Monday, September 27, 2010

Free Renter's Insurance? Yup.

Renter's insurance is one of those things that are affordable and important. So why is it that we don't have renter's insurance? I have one word for you: "procrastination". I have no excuse whatsoever. Last weekend I finally got around to fixing this problem - OK, it was more or less a happy accident, but the end result is great. We now have renter's insurance with token coverage for our belongings, and respectable coverage against liability. How did it happen?

Recently I got a new Hyundai. Yes, one of those that's being recalled and yes, I know. I still love that car. I added it to our insurance coverage the day I got it, but it occurred to me that I forgot to remove the old car, because at the time it was still parked outside waiting to be picked up by Public Radio (where all donated good cars go). I finally remembered and called AAA to make the policy change. While the agent was revising my premiums she was reciting the various discounts I was entitled to receive: good driver, multiple cars etc. Then she told me that if I had renter's insurance with AAA my car insurance premiums would be discounted another 20%. Procrastinating is one thing, but when you actually have the agent on the phone, not following up on an obvious opening would be negligence.

So I followed up. I answered some basic questions and 5 minutes later I was the proud owner of a renter's insurance policy. The total cost? $173 a year for the coverage I selected. Now here's the punchline: the discount we got on the car insurance premium because we now also have renter's insurance with AAA is $300.

Long story short, AAA is paying us $127 a year for the privilege of insuring our home. How incredible is that? Of course, I could have done this years ago and I would have saved about a thousand dollars by now, but that's the price of procrastinating.

At the end of the call I asked the agent whether there was something else she wanted to give me for free. She laughed.

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Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Ground Zero Islamic Center - My Take

I am atheist and proud of it. I am of the firm opinion that everyone should be free to practice their religion (or lack thereof) as they see fit. This is part of who we are as Americans. It is a sacred principle enshrined in our constitution. For this reason I find the debate over the so-called "ground zero" Islamic center to be a farce and mark of shame for our country.

Islam does not equal terrorism. Would anybody think it a rational argument if Christians were prohibited from building churches next to the Oklahoma City Federal Building just because Timothy McVeigh was Christian? Obviously this would be a nonsensical position. Why is the Islamic center any different? True, the 9/11 terrorists were all Muslim, but it does not follow that all Muslim's are terrorists. In fact, many of the 9/11 victims were themselves Muslim. Why should all Muslims be asked to answer for the crimes of a small and sick minority that shares the same faith?

From my personal perspective, religions (all of them) are misguided. I recognize and respect everyone's right to worship and believe what they choose, and I make no claim to know better than anyone else the ultimate truth or the nature of reality. I am frustrated, perplexed and amazed by people's unwavering and uncompromising certainty about things they have no possible way of knowing. I feel that there is plenty of evidence to show that religion has been a force for evil in the world (case in point the 9/11 attacks themselves), which does not reduce by one bit the virtue and good done by many honest and devout religious folks of all religions.

Let's face it, the protest against the "ground zero" Islamic center is nothing short of religious fundamentalism and bigotry, dressed in the guise of political correctness and a plea for "consideration". For God's sake, let honest people worship as they will. Your religion is no better than theirs and is no more grounded in reality or morality than those of others.

That's my take, anyway.

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