Thanks to The Good Atheist for this video post. Haven’t heard of Tim Minchin before but now…
Since the cat’s out of the bag regarding my non-belief in supernatural beings–jeez, ask me a question about it and boom, it’s out there on the intertubes–I might as well recommend some great sites about atheism. You probably already know many of these sites but if you don’t, I highly recommend the following (in no particular order):
- Pharyngula – “Evolution, development, and random biological ejaculations from a godless liberal” by P.Z. Myers. The man is a writing machine and his posts are insightful, funny, and acerbic. Always a great read.
- http://richarddawkins.net – “The Official Richard Dawkins website.” Author of The Blind Watchmaker and The God Delusion. ’nuff said.
- Greta Christina’s Blog – “Sex, atheism, politics, dreams, and whatever. Thinking out loud since 2005.” Clear, concise, always interesting and a great writer to boot.
- The Good Atheist – “Chilling Tales of Godlessness.” Ditto.
- Atheist Revolution – “Breaking free from irrational belief and opposing Christian extremism in America.” Double ditto.
There are many many more great sites out there so this small list is just to whet your appetite for fantastic discussions about science, religion, reason, and all the deep gushy things the mind loves to masticate so we can live lives founded on principles of reason and deep understanding. If you’d like to share your favorite sites by all means drop me a line or leave it on the comments field.
[This is a responce to a Facebook link and is not my run of the mill blog post. Apparently you can’t publish a comment if it runs more than 200 words, or something]
Secular education had nothing to do with it, but I’d be happy to explain it to you. I’d like to thank you too, as well, since you’ve asked me to explain it and for not dismissing my stance outright :)
I was raised in a christian household and my loving parents taught us the good things that loving parents teach. It wasn’t until I was 18 or thereabouts when I couldn’t coincide what I saw in the world (famine, wars, violence, death) with an omnipotent, omniscient God that did nothing to stop it. But I also saw beauty, selflessness, humility, love, and the sheer human will to help others–without God having a hand in that either. This is way simplistic way of putting it but it came down to a niggling feeling that all was not right with the world, and religion had big fat hand in making it that way.
I do believe we evolved from a common ancestor, as did our closest relative, the chimpanzee. This video explains this tired argument (and it’s short!):
Evolution provides a framework that makes our world and all living things in it (including us) fit within the context of our coming of age, if you will. This time frame spans millions and millions of years (not a mere 6 thousand years), with a growing record of fossils, genetic mutations, and biological processes that are natural and non-induced by an invisible hand, or supernatural being. Scientific methods and advances, much of what we use to cure diseases and make our lives better, has helped uncover the fantastic array of life. Here’s a link to a New York Times feature to a project called “Tree of Life,” which can better illustrate the sheer diversity of life in our planet http://bit.ly/2Yfok1 If you take a look at it, you’ll find no evidence of a supernatural guiding hand there either, but rather a complex hit/miss evolutionary ascendancy that favors organisms that adapt best to their environments.
Given the plethora of religions around the world and their fervent belief in *their* god, what makes you think your or another person’s religion is “The One”? Each one of those religions have millions of believers that truly, in their heart of hearts, believe their god is the true one. And we’re not even including other, lesser known religions as well. Anglicans, Catholics, Muslims, Jehovah’s Witness, etc. have followers that believe their religion is right and yours and other people’s is wrong–and will prove it by violent means if necessary (remember 9/11/01?). Such divisive rhetoric is not indicative of a loving God, but of powerful men in positions to “guide” believers in courses best suited for their purposes, not God. I found this quote to be quite insightful on the “God” question: “If there’s an argument for religion that’s convincing — actually convincing, convincing by means of something other than authority/ tradition, personal intuition, confirmation bias, fear and intimidation, wishful thinking, or some combination of the above — wouldn’t we all know about it?” from http://bit.ly/tIWmZ
Finally (thought not really, right?), there’s this video from Christopher Hitchens that I think summarizes why religion is dangerous, and that a radical shift to rational thought and a naturalistic view of our place in the universe is best:
Overall, I think we can lead harmonious and happy lives, lives of fulfillment, ethical living, and joy without having to resort to a higher being telling us to do so, or even teaching us that, should we misbehave, we’ll have an eternity of fiery hell. Or, if we behave, have everlasting life. I don’t see how this as a particularly good option, either way. And it’s a life that is free of gods and all things supernatural. We live and die by how rich we make *this* life, and by the love and that of our good nature allows us to share with friends and family and the rest of this crazy world.
Sorry to be so long winded but these are a few things that make me believe there is no higher being, whatever his name.
Sent by one of the greatest librarians out there. And by out there, I mean retired. Thanks, Adrien!
I think that this may have been around before, but some of them seemed new to my forgetful brain. Enjoy what you can, while you may.
The Washington Post’s Mensa Invitational once again asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition.
Here are the 2009 winners:
1. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period of time.
2. Ignoranus: A person who’s both stupid and an asshole.
3. Intaxication: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.
4. Reintarnation: Coming back to life as a hillbilly.
5. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.
6. Foreploy: Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid.
7. Giraffiti: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.
8. Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn’t get it.
9. Inoculatte: To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.
10. Osteopornosis: A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)
11. Karmageddon: It’s like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it’s like, a serious bummer.
12. Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.
13. Glibido: All talk and no action.
14. Dopeler Effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.
15. Arachnoleptic Fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you’ve accidentally walked through a spider web.
16. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito, that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.
17. Caterpallor (n.): The color you turn after finding half a worm in the fruit you’re eating.
The Washington Post has also published the winning submissions to its yearly contest, in which readers are asked to supply alternate meanings for common words.
The winners are:
1. Coffee (n): The person upon whom one coughs.
2. Flabbergasted (adj.): Appalled by discovering how much weight one has gained.
3. Abdicate (v.): To give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.
4. Esplanade (v.): To attempt an explanation while drunk.
5. Willy-nilly (adj.): Impotent.
6. Negligent (adj.): Absentmindedly answering the door when wearing only a nightgown.
7. Lymph (v.): To walk with a lisp.
8. Gargoyle (n): Olive-flavored mouthwash.
9. Flatulence (n): Emergency vehicle that picks up someone who has been run over by a steamroller.
10. Balderdash (n): A rapidly receding hairline.
11. Testicle (n): A humorous question on an exam.
12. Rectitude (n): The formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists.
13. Pokemon (n): A Rastafarian proctologist.
14. Oyster (n): A person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms.
15. Frisbeetarianism (n): The belief that, after death, the soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.
16. Circumvent (n): An opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men
I team presented two sessions for the Southwest Idaho Library Association conference (SWILA), region 3, at the College of Idaho, in Caldwell, ID. One as member of SPLAT (Special Projects Library Action Team) on screencasting, and the other as member of the Boise State library posse on RSS use (see below). Both sessions focused on cool online tools libraries can use to empower library services, or just to enhance your own personal online experience.
The conference takes place during CofI‘s Spring Break so we had the whole campus to ourselves. The campus is idyllic to be sure, and has the brick, trees, and classical architecture you can expect from a school that was founded in 1891. We even had a tour of the Terteling Library (totally awesome facade) and the archives collection in Sterry Hall.
This one-day conference is full of good stuff for everyone. While the majority of attendees were from public libraries, the presentations had enough diversity of content to intrigue and make it relevant to all. The food was delicious, the breakfast spread was stupendous, and coffee overflowed everyone’s system. Truly, it was fun times all around.
One gripe I did have was with the ubiquitous, fickle, angry tech gnome, cousin of Murphy’s law and bunk mate of unforgiving plugins. While the building that houses this one-day conference is great, its limited hardware and closed wi-fi system did put a dent in a couple of presentations, not to mention putting the kibosh on any blogging or twittering (unless you had an iPhone like my friend Liesl. Yes, there were two computer labs available but, if you are attending a day-long conference, your time is limited. Besides, the bigger computer lab had sessions throughout the day so it was rendered useless. Luckily we had library folk in attendance so these minor aggravations were taken in stride and we all had a laugh about it; they know that, as cool as the online tools we were there to showcase, they are only as good as the machines you use them on.
So, lessons learned (besides conference fodder) to equip one’s self against the gnome:
- If you can, bring your own computer/projector unless you know the equipment you’ll be using has the applications you need.
- If you do bring in your own hardware, have all the necessary accouterments (cables, USBs, connectors, male/female parts, etc.).
- In lieu of flash, do a flash dance.
- No internet access?! Good thing I only have screen shots. What? Can’t get the projector going?
- If you want to play a movie, have it in several versions. RealPlayer only? Really?
- Never assume your PowerPoint will be shown on a big screen. Tiny whiteboards can render your text ineligible.
But these are, in a way, almost expected and you really can’t account for everything. I look forward to next year’s conference, which I’m assuming will have these kinks worked out. If not, I’ll refer to the above list.
You can get find most of the SWILA presentations at the growing SWILA conference wiki.
A fellow librarian and I traveled to Seattle on Saturday, March 14th, to attend/present at the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL). My presentation was on Sprout, a widget creation tool, and how libraries can use this platform to create dynamic widgets (or as they’re called, “projects” or “sprouts”) to engage faculty and students with library resources.
I really really like how Sprout makes it easy to put together a virtual space, from small widgets to full-featured websites, and populate it with a variety of content: RSS, video, photo galleries, tables, blogs, etc. The availability of such an awesome free product that libraries could use to provide interactive content as an embeddable and fully-featured web gadget was too good to pass up, so I sent a proposal to ACRL as a Cyber Zed Shed (CZS) session, which was accepted. I’m not sure where the CZS term comes from but I’m sure it has to do with the X-files or pirates. Here’s ACRL’s description:
Cyber Zed Shed presentations are 20-minutes in length, with fifteen minutes to present a demonstration, and five additional minutes for audience Q&A. Presentations should document technology-related innovations in academic and research libraries.
Of course, as with any successful online endeavor, Sprout decided that its user base was large enough, and their product versatile and well received, that it would support a paid platform. This free-to-fee change was resolute: if you wanted to keep your stuff, you had to pay for it. So now my presentation was in danger of being blown out of the water. However, as with any online product with many loyal users, Sprout heard about the sheer dissatisfaction with this move from its loyal base: no fair! Being good players, Sprout now offers a limited number of projects for free (3 at any one time), and my presentation of Sprout as a viable, though limited, widget creator as a library tool went ahead as planned.
If the Twitter chatter was any indication, most of the Cyber Zed Shed (CZS) were well attended and well presented, and I’m hoping that mine was at least as informative as the rest. I even got to meet some great folks that I’ve only known through Twitter. Twitter, and ACRL’s Twitter stream, was my pulse to conference chatter, tweet ups (Twitter meet ‘n greets), favorite sessions, running commentary of various presentations, and the overall zeitgeist of the ACRL experience. Also, check out ACRL’s Flickr pool for a visual experience of the conference in the rainy city.