performing an act that doesn't promote the well-being of anyone else (which is somehow meant to be indicative of a good person), why not just perform an act that more clearly demonstrates and promotes some generally accepted moral act?  Here are some pretty basic and easy to perform ideas:
Now this is not to say that there aren't individuals who engage in socially productive activities inspired by Lent.  To those people, I applaud you.

Yet, one certainly need not be religious to engage in socially productive activities.  While I am currently engaged in a volunteer program, I have decided to use Lent, or rather my disdain for those who use religion as a proxy for morality, as an impetus to give to a worthy charity.


Specifically, the Foundation Beyond Belief is participating in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Light the Night Walks to raise awareness and money for research of blood cancer treatments.  Their goal is to "unite the Freethought Movement around the world to raise one million U.S. Dollars in 2012 for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS)."

In addition, the Steifel Freethought Foundation has pledged to match the first $500,000 raised.  So in order to meet the $1 million goal, the rest of the community needs to raise $500,000.  I want to help make that happen.

On the face of it, this may appear hypocritical: I've criticized people for making public displays of piousness, and here I am engaging in self-promotion myself.  But the critical difference, in my opinion, is that 1) giving to a charity is not a meaningless act 2) I haven't and don't argue that all good deeds should remain anonymous.

Additionally, the purpose of this effort is three fold:
  1. Contribute to the advancement of scientific research of a disease
  2. Encourage others to contribute to a good cause
  3. Raise awareness to the fact that non-religious people can be and are moral and contribute to society in a positive manner
I will begin by placing a $50 donation today and will continue to donate $12 each day from 2/22 through 4/7 for a total of $566.  With the Steifel Freethought Foundation's matching donation, I'll be able to drive $1,132 to support research into treatments for blood cancer.

If you enjoy this blog, please consider a donation on behalf of it.  Or just donate on your own behalf.  Either way, everyone wins.

I plan to post each day with a screenshot of my donation (although I'll probably need to do a summary every couple days to accommodate my schedule).

So that's what I'm going to be doing... perhaps not "for" Lent, but "during" Lent.  What are you doing?

 Day 1:

Friday, February 3, 2012

Random Bible Verse of the Day: Ezekiel 4 (Wacky-ass Shit!)

Brutality is always the best cure
I was somewhat tempted to do an entry on Leviticus 20, where god goes on-and-freakin-on about the various kinky scenarios that would be grounds for killing two lovers.  Reading all the different permutations that are actually forbidden makes you wonder why he didn't go further.  I mean, 11 different possible kinkly relationships is kind of overboard - like he just kind of wanted to write about them for his own horny pleasure - but why not go the full 9?  Seriously, either god doesn't have a very imaginative mind or he just doesn't care about a lot of weird ass shit he failed or neglected to mention.  ...but I digress.

Instead of talk about sexual transgressions, let's get into some really fucked up shit.  Behold Ezekiel 4:1-15 (this passage is so bizarre and flummoxing, it requires no commentary):
God said, "Mortal man, get a brick, it in front of you, and scratch lines on it to represnt the city of Jerusalem.  Then, to represent a siege, put trenches, earth-works, camps, and battering rams all around it.  Take an iron pan and set it up like a wall between you and the city.  Face the city.  It is under siege, and you are the one besieging it.  This will be a sign to the nation of Israel.
Then lie down on your left side, and I will place on you the guild of the nation of Israel.  For 390 days you will stay there and suffer becuase of their guilt.  I have sentenced you to one day for each year their punishment will last.  When you finish that, turn over on your right side and suffer for the guilt of Judah for forty days - one day for each year of their punishment.
Fix you eyes on the siege of Jerusalem.  Shake your fist at the city and prophesy against it.  I will tie you up so that you cannot turn from one side to the other until the siege is over.
u guyz wanna play war w me? lol we can burn our own feces for food!!1
Now take some wheat, barley, beans, peas, millet, and spelt.  Mix them all together and make bread.  That is what you are to eat during the 390 days you are lying on your left side.  you will be allowed eight ounces of bread a day and it will have to last until the next day.  You will also have a limited amount of water to drink, two cups a day.  You are to build a fire out of dried human excrement, bake bread on the fire, and eat it where everyone can see you.
The Lord said, "This represents the way the Israelites will have to eat food which the Law forbids, when I scatter them to foreign countries.
But I replied, "No, Sogereign Lord!  I have never defiled myself.  From childhood on I have never eaten meat from any animal that died a natural death or was killed by wild animals.  I have never eaten any food considered unlcean."
So God said, "Very well.  I will let you use cow dung instead, and you can bake your bread on that."
TL;DR: God tells this dude to set up a little city, like you would when you were a kid, and play make-believe war with the city...for 390 days laying on his side the whole time!  While he 'plays' he can eat water and bread.  The catch is that the bread has to be cooked on a fire fueled by his own shit. Ya really.  The dude is like "hey god, this sounds lame and I'm a good guy!1!!" So god's all like "lol ok.  you can just use cow shit to cook your bread. kthxbai!"

If there is a god, he is a bizarre, capricious, twisted little fucker.