Looking back on 9/11 (Non-fiction)

As I’m sitting here eating lunch, I thought back on the events of 9/11/01. I remember walking into work just minutes after a DJ said the first plane crash was not an accident. Our receptionist directed me to a room with a TV set to Fox News. I waked in just as video of the second plane hitting a tower played.

I don’t remember what the anchors said during those long hours. I just remember the numbness I felt watching so many die on live TV. I still felt numb as I walked outside to a sky with no airplanes. It took days for it to go away.

Maybe 9/11 didn’t change everything, but there were changes. It was conventional wisdom that voters would never support a war that lasted too long. Today, the “War on Terror” rages on with no end and waged by both parties. We tolerate security theater in our airports. (Confession: I was a TSA employee for over a year.) The attack’s also made many people question the value of religion and that helped lead to the rise of New Atheism

There will be more changes as 9/11 becomes a distant memory. Some for the better, I hope. There have also been other events that have affected Americans as well. Still, I can’t help but think that attacks on that day helped shape our current state of affairs.

Caine: There is never enough time (Non-fiction)

Caine, a member of FtB, lost her battle with cancer this week.

Honestly, I mainly knew her through the back channel. I knew she had cancer, but I didn’t realize how severe it was.

I feel for her many friends and followers  I also feel sad that I will never get to know her better, or ever get to meet her in person.  That opportunity is gone.

Humans are fortunate, in that we appear to be the only animals on Earth that can perceive and appreciate the universe.  Our advances in medicine and science have extended our lifespans.  Still, at least for this week, it feels like there’s never enough time.  So I’ll try to make the most of the time I do have.  However long that is.

 

Carrier lawsuit update (Non-fiction)

  1. PZ Myers has a video update and post about Richard Carrier’s lawsuit:

Hey! Have you been wondering what’s going on with the Carrier lawsuit? I can’t tell you. It’s mostly secret.

I can tell you though, that he has a new friend with money.

And we still need more money.

This has been going for about two years. I honestly think people would have forgotten about his resignation from FTB if had never filed this lawsuit.

Since this lawsuit isn’t going away for awhile, please consider donating to the legal defense fund.

Rebecca Watson is podcasting again (Non-fiction)

Rebecca Watson, a former Skeptics Guide to the Universe rouge, just started her own podcast.  Quiz-o-Tron is a monthly science and comedy quiz show where comedians and scientists compete for the coveted Quiz-o-Tron Belt.

I haven’t seen Quiz-o-Tron, but I did seem a similar program she put on at TAM 9.  Fun Fact, PZ Myers and I managed to make the finals of the audience participation segment.  It was a version of Match Game.  While I drew a blank, PZ picked the most popular answer.  While I lost, it was fun to watch and join in.  I can’t wait to listen to Quiz-o-Tron on my way to work.

Of course, she still has her YouTube channel.

From the Webmaster: Trav Mamone ask a good question about skeptical communities (Mixed)

Fellow Freethought Blogger Trav Mamone asks a good question over at The Establishment: Why are Secular Skeptic Communities Failing to Address Sexual Crime?

What is most troubling about the Krauss story is how many in the atheist movement knew about his reputation before the BuzzFeed article came out, including this writer. If secular communities want to provide a better alternative to religious institutions, why didn’t anyone confront Krauss sooner? Why are Shermer and Carrier still given a platform despite having similar accusations to those levied against Krauss?

We’re wondering about this as well. Trav has some good ideas, but we have a feeling they wouldn’t agree with some of our thoughts on the matter.

I’m going to OrbitCon! (Non-fiction)

OrbitCon, an online conference similar to the old FTBcons, is this weekend, and I’m going to be on the Steven Pinker panel with HJ Hornbeck.  I’ve spoken at Skepticamps in Chicago before, but this will be my first online panel.

Is the invisible hand of civilization guiding us to a better future?  Find out what we think on Saturday, April 14 from 7 p.m to 8 p.m. CDT.

The conference itself runs from April 13 to April 15, and the schedule of panels and speakers is here.  Recordings will also be available on YouTube.

I hope to see some of you there.

Stephen Hawking dies (Non-Fiction)

I wish this was a story, but its too real.  Stephen Hawking died on Pi Day. From the Guardian:

Hawking’s children, Lucy, Robert and Tim, said in a statement: “We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today. He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years. His courage and persistence with his brilliance and humour inspired people across the world.

“He once said: ‘It would not be much of a universe if it wasn’t home to the people you love.’ We will miss him for ever.”

To me, he was one of few people who made an impact in both science and popular culture.  I, and many others will miss him.

From the Webmaster: Do psychology and evolution mix?

By Wendy Onofrey
Webmaster for the Bolingbrook Babbler 

Our neighbors here at Freethought Blogs love to blog about Evolutionary Psychology.  HJ Hornbeck has the latest on a new EvoPsych paper.

I’m not a fan of EvoPsych. It manages the feat of misunderstanding both evolution and psychology, its researchers are prone to wild misrepresentation of fields they clearly don’t understand, and it has all the trappings of a pseudo-science. Nonetheless, I’ve always thought they had enough sense to avoid promoting scientific racism, at least openly.

[CONTENT WARNING: Some of them don’t.]

It’s a great post, though it probably means that if he ever visits Bolingbrook, we’ll have to keep him away from the EvoPsych house.

One year at FTB (Non-fiction)

A year ago, I took a chance and applied to join Freethought Blogs.  To my very pleasant surprise, I was accepted, and I’ve enjoyed the experience.  It is an honor to be able to contribute to a network I’ve been a fan of for years.

So thank you to the bloggers who took a chance on me, and thanks to all the readers who have visited.  I look forward to contributing more stories for a very long time.

If you want to help me celebrate a year on FTB, please consider donating to our legal defense fund.

Are you an atheist who used to believe in God? Take this survey! (Out of character)

If you used to believe in God, and have about 30 minutes to spare, you might want to take this survey by the Atheist Research Collaborative:

“The study is open to those who are at least 18 years of age, and those who once believed in god(s) but do not now; this means you are not eligible to participate if you have always been an atheist/nonbeliever. The survey is a maximum of 76 questions, and a minimum of 64 questions.  On average, the survey should take 20 to 30 minutes to complete, although individuals may find that it takes them more or less time than this, depending on their answers. The survey can be found here.”

Joseph Langston ARC Affiliate/Web Admin

it’s not hard, but remember to keep an eye out for the trick questions.