Todd Akin is not an extremist

The Republicans want you to think he is a fringe candidate, a wacky loner who just said something outrageous. But when you look at the voting record of Minnesota's Republicans, it becomes really clear: they all vote almost exactly as Todd Akin would on every abortion-related bill that comes up.

It’s really rather stunning: Democrats and Republicans are extraordinarily polarized on this issue. With only a few wobblers, Democrats vote for issues that give women reproductive choices, while Republicans vote against them. If you don’t think there is a bit of difference between the two parties, just look at that one issue.

By the way, about those wobblers…they aren’t, really. If you look at the detailed voting records, you find that there are a few Democrats who are actually stealth Republicans — they consistently vote more like a Republican on women’s rights issues. One of them is, unfortunately, my own state representative, Collin Peterson. I never vote for him, and I can never vote for his Republican challenger, either. Can we please get a real Democrat to run for that office and topple him?

Why I am an atheist – Nyq Only

Some christians ask me how I lost my faith or what took me away from god. I think, like many atheists, the question is almost nonsensical – it as if there is an assumed trauma or falling-out: that atheism is like a divorce or the end of a relationship. Perhaps for some it is exactly that, I don’t know. However it is not that I stopped loving god but that I stopped believing god existed and so questions of ‘love’ or any kind of relationship became irrelevant.

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The price of a hoax is too high

That’s a ghillie suit over on the right. It’s used by the military and hunters as camouflage, and they’re fairly easy to get. You can also see how it could be used as a kind of Bigfoot costume, especially if you wore it in dim light. If you wanted to fool people into thinking Bigfoot exists, you could dance around in it around the edge of town, at twilight, and get people wondering what the heck that big, shaggy, manlike form was. But that would be unethical, of course.

It would also be really stupid.

There’s kind of an obvious problem to wearing camouflage (it makes you hard to see) in the dark (it makes you even harder to see) while also wanting to be seen, which usually means making an appearance near high traffic areas, like, you know, roads. With cars moving rapidly on them.

A Bigfoot hoaxer, Randy Lee Tenley, discovered this briefly before his brains stopped functioning altogether.

A 15-year-old girl hit him with her car, another car swerved, and a third car driven by a 17-year-old ran him over, CNN affiliate KECI reported.

Tenley was “well into the driving lane,” and according to his companions he was “attempting to incite a sighting of Bigfoot — to make people think they had seen a Sasquatch,” Schneider said in the KECI report.

Right now, I mainly feel a deep sympathy for those two young people who blamelessly caused the death of a very stupid man. I’m sure they’re traumatized by the whole event.

Tenley was 44, old enough to know better. I also don’t get it: if you believe in Bigfoot, why would you try to fake a sighting?

I’m all for concentrating the stupid in one place

Do you remember Terry Hurlbut? Of course not. He’s another boring creationist whose schtick is to claim that creationists really are scientists — after all, Isaac Newton was a creationist. He also maintains something called the “Creationist Hall of Fame” which lists a lot of legitimate pre-Darwin thinkers and 20th century crackpots. His “Hall of Fame” is just a website, but he dreams big: he wants to put up a real building with…what? I don’t know. Printouts of his articles?

Anyway, the semi-interesting thing he wants to do is build that edifice to idiocy somewhere near the Creation “Museum”. It’s a legitimate business plan, I think; the concentration of deluded fools spikes in the vicinity of Answers in Genesis, and that’s his market. AiG has nothing to do with it, though — I wonder if they’d resent someone tapping into their pool of suckers? Or if they’d see it as an addition to their vortex of stupid? It depends on Hurlbut’s ideological purity, I suppose.

That’s another good name

While everyone was getting enthusiastic about Atheism+, Michael Nugent wrote up a Manifesto to promote Ethical Atheism. Here’s the preamble:

In real life, atheism means more than mere disbelief in gods, or belief that there are no gods. If you disbelieve in gods, it necessarily follows that you also disbelieve that we get our ideas of truth and morality from gods. This is a significant approach to two central questions about life, in a world where most people believe the opposite.

This is a draft manifesto for ethical atheists who care about both truth and morality, and who want to promote reason, critical thinking and science; atheism over supernaturalism; natural compassion and ethics; inclusive, caring atheist groups; fair and just societies; secular government; and local, national and global solidarity.

Ethical atheism is more useful than dictionary atheism, because it applies the consequences of our atheism to real life. Ethical atheism is more precise than secular humanism, because religious people can be both secular and humanist, and because ethics affects all sentient beings and not just humans.

I like it, and it’s what a lot of us have been saying all along. I really don’t care what label you attach to it — secular humanism, atheism+, ethical atheism — as long as you support the values behind it.

Hispanic American Freethinkers

I know people who have been looking for this very organization: Hispanic American Freethinkers.

Some Hispanics live without the fear of imaginary beings and superstitions. Some of us put our hope in science instead of prayer, witchcraft, or homeopathic medicine. We have chosen to live without religion, superstitions, spirits, or myths, and to trust reason and knowledge. Believe it or not, we live happy and well adjusted lives serving the community and our loved ones. Sometimes we have struggles, heartaches, disappointments, and trials just like anyone else, but we solve our problems without the comfort or help of imaginary beings such as angels, ghosts, gods, fairies, or even chupacabras. We find strength, joy and meaning in life itself, using secular morals culminating with a fulfilling life. Our goal is to teach Latinos HOW to think, not what to think!

This looks like an excellent source to tap into for speakers at your next meeting or conference, and I think all of us can agree with their goals.

Why I am an atheist – Mary

I come from a family of Christians who, while devout in their beliefs, are also quite private about them. My parents read children’s versions of Bible stories to me and occasionally took me to a church service, but we didn’t pray together and we rarely talked about God. This changed when I was about nine or ten years old. My parents experienced a sort of spiritual revival and we began to attend church every week. I prayed for what was probably the first time. I started praying every day in fact, at least once before bed and usually several other times throughout the day. I read daily devotionals. I talked to everyone about God, always looking to share the Good News with anyone who would listen. I looked forward to going to church every week and listened intently to the sermons. I started going to Bible study on Wednesdays and resolved to read the entire Bible.

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This is my happy face

Because my copy of Evolution: Making Sense of Life, by Carl Zimmer and Douglas Emlen, arrived today.

Actually, I lied. My happy face is oscillating back and forth with my frowny face. My frowny face is saying that I’ve got too much work to do to enjoy a new evolution textbook, no matter how well written it is.

You may also have a frowny face when you follow the link to Amazon, because this is an academic textbook and it is priced accordingly. Sorry.