Flamboyán Al Fin

He hoarded his Christmas gifts. We would get him cologne, ties, shirts, tchotchkes from our travels, treatments to soften his overworked hands, and they would all find their ways into drawers and cabinets, untouched for years. His clothing had to wear to nothing before he would discard it and start the next one’s slow disintegration. New, untouched things are a treasure to save for when they are needed, not an indulgence for in between. Scarcity is behind every shadow and over every hill, and a good hoard is insurance against doing without. It’s a habit my father, my grandfather, and I all share, to each other’s bemused frustration. They tangled with Communists, I grew up autistic, and we all hoard.

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Flamboyán Al Fin
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Vino Para Mí

Hay una banda sonora especial para la matanza moderna. La mayoría no son envenenando a la gente en un sueño permanente. Cuando un asesino moderno con un arma moderna asesina a 50 personas y hiere a 53 más, hay un sonido que sigue el carillón del último casquillo cuando cae al piso. Mucho tiempo después de los gritos y llantos y sirenas se colocan por otro lado, hay otro sonido, nos dicen.

Teléfonos móviles.

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Vino Para Mí

He Came For Me

CN: 11 June 2016 Orlando murders.

There’s a special soundtrack to a modern massacre. Most of them aren’t poisoning people into too-long sleep. When a modern killer with a modern gun murders 50 people and injures 53 more, there’s a sound that follows the last shell casing’s floor-bound chime. Long after the shrieking and crying and sirens are diverted elsewhere, there’s another sound, they say.

Mobile phones.

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He Came For Me

Dysfunction Defined

[TW: chronic illness, depression, suicide]
We are our bodies.
That sounds obvious, but it isn’t.  Cartesian dualism thoroughly infiltrates the English language and many others.  Many of the ways in which we talk about our bodies describe them as things we own, or carry, or inhabit, as though we were somehow distinct from the skeletons and meat.
My sense of my own consciousness is firmly anchored in my eyes.  Everything else is ancillary, a wall of sensation at a distance or a weird intrusion from the outside.  When I dream, I rarely have legs.  My dream avatar pushes itself through crowds with its arms, or it is nothing but disembodied eyes, watching more than participating in the dream’s events.  When I am more than that in dream, I am watching myself do things from the outside, a lucid vantage point on third-person adventure.  In those dreams, my oneiric body is usually someone else entirely: a minotaur, a Mexican woman, a robot.  I don’t have a sense of touch in my dreams, even when I have hands.  Those differences are how I tell when I’m dreaming, or when I’m recalling events that happened in dream: I can’t touch anything, I don’t have feet, and people don’t have faces.  And the world is usually in hazy grayscale with flashes of red or green to indicate the assorted Chekhov’s guns my dream-narrator likes to set up on my behalf.
There may or may not be anything to diagnose in those patterns.  But all of them are illusions, the fantasies of a mind that often feels estranged from and confused by the letters its frontier outposts deliver to it.  For the rest of us, our bodies and minds are not as distinct as my oneiromancer wants me to think they are.  Within this lipid-rimed assembly of motors and struts is a complex of sensors and wires, connections that make the events of the hands and intestines and small of the back as real and immediate as any thought or emotion—and every thought and emotion as real as leaving one’s hand too long on the stove.  The brain is only the largest and foremost organ of the self, anchoring and integrating the activities of all the others.
We are our bodies.
And when those bodies go wrong, it attacks the very definition of us.

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Dysfunction Defined

Handle Effect

There’s a platitude that believers like to use to comfort each other in the face of adversity: “God only gives us what we can bear.”
I shudder every time I hear that.  Like Søren Kierkegaard’s mouthpiece Johannes de Silentio, I skip whatever solace believers find in that idea, and go straight to the horror.  It’s poetic shorthand for a longer thought: “This is happening to you because God thinks you’ll eventually come out okay.”
Think about that.
This is happening to you because God thinks you’ll eventually come out okay.
Out there somewhere, a cosmic calculator has determined that I have some threshold of suffering I can endure without breaking, and has responded to that information by burning my crops and giving my mother cancer.

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Handle Effect

Investigating (Straw) Atheism

There’s nothing quite like a set of loaded questions from a believer to illuminate what being an atheist really means.  For all the increased and increasing visibility that celebrity nonbelievers like Daniel Radcliffe and Jodi Foster are getting us, and for all that atheist thinkers like Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett have rendered an exemplary case for non-belief as a philosophical position, we continue to suffer from a litany of stereotypes.  (Often, our most visible proponents do little to disprove them…)

And no set of questions is likely to be more loaded than the set that BornAgain_Believer (sigh) posted on MyNews24, reproduced here:
 
1.       Where do you come from?
2.       What is your purpose on earth?
3.       Does life have a meaning?
4.       What is just and fair for you?
5.       God forbids, if your child is murdered and the person is never caught and brought to justice, how would you handle it, seeing that life has no meaning and we are just here on earht [sic] to live and die. Where would you get justice from?
6.       An intelligent, thinking child brought up by atheist parents becomes a Christian how do you respond? Oh and becomes preacher and starts a new church, would you say your child has a problem?
7.       What about all the injustice in the world that goes by unreported, where must everyone else get justice from?
8.       How do you answer your own child that is searching for meaning and purpose in life?
9.       Why does research, discovery, diplomacy, art, music, sacrifice, compassion, feelings of love, or affectionate and caring relationships mean anything if it all ultimately comes to naught anyway?
10.   Is death the end of life?
I’d like to give this questioner the benefit of the doubt and assume that they’re asking purely from a position of ignorance.  But when it comes to the privileged and often oppressive end of an unequal societal dynamic, that’s not a warranted assumption.  This fellow’s username says it all.  The Digital Cuttlefish and Nate Hevenstone (if you’re not reading him yet, start) have already taken this on, so I’ll add my two cents.
Investigating (Straw) Atheism

Hell is Other People

There’s a lot to think about in Boston right now.

There was a bombing and a shooting.  Two ethnic Chechens were implicated in the bombing, and one of them is in custody right now, to likely face a farce of an “enemy combatant” trial as soon as the feds are done fabricating a tie to international terrorist groups.  [EDIT: He got a regular trial, thank the stars.] Hateful mooks have been subjecting an Indian-American family to a torrent of threats and insults because their son went missing a few months ago and was also suspected, forcing them to shut down the site they used to help them find him.

Amidst all of the maneuvering, it’d have been easy to miss a few tidbits that highlight the ongoing nightmare of being a nonbeliever in the United States.

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Hell is Other People

A Fallen World

The holiday season usually sees me visiting my family in Miami.  While they’re not as overwhelmingly zealous as Ania’s family, they’ve made a point to remind me that my not being a Christian is something they don’t like.  Amusingly, they’ve even suggested I privately doubt while going through the motions and living, to all appearances, as a Christian, to spare them the difficulty of having to deal with the existence of atheists and the shame of having one so close to home.  Apparently “thou shalt not bear false witness” has an addendum somewhere about cultural hegemony.

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A Fallen World

There. Now You Have a Country.

In case anyone has avoided the bevy of mentions on this site and elsewhere, CFI Ottawa’s end-of-the-world-themed conference, Eschaton 2012, was a few weekends ago, and it was AWESOME.  Recordings of the conference’s talks and panels should be up on AtheismTV in a short while, but for now I want to draw attention to the words of Eric MacDonald of Choice in DyingThe text of his presentation is available here and here.
Take a moment to read that.
Take a moment to read that in Eric MacDonald’s sonorous, quavering voice.

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There. Now You Have a Country.