Tuesday, January 17, 2006

UTI Server News

OK, it turns out that it was a hard drive failure in the server that UTI and all of the domains that I host reside within. My service provider is restoring all the data from last night's backup to a brand-new hard drive and they expect it to be up and running soon.

*crossing my fingers*

UTI Is Down - Working To Bring It Up

Hi Folks,

If you've come over here to check, then you probably already know that UTI has been down for the last day and a half or so. I am currently working with my service provider to get the server back up and running. If you need to contact me, please use my GMail address, brent.rasmussen@gmail.com.

In the meanwhile, to keep your mind off the absence of UTI, here's some cute pictures of fluffy bunnys, adorable puppies, and playful little kittens.

Thank you for you patience!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

UTI Is Back Online!

Hi Folks,

Come over and check out the new UTI! Sign up as a user and get your very own personal blog to post in (a la Kos or MyDD). For these first few days, only two votes are needed to get your personal blog post promoted automatically to the front page!

Thanks for hanging in there with us!

Sunday, July 10, 2005

17th Carnival Of The Godless


Go and check out the 17th COTG over at Tobias Buckell Online. It's full of deity-free rants, thoughtful commentary, and just plain old common sense and wonder.

The 18th Carnival Of The Godless will be held on July 24, 2005 at St. Nate's Blog. Send your submissions directly to Nate, or to me at brent.rasmussen@gmail.com. If you'd like to host a future COTG, please send me an email and I'll get you on the schedule.

Don't forget - the main Schedule and Guidelines page for the COTG has been moved permanently to the following address:


Bible Camp

(The following is by DS. -Brent)
Oh, tis a black and stormy night here at DarkSyde Manor! A Tropical Gothic Eve courtesy of Atlantic Winds and Coriolis forces befitting the virtual name I give my home. And while I'm tired and my eyes grow heavy, there will be little sleep for me tonight. Forgive me then, and hopefully no one will mind if I do a little reminiscing off topic, inspired by Brent's 'Lock-in" narrative. As I'm stuck inside here in Florida and can think of nothing significant to write; while listening anxiously to the outer winds and rains of far off Dennis howl and blast against the storm shutters protecting the windows.

Let's see ... Ahh the summer of '77. What a glorious time it was for my friends and I! We still roamed the suburban streets on bikes, cars were a year or two in our future. Most of us had been laid and all of us had gotten pretty close but it had only happened once or twice. Innocent still, yet knowledgeable in a way; just on the verge of that first delicious taste of independence without responsibility. How could I have ever known at the start of the summer break that both my savior and pimp would be, Bible Camp?

Around July of 1977 several friends and I had a little 24 hour party in the home of someone one of us was supposed to be taking care of and had the keys to. We were pretty rotten that night, we drank every drop of liquor in the house and pilfered every snack we could find. It was atrocious teenage behavior, out of control really and stupid. So even then and certainly now as an adult, I'm not the least bit surprised the owners called the parents of the guy who was supposed to just be feeding their dog and cat, when they returned and detected our Gala in their home despite marginal attempts to conceal the worst of it.

The drunken Key Holder on the night in question assured those of us who were smart enough to point out that we might be caught that he and he alone would take the fall if anything came down the pike; reportedly within 24 hours they had a list of everyone who'd been there. I heard the police showed up at his house and he sang like a canary and basically blamed everyone but himself.

Ahhh ... But I'd had an epiphany the day after the party, a sort of hedge just in case we ended up getting busted; as I was sure we would considering the massive evidence of abuse we left behind. So right after the incident, before the homeowners returned, I decided it would be a good idea to change my mind ... and go to a Baptist Summer Camp for two weeks like my fundie sister had been bugging me to do, with parental approval, for several days.

It wasn't as easy as it sounds. I had to pretend I really wanted to go because it was kind of late to be signing up and I'd been emphatic about not wanting to go before. I literally had to look my older sister in the eye and tell her I had read some of the New Testament and I wanted to learn more about Jesus ... she beamed in pleasure I remember at that claim; all sibling skepticism was switched off and she went into full witness mode. Yes, I know; I'm evil and I must be stopped! I was not even fifteen years old OK?

And by the time that dreaded phone call came from the homeowners and the police, I was fifty miles away ... at a Lakeside Bible Camp; and my mother told the accusers that in no uncertain terms. Who wanted to waste time accusing a kid at Bible Camp of being a little hoodlum when there were twenty others to crucify?

Meanwhile I was ducking culpability near scenic Perdanales Falls, in the hill country of Central Texas, with several hundred young people. Naturally within a few nights I gravitated to the 'cool rebels' barracks where the hip kids hung out and listened to local bands, The Big Boys, The Skunks, and early New Wave, The Talking Heads and the Sex Pistols. Because of the cassettes I'd brought along to keep me from going fucking insane with no decent music and to help drown out the incessant preaching I knew I would be forced to endure, not to mention I was one of only a handful of people to come 'prepared' if you know what I mean, I was quickly initiated and accepted. And there that first night playing my turn at Lookout for Adult Fundies Who Want To Ruin Our Cool Barracks Parties I met Rene, sweet and petite, young and pretty, a year older than I, and the horniest girl I had ever met at that point in my young life.

Rene was from a well to do Catholic family and she took some flak for not being a Baptist among her peers, but she was accepted by them nevertheless. She was just so fucking cool everyone liked her. Rene was also smart as hell, liked the Austin music scene in the late 70s, buff and lithe, and far more experienced than I in the carnal arts. In fact, she was an aggressive hypersexed adolescent machine who literally scared me by going straight from first base to third without passing second in about two minutes flat and then made a break to steal home plate. But I'd like to cling to the idea that she didn't know how nervous I was, at first.

Needless to say it was not a bad two weeks for me. By the time I got home the party at the house incident had faded away into obscurity and I was in the clear with a hard body new friend who like science and the outdoors. I have to say it was one of the best thought out plans of my life and really couldn't have worked out better. At that time and to this day I'm proud of my ingenuity if a bit embarrassed at my immature, thoughtless actions in another's persons home. Life went on, my sister never did understand why I didn't keep on going to services, and I couldn't tell her that sweet, sweet Rene was Catholic so there wasn't any point for me in going to a boring Baptist Church. I didn't have a license yet and Rene lived miles away so she and I lost touch.

A few years later I ran into her at a club on Sixth Street and we dated on and off for years as we each moved and returned from different colleges, as she got married, had a kid, and got divorced, as I went from a professional climbing instructor and semi-stunt man to a respectable white collar professional.

Rene was like the perfect friend and one of the best friends I've ever had. She thought and acted a lot like a guy, she was a gifted athlete and tough as nails, the other guys always thought she was cool, she was strikingly beautiful, she happened to not be a guy and we were both attracted enough to each other that we had fun; but neither of us ever fell totally for the other so we never got hurt. It was just a real good gig imo.

And to this day she and I are still friends and if I were to become single I could call her up anytime and head over for wild drunken barnyard animal sex, or we could get all dressed up and hit the town, or both.

So I really can't think of any moral for this story ... I was one of many punks who invaded someone's house without their permission and helped drink up their liquor and eat their food and leave trash all over the inside and yard; I lied and said I was interested in learning more about Jesus and my parents paid a couple of hundred bucks so I could go off to Bible Camp and avoid the consequences; I hung out and got stoned most of the time and listened to punk rock; I met a pretty girl and got laid any chance we could find a way or sneak off; I got back and nothing went wrong, she didn't turn up pregnant and I didn't come down with the clap or anything; We stayed in touch and are de facto fuck buddies to this day whenever we're both single and lonely ... There is no moral or point to this story. No political axe to grind, no agenda, nothing but escape from the feeder bands of Dennis. And it ends now.

Or maybe there is a moral after all, an axe to grind, a fly in the ointment...

As Kingubu adds in comments:
Maybe there actually is a timely moral to your little tale: a fast-break toward the institutions of religious conformity (however insincerely) is a very popular and effective way to duck accountability for bad behavior. See also: just about anyone in the GOP holding an office above dog catcher.
What else can I say? Bible Camp was a Great Dodge!

Saturday, July 09, 2005

UTI Now Pointed To UTI Annex

Some of you may have ended up here as a result of going to my main URL www.brentrasmussen.com. I have temporarily pointed it to the UTI Annex until I can secure new hosting for UTI. I know it still says "www.brentrasmussen.com" in the address bar, but that's because I've got the URL masking turned on in the domain forwarding tool. Trust the links on this page, not the address in your address bar.

Also, please take notice that the Guidelines and Schedule for the Carnival Of The Godless have been moved to their permanent home here:


Thanks for visiting UTI!

Friday, July 08, 2005

Atheists, Unbelievers, "Not Human"

Nothing demonstrates the incredible hubris, evil, and bigotry of religion than a sincere apologist. Take for example Archbishop John Vlazny of Portland, Oregon.
[link] Last but not least, people of faith must demonstrate to unbelievers and those who are indifferent to God that the only way a person can be truly human is to be religious, to be in relationship with the divine. To be truly and fully human, one must eventually encounter Jesus Christ, the Divine Word, whose good news is meant to be shared with women and men of all cultures.

Labelling those who are "not us" as "inhuman" or not "truly human" is a step towards mass executions and genocide. That's a harsh observation, but truth hurts. First you de-humanize your enemy, then you eradicate them with the full support of your fellow believers. This pattern has been repeated over and over again throughout human history.

In this case it happens to wear the kindly face of a Catholic archbishop, but it's no less a slippery slope because of it.

Never Retreat, Never Surrender

The Rev. Jeff Lambert of La Union, N.M. turned an old house adjacent to his church into the "La Casa de La Paz St. Luke’s Retreat Center". Now he rents it out to other churches to do "retreats". A retreat at La Casa is an activity in which religious folks check into the 4 bedroom, 2 bath remodeled home and spend a day sharing their faith with other religious folks from their church. Sometimes they stay overnight.

"Retreats" are a pretty common way for Christian folks to justify taking a little overnight or weekend vacation with their friends, away from their kids. My parents used to go on "retreats" with the other adults in the church, leaving us teenagers with the daunting logistical task of throwing a huge party on Friday night, then getting the whole house spic-and-span before they returned Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning. Mom and Dad seemed to enjoy the retreats, but they also enjoyed regular vacations. I could never really tell the difference, to be honest with you.

So, pardon my skepticism when it comes to Reverend Lambert hawking a remodeled four-bedroom house for "retreats". The truth is that he has set himself up with a Christian-themed Bed & Breakfast with a built-in customer base. Smart and profitable, yes. Spiritual, no. It's a quick, affordable vacation from the kids that can be easily rationalized and is actually looked at as a good thing by your peers in the Church. That's marketing gold, baby!

Retreats were often pushed on us teenagers as well. The teenager "retreat" is typically called a "lock-in". This is where you lock a bunch of hormonally-charged 13 to 17 year-olds into a gymnasium. All night. With each other. With chaperons who haven't stayed up all night since they were hormonally-charged adolescents locked into a gymnasium thirty years previously. It's a disaster just begging to happen. It's such a joke. I got laid for the second time in my life on the floor of a gymnasium at a Christian teenager lock-in - at a church. Hell, half the kids there were groping each other. Our "chaperons" were busy drooling on themselves and snoring after sternly admonishing everyone that there was an invisible line that God would watch over, splitting the girls from the boys. They would waggle a finger at the halfway-point in the gym and try to look serious and intimidating. Woe be unto any bad, evil, Satan-possessed kid who crossed that line. And we really, really mean it! *snore*

Let the party begin!

Hector Clemente, another New Mexico retreat organizer (this is obviously a very lucrative business), puts his retreats together for teens as the director of "Life Teen" at St. Pius X Catholic Community.

[link] "I do a lot of praying that the message we receive will take on a special meaning. When I'm putting on a retreat, I pray God gives us strength to give them what they need spiritually through God. Prayer is important in both aspects; you just pray for different things."

Yup. I'll bet most of the teens pray to get a little hot action during the retreat - and that that creepy Hector guy will quit wandering around during the lock-in shining his flashlight on all the girls' nightgowns.

[link] Clemente said retreats have a powerful impact on youths.

"We had a two-and-a-half-day retreat and this one young man proclaimed he was an atheist," Clemente said. "Later in the retreat, he was praying and God was in his life. It was just amazing."

Uh-huh. A teenage atheist is going to go to a Catholic youth retreat - and "proclaim" that he is an atheist. Sounds a heck of a lot like your typical teenage rebellion against overly-religious parents to me. I wonder if Hector could produce this kid's name, or somehow confirm that this kid was indeed an atheist. I doubt it. Again, this is a marketing strategy designed to sucker parents with rebellious teens into paying Hector and the St. Pius X Catholic Community a bunch of dough so that they won't have to actually parent their own kids. Let God do it for them. Plus, they get the added bonus of two glorious days away from the kids. Time enough to take in a movie, just Mom & Dad, or go fishing. Maybe they could, I don't know, go on a retreat of their own?

I gotta tell you, from experience, that God's a lousy parent. However, he does appear to be a marketing genius.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Carnival Of The Godless Guidelines & Schedule

Hi Folks,

The new address for the COTG guidelines and schedule can be found here:


Thanks for your patience. Be sure and get your submissions in for the 17th COTG being held at Tobias Buckell Online on July 10, 2005. Send your submissions to me at brent.rasmussen@gmail.com, or you can visit Tobias and send them directly to him.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The Skeptic's Circle Saloon (SC #12)

Skeptic's Circle Saloon
DS rode in from the east, and I rode in from the west. It was hot. The sun had shown mercilessly down for days as we converged on the saloon.

"'Lo Raz," said DS with a tip of his ten-gallon hat.

I raised my hand and he shook it, dust springing from our grip. "Howdy DS. How was the ride?"

"Long. Hot. 'Bout what you'd expect, I reckon." His grin was infectious. I returned it.

"Being from Arizona, I actually had a nice cool ride." I swung my reins in a fast arc and they spun tight around the rail.

"Bullshit," he said, tying his dun next to my appaloosa mare, their matching UTI brands obvious, "you look like someone's been beating you with an ugly stick."

We stepped onto the front walk and looked up at the sign. "Skeptic's Circle Saloon" was painted in fancy red letters with filigree. I looked sideways at at DS and adjusted my gun belt to be a little more comfortable on my hips. "That damn thing gets fancier every couple of weeks, seems like." I said, squinting back into the sun. "Seen the others yet?"

"Not yet. I reckon we'll just have to go inside and see if they're here yet."

"I reckon we will".

I walked the five steps to the saloon's entrance and pushed open the bat-wing doors. DS and I stepped inside and let our eyes adjust a mite.

The Skeptic's Circle Saloon was unlike any bar I'd ever been in. For one thing it was cool. Some gadget that old Nate - St. Nate to his friends - had cooked up to circulate air across one of them big blocks of ice and pump it through the room. St. Nate had a deal worked out with the iceman in town. Free rye as long as he kept the cooler box filled with ice. There were tables, but they were low and the chairs were low-slung and padded. Comfortable-like.

I walked to the bar and St. Nate moseyed over cleaning a beer glass with a towel that had seen hard times. "Howdy Raz". He said, shifting his unlit cigar from one side of his mug to the other. "Long time no see."

"Howdy Nate," I said, "where's the Circle meetin' this week?"

"Back room," Nate gestured with his thumb, nearly dropping the beer glass, "you want a drink?"

"Gimme a shot of rye and a beer. Thanks."

I wandered into the back room where we usually played poker and found the Circle already in session. Folks were jawing at each other something fierce - which is always how the Circle began, so I didn't pay it no mind. It never came to fists or gun play. Almost never, anyways.

I heard DS walk in and say hello to a couple of Circle members, gregarious and friendly as always. It'll get him into trouble one day, but maybe not. He's tough enough to handle it in any case.

I found an empty seat and sat down next to a big feller in an eastern suit and a beard. Doc Myers was a professor from up Minnesota way. Real smart. Smarter than an old cowpoke like me. But I liked him. He always made me think. "How are you, my boy?" he shouted in my ear. I think Doc's a little deaf.

"Doin' fine Doc, you old heathen! What's up?"

The room seemed to hush as every body in the joint leaned in to hear what Doc Myers had to say.

The Circle had started.

"You know that fine looking dance hall girl from a couple of years back, um, Madonna was her name?"

"The "Like a Virgin" gal?" I said, scratching under my hat brim.

His eyes twinkled, "Well, it is said that she'll only drink something called Kabbalah Water, which she claims has magic healing powers. It's a simple, familiar scam. Start with something common and cheap, like water, and claim to have added all kinds of mystical properties to it, for which they will charge you extra. It costs the con artist nothing. This is classic mumbo-jumbo. Pseudoscientific hokum."

"How'd someone so purty get to be so stupid?" Asked DS from across the table where he'd light an' set.

A starry-eyed young man with spectacles from out on the Californy-coast - Phil Plait was his handle - sat forward and and began to speak. "Oh, heck, fellas, just about anyone will fall for strange stories like that." He removed his specs and began to clean them slowly while looking up slightly through the upper window at the moon just beginning to rise in the dusky sky. "Doesn't matter how pretty they are. Why, a while back their was this gent by the name of Bill Kaysing who would tell folks that the Apollo moon landings were a hoax! And they'd believe him! He's dead now, but I must admit that his death leaves me with mixed feelings. I'm sad that he up and died, but I must be honest and say he was a monumental antiscientist, responsible in many ways for one of the most colossal wastes of time and effort in my memory." Phil sat back with a troubled look on his face.

Looking around the informal gathering of chairs and tables, I spotted Alun, that archeology student from across the pond. Seein' as how I seemed to have taken over this meetin' of the Circle, I nodded to him. "How're things going out your way, Alun? What stories kin you tell us, partner?" Alun was always good for a story or two.

Alun smiled a bit. "Well, when I was five, me and my Da' went to West Kennet and - unintentionally, mind you - had some poor tourists thinking that the barrow there was haunted." He shook his head mischieviously and looked around the Circle. "Seems like supernatural-minded folks will see mystical experiences in anything - even in a five-year-old stomping his feet on top of a long barrow!"

The laughter around the room was refreshing. I grinned and pointed to Mark, my favorite semi-Canadian. He was wearing that funny hat without the brim - A torque? A took? - and sitting on the couch (which he insisted on calling a "Chesterfield" for some odd reason,) next to the unlit fireplace. There was a Canadian flag beautifully sewed onto the backpack at his feet. "Mark!" I said, "I know you've got something on your chest. Speak up!"

"There was this one letter-to-the-editor from a woman claiming that Evolution requires more faith than believing in a supernatural Creator! Can you believe that?" He stopped and sat forward a bit on the chesterfield. "Accepting solid evidence requires no faith. Invoking the supernatural because you’re not happy with the explanation provided by science is what requires faith. If evolution is a religion, then so is aerodynamics, astronomy, botany, and any other scientific endeavor you care to mention."

"Hear hear!" shouted Lord Runolfr Orthlokarr Ulfsson, slamming his wooden mug of wine down on the oak surface of his table and clapping fiercely. "Good point!" He scooped up his wine again, nearly tangling up his foil in his doublet and hose. His plumed cap sat rakishly on his head as he swallowed a huge draught of the ruby liquid, then wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. "As good as this wine is, there's a company who will swindle you with a useless magnetic clip that they claim will make the wine taste better!" He nodded to the astonished eyes of the Circle. "'Struth! They have lots of testimonials and lots of pseudoscientific jargon, but no real evidence that the Wine Clip has any effect on wine at all. Poppycock!" Satisfied, he sank back into his seat.

Chris Hallquist, a young gun from soon-to-be-Madison, Wisconsin, piped up. "Even smart folks get suckered by things like that." He adjusted his hat back further on his head and fiddled with the tie-down on his six-shooter a bit before continuing."I'm not a smart enough cowpoke to understand how a computer works, but I don't go thinkin' it's got evil spirits in it when it goes on the fritz." Heads nodded in agreement around the Circle. "Pseudoscience is rarely about stupidity or generalized ignorance. Irrationality plays a role, but it's not the main ingredient. The key issue is ignorance of knowledge needed to evaluate a claim." He ducked his head and swallowed a bit. "Leastways, that's what I think."

This was shapin' up to be a rip-roarin' Circle. St. Nate opened the roll away window in the poker room and Circle members crowded close while he refilled their glasses and passed out bottles.

Richard Rockley from San Francisco, also known by his stage name, The Amazing Skeptico, raised his voice above the clinking glasses and guzzling throats. "You know. I've always said that sports people seem to think that God stops whatever he’s doing to help their team win a game, but now they are buying necklaces, at $23 a pop, that are made of nylon, and coated in a titanium solution that the manufacturer claims helps improve circulation and reduce muscle stress." He stopped to sip from his beer bottle. "The manufacturer claims it improves the alignment of ions – of course, if ions are involved it must be real. Hey, I do believe this product would qualify for Randi’s Million!"

The entire room got quiet and folks raised their glasses in a solemn toast to The Amazing Randi.

"Alright!" I shouted in the sudden lull. "Who's got another story?"

Out of the shadows stepped a man in surgeon's scrubs, complete with mask, hat, and booties. The folks in the room gasped. I had to calm them a bit. "It's okay, pards. This is Doctor Orac, a.k.a. The Man From The Eastern Standard Time Zone. He's okay." I turned back to the doctor. "What's on your mind, Doc? Whadd'ya know"

"Orac knows..." He said, looking dramatically over his mask and piercing the crowd with his sharp surgeon's eyeballs, "that RFK Jr.'s one-sided deceptive screed against the pharmaceutical companies blaming mercury in vaccines for autism, and Dr. Jay Gordon falling all over himself to swallow this nonsense, shows that it is quite possible to do a ton of research and come up with an utterly incorrect conclusion if you berry-pick the data and ignore data that does not support your thesis." His breath rasped against the thin paper. "Also, trust your doctor when they tell you something, kids, not your astrologist or holistic crystal-gazing therapeutic touch psychic friend. Your doctor is trying to help you get better, and those other folks are just after your money. Look over there!" He shouted, and blended into the shadows once more, and seemed to disappear.

"Didn't you help him out with that autism thing?" I whispered to The Amazing Skeptico, who had stayed close.

"Yeah, yeah I did. Together with Majikthise, we made a hell of a tag team."

Lex Alexander, a tall, bearded cowboy wearing a string tie and crossed pistols, watched the corner where you could barely see Orac lurking all-knowingly, nursing and drink of some sort. "Well, my story's not nearly so in-depth, but it goes to show that conspiracy theorists can be found anywhere." He sat down at an empty chair where the Circle was beginning to form up in a loose fashion again. "Morgan Reynolds, an ex-labor economist for the administration, proves once again that expertise in one field does not mean that you are an expert in other fields. His claim that the 9-11 WTC disaster was an intentional thing done by our own government is just not supported by the engineering and the physics involved." He smiled ruefully. "And all I had to do was talk to a real engineer - my brother - to figure that out."

Suddenly, the doors to the poker room slammed open and in stalked S. Watcher, hand on his pistol butt, hat pulled low. "Star!" He shouted, "Rock Star, I'm a-callin' you out!"

Ryan Michael Whitmore, aka Rock Star, turned slowly and placed his hand lightly, above his pistol. "Randi can fight his own battles, Watcher. We don't want no trouble from your kind here." The crowd tensed in anticipation of the philosophical violence sure to follow. "Why don't you just take your hand off that weapon of yours and we'll discuss this over a drink?"

Sweat beaded on Watcher's upper lip, and his eyes looked wild. "The time for commenting is over, Star!" Watcher's hand slapped leather and instantly Rock palmed his pistol and fired from the hip. The materialistic bullet smashed into Watcher's arguments, and he fell heavily to his knees, clutching for his unspecified non-religious, non-supernatural assumptions as they spilled invisibly to the dusty floor. His pistol fell from his lifeless grip and disintegrated into nothingness.

"Why, his pistol was also based on non-materialistic assumptions!" shouted DS, pointing at the spot where it had just lain.

"So was he, apparently," said Rock Star and gestured at the slowly fading form of S. Watcher. "He collapsed, just like the Apostle rock formation in Australia after being quickly eroded away."

Anthony Cox, stumbled away from the fading body and sat down in a seat heavily. "Wow!" He exclaimed. "That was even more entertaining than watching Tom Cruise say that psychiatry is a pseudoscience!"

"Tom Cruise reminds me of the Anti Thimerosal Brigade." Whispered Kevin Leitch quietly, thinking about the damage done by the anti-vaccine quacks to autistic children.

Dr. Terry Polevoy clapped Kevin on the shoulder. "There are quacks all over, my friend. Especially in the medical field, and they claim many innocent victims. The answer is to keep pointing them out and exposing them for the frauds they are. Keep fighting the good fight!"

The conversations continued long into the night. At one point, Austin Cline showed up and tried to tell us all about how to tell the truth from bullshit, but he was instantly barraged with with peanuts, so he sat down and started arguing with St. Nate about how many mythical angels could dance on his head.

Jayson Harshbarger showed up real late and told some lies about his mother - or told about the lies his mother told him, or something. I guess we were all pretty lit by then.

All in all, I'd say it was a great Circle. I helped DS saddle up his dun, then slapped her on the rump and sent her east. She'd take him home just like she always had.

Me? I led that old appy mare out to the desert and looked up at the sparkling swath of stars lighting up the midnight sky.

The universe is strange, mysterious, wonderful, and mundane - all at once. There's no reason to invent cock-and-bull stories about it when the real ones are so amazing. All we have to do is discover those truths - and that's half the fun right there.

I hope to see all you skeptical cowboys and cowgirls at the next Circle in two weeks at old Doctor Orac's Place. He'll be throwin' quite a spread, from what I hear. Be sure to visit and let him know you're comin'. (He loves to know things, you know.) Heh.