Down With Education!

Every so often, Pew surveys the American electorate on their views of important public institutions. This year's survey found that despite being in power, Republicans are a grumpy bunch. The only major national institution that they feel positively about is churches. That's not a surprise. However, this might be:While a majority of the public (55%) continues to say that colleges and universities have a positive effect on the way things are going in the country these days, Republicans … [Read more...]

The Twilight of ISIS

I almost missed this story, but it's a big one: ISIS has been vanquished and driven out of the Iraqi city of Mosul, its capitol and the biggest city it had ruled, by an Iraqi-American coalition assault:Flanked by Iraqi forces of all stripes, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared Mosul has been recaptured from ISIS."From here, from the heart of the liberated and free Mosul, by the sacrifices of the Iraqis from all the provinces, we declare the great victory for all of Iraq and … [Read more...]

Dystopia Journal #7: If This Be Treason

Another day, another piece of evidence that the president of the United States conspired with a foreign power:The June 3, 2016, email sent to Donald Trump Jr. could hardly have been more explicit: One of his father's former Russian business partners had been contacted by a senior Russian government official and was offering to provide the Trump campaign with dirt on Hillary Clinton.... He replied within minutes: "If it's what you say I love it especially later in the summer."Four … [Read more...]

On the Reciprocity of Compassion

You've probably heard about the shooting at a Congressional baseball game. America has had mass shootings in just about every other public place by now, so it was inevitable that this would eventually rebound on the government that refuses to do anything about them. The attacker was killed by police, and four people were wounded, including Republican House majority whip Steve Scalise. He was shot in the hip and badly injured, but is expected to pull through.If you've never heard of Steve … [Read more...]

Is Belief in Hell Inherently Hateful?

In 2015, the evangelical Wheaton College fired Larycia Hawkins, a political science professor, for taking a stance of solidarity with Muslims against hateful rhetoric. Ostensibly this was because Hawkins, a black woman, had contravened the college's statement of faith by suggesting that Christians and Muslims worship the same god. Unofficially, it's easy to see as a reaffirmation that evangelical Christianity is a religion only for bigoted white people.At the time, a Wheaton graduate named … [Read more...]

FGM: An American Problem

We may like to think that the barbaric practice of female genital mutilation is a Third World relic, happening only in distant and uncivilized backwaters. Not so. FGM is happening right here in America, in communities of successful and highly educated people.Here's some unfortunate evidence. In April, the FBI arrested Jumana Nagarwala, an emergency-room doctor and native-born American citizen, on charges of cutting two seven-year-old girls. Two more people, including another doctor, were … [Read more...]

Letter-Writing Wednesday: The Problem of Religious Pharmacists

One of my earliest blog posts was about right-wing pharmacists who refuse to fill prescriptions on religious grounds. It's still a problem.This week, I read this story of a Walgreens in New Mexico whose pharmacist refused to fill a woman's prescription for misoprostol. It's a common drug for stomach ulcers, but it also relaxes the cervix, which makes it useful for abortion, for inducing birth, or for preparing for an IUD insertion. You get one guess which of those uses this sanctimonious … [Read more...]

Dystopia Journal #6: Paris Burning

On election night, of all the bleak things I imagined, the worst was that Trump would take America out of the fight against global warming. Unsurprisingly, he has.This is the consequence that counts. The embarrassment and the decline in our national prestige are real, but will fade in time when a competent administration takes power. No matter how badly Trump and the GOP mismanage the economy, even the worst depression ends eventually. However many people terrorists may kill in their … [Read more...]

The Fountainhead: Hard Hat Zone

The Fountainhead, part 1, chapter 7While Roark is out on a job site, he takes an interest in one of the men working on the building under construction:The man raised his head and turned to him abruptly. He had a big head and a face so ugly that it became fascinating; it was neither old nor flabby, but it was creased in deep gashes and the powerful jowls drooped like a bulldog's; the eyes were startling — wide, round and china-blue.Unlike the view she later espoused in Atlas S … [Read more...]

More Atheists, Fewer Creationists

Whatever the short-term fluctuations of politics, the long-term trends driving the evolution of American society are stable. And one of the most consistent trends in America since I started writing this blog has been the steady growth in the number of self-identified atheists and agnostics. It's a cheering thought that gives me hope for future generations discarding the harmful dogmas of the past.But even these optimistic estimates may have been an undercount, if a new study is to be … [Read more...]