New on AlterNet: 10 More Lessons from Atlas Shrugged

My latest column is now up on AlterNet, "10 Things I Discovered About Ayn Rand's Addled Brain After Reading 'Atlas Shrugged'". It summarizes ten more of the very important political and moral lessons I've learned over the last year reviewing part II of Atlas Shrugged. Read the excerpt below, then click through to see the rest:If you've ever voted for politicians who passed safety regulations, or accepted any kind of loan or grant money from the government, or criticized the excesses of … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: October 11


• eBible Fellowship, a Christian group with ties to Harold Camping, predicted the world would end on October 7. Oops! After the date came and went, they put up a defiant post in which they conceded their error, yet insisted the world is still going to burn in hell anyway. (Here's a graphic of some other end-time blunders through history.)• The men trying to stop Sikh women from marrying outside their religion, using violence if necessary.• I've written about the horrible … [Read more...]

I Get Religious Mail: Bibles, Not Peace


The flow of religious junk mail in my mailbox seems to be accelerating. Here's the latest, a begging letter from the American Bible Society. (Click for larger.)The thrust of this solicitation is that American soldiers deployed abroad desperately want to read Bibles, but somehow can't get any - a near-certain falsehood to begin with, given the extreme saturation of fundamentalist religion in the military.Included in the envelope was a … [Read more...]

Friday Night Music: Sidelined

Shelley Segal is on tour in the U.S., and I got to see her perform at Rockwood Music Hall in Manhattan earlier this month. Here's one of the songs she played, a feminist folk anthem from her latest EP, Strange Feeling: … [Read more...]

Photo Sunday: Returning to Nature


In spite of all the damage we've done, our impact on the earth is more evanescent than you might imagine. I'm fascinated by books like Alan Weisman's The World Without Us or Jonathan Waldman's Rust: The Longest War, which describe how all the artifacts of our civilization would dissolve and disappear without human beings to maintain them. Here's a case in point: a long-abandoned pickup truck, left to peacefully rust and rejoin nature, in New York's Adirondack Mountains. Note how the wheels are … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: August 30


• Oliver Sacks has died. In his final column, "Sabbath", he talks about his humanism and his rejection of his Jewish upbringing when his mother discovered he was gay and was violently hateful towards him: "her harsh words made me hate religion's capacity for bigotry and cruelty".In his closing words, he contemplates the end with acceptance and peace:And now, weak, short of breath, my once-firm muscles melted away by cancer, I find my thoughts, increasingly, not on the … [Read more...]

Friday Night Music: Grace Potter

I don't see why you'd embark on a solo career when you're best known for a band that already has your name in its name, but why complain when the result is this good? Here's Grace Potter, of Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, showing off on her new solo album, Midnight: … [Read more...]

Photo Sunday: Late Summer


A late summer afternoon, when ripe sun and yellow-orange air holds the crackle of autumn hidden inside like corn in a husk. The drowsy heat makes languor a pleasant option, but there's a road ahead that remains to be traveled before rest can come.Image credit: Olli Henze, released under CC BY-ND 2.0 license … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: August 8

• Niloy Neel, a Bangladeshi atheist writer, is brutally murdered in his own home by Islamists. He's the fourth secularist writer in Bangladesh to be assassinated this year, while the government continues to sit on its hands and do nothing.• Prayer can't fight the Ebola virus. But science can.• Today in "why are LGBT people still Catholic" news: a director of religious education at a Catholic school was fired for being a lesbian, and unaccountably seems surprised by it. … [Read more...]

Speaking at Long Island Atheists


Two weeks from today, I'll be speaking on Long Island about secular morality, courtesy of the Long Island Atheists Meetup Group. If you're in the area, come out and see me!WHAT: Secular Morality in the Modern Age WHEN: Saturday, August 15, 2015, 4:00 PM WHERE: Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Central Nassau, 223 Stewart Avenue, Garden City, NYNo admission charge. Donations welcomed. … [Read more...]