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 fromvarious minorities. Here's my reply to her thoughts, preserved on my BLOG, incase hers should ever go away..
There are more than one group of minorities in the world, and each of them, tothe common person, has varying amounts of sympathy for repression.African-Americans and other ethnic minorities are very commonly sympathizedwith, and repression against them is publically agreed to be a minus. Othergroups, like gays and lesbians and people of unusual religion, have lesswide public support, and finally some groups, like people with uncommonpolitics, atheists, and some others, have really very little public support.There are two factors here worth looking at. First, there is a roughcorrispondence to "Can you help it", meaning that people born to be a particularway (race and, at least to the public eye, perhaps sexuality) get a certainamount of respect when they bump up against prejudice. Conformity is seen inthis light as a "do your best to conform" maxim. The second point is thatthere's a difference between people of odd religious belief and atheism. There'sat least one part of the liberal consensus (and corrisponding conservativedetente*) that suggests something along the lines of emphasising religion beingnecessary for someone being a good person, and respecting people who aredifferent 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 discussionswhere liberal Hindus and Muslims, or other odd mixes, can agree to respecteach other just because they share the expression of religion. This form ofconsensus/detente leaves us out, and so atheists have much more difficultythan someone of X other religion. We still threaten them, memetically, butit's also harder for them to identify with us.
- My friend Quealy has an interesting perspective which has led me to have a
premise, overall, and in fact find it to be a disappointing straw-man responseto another interesting article).
Now, moving beyond my analysis there, let me state that I don't talk aboutreligion at work. I don't see any reason to, because I'm not particularlyclose to anyone there, and because I realize that talking about it generallyleads to discomfort. Work isn't a place I go to make close friends, althoughif 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 comeup, and I have spoken in depth about politics with one of the people at workbecause he has an interesting perspective. I am not afraid of revealingmyself exactly as I am to people, and if asked, I would not hide it, but Idon't care to volunteer information, unprompted, that may lead people tocome into conflict with me. The same goes for people I know who are not quitefriends -- 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 informationto, because when I don't think of them as being exactly friends, no matter hownice 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, Iwill tell people exactly what I think, and it's quite possible to find thingsabout 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 -- Redhatmoved its linux distro to a number of packages that supported drop-file additionsto their configuration. That is, instead of having a single configfile for theirapplication, they'd look in a directory and load all files in there. This ishandy -- it means that when new software is installed that needs to talk to oldsoftware, it can just have the packaging system drop off a file into the configdirectory, and the update doesn't need to rewrite configfiles, which varies fromcomplex to impossible. This isn't so bad, except.. if you decide you don'twant the config for that application, you might be tempted to delete it. Irecently did so, because there was an application that manages apache (mywebserver) 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 thatapplication, it replaced the missing file with a new version... reverting mydecision not to have a config for apache. As a result, about a year's worth ofuseful and interesting data is gone. Oops. The solution for me is to disableupdates 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 Paris3) We take a night train to the ski resort in Switzerland4) We stay there for about a week5) We take a train to Brussels and stay for a few days6) 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 saveas much money as I hoped for the trip, and in fact things will be prettytight, 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 toolong.