Category Archives: Generalities

Just general words and ramblings

The Finest Blog Post Ever. In The World.

The Gutenberg Bible on display at the Library ...

This post is the finest, most innovative and most artistic blog post you will ever see. I have filled it with marvelous intricacies and words I have personally laid out in a manner you will never again be able to find.

Future generations will come upon these words and will be flabbergasted at the fabulous ideas found within. You will find yourself quoting from it and wowing your friends and family at parties and other gatherings. I fully expect politicians to reference it in Parliament and for religions to find new life in the thoughts contained within.

The British Library and The Library of Congress will rush to save it and will insist that it be transmitted to alien worlds to show them what we of Earth can create. Future prophets will descend from mountains on high with these words chiseled into stone tablets and will proclaim them to the masses.

And you, the internet, can read them here first. Good for you.

In other news, as a result of SOPA as my personal protest I did not blog yesterday. It also appears that I have protested New Year, Boxing Day, Christmas Day and Christmas Eve. I also angrily protested the whole month of November and December by not blogging. October needed action too. I am such an angry and cross person.

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A Society With Arms

Bang!

Image by ToastyKen via Flickr

“An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life”
Robert A Heinlein

On the way to work the other morning, the first half of that quote popped into my head and I had thoughts on it’s use and further thoughts on why it it doesn’t fit. And, because I’m nice, I decided to share them with you.

So, the quote is used by The Polite Society, an organisation that aims to teach people to use firearms in real life situations.  The firearms are, in all cases, concealed carry. The idea behind both the quote and the Society is that if everyone was both armed and prepared to fight to the death in various situations, that the world would be a better place. A high ideal and, at first blush, seemingly realistic. However, this assumes that firstly absolutely everyone is armed and willing to fight to the death and secondly that in this very aggressive atmosphere that everyone would react appropriately and not start shooting at the slightest provocation. Read the rest of this entry

2 Piles of Excellent Please

As a notoriously lazy person, I like to receive free things for very little effort. It makes me almost want to exert myself. So,when  one of my satirical stops launched a competition to receive 3 free signed copies of new detective novels and all they wanted was for entrants to retweet stories, well, I was all over that. Especially as the stories were already in my Twitter feed, so I didn’t have to find them.

The NewsGrind is a satirical online newspaper. It’s updated daily, is very funny and you should be reading it. In fact, I’ll wait while you do that now.

Done? Good. Well, they ran a competition to win 3 signed copies of Nick Brownlee’s novels, Bait, Burn and Machete (available via Amazon). They are set in Mombasa (a region under-represented in fiction) and here’s some knowledge for you:

Nick Brownlee is the author of the acclaimed Jake & Jouma series of Kenya-based crime thrillers. His debut novel Bait introduced the unorthodox crimebusting partnership of ex-cop turned fishing boat skipper Jake Moore, and veteran Mombasa detective Daniel Jouma. The sequel Burn was published in 2009 and the third book in the series, Machete, which sees the two men face their deadliest opponent yet is on sale from July 1.

So that is one pile of excellent. The second is a bit rude and is below the fold. Read the rest of this entry

How To Be An Atheist

As this year comes to an end, the atheist blogosphere thing seems to be hotting up.  Lots of posts about why people became atheists, lots of

The Out Campaign: Scarlet Letter of Atheism

The Out Campaign

posts about what it means to be an atheist.  Probably something to do with the Rebirth of the Unconquered Sun, which comes but once a year and makes people reflective.

In the spirit of giving, I thought I would share some thoughts with you.  Because I am just that kind.  So, back to me.  I had given Christianity a fair few good goes up until my late teens.  My mum is a lapsed Catholic (though she unlapses for special occasions like funerals) and my dad was probably Protestant.  So I was baptised in my local church (St Peters) and then never set foot in the place again.  My sister was christened in a different local church and my brother in a different one again.  I have the feeling that it was the act of baptism that was important to my mum, rather than anything else.  We never discussed religion in the house and, to all intents and purposes, it didn’t really exist.  But I still had a faith of sorts – though it was a mish mash of things and tended to only get dusted off for Sunday School (which was weird – you had to attend the normal service and then get ushered out part way through.  I used to wonder what happened at the second part of the service that was adults only.  I decided they were taught magic spells and when I was older I’d be able to learn them too.)  Sunday School was all right – lots of rote learning and quizzes and running around the church yard.  And then I didn’t bother – except when the local vicar gave morning assemblies at school.  But, and here’s the thing, despite never going to church and despite not thinking about religion or God or the Bible, I was still a Christian.  D’ya see?

Later on I got taken to a Fellowship Church service by a friend and ended up getting “Baptised in the Spirit” (which is from Acts, I think).  My aim in this second baptism was to get the gift of Tongues.  This is known as Glossolalia and appears to be a nonsense language.  Regardless, I didn’t get it and felt very cheated.  So I didn’t bother with that again.  Truth be told, the whole thing made me very uncomfortable and they had me make up a prayer on the spot as I recall.  A gift for bullshit allowed me to freestyle a prayer which lasted for 5-10 minutes (or, in real terms, for flipping ages) and it seemed to convince them.  And yes, I am well aware that I was probably doing it wrong.

Later again, I returned to the Church of England.  As an aside, CofE is the best of all the various cults – you get to be a Christian but don’t have to prove it or anything like that, it’s very laid back and no one asks any difficult questions.  And I got confirmed there which means I can take communion whenever it’s offered.  It was not long after that that I began to question my half-hearted lame beliefs.  For a short time it was a bit scary – the idea of not believing felt a bit like free-fall.  But I got over it and have been much happier ever since.  I now know that luck/coincidence can happen.  I now know that making wishes to my imaginary friend not only doesn’t work, but that they are entirely unnecessary.  And I don’t feel guilt over sleeping in on Sundays!!

Despite all the chat and the arguments, it’s really easy to be an atheist.  You just don’t have to believe in god or gods.  Which sounds hard, but isn’t.  Christians do not believe in Allah.  They don’t believe in any of the Norse gods or the Indian gods or the Native American gods or the Sumerian gods or in the Flying Spaghetti Monster.  And this goes for the believers of any religion – they don’t believe in anyone else’s gods.  So the unbelief is already there and it just needs a little tip to go into full unbelief.  So there you go, lose the shackles of belief and you, too, can be an atheist.  There are no mandatory meetings (no holidays either unfortunately) and you don’t have to twist your head around any of the weirder writings (a man is his own father and the herald of his own birth, really?  your father was a swan and your father was a rain shower?  Really?) and you don’t have to feel guilty just for existing.

Let’s make 2010 the year of reality and throw off the shackles of your Bronze Age beliefs!

And A Merry Christmas To You, Too

Having seen a number of posts about the season, and having spotted that it’s now the 23rd December (unless you’re in Australia or New

Snowy Day in London

Snowy Day in London

Zealand, in which case it’s 4th July 2015 because of the seasonal shifts and stuff), I think it’s time I wished you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Now, as an atheist, many would say that I shouldn’t be allowed to do  this.  To that, in the spirit of giving, I say “sweaty nutsacks“. Lest we forget, English Christians had a real go at banning Christmas once upon a time.  And it worked for a while and then it came back. So that says something. Probably.  It was something about the Pope and something about wassailing – which sounds great and if you didn’t do it you wanted it banned. I’d personally like to see it revived.  Someone get on to that please.

And yes, I am well aware that there have been more than one virgin births throughout the ages.  And I am also aware that the Winter Solstice predates Christianity by a good margin and sounds like a lot more fun.

But, you know what?  I like Christmas.  I’ve always liked Christmas and the fact that it’s supposed to have some significance to non-Atheists will not stop me liking it.  It’s fun, people are generally happy (or less unhappy) and there are presents and good food and good company.  If you insist on spoiling your Christmas by attending a cold church, then I’m sorry, it’s your own fault – though midnight mass is always a good way to break up the drinking sessions on Christmas Eve.

In closing, have a good Christmas, be safe (don’t worry about Rohypnol, worry about getting blackout drunk), if you do drink too much and you’re lying on your back choking on your own vomit only have one or two more and then switch to shorts for a while and I hope that Santa brings you some great toys.

As Greta Christina says in her Atheist Meme series and I have put here in a loosely related way:

Atheists feel compassion, empathy, and social responsibility as much as anybody. We don’t think those feelings come from God — most of us think they’re part of our evolution as social animals — but we don’t need to believe in God to feel these feelings strongly, and to take them seriously. Pass it on: if we say it enough times to enough people, it may get across

So You Want to Start an Online Community…

Optical fiber provides cheaper bandwidth for l...
Image via Wikipedia

This is going to be a very non-specific post.  A thread I have been posting in over on LinuxQuestions.org has made me think – and you know what happens when I start thinking?  That’s right, I get sleepy.  And then I get writing.  This being the internet and bandwidth and server space being free or low cost, every day someone decides that they will start up the next killer website/forum/mailing list/IRC channel/blog.  This will be the <whatever> to end all <whatevers> and will bring in the clicks by the thousand.  These people get very excited and start to post links wherever they can find a suitable site.  And then what?

<as a fair man, this is only aimed at people who want to do something to bring in the public – starting any of these things as a personal project or somewhere their friends can hang out online means that these words do not apply>

Read the rest of this entry