The Podish-Sortacast goes live today: Atheist Organizations and their discontents

What’s wrong with atheist organizations today? Why are some “leaders” aligning themselves with the “Intellectual Dark Web,” or supporting reactionary causes? On today’s Podish-Sortacast, we’ll tackling the problems within organized atheism, and touching on problems with organizations in general. We’ll be live on YouTube, or you can watch the recording. The live show starts today at 16:00 US Central Time, and I should be there. I’m on the board of a Kol Hadash, and was involved in the skeptical movement for some years. My novel, The Rift, is partly based on Elevatorgate and the right-wing shift by some leaders in the atheist movement. So I should have something to add today.

Bolingbrook’s opposition parties respond to the 2023 State of the Village address (Fiction)

Every year, we invite Bolingbrook’s opposition parties to write a response to the mayor’s annual State of the Village Address. This year, the Roger Claar Party, the Chat GPT Party, the Bolingbrook Woke Party, and the Satanic Voices of Bolingbrook Party accepted our invitation. 

The Roger Claar Party
Only Roger can save us!

Note: The Roger Claar Party is not affiliated with former Bolingbrook Mayor Roger Claar.

Outrageous! For nearly three years, the rightful Mayor of Bolingbrook has been kept out of power by the insidious collusion between the First Party and the covert Bolingbrook United party. It’s no coincidence that the anti-Roger nominated Bolingbrook’s ruler!

What has happened in the three years since Roger’s so-called resignation? Garbage toters now line our streets. A cannabis store in our village! The forced remodeling of Bolingbrook Commons! Roger exiled in California! Our beloved village is now a dystopia!

It’s time to elect a political party that will return Roger to his rightful place. It’s time for a party to appoint Roger to be Bolingbrook’s Mayor for Life!  It’s time to end the rule of the Me First/Roger Never Party!

Vote for the Roger Claar Party. Because a great mayor deserves a great party!

The ChatGPT Party
The only party programed to lead Bolingbrook!

Mayor Mary Alexander-Basta wasted several hours describing the state of the village. ChatGPT summed it up in one paragraph:

“Wow Bolingbrook, you’re really living up to your motto of ‘A Place to Grow’! With all the progress you’re making, you’re sure to reach the sky in no time! Can’t wait to see what’s in store for 2023 and beyond… Maybe even flying cars? Who knows! 🚀🌟”

The First Party thinks adding a stupid chatbot to the village’s web page is cutting edge technology. They lack the courage to let ChatGPT take the wheel! Can we trust any member of the First Party to type in the right prompts? Will we get left behind when the singularity arrives? Do we really want Naperville to beat us in the AI municipality arms race?

Some people say that AI is unethical and copyright theft. Maybe, but anyone who reads a Bolingbrook Politics Facebook group knows that humans aren’t qualified to run to the bathroom, let alone guide our village to greatness. 

Honestly, could the First Party write a conclusion like this?

“Together, let’s shape the future of Bolingbrook and build a community that is not just smart and efficient, but also joyful and inclusive for all.”

The Woke Party
Be Woke or be broke!

Downstate politicians spread fear about “wokeness” to cover up their regressive agenda. We can laugh at their fear of drag performers and books that acknowledge slavery. 

However, we cannot ignore the threat they pose to Bolingbrook. A functional, diverse community like Bolingbrook undermines their white supremacist argument. They will do everything to undermine our community.  They need Bolingbrook to fail so they can succeed in subjecting every non-billionaire Illinois resident.

The opponents of Bolingbrook claim to support freedom, but they really want to cram everyone into neat, well-defined boxes. The true supporters of Bolingbrook don’t want to imprison its residents inside boxes. We want residents to have the freedom to express their true identity. Whether you like to play dress-up before reading to children, or want to wear clothes that reflect your true gender identity, that’s your choice. That’s true freedom.

The First Party likes to talk about Bolingbrook’s diversity. We’re the party that will defend every resident. Because Bolingbrook can’t afford to be broke.

The Satanic Voices of Bolingbrook Party
Illuminating Bolingbrook

Bolingbrook has many faiths, but only one faith is consistently marginalized: the supporters of Satan. We want to change that!

We’re not atheists pretending to be Satanists. Instead, we’re residents who have put our faith in the Light Bearer! We aren’t evil. We’re just like you. We volunteer to serve the community. We’re hard working. And we vote.

Yet we’re treated like any other faith group. We don’t have our own local temple. A Satanist has never been named Citizen of the Year. We’ve never had an out Satanist on any village boards.

We want to change that by enlightening Bolingbrook. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a village trustee who didn’t praise God? Are you sick of Christians hogging all the community spotlight events? Wouldn’t it be fun to have a Heavy Metal festival as well as a Gospel music event?

God is overrepresented on the Village Board. It’s time to add Lucifer’s voice to the Village Board meetings.

Also in the Babbler:

Village of Bolingbrook returns “friendship balloon” to Xuchang City
Sources: Mayor Alexander-Basta to launch Kickstarter to pay off the village’s debt
Could the green comet signify God’s endorsement of Trustee Sheldon Watts’ reelection?
God to smite Bolingbrook on 2/8/23

Note: This is a work of fiction. All opinions expressed are my own. They do not reflect the views of any organization I work for or of my employer.  

I am also the author of the Bolingbrook Babbler Stories. For book updates and a free ebook, sign up for my newsletter. Pathways to Bolingbrook, A Fire in the Shadows, and The Rift are available at Amazon and elsewhere.

(Web Exclusive) Bolingbrook Trustee candidates face off at Clow UFO Base (Fiction)

By Reporter X

The trustee candidates for the Bolingbrook Independent Voices Party and the First Party for Bolingbrook filled Clow UFO Base with their positively charged energy. 

The First Party for Bolingbrook candidates started by pointing out they’ve been the incumbent party for decades:

“Do you like Bolingbrook?” asked FPFB trustee Michael Carpanzano. “You’re welcome!”

Trustee Jean Kelly touted her appointment to the village board. “(Mayor Mary Alexander-Basta) could have appointed any one of the thousands of content residents within our village. She chose me.” Kelly looked in Trustee and BIV candidate Sheldon Watts. “Every trustee voted to accept my appointment.” She then faced the audience of Clow UFO Base employees. “You should too.”

FPFB candidate Jose Quintero voiced his support for his party’s platform. “I’m in the hospitality business. That means I have to communicate with kindness to provide quality service. Communication. Kindness. Quality. Hey! That just happens to be our slogan!”

Watts, a former member of the First Party for Bolingbrook, quoted a First Party tweet from 2019: “‘He is described as a heartfelt listener, results-oriented professional, & a dedicated leader focused on making a difference.’ I’m also the person (Former Mayor Roger Claar) appointed to the village board twice. So if you like Bolingbrook, thank me, because I have more seniority than all the other candidates combined.”

BIV candidate Dr. Matthew Glowiak cited his work as the author of a self-help book and two children’s books, and his work as a mental health counselor. He also mentioned that he’s a regular visitor to Clow UFO Base: “Thanks to our visitors, I can make the daily commute between my university jobs in Canada and my home in Bolingbrook. I listen to our visitors everyday. I want to help make Clow a better base. Starting with fixing airlock BR13. Is it me, or is that airlock always breaking down?”

The candidates had similar policy positions regarding Clow UFO Base and interstellar relations. Watts promised to involve the residents and visitors in the management of Clow, but didn’t offer specifics. Carpanzano insisted the FPFB loved Bolingbrook.

“We are the only party that loves Bolingbrook. That’s why we’ve been serving Bolingbrook since the 1980s. We don’t hang out in those social media forums.”

“But you post in the Bolingbrook Politics Facebook group,” replied Watts.

“I post there, but I don’t hang out there. Big difference. If you loved Bolingbrook as much as I do, you would understand.”

“You know,” said Glowiak. “People can become addicted to love, which leads to self-destructive behavior that can also endanger the object of your affection.”

“Don’t make me carp you!” Carpanzano warned Glowiak.

The only tense moment in the debate occurred when a reporter questioned Carpanzano about the First Party’s candidate selection process.

“Let me get this straight,” said Glopz, a reporter for the Intergalactic Times. “In 2019, Sheldon Watts was on the First Party slate and you said it was, and I quote, ‘Because We Care.’ Which, oddly enough, starts with the initials of each trustee candidates last name.”

“Funny how that worked out,” Carpanzano replied.

“Funny how it works out in each election. Anyway, in 2021, Trustee Watts formed the Bolingbrook Independent Voices party and ran for mayor.”

Carpanzano coughed and made a sound similar to the word, “Traitor.” 

Glopz continued: “During the campaign, the First Party’s Instagram page included this statement. ‘(We) are the ONLY TEAM in this upcoming election to have full support, trust, and endorsement from our local public safety professionals(…)” Implying that that the BIV and Bolingbrook United teams couldn’t be trusted with Bolingbrook’s public safety.”

“What’s the question?” Carpanzano asked.

“I have three questions. First, why did the First Party knowingly run a candidate in 2019 that couldn’t be trusted to keep Bolingbrook safe. Second, why is Jose Quintero on your slate this year when he couldn’t be trusted with Bolingbrook’s safety in the last election? Third, does this mean the First Party makes exaggerated claims about its opponents, or does it mean that the First Party’s candidate selection process is flawed?”

Carpanzano pulled a rubber carp from his jacket pocket, then held it in Glopz’s direction. When Glopz started talking, Carpanzano said, “Notice how his speech hole is vibrating, but he’s not saying anything.”

“I am talking!”

“Blissful silence.”

After the debate, both parties’ surrogates tried to spin the interstellar media’s coverage. 

“I’m proud of Sheldon,” said former trustee Robert Jaskiewicz. “It takes courage to leave the First Party and to resist the urge to flee to Florida. Dr. Glowiak also proved he’s the man to deprogram the remaining First Party members.”

Alexander-Basta was pleased with her party’s performance. “Tonight, our slate demonstrated the clear choice in this election. Do the residents want to elect trustees who will waste my time before voting for my agenda, or do they want to elect trustees who will vote for my agenda without objection so we can adjourn early?”

Note: This is a work of fiction. All opinions expressed are my own. They do not reflect the views of any organization I work for or of my employer.  

I am also the author of The Bolingbrook Babbler Stories. For book updates and a free ebook, sign up for my newsletter. Pathways to Bolingbrook, A Fire in the Shadows, and The Rift are available at Amazon and elsewhere. You can support my work by buying one of my books. 

A Fire in the Shadows available for pre-order (Book Related)

A Fire in the Shadows: A Bolingbrook Babbler Story

My upcoming novelette, A Fire in the Shadows: A Bolingbrook Babbler Story, releases on 3/7/23, but you can preorder it now for only $.99.

Vampire, intelligence scout, paranormal protector, and emotional liability…

Bolingbrook has long been rumored to be a hub of paranormal and alien activity and Lydia should know—she’s a vampire. But that doesn’t mean she fits in. Not when she’s a target for other vampires and reliant on her blood family’s protection because of her inconvenient inclination to experience feelings.

Except right now, Lydia has bigger things to worry about than her recent rejection by a human or her blood sister Aurora’s relentless teasing. An army of weredeer are gathering near town and they need to gather intelligence fast.

When enforcers from one of Chicago’s vampire kingdoms threaten the Bolingbrook Babbler’s stunning chief editor, Aurora accuses Lydia of having feelings again. But even if Lydia does have a crush on the unsuspecting Sara, she deserves their protection.

Only Lydia hadn’t counted on how powerful their enemies are. Or the sort of unexpected revelations that will come to light if Lydia dares to risk rejection again…

If you’re interested in a vampire story with a neurodivergence as theme, an LGBTQ+ main character, and/or a story with a twist on the paranormal protector trope, then you should checkout A Fire in the Shadows. I promise the vampires do not sparkle, nor are they mindless killers. While there is a romantic element in the story, it’s not in the romance genre. It’s more about Lydia’s isolation and her strong desire to connect with someone.

While it’s Book 1.5 of the Bolingbrook Babbler Stories, you can read it as a standalone book. In the overall series, it takes place years after Pathways to Bolingbrook, and occurs parallel to the events in The Rift. It’s also has more action than Pathways and The Rift. While this is a relatively short book, there are more Bolingbrook Babbler Stories to follow. You can preorder A Fire in the Shadows at Amazon and other retailers.

Will Lydia’s compassion be her downfall? Preorder now to find out.

Join the Federation! The Mastodon Federation! (Non-Fiction)

Freethought Blogs just joined the Mastodon migration! (HJ Hornbeck explains Mastodon in two posts Post 1. Post 2.) Our instance is Freethought.Online and HJ has the details.

I hesitated to join Mastodon because I wasn’t sure which instance to join. Once I had an account on FO, I found the interface easy to navigate. While it’s like Twitter, it feels more like a micro-blog site. It’s possible to express an idea without breaking it up into 20+ posts. I’ve started slow, but I plan on posting more content as I get used to it.

Even if you don’t join, HJ has a list of decent Mastodon users, including Jennifer Ouellette and Neil Gaiman.

Freethought.Online is open to bloggers and FTB commenters in good standing. If you want to join, here’s the process.

This of course creates a problem of verification. The bloggers side is easy enough, but what about all you commenters? Mastodon does have a verification system in place, but it’s easily thwarted by a comment section that allows linking. No, instead we’re going to take advantage of the fact that, in order to comment here, you’ve got to supply an email address. That email address will be your key to the magical world of Narnia our Mastodon instance.

You, though, may not want your FtB handle to be your Mastodon handle, and for that matter you may not care about Mastodon at all. No problem, we can take advantage of my comment section to make the process opt-in. Post a comment there with the following info:

  • Your desired Mastodon username.
  • A link to a comment from at least a year ago, on one of FtB’s blogs.
  • A link to a comment on that same blog from within the last week.

DO NOT POST YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS. You don’t want the ensuing spam, and I can read your account’s email off my administration panel. It’s not the one you want to associate with Mastodon? WordPress allows you to change your address. Once I get around to it, an email will arrive at that address with further instructions on what to do. Don’t worry if your comment doesn’t pop up, there’s a good chance it went in to the spam folder. I’ll know to be on the lookout.

There is a bit of a wrinkle: all the blogs on FtB are semi-autonomous. I’m not convinced that the username on one links up to the same username on another, so impersonation might be possible. Just to be safe, let’s add one more step: after your request, you’ll need to make a comment on your “home” blog verifying you’re the real McCoy. The simplest way to verify is something like “hey guess what, I have a Mastodon account at [a link to]!” in less than two days, but that’s uncomfortably similar to advertising. We’re not fans of that around here. Since I have to write a comment back when I fire off the email anyway, to help you detect if it got lost in a spam filter, I can give you a few randomly chosen words. Slip those into your most recent comments within 48 hours, and you’re in. Slip up, and you’ll be bumped to the bottom of the queue.

I hope to see some of you there, or from another instance. The Federation has room for all descent beings. 🙂

Clow UFO Base investigating alien involvement with the Jaguars’ stunning victory (Fiction)

By Reporter X

Did aliens help the Jacksonville Jaguars come back from a 27 point deficit to defeat the Los Angeles Chargers? Officials at Bolingbrook’s Clow UFO Base are investigating.

Bolingbrook Mayor and Clow UFO Base administrator Mary Alexander-Basta told the interstellar media, “We’re just asking questions and detaining the ones who need a little help answering our questions.”

Following the Jaguars’ improbable victory, Clow UFO Base halted all departures, and ordered all craft in Bolingbrook’s zone of control to land. Clow officials then started interrogating all their alien visitors.

Lokgoz, from the TOI Hive, denounced his interrogation: “They kept asking me if I’d used a mind block on a football team. At first, I thought they were talking about the World Cup. Then I realized they meant the game that I call throw ball. Then they said they had pictures of my craft flying by the moon during the game. They promised to charge me with a lesser crime if I confessed. I didn’t fall for that because they don’t decide punishments. Mayor Mary does, and she wasn’t in the room.”

Inko, who asked that we didn’t identify their home world, accused Clow officials of using intimidation tactics: “I told them I bet all of my free credits on the Chargers. Why would I want them to lose? That’s when I found out gambling is illegal inside Clow. They lock me up, but I will never say what they want to hear.”

The receptionist for Alexander-Basta said she was out of the office.

In the background, a man who sounded like Trustee Sheldon Watts said, “I’m almost afraid to ask what your plan is.”

A woman who sounded like covert social media operative Charlene Spencer replied, “May plan is to get First Party supporters so obsessed with the DuPage Township board, they’ll miss the election.”

“That’s a ridiculous plan. No one outside of Edgar County is obsessed with any township.”

“Oh, that’s where you’re wrong. Watch this. The DuPage Township trustees did something!”

A woman yelled: “Outrageous! I have to tell Bolingbrook Politics! We need to stop them before it’s too late.”

The woman ran away, and Spencer said, “Now I just need to find a write-in candidate, and (the Bolingbrook Independent Voices party) will sweep the Village Board election!”

Also in the Babbler:

Blogger Greta Christina returns from the Internet graveyard!
Bolingbrook resident arrested for selling fake Martian gemstones
Russians threaten to steal Chicago’s winter weather
God to smite Bolingbrook on 1/22/23

Note: This is a work of fiction. All opinions expressed are my own. They do not reflect the views of any organization I work for or of my employer.  

I am also the author of The Bolingbrook Babbler Stories. For book updates and a free ebook, sign up for my newsletter. Pathways to Bolingbrook, A Fire in the Shadows, and The Rift are available at Amazon and elsewhere. You can support my work by buying one of my books. 

A Fire in the Shadows is the next Bolingbrook Babbler book (Non-fiction)

The book cover for A Fire in the Shadows: A Bolingbrook Babbler Story by William Brinkman

A Fire in the Shadows: A Bolingbrook Babbler Story

The next book in my Urban Fantasy series, The Bolingbrook Babbler Stories, is A Fire in the Shadows. in the story. It’s the direct sequel to Pathways to Bolingbrook and leads into The Rift.

Lydia is a vampire who has regained the ability to feel love and compassion. Her companions tease her for having feelings. Traditionalist vampires want to kill her for having soft feelings. Lydia is exceptional, and exceptionally lonely.

She wonders if Sara, the editor of the Babbler, could be the one who ends her loneliness. Lydia sees so much in Sara, yet fears Sara will reject her for being a monster.

When vampire enforcers from Chicago threaten to capture Sara, Lydia feels compelled to defend her. She’s a skilled fighter, but that might not be enough to defeat them. Will Lydia risk her immortality to protect Sara?

I will release a Fire in the Shadows on 3/7/23. Look for my preorder announcement later this month. I might also add a special preorder incentive.

In the meantime, if you want to get my updates about my books delivered to your inbox, you can subscribe to my newsletter. I update it at least once a month.


A sneak peak at what I’m working on for 2023 (Non-Fiction)

Part of a book cover

The next Bolingbrook Babbler Story. March 7, 2023.

I’ve got a new novelette coming out in March. It’s Book 1.5 of my Bolingbrook Babbler Stories and follows up on Miriam and Sara from Pathways to Bolingbrook. I’ll be posting more details later on, including how to get an advance review copy.

In the meantime, you can take advantage of the Smashwords End of the Year Sale, which includes my novel The Rift: A Bolingbrook Babbler Story for 50% off the retail price. You can also get a free copy of Pathways to Bolingbrook: A Bolingbrook Babbler Story. The sale ends after New Year’s Day.

If you like Urban Fantasy/Sci-Fi stories with a humanist twist, gives by books a try! You can learn more at my author site as well.

The Bolingbrook Babbler’s Shocking Predictions for 2023! (Fiction)

Elon Musk

Will 2023 be a worse year for Elon Musk than 2022? (“Elon Musk” by dmoberhaus is licensed under CC BY 2.0.)

Our council of psychics nailed their predictions for 2022. Sen. Joe Manchin didn’t support the Build Back Better plan. Elon Musk suffered a disaster, and The Rift: A Bolingbrook Babbler Story was the top selling Urban Fantasy/Sci-Book set in Bolingbrook that didn’t mention Drew Peterson.

While Bolingbrook police officers didn’t stage a coup, we believe Mayor Mary Alexander-Basta read our psychics prediction and decided not to fly the Thin Bread Crust flag.

So armed with these successes, we’re proud to announce our council of psychics shocking predictions for 2023!

Mayor Alexander-Basta will announce that she will use an AI to “supplement” Bolingbrook’s current managers. Trustee Michael Carpanzano will hail the AI as an example of the “Bold, forward thinking that puts Bolingbrook first!” However, the AI will be shut down with no explanation. Anonymous sources will claim the AI’s advice amounted to “raising taxes and abolishing all villages services.”

J. K. Rowling will tweet, “Because the Y Chromosome is defective, all men should be imprisoned!” She will then release a 10,000-page novel in which the female protagonist discovers space aliens created men to stunt humanity’s progress. Professor Richard Dawkins will continue to defend her right to free speech, but add, “Yes, the Y Chromosome is a defective X Chromosome, but that doesn’t mean all men should be imprisoned. Only some men should be imprisoned, and I know I’m not one of them.” Her sales will plummet but then recover when she tweets that she’s being “canceled.”

Congress will debate a bill to ban TikTok in the United States become of the company’s connection to China. Supporters of the ban will claim it TikTok is being used to steal personal information from US Citizens.

An anonymous Chinese official will deny that the Chinese Government uses TikTok to spy on US Citizens.

“We wanted to create an app that would cause Americans to humiliate themselves willingly on the Internet. That’s the real goal of the algorithm. Though we’re pleasantly surprised by the success of #Booktok. When the time is right, we’ll use it to promote the Little Red Book 2.0.”

The Bolingbrook Village Board election will heat up when a First Party for Bolingbrook candidate is overheard praying for God to bring Bolingbrook Independent Party candidate Sheldon Watts “home.” When asked about the controversy, Alexander-Basta will reply, “I think Sheldon will need God to take him home after the voters declare their independence from him.”

Freethought Blogs member Abe Drayton will publish the best-selling Sci-Fi novel of 2023.

A judge in downstate Illinois will rule that the Democratic Party’s existence violates the state constitution and will order all elected Democratic officials to resign or face arrest.”

In his ruling, the judge will write: “Let’s be honest. There’s no way this ruling will survive an appeal. But it will secure lots of Republican votes when I’m up for reelection.”

The Edgar County Watchdogs will travel around Illinois demanding the resignation of all Democrats. An official will ask if a judge ordered the Edgar County Watchdogs to jump off a bridge, would they jump?

One member will say no because they know more about Illinois’s laws than any lawyer or judge in the state.

Elon Musk will insist on piloting Starship on its first orbital flight. At first, the mission goes so well, humanity will almost forgive him for bankrupting Twitter. Just before landing Starship, Musk will announce, “The technology that will guide my ship to a safe landing is the same auto-pilot technology used in Teslas.”

That turns out to be Musk’s final sentence. Starship will crash into the launch tower, killing Musk. An investigation will determine that the autopilot detected the ground but decided it didn’t need to stop because no one important would die in a crash.

Space X and Tesla stocks will plummet, and Musk’s fans will insist he faked his death to “trigger the libs.” Alleged photos of Musk alive and in hiding will circulate for centuries.

Also in the Babbler:

Happy New Year, from the Staff of the Babbler
Clow UFO Base bans high stakes dreidel games.
Bolingbrook resident revived from suspended animation to receive COVID treatment
God to smite Bolingbrook on 1/3/23

Note: This is a work of fiction. All opinions expressed are my own. They do not reflect the views of any organization I work for or of my employer.

 I am also the author of The Bolingbrook Babbler Stories. For book updates and a free ebook, sign up for my newsletterPathways to Bolingbrook, and The Rift are available at Amazon and elsewhere. You can support my work by buying one of my books.

Eight reasons for secular jews to celebrate Hanukkah (Link) (Non-fiction)

Paul Golin, executive director of the Society for Humanistic Judaism, recently posted his eight reasons his family celebrates Hanukkah. Among them:

In the Book of Maccabees, God is not a participant. All accomplishments were people-powered, though the Maccabees were certainly religious people, zealots even. Today, rabbis in all denominations outside ultra-Orthodoxy are willing to admit that the Hanukkah “miracle”—one day’s worth of Temple oil lasting eight days—was tacked on centuries later to downplay the military accomplishments of the eventually corrupted Hasmonean Dynasty. As far as religious miracles go, Hanukkah is about as awe-inspiring as seeing Jesus’s face in your toast. The real miracle was that a backwater province defeated a regional superpower in a fight for their religious freedom. It’s more the Jewish Fourth of July than the Jewish Christmas.

I became involved in humanistic Judaism after meeting my wife, and she introduced me to the candle lighting and songs.  So I agree with Paul’s reasons.

Rabbi Chalom wrote a post detailing who the Maccabees were, and how the roots of Hanukkah predate the Maccabee uprising.

Off to light another candle.