Your messages for Possummomma

Several folks have left comments at the previous post, offering their well-wishes. But consider this an open comments thread where the idea is that you post a message directly to Possummomma herself, as if she were reading it (which she will, because I’m emailing her the link to this post). If her blogging has impacted you — and it’s impacted many of us — let her know.

Concern over Possummomma

Some folks may have noticed that Possummomma’s blog has been inaccessible for some days. I’ve been in touch with her via email, and can assure everyone that this is nothing to do with her or the family being in any kind of imminent physical danger. Yes, there is a situation in play involving some vile scumbag who threatened the lives of her kids, necessitating a panicked return from a camping trip that, as children, they should have had the right to enjoy without interference from theistic madness. But that fellow is currently facing criminal charges, the law is on it, and so that situation can be considered under control.

What has been going on involves a pattern of online harassment she’s been having to deal with, that is literally too bizarre to be described. Sorry not to be more specific than that, but I figure if she ever wants to come back online and spill the details (and she hasn’t wanted to so far, mainly so as not to seem as if she’s giving the people responsible any legitimacy, which I understand), that’s up to her. But she did want me to let everyone know that they are all, at the very least, safe.

I don’t know what it is about P-Momma, that’s she’s proved to be some kind of Internet maniac magnet. But I’ve assured her that there’s no reason for the current nonsense she’s been experiencing to cause her to quit blogging altogether, which she seemed resigned to in her last email to me. I’ve told her, hey, just go over to WordPress, start up again there. But don’t let assholes stifle your right to speech. Where would any of us be if we caved whenever people who can’t stand anyone different from them tried to intimidate us into silence? Sure, I know, with P-Momma’s health, and her concerns over the safety of her kids, it can be easy to find your energy wearing out after a while. But I support her, and I know her readers, a lot of whom also stop by here, support her too. There are a lot more decent folks out there on her side, than there are fools and madmen (and madwomen) with a desperate need to assuage the feelings of inadequacy their superstitions cannot compensate for by making life miserable for a mom and her little kids.


Addendum: Calladus has the most thorough accounting of what’s happened. Seriously, it’s frickin’ insane.

Post-Ike

We’ve gotten a couple of emails, from some overseas fans, asking if we’re all okay in the wake of Hurricane Ike. Thanks for your concern, and the short answer is: yes. In fact the storm avoided Austin entirely, except for a light shower that popped up at about 11:30 last night and went away just as quickly. After slamming Galveston, Houston and Beaumont, Ike’s remnants shuffled on up the Texas/Louisiana border. My parents live in Jefferson, about a 45-minute drive from Shreveport, way up in what’s called the ArkLaTex, that area where the three states meet. They reported fairly heavy rains, really heavy winds (an entire oak blew down at their lakehouse), and a power outage that lasted until about 4:30 this afternoon and even affected other nearby towns like Marshall and Longview.

Last weekend when I was on the show, someone called in asking some vague question about the severity of hurricanes lately, and I pointed out that this was a pretty clear sign of global warming, as it’s the function of hurricanes to act as a heat sink, channeling excess heat from the equatorial regions towards the poles. So if you have more heat sending more evaporation into the weather systems, presto, big hurricane. My use of the word “function” got the knickers of one viewer in a twist, who felt that word was inappropriate to use when referring to a natural phenomenon. Well, “function” can be used that way, and does not imply that the thing in question was designed, nor does it impart any teleological purpose to it. Basically he was in the mood to gripe about semantics that day, I guess. Not to say that’s an invalid gripe, as people frequently will misrepresent the intent of words in conversation. After all just look how enthusiastically creationists distort the words of Gould and Dawkins. It’s practically a sport. Still, I don’t think too many people were confused about what I meant when I was discussing the function of hurricanes.

We have great fans

Since many people that read this blog are also fans of the show, I thought I’d make people aware of our new Fan Appreciation page on the Atheist Experience web site.

The page will gather together web-based works done by Atheist Experience fans that have promoted our show. Of course, it’ will grow over time with new content as we become aware of it.

I wanted to give a special thanks to people who take clips of our show and re-post them in other venues, usually YouTube. Those little nuggets have gotten the show a lot of free advertising and we really appreciate being able to reach new audiences. On the page above, we’ve gathered those clips and indexed them by episode number. There are about 90 of them now. Who knew? They’re all in one place if you need just a little bite of atheism to help you make it through your day!

As always, send us feedback to the tv show e-mail if you see something that can be improved in some way.

Okay, so I’m giving this Atheist Nexus thingy a try

The last time an atheist-centric social network was attempted — that would be Dawkins Social — it was so ineptly put together and unattractive I just gave up on it. A shame, because Dawkins is the world’s most visible atheist celebrity (if you don’t count people even more famous for things other than their nonbelief, like Jodie Foster and Angelina Jolie), and having his name as a kind of godless gravity well around which the online atheist community could orbit made sound marketing sense, I suppose. But the whole thing was just badly designed, and I can’t be bothered to log on (which I haven’t done in over a year) to see if they’ve fixed it. (And in any case, Dawkins.net’s forum is succeeding where the social network failed, I think.)

Along comes Atheist Nexus, another social networking time waster. But hey, these things are free, and if this one is better put together than Dawkins Social, I’m happy to give it a shot. And if it proves silly and useless, I can just forget it, like I very quickly learned to forget Twitter. So there’s a buttony thingummy to my profile, where those of you also attending the party can friend me if you choose.

View my page on Atheist Nexus


Addendum: Well, the friend requests have been steadily coming in over the last few hours, including lots from fans of the blog/show I haven’t met yet, which is nice to see. And there appear to be a lot of active groups, too. So this one might work out.

Hilariously, I also see that desperate little attention-seeking twit Dan Marvin has joined (remember him?), apparently so he can flaunt his ridiculous non-arguments and scientific illiteracy to his intellectual betters, who will then proceed to flog him mercilessly for it. Masochistic much, Dan? Go ahead and accept his friend requests if you like, that’s your business. Me, I decided long ago it goes against my rational secular morality to abuse the handicapped. 😉


Addendum 2: Okay, I just added a whopping 90 photos to a TAM6 album, which is pretty much the same as my Flickr set, except longer, with more of my road trip shots. Later on I’ll create an album for TAM5 and Dawkins’ Austin visit back in March. I figure if I’m going to be part of this thing, I can’t complain I’m getting nothing out of it if I don’t put in.

Critical Mass

Once again I have to wave at my good friends Lloyd, Alan, and Rachel, who live way way way down on that big island. (Actually, I think Lloyd is still freezing his ass off up in Scotland. I’d say he’s due home.) At TAM they were all excited to get their own blog and podcast started up, and now they have. At least, the blog is up — I don’t know if they’ve gotten the podcast launched yet. All the same, pay a visit to the fledgling Critical Mass and give them some of that AE-fan love.

Sprouting Seeds

It warms my heart to see young people embrace reason and critical thinking and declare themselves atheists. I have always valued learning and it is wonderful to see young people independently reach the same conclusion I have. It makes me wish I was able to do so earlier in my life. Alas, I’m from a different generation than those in college and high school today. Some things are easier for them and some things are harder, I’m sure. I will always be an avid supporter of college campus groups like the local Atheist Longhorns. Watching these sprouting seeds gives me so much hope for the future.

It’s doubly wonderful to hear from an outspoken young atheist who is a freshman in high school. Lucia Guatney recently finished her freshman year in high school and she has written a nice article on what it’s like to be an atheist high schooler, about her conversation with Richard Dawkins, and about how exciting that was for her. She even has her own blog. Wow. Go Lucia!

It was triply wonderful for me to notice that Lucia is going to the same high school that I did. It made me think about how the school has changed and how I’ve changed along the way. I think it was there that some seeds of atheism were planted in me. My best friend was an atheist, but I didn’t form an opinion on religion until much later. Perhaps I was fortunate to not be too immersed in religion in my youth.

I remember three high school teachers who helped to plant some seeds. One had us read about the Holocaust and think critically about convention and authority. Another helped me appreciate the Spanish conquest of the Americas and the fraud behind Guadalupe. A third (math) teacher pointed out that according to the Bible, pi is 3. Hats off to these fabulous teachers, wherever they may be.

I have to give a nod to the Secular Students of Rice University, my alma mater. While college freethought groups are now common, they were rare when I was in college and Rice didn’t have one. I’d like to think that I helped to pave the way for them in some small way. When I was in college, I did some sparring with the Campus Crusade for Christ and Maranatha student groups. An acquaintance of mine from college looked me up on Facebook recently and gave me an unsolicited compliment about how brave I was to sand up to their viewpoints those many years ago. I don’t think of myself as particularly brave.

It’s nice to look back on some of those early experiences and feel a connection to the next generation of young people who are poised to make their impact on the world. I have high hopes for them.

Home from TAM6…

…and boy, are my arms tired. (rimshot) It was a perfectly wonderful experience, even my lunatic decision to make a road trip out of it — which totaled over 2600 miles in the end. But as I’ve already told many folks, it was just my desire to gafiate* for a while, and by taking a little highway tour of the Desert Southwest (a part of the country I love anyway), I could take things at my own pace, not feel like I was rushing through airport check-ins, or anything of that nature. A vacation, not a trip, was what I was after, and that’s what I got. Thoroughly enjoyable in every way, despite coming home to the bittersweet news of George Carlin’s passing.

P1020352

I’m not going to compose my full report of the thing just yet. I’m still fairly tired and just want an evening or two to decompress. But in the interim, here’s my Flickr set for the conference, complete with at least one of my road-diary shots. And I simply have to give a shout-out to my Aussies, Lloyd and Rachel McAlpine and Alan Conradi, who made an already enjoyable conference even more special and memorable. Apart from being fantastic people, they are quite possibly the biggest AE fans in the whole world. I look forward to seeing them all again next year, and I’m sure we’ll all be in touch frequently between now and then.

Off to play with my dogs now…more later.


*gafiate: (v) Neologism I discovered in the world of science fiction fandom, comprising an acronym for “Get Away From It All.” Gerund: gafiating. “Are you in town on business?” “Nope, I’m just gafiating.” (Confused stare.)