Home at last

Well, that was unpleasant. I caught a red-eye from SeaTac at about 1am last night — cranky already. I had a seat mate who had to keep getting up, so I didn’t get much sleep on the plane — crankier. Then I had my usual 3 hour drive from the airport to home, in this unpleasantly humid Minnesota weather — crankiest.

When I finally got home, I went to the office to pick up my mail backlog. I was sent a new book to review, one of those atheist books about morality and purpose which I would have thought has been done to death, but OK, I’ll take a look and see, maybe it’s new and inspiring. But then, blazoned on the cover, I saw…”Foreword by Michael Shermer”. Jesus fuck. People still go to that rapey guy for recommendations on morality? It’s like seeing a cookbook on cooking with subtlety and finesse, “Foreword by Guy Fieri”. Nope nope nope nope. I tossed that book straight in the trash.

Maximus crankiestiest.


  1. birgerjohansson says

    Isnt the foreword arranged by the publisher rather than the author? So you are punishing the author for a mistake by the publisher. Yes the publisher is a jerk but this is like carpet bombing; indiscriminate.
    If the whole book is crap it is another matter.

    PS lunar eclipse coming up Friday 21st ( Early morning 22nd if you are in Asia).

  2. cartomancer says

    “Guy Fieri” sounds like the stage name of a classically-educated drag king act. I could google him and spoil the image by finding out who he really is, but I won’t.

  3. aziraphale says

    The author is Ralph Lewis, a psychiatrist, and according to Amazon is “drawing on years of wide-ranging, intensive clinical experience, and his own family experience with cancer, ” So he may have something new to say.

  4. birgerjohansson says

    Why do I keep writing “favor”?

    Also, the eclipse I mentioned is visible from everywhere *except* America. My bad.

  5. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Welcome back. I’m sure your bed and your cat awaits you.

  6. monad says

    @2: It does seem unfair to penalize an author whether or not they deserve it, for the sake of a publisher. But it works the other way too: in supporting a book for the sake of an author, you are supporting the publisher too, whether or not they deserve it. The two are commercially linked for both good and ill.

  7. says


    The author is Ralph Lewis, a psychiatrist, and according to Amazon is “drawing on years of wide-ranging, intensive clinical experience, and his own family experience with cancer, ” So he may have something new to say.

    I doubt that. I can tell you all about my experience with cancer and atheism, livin’ it right now, and I’ll tell you this much – cancer is a seriously god-soaked business.

    Anyroad, one strike against it, besides Shermer, is John Loftus. He just loves it. Also, in the blurb:

    Can there be purpose without God? This book is about how human purpose and caring, like consciousness and absolutely everything else in existence, could plausibly have emerged and evolved unguided, bottom-up, in a spontaneous universe.

    Note the tip-toeing of ‘could’.

    While acknowledging the social and psychological value of progressive forms of religion,

    Oh good, accommodationism. Who the hell needs that crap again? And from the chapter list:

    —Differing definitions of God, and a continuing role for religion.

    It’s about cherry picking and reinventing an intolerant and psychopathic god into a happy love hippie, and of course, religion will remain most important. This is nothing new.

  8. lotharloo says

    This is a ridiculous example of ‘purity test’. If you toss a book written by author “A” because his publisher “B” put a quote by an theists “C” who happens to be an absolutely repulsive being, then you have no fucking business to whine about ‘purity tests’.

  9. lotharloo says


    Oh good, accommodationism. Who the hell needs that crap again? And from the chapter list:

    Progressive religion provides a lot of social and psychological value. Also, how the hell this quote has anything to do with “accomodationism”, which the latter refers to science and religion being “non-overlapping magisteria”. There is no discussion of science. Learn what words mean before you write some drivel to criticize them.

  10. methuseus says

    Guy Fieri is entertaining in his own way. But, yes, I can only take so much of him, and he has no place near any sort of subtlety.

  11. says

    Why do people keep claiming it was the publisher, and the author had nothing to do with it? Publishers ask authors for lists of people to send review copies to, and who not to. I guarantee you the publisher contacted the author to say “Hooray, we got Big Name to write a foreword!”, or more likely, the author actually made the request. There is a lot of back-and-forth between authors and publishers during the process. Neither side wants surprises or for things to go wrong. It’s obvious that the author thought an endorsement from rapey ol’ Shermer was going to help his book sales.

  12. legion600 says

    From the books acknowledgements page
    Michael Shermer, for his ceaseless confidence in me and his enthusiasm for this project from an early stage. Michael has supported this project all the way, believing in its viability even when earlier drafts were rejected by publishers. And I owe a lot of my own gradual progression toward more rigorous scientific skepticism and critical thinking to Michael’s remarkably prolific, talented writings and lectures.

  13. says

    And accommodationism is not limites to being between religion and science. It can be between. say, racists and “moderate” whites.

  14. blf says

    lunar eclipse coming up Friday 21st

    Impossible. First, the 21st is a Saturday. Second, the lunar eclipse is on Friday the 27th. It will also the longest this century. And then, in addition, Mars will also be at its closest to Earth until something like 2035 at the same-ish time. The date of closest approach is the 31st, but Nasa says “Mars will appear brightest from July 27 to July 30”.

    And yes, I am also cranky: I am having to listen to a bunch of screaming idiots watching somebody play somebody in some soccer tournament, and if they are any louder, the fecking building will fall down. (I’m in France, the tournament is apparently sold as a big thing, France is one of those somebodies, and are apparently winning.)

  15. jrkrideau says

    @ 21 blf
    It was a great game, sorry you missed it. Things should return to normal in a week.

  16. blf says

    It’s “soccer”. It is not a game at the national / professional level. It’s a bunch of bad actors running around for c.90m (Ok, they have to be fit to do that), falling down for no obvious reason other than to fool the official into awarding a chance to bash in the head of some eejit standing in front of the target. Presuming both sides fool the official the same number of times (read: neither bribed sufficiently), then there is a firing squad attempting to batter the fool into submission. There is nothing interesting about the spectacle, and it’s less entertaining than throwing people into a chamber of hungry lions.

    I totally detest the rubbish, albeit perhaps not as much as I abhor USAlien gridiron, which lacks even the entertainment of eejits making a vacuous attempts at being entertaining.

  17. birgerjohansson says

    blf, thank you for catching that one. I have the eclipse one week too early.
    Also, dang, I did not know he was a Shermer fan.
    Soccer- term used for (proper) football in England until the 1950s.
    And why are Mercuns so fond of Rugby? If it is the prospect for watching physical mayhem and violence, you should try *Australian* football.