I’m a Grammar Nazi

It’s true, I can’t stand when people abuse the English language through lack of thought or education.  I won’t get into the specifics about what I don’t like (you’re/your, their/they’re/there, etc.) but I do want to point out some effects of what bad language skills make.

  • It makes it look like you don’t know the rules of language.  When you don’t adhere to language rules you tend to make yourself look ignorant and reduce the impact of your statement.  It’s one thing when you’re instant messaging or sending a text message, but it’s another thing when you’re posting a comment on a blog or creating a web page.  Those who don’t take care in their communication skills risk making themselves look ignorant or worse; qualities that can affect one’s employment among other things.
  • It makes you look lazy, especially when you start using abbreviations such as “ur” or “r” for for whole words.  It’s one thing when you’re using your phone to send text messages or instant messaging because these devices are limited in the number of characters and they’re not as easy to use as a regular keyboard that one can send in one message but when you don’t have such limitations you shouldn’t be lazy.
  • It makes you look like you just don’t care about what you’re writing.  If you care about the subject and want to make an impact then you’ll take the time required to make such an impact.  Language is the most powerful tool that we have and it should be used as such.  Sure, you may be wrong with the ideas you’re trying convey but you’ll be considered much more seriously and more thought will be given to what you write.

So use proper language.  I won’t delete comments that don’t adhere to my high standards of writing, but I’m less likely to take you seriously if you don’t.

Nebular, Dude!

Back in January 2011 Phil Plait, The Bad Astronomer, made a post about the Orion Nebula.  I was somewhat confused and wrote him an e-mail regarding the size of the nebula.  Well, our wires were somewhat crossed and I was unable to realize just how big these nebula are.  The big problem is that I’ve only seen these nebula by themselves.  I haven’t seen anything that put it into proper context.  After our conversation I came across a picture of the asterism of Orion and was astounded at what I saw.  Since I’m new at this blogging thing I’m unsure if I should provide a link to the picture, put my own copy of the picture up or what.  In any case, I’m just providing a link to the original page which will do the job:

http://my.opera.com/Angolier/albums/showpic.dml?album=6008112&picture=91232262

If you look at the full sized image you’ll see nearly the entire constellation of Orion laying on its side.  The bright orange star at the lower left is the red super giant Betelgeuse.  Approximately 600 light years away, this star will go supernova sometime in the future.  It’s far enough away that it won’t have any adverse effect on us.  It will be spectacular, nonetheless.

But what really surprised me is just how much of the sky is filled with nebulae.  Wherever we look in our galaxy there is gas and dust where stars are being born and are throwing off gas in stellar death.

This universe constantly surprises me and delights me with its amazing variety and beauty.  It is truly awe-inspiring.

It Won’t Go Away

I am so sick of “Elevatorgate”.  Rebecca Watson of Skepchick fame got propositioned in an elevator at 4 am at an atheist conference.  It was a bit awkward for her and she publicly stated why it was awkward for her and asked guys not to do that.

What is the problem here?  Guys, especially those who are socially awkward (which includes a large proportion of guys at conventions like these) often don’t understand how to proposition women “right”.  But geeze, let it go already!  It’s a done deal, okay?  Guy did something she’d rather he didn’t, she said what it was and that should be it.  Why hasn’t this non-event gone away?

I’ve been pretty much avoiding elevatorgate posts because to me it’s over and done with and all the kerfuffle is ridiculous.

Censorship in America?

Richard Wiseman, a psychologist who does a lot of work on how humans perceive the world, has published a book called Parapsychology.  It’s about why we see what we see, such as ghosts, UFOs, and the whole range of paranormal sightings.  I haven’t read the book (mainly because the depression keeps me from exerting enough concentration to read a full-length book) but the reviews I’ve read say this is a really good read and isn’t dry or dull as you might think a book from a psychology professor would be.

That said, when Dr. Wiseman tried to get the book published here in the U.S. none of the big publishing houses would carry it.  Why?  Because Dr. Wiseman’s analysis of ghosts and the like are not real but are the cause of psychology, the way people think that makes them think they’re seeing what they think they’re seeing.  One publisher went so far as to ask him to put a statement in the book saying that ghosts were real, which is the opposite of what the book says.  Really?  Write an entire book about something and say it’s a lie at the end?  What is with this?

Apparently the book is doing quite well outside of the U.S.  So why wouldn’t the publishing houses print this?  Richard’s solution is to self-publish.  It’s available on Amazon either as a dead-tree book or an e-book.  At around $10 for the e-book version, it’s not a bad deal.  I can’t give my personal recommendation but I think it’s a great price if you want to show the big publishing houses that they need to get with reality or die out.

Atheism Advertisements

Do atheists shove their views down the throats of others?  According to Mitch Abloms, we do.  (See If God Made The Sky, Can Atheists Fly It?)  In 26 states the American Atheists group bought advertising banners that were flown behind airplanes saying either “God-LESS America — Atheists.org” or “Atheism is Patriotic – Atheists.org”.  Mitch Abloms says that by advertising their views atheist groups are shoving their views down the throats of people who see these advertisements.

Blair Scott, the communications director of American Atheists has said that the advertisements are a way of saying that America is for everybody.  Mr. Abloms agrees with this, but he goes on to say that by advertising the fact will “rankle people.”  I have no doubt that this is the case.  Whenever people are exposed to ideas which are against their own philosophical views there is going to be dissension.  Dissension is not a reason to not express an opinion.

Just as religious people are allowed to advertise their views, so should we atheists.  It’s called free speech and that’s one of the cornerstones of this country.  Atheists do not want to squelch the speech of others that don’t agree with us.  I, for one, welcome their dissenting thoughts.  It’s important to see dissenting ideas in order to broaden our horizons and promote critical thinking.

So, Mr. Abloms, how are we atheists supposed to let people know about the various organizations that represent our view of the world?  Are we supposed to be in underground groups who furtively pass around pamphlets to those who we think won’t be offended?  This is not the way to get noticed.  It’s more the way one acts in an oppressive society and I, for one, refuse to be oppressed and we atheists want to get noticed.

Why I’m Here

No, we’re not going on an existential or philosophical trip here, but rather why I’m writing this blog, what I hope to do.

One of the reasons why I’m here is that I have a blog over at Blogspot (http://vernischornicallydepressed.blogspot.com) and I wanted to see how WordPress did its thing.  I’m sort of shopping around.

Another reason is that my other blog is specifically about my depression and I’d rather have something more general.  Atheism and science are rather large driving forces in my life right now so I hope to cover those issues in this blog rather than my other one.  I’d also like to cover general subjects which interest me.

I hope those who find their way here will stick around.

Welcome to the Blog

Welcome! First, a little explanation about the name of the blog. I’m not from Australia or anywhere south of the equator. I suffer from depression and I don’t see a lot of blogs about atheism that show this aspect of things. It’s my own minor twist on the subject.

While the word “atheist” is in the name it’s not just about that. It’s also about reason and the attacks on it, mostly science related topics.

Enjoy and feel free to post any comments you like, pro or con. Just don’t be abusive.