Weekend Coffee: September 6

Coffee

• This week, Bob McDonnell, a.k.a Virginia's former "Governor Ultrasound", was convicted by a jury on multiple counts of corruption. The schadenfreude-y part is that McDonnell ran for office as a religious-right, pro-marriage, Christian-family-values candidate, whereas his defense at trial basically consisted of arguing that his own marriage was a shambles and that everything he said on the campaign trail was a lie.• In weird and cool biology news: two unclassifiable animal species … [Read more...]

New on the Guardian: Real Religious Persecution

Big news today! I'm very pleased to announce that I've published my first original column for the Guardian, the venerable progressive newspaper, in their Comment is Free opinion section.The column is titled "'Help, help, I'm being repressed!': How conservatives make a mockery of the oppression of religious minorities. It concerns those American Christian conservatives who shriek that their religious liberty is being cruelly denied, while steadfastly ignoring those who experience genuine … [Read more...]

Photo Sunday: #NMOS14

Last Thursday, my wife and I attended one of the National Moment of Silence rallies that were held across the country to protest the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, and all other deaths from police brutality and overreach. This one was at Union Square in Manhattan. There was an immense, diverse crowd; the tone was angry and grieving, but peaceful.Though I had been half-expecting the NYPD to show up in force, there was no show of strength by the police at the scene. (There was a … [Read more...]

Answering an 11-Year-Old Christian

Last week, this comment was left on an older post. I wouldn't normally approve proselytizing like this, but since the author identifies himself as an 11-year-old homeschooler, I decided to give it a pass and write him a reply. We may be familiar with these arguments, but it's likely that he's never encountered a real live atheist before, and this may be the first chance he has to hear them. I'll post the full text of the comment first.If there is no God, there cannot be any sort of … [Read more...]

Photo Sunday: Vestmanneyjar

The last tour we took in Iceland was of the Westman Islands, a volcanic archipelago off the southern coast. One of the islands, Surtsey, is brand-new: it was created by an eruption in 1963, and scientists are studying how new species arrive to colonize the previously vacant land.The largest island, Heimaey, is the only one that's permanently inhabited. It's famous for the eruption of Eldfell, a volcano which appeared overnight in 1973 virtually in the middle of the town, forcing the entire … [Read more...]

Photo Sunday: The Golden Circle

While I was in Iceland last month, I took a tour of the Golden Circle, a famous tourist route that encompasses some of the country's most spectacular scenery. Here are a few of the highlights.Once you get outside Reykjavik, Iceland is a young and fierce land, still being shaped by the natural forces that birthed it: an endless topography of dark highlands, impossibly steep mountains and fantastic volcanic formations. In the midst of the magnificent isolation, there are occasional … [Read more...]

Friday Night Music: The National

It's Friday night and I haven't done one of these in a while, so here's a video from a group I've been listening to a lot lately: The National, a moody and melancholy American band. This is from their quite good newest album, Trouble Will Find Me:What's been running through your head lately? … [Read more...]

Photo Sunday: Reykjavik

My wife and I spent the last week on vacation in Iceland, which is like a liberal's dream: an peaceful, egalitarian society with no standing army, very low inequality and scarcely any crime, consistently ranked as one of the best countries in the world for women and LGBT people, with a Scandinavian-style social welfare system and energy derived almost entirely from renewable sources. And its people were the friendliest, politest and most hospitable I've ever met - possibly surprising, … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: July 26

Coffee

I got back from Iceland yesterday and I'm still catching up on news that happened while I was away. Here are a few of the stories from my backlog:• More to come on this, but for now I'll just mention it briefly: a very welcome joint statement by Richard Dawkins and Ophelia Benson denouncing all forms of harassment, sexist and otherwise. I'm not prepared just yet to say this wipes the slate clean, but I'm cautiously optimistic!• Anti-abortion fanatics disrupt a Unitarian … [Read more...]

Programming Note

Kronur

Just a note about what's coming up: Posting will be as normal this week, but on Friday, the 18th, I'm going to Iceland for a week's vacation. I'll schedule some greatest-hits posts while I'm away so things don't get too quiet around here, and I'll check in as I'm able to approve comments and answer e-mails. Pictures when I come back, of course!Also, check out my Icelandic money. I'm rich, baby! (OK, not really: a króna is the equivalent of a penny, not a dollar.) … [Read more...]


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