Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

thanksjesusI’m often asked around this time of year, what with me being an atheist and all, just who it is I’m thankful to on Thanksgiving. My answer is simple:

I’m thankful to my wife who not only puts up with me and loves me when I’m at my best, but takes care of me and still loves me when I’m at my worst.

I’m thankful to my daughter for turning out to be a wonderful person despite having me as a father and the rather unconventional childhood she had to go through to reach adulthood.

I’m thankful to my mother for all the things she’s ever done for me which are too numerous to count.

I’m thankful to my brother and sister for their love and support over the years even when they didn’t always agree with my choices.

I’m thankful to my in-laws for so wholly accepting me into the family some 14 years ago.

I’m thankful to my friends for their friendship. Whether it’s someone I’ve known since I was in grade school or someone online I’ve never actually met, but have been hanging with virtually for years.

I am solidly middle aged at this point and there’s plenty of things I thought I would have done by now that will likely never happen. I’m not anywhere near where I thought I’d be in terms of owning a home or the amount of money I’d be earning and we often live paycheck to paycheck. However, I have a roof over my head and food in the fridge and gas in the car and two kitties who are spoiled. I may not have everything I want, but I have the things I really need and I am grateful for that.

I don’t believe there is an all-powerful deity providing me with anything. I do know there are people who have made it possible for me to provide these things for myself. So I don’t thank an imaginary friend for the things my real friends and family are due credit for.

Thank you.

White Christians are officially a minority now.

colbertfreakoutHere’s a bit of news sure to make the Religious Right freak out even more than usual. White Christians are now a minority in the United States:

Pew: White Christians no longer a majority – POLITICO.

According to the latest results from Pew Research Center’s Religious Landscape survey published Monday by National Journal’s Next America project, just 46 percent of American adults are white Christians, down from 55 percent in 2007.

At the same time, according to the report, the share of white Christians identifying as Republican has remained steady, even equal with the share of the party that carried President Ronald Reagan to his 1984 reelection. Nearly seven in 10 white Christians — 69 percent — identify with or lean toward the GOP, while just 31 percent do the same with Democrats.

So if you’ve been thinking the Religious Right has been more unhinged than usual lately, this is probably why. They know they’re on the decline and they’re going to get more panicky as their numbers continue to diminish.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau as of last year whites still made up 77% of the population, but more and more of us are moving away from Christianity.

In less than a decade, the gap in Christian identification between Democrats and Republicans has increased by 50 percent. According to the data presented, in 2007, 88 percent of white Republicans and 70 percent of white Democrats identified as Christian, an 18-point disparity. By 2014, 84 percent of white Republicans identified as Christian, but the share of white Democrats identifying as Christian fell by 13 points, to 57 percent, a 27-point gap.

Not all of that change can be attributed to the rise in atheism, but we’re certainly having an effect. It’s also worth noting that Christians are still a majority religion in America at 70.6%, but more and more of them aren’t Caucasian. You can bet these trends are going to cause more than a little turmoil as they continue to grow.

I’ve never actually said this to a user before…


… but I have thought it from time to time.

I had a perspective shifting experience the other day.

When I was a kid we lived next door to an older couple we knew simply as the Walkers. I have no idea what Mr. or Mrs. Walker’s first names were in part because I didn’t know much about them in spite of living next to them for almost two decades of my life. In my mind they were ancient, but I’m guessing when I was a young boy they probably were in their late 40’s or early 50’s. I know they had a granddaughter who would visit from time to time. Mr. Walker would sometimes sit out on his porch and get mad at us neighborhood kids for making too much noise while he was trying to listen to the Detroit Tigers game on his portable AM radio. Beyond that they could’ve been a husband/wife pair of serial killers for all I knew about them. What they did when they disappeared into the recesses of their home was a mystery. I always assumed they watched whatever shows old people watch and do whatever it was old people do.

We moved into a new apartment last May and many of our neighbors have kids several of which are of the same age I was back when I lived next door to the Walkers. I’ll say hello in passing, but generally I don’t interact with my new neighbors all that much. The kids always reply with that unsure-why-that-old-man-is-talking-to-me hello that kids use. Occasionally I’ll engage in some small talk with the parents, but overall I don’t detect a lot of interest in their getting to know me so I keep it to trivial pleasantries and move on.

The other night I was passed by the kids as they ran around playing and it brought back memories of my own youth. The commute home is not short so I usually make a stop in the bathroom and on washing my hands I saw my reflection in the mirror and was slightly startled to see how old I am. I’m 48, but I don’t always think of myself as 48. I still think of 50 as a long ways off unless I really force myself to realize it’s less than two years away. There’s a lot of grey in my beard and my face is showing more wrinkles every day.

As I stood there boggling at the face staring back from the mirror I realized that I had become Mr. Walker. The old fellow you occasionally see wandering from his car to his front door or vice versa. I wondered if the kids in the area looked at me the same way I used to look at Mr. Walker. What do I do in that apartment I rarely come out of except to go to work? I wondered if they’d be surprised to know I would be sitting down to play Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 for longer than I probably should that evening.

For all I know, Mr. Walker did some amazing things in his home. Maybe he was an inventor tinkering away in his basement trying to come up with the next big thing. Or perhaps he enjoyed carpentry as a hobby and made really nice furniture in his spare time. Or he might’ve been playing games on his Atari 2600.

Eh, he probably watched reruns of Matlock.

It’s an office disaster waiting to happen.

As I mentioned on an earlier post, Halloween was a bust in terms of seeing any kids in costume. The last thing we need is to keep a shitload of candy in the house considering that neither of us should be eating it. What to do?

Inflict it on my office-mates, natch! This is what the coffee station at work looks like this morning:

Tremble at the sight of Candy Mountain!

Tremble at the sight of Candy Mountain!

I’m a little worried I may be responsible for multiple diabetic comas today so if you see me on the evening news, well, this would be why.

Modding & Mapping Tools Coming to Black Ops 3 PC in 2016!

In a move that is sure to please fans who play Call of Duty on the PC, Treyarch just announced that they will be releasing mapping and modding tools for Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 around March of next year:

black-ops-3Over the years, the Call of Duty® community has proven itself to be among the most passionate in the world – and we count ourselves fortunate to make games for you.

We’ve been listening to one of your top requests and are excited to announce that modding and mapping are coming to Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 PC!

We’ve still got a lot of work left to do, but here’s our current plan:

  • You will be able to create Maps & Game Modes and more!
  • We will include Unranked Dedicated Server Files with the tools so you can run servers with modded content anywhere you choose.
  • We will provide an Unranked Server Browser so you can easily find and join servers with modded content.
  • Closed Alpha target date:  March 2016

The last CoD to offer dedicated servers was Infinity Ward’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 in 2011 and it was a hidden option that very few folks knew about and even fewer took advantage of. As far as I’m aware, no CoD game on the PC has ever offered map or mod making tools.

These servers will be Unranked meaning the ranking-up system won’t be in effect and all weapons/perks/scorestreaks will be unlocked for everyone so if you want that experience you’ll still need to play on Treyarch’s servers, but that’s perfect for LAN parties. This is a huge announcement and something fans on the PC have been asking for for years.

As a fan who plays Call of Duty on the PC it’s been disheartening to see the console versions getting the majority of attention from Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer games over the years while the PC versions of their games suffered. I’ve complained for years about a bug that’s existed in the PC versions of Call of Duty that causes killstreaks/scorestreaks to sometimes not deploy properly. It started in MW2 and has been present in every IW release as well as Sledgehammer Game’s Advanced Warfare released last year. Only the Treyarch CoD titles are free of this bug on the PC.

I was looking forward to BO3 already. This makes it even more appealing.

Games I’m Looking Forward To: “Call of Duty: Black Ops 3”

Call me the eternal optimist, but despite how disappointing the last iteration of the CoD series turned out to be, I’m still hopeful that the next one will be an improvement. Event if it isn’t, you gotta give Activision credit for putting together a cool commercial for it:

The wait is almost over. It’ll drop this Friday, November 6th.

Happy Halloween 2015!

Boo!I’ve not posted in quite awhile so I thought I’d take a moment to drop a Happy Halloween on everyone. Here’s hoping you have a fun and safe spooky holiday.

I started the day watching The Lazarus Effect and laughing at how stupid it was. Tonight we’ll find out if we get any kids trick or treating at our new apartment. Most of the apartments I’ve lived in didn’t see much in the way of kids to hand out candy to, but we’ve got quite a few in the area so I’m optimistic we might see a decent number tonight. At least I hope so, because the last thing a diabetic needs is a lot of left-over Halloween candy.

Not sure when to expect kids as it doesn’t appear Canton sets specific hours, but I’m anticipating they’ll probably start around 6PM and last at least a couple of hours.

This one crazy trick will improve your career.

Once I learned this trick my career really took off.


You laugh, but it’s harder than it seems.

Clueless Christian attempts to explain why atheists don’t exist.

I’m always amused when a believer tries to explain to me how it’s not possible for me to be something I know myself to be. Clint Decker at the Ottawa Herald is just the latest to lay claim to the idea that there are no atheists:

What is an atheist? This may sound like a simple question, but there are different answers within the expanding atheistic community.

Already we’re off to a bad start. Here he asks a question and then fails to provide an answer despite claiming there are multiple possibilities. The whole column is pretty short so perhaps he was trying to save space. No, that doesn’t really work as an explanation because there’s a very simple and concise explanation that would’ve taken less space than what he typed: “An atheist is someone who lacks a belief in God(s).” That pretty much sums it up.

You can get more granular, as some folks do, and place yourself an a gnostic/agnostic scale or limit your lack of belief to “known” Gods while accepting the idea that some form of God might exist, but that’s splitting hairs. You’ll still find we have fewer divisions of thought on the topic than the Christian religion with its 41,000 or so denominations.

Atheism is growing in the United States and for decades has had a firm hold on entire nations through communistic based governments like China and North Korea.

thefuckyourgoddoesntgiveThe first part of that sentence is true. The second part is only part of the truth. Yes, China and North Korea are communist countries that officially discourage religious belief, but both countries do have religious groups within them including some Christians. China in particular relaxed its stance on religious belief quite some time ago. In both cases the governments encourage atheism not because it thinks that’s the right stance to take so much as it eliminates a competing power over the people.

Clint conveniently decides not to mention Sweden or Denmark, where religious believers number a mere 17% and 18% respectively, probably because he wouldn’t be able to put in the negative connotation that atheism and communism run hand in hand. Norway is another highly atheistic country that is also ranked as one of the happiest. Perhaps Clint is ignorant of these non-communist, but still highly atheist countries.

I’m going to quote the next few paragraphs together because Clint uses it to make a pretty sketchy jump in logic:

As best I can tell only once in the Scriptures does God address atheism directly saying, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Psalm 14:1). Otherwise, the Scriptures do not devote much time to it, because God does not see atheism as His biggest concern. The Ten Commandments show the focus of His concern when He says, “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3).

God assumes two things. We will either worship Him or something else. Nowhere does He assume we will worship at the altar of nothing. Since an atheist would admittedly not worship any god then let us ask “What is a god?”

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a god as “A person or thing of supreme value.” I argue this is what atheists are unto themselves. Since they have nothing to exalt outside of themselves they become their own god thinking more highly of themselves then they should. They worship the god of themselves and are their own living and breathing idol they bow down to.

Got that? God only addressed atheism once because God assumes you’re going to worship something so if you’re not worshiping God you must be worshiping yourself because of a cherry-picked definition of “God” that Clint managed to find in the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

Clint is trying desperately to find a way to deal with the fact that the Commandment specifically says “you shall have no other gods before me” because clearly God didn’t mean “gods” because there’s only the one God. Except that there have always been other Gods in the forms of other religious beliefs. There are religions that predate Christianity and even Judaism by thousands of years. There were plenty of well-established belief systems by the time the Jews decided they were the chosen people and just as you can find some non-Jewish believers in Judaism, the reverse is also true. The founders of Judaism couldn’t have that so in goes the commandment about other Gods. While there are plenty of passages where God claims to be the only God, there are plenty more where it appears God seems to think there are other Gods that he’s worried will steal away his followers. He is, after all, self-admittedly jealous of those other Gods.

So Clint starts digging around in a dictionary to see if he can find some way to deal with that “other gods” bit and comes across that minor definition he quotes above which he uses to make the argument that atheists must think overly highly of themselves and thus end up worshiping themselves. He doesn’t say what that sort of worship would consist of or what rituals we engage in or how he knows we think too highly of ourselves, but never mind that. He’s got a dodgy argument to conclude:

Atheists build a box around themselves keeping God out with only themselves inside. Their means of living is purely self-sufficient, cutting off all the blessings and beauty of the one true God only doing, controlling and becoming what they can manage. It is like they say, “All I want. All I need is right here in this box.”

Huh. He says that like it’s a bad thing. I thought Conservatives were all about personal responsibility and being self-sufficient and not relying on others to take care of your sorry ass? You’d think he’d appreciate someone who can be content with what he has instead of longing for some greater undeserved reward.

God the Creator who made us (including all the atheists) put a natural desire within us to seek and know Him. When atheists put a box around themselves, it instinctively sets off a divine internal restlessness.

Really? I don’t feel restless. At least not with regards to spiritual matters. Does it feel different than other forms of restlessness? Like when you’re itching for a new video game, but you really can’t afford it and there’s no Steam sale going on so you just go back to playing the stuff you already have, but it’s just not hitting the spot so you go on Netflix and can’t find anything you haven’t seen a million times already? Cause that’s a pretty bad itch and I can’t remember the last time I felt that way about God.

Clint wraps up his bad argument with a challenge:

I challenge every atheist to open the box, step out and seek his or her Creator. You were made to know Him. There is no reason to fear. God loves you and seeks your best for His glory. May Jesus be your hope for today.

There’s no reason to fear? What about all that shit-talking God does in the Bible about how you should fear him?

I’ll tell you what, Clint. I’ll take up your challenge if you promise to do the reverse. Try out atheism for awhile and see how that works for you. It’s only fair. Plus, if we’re right, there really isn’t anything to fear. Well, other than possibly losing your faith.