Short Stack #11

In Life’s Darkest Hours, remind yourself of this: There’s chocolate.

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Few people know that most of the early programmers at Microsoft were total emos. For instance, the first version of Clippy included the phrase, “Hi, it looks like you’re writing a suicide note! Would you like some help?”

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I’m so glad we atheists have the Internet, so we can connect with like-minded freethinkers. Why, when I was a kid we had to hike through 3 feet of snow just to paint a mustache on the Baby Jesus.

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Continuing to enjoy the refreshing silence from that world-class bundle of stupidity, falsehood, cruelty and cowardice which is George W. Bush.

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Given a choice of Whitney Houston and Dick Cheney, You took Whitney. Thanks a lot, God.

Mostly, I feel sympathy. But I have to admit, some small part of me wants to say: How much sympathy can you have for someone beautiful, talented, famous and rich … who pisses it all away? Whitney Houston, you idiot.

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Rules of the Universe #23,456: Coin-op laundry dryers are to be set so that, no matter how much money they require for each drying cycle, said cycle shall not dry laundry past a certain point of residual dampness.

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Don’t be afraid of getting older. Yes, there’s a lot to be said for youth’s partying, cruising and playing with carefree abandon. And yes, you’ll get the creaky bones, the aches and pains and bottles of pills as you get older. But also as you get older, you’ll gain in knowledge, confidence, experience and wisdom. And oh boy, you’ll be amazed at how much fun THAT stuff is.

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When I die, I want to leave all my worldly wealth to the Home for Smug Atheist Orphans, if there is such a thing. (This is assuming I actually have any wealth at the time of my death. As of this moment, it’s not looking good.)

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If I ever become famous, I’m going to immediately announce that I’m suffering from early-stage Alzheimer’s. That way, when I fail totally to remember ANYBODY’S name, they’ll all go, “Oh, that poor, wonderful man” rather than “Jeez, what a self-involved bastard.”

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Really, very few of us have time enough to become a grownup. We’re all stumbling through life, totally winging it, hoping we’re getting it right some of the time, and telling ourselves “At least I’m not as hopeless as THAT guy.”

This is yet another reason I’m not in favor of religion. It’s one of the cheats, one of the things that makes you feel – wrongly, and way too prematurely – that you’ve completely figured out Life. And it does it by telling you to believe in something imaginary, convincing you to ignore huge swaths of the reality, and the changing, dynamic world, right in front of your eyes.

It’s also yet another reason I’m waaay in favor of science. We either need to develop a true understanding of the human mind, or else get ourselves living a LOT longer, so we can eventually figure out how to grow the hell up and become our best human selves.

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Time to go to bed. I’m almost certain I’m going to do something wonderful tomorrow. Probably I’ll save hundreds of people from a burning building. Hey, it could happen.

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Someone in comments recently accused me of being infantile. To which I say “I know you are, but what am I?”

Jeez, it’s like the guy doesn’t know the first thing about me.

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I’m thinking of producing a line of men’s clothing modeled after Richard Dawkins. The signature piece would be stylish, comfortable pants with zippered pockets down along the legs. Dawkers!

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Cool. There’s a bed and breakfast inn near Albany, NY (not far from where I live) called Gregory House. I’ll bet if you get really sick and your doctors can’t figure out what it is, you could stay overnight there and probably be well by morning.

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For working Moms and Dads, I want a protest group called “One Million People Who Support Two Million People – And No, You’re Not Getting a Tattoo as Long as You Live in This House, Mister.”

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Nobody tells you that losing weight can hurt. It’s all smiles and zero effort when you see those beautiful people on the posters and TV. But apparently as your chunky little body loses the fat, things that were in one position relative to each other take on new positions … and some of that repositioning can be less than pleasant. I guess if they told us that up front, we’d have even less reason to lose weight and actually feel better in the end. I just wish I was to the “end” part already.

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From Greek folklore, Achilles ended with a perfectly respectable body part named after him. Pity his once equally-famous hero cousin, Taint, who fared much less well.

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The phrase “atheist flash mob” just popped into my head. Suggestions?

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Hmm. Larry, Moe and Curley. Manny, Moe and Jack. Do the other Stooges know Moe moonlights in the auto parts business?

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People will make jokes about their lack of style, their directional ineptitude, or even their complete inability to differentiate between musical notes. “I couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket! Haw-haw-haw!” But very few people will joke about their lack of intelligence. “I couldn’t think an independent thought if you paid me a million dollars! Haw-haw-haw!”

They’re out there, nonetheless.

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To the two people who have posted to my Facebook Wall the pictures of deformed babies and tortured dogs in the past week, to make whatever point it was you were making … damn. Your pics were pornographically ugly, and I really did not want those horrible images in my head.

I feel like I’ve been assaulted. If we were together in person and you forced those pictures on me, I would be tempted to punch you in your stupid face.

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What Justice can there be when big, rich, important people can get away with theft, with lies, with murder, with war? Why should anyone care about laws when powerful people have little or no need to obey them?

Obviously, it’s all about keeping the little people in control. I sympathize with that, somewhat. After all, most of us are idiots.

But then again, most of the people in power are idiots. Hey, we just finished handing a trillion dollars over to corporations that make things to kill people. And we wake up each day and think this is how things are supposed to be. Idiots? Oh, yeah – powerful and powerless alike got together on that little equation.

The threat to control is why the Occupy movement is so dangerous. Why the news media has to keep trying to turn it into something it’s not.

But if you have a bad system running things, danger to that system is a GOOD thing.

I’m ready for a little danger.

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Just in case the Zombie Apocalypse happens this year, I’m keeping a supply of brains on hand. If the zombies break in, I’m going to throw a brain behind me and run.

And no, don’t come knocking thinking you can borrow some brains. You should have thought of it yourself, like I did.

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In the heart of every human, there’s the desire for individuality, the understanding that if you’re exactly like everyone else around you, it devalues you to the point that you almost don’t exist. If there’s no “you” in you, you’re nothing.

Too bad we never seem to catch on that one of the basic goals of religion is to make everybody the same. Witness Christian missionaries, who have gone out almost since history began to crush native cultures and install tepid Christian mush in their place.

And where are all the fantastic experiments in being human that each of those vital cultures represented? Gone. Muddled in sameness. People who were once rainbows of human culture are now pathetic gray replicants of Jesusness.

Today we make a big fuss about molester-priests, those destroyers of children, but the Church has been killing cultures, destroying entire peoples, for at least as long.

We have yet to even recognize that as a moral crime, much less to see the vast, vicious magnitude of it.

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If Barack Obama revealed that he was a Vegan, I wonder if Fox News would accuse him of being a space alien.

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Not every dart hits the target. You have to keep throwing.

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I was so excited a week or so back when I discovered my phone would allow me to enter text messages by voice. I just now realized what I was getting excited about: That I could talk to my phone, and it would translate my voice into letters and words, and then I could send it as a text message.

By phone.

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It has come to my attention that there are people on the Internet posing as Americans. Using good American English like they’re from here.

I demand you all stop at once, and use proper foreign languages so we can tell you apart. This includes you, you sneaky damned Canadians. As for you Brits and Australians, I’ve got my eye on you. Those phony accents aren’t fooling anybody.

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Parts of famous people that should have their own squares on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame: Steve Tyler’s lips, Dolly Parton’s chest, Sam Elliott’s mustache, Morgan Freeman’s voice, Ellen Degeneres’ sense of humor. And Rhode Island teenager Jessica Ahlquist’s courage.

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If you live in a place where it rains fire, you carry an asbestos umbrella.

I’m pretty sure that should be a wise old saying, but I can’t figure out just how it applies to anything.

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Man, sometimes when you get into a discussion with a libertarian, you just want to send them off to an island – with a gun, a shovel and a copy of Atlas Shrugged – where they can live out their fantasies in full survivalist splendor, untainted by all these socialist roads and schools and libraries. Not to mention this totally socialist INTERNET!

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Definitely more than I wanted to know: When you flush a toilet, it sprays fecal bacteria into the room. Yes, every time you flush, it’s like you’re spraying an air freshener called Shit Mist. Gah.

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When you rush out of the house every morning, you never think “Man, I wish there had been time for just one more hug.”

But when somebody dies – whether it’s your grandmother or your dog – oh boy do you think that.

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Isn’t it funny that people from England never talk about the American Founding Fathers? You do have to suspect their opinions about them are a teeny bit different. When’s the last time you saw the schoolbook from which British kids learn about that period in history?

I suspect they’re keeping quiet to put us off our guard. And then one day, wham! We’re all eating tea and crumpets again.

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If Hobbits live on Middle Earth, who lives on Left Earth and Right Earth? Or is it Top Earth and Bottom Earth?

If it’s Bottom Earth, I’ll bet that’s where politicians and lawyers – and probably Gary Busey and Rush Limbaugh – come from.

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People who hate evolution don’t really like America, either. I’ve seen it time and again. They want an end to democracy and free speech and personal freedoms, and they want to substitute the laws of THEIR church. They want everybody to believe as they believe and to not allow any dissent or free thought. They want the noble experiment of freedom and democracy to end, because they hate and fear it.

They want to destroy children’s education, they want to destroy science, they want complete control of communication, so they can censor anything they think is offensive. And despite their claims to religious tolerance, they want ALL other religions shut down totally.

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“Seasons Greetings” isn’t really a seasonal greeting. It’s the naming of a CATEGORY of greetings. It’s like when your buddy rolls up in a hot new Corvette, jumps out and says “Hey, Bubba, how do you like THIS shit?!” And you nod knowingly and say “Mmm, yes. Automobiles!”

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Some fundamentalists are closer to robots than to actual human beings. It’s like you’re talking to a personality simulator on a computer. Don’t expect them to actually think about anything you’re saying. It may be that they’re not capable of it.

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I have never in my life, not once, been Organized. I used to think it was because I was lazy. But now I think it’s because I’m me.

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Thinking that imaginary gods will make things better cripples us. Large numbers of people sit back and do nothing. And things get worse.

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Reason is the religion of smart people. The religion of stupid people is religion.

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One of the weird things about aging is that, once you hit your mid-50s, you start finding bruises on your legs, scratches on your arms, bumps on your head, with no memory of how they got there.

My theory is that, either you fail to notice the original injury because pain simply isn’t that important to you at this age, or that evil fairies sneak in every night and give them to you, magically, while you’re deeply asleep.

Some night I want to stay up and catch the Bruise Fairy in the act. I’m going to beat the hell out of the little bastard.

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Some people, if you tell them there are no gods, have a first reaction no more sophisticated than that of 4-year-olds after Mommy leaves the room: Let’s have fun! Let’s break something!

They think you might as well do the most pleasurable and violent things that come to mind, with no thought of the consequences: “If there’s no Almighty God, what exactly is the point of restraint? I might as well become a completely selfish bastard, have my fun before I kick the bucket.”

Such people expect that a majority of their fellow men would instantly do the same, becoming rapists, robbers, murderers and fire-bombing anarchists. (Or, worse, lawyers.)

And they’re partly right. There are people out there, people right in your own neighborhood, who, if you took away from them the idea that there’s a divinely ordained meaning of life, would instantly come up with this “all rules are off” idea. Their limited imaginations would take them only as far as partying, sex and casual violence.

And that’s just at the low end. Don’t ever assume that nasty sonsabitches are limited to those people you see hanging out on street corners or swilling beer in the local dive. There are people walking around in thousand-dollar suits, sitting in corporate boardrooms, showing up and preaching in church on Sunday, even occupying the highest elected offices, who have no more regard for others than they do for AIDS-infected lab rats.

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Hate it when I’m doing some fast navigating through programs or screens, and in the instant I click on my mouse, a box pops up under it for a split second. It vanishes just as quickly, and I realize I’ve just agreed to something, or cancelled something, but I have no idea just what it was.

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Here’s what you have to understand about godders. They don’t WANT the subject to be clear, or understandable. They want fog-shrouded darkness.

You shine a light into the darkness, it’s not dark anymore. And they want that darkness, they NEED it.

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Ever notice that the really bright people you know are willing to admit that they might be mistaken about something? Maybe it’s because they GOT really bright by admitting mistakes and learning new stuff all their lives. Rather than stopping when they were 15, or 20 or whatever, and NEVER after that learning anything new, they kept going, kept making progress.

It’s okay to be wrong. You can’t be a rational thinker without accepting the possibility of your own mistakes. The ability to admit you’ve made a mistake is actually an extremely powerful ability. It allows you to grow, to learn new things all the time, to back up and start again when you start down the wrong road, to change your life for the better, all your life.

It constantly just blows my mind that there are people who think admitting mistakes is a BAD thing. I’m boggled by it.

And this fundie Christian trip is all about never-never-never admitting even that you MIGHT be mistaken. The day you become a fundie is the day your life really ends. Because you’ll never learn one more little thing. Learning new things has this absolute roadblock in its way: the fact that you are totally convinced you’re right and you’re unable to entertain doubts.

And these fundie Christian morons want to believe that they’re doing the right thing by never admitting a mistake. That’s so twisted it always seems to me that they’re doing it deliberately, rather than displaying the symptoms of some kind of fear-induced mental illness. I’m prone to see them as willfully wicked. It’s wrong of me, I know, but still … Jeez.

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Okay, Ezekiel 4:12 is freaking me out. “Eat the bread as you would eat barley loaves. Bake the bread in front of people, using human excrement for fuel.”

Never heard THAT one in Sunday School!

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It’s no accident that ministers refer to church members as “the flock.”

But if you want to be a pioneer of any sort, you have to aspire to be more than a sheep. Discovery, creativity, reason and adventure happen only outside the flock.

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Religion in many ways really and truly stands in the way of understanding morality. Sure, you can force or scare a simplified moral code into someone. But they don’t understand it. They just obey.

And what happens when they come under the sway of someone who gives them different moral orders based on the same threats? The guy who tells them that god wants them to kill, or lie, or drink poisoned punch?

They obey.

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As a member of a free society, you know what I really want from religious people? I want from them the same thing I want from smokers: Light up anytime you like, suck those acrid particles and poisonous gases as deep down into your lungs as you can manage, but don’t put your smoke into MY air.

I want them to not come to my door, to not stand on street corners waving disgusting pictures of aborted fetuses at me. I want them to not get free space on my money for their advertising. I want them to pay taxes, just like I do. I want them to stay the hell out of our public schools with their prayers and their phony “moment of silence,” and I want them to stop trying to shove their silly creationist beliefs into science textbooks. I want them to stop interfering with medical research, and in private family planning decisions. I want them to stop trying to get their Ten Commandments stuck into public buildings.

Basically, I want them to leave me and people like me alone. And I want them to stop spreading hate. Stop hating ME.

Is that too much to ask?

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When I’m talking about my atheism, I never say I don’t believe in God. I always say “gods,” plural. I want to make it clear to people that this is not some simple reactive opposition to their particular god.

Unlike them, who think they’re right about every aspect of their belief in their god, I have a generalized respect for humans that recognizes that other people believe in a god, too, and they often aren’t the same god.

I also have equal regard for those gods themselves. Whatever little mystical whozit the Tierra del Fuegans believed in during the 1800s, that god is perfectly equal to Pat Robertson’s Almighty — equally unbelievable.

I think the plural “gods” is a distinction worth making. I want to remind Christians, now that they’re all in attack mode against the wicked atheists, that I’m not singling them out.

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Here’s a Big Lie, a really ugly one: That only MY religion is true, and anyone who doesn’t agree is evil.

Some people twist things around so that their fantastic, unbelievable fairy story is the Truth of Truths, and every tiniest bit of disagreement, or contrary evidence, is not only a lie, but a wicked one.

The Big Lie works because it so outrages our sense of proportion that we’re unable to reject it, as we would anything that was simply ridiculous. And so religions continue to find it useful.

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If you’re reading this, here’s the Commandment I want you to obey when you finish:

Go do cool things in life.

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About Hank Fox
  • machintelligence

    Nothing like a short stack for Sunday breakfast, but Dawkers — GROAN!

  • Inflection

    Instant I heard about the toilet thing, I started flushing with the lid down.

  • ‘Tis Himself, OM

    If I ever become famous, I’m going to immediately announce that I’m suffering from early-stage Alzheimer’s. That way, when I fail totally to remember ANYBODY’S name, they’ll all go, “Oh, that poor, wonderful man” rather than “Jeez, what a self-involved bastard.”

    I never thought of this. Thanks, Hank. Now people won’t think I’m a self-involved bastard because I don’t remember their names. They’ll think I’m a self-involved bastard for other reasons.

  • Sophia Dodds

    Huzzah! Another person completely boggled by good ol’ Ezekiel and his poo cakes.
    4:12 – one of the only bible verses I’d consider getting on a bumper sticker. You know, or that one about them circumcising everyone twice. Lop off an inch for the LAWD!

  • grumpyoldfart

    It has come to my attention that there are people on the Internet posing as Americans. Using good American English like they’re from here.

    I demand you all stop at once, and use proper foreign languages so we can tell you apart. This includes you, you sneaky damned Canadians. As for you Brits and Australians, I’ve got my eye on you. Those phony accents aren’t fooling anybody.

    You better realise that my mum will kick you up the arse if you talk to Australians like that. (She lives in the centre of the country and works in the theatre).

  • lordshipmayhem

    I would be tempted to punch you in your stupid face.

    Don’t punch them in the smart face. They need all the smarts they can get.
    .

    It has come to my attention that there are people on the Internet posing as Americans. Using good American English like they’re from here.

    I don’t use “good” American English. Unlike you lot, I spell words like “colour” and “humour” correctly.

    • Hank Fox

      Yeah, like children wasting all the helium in balloons, someday you Brits will cause a “U” shortage. Then what will we do when we discover there’s a crucial industrial use for them?

  • ohioobserver

    “If I ever become famous, I’m going to immediately announce that I’m suffering from early-stage Alzheimer’s. That way, when I fail totally to remember ANYBODY’S name, they’ll all go, “Oh, that poor, wonderful man” rather than “Jeez, what a self-involved bastard.”

    I hope you may not be able to rely on that excuse very long if at all:

    http://casemed.case.edu/alumni/publications/mailers/mailer2-9-2012b.htm

    This research — still in the basic stages — is among the most hopeful advances in attacking Alzheimer’s disease. Looks like the frontiers of “ABCD” are being pushed back a little. maybe a lot. Not that we still don’t need that “moon-shot” initiative you spoke of.

    I read most of your columns*, and you are among my favoriteblggers, but I most, most enjoy the “short stacks”. Lots of gems. (some turds too, but that’s another comment). Keep it up. You do some cool stuff.

    • Hank Fox

      Yes, but they’re GEMLIKE turds.

  • ohioobserver

    *oops — I wanted to add that I’m dating myself by referring to that dinosaur of the information world, the newspaper. Yes, I still read them.

  • Randomfactor

    Not every dart hits the target. You have to keep throwing.

    And often you need to move the target.

    Loved this particular short stack. Much thanks.

    Did you know there’s a commercial bread sold, based on the Ezekiel 4:12 recipe? I snicker every time I pass it in the supermarket. Proof positive that Christians don’t read their own bible.

    (Although Ezekiel doesn’t actually follow his god’s commandment through all the way, either.)

  • Hank Fox

    I’ve been thinking of collecting these up into a little book. Get together the real gems and just have two or three per page. Sell them at atheist conventions, etc.

    There actually is a strategy in my doing these. I like to think that the humor, and the little epigrams about life, get readers agreeing and nodding their heads, and then WHAM! I hit them with my blackist atheist sentiments.

    And another soul slides into Hell.

    Being able to rub my hands together and laugh maniacally is an unintended happy side effect.

  • Kat in AZ

    I found this link in Jessica Alhquist’s Facebook wall. After having read a little more than half of this Short Stack, I had to put the link on my wall. Now that I have read the whole stack, I love it. I now have your page bookmarked for frequent returns to sanity. (I live in a town overpopulated with LDS and Fundies of every stripe. It’s a tad depressing to be one of the rare free-thinking Atheists around. Thankfully, there are groups and a very nice Humanist Center in town.)

  • http://killedbyfish.blogspot.com feralboy12

    There’s a bed and breakfast inn near Albany, NY (not far from where I live) called Gregory House. I’ll bet if you get really sick and your doctors can’t figure out what it is, you could stay overnight there and probably be well by morning.

    But only after the inn calls you an “idiot” and causes two or three seizures and some rectal bleeding.

    One of the weird things about aging is that, once you hit your mid-50s, you start finding bruises on your legs, scratches on your arms, bumps on your head, with no memory of how they got there.

    That was more of a phenomenon of my early 20′s, actually.

  • http://wyrdwriting.wordpress.com Joel

    I really do object to the phrase “good American English”. You can have American English or Proper English… anything else is an oxymoron… with cheese fries

  • Ray, rude-ass yankee

    That was a very tall short stack! Thanks for the Gems (and the gem-like too!)