peace - love - reason

Jill Of All Trades

Heeeey we're in the news!

27.9.09 by literaghost

Well, by "we" I mean "the Secular Student Alliance group I've been trying to start," and by "the news" I mean "part of an article in the campus newspaper," but still.

I've typed up the relevant bits below for your reading pleasure, since our newspaper doesn't seem to have an online version (?!).

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New clubs to encourage student participation
From photography to atheism, a range of organizations started this term at Centre promise additional alternatives.

By HANNAH MUSSER | CENTO WRITER

With each new school year at Centre comes a series of new clubs as well. This year, the Secular Student Alliance, the Chinese Club, and the Photography Club have been added to the list of campus organizations. Each new addition to the college’s list, which already included over 100 organizations, will add new flavors and opportunities to campus.
The Secular Student Alliance (SSA). [Miz L.], a sophomore, heard of the SSA through an atheistic blog online and thought it would be a good addition to Centre’s religious offerings. The group itself is a national organization with affiliate chapters on campuses around the world. Centre’s group, once officially recognized, will be called Centre AHA, which tentatively stands for Centre Agnostics, Humanists, and Atheists. The relationship between the SSA and its satellites is a neutral one, with the SSA providing only the resources needed to run the group, not any kind of constitution governing the group.
“Its purpose is to provide a safe space for non-theists,” [Miz L.] said. She goes on to add that the group would be a good counterbalance to all of the faith-based organizations already on campus. [Miz L.] wants to “create a positive, active voice for non-theists that could broaden the dialogue between religious groups and non-theists.”
The Secular Student Alliance would achieve this “positive, active voice” by teaming up with other organizations to complete community service projects without proselytizing. “We want to show that we are not bad people,” [Miz L.] said of the non-theists on campus.
Other activities the group hopes to host are movie showings and book discussions. [Miz L.] encourages everyone interested in the Centre AHA to attend meetings. [Miz L.] invites everyone, including theists, to come “broaden the dialogue,” but she points out that this is not a “debate or an argument” between theists and non-theists. Centre AHA does not seek to attack any religious organizations, but instead wants to let the two sides understand each other more fully. If you are interested in attending a meeting, please e-mail centre@secularstudents.org for meeting dates and mailing lists. Centre AHA currently seeks a faculty advisor as well.
[…]
[The article then goes on to talk about the Chinese Club and the Photography Club.]


On a random note, here's something that's been making me happy lately (courtesy of Skepchick): 


Enjoy.

 - Miz L.

My graduation speech

18.7.08 by literaghost

Two months ago was my graduation, which made me realize just how much it rocks to be a homeschooled atheist only-child.

Below is a transcript of my valedictorian speech ('cause, well, I was the only one in my class).

Audience: Friends, family (mostly other Kentuckians, some not well-educated and most uninformed of my beliefs), teachers, and mentors.

--

Pansy symbolism reference

Graduation cake - 1Welcome, everyone! I'm so glad all of you could make it here today.

As you came in, you may have noticed our lovely cake over there. I would like to draw your attention to the flowers on that cake. As you can see, there are pansies on it. Now, some of you may have been thinking, "Hmm, that's strange, why are there pansies all over the cake?" Well, the reason we did that is because pansies hold a special symbolic meaning — they are edible, but they also hold special meaning. "Pansy" gets its name from what the French called it, the fleur de pensée, which means "flower of thought." To them, it looked like a person's face, and when the weather got hot the petals would droop forward like someone deep in thought. So in the language of the flowers, pansies symbolize a couple of things. First, they represent remembrance and memories (and later on during the slideshow we're going to have memory overload going on). Second — and this is what makes them special to me — they represent the freedom of thought, and Freethinkers, and freedom of thought is something that's been very important in my life.

I was a curious child (as I think most children are). I was the one that explored other people's closets, and asked "Why?" until you'd want to strangle me.

Now, I find that with most kids, adults will humor their curiosity for a while. But eventually, it grates on their nerves, so the children are expected to grow out of it. They'll give the kids non-answers like "because I said so," and teach them that "curiosity killed the cat." While I was eventually taught that it's impolite to open every drawer in a stranger's house and throw everything in them on the floor...I feel fortunate that those around me nurtured my natural curiosity into a love of learning, rather than suppressing it.

I truly believe that this freedom of inquiry that I was afforded — the freedom to pursue the truth, no matter where it leads — is what allowed me to become the person I am today. I know that it can be very scary letting your child explore other ideas and cultures; beliefs, lifestyles, and worldviews; the full range of choices that life has to offer — because with that comes the possibility that they will take a different path than you would have chosen for them. I know it was hard — and to those who raised me, thank you. I appreciate it. While some of you here may not agree with (or even understand) some of my beliefs, I can only hope I've become someone you can be proud of.

The truth is, the more I learned about things — and especially about other people— the more I've been able to understand other people; not only in my local community, but in my global community, as well. As I learn about their histories, experiences, and values; about who they are and where they're coming from; I find that I can identify with them, while still embracing our differences. In fact, the more I learn about the world's people and cultures, the more I value them. I begin to fully appreciate the shared humanity, and fundamental equality, of all individuals. And that moves me to defend that equality.

Of course, this doesn't mean that I'll agree with all people equally, or even get along with all people equally. But an openness to new information and ways of thinking has given me a kind of strength and flexibility. I know myself — where I come from, what I believe in, what it would take to change my mind. I know my own limitations, and realize that there are plenty of things I don't know. I also realize that there are plenty of things that I think I know, but may be wrong about. This means that when I interact with those I disagree with, I don't really fear the possibility that I may change my mind, or be "corrupted," or...get cooties. In turn, this has opened my door to opportunities and experiences — I've been able to work with many different groups of people, putting aside our disagreements in pursuit of a common goal.

And that's something that more and more of us will have to learn how to do. In case you haven't noticed, our world is getting increasingly interconnected. Here in the United States, we drive cars made in Japan, fueled by oil from Saudi Arabia, to transport our bags of groceries imported from South America and clothes made in China. Every day on the news, we see and hear the consequences of culture clash — and often, the culture rattling the hornets' nest is our own. Today, the people of our country need to learn to understand other cultures in order to survive. If we can do it well, we can thrive. Our country's historical reputation for accepting the oppressed and persecuted — "your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free" — has been what drew many of our greatest citizens to this country in the first place. After all, it was the Third Reich's persecution of minorities which allowed us to gain the likes of Albert Einstein. Let us not make their mistake. Instead, let us try to live up to the hopes of those who once looked up to us. I hope that one day I can live in a country that once again is the product of Enlightenment.

Happy Zombie Jesus Day!

23.3.08 by literaghost

Cyanide and Happiness, a daily webcomic

Hope everyone enjoyed their twice-coopted pagan fertility rites.

...And remember, Peeps are peeple — er, people — too. Ban Peeps Research!

PEEPS

Awww, what cute little bundles of artificial flavorings. Love 'em.

— Miz L.

Going back in time - my New Year's Day

25.1.08 by literaghost

It snowed.

Went out and took some photos after dinner, just as it was starting to get dark. I went out once and it was difficult for me to turn my head against the wind - snow blew up in my eyes whenever I faced the house. Went out again a minute later and it had died down.

First Snow of the Year - 3

First Snow of the Year - 5

First Snow of the Year - 6

Once I came inside and finished defrosting my fingers, I set out on a painting spree.

(A)Drift
"(A)Drift"
11"x14"; acrylic paint and nail polish on canvas

GrassShoots
"GrassShoots"
7"x9"; acrylic paint and nail polish on canvas (this one looks better in person)

Unfolding
"Unfolding"
5"x7"; acrylic paint and nail polish on canvas (starting to see a pattern?)

These I'm trying not to get too attached to, as I might sell them (if I can, that is) and thus (maybe) get a head-start on student loans. In the meantime, I'm completely at a loss for titles. Suggestions? (Price suggestions also appreciated).)

[Update 2/13/08: Finally settled on titles. How do you like them?]

Oh, hey, I just realized I forgot to put up the abstract painting that started it all.

Ladies and gents, meet Flare.

Flare
(created September 19th, 2007)

This one's a tiny bit bigger than the 11"x14" black one (above), and it too is in acrylic and nail polish. I submitted it to a small-time campus art show, but it - sadly - didn't get in. Instead, I got a strange form-letter e-mail that essentially said it was creative and had artistic merit, but it...didn't match the other paintings. Ooookay then.

I love it all the same. (Yeah, this one I've gotten attached to. It's not going anywhere. Sorry.)

May make a post later explaining its influences...or may not, and let you actually think about it yourself.

- Miz L.

Sticks and Stones - The Pierces

10.1.08 by literaghost

Found a lovely macabre, femme fatale/gothic horror-themed music video from The Pierces (courtesy of a friend) - thought I'd pass it along. (Here's their Myspace page, for those who do that sort of thing.)



Sticks and stones will break your bones
And leave them lying in the mud
But you'll be scared when we're alone
Like I might suck your blood
And I could tell you a witch's spell
But it just might blow your top
And you start to run just as I'm having fun
It's awfully hard to stop
It's awfully hard to stop...

Newspaper Seed Starter Pots

by literaghost

Practical Origami, Newspaper Recycling, and a Guerilla Gardening idea

Cotyledons on Flickr - Kent of Kent


While searching for a more practical use for origami than continuing to fold billions of cranes, I stumbled across instructions to fold seed starter pots out of old newspapers. You know those fancy, expensive pots you can get at the garden center - the ones made of packed peat, that you can plant directly into the ground (as they decompose)? This is a much cheaper, and possibly greener, DIY option. Not only is it recycling old newspapers (rather than using up more natural resources) - because it's origami, there's also no staples, tape, or glue to fall into or contaminate the surrounding soil.


Origami pots on Flickr - Kent of Kent
The instructions are here, and consist of 14 easy-to-follow (or I thought so, at least) instructions. If I have time later, I may put up my own version of the tutorial, especially as it relates to the newspaper proportions - the tutorial-writer lives in Japan and is using a Japanese newspaper, which from the pictures seems to have different proportions than most ones here in the U. S. I've just tried it with normal 8"x11" paper (not with newspaper), so the proportions and sizes may turn out different. I'll come back with an update - soon, I hope!

- Miz L.

I'm back - and so are the photos

by literaghost

Finally getting around to posting the photos I took over the summer. I know, I'm pitiful...

Pterodactyls - 12

Sculpture - 2

Inside the Art Barn - 7


Foucault Pendulum - 4

Graffiti Aliens - 4

Church Mall - 3.1

Ringing in updates with a Triptych

14.12.07 by literaghost

Well, finally fixed the layout. Hope to have a more steady stream of content than's been going on in the past.

AerialsAn older poem of mine, but one I think could use some fresh air:

Triptych

In all the expanses of Heaven,
There are no angels, there is no sunlight.
There are no harps and hearts and feathers.
There, witches offer pink cotton candy,
And there, demons dwell in pastel crayons.

Under the chapel is the ninth gate of Hell.
Here lay the thinkers, the rebels, the magicians of light and death.
We question, converse, keep ourselves company.
The greats are with us, those before their time,
Who used their allotted world-tolerance too early.

The unfinished works and businesses hover over the lawn,
Passing through time, to pass the time,
Until their time has passed on and below.
They walk, north-south, south-north, in the skylights,
And cling to the stones of the gate as they drift.

--

More writings (and updates on what I've been doing since the last post/summer) coming shortly. I hope.

- Miz L.

Wrote my Congressman

13.12.07 by literaghost

Regarding House Resolution 847: "Recognizing the importance of Christmas and the Christian faith" (text; Friendly Atheist post).

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Dear Representative Chandler;

My name is [X]. I'm not sure if you remember me, but I introduced you to the Congressional Award Program a few years ago by being the first Kentuckian to whom you presented their medals.

Over the years, I believe you have represented our state extremely well. I have applauded your efforts to support Kentucky's environment and the people in it; I have urged many of my friends and family members to vote for your re-election.

This is why I was shocked, and deeply saddened, to discover that yesterday you helped to approve House Resolution 847 ("Recognizing the importance of Christmas and the Christian faith").
I have thoroughly read the text of this bill as it was written by its sponsor, and have come to the following conclusion: If it was introduced as simply a symbolic gesture, it was a waste of legislation time and the taxpayer dollars that funded it. If it is ever acted upon, or if it is used as the basis for further legislation that "expresses ... support for Christians," it ruthlessly violates the First Amendment of our Constitution.

I think I can understand why you voted for this bill. In today's political climate, it is dangerous to appear "anti-Christian." Candidates of all parties, in all regions, and for all positions have been tripping over themselves to prove their piety - despite our Constitution's "no religious test" clause, which says they shouldn't have to. I understand that it takes a great deal of courage to stand up to this climate; indeed, in the case of this bill, only nine did. I can understand how one might give in to these pressures - but I cannot respect it. Climates such as this make adherence to the letter and spirit of our Constitution ever more important.

Mr. Chandler, through the Congressional Award Program I have worked with many outstanding Kentuckians of all backgrounds, ages, genders, races, and classes. I have worked side-by-side with people of many different beliefs and religions, and with people of no religion. H. RES. 847 does them a great disservice, and shows an extraordinary amount of disrespect for their efforts. As a Congressman, it is your duty to represent all Kentuckians, not just those of a particular faith. Laws do not exist for the protection of the majority, for those are not the ones who need the protection.

This resolution specifically states, "the House of Representatives ... expresses its deepest respect to American Christians and Christians throughout the world." However, a clause in our First Amendment states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." Perhaps I show my youth by preferring a document just over 220 years old to a religion established towards the end of the Roman Empire.

I hope that in future legislative action, you will further your record of keeping the diverse interests of Kentuckians in mind - and that you will also keep in mind our country's founding principles.

Sincerely,

[signed]

[literaghost/Miz L.'s name]