Hurricane Relief Links (Non-Fiction)

If you’re looking for charities to donate to following Hurricane Irma, Vox has a list of charities.

The article also brings up some good points regarding donations:

  • Do your own research before giving to any group.

  • Groups with strong local ties to their community can sometimes be the best option.

  • You have a right to demand accountability of the groups you give to.

As a reminder, Foundation Beyond Belief is still raising funds for Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts.

From the webmaster:  Eclipse sparks Flat Earth debate (Mixed)

The folks over at the Philly Voice were kind enough to host dueling comments between Flat Earth believers and people who know better.

An illustration of the alternative “Pond Earth Theory.”

From the Flat Earth side:

Rahu and Ketu in Vedic astrology are considered mythology by western astronomy. Rahu is the head of the serpent and Ketu is the body. In mythology, during an eclipse, they thought the head swallowed the sun.

We have to have something rise that causes eclipses in the flat-earth model. We think it’s not necessarily caused by the moon, though it could be.

From a skeptic:

Meanwhile, over a Flat Earth, you can have a small, local sun, overtaking a small, local moon (both moving to the West above the plane of the flat Earth) and the shadow will move West to East. That’s their argument, in a nutshell, and many FE folks are very, very excited about this eclipse because it will prove them right!

The truth is that the case of the eclipse shadow is dependent on linear speed (such as miles per hour) and not angular speed. How fast will the umbra travel? The units of miles per hour require us to do some math with those units.

So if you take the Earth’s rotational surface speed (roughly 1,000 mph at the Equator, more like 800 mph in Philly), and the Moon’s orbital speed (roughly 2,000 mph, eastward), this means the shadow will move faster than the Earth’s surface, to the East.

Personally, I think Phil Plait posted the best explanation back in 1998:

There is an unambiguous effect, though, of the curved Earth, which brings me back to my vacation. My parents live in Sarasota, which is about 1600 kilometers south of where I live near Washington DC. This is equal to about 1/30 of the way around the Earth, or 12 degrees. When I am at home and go out to look at Polaris, the North Star, it is about 40 degrees above the horizon. If I lived at the North Pole, it would be 90 degrees above the horizon, or straight up. However, when I visit my parents, I travel south, and so Polaris appears lower. Much lower, 12 degrees worth! That is very noticeable to the naked eye. On the other hand, stars towards the south appear to be much higher in the sky when I am in Florida. Last year I could clearly see Canopus (the second brightest nighttime star in the sky) to the South, but it never gets high enough to see from my house.

If the Earth were flat, we’d never see this effect. If the Earth were a disk we’d only see it if we traveled along the edge, and not the face. Therefore we must live on a curved Earth, a big ball in space (as a matter of fact, this effect can even be used to determine the circumference of the Earth!).

From the webmaster: Chicagoland responds to Charlottesville (Mixed)

By Wendy Onofrey
Webmaster

I think I can speak for the staff when we say that we are shocked by the violence and act of domestic terrorism that happened in Charlottesville, VA.  I wish I could say that this was the work of Nazi’s from space, chemtrails, or a “false flag” operation.  The truth is that this was the work of humans.  Aliens also won’t save us from ourselves.  We have to work to bring about change.

These are the following events we are aware of in the Chicago area.

Refuse Fascism will gather at Millennium Park at 1 PM today, then march to Trump Tower.

The Chicago chapter of the International Socialist Organization will gather at the corner of Wacker and Wabash, across from Trump Tower, at 1 PM.

The organizers of the Illinois Women’s March will hold a vigil at 6 PM at Federal Plaza, 219 S Dearborn, ST.

There will be a gathering in front of Rep. Peter Roskam’s office in Barrington starting at 6 PM.  The address is 200 N Hough ST.  The organizer asks that all signs have a positive message.

Additionally, there is a GoFund me page to pay for the medial expenses of the 19 people injured by the car attack.

If you know of any other events or support pages, please let us know.

From the Webmaster: Maybe Milo and skepticism shouldn’t mix?

By Wendy Onofrey

Webmaster for the Bolingbrook Babbler

For some reason, Skeptic decided to post a review of Milo Yiannopoulos’s new book Dangerous.  Let’s just say that if Michael Shermer’s Moral Arc bends towards Milo, then count the staff of the Babbler out.

PZ Myers rightly condemns this favorable review.

Of course, this ‘review’ cites all the usual crap: Christina Hoff Sommers, there is no such thing as rape culture, except that when there is it comes from Islam, the police are the greatest defenders of the black community, and of course, political correctness, identity politics, and cultural Marxism. It’s a totally mindless recitation of the nonsense you get on Reddit and in YouTube comments.

Even Hayley Stevens has problems with the review and what its publication says about the skeptical movement.

Something like skepticism, as an approach to assessing claims and being proactive about tackling harmful misinformation, should be as free from ideologies as possible, and yet certain sections of organized skepticism (read: American, male, rich, and famous) seem to specifically target feminists, “identity politics” and some areas of the LGBTQ community – namely trans* people while writing fond reviews of problematic public figures such as Milo.

When Hayley and PZ agree, that’s a sign that maybe you’re doing something wrong.

To add insult to injury, Phil Torres writes for Salon about what he sees as the descent of New Atheism.

Although the new atheist movement once filled me with a great sense of optimism about the future of humanity, this is no longer the case. Movements always rise and fall — they have a life cycle, of sorts — but the fall of this movement has been especially poignant for me. The new atheists of today would rather complain about “trigger warnings” in classrooms than eliminate rape on campuses. They’d rather whine about “safe spaces” than help transgender people feel accepted by society. They loudly claim to support free speech and yet routinely ban dissenters from social media, blogs and websites.

All in all, it hasn’t been a good week for New Atheism.

Time for me to back to work on the next issue of the Babbler.  The staff on a big story that I plan on posting on Monday or Tuesday.

From the Webmaster: Save Snopes (Mixed)

We’ve had disagreements with Snopes before.  OK, a lot of differences, but we can’t deny that they are one of the best sites on the Internet.  With “fake news” and “alternative facts” flooding the Internet, they’re one of the best places to go for real news and real facts.

Is this the end of Snopes?

Now they’re facing financial problems and a legal dispute which may force them to shut down.

Since our inception, we have always been a self-sustaining site that provides a free service to the online world: we’ve had no sponsors, no outside investors or funding, and no source of revenue other than that provided by online advertising. Unfortunately, we have been cut off from our historic source of advertising income.

We had previously contracted with an outside vendor to provide certain services for Snopes.com. That contractual relationship ended earlier this year, but the vendor will not acknowledge the change in contractual status and continues to essentially hold the Snopes.com web site hostage. Although we maintain editorial control (for now), the vendor will not relinquish the site’s hosting to our control, so we cannot modify the site, develop it, or — most crucially — place advertising on it. The vendor continues to insert their own ads and has been withholding the advertising revenue from us.

Snopes has setup a fundraising page in response.  As of this writing, it’s still short of its $500,000 goal.  Most of the staff of the Babbler, including myself, have donated.

For over twenty years, Snopes has practiced skepticism in its purest form.  If we’re willing to support it, then maybe all of the skeptical readers who frequent Freethought Blogs should too.

Wendy Onofrey
Webmaster for the Bolingbrook Babbler

From the Webmaster: Around FTB 5/17/16

By Wendy Onofrey 

The staff is busy working on a new web exclusive article, but it’s taking a bit longer than planned.  It should be up tonight or tomorrow.

In the meantime, here are some posts you can check out from our fellow bloggers:

Apparently, Berkeley has a frozen peach problem, which Iris writes about here.

First, there are debates that we do not need to have, anywhere, ever (again)—especially not on college campuses—because they are not legitimate subjects of debate. I’m not just talking about debating whether the Earth is flat, although that kind of wankery should never be given an academic platform, either. I’m talking about debating whether queer people deserve the death penalty because Jeezus. Or whether Native Americans, black people and Jews reeeeeeally deserve the same human rights as Caucasian Christians of European ancestry.

I’m still not sure about her beliefs about squirrels, but that’s for another post.

Freethinking Ahead tells us if you can or can’t recycle campaign signs.  The answer might please some supporters of Mayor Roger Claar.

Finally, Against the Grain writes about transmisogyny and asks this question:

And Murphy is just fine with that. More than that, she defends this belief in the name of feminism. Are we really empowered if we’ve internalized a belief that women are delicate and defenseless? It sounds like the sort of chauvinistic nonsense I’d expect out of r/theredpill.

That’s it for now.  Hopefully, I’ll be uploading a new story tonight from our staff.