TBT: Reality-Based Politics

Jeff Johnson is running for governor of Minnesota this year, on a platform of making us more like Wisconsin. (I know people in Wisconsin, so, no.. Also I like my governor.) I didn’t remember that I’d written about Johnson before, in August 2009.

Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson has no quarrel with publicly funded treatment for alcoholics. But he said he struggles with taxpayer money going to housing for chronic alcoholics that offer no treatment at all.

Not only that, he was surprised to learn, the so-called “wet houses” don’t even require their homeless residents to stay sober.

“I understand these people are very sick, but I don’t think that means you should expect absolutely nothing out of them,” Johnson said. “If we’re going to provide you housing, you should figure out how to stop being drunk all the time.”

[sigh]

Jeff is a nice guy, generally. I used to work with his wife, so I’ve met him and the kids, and a cuter family you’re not likely to meet. But this…. [Read more...]

The Reading List, 8/13/2014

I share a lot of links on Twitter and Facebook that I don’t blog about because I don’t have much to add. The reading list is a periodic feature where I share those links with my blog audience too. Of course, you’re still welcome to follow me on Twitter.

Around FtB

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Introducing the Secular Majority

From Mary Ellen Sikes, news of a new organization that does not cover the same ground as the organizations we have now:

Candidates have a new constituency to court in the 2014 election season: voters who’ve had it with religion in politics. In at least eight states, the new Secular Majority will be distributing a questionnaire to identify and endorse federal and state candidates who support a secular approach to public education, reproductive rights, marriage equality, science, and a host of other topics related to the separation of church and state.

Independent, non-partisan, and staffed by volunteers, the Secular Majority is operational in Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, Ohio, South Dakota, and Texas. A Michigan team is currently organizing and additional states will be added as volunteers step forward, with the goal of reaching all fifty states.

In a 2012 study of voters by the Pew Forum for Religion and Public Life, the largest response group was made up of those turned off by religion in politics — an unprecedented finding. Also from Pew, the generation known as the Millennials (adults from 18 to 33) is the most liberal and least religious of any in the past.

“Secularism is clearly trending,” said Secular Majority founder and president Mary Ellen Sikes. “Americans of all faiths and none are fed up with elected officials imposing their religious beliefs on the people they’re supposed to be representing. In 2014 we shouldn’t need to lobby our legislators to let us use birth control or marry the person we love. Religiously neutral government makes it possible for Americans to live their lives in harmony with their own beliefs and values — that’s the American dream, and we’re working to elect candidates who agree with us about that.”

The Secular Majority is an independent, non-partisan, grassroots network of organizers, activists, and voters with the mission of identifying, supporting, and aiding in the election of qualified candidates committed to secular government and civic equality for Secular Americans. For more information, or to contact a State Director, visit www.SecularMajority.us.

If you have time to help out, particularly if you’re in a state that doesn’t already have coverage, please volunteer here. Make it possible for voters who care about maintaining a strong separation of church and state in all areas of policy to find the information they need to make informed choices at the polls.

My Predictable MO (Updated)

Nothing quite like noticing an interesting conversation in your Twitter feed and discovering that it is, in part, about you.

Screen capture of tweets. Text included in the post.

@GretchenKoch: I see. Rape culture doesn’t exist, but “outrage culture” does. Seriously, @DJGrothe? That makes my brain hurt. http://gravityswings.wordpress.com/2014/08/08/tilting-at-windmills-outrage-culture-and-manufacturing-enemies/

@DJGrothe: @GretchenKoch “Outrage culture” isn’t exactly a sweeping and systematic critique of society. But I’m glad you got the rhetorical point.

‏@GretchenKoch: .@DJGrothe I wish I didn’t. I’m tired of crap like that. And this: http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2014/08/04/alcoholism-and-personality-disorders/

I’m no longer interested in what you have to say.

‏@DJGrothe: @GretchenKoch Well, that Zvan piece is typical rubbish, impressive falsehoods. Her predictable MO. #outrageculture

Naturally, having made that post true to the best of my ability and knowledge, I asked.

Screen capture of tweets. Text included in the post.

@szvan: .@DJGrothe What falsehoods would those be, D. J.? Be specific. @GretchenKoch

‏@DJGrothe: @szvan I’ve communicated with you zero times in years. Not about to start now. Obsess over someone else. @GretchenKoch

‏@szvan: .@DJGrothe You’ll claim I’m lying but you won’t back it up. Of course. @GretchenKoch

I guess I should be happy he didn’t tell me he was going to forward me the email that contained all the proof. That’s his MO when asked to back up his side of a tale, the promised email that never arrives.

He is right, to the extent that I do have an MO. That MO just happens to be that I don’t let damaging lies like Grothe’s stand when I have the power and the information to knock them down.

That’s what I did in the post he objected to here. That’s what I did in the post reacting to his threats against Pamela Gay. That’s what I did in some of the posts I linked to in order to demonstrate his pattern of lying.

Grothe’s MO is to lie to improve his own situation, then refuse to back up his claims. Mine is to dismantle his lies. I like my MO better.

Update: As Tom notes in the comments, someone is trying to make the laughable argument that Grothe wasn’t talking about Amy in his tweet. Not only does that make no sense in the context of his tweet, but as someone pointed out to me, this isn’t even the first time he’s used the accusation of personality disorders and alcoholism.

image

@DJGrothe: @gthnk There are a lot of mean girls in atheism etc. But go easy on them: don’t discount the role of alcoholism and personality disorders.

For anyone who might be unaware, “mean girls” is Sara Mayhew’s preferred term for women who don’t want to hang out with her after she’s put so much work into harassing them and their friends. Grothe has been openly sympathetic to her complaints.

So if you’d like to claim Grothe meant someone else, you’re going to need to come up with a better explanation.

Minneapolis 2014 Primary Sample Ballot

This Tuesday is a primary election in Minneapolis, and following my usual pattern, I’m posting my choices and reasoning publicly. Voting in the primary here is done on a single-party basis. You don’t have to be registered to a party to vote, but you can only vote for one party’s candidates on the partisan portion of the ballot, which covers everything but school board and the judiciary this year. I’m voting in the Democratic-Farmer-Labor category.

To find out where you vote and what will be on your ballot, go to the Secretary of State’s elections website. Give them your address, and they’ll show you who is running for all offices you’re eligible to vote on. Under the candidates will be one link to see a sample ballot (which may be easier to read) and one link for your polling place.

As always, I put my reasoning for my votes online for people who don’t have the resources or time to do their own. If my reasoning doesn’t match yours, at least you have some background. If you want to provide additional background in the comments, feel free. [Read more...]

The Reading List, 8/10/2014

I share a lot of links on Twitter and Facebook that I don’t blog about because I don’t have much to add. The reading list is a periodic feature where I share those links with my blog audience too. Of course, you’re still welcome to follow me on Twitter.

Around FtB

The Wider Web

Within One Year

California Code of Civil Procedure section 340(c).

340. Within one year:

(c) An action for libel, slander, false imprisonment, seduction of a person below the age of legal consent, or by a depositor against a bank for the payment of a forged or raised check, or a check that bears a forged or unauthorized endorsement, or against any person who boards or feeds an animal or fowl or who engages in the practice of veterinary medicine as defined in Section 4826 of the Business and Professions Code, for that person’s neglect resulting in injury or death to an animal or fowl in the course of boarding or feeding the animal or fowl or in the course of the practice of veterinary medicine on that animal or fowl.

We wouldn’t necessarily know yet, but one way or another, it’s done.

Saturday Storytime: Between Sea and Shore

I don’t remember who it was that said ennui is nostalgia for a place one has never been. The idea has stuck with me, but the source hasn’t. I was reminded of it again as I read this story by Vanessa Fogg.

I was playing alone on the beach. I was perhaps four years old. It was the cool time of evening when families gather to enjoy the reprieve from the heat; children splash and run in the sea as their mothers sit weaving baskets and the men mend nets or clean out traps for the next day’s fishing. The fishing boats have been dragged ashore, and their painted eyes and charms glint in the day’s last light.

I had wandered far from my friends and from any adult. Orange streaks from the falling sun lit the sky, but my feet seemed to be moving in a separate world of darkness. I watched my own feet splashing through the dimming water; I followed them, fascinated, as though I were following the appendages of some mysterious creature. And I was singing a lullaby as I went, something my mother would sometimes sing to me, a song from her own inland village.

Kirri, kirri sing the little birds.

They call for you in the dawn.

Mik, mik calls the mouse in the field.

He misses your shadow passing by.

I was singing, and was there an echo I heard, a second voice tracing those words? I sang louder and it seemed that the waves were growing stronger. That second voice sang with me, a half-beat behind, and I could hear the curiosity in its uncertain refrain. The current sucked at my legs . . .

And my mother was screaming my name, running at me; she grabbed me and swung me away from the water, up into her arms. “Don’t,” she cried. “Don’t ever sing that song, don’t sing here at night, don’t you know–”

She shook me, she was so angry, and I saw the tears glinting on her cheeks. I burst into sobs.

Keep reading.

“Accessible Philosophy for Everyone”, Dan Fincke on Atheists Talk

Philosophy is a process of thinking critically that has been used by humans since before the Greeks used it to try to figure out how the world works and how best to live within it. It is the foundation of science, morality, and ethics and a means to satisfy our curiosity in a logical fashion. Recently a few well-known physicists have said that philosophy is unnecessary because now we have the means in our technological age to answer questions that metaphysicists attempted to resolve without fancy tools. Philosophy and science, however, are mutually dependent on each other.

Dan Fincke is a professor who has moved out of the university setting to teach philosophy online through Hangouts, making the vast field accessible to busy and curious and yearning people worldwide. He joins us to talk about all the whys and hows of his classes.

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 [email protected] during the live show. If you miss the live show, listen to the podcast later.

Follow Atheists Talk on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates. If you like the show, consider supporting us with a one-time or sustaining donation.

TBT: True Geek

Someone remembered for me, back in July 2008, when I posted this. We were talking about the station in Babylon 5.

Something seemed wrong.

We were at the Irish Well. The band was taking a break, but it was still loud. I wasn’t sure I’d heard him right. “How many tons of steel in the station?”

He told me again.

“How long?”

I was skeptical.

“And how fast does it rotate?”

“One full rotation a day. Earth gravity. Earth day.”

“That can’t be right, can it?” [Read more...]