April 24, 2018

What One Woman Taught Me About Sexual Harassment

Study Area in Peckham Hall, Nazareth College, Rochester, NYI was beginning my second year of college and still trying to decide on a major. My interests were too broad, but I had narrowed them down a bit by completing many of the general requirements most majors had to meet. It was the first day of a pre-law course with a reputation for being difficult, and I wasn't sure I belonged there. It didn't take me more than a few seconds to spot the attractive blonde and wish that I had the courage to take a seat next to her. I had no idea what she would end up teaching me or that it would take a couple more years for the lessons to sink in.

The difficult reputation of the course turned out to be well deserved. In addition to several essay exams and papers, we would have a group project which would ultimately result in a presentation in front of the class. I would have many group projects like this during my time in college, but this was one of my first, and I was not sure what to expect. I soon found myself in a group that included the blonde. Things were looking up.

It did not take us long to become friends. At least, that is what I thought was happening. She was outgoing and supremely confident, attributes I did not share at the time but found appealing. She could talk to anyone, put anyone at ease, and she was going to give our group a necessary jolt of energy. Unfortunately, she tended to show up late or not at all to the group meetings we scheduled in the library. She always had an excuse, but some of them seemed implausible. The two others in our group made it clear that they had little patience for her but neither seemed capable of contributing much to the project. After one meeting became tense, she took me aside afterward, turned on the charm, and convinced me that she and I should take the lead on the project and do what we could on our own. That was fine with me because it meant I'd get to spend more time with her outside of class.

April 22, 2018

When Christians Burned Things They Feared

Lag BaOmer bonfireOne of the many nice things about living in an unincorporated rural area is that some of the laws are a bit more relaxed than they'd be in town. While it is true that I could be incarcerated and/or fined merely for possessing alcohol in my own home, I can burn yard waste without anybody batting an eye. This might not seem like much of a benefit, but it sure beats the alternative of having to transport all the downed tree limbs, pine cones, and other waste from my backyard to the front curb and wait several days to a week for the county to pick it up. Doing this typically results in a bunch of ugly dead grass, so I'd prefer to avoid it.

I spent a few hours yesterday burning this stuff, and I think I disposed of at least 7 large garbage cans worth in the process. I'm careful about how I do it. I used leftover bricks from my house to mark off a large square far enough away from anything that could catch fire. I hose down the surrounding area after I've filled it with yard debris. I use just enough lighter fluid to make sure that it will ignite quickly and burn evenly. And most important of all, I remain in the area with a hose at the ready just in case. The size and intensity of the fire are pretty amazing, especially when the wind picks up. At one point, I'd estimate that the flames were rising over 8 feet. That did make me a bit nervous for a few minutes.

April 21, 2018

Preparing for the April 23 Rapture

The Rapture of the Church 2

I don't like saying goodbye, and I've never been particularly good at it. Problem is, I've just learned that "the Rapture" is taking place on April 23, 2018. So whether I like it or not, I guess we better start saying our goodbyes. I mean, it isn't like anyone has ever been wrong about predicting this sort of thing, right?

I suppose we atheists won't immediately disappear into the sky like all the Christians around us. We'll get to linger around a bit longer to be tormented by assorted monsters and so on. I imagine I'll be pretty lonely here in Mississippi after more than 90% of the people are raptured. In contrast, those of you living in Vermont might not notice much of a difference when all the Christians disappear.

Vigilantism to Punish Others

A Straight Road - panoramioA guy in Minnesota is facing a felony count of damage to property after he allegedly damaged over 100 vehicles by spreading nails on the road outside his home. Police suspect he did this to punish speeding drivers. According to the criminal complaint, the man told police that he “took the matter into his own hands out of frustration.”

Imagine that you live in a home on a road where drivers regularly speed. Perhaps you've called the police several times to complain, and it does not seem like they've done anything to solve the problem. I suspect that most of us could imagine being in such a situation, feeling extremely frustrated, and being at least somewhat tempted to do something about it ourselves. Of course, most of us would not spread nails on the road. In fact, most of us probably wouldn't take it upon ourselves to punish the speeding drivers in any way. And why not? We probably recognize that punishing others for breaking the law is not something with which we are tasked. Trying to do so could get us in serious trouble.

April 19, 2018

Reproductive Freedom

Minnesotans Unite Against the War on Women RallyI started to write this as a response to a comment I received a while ago on Atheist Revolution's Facebook page, but I figured it made more sense to write a brief post since this is not the first time I've been asked about this and probably won't be the last. What is my position on reproductive freedom for women, and why do I sometimes suggest that many of those opposed to it are opposed primarily for religious reasons?

My position is clear and easy to summarize: I support reproductive freedom for women and oppose efforts to curtail it, regardless of whether such efforts are religious or secular.

Here are two specific examples of what that means:
  • I believe that all women should have easy access to safe and affordable contraception.
  • I believe that all women should maintain the legal right to terminate an unwanted pregnancy and should have easy access to safe and affordable means for doing so.