Travis Hardin Home:About Me
"With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion."--Steven Weinberg, physicist, quoted in The New York Times, April 20, 1999.
"The knowledge that immortality is an illusion...liberates all our energy and time for the realization and extension of the happy potentialities of this good earth."-- Corliss Lamont
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the Earth. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God. . . .
And so on.
Not exactly planks in a Republican platform. Not exactly Donald Rumsfeld or Dick Cheney stuff.
For some reason, the most vocal Christians among us never mention the Beatitudes. But, often with tears in their eyes, they demand that the Ten Commandments be posted in public buildings. And of course that's Moses, not Jesus. I haven't heard one of them demand that the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, be posted anywhere.
"Blessed are the merciful" in a courtroom? "Blessed are the peacemakers" in the Pentagon? Give me a break!
-- Kurt Vonnegut, quoted at http://www.metroactive.com/papers/sonoma/06.30.04/vonnegut-0427.html, visited 2 July 2004.
I'll hold off discussing my career until another time. For now, here's 30 years in a couple of sentences: I'm a retired electronics technician. I worked for Maryland Public Television where I maintained transmitters. I eagerly learned personal computers in the 80s and with my compadres ended up coding the software and wiring the transmitter interface. You know the rest: I was replaced by the computers I helped program. I was enamored enough with personal computers to set up a one-man business in 1994 to sell and repair them. In 1999 I moved from Hagerstown, Maryland to Huntsville, Alabama, a pleasant city that has something for every political and intellectual persuasion, something for every hobby and pass-time.
In Huntsville, in the first category, I practice free thought, humanism, and Democratic political values -- that is, equal opportunity, educational opportunity, a government and community that encourages the health, productivity, and potential of each individual, and regulation of the excesses of capitalism, which, as we see now, has resulted in extreme inequality. Add freedom and tolerance to my beliefs, and it rounds out my overly-optimistic ideals. In the second category I do genealogy. I garden and can fruits and vegetables. I write and express my concerns, I don't quite keep abreast of computer technology and Web development, and I help older friends and neighbors with their computers. I have a ham radio station waiting for my interest to rekindle. My call sign is My class of license is Extra. Once I held a first class radiotelephone license from the FCC, which was the necessary "ticket" to work in broadcasting. It is no longer issued and no longer meaningful.
Alabama is my home state where I have relatives. I am a graduate of Cedar Bluff High School in Cherokee County. I am the Cherokee County coordinator of a USGenWeb site. I was married to a high-school sweetheart and we had one daughter, Susan.
I am married to Louise, a Humanist Celebrant who performs secular weddings, who is a retired engineer, volunteer counselor, craftsperson, and formidable Scrabble player. We enjoy "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report" and we think those comedy shows contain more information than traditional and cable TV news shows.
I am an advocate for science and free thought. I clip articles about science and religion, and though it is difficult and depressing, I follow U.S. politics and our government's over-surveillance, over-incarceration, over-militarism, and over spending; I follow the security state, the police state, the misguided drug war, "zero tolerance," and the exclusion of the middle in criminal justice -- our drift toward fascism. My featured essay on the security state is at intelec.us/travis/index.htm.
My adult life until 1980 was conventional. Except for my free thought, I conducted my life according to unconsciously-absorbed childhood lessons, according to the tapes in my head. I devoted myself to the TV station as my first wife devoted herself to our daughter. I was principled, intellectually honest, tolerant, and tried to be informed and witty. Since reaching adulthood I had always been an atheist and a liberal without religious or political contradictions. I was particularly inspired when Carl Sagan expressed my thoughts and feelings in his 1980 Public TV series, "Cosmos." But I was rarely comfortable with myself. I was all duty and no play. I thought often of my shortcomings.
In my early 40s I experienced an existential crisis with depression. I came through that and experienced a soaring emancipation, a life full of new and rewarding experiences and learning. For that success I am indebted to my therapists, doctors, fellow patients, friends, family, Unitarian Church-goers, SUUSI, Frederick Humanists, singles clubs, lovers, and dancers; to Maryland Mensa, to Dona Nikirk and the women of Jazzercise and to Linda Smith and the women of NOW. During my process of emancipation I was both attentive to my own happiness and likewise found pleasure in a life of giving happiness to (or at least cordiality to) others. To take control of my life and to deal with the unstoppable blossoming of previously repressed sexuality, I found it necessary to divorce. I was happily single for twenty years. Near Hagerstown, Maryland is the psychiatric institution I speak well of. They saved my life and made a new life possible. Maybe they are still good at what they do.
During that time I overcame deficiencies and learned enough of previously unknown, even alien, areas of experience to feel proud of myself: Law, psychology, medicine, cooking, mentoring poor children, playing piano, singing, and copious dancing: ballroom, square, and especially contra. Above all, I felt self-respect and self-confidence in almost everything I did. I organized a philosophy lecture series at the Hagerstown UU Church. I developed a skill for composing letters to the newspaper editor that culminated in a 1999 feature article on the editorial page. I still get off a zinger occasionally, though the activity is almost obsolete.
In my 40s I was at the peak of my physical wellbeing, my earnings, my ability to own a car and get around, my mental power, and my self-confidence. Gradual loss of those 40s strengths started the day I turned 50, when people I passed on the sidewalk began to look right through me. Twenty and thirty years later I am even more invisible and, by necessity, self-contained. A feeling of sobriety replaced elation, a pleasant daily routine replaced confident well-being, and simple loss replacing much else. I am able to enjoy reading and composing, correspondence, Facebook, Web page writing, and, with my dear wife or other guests, I enjoy radio and TV news and entertainment. I enjoy guests and preparing meals for them. I visit home improvement stores and maintain the house. I maintain several computers and a home network. I like Ubuntu Linux and communications equipment and gadgets, such as the Raspberry Pi computer.
As a 70-something, I am learning that others see me as more passive, more dignified, and more predictable than I care to be seen, though sometimes I am the one who feels too out of the stream of life to socialize. I most enjoy socializing with old friends from the more lively and liberated years, when I get the chance to visit them. However new friends, young and old, have been a pleasure to me, including fellow Unitarian Church dropouts, OLLI, Mensa, and NAFA people, and fellow secular humanists. How much of friendship is diluted, for everybody, by Facebook and by Web social media, i.e., sitting on your rear alone in front of the computer with no human soul around?
After attending the Jon Stewart Rally to Restore Sanity on October 30, 2010, I say no more demonstrations on the Washington Mall for me due to the inconveniences of age. High-flying personal adventure full of energetic activities are for my memoirs, which are awaiting me in my notebooks. Nevertheless, future travel is possible.
"I believe in the religion of reason - the gospel of this world; in the development of the mind, in the accumulation of intellectual wealth, to the end that man may free himself from superstitious fear, to the end that he may take advantage of the forces of nature to feed and clothe the world." -- Robert G. Ingersoll -- 1833 - 1899
"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it,
doesn't go away."
-- Phillip K. Dick
I wish to propose for the reader’s favourable
consideration a doctrine which may, I fear, appear wildly paradoxical and
subversive. The doctrine in question is this: that it is undesirable to
believe a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it
(From “Introduction: On the Value of Skepticism”, Skeptical Essays)
-- Bertrand Russell
"Religion has actually convinced people that there's an
invisible man living in the sky who watches every thing you do, every minute
of every day. And the invisible man has a list of 10 special things that he
does not want you to do. And if you do any of these 10 things, he has a
special place full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish
where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and
cry forever and ever 'til the end of time. But he loves you."
-- Comedian George Carlin, from his HBO special "You Are All Diseased"