‘The Girl Survives Cancer In This One’ is more than the ending (Non-Fiction)

Miri over the Orbit just published a zine, The Girl Survives Cancer In This One.  It’s a collection of essays about being diagnosed with cancer at age 26 and her recovery from a double mastectomy.

The Girl Survives Cancer In This One

Cancer digs an immense well of sadness and suffering, but that’s not what these pieces are primarily about. I had some of my happiest, funniest, and most enriching times that year, too. All of that is part of the story as much as the pain is.

Compiled from her writings during her recovery, she vividly describes her pain management, her fears,  the people who helped her through recovery, and her observations about life.  The title is a spoiler, but the real story is how “the girl” survived cancer and how it changed her.  I highly recommend this zine.

The online version is $4, and the paperback version is $8.

From the webmaster: Taking a Holiday Break (Fiction)

After Monday, I will be helping the Babbler’s staff set up the new bureaus in Peotone and Palatine.  These offices will help us cover the new Chicagoland UFO bases that are opening next month.  So there won’t be any website updates until the last week of December.  Don’t worry, I promise to post our psychics shocking predictions for next year.

Until then, I urge all our secular and religious followers to have a happy and safe holiday season!

Has it really been twenty years? (Non-fiction)

Twenty years ago this month, I was renting a basement room in Bolingbrook, not far from Mayor Roger Claar’s home. At some point during the evening, I wondered what writing a Weekly World News style tabloid would be like. So I wrote a story, added some HTML tags, and uploaded it to my personal web page. 

Bolingbrook Babbler 1999

Despite what a certain podcaster believes, the Babbler really does date back to the 1990s.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I had written the first story of what would become the Bolingbrook Babbler and the start of the most extended writing project of my life. In the fifteen years I’ve actively been publishing, my stories have been praised by a Congressman, Bolingbrook politicians, and residents in the western suburbs.  Being accepted into the Freethought Blogs network was a great honor and a reflection on my stories.

When I started writing the Babbler, two of my interests were secular issues and speaking up about Roger’s near-total rule of Bolingbrook.

I became active in the skeptical and atheist movement and gained some notoriety. Some of my heroes at the time, including James Randi, praised my work.  When the great rifts started, I was surprised to learn that many of the people I had admired in the skepticism had views I found abhorrent. I may have lost some readers when I drifted away from the community, but I rediscovered humanism.  Once I was mildly critical of PZ Myers.  Now I’m proud to be a part of the network he helped create.   

Roger is still the Mayor of Bolingbrook, but now a member of the opposition party sits on the Village Board, and the Bolingbrook United party will be running a full slate in the April elections.  Bolingbrook residents finally have a choice at the ballot box for local elections.  Over the years, I’ve had some friendly meetings with Roger and some tense ones.  I’ve also received a couple of midnight emails from him.  I recall looking at my analytics program and realizing that someone from the Village Hall network went through almost every page of the Babbler.  (Somehow, a person from California managed to access the village network to view my pages.)  Today, I think we’ve learned to co-exist.  Still, the memory I will have of him is from a speech he made after winning a recent election by roughly 150 votes.  He divided Bolingbrook’s voters into “residents” and “foes.”  Instead of choosing to heal the wounds from that election, he sought to delegitimize his opponents.

It’s been an adventure, and I suspect there are more adventures ahead.  President Trump and his fellow authoritarians are threatening the pillars of our government. They are going so far as trying to delegitimize the last election.  The next election in Bolingbrook could be between those who want to be the next Roger Claar and those who wish to end one-party rule altogether.  Plus, there are lots of stories going on in Chicagoland, not just Bolingbrook.

I also want to thank my wife, who wishes to remain anonymous on these pages, for her help, her support, and for putting up with my writing schedule.  I love her, and we make a great team.

To my fans, old and new, I say thank you for your support, and I hope to keep writing the Babbler for at least another twenty years.  Although I may no longer live in Bolingbrook, I feel like part of me never left.

William Brinkman
The real person behind the Bolingbrook Babbler

Update on the GoFundMe campaign to defend against Richard Carrier’s lawsuit (Non-fiction)

Richard Carrier’s lawsuit against FTB and others is still ongoing.  Which unfortunately means our legal defense fund needs more money:

The lawsuit is ongoing. Stephanie’s second birthday since the lawsuit has come and gone — she was served on her birthday, did you know that? — and we’re still entrenched in the battle with little hope of quick resolution. As of a few days ago, all the money in this fund has been spent on our lawyers, and the legal bills we have at present total about $29,000. That means, sadly, I’m going to have to raise the fundraising goal again — to defray our personal costs and hopefully build a bit of a war chest against the ongoing suit.

I’m so very grateful to those of you who’ve shared and donated and posted words of encouragement, and I’m so very sorry that we keep having to spend money on this utterly unabashed attempt at silencing the critics of Richard Carrier, who’s admitted publicly to the behaviour we’d criticized and who persists in slandering the defendants publicly. I can only hope that the longer his lawsuit continues, the more word spreads of his actual character — one where he’d admit to not following a conference’s rules about solicitation of conference-goers, and then sue the people who might dare say that’s creepy.

And he calls himself a feminist and a free speech advocate.

We need your help to stay afloat and weather this blatant use of the legal system to silence criticism of an entitled white man who feels his honour is besmirched.

Please help, if you can. If you’ve already donated, thank you so much — please spread the word.

More details can be found on the GoFundMe page.

Tony Thompson could use our help (Non-fiction)

Tony Thompson runs The Progressive Pub over at The Orbit.  He lives about 24 miles from Mexico Beach, FL which is where the eye of Hurricane Michael made landfall.  He posted this update on his Facebook page:

Our home lost power, but no substantial damage (other than tiles from the roof and panels from the side). We also have no running water. Electricity may be up and running around the 20th. Hopefully.

We do have a generator with a supply of canned food and other dry goods.

We are not in dire need of anything at the moment. Money will be an issue when this is more or less done, but thats a later concern.

If you want to help him out, you can send your donations to his PayPal account.  You can also donate to one of these charities to help out in general.  Hopefully, he, along with the other residents of the Florida Panhandle will recover quickly from this disaster.

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.