Greta Christina’s piece on atheism and sensuality is fab, well worth reading. And I agree with it a lot.
My atheism has always been very cerebral: my realisation that I did not believe in God was fairly straight-forward and non-emotional. What got me more involved with organised atheism and skepticism was an intellectual process: reading writers like Bertrand Russell and Richard Dawkins and others. This led on to doing a philosophy degree—about as cerebral as one can get.
Being smart—or if not smart, at least competent at work that requires the use of one’s intellectual faculties—can become self-defining, and if you are a bit unsure of yourself, it can become an escape mechanism for avoiding dealing with your physical self.
Greta points out that the separation of the intellectual and the sensual is a form of Cartesian dualism which we should reject as scientifically implausible. This is true. I’d argue it’s not dualism in the sense of believing that they are separate substances, but there is a sort of ‘value’ dualism we embrace because by valuing intellectual things higher than ‘physical’ things, we escape from our own failure to deal with our physical reality.
Overweight and unhealthy? Well, that doesn’t matter if you are on a higher plane. And though the spiritual plane isn’t necessarily open to us atheists, the intellectual one is, and that’s a pretty good substitute. Part of what is scary about coming out isn’t necessarily the being gay bit, it’s the being sexual bit. If your self-image is built on being a thinking person (that means you, geeks and nerds), identifying yourself as being in a sexual minority first requires seeing yourself as sexual, that is, having sexual desires and interests and thus having a sexual orientation at all.
This is not to deny that there is merit in cerebral things. I enjoy writing software not for the physical aspects (hours of physical inactivity followed by RSI) but because solving technical problems is often fun and challenging in the same way finding problems with bad arguments is, or solving crosswords.1 But just because we tend to be more cerebral doesn’t mean we can ignore the sensual and bodily. Just because you like solving crosswords or arguing about philosophy doesn’t mean you can’t also enjoy sex or watching gymnastics or booze or good chocolate or exercising or climbing mountains or getting a massage. Using your brain is not an excuse for failing to enjoy your body.
You’ve got one life to live: as long as you know your own limits and don’t hurt anyone, you’ve got every right to enjoy yourself. There are no prizes in this godless universe for self-denial.
I’m told crosswords are fun. Despite being a wordy person, I’ve never really got much into them.↩
A men’s rights activist calls a domestic violence hotline claiming that he is being abused by his wife. He gets useful advice and an offer of shelter. Goes on the Internet and bitches about it. This is like the ACORN ‘pimp’ sting but more stupid.
Waiting for @kevinprince.
If you send a freedom of information request, you might be surprised when the government send you back unattributed material from Wikipedia…
GistBox is “the personal code library you’ve always wanted”. It looks fancy.
Of course, the personal code library I’ve always wanted would write the code for me. Because I’m lazy. But until that happens, this will have to do.
Norm has a bad argument against same-sex marriage. You know, as opposed to the many good arguments against—oh, wait.
Mass freakout in Florida after some radio DJs inform people that dihydrogen monoxide is coming out of their taps.
Oh, I’m loving the whining coming from the homophobes following the Supreme Court arguments over DOMA. Here’s David Brody, being quoted by Kevin Drum.
In the media’s narrative, you would think that homosexuals are the poor souls who have been banished by society like ugly stepchildren and are now rising to overcome incredible odds. But what about today? Let’s be honest: If you are a conservative evangelical who believes in the biblical definition of traditional marriage then guess what? You are one of the following: An outcast, a bigot, narrow-minded, a “hater” or all of the above. It’s a different type of ridicule but it’s still ridicule.
I think that David Brody is underplaying it somewhat.
He should have explained about how evangelical Christian conservatives are being thrown out of their houses by their parents, and that 40% of homeless teenagers in the US are disowned evangelical Christian conservatives.
Or about how if you tell the wrong people that you are a conservative evangelical, they’ll tie you to the back of a truck, drag you through the streets and kill you.
Or that if someone takes exception to you because you are a conservative evangelical and decides to douse you in oil and set light to you, the perpetrator may only get three-and-a-half years in jail, and the judge will dismiss their actions as “horseplay”. And that’s only if you are lucky, because mostly the police can’t be fucked to investigate the deaths of evangelical Christians.
These kinds of terrible things happen to evangelical Christian conservatives all the time.
Vaccines make you gay according to one nutter in Italy who Huffington Post rather generously call a scientist.
Perhaps they should put that in books for teenagers: “you may be ashamed of being gay, but look at the upsides: you don’t have polio…”
Just added a worker queue to Ferocity, my blogging system. This is to spin out HTTP calls into their own process. Each time I post, it notifies the default PubSubHubbub hub and also sends it to the Twitter API. Now that I have a beanstalk’d queue, posting is dramatically quicker. Which means I might do it more often. (Server speed is a UX issue!)
You don’t have to listen to political arguments for too long in order to hear what I currently consider to be the worst political argument in circulation.
It is simply this: some measure X should be opposed because it will reduce the native birth rate and thus help the invading Muslim hordes take over our beautiful country by outbreeding us.
I saw the argument made today in response to new measures in France allowing women to have free access to abortion and allowing teenage girls free and anonymous access to contraception. Apparently, the only way to prevent the invading Muslim hordes in France is to make sure more pregnancies and births are unplanned.
I heard it when talking to an anti-same-sex marriage protester. Really. If gay people get married and don’t have children, then the Muslims will outbreed us… as opposed to what will happen if gay people aren’t able to get married. Yeah. It’s that stupid. Apparently, us gay folk are duty-bound to find ourselves an opposite-sex partner and have kids in order to quell the Muslim uprising or something.
The bit which I can’t quite get my head around is that the argument is used to justify socially conservative policies. No access to abortion, opposition to gay marriage, whatever. If militant Islam is such a threat, it is precisely because it will implement these sort of policies. So, you know, we better keep it at bay by implementing these policies before they do. How the fuck does that make any sense in any rational universe? Even if those policies make the lives of actual living people in the country worse, we have to do it because we need our army of future hypothetical people to fight their army of hypothetical people.
If birth rates truly are as significant as proponents of this argument think it is, some kind of eugenic programme would be the most effective way of bringing their political beliefs into reality. Technology is bringing us closer to the point where temporary sterilisation could be implemented, reversible upon meeting certain requirements (education, a job, whatever). But they won’t advocate that because it’s scary, even though it’s a logical conclusion of their eugenic policy: they think we should set social policy based on how it will indirectly affect the birth rate of certain segments of the population. Once you accept that is a valid goal of state policy, whether it is done through temporary sterilisation or through laws on abortion and marriage and so on is just a matter of which means you prefer to the same end.
The sight of Ray Comfort being stupid is always funny.
It looks like Wikipedia has decided that as an April Fool’s joke it’ll be filled up with idiotic right-wing talking points today.