A poison apple

Today my wife is attending a funeral for a young man – twenty five! – who recently died of a brain tumor. He was diagnosed only a month before.

My aunt died of cancer a few years ago, after a four year struggle. She was a very religious Catholic, went to church, kept statues of Padre Pio in her home and pictures of the Virgin Mary on the wall of her bedroom. She took trips to sanctuaries. She counted priests among her friends. And yet…she withered away to almost nothing. She lived in tremendous pain. Then she died.

So where is this great God believers speak of? Either he is fucking with us – in which case he is an evil God – or he just plumb don’t exist. Why it would give anyone solace to have faith in  such a thing baffles me. Even some atheists I know talk of the “gift of faith” with not a little nostalgia (that they never received it.) All I can think is, What’s wrong with you people? We can do better than this!

We all suffer, atheist and religionist alike. No one is exempt. Life will end in death for all of us, with no regard for our belief systems, education, successes and failures. We all know this. It does no good to pretend that there is a benevolent being who is looking out for us, who is amenable to prayer and flattery, and who will save us when the going gets rough. It does no good because this is quite obviously not true.

Let’s stop pretending it is, and that faith is a gift. It’s a poison apple if it’s anything.

Stop smoking

I believe from time to time I get to be a bit of a pedant on my own blog. It’s the price my readers pay – especially those searching for Hubble images, a strangely growing phalanx – for all the diamonds and gold I’ve selflessly unearthed for them from my own mind.

So here is my pedantic trip for the day: Stop smoking. No caps, no boldface, no fancy fonts and no colored letters. I’m not dressing this up like a placebo with a bowtie. It’s dead serious and so am I. Stop smoking.

You know why. You’ve thought it through a million times yourself. Now I’m reiterating it for you. I want you to think of me next time you light a cigarette or buy a pack. Bogart wasn’t cool; he died a shitty cancer-ridden death. Sure, he looked cool in black-and-white. You, on the other hand, look like a fool. Because you know so much more than Bogart knew about what smoking is doing to you.

I want to be a pain in your ass about this.