Look, Ma, no rain!

No rainIt’s a freakin’ Christmas miracle!

After today, there is no rain in the forecast over the next seven days. They’re even forecasting some sunny days next week. Woo hoo!


Posted by on December 20, 2014 in Miscellaneous Musings


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War on Christmas — Redux

This is a rerun of the post from that was Freshly Pressed about this time last year under the title “Happy Holidays and other Blasphemies.” Since Christmas is but one week away, I thought I’d recycle this for those of you who might have missed it. And for those who have already read this, it can’t hurt to read it again.

According to an ABC News poll, 83% of Americans identify themselves as Christian. Gallup says it’s “only” 77%. But either way, around four in five Americans claim to be Christian.

Yet those who shout the loudest for this huge majority apparently believe that Christians are somehow a persecuted minority, one that is continuously being hounded and badgered by godless liberals and atheists. And this Christian persecution complex seems especially true around this time of the year.

So why it is that Christians feel as if they’re under attack at Christmastime?

Oh wait, I know why. With Christmas just a week away, it’s the duty of Fox News, Christian and conservative organizations such as the American Family Association and the Heritage Foundation, and a disproportionately vocal assemblage of religious conservatives to declare that America is in the midst of its annual “War on Christmas.”

As evidence that there is a “War on Christmas,” they accuse non-Christians, non-believers, and other heretics of trying to denounce Jesus and destroy Christmas. Those evil skeptics and secularists will stop at nothing, so the story goes, to remove all Christian symbols from public places. These godless infidels want nothing more than to take the Christ out of Christmas.

war-on-christmas2And so, in their efforts to save Christmas, various Christian organizations and conservative commentators annually turn up the volume on what they consider to be a war being waged on their holiday.

According to this annual outcry from the right and Fox News, there is a conspiracy among “secular progressives” (atheists, agnostics, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and other non-Christians), as well as the ACLU, federal, state, and local governments, the courts, and public schools, to steal Christmas from Christians. It’s as plain as the nose on Bill O’Reilly’s face.

These righteous Christians threaten to promote boycotts of retailers who don’t specifically use the word “Christmas” in their store signs, websites, or circulars. Heaven help the poor cashier who might wish “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings” to a conservative Christian shopper. Especially if they’re in an open-carry state.

Unhappy Holidays

In the interest of full disclosure, I am an atheist. I suppose that makes me the enemy in this seasonal war. And yet, when I see an evergreen tree with blinking lights, tinsel, and ornaments on it, I call it a Christmas tree, not a Holiday tree. I buy Christmas presents. I send Christmas cards. I am not offended in any way when someone wishes me a “Merry Christmas.”

Liberals War on ChristmasWhat I can’t quite grasp is why so many Christians find it offensive to hear or use “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings.” Both greetings are inclusive gestures of seasonal goodwill, while “Merry Christmas” is exclusive, even if to just a small percent of the population.

After all, isn’t this time of year, whether you call it the Christmas season or the holiday season, supposed to bring out goodwill, joy, and giving in all of us?

Instead of bringing out the best in people, though, it seems that this season of goodwill and joy brings out the worst in many.

It’s inescapable

Here is the reality as I perceive it. If you live in the United States, no matter what your religious beliefs are (or aren’t), you cannot escape or ignore Christmas. There is no place to hide.

Continuous Christmas music is played on many local radio stations. It’s being piped into malls, stores, and restaurants. There are Christmas shows and specials on TV, Christmas movies in theaters, Christmas musicals and presentations on live stage.

Flyers and advertisements for Christmas sales are inserted into my local newspaper. Dozens of Christmas catalogs are delivered by overburdened mail carriers throughout the month. The bulk of TV commercials at this time of year — at least those that aren’t about drugs that cure erectile dysfunction — are all about the Christmas gifts you need to buy for family and friends.

waronchristmasPreviously vacant lots are now full of briskly selling Christmas trees, wreaths, and decorations. People’s homes, condos, and apartments throughout cities and towns are brightly decorated with colorful and blinking lights. Nativity scenes abound on public squares and common areas around communities and in town halls throughout the area.

Grown, otherwise unemployed men wearing red wool suits, fake beards, and pillows stuffed under their belts have been strategically positioned in every mall and shopping center across America. Long lines of excited kids are eager to jump up on their laps.

Parents watch proudly as their little darling climbs up on some strange man’s lap. At any other time of the year these costumed men would be hunted down and arrested as sexual perverts!

So why, I ask again, is it so damn important to remind the one in five of us who is not Christian that we are different? Isn’t it a bit over-the-top for people to get so incensed if, instead of “Merry Christmas,” they hear someone wish them “Happy Holidays” or see a sign that says “Season’s Greetings” at a store, in a mall, or at a restaurant?

If you really want to celebrate the true meaning of this holiday, try being charitable, understanding, and tolerant. Don’t force-feed your religion on those who don’t share your beliefs.

And if you feel an overwhelming, compelling need to put the Christ back in Christmas, go to church!

Oh yes. Happy Holidays, Season’s Greetings, and Merry Christmas. You know, whatever floats your boat.


Posted by on December 19, 2014 in Blogging, Religion, Society


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Intentionally bad timing

RFP from HellIt’s been a while since I responded to a Daily Prompt, but when I saw today’s prompt, my frame of mind (not good) prompted me to respond to this one.

What was this irresistible prompt? “What’s your next, most pressing deadline? Are you excited, stressed, or ambivalent about it?”

My answer is that I’m not excited, I’m not stressed, and I’m not ambivalent. What I am is pissed. Let me explain.

One part of my job, as a deep subject matter expert, or “SME,” is helping to craft responses to questions contained in RFPs my company receives.

For those of you who have no idea what an RFP is, it is a Request for Proposal. RFPs are generated by companies wishing to solicit a proposal for goods or services from potential suppliers.

The RFP details what the company is looking to accomplish (goals and objectives) and asks detailed questions that potential service providers must answer so that the RFP-issuing company can determine if the provider is able to meet its specific requirements at a competitive price.

Most RFPs we receive have hundreds of open-ended questions that need to be answered. The questions cover a range of topics, such as feature/functionality, technology, security, data integration, staffing and support models, and, of course, price. It almost always gets down to “what’s it gonna cost?”

Christmas bonus

For some reason that I have trouble understanding, each year we receive a number of RFPs in the mid-December time frame. And this year was no exception.

I was assigned to work on an RFP that came in on December 16th. Any clarifying questions we have, the answers to which will aid in our responding to the RFP, are due back to the issuing company on December 23rd.

It’s a long, complex RFP and the only time I’m going to have to do an in-depth review of it so that I can pose clarifying questions will be over this coming weekend. The weekend before Christmas.

Their answers to the questions asked by all of the prospective suppliers will be published on December 30th. The day before New Year’s Eve. That means that this employer will have its own people working on reading and answering all of these questions over the holiday week as well. Talk about a Christmas bonus!

Our proposal is due on January 6th. Hey, it could be worse. They could have demanded it on the day after New Year’s Day or the Monday following.

But it’s not just me who will be having to work on this RFP between now and January 6th. Probably five or six others in my company will also be tasked with having to spend some time over the holidays getting our proposal out the door by January 6th.

Why do companies do this? Couldn’t they have targeted to get the RFP sent out just two weeks earlier? Or waited until the beginning of January to send it out?

Or are there just a bunch of sadistic bastards out there delighting in making their own employees, as well as those of prospective bidders, jump through hoops during the holidays — just because they can?


Posted by on December 18, 2014 in Blogging


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The War on Christmas: Battle of the Holiday Greetings


I have to admit that I’ve been hard on Christian bloggers — not bloggers who are Christian, there is a difference — about how they frequently characterize atheists as mean, nasty, immoral, and cruel. I’ve also ranted multiple times (nearly every year around this time, as a matter of fact), about this whole trumped-up “War on Christmas.”

But then I saw a post at Glenn Davis’ blog. He’s a blogger, who is also Christian, but who has a refreshing attitude about those who insist that the only acceptable greeting at this time of year is “Merry Christmas.”

I’m encouraged that there are rational Christians like Glenn who are willing to call bullshit on those who shout about this so-called “War on Christmas.” With his permission, I have reblogged his post here.

I have disabled comments here. Please comment on the original post.

Originally posted on Observations from Oblivion:

I love Christmas. Out of all the holidays of the year, I’d say it’s my favorite of them all. There’s something about the feel of the season that I can’t quite find words for that make the season simply magical to me. I’m not sure whether it’s the childlike anticipation of Christmas morning, the beautiful decorations, smells and tastes of the season, but whatever it is – it’s a beautiful thing. The beauty of the season is evidenced by the displays of lights, trees and various decorations that are on display everywhere in anticipation of the big day. Even more importantly, for me anyway, is the fact that this is the time those of us who are Christians celebrate the birth of the Christ child in the manger.

Lately however, my facebook newsfeed has been all aflutter with news of a war on Christmas. Say what??? How could anyone want…

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Posted by on December 17, 2014 in Blogging, Religion, Society


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One-Liner Wednesday — The Good Book

MarxismOutside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.

Groucho Marx

This post is in response to Linda G Hill’s One-Liner Wednesday prompt. For what it’s worth, I could offer one-liners from Groucho Marx every Wednesday for a year and still have plenty of his words of wit and wisdom left over. He was a funny, funny man.

Here’s a bonus Groucho quotation:

Getting older is no problem. You just have to live long enough.

Posted by on December 17, 2014 in Blogging


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Another reason…

…to love — and use — the Oxford comma.

More Oxford Comma


Posted by on December 16, 2014 in Blogging


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Christian persecution in America

Christian persecutionI’ve seen an awful lot of blog posts lately where Christians here in the United States are complaining about being persecuted. Or they’re whining about how mean and nasty atheists are being toward Christians.

Maybe it’s the time of year. After all, Christmas is bearing down on us. In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s just 10 days away.

In the midst of all this talk of Christian persecution and how cruel atheists are to Christians, I took a look at the numbers and it made me wonder if it’s all much ado about nothing.

Depending upon which survey you look at, the percent of Americans who identify themselves as Christian ranges from to 83% (ABCNEWS/Beliefnet) to almost 80% (Pew Research) to 75% (Gallup).

But only 1.6% (Pew) to 2.4% (Gallop) of Americans identify themselves as atheists. Around 3% call themselves agnostic. And anywhere from 13% to 20%, depending upon the poll, are not aligned with any specific religion.

What about belief in God? According to a recent Harris Poll, 74% of Americans believe in God, while another poll, conducted by Penn Schoen Berland, suggests that 89% of Americans believe in God.

So somewhere between three-quarters and four-fifths of all Americans say they are Christians. Somewhere between three-quarters and nine-tenths of Americans say they believe in God. But only one in twenty (or fewer) considers himself or herself to be an atheist or agnostic.

And yet, according to the blogosphere and any number of Christian sites, Christians in America are being persecuted by cruel, immoral atheists. Seriously, just ask any Christian blogger. They’ll be happy to rant about how they are victims of a huge secular conspiracy to eliminate God and religion in this country.

And speaking about Christmas

92% of all Americans, according to Pew Research, celebrate Christmas. Oh my God. That means 8% of Americans don’t celebrate Christmas. Those damn atheists and non-Christians are going around saying evil, hateful things like “Happy Holidays” and “Season’s Greetings.”

They are clearly waging a “War on Christmas.” Just listen to Bill O’Reilly and his cronies on Fox News. They’ll tell you how those damn, evil secularists are trying to take the Christ out of Christmas.

Another interesting stat that came out of the Pew survey was that, while virtually all Christians celebrate Christmas, 80% of non-Christians also celebrate Christmas. But they view it more as a cultural holiday than a religious one.

So for those of you bloggers who are convinced that American Christians are persecuted, how mean, nasty, and cruel atheists are treating you, and how you are sure that there is a secular war on Christmas going on, get real.

You are complaining that the tail is wagging the dog, but by the numbers, the “tail” you’re so worried about is almost nonexistent.

Oh, and for you atheist bloggers who are being mean, nasty, and cruel to Christians, cut it out. Let them believe what they want to believe. It’s their business¹ and if it makes them feel good, why should it bother you?

Live and let live.

¹As long as they’re not trying to promote legislation that favors Christianity over the beliefs of other religions or the non-religious. Then go for the jugular.


Posted by on December 15, 2014 in Blogging, Religion


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