28 July 2008

The benefits of basic reading comprehension

Me and a bunch of friends were in the vicinity of some batting cages yesterday. There was a wide variety of pitching equipment, with little kids hitting slower pitches, bigger guys on the faster machines, and even a guy practicing for his slow pitch league.

There we saw a girl, looked like late teens or early twenties, with a girl friend the same age, dressed in typical young girl summer clothing - printed shirt, shorts, sandals, oversized sunglasses - and obviously spending too much time on her appearance. She was getting ready to bat, and we all stopped to pay attention, knowing that the results would be worth it.

She donned a batter's helmet, entered the cage, popped in her tokens, stepped awkwardly into the batters box and awaited the first pitch.

The fun began: "AAAAAAAAH!!!!!!" she let out a very loud high-pitched shriek of terror as the ball flew by and impacted the padded backstop with a loud "THUMP" behind her.

as she cowered and fumbled with the door handle to eventually escape.

We all laughed and felt satisfied with her unfortunate situation.

But how did we know?

It wasn't that she was generally unathletic-looking and unprepared for swinging a bat.

Rather, it was basic reading comprehension and her obvious lack thereof.

And even then, it wasn't the fact that she ignored the posted "shoes required for safety" warnings, instead going in with sandals and endangering her feet. A downward foul ball could easily break toes. But it wasn't that.

Instead, it was the unmissably big sign on the door to the batting cage with the big red letters stating "BALL SPEED = FAST: 90+ MPH" that tipped us off.

Definitely worth the price of admission.


15 July 2008

I suppose its time to weigh in on the Wafergate incident

I suppose its time to weigh in on the Wafergate incident playing out on Pharyngula (better late than never, eh?).

First off, I’d like to comment on communion wafers themselves:

Communion wafers are crap. They are utterly tasteless, insubstantial, and have a texture like really weak cardboard. They border on being unfit for human consumption. To all you Catholics out there, you’d probably be better off horribly desecrating your wafers like PZ wants to rather than actually eating them. In fact, I have a theory that the original kid who stole the communion wafer did so because, when he put it in his mouth, it was so bland and unappetizing that he just couldn’t stand to swallow it.*

PZ probably shouldn’t be referring to them as crackers. My wife is Protestant – they don’t believe in transubstantiation - but they do use actual little broken pieces of crackers for their communion, and sometimes even real bread. My wife really wants to try a communion wafer because they are “so small and cute.” She has a thing for tiny food items, like sushi or those little stubby ~200 mL cans of pop. Strange, I know. Regardless, if she ever tries the communion wafers she will be disappointed.

Speaking of using little broken cracker pieces for communion, I’m thinking that cracker companies are really losing out on product placement deals and opportunities for expanding into new markets. Imagine Ritz brand communion crackers and (insert TV sports announcer voice) St. Mary’s Cathedral Communion Break – Brought to you by Nabisco, and you’ll see the possibilities are limitless.

Second, I’d like to comment on whether PZ’s remarks were inappropriate:

Yes, they were inappropriate, but so what? It’s still funny. I think the debate is: do PZ’s inflammatory cracker threats hurt or help the godless cause?

Hemant at Friendly Atheist thinks it does no good whatsoever:
At the same time, trying to obtain a consecrated communion wafer for the sole purpose of destroying it serves absolutely no positive purpose. Now, you’re just trying to piss off Catholics.

Why bother? What good does it do to rub this in their face?

Does anyone really think that this act will cause any Catholic to say, "Oh! You are right! That is a crazy belief! Thanks, PZ!"
Now, I’m sure most Catholics will either just shake their heads in mild disgust at PZ’s antics or send in hate mail/death threats. Certainly no positive purpose there, and quite possibly some negative results.

That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if Hemant’s last line actually does play out a few times. You’d be surprised at the number of Catholics who are just going with the flow and don’t actually know what they’re supposed to believe. I can certainly picture the likely response of many of my (only mildly) believing friends at Catholic school: "That’s what transubstantiation means? That's messed-up. It's only a freakin' wafer!"

They certainly won't say, "Oh! You are right! Thanks!" but hoping for a big slap of rational thought right in the face isn’t out of the question here.

I’ve always said that we need both loud, obnoxious unfriendlies (PZ etc) and friendlies (Hemant etc) to make the most change. Would 140+ people comment on Hemant’s friendly post on communion wafers if not for PZ's Wafergate scheme? I don’t think so.

So keep on being rude and inflammatory. As long as nicer atheists are there to clean up the mess, that is.

* When I attended a Catholic highschool, I spent the first couple of years taking communion during school mass. Those wafers are most unappetizing. I didn't want to draw attention to myself as a heathen outsider during those early years - bad for the rep, especially if any overzealous teachers are watching. It was only after I established myself as a top student in the eyes of the teachers that I stopped. I still took it on some days when I was desperately hungry and needed something, anything, to sustain me until lunch.

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07 July 2008

Back in Church - I forgot how weird it was

Okay, so I haven't posted in over a month. It's been stupid busy in my life this whole time what with moving into a new house, being swamped at work, and generally feeling lazy because the last three months have been insanely hectic (the last week or so of that "lazy" refers specifically to following the NHL free agency period).

My last post was about me trying to make a positive lifestyle choice and walking the ~35 minutes to work for the first time. I have chosen today to post because today I walked to work for the second time. That's right: too damned tired every single damn day since June 4 to walk again, and I finally forced myself to do it today.

I'm so proud.

There is one big plus side to being so busy that I don't have the energy to post: we don't have time for church anymore. In fact, the last time my wife dragged me off to church was Easter*. As with not walking, that streak came to an end as well.

You know, after not going to church for almost three months, you forget how weird it is:

-People standing and singing with their eyes closed and their hands raised up in the air.
-People leading prayers that sound like "Jesus, we pray to you Lord Jesus for mercy, even though we do not deserve it, Jesus, and we pray, Jesus, that you will guide the hearts of our missionaries going to Estonia, where they will be spreading your holy word, Jesus, and keep them safe, Jesus. In Jesus precious name, Amen."
-And speaking of that, Estonia? Estonia is Christian already.
-All that fire and brimstone preaching, including convoluted confused theology due to the whole switch-over from OT to NT, and "works" vs. "faith - it's a really messy religion.

At least it's not Catholic; our guy spouting the fire and brimstone doesn't have to wear a goofy costume.

*If you don't count all the historical East Orthodox churches we visited in Greece.

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