Beta Culture: Earthman’s Journey – Part 5 of 8

LAKEHank

[ Part 1 — 2 — 3— 4 — 5 — 6 – 7 — 8 ] Molly (cont.) This kind of thought wasn’t completely new for me – I confess I’d dwelt many times on the fortunes of other men, wistful and envious of the assets they enjoyed. “What would it be like to be him?” I had asked myself, him way up there with all that money, with a daddy who provides private airplanes and the family’s own airport, with new trucks and horses and jet skis and scuba diving lessons there for the … [Read more...]

Beta Culture: Earthman’s Journey – Part 4 of 8

LAKEHank

[ Part 1 — 2 — 3— 4 — 5 — 6 – 7 — 8 ] Molly For eight years in my 20s and 30s, I was a draft horse teamster at a resort-town ranch, driving a two-up hitch of massive blond Belgians or coal-black Percherons, on a huge hay wagon for mid-summer meadow rides, or on big sleighs that would glide over the high-mountain snow on moonlit winter nights. Molly was one of the ranch dogs. She was no particular color – a little black, a little brown, a little gray, all mixed up in a dark … [Read more...]

Beta Culture: Earthman’s Journey – Part 3 of 8

LAKEHank

[ Part 1 — 2 — 3— 4 — 5 — 6 – 7 — 8 ] Cutter After seasons of proving myself at many of the other chores of branding, on this day, I’m in charge of castrations. After the calf slides to a stop and both the heel rope and the top man are firmly in place, I step forward and kneel down by the calf’s belly. I stretch out the scrotum and slice across the lower third of it with a sharp knife. The testicles usually pop out on their own, but sometimes you have to fish around, pressing … [Read more...]

Beta Culture: Earthman’s Journey – Part 2 of 8

LAKEHank

[ Part 1 — 2 — 3— 4 — 5 — 6 – 7 — 8 ] Cowboyin' The early end of the beef industry involves a lot of labor at identifying and altering young bovines from their original, mint-condition wholeness to something more in line with human designs, as they make their first transition from free beasties to hamburger-on-the-hoof. The work can be done in sheer industrial efficiency, with metal chutes and shock prods and unconcerned hourly workers, or it can be done by working cowboys, in … [Read more...]

Disturbing Early Morning Thought

If you lived with someone who had done EVERYTHING, say a superstar father or mother – a famous author or adventurer or actress or athlete – how would you gain a sense of your own worth and value? How hard would it be to chart your own life course? To find and develop your own talents? Would you live your whole life feeling inferior and lesser? Knowing that you could never do or be anything unique, that you would always live in the giant shadow of their spectacular accomplishments, that by … [Read more...]

Nothing to See Here, Move Along

This is a little nothing-much, posted mainly to see how I feel about posting. If you've been following my recent exploits, you know I'm just a week into recovery from surgery – the minor-but-major removal of my gallbladder – and I haven't felt much like writing. Or even turning on the computer. But today I felt pretty good. Woke up at 7 a.m., lay in bed thinking and reading until almost 10 a.m., then got up and … well, got a great deal done. … [Read more...]

The Passing of a Loved One

Greta Christina recently lost her father. My father died on October 1, 2012, at the age of 79. My dad, like me, was an atheist. And when you’re an atheist and a non-believer, and the people you love die, you don’t get to tell yourself that they aren’t really dead. You don’t get to tell yourself that you’re going to see them again someday, in some hypothetical post-death existence that somehow both is and is not life. You have to accept that death is really permanent, and really … [Read more...]

Politics: Getting “Nailed” by Jesus, and Bush

(This is a repost, slightly edited, from 2008.) Say you did something you thought was good at the time, but later turned out to be bad. You could admit the mistake. Or you could refuse to admit it. Any sensible person would probably say the first option was the best one. If you can admit a mistake, you can probably do something to fix it, or correct your course so you don’t do it again. And you can move on. The second option has some variations built into it, argumentative positions that … [Read more...]

A Basic Motivation for Atheism+ … and for Beta Culture

In his post "Value-free atheism," Justin Vacula focuses on the meaning of the word "atheism" — making the point, as do so many others, that it means only one thing. The argument seems to be coming often these days following the appearance of Atheism-Plus. Vacula says: … [Read more...]

First Person Revolutionary — Part 4

[ First read Part 1 , Part 2 , Part 3 ] All the civilizations I ever heard of had this in common: Somewhere right near each one’s heart was religion. It seems impossible to get away from. And yet it shouldn’t be. After all, it’s never been true that religion is ALL people do. And it’s not as if religion is food, or water, or air. It’s just this ... idea. Hideously embroidered, massively wrapped in confusing, fanciful language, aggressively forced upon people in their vulnerable … [Read more...]