Christian Apologists React to the Rise of Atheism

The collapse of the white Christian voting bloc hasn't gone unnoticed by the religious right. It's the latest sign that they don't dominate American politics the way they once did. From same-sex marriage nationwide to Antonin Scalia's death to theocrat candidates flaming out and crashing, they've had one reminder after another that their era is passing.And it's immensely entertaing to see the fundamentalists and religious conservatives realize it. From denying the problem, to promising … [Read more...]

SF/F Saturday: Uprooted/The Speed of Dark

In my last installment of this series, I said that I wanted to read more sci-fi and fantasy written by women. That plan is already paying dividends, as I've checked off two books by authors on the list I hadn't read before and thoroughly enjoyed both of them: Uprooted, by Naomi Novik, and The Speed of Dark, by Elizabeth Moon. Here are some short reviews and thoughts.Uprooted, by Naomi NovikA fantasy rooted in Russo-Polish mythology, Uprooted starts out like a fairy tale. It's set in a … [Read more...]

France’s Burkini Ban Isn’t About Secularism

There was an ugly spectacle this week on a beach in France:Photographs have emerged of armed French police confronting a woman on a beach and making her remove some of her clothing as part of a controversial ban on the burkini....Her ticket, seen by French news agency AFP, read that she was not wearing "an outfit respecting good morals and secularism".As a response to recent Islamist terror attacks, cities like Nice have banned clothing that "ostentatiously displays religious … [Read more...]

The Intellectual Prison of Ultra-Orthodox Judaism

I've often written about Ultra-Orthodox Judaism, which is, in my opinion, one of the worst religious cults in existence. Whether in the U.S., in Israel, or any of the other countries where they put down roots, the Ultra-Orthodox live in closed-off enclaves, trying to keep their members isolated and ignorant of the world all around them. Daily life in these communities is a maze of rules and prohibitions, the result of centuries of elaboration by rabbis who only ever grow stricter, never more … [Read more...]

The Collapse of the Christian Vote

Earlier this month, I wrote about the rise of the atheist voting bloc and what it means for the future of American politics. Here's a perspective on that same trend from the other side: Robert P. Jones, CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute, has a new book out titled "The End of White Christian America".As Jones says in an interview, the decline of Christianity in America is generational. Young adults are rejecting organized religion at startling rates, resulting in the collapse of … [Read more...]

Friday Night Music: Criminal

I've mostly focused on newer stuff rather than nostalgia for these music posts. But reading about President Obama's 2016 summer playlist put me in mind of this '90s classic from Fiona Apple (which is now just over 20 years old, yikes): … [Read more...]

Why We Have to Pay for Media

I think it's a good moral principle not to be a free-rider. I want to pay my fair share of upkeep for whatever I use. If you agree, then this John Oliver segment on the decline of print news is essential:This is something I've been concerned about for a long time. It's no accident that freedom of the press is written into the First Amendment, making it as foundational as freedom of speech or religion. But that vitally important right is empty if there's no one to exercise it. And in the … [Read more...]

Conservatives Trapped in Their Own Bubble

After the 2012 election, I wrote about how the Republicans' epistemic bubble blinded them to their coming loss. Because they deliberately isolated themselves from all contrary opinion, they had no idea that there were people who didn't see the Obama presidency the same way they did, and thus failed to frame their argument in a way that would have been persuasive to those people. At the time, I mused on what they might do next:The very defect that's laid them low also makes it almost … [Read more...]

This Is Not Normal

The latest polls, which suggest that Hillary Clinton has a commanding lead over Donald Trump in many critical swing states, give progressives a reason to take a breath of relief. The data suggests that Trump is such a poor candidate, he's even at risk in traditional Republican strongholds like Arizona and Georgia.But even if Trump and all he represents is soundly beaten in November, there's reason to fear for American democracy. His transgressive rhetoric and campaign style has normalized … [Read more...]

Why We Shouldn’t Want Manufacturing Jobs Back

The words "Rust Belt" evoke a vanished age of American greatness.Cities like Pittsburgh and Detroit, once mighty economic powerhouses, now have a reputation for dwindling and decline. Their factories have closed; their populations are aged and shrunken; their civic architecture has fallen into desolation and decay, spawning the genre of "ruin porn". And the resentment and despair of rootless former blue-collar workers is a central issue in the presidential race.This story resonates … [Read more...]


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