The Very Inspiring Blogger Award

The other day I received a message from one of the very first people I met here on WordPress saying she’d nominated me for an award.

Eyebrows elevated, heart racing, I sped over to her site (something you should do as well, dear reader) and saw that I wasn’t hallucinating. I really had been nominated. It wasn’t a joke.

Inspiring?

Moi?

Anyhow, I wanted to thank my e-friend (is that even a word?) for nominating me or for even thinking enough of my blog to consider nominating me at all.

All joking aside, I am deeply honored and thankful.

According to her post, there is a price to pay for this award, and so here are the nitty gritty rules:

1.Thank and link to the amazing person who nominated you.
2.List the rules and display the award.
3.Share seven facts about yourself.
4.Nominate 15 other amazing blogs and comment on their posts to let them know they have been nominated.
5.Proudly display the award logo on your blog and follow the blogger who nominated you

inspiring blogger award

Seven deep facts about me

1. I have hamper issues. My wife thinks there is a force field around my clothes hamper that prevents the clothes from making it inside. Instead the clothes bounce off the force field and land on the floor around the basket, but never inside. Why dirty a perfectly clean hamper, I say?

Hi honey. May the force be with you?

2. I’ve watched Jerry McGuire way too many times. I’ve seen it more than any other movie, and get sucked into watching it yet again every time I see it on the TV.

Don’t judge me.

I curse thee Jerry McGuire!

I curse thee Jerry McGuire!

3. I’m deathly afraid of needles and don’t understand why everyone doesn’t share my irrational fear.

4. I love alien conspiracy theories or anything that has to do with the supernatural.

5.  I look like a deranged Bambi when I roller blade. I don’t care. I do it anyways, despite the looks of contempt on the faces of anyone I may pass…or wobble beside…you get the point.

6.  I’ve been told that I act a lot like Richard Castle from the series (wait for it) Castle.

Minus the boatloads of money, and dashing good looks, of course.

I’m not sure if it was meant as a compliment or not, but I’m including it anyways.

A better looking, richer version of me?

A better looking, richer version of me?

7. Smells I deem unsavory make me retch uncontrollably. I can handle sights, but smells will make me hurl.

So there you have my seven deep facts.

My nominees

Last but certainly not least, I’m supposed to nominate 15 more blogs for the award. So in no particular order, here they are:

  1. Secular Chaplain: I follow his blog with great interest. He has some thought provoking posts and I enjoy his even-handedness when it comes to religion. Besides, everyone could use a little more ‘nature’ to brighten their day.
  2. Mindful Digressions: A rockin’ senior citizen with entertaining thoughts. His blog makes for great reading!
  3. My Eclectic Existence: She watches Transformers and X-Men. Nuff’ said. Check her out. Her blog is awesome.
  4. Terminal Cruise: Faith, history, opinions…this blog has a bit of everything. I love it!
  5. A Tale Unfolds: The author of this blog is hilarious. Be warned though, he does like soccer.
  6. Ramblings From Jewels: Thoughtful blog and delightful person. Her blog is well worth the follow.
  7. Russel and Pascal: I love the premise behind this blog – it’s two people; one an atheist and the other a Christian, who carry on a respectful dialogue with one another, exploring their belief/disbelief. It’s a great blog.
  8. Opinionated Duck: Cool name and a self-professed ” lover of all things geeky”. OD has a diverse blog that covers a range of topics.
  9. We’re All Mad Here: Awesome pictures, funny stories about her kids and dogs. That’s all you really need for an inspiring blog.
  10. Ramblings From A Mum: Great blog that is very inspiring in many different ways.
  11. Constant Consciousness: It seems we sometimes disagree on issues, but T.S always crafts thoughtful posts that draw you in.
  12. Amusing Nonsense: Well-written, thought provoking blog about de-converting from Christianity.
  13. Widow in Training: A blog about grief. If you’ve ever lost someone, I think you’ll immediately identify with the author who recently lost her husband.
  14. Humanist Human Being: The byline of his blog reads, ‘I am a moral human being. I value life’. Pretty inspiring all on its own and if you like examining scripture, it’s a great blog for you.
  15. Reagent Post: I recently discovered this blog and I enjoy reading it very much. Stop by. You won’t be disappointed.

So there you have it. Thank you very much for the nomination and I hope that everyone who reads this will check out the blogs I mentioned above.

If any of the people I nominated have already gotten this award, I apologize in advance. 🙂

You can always throw a X2 beside it or something. That’s the ticket!

 

Dexter Vs. The Evil Chewy

This post is dedicated to Ramblings From a Mum, who requested I post some pictures of my puppy, Dexter.

I don’t think she knew what she was asking. It would seem that baby Dexter went the way of his namesake – he may seem cute and cuddly on the outside…

He may look harmless

He may look harmless

But on the inside, he’s still a predator at heart.

He likes to stalk his favorite prey…the evil chewy. Once he finds one, he is merciless.

IMG_20140424_161305485

When good dogs go bad

This chewy is sorry it ever laid eyes on this vicious dog. He’s no match for Dexter’s golden-y, fluffy, waffle-like, carnivorous power.

The chewy will not get the best of him!

The chewy will not get the best of him!

In order to protect the rest of us from the evil chewy, Dexter gives it everything he has. He knows that only he stands between the evil chewy and the rest of humanity.

But will he be a match for this foe?

It would seem he's flagging

It would seem he’s flagging

The evil chewy is wearing our hero down little by little.

Our warrior predator has fought the good fight

Our warrior predator has fought the good fight

Not even the great Dexter is inexhaustible. Fortunately, our hero will live to fight another day.

But so will the evil chewy.

How to Shut People Up

Instead of focusing on the strengths and weaknesses of a position, we often (as a society and individuals) try to shut people up by demonizing or dehumanizing them into submission.

While you can argue that this has always taken place, it seems to be a growing trend lately and one that hurts us in the long run. Such tactics help ensure that we don’t get to hear alternative viewpoints, and in the end, it shuts down the free marketplace of ideas that we so desperately need in order to assess the real strengths and weaknesses of any given position – whether they be personal, political or religious.

Don’t worry, I’ll provide some examples. Consider this a crash course in ‘how to demonize and dehumanize your opponent’.

Compare it to Hitler: In some circumstances there might be legitimate comparisons to be made to Hitler, but usually this is a card that is best not played. Usually the person making this comparison isn’t doing so honestly, but trying to shut the other person up by saying they’re acting in a Hitler-like way, or supporting a position that is Nazi-like (or worse) which no one in their right mind wants to do.

Literally demonize them: Tell people that anyone who doesn’t think, behave, believe the way you do is literally acting under the direction of a demon. If that doesn’t work, go straight to saying they’re pawns of a demon lord.

Make them out to be monsters: Tell people your opponent has no reason to behave morally or has no basis for moral action. If you can convince enough people that a group is morally or ethically bankrupt, you can easily shut them up or have them declared terrorists, like they do In Saudi Arabia.

Less than human: Compare them to animals, so that you can make them out to be less than human, like this person tried to do to me on Twitter yesterday.

dehumanize

Nice, right?

Tell anyone who disagrees that they support X: Islamophobia is a good example of this one. Even though a religion has nothing to do with race, sex or creed, you can beat down dissenting opinions about what that religion teaches by pretending that anyone who questions you is a racist. You don’t even have to establish that they are indeed racist, because no one wants to be labeled a racist so they’ll shut up rather than accept that label.

You can use this tactic all over the place. Politicians do it all the time. Think about the attack ads where the scary-voice-guy tells you that because a politician voted a certain way 15 years ago, that means they hate all children and want to eat yours for lunch.

Unpatriotic scum: Pretend that if someone doesn’t support the troops or agree with a war, they’re automatically unpatriotic.

Hell, you can even throw a whole segment of the population under the bus, by saying they’re not real citizens or patriots, because they don’t believe in a deity.

Right, Mr. Bush?

Keep the fear alive: Governments like to practice this one – keep the populace scared and they’ll do almost anything for ‘safety’, even give away their rights.

fear-198933_640

There are just a few ways you can shut people up and squash any opinion that doesn’t agree with your own.

Can you think of any more? Have any examples?

If so, please leave them in the comment section. As always, thanks for reading.

Man Declared Mentally Ill For Being An Atheist

It would seem that in Nigeria, all you need to do in order to be declared mentally ill is not believe in a deity:

A Nigerian man has been sent to a mental institute in Kano state after he declared that he did not believe in God, according to a humanist charity.

Mubarak Bala was being held against his will at the hospital after his Muslim family took him there, it said.

The hospital said it was treating Mr Bala, 29, for a “challenging psychological condition”, and would not keep him longer than necessary.

Kano is a mainly Muslim state and adopted Islamic law in 2000.

According to the news story, Mubarak’s family asked a doctor if he was mentally ill after learning he didn’t believe in God. The first doctor rightfully told them he was mentally stable, but that wasn’t good enough for them. They went to a second doctor who pronounced him mentally ill and had him admitted to hospital.

Words can’t explain how outrageous this story is. Mubarak is being held against his will, after allegedly being strangled by his own family, simply for not believing in a God.

What can you do?

It may not seem like much, but you can take to Twitter using the hash-tag #FreeMubarak to help raise awareness. Although it may seem pointless, people taking to Twitter has helped put pressure on authorities (as well as helped raise awareness of social issues) in the past, and it certainly can’t hurt to take a few minutes to help get the message out about this travesty.

You can also sign a petition, which you can find here.

Mubarak Bala deserves better than this. Nigeria deserves better than this. In 2014, these types of stories shouldn’t exist. Being an atheist doesn’t qualify you as being mentally ill or ill in any other way either, despite what some religions may teach.

Ditch the Hijab

Demonstration_of_Hijab_&_modesty_in_Nishapur-_July_12_2013_10There’s a Tumblr photo project that features Muslim women who have ditched their hijabis.

When I saw the news story, a huge smile appeared on my face. I have issues with the hijab and the way it’s used to oppress women. It’s nice to read a news story about women who are fighting against the oppression in a non-violent, ingenious way.

From the bio:

Featuring ex-hijabis with awesome hairstyles and tattoos and piercings. Ex-hijabis in bikinis and little black dresses and cargo pants and hiking boots. Ex-hijabis who are femme and ex-hijabis who are butch. Ex-hijabis who are women and ex-hijabis who are men. Ex-hijabis topless and legsome and all decked out and minimalistic and with long hair and buzzcuts and everything. EVERYTHING.

The project is run by a woman going by the name, Marwa. Her bio page says this:

I am an ex-Muslim, an apostate, an atheist, an escapee from the Middle East, a victim of both religious-based violence at the hands of my own family and the crushing Western war machine in my homeland,”

I’ve had conversation with Muslim men who say the hijab is a sign of respect. Some have argued that it’s even a sign of reverence.

I find it strange then that none of the men are rushing to wear one. If wearing a bag is a sign of respect, then there must be men who are worthy of the same respect…right?

When I’ve pointed this out to them, I’m usually met with silence.

The article points out another problem I have with the hijab:

The debate over Muslim women’s wardrobe choices is obviously contentious. On the one hand many believe veil customs, and in some cases violently enforced laws, reduce women’s agency. In addition, Marwa contends that “Your body is awesome and not a shame!” In this she directly challenges the beliefs held by many in the Muslim community (and in the more fundamentalist Christian community under a set of ideas broadly described as “modesty culture” and “purity culture”). The set of beliefs include the idea that sex, and by extension women’s bodies, are shameful whenever they are displayed or enjoyed in the “wrong” context.

The veil and modesty and purity culture are also entwined with the idea that men are incapable of respecting women’s bodily agency or controlling their own thoughts if “too much” of a woman’s body is on display. These teachings lead many women to conclude that their bodies are shameful things which need to stay hidden. And they put women in the unenviable position of having full responsibility for maintaining chastity, keeping themselves from being assaulted, and even for what goes on in other people’s minds.

The highlighted part is my doing.

Not only does the hijab oppress women, but I think it shames men as well. It makes the statement that men are worse than animals, and all we need to see is a small bit of uncovered skin for our minds to turn directly towards sex and sometimes even rape.

However, I also don’t agree with people when they say the hijab should be outlawed. I understand why they make that argument, but I also think that to do so makes us no better than the religious authorities that mandate the wearing of the hijab. I would rather try my best to dissuade people from using the hijab than to have it made mandatory that no one can wear it if they wish.

What do you think of the hijab and do you think it should be banned, like it is in France?

 

Why Bother Keeping a Blog?

I lost my dad two years ago to lung cancer. I held his hand as his blood pressure and heart rate dropped. I was there when he took his last breath.

I still wake up some nights reliving that moment – my heart pumping wildly and a scream half-formed on my lips.

But that’s a tale for another blog post, I think.

My dad had never been a big talker. When he said something, you knew it had to be important. He also didn’t show his emotions often.

My sister, dad, mom and me

Left to right: My sister, dad, mom and me

Although my mother seems to hate all things technology, my dad loved to explore its potential. He had an older model computer with internet capability. He would spend hours playing around with it, despite my mother giving him a death stare every time the dreaded computer was mentioned by him or anyone else in our family.

It wasn’t long after he’d passed away that my mother got rid of the computer. In fact, I type the majority of my blog posts using my dad’s old monitor.

Since my father wasn’t much of a talker, and he certainly wasn’t what you’d describe as ‘touchy feely’, I often wish he would have kept some sort of journal. Since he enjoyed technology, it would have been wonderful to discover he’d kept a blog much like this one or some other sort of digital diary.

Of course, a hand-written diary would have worked just fine as well.

However, I can picture my father sitting in the glow of his beloved computer, typing away while my mother slept in the room across the hall. I can picture him staring at the screen I’m looking at right now, trying to figure out how to phrase his next sentence, much clearer than I could ever imagine him scrawling his thoughts on a piece of paper.

It would have been wonderful to discover such a journal. I would have treasured it always. Whenever I found myself missing my father, I would always have that journal to read. I imagine it would be like having him with me again, if only for a few minutes.

I often wonder what my father thought.

Was he proud of me? What did he dream about? What sorts of thoughts did he have that he didn’t share with anyone else?

Left to right: sister, dad, mom and me

Left to right: sister, dad, mom and me

There are still so many things I’d like to ask him; to tell him. But he’s gone now, even if the questions still remain.

So if you’re reading this and have children, perhaps give some thought to keeping a personal blog. I sincerely think it’s worth it. I’m sure your children will treasure it like I would, if my father had kept one of his own.

And don’t waste a second. Soak up every moment you can with your loved ones before they’re gone.

Note: I love you dad. And even though I know you probably can’t hear me, I miss you dearly.

A Sub Sandwich Just Ain’t The Same Without Lettuce

Poor, poor mediocre sub

Poor, poor mediocre sub

My wife, bless her heart, (totally un-atheist thing to say…right?) went out today and bought me most of the fixings for an amazing sub.

I say ‘most’ because she forgot to pack the lettuce.

You can see the sad result in the picture I provided. Even now, hours after the event, I feel my eyes burning with unshed tears.

My dear, dear wife (in case she’s reading this, although she almost never does) had the best of intentions. She knew I was working the 12am-8am shift and she wanted her poor, hard-done-by husband to at least have a good meal.

It was close. I somehow managed to choke it down. The crunch was missing, but I persevered. I wasn’t going to let a mere sandwich defeat me with its un-lettuce-y…un-lettuce-y-ness. I powered through each bite as if it were my last meal…minus the best part, of course, which would have been the lettuce.

It now sits like a lump in my stomach – a reminder of its total lack of leafy goodness.

If you must, please pray for me.

Otherwise, let me continue to sulk in misery.