Tuesday, January 01, 2008

I Resolve ... Not to Make Any Resolutions

Welcome, 2008. Despite the title of this post, I couldn't resist. That's one resolution broken already. Here are the rest of my resolutions.

  • Eat more Brussels sprouts and fewer Hostess Sno Balls. If possible, invent a way to fill Brussels sprouts with cream and cover them in coconut and marshmallow.

  • Be nastier to people who come to my door selling god. They're trespassing, both physically and psychically. Continue to respect their right to speak freely, but not on my property.

  • In elections, resist the strong temptation to vote for the “lesser of two evils.” Anyone who mixes large doses of religion into politics is sufficiently evil for me not to want him or her in a position of responsibility. Our Democratic “friends” may turn out to be more insidiously harmful than our Republican “enemies;” at least we have our atheistic guard up when the latter are in power. If necessary, swallow hard and write in “The Exterminator” for every single race.

  • Don’t publish philosophical space-fillers on No More Hornets. Most philosoblogging, even that with which I agree, is mental masturbation masquerading as deep thinking.

  • Challenge other atheists whenever they make statements not supported by evidence. Also, challenge other atheists whenever they say stupid things. Expect to be challenged myself.

  • Keep away from situations that may “trigger” my urge to smoke. Look into renting a giant bubble.

  • Try to be more tactful. Oh, fuck that. Who am I kidding?
    Always be honest, because tact is overrated.

  • Don’t waste time reading modern screeds about atheism, by atheists, for atheists. Older books and essays are great for their literary value and historical interest, but no atheist writing being done today can make a difference in my own god-free life. I don’t need to have my atheism bolstered. Anyone who does need his or her atheism bolstered is a closet theist.

  • Now that I’ve stopped smoking, I should exercise once in a while. Exercise has many plusses in its favor: it’s good for my health, it helps clear my mind, and it gives me an excuse to buy more music for my iPod.
    Screw exercise. It's boring, and it uses up time that could better be spent snacking.

  • Remember what David Hume said: Truth springs from argument amongst friends. So I'll never shirk my duty to disagree with a pal. It’s intellectually dishonest to “play nice” all the time.

  • Find some way to earn a living through my atheist writing. Or through saying “fuck” a lot. Or both.

  • Remind myself often that blogging is fun. Despite what I’d like to believe when I’m in Grandiosity Mode, I’m not going to change the world through my rants on No More Hornets. I might get a handful of people to laugh once in a while, or to think about something in a slightly new way. That’s great. But I’m not posting because I have any compelling atheistic mission. So if the writing process isn’t enjoyable, why do it?

  • Do not, under any circumstances, post images or videos that I think are cute. “Cute” is antithetical to everything I stand for. However, do use more graphics.
I included that last resolution mostly to please Phillychief. I admit, though, that a picture is worth 1,000 words, especially if they’re all “tweet.” So here are two images of my favorite backyard bird.

Yes, he looks like he flew through a dye factory, but he didn’t. He’s a painted bunting, and I’ve got three males living in the botanical mess behind my house, and frequenting my feeders. (Five females or juveniles are also back there; they’re colored in various shades of green, and look something like pudgy parakeets.) If I were a religious person, I’d point to the painted bunting as a prime example of a godly creation with the sole purpose of giving humans pleasure. Because I think that’s a load of crap, I have to acknowledge that these bird’s don’t give a rat’s ass whether I think they’re beautiful or not. Their adaptations in plumage serve a purpose for them, not for me.

Still, their selfish genes, without any altrustic motivation whatsoever, result in my great joy. I’d like to share that feeling today with all my friends in the Atheosphere. So these images are my way of saying Happy New Year.


Anonymous said...

Always be honest, because tact is overrated.

Ah, but there are ways of being tactful and honest. My father was a master of such techniques. He was an accountant, and had perfected the art of telling clients that they were idiots without offending them, while getting the point across, and giving them reasons to NOT be such idiots.

I wish I had such skill, but I don't. However, that doesn't keep me from trying to develop it. Dad had a few years more practice than I do. :-)

Anonymous said...

That second photo is great. What a handsome guy.

Anonymous said...

Franz Liszt was always my guide in using tact.

When he finally calmed down, took minor orders, and stayed put, people would come to where he was to play and pick up some pointers about the piano.

A young lady came, played, and horrified everyone with the quality of her musicianship. He took her hands in his, smiled warmly, and said, "Marry soon, dear child, marry SOON!" Class, that.

My oldest son was somewhat the, well, other extreme when he was younger. We had a family gathering and at the end of it one of my aunts asked if he wasn't going to kiss everyone goodby. He screwed up his face and said, "BLEAUGH!"

I had to teach the lad, well, finess and style, if not tact.

Spanish Inquisitor said...

I've decided, for my New Year's resolution, to stop smoking.

Oh, look! I've succeeded. I haven't smoked for 53 years.

Damn, these NY resolutions are great. I can't figure out why everybody thinks they're so hard to keep.

I think I'll try another. OK, I resolve to never eat Brussels sprouts.

I'll keep you advised, but it's looking good so far.

JP said...

Happy New Year to you as well.

Great resolutions list.

"Find some way to earn a living through my atheist writing. Or through saying “fuck” a lot. Or both"

..Well, you can write porn novels if that floats your boat.

Babs Gladhand said...

Find some way to earn a living through my atheist writing. Or through saying “fuck” a lot. Or both.

If you find a way for the latter, let me know. I think I'd be pretty good at that job.

Happy New Year, everyone!

P.S. I'm rather jealous that we don't have painted buntings here.

the blogger formerly known as yinyang said...

That bird is so cool. I think I'll share these pictures with my dad (who has studied zoology).

tina FCD said...

Ohh..I wish I had birds like that at my feeder! Beautiful.

PhillyChief said...

Wow, we don't have birds like tat around here but there was a cool news story the other day about how nobody could catch a hawk that had gotten into a huge furniture store. For days it's been swooping down on potential customers and no doubt pooping on the inventory. Some years back there was a story about some birds figuring out how the automatic doors at Home Depot work so they'd swoop in to trigger the doors, fly up and back in a loop just as the doors opened and get inside. Apparently the Home Depot makes for a safe nesting area. Now if you notice Home Depot has two sets of doors perpendicular to each other with an enclosure.

Alright, enough with birds. #3 is a mistake. That kind of thinking got us into this mess in the first place. What a different world it would be if people hadn't written in crazy names like Mickey Mouse or Nader before. Wouldn't it be nice if what we'd be arguing about today is Tipper running amok censoring music or how boring it is to listen to Pres. Gore's speeches?

#5, #7 and #10 are essentially the same thing and aren't resolutions since you never were troubled before with challenging other atheists, pals, or being deficient in the honesty category. That's of course why many come here.

#11 is interesting and I've thought of that myself. I'd love to make a counter to Veggie Tales or something. There's already a brilliant answer to the old Davey and Goliath animations called Moral Orel.

Cute graphics? Hmmm....

John Evo said...

That's an amazing bird. It's nice to know that you needn't go to New Guinea to find fantastic variety in nature. I guess I become a bit jaded seeing the same creatures every day. But I'm sure some people who live in places that don't have MY birds, mammals and marsupials would think it's amazing.

Ex, your writing is a pleasure - as is other members of the atheosphere. It's intelligent, witty and illuminating and we are all lucky for each others company. If you surf around the general blogosphere and see all the crap out there, you know what I mean.

Think of me as your "bubble", my brother!

The Exterminator said...

Karen and Sarge:
I may have given the false impression that I think "honesty" and "rudeness" are synonymous, which I don't. "Finesse" is fine when it comes to presenting the truth in the most palatable way -- provided that absolutely no lies are added to the mix. I've just found that in most conversations, the percentage of tact displaces the equivalent percentage of honesty.

That's his graduation photo from flying school.

You haven't succeeded in stopping smoking; you have to start first. And when you do, can I bum a cigarette?

You can write porn novels if that floats your boat.
It takes more than a porn novel to float my boat, although a really good one might get my bow to rise with the tide. However, if I'm going to fulfill my resolution, the novel would have to be about atheists jumping on each other. I guess it would be possible for the godless women to dress as Catholic school girls, though.

According to the bird guides I own, painted buntings can be seen throughout your neck of the woods during the summer. Give your local Audubon Society a call, if you want to find out where you're most likely to see these critters. If you wear a pair of red, double knit, 100% polyester pants, and some pink-rosebud underwear, the birds will surely want to come in for a closer look.

Your "assurance" that things would be better if Internet Al was in the White House and Tipper was the First Censor sounds pretty much like a faith statement to me. If you can supply any evidence to show that your assertion is true, feel free to do so. But do try to remember all the similar claims from before the 2006 election about the utopia that America would become if only the Democrats were in the majority in the House and/or Senate.

By the way, that response illustrates my resolution #5.

Bubble-utionary Middleman? That's what popped into my head.

I like the name John Bubbles, but it was already used by the great black vaudeville performer who originated the role of Sportin' Life in Porgy and Bess. What a burden it is to be cultured. If I didn't know that fact, you could have had a new name.

PhillyChief said...

Touche´ Monsieur Exterminator!

Spanish Inquisitor said...

For some weird reason, on impulse, I bought a few bird feeders before Xmas, one a suet cake feeder, and the other one of those tube seed feeders. I've lived on my farmstead for almost 30 years, and I never noticed the sheer variety of birds I've seen in the past few weeks. Sure, an occasional cardinal, and the blue jays are ubiquitous, but now I've got tufted tit-mouses, black cap chickadees, what looks like a dove or pigeon, and a whole bunch of other birds I haven't had identified for me yet (my mother in law pointed out the aforementioned names. I'll ask her about the rest the next time she visits)

And those birds seems to be of the porcine variety. I have to refill that feeder every other day.

The Exterminator said...

Well, you're doing both yourself and the birds a favor. What a great way to start the new year.

Rather than depend on your mother-in-law's expertise, why not pick up a simple bird guide to help you identify the species you're seeing? It's fun playing Sherlock Holmes, and you'll learn a lot. Send me an email if you'd like me to make recommendations and explain the pros and cons of the different guides available.

Birds don't usually go through a whole feeder that quickly, so you may have some new squirrel friends as well. It's possible, though, that you're surrounded by dozens of hungry seed-eating birds who were just waiting for some kindly atheist to give them handouts. If that's the case, you can always buy another feeder to add to the collection. When our yard is busiest, during Spring migration, we usually have five or six feeders going.

Anonymous said...

Great stuff. I go to a meeting near Savannah, GA each year just to hopefully see painted buntings at the Pea Island Refuge.

2 of your goals seem to contradict themselves though:

"...no atheist writing being done today can make a difference in my own god-free life. I don’t need to have my atheism bolstered. Anyone who does need his or her atheism bolstered is a closet theist."

And yet, "Find some way to earn a living through my atheist writing.."

I like reading atheist writing whether it's on blogs or in new books (I'd buy yours!), but wouldn't consider myself a closet theist (shudder).

Anonymous said...

I rather like indulging in atheist writing. Remember, I've spent a lifetime swallowing a whole lot of theistic crap. I'm finding a change of perspective refreshing.

The Exterminator said...

Good point about the apparent contradiction. But I think it would be possible for me to earn a living through my atheist writing without actually having to read what I wrote.

Seriously, what I should have said was "Find some way to earn a living through the kind of writing I do on this blog."

And thanks for following my resolution #5.

John Evo said...

Chappy - I think Ex (and certainly I) understand what you get from doing what you do. Personally, I never write from the idea of helping my own understanding of atheism. But that's just where I'm at in my life. Others are at a different place.

SI and Ex - If you don't want to go the book route, this is a helpful site. I actually discovered that finches live in my area! Never realized it. One day I saw this cute little bird, about the size of a sparrow but clearly a different species. I looked her up on this site and found out she was a finch.

Newbie - welcome aboard the good ship Free Thinker.

Urban Viking said...

Beautiful little bird indeed. I would love to have some feeders in our yard but, unfortunately, two young cats and legions of squirrels make me think this would be an exercise in futility or slaughter.

Despite the cats I've noticed some jays have taken up residence and even some species of small parrot I haven't identified yet (I know! Parrots in suburban London sound unlikely but a small flock of them regularly appear in the trees across the road).

I've believed for awhile now that the best way to learn something thoroughly is to try and teach it to someone else. Although not framed as lessons, this is the motivating force behind my writing at the moment.

DaVinci said...

Beautiful bird! Is that a mimosa tree he's in?

Unknown said...

I love the background on the first pictures too. Are those current? We're still waiting for the snow before Christmas to melt.

I usually fill up our squirrel-free bird feeder once a week, though it runs out after 3-4 days. My cat loves to watch the birds from behind the glass.

When we lived in our house I put up some suet and bird feeders and the squirrels tore up our front porch. Our wooden posts were gnawed and scratched to hell, so I didn't do that again. I used to think squirrels were cute until then.

And, oh, they ate through the plastic on our outdoor trash cans too. We bought metal ones, put sandbags in the bottom so they wouldn't blow away, and kept them lidded with bungee clips. Those little buggers can be persistent!

John Evo said...

Awww... OG!! Squirrels ARE cute! I love my squirrels. I have two feeders for them out in the trees. As long as I keep them full, they would rather eat sunflower seeds and peanuts than my fruit. And a few of them will come right to me and eat out of my hand.

PhillyChief said...

Squirrels are tree rats. Take away the fluffy tails and what do you have? Rats in the trees. Yuk.

The Exterminator said...

Attention Everyone
I did NOT take those pictures of the painted buntings. You'll know when a photograph is taken by me because you'll see my thumb somewhere in the image. You could even make it a game: Where's Thummo. Anyway, I found those digit-free pictures -- much better than anything I'd be able to get -- on Google. The background of the head-shot makes it look like a studio job; maybe it was the bird's bar mitzvah portrait.

To me, plants are just "vegetation," and the only thing I care about is whether they're edible or not. My wife, however, spent many years as a horticulturalist, and knows her stuff. So I can tell you with confidence that my backyard's claim to avian fame is that it abuts a crazy thicket of mixed plant species: live oak, cherry laurel, wax myrtle, palmettos, lantana, Virginia creeper, catbrier, wild grapevines. There are other flora buried far enough among the rest that my wife can't identify them. We keep our backyard pretty wild, too, with our feeders hanging from a sycamore tree, an oleander bush, and a few big ol' Shepherd's hooks we've stamped far down into the dirt.

Ground-feeders love the fact that we don't mow the area back there often, so the sheltering weeds they seek have plenty of opportunity to flourish.

We have trouble with squirrels from time to time. We've tried all kinds of squirrel-safe feeders, but the critters are much smarter than the manufacturers. And the nightly raccoons are positively brilliant. (I'd be willing to back any raccoon in an intelligence test against Mike Huckabee.) If I get a chance, without needing too much effort, to spray a marauding critter with the garden hose, I do so. The squirrels skitter away for about a minute; the raccoons lumber off just out of reach, shine their eyes in annoyance from the underbrush, and come back as soon as the water stops. It's a losing battle, like debating with fundamentalists. Our solution: Just buy more food and continue to nurture the birds. If a few mammals want to dig in occasionally, there's plenty for them, too.

Anonymous said...

I'd be willing to back any raccoon in an intelligence test against Mike Huckabee. I've dealt with enough of these critters while camping to know that this is a sure bet.

Exterminator - I'm tagging you for the blogroll meme. Come on over to the chapel to check out the really easy rules.

Babs Gladhand said...

Ex - I checked with our Audubon Society and a Painted Bunting sighting hasn't been reported since 2005, the sightings prior to that were scarce.

I'm not sure I can find red polyester pants or pink rosebud drawers, but I'd give it a whirl if I could see one of those birds. However, they'd have to come into my apartment, because there's no way I'm going out in public in anything that is stretchy around my backside.

Anonymous said...

Actually, Philly, you DO have birds like that in your area. Go out to Pea Patch Island and visit Fort Delaware. The second year I went there we saw a bald eagle along with everything else.

Ute said...

Okay, so I have no idea how my nick turned into miss pdx. Gotta change that back.

Anonymous said...

Urban Viking, I lived in the Washington, DC area when I was younger and the craze for "Budgies" was big, and it wasn't unusual to see escapees in flocks with sparrows. My mother tells me she still sees them around. San Fransico and some parts of Florida and other places in our south also have completely feral flocks of parrots.

England has some colorful birds, I remember seeing linnets, grossbeaks, and tits (the avian as well as...other types)and there were a lot of people getting their "life lists" in order.

In Germany we saw storks, other visitors from Africa, and twice I saw a Hoopoe.

Anonymous said...

As I'm currently living in LDSistan, I do miss those Painted Buntings (but the male Western Tanagers here in spring & summer are a nice substitute).

Think your 'painteds' will be around in 3 weeks when I'm in town? Maybe I could pop by with my camera? Say the morning after my presentation at Audubon (You gonna be there?). Pretty please? I know where you live. And I'd gladly give you a couple of shots for the opportunity . . .

(Yes, being of like mind as you may remember, I lurk here quite frequently. Either you or D.H. - or maybe both - sent me the link not long after you started up and I was still out wandering around western North America. I just never felt a need to comment. My silence is broken and for that I blame the buntings.)

The Exterminator said...

If the past few years are any indication, those PB's will be around until April.

Feel free to pop by with your camera. Maybe I'll even wake up early enough to have a cup of coffee with you. If I'm still asleep, either ring the bell until I get up or just let yourself in the gate and walk back toward the feeders.

I'll tell you, though: those male buntings are pretty erratic about when they choose to have their breakfast; sometimes it's in the 7-8 hour, but at other times, they don't get busy until 10 o'clock, or even later. The females/juveniles make sporadic visits to the feeder pretty much all day, if you're interested in photographing them, too.

By the way, that photo of the flock of cedar waxwings on the fly was pretty fucking amazing.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Ex. If memory serves I shot those waxwings in the parking lot by (what used to be) Harbor Fed next to the WD.

And have you been following the buzz the last couple of days regarding House Resolution 888? It appears my former - and your current - Rep. is a co-sponsor of this insanity (since my "official' address is in OB now, I have that other neocon MOC from the area).

PhillyChief said...

I'm currently in a state of shock over HR 888.

EnoNomi said...

I love brussels sprouts (I am married to a Belgian you know.) May I recommend you have Emeril's recipe.