shadesofmauve: (clarence)
I'm sure I'll post a much longer Folklife round-up later, but for now, just one bit of amusement.

Folklife is both huge and free (the largest free music festival in the nation, as everyone asking for donations kept reminding us!), which means it's a prime target for people with an idea to sell. Usually that takes the form of initiative petition gatherers* and a handful of anti-war protestors (which fits the general feel of the festival), but there's always at least ONE crazed Religi-o-Ranter bucking the trend. This year there were also small flocks of mormon 'elders' who looked about 17 and were clearly totally out of their depth. Everyone totally ignored them.

The Religi-o-Ranter, though, was a fine specimen of the bred. His giant sign may have been the quintessential Religi-O-Ranter sign. It had imprecations! It had threats! It had failed grammar and non-parallel list construction**! And on the back it said "GOD HAS GIVEN YOU OVER TO YOUR DEGRADING PASSION."

My folks, our friends and I were on the Fountain Lawn catching a concert and idly watching this guy. When we saw the back of the sign for the first time we all shouted variations on the same theme. "FINALLY!" "Hot damn!" "Degrading passion, I am YOURS!"

And, in the case of my mother dearest, just one long "WE WIN WE WIN WE WIN WE WIN!"


*The best signature gatherers were the ones a few years back campaigning for marijuana legalization. They were all raring to go at 11 a.m., and in a stoned cuddle pile surrounded by their signs by 2 in the afternoon. It was nice to see their hearts were in the cause. :P

**Non-parallel lists drive me bonkers. In this case it was "Sexual immoral. Adulterers. Idolaters. Homosexual offenders." Mom and I decided that since we try not to offend homosexuals and the first one wasn't even a noun we were in the clear.
shadesofmauve: (clarence)
I have been more vocal recently about being an atheist, mostly because the creationists and want-to-be-theocrats are surprisingly loud. Because I've been more upfront about it, I've encountered a lot of people who don't understand what it means.

Specifically: The statement "I don't believe in god(s)" is not equal to the statement "I believe there is/are no god(s)."

I just saw this explained very well, and I'm posting it here for general edification and my own reference.

The theism-atheism spectrum is belief-based and the gnostic-agnostic spectrum is knowledge-based. Belief and epistemic knowledge are not the same thing and should not be confused.

1. Do you believe in god(s)?
Yes = theist
Not yes = atheist

"Not yes" includes I don’t know, I don’t care, and I choose to suspend judgment.

2. Is the existence of god(s) a justified, true belief? (Or in lay terms: Can a god hypothesis be proven/disproven by an empirical or rational argument?)

Yes = gnostic
Not yes = agnostic

Using these definitions, you can be an atheist, without a belief in any particular gods, and also be agnostic towards gods in general. In addition, you can hold a gnostic position towards specific, easily disprovable gods like Prince Philip the volcano god.

Huxley, who coined the term agnostic, was an atheist: he did not believe in any gods. However, he articulated an agnostic position towards the Abrahamic god; he didn’t think it was possible to logically or scientifically prove or disprove it.

quoted from commenter "Noah the epistemic pinata" on this Pharyngula post.

Like Huxley, I am an agnostic atheist. Telling me "But you can't KNOW!" when I say "I'm an atheist" will net you a "Well, duh."

Unless we're talking about Prince Philip the volcano god.
shadesofmauve: (clarence)
My doorbell's gotten a lot of use in the past month, so much so that I've been answering with "I already voted, I'm not interested in your religion, and I don't want any windows," which confused the heck out of the four-year-old trick-or-treater.

This weekend it was the Mormons. It was reasonably quick to get the two young men off my porch, but I was totally discomfited by the name tag reading "Elder" on this fresh-faced barely-twenty-something kid. Elder? Come on. In my day, elders had to have some gray in their hair! They had to have at least an appearance of wisdom! And damnit, they had to be crotchety!

*shakes her cane*
shadesofmauve: (Default)
Calliope just looked up "Jesus" on wikipedia.

At least now I know what to say when the church-pushers come to the door: "I'm an atheist, but my cat's interested."
shadesofmauve: (clarence)
WARNING! Following is a high-energy, disorganised meander-rant, written to get these things out of my head. This is first-draft quality barely-edited brain-spew. If I've offended or appalled you, please ask me about it -- it's possible I didn't communicate well. Or maybe I'm genuinely appalling. I can live with that, but I'd rather people be annoyed at me for the right reasons.

Feminism
I read some stuff I'd written in college and marked as memories. Had to think about whether or not I still felt like I did here, because I don't like much of the tone of that post now. I've pretty much concluded that I still agree with the 'meat' of what I said, but I'm much more willing to claim the label feminist now, because damnit, it shouldn't be a dirty word. I believe in gender equality, period. I'm still not fond of overarching labels, but I have to aknowledge that our brains seem to be stuck on 'em. I will still distance myself from anyone claiming that one gender has mystical power or different spheres of excellence or any other separate-but-equal crap.

"if men demonstrate behavior x, they are assertive. If women demonstrate it, they're called bitches."
I'm curious about another perspective on this: is it possible that since many women have internalized the "be nice, don't fight/stand up for yourself" role, they don't know how to be assertive without being a bitch? It's possible that in many instances it's not just perception that is biased; it's a failing in how people were raised. I'm sure you've all met someone who honestly thought they were being 'assertive' when they were just being an asshole.

Thought: Clear, assertive (not domineering) communication is a learned behavior
I've had women at work scream at me; men who use every passive-aggressive trick in the book. Both genders seem to behave equally badly! This leads me to think that we ALL need more training in assertive communcation -- I certainly don't see it demonstrated often. Workplaces hire trainers to teach this, but let's start it earlier. I was taught methods of assertively dealing with conflict when I was a teenager (by my father). These are lessons I try to internalize and apply to this day, but it didn't come naturally -- communicating through conflict is hard. Let's not expect people to magically become good at it, male or female. We can teach ourselves to behave in a more productive way.

While we're at it, can we please clarify the meaning of 'confrontation'?* "An open conflict of opposing ideas or forces" works for me. I don't think it's a bad thing. I want people to be open in their conflict. It's way easier to deal with productively than sneaky-passive-aggression. What I don't want to be is nasty or disrespectful. I know people who are totally non-confrontational; it causes problems. So does spoiling for a fight.

Dealing with differences in a forthright manner is a good thing. Is there another word we can use for 'dealing with differences in an argumentative and bastardly manner'?

So, I'm an atheist.**
If we didn't have a predominantly religious society, I'd be an apatheist (there's probably not a God, but I don't really care, let's play in the garden/make music etc.). However, since there's such stigma attached to atheism, religious people who don't believe atheists are even human***, so many ways religion tries to get into government, it seems nessecary to stand out and be counted. Hardly a new problem. The ideal is that everyone is quietly accepted and no one has to yell, but getting there from here requires making noise. Many people who would probably rather their sex life stayed private have instead stepped up to be loudly Here and Queer. I don't know of any rights-type movements that didn't involve this, and yet everytime a new one comes along people act all surprised about it. "I just wish the atheists wouldn't be so loud." "I just wish the black people wouldn't whine." "I just wish the homosexuals would keep to themselves." Bull.

Just don't use the word 'just' like that
Newsflash: including the word 'just' before your desire does not actually make your request any simpler/easier/more rational. It does not make the project you want me to do take any less time. It does not make you sound like less of a bigot. 'Just' is not a magic word that makes problems go away. Let's leave the word 'just' in conversations about fairness, and remove it in all those other places.

*gasps for air*

Okay, I think I'm done for now. Hopefully my brain will stop being all spinny and I'll be able to panic about house projects and website issues again instead.


*Btw, dictionary.com? Your first two definitions used forms of the verb 'confront.' Definition FAIL.

**Except for my rock-steady belief in Clarence, of course.

***Don't believe me? Ask about how my conversation with Erik's mom went...
shadesofmauve: (clarence)
I have to mention that I was surprised and pleased that the mass at Erik's Folks' church this morning included "The children abused by clergy members" in their prayer. It was up-front, stated the abuses as the terrible fact they are, and put the focus on the people hurt rather than the danger to the institution. Well done, them.

By-the-by, while personally the hierarchical nature of the catholic church disgusts me, I don't disrespect those who remain a part of an institution even though they know part of it is corrupt. There are times it goes too far and you have to bail, but no group of people is perfect, and generally you do the best you can with what you've got. So I do have some sympathy.
shadesofmauve: (clarence)
One of the frequent make-nice statements between religionists-who-aren't-creationist-nuts and scientists-who'd-rather-work-than-argue is that science can handle the explicable, but religion is there for "The Big Questions." I'm totally for more accord and less name-calling, and I think agreeing to mind your own business is a damn fine way of getting work done, as long as the business you're ignoring isn't really nasty. But I have a deep-seated problem with the assertion that religion is there to handle "The Big Questions." For one, I always thought the whole issue of black holes and galaxies and all was pretty damn big. More importantly, I seem to have fundamental issues with "The Big Questions" themselves.

Not the answers. The questions.

When you ask "So, what ARE the big questions?" chances are the first is "Why are we here?" I have an answer for that one; it's the same as my answer to that other philosophical stumper, "What is art?" Ready?

I don't care.

That's the short answer. I'm far more interested in what we're going to do now than in why we're here, and saying that I don't care makes the point. There's another level of response though, which is that I don't really understand the question. That we are here is evident*. There doesn't HAVE to be a reason why. There's a how, there's an approximate when, but asking 'why' is baffling to me.

This all came up because I spent the weekend with my twin three-and-a-half-year-old cousins, who are well and truly into the 'why' phase. We were walking through the kitchen when one spied a box, stopped in total fascination, and asked "Sarah, Why is Baking Soda?"

The bafflement I felt then was just about the same as the bafflement I feel about "Why are we here?"



*You may disagree, but the only real disagreements are based on very tiresome sophomoric philosophy, and I've no time for them.
shadesofmauve: (clarence)
We chatted about politics, and complications, and teeny steam-punk engines.

Now I need to find something to do with beets besides pickling and borscht. INTERNETS! TO MY AID!

Ha!

July 29th, 2009 09:02 am
shadesofmauve: (clarence)
Responding to some inanity about a-religious summer camps, a poster at pharyngula says:

"It's like funny, but the kind that just pisses me off."

So very true.

To be totally fair, I must point out that the people who are complaining about "atheist indoctrination" because the summer camp in question is secular are not mainstream Christian in any sense, they're the kooks over at RaptureReady. If you're not convinced that they ARE kooks, check out the rules for their "discussion board" (careful, there are a LOT). Number 33 explicitly states that no one is allowed to discuss pacifism or, really, any ideal of world peace, because wanting peace is weakening our nation and does not help us reach the End Times. No shit.

Discussion board is in quotes because they've so clearly outlined every doctrinal no-no in the rules that there's pretty much no possibility of actual discussion.
shadesofmauve: (clarence)
I find it hard to believe, but the right wing appears to be flipping out over Obama saying that 'empathy' is a desirable quality in a justice. Apparently the very-human ability to place yourself in another's shoes and understand how they might feel implies wishy-washy, non-law-based decision making.

There are a number of bizarre aspects to this spat -- they equate empathy with bias, assuming that a judge will always only 'feel' for one side of the case; they idealise a very clear-cut, cold application of existing law that simply doesn't work in a human society where we invent new issues constantly -- but what I really get a kick out of is that they're packaging up all this subtext to attack empathy.

Empathy allows us to be successful social animals. Empathy is the true root of morality -- I don't hurt you, not just because it isn't in my best interest, but because I can feel your pain. I'm always amazed at the religious who say that I must be immmoral because I'm an atheist, because it is so clearly untrue, but also because the foundation of morality is something we all have to some degree, whatever one's religion or lack thereof.

I undestand, now. The right wing is attacking the concept of empathy. For people so lacking in and distrustful of a basic human trait, a totally external source of morality is nessecary. Keep your religion, kids; I'm terrified of what you'd do without it.
shadesofmauve: (my personal lord and savior)
Many of you will be aware of the Seasonal Apocalypse happening at the Washington state capitol, a mere five-minute saunter from my house. )

Wait! I feel a song coming on!

On the first day of December, the governor gave to me
A menorah and a nativity

On the second day of December, the governor gave to me
An atheist manifesto
A menorah and nativity!

On the third day of December, the governor gave to me
Somebody stealing
the atheist manifesto
A menorah and nativity!

On the fourth day of December, the governor gave to me
National attention for
Somebody stealng
the atheist manifesto,
A menorah and a nativity!

On the fifth day of December, the governor gave to me
A fest-i-vus pole!
National attention
for somebody stealing
the atheist manifesto,
A menorah and nativity!

On the sixth day of December, the governor gave to me
A moron from Kansas
A fest-i-vus pole!
National attention
for somebody stealing
the atheist manifesto,
A menorah and nativity!

On the seventh day of December, the governor gave to me
Threats of damnation from
Th moron in Kansas
A fest-i-vus pole!
National attention
Somebody stealing
An atheist manifesto,
A menorah and nativity!

On the eighth day of December, to the governor I plea;
Free the public buildings from
Threats of damnation from
The moron in Kansas
the fest-i-vus pole!
National attention
Somebody stealing
the atheist manifesto,
Restore our Secularity!


NB: this song addressed to the governor only because it was her well-meaning by foolish behavior that started the whole chain of events.
shadesofmauve: (baby)
I'm always on the lookout for new, decent verses to this song, promptly passing over the multitudes that don't scan or aren't funny. Here's a few I just found, so's I don't forget 'em:

Let's bow down to Quetzalcoatl
Though his name is somewhat glottal
Then we'll all go hit the bottle,
And that's good enough for me.

All you virgins sing to Vesta...

(empty pause)

C'mon I promise we won't test ya...

(pause)

Well I guess that's it for Vesta
And that's good enough for me.

If your spirits have been flaggin'
Hop on the Kthulu bandwagon
Ia! ia! Kthulu ftagn
And that's good enough for me

Let us bow down to Astarte
Though the Hebrews call her tarty,
she knows how to throw a party,
and that’s good enough for me.
shadesofmauve: (clarence)
I think it might be accurate for me to claim the label theological noncognitivist. At the very least, I've never encountered a god concept about which I feel there could be rational discussion - the terms are always redefined mid conversation, or never defined at all. However, according to that bastion of spiritual knowledge and advice, Wikipedia, to be consistently noncognitivist conflicts with atheism.

I have recently decided that I can proudly claim the label atheist, rather than agnostic, because of calculus.

I think that the existence of God is unprovable in either direction. Some definitions state this in their dogma; others lack a coherent definition, which in itself makes the concept unprovable. I totally concur with Russel's Teapot -- if I am given no reason to believe in something outlandish, I'll disbelieve it, rather than suspend judgement.

Does everyone remember calculus? I'm thinking of the limit concept -- that even if you can't get to an exact point, you can get close enough for all intents and purposes (this is a very rough rephrasing). In this function, x is approaching atheism, so we might as well call it that.

My main label happily remains humanism, but it doesn't enter into discussion here because it is not a theistic or atheistic epithet, but an ethical one, which I believe to be far more important, since it actually has a bearing on life and human interaction.

Standard Disclaimer:

1. No, this does not mean I'd like to have lunch with Christopher Hitchens. Sharing a lack-of-belief does not nessecarily bring people into the same camp, and no belief system or lack there of is free of assholes.

2. I have not now, nor have I ever, killed anyone, maimed/tortured anyone, stollen, committed arson, etc. If you believe that ethics can not exist outside of religion, please consider me and all the other perfectly moral atheists you know as contrary exhibit A.



Obviously, none of this applies to my fervent belief in Clarence, who art above us, and doth occasionally call on the phone.
shadesofmauve: (baby)
On Saturday, I wrote half a waltz.

I'd been thinking of writing something in Lydian*, but failed utterly, ending up with a terribly minor key including a sharp fourth, which doesn't fit into the standard modes at all (G dorian with an augmented fourth, basically). I was still happy, 'cause it's ages since I wrote anything.

Roughly three hours after I finished noting it down, my mom informs me that in the middle ages, the augmented fourth was banned by the Catholic church**, because the interval was so dissonant that it must have come from the devil.

Yup - this weekend, I wrote a Satanic Waltz!


*That's the midieval/modern mode, not the greek one. As far as I can tell, midieval musicians wrote out a list of Greek mode names and meanings, and then moved all the names one over. Or perhaps they wrote them on small slips of vellum, tossed them in the air, and reassembled them randomly. Regardless, the only thing I know about a given ancient greek mode is that it is NOT the same as the modern mode by the same name.

This becomes extra confusing when one discovers that classical musicians and theorists, who are not used to playing modal music, refer to the modes as the Greek modes.

**The internet can't agree whether this is true or apocryphal, but the term "The Devil's Interval" has been around since the middle ages, and the internet can't agree what it had for breakfast this morning.
shadesofmauve: (Default)
Who doesn't like the sound of the word Pope? Pope. Pope pope pope.

He even has a pope-mobile! The only other one-syllable-mobile that springs to mind is the batmobile. Batman has pointy ears; the Pope has a pointy pope-hat. Batman has Robin; the Pope has...choirboys. So when someone mentions the Pope, a wire crosses in my brain. "It's the POPESIGNAL! To the POPECAVE!"*

I've had this problem for years, but just last night I finally realized that pretty much all phrases involving the word 'bat' could be made more amusing by trading it for 'pope.'

As [livejournal.com profile] madalchemist said, it's almost popeshit** crazy.

Vampire pope
Fruit pope
Hanging upside down like a pope
Pope-winged demons
Pope-eared fox
Blind as a pope

You can get farther afield - pope-ing cages, baseball popes, right off the pope, etc, but that's just a bit silly. I don't recommend trying to figure out what a Pope Mitzvah would be, either.


*I shudder to think what shape a pope-a-rang is.

**Technically, we call this pope guano.
shadesofmauve: (my personal lord and savior)
"As the government of the United States...is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion--as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility of Musselmen--and as the said States never had entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries."

-1797 Treaty of Tripoli (italics mine)

By the way, Alexander Hamilton was clearly Karl Rove's predecessor, and reading about him makes me twitch.

James Madison, on the other hand...the more I read about him? Still my hero. Corporation Sole? James Madison Does Not Want. My dad's reaction to my mentioning this fact? "Yeah. James Madison was an intellectual stud."

It's amusing to note that I went to J Madison Elementary, where we didn't learn anything about him, and as such I have a deep association between JM, boredom, and paste. Rising above that takes some serious work!

In other news, my caucus WAS an Obamarama!
shadesofmauve: (Default)
"During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution."
-Madison

The founding fathers were amazing thinkers. I shudder to imagine what they'd think of the mess we've gotten ourselves into. Two hundred years of trying to edge back towards union of church and state; two massive parties; a general populace that is just as ill-read as they feared despite the prevalence of communications technology.

At least we finally enfranchised women and African-Americans, right? Other than that, it doesn't seem like our thinking has come very far.

Countdown to caucus...45 minutes...30...25...

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