Quote of the Night

From Joe the Plumber:

People don’t understand the dictionary—it’s called queer. Queer means strange and unusual. It’s not like a slur, like you would call a white person a honky or something like that. You know, God is pretty explicit in what we’re supposed to do—what man and woman are for. Now, at the same time, we’re supposed to love everybody and accept people, and preach against the sins. I’ve had some friends that are actually homosexual. And, I mean, they know where I stand, and they know that I wouldn’t have them anywhere near my children.

(via Joe My God)

Should This Atheist Partake in the Obligatory Prayer at a Funeral?

Hemant from The Friendly Atheist had a reader who asked:

My grandmother died recently and her funeral is this Friday. I wasn’t especially close to her, but I am (of course) upset. I have a bit of a dilemma, though. She and most of my family on her side are extremely religious — part of the Church of Scotland.

There will be a moment when we are asked to pray for her soul. I’m a fairly strong atheist, so I’m not wanting to pray, but I also don’t want to cause a scene and thereby disrupt the service. This is likely to happen if I don’t pray.

I could just pretend (drop the head, clasp the hands, etc) but that seems a bit disrespectful.

Am I being silly? Should I just play along?

As an out of the closet atheist, I’ve been in this situation plenty of times during weddings, funerals, or Mel Gibson movies, and I’ve always walked the fine line of being respectful without having to resort to faking religious involvement. During a moment of prayer I just remain quiet and respectful to the ceremony. One of the craziest prayers I’ve seen was at a wedding and the priest had everyone in the audience reach their hands out to the newly married couple in some sort of Heil Hitleresque blessing. I just remained still, hands folded, head slightly bowed but eyes open, wondering how I ended up in Berlin circa 1938.

Hemant goes on to ask:

What would your advice be in this situation if Andrew were told to lead a prayer? Or give a reading from the Bible?

If it were an impromptu moment I would say that I’m not a religious man and then give a small eulogy focusing on positive things that I had to say which is basically a deflection. But I don’t think that is disrespectful at all. I’ll gladly respect your rights to have a religious ceremony as long as I’m my beliefs aren’t disrespected by having to pretend to be something that I’m not.

Where Are You In The Movie?

I’m at the diner scene in The Big Lebowski, Dorothy meeting the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz, and the Milleneum Falcon is hauling ass out of Tatooine in Star Wars.

If we started a movie on the day you were born, and stretched it over your lifespan, this is where you’d be in that movie. So if you’re a teenager, you might see Luke arguing with Uncle Owen, or Cameron making a phony phone call to Ed Rooney. If you’re a retiree, you might see the Marshmallow Man, or Toto pulling away the curtain. And if you’re in your mid-thirties, you might be relieved to know that Ferris is still eating lunch, and the Millenium Falcon hasn’t left Tattoine.

China Forces Dozens of Mexican Travelers Into Quarantine

From the Wall Street Journal:

BEIJING — The A/H1N1 flu outbreak is leading to a potential diplomatic row between China and Mexico, as Chinese health authorities round up and quarantine scores of Mexicans — only one of whom is thus far reported to be sick — as they fly in on business and holiday trips.

Mexico’s foreign minister said Mexican citizens with no signs of infection had been isolated in “unacceptable conditions” in China. Patricia Espinosa told a news conference Saturday that such measures were “discriminatory and ungrounded” and that the government is advising Mexicans to stay away from China.

She also criticized four Latin American countries — Argentina, Peru, Ecuador and Cuba — for suspending flights coming from Mexico against the recommendation of the World Health Organization.

More than 70 Mexicans are in isolation around China, according to Mexican officials, and that number is rising as Mexican travelers call in to their embassy to report their plight.