Short Stack #7

If a mouse quits his job, does he have to give two squeaks notice?


Jeez. Already this morning I had to upgrade the power converters on the warp flux conduits, and install anti-neutrino baffles on the anti-matter plasma feed.

Being a star ship engineer is hard.


We’re watching the breakdown of the social contract between citizens and cops. When a majority of middle-class average people — people with more real power than guns and uniforms and pepper spray — realize they can’t trust cops to “protect and serve” these citizens engaged in peaceful, constitutionally guaranteed right to protest, that’s it for law enforcement.

Police officers: You can’t just do this stuff. You can’t let OTHER cops do it. America itself is on the line. Someday soon you’re going to kill somebody, and that’s going to open the gate on more hell than any of us want to see, and it’s going to be right here.

If you won’t protect us, who’s going to protect YOU?



I try to avoid all entanglements, even quantum ones.


Right now, even Hannibal Lecter could run for President under the GOP label.

Commentators on FOX News would laud him for his true conservative values because he cooked his own meals at home, and a real Christian because he’d frequently bring complete strangers home for dinner.


It’s rare that I like the cookies as much as the cookie dough from which they’re made. And yet, even when I’m doing the baking, I can never bring myself to NOT bake them, and just eat the cookie dough.


Cognitive dissonance in the garage: A bottle of Miracle Gro Weed Killer.


Face it: To the predators out there, there are two kinds of people. There are “People” and there are “Units.”

If you’re famous, if you’ve got a couple of million, if you inhabit some position of power, or even if you just exert independent control over your own life, you’re a “People.”

Otherwise, you’re a “Unit.” Something like a cow, only you produce labor, money, allegiance, for corporations and nations.

Units have a LOOK about them. Walk into a Wal-Mart late at night and study the people there. They’re practically wearing name tags that say “Hi, I’m Unit B-3257!”

Look at the people gathered around the Lottery ticket dispenser. Units. Walk into a fast food restaurant, or a toy store filled with all that cheap, brightly-colored pre-garbage. The sign over the door might as well say “Unitopia.”

Fox News, advertising, church, the military: Unit training.

Cigarettes, drugs, fashions, wars, the latest weight loss product: Unit bleeding, Unit milking.

What keeps it all working is that the Units don’t know they’re Units.

And the predators … well, they’ve learned not to kill you right away. Mostly.


Writing this morning. I chuckled when I realized how much my 8th grade English teacher would like this:

“On a crisp fall day, I’m driving east through NY’s Hudson Valley. The early morning sun shines directly into my face, and I have to adjust the visor by constantly changing fractions of an inch to see the road ahead. But the warmth is welcome.

“The terrain ahead of me is shrouded in a light fog, and I can see receding misty layers of hills. Leafless trees on their top edges are like the teeth of upturned combs, brushing the kinks out of the lush sunlight as it streams past.”

But do *I* like it? I guess I’ll have to wait for the first round of editing to find out.


I’m writing a Christmas play that will star dogs rescued from animal shelters. I’m calling it “The Muttcracker.”


I’m debating going back in time and killing Michael Jackson as a baby.

On the one hand, we won’t have the Thriller album. But on the other, we won’t have to listen to “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” every 15 minutes.


One of the most important lessons I learned from life is that I have a mind that’s every bit as qualified as any expert or official to decide what’s real and what’s not. I don’t have to wait for a “spiritual leader” to rule on what’s good or bad. I can discover all these things on my own and understand the reasons for them.

The thing I fault most godders on is that they never learn this lesson. They always think there’s some holy book, or some guy who SAYS he talks to god directly, that has all the answers. This is childish. Limited. It makes you a slave to this guy, or this book.

A small part of my approach is based on the idea that the wrong answers, of which we’ve had ten thousand and more, aren’t just innocent mistakes. They’re aggressive obfuscations not only of the way things really work but of the very possibility of understanding.

Fundamentalists — Christians, Muslims, whatever — don’t just want people to be more accepting of their religion. They want to actively stamp out other ways of seeing, of doing, of living.

These are not benign “beliefs.” They’re attempts to murder freedom of thought itself.


One of the differences between science and religion is that (aside from any language barriers) chemists can talk to physicists, and it’s not a big deal. But can Sunnis talk to Shiites? Can Jains talk to Jews? Can fundie Christians hold civil conversations with pagans?

They’re all like aliens to each other.

Science is a complex web of connections — walkways, bridges, interconnecting hallways, cables, telephone wires. Religion is a rat-maze of roadblocks, barriers and walls. You can have churches across the street from each other, and people who go to one might never in their lives set foot in the other. But you stick a physics lab within ten miles of a nuclear chemistry lab, you’d have people trotting back and forth, comparing notes, sharing ideas, talking shop, every day.

Historically, the walls between religions have had broken glass at the tops and mines at the bottoms.


My experience has been that the path to understanding the real world is a long, long one, if you’re already caught up in goddy thought patterns. You can entice people away from a particular religion, but they almost always grab at another one. It’s damned hard to get people to come away from all religion, all superstition. And any efforts in that direction all too often meet with stony resistance, an absolute inability to see anything objectively.


Pascal’s Wager says something like. “If I believe in God and I’m wrong, I lose nothing. If I DON’T believe and I’m wrong, I lose eternal life.”

I have my own answer to Blaise Pascal’s cowardly wager.

Hank’s Wager says that if there WAS a god who created us, he would have given us as our highest faculty a rational mind. This is THE attribute that only humans, and none of the animals, have.

Hank bets that all those who develop their rational mind to the fullest will go to heaven, because they’ve treated this greatest of gifts with the proper reverence.

And all those who blindly accept whatever they’re told to accept (such as any silly thing that a so-called religious leader says) will go to a really ugly hell. Or maybe just be flushed down a celestial toilet when they die. Because by refusing to use the rational mind, they have betrayed the greatest of our human gifts.

But it’s worse than that, isn’t it? Because there’s no afterlife, there’s just life, the people who make themselves willing victims simply miss out on life — the one life they get.

I know I have this life. The chances of some fantastic life “after death” are exactly zero. That makes my life infinitely valuable to me. I can’t waste any time on silly ancient superstitions.


Most days I’m an “antitheist” (I say it “an-TITH-ee-ist”). That means: “Not only do I not believe in mystical superbeings, but I don’t think you should, either.”

Think of it as an atheist who goes door to door, handing out tracts.


Honesty is just about the first thing to go in these aggressively religious people. The truth goes right out the window, and it’s replaced with their “Truth.”

Reason, the attribute that most makes us human, goes out the window, too. Funny, huh? If you were trying to invent the Ultimate Evil, something that turns people into animals, you’d have a hard time coming up with anything better than that destroyer of human minds, fundamentalist religion.


One bad thing about having immense power is that there’s nobody there to tell you when you’re stepping over the boundaries of acceptable behavior. All of us need feedback. For instance, when the Pope cuts a fart in company, there should be somebody there to say “Whew! Your Holiness! That one burned the hair out of my nose! Somebody open a cathedral window!”


On the subject of praying in school, I think there is no need for a “compromise.” The fact is, there are about 16 hours in the day that you can pray outside school, and eight hours in school when you can pray if you do it silently. This silly “moment of silence” is a sop to the people who won’t stop trying to impress THEIR faith on everyone else’s kids.

That’s the core of all this. They don’t want freedom of religion in schools, they want other people’s children exposed to THEIR religion. And they want to do it with the money and power of government.

There is no other reason. Otherwise, they’d be clamoring for the right to pray in furniture stores, or restaurants, or in movie theaters before every show.


Faith is the mode you go into when you want something unprovable to be true.

"Best to you, Mr. Fox, and for your efforts."

Goodbye Patheos—Hank Fox Bows Out
"All the best, Hank! Your thoughts and words have always given me something to ponder."

Goodbye Patheos—Hank Fox Bows Out

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