About Our Forum

Guidelines for Submission

  

Index

  

Preliminary Notice

We regret to inform our readers that accident and severe illness has severely cut the amount of work we can do in a single week. We do answer most letters, and we archive most conversations for possible future posting. but have cut back on the "debate" letters with Christians (the only theists who write with the intent of mencng us for our life's choices regarding which variety of religion
  

Forum Statement of Purpose

  

Where Are We Coming From?

Where Do We Go From Here?

  

  

Our Target Audience

Positive Atheism's target audience consists of people who, for whatever reasons, do not accept the claims of theism. To most of us, the claims of theism mean nothing. “No thank you, we're not interested.” For others, the claims of theism seem dubious at best. A tiny handful of us have given the claims of theism careful consideration and, to quote a famous passage of Scripture, "You have been weighed and found wanting." This group of humans, ranging from the common atheists and passive nontheists to the small number of full-blown doubters is the group that we have in mind when we put together Positive Atheism: when we write her articles and when we choose items for her library.

We are not here for the benefit of any theist.

Nevertheless, neither does Positive Atheism have anything resembling a "religious test" around here. While we ignore (or laugh at) suggestions that we adjust or tailor PAM for the benefit of theists,

it is not our goal or purpose to make "deconverts" for atheism.

We have very little to say to those whom the multitalented journalist H L Mencken might have called "on-duty theists"; neither are we interested in debating the "god question." If you've already made up your mind, then good for you! If you wish talk about your personal religious convictions, our response will be along the lines of, "Thank you for sharing that with us!"

  

Our Editorial Goals

Positive Atheism's primary editorial goals include:

•  
•  
•  
promoting the rights of atheists
achieving dignity as atheists
exploring our heritage as atheists
 
  
  

Promoting the rights of atheists

We will gladly discuss our mutual struggle for Religious Liberty and James Madison's concept of "the separation between Religion and Government," which is designed to ensure the fullest guarantee of Religious Liberty. We'd also like to hear any alternate proposals for achieving Religious Liberty for all. (We are not interested in any ideas that would provide Religious Liberty for some-but-not-all Americans or some-but-not-all humans.) We ask, Why were America's founders (and most of her Presidents, with the notable exceptions of Eisenhower, Reagan, Bush, and Bush) sternly adamant about keeping government and religion absolutely independent of one another?
     On the other hand, we also wonder, Is it still appropriate to be as adamant about Separationism now that we are no longer mopping up after the 1,500-year-long Inquisition (a successful albeit brutal recruiting effort wrought by both the Roman Catholic and the Protestant wings of the Christian religion? We ask this because the Inquisition was still raging in many places when our Constitution was ratified. Fresh were the memories of the sheer horror of what happened when religious had the sword of law and justice. Since this is no longer the case, we feel that we must, in all honesty and fairness, ask ourselves, Is it still appropriate to be as dilligent in strictly separating religion from government in all affairs today as our forebears felt they had to be when, for example, James Madison needed only to walk across town to visit incarcerated ministers of the Baptist faith?

Achieving dignity as atheists

We want to know from you (theist and atheist alike), What do you think we atheists can do to reduce the unfair and inappropriate stigma projected onto unbelievers as a class (and as individuals) and the vicious bigotry leveled against atheists from what seems to be all sides? We'd like you to tell us, How are individual unbelievers seen by our friends, by members of our families, by those at school and at the workplace, and by our government? In addition to that, we ask, Are these fair and accurate representations? Are many nonbelievers even aware of their own atheism? We're trying to gain a perspective on, How many realize just how widely and viciously atheists are stigmatized and even vilified?
     As for potential solutions, some have asked, Is there a problem with terminology, or would this happen no matter what we called ourselves? Others have wanted to know, Do atheists need to "get their act together"? The Positive Atheism Project was the first among the atheistic social activists to ask, Would atheists benefit from an organized "atheist awareness" campaign, similar to those developed for American Muslims following the attack of September 11, 2001?
     In short, What must we do to become citizens in the fullest sense of the concept of citizenship?

Exploring our heritage as atheists

We wish to explore those trends in thought which led to modern atheism, beginning with various ancient viewpoints from Greece, India, and elsewhere and moving through the Scientific Method, Rationalism, Deism, Secularism, Agnosticism (a la Huxley, Ingersoll, etc.). Along these lines would be the role that Charles Darwin's publication of Origin of Species played in making it possible to "be an intellectually fulfilled atheist," as Richard Dawkins describes in his book, The Blind Watchmaker. Of particular intrigue is the long-standing (and most baffling) practice of portraying renowned historical figures as pious Christians regardless of how openly nonreligious such individuals were while still living.

Our Forum is by no means limited to the above discussions, and we welcome any ideas as food for thought: the worst that could happen is that the editors decide not to post it. Oh, well! You can't say you didn't try — unless you didn't even write!

  

You lookin' fer trouble? Well, you've come to the right place!

-- Jimi Hendrix, "Blue Suede Shoes"

  

While plenty of "debate" forums exist where the "god question" is the featured topic of discussion, some people still insist on coming here to do engage in that activity.

 
This is not a forum for debating the "god question."
 

This reflects what we recommend as a healthy approch on the part of atheists:

However, many of our readers enjoy watching such discussions in action. Others have told us that they like our particular style in handling such discussions or find our perspective informative and useful (even if as a negative example of how not to do this). For these reasons, we reluctantly allow theists to try to make their case for theism if they feel they must.

And very occasionally we post these discussions.

If you insist on discussing your personal religious beliefs with us or, worse, trying to convince atheists to abandon a lifetime's worth of careful consideration over what has eventually become our core values in favor of what some unknown (and often anonymous, frequently arrogant, and sometimes even illiterate) person has cribbed from one of the thousands of recruiting videos distributed by organized religion and sent to us in an e-mail, then we ask but one thing from you:

 
Please respect this welcome by acting as the guests that you are!
 

Such respect mirrors the decorum we would expect during any similar discussion were it to take place in "real life." This means, first and foremost, that if you want us to take you seriously (that is, as something other than a crank of some sort), you'll want to follow our Submission Guidelines below. They have been developed by trial and error, over the course of ten years, and have been tailored to meet our unique needs as a Forum dealing with the sensitive issues surrounding bigotry, as it relates to people's opinions regarding religion and politics. As guidelines, ours differ very little from what most online forums ask of their participants. They are, nonetheless, what we ask of people who wish to play in our sandbox, as it were; thus, we ask only that you honor our request regarding the way we do things on our Forum.

* (And often arrogant and-or illiterate.)

  

What Constitutes a Submission?

If you send us anything that discusses our body of editorial content or expresses an opinion on what kind of job we're doing (complaint; complement), we rightly assume that you have submitted it for publication or posting. You retain control over your writing with a single exception: that by submitting the material to us you irrevocably grant to Positive Atheism Magazine (in her current or a future form) permission to post or publish the material. (Positive Atheism, initially owned by Cliff Walker through Lost Cat Poetry Systems has, since November, 2005, been sold to K Carlson of Miami, Florida.)

If you do not want your name to appear, make this the very first thing you say at the top of the page or we might miss it. Otherwise, the section that follows addresses requests that we tinker with letters that were posted weeks and even months ago.

  

‘May I Post or Publish Your Response To the Letter I Submitted?’

Unlike most journals who host "Letters to the Editor" sections, when we make a reply to your letter, we send you a courtesy copy. Lately, we've started sending a simple "Thanks!" if we don't have a response, just to acknowldge that we received it and have set it aside for potential use. If you wrote to us and received no reply, we either haven't gotten to it yet, missed it somehow, or were having a very bad hair day!

You lookin' fer trouble? Well, you've come to the right place!

 

All courtesy replies generated from
    Positive·Atheism(at)G·Mail(dot)c·o·m
are copyrighted by Cliff Walker, dba Lost Cat Poetry Systems and Positive Atheism Magazine. As such, they may not be reproduced or posted or transmitted without written permission of the copyright owner.

You lookin' fer trouble? Well, you've come to the right place!

 

All queries and comments sent to
;....
remain the intellectual property of the sender; therefore, permission must be obtained from that individual (and we will cooperate in any attempts to locate that individual for this purpose). Exceptions include such cases as the writer has bequeathed or otherwise transferred control to Positive Atheism Magazine,* and we will cooperate in any queries as to the status of any works we have displayed.
*[For example, "Concerning Christian Charities" was donated to us (permanently given to us), for our exclusive use, by its author, Dr Tim Gorski, who wrote it in response to one of our Forum questions.]

You lookin' fer trouble? Well, you've come to the right place!

 

However, in-house replies coming from
    Positive·Atheism(at)G·Mail(dot)c·o·m
may not be used in any context other than being posted on the positiveatheism.org domain or published in any Positive Atheism publications or any current or future parent organizations, or subsidiaries.

One of the many protections afforded by United States Copyright Code is the author's right to prevent certain works from being seen by the public. If we have not posted your letter, chances are we're behind in our work. However, the possibility exists that we do not want what we said in the response to be showcased as part of our editorial policy.

  

We Now Do Some Things Differently

Be aware that by November, 2001, our inbox was receiving at least 300 pieces of e-mail each day, even on slow days. I am only one person; in addition, I was struck with a debilitating illness at the beginning of 2002, which slowed my already-compromised output to a crawl. I am thus forced to prioritize what I do, and certain situations will no longer get the attention I once had the luxury of giving them. My main criterion for doing things is based entirely and exclusively on the message behind the song "Respect," that Otis Redding wrote for Aretha Franklin.

  

No More Altering What's Already Printed or Posted

The first group to go directly to the bottom of our Priorities List consists of those individuals who snap their fingers and expect me to correct their mistake of having hastily dashed off a letter to this magazine without first having read, understood, and agreed to our "Submission Guidelines" (below).

You lookin' fer trouble? Well, you've come to the right place!

 

The page you are reading is linked from the top of every Letters Index as well as from the top of every Letters file! It is also linked from our front page. As I revise this statement (April, 2002), there are almost 1,600 separate links to the same page — this very page you are reading now!

"I didn't know"
'Positive Atheism Magazine'
"was a real magazine!"

The only way we can protect ourselves (and thereby protect what our Forum has to offer) is to treat everybody by the same standard. This means (among other things) that we presuppose that you know what you're doing. Thus, we assume that if you don't have lots of experience with this sort of thing or don't have an intuitive sense about how things like this work, you will have at least bothered to find out what we think about the subject of how to run an online Letters to the Editor column.

"I got a little"
!
carried away!
Besides,
I was so much
"!younger then!"

We understand how you feel, and can sympathize with your embarrassment, but we argue that keeping "mistakes" like this posted for all to see is one of the most important tools Positive Atheism Magazine can offer toward social change.

(Note: For our complete statement on making changes to submitted material, we refer you to the section called, Keeping Our Word: Guidelines for Privacy.)
 

This Derives From Our Original Editorial Policy

Part of the point of our Forum is to chart our personal growth and to watch the personal growth of our fellows when it comes to dealing with the sticky and often baffling problems surrounding bigotry. The practice of stigmatizing an entire class who, as a group, has harmed nobody is complex indeed. There are no books you can read, no courses you can take, no consultants you can hire. Perhaps studying the problem will give someone the ideas and the motivation needed to address this problem or even successfully eradicate this behavior among humans. If we knew how to solve this problem, we'd be spending our resources working out those solutions.

We at Positive Atheism cannot do much, although we are arguably doing as much to address this problem as any of the handful of groups and individuals working on the situation. Also, what we do here is entirely unique: we provide a way to gauge our own growth, specifically in the De-Conversion Stories but generally throughout our Forum. Anybody who wrote to us may return to that letter years later and see how they might have changed over the ensuing time. We might even get lucky and see links that say "Response" wherein we may avail ourselves of the opinions of others who had something to say about what we wrote. We may also read the exchanges of others (warts and all) and "swap notes" on how we might have approached a similar situation.

This isn't much, but if you think about it, this tool can be quite powerful in the hands of somebody who wishes to study his or her own attitude and behavior and try find way to act that will result in a reduction of the bigotry that we endure as atheists.
 

Common Courtesy Rocks!

The second group to go straight to the bottom of our Priorities List are those who insist that we're not being open-minded simply because we still disagree with (or won't even address) the same old arguments that we've been dealing with for the past 30 years, whose ruse we saw through (chances are) long before the current rusemonger was even born.

Henceforth we will treat this behavior as the rudeness that it is. When accompanied by an initial attack of our integrity (in the first letter), we will go further: if our initial reply contains a serious request that you justify your attack, back it up with evidence or argument or the like, and if you ignore this initial follow-up, we will treat the letter as an abusive letter, sent solely to menace those of us who donate our time to this project.

We receive a wonderful bouquet of messages and well-wishing from cordial, understanding, decent, realistic people who know the rules (who never even had to read the rules!). With all those readers who have something interesting, healthy, and productive to say, what a waste it would be to spend any of our time dealing with those who act as if life is cheap, a throwaway item, if you will! Who wants to deal with someone who thinks people are just so many dogs, fit only to be kicked around? (Keep me from those who think dogs are fit only to be kicked around!) We see life as the most wonderful opportunity that anything could possibly desire were it even possible for a nonliving thing to desire something!
 

Graphic Rule DivOut
Graphic Rule DivInTipGraphic Rule DivInCtrGraphic Rule DivInTip
Graphic Rule DivOut

The Simple Game-Rules
We Ask All Writers To
Follow These Simple Rules
Because We're Committed To Posting
All But The Most Irresponsible Letters

Inclusion, Exclusion, and Privacy

Clear Spacer
Graphic Rule
Graphic RuleGraphic RuleGraphic Rule
Graphic Rule
Clear Spacer

Formatting Tips: Making Your Work Legible

‘Give All Your Well-Learned Politesse’

'Remove My Letter Because [whatever]'

In Short (that is, to put it politely):
     . 1. The name of this operation is "Positive Atheism Magazine."
     . 2. The first portion of the e-mail address that you used to contact us was, for the bulk of its life span, spelled "e-d-i-t-o-r."
     . 3. All legitimate magazines that publish (or post) material submitted by readers have an agreement similar to ours, an agreement into which the reader enters by the very act of submitting material for publication.
     . 4. Positive Atheism Magazine differs from most such publications in that we have gone way out of our way to make our agreement prominent and available; we do this because we do not like to think that we've caused anybody to be caught by surprise.
     . 5. There are over 1600 links which, when clicked, will take readers to the document which explains our letter-writing policies and guidelines (this very file, the one that you're reading right now).
     . 6. In other words, well over one-half of the files that make up this web site contain one or more prominently displayed links directly to this agreement.
     . 7. Now you expect us to believe you didn't know we might print or post your letter?
     . 8. Hah!

NOTICE: As of March, 2004, the volume of requests to remove letters has become so great that it is now our policy to ignore most such requests outright. No amount of sniveling or conniving will change the fact that once they've been posted, we do not remove submissions (without a court order against which we have exhausted all avenues of appeal). 

How This Used to Work (and still does, at times)

The following may apply to some but not all regular submissions. Material that we find patently abusive is a different matter altogether.

 

We will not remove anything that is already posted. Period. Please don't ask: to do so is akin to calling us liars, okay?

We have been known to alter or hide some names on request (even after the fact), but the expense of doing this to so many letters has severely toughened this once-lenient policy.

 

We will render certain posted letters "Anonymous," decided on a case-by-case basis. This is a courtesy. We are under no obligation to alter any letters unless we somehow overlooked clearly written and unambiguous instructions that the letter remain private.
 

We Would Have Never Guessed!

Because September 11, 2001, occurred during a time very similar to the 1950s, at the height of Senator Joseph McCarthy's infamous campaign to rid America of her atheistic citizens, it has become somewhat popular among certain people formerly sympathetic to the plight of atheists to now distance themselves from anything having to do with atheism. Similarly, it is quite common for people to get carried away by the ever-popular activity of hurling abuse at atheistic groups as well as individual atheists, including sending variously unbecoming communications to those individuals.

(Why? Does it feel good? WhatTransparent Spacer 3!?)

Transparent Spacer
Quote Graphic Rule

 

The sheer volume of requests to alter submissions (letters that we posted in good faith) has forced our hand:

We no longer "drop everything" just because you now decide that it's okay to back down on your agreement with us.

Of the many dozens for whom we have honored this somewhat dishonorable request, only two people have ever given thanks by relieving some of the financial burden from the man who does most of the work and pays most of the bills.

 

Quote Graphic Rule
Transparent Spacer

We figured that over the course of a year, perhaps two, maybe three people at most would see an urgent need to remove their name. We would have never guessed that hoards of people would exploit our willingness to do lots and lots of tedious, very time-consuming, wholly disruptive work just so they can enjoy the minor convenience of protecting themselves from the laughably remote unlikelihood that somebody else might type their name into a search engine, see their name on an atheist web site, and make fun of them.

Thus, even if we agree that changing your letter might be appropriate, we still reserve the option of taking up to three weeks to perform this tedious and time-consuming task (for which we have yet to be compensated — or even thanked, for that matter!). If you sent us an e-mail with such a request, and if we have responded by agreeing with your position, please feel free to send us a gentle reminder if and only if a full three weeks (21 days) has elapsed from your initial request and the file remains unchanged.
 

The Bottom Line: How Much This Cost PAM?

It's not just a matter of simply removing the name from a letter and uploading the file. Much time and tedious work is involved in tracking down and double-checking each of the files that might contain cross-referenced links to and from other letters and the like (not to mention the time-consuming global searches, each of which involve rebooting the machine more than once). Each file linked to and from the affected page may or may not contain the name. Then we must open each letter and carefully edit the information so that the letter's aesthetic integrity remains intact. For this, the minimum cost (to us) of removing your name from your letter, based upon the rates currently charged for the most menial of HTML work (which this is not), exceeds US$50.00.

Transparent Spacer
Quote Graphic Rule

 

Only three requests to alter letters have been what we would consider even remotely legitimate.

 

Quote Graphic Rule
Transparent Spacer

Because a one-year subscription to PAM brings in $24.00, and because PAM still has yet to break even on the materials (you sould see what we'd like to be able to afford to do here), please consider that changing your mind nullifies two yearly subscription donations to PAM. This comes into perspective when you note that whenever we take in at least two subscriptions we are always grateful. During 2001, at least three of those individual months went by in succession without us having taken in even two subscriptions for the entire month, though the Internet bills still come due and a magazine still needs to be published and mailed.

Clear Spacer
Graphic Rule
Graphic RuleGraphic RuleGraphic Rule
Graphic Rule
Clear Spacer

Hazardous E-Mail (a.k.a., 'Attachments')

Detailed explanation (in case you missed the above):

If you send us an attachment (such as an article for submission in RTF format, etc.), please do the following:

You lookin' fer trouble? Well, you've come to the right place!

 

 

     Doing all this will reassure us that you have deliberately sent the attachment to us, and that it wasn't sent by an Active-X script that attached the file, grabbed your default sig, and banged out some text or gibberish without your knowledge.
    
As of the March, 2004, we take in between 200 and 600 virus files and other unwanted e-mails each day. The virus software being sold these days is so utterly piss-poor that we've stopped wasting our money on it. (I'd say that we uninstalled it, but there's no such thing as uninstalling Norton anything from your computer!)
     Our only protection is strict adherence to wise e-mail practices. Unfortunately, no matter how simply, clearly, or thoroughly we state this here, we lose things that people send to us almost every day. As the kindly background announcer used to warn: "Don't let this happen to you!"

Graphic Rule
Graphic RuleGraphic RuleGraphic Rule
Graphic Rule

How to Suggest Corrections

You lookin' fer trouble? Well, you've come to the right place!

 
Graphic Rule
Graphic RuleGraphic RuleGraphic Rule
Graphic Rule

PAM’s Look & ‘Feel’

Graphic Rule
Graphic RuleGraphic RuleGraphic Rule
Graphic Rule

Tags; Fonts; Backgrounds; etc.

Coding Conventions

We tailor our web site to take advantage of the free “Core Fonts” available from the Microsoft Web Site (they also ship with most versions of Windows and install with most versions of Internet Explorer). These Microsoft Fonts are available for Windows and Mac. We also code for some of the more common Adobe fonts, but the Mickeysoph fonts will always look better on the PAM web site and are available for Mac and Linux (or so we’ve been told).

We have been very careful in choosing the fonts we use, striving to use only the most widely available among the so-called Core Font Set.

Here are the Font tags we use, roughly in order of frequency used on this web site: if you don't have the first in a given series, the second will show — unless you don't have it, either, then the third will show, etc.

Transparent Spacer
Quote Graphic Rule

 
These are how our tags will display on your system: the entire line is the same. All substituting is done by your browser, in obedience to the tags themselves and based upon which fonts you do or do not have loaded onto your system. If you don't have Comic Sans MS but do have Tekton, then that entire line will show up as Tekton.

Arial, Helvetica, sans serif   [plus oblique, bold-oblique, bold]   (standard text, navigation at -1)

Georgia, Times New Roman, Times, serif   [plus italic, bold-italic, bold]   (standard text, e-mail replies of “Editor” figure)

Comic Sans MS, Tekton, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif   [plus bold (italics not available)]   (sparing text)

Courier New, Courier, mono  [we use bold and bold-oblique only, avoiding the regular weights as incompatible with how other fonts tend to display]   (sparing text)

Trebuchet MS, Arial, Helvetica, sans serif   [italic, bold-italic, bold]   (sparing text)

Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif   [oblique, bold-oblique, bold]   (sparing text)

 

Quote Graphic Rule

 
In this display, each font name is tagged for that font only; thus, "Arial" is tagged as Arial, "Georgia" as Georgia, "sans serif" as sans serif, etc. Any substituting here is done by your computer. In other words, if you don't have Tekton, then the word "Tekton" shows up in whatever font your computer is set to display either the Tekton font itself or the class of font that Tekton happens to be.

Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif

Georgia, Times New Roman, Times, serif

Comic Sans MS, Tekton, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif

Courier New,Courier,mono

Trebuchet MS, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif

Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif

 

Quote Graphic Rule
Transparent Spacer

‘But I Can’t Stand Such-and-So Font!’

You need never see that font again!

Some have complained about the look of certain fonts: Trebuchet MS and Georgia. If you don't like the look of a given font, you can set your system up so that you never have to see that font again (except in certain PDF files, which contain fonts embed directly into the file). Suppose you don't like Georgia: simply go to Control Panel (Windows) and the Fonts, and delete that font from your system. This having been done, whenever you visit a page that points to Georgia, your browser, seeing that you don't have Georgia, will simply try the next font in line in the list. In this case, the browser will see if you have Times New Roman installed; if not, Times, if not, then all systems either have Serif or can match something to Serif, it being the generic of all defaults among electronic typefaces.

You can also set most browsers to display the same font no matter what the web page says; this setting is different for each brand of browser, however. They also (for the most part) allow you to substitute your own CSS style sheet for whatever the current web site might be offering.

Most browsers allow you to override the web site's font settings, as well as colors, graphics, some animation (but not Flash -- Grrrr!), and some styles. PAM will never knowingly use any "gizzies" that could be distracting (flickering or busy animated banners, anyone?) or that could cause problems for those who suffer with migraine, etc., or unrequested sound files that could get you into trouble at work, etc., unless this is something that you can easily turn off.

The only sizing convention we use is size=+4, size=+3, size=+2, size=+1, size=+0 (under certain circumstances), size=-1, and size=-2. We do not use the <H> tags or the size=1 through size=7 settings. We stick mainly to the <P> paragraph tags, make good use of the <br> line break, and do quite a bit with the <li> list items and the <ul> unordered list, which we also use for indenting because unlike <blockquote>, it usually leaves the right margin alone. We also stick with <i> italics, <b> bold, and <u> underline, avoiding such obscure tags as <em> emphasis. More recently, we've had to resort to a few CSS styles. The most common one is the "nowrap" parameter, which we use to keep our two-hyphen em-dashes from wrapping one dash above and the other on the next line down. (We're still not convinced that using &#0151; will reproduce an em on all systems and we do not trust all systems to support Microsoft's ANSI 1252 code page.) Ah, but never have we resorted to <blink> blinking text, although when we coded our first HTML page, that shit was virtually everywhere! If you cannot see it, it's not for lack of formatting on our part; we're certainly don't think we'd be helping you by drawing attention to this or that.

     • Check out: Background Luminance Examples

The standard for backgrounds is that they should have a contrast of no more than 25 percent of the range from black to white. Thus, since black is 0.0.0 and white is 255,255.255, a dark background should not have colors brigher than 63.63.63 and a light background should not have colors darker than 191.191.191. We go one step further by trying to stick to less than 12.5 percent (or 15 percent tops), making our darks either 0.0.0 to 31.31.31 or 32.32.32 to 63.63.63 (or even 15.15.15 to 47.47.47), and our lights 191.191.191 to 222.222.222 or 223.223.223 to 255.255.255 (or even 207.207.207 to 239.239.239).

Occasionally one will be more and still be, in our eyes, quite readable. However, this is just not true according to a handful or readers who write. Nevertheless, of the complaints we get, those regarding colors and backgrounds are among the least common; we've fielded no more than ten color and background complaints since the middle of our first year, when we got tired of hearing people complain that black on white is boring.

Having been aware of this field of study since childhood (my cousin won the science fair using this as her project), I've always tried to make sure that anything I do is readable despite the background. Thus the backgrounds we use are either hand-picked or hand-crafted or both (such as a background that we grabbed from somewhere and fixed to our standards).

We have no intention of introducing any scrolling marquees nor will we install any third-party random quotes thingies wherein we don't control what gets displayed while you are visiting our web site.

Finally, we would never stick you with anything along the lines of a self-installing fancy, snappy animated cursor or the more recent one, that appears to be a collection of "emoticons" or "smileys"! (We've got the "No Cursor" cookie if anybody's interested. It prevents that thing from ever installing on your machine, even if you don't want it to, even if you don't even know what it is! You're on your own with the smileys, which, from our experience at least warns you before installing itself. Just write to us and we'll send it to you.)

Another pet peeve of ours is a very popular technique for making body text come out "just so." Certain CSS Style settings size the font by pixel and others by the point (on the screen). Originally, the pixel setting was created so that when you captioned a graphic, the caption would always be the same size in relation to the graphic, regardless of the resolution or monitor used. Today it is extremely popular to use "Pixel" or "points" to set the size of body text. The problem with doing this is that the user cannot adjust the size of the body text (unless she or he downloads installs, and configures the Mozilla test-run versions of NetScape). So while you sit there buffing your fingernails over how pretty your Web site looks on your monitor, those of us with less-than-perfect vision (that is, almost everybody over the age of 35) cannot even read the text in your web site. As of this writing, we have yet to fix the size of text even when associated with a graphic.

Positive Atheism uses CSS Styles very sparingly, usually to color Index-to-Index links so they always remain the same color even after they've been clicked (so they don't look so tacky), while we allow links to documents to change color when clicked so you know whether you've been to that doc (we do this in the Letters Indices and elsewhere). PAM also used Styles in the Frames version of "Introduction to Activistic Atheism," have begun to use the NoWrap command in a SPAN code (to keep headers and em-dashes from wrapping to the next line), and are introducing other select uses very slowly. However, to ensure that the largest number of readers can enjoy our web site, we will never stand for any "gizzies" that make it harder for certain individuals to read.
 

Graphic Rule

About 'Letter Browse'

Our Letters files are named in numerical order descending from 9999. We do this so that whenever we create or link a newly created file, the most recent file (the one with the lowest number) will sort to the top of any "Save As" or "Create Link" window. After formatting a few hundred letters this way, readers talked us into installing a "Browse" feature, which simply allows you to move directly to the two adjacent files. To get to the next lower number, click Next; to get to the next-higher number, click Previous file (next higher number).

Next will take you to the Next (more recently posted) file, but this not mean it is the next letter in chronological sequence. We often save various letters for later formatting, and have posted others in the mean time. Also, several letters have been deleted or incorporated into other files, and this still happens occasionally, so these "older" numbers had to be used up with comparatively recent files. So you will not get anything resembling a strict chronological order with the Browse feature, and it will not resemble the order listed on the Index (which is grouped only by month but not in any particular order within the month).

You may, however, find this method easier to use, and you can cover all our letters by placing a bookmark where you left off (setting it as a Favorite) and continuing later. You can lazily click Next, Next, Next until you see a title that piques your interest.

We would have placed a Bookmark creation link, but the only way we know of to do this is with cookies, and we refuse to use cookies of any kind — in accordance with our unintrusive outlook.

Hope you enjoy the Browse feature. Let us know what you think about it, whether you like it, and all that, okay?

Cliff Walker
Positive Atheism Magazine

Graphic Rule