Cats Better Than Dogs? Nonsense. Although …

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Beta Culture: Preliminary Musings

How about some random thoughts on what I have in mind for Beta Culture? Understand that I don’t in any sense think the thing will “belong” to me, or that I should have the sole power to shape it. But in this early stage in which I’m fleshing out what *I* mean by the basic concept, I want to lay out some of what I imagine it SHOULD include. Commenter “rickschauer” recently asked:  "What’s next, a Beta Culture Congress, something like the Continental Congress?" Yes, exactly! To … [Read more...]

Beta Culture: A Place to Stand, and People to Stand With

Picture these two groups of people and see if you can guess the rule that groups each together into common classes. A: Amish. Hutterites. Hasidic Jews. Jehovah’s Witnesses. Atheists. B: Catholics. Scientologists. Southern Baptists. Mormons. Ku Klux Klan. It’s this: Members of the first group are generally inward-directed. They focus their interests within their own group, and mostly don’t expect others to give way to their beliefs or practices. Of others, they expect only to be … [Read more...]

Top 10 Important Points About Pushing Islamic Buttons

I'm including the horrifically bad movie trailer for "Innocence of Muslims" at the bottom of this post. There are deeper issues in the Middle East, and even deeper issues in this latest flap over the "anti-Muslim" video. But some obvious things spring to mind: 1) Freedom of speech is damned important. No, you don't get to shout "Fire!" in a crowded theater, but if you shout "Fire!" on the Internet, and people have to actually make an effort to find and watch the video of you shouting, that's … [Read more...]

Blue Collar Atheist: Non Sequitur

This is a little nothing, just a bit of me that bubbled up in my head this morning. Maybe it’s a birthday wish for myself. There’s this bird. Well, I should tell you about where and when I saw it, first, so you’ll know why it matters to me. I lived, as some of you know, in the mountains in central California, the High Sierra. I was on the east slope, not far from where California and Nevada butt together, and about midway up the range, not far south of Yosemite National Park. … [Read more...]

60th Birthday Whale Watching Tour a Success!

I done seen whales! But you don't get to see them unless you click below the fold. The pictures are so awesome, so breathtaking, that I fear you will be awed and breath-taked to the point that you'll pass out and fall onto a smaller, less massive bystander — possibly a child or a dog. Meanwhile, content yourself with this picture of an extremely rare bird known as a "sea gull." (Click to embiggen.) … [Read more...]

I’m Away for a Day or So

I'm turning 60 on Thursday. I've been planning to go on a whale-watching tour near Boston, but a surprising number of obstacles have fallen in my way. I still MIGHT get to do it, but I have to wake up at 5 a.m., rent a car and drive for about 4.5 hours to get there. After the whale tour (several hours, I imagine), I'll most likely be driving for another 4.5 hours to get home and sleep in my own bed. Argh. Pretty arduous 60th birthday. But still ... whales! When I get back, I have a lot more … [Read more...]

And can anyone tell me …

Why has my old post Calvin &  Hobbes Epilog — Extra Bacon!, from July 22, gotten so many hits today? My stats page has it about equally popular with my two recent Beta Culture posts. Where are all these people coming from? How are they finding this more-than-a-month-old post? An epilog to Calvin and Hobbes is definitely worth looking at, but hey ... I'm tryna change dah woild heah! Show some respect. … [Read more...]

Bloodsucking Rabbis Vow to Defy The Law

Briefly but vividly imagine this:  At your request, a trusted member of your religion removes the foreskin of your newborn son and then ... dips his head down and PLACES HIS MOUTH onto the open wound. You really have to hope there are no communicable diseases on his lips or floating around in his saliva, because there would be no better time to pass them along. According to the New York City Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene, it happens. … [Read more...]

Beta Culture: Don’t Teach the Controversy

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Thinking about some of the things Beta Culture will entail, I know education has to be an early and definite part of it. I’ll talk about one aspect of that. We secularists have been almost frantically hands-off when it comes to the intersection of religion and children. Something you hear extremely often is the bit about “Well, let’s give them both sides and let them make up their own minds.” I’ll tell you where I think that comes from. It comes from fear of being wrong. Of … [Read more...]