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Amazon add-ons Thu, Jan 30, 2014
Amazon has things called Add-on Items that are too cheap to ship by themselves and so require you to buy other things to make it worthwhile.  That's fine and all, but I feel like the messaging they use is misleading.  It says, "Ships with any qualifying order over $25," which sort of makes it sound like the items themselves are free.  What it should say is, "Minimum purchase required."  Also, this policy really shouldn't apply to Prime members because their membership fee already pays for free shipping on everything else.  Either charge for shipping or don't, but at least don't restrict me from buying your products. #products

Facebook news feed changes Tue, Jan 28, 2014
Apparently Facebook recently changed the way the news feed works.  The intention was to help companies better connect with customers or something like that.  But in effect, it's made it so that in order for a customer to receive Facebook updates about a company or group, they have to somehow interact with their posted content (e.g. Like, comment).  As a long time internet lurker and non-interactor, this puts me in the position of not hearing about the things which I've specifically gone out of my way to Like.  And if Like-ing doesn't get me a company or organization's updates, what's the point? #technology

Paleo/keto diet searches Fri, Jan 24, 2014
I'm trying a version of the paleo or keto diet, and the things I Google are kind of funny: 
  • Does bourbon have carbs?
  • Is there a limit to how much fat a human can consume in a single day?
  • Can I drink heavy cream straight?
A lot of the searches have to do with "how much [X] can I eat" and what I've found is that the only real limit is the volume of my stomach.  If I don't die in the next couple of weeks, I'll report my results. #health

Complacent vs. complaisant Fri, Jan 24, 2014
I learned a new word yesterday:  Complaisant.  I thought it was a typo or a British thing, but it turns out they're two different words with essentially opposite meanings.  Complacent means lazy or ignorant, while complaisant means eager to please. #language

Objective religion (2) Fri, Jan 24, 2014
I've always approached religion a little mechanically.  That's how I approach a lot of things, which is why I gravitate toward math and science (and also why I have trouble with the ladies).  Religion has a lot of components that don't make a lot of objective sense to me, such as faith and miracles and angels, so I sought to objectify them.  Make things more concrete.  I decided to simply trust what the Bible said, regardless of its shaky history, plethora of translations and interpretations, and people who've used it for nefarious reasons. 

Then I did what any person like me would do:  I put the Bible to the test.  I read it cover to cover, memorized parts of it, and learned it well enough to teach it to other people.  I knew the questions people typically ask about it, and I knew how to answer them intelligently, or at least as intelligently as there was a reasonable argument for.  I knew where it came from and how it got there, and I knew the basics of the original languages.  I wasn't a casual reader, I was a legitimate student. 

Things started to change as I realized the world wasn't always black and white.  Evolution is true; gay people are real; American law has nothing to do with the Ten Commandments.  Long story short, I found the Bible to be lacking.  And the idea of going through a book I didn't trust to determine which parts are legitimate and which parts are made up isn't exactly in my wheelhouse.  So the house of cards came tumbling down, and I denounced my faith. 

Part of me felt bad about this, because I failed the test.  But after I thought about it for a bit, I realized the Bible failed the test, which is exactly one of the possible outcomes of a standard science experiment.  When something fails the test, you either test it differently or you throw it out.  I threw it out. 

And the annoying thing is that I know the response a Christian is supposed to give.  You were doing it wrong.  I heard that from so many people throughout my Christian career that it was one of the factors that drove me away.  Maybe you should try surrender, or forgiveness, or worship, or service.  Tried; same results.  It's not about what you do; it's about what was already done for you.  That means nothing.  It's like the Parable of the Sower.  Maybe, but again that implies I was doing something wrong or not getting the whole picture. 

I feel like if there's one thing I can conclusively say about my religious experience, it's that I gave it a good shot.  I literally put everything I had into it, and it brought me to where I am today.  The bottom line is that Christianity doesn't pass the test of reason and evidence, and the conclusion for me is that it's all made up, as are all religions.  In that sense, it was a successful test. #religion

Freedom to hate (2) Tue, Jan 21, 2014
One of the things I really enjoy about being a new atheist is that I finally have the freedom to hate whoever I want, for whatever reason I can fathom.  This may sound shallow and pessimistic, and maybe it is.  But as a former Christian, I was taught to love my neighbor, love my enemy, and if somebody was a jerk, to turn the other cheek.  If I even thought about hating someone, it was equivalent to murder.  So basically my feelings were suppressed and invalidated. 

Coming out of the proverbial closet has given me a freedom to feel however I want to feel, and it's surprisingly refreshing.  I don't have to pretend.  I don't have to take the high road or feel bad about committing almost-murder.  I can hate whoever I damn well please, and it's awesome. #religion

Within some reasonable limit Fri, Jan 10, 2014
I've used the phrase "within some reasonable limit" several times lately in conversation.  I say things like, "As an adult, I can do whatever I want, within some reasonable limit," or "Now that I'm off that diet, I can eat anything I want, within some reasonable limit," or "Since I'm not around kids, I can say whatever I want, within some reasonable limit."  It seems that phrase is a good coverall for any kind of hyperbolic speech, within some reasonable limit. #language

Ignoring big issues Tue, Jan 07, 2014
Similar to big meaningless issues, I've noticed that a lot of disagreements and debates between intelligent people can be easily avoided by simply ignoring those topics completely.  Like politics, or the economy, or almost any major newsworthy topic that has two sides.  It's easy to get swept up in anger and anxiety by watching or listening to people with opinions, whether your unfortunate brain is vomited upon by Bill O'Reilly, or you choose to dance with the devil herself, Rachel Maddow (yes, there are only two sides to every issue).  But it occurred to me at some point that if I simply avoid those sources of information, my life is literally exactly the same as it would've been had I been informed, minus the stress of choosing a side.  Being informed makes me righteously indignant, as in, "I'm on the correct side of this issue.  How could anyone not agree?"  Being uninformed disables me from holding a valid opinion, and it also decreases my anger and increases my free time.  To ignorance!