Who wrote the plays attributed to Shakespeare?

The 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death on April 23rd has brought to the fore once again the question of whether the man identified as the author actually wrote the plays. Over 3,000 people, some of them quite eminent, have signed on to a document titled Declaration of Reasonable Doubt About the Identity of William Shakespeare that examines the case for and against him. Two eminent Shakespearean actors Derek Jacobi and Mark Rylance have added their voices to the list of skeptics.
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How the Biblical myths came about

Many of us nonreligious people know that pretty much all of the stuff in the Bible are myths that have very little historical foundation, except on the few occasions when it makes contact with events that have independent corroboration and these occur much later in the narrative, beginning with the Assyrian conquest. Independent scholarship in the fields of archeology and other areas have found scant evidence to support the early and foundational stories of Abraham, Moses, the exodus, and the like.
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Talking sense about bathrooms

Stephen Colbert talks some much needed sense about public bathrooms, a topic that has been much in the news these days. I totally agree with him, especially on the issue of chit-chat. I never initiate conversations with other people in public bathrooms, though at work there are often people one knows who feel that it is a good time to exchange news and pleasantries. I reply if they speak to me but get the hell out of there as quickly as possible.
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Republicans really, really love Trump

Donald Trump’s rapid rise in the polls last year to become the leader of the race for the Republican nomination initially caused concern but not too much alarm within the party establishment. Then as his rise stalled and his poll numbers stagnated at around the 35% from January through March of this year, his plurality in the polls was shrugged off as his ceiling of support, his leadership position as an artifact of the field being crowded with 17 hopefuls that was splitting the anti-Trump vote and that as candidates dropped out, their supporters would slowly coalesce around one of the other candidates, preferably the party’s preferred candidates like Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio, and that Trump would slowly lose ground and then disappear.
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There is nothing like changing symbols to drive people crazy

If you had asked me which person’s face was on which US currency note, I would have been stumped. The only thing I was sure of was that it was some white guy from the distant past. Like most people, I am more concerned about the number that denotes the value rather than the ornamentation. But some people are sure upset about the decision to replace Andrew Jackson with abolitionist Harriet Tubman on the front of the $20 bill, seeing it as yet another sign of that dreaded ‘political correctness’ that is ruining America.
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A nightmare ticket?

Ah spring, when during presidential election years political pundits’ fancy lightly turn to thoughts of possible running mates. Usually these speculations try to construct so-called ‘dream tickets’, combinations that its advocates think would either increase chances of victory due to providing balance or satisfy a felt need for ideological consistency if the presidential nominee’s credentials are suspect. Campaigns at this time float many names as trial balloons in order to gauge reactions as well as placate the various factions in their parties that they are being respected and included, and so these rumors should not be taken too seriously.
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The sincerity of religious beliefs and doctrines

Over the weekend I attended a very interesting talk on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) by Nicholas Little who is the Legal Director for the Center for Inquiry. He reminded us that RFRA was originally meant to provide legal protection for minority religious practices but is now being used by majority religions to gain privileges and discriminate against others and has become the main vehicle for people to argue against the Affordable Care Act. He said that while courts are required to give deference to the religious beliefs of people because of RFRA, the closely related Religious Land Use And Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), and the Free Exercise of religion clause of the First Amendment, this poses a problem with people who try to use that to get special privileges.
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