Ladies and gentlemen – it has come to the time where I should quell any doubts you have had about me over the years. You see I want you all to know that I love you, but I am in fact an Atheist. Now before you go crying you should try not to judge but first understand what an Atheist is:
Atheism – according to Wikipedia ‘from the Greek”ἄθεος” (atheos), meaning “without god”, used as a pejorative term applied to those thought to reject the gods worshipped by the larger society.’
Atheism according to most fundamentalist religions is an absolution rejection of God/Jesus Christ/Allah/Yaweh/Whoever and thus a heathen and one who will burn for eternity in hell or whichever version of damnation adheres to their particular religious practice
Atheism by account of some evangelicals and even politicians is misunderstood to be an alternate religion and would have people without god treated as those per say who ‘just have a different way of rejoicing’
Atheism according to me – and probably most like me is quite simply this – the understanding through rational and free thinking and rejection of Dogma of any kind – that this is our one life and we should concentrate on this and not worry about the next one. That the world was not created in a week and we evolved, not were created or the product of the new fangled ‘Intelligent Design’. And that quite simply our morality comes from within – not some chinese whisper-based scriptures from a few eons ago, but that we act humanely and treat those around us precisely how we wish to br treated. To quote Bill and Ted as opposed to perhaps one of the few valid ten commandments, ‘Be most excellent to each other!’
To some of course this is not news, but to those in the know a lot of this is about understanding, especially as where I live now, being an Atheist is seen with the same disdain as being Gay was back in the 1980’s – where as then it was reprehensible, nowadays it is (mostly) accepted, certainly more visible and in the more progressive (or in my eyes, rational) states – legally acceptable as an equal to any other relationship – which is as it should be. The issue is that being an Atheist today is mostly misunderstood by many. I suppose because I have been lucky to live in several countries which have been tolerant to religious freedom (although I prefer that they are simply seeing it as less critical in life – most people as Dawkins will state on a recent census in the UK simply ticked the Christianity box as they wanted to be perceived as a ‘good person’) – as a result of this when coming to live in the New World I wasn’t exactly backward (and perhaps on occasion been wrongly insensitive) about my lack of belief. Most of my audiences to these outings of my non-belief have been met with mixed yet tolerant reaction – very few have been met with any insult of sorts although some I am careful now to avoid the topic – but some have seen me with some curiosity that I can live a godless yet happy existence. Some I see (I hope) a small twinkle in their eye that maybe they has long ago questioned their own faith and concluded that Religion does not add up. One has congratulated me quite openly about my stance – others of course have distanced themselves preferring their god to my lack of belief but hey, I see that as little loss.
My own parents have known for some time but recently whilst explaining to my mother on the phone my fears for my Son’s education in this country I had to open the discussion with the gambit ‘You know I am an Atheist, right Mum?’ to which she answered in the unsurprised and almost the nonchalantly positive – but it did kind of feel like a ‘coming out’ – a making official of what was already known. Fortunately my Parents – as are most of my family – probably in the same group of census tickers that Dawkins mentions as quoted earlier (though I think I am fairly sure they are more honest and would tick at least non-religious) so such a big deal to many was in fact a no-brainer to my folks.
Yesterday I became a bit more proud and out of my stance by standing amongst others on the Washington Mall at the 2012 reason rally. Although the weather was not too much to everyone’s liking and sadly earlier estimates of 30,000 planning to visit, the 8-12,000 that did turn up was very encouraging. We were thoroughly informed by many of methods of action as well as being constantly reassured that we were not alone. We were incredibly entertained by the likes of Tim Minchin, Eddie Izzard, Jamie Kilstein, Bad Religion and Adam Savage (yup the Mythbuster feller!) amongst others. Inspired (especially by) 16-year-old Jessica Ahlquist by her actions not only against her school’s anti-constitutional actions but also by her resilience to the subsequent bullying after. We were held captive by the words of Dr Richard Dawkins, James Randi, David Silverman and Jamila Bey as well as many others. And then we saw the courage of Nate Phelps – son of the leader of the Westboro Baptist Church (the only invitees who did not turn up as it happened) to speak out against the hatred and division brings. And after all this, with tired legs and a 5 hour journey on the bus home spent a long time thinking and discussing about it all.
The one thing about the attendees probably above everything was the diversity of everyone. People of all ages, race and sexual orientations. Those who are skeptics, atheists and agnostics. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a few sympathetic faithful too amongst them too (certainly Senator Tom Harkin whose video of him supporting the first Amendment that Church and State are separate and supporting our movement bolstered this). On the way back got chatting to a young chap of African-American heritage – a young lad probably not 18 who whilst rather light-heartedly explained his coming out to his very religious mother I expect it to be much harder for him to exist and to be like that. He breezed over how most of his contemporaries at school often when religious debate came up in class would call him out when answers were required as if to victimize him – all of which he took on the chin quite happily in recalling. Admittedly he schools in New York and not Kansas or somewhere in the Bible Belt where creationism is scarily trying to be enforced in the curriculum, but still I did find his cheery nature to his retelling of these situations slightly concerting if a little refreshing. I then thought and realized that the two people behind me were but young teens and that a lot of the people at the rally were students. And this youth are seeking perhaps in a way the same rebellion that I sought and certainly my previous generation did in the 60’s (my issue being I did not really have anything to rebel against anything yet my parents had a lot to fight against). The great and sadly missed Christopher Hitchins (who sadly the tribute to at yesterdays rally suffered technical malfunctions) himself was of this era as were many like him. And this young feller – well read of Hitch, Dawkins and others I realized probably was not victimized for his opinions in these matters but was a pioneer in his classes as many around probably have the same doubts – yet he was proud to be loud about his stance on reason, equality and belief in science and that warmed my heart a great deal as much as any speaker I had heard that day.
If we look at the USA of today it is coming out of an era of a bad and fervently religious regime – almost an oppressive state where one I imagine of similar feeling to myself would have had to remained muted in their opinions and (lack of) beliefs. A time where religion itself was at the root of an atrocious act that caused a remission against reason and freedom, but yet an opportunity for religion to rise and disguise itself as a way forward when in fact it was simply to stunt progress by blanketing the country in a veil of fear.
The original atrocity caused many to question their faith although but now with a new president, renewed freedoms of expression (strangely helped by such bigoted fundamentalists as the Westboro Baptists – their cases and claims to freedom of speech also work for us heathens too!) are seeing a new era where once again we are allowed to question everything. There is a long way to go yet but yesterday’s rally was a start and something I was proud to be a part of. And the wonderful thing is seeing tomorrows business leaders, thinkers, politicians and more being a part of this movement gives me hope that my own son can look forward to a society free of religious influenced education, politics and oppression. I hope that many soon can come out in their own way
30 years ago today the world lost a comedy icon – just can’t comprehend the amount of laughter I have missed because his life was cut short. Guess some people really are too big for this world – John Belushi, you are very sorely missed.
Read an interesting article today on the BBC about people being relocated for work – best you read it before I pass comment: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-16789231
I was really surprised at the negative perspective of this article simply as it seems the journalist squarely relied on those who were perhaps unprepared or reticent to undertake such a life-changing challenge as moving abroad. Whilst I feel some sympathy for all the people mentioned within the article I do have to question why someone should undertake such a massive move if they felt it was not for them?
Living abroad – especially work transfers are not for everyone – in fact the more I think about it, it is one of those things you either embrace or reject completely – no middle ground, no sitting on the fence. You are either up for it and excitable, or you are simply anchored and abhorrent to the idea.
I myself have thrived on the idea of such adventure and have had a wonderful life dropping myself in unknown situations and adapting on the fly to survive – I don’t mean to share that as a form of boasting, but more a yardstick for decision. As I write this I am blessed to be on the balcony in Rio of a dear friend in the glorious sunshine whilst my friends and family all post on facebook about the cold back in Holland and the UK. Of course when it is this joyous one is naturally inclined to see this as the greener side of the fence, and with the birth of my son and the nationality of his mother I am considering this place as a future – maybe – place to drop anchor again. But this is where I go back to the article and the failures of those quoted…
Anyone considering a move abroad has to take off the rose-coloured spectacles and look at the place properly and in true honesty – are you really going to be happy here? Sure the sun shines and its warm, you are just a couple of blocks from the beach and the views are outstanding, but could you really survive without the most basic of things that you call home? Most people think that they could but I doubt their honesty.
I watched a program on the BBC of which I forget the name where people were offered the chance to live a life in Canada, New Zealand etc and follow their apparent dreams before being offered a free flight home You would see the Dad working his new trade at his new location and being paid a prime sum for said service. You would see Mum tending home in a gorgeous house 4 times the size of what you would get for twice the price back home. And you would see the kids fascinated by the new environment and doing amazingly well at school. Yet at the end of the 30 days, most would say ‘No Thankyou’ and emphatically wave goodbye to what they dreamed of (mainly fuelled by tear-filled messages of parents from home)
I guess the point I am making is that you either are built and prepped to do such a move or you are not. The sad thing about this article is that it was aimed at the spouses of those going abroad when what it should have done is questioned the adventurous families who thrive on such a thing. I was born in the UK, lived in Holland and Germany and now the USA and the Missus is from Brazil (where we are and our son has just been born) – we’ve discussed many places as future homes and any such opportunity we would investigate first before properly embracing but all with the precaution that anyone moving abroad for whatever reason should have. In simplicity, life is an adventure if you want it to be but you have to understand you cannot undertake such a thing lightly – you have to be prepared, go in head-first and be prepared for it to fail- but one thing I have learned is that the overcoming of these screw-ups is what makes the success of your survival.
Anyways, I still fancy Rio to live….. and if it doesn’t work out, well I will be ready for it….
Just a few early photographs of Paul Passos-Charlton, the love of mine and Ana’s lives
My son – Paul Passos-Charlton, born 30th January 2012, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
There are simply no words to describe how beautiful he is.
Been an interesting week. Started for me really Tuesday, sitting all innocent like in my Datacenter in NJ1 in Jersey City when I noticed the walls were shaking and my mind was quaking. I was certainly not making it with anyone at the time so realized it must have been a minor earthquake – my suspicions were confirmed by fellow ex-pat Jess who was quick to point out the Mayans might have it right. Me? I am not convinced
Next up is the Hurricane – or Irene to her friends – anyone named after the lovely Ms Handel who I grew up thinking was my maiden aunt cannot be a mischief surely? But no, in America it seems the worst is yet to come. The end of the world is nigh – or at least if it is not, we are all slightly fucked – at least that is what the TV would have you believe…
I got my first taste of US natural disaster panic when aforementioned earthquake hit – I wasn’t to troubled personally by a but of a shake but it seemed our hosting company would rather I was evacuated – I was in Jersey city at the time and I went outside to find several hundred people, dawdling aimlessly yet with their faces affixed to their smartphones desperate for information – not for what had occurred as they were well aware, but purely as to the impact. Most people were evacuated to the pathway where you have a beautiful view of downtown Manhattan (scarred only by the lack of the Twin Towers, yet with the apparent Freedom Tower still under construction, still with it’s cranes in view perfectly still) completely undamaged and normal.
I retired (as I was not allowed back in to the facility) to the safest and most accommodating thing I could think of – Markers Bar had paid no heed to a minor vibration and had continued serving without issue – the only facility for those shit-scared was putting on ABC-7 who were reporting on the catastrophe that never was – footage of a 20 second disruption to an NY council meeting, a view of the White House from a surveillance camera half way up a pole showing how much the nations capital building was shaking (of course the pole the camera was on was the real culprit) – basically lots of reporting on the things that the media had wished had gone horribly wrong yet had in fact – well just not got wrong at all. A city scared of what might have been
And now here I am surrounded by people talking of nothing more than the incoming peril – I have spent hours on phone calls discussing our Business Continuity Procedures and assured people that my trust in our data hosts is with reason. I am expected to spend the weekend glued to my Android and iPhone in case of alert and be expected to swim to NJ just in case it all horribly goes wrong
Well I suppose at least all this prep is good on my CV – how many non-emergency workers in the UK’s CV’s include the words ‘Hurricane’ and ‘Earthquake’?
Yeah she did drugs and booze. Yeah her life was a mess – but she was an astounding talent with such an amazing voice.
I met her once – I wasn’t aware of her voice but had seen her misbehaving on Never Mind the Buzzcocks about a week before – couldn’t help but love her for embarrassing that embarrassment that is Simon Amstel. I’d gone to London to see Electric Eel Shock and somehow myself, Bob Slayer and my mate rob ended up at this gig – we were the only ones there bar Amy and a mate. Amy wolf whistled the band and (whilst I can) I ended up asking her how to do it – I think she replied something about ‘just putting your fingers in you mouth and blowing’. Anyway I told her she was brilliant for sending up aforementioned twat and left her to enjoy her evening.
Shortly after I was in Leamington with my mate Robin and he played some of her stuff and I was blown away. Such a wonderfully soulful voice – and if I believed in a god – I am sure they broke the mould when they gave her a voice. A voice so wonderful that I guess it was too good for this place.
A country I love very much so devastated today.
My heart is with all the people affected. Mine dypeste kondolanser
So with the heat (oh yeah it gets fucking hot here) in NY I noticed that my 4 year old Tosh laptop was struggling to survive. 4 years is a fair lifetime for a laptop so I start shopping around – new tech, new chipsets, new hardware – it all makes for an interesting option or two. But one question was put to me more than once which I wasn’t sure to question:
“What about a new Mac?”
I like windows. No I *heart* windows (as long as it is the ‘7’ variety or XP circa a few years back). Its a fucking awesome OS from a techie point of view AFAIAC and has been a very happy friend to me over the years. OK everyone knows that the world and his wife hates Microsoft, Gates and all he stands for but for us in the business its been a pal, a confident and at least something that works for what we need it to do
However I’m now in New York and things are different here – first off just about every one who can has an iPhone – even I have one and I love the damn thing to bits. I hate the fact I love it because it is that lovely – so intuitive, so functional, so easy – so not windows really. So when the question comes to the point about a new laptop and “well you have an iPhone – why not an iPad/MacAir/MacPro/whatever as long as it aint MS toy do you want?” I get scared. I actually went – twice as it happens – to the Apple store in NY and stood – not drooling, not salivating – but purely evaluating Pro’s, Air’s and what not and tried to decide if they really would replace what has been a stablemate for years – a windows laptop. And the more I stood there, the more I realized I did not want one
Oh yes – the airs were light as a breeze and had the SSD I craved – but the proc was years out of date, and 2 Gig Memory? Antiquated….
The Pro – had it all – a new thing called thunderbolt, pretty screen, memory, power – just weighed a small fortune for it all.
No suddenly – and although at nearly 2K the Samsung Series 9 A04 was winning – and I was on the urge of parting with a lot of cash to bring me happily up to date
But then, this morning Apple decide to announce all the things that I had decided wrong with the air they would fix.I am not kidding here – crap processor ? Replace for i5. Not enough memory? We’ll up that to 4Gb. No Thunderbird connectivity? Standard across the board with anything over 13″
So I bought one.
And I don’t like it.
But it has X11 and a Unix interface under its skirt.
And it has iTunes which I know – in fact its like deja -vu – whilst its not familiar – it is like I have been here before. Not foreign, just different.
And it is pretty. And so light and portable. and… and… and…and I think I am sold.
Macbook air – the evilest of temptresses in the Laptop world. So wrong but so right at the same time..