Tiredness, Drunkenness, and Artistic Perormance

I’ve been terrible depressed, to the point sleeping 36 hours straight sometimes. Just getting up out of bed is a struggle, as it writing.

I’m able to write now with the help of a glass of wine and a couple of Xanax. It’s interesting because I just read an article about how being very tired or drunk allows artists to actually be more creative. This is no surprise. I think we need to enter a difference state of mind, to drop the barriers. It sure seem to work or me.

The other thing that really helps, at least for me, is music. Right now it’s The Beatles. I think the one that does it best for me is Pink Floyd, although I suspect that Bob Dylan would be pretty good too. Also Sting and The Flaming Lips.

Humbled and Flattered

A regular commenter on this blog has started his own blog, Fribnit’s World. While this is exciting on its own, what really blew me away was one of the reasons why he started it.

In my post, I Seem to Have Hit a Nerve, I quoted his comment to an earlier post because I thought it was such an outstanding piece of writing on the topic. What does this have to do with why I’m blown away? Because of this comment he left me on that post:

thank you for the positive reaction to my comments.because of those positive reactions I started a blog (we will see how it goes)fribnitsworld.worldpress.com

I remember what it was like when I started blogging and the people who inspired me, so to be told that I’ve actually inspired someone else to start blogging is just so wonderful and amazing. As the title here says, I am humbled and flattered.

I hope you will all go to his blog and read what he has to say, and please, wether you like it or not, wether you agree with it on not, leave a comment. I have gotten so much inspiration from the comments that I’ve received here, pro and con, and it has made me a better writer and a better person. So please go and give him so support.

On Writing and the Omaha Atheists

I have finished a long, stressful week. I have done almost no writing at all this week. I’m hoping to change that this weekend.

Last night I went to my first meeting of the Omaha Atheists group. I have been a member for almost a year, but this is the first meeting I’ve managed to attend. It was for their new newsletter that they hope to begin putting out this summer. It is to be released quarterly. They requested that those of us who will be providing content, like myself, go through our archive of writings and see if there is material that we can use. Of course, I have a bunch of stuff on this blog that could be reworked, fleshed out and submitted for the newsletter.

I’m so glad I finally went to a meeting. The group has some really exciting things in the works this year. I can’t really say what they are as they are still in the works, but I promise that as soon as I can talk about them, you’ll hear it here first.

On Sunday I’ll be attending another of the group’s events. It is interviews for Project Interfaith, an Omaha, NE based groups that, according to there website works on, “…developing creative programs, trainings and workshops that build and sustain understanding, respect, and relationships among people of all faiths and beliefs and that promote a deeper understanding of and respect for religious diversity.” They wanted to interview a group of atheists for their project. I’m really interested in seeing how these interviews are conducted and find out more about what they do. One of our members share an office with the people who run the groups and had spoken very highly of them, so it should be really interesting.

Back to the writing theme I started off. I’ve had a copy of The Thinker’s Thesaurus: Sophisticated Alternatives to Common Words on my Kindle for a while, but I’ve found that trying to look up stuff in in on the Kindle is very difficult. A friend gave me a gift card to Barnes & Noble so I’m going there this weekend to pickup a copy of it. I’ll be trying to use it as I write to give some variety to my writing.

I also signed up for a month of free access to the online Chicago Manual of Style. I have been focusing on writing more for publications and professional blogs so I really need to make sure my writing there is as professional as possible. I haven’t decided if I want to pay the $35.00 a year for access to the online version or cough up the $60.00 for the bound version. The benefit of the online version is that, since I do all my writing on my computer, I’m online whenever I write anyway and the online version should be continuously kept up to date, where as the bound version will need to be replaced periodically. I’ll have to give it some thought.

Speaking of writing for publications, I submitted an article to Skeptical Inquirer. It is my first submission to a publication in close to 15 years, since I had a short story published way back when. I also have other articles in the works as well. My goal of becoming a professional writer within the next 7 – 10 years is starting to get into gear.

I hope to be back here with my usual rantings about religion, pseudoscience, and my other regular topics in short order.

The Radical Male feminist

I was at a party a week or so ago after the first night of Skepticon. I was talking to Amanda Marcotte I told her that I consider myself a radical feminist. She asked me what I meant by that. It was a great question which I think I answered somewhat to her satisfaction, but I’ve been thinking about it ever since and I don’t think I answered it to my satisfaction.

If I am going to go around calling myself a feminist, especially a radical one, I need to be able to explain exactly what I mean by that. I know what I feel. I have always believed that women are equal to and just as valid as any man. But there is so much more to it than that. And the key, I think, is found in the often homicidal outrage I feel when I read about the innumerable, degrading, heart wrenching stories about women the world over who exist in virtual servitude. Those who have no control over their education, reproduction, their own bodies or even their own thoughts.

But that outrage isn’t reserved just for the obvious, glaring examples found in places like Saudi Arabia, or Eastern Europe, or Africa. The outrage is equally strong when I read about the everyday events that most woman in this world have to deal with. The sexists comments, the leers, the condescending attitudes from men who, for no other reason than that they were born with a penis, feel they have privileges over all the women in their lives.

There are so many examples to draw from and all are equally enraging to me. The parents who kill girl infants because they aren’t boys. The parents who believe that girls are property to be sold into marriage, or worse. The parents who refuse to educate their daughters. The men who believe that the women in their lives are property to be traded or controlled.

Add to this the insult that others, mostly men who are priests, pastors, doctors and lawmakers, vie for control of a woman’s body. The hypocrisy of this has started to become clear in the uproar over TSA body searches of passengers. Only when a man is suddenly forced to surrender control of his privates to other does he suddenly feel the anger and degradation that millions of women feel every day. This point must not be lost in the ongoing debate of the TSA policy as it speaks loud and clear to the indignities that all woman are expected to endure.

Then there are the little things, innumerable, that degrade and belittle women every day. Being expected to cook or do housework or take on the brunt of child care. To be a sexual plaything at the beck and call of her husband or boyfriend. These expectations are prevalent and real in the lives of many upon many woman the world over.

It is the idea of male privilege that has been promulgated for thousands of years to the point that entire religions have been constructed around the idea that women are just one more possession given to men by their god. They hold up their scriptures that they, themselves have written, as proof of their superiority.

The fear of woman runs deep in the privileged male psyche. Fear of impotence; fear of loss of power, fear of death. All this and more does the privileged male fear, and when he sees his obvious equal in woman, he convinces himself that she is the cause of all his misfortune.

I was lucky growing up. My father always treated every women with respect. I never once heard him say anything that could have been taken as derogatory toward women, unlike almost all of my friends’ fathers did. He treated my mother with the utmost respect, even when she didn’t deserve it. I never did ask him about his views about woman’s equality. It just wasn’t something that came up. All I have is his example and that speak volumes.

What can I do about this? There are several this I can and have done. I have raised my daughter, who is 12 now, to be a strong, self-confident young woman. She doesn’t take any shit from anyone and openly mocks anyone who dares to try to tell her she can do something because she is a girl. I take great pride in her strength and confidence, know that I have helped shape that.

I have raised my son, who is 16, to respect women and treat them as his equals. While we haven’t talked about it much, I have yet to see him do or hear him say anything bad about a woman solely because she is female.

In my conversations with others, I never let a sexist word or action go unanswered.

I am a feminist because I believe in the true equality of woman to men, not just in words, but in deeds, and that these rights must be written into our laws and all of our institutions. I am a feminist because I reject the idea of male privilege where ever it may show its self. I am a feminist because I reject every aspect of our society, no matter how minor or mundane, that perpetuates the lie of male privilege. Finally, I am a radical feminist because I refuse to stand still and stay silent while even a single woman in this world is marginalized, insulted, abused or denigrated. I will speak out, loudly and forcefully, against every outrage against women large and small.

None of this is new to me, but my decision to take an active part in fighting against sexism and inequality is. I won’t be silent any longer. From here on out, the focus of the blog is going to shift somewhat. In addition to my railing against the evils of religion and magical thinking, expect to see a much greater focus on feminism. I may get less than 100 hits a day, but if I can get my message out to even one person a week, that will make all my effort worth it.

Christianity, Atheism, Quotes and Love

There was a bit of a kufluffle about an article in Ms. Magazine that I posted a short comment about on Facebook, which you can see right here:

Please get the trust about sexism and woman among atheists out there! http://freethinkingfordummies.com/2010/11/02/the-main-stream-media-totally-misrepresents-sexism-and-the-role-of-women-among-atheists/

I got an interesting comment from my friend who is a Christian with a quote from the bible:

Proverbs 27:6 “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.”

I know that people love to use quotes from just about anywhere to comment about just about anything. This isn’t the first time she’s responding to a comment of mine with either a quote from the bible or a Christian related saying.

I love my friend dearly, she’s a wonderful woman, mother and friend, but my openness about my atheism has had a weird effect on our friendship. I suppose that I can understand that. It is also my fault for posting a bunch of atheist quotes on FB one time, so I can understand her responding with Christian quotes. I should have stopped to think about how arrogant it must have sounded to post all those quotes.

I think that quotes are overused, and I’m just as guilty as anyone else of that. I am trying now to use quotes, no matter what their source, only if they fit the context of what I’m taking about and actually add something to it. Quotes are too often used not to augment an argument or point of view, but in place of a well reasoned argument. This is basically an argument from authority logical fallacy.

So I must apologize to Sharon for my arrogance. If you are reading this, Sharon know that I love you dearly and always wil.

I Do Other Things Besides Skepticism

This blog, as it’s title suggests, is about freethinking, skepticism, humanism, science and atheism (thats a lot of ‘isms’!). I tend to try to stick to these themes. I do, however, have other interests and I’d like to take this blog entry to introduce you to them. If you find them interesting, you can visit my other site where I showcase these interests and talents.

Besides blogging about freethinking and such, I am also a writer. I write poetry and fiction. I have been writing poetry for as long as I can remember. I can’t think of a time when I didn’t want to write. I even won the Flag Day writing competition in both 3rd and 5th grades. I love writing more than any living thing (you know, like people and dogs!). I’ve had a poem and a short story published. I probably would have more published if I bothered to focus on writing fiction, but I have too many other things that interest me.

I am also a photographer. I have been taking pictures since my parents gave me their old Brownie camera when I was about 12 years old. In high school, I was in the photography club. I used to develop my own black & white film and I had my own darkroom in my bedroom closet with an enlarger so I could make prints. My pride and joy for many years was my Olympus OM-1 35mm SLR camera. It was totally manual and took wonderful photos. But, sadly, I found that was neglecting to get my film developed (I still have several rolls kicking around that I should bring to Walmart before they stop process film altogether!). I finally gave up and switched to digital photoraphy.

The camera I have now is a Sony CyberShot. It’s got a 12x optical zoom and takes pretty good pictures, but its functionality is limited. For example, I can’t manually focus, which is a real pain in the butt sometimes. I’m saving up for a good digital SLR that comes as close as possible to my old OM-1.

In addition to writing and photography, I also play guitar. I’ve recorded a few songs that I need to post somewhere for people to hear.

If you are interested in seeing my writing and photography, please visit my art page at Deviantart.com. WARNING! I don’t hold back where my art is concerned. There are writings, photos, and journal entries that deal with very mature themes. This is the place where I bare my soul. There are nudes, there is frank and open talk about sex and emotions and relationships. If you think any of this might bother you, then I’d suggest taking a pass on it. Otherwise, please go and find out more about me that you probably would ever want to know! (Don’t say I didn’t warn you!).

That’s it for off topic topics. Back to your regularly scheduled atheistic rants and freethinking inquiry!

A New Book About The History Of Skepticism

I am working on a new book titled A History of Modern Skepticism. I’m getting it organized now and starting the research for it.

Next month I’ll be attending Skepticon 3 in Springfield, MO. Several people who I’d like to interview for the book will be there and I’ll be reaching out to them in advance to see if they can schedule some time with me when I’m there to do interviews. I’m hoping to interview Greta Christina, D.J. Grothe, Joe Nickell, Dan Barker, James Randi, P.Z. Myers, and Rebecca Watson, all of whom will be attending.

I’m really excited about this project and can’t wait to dive in!