Sitting Shiva for Hitch

17 Dec

With our shared Jewish heritage, and my former practice of religious same, I feel it would comfort me to sit shiva for Hitch in a style he might — and I certainly will — appreciate.  For seven days, I’ll be toasting him with Johnny Walker Black, blogging or commenting on blogs or watching videos and reading articles, sharing Hitch with whomever I can.  I think that pretty much covers the spirit of sitting shiva, if you’ll pardon the pun.

So, join me in another night of toasting, as we raise a glass to a giant of a man whom history, if it has any sense at all, will never forget.

Brings Tears To My Eyes

15 Jun

We all know what LOL means.  Most of us know what ROTFL means, and ROFLMAO, too.  They’re expressions of happy laughter.

What about the incredible emotional responses that bring tears, usually good news, sometimes bad?   When we say, “it brought tears to my eyes”, we really mean it, but does it Tweet?

I propose “BTTME.”

Agreed, at a quick glance, it almost looks like “Bite Me”, LOL!  Still, the astute will get it, and eventually, everyone else will, too.

And when it goes viral, that will BTTME…

 

Atheists of Different Types

15 Apr

As with any group, there is a spectrum of atheist attitudes and positions.  I recognize a few general categories, however, and would like your input on this.

!.  Natural atheists seem never to have believed in religious mythology or cared about religious historical claims, as they never believed in any god or gods and simply don’t care.  Some were born into atheist families, others came by it of their own nature, but never did they consider believing in God/Allah/etc.

2.  Reactive atheists push religion away in rebellion against whatever they feel is oppressing them.  Anger is a common feature.  An apparent sense of superiority, too, as in, “I’m better than those I left behind, because I’m not stupid, like they are!  I don’t care what they say!”

3.  Rational atheists realize, after years of education accompanied by development of strong critical reasoning skills and usually scientific logic, that religious claims just don’t hold water.  They gradually let go, realize it one day, and think, “Okay, that works for me.”  If any vestige of religious indoctrination remains, these atheists are most likely to research the issues and decide on a rational basis whether to keep the concepts or dispose of them for having no supportive data or logical basis.

Have you recognized any such distinctions or categories among the atheists you’ve met?  Does any category seem to fit you?  Did you, perhaps, start in one and move to another, i.e., reactionary to rational?  Are there any broad categories of atheists you’ve recognized that are not mentioned, here?  Please, let me know your thoughts, and if there is sufficient impetus, I might ask Dr. Dawkins to consider a new poll, this time of atheists, to see what comes up.

After all, if reactionary atheists, for example, missed out on the development of critical reasoning skills due to their early religious indoctrination, maybe rational atheists can develop some sort or program to help them catch up, and in doing so, provide the true empowerment of intellect, so that anger, particularly blind anger, fades out of uselessness.

Christianity, Atheism, and Antisemitism

15 Apr

If Christianity were a mental bed of nails, and antisemitism the poison infiltrated through those holy places punctured in, getting up off that torture device and into the more rational freethinking of atheism is only a start.  Removing the poison of antisemitism, seeped and steeped in from before the first personal sighting of any Jew, still needs to be done, and it takes courageous insight to recognize it.

Alan Grayson, Healthcare, and the Insurance Industry

13 Dec

A few years ago, I saw freshman Congressman Alan Grayson summarize the Republican counterplan to “Obamacare” on CNN (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Q_aiQcAt6Q).  It actually was in reference to his House presentation (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-usmvYOPfco).  In short, it went like this:

#1:  Don’t get sick.

#2:  If you do get sick, die quickly.

As a physician whose training institutions all catered to the poorest people around.  I saw the uninsured and realized how close I was to being equally uninsured.  After training, I realized and used to demonstrate to others how health insurance works:

#1:  Okay, pretend I’m the insurance company.  You give me your money.

#2:  I put the money in my pocket.

(wait for it….)

That’s it!  I don’t want to take the money out of my pocket.  That would cut into my profits.  After all, insurance is a business.

You could practically see light bulbs brighten over peoples’ heads, at this.

Grayson’s point is even more accurate, clear, and succinct, implying the insurance companies’ follow-through, “and if you can’t give me the profits I so rightly deserve for being rich and profitable, then to hell with you, and the sooner the better.”

Four years ago, I attended a Texas medical conference in which I learned that for every $1 business owners pay for workers compensation — a legally mandated form of medical insurance which must be purchased from for-profit insurance companies — for every $1 paid in, half was pure profit, after medical care, insurance company business expenses, even lobbying expenses.

I would submit that this constitutes “taxation without representation.”  You could argue that legislators provided representation when writing the law and that insurance companies are not government.  In fact, however, the legislators legislated huge profits to the insurance industry, something none of their other constituents would have voted for, so it appears they were only representing the insurance companies.  The elephant-in-the-room question is, why?  That 50% profit does not even include insurance company taxes paid to government.  Legally mandating the insurance, however, legally mandates the profits, so I contend that these profits are a tax on employers, who then must pass the tax down to their employees in the form of lower pay.  After all, they can only sell their products and services for so much.  The money has to come from somewhere, or rather, someone.

In a real democracy, government-required insurance would not be for-profit.  Either the government would act as insurer or the for-profit insurance companies would use the nonprofit insurance categories as loss leaders to draw in customers to buy for-profit insurance, like pet health insurance or the supplemental car insurance rental cars don’t really need, when the renter/driver is already insured otherwise.

The republicans allowed Obamacare to pass when it was clear the American people would balk, otherwise.  Still, they protected their corporate “friends”, making sure all the business of such mandated insurance stayed in the for-profit sector.  They denied government-based health insurance, i.e., Medicare, even when citizens could have paid for it directly, as it was not for profit and would have undercut the cost of for profit insurance.

You get that, right?  The added cost of for profit insurance is the profit, and republicans didn’t want governmental competition to interfere with corporations making profit off sick and dying Americans.

Speaking of which, want to talk about death panels?  Why would any highly profitable business spend unlimited amounts of profit on a customer who’s dying, anyway?

Don’t get sick.  And if you do, die quickly.  The corporations, now recognized as “persons” by the Supreme Court of the United States of America, and their republican friends, will appreciate your kind and generous consideration.

Water conservation

11 Dec

Texas suffered a mighty drought, this past year, ended only after atheists joined in Houston for a mighty conference.  (Strangely enough, all Rick Perry‘s public prayers yielded was publicity, no rain, only some very unholy wildfires.  Hmm…)

NPR had a recent “article” on the technology of toilets, how recent they are, how much water they use, and long it’s been since the design was significantly changed, at least here in the States.

Meanwhile, horses and cats do quite well and quite cheaply leaving their waste in pelleted bits of pine sawdust.  Fast as pine trees grow, they’ve become an industry staple for mass produced furniture and construction lumber.  Shavings on the floor are used for paper and pellets.  The used pellets (which, when wet, break back down to shavings and sawdust) are so biodegradable as to be compostable.  Maybe we should market it for human litter.

When I was young, Lysol, the famous disinfectant/cleaner, had TV commercials competing with PineSol, a product that smelled about the same and claimed its disinfecting and cleaning strength actually came from Pine.  It leaves me wondering if pine pellets would better control fecal microbes than the drinking water our toilets fill with.

I imagine a day when pine is used, commodes are lined with bags that hold multiple uses and stay strong until sprayed with some activator, and the disposal system is a series of small, local landfills turned compost heaps.  Water is just too precious to waste.  And with all the vitamins and minerals some take, might as well sanitize the stuff and return it to good use.  It could at least fertilize new forest growth.

I doubt plumbers will miss dealing with clogged toilets.

An Informal Poll

10 Dec

I’ve a theory that atheists are predominantly cat people.  So, here it is:  If you are an atheist, please comment on whether you’ve a preference for cats or dogs.  If you’ve a preference for reptiles, I’ve a foster-tegu in need of a good home.  Living with me, he simply thinks he’s one of the cats.

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