Posted in Agnosticism, Art, Atheism, Blasphemy, Coffee, Everyday life, Family, Human Rights, Humor, Morality, Movies, Music, Politics, Religion, The Conscious Disbeliever

Thanks and Seasons Greetings

To all of  you who allow my soliloquies to sometimes turn into monologues and in even rarer occasions permit them to become conversations, my most heartfelt thanks. Thank you for sharing your most precious resource with my rants; time. I hope that in some way you have shared my feelings and enjoyed some of the ideas expressed in my posts.

Fleeting Beauty

We are at that time of year when many people across the globe get time off to celebrate a diversity of different holidays. Preparations are made for travel to get to a friend’s or relative’s home to share in this special time or sometimes just to get things ready to do this at one’s home.

Whether you celebrated Hanukkah or are getting ready to celebrate Christmas, Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, Winter Solstice, Festivus, HumanLight or nothing at all, I wish you all the best.

And may we all put some Hygge into our life, as is a custom of the Danes.

In essence, hygge means creating a nice, warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people around you. The warm glow of candlelight is hygge. Friends and family – that’s hygge too. And let’s not forget the eating and drinking – preferably sitting around the table for hours on end discussing the big and small things in life.

 http://www.visitdenmark.com/denmark/culture/art-danish-hygge

Hygge
Hygge (Photo credit: dlebech)
Posted in Agnosticism, Art, Atheism, Blasphemy, Coffee, Everyday life, Family, Human Rights, Humor, Morality, Movies, Music, Religion, The Conscious Disbeliever

Monty Python Live Reunion ;)

Group shot of the Monty Python crew in 1969
Group shot of the Monty Python crew in 1969 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For all you Monty Python fans out there, the famous troupe has announced a live reunion show, scheduled for  July the 1st 2014. So cheer up.

Meanwhile, enjoy a few Python scenes and songs.

This last sketch has a special place in my heart. I wonder why?

Here is a clip of the press conference for the Monty Python Live Reunion.

Sadly  I don’t think I can be in London to see them.

See you next time.

Posted in Agnosticism, Atheism, Blasphemy, Coffee, Everyday life, Family, Human Rights, Morality, Religion, The Conscious Disbeliever

Here again

I have been delinquent in my posting, so sorry. A long needed vacation got in the way.

Beach (1)

Just before leaving for my vacation, I had some nice interaction with some family members about my atheism. I am very sure that most of you have already gone through this:

Why do you have to be so vocal about your atheism? Why don’t you just keep it to yourself?

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No offense, I love you and my intention is not to offend you…I like many have my doubts, and sometimes I believe and sometimes I doubt.I respect that you’re an atheist and you are absolutely sure of your belief. But what I criticize and I see as even a little ridiculous is making atheism a religion, with lectures and symposia. All you need now is to start having Masses to Saint Atheist.

 

How do you like them cookies?

Nice double standard. I have to – and do – tolerate people wearing crosses, a star of David, an Om symbol or whatever symbol of religiosity, but I can’t wear my atheist bands or t-shirts without somebody bothering me. Good thing my Happy Humanist pins don’t cause any trouble. I must tolerate constant references to a deity, but one word of disbelief and I am being militant.

And well, I am loved and respected but I am ridiculous. But enough of that, on to the vacation.

By no means was I only lying on the beach and sipping on a nice cool drink.

I got a chance to read Testament: Memoir of the Thoughts and Sentiments of Jean Meslier and to start reading  L’ Esprit De  L‘Atheisme (The soul of atheism) by André Comte-Sponville. The first book I bought on my own accord and the second was a gift from a friend.

Meslier’s book is an interesting impeachment of religion with a dash of anti-monarchism, a pinch of animal rights and a touch of communism. It is probably the first book on atheism. A very interesting read although a bit repetitive. Meslier really wanted to get his message across.

I will get back to you on my thought of Comte-Sponville’s book when I finish it.

At lunch the very first day I came back to work, I got into an enjoyable discussion  on some well-known topics:

You can’t have morality if you don’t have religion.

Hitler was an atheist.

Homeopathy works.

I already have a previous post on the first one: Borrowed Morality and never have given the second much of a thought, although what I read in Mein Kampf depicts a Christian, but now I will have to read Ian Kershaw‘s books on Hitler. The third point is defenseless, homeopathy has no scientific backing. You might enjoy this 2009 article in Forbes or this one in The Lancet called Are the clinical effects of homeopathy placebo effects? Comparative study of placebo-controlled trials of homeopathy and allopathy .

Things got back to speed very soon after vacation time and that is just fine. How was your week?

See you next time.

P.S.  The Hotel had a nice Nespresso bar so I was never without my daily dose of caffeine.

Posted in Art, Coffee, Everyday life, The Conscious Disbeliever

Why we drink bad coffee – I am talking to you Starbucks

I am a customer of Starbucks, but I  never touch their coffee, not even with a ten foot pole. I like some of their sandwiches and a few of the cold drinks served there. I gave them the benefit of the doubt and tried  many of their coffees, but for the life of me, I cannot like the taste. Even though they say that the coffee is arabica, many times I have encountered a rubbery taste typical of blends that have robusta and the lack of body is appalling.

coffee: we suck at it so badly [53/365]
coffee: we suck at it so badly [53/365] (Photo credit: Terence S. Jones)
Coffee is not just a drink, it is a multi-sensory experience. The very first thing that strikes me is the aroma, more so when I grind my coffee beans. Then comes the sight of that black elixir and the anticipation of taking that very first sip and the explosion of taste, as well as that warm comforting sensation it provides as your drink it. But not just that, coffee also revolves around conversation and ambiance. It is not the same to have your coffee on the run in a disposable cup than to drink it in an agreeable environment.

Starbucks provides a nice place to sit down and enjoy your coffee – oh if only it was good – comfortable, with music, free wi-fi and as in most coffeehouses a sense of community if you want it.

The business model is great and has been picked up by many other coffee shops, some even serve very good coffee.

Maybe as consumers we follow the so called “Principle of least effort” and are more than willing to sacrifice quality to obtain convenience.

And possibly another is some good neuromarketing. It could be our  (well not mine, but…) brain remembers the pleasant experience and favors it over the taste.

As social animales we crave a sense of community and this kind of shop offers it to a limited degree.

Some of the people who are part of the coffee house community are young and probably were never exposed to a traditional coffee shop. I had the joy of living next to a small coffee roaster, so every Saturday I would wake to the exquisite smell of freshly roasted coffee (one of the chimneys was just next to my window) and of course run next door for my fresh cup of Joe.  I guess that if they get them while they are young, they won’t know better.

Well, as taste is so individual and subjective, maybe I am only being a coffee snob, or as some say “being more papist than the Pope”, but I just can’t help it.

What is your take on this?

See you next time.

Posted in Art, Coffee, Everyday life, Family, The Conscious Disbeliever

Kopi Luwak

Today I had my first cup of Kopi Luwak ever. This is an exotic variety of coffee, and as I am always open to try exotic flavors, I gave it a go.

English: Piti luwak.
English: Piti luwak. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Due to price and availability, I do not think that it will become my daily fare.

The aroma of the coffee was sweet, with a touch of fruit.

The first impression upon tasting this coffee was one of high acidity, maybe even sourness. Maybe I was not expecting what was in my cup.  On my second sip came different sensations. This coffee was complex, with only a very little of bitterness that was overpowered by a sweet, nutty and fruity drink with a very good body to it. A small hint of wood with a good aftertaste that lasted for more than my  walk back home.

2013-03-10 14.13.04

Thirty minutes after I finished my coffee, I still have a pleasant aftertaste on the tip and sides of my tongue. A subtle sweetness if you will.

For me is tastes better than Jamaica Blue Mountain, that in my humble opinion is a coffee with little body and character that does not live up to expectations. And both coffees are really more hype than anything else.

2013-03-10 17.35.36

The Kopi Luwak I tasted was a good coffee, but not a great coffee, and certainly not worthy of becoming my daily drink or yours. And it does not justify the price tag.

I assure you it will not replace my daily Illy or my ordinary cup of plain coffee made with some Mexican, Costa Rican or Colombian coffee.

See you next time.

Posted in Art, Coffee, Everyday life, The Conscious Disbeliever

Not all work and no play – some fun on the side

Recently I had a chance to visit Spain on work related issues, enjoying the wine and the cuisine on the side.

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A view of one of the cellars at the Arzuaga Bodega near Valladolid, Spain.
http://www.hotelarzuaga.com/en/winery

My hosts in Valladolid were absolutely magnificent and made me feel quite at home. Their knowledge of the local wine and food was most helpful.

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Mercado de San Miguel. Madrid, Spain.

In Madrid I got to see all the usual places, but had a very good time eating at the Mercado de San Miguel. It is a very interesting place to visit, the food is excellent as well as the selection of wines and deserts. The coffee is very good.

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A great variety of olives at one of the stands in El Mercado de San Miguel

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You walk around picking whatever tickles your fancy and then head towards tables at the center of the market place to enjoy your little gastronomic treasures.

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The first steps exploring El Mercado de San Miguel

Even though the food and the company were superb, what I most enjoyed was my visit to the Museo Nacional del Prado. What a great place to visit. Goya, Velazquez, Van Dyck, Martin Rico among many more.

English: Prado Museum, in Madrid (Spain). Espa...
English: Prado Museum, in Madrid (Spain). Español: Museo del Prado, en Madrid (España). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The museums signature painting is  “Las Meninas” by Diego Velazquez. You can admire it for hours on end.

Diego Velázquez - Las Meninas (detail) - WGA24449
Diego Velázquez – Las Meninas (detail) – WGA24449 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But I fell in love with the museums only Rembrandt : “Judit en el banquete de Holofernes” also known as Artemisia. I was captivated by the technique, the magnificent use of light and shadow. So much that I decided to have a digital print on canvas made at the museum shop in order to enjoy this image at home.

Judit en el banquete de Holofernes

While I waited for my print I relaxed with a nice cup of coffee, well deserved after walking around viewing the vast amount of paintings this museum has in exhibition.

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Licencia de Creative Commons
Coffee Break by Gerardo F Zambito Brondo is licensed under a Creative Commons Reconocimiento-NoComercial-SinObraDerivada 3.0 Unported License.

So if you have a chance to go to Madrid, don’t miss the opportunity to view all the wonders the Museo Nacional del Prado has to offer.

See you next time.

Posted in Coffee, Everyday life, Family, Human Rights, Morality, Politics, Science, The Conscious Disbeliever

The end of modern civilization

English: Coffee berries Polski: Owoce kawy
English: Coffee berries Polski: Owoce kawy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the past  weeks I stumbled upon a series of articles in the news that quite frankly were the harbingers of doom. Modern civilization is coming to an end in this century.

The Mayas missed the date, but it seems that in the later half of this century, civilization will come to a halt. At least in the way we know it today.

The articles all talk about climate change and how around 2080 wild arabica could be extinct. This does not mean that coffee per se will disappear, but it will be more difficult to keep up production of this variety of coffee.

Coffee production will not come to a halt, but we could be in for a change in the variety of coffee used in our blends. Reuters reported in an article called Analysis: Coffee roasters stick with less costly robusta that roasters are using more robusta in their blends due to cost and the possibility to maintain market share .  Consumers have switched to non-premium blends of coffee that contain a higher content of lower quality robusta.

The more resistant variety of coffee known as Robusta or Coffea canephora gives your coffee more bitterness, more caffeine and an unpleasant rubbery taste.  The best espresso roasts use primarily Arabica beans, which originated in Ethiopia, but have spread around the  world. In some blends Robusta beans are typically included in the blend because of their ability to generate crema. High quality Italian espresso blends such as Illy  use no robusta at all.

Robusta has on average half the flavour and aromatic oils compared to Arabica. These oils attack the foam and make it disappear. Less oil in your brew equals more foam – crema. But at a cost. Less oil equals less aroma, flavor and overall quality of your espresso.

COFFE REFLECTIONS

So let us reduce, reuse and recycle so as to limit our carbon footprint, lest we leave behind a world of low quality/high price coffee to those that come after us.

Here is the link to the article from PLOS ONE.

See you next time.

Posted in Agnosticism, Art, Atheism, Blasphemy, Coffee, Everyday life

Happy Winter Solstice – Merry Christmas – or whatever

La maison en pain d'épices
Image by Kermitfrog Joyeux Noël 🙂 via Flickr

To everybody out there and with special affection to my few and cherished readers, I would like to wish you all a very Happy Winter Solstice and Merry Christmas or whatever festivity you celebrate this season.

The time of year to take a bit of time to enjoy the company of friends and loved ones.

Enjoy the season!

See you next time.

Posted in Agnosticism, Atheism, Blasphemy, Coffee, Everyday life, Family, Human Rights, Morality, Politics, Religion, The Conscious Disbeliever

One in six people worldwide are “nones”

1st UK edition
1st UK edition (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to a recent study 16% of the world’s population are religiously unaffiliated. That is 1.1 billion people. The “nones” include atheists, agnostics and people who do not identify with any particular religion in surveys.

The tendency for unaffiliated persons is higher in Asia-Pacific followed by Europe and North America and lowest in the Middle East-North Africa.

The Pew Research Center study is called The Global Religious Landscape – Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life .

However, many of the religiously unaffiliated have some form of religious beliefs and  also engage in certain kinds of religious practices.

The age of the global “nones” is a bit higher than the average in the U.S. study ‘No Religion’ on the Rise: 19.6% Have No Religious Affiliation – Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life bet there is a trend worldwide.

I would like to remind you that the Atheist Census is now underway and would ask you to take part. There are only 6 questions you have to answer. It takes a few minutes to contribute to this project that will allow us to counted. Or as the census site states Atheist Census – Numbers matter. Be counted..

See you next time.

Posted in Art, Coffee, Everyday life, Neuroscience, Science, The Conscious Disbeliever

Caffeine crystals

B0008352 Caffeine crystals

Here is an image of an important part of everyday life, seen in a different light.

This picture by Annie Cavanagh and David McCarthy is impressive, and the post-processing gives life to the otherwise monochrome crystal.

Posted in Art, Coffee, Everyday life, Music

The Rolling Stones | 50 Years of Rock n Roll

ROLLING STONES 50th, I
ROLLING STONES 50th, I (Photo credit: Newtown grafitti)

The Rolling Stones | 50 Years of Rock n Roll.

Well just in case you did not know it, the Greatest Rock Band of all times (in my humble opinion) has achieved 50 years of Rock & Roll. Happy Birthday to The Rolling Stones!

I guess you can say the were right on that affirmation!!

So breakout the bubbly, crank up the volume and lets Rip this Joint!!

See you next time.

Posted in Agnosticism, Art, Atheism, Blasphemy, Coffee, Everyday life, Humor, Movies, Religion, Science, The Conscious Disbeliever

Yo, fucknuts! It’s probing time.

Just saw Paul the 2011 movie… Yeah, yeah, I know it’s yesterdays news, but I laughed my head off watching this and if you have not seen it, well…give it a shot.

Paul (film)
Paul (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Paul is not your run of the mill alien, he is outspoken, rude, knows a cuss word or two and has a good grasp on evolution.

Get ready for a different kind of Close Encounter.

I bet you have heard this line  before…

I know it’s no Oscar material, but I enjoyed the whole 104 minutes of irreverent humor.

See you next time.

Posted in Agnosticism, Art, Atheism, Coffee, Everyday life, Humor, Morality, Music, Neuroscience, Religion, Science, The Conscious Disbeliever

What is left for non-believers

Australian author Lynne Kelly sure sums it up nicely. She only made one major oversight…she forgot to put coffee in her phrase to make it perfect.

She is author of many books, including A Skeptics Guide to the Paranormal, Spiders: Learning to Love Them, as well as Crocodile: Evolutions Greatest Survivor

Posted in Coffee, Everyday life

CoffeeKid – Exploring the Culture and Artistry of Espresso and Coffee

CoffeeKid – Exploring the Culture and Artistry of Espresso and Coffee.

A very good site for information on Espresso and Coffee.

Had to love the phrase on the welcome page:

“coffee warms the soul

yet bankrupts hearts.

it stimulates discussion

yet fosters dissention.

it moves the brain.”

If you love coffee, you will like the site very much.