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. 🙂

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.

USA Today Bestseller list ‘suspended,’ Smashwords Sale, and a new book update (Non-fiction)

One of the few good things about USA Today was its bestseller list because independent and self-published authors had a chance to make the list. Granted, it required either being part of a multi-author anthology, or spending extra money on marketing, but it was possible. Until this week. USA Today has “suspended” publishing the list and laid off the editor responsible for it. USA Today’s parent company, Gannett, laid off 3% of its workforce this week as well. USA Today’s announcement also stated they would announce the future of the list next year. I suspect it will either be removed, or diminished in some way. We’ll see.

On a brighter note, Smashwords will hold their annual end of the year sale from 12/15/22 to 1/1/23. Smashwords was one of the first self-publishing storefronts on the Internet, and is still one of the best sites to get indie published ebooks. My novel, The Rift: A Bolingbrook Babbler Story, will be 50% off during the sale. Pathways to Bolingbrook will still be free during the sale. Plus hundreds of other books as well. If you don’t want to give your money to Amazon, or want another option, check out this sale. Note: These are not affiliate links.

Last, what was going to be a bonus short story for my newsletter subscribers has grown into a novella, which I will release early next year. It’s a direct sequel that bridges Pathways and The Rift, plus it offers a hint of what’s to come in the other stories. I’m going through another of editing, but I hope to be able to share some details starting in January. I already have the cover, and it looks great!

Eject? Eject? HJ wants all of us to get off Twitter (Non-fiction)

HJ Hornbeck posted about far right and anti-trans activists getting sensitive information from Twitter:

This screenshot, shared by Weiss, set my hair on fire. Just by looking at it I can tell it’s an internal Twitter dashboard pointed at the Libs of TikTok account. Most of the identifying information has been cropped out, though that still leaves a lot behind. I now know Chaya Raichik uses a custom domain as her private Twitter email, which likely changed some time between April and December and is probably [something] The image itself is a crop of a photo taken on an Apple phone on the evening of December 8th, so Raichik hadn’t been back on Twitter since she’d posted a tweet a day or two prior. Raichik has two strikes on her account, including a recent one for abusing people online; she has at least one alt account; and she’s blacklisted from trending on that platform, which is a good thing. Parker Malloy points out that, despite was Weiss says, this screenshot is evidence conservative accounts are given special treatment. The banner up top says that even if a Twitter mod thinks Libs Of TikTok has violated Twitter’s policies, that mod is not to take any action unless Twitter’s “Site Integrity Policy and Policy Escalation Support” team signs off on it. In other words Twitter has given Rachik a few Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free cards for policy violations, even though she’s a repeat offender.

Fortunately, Twitter hasn’t provided unfettered access to DMs and other personal information. But with Elon in charge, who knows how long that will last?

Thing is, despite Irwin’s claim that there’s no personally identifying information in those photos, I’ve already shown there was. Not a lot, admittedly, but it doesn’t speak highly of Twitter’s new Trust and Safety head that she didn’t realize how much a photo can reveal. On top of that, remember that Weiss and Irwin were communicating with one another. Irwin could have explained what the photos actually showed, but either did not do that or did so and was ignored by Weiss. If the latter starts asking for Twitter DMs, I’m not convinced Irwin will give much pushback.

HJ strongly recommends people get off Twitter now. (Sanitized version). I’ve already left Twitter, but I can’t tell you what social networks to use or not use. So check out the post, and decide if you should eject from Twitter too.

All hands, abandon Twitter! (Plus a quick personal update) (Non-Fiction)

Elon Musk

Bored billionaire Elon Musk (“Elon Musk” by dmoberhaus is licensed under CC BY 2.0.)

I didn’t expect Elon to buy Twitter, but he did. PZ posts about how we’re getting a taste of its future. Will it become a flaming troll pit or a safe place for advertisers to flood Twitter streams with ads? I don’t want to find out. So I’ve deleted both of my Twitter accounts. I can always create a new account if the worst doesn’t happen.

So far, the only downside is that I wasn’t able to register for any prizes at this year’s SelfPubCon Maybe next year they’ll come up with a new system. I suspect I’ll be seeing how Twitter is woven into so many parts of the Internet over the next few weeks.

In other news, my wife has been very busy, and she didn’t have a chance to edit my recent Babbler article. I’m hoping to have it up by Monday, and I might throw in some bonus content to make up for it. It also means her practice is growing.

I’m also working on the follow-up to Pathways to Bolingbrook. The working title is Intersections, but I don’t think it will be the final title. Hopefully, I can get it out in November. It will feature the main characters from Pathways in the same story.

I’m not sure if I’ll be able to start the follow-up to The Rift next month, but I’ll give it a shot. It would be nice to have the first drift completed in months, instead of years. As for the story? It won’t be the skeptical movement striking back. Instead, Tom will risk his career and his life to uncover a dark secret from Bolingbrook’s past.

Until next time.


Article on leaders of the New Atheist movement spreading white nationalist ‘Great Replacement’ myth. (Link)

“The Great Replacement” is the white nationalist myth that whites are being replaced by minorities, either through a conspiracy, or because declining birth rates among whites. It’s embodied in the infamous Charlottesville chant, “Jews will not replace us.” EIYNAH at OnlySky recently posted an article about some leaders of the New Atheist Movement promoting this “theory”:


One of his books, The Strange Death of Europe (guess what is causing this ‘death’: Muslim mass migration and low birth rates) Received praise from neo-Nazi group Generation Identity, it was also recommended on white nationalist hate-site Stormfront and has made an appearance on other racist and white nationalist reading lists. If that wasn’t enough, it was also promoted on Facebook by far-right Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban, and also received high praise from Sam Harris (“wonderful,” “very witty,” “fantastic book,” “beautiful read”).

Harris is not only a long-time defender and promoter of Douglas Murray but has contributed to the normalizing of great replacement themes through his own content as well. I was once a fan of Harris’s and have spent the past few years feeling terrible about that, a fact I explore in a miniseries in more detail. But to sum it up, once I started feeling uneasy with some of his content and associations, I hoped that much of it could be chalked up to ignorance or his not having the time to delve into some of the characters he was promoting.

I could not have been more wrong.

It’s a long post, but worth reading. I agree with her that atheism doesn’t make a person immune to racist or sexist thinking. Many atheists expect religious followers to speak out against their toxic leaders. We shouldn’t be afraid to do the same to the prominent faces of atheism.

It’s a theme I also touch on in my latest novel.

I just started following Eiynah, and I look forward to her future posts.

My book series, The Bolingbrook Babbler Stories, is now available on Amazon and elsewhere. For book updates and a free ebook, sign up for my newsletter.

Satan reviews ‘The Rift’ (Great American Satan that is) (Non-fiction)

The Rift: A Bolingbrook Babbler Story will be released on July 13, 2022.

Freethought Blog’s Great American Satan posted the most in-depth review of my upcoming novel, The Rift. It’s an honest and fair review and if you’re undecided about buying it, I’d strongly urge you to read this review.

Even within that subculture, the book could lose audience from its concept alone. As I mentioned, the progressives burned by the IRL conflict may have very little interest in seeing a redemption tale play out. Hopefully, the ten years since the furor began will help them get past that enough to read the novel. It handles the subject very well. Everything that starts to feel insensitive, or like a misstep, is ultimately redeemed through the story’s plot. It’s kind of brilliant at that, playing its hand with more subtlety than you might expect.

And all that said, maybe I’m not giving the average non-skeptic-culture reader enough credit here. If the price is right and you like the idea of a feminist sci-fi adventure in a tabloid UFO setting, give it a shot. And if you are in the book’s target demo – skeptic culture warriors – definitely pick this one up.

If you decide to pick it, it’s available on Amazon, and other retailers. You can pre-order the eBook version for $.99, or wait until the official launch date of on Wednesday (July 13).

Just to clarify, the novel is inspired by the web stories I’ve written over the years, but within its own continuity. It’s just like the difference between Marvel Comics and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. So you don’t need to be familiar with the web stories to enjoy The Rift.

Highland Park Community Shooting Response Fund and misc. (Non-fiction)

The Highland Community Foundation has set up a fund to help the victims and survivors of the Highland Park shooting.

To help those directly impacted by the mass shooting in Highland Park, the Highland Park Community Foundation has established a July 4th Highland Park Shooting Response Fund. All contributions to the Response Fund will go directly to victims and survivors or the organizations that support them. We hope you will contribute as generously as possible.

Here’s a list of organizations promoting gun control you can also donate to.

If there are other groups that should be added, please let me know in the comments.

Finally, Rabbi Adam Chalom of Kol Hadash Humanistic Congregation was at the parade during the shooting and recounted the experience on WGN.