Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Soundgarden and my black days

More than a couple of decades ago now, I was sitting in a hospital bed in London, England. I had come down with Hepatitis A after returning from a trip to Egypt a few weeks before, and I was recovering as my skin slowly went from being yellow to its more natural color of Caucasian Flesh. (Crayola, you owe me a royalty if you use that as a name for a crayon color.) I was feeling pretty sorry for myself, as I not only had that to deal with, but I was heartbroken over some girl. There was also a sense of general melancholy that would have been there if either of my other two problems had been nonexistent, as the news coming from the television in my hospital room reported that Kurt Cobain had committed suicide.

Essentially what had become my theme song was Soundgarden's "Fell on Black Days". I had purchased the Superunknown CD, which included a bonus track not available on the U.S. release, about a month before. While I liked the entire disc, this was the song that was speaking to me in particular.

Yeah, I know, there are few things worse than people feeling sorry for themselves. It certainly could have been worse, especially considering that Hepatitis A is the one that you eventually get over, and yeah, I can't even remember the last name of the girl that had me all obsessive. What do you want from me? I was twenty - not too different from a teenager. There's just something about those ending lines when you feel like your luck is in the crapper:

I sure don't mind a change 
But I fell on black days 
How would I know 
That this could be My fate?

I think that I sometimes forget to list Soundgarden when I'm asked what my favorite bands of all time are. But when I look back on it, and when I think of how much I still enjoy their music when I bust out those old CDs, they certainly belong somewhere in my top ten. I mentioned that I had bought Superunknown when it came out, even though I was studying aboad. I didn't have a whole lot of extra spending money, but I made sure that I got this one on the day it came out. (And yes, I still have it.) And of course, I saw them live when they were touring for that particular album.

That wasn't the first time that I saw them. When I was in high school, and slightly before the whole "Seattle Sound" thing went crazy, I went to a "Day on the Green" concert at the Oakland Colosseum. The headlining band was Metallica, but also playing were Queensryche, Faith No More, and Soundgarden - which was the only band I didn't know. (Funny side note - I was probably most enthusiastic for Queensryche, but let's just say that of all those bands, their CDs are the only ones that I don't still currently own.) I don't remember too much about that show, but I remember thinking that they were pretty cool. And I definitely remember when they performed "Big Dumb Sex", and I'd like to think that I was savvy enough to get the fact that they were being ironic.

It probably wasn't too long afterwards that I purchased Badmotorfinger. I suppose the reason why I sometimes neglect to think of Soundgarden when thinking of my favorite band is that they were overshadowed by Pearl Jam. That was the band that always sprang to mind when I thought of what my favorite current bands were. They certainly got more attention in the media, especially after Kurt Cobain died. And if anybody remembers Rock 'n' Roll Comics, they might recall that Soundgarden never got their own issue; instead, they were a backup in the Pearl Jam comic. (I still have that somewhere as well.) And to further prove this point, you can check out my tribute to Pearl Jam that I wrote more than five years ago! I guess that you might say that Soundgarden got a little bit "Outshined". Ahem. Heh. Heh. Hurm...moving on...

I've heard people tell me that as they get older, they like things to be a little bit more mellow. That might still happen to me, but as of now I continuously find myself heading in the opposite direction. I can't stand it when one of my local radio stations has its "Acoustic Sunrise" on Sunday mornings. Acoustic? Acoustic? I need something to wake me up, dammit! I don't want to go back to sleep!

With that said, I find myself gravitating toward Soundgarden when I need a blast of something loud. I ordered their new CD of rarities and B-sides, Echo of Miles, but I wanted a fix while driving yesterday, so I put in Badmotorfinger. I think that I was banging my head to "Slaves and Bulldozers" with as much enthusiasm as I ever did.

My love of the band continues to the present day, and it's even rubbed off on my four-year-old son, Logan, who will sometimes request that I play the band. He was a big fan of their song that they did for The Avengers, "Live to Rise", and you can see him, when he was about two, rocking out to that song below:


He (and I) also enjoy their latest studio release, King Animal, and we've spent many trips back from pre-school listening to it. His favorites are "Been Away Too Long" and "By Crooked Steps". (I'll never understand why some parents complain that they have to listen to kids music in the car. I've always just played what I'd normally play. Luckily, he gets enthusiastic about at least some of it.)

So, why do I like this band so much? First of all, I think that it's time to acknowledge that Chris Cornell has one of the best rock voices ever. He's got a range, and he can go real throaty and soulfull in one song to a bloodcurdling metal wail in the next. (And sometimes in the same song.) Also, and I think that guitarist Kim Thayil has something to do with this, but they have a certain sound about them that you can't trace back to another band. Sure, they have their roots in loud 70s rock, but there's definitely something unique about them. Think of all the copycat bands out there that wound up sounding like Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, etc. I can't think of any that copied Soundgarden. Maybe that's because they're unique enough that it would be painfully obvious if somebody did.

Are their lyrics a touch on the dark side? Sure, they can sometimes lean that way. However, sometimes the dark stuff is what you need to get you to see the light. Back when I was living through my own "black days", part of what got me through is that song. Contrary to what some folks might think, songs like that aren't depressing. Instead, they make you realize that you're not the only one who goes through that kind of thing. It's the artist's way of letting you know that you're not alone, and knowing that is what gets you through it.

And it's not all dark. When I'm coming out of a funk, the lyrics to the song "Dusty" are always a nice way to reflect on that mood:

And nothing's gonna put me out 
It's backing down and under 
I'm down on the upside now 
It's turning back around 
Turning back around

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Might I suggest a divorce?

Image Source
My wife and I talk about divorce every now and then. No, we don't talk about getting a divorce, but we sometimes talk about the concept. When I told her that I was thinking of writing a blog post on the subject, she told me that I should do it, but I wasn't so sure that it was a good idea. Why? Because I figure that there's no way for me to write about divorce as a concept without at least some friends and/or family members taking it as a sign that there is trouble in my marriage and that we're thinking of getting a divorce. And even if I'm sure to write a disclaimer, like I'm doing right now, that we're thinking of getting a divorce, it'll sound a bit too "doth protest too much", which would be a sure sign that we're talking about a divorce. Why else would I be so defensive about it?

What's the right amount of times I can deny that my wife and I are discussing divorce which will put people's minds at ease that we actually are not discussing divorce? Should I toss one more in? Okay, one more, and then I'll do it just one more time at the end. Hopefully that won't seem like overkill. So, here goes:

I assure you that my wife and I aren't discussing divorce.

Why do we talk about divorce (not getting a divorce - shoot, that's one denial too many now, isn't it)? Oftentimes, it's because we know people who seem to be in rather loveless marriages where they don't even like each other to the point where it seems like they might be better off divorced. Of course, we'd never say this to their faces because nobody really knows what's going on between two people aside from those two, and "get a divorce" is the sort of advice you should only give when you know one of the partners is a serial killer.

We've even heard somebody say that "Divorce is simply not an option!" Well...why not?

I realize that with current divorce rates in this country, it's not like not enough people are considering it. I also think that people shouldn't rush into marriages, as those are more likely to end in a divorce. Still, there's a stigma about ending a marriage that I don't think should exist.

Here's the thing - I do consider divorce to be an option when it comes to my marriage. It's not an option that I'm genuinely considering. I can't even say that it's a fleeting thought. That's because I'm happy right now. But things can change. I could change. My wife could change. We both could change. We could grow apart. What if we get to the point where we can't stand the sight of each other anymore? What if we get to the point where everything becomes a loud, shouting argument with one another - which we would be subjecting our son to?

If it ever gets to that, and while I honestly can't ever see that happening, then yeah, we should probably start talking about getting a divorce. I'm not saying that we shouldn't try to salvage our marriage for the sake of both us and our son, but shouldn't there eventually be a point where we can be honest about whether we'd be better off separated or not?

When I think of all the people I know who are divorced, I don't look at a single one of them and think that they would have been better off if they stayed married. If anything, I think that some of them probably should have gotten divorced sooner. They probably could have spared themselves a lot of pain.

I'm also aware that for some people, it's a religious thing as to why divorce is not considered to be an option. That, to me, is just one more knock against religion, as it arbitrarily creates a boundary against something that could help a person. Yeah, God doesn't like divorce. He doesn't like a lot of other things too. But if God wants you to stay in a loveless, and possibly mentally damaging, relationship, then maybe it's time to stop giving a crap what this fictional character has to say.

Oh, and I'd just like to point out that in no way should this blog post be interpreted as my wife and I discussing getting a divorce.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

That ain't Doctor Doom

When it comes to adapting works of literature into motion pictures, one thing I'm not is an absolute purist. I'm probably one of the few English teachers who likes the movie version of Beowulf with Angelina Jolie as Grendel's mother. Sure, it took a sharp turn from the plot of the original, but it was clearly commenting on issues that were brought up by the source material. (And let's all be honest and realize that even the 1000 year old version we've read in school isn't really the "original" version of the story either.)

I also don't mind making changes made in adaptations of comic books so long as it's all true to the heart of the original. For instance, X-Men: Days of Future Past changed up all kinds of things from the original story, mixing in all kinds of characters and introducing new subplots. However, with both the comic and movie, you can summarize them the same way: a member of the X-Men has to travel back in time to stop an assassination that triggers a post-apocalyptic future.

So yeah, I don't care if they change stuff around. Movies have different needs from novels and comic books, and changing things often makes sense.

Which brings us to the reboot of The Fantastic Four. I was looking forward to this because they basically loused up the last version of it. (To be honest, I never bothered watching the second one.) It definitely had elements taken right out of the comics, but it basically didn't work very well as a movie itself. It's most egregious sin though was ruining Doctor Doom, one of the best villains of all time. More on that in a minute.

Generally speaking, I avoid complaining about movies before I see them. I didn't jump on the "OMG! No Ben Affleck as Batman!" bandwagon, as I'm more than willing to give Batfleck the benefit of the doubt. I also didn't lose my shit when it was announced that Toby Maguire's Spider-Man would have organic webshooters. When it came to the reboot of The Fantastic Four, I didn't give a hoot that Johnny Storm was going to be played by a black guy. Comics fans can be a passionate bunch, but sometimes it seems more like they hate this stuff than love it based on what you read online. 

However, I'm now officially going to bad-mouth this movie, and it brings it all back to Doctor Doom. He sucked buttnuts in the last incarnation of the character. In this version, I don't even understand why they're calling him Doctor Doom, as I have to wonder if anybody's even read a Fantastic Four comic book. No, I don't care that they give him the more believable name of "Domashev". However, the one thing that's too egregious to ignore is that they're making him into an "very anti-social blogger".

Blogger? Blogger?! BLOGGER?????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Doctor Doom is the despotic ruler of an entire country! His people have been brainwashed into worshipping him! He's a genius when it comes to science. He's a prodigy when it comes to magic. He knows everything, and it pisses him off like nobody's business that Reed "Mr. Fantastic" Richards might very well be smarter than him.

He's not a frikken' blogger!

I know, let's make a version of Hamlet where King Claudius is the court's jester instead. Let's make a version of To Kill a Mockingbird where Bob Ewell is simply a guy who jaywalks. Let's make a version of Batman where Batman doesn't obsess over the loss of his parents! (Oh, wait...they did that.) 

Ya know, maybe you can create an interesting villain out of an anti-social blogger. But that's not Doctor Doom. It's something else. Blogging would be beneath Doom. And the man's not just anti-social, he's a complete narcissist, but he actually has the ability to back it up to some extent.

Shoot, I've even had good things to say about Daredevil, but I'm starting to think that unless it gets unbelievable word of mouth and manages to be a good movie (if not necessarily a good Fantastic Four movie) then I just can't see myself actually seeing this in the theaters, and dammit, I saw Green Lantern at the cinema.

The only positive thing I can think of all this comes from what Scott C. Harris had to say, and I paraphrase: hopefully this film will totally bomb and the rights to the FF will revert back to Marvel Studios, and then we can finally stop saying that The Incredibles is the best Fantastic Four movie.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Multiple monotheisms

A talking point that gets thrown around a lot when discussing the major Abrahamic faiths (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) is that they all worship the same God. Usually, the point in bringing this up is to encourage tolerance and acceptance among the three groups. While I don't want to crap on the idea of people getting along, I do feel like this is a disingenuous talking point. It's not quite as bad as those who try to accommodate other beliefs with the "it's true for me and that's true for them" talking point, but it bears more analysis than it usually gets.

Sure, they all have something in common. They all begin with the same God who kicked Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden, told Noah to build a boat, and made a covenant with Abraham. They all accept the story where Judah Ben Hur told the King of Siam to let his people go (or something like that). So, same God, right?  I'm not so sure.

According to Jews and Muslims, God is one and indivisible. According to most Christians, God came down in human form as Jesus Christ, and he is split into the Trinity, giving you three gods for the price of one. (Christians will insist that they have a monotheism, but honestly I think that the Muslims and Jews make more sense when they think of that concept as being decidedly polytheistic.) So, the very nature of this same God they believe in is different. If I told you that I owned a certain kind of animal that was a mammal, and you said that you had the same one but it was a reptile, would you think that's the same animal? (That might not be the best analogy. Work with me here. The point is, how can a Trinitarian God and an indivisible one be the same thing?)

Perhaps you think that's a nitpick, but we can go on from there. Jews don't even recognize Jesus at all, but for Christians, he's easily the most important part of the whole concept. The sacrifice of Jesus was necessary for salvation and what everything in the Jewish scriptures was leading up to. Jews don't even believe that humanity needs the kind of salvation that Christianity claims that we do. Plus, tehy can give you an entirely different interpretation of their own scriptures. (But hey, what do Jews know about the Torah anyway?) So, supposedly it's the same God who has two completely different concerns regarding what his creation needs. How is this the same being?

The difference between Christianity and Islam is similar, as Muslims absolutely reject the idea that God came down in the form of a man and "died". They also do not accept that God can be split into a Trinity. Unlike Jews, they do believe that Jesus was a prophet and he plays an important part in their overall theology, but to say that a guy's not God is saying something drastically different than saying that he is God.

I'm not denying the historical link between all three of these religions, but they each define their deity in such different ways that it's like they're not even talking about the same thing. Even when you start to break it down by denominations/sects/schools of the three main faiths, you still wind up with a singular God who's described in so many different ways that it's hard to imagine that they're all talking about the same being. Are the Orthodox Jews correct and the creator of the world gives a crap about mixed fabrics? Seems like a different sort of personality from the being of Reform Jews who is more hip with changing times. One way or the other, he certainly can't be both.

Of course, Christians aren't off the hook. We can go as extreme as Mormonism (which is arguably more different from mainstream Christianity than Islam or Judaism when you've got a God who used to live on the planet Kolob.) And it sure doesn't seem like Methodists are talking about the same guy that the Westboro Baptist Church rant on about. Same name? Yeah. Same being? I can't find my way to that conclusion.

Even in the earliest days of Christianity, there were strikingly different views as to what Jesus even was. Some considered him to be fully God. Some considered him to be more along the lines of an "adopted" son. It's like they weren't even talking about the same thing, just many different ideas that they all wanted to call Jesus.

Despite the fact that all these Gods stem from the same source, there is reason to believe that this is hardly a unique phenomenon. The Norse goddesses, Frigga and Freyja, are considered different goddesses, but there is reason to believe that they might have evolved from one singular goddess. With enough time and distance between related peoples, its not so strange to have that sort of a thing happen. You'll also find similarities in gods from different cultures. For instance, the Slavic god Perkunas shares many of the same attributes as the Norse Thor, as they both control the thunder and lightning while riding goat-pulled chariots in the sky. It's not so unlikely that the two descended from a common ancestor, if you'll pardon the evolutionary wording of that statement. (It should be noted that they have a lot of differences as well - but I'd argue that their differences are no greater than the differences you'll find within the Abrahamic faiths.)

I realize that as of this point, I've probably completely lost most theists, as I'm treating Yahweh/Jesus/Allah the same as any other mythological deity. But if you're with me so far, then consider that there has been at least one study which shows that people who believe in God generally tend to think that God agrees with them on important issues. It's pretty rare to meet two theists who see God in exactly the same way, but even when they're close, they'll ultimately be describing somebody who's more their idealized self than anything else. I've noted this before when it comes to Jesus, as people (even some atheists and agnostics) will talk about how wonderful he is, but they're essentially describing a character that they've invented in their heads, only borrowing the bits of the New Testament that they like.

I realize that it's a very inclusive, accommodating point of view that creates this idea that all of these people are worshiping the same being. Some will take it even further and say that basically any idea, be it Hindu, Sikh, Zoroastrian, deist, etc. of a deity essentially amounts to the same thing. While the motivation might be a good one, it ultimately trivializes one hell of a lot of history and a great deal of cultural diversity.

I once debated a Christian and I spoke of how there are other gods, but the Christian kept insisting that there is only one God. I tried to make it clear that while I understood that, according to his belief system, there is only one God, there have been thousands of gods that have been worshiped all over the world for a long, long time. He wasn't having any of it. But honestly, now I'm not even sure that I agree with as much as I was willing to grant him. Yeah, people might be using that generic term "God" and think that they're all talking about the same thing, but I can make an argument for many different monotheisms - perhaps even one for each theist out there.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Parenting - on "bad" language

I'm not a fan of the idea that there are some words that are "bad". Sure, there is language that is inappropriate for some situations, but nothing about a word makes it inherently bad. For me, it's more about what a person means rather than the actual words. For instance, I've heard some of the most racist things in my life by people who didn't utter a single racist epithet.

Lately, my four-year-old son has been a fan of watching YouTube videos. He especially likes watching the ones where a person plays a level of Super Mario Brothers while commenting on the game. Sometimes it's multiplayer, and they all riff off of each other and make all kinds of jokes. Sometimes the language gets a bit rough. Don't get me wrong - they're not dropping the F bomb, but they're saying words that I'm not ready for my boy to go around using in public. You know, stuff like crap, dammit, bastard, etc.

Fortunately, I haven't heard my son use any of those words yet. I figure though that it's probably only a matter of time before he does though. Part of me was tempted to tell him that he could no longer watch those videos. There would definitely be a lot of whining and complaining if I did that, and he'd feel like I was punishing him even though he hadn't done anything wrong.

I tried another tactic. I sat down and had a talk with him. I told him that the players use a lot of words that aren't very nice, and I don't want to hear him talking like they do. I told my son that so long as he didn't use those words, he could keep watching. However, if he started repeating what he heard on the videos, then he could no longer watch them.

How well did he understand that? I'm not sure. Was this a good strategy? I guess I'll find out. That was a few weeks ago, and he still hasn't said any of those words. It's working so far.

Ultimately though, I realize that I can't hide him from these things forever, and forbidding things is something that I think should be done as sparingly as possible - even though I realize that there are some things that I absolutely have to keep away from them for as long as I can.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

An escape hatch for your beliefs

I don't know about you, but I hate the idea that I might currently believe something that isn't true. While some of my beliefs are fairly secure, I try to not lock myself down on to anything so tightly that there's no way that I can ever change my mind on it.

One of the reasons why I try to engage in conversations rather than debates over various issues lately is because debates often don't go anywhere - even when you have the facts on your side. Too many times, people are so convinced that their particular side of an issue is the correct one that it doesn't matter what you show them. For instance, I recently got into a conversation with somebody about climate change, and he gave me some links to a couple of videos that supposedly debunk the idea. I didn't have to get very far to realize that these arguments were pretty specious, and I provided him with a link that went into specific details as to why climate change hasn't actually been debunked at all.

His response? The whole thing is a hoax, and sites that debunk the talking points of deniers are part of the hoax. In other words, the sheer fact that it contradicts what he believes is proof that it's not true.

Where do you even go from there? It's not that he was able to go into detail as to what was wrong with the links I provided. Why is that necessary when you already know that it's wrong?

It seems to me that if you genuinely care about whether your beliefs are true or not, you can think of a way out of them. For instance, a friend of mine recently told me about a debate that he got into with some anti-vaxxers. I'm totally pro-vaccine. My wife, my son, and I get our annual flu shots. My son is fully vaccinated. I think that people who don't vaccinate their children are creating a public health crisis, and their actions (or lack thereof) border on being criminal. They are dangerous.

So, yeah, I definitely feel pretty strongly about this. But is there any way to see my way out? I think that there is, and it's not too hard to come up with a really obvious way for that to happen. If the data shows that children who are vaccinated are more prone to having specific ailments and diseases than those who are unvaccinated, then that's pretty much the end of it, isn't it? Of course, you're not seeing anything like that, and in fact, you're seeing the return of life-threatening illnesses like the measles in communities where there is a high rate of unvaccinated kids.

But hey, maybe that's not even true. Do you have a reason for me to doubt that? I'll consider it, I'm not holding my breath, as it would involve a really deep conspiracy which would require some extraordinary proof, but if you've got it, then what do I have to gain by believing something that's not true?

I could give other examples as to things that I believe - ranging from things I feel pretty certain about (evolution) to fairly certain (GMOs are safe for human consumption) to somewhat certain ("conservative" economic policies don't actually work). I'm not going to bother though, or this blog would be ridiculously long. But let's just say that I can't see the harm in thinking of what would make me change my mind. If I have good reasons for believing what I believe, then how can it hurt to contemplate my way out of my belief if it's ever necessary to do so?

Am I wrong? Is there no good reason to have an "escape plan" for your beliefs? Can you show me a reason where something was gained by simply locking on to a belief without considering that it might be wrong?

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Why do atheists seem so angry?

Do you believe in God? Do you sometimes wonder why people who don't believe in God seem so upset sometimes? Maybe I can help clear things up for you.

Let's get one thing out of the way before I continue though. Sometimes atheists aren't upset at all, even when they're being told that they are upset. For instance, there's a story that was making the rounds online recently about how atheists are supposedly enraged over a song by Carrie Underwood. This has a lot of Christians wondering why atheists would get so mad just because somebody would sing about their religious beliefs. The thing to notice though is that no actual atheists have been quoted as being mad about the song at all. In fact, the only response I've been seeing is not a response to the song but a response to the original article. In other words, atheists aren't upset about the song, but they are baffled as to why they're being called upset.

There's also a lot of exaggeration out there about things that supposedly upset us. Some comedian had a whole bit about an atheist who got offended because somebody said "Bless you" after he sneezed. Is it possible that there are atheists out there who would take offense to that? I suppose, but I think that I'll go out on a limb here and say that most atheists don't care, and many of us still say it reflexively.

Still, sometimes atheists seem upset, and sometimes they genuinely are. While I'm not the first person to explain why this happens, let me give a few possible explanations:

1. We feel like we've been duped.

Imagine what it's like to be married for twenty years only to find out that the person whom you thought was faithful to you was actually leading a double life and was cheating on you the whole time. This is how many people who are just coming out of faith feel. We feel like this idea, which we trusted to be true, has turned out to be a colossal lie.

I realize that if you are a believer, your response is that it's not a lie, so we shouldn't feel that way. But that's not my point. Even if we're mistaken in our belief that it's a lie, the point is how we feel about it. Nobody likes to be tricked about something that's important, and what can be more important than the fate of your immortal soul (if there was such a thing)?

2. We feel like those closest to us don't care.

Oftentimes, when a person loses their faith, it's due to a long process that involved a lot of reading and soul-searching. When they reach the conclusion that there is no reason to believe in a God, they want to go out and share this information. Their motivation is the same as yours would be if you found out that a particular model of car would explode if somebody barely bumped it from behind. You'd want people who own this car to know the truth. At the very least, you'd want some sort of good explanation as to why this isn't the case. Now imagine that people responded by explaining away the evidence or completely ignoring all together; instead, they chose to keep driving that death-trap.

I realize that many theists feel this way about when they share their faith. They think that they have some important information to tell those who don't believe in their religion. I've even heard Christians say that they proselytize because they want to "save people". I have no doubt that their intentions are sincere, and if you're a Christian, then you should be able to understand this frustration perfectly. Now, the question as to who's actually right is another story, of course, but hopefully you can see what I mean.

3. People don't even attempt to understand what we're saying.

Let's stay with the defective car analogy. What if you told people about this car, and their responses went like this:

"Why are you so angry at this car manufacturer?"

"You just say this because you love bicycles."

"So, are you saying that mayonnaise isn't healthy?"

None of those things have anything to do with a car that will explode, do they? How frustrated would you be if people responded this way? You'd probably start shouting and flailing your arms, I'd imagine. Well, this is how we feel when we get responses like this:

"Why are you angry at God?"

We're not. We'd have to believe in him to be angry at him. Many of us think that if he was real then he would be pretty awful, and it makes us angry that anybody would want to worship such a thing - but this idea can coexist with not believing that he's real.

Also, we're sometimes angry at believers because they want to enforce laws based on what he supposedly wants, but they aren't even able to demonstrate his existence in the first place. (And oftentimes, what this god wants is to treat certain groups of people unfairly.)

Do you want to make an atheist happy? Then respond as follows, and it doesn't require you to compromise your own beliefs:

"So, you don't think that a God exists, and you don't see any good reason to believe in one?"

From there, don't assume that they haven't considered the reasons why you believe. Chances are good that they have, and they find those reasons entirely unconvincing. (And in some cases, you'll even learn that there once was a time that they found those reasons to be compelling.)

4. Believers often create a false narrative.

This idea is related to the first one. I've had people assume many things about me, like how I must have had some bad experience, or I don't want to be held accountable for my actions and would rather "live in sin", or the most frustrating: I don't believe because I'm biased.

These are all untrue, and the last (most frustrating) one ignores that I started out with a bias to believe in God. If a bias is that strong, then how was I able to change my mind? Certainly a bias can explain why people stick to a particular position, but it's false to assume that's the reason why, and I think that I can demonstrate why it's not a matter of a bias that has me feeling the way that I do.)

Perhaps this isn't intentional on the part of the believer, but these sorts of narratives - along with the ever-popular "You're just going through a phase" - enables the theist to completely dismiss what the atheist is saying without having to consider any of their actual arguments.

And that, along with all of the other reasons I mentioned, can be very frustrating. Frustrating enough to make us a bit angry.