Adult Onset Atheist

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Rainbow Explosion

Over the weekend my daughters and I bought some chain at a local farm-supply store in town. The store is not necessarily cheaper than Home Depot, but it is a fifth the distance, and the people who work there are amicable enough; even when confronted by some of my more bizarre answers to “what are you going to do with this stuff?” The chain and cold forged links were for a rather mundane task of hanging a heavy bag in my garage so the checker’s banter turned to more interesting possibilities.

“Who you going to chain up with that?” She asked.

“I had not really thought about chaining anyone up… Perhaps it would help keep my daughters in line!?” I replied while turning to them implying the question.

“I wish I had chained up my son” The checker added. “He got drunk and started fighting up at Country Explosion. Now he is in jail. I guess that will keep him out of trouble.”

Monday morning saw the last steady trickle of camper-trailers leaking out of what had, over the weekend, been “Country Explosion”. Organizers of the three-day music festival claim to have brought “thousands” to Tooele for “Utah’s largest music festival”.

It is hard to find coverage of any problems associated with the participants of “Country Explosion”. Fights, shots fired, at least one death, and a woman with severe head injuries who leapt out of a car that was traveling at 40 mph. Local law enforcement is quoted as saying that “There is always 10 percent who make trouble”, which would make for a couple hundred offenders given the reported number of participants. There appears to be no desire to publically catalog the offenses, or to identify the offenders.

Facebook is awash with “Country Explosion” pictures of duck faced girls boasting large cans of beer, but the duck-faced selfie is not a legal crime.

About two weeks ago a similar trickle of trailers was passing through Heber; another small rural Utah town. Every news channel in the state had been providing nightly coverage of the event leading up to that exodus. The Rainbow Family of Peace and Light had been gathering in the Uinta foothills outside of Heber. One local station even created a mosaic picture comprised of a couple dozen mugshots they had gathered from local police. Police spoke with concern about potentially overflowing jails in interviews.

There were problems. There was a fight a few days before the event started that involved a knife, and one person died of “Natural Causes”, and several marijuana possession citations.

Overall the number of criminal problems with the Rainbow Family gathering appears to have been  similar to, or less than, the Country Explosion gathering just two weeks later. The level of media coverage of the problems was very different.

Facebook also suffered a tide of pictures from the Rainbow Family gathering. Instead of girls and boys posing with beer in the hopes of appearing to be underage drinkers the Rainbow Family pictures feature people from many generations who appear to smile at nothing in particular. I saw several pictures featuring people with wind teased hair smiling right out of the pictures at me; they could have been mouthing the words “welcome home”.

I had wanted to take my daughters to the Rainbow Family gathering. Unfortunately the media did its job, and scared me off. I was afraid of open drug use, and what tales of open drug use might do to the strained parenting relationship I have with my daughters’ mother. Some days I feel like I have a huge custodial parent target painted on my chest at which is aimed any number of threadbare accusations of misconduct. I second-and third- guess the spontaneity out of most days.

I did, however, get myself a new pair of sandals.

Sandals that I may or may not wear with socks.

Rainbow-striped socks.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

This is not THE place

This Thursday there will be another in the continuing series of mass resignations from the LDS Church. So, if you have not done so already, come on down and mail your letter.If you have mailed your letter then come on down to show support.  If you have never been a member of the LDS church then come on down, talk to some folks who are resigning, and fill up your gratitude tank.

The last mass resignation coincided with both the LDS general conference, and the Atheists of America convention that was held in Utah this year. That event fell on a weekend.

Why hold a fabulous event -like a mass resignation- on a Thursday?

This coming Thursday is a special day for Utahians. The 24th of July commemorates the day that Brigham Young came into the Salt Lake Valley, and proclaimed that “this is THE Place”. There will be parades all over the state, and fireworks, and family friendly fun of all sorts; events that will now include a mass resignation.

There is even a park called “This is THE Place” park . Brigham Young stands tall, larger than life, on his plinth overlooking the city he declared was THE place. If you live in the Salt Lake Valley he has been watching you do all sorts of things; always with the same determined expression.

The event group is apparently still finagling a special use permit so the exact location is TBD.  Check the event website []for more competent information than you can find here. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Dry Paint

The next few weeks will be an exciting time for the melting of ice. Ice melting, second only to the drying of paint, is a popular metaphor for the ironies of unbridled joy, and by unbridled I mean wildly pervasive, and by joy I mean tedium. Still, July is the month, in the Northern hemisphere at least, when ice does melt rapidly. And of all the great places to watch ice melt in the Northern hemisphere none is more compelling than the Arctic sea.

Sometime, in the next few weeks, there is the possibility of a major arctic sea ice melting event which could make 2014 a record-breaking year. Already large pockets of open ocean called polynyas have started to form within the ice-covered arctic sea.

The truth about Arctic sea ice coverage is not exactly what I generally picture in my mind. An area is said to be covered in Arctic sea ice if it is at least 15% ice covered. This means that much of the area covered by arctic sea ice could be as much as 85% open water, with just chunks floating around. In other words a really big storm could appear to be a major melting event by pushing all the sea ice from one part of the ocean to another.

Whatever the major melting event actually is there has been one in the June-July time frame for most of the record-breaking years. The major melt event for the 2012 all-time record occurred earlier in June, but the one for the 2007 record that stood until 2012 occurred later in July. Any day now! Isn’t it exciting!

The Arctic ice is currently tracking at slightly less than the 2007 year trace, and parallel to, but significantly higher than, the 2012 trace.

In March I predicted the maximum sea ice extent about a week before it happened. There was a rapid expansion event that took 2014’s maximum out of the running for a record low. I caution anyone from mistaking any of my guesses for predictions with any discernible intrinsic certainty.

In the Antarctic the amount of sea ice is increasing rapidly. Antarctic sea ice is very different from Arctic sea ice. The Antarctic data are not as pretty as their Arctic cousins. First of all, the sea ice almost completely melts off in the summer. Secondly, its rapid increase may not be a good thing.

In the Antarctic we want the ice to stay on land; by “want” I mean that melting the land ice in the Antarctic could raise the level of the oceans by many feet causing major breakdowns in social structure, wars, pestilence, biblical-level-mad-god plagues, and other “do not want” stuff. If it is in the water it could mean that it has come off the land.

A recent study suggested that some of the major Antarctic glaciers were oozing off the land into the sea at incredible rates. This is not good. To image the movement of glaciers into the Antarctic seas I picture squeezing toothpaste into water. The toothpaste eventually disperses into the water, and the level of the water rises in proportion to the amount of toothpaste squeezed into it. This, however, is an unsatisfactory metaphor as realizing it physically will result in additional dishes, and wasted toothpaste. Only a very foolish person would try it in a bathtub as it makes a significant mess, and one has to waste lots of toothpaste to get the water to rise at all; although if the tub water is really warm and soapy the toothpaste disperses quickly.

Not only does ice melt quicker in July, but paint also dies quicker. Here in the Utah high desert a freshly painted wall can go from glossy-wet to matt in minutes. I’ve got a project planned that involves knocking holes in walls and power tools. After I am almost done I will repaint, call AYD and AOD into the room with me, and I will explain that the drying paint we are watching is a metaphor for an ecological disaster destroying the fabric of humankind’s culture on this planet. Choosing one’s metaphors carefully can save a lot of scrubbing.

“Out, damn'd spot! out, I say!—One; two: why, then 'tis time to do't.—Hell is murky.—Fie, my lord, fie, a soldier, and afeard? What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our pow'r to accompt?” -Macbeth Act 5, scene 1