Saturday, September 30, 2006

How can something be called a sacrifice when nothing has really been lost?

While reading through a discussion thread on another website, I came across a comment that brought to light a couple of important questions about this whole "Jesus died for me" belief. The comment basically stated that Jesus is believed by xians to be a god who couldn’t really die or even sin and is apparently alive and well. The commentor pointed out how xians weep with sorrow when they hear the story about Jesus' death for the millionth time even though they believe their savior lives. One minute they are crying and feeling sad..."Terrible how sinners killed hoo" and then "He lives! He lives! Hallelujah!" the next.

Webster dictionary defines sacrifice as "a: destruction or surrender of something for the sake of something else b : something given up or lost". So, the question remains "How was Jesus' death a sacrifice?" How can something be called a sacrifice when nothing has really been lost?

Friday, September 29, 2006

. . .you can't keep people's minds, feelings and needs in jail forever, no matter how brutal your inquisitions

"If the moderate voices of Islam cannot or will not insist on the modernization of their culture--and of their faith as well--then it may be these so-called 'Rushdies' who have to do it for them. For every such individual who is vilified and oppressed, two more, ten more, a thousand more will spring up. They will spring up because you can't keep people's minds, feelings and needs in jail forever, no matter how brutal your inquisitions."
Salman Rushdie - The New York Times (Nov. 27, 2002)

Thursday, September 28, 2006

This is getting ridiculous

Should the government outlaw trans fats? I can understand banning smoking in restaurants, workplaces and other public areas since second hand smoke affects the health of others and is especially dangerous to those who already have respiratory problems, but isn't banning approved food ingredients going a bit overboard? Will we all soon be having the government decide our menus for us? Most of us know why they're unhealthy: Trans fats clog arteries, have been linked to heart disease and may raise the risk of diabetes. But lots of things that we eat everyday are bad for us. White bread is bad, sugar is bad, etc. Will these things be banned next? Chocolate cake? Ice Cream? Skittles?

Church Marketing Gimmicks

While we were out in Ocean City for a vacation recently, we drove by the Ocean City Tabernacle which is a large complex and looked more like a country club/amusement park than a church...which is a bit more openly honest since most xian churches are for the most part country clubs for a specific group of "clientele." I guess god and Jesus just isn't enough to make people want to go to church? Churches are having to sell themselves in some mighty bizarre ways to attract people! We drove into the parking lot to get some photos of this. I can hear the kids screaming "Mommy, Daddy...I want to go to play THERE! It looks FUN!" What a crazy world we live in!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Steve Irwin Conversion NOT TRUE

People in their grief often make up these stories for various reasons after person is deceased and cannot dispute it.


Crocodile hunter Steve Irwin became a born-again Christian a few weeks before he died.

Status: False.

Thursday, 14 September 2006 | By Steve Penny - Senior Minister - Kings Christian Church


Steve Penny wishes to advise that the story of Steve Irwin's conversion to Christianity in Kings Christian Church is unfounded. Further investigation has failed to substantiate rumours of his conversion in any church on the Sunshine Coast.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Oh, all the brainwashed little ones!

Thanks to Beep! Beep! It's Me for posting this parody of Jesus Camp.

(This sick lady needs to have a restraining order placed against her to keep her away from children.)

Monday, September 25, 2006

Dance Monkeys, Dance!

Hellome posted this in a comment at GifS and I just had to share it over here. It's priceless!
link: We're all just monkeys

Get back to Nature - It’s rejuvenating

God believers are wasting so much precious time and missing out on really living life. God believers of every variety turn to a negative, violent, and depressing book that was written so long ago by primitive people to solve their problems. The bizarre part is that they take it as literal truth. It’s quite irrational when analyzed critically. It would be like people thousands of years from now finding Tolkein’s works and declaring them to be sacred and everyone worshipping the Hobbit Frodo Baggins as their “savior” and donning medevial attire and growing long beards and going to buildings with a golden ring symbol on top and praying to the almighty spirit of Gandalf. (Actually, LOTR is much more uplifting and positive than the bible or koran.)

Another problem with religion is that these people have had so much fear instilled in them that this god is going to send them to some awful imaginary place after they are dead that they fail to live and fully enjoy the only life they will ever have in the here and now. Sad…sad for people who live for death.

I did some thinking on vacation recently as I observed others also enjoying themselves and relaxing and wondering to myself why people just can’t be content with enjoying this life and appreciating this big, blue beautiful planet we live on instead of feeling guilty and not worthy to have existed at all.

My husband and I just returned from a few days by the ocean on Brigatine Island near Atlantic City. We drove down the coast to Ocean City, New Jersey and walked along the boardwalk, looking at all of the people enjoying themselves, having a good time eating hot dogs, ice cream cones, and funnel cakes while laughing and having fun together. Kids and adults swimming and all seemingly happy, families together, old couples together, young couples together and I thought to myself, this is what people should be doing instead of sitting in churches praying to their imaginary god to help them with their problems. I saw old people in wheel chairs, sitting with serene and smiling expressions on their faces as they watched the ocean waves and felt the wind whipping through their white hair. Children ran into the surf and waves chased them back onto dry sand and they giggled with glee. Fathers swung their children in the air, Mothers passed out popscicles and and hugged their little ones. Young lovers sat closely whispering secrets to each other. Some people slept, some read a book, some body surfed on the foamy waves. No one was praising Jesus, no one bowing to Mecca. Everyone was just content to be there amongst other people and enjoying nature and being happy.

I know not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to travel, and there are those trapped living in the cities where even a speck of nature is hard to find. Instead of herding these people into dark churches volunteers should pick them up and take them to the park for a couple of hours to sit under the trees or take a walk through the orange and yellow falling leaves. All cities have parks of some sort. I have sat in Grant Park in Chicago and listened for birds. They are there and you can hear their songs if you “tune in.”

People don’t need religion…they need Nature. Religion causes people to focus on the negative and their weakness and their sadness. On the other hand, if one looks to Nature he or she will find beauty, tranquility, peacefulness…and happiness. I would rather put my energy into enjoying my life and this beautiful planet where I was lucky enough to happen to come into being. We all have problems, we all have trials of some sort. No one is immune from problems. But religion is NOT the answer…the answer is in Nature and inside oneself and how one chooses to deal with life.

“Indeed Christianity passes. Passes--it has gone! It has littered the beaches of life with churches, cathedrals, shrines and crucifixes, prejudices and intolerances, like the sea urchin and starfish and empty shells and lumps of stinging jelly upon the sands here after a tide. A tidal wave out of Egypt. And it has left a multitude of little wriggling theologians and confessors and apologists hopping and burrowing in the warm nutritious sand. But in the hearts of living men, what remains of it now? Doubtful scraps of Arianism. Phrases. Sentiments. Habits.”
-- H.G. Wells, Experiment in Autobiography, 1934, cited by Ira D. Cardiff, What Great Men Think of Religion, 1945

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

M33: Spiral Galaxy in Triangulum

Explanation: The small, northern constellation Triangulum harbors this magnificent face-on spiral galaxy, M33. Its popular names include the Pinwheel Galaxy or just the Triangulum Galaxy. M33 is over 50,000 light-years in diameter, third largest in the Local Group of galaxies after the Andromeda Galaxy (M31), and our own Milky Way. About 3 million light-years from the Milky Way, M33 is itself thought to be a satellite of the Andromeda Galaxy and astronomers in these two galaxies would likely have spectacular views of each other's grand spiral star systems. As for the view from planet Earth, this detailed, wide field image nicely shows off M33's blue star clusters and pinkish star forming regions which trace the galaxy's loosely wound spiral arms. In fact, the cavernous NGC 604 is the brightest star forming region, seen here at about the 1 o'clock position from the galaxy center. Like M31, M33's population of well-measured variable stars have helped make this nearby spiral a cosmic yardstick for establishing the distance scale of the Universe.

Taunting the radical muslims or radical muslims looking for an excuse to use violence?

I got an email from a penfriend in Germany yesterday. Here is what she wrote about the recent violence concerning the Pope's recent comments on Islam:

What do you think about that what is happening after the visite of pope Benedikt XVI. in Germany? You will heard about all demonstrations in Moslemic world because of the pope´s quotation but believe in me: He had offend NOBODY! There was no matter to react in that bad way. The event was an invitation of the university in Regensburg, was not open for everybody and the quotation was totally taken out of the other context. Since today the real text is NOT translated in other languages and not many people know of the truth but I guess there are Moslemic agitators who like to instigate moslemic folks. In Somalia were an innocent nun and a man killed from two religious fanatics. Is that nonviolant? I cannot understand that behaviour. People don´t know what happened in reality but they make trouble!!!??? I think it is not a problem of all the other world but to find in intolerance and hate of many, many uneducated (stupid!?) humans. Christian religions made many mistakes in past too but why are other doing the same? Why can people think their religion were the only beatific belief in the world? By the way, I was so that upset and shocked of such undifferent actions and dismiss that violance in name of GOD! With their demonstrations and violance they had shown that the Islam is a very aggressive religion what don´t accept other opinions and tolerance.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Radical xianity just as threatening today as radical Islam? I don't think least not yet

Though radical Xianity is a threat to our freedom of speech, freedom to choose in certain aspects of our lives, their "mission" in today's world is to convert us and if we don't, they "pray for us" and let their god decide to send us to hell and eternal flames or whatever they wish for us non-believing heathens. When nutcases like David Koresh arise and have delusions about themselves being Jesus and hole up and arm themselves, our government steps in (though rather drastically...they didn't have to kill those people and could have waited till they got really, really hungry and come out on their own).

However, Islamic extremists want us dead if we don't convert to Islam. Plain and simple. Those who leave Islam are sentenced to death and suicide bombers help expedite the infidel (oftentimes large numbers of "infidels") to hell and they believe these suicide bombers for Allah are going to be rewarded wtih the great "bordello" in the sky for killing us.

Therefore, even though I don't really like siding with Xianity, there is a huge difference between radical islam and radical xianity. (at least for now - hopefully xian history won't repeat itself)

Which One?

click on image to enlarge

This is from the Opinion page of the LA Times online. It’s what we have been asking Xians again and getting no answers. If you put them all into an arena, they would all fight amongst themselves for eternity arguing who is a “True Xian” and who is not. I don’t know why they had to mention atheism in this, except that I suspect that maybe the author is an atheist and making a point while staying low-keyed?

New survey reveals that Americans believe in four basic types of deity.
September 17, 2006

'IN GOD WE TRUST" it says on the penny, and a new survey of religious attitudes supports that sentiment. According to "American Piety in the 21st Century," a survey conducted for Baylor University by the Gallup Organization, 85% to 90% of Americans say "yes" when asked: "Do you, personally, believe in God?"

But the study went further by asking respondents what sort of God they believed in. The results put the perennial debate over the role of religion in public life in a new light.

The survey identifies four conceptions of God, which it labels A, B, C and D.

A is the Authoritarian God, worshiped by 31.4% of respondents. This deity is highly involved, responsible for Earthly events such as tsunamis or economic upturns and "capable of meting out punishment to those who are unfaithful or ungodly."

B is the Benevolent God, the choice of 23% of respondents. He also is involved in human affairs but isn't in the smiting business. This God is "mainly a force of positive influence in the world and is less willing to condemn or punish individuals."

C is the Critical God, who "really does not interact with the world." But believers in this God — 16% of the sample — still watch their Ps and Qs because God C "views the current state of the world unfavorably" and will punish evildoers "in another life."

Last but not least is D, the Distant God. Twenty-four percent of respondents endorsed — "embraced" is probably too strong a word — this version of the deity, "a cosmic force which set the laws of nature in motion" but has no interest in human activities.

Finally, there are the atheists, who accounted for 5.2% of respondents. (They aren't dignified with an abbreviation. F for faithless?)

The diversity of beliefs about God is reflected in political as well as religious convictions. According to the survey, 17.3% of believers in a Benevolent God would abolish the death penalty, compared with only 12.1% of those who worship an Authoritarian God. When the issue is prayer is public schools, believers in God A are overwhelmingly supportive — 90.9% — and believers in God B less so (79%). Among believers in a Critical God, 69.4% supported school prayer. Among believers in a Distant God, however, only 46.5% supported school prayer.

As interesting as those correlations are, the overlap between categories suggests that all-or-nothing propositions such as "school prayer" or the display of the Ten Commandments on public property might mean very different things to different people. A believer in a Benevolent or Distant God might see school prayer as positive because God is benign or at least unthreatening, while a commandments proponent who believes in an Authoritarian God might see it as a way to strike fear into the hearts of schoolchildren — a prospect that might appall the believer in God B.

If it does nothing else, the Baylor survey should lead to more sophisticated reporting about what sort of God Americans want to welcome back to the public square: A, B, C, D — or none of the above?

Friday, September 15, 2006

President Bush uses Little Richard as translator

You can make an image of star trails

11 Hour Star Trails
Credit & Copyright: Josch Hambsch

Fix your camera to a tripod, lock the shutter open, and you can make an image of star trails - graceful concentric arcs traced by the stars as planet Earth rotates on its axis. Of course, the length of the star trails will depend on the exposure time. While exposures lasting just five minutes produce a significant arc, in about 12 hours a given star would trace out half a circle. But in any long exposure, the background glow from light-polluted skies can build up to wash out the trails. Still, astronomer Josch Hambsch produced this stunning composite of star trails around the South Celestial Pole with an effective "all night" exposure time of almost 11 hours. To do it, he combined 128 consecutive five minute long digital exposures recorded in very dark night skies above Namibia. In his final image, the background glow on the right is due in part to the faint, arcing Milky Way.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Another weird doomsday cult

Cult enters bunkers though doomsday uneventful

MAUCHE, Kenya (Reuters)
Kenyan followers of a U.S.-based religious sect which predicted the world would end after a September 12 outbreak of nuclear war moved into bunkers on Wednesday despite the failure of their prediction. Dozens of members of the House of Yahweh -- dressed in gas masks, gloves and long overcoats -- have built a network of underground hideouts in the small highland village of Mauche. They have stocked the bunkers with dried fermented flour meant to feed them for a year, by which time sinners would have been wiped off the Earth, according to their beliefs.

"Those who have been doubting us will in hours be ashamed and if the effect of the war is not felt here, then let the police arrest us," Mosheh Sang, leader of the sect in Kenya, told journalists while packing sacks of flour into a bunker.

"We shall stay in the bunkers for a period of one year."

According to Sang, a nuclear war between the United States and North Korea only failed to kick off Tuesday as expected due to difference in international time zones.


"Members of our sect who are in the U.S. will not be affected as they are protected by Yahweh," Sang added.

(How special)

According to its web site, the group was founded in Abilene, Texas.


"September 12...You need to put this date on your bathroom mirror. You also need to make preparations for the dark days ahead, which will affect every person on earth," the site says.

"There is a place of safety but like their unbelief in the Sabbath, the world will not believe this message, neither will they repent of their sins of murder, fornication, or theft. You need to start training now in the ways of Yahweh."

Kenyan authorities have been closely watching sect members to avoid a repeat of the aftermath of an unfulfilled prophecy in Uganda when more than 900 members of the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments were burned alive in 2000. Police said they were worried that the bunkers could cave in despite followers of the cult erecting supporting wooden pillars in the six-by-ten foot bunkers. Underground water was seeping into the hideouts which police said would weaken the structures.

(Convenient, no graves to dig.)

"Though there is freedom of worship in the country, our fears are that the members could die not from the so-called nuclear war but by the bunkers caving in," Dominic Karanja, a senior police officer in the area, told reporters.

But the cult's followers said it was Yahweh's (Hebrew for God) way of providing water for them.


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Earth at Night

Explanation: This is what the Earth looks like at night. Can you find your favorite country or city? Surprisingly, city lights make this task quite possible. Human-made lights highlight particularly developed or populated areas of the Earth's surface, including the seaboards of Europe, the eastern United States, and Japan. Many large cities are located near rivers or oceans so that they can exchange goods cheaply by boat. Particularly dark areas include the central parts of South America, Africa, Asia, and Australia. The above image is actually a composite of hundreds of pictures made by the orbiting DMSP satellites.

(A high-resolution digital version of the image is available (click here or here).

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Mencken's Creed

I believe that religion, generally speaking, has been a curse to mankind--that its modest and greatly overestimated services on the ethical side have been more than overcome by the damage it has done to clear and honest thinking.

I believe that no discovery of fact, however trivial, can be wholly useless to the race, and that no trumpeting of falsehood, however virtuous in intent, can be anything but vicious.

I believe that the evidence for immortality is no better than the evidence of witches, and deserves no more respect.

I believe in the complete freedom of thought and speech . . .

I believe in the capacity of man to conquer his world, and to find out what it is made of, and how it is run.

I believe in the reality of progress.

But the whole thing, after all, may be put very simply. I believe that it is better to tell the truth than to lie. I believe that it is better to be free than to be a slave. And I believe that it is better to know than be ignorant.

LINK: H. L. Mencken

Another Year Older

I am now 52 years-old. It seems as we get older, the faster the years go by. I always say that life is like being on a conveyor belt that is always moving forward. Some people fall off of the conveyor belt before reaching the end, some fall off sooner than others and a few lucky ones make it to the very end and a very old age. I hope I can hang on for a long time yet. and as my favotire quote says:

I, not events,
have the power
to make me happy or unhappy today.

I can choose which it shall be.
Yesterday is dead,
tomorrow hasn't arrived yet.

I have just one day, today,
and I am going to be happy in it.
~Groucho Marx"

Monday, September 11, 2006

Five Years Later

Eclipsed Moon Rising Over England

Credit & Copyright: Gain Lee
Explanation: Last Thursday, part of our Moon turned dark. The cause, this time, was not a partial lunar phase -- the Moon was full -- but rather that part of the Moon went into Earth's shadow. The resulting partial lunar eclipse was visible from the eastern Atlantic Ocean through Europe, Africa, and Asia and into the western Pacific Ocean. The darkest part of the lunar eclipse, when part of the Moon was completely shielded from sunlight, lasted about 90 minutes. Pictured above, a partially eclipsed Moon is seen rising over an estate in Huddersfield, England. The above image was taken far away from the house in the foreground, as only this would allow it to appear as angularly small as the half-degree Moon far in the background. A setting twilight Sun lit the foreground. The next eclipse of the Moon will occur in March 2007.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Should atheists allow their children to read the Bible?

This question was raised by Cassandra (The Atheist Mama). Since much of our culture, literature, art and music is influenced by Xianity, I think it is important for children and adults to know what the Bible is and what it says in order to properly and fairly analyze and understand an artists/writer/musician’s works if they are creating/writing/composing from a religious perspective or using Biblical reference. Even though my family and I look at xianity as mythology, we cannot deny that it is a big part of western culture and influence in many aspects of our society.

Our three kids were raised in the Lutheran and Presbyterian faiths, even attending the Lutheran grade school during their younger years. They were required to memorize Bible verses and had religion classes where they learned the fables about Noah’s Ark, The Plagues, parting of the Red Sea and the Exodus, etc. Even though we were involved in church and took our kids regularily, there were certain things we didn’t take literally. We allowed our kids the freedom to discuss their questions, doubts and opinions openly and honestly with us and encouraged them to ask their teachers and pastors their opinions. We also always told our kids that a teacher doesn’t know everything, and a pastor doesn’t know everything and much of what they say is THEIR OPINION and they could be wrong. It was through this freedom that they eventually came to their own conclusions about religion and god as they got into their teens.

All of us are now atheists and our kids (now in their 20s) probably know more about the Bible than most Xian adults. One cannot debate and argue what they do not know. We have always taught our kids to investigate BOTH sides of an issue in order to have intelligent and fair discourse on any subject. If you don’t know the other side, go find out before engaging in debate or criticizing something.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Mass hysteria in children after snake killed

More news illustrating the bad effects religious brainwashing has on children. This makes me so ANGRY! This mental torture of children is so cruel and unnecessary!

KATHMANDU (Reuters) - Dozens of children have fainted, apparently because of mass hysteria, after school authorities in Nepal killed a snake, considered as sacred by many Hindus, witnesses said on Thursday.

At least 67 students, aged between nine and 16 years, have had fainting fits since Tuesday in the mainly Hindu country, they said.

“Children suddenly scream, cry and faint,” Rishikesh Baral, assistant headmaster of the school, told Reuters by phone.

“Some recover after a couple of hours while others are yet to fully recover. We apologize for killing the snake.”

Authorities in the Laxmi Secondary School near the resort town of Pokhara, 125 km (80 miles) west of Kathmandu, organized priests to perform religious rites on Thursday to exorcise the “evil spirit” of the snake killed by school officials last week.

Doctors told school officials it was a case of hysteria caused by fear of divine retribution for the snake’s death.

Hindus regard snakes as sacred and Lord Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction, is shown wearing a serpent as a garland.

A local journalist said priests scattered rice and sprinkled holy water in classrooms to drive away the snake’s “spirit.”

Let's make sure that the next president we elect has a brain

Thanks to Sean at GifS for pointing this one out.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

“And Beat them Lightly”

From the
Islamic Society of North America’s national convention:

Sunday, 11:00-12:30 pm
Room 22
Session 9G: “…And Beat them Lightly”: An Analysis and In-Depth Discussion of Verse 4:34

This session will discuss the following: understanding the context of revelation (asbaab al nuzuul) for this verse. Emphasis will be focused on understanding the correct meaning of the verse, with specific attention given to the words qiwamah, nushuz, and daraba as well as to understand how this verse is to be applied as a protection for women, not as an abuse.

Speakers: Muzzamil Siddiqi, Rabia Karim Khan
Moderators: Mohamed Magid Ali

Here is the actual verse from the Koran


“Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). So good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah hath guarded. As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them. Then if they obey you, seek not a way against them. Lo! Allah is ever High, Exalted, Great.” (Islam and Wife Beating) tries to explain away the problem of those who take portions of the Koran in a similar way that xians take portions of the Bible, and “misinterpret” them or use them to justify abuse and violence:

“The verse mentioned has been greatly misconceived by many people who focus merely on its surface meaning, taking it to allow wife beating. When the setting is not taken into account, it isolates the words in a way that distorts or falsifies the original meaning. Before dealing with the issue of wife-battering in the perspective of Islam, we should keep in mind that the original Arabic wording of the Qur’an is the only authentic source of meaning. If one relies on the translation alone, one is likely to misunderstand it.”

The article goes on to say:

“It is important to read the section fully. One should not take part of the verse and use it to justify one’s own misconduct. This verse neither permits violence nor condones it. It guides us to ways to handle delicate family situation with care and wisdom. The word “beating” is used in the verse, but it does not mean “physical abuse”. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) explained it “dharban ghayra mubarrih” which means “a light tap that leaves no mark”. He further said that face must be avoided. Some other scholars are of the view that it is no more than a light touch by siwak, or toothbrush.”

Islamic Research Foundation International, Inc. tries to make it sound as if wife beating is not so bad if done “lightly”. If my husband even tried to “chastise” me with a toothbrush, there would be hell to pay!

In the event of a family dispute, the Qur’an exhorts the husband to treat his wife kindly and not overlook her POSITIVE ASPECTS (see Qur’an 4:19). If the problem relates to the wife’s behavior, her husband may exhort her and appeal for reason. In most cases, this measure is likely to be sufficient. In cases where the problem continues, the husband may express his displeasure in another peaceful manner, by sleeping in a separate bed from hers. There are cases, however, in which a wife persists in deliberate mistreatment and expresses contempt of her husband and disregard for her marital obligations. Instead of divorce, the husband may resort to another measure that may save the marriage, at least in some cases. Such a measure is more accurately described as a gentle tap on the body, but NEVER ON THE FACE, making it more of a symbolic measure than a punitive one.

Silas from Answering Islam explains: “To fully comprehend the issue of Islamic wife beating her position with respect to her husband must be first understood. Wife beating is allowed because of the lower position she occupies. A person with a severe virus may run a high fever. While the fever can be quite a grave problem it is actually a symptom of another sickness at work. Wife beating is a symptom of the wife’s degraded status in Islam.”

American women have come a long way in the struggle for equal rights and treatment. Now it seems history is about to repeat itself. How can muslim men in America expect to continue with these oppressive ancient practices in a land where the laws protect the rights of women and all people? As time goes by, more and more muslim women will be using those laws to deliver themselves from these humiliating and oppressive religious practices.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Green Aurora Over Lake Superior

Credit & Copyright: Jeff Hapeman
Explanation: What if your horizon was green? If you've got a camera, take a picture! That was the experience of Jeff Hapeman last week when visiting the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan. On a quiet night toward the northern horizon over Lake Superior was a long lasting diffuse green aurora. The above image was taken in an effort to capture the sense of wonder one gets when watching an auroral display. Auroras are sparked by energetic particles from the Sun impacting the magnetic environment around the Earth. Resultant energetic particles such as electrons and protons rain down near the Earth's poles and impact the air. The impacted air molecules temporarily lose electrons, and when oxygen molecules among them reacquire these electrons, they emit green light. Auroras are known to have many shapes and colors.

What Have You Been Reading?

Sportin Life over at It Ain't Necessarily So . . . tagged me for this one. I am an avid reader, so will gladly participate. (See Literary Reflections of an Avid Booklover for all my recent reads.)

1. One book that changed your life.

I don't really have one book alone that has changed my life, but a combination of several. Three of the top ones are Bertrand Russell's Why I am Not a Christian, Thomas Paine's Age of Reason, and the Bible. All three were instrumental in my coming to the realization about the absurdity of religion and humankind's quest for the impossible (to live forever) and how humans create explanations for things they do not know or understand. After reading the Bible straight through a couple of times, I finally realized the contradictions, violence, inconsistencies, intolerance, incest, etc that can be found in it. The whole basis for xianity is founded on violence...this god even tortures and kills his own son (don't tell me people did it--we know that already...but xians believe god plans all and god allows shit to happen.) Paine and Russell's writings address these various issues of the xian faith and made me come to terms with what I actually did believe...which is there are no gods. God and religion are merely human inventions.

2. One book you have read more than once.

The Bible, Mark Twain's Letter's From the Earth, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, Salem's Lot by Stephen King, When Will Jesus Bring the Porkchops by George Carlin, Mara and Dann by Doris Lessing, A Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, White Noise by Don DeLillo, The Awakening and Other Stories by Kate Chopin, most of Shakespeare's plays, The Portable Dorothy Parker (short stories by Dorothy Parker). There are more, but too long to remember all of them.

3. One book you’d want on a desert island.

Wilderness Survival Handbook

4. One book that made you giddy?

Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie. There is nothing like Native American humor. In spite of the bleakness of reservation life, Alexie uses humor and passion while juxtaposing ancient customs with such contemporary artifacts as electric guitars and diet Pepsi. Alexie captures the absurdity of a proud, dignified people living in the squalor, struggling to survive in a society they disdain. I would be laughing till my sides ached one minute, and crying in sympathy the next. Reading Alexie's books are like the roller-coaster of life -- full of ups and downs, happy and sad, silly and serious.

5. One book that you wish had been written.

Parenting is for a Lifetime:
Everything One Needs to Know About Being a Parent

6. One book that wracked you with sobs?

I never get wracked by sobs by anything I read, no matter how sad the story. The saddest things I read are in the news everyday.

7. One book you wish had never been written.

Toni Morrison's Beloved. . .the chariman of the English Department at the university I went to was obsessed wtih Tony Morrison and since this was her favorite book by Morrison, it appeared in nearly every literature class I took at that school. Those of us who graduated with degrees in English joke that we have a Masters in English with an emphasis in Toni Morrison. (Morrison is an excellent writer, but this English department chairperson and her obsession ruined it for us. I will probably never read Toni Morrison again.)

8. One book you’re currently reading.

David Sedaris' Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim. I am also reading Carl Sagan's The Dragons of Eden.

9. One book you’ve been meaning to read.

I have started War and Peace about a dozen times in the last ten years and keep stopping after a few pages. I know it is recognized as one of the greatest works of literature, but I just can't seem to get into it.

10. Now tag five bloggers.

I am tagging Uma, my pet Repuglican commentor Jason, KA at Biblioblography, MichaelBains, and jdhurf.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

There's no place like home . . .except for the higher gas prices!

We'll...that week went by quickly! Though we enjoy visiting our daughter, and miss her when we are apart, and while we enjoy trips and vacations, it's always so very good to come home to what is comfortable and familiar.

On this trip, my husband and I were toying a bit with "consipiracy theories" about gas prices...why they seemed to be higher in blue states and lower in red states. When we first filled up in Illinois, gas here was $3.19 a gallon. In Indiana it was $2.69 a gallon, Ohio $2.45 a gallon. Back up a bit to $2.65 a gallon in Pennsylvania, way back up to $3.29 a gallon in Connecticut and New York, back down to $2.65 in New Jersey. Someone suggested that it had to do with the varying taxes from state to state, however, the many times we traveled this route, gas in Ohio was usually only 20 cents cheaper than Illinois, not 60 cents cheaper like this time. (I am not including the city of Chicago prices with Illinois general gas prices because Chicago charges its own city tax on gasoline.) Anyone have any "theories" of their own?