Highly Sought Kiss Of Doom

The headline shows up in my internet reader:
Newt Gingrich endorsed by The Union MisLeader
One wonders, of course, why we care what they choose—
Their record, of recent, predicts he’ll now lose.

Two money quotes. First, they damn with faint praise:

The New Hampshire Union Leader’s Sunday editorial says the former House speaker “is by no means the perfect candidate” but calls him “the best candidate who is actually running.”

And then, the kicker:

The conservative Union Leader editorial page has a history of passing over the front-runner in its selections. The paper endorsed Ronald Reagan in 1976 and 1980, Deleware Gov. Pete DuPont in 1988, Reagan aide Pat Buchanan in 1992 and 1996, businessman Steve Forbes in 2000, and Arizona Sen. John McCain in 2008.

A Good Day For Atheists

Checking the news can be daunting sometimes. Recent stories have had atheist bad guys demanding the Pendleton Cross be removed, the Big Mountain Jesus be removed, the Cranston Rhode Island School Prayer be removed… why it is that these stories never lead with “atheists urge others to follow the law”?

Anyway, it is the rare day when I find a story that does not paint atheists as evil. And today, not one but two stories that explore particular atheists in detail, accurately and sympathetically. These are good stories, and well worth reading!

In the New York Times (in the Fashion & Style section?), a story, “The Unbelievers”, about African-American atheists:

Given the cultural pull toward religion, less than one-half of a percent of African-Americans identify themselves as atheists, compared with 1.6 percent of the total population, according to Pew. Black atheists, then, find they are a minority within a minority.

In 2008, John Branch made his first YouTube video, “Black Atheism.” With the camera tight on his face, Mr. Branch, now 27, asks, “What is an atheist? An atheist is simply someone who lacks a belief in God.” Half kidding, he goes on, “We’re not drinking blood. We’re not worshiping Satan.” The video has received more than 40,000 hits.

“I think it attracted so much attention because, in the black community, not believing in God is seen as a thing for white people,” said Mr. Branch, a marketing strategist in Raleigh, N.C. “I hate that term, ‘acting white,’ but it’s used.”

Reading through the article, there is so much I want to re-post here, but I’ll just say “go read the whole thing.” It’s a thoughtful exploration of a group that should not be invisible, but often is (at least in the real world–it also shows the power of the internet to build community).

The second article is a pleasant little thing–a family in Austin has been exploring many different faith communities, just to get to know them better, and today’s article describes their meeting with some local atheists, a fun encounter that actually “gets it” in describing atheists like the ones I know:

As my girls asked more questions, more laughter ensued, more stories were shared, and it became apparent that though atheism might be a declaration of what is not believed, it isn’t a negative or nihilistic outlook.

It’s a short article, but again, worth the read.

Maybe there’s hope after all. Can’t wait to see what the comments sections look like.

Headline Muse, 10/23

On the menu, you see what you wish
But it’s not what is served in your dish
If you’re looking to reel
In a mislabeled meal
Then the Globe has the answer: go fish!

Headline: On the menu, but not on your plate

A special section, actually, on a long-term investigation by the Boston Globe into restaurant fish. DNA analysis shows that what the menu advertised and what shows up on your plate are in agreement about half the time. The other half is a mix of innocent mixups and profitable deliberate switches.

To See Or Not To See

Say it ain’t so. An upcoming movie taking the side of conspiracy theorists?
No, not JFK. Not 9/11. Not vaccines and autism. Not Big Pharma. No, these people are old school.

Was Shakespeare a Fraud? Asks the tagline for the upcoming film “Anonymous.” It is clear to see from the trailer (which just ran during The Daily Show) that this movie intends to lie to us, on a grand scale. (This is not an issue where there is debate among serious scholars, although it is certainly an area where there is debate among conspiracy theorists.)

And people will believe it. If Dan Brown and The Da Vinci Code have taught us anything, it’s that bad movies about implausible conspiracies will still convince multitudes.

To see or not to see, that is the question
Read Shakespeare’s plays instead, is my suggestion.