Time Heals All Wounds.. And Then Kills the Patient
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Mon Dec 20 03:23:08 2004
Complex Upper Shadows

I have a friend who noticed that she was hiding her atheism from her coworkers, and was wondering why she felt inclined to do so, in the midst of workers from various minorities. Here's my reply to her thoughts, preserved on my BLOG, in case hers should ever go away..

There are more than one group of minorities in the world, and each of them, to the common person, has varying amounts of sympathy for repression. African-Americans and other ethnic minorities are very commonly sympathized with, and repression against them is publically agreed to be a minus. Other groups, like gays and lesbians and people of unusual religion, have less wide public support, and finally some groups, like people with uncommon politics, atheists, and some others, have really very little public support. There are two factors here worth looking at. First, there is a rough corrispondence to "Can you help it", meaning that people born to be a particular way (race and, at least to the public eye, perhaps sexuality) get a certain amount of respect when they bump up against prejudice. Conformity is seen in this light as a "do your best to conform" maxim. The second point is that there's a difference between people of odd religious belief and atheism. There's at least one part of the liberal consensus (and corrisponding conservative detente*) that suggests something along the lines of emphasising religion being necessary for someone being a good person, and respecting people who are different because we share in common with them recognition of a higher power, etc etc. It's strange to watch this, but I've often been present at discussions where liberal Hindus and Muslims, or other odd mixes, can agree to respect each other just because they share the expression of religion. This form of consensus/detente leaves us out, and so atheists have much more difficulty than someone of X other religion. We still threaten them, memetically, but it's also harder for them to identify with us.

greater understanding of the interplay (although I don't agree with his

premise, overall, and in fact find it to be a disappointing straw-man response to another interesting article).

Now, moving beyond my analysis there, let me state that I don't talk about religion at work. I don't see any reason to, because I'm not particularly close to anyone there, and because I realize that talking about it generally leads to discomfort. Work isn't a place I go to make close friends, although if it happens, I'd be open about it with them. The same goes for politics, although I have let it be known that I'm very liberal, as the topic has come up, and I have spoken in depth about politics with one of the people at work because he has an interesting perspective. I am not afraid of revealing myself exactly as I am to people, and if asked, I would not hide it, but I don't care to volunteer information, unprompted, that may lead people to come into conflict with me. The same goes for people I know who are not quite friends -- the closer I feel to people, the more I feel they should know me, and there are a number of people who I don't volunteer contentious information to, because when I don't think of them as being exactly friends, no matter how nice the interaction is with them, I don't really want to complexify things. All this, na klar, doesn't make me a "closeted" person in any way -- asked, I will tell people exactly what I think, and it's quite possible to find things about me by gathering information, that I don't actively present. For starters, I'm an evangelical atheist with Liberal-Communist politics.

Some random humour from IRC.. <Someone> Onward to Israel! <AdamBishop< do people still say that now that they can just go to Jerusalem? <Me> AdamBishop: I think they do tourism instead of conquering. Less fun though. <Me> Instead of organizing a war troupe, we can now just buy plane tickets

Q: What is the Internet? A: It's a secret way for Amish to communicate without using electricity. It involves quantum physics, and Amish wife hairnets, hence the name internet.

Recently I noticed an irritating gotcha in the package system model -- Redhat moved its linux distro to a number of packages that supported drop-file additions to their configuration. That is, instead of having a single configfile for their application, they'd look in a directory and load all files in there. This is handy -- it means that when new software is installed that needs to talk to old software, it can just have the packaging system drop off a file into the config directory, and the update doesn't need to rewrite configfiles, which varies from complex to impossible. This isn't so bad, except.. if you decide you don't want the config for that application, you might be tempted to delete it. I recently did so, because there was an application that manages apache (my webserver) in a particular way that I see as being very negative. Unfortunately, when the update scripts ran on my system, and found a new version of that application, it replaced the missing file with a new version... reverting my decision not to have a config for apache. As a result, about a year's worth of useful and interesting data is gone. Oops. The solution for me is to disable updates for that application. What a lousy solution. *sigh*

It looks like the Europe trip will be as follows: 1) We initially land in Amsterdam, but head to Paris on the same day. 2) We spend about a week in Paris 3) We take a night train to the ski resort in Switzerland 4) We stay there for about a week 5) We take a train to Brussels and stay for a few days 6) We take a train to Amsterdam, and stay until the flight back

We were initially going to see a lot more, but alas, I wasn't able to save as much money as I hoped for the trip, and in fact things will be pretty tight, moneywise, as it is. I may take out a loan from the credit union. If anyone wants to be particularly kind, now's not a bad time to send me money.

I will have my grand reflections on my life changes, and everything, in not too long.