The unchurched and the post-Christian

One of the interesting things is how news items snowball. The realization that there are a lot of non-religious people out there in the US has resulted in a greater level of interest in what being non-religious means and how many of us there actually are. This has turned out to be rather difficult to do. It has not helped that nonbelievers tend to resist being pigeonholed and there has been a proliferation of labels used by them to self-identify, such as atheists, agnostics, secularists, humanists, freethinkers, rationalists, skeptics, and the like.
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The zeitgeist of Divergent and Elysium

I recently watched two films Divergent and Elysium. While mildly entertaining, I would not really recommend either of them. As with many such futuristic films, the plots are full of holes large enough that one can drive a truck through, but I am going to overlook them. What prompted me to write about them was what they said about the prevailing zeitgeist.
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“This is America, that’s why!”

This has become the all-purpose excuse for any action, under the delusional idea that freedom in America means that you have the right to do and say anything to anyone and not face any repercussions. This was again on display at the Dallas airport when one person launched a completely unprovoked verbal attack on another traveler who happened to be wearing a pink shirt. When another traveler asked him what he was so upset about, the man replied that it was all about “queers”.
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Blaming the nurses

It has become a running joke that when important people mess up in some way, they look for a lowly staffer to take the blame and be fired. The supposedly incompetent intern is usually fingered as the course of the mistake and made the hapless victim of this strategy but any underling will do. Since few care what the lower-ranking people say and thus they have no voice, this charge tends to stick.
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What a mangled metaphor reveals about its creator

George Orwell warned that when a metaphor gets mangled, that is a sure indication that the writer is not actually thinking about they are saying but is in a kind of auto-mode, not visualizing the idea but just stringing together words that sound good but don’t really mean anything. It is a sign that the writer lacks conviction or does not care. I have observed that this is true for me, that the times when I have been in the auto-mode are when I make errors or say something that makes little sense when examined closely.
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Why Ebola seems to be less lethal in the US

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has been all over the media trying to damp down the excessive fear over the Ebola virus and reassuring people that it is not that easy to get the disease. In this photo, we see that he stands by his conviction, showing him embracing the nurse Nina Pham who got the disease after treating a person who died from the disease but has now been declared disease-free. I hope that photo calms some people down.
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Is this the real Renee Zellweger?

Renee Zellweger has not acted in a film since 2010 but is now about to release a new one. She has thus re-appeared in the public eye and surprised many people because she looks different. Very different. It is not just that she has gone through the normal changes of aging over five years and is an older version of herself but that she looks so different that one might not have recognized her.
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Piketty on the growing wealth and income inequality

I bought the much talked-about book Capital in the 21st Century by economist Thomas Piketty but have not yet cracked open its 700-odd pages. His basic thesis apparently is that when r>g, where r is the rate of return on capital and g is the rate of growth of economies, that leads to greater wealth and income inequality. His book looks at the data over a long period and suggests ways to reduce the inequality. Of course, his prescriptions will not be popular among the elites in the US who see the inequality as reflecting the fact that they are so much more valuable to society than the 99%.
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