SF/F Saturday: Matthew Swift

We be light, we be life, we be fire! We sing electric flame, we rumble underground wind, we dance heaven! Come be we and be free! We be blue electric angels.—anonymous spam mail, source unknownI'm always on the lookout for new sci-fi and fantasy series. Here's one I heard about from the Borderlands Books newsletter: the Matthew Swift urban fantasy series by Kate Griffin. I read the first book, A Madness of Angels, and liked it enough to immediately go on to read the … [Read more...]

A Fireside Chat with the Tempter

It was a chilly autumn night, and I was up late in my study. In the hearth, a bright blaze of logs had long since crumbled into glowing coals, filling the room with warmth. Outside, an orange harvest moon hung low over dark treetops, and jack-o-lanterns hid among the tangled stubble of the garden path, their grinning faces reflected in the dark glass of the window.My thoughts were growing heavy, turning pleasurably to sleep, when I was roused by a sudden, sharp rapping at the door. The … [Read more...]

Jack Chick’s Cowardly Evangelism

Jack Chick has died. His publishing company broke the news on Facebook:To be honest, I was surprised because I thought Jack Chick had died long ago. I assumed the tract business was being run by descendants or new owners who hired artists to draw under his name. Chick's reclusiveness probably fed this perception: according to his Wikipedia page, he only did one interview after 1975, and there are few pictures of him, none of them recent.As many atheists know, Chick tracts push an … [Read more...]

Repost: If I Were an Unethical Atheist

[I'm taking a break from the blog to bond with and care for my new son. Please enjoy this classic post! I'll check in periodically to answer comments.]More times than I can count, I've heard the argument that atheists can't be trusted to act ethically, that human beings need to believe in a supernatural source of morality to coerce us to behave. (The most recent time I remember hearing this was in my debate with Peter Hitchens last year.) The argument usually goes that even if we … [Read more...]

Repost: So Wrong For So Long: On Liberal Biblical Reinterpretation

[I'm taking a break from the blog to bond with and care for my new son. Please enjoy this classic post! I'll check in periodically to answer comments.]Following up on last week's affray over cognitive dissonance in pro-LGBT Christians, I have one more point I want to make.Liberal and progressive believers have a variety of theological rationalizations for why they remain in a church that's historically been an unrelenting enemy of people like them. One of the most common is that God is … [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...]

Are the Olympics Worth It?

I rarely watch sports, but I make an exception for the Olympics. I can't deny that it's thrilling to see the world's top athletes in one place, showing off the greatest feats of strength, speed and grace that human beings are capable of. And I still believe the international cooperation that makes the games possible is a triumph of diplomacy and a good sign for human civilization.But it's getting harder and harder to ignore the problems threatening to overshadow the competition. Every … [Read more...]

Open Thread: Ghostbusters

There's so much darkness in the world lately, I feel like we could all use a break to talk about something light-hearted. So how about that new Ghostbusters movie?I saw it over the weekend, and the theater was packed. If the internet backdraft has hurt the box office at all, which I doubt, it wasn't noticeable where I live.Overall, it was solidly entertaining. There weren't any huge surprises, but it was a fun popcorn movie and it met my expectations. If you liked the original - and if, … [Read more...]

On Seasteading and Liberlands

Libertarianism is an ideology of the frontier.Most political ideologies are built to answer, in some fashion, the question of how to get along with our neighbors. It may be through democratic persuasion, or melting-pot cross-pollination, or shared notions of duty and tradition. Libertarianism alone makes the assumption that you don't have to get along with your neighbors. You can limit your interactions with other people to whatever trades you find advantageous, and if you'd rather not deal … [Read more...]

Useless Money: A Humanist Sermon

This is 432 Park Avenue:It's the newest addition to the New York City skyline, an ultra-luxury residential skyscraper in midtown Manhattan. With a top height of almost 1400 feet, it's the tallest residential building in the world and the second tallest building in all of NYC, ahead of the Empire State Building, behind only the new One World Trade Center.Despite its neck-craning height (it actually required approval from the FAA), 432 Park Avenue has only 104 apartments. The first … [Read more...]