First day in Ireland!

And what have I accomplished? Thanks to Steve and Dierdre Metzler, who gave me a tour of the local pubs and restaurants, I have learned something important. Guinness in Ireland is a completely different beast from Guinness anywhere else; here, it’s a silky smooth ambrosia with not a hint of bitterness. It went down so easy I could have easily slid 3 or 4 of them down my throat, but given my current sleep-derived state, I restrained myself to one.

Of course, then we had to follow up with Irish coffee, and yeah, in a few minutes my head will touch the pillow and I will be spending an evening deep in Tír na nÓg.

California wrapup

On top of previous summaries, Zeno now recounts the tale of my visit to Sierra College. One amusing feature of the Q&A at Sierra was that a notorious creationist showed up, and I caused him considerable distress by turning his complaints against him by asking him to give his best evidence for god, and also by viciously inviting him to our post-talk libations. I am such a poopyhead.

I also got one horrified reaction to my Davis talk published by a faitheist. It’s hilarious. The author professes to be an atheist, but then defends Christianity. Sort of.

Christians may refer to themselves as a “flock,” but they aren’t sheep. It takes courage to say you believe in something that can’t be proven. When scientists formulate hypotheses, they are vulnerable to critique, and they must conduct research to remove all doubt. Religious believers must deal with the same vulnerability, but with the knowledge that they can never prove the existence of a God. Religion takes bravery.

Well, gosh. Then I guess the bravest people of them all are the ones who pick the most absurd, most ridiculous, most insane religious beliefs. If courage trumps reason as a virtue, the greatest thing you can do is flail madly for lunacy.

Ireland!

I have arrived in Dublin, and am having a lovely time. I had a taxi driver with the most wonderful accent get me to a nice hotel, and am contemplating a stroll around the area to find some Guinness. This is my strategy for handling jet lag: I stayed awake through the entire flight, jogged about through Heathrow (what’s with all the weird post-industrial corrugated metal tubes you’ve got to go through to get to your gate?), got to the Dublin airport, fumbled my way on to a bus, and wandered about finding a place to stay…and now I’ll just push on for several more hours until I collapse in exhaustion, never mind what hour my biological clock tells me it is. Then hopefully everything will be reset and tomorrow I’ll be operating on Irish time.

At least I better be. Atheist Ireland/blasphemy.ie have plans for me. I’ll be speaking at the Buswells Hotel at 7:30pm tomorrow (1 February), in a free talk on militant blasphemy. It should be fun! Bring bail money.

Shame on Missouri

Dennis Engelhard was a trooper in the highway patrol who was killed in an accident, when a car lost control in the snow and hit him. That’s tragedy enough, but what makes it worse is that the person he loved faces this sudden loss without any acknowledgment or support, not even a mention in the obituary. You can guess why: it’s because Trooper Engelhard was gay.

If Engelhard had been married, his spouse would be entitled to lifetime survivor’s benefits from the state pension system — more than $28,000 a year.

But neither the state Highway Patrol pension system nor Missouri law recognizes domestic partners.

A fraternal organization that provides benefits to the families of troopers killed in the line of duty is also unsure if it will help Engelhard’s partner.

Engelhard worked in Missouri, which has a constitutional amendment specifying that marriage is only between a man and a woman. I wonder how many other people are living lives of service and putting themselves at risk for people in a state that regards them as inferior and undeserving?

Next stop: Dublin

I had a nice break for about 14 hours — I arrived in Minneapolis, and my wife showed up with her massage table (there’s a reason she is the Trophy Wife™), but now I have to get on a series of planes to arrive after a series of stops in exotic Dublin, where I shall somehow find my way to someplace to stay for a day or so before giving a talk to the University College Dublin humanists. It should be fine, even if I am stumbling about a bit with uncertainty about where I’m going — the Irish are a hospitable people, and if nothing else, I can always find a pub.

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Everyone uses that picture Larry Moran shot of me on the bridge across the Thames…I may have to start sending him royalties.

A birthday benefit for half the population of the world

The crafty Taisha McFall, creator of the Ray Comfort Tampon Case, is having a birthday tomorrow. What she’d like for her birthday is that women everywhere be free of fear and able to live their lives in some security, but barring that, you could make her happy by donating to Women for Women, an organization that works to help women survivors of war.

Donate online. It’s a nice present for Ms McFall and even nicer for women who’ve been raped, who’ve lost their homes, or worse, lost their children.