Sunday, March 25, 2012

Time of Peak Activity

From @grrlscientist Mystery Bird, adult Barred Eagle Owl at nap time.  Click that link for a beautiful picture of a juvenile owl and a discussion of owl eye color. Apparently owl eye color doesn't correlate to the time of day they're active, but is it related to where they live? These dark eyed owls are tropical where the light is more intense.

And speaking of time of peak activity, yesterday was the Reason Rally in Washington, DC where non-believers showed themselves in public. There's a good summary on Discovery News.
  • An estimated 10,000 people rallied in Washington D.C. to celebrate the rejection of the idea of God.
  • The fastest growing 'religious' group is campaigning for a bigger place in public life.
  • Deep-seated fear of discrimination leads many Americans with no religious affiliation not to acknowledge themselves as atheists.
I support their effort in every way. I am a straight up atheist here on my blog, but that's not the same as real life. Nobody near me reads my blog. I don't pay that much attention to my analytics, but last time I checked only 25 people in Georgia read my blog in a month. More people in Germany read my blog than in my home state. Some Christian members of my family found out I'm an atheist because they read it here. And now mostly I never hear from them. (Although that could also be because they asked me if I voted for Obama and I said I did.) My cousin whose creationist beliefs prompted me to make the evolution video called to invite me over for bible study last week. I told her I was busy that night. Why didn't I just tell her I am an atheist and I'd rather eat figs filled with live ants than go to bible study? Well it's very awkward! If I told her I'm a non-believer she might just try even harder to SAVE me. That's not what I want at all. Also it seems impolite.

Basically I feel like I need to check off one of the remarks in the Discovery article. I am afraid of discrimination in my community if people knew I was an atheist. I'm afraid my property would be vandalized. So I keep a profile so low nobody even knows I'm back here. All they see is woods. Being an atheist is a big part of why I had to become a hermit when I left Austin. You can be an atheist in Austin. Hell, you can fill the Paramount theater with atheists and tape a comedy CD. But in my immediate vicinity there are 5 churches, 4 auto title loan outlets, 2 places to buy gas and lottery tickets, a giant furniture store, a bridal boutique, and a denture clinic (and I'm not cherry picking. That's every single thing). These are not my people.

I have three atheist relatives here and they aren't out either, as far as I know. I think everybody assumes we're Episcopalian because my great-grandfather was an Episcopal priest. On Facebook I have my religion as Misanthropalian because it's not just that I don't believe in God, I really don't like people. Look at what I'm surrounded by. Why would I have a high regard for people? The reason all those title loan places are here charging 300% interest for a loan is because Florida has a law limiting the charges to 30% a year. So they just don't bother to set up shop in Florida. They come right across the line into Georgia and start extorting poor people. I despise people that consider this a good business. And people that would take out that kind of loan? I can't imagine we have a lot in common. I feel disconnected from people here in several ethical areas. It reinforces my revulsion for religion in fact. Because I would bet the full value of my car that all the people making and receiving those loans are believers.

Kenneth K posted a link to a YouTube video of scenes from the Reason Rally in the comments on the Discovery News article. I'm not embedding it because it activates all my worst symptoms of being a highly sensitive person, introvert, and misanthrope. Crowds are bad enough, but crowds having arguments? No no no no no. Two of my subscribers were there, Darron and Zoe. Maybe they'll give us a first hand account in the comments.

I want to give credit to some of my believer friends who are perfectly alright with me being an atheist. It can be done. I got a lovely email from my college roommate from the hospital when her father first showed symptoms of the cancer that quickly killed him.
We are in pre-op for a brain biopsy. No sinus issues or vertigo but
doc says more likely a tumor. We won't have diagnosis for up to 2
weeks following this biopsy. Wish us luck since I know you are not the
praying type.
That she could respect my lack of belief in a moment like that really touched me. My hope for the world is that one day we can all get along this way.


  1. I like "Misanthropalian". I can't say I am one, but I'm right on the borderline, most days. I have basically two friends that are and we get along wonderfully.

  2. I have not 'come out' to my family (parents etc) because of the horrible stress it would cause my mother for no good reason.

    We have the title loan places here, too. I don't think there's anyplace on Earth where someone can't come up with something to hurt people. Makes me sad.