Monday, December 2, 2013

Down on the Firm

1. The boss expects me to find my own cases, sign them up, work them single-handedlyand handle the collections/accounting in those cases ("my cases").

2. I am required to spend much of each day working on the boss's cases -- perhaps half my time. Many of the boss's cases are complete losers, financially and otherwise. (As my mentor said: why would the boss want to spend any time on those dogs? He wouldn't. That's why he has an associate.) This creates Problem #1: my cases have real deadlines and I do not have the time or the help to meet those effectively; I am busy working on the boss's cases. 

3. Problem #2: The firm cannot pay me any more than a modest base salary because I do not bring in enough revenue in my cases. But I do not have time to even work on my own cases, much less go out and find new ones. The boss's thought on that subject: that's what nights and weekends are for. Yes: work all day billing hours, then go home and in your spare time learn new areas of the law, draft content for the firm's web site, find clients, and profitably work their cases. Problem #2 is quite a problem, as I am just at the firm to make money.

This is the same issue my predecessor mentioned to me on her last day at the firm. If all goes according to plan, I will warn my replacement about this issue in about 4 months.

Sunday, December 1, 2013


The perfect plan to glorify oneself:

1. Create a species and a world for it to live in

2. Let a few hundred thousand years go by as they slaughter themselves in your name, starve, and generally suffer

3. Send son (who is actually you) to be tortured and murdered

4. Wait a couple thousand more years for effect - more slaughter and suffering in the meantime

5. Take your devoted flock to paradise for an eternity of them praising you

6. Send the rest - the vast majority - to burn alive forever

Cult of Human Sacrifice

Christianity is not a religion that refutes human sacrifice. Just the opposite: Christianity is a cult of human sacrifice. Christians believe one human sacrifice was effective for all humanity. While possible, this appears quite improbable, just as is the thought that any other human sacrifice could actually work.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

God Is... Good?

Plaza Towers Elementary School

Monday, May 20, 2013; 3:00pm.  A tornado hits Moore, Oklahoma. It kills 23 people and injures 377.  7 children die at Plaza Towers Elementary school alone that Monday.  On the national news that evening, one local resident, when asked about how he managed to survive the storm, says without missing a beat: "God is good!"

Idea 1:
A loving god is in control and, in fact, he planned every detail of the universe from start to finish.  He knows how many hairs are on your head and loves you!

Idea 2:
Innocent people are slaughtered on this planet every day.

How can we justify those 2 ideas?  We cannot.  Either your god is unable to stop innocent peoples' deaths, or your god does not care to.  Those are the only two alternatives, and neither is good for god.

Some readers may be tempted to defend their gods here, saying "Who can understand God's will? We are just human and we have no idea what God's plans are." What is so remarkable about this attitude: their own human understandings are what they use to determine their god's goodness in the first place.  Do you have an intimate, personal relationship with this god of yours, or not?

And what about the survivor who said on national television, on an evening when 23 of his neighbors had been crushed to death, including 7 children: "God is good."  What kind of person would, if a mass murderer killed all those people, say the murderer was good?  The thought that our gods are good because they have the sense to spare us when they're slaughtering our neighbors... this is one of the most remarkable and disturbing ideas imaginable.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Washed in Blood

An acquaintance, when describing his religious beliefs, proudly claims to be "washed in the blood." I resist the urge to tell him just how disgusting a claim that is.

In many backwards cultures over the years, blood was spilled to make up for errors. And not just blood: innocent blood. How very revolting. How many virgins have we sacrificed? How many animals' throats have we cut? How many children have we murdered?  Washing things in blood is a disgusting and horrific concept people should be ashamed to accept.

Here's a related question, and an important one: Does washing things in blood really get the stains out? Or does it cause even worse stains? Think about it.


"The vast global Church/Mosque/Synagogue/Temple conglomerate... is the biggest business on the planet, bringing untold funding from hordes of gullible people, many of them extremely poor. It is by far the biggest confidence trick of all time."

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Power of Religion

Blacksburg, Virginia: April 16, 2007. A mentally ill young man murders 32 innocent people and injures 17 others. What happened?

For years, Seung-Hui Cho displayed signs of serious and dangerous mental illness. His family and other acquaintances knew he was batshit crazy. His mother is an evangelical Christian. How did she deal with her son's mental health problems? She prayed. And she took him from church to church, looking for a church that could perform a proper exorcism.

Think about that. An atrocity in the making. A crazy, violent young man. A loving mother. What did this young man need? He apparently needed the help of mental health professionals, medication, and probably institutionalization. What did he receive? Religion. The mother's worldview is so trimmed down by her medieval religious views that, due to her actions and inactions, 32 people died horrific and unnecessary deaths.

Here's the amazing thing: you can't blame the mother. According to the Bible, the mother was right! Demonic possession really happens. And Jesus can heal it. Nowhere in the Bible are psychiatrists mentioned, or anti-psychotic medication. The Bible says this young man needed Jesus. That's what he got, and we see what that got us.

As an aside, where was the mother's loving, all-knowing, all-powerful god on the morning of April 16, 2007? The only honest answer appears to be: In the mother's imagination.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Failing the Ones We Love Most

"We must decline to tell our children that human history began with magic and will end with bloody magic, perhaps soon, in a glorious war between the righteous and the rest.  One must be religious to fail the young so abysmally—to derange them with fear, bigotry, and superstition even as their minds are forming—and one cannot be a serious Christian, Muslim, or Jew without doing so in some measure.

Such sins against reason and compassion do not represent the totality of religion, of course, but they lie at its core.  As for the rest—charity, community, ritual, and the contemplative life—we need not take anything on faith to embrace these goods.  And it is one of the most damaging canards of religion to insist that we must."
                                                                                 - Sam Harris

"We can be as honest as we are ignorant.  If we are, when asked what is beyond the horizon of the known, we must say that we do not know."
                                                                                - Robert G. Ingersoll

Friday, February 22, 2013

Close Call

People and their worldviews are fascinating.

A now former Facebook friend posted something along these lines a while back: "FML! We totalled our car today after just getting it paid off last month and letting the insurance lapse.  Thank God we're OK."

I commented what seemed like a natural response: "I'm so glad y'all are OK.  Why do you suppose God caused the accident in the first place?".  She unfriended and blocked me.  This made be wonder a series of things...
  • Why would my asking that question upset her so much that she would unfriend and block me?
  • What about her faith makes her so sensitive to questions about it?
  • More broadly, why would this god total her newly paid-off and uninsured car in the first place?  Doesn't this god love her?  If this god of hers really is in control and we're living out his perfect plan, why not spare her from the accident to begin with? 
  • Or is it that this god can't stop accidents but can stop people from getting hurt in them?  If he can stop people from dying in accidents, why doesn't he help the tens of thousands of good people who die in accidents every year?  This is called "the arrogance of the spared" and it makes no sense at all.
  • And if your response is "God is mysterious and unknowable," what's all this $#!+ about you having a personal relationship with him?

Monday, February 18, 2013

Long Distance Love

A dear friend and I were discussing religion recently.  She said "I can't imagine living in a world without Christ."  I replied "You realize you're talking about a Middle-Eastern carpenter and faith-healer who lived in Palestine 2,000 years ago, right?"

The idea that Jesus of Nazareth is alive and well in our hearts is astonishingly crazy.  As Sam Harris is fond of saying, it would be difficult to believe people actually believed such a thing if so many people did not actually believe it.  In the Bible itself, Jesus tells his followers the equivalent of "I'll be right back!" over and over again.  That was 2,000 years ago, and he has not been seen or heard from since.

I hope my friend likes long-distance relationships.

A Father's Love / Good Friday

Mardi Gras was last week, which is always a fun time of year.  The next day was Ash Wednesday, which signals the beginning of Lent, when good Catholics are supposed to give up things they enjoy for 40 days.  Funny how religions generally and Christianity in particular seem to view things we enjoy as terrible for us... while viewing things that would otherwise seem despicable - like eating Jesus of Nazareth's flesh and drinking his blood - as divine.  No human flesh or blood for me thanks, even if you call it symbolic.  Make mine a cold beer and some Tex-Mex: that's divine in my book.

The end of Lent is Easter Sunday.  Two days before Easter is so-called Good Friday, when Jesus was allegedly crucified.  If I understand things correctly, God's perfect plan - in an effort for us to glorify God - was to send his son to be tortured and murdered, and for this we are supposed to love and worship God?  Doesn't sound very "good" to me, even if it was a Friday.

The Ovarian Lottery

"He won the lottery when he was born
took his mother's white breast to his tongue
Trained like dogs, color and smell
walks by me to get to him
police man
police man
He won the lottery by being born
big hand slapped a white male american
Do no wrong, so clean cut
dirty his hands, it comes right off
police man
police man..."

- from "WMA (White Male American)" by Pearl Jam, as featured on their album Vs.

Warren Buffett is often quoted as saying he won the Ovarian Lottery before he was born.  He's right, and if you're anything like me, you did too.  The chances of being born in the USA are roughly 50-to-1.  The chances of being born "white" and in the USA: roughly 100-to-1.  I have amazing parents, who are smart, generous and loving.  They provided me with great genes, a solid though imperfect childhood, and 2 college degrees from American universities, widely regarded as some of the best in the world.  I drive a German sports car and sleep in a king-sized bed in a heated home with unlimited fresh water available from taps inside the house anytime I want it.  I eat better than I could ask for.  My job consists of reading and talking on the telephone while sitting in a big leather chair.  I won the lottery by being born.