Nyah, Nyah

I’ve read Greta Christina’s new book (albeit in it’s nearly finished form) and yoo-oou hav-ent. But you can fix that.

Why are atheists angry?

Is it because they’re selfish, joyless, lacking in meaning, and alienated from God?

Or is it because they have legitimate reasons to be angry — and are ready to do something about it?

Armed with passionate outrage, absurdist humor, and calm intelligence, popular blogger Greta Christina makes a powerful case for outspoken atheist activism, and explains the empathy and justice that drive it.

This accessible, personal, down-to-earth book speaks not only to atheists, but to believers who want to understand the so-called “new atheism.” “Why Are You Atheists So Angry?” drops a bombshell on the destructive force of religious faith — and gives a voice to millions of angry atheists.

Also over at Greta’s are a host of blurbs and recommendations. Consider mine added. Greta writes about the harms of religion with so bloody much reason that I literally blinked with surprise the couple of times she swore in the book. Having that kind of passion married to that kind of writing is a very rare thing indeed. You really shouldn’t miss it. Nor should those people around you who just can’t seem to see why you’re so angry.

Good book. Get it. Now.

Manufacturing Criminality

This week may kill me. I thought so yesterday, and that was before I received a request to do a guest lecture on very little notice. That means light to nonexistent original blogging here.

While I’m all tied up being productive, head on over to Ed’s. He’s just finished up (I think) a short set of posts that briefly lay out the inequalities exposed in Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (recently out in paperback). I recommend reading the book if you have the time, but Ed’s posts will at least give you the background. [Read more…]

Wear Those Scarlet Letters With Pride

As Daniel points out, today starts “A” Week on Facebook. Don’t be shy, though. You can also sport a jaunty “A” on Twitter or Google+ or anywhere you hang out with an avatar. Whatever it takes to make atheists visible and let the atheists around you know they’ve got your support.

To get you in the mood, here’s a brand new trailer for Scarlet Letter, a forthcoming documentary about atheists. I think you’ll recognize some of the faces.

The website for the movie appears to be here, but it’s seriously borked at the moment, at least on my browser. I assume that will be fixed soon.

Good News from Utah

From April and John comes something of a rarity these days, the news that a conservative politician has declined to take the stupidest, most reactionary stance on a piece of legislation regarding sexual health. Utah Governor Gary Herbert has vetoed the legislation that would have allowed schools to stop teaching sex education and barred any mention of contraception in what sex education remained.

It was a decision that followed pressure by thousands of Utahns on both sides of the issue since lawmakers passed HB363 last week. Utahns flooded the governor’s office with thousands of letters; more than 40,000 people signed an online petition against it; hundreds rallied against it at the Capitol this week; and a variety of groups took public stands.

In rejecting the bill Friday, Herbert said that sex education is an emotional topic and instruction should stress the importance of abstinence, but not interfere with parents’ ability to determine how their children are instructed.

“After careful review of existing law and following extensive discussions with stakeholders on both sides of the issue,” Herbert said, “I am convinced the existing statutory framework respects these two principles, while HB363 simply goes too far by constricting parental options.”

There’s some talk that this is political cowardice on the part of the governor. I’m fine with that. Whatever it takes.

Saturday Storytime: Sunlight Society

Margaret Ronald is the author of the Evie Scelan urban fantasy novels. This short story is nothing like those. It’s also not your average superhero story.

He’s entirely serious, and of all the members of the shadow orgs, he embodies those values the most. And yet I can’t help myself. “‘To protect the weak, the innocent, and the defenseless from the indignities, wrongs and outrages of the lawless, the violent and the brutal,'” I quote. Glendower shoots me a sharp look.

Maxentius, though, hasn’t noticed. “Yes! Exactly.” He shakes my hand a second time, beaming, and nods to Glendower. “I must be off. Good luck — I hope we’ll see you here again.”

I watch him go. He rescues kittens; that much is a matter of record. It’s part of why there’s now a cleanup detail assigned solely to him. The shadow orgs may prize their secrecy, but Maxentius does make a useful distraction. And, after all, they are all on the same side.

I shouldn’t have made fun of him. It’s not his fault he’s an innocent.

Glendower’s watching me, but unless he’s a nethead — and I know he’s not — he can’t see everything I’m doing. “I’ve set up a contact terminal for you,” he says. “We’d been meaning to change out our security, but good netheads with clearance are few and far between, and I’m afraid we were caught with our trousers down. The virus doesn’t seem to be actively hostile, but my projections show it stopping work outright if it overloads any more of our systems. At the moment it’s benign, just irritating.”

“I can imagine.” Twenty years ago, we’d have been fine with a microsecond lag; forty years, and a five-second lag was nothing. But technology spoils us — I should know, I’ve got a few dozen terabytes’ worth of it in my head. I switch from wireless to node work, and put my hands on either side of the contact terminal, relying on the points wired into my fingertips to carry me in. “I can upgrade some of your security while I’m here, but it’ll just be a patch-up job till I can come back, and I don’t yet have clearance for a second visit. You sure you couldn’t fix it yourself?”

Glendower shakes his head. “It’s rapidshift. I just don’t have the speed to keep it from mutating as I’m working on it. That’s nethead work.”

Of course it is; I created the damn virus.

Keep reading.

Atheists Talk: Freethought Bloggers on Activist Blogging

Note: Minnesota Atheists are once again raising money for the airtime costs for this show. If you listen to the show or the podcast, please consider donating.

“Blogs are stupid.” “Blogs are graffiti with punctuation.” Those are two of Google’s autocomplete suggestions on the topic of blogs. That doesn’t make the statements true, of course.

“Atheist blogs are:

  • always stirring up controversy.”
  • mean.”
  • strident.”
  • an echo chamber.”
  • slacktivism.”

A lot of things get said about atheist blogging, but most of them aren’t said by atheist bloggers themselves. With Jennifer McCreight in town to speak at the Minnesota Atheists monthly meeting, we take the opportunity to gather together a number of atheist bloggers to talk about what they do, why they do it, what they have accomplished, and what they hope to accomplish in the future. In addition to Jen, we will have Greg Laden, Brianne Bilyeu, and Stephanie Zvan in the studio this Sunday.

Related Links:

Listen to AM 950 KTNF this Sunday at 9 a.m. Central to hear Atheists Talk, produced by Minnesota Atheists. Stream live online. Call in to the studio at 952-946-6205, or send an e-mail to radio@mnatheists.org during the live show. If you miss the live show, listen to the podcast later.

IOKIYAR: Gender Discrimination Lawsuit Edition

A while back, I featured a piece of high-grade snark on the topic of our state Senate Majority Leader stepping down. Amy Koch was one of the sponsors of the marriage discrimination amendment we’ll be voting on (and hopefully against) in November, and she resigned in an apparent attempt to keep her affair with staffer Michael Brodkorb.

Brodkorb, who had previously been deputy chair of the state Republican Party, also lost his senate staffer position in the aftermath of the affair. And now he’s considering getting litigious over it: [Read more…]

Hearings on Migraine and Headache Disorders

The Alliance for Headache Disorders Advocacy notes the following (not in order):

  • Chronic headache disorders, including migraine and cluster headache, are among the top 20 causes of disability in the US according to the World Health Organization (WHO)
  • Headache disorders, including migraine, are responsible for more than $31B in economic costs in the US annually.
  • 19% of Americans will experience an attack of some form of migraine this year.
  • Among veterans of the Iraq/Afghanistan conflicts, 37% of servicemen and 57% of servicewomen reported ongoing migraine if there was a deployment history of concussive injury and any predeployment history of migraine.
  • Migraine results in an increased risk of cardiovascular disease which has been linked to more than 1500 additional deaths in the US annually.
  • The WHO estimates that migraine causes more lost years of healthy life in the US annually than multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, ovarian cancer, and tuberculosis combined…,
  • …whereas in 2010 the combined NIH research funding on these four disorders ($684M) was more than 45 times greater than that for migraine ($15M).

Given all that, public hearings on the topic and how research on causes (still not well determined) and treatment (woefully lagging) are treated by our governmental institutions simply makes sense, right? I happen to think so, but I’m biased. I’m one of those people who regularly loses days to migraines. The treatment options that work are just about as debilitating as the migraines themselves.

Sadly, those hearings are not currently a reality. ADHA is trying to fix that, however, with a petition that contains the facts listed above and more. Head on over there and find out why (if you don’t have your own personal reason) we need to take these disorders seriously as a research topic. Then, please, sign the petition.

Warren Jeffs Gets Stranger

I have no idea whether Warren Jeffs believed that his god was telling him that he had some kind of heavenly mandate to marry women and girls without any concern for their desires. I don’t know whether he thought raping his underage “spiritual wives” was desired by this god. It’s neither unheard of to believe in very convenient gods nor to invent gods to get you what you want.

Truth be told, I don’t care. Jeffs is in a nice little secular prison now where he’ll stay for the rest of his life. The rest, at least in his case, is academic.

Jeffs, however, doesn’t think so, and he’s on a campaign to convince others that he knows God’s will on this matter. [Read more…]