All posts by Paul

imagine aliens and their lifestyle.

Note upfront: this could be considered an #NSFW post depending on your work, so be aware of that.

Aliens as often seen on TV

Right. We all know about aliens, be it from close encounters of the third kind, or from films like Close Encounters Of The Third Kind. (These are the up-close, personal ones, in case you don’t know.)

Imagine you have the opportunity to visit their planet (and you can actually live there. Air is important, as is food, and there are some more things like that).

What would you expect of their lifestyle? Would you expect it to be like ours? The same social norms? Like having a family, children, a house and the local equivalent of a car? Having dinner together –

STOP.

Let’s assume something’s different here. Let’s assume that eating on that planet is considered something you only do in private. Like we go to the toilet in private. I know, it’s perhaps a mental stretch, but stretch with me and think of that for a moment. Because it could be true. Something we on Earth consider to be normal and social could be totally unheard of, doing it in public on our alien planet.

I’m sure you can think of a few moments here. Keep that thought.

Maybe these aliens don’t have marriage but they live in large communes where kids are born and raised among everyone, not among just two of the species. Or three.

And maybe they are a bit different in appearance. That could be, right? Plenty of scifi films have projected possible alien creatures for us, and they might be even weirder than we can imagine. Up to the point of…

Image from paradox plaza.

… them not wearing clothes, or any other kind of body cover. Is that possible? I think it is. Humans on Earth started wearing clothes to protect themselves from the cold, not out of modesty. (The whole Adam and Eve story in which they covered themselves because of shame is nothing but that – a story).

How would you feel about going to such a planet, where aliens like the one in the previous image walk around uncovered? Unhindered? Free as a bird, or whatever flying animal cruises the skies there?

Would you call those aliens indecent, based on the cultural and religious dogmas you had implanted as a child? Or would you be open-minded enough to accept that way of life? And would you adopt that lifestyle if that is required to be there, walk around and interact with these aliens?

Would you feel… ashamed to be naked?

And how long, if so, do you think you would feel that shame?

I think you’d be surprised about how quickly that feeling would fade.

When using Register.com for domain registrations.

I have registered one of my domains at register.com.

Usually that’s nothing special, but there is something peculiar about their system that keeps annoying me. Even though I’ve switched “Auto-Renew” on since forever, their mailing system keeps bombing me with mails about the domain being close to deactivation because the expiration date of the registration comes closer.

That’s not needed of course, because auto-renew is on.

The past few weeks I got those mails again. Yes, I know the domain renewal is coming up. Yes, I know it will renew itself. Today I was sick of yet another one.

Note: Register.com isn’t cheap with their domain registrations if you don’t know some ropes. A .com registration will set you back $37.50, which is pretty steep.

Last year I requested a transfer code to move the domain name somewhere else, and a support person offered me a discount for renewal: $17.50. Now that is nice as most places charge at least $20.

Today I went about moving the domain name again. Lo and behold: there was no support person involved. Instead I got a message that I could renew the domain for a year for $10!! All I had to do was enter a promo code at check-out, and indeed, the domain is renewed for a year, for $10. Instead of $37.50.

So that is an even bigger saving than last year.

The man who knew too little

Yesterday I saw this film (movie) on Amazon Prime.

I was in the mood for something fun and decided on this one. Bill Murray usually is good for laughs and this film didn’t disappoint me. The start was a bit overdone perhaps but things got better so quickly that I laughed a LOT!

It is clearly an older film, seeing working phone boxes and a total absence of smartphones and even Nokia 3310s. Add to that the big spool tape-recorders and you probably get the pictures. Younger people might not even recognise a lot of stuff in the film.

Yes, I enjoyed this film very much.

Politeness and the Internet

Something surprising happened to me a few days ago.

It started with what looked like a spam mail that somehow had made it through the entanglements of the filtering.

It was from “Bernie Jones” (name altered for privacy reasons) who had a question.

I thought I had something of an answer so I wrote back to him, starting my reply with “Dear Mr Jones…”

There we had it. Mr Jones, a.k.a. Bernie, took a LONG time to respond.

When finally he did, his first words were:

Hi Paul. Why did you write ‘Dear Mr Jones’?

For me, that was quite obvious. Bernie is a man’s name, Jones is his last name according to his own mail, so why wouldn’t I?

Apparently, it’s not very common on the internet to be polite. (Proof was already clear because he started with ‘hi Paul’.)

Am I the only one who notices this?

About this great god

Yes. This is a little bit about that guy up there. The christian sky-wizard who does so many great things.

It hit me, a while ago, that someone was happy a close relative was healed from a serious medical affliction. The doctors had done quite an amazing job fixing that person up. For some reason, the someone said, “Thank god for your healing.”

I don’t get that. This man got sick and the doctors healed him. Through medical science, not by calling in the help of that great god.

Then I wondered about something else. If this god is so great, then where was he at the moment the patient got ill? If this god-character is so great, shouldn’t he have been able to prevent this man from getting into that terrible fix, making his life hang from a thread? Apparently it’s easier to wait for doctors to fix the problem and then get the praise. (Can I have a job like that?)

The christian sky-wizard is supposed to be a loving god (okay, he is also a vengeful god, which probably makes sense when you’re inebriated or under the influence of too much frankincense. If someone is a combination of those two things it probably has a reason that someone gets sick and get healed by people. There’s probably some tale that god worked through the hands of the doctors or something like that.

No. Those doctors spent years studying for this so they could save people’s lives. Whenever I get sick I will try my luck with doctors, not with the sky-master. I’m sure my chances of survival are a LOT bigger that way.

American atheism

I have started listening to a podcast series called ‘The thinking atheist‘. (Follow the link to the website.)

At first, I thought it would be an interesting addition to the podcasts I’m already listening to. As I am progressing through the podcasts though, I am more and more shocked about the state of religion in the US of A. I had no idea it was that bad!

Bad religion.

From visits to the USA I knew that religion is a more serious problem than it is here in Europe.

In Europe, you generally can be whatever and that’s fine, until your religion starts to become a problem. Christian and Islamic fanatics aren’t appreciated, although lately I see some worrying movements that aren’t silenced in the bud.

In America, it is clearly the norm to be Christian (in whatever of the hundreds of competing flavours available), and being non-religious is frowned upon, in the mildest cases. “Coming out” as an atheist is in many places something the good believers consider a first class ticket to hell (their hell, of course). From what I heard in the podcasts, things are getting better in the glorious States, but I can imagine it’s still a far cry from normal to be an atheist.

Assume nothing. Question everything.

This is the slogan or motto on the site and also the tagline each podcast starts with. Well chosen, well done.

Seth Andrews, the host and founder of ‘the thinking atheist’ idea (I know he doesn’t like the word ‘founder’ ha ha), has phone- and skype-calls with people who are atheists. People from all over the world. It’s at times horrifying to hear how people have to hide their lack of religious beliefs from their community.

People who get shunned by their family and community. You may have heard how, for instance, Amish can do that. It’s not something that’s just their prerogative; clearly many religious factions in the US reserve the right to kick people out when they don’t follow the rules and won’t colour inside the strictly defined lines any more.

It is heartwarming to hear the statements of people who have shed the yoke of religion and found their way into thinking for themselves. The people who see that the stuff in the bible and the koran and all those ‘holy’ books are filled with fables, myths, stories and scary bits, written by shepherds who had no idea where the rain came from.

I can only hope that more and more people will see the light. Yes, pun intended. The real light, not the restricted light that religion shines in someone’s eyes, allowing you to only see what they want.

God’s infallible Plan

Each time I see that somewhere on the Internet, I shake my head. Do these people really believe that? If yes, I am sad they are so brainwashed.

I googled “What is god’s infallible plan”. All kinds of stuff came up but not a definitive answer. There is a facebook page about it which makes little sense. I came across a website called ‘cityhopeboise.com‘ which talked about the infallible plan god for Joseph.

Does this mean there are more infallible plans? And what does that say about ‘the’ infallible plan?

With all the failures I see on this earth, I can tell there is no plan. This is an evolution we’re all part of, and we all can leave our mark on it. So far we’re not doing much of a good job, with climate change, pollution and companies that value money more than drinking water for people.

Fed by not a god.

I see images of children in Africa and other areas. Children starving. Not a good plan, let alone infallible. And the mantra “God will make this right” isn’t flying, folks. The world health organisation tries to make that right. Donations to organisations that want to make the world a better place help, to make that right. A god who can make it right and doesn’t do a thing is not worth one’s time or energy.

All the gods are said to be loving gods. Where is the love in all that misery and pain? Part of the greater plan?

Or did the devil do it? I am sure some people will say the devil did. And why then doesn’t the almighty god clean up this mess if he’s so ALL MIGHTY? Or is that ALmost MIGHTY?

I’m not buying it. There is no infallible plan. Nor is there an infallible god. For me and many others, there isn’t even a fallible one.

Enchroma. My experience.

Today I visited an optician who can supply Enchroma glasses. It was an interesting experience.

What is Enchroma?

For that you need to know what is colour blindness. Most people probably know what it is. A colour blind person has a visual defect or deficiency that makes it hard to distinguish some or many colours.

Sample of a colour blindness test.

The above image comes from colourblindness.com.

If you see six numbers in the above circles, you’re probably not colour blind. I see 25 in the top left one, the one next to it has ‘something’ in it, and that’s where my numbers end. So yes, I’m colour blind (or for the politically correct: colour challenged).

Now there is a company called Enchroma that has developed all kinds of glasses to help colour blind people to see more colours, colours better or at least enhance the experience. I had my experience enhanced today.

The glasses.

There are two types of glasses, named after the two most common types of colour blindness. Protanomaly and deuteranomaly. Both are for red/green correction but in different ways. (Ask your local specialist about specialisation.) Each set they had had 3 strengths: mild correction, moderate correction and strong correction.

The mild one did barely anything for me, so that was off the list quickly. Outside we went with the other two. First I tried the ‘strong’ one. It wasn’t the colour explosion that some people on videos mention to see, but this means nothing. As the salesman said, there are no two people identical. What works for me might not work for you, or the other way around. The strong type put everything in an exaggerated red hue for me, which didn’t disappear after several minutes. Also, my perception of colour didn’t change very much. Red was redder. In the clouds, I saw a bit more detail. In the leaves of trees, I saw a little more contrast. Obviously, that one wasn’t for me.

Colour wheel.

I tried the glasses with moderate correction. The overdone, red hue wasn’t there. Green and red were greener and redder than without, but not to the degree that I was stunned. Next door was a shop with a very colourful poster on the window. That had, indeed, more colour than I could see before, but it was a very confusing experience since I had no idea what I was looking at.

The moderate glasses were far less ‘obnoxious’ than the strong ones but apart from a bit more contrast and very confusing shades of colour, there wasn’t anything in it for me. I tried them a few times, inside and out, in sunlight and with clouds (yay Dutch weather for versatility on a 3-minute basis).

The result

After taking ample time to try the different kinds of glasses I decided not to buy them. For the price (they aren’t cheap) they just don’t do enough for me. Again, this is me.

In the shop, there was an older man who had them for a week and loves them (he was there to have something adjusted a bit). There was a young man, about 11 I think, who was so surprised at suddenly seeing all those colours. He and his Mum left with glasses, happy as a camper could be. Great for them.

That’s why I insist this is a very personal thing. Don’t rely on my experience to decide it’s not for you. If you feel your life can do with a colour boost, find an Enchroma dealer near you and go there. Try them. It’s free and it might just change your life.

The tale of Noah’s Ark

I’ve been thinking about this funny tidbit in the bible called Noah’s Ark again.

Noah's ark

I’m sure most of you have heard of it. According to the old testament (Genesis 6-9), there was this old man called Noah (he was 600 years old, apparently) who has chats with the Christian god. The god tells Noah to build a big boat, load his family on it and also collect pairs of all the animals in the world.

God has decided something has gone wrong and he’s going to flood the world, killing off everyone except those on the boat, and start again.

Of course, it’s coincidental that the Quran has a similar thing in it, and that the Epic of Gilgamesh (far older than the bible) also contains something like it.

A few things already spark up.

  • God made a mistake and kills off everyone in the world to try again. So much for an infallible god. Even if there weren’t billions of people on earth yet, he simply decides to kill a few million people (at least?). People whom he created ‘in his own image’. Which shows me that this god is as fallible as a human. Or a human is a godly as the god he created.
  • Noah was 600 years old. Science has shown that something like that isn’t possible. The human body just doesn’t support that.

So the earth is flooded. Everyone’s dead. The boat floats around for a while. (150 days, after which the god remembers (!) the people and the animals. He lets the water disappear (where to?), the boat stops on Mount Ararat (which hasn’t been found yet) and things get well again.

More things spark up.

  • Where did all these animals come from? Did penguins walk all the way from their cold areas to the boat? (Or didn’t they exist yet?)
  • Who fed all those animals during these 150 days? How big was that boat? If there were 2 elephants on board… they eat a lot…
  • And who fed all those people?
  • Also: who shovelled all the poop overboard?
  • If old Noah and his family were the only surviving people on board, hasn’t there been a lot of incest and inbreeding going on since they left the boat and populated the whole world again?
  • Did all the animals walk and fly back to where they came from? (There is no mention that Noah gave them a lift home…)

I also wonder where the boat people got their fresh water from, for themselves and all the animals. Remember: the waters of the earth merged into 1 world-encompassing ocean, so salt and sweet water became 1 big stream of brackish water. Hardly fit for consumption. Still, they survived for 150 days on their boat.

Which brings up two other questions:

  1. Where did all the water come from to flood the earth?
  2. Where did it go when god was satisfied with his mass murder?

There may be perfectly valid reasons for that in the Christian mind (“because god made it happen”), but they don’t convince me…

The last thing that I really would like to know is: why did old man Noah have to sacrifice a dove to find land again? Remember, the first one didn’t come back and the second one brought a twig. (He had 2 of each animal, so 2 doves. How did the remaining dove procreate??) A god worth the worship should have been able to point Noah in the right direction, right? Or was that a “test of faith”? How much more faith would a god need from old man Noah after building this ├╝ber-titanic and floating around for 150 days in piss poor weather, waiting for the water to sink?

Just something I wonder about.

For some it’s just a flash-drive

If you’ve ever been around computers, you probably know what this is. A flash-drive. USB-stick. Name it what you want.

It used to be my Dad’s. There is music on it. Music I put on it for him, because in his last days he couldn’t do much more than listen to it.

The music on it isn’t my kind of music, but I will never be able to wipe it off this USB-drive because the files on it were the last ones I put on them for Dad. He listened to them a lot. When he wasn’t able any more to switch on his little stereo, the nurses at the home did it for him.

As I titled this post: for some it’s just a flash-drive. For me it’s 16 GB of memories of my father, a man I got to know far too late.