I have my archives!

I have my archives from my old blog! They’re here! With comments and everything! They’re even in the right categories!

Images and videos didn’t make it over, and there are a handful of posts that didn’t make it and that I’ll have to put in by hand. (For some reason, it didn’t like my posts about alternative medicine, speaking at Stanford, making atheism a safe place to land, atheists having morality, and my recipe for chocolate pie. Make of that what you will.) But I can live with that. The archives are here. Years of my old work — all finally in one place. This has been driving me up a tree, and I can now finally relax about it. (A little.)

If you want to see them, scroll down in the sidebar to where it says “Recent Posts/ Comments/ Archives.” Click Archives. There they are! You can also search for posts in the archives with the handy Search box at the top right of the blog. Which works waaaay better than the search box at my old blog.

When I’m back from my Minnesota trip, I’m going to start working on (a) getting the old blog to redirect to the new one, and (b) getting the best and hottest posts listed in my sidebar, so newcomers to the blog can browse them more easily. And I’ll probably start linking to the cool stuff from the archives, so newcomers to this blog can become familiar with it. For now, I’m just going to sit back and cry tears of happiness and relief. I can haz archives! Yay!

I have to express my intense gratitude to fellow Freethought Blogger Jason Thibeault, at Lousy Canuck, for making this happen. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that atheists have no sense of community or compassion. I owe him big time. Go visit his blog, and tell him Thank You.

Carnival of the Liberals #98: Fearmongering Edition

Hello, and welcome to the spooooooky Halloween edition of the Carnival of the Liberals! Since conservatives have been devoting themselves to terrifying the American public for political gain for years, I thought today would be an appropriate day for liberals to return the favor. So I’m proud to present: the Fearmongering Edition of the Carnival of the Liberals, with a procession of frights and phantasies hysterical enough to make Glenn Beck look tame. Pregnant women and people with weak hearts, use caution when proceeding!

Two headed To begin with: It’s the two headed monster! But don’t fear… the heads of the monster are eating each other! “There are two very different views of the Republican Party running loose on America’s streets at the moment.” Hide the children! Philip H. at DC Dispatches: Healthcare Reform & Bobby Jindal – Cracks in the Republican Armor.

Headless horseman Now here comes The Headless Horseman! A warrior in foreign lands, with no vision of what it’s fighting, where it’s coming from, where it’s going, or how it’s going to win. “It has now been eight years, thirteen orbits of Venus, and the gods continue to fire wayward arrows into the sun without any memory of what came before.” Eric Michael Johnson at The Primate Diaries: Afghanistan’s Arrow and the Cycle of Imperial Hubris.

Night-of-the-living-dead Next in our horrorshow: The Zombies! The dead that somehow live and walk! They shamble, they shuffle, and in a terrifying yet pathetic imitation of humanity, they can say only one word over and over: “No!” “On October 9, 2009, the Republican Party surpassed the anti-American rhetoric of the desperate remnants of the Taliban, in condemning the efforts of the United States to make the world a slightly better place while solidifying our status as the most envied nation in the world.” Jacob Johnson at Common Sense Caucus: The Olympic Lesson Revisited.

Evil-priest And now we come to a classic character in horror fiction: The Evil Priest. He’s not in league with Satan; he’s not trying to stop you from deciphering the secret code of truth; he’s not a secret pagan who’s going to put you in a wicker basket and set you on fire. He just wants to write his religious views into law, taking away your civil rights while he’s at it. And in the state of Maine, no less! “Frankly, I’m tired of hearing this argument that the religious institution of marriage will fail if gays are allowed to marry, and I’m tired of hearing you treat religious marriage and secular marriage as the same thing, because they aren’t.” floslib at Spirited Script: Protect Marriage in Maine. (Carnival host note: The referendum on same sex marriage in Maine is happening this Tuesday, November 3. It’s not too late to take action!)

Robot army What compendium of horrors would be complete without an Evil Robot Army? A sterile, monolithic, mechanical army relentlessly marching with one mind towards one mindless goal: profit. “Insurance companies are doing business the ‘right’ way — they’re for-profit, publicly-owned and -traded companies, after all. Making the most money they can is what they’re supposed to do, under the free-market, capitalist way of operating.” The Ridger at The Greenbelt: “doing business another way”.

Lion But we don’t need supernatural or technological horrors to chill our bones. The natural world has terrors enough to fill a thousand nightmares: the primitive savagery of nature, red in tooth and claw. Or is it? Is cooperation one of the instincts of social animals — an insinct with applications to politics and economics? NOOOOO! “Social darwinists like Skilling have learned the wrong lessons about the natural world.” Eric Michael Johnson at Seed: Survival of the Kindest.

Village-of-the-damned We don’t even need to stay in the adult world to fill our souls with dread. The spectre of evil children has filled horror stories for generations. And what legion of doom could be a more twisted perversion of childhood innocence than… The Boy Scouts? “How ironic it is that the Boy Scouts of America, an organization that purports to dedicate itself to making boys’ lives better and more productive, has decided that gay boys are not good enough.” Andrew Heath: Why It Is Important Not to Support the Boy Scouts.

M Poster The sexual deviant is another classic icon of horror. But more horrifying even than this are the institutions that protect these deviants from coming to justice… and the institutions that attempt to legitimize this miscarriage of justice. “Thirty Senate Republicans voted to keep rape victims who work for defense contractors from having their day in court. How?” Madeleine Begun Kane at Mad Kane’s Political Madness: Ode To Pro-Rape Republicans.

Deliverance And at least in American horror, The Scary Yokel is one of the most persistent characters. Barbaric, hateful, out of touch with every basic law of human decency, caring only for their twisted view of the world and their sick ability to brutalize it into submission… wait, we’re talking about a justice of the peace? And has banning same-sex marriage been the first step to the establishment of a right wing theocracy? “We sit by as the Vocal Minority does their ranting about the sanctity of marriage and how Gays will destroy that and quietly, in the swamps of Cajun Country, some banjo plucking elected official is denying marriage to interracial couples because mocha babies are just too much for him to handle.” Paul Reyes-Fournier at coupledumb.com: WTF of the Week: Interracial Couple Denied Marriage License.

Black_Hole_in_the_universe Finally, we have perhaps the most terrifying creature in the entire horror pantheon — The Void. Its representative today: Michele Bachmann, a hideous creature of entropy and petrifying barrenness, incapable of any positive achievement, but still emitting inhuman shrieks and noises that will curdle your blood. “Her stated philosophy is to do as little as possible in congress, and she does not believe in the use of Federal money for … things. So it should not be a surprise to her constituents that she has been personally responsible for almost no positive action that has helped her district.” Greg Laden at Greg Laden’s Blog: Michele Bachmann has done almost nothing as a congressperson.

My own contribution, which my deep-seated fear of seeming arrogant and egotistical keeps me from putting in the Top Ten: Same Sex Marriage, and Why You Passionately Care About Maine.

Also scary, but not quite making the Top Ten:

Leah L Burton presents Bachman-Style Census Paranoia According to 1 Chronicles? posted at God’s Own Party?.

Meg presents Severed Heads posted at Simpson’s Paradox.

Neosnowqueen presents Profanity Isn’t Poison posted at Winter Harvest.

Steven Handel presents The War on Drugs Is Up In Smoke posted at The Emotion Machine. (Note: This is a libertarian blog, not a liberal blog; but the content of this post is consistent with a liberal politics carnival, so I’m including it.)

Philip H presents The failures of Democratic “Leadership” In America posted at DC Dispatches.

Leah L. Burton presents Blog Forward… Interview w/Mikey Weinstein posted at God’s Own Party?.

Rick Foreman presents Healthcare Cost or Cost of No Healthcare? posted at Waiting for the Singularity.

Paul Reyes-Fournier presents Society Smackdown: Homosexuality posted at coupledumb.com.

Madeleine Begun Kane presents Bystander President? posted at Mad Kane’s Political Madness.

Andrew Bernardin presents Sunday Sacrilege: Plexiglass of the Sacred posted at the evolving mind.

The Ridger presents That’s Capitalism, Baby posted at The Greenbelt.

Marcella Chester presents Looking At Why Winona State University Named 11th Safest in USA posted at abyss2hope: A rape survivor’s zigzag journey into the open.

Doctor Biobrain presents Belief Is Not Enough posted at And Doctor Biobrain’s Response Is….

And that concludes our Halloween Fearmongering Edition of the Carnival of the Liberals. The host for CotL #99 is Liberal England, on Nov. 28. In the meantime, lock your doors, take your heart medication, and keep watching the skies!

Blog Carnivals!

Carnival

Blog carnivals!

For those of you who don’t understand this whole Blog Carnival thing: A blog carnival is a roundup of blog posts on a particular topic. If you’re looking for good blog posts about liberal politics or humanist philosophy or knitting or whatever, it’s a good way of finding them. And it’s a good way of branching out and finding good new bloggers who you might not have been aware of. Check them out! They’re nifty! (And if you’re looking for ways to boost your traffic and draw some new eyes to your blog, you might consider hosting one. Carnival organizers are always looking for new hosts.)

Here are some that I think are particularly neat, and that I participate in often.

Humanist Symposium #43, at Prior Perceptions. A carnival of positive godless blogging: atheist blogging devoted, not to criticizing religion (or not solely to it), but to offering positive humanist philosophies and strategies. Probably my favorite blog carnival of all.

Carnival of the Godless #126, at An Apostate’s Chapel. A carnival of atheist blogging… that isn’t necessarily positive, and that does sometimes criticize religion and bring the snark. Good times.

Skeptic’s Circle #120, at Pro-Science. Blogging about skeptical, reason-based approaches to religion, science, medicine, and just life in general.

Carnival of the Liberals #97, at BroadSnark. Liberal pinko bleeding heart blogging. I’ll be hosting the next edition, appropriately enough on Halloween. Please send your liberal pinko bleeding heart blog posts through the blog carnival hosting site.

Share and enjoy!

Humanist Symposium #41

Hs-logo4Hello, and welcome to the Humanist Symposium #41!

I originally had all sorts of plans to come up with some brilliantly witty theme for the Symposium. But due to an unexpected scheduling conflict, you’re going to have to settle for the “I Just Got Back From Netroots Nation Half An Hour Ago After Four Days Of Intense Conferencing And Four Hours Of Sleep And Have No Energy To Create Anything Other Than A Collection Of Links With Brief Descriptions And Money Quotes” edition. (No pictures this time. Sorry. I just don’t have it in me. I have, however, divided the Symposium into three broad categories: Meta-Atheism: Atheist Organizing and the Atheist Movement; Responding to Religion; and Humanist Living/ Philosophy.) Enjoy!

META-ATHEISM: ATHEIST ORGANIZING AND THE ATHEIST MOVEMENT

Cubik’s Rube at Cubik’s Rube presents Isms, in my opinion, are not good. On sexism in the atheist/ skeptical movement… and what is and is not an appropriate way for men to respond when it’s pointed out. Specifically, a response to the TAM/ Skepchick kerfuffle.

Money quote: “But fuck, if women are feeling shut out by a male-dominated atmosphere, and the numbers are there to back them up, don’t start whining about how whiny they’re getting. Don’t let your first response to a potentially legitimate complaint — made in as calm and reasoned and generous a manner as you could ask for, lodged by a demographic that consists of half the population of the planet and who have a history of being beaten down by the other half — be to tell them to shut up because they’re wrong to feel the way they do. That should not be where you instinctively, immediately go to when someone’s not happy with the way things are.”

(Rare editorial note to Cubik’s Rube from the Symposium hostess: Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. And to readers: If there’s only one piece from this Symposium that you read, make it this one. This is really important stuff for the atheist movement to get, and to get now, while our movement is still in its early stages and we have time to prevent it from getting entrenched.)

Paul Fidalgo at Secularism Examiner presents Nonbelievers will get called out for fudging the numbers. Why we have to be honest about the number of atheists in America and in the world, and not exaggerate those numbers — for pragmatic reasons, and because respect for truth and evidence is a central part of the humanist philosophy.

Money quote: “As proponents of rationalism, we have to deal with reality on its own terms, not as we would like it to be. Stop telling people that nonbelievers make up 15% of the country, because we don’t — or if we do, not enough of us are telling pollsters when they ask. Our honesty and our adherence to facts are our greatest strengths. To leave gaping holes like this only makes us easy targets for our enemies to nail us where it hurts.”

vjack at Atheist Revolution presents Organizing Atheists: The MoveOn.org Model. Using MoveOn as a model for how the nascent, still- disorganized, herding- cats atheist movement could be turned into a political powerhouse.

Money quote: “Just imagine the next time some jackass pundit or politician engages in anti-atheist bigotry. Action alerts go out to members via email, petitions are circulated, letters are written, calls are made, press releases go out to news agencies. And instead of every damn blogger, forum host, Twitter user, etc. having to do it themselves without necessarily knowing what others are doing, it is done from this sort of organization. Imagine the clout of a Pharyngula multiplied several times over! That is what we’re talking about here.”

Jennifurret at Blag Hag presents Atheism is boring. On whether atheism offers not only meaning but engagement with the world… and on people who join the atheist movement without understanding atheism and atheist philosophy.

Money quote: “I’d like to pretend this isn’t happening, but there are more and more ‘atheists’ who can’t give you a single logical argument why they don’t believe in God — not because those arguments don’t exist, but because they haven’t given it any thought.”

Ebonmuse at Daylight Atheism presents Getting a Philosophy Under Your Feet. Why it’s important for the atheist movement to promote, not only disbelief in God, but a solid, positive humanist philosophy of life that can help get atheists through difficult times. Using the conversion story of evangelist pastor Dave Schmelzer as a cautionary tale.

Money quote: “In effect, Schmelzer fell for two illusions, one right after the other. First, he bought into our capitalist, consumer-driven society’s message that happiness is achieved through acquiring money and possessions. He found out for himself that this was a false ethic, but then fell right into a second trap, the religious message that happiness is achieved only through worshipping God. Atheist though he was, what he was lacking was a real philosophy of his own. Without a solid ethic under his feet to ground him, he fell prey to one false creed after another, like a leaf being blown around by the wind.”

RESPONDING TO RELIGION

Michael Fridman at a Nadder presents One Law to Rule Them All. In political discussion of religious issues one thing that’s often missed is how offensive it is to treat members of religious communities as having different rights — this goes against everything humanism and human rights stand for and has been slipping into news stories unchallenged a bit too often.

Money quote: “So the Sudanese authorities broke even their own boundaries for Sharia law. Big surprise. But the report seems to imply that if only the government left the non-Muslims alone (and only lashed Muslim women) it would be better. No it wouldn’t. The above quotes just underscore how offensive it is to have two laws in the same country depending on what family you’re born into.”

Greg Laden at Greg Laden’s Blog presents What to do if you accidentally end up with a roommate who is religious? The assumption that people are religious is our society’s default assumption… and flouting this assumption, simply by coming out as an atheist, can be disruptive and upsetting to believers. In a good way.

Money quote: “The truth is that when the Atheist World and the Religious World overlap or interact in the United States, the Atheist World is expected to give sway, make the excuses, back off, or shut up.”

PhillyChief at You Made Me Say It! presents How about valuing human life as a fellow human? Why empathy is a more solid foundation for morality than adherence to religious tenets… with the recent shootings at the Pennsylvania health club being Exhibit A.

Money quote: “Personally, I find empathy as being the cornerstone of morality. Without the ability to understand and relate to other humans, any attempt at morality will be a futile exercise. In fact, this lack of empathy is recognized as a mental disorder and such people lacking empathy are referred to as sociopaths.”

Spanish Inquisitor at Spanish Inquisitor presents Belief. Rumination on the concept of belief… and the differences between secular and religious beliefs.

Money quote: “I used to think that all beliefs were utterly useless, unless they were supportable beliefs. I would want to see some arguable substance behind the belief. This is one of the underpinning tenets of my atheistic lack-of-belief. However, now I think it’s a little more nuanced than that.”

NeoSnowQueen at Winter Harvest presents Allegory: A Tale of Two Rationales. A glance at the way that religious people and atheists look at healing and death in an allegory.

Money quote: “The Christian will read this allegory and come to the conclusion that God is in everything. God is on a higher plane, and his plan is supreme — all we can ask for is intervention, the answer is not so important as the question. If it is in God’s will, there will be a miraculous healing, a slow healing, a resurrection, or a death. The atheist will read this allegory and come to the conclusion that God is in nothing.”

Luke Muehlhauser at Common Sense Atheism presents How to Convert Atheists. Advice to Christians on how they might convert atheists. (And in this editor’s opinion, a charmingly sneaky way to get Christians to reconsider their faith.)

Money quote: “Persuading atheists is kind of like picking up chicks. You’re 80% of the way there if you just avoid the really big mistakes that most people make. Most of what you have to do is just not be stupid.”

HUMANIST LIVING/ PHILOSOPHY

TechSkeptic at Effort Sisyphus presents Rights of Passage. On the importance of ritual even in a secular society… with a tongue- in- cheek proposal for a series of secular/ skeptical/ science- themed rituals to replace or supplement the existing ones.

Money quote: “There is a very uncelebrated milestone that 95% of us go through (78% of you english folk). Vaccinations. Why don’t we celebrate this? This is an awesome achievement over disease and death… We should be celebrating this achievement!”

Sean Prophet at Black Sun Journal presents Radical Skepticism and Gullibility: Two Sides of a Coin. On how easy it is to confuse skepticism with gullibility and sloppy thinking… and how to avoid doing so.

Money quote: “Radical Skepticism must be distinguished from the healthy kind that promotes inquiry.”

Glowing Face Man at Glowing Face Man presents How to Contribute to Society. A very different, nontraditional answer to the question, “How should I contribute to society?”

Money quote: “By far the best way to stimulate your world is to actively, joyfully participate in it. Merely by walking around outside, you provide profound cultural value. Culture is nothing more than the people in it, and without those people, it is nothing.”

(Please note: Many of the conclusions of this piece are emphatically not endorsed by the host of this carnival. However, it is sufficiently thought- provoking to merit inclusion in this Symposium.)

Andrew Bernardin at the evolving mind presents Violence Incubated at Home? Thoughts on a recent study showing that young men living at home may be more prone to violence… with thoughts on how to carefully interpret data and avoid misleading conclusions.

Money quote: “Okay, they’ve discovered a correlation, but is the link between variables causal or inertly predictive or something else?”

00FF00 at ooffoo presents Should the government make ‘Right to Die’ facilities publicly available? Ooffoo asks “Should the government make ‘Right to Die’ facilities publicly available?” and kicks off the debate by inviting two leading voices, Dignity in Dying & Care Not Killing, to contribute. But most importantly, they want to hear what you think.

Money quote: “The ‘Right to Die’ debate seems to get larger and louder daily so to foster discussion here on Ooffoo we have asked our own question.”

James Pomeroy at verywide.net presents Wheresoever We May Roam. A piece intended to inspire secular wonder in our world and in life.

Money quote: “From protean, simplest life, we arose. In infinitesimal increments, by accident and, eventually, by intentional effort, by hook and by crook even, we found ourselves standing. Here. On the good earth. On the cruel ground. On this indifferent planet. And we proclaimed our will and ourselves in tools, in rituals of birth and burial, in artistic representation. We found our meaning in these things, and by these things we created a different world, a symbolic world.”

Finally, we have my own bad self: your Humanist Symposium hostess, Greta Christina, at the cleverly- named Greta Christina’s blog, presenting A Skeptic’s View of Sexual Transcendence. In which I offer ways to look at transcendent sexual ecstasy that don’t involve any sort of belief in the supernatural. A response to the woo spirituality that’s so prevalent in the sex-positive community. (May not be safe for work, whatever that means.)

Money shot — er, money quote: “The act of sex, and the experience of sexual pleasure, connects us to every other living thing on earth. We are the cousins of everything that lives on this planet, with a common ancestor of primordial soup going back billions of years… and we are all related, not entirely but substantially, because of sex. That is awesome. That makes me want to go fuck right now, just so I can feel connected with my fish and tetrapod and primate ancestors. That is entirely made of win.”

That’s it for this edition of the Humanist Symposium. The Humanist Symposium #42 will be held at The Greenbelt on September 6. Submissions can be made through the Blog Carnival Hosting Doodad. Ta!

Blog Carnivals!

CarnivalBlog carnivals! (I got a little backed up on these when I was on vacation — sorry about that!)

Humanist Symposium #40 at the evolving mind. (And because I missed it last time: Humanist Symposium #39 at Daylight Atheism.)

Carnival of the Godless #122 at CyberLizard’s Collection. (And Carnival of the Godless #121 at State of Protest.)

Carnival of the Liberals #95 at Neural Gourmet. (And Carnival of the Liberals #94 at Submitted to a Candid World.)

Skeptics’ Circle #115, at Effort Sisyphus. (And Skeptics’ Circle #114, at Homologous Legs.)

Finally, Skeptical Parent Crossing #10, at On Becoming a Domestic and Laboratory Goddess.

Happy reading!

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Blog Carnivals!

CarnivalBlog carnivals!

Humanist Symposium #37, at She Who Chatters.

Carnival of the Godless #117, at State of Protest.

Carnival of the Liberals #91, at Crowded Head, Cozy Bed. (And because I missed it, Carnival of the Liberals #90, at Quiche Moraine.)

Skeptic’s Circle #111, at Action Skeptics. (And because I missed it last time, Skeptic’s Circle #110, at Ferret’s Cage.)

Philosophers’ Carnival #91, at sevenlayercake: a sweet philosophy blog.

And Skeptical Parent Crossing #8, at Babylicious.

Happy reading!