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Feb 09 2014

‘My Week in Atheism’ premiers this week

John Christy is a Christian who came to the American Atheists national convention in Austin Texas last year, and he interviewed a bunch of us for this documentary film.  To be sure that we were represented fairly, the movie was co-produced by David Smalley of Dogma Debate.  I’ve seen portions of this film, and it really does represent our position the way we ourselves present it.

The film premiers at the Crest theater in Sacramento California this Saturday, February 15th. If you’re within range of that theater, please attend.

Feb 02 2014

Secular Asian Community discussion on FtB con

Lilandra’s part of the virtual conference is on now.

Jan 31 2014

Happy New Year on a much older calendar

 

Because my wife is half-Vietnamese, I have to go to Houston this 4712weekend, to meet the in-laws for what they consider to be one of their most important holidays, Chinese New Year.  So while the rest of you guys are just barely getting into 2014, I’ll be ringing in the year of the horse, 4712.

The Chinese calendar isn’t as old as the Hebrew calendar.  They’re already up to 5775.  Do you realize that means that Jesus would have been born around 3758?  It’s amazing to me how many people actually think that the Gregorian calendar was the very first one, and that we didn’t start keeping dates until the time attributed to their patron deity.

Jan 14 2014

Creationism and Flat Earthers

I felt this was a comment worth sharing.

Jan 13 2014

In 2009, America was 17% atheist

For a while now, I’ve been wanting to conduct a poll wherein I ask a representative percentage of the population, “Are you convinced that an actual deity really exists”  I want to phrase the question that way, because I know that most atheists in this country don’t even know they are atheist, because they don’t know the definition.  Even a good number of those who know what an atheist is still bend over backwards like Neo in the Matrix trying to dodge that label. I even know of a people who still identify as non-practicing Catholics, Jewish, or Hindu, even though they say they don’t believe in any god.

There was a Pew survey in 2009 which answers that question well enough.  While we are normally told that atheists represent only about 5% of the general population, that poll shows 1% who refused to answer the question, which is the way many actual atheists respond to this.  A lot of them are ‘apatheists’, they don’t CARE if God exists.  Then there are another 12% who say they don’t believe in any god, but that they do believe in a ‘universal spirit’ or ‘higher power’ (something akin to the Force) which could not be correctly defined as a god.  That would mean that actual atheists collectively represent about 17% of the general populace, and 66% of scientists.

Jan 08 2014

My frustration with Bill Naive

Sadly I will not be going to Kentucky in February.  I’m very disappointed that I won’t be going to the creation museum to support Bill Nye in his debate against one of this country’s leading snake oil salesman.  I would have gone, but tickets were mysteriously suspiciously unavailable to atheists.  A half-dozen of us were already on the ticket site the moment they went on sale.  Some of these guys posted to my facebook about what was happening at that moment.  They all tried to add tickets to the cart but got an error message as the site crashed.  It quickly came back online announcing that all 900 seats had sold out instantaneously simultaneously, and somehow none of the interested atheist groups got even one of those tickets -according to all the reports I’ve heard so far.  So we’re not going after all.

I had been invited to speak to the Louisville Atheists the night before the debate.  Obviously that has to be cancelled too.  I had also intended to meet an old friend while on my way through Nashville, so I have a few reasons to be disappointed.

Now here’s my frustration with Bill Nye.  I seriously doubt he has any idea of the sort of con-men and charlatans he’s dealing with.  Otherwise he would not have booked his debate to take place inside the creation museum where the opposition controls absolutely everything, and will throw people out just for wearing atheist tee shirts.

It’s not just that no atheists are getting in.  It’s that there won’t be any publicly accessible unedited video either.  You can buy the DVD, but only after it has been sanitized and edited the way answersingenesis wants it.  So what is the point of even doing it?  It should have been in a neutral venue where AiG wouldn’t be able to restrict who gets tickets, where they wouldn’t have brought in $22,500.00 just off ticket sales in addition to a $5.00 charge per person to watch the live stream, and then additional cash off the sale of DVDs.

Thanks Bill.  The creation museum was in financial trouble, and you’ve just given them tens of thousands of dollars.  That’s not really a victory for science education, now is it?  For those of us who have been recorded and colorfully edited by these people, the worst is yet to come, I’m sorry to say.

When I was asked to debate Ray Comfort on the radio, my only condition was that he not be able to make any money off of me. There is a reason to debate these people, but if you’re going to contribute to thier cash-flow, then that defeats the purpose. That’s all they care about.  They’re certainly not interested in truth.  Money is what creates these people in the first place.  So we don’t ever want them to make a dime off of us, and we don’t want them to have exclusive control of anything.

Jan 05 2014

Hey Bill, show ‘em that Science Rules!

Of all the places I ever planned to visit, Kentucky never made my list.  It’s also surprising to me that I would ever visit a creationist museum -and give them money on top of that!  But I have to do that if I am to document the historic confrontation between Ken Ham, kingpin of creationism and Bill Nye the Science Guy.

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This will doubtless be another decent into madness, and I’m sure the debate will be infuriating.  I’m not sure what to expect from Nye in this debate, but every time I’ve seen Ham speak, it has been an outrageous parade of deliberate deceptions and holy hogwash.  But I have to respect Bill for what he is doing.  I was there when Hitchens walked into a Dallas megachurch and won the day against Demski.  I will be there to witness this too.

Bill! Bill! Bill! Bill! Science Rules!

Jan 04 2014

Giving more than lip service to atheist diversity.

Have atheist of color’s voices been stifled in anyway in our community? Atheism is still predominantly white. In fact, we match the Mormon Church in diversity. Organized atheists can do a better job of giving atheists of color a platform to speak for themselves. There are interesting PoCs out there worth listening to, and they’re not too hard to find.  This is a new video about some atheists of color’s stories about finding their way out of religion and living without it. It’s well put together, and interesting for the articulate people in it.

Jan 02 2014

Say it ain’t so Bill Nye! Bill Nye debates Ken Ham.

So Ken Ham won’t debate Aron Ra and PZ Myers because… reasons!

He complained that the debate invitation was rude, but look how rude he was to Bill Nye…

“Bill Nye still doesn’t understand the difference between historical science and observational science — so he may be known as ‘Bill Nye the science guy’ — but he doesn’t understand science correctly,” Ken Ham wrote on Facebook. “[Bill Maher and Nye] don’t want the truth — they continue to ‘suppress the truth’ as the Bible states in Romans 1 about such people in rebellion against God.”

And incidentally he was rude to me too. But he will debate Bill Nye on his own turf the Creation Museum. What is Bill Nye thinking? Ham will have his own built in cheering section gasping at totally plausible stuff that Nye says about evolution and applauding dubious crap like this…

Ham added, “I hope to show Mr. Nye and our debate audience that observational science confirms the scientific accuracy of the Genesis account of origins, not evolution.”

How does he still say this stuff with a straight face given the amount of evidence for evolution people keep showing him? For the people, who already want to believe in the Genesis account, his pseudoscience will sound totally plausible given that they can’t discern pseudoscience from real science.

So that is Ham’s game plan.

Give Nye some credit though, at least he agreed to a debate topic that is narrow and focused enough, so that Ham doesn’t spend the whole time riffing on how nasty atheists like Hitler are, or other emotional appeals that aren’t evidenced. That is a common creationist debate diversionary tactic if you watched the Dembski/Hitchens debate, Dembski dropped the whole Intelligent Design facade and basically talked about evangelizing Jesus and how good it made him feel. The debate question is focused on science so it should be child’s play for Nye…

“Is creation a viable model of origins?”

I know a lot of people are thinking that why should Nye give Ham this honor? Especially because of galling stuff that Ham will do with the publicity like this

… Dr. [Georgia] Purdom stated to the Christian Post, [an evolution-creation debate] “could be held at a public university, using an impartial moderator. I would think that someone as polished and charismatic as Mr. Nye would relish the opportunity to debate a creationist. In addition, since Nye will soon be hosting a new science program, I would think he would like to see the publicity generated by his participation in a major public debate.”

So he projects his reasoning for seeking publicity for his new “science” program. Reprehensible! You know already he will be lying to children and adults, and undermining science education based on what he does at the Creation Museum.

creation-museum

You know little Johnny those razor sharp teeth were just used for cracking open coconuts! If man hadn’t sinned God wouldn’t have punished the dinosaurs and all the other animals with suffering and death too.

Notice

And Ham is already dragging on Nye’s lab coat-tails. This is a quote from a site aimed at young Christians called “Relevant”(I know) titled “Bill Nye VS. Ken Ham: Welcome to the Thunderdome”…

“It’ll be a battle for the ages, as the two noted brainiacs take on the question: “Is Creation a viable model of origins?”.

Do they have a snort out loud emoticon?

Personally, I gotta see if me and Aron can make this debate out of mostly morbid curiosity. Also, someone has to cheer for Nye, right?

Dec 29 2013

Ani DiFranco and white feminist gate-keeping to the point of absurdity.

Of course many white feminists get that advocating for gender equality is valueless if you don’t include equality for people of color too. Supporting women of color is a no brainer. Then there are a few with blind spots, who ostensibly get this idea, but then in practice fail to question their own internalized racist ideas.

This is Ani DiFranco, singer, poet, equal rights activist, and to some feminist icon in words on economic and gender equality…

If you’re not angry
you’re just stupid
or you don’t care
how else can you react
when you know
something’s so unfair
the men of the hour
can kill half the world in war
make them slaves to a super power
and let them die poor

Here she is using slavery as a metaphor for fascist, capitalist, patriarchal oppression by imperialists. Yet here she is in deed...

 

June 25 – 29
Nottoway Plantation – White Castle, LA
http://www.righteousretreat.com/An Invitation from Ani…LOVERS OF SONGWRITING, POETRY & PERFORMANCE!Allow me to invite you down to Louisiana to learn and play with me and some of my friends,
exploring these and a few more of our favorite things!We will be shacked up at the historic Nottoway Plantation and Resort in White Castle, LA, for 3 days and 4 nights exchanging ideas, making music, and otherwise getting suntans in the light of each other’s company. During the day, myself, Toshi Reagon, Buddy Wakefield, Hamell on Trial and others will lead workshops and lessons that focus on developing one’s singular creativity. In the evenings we will perform for each other and enjoy great food in a captivating setting.

Why doesn’t she get that the Nottoway Plantation is the largest former plantation in the South?

Nottingham Plantation

From the Plantation’s website slavery apologetics…”It is difficult to accurately assess the treatment of Randolph’s slaves; however, various records indicate that they were probably well treated for the time.”

Mark Faulk points on his blog what the problem is..

 Here’s the problem: Nottoway Plantation is the largest plantation mansion in the South, literally built by slaves who had to carry the huge logs over (as Nottoway’s own website puts it) “miles of plantation ground to the construction site”. The owner, John Hampden Randolph, built his fortune on the backs of slaves. He even signed over 46 slaves as collateral to build his 53,000 square foot dream house.

To date there has been no official response by DiFranco to answer the criticism about the appropriateness of the venue or to cancel this event. People make mistakes, and sure this one is a huge oversight in the most charitable light. But when people call it to your attention that you’re holding your folk songwriting event in a symbol of oppressive capitalism such that 46 human beings were used as capital to build it -just maybe you should reconsider. And too, going with what should be becoming more painstakingly obvious upon further reflection -the place is also an oppressive patriarchal monument.

More importantly, DiFranco and other non-black feminists can’t feel the injustice done here as keenly as black feminists do, but they can do the work required to empathize. I am not black and I haven’t really experienced the racism directed at black people in America. Even though my son is black, I can only listen and empathize. If you inadvertently step on someone’s toes; apologize and listen so you can make things right. Admittedly the price tag of this event is prohibitive to most people of any color, but who wouldn’t want to be welcoming to all women?

Although there are people calling DiFranco out as racist for this event, what it looks more like to me is a disconnect between words and deeds in regards to racial equality. Where the absurdity of this venue would have been immediately obvious to a black feminist; these things can be overlooked by some white feminists because institutionalized racism doesn’t target them. Indeed popular fiction like Gone with the Wind  glamorizes the Old South for young girls. The appeal of this plantation is that of a whitewashed bygone era of Southern gentility.

In absence of DiFranco’s answer to criticism there is a comment war going on between DiFranco’s defenders of her choice of venue and rational people on her facebook, who don’t get why people don’t get this.  The defenses range from minimization and telling black women what they should feel about this to outright absurd, racist gate-keeping as documented by For Harriet  . Get your oven mitts ready to facepalm…

righteousretreat Mandi

 

The post as is, is patronizing and has a badly, misunderstood idea of what it means to “reclaim” something. What if a man told her to attend an event at a “historic” and “captivating” remodeled Magdalene laundry owned by Hobby Lobby because the baby stealing era is over and “reclaim” it and give a symbol of brutal, dehumanizing oppression a “new meaning ? She could rightly tell them where they could go!

The post was bad enough, but in an absurd effort that would be funny if she wasn’t serious she posted this…

Mandi as LaQueeta 1

This post doesn’t resemble the speech pattern of any black feminist that anyone knows. The name LaQueeta Jones on top of this may be a clue that she doesn’t know any real, black people apart from hackneyed stereotypes. She goes on embarrassing herself, and illustrating the need for some whites to get out more especially if they are toting equality until someone busts her.

Mandi as LaQueeta 2mandi as LaQueeta3

 

Who are these people? Seriously. Who gets this personally invested in defending reprehensible, regressive ideologies? It would be funny if these types of ideas don’t pop up in every earnest discussion about racial injustice. When you find yourself telling people that they should just adopt the right attitude about the racist things that happen to them -just stop.  Even less obvious racist crap like this, like Di Franco’s decision of an exclusionary venue for songwriting about gender and economic equality have the net effect of marginalizing people of color’s voices.  Equal means everyone should ideally have an equal place at the table. Do the work and put more thought into it DiFranco.

However, as frustrating as the whole thing is, you can take heart in the fact that most of the posts are calling for Di Franco to do something about this on the event page. They are posting this same statement to her facebook.

“I stand in solidarity with the Black women calling Ani Difranco out for this decision to hold the Righteous Retreat at the site of a former plantation.”

And now there is a petition to sign.

Notice

About 15 min ago, DiFranco replied to the criticism on her facebook. You can view it in its entirety here. I’m still weighing her words, before I decide. I am glad though that she canceled the event and gave it more thought.

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