The Ethic of Reciprocity

My recent post "Building Justice" talked about how human beings have to work together if we want to build a just world to live in. I want to say some more about that, not least because this week, everyone on the U.S. East Coast had a vivid demonstration of what we're up against. New York City, where I live, was among the worst hit by Hurricane Sandy. On Monday night, Twitter had one apocalyptic image after another: lower Manhattan eerily darkened, a Con Ed transformer exploding on 14th Street, … [Read more...]

Open Thread: Weather Stories

Well, once again, a major storm is heading toward the East Coast and New York is in the bullseye. (Climate change? What climate change?) Last year, it was all about Hurricane Irene, which ended up passing over where I live without causing too much havoc. Hopefully, I'll be lucky twice. But just in case my power does go out, don't be too alarmed if I disappear from the internet for a few days. While we all stockpile bottled water and sandbags, let's have an open thread: What are your best/worst … [Read more...]

The Pro-Rape-Pregnancy Republican Party

This week, we witnessed another step in the Republican party's long drawn-out national suicide:"I've struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from God," Mr. Mourdock said. "And even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen."This vile remark was made by Richard Mourdock, the Republican candidate for a U.S. Senate seat in Indiana, explaining why he wants to ban abortion even for women … [Read more...]

Building Justice

As you probably know by now, my friend Greta Christina was diagnosed with cancer last week, and she's having surgery today. In the grand scheme of things, it could have been much worse: she has health insurance, it was caught early, and there's an excellent chance that the operation will be a complete cure. Still, I admit I felt some purely selfish disappointment when I first heard the news. I'd been looking forward to seeing her at Skepticon next month, which won't be happening now. And … [Read more...]

Book Review: The Swerve

Summary: The compelling true story of the Renaissance humanists who rescued Greek and Roman philosophy from oblivion and wrenched the Western world out of the Dark Ages. After the collapse of the Roman empire, Europe descended into a centuries-long era of cultural and intellectual stagnation, a dark age of theocracy and feudalism. But how did the Western world pull itself out of this pit? What brought about the rekindling of light and reason in the Renaissance? That question is the subject of … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: October 21

Coffee

Some links from the last week: • As you may have heard, my good friend and awesome secular activist Greta Christina was diagnosed with endometrial cancer. It's fully treatable, but she needed some help to cover her living expenses while she recovers, and the atheist community came through in spades, meeting and exceeding what she had hoped to raise in barely 24 hours. • Dinesh D'Souza, the well-known Christian apologist, showed up at a conference last week with a much younger woman … [Read more...]

The Age of Mockery

Although the initial riots and flare-ups of violence over the "Innocence of Muslims" video were over a month ago, the global battle over blasphemy laws is still raging. In London this week, thousands of Muslim marchers assembled outside Google's U.K. headquarters to demand the banning of ideas that offend them:Organiser Masoud Alam said: "Our next protest will be at the offices of Google and YouTube across the world. We are looking to ban this film. "This is not freedom of expression, there … [Read more...]

On the Morality of: Privacy

This week's all-consuming internet drama was sparked by the journalist Adrien Chen of Gawker, who published a piece exposing the real identity of "Violentacrez", one of the most infamous trolls of Reddit. Violentacrez, real name Michael Brutsch, was notorious as the moderator of a forum called "creepshots" which consisted of sexualized photos of women taken in public without their knowledge or consent. (He also created the Reddit forum "jailbait", which similarly consisted of sexualized photos … [Read more...]

The Fiery Fountain

My first book hasn't been out for long, but I'm thinking it's almost time to start writing the next one. I came back from my trip to the U.K. with a head full of ideas, and I want to start getting them down on the page. My next book is going to be a novel, not nonfiction. I may write another book about atheism in the future, but at the moment, I don't have any topic ideas that haven't already been covered better by other authors. But I do have some ideas for works of fiction, lots of them, in … [Read more...]

Open Thread: Weekend Delurk & Self-Promotion

I'm putting up a post tomorrow about writing and the creative process, but on this crisp fall morning, I've been thinking more about the social aspect of the profession. Although this blog gets thousands of visitors, only a tiny fraction of them ever comment. I understand why that is, and I accept it; I certainly don't comment on every blog I read, either. Nevertheless, when I do meet readers, as I've had several opportunities to do, I've always found that they're very cool people whose company … [Read more...]


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