Thursday, December 26, 2013

Atheism Requires Faith

As an atheist (among other things), I am frequently told by anonymous nutballs on the internet that my "religion"requires more faith than theirs.  Usually, I throw out the old logical argument: saying a lack of religion is a religion is like saying "colorless" is a color or "off" is a television channel.
One internet person (the new, politically correct name for "nerd with a computer") asked me what I believed in.  I threw out my usual answer: "I believe in YOU."
A few days later, I realized it really does take a lot of faith to believe what I do.

It takes faith to believe we are so flawed we kidnapped millions of people, worked them to death, beat them to death, raped them, sold their children away, and poured atrocity after atrocity on them not because they bore the mark of Cain, but because we could.
It takes faith to believe we invented steel, violins, paint, semicolons, beer, the Ten Commandments, Loki, presumption of innocence, and the Golden Rule without the guidance of little green men.
It takes faith to believe our society is held together by our government, our laws, and our people, not the hands of spirits and angels.
It takes faith to believe we will someday unravel, if not all the mysteries of the universe, at least a good chunk of them without the help of Loas or djinn.
It takes faith to believe anything good or bad could come from such a pathetic, dirty little monkey as man.  And yet here we are, completely alone and completely amazing.
So, yes, I have faith.  I have faith you are wonderful, and I have faith you are terrible, and I have faith you will do great things.
And you will do them all by yourself.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Things I Love About Christmas

Who doesn't love Christmas?  It's the time of year when everyone is happy and gay (but not in the way that makes you uncomfortable).  I made a list of the four bestest things about Christmas.  If you are a person of true taste and character, you care what I love about Christmas enough to read these and make them a viral sensation.

Here they are!
  1. Cookies
    I'm a sucker for cookies.  I'm a bigger sucker(er) for cookies with frosting on them (cookies with frosting are what cake should be).  I'll eat anything but the rum balls, which were invented by the Halls Corporation as a new kind of cough drop.  Whoever dreamed up parties where people get together to bake cookies for Christmas deserves the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
  2. Seems everyone gets one of those.
  3. The Dickens Fair(e)
    Every year they turn the Cow Palace in San Francisco into a giant, Dickensian party.  There's period food and games and shows and everyone's in costume.  It's like a Renaissance Fair, but without all the people pretending they have the Black Plague and coughing on you.
    "Waaant a turrrrkey leeeeg?"
  4. Work
    Some day, work on Christmas eve/day.  It's peaceful, focused, energetic.  It's incredible.  I get so much done on Christmas, it makes up for the fact I don't work the rest of the year.  I'm not sure why working on Christmas is so great, but it may have something to do with-
  5. Feeling smug and superior
    Not being part of something makes you feel superior than all those people who are a part of it.  For example: vegetarians feel superior to those who eat meat.  Vegans feel superior to vegetarians.  Breatharians feel superior to those who aren't skeletons.
  6. Not celebrating Christmas makes me better than those of you who do.  Remember that
Okay, done.  Whew.  That was worse than pushing a pinecone through my urethra. 

I completely hate Christmas.  However, judging from how other people talk about Christmas, you can't just come out and say you hate it.  You have to talk about how much you like it first, then complain about what's wrong with it.  Here's my four.

Things that Suck About Christmas
  1. Bullies
    Everyone hates bullies, except at Christmastime.  At Christmas, bullies are encouraged by everyone to pick on kids who don't celebrate the holiday.  I've never been abused with such tacit support except in December.

    Some of those bullies are teachers.  Their reactions to my not celebrating Christmas ranged from shock, to confronting me about my religion, to ignoring my feelings.  Not every teacher was that way, of course.  But for every teacher who offered to add the dreidel song to the Christmas concert, was one who made me sing "Go Tell It on the Mountain" or sent me to the principal's office for not swaying to "Jingle Bell Rock."

    Long stories.  Tell you another year.
  2. Religious or Secular American Holiday
    Christmas isn't like light, which is a particle or a wave.  Pick one.  Seriously, pick... fucking... one.

    Christmas is a religious holiday, except there's a Christmas tree at the White House and a federal holiday.  So, it's a secular holiday, except there's all this whining about commercialism and the War on Christmas.  Look, just pick one.  If it's a federal/American/secular holiday, then get over it (or move secular Christmas to a different day and let everyone do it).  If it's a religious holiday, keep it in your homes and churches and out of every fucking other place in the country.

    Unless there's an ulterior motive for it being both.  Unless Christmas is a marketing trick used to get kids of other faiths to convert to Christianity ("See how great our religion is?  It has SANTA!").  Nah.  That'd be underhanded and sleazy.  Can't be true.
  3. It's not okay not to like Christmas
    Name two characters who hate Christmas.  Did you get Scrooge and the Grinch?  Can you think of any others?  There's just the two, and they're both cured of it in the end.

    Because of those two stupid characters, people get to tag me with those names and act like I'll love Christmas someday.  Yeah.  No.
  4. The music
    I will do anything you want.  I'll devote my life to charity, eat only bugs for a year, or tattoo Justin Bieber's butt cheeks on my forehead.  I will do anything if someone would just stop that insipid, repetitive, irritating music from playing everywhere I go over and over again until it drills into my brain and makes me homicidal.
Whew.  I feel better.  Now, I just have to get this pine cone out of my urethra.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Upcoming Pixar Sequels

One of the things I liked about living in Northern California when I moved here from the midwest (other than the weather, the food, and the fact that your neighbors have IQs higher than library paste), was the proximity to Pixar.  I don't drive to Pixar every day or anything like that, but I know plenty of people who do, and they tend to leak things (and not the organic-tea scented stuff they usually leak).
I know the plot outlines of the next Pixar sequels.  Yup, following Pixar's success with...  Well, okay, everything, but they have a disturbing trend of trying to suck money out of old movies.  It turns out they're planning on making sequels of every. Single. Goddamn. Movie. They. Ever. Made.

Here's what my contacts in Pixar told me about:
Man, they need to hire better Photoshop artists at Pixar...
Incredibles 2: The Final VillainMr. Incredible is getting older and losing his powers.  He has to step aside to let his kids become the heroes the world needs.  There will be no fewer than six scenes where Mr. Incredbile's teeth fall out.

Bug's Life 2: Army AntsPixar has been accused too many times of trying to force liberal views on their audience.  This movie is certainly is not a political statement.  Flik's hive is taken over by (politically neutral) militant army ants who want to invade (politically neutral) other hives because they have oil. Not oil!  Unobtanium? No.  Spice!  No.  Er...

Wall-E 2: The New Job
Wall-E creates a new store and pays all the robot employees so little they end up selling their parts to survive.

Oh, come on.  You're eating food made by rats.  What do you expect?
Brave 2: Braverer
I honestly don't know what will happen in a sequel to Brave.  I do know, however, that it has to be about the witch who only does bears.  She was the only good part of that movie.

Up 2: Down
Enough said.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Crazy Week

My days usually consist of trying to entertain a child in the morning (before school when nothing is open), making a painfully early lunch (he starts at 11:20, which means lunch has to be at 10:30), then rushing to drop him off in time.

Then I have free time, during which I...
Well, I'm not exactly good at getting things done.  Yesterday I spent an hour printing one sheet of business cards.

Long story short: Xerox can bite me.
Still, with three hours a day to myself, you'd think I'd be a blistering flurry of activity, constantly creating new works of art and literature.  Instead, I'm a blistering flurry of fecklessness.  Try saying that three times fast.
Well, not this week.  This week I designed my own stress headache.

On Tuesday, I drove to UC Santa Cruz to help with a game development class.  Actually, that's the wrong preposition.  I didn't drive to UC Santa Cruz; I drove around UC Santa Cruz.  UCSC is a beautiful campus situated on farmland dotted with quarries and historic buildings from the 1800s.  I got to see them all, over and over again as I drove in circles.  See, UCSC has some strange quirk of geology that causes Google Maps to crash and wireless connections to evaporate.  Just when you think you're getting somewhere, your map closes and you can't call for help.

"GPS signal lost..."
Eventually, I got there and the teacher sent a TA out to help me get a parking pass.  He got in and we commenced (guess what?) fruitlessly driving in circles around the campus.
Oh, the class was good; I saw a lot of student presentations.  Impressive what games kids can make these days.  I look forward to seeing the game industry crush their spirits by making them make "Zombie Pony Apocalypse XXIII" over and over again.

Tonight, I'm going back to UCSC!  Yes, I'm doing two events at UC Santa Clara but, thankfully, it's at the extension in Silicon Valley, not the long drive off to Santa Cruz.  The IGDA is having a speaker night you should REALLY ATTEND.  Hopefully, I'll only spend an hour driving in circles before I get to the right place.  Maybe I'll just do donuts in front of my house when I leave to get it out of my system.
Tomorrow, I'm doing my first ever book signing at 4pm in the Mountain View library.  Yes, I know, I'm doing an event not related to UC Santa Cruz.  I'm just crazy that way.  Tomorrow at 4pm I'm going to be giving away hard copies of my book for free to anyone who makes a donation to Girlstart, a nonprofit that promotes education for girls in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math).

Since you all can't come visit the signing and get a free book, I'll make my book free on Kindle for a week starting tomorrow.  Also, remember if you buy the hardcopy from Amazon, you get the Kindle version for free.
I think that's enough for this week.  Next week I plan on sitting on my butt and eating candy.

You gotta pace yourself.