I grew up in southern New Hampshire and lived there with until I was 32, with side trips to a couple of college towns in New England. I don’t recall a single instance of finding a 400-meter track at a public — or private, now that I think about it — high school closed to the public. I have worked out on tracks in Concord, Hanover and Lebanon, N.H.; Burlington and South Burlington, Vt.; and various places in Massachusetts, always with unfettered access. Continue reading “Kept off track — a survey of sorts”
ATLANTA (AP) — Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell was suspended for two weeks without pay Sunday by Major League Baseball for inappropriate comments and gestures he made toward fans before a game in San Francisco.
[Justin] Quinn said he was in the stands with his wife and 9-year-old twin daughters before the April 23 game at San Francisco when he noticed McDowell ask three men “Are you guys a homo couple or a threesome?”
Quinn said McDowell made crude sexual gestures with his hips and a bat. Quinn said he shouted, “Hey there are kids out here.”
According to Quinn, McDowell said kids don’t belong at a baseball park, picked up a bat, walked up to Quinn and asked him, “How much are your teeth worth?”
I typically side with people on the political left these days for two simple reasons, neither of which has much to do with idealism. One is that many conservatives (although not the ones I’m friends with) categorically and blindly oppose things that don’t affect them or threaten anyone else, such as same-sex marriage (and homosexuality in general) and the availability of pornography. I’ve just never been tempted to stand in the way of things that make some people happier at the expense of nothing besides delicate, programmed sensibilities. The other reason is that I don’t like noisy, stupid people who believe in noisy, stupid things like malevolent yet respect-worthy skygods, the myth of “small government” Republicans, and the trustworthiness of Rush Limbaugh or John Boehner’s manufactured tears. Continue reading “When liberal principles collide”
In messing around online yesterday (in other words, while doing something I do only on days ending in “y”) I stumbled across a very old, very inactive blog almost entirely dedicated to taking me to task for taking this person to task on the blog I had at the time. I wasn’t named, just as this person hadn’t been explicitly identified in my own posting, but it didn’t matter. All that mattered was that this person expected me to read the blog and that if I did I’d know damned well that I was the topic of the one-sided conversation. The fact that I might be the only one to grasp this — and be one of maybe five people to even know that the blog existed — was not important. At issue were only the message and its packaging.
This person and I are very friendly now and so we enjoyed a mutual laugh about the whole affair, and it got me thinking about the general phenomenon of, in effect, sending people coded messages in publicly accessible places. In one realm it’s known by the portmanteau “vaguebooking” — posting status updates on a social-networking site that not only target an unnamed person but do so in a manner that will arouse the curiosity of others to varying degrees depending on their familiarity with the parties involved. But it’s part of blogging as well. Continue reading “Blogging *at* people”
Actually, “we” is inaccurate, since I changed the theme of the blog by dictatorial fiat and only later asked for token approval. But I think it looks better. I’m also planning to add to the blogroll, which hasn’t been updated in a scrote’s age and featured a few no-longer-updated sites before the weekend transition to a variable-width layout with my beloved size-2 Arial font. In order to do that, I’d like to have a sense of who visits this place and wants so see their own blog or favorite blogs linked. Basically any running-related blog that’s not merely a tricked-out training log, any blog that disparages stupid people and things in as deliberate and humorous a manner as possible, cool science sites, and stuff that is just plain funny is on the table.
Bullshit. If “he” was ever around in the first place to be fallen, he has stayed that way for almost two thousand years. Those who like to suspend the laws of the natural world an believe in the original resurrection despite the frivolity of this are invited to consider the fact that the Second Coming was supposed to have happened a long-ass time ago. So if Christianity has dropped the ball there, why believe that it has anything accurate to say about undocumented and absurdly unlikely events of yore? Continue reading “He is risen!”
The other night I dragged my vexingly sore lower limbs past a branch of Fifth Third Bank. While to runners this institution is known as the title sponsor of a 25K in Grand Rapids, Michigan that has served as a U.S. road championship on numerous occasions and will do so again next month, the name of the bank itself invites a sincere question: Why not just call it Seventh Bank? Continue reading “So I’m wondering about that first batch of Third Banks.”
Sometimes I sit down to write something trivial and a masterpiece ensues. Like most bloggers I have lots to say, but when you strip out the excess there’s barely anything of substance or interest, unless it’s something I’ve written. Testicular explosions and glory to all. Then there’s the fresh fruit act of 1456, designated by Parliament members as the greatest show on Mars. Geeks live there, and invented the socket wrench. You know how a baboon’s vulva swell up when she gets angry? Neon ice cream with fries. Old McDonald had a huge farm, and on that farm he grew some weed; fuck you, buddy. Los Angeles used to have more people than Tikrit, but I have been deployed to both and you don’t want to fuck with the old ladies in Bel Air. Can you say ASSHOLE? It’s like the jocose morbidity of hallelujah. No means of visible support hose. Why even go there? I can do the mashed potato, so Negro, please. Lance Armstrong was as dirty as a teenage boy’s wettest dreams and I once saw one of those idiots eat a bowl of Cheerios and big as a fucking steering wheel. The milk was all swirling and sloshing around in his stomach as we padded along the carpeted hallway so I belted him a good one in the belly with a fire extinguisher and she moaned “awwwwwwwwww, hell’s bells” before projectile vomiting all over her freshly mowed library card. This is a best-selling post, a marvel of modern technology and the most powerful aphrodisiac since pictures of Jeanne Kirkpatrick. Nom nom nom nom. Look at this, a sex symbol! Cymbal. This thing keeps opening and closing like it’s 1799, baby got front AND back. Next time you decide to up and register for the Comrades Marathon, maybe you should read the goddamned application to see what it is you’re signing up from. It’s not a marathon OR a gun club and if you have a criminal record, even for farting in an open container during Oktoberfest, they won’t even let you INTO Toronto, and believe me I tried and they took my fake ID and my Chubby Checker CD collection, which they worked overtime to extract from my sigmoid colon with the entire membership of MENSA looking on silently and dyspeptically. There was no reason at all for them to whip out the reruns of Futurama before that chick could make off with my wallet clenched between her teeth like some hot little swashbuckler number. WA-HOO! say it. I was at the same AA meeting you were when they brought in a keg and said, “this is the last place the cops will ever check.” I got so fucked up that night I barely remember the underage rodeo clowns. I’m sticking this back in Google’s cache where it belongs. Tag this multifaceted and proud, and use it as your Facebook status. Out.
It seems as though a lot more people than I realized use Crest whitening strips. I bet a few people here have gone in for the actual light treatments, which reportedly work pretty well, teeth whitening training programs have become quite popular. Someone I know recently fell asleep with a strip in, and woke up with very sensitive teeth. The closest I have come to doing this is passing out dead drunk about 20 years ago with a huge wad of Copenhagen in place. My lip looked like the surface of Mars once I peeled the snuff out, but my teeth didn’t hurt.
Everyone likes a nice smile, but the focus on “the whiter the better” is pretty lame. I’d like to see strips in various other colors. Wouldn’t it be cool to meet people for the first time and offer them an arrestingly gorgeous neon-mauve grin? You could find a complimentary color for the bottom teeth.
Or better yet, not strips but patches for individual teeth. You could do a ROY G BIV across all fourteen top chompers (for those whose wisdom teeth are gone), two teeth per rainbow color. You could have a Pride Flag smile. And screw tattoos, jerseys and hats — your favorite pro sports team could decorate your mouth. THAT would be loyalty.
If Tiger Woods or Gary Busey did this it would probably violate a lot of local ordinances normally applicable to billboards and the like.
I know that the antibiotic tetracycline can cause mottled tooth enamel in infants born to moms who take the drug while pregnant, but this falls a little short of what I’m proposing here and besides, it would be inconvenient to have to be a foetus in order to enjoy the privilege of unfettered and permanent tooth staining.
I have no doubt that people can and do get crowns in various colors, but a Google image search only turns up a few pictures of kids with colored braces. Between the expense of dental crowns and the whimsicality required to undertake this kind of procedure, it would pretty much take a wealthy eccentric with an impulsive demented streak. If I could afford to do this, or anything, I wouldn’t bother because instead I would buy a really nice, expensive car that would be the envy of mindless middle-aged men the world over, like a vintage Lamborghini, and fuck it all up. I’d key the thing myself, put gray primer paint all over the doors over a green base, give the windshield a few love taps with a golf club for a nice spiderweb effect, and dislocate the bumper. An old “Carter/Mondale” bumper sticker to go with a “support out troops” ribbon, plus a decal for the rear windshield from DeVry University, would round out the ensemble. I’d never tire of driving.
There’s a blogger who set a Guinness-recognized world record for the most lifetime blog posts:
Darren joined Engadget in July of 2006, and almost four years to the day (when these numbers were submitted to Guinness) he’d arrived at 17,212 individual posts (since surpassed, of course). That’s single posts on Engadget, Engadget HD, and Engadget Mobile, not duplicated work. We obviously couldn’t be more proud of Darren and the work he’s done (and continues to do) here, and we think this is an amazing feat for one writer. Of course, this is the guy who did 59 posts in a single day at CES 2008. Seriously. To put it in perspective, his current word count is at 3,389,148. That’s War and Peace about six times over.
Yes, that’s over 2,300 words a day, roughly six trade-paperback pages in normal typeface. He’s churned out a total of about 30 novels’ worth of work for Engadget, assuming a typical novel to be about 400 pages. This obviously doesn’t account for whatever e-mails he’s sent and comments he’s written on his own and other blogs. He is clearly the Wilt Chamberlain of Internet blather. I have no idea how coherent or interesting his stuff is; I can only assume he’s not just bashing keys at random and emitting sheer incoherence rather than substance, which would set his writing apart from 95% of bloggers.
I think I’ve topped 50 blog posts in a week at my absolute prolific misdirected-energy worst, and when I catch myself getting anywhere close to this, I wrench myself out of the rut by quitting cold turkey for a while. I imagine that Darren Murph gets paid. I always wished when I was running a lot that I could make a certain modest amount of money per mile completed regardless of pace–ten bucks, say. This would have netted me over $50,000 in one or two years and no less than about $35,000 for a dozen-year stretch from about 1994 to 2006ish.
On a message forum where I often spend way too much time wasting far too much of my days, I disclosed one of my bad but waning habits in a dolorous but tongue-in-cheek “how-to” posting about deftly creating your own misery. In short, I suggested Googling past friends and associates or them on Facebook, comparing your life to what theirs appears to be, and using this information to reasonably conclude that you’ve fallen short in every meaningful goal you have ever set.
This set in motion a thread in which various people demanded that I accept who I am, “get over myself,” or take various unspecified steps toward self-acceptance. A few people understood that my original post wasn’t a self-pitying complaint about how bad my life compared to other people’s or a request for assistance, but an acknowledgment that certain online mining operations are best abandoned in advance. That didn’t stanch the flow of bullshit, so I’ve decided to get honest and describe the genesis of my terrible feelings of inadequacy.
Continue reading “And with spring comes the manicky literary outbursts”
Just what the world needs: Someone who claims to have been be an atheist for all of her life before converting to Catholicism a few years ago now has all the answers for her Catholic friends about how to deal with atheists. (In case you’re still wondering, I’m not Catholic, so if you’re looking to learn how to conduct yourself as one in the spirit of the title you may be in the wrong place.)
This whole exercise is misguided on a number of levels. For one thing, maybe I’m traveling in the wrong circles, but Catholics as a rule are not exactly the evangelizing type. They also don’t care if others are atheists or belong to other religions. Mind you, I’ve met a few crazy and strident and stupid ones, but this was a result of their inherent nature, not their Catholicism. Most Catholics I know are barely a step ahead of the Jews I know when it comes to the strength of their ecclesiastic beliefs, which bear far more resemblance to my own than to those of archetypal Christian. They’re in it for the tradition and the social aspects, and in some cases have educational motives. The Vatican may be an unholy mess, but that doesn’t speak to what Catholics stateside believe.
For another thing, it’s always advisable to be suspicious of people who claim to have been nonbelievers for a long time before finding God. I’ve found that these types of people are, understandably, very confused. They don’t actually know whether they really believe now or not, which is eminently reasonable but in sharp contrast to the identity they’ve embraced. They remind me of people who have been going to AA meeting for a few weeks after two decades of hardcore drinking and are already telling people who have been sober for years how to best approach their still-imbibing friends and family members. This energetic distribution of piercing insight is often followed by a drinking relapse and a disappearance from the sobriety scene.
Furthermore, the writer is operating from a mistaken premise–that the things atheists believe (and she’s right about this in many cases) are incorrect. One example is her statement, “most atheists think that large parts of the Bible simply aren’t true, and many see the entire thing as a work of fiction.” She’s half-right, but she fails, of course, to take this to its proper conclusion, as this would obviously undermine her entire raison d’etre.
Finally, the writer’s implicit assumption is that atheists–who, by the way, do not come in one basic “type” in terms of personality, educational level, etc.–not only want to listen to people go on about their experiences as Catholics, but need to. If I have a friend who’s Catholic (or Jewish, or Hindu, or Muslim, etc.) whose life has been strongly influenced by her religion, than I like to listen to her discuss it because I like knowing more about herself and her experiences. But if someone’s only looking to challenge me, then it’s pointless. For one thing, most atheists know more about the tenets of their interlocutors’ religions, a strange but true reality that has been borne out by fairly hard data was well as lots of anecdotal accounts. For another, no real atheist is going to be persuaded by arguments from the faithful. At best he will grow bored or irritated or perhaps frustrated at observing an otherwise intelligent friend blather on about things like people coming back to life or crackers equating to tasty human flesh, etc. At worst he might start fucking with you, leading you on like the telemarketer you effectively are, before delivering the coup de grace and mocking you outright before slamming the door in your face (literally if you are a literal evangelist, figuratively otherwise). There is no percentage in proselytizing, and the fact that this blogger is hopelessly wrong about not only her conceptualization of nonbelievers but also the urgency of her de facto mission only hurts the whole unnecessary movement.
My mind concocts a lot of pointless hypotheticals, and lately these thoughts have been imbued with unusually florid details. Last night I was in a supermarket with a series of hot and salad bars and a cafeteria section off to one side, and imagined what things would look like if everyone suddenly lost not only their knowledge of manners and the geneal rules of order, but all concept of such things. I mean a complete and collective frontal-lobe failure. It would be a jovial yet gruesome (to an observer retaining his own standards of proper behavior) scene. People shoveling everything from carrot sticks to macaroni salad to beef stew into their mouths using their hands. Folks just grabbing what they wanted and casually bypassing the registers en route to the parking lot, perhaps soiling themselves along the way. Noisy copulation in the aisles, people braining each other with coconuts in an effort to secure the last Milky Way bar in the place. It would be Bluto Blutarsky meets Phineas Gage, co-hosting a live broadcast of Wild Kingdom: The Urban Edition.
So I slept on that, and this morning awoke with a better idea.
Continue reading “In a world without food”
Below are the search terms that have led to this site ten or more times since we moved here from scienceblogs.com almost two years ago. While webmasters ordinarily post such lists owing to their capacity to amuse, in this case the list is instructive. During a week of programmed irrelevance, I made a series of “top” posts noting my personal favorites in several areas–among them bridges, skyscrapers, and actresses in prime-time TV dramas. These were as throwaway as blog entries get, but the actresses one, as you can see, has drawn by far the most visitors out of those landing here by accident. Between her real name and her Lie To Me character Dr. Gillian Foster, Kelli Williams alone is responsible for over 2,000 hits, while Elizabeth Mitchell (Dr. Juliet BurkeLost), Traylor Howard (Natalie Teeger on Monk) and Emily Deschanel (Dr. Temperance Brennan on Bones) are all close to or north of 500. (This post is only going to reinforce this pattern, but I can’t do a damned thing about that.)
kelli williams 1,290
joan bushwell 556
elizabeth mitchell 536
magazine advertisements 432
transamerica pyramid 424
emily deschanel 401
gillian foster 384
natalie teeger 262
purple porn 236
chimpanzee penis 187
milena glusac 186
traylor howard 182
alligator deer 160
christa mcauliffe 156
mary steadman 140
san francisco 124
nicole bobek 122
bushwell plaza 122
kelli williams lie to me 120
traylor elizabeth howard 96
hiv rash 88
dave chappelle oscar the grouch 86
lie to me foster 84
holdren eugenics 83
mammals rose to prominence during the 80
turkey nest 71
lyle alzado 71
joan bushwell’s 69
melisa christian bodybuilder 67
natalie monk 66
ticks on humans 53
sunshine skyway bridge 49
god comics 49
chimpanzee refuge 48
chimp refuge 47
bushwell plaza seattle 46
spleen histology 46
kelli williams pics 42
foster lie to me 41
julia mancuso 41
dog spleen 39
chimpanzee porn 37
dr bushwell 37
dr. gillian foster 36
deeja youngquist 35
white dogwood 35
“kelli williams” 35
joan bushwell wikipedia 35
xtranormal obamacare 34
dr. joan bushwell 33
monk tv show 33
alligator with deer in mouth 31
wild turkey nest 31
bank of america tower atlanta 30
steroid ring 29
old magazine ads 29
joanne stubbe 29
dr joan bushwell 29
canine spleen 28
joan bushwell’s wikipedia 28
magazine ad 28
gilford grok 27
alligator eats deer 27
melisa christian 26
kelli williams legs 26
san francisco bridges 26
shark amplifier review 26
raspberry cane borer 26
san francisco golden gate 26
golden gate san francisco 25
hiv rash pictures 25
oscar the grouch dave chappelle 25
penis flower 25
chappelle show oscar the grouch 25
tampa bridges 25
flo jo 25
why you shouldn’t drink coke 23
bones from bones 22
pictures of bridges 22
mammals rose to prominence during the: 22
julia mancuso nude 21
my truth project 21
natalie from monk 21
joan bushwell wiki 20
julie teeger 20
dimarzio ultra jazz 20
kelli williams pictures 20
natalie teeger monk 20
tampa bay bridges 19
thorazine ad 19
lindsey vonn sexy 18
south african porn 18
why you shouldnt drink coca cola 18
john holdren eugenics 18
san francisco transamerica pyramid 18
flower porn 18
roo roo joke 18
joan bushwells 18
golden gate bridge san francisco 18
april mancuso 17
traylor howard legs 17
histiocytic sarcoma 17
traylor howard bio 17
transamerica pyramid san francisco 17
lie to me kelli williams 16
facebook status year in review 16
dave chappelle oscar 16
dr gillian foster 16
traylor howard pictures 15
lie to me 15
actress kelli williams 15
gillian foster lie to me 15
traylor howard hot 15
“melisa christian” 15
gaping porn 15
chappelle oscar the grouch 14
london marathon shit 14
kelly williams lie to me 14
fungal porn 14
christin wurth-thomas 14
magazine ads 14
gator eats deer 14
kelli williams actress 14
images of bridges 14
doc bushwell 14
arkansas river bridges 13
darwin fish 13
bullshit advertisement 13
increases in the national debt 13
tampa bay bridge 13
“traylor howard” 13
transamerica building 13
elizabeth mitchell lost 13
raspberry cane 13
creation the movie 13
caught in a bad project 13
why you shouldn’t drink coca cola 12
carrie prejean is a hypocrite 12
chimp penis 12
old magazine advertisements 12
i like hores 12
florida bridges 12
essential sound products 12
oscar the grouch chappelle 12
histiocytic sarcoma in dogs 12
dave chappelle grouch 12
lize brittin 12
traylor howard sexy 12
texas power and light alligator rattlesnake 12
richter 8.8 12
traylor howard feet 12
basic steroid structure 12
african beauties 12
magazine advertisements women 11
spleen microscope 11
bad project 11
the humbler 11
jennifer morrison 11
blood type matching 11
tv tower toronto 11
richard lewontin 11
christian bullshit 11
granite grok 11
traylor howard see through 10
normal spleen histology 10
bank of america building atlanta 10
dimarzio ultra jazz wiring 10
aligator deer 10
gillian lie to me 10
central mass striders 10
deschanel emily 10
lindsey vonn swimsuit 10
spleen dog 10
sunshine bridge 10
mammals rose to prominence during what era 10
kelli williams bio 10
So in a week dominated by bullshit about Supreme Court decisions on high-profile First Amendment cases, various ludicrous attacks on abortion, and slaughter on the shores of the Mediterranean, the media reaction to the riveting personal deterioration of actor Charlie Sheen has been absurdly muted. But I’ll add to the chorus of ADD bloggers who can’t be bothered with this vital issue and comment instead on the 8-1 SCOTUS decision that overturned a lower-court ruling that found the Westboro Baptist “God Hates Fags” Church liable for $5 million in damages for the purposeful infliction of emotional suffering on the father of a son who was killed in combat and whose funeral was the site of one of the WBC’s many protests.
I have to say that although it turns my stomach, I agree with the ruling. I admittedly take dim pleasure in the idea that the more exposure these assholes get, the worse things will ultimately become for them because soon it won’t just be Patriot Rider bikers showing up to quietly keep the peace at such goings-on, it’ll be someone with a louder, noisier axe to grind, and someone is going to get hurt or at least seriously threatened. I don’t think the police response to such a situation would be particularly swift. As it is I believe that the WBCers planned to show up at a the memorial service in Tucson after the recent shooting rampage there, but ultimately opted out because the advance publicity led to the suggestion of focused recriminations should the Phelpses show their faces and signs. Maybe not, but these idiots are no longer known only in certain U.S. circles, and I think that after a decision that upset a lot of people this morning it’s not going to be long before the WBC, peaceful though they may be in carrying on their demented mission, had better count on some real protection from harm. As it is a loose conglomerate of hackers going by the novel handle of “Anonymous” has gained access to their Web site, although this may be partly by design…come to think of it, this does sound a little Sheenian already.
I have seen The Biggest Loser once in my life. I won’t say that I was turned off or that no good can come of being berated in the manner of the gym teacher on Beavis and Butthead by a tyrannical vixen with scuplted abs, but it’s clear that these programs are for the benefit of the networks who produce and air them, the advertisers whose products are featured in concert with them, the viewers at home who are simultaneously mortified and amused by them, and bloggers who find reason to mock them. This is true of virtually all television programming, of course, but bears repeating since people seem inclined to ignore the fact that in the end, whatever fitness, sobriety, sartorial or other benefits participants accrue do not endure in the majority of cases, just as in real life.
I was in a Whole Foods today and feeling very misanthropic; while the second condition is often a direct consequence in the first, this was different because I was craving the outbreak of a global thermonuclear war even before wandering into this madhouse of weird-looking fuckers jaggedly pushing carts of grossly overpriced produce and such around and jabbering on cell phones. I was spewing some kind of dour account of this or that deficiency in myself and others and seeding my lament with profanity when I noticed a sleeping baby being trundled by a foot or two away. I curbed my monologue until the infant and its oblivious mom were out of range and then started in again.
This made me wonder (not for the first time, as I have a couple of young nephews): What age can a human being attain before it’s unofficially no longer appropriate to swear around him or her with impunity?
Of course, this assumes two things: that there is in fact an age range from 0 to X at which hearing curses isn’t going to have a lasting neuropsychological effect, and that there are defensible reasons to avoid swearing around little kids in the first place. Most people I know would probably accept both. So on the surface this is a legitimate question. While I wouldn’t feel as if delivering a loud George Carlin monologue within inches of a sleeping six-month-old’s face was a constructive use of my time, I wouldn’t feel guilty about exposing it to F-bombs. On the other hand, I’m always careful to avoid this around hominids who are old enough to, well, seem to focus on what I’m saying, leaving aside the sobering and telling reality that some people never exhibit this behavior.
Hell, I’ll go with two years on the nose.
Until today, the pressing issue of how these two utterances differ subtly in meaning never crossed my mind. But upon hearing one of these this morning and realizing that my brain was expecting the other, I was forced to do a thoroughly worthless analysis and post my conclusions in the most irrelevance-friendly site on the entire World Wide Web.
“Uh-uh” in response to a question translates so a simple “no” answer. “Nuh-uh,” on the other hand, is used not so much as a reply to a query but as a challenge or refutation, in the spirit of “I disagree,” “Gonna call BS on that one” or “Fuck that noise!”
“Uh-uh,” however, enjoys a purpose that its slightly longer sibling does not: It may function as an imperative verb. For example, when snaking your hand up your girl’s inner thigh for the first time and hearing her say “uh-uh,” you know you’re being told to cease and desist. But were she to declare “nuh-uh” instead, you might not be dissuaded in the least and may even think that she’s encouraging you but telling you to aim for a sightly more sensitive spot.
By the way, I’ve anticipated all of you who have already made plans to respond to this with an “uh-uh” (if trying to be ironic on two levels) or a “nuh-uh” (if shooting only for one). Understand that this is a no-no.
The Freethinker, a British publication extolling the virtues of being unchained by superstitious adherence to outmoded and often goofy belief systems, seems to border on Onion-esque overreaching in its eulogy of Claire Rayner:
An atheist until the end: leading British humanist Claire Rayner dies at 79
At the heart of Claire Rayner’s many admirable accomplishments – as a nurse, writer, commentator, “agony aunt” and vice-President of the British Humanist Association – was her healthy skepticism and her utter rejection of religion.
But you would hardly guess this from this BBC report of her death from cancer, which – apart from saying that she is to have a humanist funeral – shamefully makes not a single mention of the fact that she was a leading figure in the British humanist movement and an outspoken atheist until the very end.
I understand and appreciate the mission of The Freethinker, something that would have resulted in being burned or otherwise tortured to death in most arts of the world a few centuries ago and would invite the same fate in the Muslim world today. But I think that in this case the writer may have left a little nugget of poo on his keyboard; not the type apt to go smearing the bowl upon flushing or stinking up a whole wing, but readily identifiable as a craplet nonetheless. As a god-free person myself I don’t see the need to point out–twice–that Rayner was an atheist “until the end.” That’s the kind of thing that seems more likely to fuel theocrats’ delusions than give them pause: Is it supposed to be a surprise when a vocal atheist doesn’t recant on her deathbed? And even if she had, would this have somehow lent credence to the idea that, say, there was once a handcrafted wooden boat that survived a forty-day rainstorm that flooded the entire globe and held two (or seven) or every kind of animal in existence?
I’m also not sure that it was incumbent on the BBC to explicitly identify Rayner as an atheist. It’s probably more useful to note her deeds–she was an award-winning journalist, a novelist, and a relentless medical crusader–than her beliefs. But I do like the article’s inclusion of what Rayner wrote about about Joe Ratzinger when he was fixing to come to the U.K. on some goat-fucked misinformation campaign or another:
I have no language with which to adequately describe Joseph Alois Ratzinger, AKA the Pope. In all my years as a campaigner I have never felt such animus against any individual as I do against this creature. His views are so disgusting, so repellent and so hugely damaging to the rest of us, that the only thing to do is to get rid of him.
I suppose it remains appropriate at times to point out that people can do great things without the hand of some skygod prodding them along (and can grandly fuck up without the devil egging them on). But this has been proven so many times throughout history that if the diehard delusionals who insist that atheism is somehow irrational haven’t gotten the message yet, they probably never will. Educating them is impossible, but maligning or simply ignoring them is not.
A brief overview of the smattering of data collected from this survey:
* I posted links to the survey on this blog, on Facebook, and on Letsrun.com. In so doing I was selecting heavily for respondents who are or were distance runners, but that was the point–I was curious to learn what approximate fraction of runners engage in yoga. I’m sure that the title of the survey itself selected for runners who do yoga more than it selected for those who do or once did only one of the two, but the extent to which this is the case is unknown. (The question about geographic location was gratuitous.)
* I was surprised the survey got even the number of responses it did–28.
* Of the 28, 20 (71%) consider themselves regular runners, with 90% of that group doing three or more runs a week. Of the four non-runners, four used to run and four never have. So 86% (24/28) or respondents qualify as runners of some sort.
* Of the 28, 8 (29%) regularly do yoga and another six used to, yielding a lifetime “prevalence” of 50%. Of the 8 who are currently active, 7 currently run and 1 used to run; in other words, no current yoga participant has never run.
* Of the 6 ex-yoga-performers, 5 currently run and 1 used to run. That means all 14 who admit to having ever regularly done yoga either are (86%; 12/14) or once were (14%; 2/14) regular runners.
* 4 of the 28 respondents said they had never either run or done yoga. Of these 4, 2 were from outside the U.S. out of a total of 4 total respondents from abroad. This may mean something, but probably not. It’s mildly interesting and I would guess that a few people who “know” me only from this blog–where running is rarely a topic of discussion–have been followers since our ScienceBlogs.com days, when a comparatively high fraction of visitors were from Europe, Asia and Africa.
* I was relating these findings to a running friend who also does yoga, and she told me that the majority of people she knows who do yoga have never run (and this is in Boulder, Colorado, where running is a de facto civic duty and yoga only slightly less of one). This speaks to the population at which this mini-survey was aimed. I would have guessed that the percentage of people who start as runners and later gravitate toward yoga is much higher than the reverse even without these results.