Mother’s Day Fundraiser (Non-Fiction)

This coming Sunday is Mother’s Day and it will also be the Freethought Blogs Mother’s Day Fundraising Anthology.  Richard Carrier’s SLAPP case against Freethought Blogs was settled back in 2019, but there are still legal bills left to be paid.  I, along with some of my fellow bloggers here, will post works with Mother’s Day as the theme.  I’ll post the links once I have them.  My contribution is a short story set in the same continuity as the upcoming Bolingbrook Novel.  (Which I might be able to publish this year.)

Feel free to make an early donation.  Any amount will be appreciated and will help us finally move on from that dark chapter.  I will add a stretch goal:  Between now and midnight on 5/10/21 CDT, if we raise $5000 or more, I will go to a Bolingbrook Village Board meeting and ask a question during public comments.  Something I haven’t done since around 2009, and back then, none of them knew who I was.

So if you want to see me make history, support my fellow bloggers, and enjoy a great anthology, make a donation!

Video: Rebecca Watson on Essential Oils and seizures (Non-fiction)

I have personal experience with eucalyptus oil causing an allergic reaction in cats, but I didn’t realize that essential oils could also cause seizures.  Rebecca Watson posted a video about a recent study focusing on essential oils and seizures:


This was an overview of four years of data from 350 patients who experienced their first seizure or their “breakthrough” seizure (the first seizure in a very long time for a patient who had previously experienced seizures), finding that 15.7% were connected to essential oil exposure. And so that’s not just in patients diagnosed with epilepsy, that’s for everyone. 40% of the patients in the study who experienced what the researchers call an “essential oil-related seizure” had never had a seizure before, and the majority were adults.

Yet another reason for them to be kept out of my house.  (The cats are doing well by the way.)

Guest Opinion: Bolingbrook United 2021 – United for a better future and a better community (Mixed)

On April 6, voters in Bolingbrook will select a new mayor, a new clerk, and three trustees.  We asked the three local parties, Bolingbrook Independent Voices, Bolingbrook United, and First Party for Bolingbrook, to submit guest opinions to published on the eve of early voting Only Bolingbrook United accepted our invitation.  

All views expressed in these guest opinions are those of the political parties and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Babbler editorial board.

Founded in 2016 on a quiet residential street by a group of residents who were tired of the status quo and seeing only those who were well connected or campaign donors having their concerns addressed, Bolingbrook United has been a grassroots movement from the beginning.  With the aim of providing a voice for all residents and addressing long-neglected concerns of the community, our village board candidates for 2021 have a diverse and experienced background from which they draw and can provide leadership within the community.

Jackie Traynere:  Candidate for Mayor

Jackie is a long-time resident of Bolingbrook, has served the community as a County Board member since 2008, and is the chair of the DuPage Township Democrats organization.  Jackie has been a small business owner and was employed for 22 years as a union organizer.  She volunteers in countless ways within the community and is a Rotarian.  You can read more about Jackie’s background at:

Elnalyn Costa:  Candidate for Village Clerk

“El”, as she’s better known to her friends, is a 14 year Filipino-American resident of Bolingbrook.  El is the Fund Administrator of the SEIU Healthcare Illinois Benefit Funds in Chicago where she leads a team that serves 20,000 frontline healthcare and child care workers.  El serves her community in many ways including as a DuPage Township Precinct Captain and as the treasurer for the Illinois Democratic Women of Will County.  Learn more about El at:

Melisa Quinones:  Candidate for Village Trustee

Melisa is a local attorney, parent of a special needs child, and grew up in Puerto Rico.  When Hurricane Maria devastated the island Melisa moved her family to Bolingbrook to be near her sister and start a new life.  Since becoming a resident Melisa has become very involved in the local community by serving on the Crime Stoppers board, becoming and serving as a certified mediator and Guardian ad Litem for the court system, and volunteering for the local “Lawyers in the Library” program.  View more about Melisa’s qualifications here:

Jose Quintero:  Candidate for Village Trustee

An active member of St. Dominic’s Church in Bolingbrook since 2004, Jose originally immigrated to the US from Durango, Mexico when he was five.  His background is in many ways indicative of the “American Dream” as he studied at College of DuPage and later graduated from Florida Atlantic University, now working as the VP of Operations and Business Development for the Windson Hospitality Group.  Jose is also a Rotarian and an active member of the Chamber of Commerce.  Learn more about Jose here:

Rondel Parker:  Candidate for Village Trustee

Rondel is a fiscally conservative, independent, and non-partisan candidate who is a graduate of Illinois State University and a public servant.  An avid health enthusiast, Rondel loves to run with the Bolingbrook Fun Run Club and help others stay fit in the gym.  The parent of 5 children, including 3 who are members of the US Airforce, Rondel learned early on the value of community from his grandparents as he volunteered to feed the needy.  Learn more about Rondel here:

Bolingbrook United 2021 Platform:

While it is impossible to address all concerns that the Village currently faces or will face over the next four years, the candidates have a clear focus on the following issues:


Bolingbrook United will work to make sure local government is open and accountable. It’s time to give power and information back to the people. We will put a stop to backroom deals that benefit only a few connected players, end no-bid contracts, and responsibly manage our village vendors and finances. It’s your money – you deserve a say in how it’s spent.

 Village meetings and engaging with residents on key issues

Everyone should have equal access to the work of their government. We will give residents a voice at Village Meetings with fewer restrictions, and open channels of communication for residents who can’t attend to make sure all can share their input. Before key financial decisions are made, like taking on more village debt or bidding on contracts, residents will have a real chance to weigh-in.

 End Conflicts of Interest

Bolingbrook officials have a long history of playing favorites and accepting campaign donations from those who do business with the village. We will enact new ethics restrictions and make sure our vendors are doing what is best for our residents, not politicians.

 Modernize Village Hall and how we interface with residents

We will work with Village staff to upgrade the use of technology and improve the ways residents get and share information, apply for permits, and put in requests.


Bolingbrook United will help us rebuild from COVID-19 even stronger than before. We will work to fill empty storefronts and strengthen our local economy. We will also root out corruption and find savings in our budget so that we can lower property taxes and fees while delivering better, more affordable village services like clean water and the option for garbage containers.

 Redevelop Bolingbrook Commons

The entryway to Bolingbrook from the Route 53/I-55 Corridor is an eyesore. We will work with the owners of the empty, deteriorating space where Century Tile was to redevelop a welcoming entry to our village that is an attractive, productive, and tax-producing area. This would include redeveloping the Corridor and Amazon development.

 Review the profitability of all Village-owned facilities and take action

Take a deep review of all Village-owned facilities to determine what changes are needed to make each property more accessible to the public, more profitable for the village, and less impactful on our long-term debt.

 Promote Economic Development & Business Opportunities

Establish a committee of local business leaders and Village staff to focus on economic development and repurposing of vacant commercial space. We will focus on working with local businesses to identify solutions for attracting new businesses and keeping businesses open and successful.

 Enhance Village services like Water & Garbage

The cost of clean water and garbage services remains a hardship for many Bolingbrook residents. We will review the current contracts and explore other avenues to deliver affordable services.


Bolingbrook United takes pride in the diversity of our community as we work towards changes that provide more inclusive voices at the table. We believe public services should represent all our residents. We will take a closer look at our police and fire departments and collaborate with our school systems and non-profit organizations to support equity and bring people together.

 Community Engagement

Develop Village forums and programming that listens and attends to the needs of all residents, working families, our children, our seniors, and our ethnic communities represented in Bolingbrook.

 Safety as a priority

Crime prevention in all corners of our community is critical for everyone’s safety. We support the systematic use of partnerships and problem-solving techniques to proactively address the way our police engage with our citizens.

 Education and Training

We will partner with our school systems and community organizations to encourage our youth to deepen their learning about social justice, and to provide job training and development programs to our adult residents to promote job security and economic justice.

Stop! Darwintine (Non-fiction)

It’s the Darwintine Fundraiser to help Freethought Blogs pay off the legal bills from Richard Carrier’s S.L.A.P.P. case.  Someday it will be a fundraiser to maintain the network, but for now, it is a reminder that free speech isn’t free.

This time we’re featuring the following offerings:

If you are able to, please make a donation.  If you can’t, please consider spreading the word about this fundraiser.  Either way, I hope you enjoy our creations for this event.

The Descent of Man: Anywhere is Better Than Here (Fiction)

This is part of “The Descent of Man”, FtB’s Darwintine Festival fiction anthology. If you enjoy being part of our community and appreciate the work we do here at FreethoughtBlogs, please consider making a donation to our legal defense fund.

Anywhere is Better Than Here is part of a work in progress tentatively titled Blood in the Fire.

Iowa City, Iowa 1994

Miriam sat on a wooden bench as the last drunk college students filtered out the Pedestrian Mall.   The soothing sound from the Pissing Sisters, the nickname for the tubular water spouts atop of the fountain in front, failed to comfort her.  Miriam knew it was only a matter of time before a police officer would chase her away, but her body felt too heavy to move. If she could move, she thought, where would she go?

“I didn’t expect to find you here,” said a man.

Startled, Miriam turned and saw Matthew, wearing a black blazer, black jeans, and a white t-shirt with an IndustrialnatioN logo on it.

Miriam turned her attention back to the Pissing Sisters.  “Where should I be?”

“Lots of places.  The House of Chaos–”

“Someone would post about it on ISCA.”

“Hanging out with Tommy Stinson’s new band?”

“Saw them back in 1992.  Gabe’s charged way too much to watch them rehearse, and Tommy didn’t play any Replacements songs.”

“Good point.  But, I still have to wonder–”  Matthew sat on Miriam’s bench and moved closer to her.  “Why here?”

Miriam shifted away from Matthew, keeping her eyes on the fountain.  

Matthew continued.  “After all the effort to slip away from Pete and his associates, you end up here.  Out in the open, with no escape.”

Miriam sighed.  Hours earlier, she’d escaped from Pete and his associates after a pointless argument. After running away to Iowa City years ago, Miriam eventually wound up in his circle.  She knew Matthew was one of his out-of-town partners, but beyond a few polite conversations, and some dances, she didn’t know much about him.

“There is no escaping Iowa City,” said Miriam.  She noticed herself touching her abdomen and quickly moved her hand away.  “So I might as well be in my favorite spot, watching the sisters pissing the night away.  So if you’re here to bring me back–”

“I took care of Pete.”

Miriam gasped and faced Matthew.   Matthew brushed back his medium-length blond hair.  

“Took care of him?” asked Miriam, unsure if that was good news.

“Not like that.  But you don’t have to worry about Pete anymore.”

Miriam didn’t know how to respond.  “Thanks, I guess.”  She looked down at herself.  Unless something changes, I’m always going to have to worry about him. The Emma Goldman Clinic isn’t a charity.”

“Family?” asked Matthew.

Miriam turned away and faked a laugh.  “That’s a joke.”  She felt a tear running down her face and brushed it off.  “They threw me away years ago.”

“Threw you away?”

“My dad got angry and tossed me out.  The rest of my family went along.”

“All of them?”

Miriam fought off her tears as she remembered her sister.

Matthew continued, “I can’t imagine–”

“Do you want something?”  snapped Miriam.  


“Yeah.  Do you want anything?  Because I’m not in the mood for small talk.  And I probably don’t have what you want.  So if you want to get high, find a seller.  I’m out of that.  If you’re hard up, there’s a massage parlor near the tracks.”

Matthew chuckled and gestured towards Miriam.

“That’s what I want.” 


“Think about it.  Here you are in the Ped Mall, acting like you’re about to be pushed off the edge of the world.”  Matthew jumped backward, performed an aerial summersault, and landed on the upper ledge of the fountain.  Miriam was surprised he didn’t stumble.  Matthew looked down.  “And oblivion is so tempting right now.  No more pain.  No more problems.  Just eternal peace.  All you have to do is stop resisting and jump.”  Matthew jumped up, performed another summersault, and landed inches from Miriam.  “But you won’t jump.  Why?  Because you’re a fighter.  Not one of those muscle-bound fools, but a real fighter.  You fight because you know.  You know death doesn’t offer you peace.  It offers you nothing.  It turns you into a decaying lump of matter.  It turns you into something as common as dirt.  Yeah, life can suck, but you have to know that you’re one of the lucky ones.  You’re alive, and you know that you’re alive, and not only do you know you’re alive, but you can also appreciate that you’re alive, and you can appreciate the world around you.  How many other collections of atoms can say that?  Hmm?  Not many, and on some level, you have to know that.  That’s why you fight.  You fight because this is your only chance to be sentient.  Every feeling is a gift.  Sadness, fear, pain, pride.  All things worth living for.  On some level, you have to know that.  That’s why you fight.  That’s why you’re fighting right now.  You’re standing on the edge, but you’re not going over without a fight.  That, Miriam- That is why I like you.”

“You’re weird,” Miriam replied.

“I have been called many things, my lady.”  Matthew stretched out his arms and bowed slightly.  “‘Weird’ is a title I accept with honor.”  He leaned back and lowered his arms.  “I am weird, and I also offer you an alternative to oblivion.” 

“What?” she asked, expecting something unworthy of his flowery performance.

“I run a family business.”

Miriam tensed up.  “What do you sell?”

“We sell sustenance, but our mission is to change the world, one sale at a time.”

Miriam gave him a skeptical look.

“For better, of course.”  

“Is it legal?”



“It’s legal in a court of law, but let’s just say we have powerful competitors.  The laws of men do not constrain them.  That’s where you come in.  We need a scout, and you’ve already demonstrated you’re qualifications.”

“By escaping Pete?”

“Much more than that, Miriam.  I’ve heard so much about you and seen much more than you know.  Joining the family would be perfect for you.”

“You still haven’t told me what your business does.”

Matthew looked around.  “We should discuss this in private.” 

“Let me guess, your place?”

Matthew shook his head then gestured towards the tallest building in Iowa City, a hotel.  “Have you ever been to the top?”

Miriam shook her head.

“Want to go?”


“Yes.  I can get us there.  Follow me.”

Matthew started towards the covered alley leading to Dubuque Street.  After a few steps, he looked back at Miriam.  “Unless you don’t want.”

Miriam looked at the fountains then at Matthew.  “No tricks.”

“Not like that.”

Miriam jogged to catch up to Matthew, who stepped into a dim portion of the alley.  She started to talk, but he motioned for her to stop.  

“You remember the last time we danced?” he whispered.

Miriam couldn’t forget their slow dance.  While the others were content with the prom hang, He held her at arm’s length and tried, unsuccessfully, to get her to spin.  She nodded.

“Remember our hug afterward?”

“Yeah,” she replied.  It wasn’t that memorable, but it didn’t seem creepy at the time.

“Let’s hug then.”

Miriam reached out to hug Matthew.  When they embraced, darkness materialized around them like a cloud.  In moments they were surrounded by total darkness.

“I got you,” whispered Matthew as he tightened his embrace.  She felt her feet rise from the ground and sensed that she was accelerating like she was on an elevator.

Miriam thrashed her legs but still couldn’t feel the ground.  “What are you–”.  The shadows dissipated, and Miriam saw that they were floating above the hotel roof.

“Oh my God!” she gasped.

“Not so loud.”

They gently floated down to the roof.  Matthew released his embrace.  Miriam stumbled back, almost tripping over her feet.

“How–How did you do that?”

“Magic,” said Matthew.  He opened his mouth as he protracted two fangs.

Miriam staggered back at first.  

Matthew retracted his fangs.  ‘Yes.”


“Yes, I am what you think I am.”  Matthew pointed.  “If this frightens you, the door is behind you. If you leave, know that you will never see me again.”

Matthew turned his back to Miriam and strolled to the edge of the roof.  Miriam watched him for a few moments as he looked out into the night sky.  Cautiously, she approached Matthew.  She noticed how his hair flowed in the occasional breeze and the almost perfect smoothness of his skin.

“What do you see?”

She stopped.  “See?”

Matthew motioned towards the edge of the roof.  “What do you see out there?  Oblivion?”

Miriam hesitantly moved closer as she felt her fear of heights grip her.  She felt chills as she neared the edge.

“You won’t fall.”  He offered his hand.  She grasped his hand, now noticing that her hand was slightly warmer than his.  Miriam took a deep breath and crept closer to the edge.  She looked down and instinctively tightened her grip.

“I’ve got you,” Matthew replied.  “You’re safe.”

Miriam caught her breath, but she still kept a tight grip on Matthew’s hand.  She looked out at the Iowa City skyline.  In the distance, Miriam saw the Old Capitol complex and the Van Allen Physics building.  She loosened her grip slightly.

“What do you see?”

She took in more of the view.  Her fear faded.  “I don’t see oblivion.  It’s beautiful.  You know, whenever I felt stuck, I’d look up at this hotel and imagine myself standing right here.  I thought that maybe I could see the way out.”

“And now that you are up here?”

She paused.  “I don’t see it.  I just see a small city in the middle of nowhere.”

“You just have to know where to look.  It’s not a physical path.  It’s the possibilities that you have to look at.”

Miriam turned her head towards Matthew.  “Possibilities?”

“Yes.  You see, centuries ago, the Mongol hordes were on the verge of conquering Europe.  Europe’s armies were no match for the Mongols’ superior horsemen and tactics.  Kingdoms that once seemed invincible crumbled before the invaders.  It seemed like nothing could stop them from obliterating Europe.  Think of it.  Everything about Europe– Art, culture, literature, knowledge– All gone, trampled by the hordes.

“But in the shadows, a small group met in secret.  They were determined to not only defend Europe but also to make sure that no nation, kingdom, or tribe could ever threaten it again.  On what seemed to be the eve of Europe’s destruction, they formed a pact and vowed to do anything, holy or infernal, to ensure Europe’s security.

“Their first efforts were small but successful.  They built on those successes and learned from their failures.  When the pact shattered, their successors continued the work.  Over time, European civilization grew larger and more powerful than the original conspirators dreamed possible.  Because of their efforts, we are now standing on top of a building and looking out at a city built in the middle of nowhere.  A city that came about because of decisions made centuries ago.”

Matthew faced Miriam.  “Join me, and I’ll offer you a new life.  Free yourself of your burdens. Free yourself of this place.  Accept my offer of rebirth and I will help you discover your possibilities.”

Miriam looked out at the Iowa City skyline again.  She smiled as she looked past the lights of Iowa City and into the darkness.  “Tell me more.”

Natural Selection Part 1 (Darwintine Story Chain)

This is part 1 of “Natural Selection”, FtB’s Darwintine Festival story chain. If you enjoy being part of our community and appreciate the work we do here at FreethoughtBlogs, please consider making a donation to our legal defense fund.

Dr. Patricia Gorman shivered as she looked out of the helicopter’s window, admiring her view of the Alaskan wilderness and mountains.

“First time?” asked Paul Jenkins, a security officer for Orange Corporation, who wore a white coat and KN95 mask with the Orange logo printed on it.

She nodded and adjusted her headset.  “Much nicer than Afghanistan.”  She looked at her escort.  “Lacks I.E.Ds, right?”

Paul nodded.  

Patricia added, “Though I wish Big Thinker would hire me to do fieldwork on his island.  I haven’t been snorkeling in ages.”

Paul chuckled.  “I’d take that assignment.  I hear no one bothers him, and each team member gets a private cottage.”

“Doesn’t surprise me,” Patricia replied.  She briefly scanned the sparse interior of the helicopter.  “This does.”


“This helicopter.  Brandon usually sends one of his luxury helicopters to transport contractors.”

“Rush job.  Big Thinker only had enough time to get put together a team.  No time to reposition the good copters.  It was the best we could do on short notice.”

“So who is on the team?” asked Patrica.

Paul looked up at a monitor.  The GPS maps showed they were several miles north of Eagle, Alaska.

“Do you mind if I remove my mask?” asked Paul.

“I do,” replied Patricia.  

But I’ve been tested–”

“Doesn’t matter,” replied Patricia as she remembered the unorthodox tests the Orange team performed.  “You can be infected and still test negative.”

Paul gave her a critical look.

“Trust me,” said Patricia.  “I’m a biologist.  I know about viruses.”

Paul shrugged.  “Fine.”  He grabbed an envelope and handed it to Patricia.  “BT said to give this to you once we got past Eagle.”

Patricia accepted the envelope and opened it.  Inside was a letter stating that she was assigned to the science team.  The envelope included a printout with names and pictures of each member.  All of the members were biologists she recognized, but two names especially stood out.  The first was Dr. Will Stokes, a cephalopod expert.  The second was the team leader, Dr. Emily Kimura.

“The team leader.”


“Is she on the University of Toronto faculty?

“Yes.  You know Dr. Kimura?”

Patricia chuckled.  “We’ve met a few times.”

The pilot’s voice chimed in over their headsets.  “Brandon just gave us permission to land.”

“Is he on-site?” asked Patricia.

“Of course not,” Paul replied.  “You know what Orange Internet’s slogan used to be?”

“Yes.  ‘The Internet can take you anywhere.’”

“That’s how he lives nowadays.”

Patricia looked out the window.  Near a forest, she could see two weathered cabins next to several automated weather stations.  Behind them, she saw dozens of armed personnel pitching camps and moving equipment around.  Before the helicopter landed, she noticed some of them building a barbed wired fence.

“Welcome to Beagle Station,” said the pilot as the copter landed.

Paul grabbed his duffle bag, and Patricia grabbed her backpack.  As they stepped out, Patricia saw other helicopters landing.  Most seemed to be carrying cargo, while others dropped off security operatives.  Paul pointed towards a woman waving at them.  Both of them walked over towards her as their helicopter lifted off.

The woman looked down at her clipboard.  “Dr. Gorman?”


“I need you to follow me.”  She looked over at Paul.  “You’re S1 Davishoff?”


She pointed at a large orange tent.  “Report to operations.”

“Right away.”

The woman started walking, and Patricia followed.  Several minutes later, they arrived at the edge of the camp.  By the arrays of solar panels and batteries, she saw what she assumed were her team members.  Each one was sitting in a chair with a space heater in front of them.  Each chair spaced at least 10 feet apart.  In the front was a large screen that displayed the Orange Corporation logo.  Emily stood alone next to the screen.  Her mask peeked out of a coat pocket.  Patricia remembered their last meeting.

“Doctor?” said the woman.

Patricia blinked then turned towards the woman.  

“Your assigned chair.”

“Oh.  Thank you.”

Patricia removed her backpack and sat down. She removed her mask.

Emily nodded in Patricia’s direction then turned away.  “Thank you for joining us, Dr. Stokes.”

Will, wearing a patched coat, dropped his suitcases near a chair.  “Sorry.  One of my flights was delayed when some woman refused to wear a mask.”

“I’m not surprised.” Emily faced the gathered scientists.  “Now that we’re all here, I want to thank everyone for coming out here on such short notice.  Brandon and I personally selected each of you for this…assignment.  Your participation will be rewarding, both financially and academically.”  She swiped and tapped her tablet.  “I will have Brandon explain why we are here.”

A few moments later, a tan man with short gray hair appeared on the screen.  He was sitting next to an empty outdoor swimming pool.  His mouth moved, but no sound came from the screen.  Emily tapped her tablet a few more times.”

“You hear me?”

The scientists replied that they could.

“Ah.  Well good day.  I trust that Dr. Kimura has performed all the pleasantries, so I will get to the point.  As most of you know, as part of my commitment to controlling climate change, I have personally funded several climate monitoring stations around the world.  The information from these stations is allowing climatologists to improve their models.  Beagle Station is one of these stations.  I wish to apologize for the lack of proper facilities.  These stations are normally unmanned most of the year.

“The reason why all of you are here is due to an incident that happened recently.  Dawson Station in Canada went offline.  A repair crew was sent out to investigate.  This is the last radio message we received.”

Brandon opened a window and double-clicked on the audio file:

“Help!  Help us!  We need a tactical team and medevac!  Change that.  Send the military.  Bomb everything! Now!”

In the background, a faint voice spoke something in French.

A woman replied over the radio:  “Maple Team, please clarify. I can’t send a request –”

The voice that earlier spoke in French spoke in English. “I’m so sorry–”

“Maple Team, do you copy?”

The screen switched back to Brandon.

“Naturally, we sent a tactical team to investigate.  There was no sign of the repair crew, and the station was destroyed.  However, we were able to detect a signal from one of our GPS devices moving away from the station.  I ordered the team to track the signal.”  Brandon seemed to ponder his words for a few moments.  “It will be easier to show the bodycam video.”

Brandon started the video.  It started with a man tumbling down a wooded hill.  When he stopped tumbling, he shouted obscenities.

A woman’s voice over the radio said: “It’s heading your way.  You should see it soon.  Confirm.”

The camera moved to the side, then stopped on a white blob with a rubbery surface.

The man pulled out a pistol and said “Shit” before firing at it several times.  When he stopped firing, the mound rose revealing its squid-like arms and tentacles.  It moved towards the man.

“No,” the man said as he pushed himself back.  “Shoo!  Shoo!  Go away!”

The creature opened its two eyes and rushed at the man.  It stopped inches from his feet.  It spoke something in French with a distinctly French-Canadian accent.  Then calmly said in English: “Please excuse me, but you are obviously not fit for snow season.  I cannot select you.”

It thrust a tentacle at the camera and the video ended.

The scientists sat in silence as the screen switched back to Brandon’s video stream.

“I know this must be a lot to take in.”

“You filmed a land cephalopod,” Will slowly said.  “You filmed a talking land cephalopod.  A talking land cephalopod doing a poor imitation of a Canadian.”

“Yes,” said Brandon.  “And at least one of them is heading towards you.”

Part 2 is at From the Ashes of Faith
Part 3 is at Death to Squirrels
Part 4 is at Impossible Me
Part 5 will be at Pharyngula
Part 6 will be at Pervert Justice

Freethought Blogs has a new published author! (Non-fiction)

Free to Roam book coverFrom the Ashes of Faith Megan Rahm has a new book of poetry out this week, called Free to Roam. (Available through Freethought House and Amazon.)  It’s her first collection inspired by her experiences growing up as an atheist in the rural Midwest, and as a mother.  As someone who grew up in Missouri and Oklahoma, I could relate to her work.  I highly recommend this book.

Welcome to the published writer’s club, Megan.

Link: Anaiise Diaz on sessions from Martin Luther King Jr. (Non-fiction)

Anaiise Diaz, former Social Justice and Legislative Assistant at the American Humanist Association, recently wrote an article for The Humanist called “What Martin Luther King Jr. Taught Me.”

I shed light on Dr. King not because he’s the easiest name to remember when it comes to Black history but because of his humanism. King embodied the image of the non-violent, heavily religious, pro-church individual. But to me, he embodied the rational, non-violent humanist who railed against uncritical ways of thinking.

The Humanist is published by the American Humanist Association.  It isn’t perfect, but it is one of the better atheist/humanistic organizations still out there.

White Wine in the Sun (Non-fiction)

It’s that time of year:  “White Wine in the Sun” performed by Tim Minchin on the Late Late Show back in December of 2017.  I refer to this version as the Dawkins Free version because he removed the reference to Richard Dawkins.

It’s my favorite holiday song, and not because of Tim’s commentary on Christmas traditions.  It’s my favorite because ideally, Christmas should be about gathering with or thinking about the people you love.

When my wife and I were still dating, I took her to a Tim Minchin concert.  Someday she’ll forgive me.  I later introduced her to this song, and she liked it.

Until next week, Happy Holidays!