Blog Traffic Update

So I've had my blog up and running again for six weeks, and I think I have posted something every weekday. I'm pretty proud of that, even if some days I just posted a funny picture or Youtube video.

About a month ago I signed up at to keep track of page loads and visitors. The graph above is of the past 30 days. It's interesting to see how the traffic fluctuates during the week. There is little traffic on the weekends because people are too busy living life to read my silly blog, and it picks up later on in the week (Thursdays have seen the most total traffic) as people become less and less motivated to do work at their job. I figure it usually slows down on Friday because people realize they have a lot of shit to do before the weekend.

In total I have had 878 page loads, 482 visitors, and 58 returning visitors these past thirty days. And before anyone suggests it does not count me in those numbers.

I hope that some of those returning visitors are real-life friends of mine, but I figure most of them are coming in from the Atheist Blogroll. I need to spend more time reading the blogs that are often listed as *NEW* along with mine on the list. I have already spent time reading some of them, and I am thinking about reviewing some of my favorites.

DO ME A FAVOR - If you are one of my returning visitors, or if this is your first time here, let me know who you are in the comments.

From the Archives: May 20, 2010

In my local paper, The Long Island Advance, there is a weekly (as is the paper) segment titled From the Archives of the Long Island Advance, in which they present some news clips from 100, 75, and 50 years ago. A lot of the news is so mundane that I find it to be very funny. I hope that you do too.

From 100 years ago:
  • Ira Rogers’s bull dog Jumbo was run over and killed by
    an auto.
  • About a dozen Tungsten lights on Main Street, between
    the village limits and Swan River, were turned on by the
    Patchogue Electric Light Co. They are the first to be placed
    in the recently organized lighting district.
  • At the Unique the contest to decide the most popular
    young lady in town stood as follows: Esther Smith, 175;
    Edith Nugent, 239; Eunice Foster, 189; Fanny Smith, 49; Sadie
    Ginocchio, 61; Nellie Gibbons, 169; Hilda Webber, 32;
    Lottie Link, 100; Mayme Vanderpool, 51; Clare Marran, 54;
    Fanny Budd, 97; Lillian Davis, 2; Nellie Ackerly, 8; Roselle
    Daly, 5; Edna Webb, 4; and Virginia Ullman, 10.
  • Thomas B. Camidge has purchased a power vacuum
    cleaner on wheels, run by a gasoline engine. He will take
    orders for cleaning houses. This is an innovation that will
    be welcomed by the ladies.Mr. and Mrs. John Romanski left for a trip to Germany
    and expect to be gone three months.

Bible for Atheists: Genesis 20

In this chapter Abraham pulls a stunt we’ve seen him pull before, but it is still mind boggling. Abraham and Sarah settle in Gerar and Abraham tells the king, Abimelech, that Sarah is his sister. Abimelech sends for Sarah, even though she is at least 90 years old at this point. In a dream that night God tells Abimelech that he is in deep shit because Sarah is actually a married woman and demands he return Sarah to Abraham.

Abimelech is confused and angry. He calls Abraham and says to him, “What have you done to us? How have I sinned against you, that you have brought such great guilt on me and my kingdom. You have done things to me that ought not to be done.”

Abraham tells Abimelech, “I did it because I thought, There is no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife. Besides, she is indeed my sister, the daughter of my father but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife.”

Well that’s the first we’ve heard of that. So Abraham wasn’t technically lying, but he was still being dishonest.

Abimelech pays Abraham in sheep, oxen, and slaves and tells him to settle anywhere he pleases.

Oh, and we find out at the end of the chapter that God had “closed fast all the wombs of the house of Abimelech” but Abraham prays to God and God “heals” them.

Here’s a similar situation:

You see a speed limit sign that says 65 mph, so you drive that fast, but soon a cop pulls you over. He tells you that the speed limit is actually 30 mph, and revokes your license. It turns out that it was the cop who put the 65 mph speed limit sign up. You tell the judge about the misleading sign, but the judge already knows about it, and he demands you pay a hefty fine to have your license reinstated.


LOST / 24

(beware: spoilers ahead)

Sunday and Monday night saw the series finale of two shows that I've been following for a long time - LOST and 24. These are two television programs that really changed the way we perceive the medium.

I think LOST should have ended a couple years ago. That being said, I was satisfied with the finale and the last few episodes. All of our questions weren't answered, but I didn't expect that and I wouldn't want that anyway. If all the questions were answered we would close the book on LOST and move on, never to think too much about the show again. Now, even after the show is ended, we can speculate and theorize about the unknown. LOST was about mystery and now it will be forever.

For me, the finale of 24 didn't seem like a series finale, it seemed more like a season finale. With plans to make a 24 movie (or movies, more likely) the writers didn't have the freedom to provide the audience with a sense of closure. If you followed this season, especially the last 4 hours or so, you have to agree that Jack should have assassinated the Russian president and been taken out afterward by CTU. If the writers and producers of 24 wanted to make an even more lasting mark on television history, the final minutes of the series would have been Jack being taken out by CTU in a crazy firefight with Chloe crying on the sidelines, followed by a silent clock.

Kung Fu Bear

Most bears will kill you with teeth and claws. Some will kill you with kindness (see: Pooh, Winnie the). This bear will kill you with mad kung fu skills.

Maine After Nan Died

My grandma died on July 10, 2008.  It was a Thursday and I was planning on spending a long weekend in Maine with some friends from college.  My dad told me I should still take my trip because it would take a few days to make the arrangements and for his brothers to fly in from Arizona anyway.


We weren’t surprised that she died.  I had resigned myself to that fact months earlier.  I was heading home from an exam and saw an ambulance in front of me heading in the same direction. Somehow I just knew it was going to my house.

My grandma was a stubborn old lady.  Even at 81 she didn’t ask for help putting something on the top shelf in her closet, but instead decided to stand on a chair and do it herself.  She fell off the chair onto the hardwood floor and broke her hip.

I entered the house to her screaming in agony.  I tried to see if there was anything I could do to help, but I just couldn’t listen to her cries.  I went downstairs to my room and started throwing shit around, which is what I am prone to do when I’m upset.  My grandma had survived multiple open-heart surgeries, but I knew she wouldn’t make it through this.

When I was just a baby, my parents were having a house built and decided that my dad’s parents would move in with us, I think for financial reasons.  My grandpa died when I was seven and my parents were divorced when I was eleven, and after that it was just myself, my sister, my dad, and my grandma in the house.  My dad always worked two or three jobs so we spent a lot of time in my grandma’s care.  She was one of my greatest influences in life.

Bad Religion Song of the Week: Atheist Peace

Atheist Peace
Bad Religion
The Empire Strikes First

Maybe it's too late for intellectual debate
But a residue of confusion remains
Changing with the times and amphetamine tortured minds
Are the average citizen's sources of pain

Tell me what we're fighting for
I don't remember anymore, only temporary reprieve
And the world might cease if we fail to tame the beast
From the faith that you release comes an atheist peace

Political forces ran critical winds of discontent
And the modern age emerged triumphantly
But now it seems we've stalled and it's time to de-evolve
And relive the dark chapters of history

Tell me what we're fighting for
No progress ever came from war, only a false sense of increase
And the world won't wait for the truth upon a plate
But we're ready now to feast on an atheist peace

There are two levels of “atheist peace”: peace within oneself and peace in the world.

Atheism Replacing Religion?

I wasn't sure what to blog about today, so I spent 45 minutes trolling Reddit last night.  Glad I did, because I found this:

Why Atheism Will Replace Religion, on the blog The Human Beast by Nigel Barber, Ph.D.

It's a short article if you want to read the whole thing, but he is basically saying that in developed social democracies, such as Sweden and Denmark, people do not rely on religion very much (Sweden is 64% nonbelievers!), while in developing places like sub-Saharan Africa nonbelief accounts for less than 1% of the population.

It seems that people turn to religion as a salve for the difficulties and uncertainties of their lives. In social democracies, there is less fear and uncertainty about the future because social welfare programs provide a safety net and better health care means that fewer people can expect to die young. People who are less vulnerable to the hostile forces of nature feel more in control of their lives and less in need of religion.

Extrapolate these findings, and one can see how religion might eventually be marginalized as more countries are developed.

The United States would fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum.  Obviously religion is much more prevalent here than in Western Europe, but we also do not have the level of social programs they do.

Perhaps increased atheism will be a pleasant side effect of healthcare reform. No? A guy can dream, can't he?

People Who Have Read the Entire Bible

I can't disagree with this chart.  I mean, it's completely unscientific, but that's beside the point.  If you read the whole Bible, and I mean really read it, I don't see how you could believe everything some people believe.  There are plenty of contradictions in there and lots of stories that have pretty ambiguous moral conclusions.

At the very least, any reasonable person would have to admit that the book was definitely the product of man, and not some divine word of god.  That alone would prevent you from fully participating in many Christian sects.

I guess this infographic might also be a commentary on the mentalities of believers and non-believers.  Many atheists I know (I hesitate to say most atheists) also have an insatiable thirst for knowledge, which leads them to learn about other people's beliefs, especially of the dominant religion in their country.

Religious people might be content to have the bible interpreted for them, and to be told what to believe and how to worship.  In fact, for many years the Bible was only available in Latin, preventing all but the priestly class and other well educated people from reading it and developing their own interpretation.

tl;dr - Read the bible.


I found this video of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull on Reddit the other day. I shared it on Google Reader, but it is so cool I figured I'd post it here too.

Oh, and if anyone wants to buy me a Canon 5D MarkII, please send me an email.

Bible for Atheists: Sodom and Gomorrah Edition

Disclaimer: This is a long-ish post, but these chapters are among the mostly cited, especially here in America by the anti-gay movement.  I encourage everyone to read the actual text and to draw conclusions for themselves.  I hope that the following summary and commentary will help some people make sense of this particular passage.

Chapter 18

God and a couple angels appear before Abraham one day.  God tells Abraham that his wife Sarah, who is very old (“it had ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women”), that she would bear Abraham a son.  Sarah laughs at this. 

God hears her laughter and asks Abraham why she would laugh, and if she did not believe that God could do as He says.  Sarah says, “I did not laugh.”  God replies, “Oh yes, you did laugh.”

That short conversation seems juvenile to me (Did not! Did so!) but besides that, I think this might be an illustration of the righteousness of men as opposed to women.  Men are the truly pious and are therefore superior to women, at least in the eyes of God.

I look at this a completely different way.  Abraham takes what God says as true, without question, but Sarah uses her logic and reason to evaluate the situation for herself.  Of course this doesn’t work out for her, since God is actually there and his existence and power cannot really be questioned, but I admire her spirit.

Here is the really interesting part of the chapter.  God has an internal debate about whether or not he should tell Abraham his plans regarding Sodom and Gomorrah.  God decides not to keep this secret from Abraham, as he is to be the father of God’s chosen people.  The angels will be sent to the cities to see if the rumors about their wickedness are true (I guess God is not truly omniscient after all) and if they are He will destroy them. 

Abraham is appalled, and he dares question God’s decision.  “Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; will you then sweep away the place and not forgive it for the fifty righteous who are in it?  Far be it from you to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you!”

Bad Religion Song of the Week: God's Love

God's Love
Bad Religion
The Empire Strikes First

Striking at mental apparitions
Like a drunk on a vacant street
Silently beset by the hands of time
Indelicate in its fury
An aberrant crack as skeletons yield
To unrelenting gravity
While viruses prowl for helpless victims
Who succumb rapidly

(Tell me!) Tell me; where is the love?
In a careless creation
When there’s no “above”
There’s no justice
Just a cause and a cure
And a bounty of suffering
It seems we all endure
And what I’m frightened of
Is that they call it “God’s love”

Twisted torment, make-believe
There’s a truth and we all submit
“Believe my eyes,” my brain complies
To all that they interpret


I know there’s no reason for alarm
But who needs perspective when it comes to pain and harm
We can change our minds; there’s a better prize

But first you’ve got to…

They call it God’s love
My pain is God’s love

Bible for Atheists: Genesis 17

Genesis 17

God makes Abram an offer he can’t refuse. Abram shall be henceforth known as Abraham, for he will become “the ancestor of a multitude of nations.” (NRSV, Genesis 17:5) Abraham’s descendants will be kings of all the land of Canaan and all Abraham has to do is cut off his foreskin, the foreskins of all the males in his house, the foreskin of every baby born in his house, and the foreskin of any slave bought with his money.

Um…what the fuck, God? What is the deal with God’s foreskin fetish? In Chapter 17 of the NRSV the words foreskin and circumcision occur eight times between verses 9 and 14.

Well, I have an idea why God had such a strange request, and I can thank Professor Heinegg of Union College’s English Department. I took his World of the Bible class junior year. It was a secular class about the Bible and its place in history and as an historical document.

The reason why the Jews have been practicing circumcision might be to distinguish themselves from neighboring tribes. This was Heinegg’s explanation of other Jewish traditions as well, such as their food laws. In order to have a distinct cultural identify they chose to do things differently than their neighbors.

Back in the day, when you saw a Jewish man’s penis you knew something about him. You might know he is one of you, or that he is an enemy, but either way it identifies him as a Jew.

From the Archives: May 6

In my local paper, The Long Island Advance, there is a weekly (as is the paper) segment titled From the Archives of the Long Island Advance, in which they present some news clips from 100, 75, and 50 years ago. A lot of the news is so mundane that I find it to be very funny. I hope that you do too.

From 100 years ago:
  • The great Neuman, the Russian psychic, who astonished
    New York and other big cities last fall by his marvelous
    feats of mind-reading, will come to Patchogue next week
    at the auditorium.
  • Mr. and Mrs. John Romanski left for a trip to Germany
    and expect to be gone three months.
  • In the line of progress, we are glad to note Ackerly’s new
    24 H.P. automobile piano truck. This is the first piano house
    on Long Island to have its own auto-delivery. Mr. Ackerly
    says the bugbear of long drives for delivery has now been
    changed into a pleasure, and he is looking forward to a radius
    of business three times as great as formerly.
  • The 50 Tungsten lights in the Blue Point lighting district
    were turned on by the Patchogue Electric Light Co. and the
    illumination makes a gratifying difference to those going
    through this section at night. The East Patchogue district
    will be lighted by May 15, it is said. The company is pushing
    work along for the Moriches district. The Bellport Village
    district has not yet signed the contract.

Are You Fucking Kidding Me?

Now Congressional Republicans and Democrats would like the ability to strip a US citizen of his/her citizenship in the case of a terrorist attack (or, apparently, an attempted terrorist attack). Being a citizen of the United States comes with many rights and privileges, such as your right to remain silent.

To be honest, I only heard a small segment about this on CNN this morning, so I don’t understand all the details. Here are some questions I have:
  1. Would this only apply to naturalized citizens or to naturally born citizens as well?
  2. Would this apply to all terrorist attacks or only terrorist attacks perpetrated in the name of religion?
             a. Only Islam or any religion?
  3. How would the government be prevented from applying this de-citizenship more liberally, in cases that aren’t clearly terrorism, or even in cases that clearly are not terrorism?
No matter the answers to the above questions, I don’t like this idea one bit. People are born Americans or they earn their American citizenship, and this is something that should not be revocable. If we need to change or create some laws in order to more effectively prosecute terrorists, then Congress should make those laws, but citizenship should be untouchable.

Times Square Car Bomb

Recently naturalized American citizen Faisal Shahzad was arrested Monday night for attempting to blow up a vehicle parked in Times Square in New York City. Mr. Shahzad was born in Pakistan but was naturalized in April 2009.

With the intent of attaining information regarding imminent threats to the United States, Shahzad was interrogated by the F.B.I. without being read his Miranda rights. If the United States were in imminent danger of some other, preventable terrorist attack, Mr. Shahzad had no right to remain silent.

After providing what the F.B.I. called “valuable intelligence and evidence” Shahzad was read his Miranda rights but decided to keep talking.

This procedure was not strict enough for some Republicans.
Senator John McCain of Arizona called it a mistake to read Mr. Shahzad his Miranda rights so soon. “When we detain terrorism suspects, our top priority should be finding out what intelligence they have that could prevent future attacks and save American lives,” he said on Sean Hannity’s radio show. “Our priority should not be telling them they have a right to remain silent.”(NY Times)

US Constitution

As some of you may know, I have been reading through the Bible and commenting. I haven't even finish Genesis yet, but I'm in no rush. I am also going to start reading through the US Constitution commenting on that.

Something I saw on YouTube last week got me interested in reading the Constitution again. It was a clip from MSNBC in which they compared statements from Sarah Palin regarding the United States and Christianity with quotations from the Constitution and from our Founding Fathers.

The point they were trying to make was that although Palin and others consider America a "Chistian nation" the Founding Fathers did not. In fact, they envisioned the exact opposite. They had seen the effects of religion on the nations of Europe and elsewhere, and did not want the same for their new nation.

Bad Religion Song of the Week: Kyoto Now

Kyoto Now
Bad Religion
The Process of Belief

It's a matter of prescience
No, not the science fiction kind
It's all about ignorance,
and greed, and miracles for the blind
the media parading, disjointed politics
founded on petrochemical plunder
and we're its hostages

If you stand to reason
you're in the game
the rules might be elusive
but our pieces are the same
and you know if one goes down we all go down as well
the balance is precarious as anyone can tell
this world's going to hell

Don't allow
this mythologic hopeful monster to exact its price
Kyoto now!
We can't do nothing and I think someone else will make it right

You might not think it matters now
But what if you are wrong
You might not think there's any wisdom in a fucked up punk rock song
But the way it is
cannot persist for long
a brutal sun is rising on a sick horizon

It's in the way
we live our lives
exactly like the double-edge of a cold familiar knife
and supremacy weighs heavy on the day
it's never really what you own but what you threw away
and how much did you pay?

In your dreams
You saw a steady state a bounty for eternity
Silent screams
but now the wisdom that sustains us is in full retreat
Don't allow
this mythologic hopeful monster isn't worth the risk
Kyoto now!
We can't have vision for the future if it can't be fixed
We need a fresh and new religion to run our lives
Hand in hand
the arid torpor of inaction will be our demise

Oh, Kyoto now

People don't understand, or don't want to understand, or don't want you to understand humans' effects on the environment. The oil industry has our elected officials in their pockets, and there's nothing we can do about it.

"We can't do nothing and think someone else will make it right." This is true in so many contexts. In terms of the environment it is even more important because the "we" is all human beings. If we won't change ourselves who will change us?

People don't understand that the problems we face with the environment are not immediate. It is not like a volcanic eruption or coal mine collapse. We need to look look at trends in the environment over periods of decades, or centuries, or millenia in order to understand it and our impact on it. Most people don't understand such abstract ideas, and they don't care either.

In the past we thought nothing of exploiting the environment. Few would have used the word "exploit." Now we are learning about our misdeeds, and hopefully we will look into the future and decide that we cannot go on in our current relationship with the environment. If we don't then "hand in hand the arid torpor of inaction will be our demise."

Biggest Loser

Biggest Loser started last month at my school, and I decided that I should join this time. Bri and I have our own place now so we have the ability to keep healthier food around and access to the kitchen whenever we need it. I had no excuse to not join.

I don't expect to win this year. Don't get me wrong, if I wanted to win I would win, but I would be miserable the whole time and I would put the weight right back on. Biggest Loser would be some motivation for me, but it would not be the goal itself.

It is unhealthy to lose weight too quickly, for whatever reason. A pound a week seems to be the standard, healthy amount. A pound a week isn't going to do too much for me in the Biggest Loser contest, which is only 3 months (12 pounds) long. If I can change my lifestyle, though, and keep up the dieting for a longer time, I could lose as much weight as I want.

So here's my new goal: A pound a week for a year. That will amount to a net loss of, you guessed it, 52 pounds, which will leave me at a healthy 180 pounds. For a man of 5 feet 8 inches 180 pounds is still considered overweight according to most height/weight charts (I am currently obese, apparently) but I don't think the "healthy" range of 130-170 pounds would actually be healthy for me.

Progress so far? Well, so far so good. I've been up to this for a month and I have gone from 229.2 pounds to 222.2 pounds (a 7 pound loss) so I am actually ahead of the game.

I am not going to be strict about only losing 1 pound a week for now, and later on when I only lose 1/2 pound a week that will be okay too, as long as I am on track to have lost the 52nd pound by next April.