Short Stack #8

By the second week of January, I’m going to register 200,000 hits on my blog. That’s more views than Salt Lake City has Mormons. I think that means I can start baptizing people posthumously as atheists.


To my Christian friends: Yes, I’m an atheist, but that doesn’t mean I don’t celebrate or understand the true meaning of Christmas! Here, I’ll prove it: Merry Christmas! May Jesus come down the chimney and leave a quarter under your pillow for every one of your teeth!


God watches what you do on Facebook. If you “Like” your own post, it’s the same as masturbation.


Thinking about Ayn Rand fans last night: One part many people forget is that Dagny Taggart, Howard Roark, etc., were such commanding characters because they constantly sought EXCELLENCE in everything they did. They didn’t charge customers high rates simply because they could, they did it because they were the fantastically best at what they did.

No corporation I ever worked for gave two shits about excellence. Show me a company or a corporation, or even a Randian, that views excellence and quality as values greater than profit, and I’ll show you someone who actually understands Rand’s justification of profit. Everyone else is just gouging their customers because they can, and preaching a philosophy of gouging customers, in the apparent assumption that this was what Rand believed in.

Likewise, I don’t think Libertarianism means fucking people over simply because you’re stronger than them, or better equipped to leave them in the dust. It means working with people from a position of self-motivated excellence.

If you believe in screwing people over simply because you’re strong enough to do it, or believe in seeking government power to prop you up while others become a permanent underclass, you have more in common with the vicious James Taggart than you do with Dagny Taggart, more in common with the manipulative Ellsworth Toohey and the spineless Peter Keating than you do with Howard Roark.

Rand herself would have despised you as a leech, a second-hander.


On the Bah-Humbug front: The song “Do They Know It’s Christmas” was released in 1984. That’s 27 years ago … and people are still starving in parts of Africa.

Maybe that’s because sending food is not the whole answer.


I see the headline “Baby Polar Bear Cub Nursed by Humans” and I can’t help but picture a couple of women with REALLY sore nipples.


Zombie in a singles bar, talking to his zombie friend as they watch people walking past: “Get a load of the brain on THAT one!”


If we’d evolved from cats, every day after school there would be a clown-bright truck that would come through the neighborhood, playing happy music and selling live rats on a stick.


The problem is that the people who are the MOST convinced in the utter truth of the Bible always seem to be morons. I wonder why that is?

Maybe it’s because they ARE.

If you ever tried to engage a fundamentalist in conversation, you’ve found that it’s virtually impossible. Fundies talk, but they’re doing a monologue, and they’re absolutely incapable of hearing any reasoned disagreement.


Sure, “conspiracy theories,” ha-ha. So ridiculous. But then again, if you and I can come up with some plausible but crazy scheme to explain some otherwise inexplicable event, that same scheme can be arrived at by rich and powerful people. They are no smarter or more imaginative than we are, and are certainly not morally more advanced.

The difference is, they have money and power. They can make things happen. Hell, *I* knew a guy – ex-military – who would kill people for money. You think a billionaire couldn’t get 50 of them?

I guaran-goddam-tee you there are a dozen guys out there – or five, or fifty – who DO think they control the world.

Considering the crazy wrong shit that goes on, maybe they’re right.


Godders are hard-nosed skeptics when it comes to evolution. But if you’re talking about some verse in their holy book, they gulp it down like it was chocolate milk.


The recent anti-evolution revival is no accident, by the way. At some point along the interface of science with religion, someone realized that science — rational thought — is an extreme danger to religion. People thinking their own free thoughts are likely to ask uncomfortable questions, express public doubts, or realize they can’t accept what they’ve been told, and simply leave.

The effort now underway is intended to impact the teaching of science and critical thought, to deliberately dumb down the population so there will always be a ready supply of gullible, trusting victims.


It seems to me there’s an inverse relationship between creativity and religion. Yes, there are a lot of truly beautiful cathedrals out there. But you bet your ass they weren’t designed or built by the people who huddle inside and imagine themselves unworthy.

In order to compose a great symphony, paint a masterpiece, design a fabulous building – or discover a new law of science! – you have to have complete freedom in the halls of your mind.


Wise Old Saying I Just Made Up:

Take pictures of your parents, lots of them — something to keep you company in the long years alone.


Religion of any ilk has no place in the life of a 21st century human creature. If we’re going to survive, and keep from killing the rest of the world, we have to have reason coupled with broad-minded compassion.


As to abortion, my motto is: “Every child wanted, every child loved — whatever it takes. Family planning, sex education, condoms, contraceptives, adoption and abortion. Whatever it takes.”

I’m always amazed at how opposition to abortion seems to come as a package deal with opposition to contraceptives and condoms. There’s either a hidden agenda, or they’re incapable of seeing the contradiction.

And those religious people violently opposed to abortion, or any form of family planning, seldom stop to think about what sort of life an unwanted child will actually face. They have this vague picture in mind that some miracle will happen, that the parents will hold this precious bundle of love for the first time and their hearts will just begin to spontaneously glow with warmth. That every baby WILL be wanted and loved, if that little bundle can only be forced into their hands.

Tell that to the 16-year-old boy, the 15-year-old girl, who have just discovered all the adventurous dreams of their future lives are suddenly eclipsed by the reality of debt and sudden responsibility … while they simultaneously lose touch with their fun-loving teenaged peers.

Tell that to the baby who grows up in a family who sees him, not as his parents’ dream, but as the insurmountable obstacle to their dreams.


Religion is like practicing bonsai on the human mind. You can’t help but get SOME beautiful results. But compared to the grand capabilities of a confident, joyful independent mind, even Mother Teresa was still shamefully stunted.


If it’s important to you, don’t ever assume somebody else is gonna make it happen. Not even gods. Well, since they don’t exist, maybe especially not gods.


The burger you get at the counter has no resemblance to the picture-poster of that same burger. It’s the same with religion. Religion has great sales posters, but it suffers from cold meat, a flat bun, and too many unhealthy additives.


Someday, you’re going to be dead. You might as well make the most of the situation while you wait. You can’t wait for real life to start happening at some nebulous future date — certainly not “after life.” Life has to be enjoyed every day.


Small people think the way to be big is to hurt or control other people. Big people want power FOR others, rather than OVER them. (And don’t go thinking I’m talking about physical stature.)

Science is all about power for people. Religion is always about power over them. Who’s the biggest in that sense?


Some people live their whole lives never having an original thought. They tend to band together for safety … often in churches.


If they’re selling religion, just close the door. “No thank you” is strictly optional.


Even in the midst of their scariest pronouncements, outspokenly goddy people still manage to look like clowns. Pat Robertson gets national news coverage precisely because his voodoo pronouncements, such as the link between hurricanes and gays, are so comically outrageous. He might as well be wearing a big red rubber nose.


You can’t achieve consistent morality unless you understand what’s right and why. If you do “good” things only because you’re ordered to do them on pain of burning in fire for all eternity, it may be that you don’t have the least idea what’s good.

  • jakc

    SLC is only half-mormon. It’s the headquarters for the LDS church, at the same time, especially to rural Utah, Sodom & Gomorrah.
    2). I’m going let Pat Robertson write down on a piece who God told him would win, and I will do the same. We’ll be able to see who god lied to.

  • Randomfactor

    jakc, I suspect Pat Robertson knows just who’s going to win, and isn’t happy about it in the least.

    • jakc

      Pat might know, but I still don’t think God talks to him.

  • Daniel Fincke

    so many gems, Hank

  • jbrock

    Damn, that was a refreshing read. I have got to buy your book.

    Re: Rand, I’ve suspected for a long time that while capitalism in theory might be Dagny and Hank, capitalism in practice is very much James and Wesley.

    If we’d evolved from cats, every day after school there would be a clown-bright truck that would come through the neighborhood, playing happy music and selling live rats on a stick.

    Make ‘em roasted rats and I’d totally be on board with it. But maybe that comes from having lived with cats for some years.

    I don’t buy the existence of any one all-encompassing Conspiracy to rule the world. Now, a couple dozen or so small-c conspiracies, working sometimes in concert and often at cross-purposes? That’d be pretty damn plausible.

  • kennypo65

    Thank you,Hank. Can I steal the one about the baby polar bear? It really made me laugh.

  • RowanVT

    This was awesome.

    I often wish that we had evolved from cats. I’d love to have a tail and ears, just for the expressiveness of them. However, I’m also terribly grateful humans did *not* evolve from cats, as the level of stupidity from clients at my veterinary hospital would cause me to spend most of my day with “airplane ears”.

  • Anonymous Atheist

    Good post, except I have to object to one sentence:
    “But compared to the grand capabilities of a confident, joyful independent mind, even Mother Teresa was still shamefully stunted.”

    It sounds like you still believe the public perception of Mother Teresa. She was not a good person, and her organization does not do good work. ( )

  • Naida Berretti

    I really appreciate this post. I have been looking everywhere for this! Thank God I found it on Bing. You’ve made my day! Thx again…

  • la martina polo

    Extremely well written, well thought out article.

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