Why Two Places?
Christian Heaven Would Be Hell!
Joe E. C.
From: Joe E C
To: "Positive Atheism" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Wednesday, April 11, 2001 10:34 PM
Subject: Great site, a few comments
Hey, I have been reading stuff on your website for a few months now and felt I had to write you some words of encouragement. You are doing a great job of presenting the atheist viewpoint and promoting the use of logic and reason in all things.
I do have a few trivial comments about the site. On some of the letters and articles with the bright orange and yellow backgrounds are really difficult to read. I prefer something near black on white or the green/yellow on black color schemes. Also, in the letter "Stephen Jay Gould: 'How To Go To Heaven'?" The writer quotes himself from something she wrote to Gould. The last paragraph from this quote doesn't actually seem to be part of the quote, but rather is his comment upon the quote. I know I am picking nits, but this confused me when I read it.
On to more important matters. I realized I was an atheist when I was about 17. Before then I had no idea that reasonable people actually went through life believing that sort of thing. I discovered that such people existed reading the autobiography of Isaac Asimov. I knew, after giving it a little thought, that I never really believed all that stuff I had been taught while I was growing up. That I, in short, had been an atheist before I ever knew what the word meant. This is when I first began thinking about the claims of my religion seriously and saw it for the clap trap that it is.
Recently I attended the funeral of a loved one in a little four-square church in Beaverton, Oregon. I hadn't been to church for quite awhile at that point. I was disgusted by the way the speakers used the death of a loved one as an opportunity to promote their religion. They were well aware that there were people present that were there only to mourn the dead and not to practice religion. I would not be surprised if they spent more time thanking god for something, than discussing the life of the deceased. What there is to thank god for at a funeral is beyond me. I would like to say that I will never attend another funeral, but I find being with loved ones at these times and talking about the deceased with them is a rewarding experience. Next time, I imagine, I will nap through the propaganda.
I have the unfortunate tendency to discover things after my access to them becomes limited. For example, I discovered the great works of both Carl Sagan and the above mentioned Isaac Asimov only just after their deaths. No possibility of a fan letter. I also have discovered your website and learned the fact that Oregon seems to be an atheist stronghold in this country, just six months after I moved from the city of Portland to a small town in the vicinity of Seattle. I plan, however, on ordering a lifetime subscription to your magazine, since you call it the focus of this site and your efforts. I will contact you about this when I get the funds.
One more quick thing: I have sometimes wondered why the Christian God wasted his time creating two separate places, heaven and hell. I think it would have been sufficient to create a single place. For the Christian being there among all your god-fearing brethren and rejoicing in the glory of god for eternity would, no doubt, be heaven. For me to be among that for eternity -- not to mention the inevitable I-told-you-so -- would without a doubt be hell.
From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <email@example.com>
To: "Joe E C"
Subject: Re: Great site, a few comments
Date: Thursday, April 12, 2001 12:55 AM
Editing, Grammar, and Such
I post most of the letters according to the formatting in which they came, and seldom second-guess the writer. Sometimes if a letter is patently unreadable, I'll do such things as format the one huge block of text into paragraphs; convert the rows of dots to real punctuation, etc. Usually I run a quick spell-check on it, but not always. In this case, though, I may make an exception and take the editorial liberty of making the changes. I try not to make any but the most rudimentary changes, such as obvious typos, because I risk being accused of changing what somebody said. Sometimes, when the writer is a pompous ass, showing off his intellect and education and accusing me of being stupid, I'll leave the letter strictly as is -- the misspellings, the lowercase "i" as a proper noun, the rows of dots, the single long paragraph and all -- just because to leave it alone is, on my part, an editorial statement.
Color Schemes: Damned if You Do or Don't
As for the formatting and color schemes, I do the best I can to please everybody with the website: some say that black on white is too bland, so I spice it up with a pale blue background. Someone says that pale blue is hard to read, so I come up with the light brown background. This got boring for me, considering that I have spruced up several letters (such as the short thank you from the brilliant Kysa Braswell, which I set to the scheme she had on her website at the time, and a few others that came on fancy stationary, so I reproduced the stationary on the web).
So, I developed several color schemes.
At first, most of them were ripped off from other websites -- the yellow background one is from the Disney site, for example, and our first FAQ background is quite common, being, I think, part of a commercial set. But as time went by I started to get bored and began to create new tile backgrounds and to experiment with colors. any more, even if I grab a tile from elsewhere, I'll improve on it or change it around. Mostly I'll improve on it if I grab it at all, because I am so often appalled at what passes for acceptable work in the Web design business.
For example, this background (tilefiraindkgrn.gif) has absolutely nothing to do with the tile I grabbed -- except, perhaps, the size. I couldn't do anything to fix the original, so I took the color table and made random dots using each of the colors they'd used. This still was no good, so I darkened it several times. This one clicked, and here we are.
Remember, though, even if I stick with black on white, I'll get complaints.
Most of the preset schemes in DreamWeaver are, in my opinion, patently unreadable. I discontinued the yellow and purple schemes, and several of the ones I found hard on the eyes have been meticulously replaced (such as the purple background with blue lettering that I originally developed for a letter from a gay man). I still have a few that the proofreading team thinks is okay, and I have left them up -- albeit very sparingly. What I'd like to do is create a few dozen style sheets, with color schemes to color the quoted material, links, backgrounds and text. What prevents me is the fact that many of our readers are in the Third World, using systems that we in the West "recycled" ten years ago.
If there are any in particular that you think must be replaced, let me know the URL and I'll consider discontinuing that scheme. Right now, though, I have over 400 letters files that need to be converted and posted. Also, I need to finish the job of updating the formatting on about half the letters, setting the fonts to web-friendly typefaces and removing the coding that I once used to distinguish the writer from my responses. Today is one of those days when I'll be doing this, because the computer is acting up again and I have to reinstall all the software. Again.
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