Brasilmagic\’s Weblog

Venting to the World

Why are packaged goods so hard to open nowadays?

We have all experienced how hard it is to open many kinds of packages that involve several products, particularly eletronics. It’s getting worse and worse! Recently I was trying to open a damn plastic tray which contained cosmetics (!!) from Costco and even using a big knife and scissors I almost bruised and hurt myself trying to open it! If manufacturers and retailers are so afraid of shoplifting, try better security! It is just so hard to open these things! Hair straighteners, cosmetics, medications and even food!

Costco is really exaggerating.  I dare the Costco managers to try to open these plastic trays in 5 minutes.

December 31, 2008 Posted by | Grievances | Leave a comment

Penalty for not signaling

I am not for more fines or regulations, but I spend a lot of time in traffic on the Capital Beltway and I have two major pet peeves:

Cell phone usage while driving and the absence of signaling.

Why are so many drivers in America (or is it only in the DC suburbs area) against signaling? Don’t they realize how frustrating it is for the driver behind to not know if you are going to turn right or left or go straight? Are they too lazy to touch the lever? Bad driving skills? Can the cops enforce that more?

Cell phones: please, please, please. Stop chatting on the phone folks. Stop using your commute to touch base with all your friends!! You are slowing traffic, not signaling, not paying attention and endangering people’s lifes. The biggest offenders seem to be hispanic immigrantes, who are still in love with their first car and their first cell phone.  Use your cell phone to quickly call someone if you are going to be late or if by any chance you get lost, but not to gossip! And  I won’t even start on the texting subject….

December 24, 2008 Posted by | Grievances | Leave a comment

Atheists and Humanists

 

I am an atheist AND a secular humanist. I am an atheist in the sense that I do not believe in god or anything supernatural (spirits, ghosts, etc).  And I am a humanist in the sense that I have and admire all the values that emphasize morality, ethics, human rights, justice and family. Not every atheist is a humanist (although most share those values) and not every humanist is an atheist (but most are, since secular humanisn rejects the idea of a god and is for Scientific development).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humanism

 

The Washington Post just published an article about Humanist families which shows us in a good light:

 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/12/20/AR2008122001896.html?hpid=topnews

 

By the way, in our 2008 Beltway Atheists Festivus celebration, we amassed a sizable amount of donations which are being distributed to the homeless in the DC/MD/VA area.  Atheists do charity too, for those who don’t know that 🙂

 

 More on Humanism:

Secular Humanism

Humanism is “a modern, nontheistic, rationalist movement that holds that man is capable of self-fulfillment, ethical conduct, etc., without recourse to supernaturalism” (Webster’s New World Dictionary). By the term secular this stream distinguishes itself from theistic (Christian) humanism. Secular humanism evolved out of 18th-century rejection of revealed Christianity and the emergence of modern science and free thought. Modern secular humanists condemn and refute all assertions of divine or paranormal phenomena.

SECULAR HUMANIST BELIEFS

  1. I believe in nontheism, as there is no rational proof for the existence of God, and do not delude myself with thoughts of a Supreme Being.
  2. I believe that traditional religions and faiths preach false doctrines, are oppressive and lead their followers toward ignorance, bigotry and dogmatism, and that it is my duty to be actively skeptical of and challenge the illusions of orthodox religions and all attempts to explain the world in supernatural terms.
  3. I believe in the preservation and enhancement of the human species as my ultimate concern, and in the global human family, which must preserve the Earth for future generations through developing a secular, planetary morality and system of law.
  4. I believe that living a good, moral life is the best means for individual and collective happiness and that morality has a rational, secular basis.
  5. I believe in expanding human rights and intellectual and moral freedom, and in secular democracy, with strict separation of church and state, as the means of eliminating discrimination and attaining equality and justice for all.
  6. I believe in the development of the creative human potential through education in the arts and sciences and in the paramount importance of free inquiry in an open, pluralistic, universalist society.
  7. I believe in the application and development of reason and modern science as the highest means to understanding the universe, solving human problems and enabling each individual to realize his greatest potential.
  8. I believe in striving for fulfillment and happiness in this life and reject all notions of reincarnation and afterlife as false and baseless, seeking my fullest capacity as a human being here and now, serving others and creating a better, more just world.
  9. I believe in Darwin’s theory of evolution as scientific fact, and in naturalism, holding that the known world is all that exists, and that it has no supernatural or spiritual creation, control or significance.

 

December 22, 2008 Posted by | Atheism | Leave a comment

Brazilians are very credulous

Not only Brazil is very Catholic (although people say they are Catholic but most do not even go to mass!! They barely ever go to church!!), Brazilians love MYSTICAL and esoteric things. Many people believe in psychics and healers. The power of crystals, pyramids and all kinds of things. Brazilians were for a long time deceived by Uri Geller (who was always on TV in the 70’s). People believed in him! I remember being completely skeptical about his “powers”. Remember a big part of the Brazilian population has little education. I have Brazilian friends who are ardent “Spirits”, a religion that believes people die and are reborn as babies into some other family and place…for some reason not very popular in the US  (actually seances are object of jokes in teen and horror movies). I have never had patience with any of this stuff, being an atheist and humanist.

Brazilians have a mass for everything. Middle School graduation? A mass and a big party. C’mon folks, middle graduation is an obligation! High School graduation? Mass and party. Book signing? Mass and then a reception. Masses for everything. Brazilian priests keep busy!

When I was still brainwashed religious, I had the false belief that Catholicism was superior to these other religions. Many Brazilians think that. A person I talked to expressed that a while ago in Brazil. He said the Roman Apostolic Church, with the Pope and the Vatican and all those big churches around the world is the quintessential and official religion, while all the others are poor imitations. He sees all others as cults. As if Catholicism was not also a cult! Many Catholics have that moral superiority.

In reality, the Catholic religion is the most widespread because Christianity quickly took over Europe in the middle ages. When new colonies were found (including Brazil), jesuits were sent to cathecize the locals. Catholicism then spread all over South and Central Americas. Opulent churches were built, thus creating the illusion of power.

Unfortunately, the even worse Evangelical churches are taking over lower income Brazilians, much to the distress of the traditional Catholics. Evangelicals deceive and brainwash very uneducated, semi-  illiterate Brazilians, who give up 10% of their hard earned income to belong to a church and be “saved”. It’s very sad and almost criminal what is done. These people use the church as their “social club”, since life only offers them hardship otherwise. Most come from the lower classes in Brazil. As you know, Brazil is still a very class oriented society.

Anyhow, Science and Education are the tools to make Brazilians less credulous. Along with the dissemination of information, to which this wonderful tool, the internet, may offer hope.

December 19, 2008 Posted by | Religion | Leave a comment

Brazilian parties vs. American parties

When I go to a party in America with lots of people, I am always amazed at the lack of food. Peanuts and chips? Hello? If you are over the age of 25 and have a job, you should be able to provide some decent food for your guests (providing it is not potluck). A big pot of stew, black beans, lentils or chickpeas is not costly and can leave people more satisfied. Or cook pork chops with cabbage in a slow cooker, let is cook for many many hours, and you have Bigos, a popular Polish dish that is very satisfying in the winter.

Of course, in Brazil people have maids to cook that food for them.

Now, another thing that I have not gotten used to is:

-dinner parties beginning at 6, 7. This is too early for us Brazilians! We go out to dinner at 9, 10. As a woman, I often find myself scrambling to blow dry my hair so I can make it to a party at 7, and often running late. Especially in the summer, it is odd to go party when the sun is still high in the sky!

-Restaurants that close at 10 pm. Oh no, that’s when Brazilians go out! We are not as late people as our Argentine neighbors, but we are part of the Latin culture. Warm climates make people stay out later. In America, the problem might be paying your employees to stay late-labor is expensive.

Feijoada, a typical Brazilian dish made with black beans and pork

December 19, 2008 Posted by | Difference between cultures | 11 Comments

Is Obama really religious?

This link from YouTube was posted on the Beltway Atheists meetup site.  Take a look:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hbwho6Lnd3k#t=6m00s

In this video you can see that Obama is very respectful of other people’s beliefs, and is for separation of Church and State (as it should be), but I have a feeling that it goes beyond that: I think Obama has doubts. I think Obama is a closeted agnostic. I think his “God bless you” and other (few) references to god are a political move. I also think Bill Clinton is not very religious either.  It is gut feeling. If I am right, I am even more pleased Obama will be our president. Having someone so open minded and with a questioning mind in office, promoting Scientific advances, will be good for all. Obama is not the kind of person who will persecute this or that religious group, or any segment of society for that matter. I also think he really IS for gay marriage. Obama is a modern man. He was raised in a non-typical household. He learned tolerance. But he could not come out and say he is for gay marriage because many close minded folks would simply not vote for him.

So there you go.

December 19, 2008 Posted by | Atheism | 2 Comments

“Are you a hardcore atheist” test

I loved this post on the www.friendlyatheist.com website. It is one of my favorite atheist websites, along with www.flamewarrior.com

 

Are You a Hardcore Atheist?

Posted in General at 6:00 am by Hemant Mehta

How serious do you take your atheism?

Let’s find out.

Copy and paste the list below on your own site, boldfacing the things you’ve done. (Feel free to add your own elaboration and commentary to each item!)

  1. Participated in the Blasphemy Challenge.
  2. Met at least one of the “Four Horsemen” (Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris) in person.
  3. Created an atheist blog.
  4. Used the Flying Spaghetti Monster in a religious debate with someone.
  5. Gotten offended when someone called you an agnostic.
  6. Been unable to watch Growing Pains reruns because of Kirk Cameron.
  7. Own more Bibles than most Christians you know. I do not want to read fairy tales anymore. I did when I was young.
  8. Have at least one Bible with your personal annotations regarding contradictions, disturbing parts, etc.
  9. Have come out as an atheist to your family.
  10. Attended a campus or off-campus atheist gathering.
  11. Are a member of an organized atheist/Humanist/etc. organization.
  12. Had a Humanist wedding ceremony.
  13. Donated money to an atheist organization.
  14. Have a bookshelf dedicated solely to Richard Dawkins.
  15. Lost the friendship of someone you know because of your non-theism.  Maybe, who knows, and I sincerely don’t care. The person is probably not worth being friends with anyway.
  16. Tried to argue or have a discussion with someone who stopped you on the street to proselytize.
  17. Hid your atheist beliefs on a first date because you didn’t want to scare him/her away. 
  18. Own a stockpile of atheist paraphernalia (bumper stickers, buttons, shirts, etc).
  19. Attended a protest that involved religion.
  20. Attended an atheist conference.
  21. Subscribe to Pat Condell’s YouTube channel.
  22. Started an atheist group in your area or school.
  23. Successfully “de-converted” someone to atheism.
  24. Have already made plans to donate your body to science after you die.
  25. Told someone you’re an atheist only because you wanted to see the person’s reaction.
  26. Had to think twice before screaming “Oh God!” during sex. Or you said something else in its place.  I still say “Oh my god!” a lot, it is just a bad and difficult habit to shake.
  27. Lost a job because of your atheism.
  28. Formed a bond with someone specifically because of your mutual atheism (meeting this person at a local gathering or conference doesn’t count).
  29. Have crossed “In God We Trust” off of — or put a pro-church-state-separation stamp on — dollar bills.  Need to get a stamp….
  30. Refused to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. (Not yet, but will if needed)
  31. Said “Gesundheit!” (or nothing at all) after someone sneezed because you didn’t want to say “Bless you!”  I say “Health!”, like in Portuguese.
  32. Have ever chosen not to clasp your hands together out of fear someone might think you’re praying.
  33. Have turned on Christian TV because you need something entertaining to watch.  They are all mad….
  34. Are a 2nd or 3rd (or more) generation atheist.

Maybe. Grandfathers did not care for religion and one grandmother did not like priests. Maybe they were smart for their times. Wish I had had that discussion with them before they died.

35.Have “atheism” listed on your Facebook or dating profile — and not a euphemistic variant.

36. Attended an atheist’s funeral (i.e. a non-religious service).

37. Subscribe to an freethought magazine (e.g. Free Inquiry, Skeptic)

38. Have been interviewed by a reporter because of your atheism. Would love to.

39. Written a letter-to-the-editor about an issue related to your non-belief in God.

40. Gave a friend or acquaintance a New Atheist book as a gift. To my brother.

41. Wear pro-atheist clothing in public.

42. Have invited Mormons/Jehovah’s Witnesses into your house specifically because you wanted to argue with them.

43. Have been physically threatened (or beaten up) because you didn’t believe in God.

44. Receive Google Alerts on “atheism” (or variants).

45. Received fewer Christmas presents than expected because people assumed you didn’t celebrate it.

46. Visited The Creation Museum or saw Ben Stein’s Expelled just so you could keep tabs on the “enemy.”

47. Refuse to tell anyone what your “sign” is… because it doesn’t matter at all.

48. Are on a mailing list for a Christian organization just so you can see what they’re up to…

49. Have kept your eyes open while you watched others around you pray.

50. Avoid even Unitarian churches because they’re too close to religion for you.

December 16, 2008 Posted by | Atheism | 1 Comment

Can Obama as president inspire African Americans to eat healthier?

We all know that in the United States, the poorest population is oftentimes the most overweight. In other countries, especially developing countries, a low weight can mean not enough food, while a robust and rotund phsysique may be a sign of wealth-and lots of food on the table-usually served by a maid 🙂

In America the low income population eats unhealthfully because of 2 reasons: unhealthful food is plentiful and cheap, and they do not have the knowledge of nutrition and science that allows them to make good choices. There is a fast food joint in every corner in America, and overworked Americans with low incomes can easily buy a complete meal at their local Mickey D’s, KFC or Popeyes. Even though these places tried to introduce a few healthier items in their menu, the staple offering is usually fried and riddled with saturated fats and transfat. Added to that, Americans consume a large amount of sugar. Sugary drinks are sold everywhere, and if you read the labels, they usually carry a whopping 30 grams of sugar per bottle.  Ketchup, High Fructose Corn Syrup in cereals and baked goods, sauces and baked beans are all high in refined sugar.

Throw in that mix the fact that the urban sprawl has made America impossible to walk and people spend lots of time in their cars and in front of their computers, the fact that excess weight is a serious problem in this country is not a surprise.

Moreso amongst the African American population, which has historically had fewer chances at education and prosperity, the obesitynumbers are alarming.

Barack Obama and Michele, by being fit, can inspire African Americans to exercise more and choose healthier food options. The picture of Obama jogging was wonderful to see. Despite his little bad habit of smoking, Obama is slim and fit.

Barack and Michelle, if you ever come across my blog (:)), I think you should spread the idea of eating fruits, vegetables and grains throughout the country. Forget the junk food lobby. Maybe you can start a program to introduce healthy lunches and snacks in the school system (one of my battles). And most importantly, maybe you can inspire your fellow African Americans to start walking and eating less processed foods. It saddens me to see the weight amongst them, as it has  always saddened me to see the obesity in many parts of America. When I see a young obese woman or man, I think of all the opportunities this kid is losing  in terms of enjoying life, participating in sports and having a romantic life.

December 12, 2008 Posted by | Health | 1 Comment

Why do so many chain restaurants show only sports on TV?

I know the answer: they are supposed to be sports bars!!  But some are not. Some are just your regular chain restaurant where you want to have an affordable meal. But all I see are football and basketball games in every monitor. What about changing at least one channel to CNN people? This way the population can be more informed and less ignorant 🙂

December 11, 2008 Posted by | Grievances | 2 Comments

Democratic Christmas Gala

Last night I had the pleasure of meeting Tim Kaine and Mark Warner.  Both friendly and down to earth. Tim Kaine, specifically, seems to me to be the quintessential good guy. One more politician in the lines of Obama: natural, not cocky, not dishonest and genuine. I hope he goes high in the American political scenario.  Unfortunately,  we took no pictures. I also met Terry MacAuliffe, Sheila Johnson (big Democratic donor), Brian Moran and other Virginia movers and shakers.  Very nice evening indeed.

December 11, 2008 Posted by | Politics | Leave a comment