A Question of Manners

I live in a decent, if somewhat small, apartment for which I pay a small, and therefore decent, amount of rent. It’s in a good neighborhood, there’s plenty of shopping nearby, and it’s right on a couple of major bus lines. Really I haven’t too many complaints, though I do have one: we have only four washing machines for 40 apartments.

Now normally that isn’t a problem, but sometimes, like today, it very much is. I went down to do my laundry and all four machines were in use. One had finished and the clothes were just sitting in there waiting to be picked up. The other three had less than five minutes to finish. Eventually they were all done and the owner of the clothes were nowhere in sight, though he did arrive after about seven or eight more minutes.

This left me in an interesting situation. I had my laundry. I wanted to get it in there and get it going. I was going to use only one washing machine. All four of the machines were in use, but were all finished. In theory, I could have taken the clothes out of one of them, put them on top of the machine, and thrown in my laundry. Ethically I believe that to be acceptable, but only after a certain amount of time has gone past. Clearly I shouldn’t reach in and yank them out the second they’re done, but I also don’t think waiting a half hour or so is reasonable.

So I’m going to open this up to you guys. How much time should go by between the time someone’s laundry is finished and the time it’s acceptable for someone like me to remove it and put it on top of the machine?


Some Questions About the Budget

Yes, there’s nothing like fiscal policy to really put people to sleep, eh? Anyhow, here’s a few questions about the US budget for you. I’ll reveal the answers in a link at the bottom.

For the curious, check your answers against the facts here. Did you do well? I got them all right, or at least close to it.

The Lebron James Thing

So Lebron James is set to announce where he’s going to play the basketball for the next few years. I don’t care. I don’t care at all, not even a bit. Also, what kind of stupid name is Lebron? People need to stop giving their kids crappy, stupid, made-up names.

Anyhow, I know about this story only from osmosis and really don’t give a shit where this guy goes. I also find it appalling that at this point Cleveland’s economy is built around him. Quite sad.

So what do you guys think about this?

One Year Later

The State of the Union address was tonight. We’re slightly more than a year into the Obama administration. It’s time to ask the obvious question.

Ein Volk, Ein Führer, Ein Buch!

What matters more to you: content or the way you get it?

I ask this question because Alan Kaufman at the Evergreen Review seems to believe the delivery method is the most important. So important that he even invokes Godwin’s Law on himself when talking about the current trend of books moving from paper to devices like the Kindle.

All physical books must go up the chimney stack. Such was the methodology of the SS who forced their prisoners to run naked races round and round the barracks yard in the Polish winter, a race that no one was meant to win.

The book is fast becoming the despised Jew of our culture. Der Jude is now Der Book. Hi-tech propogandists tell us that the book is a tree-murdering, space-devouring, inferior form of technology; that society would simply be better-off altogether if we euthanized it even as we begin to carry around, like good little Aryans, whole libraries in our pockets, downloaded on the Uber-Kindle.

What an ass.

He seems to believe that e-books are responsible for bookstores closing. They aren’t. The vast majority of the population that reads doesn’t have e-readers, but they do often buy their books online, and that’s what’s killing bookstores.

He also seems to believe that e-readers hearld a new age where only the biggest, most important authors get published. This is nonsense. If that was the case, I won’t have a short story for sale in the Kindle store (for those who don’t have a Kindle, download the free Kindle ap for the PC and then you can read my story if you like).

The writer of the article is simply wrong, and comparing the transition from paper to e-readers to the Holocaust is just insulting on many, many levels.

Further, everything is starting to digital. Does it really matter if the movie you are watching is on cable, on a DVD, on a DVR or some sort of streaming video format? Does it matter if music comes to you as an MP3, a CD, or on a record? The content is basically the same across the various delivery systems. The content is what matters.

For fun, here’s a poll:

The Happy Atheist?

A recent article on Slate.com concerns a study that seems to indicate, as the headline puts it, religious people are nice and atheists are mean.

This is, of course, a very broad statement and one that, at least in my personal experience, is not substantiated by the facts. I’m far happier as an atheist than I ever was as a theist, and while I’m not all that nice, I’m certainly quite moral and decent.

The article also implies atheists are cheap bastards when giving to charity.

In Gross National Happiness, Arthur Brooks notes that atheists are less charitable than their God-fearing counterparts: They donate less blood, for example, and are less likely to offer change to homeless people on the street.

I think there’s some very slight truth to this, but I think it’s only because churches, for all their ills, do have great charitable organizations set up, and when you’re in a group of people being asked to donate money to a worthy cause, you’re more likely to. Since nothing like a church exists for atheists, we don’t have the same weekly reminder to give cash, and we don’t have the silent peer pressure of those around us. It is a problem, to be sure.

On the other hand, the author of the article then goes on to point out that largely atheist countries like Denmark and Sweden tend to be very moral, very generous and quite happy. He says this is a bit of a puzzle. Well, I can solve it for him.

Religion, or the lack thereof, doesn’t make any real difference in people’s morality, generosity or happiness. It’s a slew of other things that matter more. Religion is evil because it’s a lie presented as truth, and therefore should not exist, but I strongly doubt it makes people more or less moral. I do believe it’s far easier to move people onto evil moral concepts like racism, homophobia and the like through religion, but that isn’t the same thing.

That said, the author makes one other point I very strongly disagree with.

Most Americans who describe themselves as atheists, for instance, nonetheless believe that their souls will survive the death of their bodies.

Ok, I don’t believe that. There is no evidence what so ever to support the notion of a soul. I don’t think I have one. I can’t recall anyone I know who identifies as an atheist who believes they have one, either. I think this statement of his is just flat-wrong, but since he’s not offering any data to support it, I haven’t much to refute it with.

So what follows down below is an informal poll for atheist readers only. Enjoy!

Poll – Oh, Like You Can’t Guess What This Is!