Archive for the 'LinzeeBinzee' Category

My Reading List (New Page)

I added a new page to my blog…my reading list!

Here’s the intro text from that page, (or you can just click¬†here to go to the page):

I decided that it might be fun to share my reading list. I love books and I have a huge stack lined up to read, so I’ve just made a quick list for now and I’ll update it as I find the time.

Please feel free to make recommendations or to discuss any of the books I’ve read in the comments below.

Oh, I should add, I won’t be buying any books on faith, theology, apologetics, etc. (unless they’re the skeptical kind). I find those kind of books incredibly tedious, so don’t bother recommending those. But if anyone wants to send me one then I’ll put it to the top of my reading list and blog about it extensively ūüôā

I can’t wait to hear your recommendations!

Obligatory New Year’s Post

Welcome to 2010!

It’s already January 2nd, so I’m a little late with my New Year’s post, but better late than never!

I’ve never been the type for making new year’s resolutions, and when I have I usually forget what they were by January 3rd, so I don’t know why I bother. But there’s been something I’ve been meaning to do, and I’ve been waffling on it for the past 3 or 4 months, so I decided to jump right in and to make it my new year’s resolution.

I’m quitting meat. I love it, but I believe it’s unethical to kill animals for my own enjoyment, so I’m not going to eat it anymore. When I was a Christian I had the whole mentality that God put animals on earth to serve humans, so I had no qualms about eating meat.

My goal in life now is to determine my ethics and values based on reason and evidence, so since¬†I can no longer justify eating meat, it’s about time to stop.

If you have any yummy veg recipes, send them my way!

I don’t want this post to be all about me, so here are some New Year’s posts I enjoyed reading:

Steven Novella looks at some of the biggest issues in skepticism over the last decade.

Skeptic North reflects on 2009 and their first few months of skeptical blogging.

Phil Plait gives us the skinny on how we define a decade, and why 2010 really is the beginning of the next decade.

Amanda at Opinions of a Wolf talks about why New Year’s is her favourite holiday, and I have to agree!

Richard Wiseman arranges what summarized 2009 for men and women in the form of word clouds.

Something a Little Personal & Douchebag Campus Preachers

Hello readers, if you stop by here regularly enough you may have noticed that I haven’t been posting lately. This is because of stresses that are going on in my life right now. I have had plenty of time to blog, but I’m having difficulty concentrating so I have a zillion unfinished drafts of posts.

I just want to let you know that I’m going to try harder to focus. I have drafts that I intend on finishing, comments that I will respond to, and a hoax countdown that I will resume. I promise!

So this post isn’t a complete waste, there was an amusing picture posted on Friendly Atheist today:

What an ass, I’m glad those men are making him feel uncomfortable. He should feel uncomfortable. If he thinks that love (or even simply lust) between two consenting adults should be eternally punished he should be ashamed of himself. Do preachers really think they’ll win converts by displaying their bigotry like this? Especially at Yale, which is where this picture was taken.

And serious, WTF, Democrats? Feminists? And these are lumped in with Thieves? What a random assortment of words. I wonder how he narrowed it down. I wonder why gangster rappers, but not gangsters? I wonder why potheads, but not drug dealers?

Thankfully there’s no such place as Hell, because I’m at least 8 of those things.

It’s Been a Year Since I Lost My Religion

A year ago today my life began to change in a big way. On October 3, 2008 Bill Maher’s movie about religion, Religulous, was released in Canada. At the time I was a Christian, but I decided to see the movie because I was intrigued by the previews. I had never been exposed to such outright criticism of religion.

I didn’t know who Bill Maher was (honestly…people find this hard to believe), so I didn’t know what to expect. What I saw was a crass, in-your-face dump on faith. But rather than feeling offended I felt inspired by the closing scene of the movie. Maher said:

Faith means making a virtue out of not thinking…keeping mankind in a bondage to fantasy and nonsense that has spawned and justified so much lunacy and distruction.

The only appropriate attitude for man to have about the big questions is not the arrogant certitude that is the hallmark of religion, but doubt.

I started to allow myself to doubt my beliefs, and to consider that the Bible was probably just a fairy tale.

A short time after I had seen the movie I was in a book store and noticed Christopher Hitchens’s book God is not Great, and decided to pick it up. By the time I finished reading the book I was an atheist, and wondering how I ever believed in a god in the first place!

I was now very fascinated with the topic of religion, and picked up Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion. Dawkins introduced me to the world of skepticism of all sorts of beliefs. I discovered that there was a whole online community of skeptics.

I filled up my iPod with podcasts that allow me to learn while I’m working:

The Atheist Experience
The Conspiracy Skeptic
Hunting Humbug 101
Point of Inquiry
The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe
The Skeptic Zone
Skeptoid

I also got into reading blogs that kept me up to date on the big stories in the atheist and skeptical communities:

Bad Astronomy
Friendly Atheist
NeurologicaBlog
Pharyngula
Skepchick

And I’ve been doing my best to get a fairly well-rounded understanding of science. Some of my favourite books:

The Elegant Universe – Brian Greene
Death From the Skies! – Phil Plait
Quirkology – Richard Wiseman
Trick or Treatment – Simon Singh
The Selfish Gene – Richard Dawkins

I’m being opened up to a whole new, fascinating, mind-boggling, incredible, inconceivable, evidence-based, beautiful and awe-inspiring universe.

It has been quite a year! I’ve been taking in so much information that I needed to start this blog in order to articulate some of my thoughts, and to try to take part in what others in the skeptical community are doing. I’m learning and growing every day, and I can’t wait to see where I’m at in a year’s time.

If any of the people involved in the podcasts, blogs and books I mentioned above happen to stumble upon this blog entry, I just want to say thanks!

I think that the best thing that I’ve learned in the last year is the importance of science. Science is the most useful tool that we have, and I’m excited every time I see someone promoting it to the wider public. It seems to be on the increase and that’s so encouraging.

I’ve rambled on long enough, but I just felt the need to reflect on the past year. Thanks for reading!

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Contact Page Update

Just a quick note letting you know that I’ve updated my contact page. Now there’s a form that you can fill in to send feedback, story ideas, or questions directly to my main email inbox.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Parents

So two days ago I found out that my parents are splitting up, and it’s so shitty. I never thought that I’d be going through this as an adult.

On Tuesday I got home from work and I got a phone call from my dad saying that him and my mom wanted to have a family meeting with my siblings and I. He wouldn’t give details so we all got there as soon as we could.

My parents each read a letter to us that they had written about why they’re separating, and then it was just silence and tears for awhile. It was so awkward. What do you say?

Anyways I’m pretty emotionally drained right now and I don’t have the energy right now to go into things, but this is just an excuse for why I may not be around as much in the next little while.

I’m Back!

I haven’t made any new posts in awhile, but I’m missing blogging so I’m back!

I suppose that the reason I stopped was that I was making mistakes in my reasoning and getting off track of what I wanted my blog to be about, and I was getting frustrated with myself. But that’s not a good reason to stop, so I’m going to make a commitment now to start blogging regularly again. Thank you to the people who have commented recently, it’s these comments that have encouraged me to start up again. I’ll try to respond to many of the recent comments.

I just want to comment on a few things before I get back to my regular blogging…

I found that a lot of my recent posts were just poking fun at strange beliefs, and that’s not what my goal was with this blog. I also want to express my excitement with regards to learning about science. I’m a very positive person, so I want to make an effort to blog about what I enjoy. I’ll still be pointing out pseudoscience and bad reasoning, but I want to balance that with talking about cool discoveries and interesting things I’m learning about.

In one instance I posted in the comments section of a post that I wanted someone to show me the evidence they had for the paranormal. They responded with several links to studies, and I didn’t give them much more than a cursory glance. I asked for the evidence (though I should have specified what I was looking for evidence for) and I should have given the responses to that request more of a look, but I was dismissive. I wasn’t worried that I would see evidence that would challenge my world view. I welcome a challenge to my world view. Rather, I had no interest in reading over what was given to me. From now on, when I ask for evidence, I’ll look at what’s given in response to that. And if I’m feeling particularly ambitious one day, I’ll read over what was given to me in the comments of that post. I also want to add that my response to that situation was not representative of people in the skeptical movement. I’m a rookie at this, and I’m learning more and more each day.

Some people had said that I had swapped Jesus for James Randi, and this is not true. I admire Randi, sure, as I admire many other scientists and skeptics, but I do not worship him, I do not follow him blindly, and I do not believe that he has all of the answers. I just wanted to make that clear.

I think I’ve dealt with everything I wanted to talk about for now, but if anyone has any questions or comments about my hiatus please post them here ūüôā

I’m happy to be back, now on with our regularly scheduled program…

We Can’t Rely on Our Memories

I had an experience at work today that nicely illustrates the faultiness of our memories.

Last week I was supposed to mail these letters, and I was 100% sure that I mailed them, there was no doubt in my mind. The people waiting for them had called a few times already and I told them yes I sent them. It was Wednesday afternoon, I was on my way out and I quickly packed them in the inter-office envelopes and popped them in the mail. I remember it so clearly as if I were doing it right now.

Finally today, after my boss asked me about them and I once again asserted that I did send them, I actually checked to make sure they weren’t still sitting on my desk. And lo and behold there they were. I could have checked easily the first time somebody asked if I had sent them, but my memory of sending them was so clear that I didn’t have an ounce of doubt.

I’m pretty sure that what actually happened was that it was the end of the day,¬†I didn’t have time to address the letters, so¬†I put them down on my desk to remind myself to send them the next morning. Somehow that mental note to remember to send them turned into a clear memory of popping them into the mail.

This is why eyewitness accounts of UFOs, hauntings, or anything for that matter are not to be taken as evidence. Our memories can be altered over time to the point where they no longer resemble what actually took place, even with something as mundane as mailing a letter.

A Day Full of Memories

Today I’ll be posting about something a little more personal…

It’s an anniversary of a couple of events, so today holds a lot of memories for me.

First, it’s my 2nd wedding anniversary. I have the most wonderful husband, and it has been an amazing two years. I really have to give him props for being so supportive of me because I’ve changed a lot over the past couple of years. When he married me I was a Christian. He was¬† not, but he allowed me to be who I was.

He never once tried to change me, and once I started to really question my beliefs he allowed me to dive right in. He satisfied my desire to have philosophical discussions over dinner, he didn’t complain when I spent hundreds of dollars on¬† books, he listens intently when I blab on and on about astronomy, and he let me hijack our summer vacation and turn it¬† into an educational trip to the Amazing Meeting in Vegas.

I’m really lucky to have him…happy anniversary sweetie, I love you!

Today also marks a year since my grandfather passed away. It really sucked to have him die on our first anniversary, but I know I’ll always think of him on this day. I remember one year after my then boyfriend now husband gave me an expensive gift my grampa told him that he had invested too much in me and now he would have to marry me…if that’s what made him propose then I’m grateful! haha…

My grampa was hard-working, family-oriented, and very brave. He was a navigator in the Royal Canadian Air Force in the 2nd World War, and in one of those amazing coincidences that fill life with wonder a Lancaster Bomber, the plane my grampa navigated while on duty, arrived here yesterday.

There are only two flight-worthy Lancasters left, and this one just¬† happened to fly in to spend one full day at the Aviation Museum on the anniversary of my grampa’s passing. My family had the chance to watch it fly in and to see it up close, and my mom and grandma got to step inside the plane and get a glimpse into that part of my grampa’s life.

Because I do not believe in an afterlife, I believe my grampa is gone, but the memories he leaves behind, the lessons he gave me, and the freedom he fought for won’t go away.

Things I Want to See Before I Die (Part 1)

For some reason I’ve been thinking about my mortality a lot lately, maybe because I recently celebrated a birthday. Since I abandoned my wishful thinking of an afterlife I’ve become more okay with death.¬† I don’t have¬†irrational fears of hell, I can just shut my eyes and that will be the end.

But the thought that the end is truly the end is also a really sad thought, because we live a time of so much innovation, and I would like to be around to witness it.

I decided that I’m going to make a list of discoveries and advancements that I’d like to see in my lifetime. I hope I can check some of them off soon, and I’ll try to update the list as I think of things…which is why I’m calling this post Part 1.

Here’s the list so far:

  1. The discovery of the Higgs-Boson particle
  2. Humans back to the Moon
  3. Discovery of alien life, hopefully intelligent but bacteria would be cool too!
  4. Figuring out what the heck dark matter is
  5. Space tourism
  6. Nuclear power to replace coal
  7. AIDS vaccine

I’ll start off with 7, that’s a pretty ambitious list! Unfortunately I won’t be taking part in discovering or implementing any of these things, but I will idolize the scientists who do so. And I do hope to take part in some space tourism in my lifetime, how awesome would that be?!

What would be on your list?


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