Iran: The Ass End of Progress

Say you're a country full of people and you have a lot of vital business to conduct to keep everybody fed and housed and healthy and safe. What do you do? Well, you reach first for this immense tool you have, the most flexible and creative problem-solving device on the planet — the intelligent, educated human brain. Unless you're Iran, in which case you forbid HALF your population — half of those problem-solving brains — from getting a full education: Iranian women banned from 77 … [Read more...]

First Person Revolutionary — Part 3

[ Read Part 1 and Part 2 ] The fatal flaw of atheism? Actually, it's a challenge atheism shares with religion. The difference between the two is that religion has found a solution. So let's talk about religion: The weedy form of religion, superstition, arises automatically in each mind all on its own, simply by virtue of our need to create private theories – often wildly personified due to our ability to detect “person-ness” in everything from smiley faces to wind in the trees – about … [Read more...]

First Person Revolutionary — Part 2

[ Read Part 1 first. ] Atheism (more broadly, freethought) isn’t new, of course. Just in this country alone, it’s as old as Thomas Paine (although Paine was a deist, he was widely accused of being an atheist, and I'm confident he would've been one of us if he lived in a society in which it was possible to actually think about such things), and has had its bright sparks all along the way, right up to Carl Sagan, who published The Demon Haunted World only 15 years ago. … [Read more...]

First Person Revolutionary — Part 1

Ever think about the revolutions in your life? The things that change, and change greatly, and then affect everything that comes after? Boy, I do. I’ll tell you a little one first, and then a big one, and then a maybe one. The Little One The little one – well, it might be a big one to you – is about music. … [Read more...]

Oh, Shit! — or — Why Things Are Always So Fucked Up

I’ve thought for many years about why “otherwise intelligent” people can believe or say certain things that are demonstrably false. I mean, there are people who can look and sound as smart as anyone you know, but who don’t “get” certain things. Who WON'T get certain things. For instance, you can know someone who is a fantastic organizer or salesman, someone who can get rich in running a business, handing every detail easily, but who can’t accept global warming, or evolution ... … [Read more...]

Sociopaths in Paradise — Part 1

Back when I was in politics, one of the side effects of running for office was that I had a lot more people in my face. If you’re used to your small private life, especially if you’re an introvert like me, you have no idea how much you treasure your time in your own home pursuits, until that time is threatened, or vanishes. Give you an example: It’s years and years back, and I’m running for town council. This necessitates talking to a lot of people. Not in speeches or TV appearances, … [Read more...]

Brainwashing, Jesus … and Fascistic Creep

What better way to brainwash people than to stress them, exhaust them, force them to go without food and sleep? And THEN jump in with your message, the thing you want to force into their unresisting minds, when they’re at their most vulnerable? I’m describing the brainwashing tactics of Stalin, or Mao Tse Tung, right? No. I’m talking about U.S. Military chaplains. I’m talking about the brainwashing of U.S. soldiers to become Christians, and Christian evangelists. All of it paid for, by … [Read more...]

13: Blogathan for Secular Student Alliance!

Okay, here's where I shock and dismay many of you. The part where you'll say "I don't agree! My experience is different! You're just wrong!" But I want you to think about this. It's something that's bothered me for years and years, something I think matters — a little detail of compassion that few of us ever think about, but that disturbs me greatly. … [Read more...]

12: Blogathan for Secular Student Alliance!

The End. Except it's not yet 2 p.m. is it? Seems my math, from my original promise to blog from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., was faulty. I figured on 12 posts, but that span of time actually requires 13. While I'm thinking about that, look at this picture. It was taken right here in Upstate New York, near Schenectady. Click to embiggen.  (BTW, there are more Hank Fox photos on my Flickr site.) … [Read more...]

11: Blogathan for Secular Student Alliance!

Non-Readers I have old friends in Texas who have never read a whole book in their entire lives. I'm not kidding. And it sort of horrifies me, you know? I’m not whacking at them, particularly, but ... the type. … [Read more...]