Thursday, March 27, 2014

I DON'T WANT IT THAT WAY. I came upon home video of my perilous encounter with a Transformer at the tender age of 4. When I can't get the robot to turn into a car, I have a total meltdown and am sent to bed crying. Not much has changed.

I was a huge fan of wearing rain boots all the time. Pants, however, were clearly optional.

"I don't want it that way" - "That's the way it goes" ... story of my life.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Politics explained

I have created a simple diagram to help explain the sometimes complex and mystifying political process in the USA.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Too Nice - a true story

It was my junior year of high school and the colored lights were twirling overhead in the typical fashion.  It was a slow song - the kind that obligated every timid teenage boy to find a shy teenage girl and awkwardly maneuver onto the dance floor.  Luckily for me, I found a friend of mine to dance with and she and I were enjoying ourselves, making polite conversation to the music.  It was during this time that she invited me to another dance the following night at her church.

"You should really come" she said.

"It's at your church?" I asked.  This seemed mildly disquieting to me already, but I kept my feet shuffling to the rhythm.

"Yeah, what church do you go to?" she asked.  That, of course, was the question I grew up finding creative ways to answer in America's Bible Belt.

"Well, I don't go to church" I replied.  She seemed to take this thoughtfully but given that we were cheek-to-cheek, it is anyone's guess what her facial expression actually was.

"Don't you believe in God?" she asked.

"No, I'm an atheist."  That was probably one of the first times I responded so directly with that answer.  I had been using the word "atheist" since I learned it in fourth grade but it was only now that I could comfortably identify myself as such.  She stopped dancing and held me at arms length.

"You're not an atheist!" she exclaimed.  I laughed in mild disbelief.

"Oh, I'm not?"

"No" she continued.  "You're too... nice."

It was at that moment that I realized she not only knew what an "atheist" was but also that she had been told what kind of people atheists are.  They are not nice.  And that stigma was the first of many manifestations I would come to experience.  I would learn that the phrase "under God" was added to the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954 to distinguish the USA from the "godless communists" during the Cold War - the very same phrase I grew so uncomfortable repeating during mandatory incantations that I simply kept quiet for two words out of every Pledge.

I would later learn that polling results of the American electorate frequently rank atheists as the "least trusted" group - lower than Muslims, homosexuals, convicted criminals, and about as little as rapists (source).  Parents frequently state during polling data that atheists are the people they would least like their own children to marry (source) - despite other data that shows atheist couples have the lowest divorce rates of any religious affiliation (source).

But on that evening, during that slow dance, I learned exactly what assumptions many theists hold about atheists: they are not nice.