Saturday, March 31, 2012

Picture An Atheist

    I met a gentleman named Daniel while at the American Atheist convention. He asked to take a picture of my shirt. I gave him permission to do so and we struck up a bit of conversation about his project. Daniel told me about the many interesting shirts people had been wearing and how he had been collecting pictures of them. i suggested he post them on-line so others could enjoy his efforts. It turns out Daniel has a real life and it keeps him pretty busy. I could relate to his situation, real life is always screwing up my internet endeavors too.
    Since Daniel didn't really have time or a place to post his work I made another suggestion. I could post them for him. He agreed and told me he didn't need to be given credit for his work.
    To give credit where it is due the following examples of expression recorded from the Reason Rally and the American Atheist convention were taken by Daniel and sent to me. If anyone is pictured here and wishes it be removed simply contact me. I doubt that will be an issue because, like I said, the photographer made a habit of asking permission to take these photographs.
  Anyone who couldn't make it to either of the above mentioned events can now get an idea of what was in style.
   If a picture is worth a thousand words this is probably the longest blog you will ever see me post....
 Thanks for your efforts Daniel and it was nice to meet you....

That's me

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Atheist X

Something changed on March 24th 2012.

 You probably didn't feel the earth move but the world changed much like the moving of a mountain. There was a rally in DC. 20,000+ people came together in the rain to validate disbelief. Please do not assume the lack of belief to be negative and English scholars please STFU about my use of the word disbelief.
 Disbelief brought people together, lots of people. The importance of this event has not yet been recognized. In a sense I am playing prophet while I write this but my inspiration does not come from divine sources, it comes from observation and intelligence.
 We sent a message to the government, to the news outlets, and to our fellow Americans. Atheist was a common word that day and no one suffered by hearing it unless they deserved it. David Silverman showed he is an able leader of the American Atheists and the numerous other groups who looked past the past to join in the rally showed free-thinkers truly can lead by example.
  It rained on the crowd, they did not care. Americans who came for no other reason than to see the nations capitol suddenly found themselves surrounded by people who had no god...and nothing happened. If there was ever an example of how much nothing can change something, this was it.
 As I walked among the crowd and talked to the people who had gathered a few things struck me. The event was like a rock concert without the drama and foolishness.Whole families sat in the rain listening to the speakers or talking amongst themselves oblivious to nature's effect.
  The nonbelievers came in all ages, sizes, and ethnicity be damned there were no differences here to create imagined barriers and keep like-minded people apart.
    Even though we have seen a tremendous growth in people who call themselves atheist, it has only just begun.
  While the  Four Horseman of Atheism"-Richard Dawkins, Daniel C. Dennett, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens should be given credit for what they have done to bring atheism into the light, the torch has now passed. With the torch passed it was the 'little people' who fanned the flame into a bonfire in Washington DC.
  Bloggers, vloggers, podcasters and activists have become the atheist X factor, the force that has encouraged the nonbeliever to stand up and say so in public. The Four Horsemen slammed the word atheist on the table and atheist X, comprised of bloggers, vloggers, activists, and podcasters took it and ran into the streets. "You are not alone!" they have cried over and over. The atheist who felt isolated and alone was alone no longer.
   It is one thing to become an atheist, it is quite another to be able to talk about it freely amongst others.I don't think those who are trying to use religion to control others and implement laws based on belief in fictional people and stories counted on the X factor. They didn't count on those who had no fear to rally for atheism. Now the boulder has been pushed over the cliff, the genie has been let out of the bottle and the bottle has been broken, it can not be replaced even if someone dared to try. Atheism is the elephant in the room no one can walk around.
   The Reason Rally was an historic event. I believe as time passes it will be remembered as the beginning of serious change in our country.
 I'd like to give credit to the X factor atheist, those who do not care about numbers, shirt sales, or profit for what they have done. A value can not be put upon their work, you can not buy change it is earned by those who want it.
   In closing Id like to say I believe there is an effect that will  most likely help atheism more than any other. The effect is called the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon. The Baader-Meinhof phenomenon occurs when a person, after having learned some (usually obscure) fact, word, phrase, or other item for the first time, encounters that item again, perhaps several times, shortly after having learned it.
  As a result of this effect the words atheist and atheism are going to be given more attention. This means the work has just begun we must keep encouraging people to come out and claim their (dis)beliefs and we must keep important terms in the public eye and ears. There is still much change to be earned.


Monday, March 19, 2012


    I have often wondered why we Americans are basically limited to a two-party system. Our country is so diverse, so unique, why do we limit our choices for who will represent or lead us? I never knew what I could do to help widen our choices.  The Democrats and Republicans seem to have control over who we choose from.
 Well it looks like one of the parties also wonders why the people are forced to pick from such a narrow pool of people. This party is doing everything it can to assure our children will have more choices in the future. We should all be saying "Thank You" to the Republican party for making change happen and sacrificing itself for that change. The numbers of independent voters has skyrocketed. And we owe it to people like Rick Santorum who is about as intelligent as a blade of grass. He even likes to pretend he is one sometimes (usually during a political debate) Rick considers how the world would seem to look if he was a blade of grass and then applies it to his human life because we know there is very little difference in Rick's case. What ingenious ideas have come from Rick's imaginary travels as a blade of grass? Things like this-

  “The dangers of carbon dioxide? Tell that to a plant, how dangerous carbon dioxide is,”~ Rick Santorum Gulf Coast Energy Summit in Biloxi, Miss.

 Unfortunately there aren't a lot of lawns that have an IQ above 4, that makes science a little tough for them to understand, Rick Santorum can be included in that group since The National Academy of Sciences has  found that 97 percent to 98 percent of climate researchers “most actively publishing in the field” agree that climate change is occurring. Let's not forget plants absorb C02 for photosynthesis. People can absorb C02 but it  can cause “headaches, dizziness, restlessness, a tingling or pins or needles feeling, difficulty breathing, sweating, tiredness, increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure...and death. Even though Rick can relate better to the intellect of a nicely kept front lawn there just isn't much it has in common with most people.

*admittedly not a real study, but damn close

 Rick has done an incredible job of making sure no one on the planet would admit to ever even hearing the word republican much less being one.
 Don't let me give the impression Rick is the only one undermining the republican party in an effort to turn every living American into an independent voter. Good 'ol down to earth Mitt Romney, the man who can relate to the average guy ,cause he is one, right? Well Mitt sure sounds like he understands the average Joe. Like when he said
      "I should tell my story. I'm also unemployed." —Mitt Romney, speaking in 2011 to unemployed people in Florida. Romney's net worth is over $200 million.
"There were a couple of times I wondered whether I was going to get a pink slip" –Mitt Romney, attempting to identify with the problems of average folk (January 2012)
     "I get speaker's fees from time to time, but not very much." —Mitt Romney, who earned $374,000 in speaking fees in one year according to according to his personal financial disclosure (January 2012)
  In case that leaves you a little confused about Mitt and his ability to relate to the average American I'll provide another of his quotes. This should clear things up completely.
    "I believe in an America where millions of Americans believe in an America that's the America millions of Americans believe in. That's the America I love." –Mitt Romney (January 2012)

   Up next on the Reflublican clown parade?  Rush "fat mouth" Limbaugh. He calls a woman who speaks out on behalf of birth control based on it's use besides contraception a whore because she is having so much sex she can't afford it and wants Rush to pay the tab. Not only does this moron have no idea what the woman was actually talking about but he stands behind his comment until his sponsors start abandoning him. As is often the case with Republicans , money equals morality. Here's the actual quote-

''A Georgetown coed told Nancy Pelosi's hearing that the women in her law school program are having so much sex they're going broke, so you and I should have to pay for their birth control. So what would you call that? I called it what it is. So, I'm offering a compromise today: I will buy all of the women at Georgetown University as much aspirin to put between their knees as they want. ... So Miss Fluke and the rest of you feminazis, here's the deal. If we are going to pay for your contraceptives and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.''

—Rush Limbaugh, March 1, 2012
    No one knows for sure how many times Limbaugh has ended up with all his toes in his mouth. It has been said Rush Limbaugh has some talent for doing talk radio. If talent equals the ability to trick stupid people into believing made up quotes and data or managing to stay on the air no matter what kind of racist, selfish, backwards ass shit you say then Rush has talent. I don't find myself impressed in the least. Anyone can make shit up to back up lies and intolerance.
 The republicans seem obsessed with controlling people, especially women. This indicates the level of respect they have for others. Newt Gingrich provides some evidence of this.
  “She isn’t young enough or pretty enough to be the President’s wife.”
~Newt Gingrich, talking about his first wife after divorcing her.

  How Newt ever found a woman willing to marry him is another one of those mysteries we may never solve.

  Republicans also tend to have a problem with gays. Newt gave us a good example of this last December. In Iowa a homosexual man asked Gingrich  if he’s elected, how does he plan to engage gay Americans. Gingrich replied telling the man to "Support Obama" That's nice, a man who is ready to lead the American people.
  In case you still have doubts about the Newt allow me to share his wonderful suggestion for the moon.
  “By the end of my second term, we will have the first permanent base on the moon and it will be American." ~Newt Gingrich
Nevermind  that we can't even take care of the people who are living on earth, let's spend money making sure Americans are struggling to live on the moon too. I don't have anything against NASA or space exploration but building a moon base? Gingrich should be trying to colonize the wasteland he calls his head. There is no sign of intelligent life there thus far.
   In my opinion the fact that Gingrich is even being considered as a possible candidate shows us the Reflublicans are scraping the bottom of the barrel.

 Eliminating funding for planned parenthood, disgust for the idea of separation between church and state, ignorance of widely accepted scientific theories (evolution, global warming), disapproval of providing contraception for women, an inability to show even one of the Reflublican choices can gain a majority of support from their own party members. All these things are causing people to turn into independent voters. It seems to be the one thing Reflublicans can get done. I, for one, wish them continued success.   

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Atheist Marketing

   I have long considered Jesus, his travels, and teachings to be one of the biggest marketing scams the world has ever known. The product after all has incredible worth to people and is one of  those things that never go out of style. Eternal bliss. People are killing and deceiving each other as I type this all in support of  their 'product'.
 Much like Ronald McDonald helped to make McDonalds  the leader in selling hamburgers Jesus is working as the Christian version of the McDonalds clown to sell product.

The Last McSupper

   Marketing is important and it doesn't always have to be used to victimize people. McDonalds actually gives you something for your money Jesus and Christianity gives you faith or maybe you give them faith and they give you hope...or maybe you... Oh never-mind you get my point. McDonalds food may not be great for your health but it isn't asking for you to make sure everyone else eats it. McDonalds hasn't asked  customers to kill anyone who eats at Burger King or Taco Bell. They aren't demanding a statue of Ronald McDonald be erected at the entrance of the local courthouse. And there will be no Ronald McDonald 9/11 memorial as a tribute to the victims who ate at McDonalds. Considering those points the burger chain has actually done a better job of targeting a specific audience and keeping the focus on their specific product. 
    Sure you will see a questionable commercial every so often but it is quickly dealt with by the company because they have planned ahead. Any critics are usually diffused by a intelligently worded press release. This doesn't always succeed because you never know which way an issue will run when you get the public involved. Thinking ahead does no harm and sometimes proves invaluable. It can make the difference between people relating a product with a good/positive feeling or a bad/negative one. Sometimes just the person who sends the statement makes all the difference. Human nature makes us more responsive to people who are like us. We will tend to believe someone who is a peer more than someone who is not.
  It's all about marketing. Good marketing brings attention to your product in a positive light. Good marketing can also be stirring up controversy and gaining attention through the anger and outrage of the public. The second type is risky and can result in your products decline. Sometimes the controversy over bad marketing has been so bad it takes years for the brand to come back, if it manages to at all.
 Atheism is also a product. It should be an easy sell, right? I mean, it is based on reality, we all live in a real world where we make choices based on things we can see or feelings that are supported by actual experience. There are a few problems we face when marketing atheism. One is our product doesn't promise eternal bliss. In fact it promises, nothing. Nothing happens when you die, no angel trumpets, no harps, you don't get to go up to heaven where a new car full of horny virgins awaits in front of your incredible mansion where you will reside in harmony and bliss for the rest of eternity. Sorry. All atheism offers is the real world, the one you've been living in all this time except without allowing your imagination to control some of your life. If you can admit imaginary figures are not best used to make laws, or make life choice choices then you have just bought yourself a nice new set of atheism. It  comes with a free unlimited lifetime warranty. Congratulations!
 Notice I said "a few" problems. Another one of those problems is our competition....religion. Religion (see jesus above) does make incredible promises to people. If you pray and god thinks you are worthy your prayer gets answered, if not then keep trying we never know when god may change his mind and decide it is important .You want that girl at the Quick Stop to give you her number, or you want to loose 10 lbs of fat off your ankles? Do you really need god to intervene and get your kid on the honor roll cause that dummy just isn't ever going to manage it on their own? Maybe you want to see your wife and the girl at the supermarket checkout , makeout... With god you never know it's like playing the lottery for free, all you have to do is believe. By the way if we don't believe, we are going to burn in hell forever! That's what  the marketing people tell us anyway. But if you do buy into Jesus, miracles, self affirming books, and verses taken out of context, there is a grand reward when this life ends (see car full of virgins above)
  Another competitor is often overlooked, it is the people who don't really believe but religion provides them power and wealth.The people who represent this segment of the market are probably our biggest challenge yet we often do not take their actions into consideration probably because we tend to assume the people opposed to us will do so in an obvious fashion.
 This last group waits for atheists to give them an 'in' then they capitalize on it.Anything that can be used to make atheist look bad will be used just for that. It has been done through history, it will be continue to be done in this case.
  Recently a billboard was put up that read "Slaves obey your masters" there was a picture of a black slave next to the text and below there was a reference to a biblical verse and the "year of the bible" being touted by the Pennsylvania government. It was a protest to the government supporting a book that condoned slavery and the fact it violated the separation of church and state. That was the message.
 It was quickly declared racist and less than 24 hours after being put up it was removed by vandals.
 At first this angered me. I though about the stupid people who couldn't understand the message, those morons. Then I heard some of the rational behind the racism argument.
  Blacks were upset because they are sensitive to the subject of slavery, it still bothers a lot of people. The people telling blacks they shouldn't be bothered and that the truth is sometimes hurtful, were white. I think it's pretty safe to say African Americans are not going to appreciate white people telling them when they should or shouldn't be offended about racism or slavery. It also happens that the billboards were put up in a mostly black neighborhood because the rates were cheaper. So that means a billboard was put up that blacks considered racist, white people told the black people they shouldn't be offended because it wasn't about race yet the billboard ended up  there because the, black neighborhood was the cheapest place?  Is anyone else seeing the problem with this scenario? Yea blacks might be a little sensitive to the subject of slavery because they still feel the effects of it today. Poor neighborhoods, profiling, crime and various forms of racism. Despite the fact racism has been dealt a serious blow by education, common sense and compassion, it is still around.   I know that as a white male there are many injustices done to other groups I will never be able to fully understand. Slavery is one of those. But I realize that and that helps me to 'get it'... I think.
   So we have the billboard , the deed has been done. The message was never intended to be racist.Some people are pissed, what do you do next? Shouldn't you find someone to convey your thoughts on the issue?  I would look for an African American who could see, understand, and explain my point. If people could hear a person who had just as much right as anyone else to be offended explain things they would be less likely to see it as just some white guy saying he never meant to send that message.
    The bible is really repulsive in parts, the actions that were acceptable behavior in those days make people uncomfortable when they are forced to think about them. Believers can claim verses are "taken out of context" but there was a time when those verses were not taken out of context, they were the law of the land. At what point did parts of the bible suddenly become a matter of context instead of 'gods will'? Who made the decision that the parts about slavery were taken out of context?  If you tried to say people were taking parts of the bible out of context 500 years ago you would have some serious explaining to do and I doubt you would be the next pope. There has been no directive from god informing us of the context guidelines. The reason for that is because we make religion what it is. Religion and god are man-made and continue to change according to what we accept as a society. You can see how every religion has evolved as time goes by. How would a typical christian today look to a typical christian 200 years ago? Did jesus come to earth and hand over a revision to the bible? Nope. The Christians evolved because attitudes changed. This shows me that religion is probably going to evolve itself into extinction eventually , the problem is, it is going to take a very long time.

(not an actual cafe menu)

 Another force to contend with is ourselves.
   As atheists find themselves in the public eye, it is going to be harder not to appear as something we are not due to the subject matter.
People already make incorrect assumptions about us as it is. Atheists are baby-eaters, worship Satan, angry at god, lost those are just a few and they stem from what people have come up with on their own. Now that atheists are coming out there are going to be plenty of opportunities to mislabel us and accuse us of being some of the things most hated in society. We can not let this stop us. I know for a fact most atheists are tolerant, peace-loving people. We have differing points of view on many subjects, so what? Not having  religion as part of your life is going to result in that because there are no constraints on our thinking. We can think out of the box without worry our ideas may get us thrown into a lake of fire. I hear constantly about people complaining because what some atheist is doing makes them look bad. There are times when this can be true such as in cases where a leader was speaking on behalf of a group. And then the actions and ideas can only be attributed to that group. Hopefully people who find themselves on the public stage or speaking on behalf of others will realize the strength and effect of their actions.
   If you feel the actions of individuals are making you look bad then you have self esteem issues, it is that simple so please shut up about it. If a person who's favorite color is green goes on a killing spree and when caught says "I did it for the color green, it told me to kill!" Is that going to mean anyone can assume people who like green are at any moment going to start hacking people up? I don't think so, but I've been wrong before. I like blue by the way, people who like blue are cool. it's the only exception to the rule.
  To wrap it up, I think it's time we started looking at the way atheism is presented. Mainly to limit the opportunities others have to make it into a monster they created with rhetoric and propaganda. We can't avoid some sensitive issues but we should act in ways that show an awareness of people's feelings.
 There is hope for us yet, after all McDonalds removed Ronald from all their marketing (except the Ronald McDonald House)  because the public had outgrown it. Why shouldn't jesus go for the same reason?