Beta Culture: Beyond Veterans Day

Salt Day copy

I confess to mixed feelings about November 11.I have a number of fairly conservative friends, and you can count on Veterans Day to kick off a massed booming v0lley of flag-wavery -- heartfelt prayers, cheers, and best wishes for the men and women in uniform, those gallant, selfless warriors willing to give their lives for our freedom.I can never join in with such fervent abandon. I mean, I GET Veterans Day. But still, considering some of the things the U.S. military has done ... mixed … [Read more...]

Beta Culture: Dealing With Conservatives

Had a little epiphany today about the sense of humor, and why ultra-conservatives don't seem to have much of it.Humor requires a certain flexibility of mind, a capacity to quickly change mental directions. The lead-in to a joke sets up a certain expectation, then the punchline forces a radical departure from that expectation. The unexpectedness makes us laugh. A Hasidic Jew walks into a New York City bar with a frog on his shoulder. The bartender says "Where the heck did you get THAT?" The … [Read more...]

One Billion Atheists: Two Additional Ideas

As the name of the hoped-for movement states, my interest in the free-thought spectrum is this one specific thing: Atheism. Everything else flows from that, in my view, and a coordinated effort to empower and expand atheism will throw off benefits to every one of the sub-genres of the larger field of free-thought.Regarding which, here are a couple of ideas I'd toss into the mix for One Billion Atheists by 2025: Atheist Leadership Academy Years back when I was working on a magazine in … [Read more...]

Dawkins in Boston, Oh Yeah


Owing to ... well, owing, I don't often get to attend the big atheist events. But this time there's one near me, so I'm going to see and hear Richard Dawkins in Boston this Thursday, June 11.I'm carpooling with some of the cool people of the Capital Region Atheists & Agnostics Meet-Up group.I'm pretty excited about it. Always wanted to meet the guy, and I hope that will be possible here.Tickets are $35. I'll be the guy in the cowboy hat.................I'll also be … [Read more...]

Catholic Church Flexing Muscle in U.S. Hospitals

According to Wikipedia: The Roman Catholic Church is the largest non-government provider of health care services in the world. It has around 18,000 clinics, 16,000 homes for the elderly and those with special needs, and 5,500 hospitals, with 65 per cent of them located in developing countries. In 2010, the Church's Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers said that the Church manages 26% of the world's health care facilities. The Church's involvement in health care has … [Read more...]

Carrie Underwood Click-Bait. Meh.


We had chickens when I was a kid -- White Leghorns, Rhode Island Reds, Barred Plymouth Rocks, Bantams -- and I loved feeding them. I'd go out with a bowl of cracked corn and call "Chick, chick, chick, chick-EE!" And they'd come running, looking up at me with their stupid prehistoric faces, brainlessly eager for something tasty. Never realizing that they were OUR food, that this was all a scam to get their eggs and meaty selves on our table in the near future.I hate to think of people like … [Read more...]