Monday, November 5, 2012

AtheismPlus


Atheists have worked hard to carve-out acceptance for themselves, and we're still a hated minority even if that is improving quickly. Atheism+ basically seeks to add political/social guidelines with purity filters to rule-out people who aren't adhering to the guidelines.

This is basically a religion.

Atheists have worked hard not only to explain what atheism is (and isn't), but have worked hard to unify ourselves as a group that is seeking political power (or acknowledgement), general-acceptance from the populace at-large, etc. Then, atheism+ comes along and wants to add doctrine, which necessarily excludes atheists who disagree on key issues.

I am against atheism+, especially because I seek unity, not division. I am against those who want to divide the atheist movement with 'agnosticism' (moreso when they erroneously think it's NOT atheism) or when non-believers avoid the word 'atheist' because they're afraid of backlash.

The very reason I am an atheist is because I despise dogma. I don't adhere to doctrine or toe-the line on certain political or social views. I take each issue on its merits and adjust my views based on evidence.

When a bunch of radical feminists want to take over atheism and call it 'atheism+', this is not only a silly purity filter, but an assault on all the hard work done by atheists to 'take back' this word which has suffered from so much slander and confusion.

Obviously, everyone is more than a theist or atheist, but creating a splinter-group just to include political/social dogma is misguided.

I reject atheism+ because it muddies the waters and necessarily excludes some people. It's also run by annoying radical feminists who are attempting to re-define atheism—and this is going to confuse the hell of an already-confused populace. People are still using the term 'agnostic', when it's a red-herring to do so. Adding 'atheism+' isn't helping anything, serves to confuse, divide and is unnecessary.

I am an atheist, and all it means is that I lack theism. If people want to know what defines me, we can have that conversation. Let's leave the word 'atheist' unmolested by dogma, as it should be.

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Friday, October 26, 2012

Hey Stranger!

Yes, it's been a while.

What's up with that? For one, work has been really busy. Two, I've gotten into MotoVlogging, and you can see my handiwork here:


Spacep0d Vlog on YouTube!
Spacep0d MotoVlog
MotoVlogging, as the name implies, is Video-Blogging on a Motorcycle. It's a great thing, and is a different way to voice one's opinions in a totally different format, and with some interesting video. Of course, writing doesn't need video, but it's a different way to consume thoughts. It's not that I am replacing blogging with vlogging, just that it's been new for me and working out the bugs and kinks has taken some of my free time I'd normally spend blogging.

In other news, the election has hotted-up and on the Republican side, has dumbed-down. A lot. The stupid things that Republicans say about rape and their god(s) is mind-blowing. Mourdock just recently said, 

'"And I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen."- Richard Mourdock , U.S. Senate candidate from IndianaHoly shit. First, this means that god, the all-powerful, all-knowing creator of worlds, approves, endorses and PLANS rape. This is the only conclusion, because a god which controls ALL THINGS simply cannot escape blame for anything, including rape.

Second, why the Hell would someone WORSHIP a god who goes around making women through rape? If god could stop it and doesn't, he's not good. If he can't stop it, he's not much of a god, is he?

Richard Mourdock is a fucking idiot. Not only that, he's too stupid to realize that saying this stuff in public is even more idiotic. At least Romney has the sense to pretend to be moderate, which makes him even more vile in a sense.

I've watched the debates (all of them) and the pundits, and voting for Romney would be unconscionable. Not only is he a flip-flopper, he's wrong on just about every social-issue that matters, especially with respect to marriage-equality and reproductive rights. Marriage-equality isn't even just a mere social-issue but a matter of basic human rights. If government is going to continue to recognize sexual relationships between consenting adults, they need to recognize ALL consenting adults and their marriages equally. Otherwise, they need to get out of the marriage business ASAP (an option I am also happy with).

As you know, I reject marriage for myself. I think it's a bad idea for me (and anyone), but I support the rights of others to live their conscience and get married if government recognizes any marriages.

My girlfriend and I are still fighting the good fight with respect to trying to get me (a freelancer) covered under her company health-insurance group-plan, with little success as yet—and we've been trying since 2004 (with years where I did have my own coverage). Unfortunately, her company (CBS) doesn't see fit to cover opposite-sex domestic partners because I suppose they are trying to save a tiny amount of money. It's not like there are hordes of unmarried iconoclasts in opposite-sex partnerships waiting to jump on the +1 bandwagon, but there are at least 4-5 couples we know about *personally* at that company would would benefit if CBS could stop discriminating.

See, gay couples have a mandate which covers them. Companies have to provide their partners with +1 coverage. Married people of course get favoritism because marriage is still a preferred legal status, discriminatory as that is. Unmarried opposite-sex couples are basically punished for not being married and they don't have the protections that unmarried gay-couples have. If the system were logical, both unmarried couples and married couples would be able to add any +1 to their employer-based healthplan, whether that was a sister, mother, uncle, friend, etc. Why does it matter that we're involved in a sexual relationship? Talk about big government.

An even more logical system is one where we can get our OWN insurance, without relying on employers and their peculiar ideologies, spouses in government-recognized marriages or the awful, stockholder-controlled, profit-driven private-insurance sector.

What I want is access to fair, reasonably-priced, individual healthcare coverage, and that is why I am voting to uphold the ACA and to allow our president to continue his landmark progress with healthcare reform. That is why I am voting Obama on November 6th.

It's good to be back. Check out my vlog if you like and please, VOTE!!

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Obamacare Upheld!



This is a historic moment, and people have been trying to do what Obama has done for nearly a century. It's access for all, but if we don't pay in, we can't all expect coverage. This is actually something Romney touted as a 'conservative' idea when he enacted Romneycare in Massachusetts, and yet Romney wants to flip and say that the entire country can't benefit from this philosophy?

Insurance companies are being reformed, which has been sorely needed. Just ask anyone who got sick and was denied or had coverage-rescinded due to a 'pre-existing condition'. Just ask people who went broke or are broke due to medical bills from a catastrophic event, or because they could not get coverage. Reform is a GOOD thing, and insurance companies in America may end up like those in Germany, where the government guarantees individuals coverage and they can go to whatever insurance company that offers the best value. Germany, by the way, spends about 11% of its GDP on healthcare (while covering everyone) where America spent 17% of its GDP on healthcare while doing it badly and letting insurance companies line their pockets by covering only the healthy and wealthy. Reform is all about correcting this type of corruption, and SCOTUS has allowed it to happen as-intended.

Those of you who don't get it yet or think this is 'socialism', you will understand in time. Medicare was called 'socialism' by Ronald Reagan back in 1961, before it was signed into law by Democrat president Lyndon Baines Johnson, where former Democratic president and Medicare campaigner Harry Truman was the first recipient.

Medicare was put in-place because insurance companies didn't want to cover higher-risk seniors, and it's a form of socialized medicine that works well, has wide-support from seniors who are happy with it. However, it was the brainchild of Canadian socialist, Tommy Douglas and a lot of people don't know that. Yet, Medicare operates with a 3% admin overhead (very efficient), has been a great success and for many, is the safety net they need if they can make it to age 65.

In 2014, individuals will be able to get their own government healthcare plans, and insurance companies will be unable to refuse someone for a pre-existing condition. This is exactly what we need, because what is the point of a health-insurance company who only sells insurance to healthy people? It's the sick people who need it, but if we don't have a mandate, insurance-buyers will be mostly sick people (adverse selection). We just have to get used to having healthcare (whether we pay-in or provide our own), so everyone can get access. As it is now, we all pay for employer-based coverage, people who use the E.R. as primary care, etc. so we already have lots of 'socialized' pools of money built into a bad system, and the ACA is reforming that system after insurance companies have had a long, profitable run playing the for-profit insurance game with our lives.

We need to re-elect Obama in November so he can complete what he started, or Mitt Romney will flush a century of work toward healthcare for all down the drain.

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Another State Bans Gay Marriage: North Carolina

Recently, North Carolina banned gay marriage with Amendment 1 to its State Constitution.

This is a travesty and a failure for the UNITED States of America, which last I checked, North Carolina is still a member.

It is NOT ok to put to popular vote what is a basic human right granted to all Americans in Section 1 of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution.

' Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.'

Banning same-sex marriage (especially by popular vote) was also wrong back in 2008, when California passed its Proposition (H)8, banning same-sex marriage here and undermining the legal-right same-sex couples had before election day. No basic human-right afforded to Americans should ever be put to popular vote. How would black Americans have fared if slavery were put to popular vote, or Jim Crow laws? How would women fare were reproductive rights put to popular vote?

This is the United States of America. What is the point in having a union if states can just trample on the rights of a minority? What is the point of having a 14th amendment that ostensibly governs states if states can simply draft their own ridiculous, discriminatory laws based on the flawed sensibilities of an obviously bigoted majority vote?

A state may have its own Constitution, but that doesn't mean North Carolina gets to act like North Korea within a free, secular and democratic republic. Banning gay marriage violates the 14th amendment, it violates fairness, any whiff of logic and the rights of the few should never be voted-on by the majority. This is a failure of democracy, and our democratic republic has historically protected the minority from the whims of the majority. Why is same-sex marriage confusing or different?

We should all be treated-equally under the law and this must necessarily include marital-status equality, even though I don't believe marital-status is a protected-class yet (it will be soon, just watch). Fewer Americans are getting married in-general, and unmarried households now outnumber married households according to a USA Today poll conducted in 2006. My personal response to marriage is to boycott the institution entirely because of discrimination against same-sex couples but also the favoring of marriage over non-marriage. In my own 14-year heterosexual relationship, my girlfriend cannot even share her health-insurance with me, someone she lives with and owns a home with, because we're unmarried and opposite-sex. While I personally disagree with marriage, I understand that all consenting-age Americans deserve equal rights under the law.

It's time to step-in and do the right thing by legalizing gay-marriage at the Federal level. Obama, now that you've openly-stated that you personally believe that gay people should be allowed to marry, it's time to make that happen as soon as you're re-elected in November (if not sooner). You won't gain votes by pussyfooting around this issue, but you will potentially alienate some of your most vigorous supporters—and not everyone who is for gay-marriage is a Democrat. You will earn respect from both sides if you unflinchingly stand up for what's right. Those who are against gay-marriage probably know that this is legally unfair but they're just bigots. Bigots aren't necessarily trying to be fair so there's no point in trying to attract their vote by appearing 'uncertain' on the issue.

The ethical choice is crystal clear here. Either the government gets out of the marriage business or allows ALL consenting adults to marry whom they wish. It's about time marriage stopped being a blunt instrument of discrimination. After all, it wasn't too long ago that miscegenation laws preventing interracial marriage, which was ended in with the landmark Loving v. Virgina legal challenge and ultimate Supreme-Court victory in 1965. Let's not wait for courts to be flooded with expensive and time-consuming discrimination lawsuits which will end in the same result anyway...which is same-sex marriage being legalized. To those in North Carolina who voted in support of this Amendment, you just cost your taxpayers a pretty-penny in legal costs with all the challenges that are a'comin' and you still got it wrong.

2012 should be the year gay-marriage is made legal in all states. Eventually we will wonder why this was ever a contentious issue. I have a feeling that Obama will take a much stronger stance in his second term, but I wish it were sooner.

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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

More on Marital-Status Discrimination



Recently, a gay friend on Facebook denied that marriage as an institution is discriminatory. This seems laughable to me, especially since gay couples are routinely-excluded from marriage in most American states. Interracial marriage used to be illegal before the landmark Loving vs. Virginia case which ended miscegenation laws in 1965.

Here was my response:

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If marital status is held as a preferred status over being unmarried (like religious over non-religious), then yes, it's inherently discriminatory—especially when there are benefits to be had from marriage including tax benefits, motor insurance discounts, health-insurance benefit sharing, hospital visitation, etc. The real kicker here for me, and which affects me every single day I am a freelancer is the lack of health insurance benefit sharing. My girlfriend of 14 years is not allowed to share her health insurance with me, someone she owns a house with, because there's discrimination at the *Federal level*. This has been verified by a lawyer.

Gay couples enjoy domestic partner benefits (despite the discrimination against them with marriage) and there is a state mandate for companies to allow gay domestic partners of 6 months or more with commingled finances to share health insurance. Again, this is denied to me and my girlfriend of 14 years, because we are of opposite sex.

Marriage creates discrimination directly and indirectly. It's directly discriminatory because gay people are excluded from marriage, and polyamorous groups are barred as well. The effect it has on heterosexual couples is that they are railroaded into the preferred institution of marriage and punished for being unmarried.

This is nothing less than marital-status discrimination, and it's one of the frontiers of equality still basically lacking legal challenge because too many people still get married. Still, the way health-insurance works, there are many ways to be a 'protected class' and it takes almost a perfect storm of variables for someone to find themselves in an opposite-sex relationship, without health insurance and seeing the CLEAR discrimination that happens as punishment for refraining from the institution of marriage.

People still use the facile logic that I should 'just get married' but this totally misses the point. Marriage is a personal decision and should not be validated or endorsed by government (any more than religion). Since it is endorsed by government, it shouldn't be held as a favored status over unmarried couples who for ideological reasons refuse to marry. This is NO different than favoring religion over non-religion. Would you tell an atheist to join a church to get married? No. Can atheists get married without religion? Of course. Should we be punished for not being able to or not *wanting* to marry? NO.

The fact that you don't understand this belies the pervasive and endemic nature of the problem. I support gay marriage...so please re-consider your views on marriage vs. those who for any reason choose not to marry but still deserve to enjoy domestic partner benefits. Believe me, I've been trying to get domestic partner health-insurance benefits from my girlfriend's company since 2004....and it's been NO every time, with no state protections here. For you to deny that it's discrimination is madness to me, but maybe you're just not educated about this stuff yet.

Here's hoping I shed some light on the topic.

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The way to undermine the inherent discrimination related to marriage is simple: Don't get married. It's exactly the same as believers leaving their churches in droves, or the exponential growth of secularism around the world. It does pain me a bit to think that I am such a vocal advocate for gay rights (and gay marriage), and yet when I complain about discrimination so many people don't even acknowledge that this discrimination exists. Ironically, once gay people can get married, more people who choose to stay unmarried will see the clearer discrimination against unmarried couples...especially with regard to health-insurance benefits. Marriage is not the answer. Equality under the law is the answer. 


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Sunday, May 6, 2012

Do-It-Yourself: The Plight of the Weekend Warrior

Ok, replacing a bathroom faucet was harder than I thought. There's almost no room to work around the sink, so I felt like a fakir in a tiny glass box...though yours-truly was smacking himself with tools and bonking his head on occasion. It was like freakin' PlumberYoga™, reaching way back to tighten a nut I couldn't see...downward-facing DIY.

The water shut-off also broke off in my hands initially, so had to replace that before I could even get started. Having never done it before, it was tricky but made sense once I did it. Took me two trips to get the right-sized part.

Minor leak in J-Trap/P-Trap....gotta repair or replace. I'm thinking I'll just replace the whole ABS J-Trap.

One thing about DIY yourself work...it's constant uncertainty, research and resolution. I love the resolution part (and don't mind the research), and there's a real cost-savings whilst learning and the feeling of a job well-done....even if what is simple for an expert feels like brain-surgery to me. At the end, you learn a little something and are better-equipped to deal with an issue or upgrade later.

I love that.

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Friday, May 4, 2012

Savaging the Bible

There's been a recent ruckus over Dan Savage's critique of the Bible at a recent student journalism conference, and there appeared to be a massive (likely-staged) walkout of ostensibly-Christian students. These are people who apparently cannot stand Savage's proper criticism of the harrowing bits of the Bible that promote slavery, the murder of women who are not virgins on their wedding nights and of course, the stoning of homosexuals.

Here's the text of Savage's speech, related to the Bible:

'The Bible. We'll just talk about the Bible for a second. People often point out that they can't help it -- they can't help with the anti-gay bullying, because it says right there in Leviticus, it says right there in Timothy, it says right there in Romans, that being gay is wrong.

We can learn to ignore the bulls**t in the Bible about gay people. The same way, the same way we have learned to ignore the bulls**t in the Bible about shellfish, about slavery, about dinner, about farming, about menstruation, about virginity, about masturbation. We ignore bulls**t in the Bible about all sorts of things. The Bible is a radically pro-slavery document. Slave owners waved Bibles over their heads during the Civil War and justified it. The shortest book in the New Testament is a letter from Paul to a Christian slave owner about owning his Christian slave. And Paul doesn't say "Christians don't own people." Paul talks about how Christians own people.


We ignore what the Bible says about slavery, because the Bible got slavery wrong. Tim -- uh, Sam Harris, in A Letter To A Christian Nation, points out that the Bible got the easiest moral question that humanity has ever faced wrong. Slavery. What're the odds that the Bible got something as complicated as human sexuality wrong? One hundred percent.


The Bible says that if your daughter's not a virgin on her wedding night -- if a woman isn't a virgin on her wedding night, she shall be dragged to her father's doorstep and stoned to death. Callista Gingrich lives. And there is no effort to amend state constitutions to make it legal to stone women to death on their wedding night if they're not virgins. At least not yet. We don't know where the GOP is going these days.


People are dying because people can't clear this one last hurdle. They can't get past this one last thing in the Bible about homosexuality. Um, one other thing I wanna talk about is -- [chuckles] -- so, you can tell the Bible guys in the hall that they can come back now, because I'm done beating up the Bible. It's funny, as someone who's on the receiving end of beatings that are justified by the Bible, how pansy-assed some people react when you push back.


I apologize if I hurt anyone's feelings. But. I have a right to defend myself. And to point out the hypocrisy of people who justify anti-gay bigotry by pointing to the Bible, and insisting we must live by the code of Leviticus on this one issue and no other.'


This is something that's best heard from Dan Savage with how he puts it, and words he emphasizes. What Dan did was rightfully criticize a terrible instruction manual (The Bible), and the students who walked out on him are apparently DEFENDING the hate-speech that is the Bible.

My friends, criticizing hate-speech itself is NOT hate-speech, nor is it bullying, nor is it oppression. Resisting oppression is NOT itself oppression.

Dan Savage got it right. Shame on those delicate violets who couldn't even give him the honor of listening to his thoughtful and correct words, and I support Dan 100%. Those who can't even listen to dissent will make awful journalists. If one cannot bear to listen to opposing views, or weigh claims vs. each other, or follow the evidence where it leads, one is doomed to make a terrible journalist—outside of the Liberty University student newspaper or Faux news, perhaps. The fact that so many students felt compelled to walk-out is more evidence to my eyes that more conversation and education is needed—especially honest commentary like we've seen from Dan Savage. I'm proud to say that one of my nieces was there...and she didn't walk out. ;)

Please continue to 'Savage' the Bible Dan, you have the support of millions of us who rightly-see the Bible as the dangerous influence that it is.

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