Stilling the Jerk of My Liberal Knees

Look at this picture (click to embiggen) of a woman arrested in France for refusing to remove her veil. A tiny, defenseless woman, a plucky warrior for the rights of a minority to live and breathe free, is manhandled by racist government thugs.It came up on my Facebook wall recently, from a group called the Muslim Defense League (MDL) United We Stand, Divided We Fall (“Fighting against racism, fascism and oppression”).The photo caption was “A Muslima is arrested in France for refusing to remo … [Read more...]

If NASA Made Home Movies

Big-screen this and watch. … [Read more...]

The Great Debate

I went to the “great debate” – Does God Exist? – last night at Binghamton University in Upstate New York. The event was double-hosted by the Campus Bible Fellowship and the Secular Student Alliance.Ex-Mormon Erin M. and I caught a ride with Michael McElroy, all members of the local atheist Meet-Up group, Capital Region Atheists and Agnostics. Nice trip, the both of you. I enjoyed the wide-ranging conversation immensely. Sorry I fell asleep on the late-night return trip; hey, I’m old. —Oh, yeah, … [Read more...]

Earth Day 2012: Thoughts Like Falling Leaves

[This is a reprint of a piece I did several years ago, slightly edited for 2012.]Leaf OneCon games and sleight-of-hand magic work because, one, we humans only have so much attention to spare at any one moment, and two, they direct that attention deliberately in one direction. If you look at where the finger points, you miss … well, everything else.Like the movie teen backing through a darkened doorway in the serial killer’s lair, we focus intently on one thing while something more imp … [Read more...]

Reason Rally: The Speech That Didn’t Happen

This is the speech I would have given, if I’d been asked to speak at the Reason Rally. No, there’s no reason anyone should have asked – I’m not well enough known just yet – but that didn’t stop me from wanting to be up on stage anyway. Saying this: Hank's Reason Rally Speech Just as we still talk about the Enlightenment, or the discovery of fire, a thousand years from now, people will still be talking about this moment.Because this is the moment when civilization left the launch pad. This is th … [Read more...]

Throwing Out Leftovers, Civilization-Wide

I’m gonna tell you about four things I used to do. Four actions – habits – I picked up when I was a kid and continued at least into my early adult life.First, I used to eat large amounts of ice cream and other rich, fatty foods at every opportunity.Second, I used to actively avoid stepping on cracks in the sidewalk when I was walking.Third, I used to vigorously snap my towel when I stepped out of the shower and pulled it off the towel rack.Fourth, I used to look both ways when I stepped o … [Read more...]