Yesterday, we saw this big green area, Apsan Park, on the map, and it was in walking distance…so we started walking. And then we discovered that the flat oval on the map was actually a mountain. A mountain in the middle of the city. So we gave up and went back to our hotel.

But today, we got a cab and got driven up to the cable car that takes you to the top, so that’s what we did.

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Ban football

It’s the only decent thing to do. It’s a thuggish sport that allows thugs to rise to positions of privilege, and fosters an environment of brutality and viciousness.

Or, if that’s too radical for you, shut down the football program at Dietrich High School in Idaho (warning: tale of gross racism and rape at that link). They’ve lost any right to ever play the game again.

David Silverman understands how codes of conduct work

And DJ Grothe does not. The Reason Rally has a published Code of Conduct, and apparently a few bad apples are protesting that they won’t attend because they don’t want their freedom to harass limited. Dave does a very good job of explaining what they do and don’t do, and why they are reasonable. Don’t read the comments, though. So many people are getting their asses in a wringer because they hate being told that they don’t get to do whatever they want at a public event.

In vaguely related news, Ammon Bundy is planning to sue Multnomah County for violating his right to bear arms in prison.

Stupid people who don’t understand that living among other people compromises your right to have tantrums over your privileges are everywhere.

An excess of optimism

I read this article, Hitchens, Dawkins and Harris are old news — a totally different Atheism is on the rise, with considerable disbelief.

More and more, the strongest atheist voices are talking about nonbelief less as an end in itself, but as part of a larger conversation about social justice. It could hardly be any other way: atheism is growing not only in numbers, but in diversity. When Dawkins, Harris and Hitchens were at their most prominent, a frequent (and credible) criticism was that the faces of atheism were all white, male and affluent. To make the same claim now is to deliberately ignore some of the most vital atheist and skeptic voices that have emerged in the last 10 years.

I wish.

It’s what I want to happen, and maybe I just have a distorted perspective, but when I look at my email and see the hate pouring in, all from atheists who are deeply resentful of women and minorities, and somehow blame me for letting them in (which is twisted enough as it is — these people are so far gone that they can’t imagine this situation occurring without an old white guy being responsible), and I don’t see what change this author is seeing. The same white, male, affluent (or white, male, not-rich-enough-and-hating it) faces are still here, still dominating the conversation, still smugly confident that they are right and in control, still flooding any women or minorities with concentrated bile.

I’m disillusioned. I’m not seeing any substantial improvement at all. And as just another old white guy, there’s not a damned thing I can do about it without getting all the blame/credit from the same old bigots.

OK, maybe I won’t bother to come home

I’m scared, Mommy. I just saw the latest NRA ad, which is a warning to the “ayatollahs of Iran” about what insane, violent, stupid people live in the “heartland of America”. The only true Americans are farmers and miners and policemen in our “urban war zones”.

It’s racist as fuck, and as simple-minded and macho as a fat old white man can be (I can say that, it’s my demographic). And the NRA thinks it is smart and a benefit to their cause to air this absurd ad.

Well, I’m from the “heartland of America”, and I’m a liberal college professor, the antithesis of the NRA, and I’m an American too. Some bigot in a bedazzled coat and a cowboy hat doesn’t get to decree what constitutes a real American.

Is this really what we want people abroad to see as the face of America?

Day one in Korea

We arrived in Daegu at about 3am last night. We were exhausted, but we had to go out for a meal — I don’t know what you call a 3am meal, though. Dinfast? So we popped into a little all night restaurant, took off our shoes, and sat on mats, and ordered something mysterious off a menu in Korean from a woman who only spoke Korean. It turned out to be what can only be called pig spine soup. There was a big bowl, with cabbage and a savory soup, and big lumpy bones, which were vertebrae nicely sawed in half on the saggital plane. Not vegetarian. Oh, well. So we picked off little slivers of meat off the bones with chopsticks and spoons. I also ate the spinal cord, which was a first for a guy who studied spinal cords for so many years. It was tasty. So was the kimchee and pickled vegetables on the side.

Then we got a cheap hotel–25,000 Korean won per night, which was nothing, since once we’d done the currency exchange at the airport, we were millionaires. Big bonus, too–when we checked in, they gave us a bag of special items for our stay, which included condoms. Score! I don’t think we are the usual kinds of customers here.

We did a little sight seeing in Daegu today, but not much, because once we finally checked into the hotel, we slept until 2 in the afternoon.

That’s my excitement so far. We’re talking about going up some nearby mountain or hitting some museums in the next few days, so stay tuned for more thrilling adventures.

I am briefly in Japan!

Soon to be on a plane to Seoul. So far, this has been the most painless long distance trip ever, mainly because we just sailed through TSA in Minneapolis, and because our flights were all on time.

Although…I didn’t sleep on the plane at all, and now I’m in Tokyo with the sun shining, and I’m probably going to just skip the whole sleep thing until late tonight, when we get to Daegu.

#HumanismPlus? How about just plain humanism

Suddenly, my Twitter mentions and email are full of the usual assholes who have found a new bone to chew on. It seems the gamergaters and anti-feminists and alt-right twits have discovered that Sincere Kirabo is the Social Justice Coordinator at the American Humanist Association, and they are freaking out about “Humanism+” and how it must be destroyed. In addition, they’re ranting at me because, in their little minds, I must be behind it all, or am about to step in and take over humanism.

I know this will not matter to people so out of touch with reality, but I’m going to explain it slowly and carefully.

This is nothing new. Humanism has always been concerned with morality and ethics. Social justice is something that has always been a major focus. The American Humanist Association has merely launched new initiatives to specifically pursue social justice for black, LGBTQ, and feminist humanists. If this is surprising to you, well, we already knew you were a bunch of ignorant, regressive loons. This is precisely within the purview of humanism, and always has been, and it would only be unusual if a humanist organization rejected the idea of social justice.

Also, thank you for thinking I must be the mastermind behind a social justice initiative — that’s the kind of reputation I would like to have. However, I have had absolutely nothing to do with this program at AHA, and have no expectation of ever being asked to contribute to it. As for all the kooks calling it Humanism+ pejoratively and comparing it to Atheism+, I had nothing to do with the establishment and support of Atheism+, either, although I do think it was a great idea and that it was unfortunate that it was harassed into hibernation by you jerks.

It was a great idea, and it’s still a great idea — to attempt to make it clear that not all atheists were horrible, awful, rotten people. What seems to be a bad idea is the ongoing effort to make it clear that atheism is the domain of horrible, awful, rotten people, and drive all those who despise reactionary bigotry into the arms of humanism.

At least I like humanism. If you think you can remake it in the nature of YouTube atheism, I don’t think you’re going to succeed.

Laird Scranton wants to have a conversation

He has made an appearance in my thread ridiculing his superficial approach to history, and has invited me to join in his facebook discussion of the same. Unfortunately, he’s picked the worst time — I’m in Minneapolis, and will be flying off to Korea in the morning.

So far, he hasn’t managed to justify building elaborate and bizarre histories based on the similar sounds of words in Egyptian, Dogon, and Faroese, so I don’t see much point anyway. But you might find the rationalizations of his friends entertaining.

“Do as I say, not as I do”

I hadn’t realized that that was a fundamental philosophical dictum, but it’s sure looking that way. Thomas Pogge, a very big name in philosophical ethics, has been accused of being a serial sexual harasser, all while running a high profile Global Justice program at Yale. I say “accused”, but this very well written, very thorough, well documented account from Buzzfeed doesn’t leave him much wiggle room. As often seems to be the case, we’re looking at decades of constant allegations. He’d been accused when he was at Columbia, but of course that was ignored when Yale hired him. And then the accusations kept coming, and they kept being handled by university administrators who had a vested interest in keeping their superstar happy.

“It breaks my heart to have to say it,” said Christia Mercer, a former colleague from the Columbia philosophy department, “but it’s clear that Thomas uses his reputation as a supporter of justice to prey unjustly on those who trust and admire him, who then — once victimized — are too intimidated by his reputation and power to tell their stories.”

It is dismaying that someone can cultivate a public reputation for morality while acting as such a creepy sleaze with students.