Letter-Writing Wednesday: Yes to Single-Payer

As bad as things are getting elsewhere in the U.S., my home state is quietly becoming a progressive mecca. First was the free public college plan that passed as part of the annual budget.But something much bigger is on the horizon. As of now, New York is on the verge of instituting statewide single-payer health care.This isn't a utopian pipe dream or a distant, idealistic fantasy. The bill, which is called the New York Health Act, is a reality; it's already passed the state legislature, … [Read more...]

Book Review: Hidden Figures

Summary: We need all the brainpower we can get.Even in the darkest days of prejudice, when women and minorities were most oppressed and their talents denigrated, they've always been there, making crucial contributions to human progress. The only question is whether their achievements are preserved in the historical record, or whether they're shunted into the background so that white men can get all the glory. Margot Lee Shetterly's Hidden Figures, about the black women of NASA who helped … [Read more...]

The Fountainhead: A Friend in Need

The Fountainhead, part 1, chapter 7Howard Roark has been left alone and jobless, again, by the forced retirement of his mentor. Luckily for him, though he's done nothing to deserve it, he has a friend.Peter Keating marches in to see his boss, Guy Francon, and tells him, "I've got to have that man." When he explains Roark's background, Francon agrees:"Oh well... well, speaking structurally, not esthetically, Cameron does give them a thorough grounding and... Of course, Cameron was … [Read more...]

Show Me How the Bible Hurt You

I came across this page from an ad right here on Patheos. It's another of those proselytizing Christian websites that seeks to convert people in the guise of "answering questions" they may have about the Bible and Christianity. Its creators have chosen to stay anonymous, except to describe themselves as "a diverse group who believes that, when engaged thoughtfully, the Bible can be one of the most exciting, surprising, and life-giving books in the world".This is all boilerplate-standard … [Read more...]

Why Skeptics Fall For Misogynist Ideology

Since I've spent much time condemning religious sexism and misogyny, it's only fair to acknowledge that atheists aren't free of it either. Case in point: this article from the Daily Beast, which makes a case that Robert Fisher, a 31-year-old Republican state representative from New Hampshire and an out-of-the-closet atheist, is the creator of the popular "Red Pill" forum on Reddit where misogynists congregate.Based on evidence presented in the article, Fisher created the Red Pill forum in … [Read more...]

Photo Sunday: Sakura

After a rainy, gloomy week where I live, the sun finally came out and the weather warmed up, and every plant and tree seems to have burst into bloom overnight. That includes these cherry trees, which exploded in dense bunches of pink flowers as if staging a fireworks display to usher in the spring:I feel a philosophical affection for the Japanese cultural interpretation of these flowers, which they call sakura. The cherry blossoms bloom en masse but fade and fall away almost as quickly, … [Read more...]

The Fountainhead: Why So Serious?

The Fountainhead, part 1, chapter 6It's not looking good for Howard Roark. He's alone in the world again, as his mentor has been forced into retirement with his health failing and his spirit broken.Meanwhile, Peter Keating's star continues to rise. Rand tells us how things are going for him in this clever metaphor:It was Peter Keating's third year with the firm of Francon & Heyer. He carried his head high, his body erect with studied uprightness; he looked like the picture of a … [Read more...]

Do Right-Wing Christians Want People to Be Destitute?

This article was originally published on AlterNet in 2014.The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, is now in its fourth year, and the numbers point to a solid success. Thanks to Obamacare, millions of people can afford health insurance for the first time, and millions more still have health insurance because now they can't be dropped by their insurance company for getting sick. The once-astronomical growth of costs has slowed substantially, and in some markets is even … [Read more...]

On the Morality of: Privacy of the Dead

[Note: This post contains major spoilers for the S-Town podcast.]I've been listening to S-Town, the popular and controversial new podcast from NPR reporter Brian Reed. It was undeniably fascinating as a work of literature, a modern spin on the Southern Gothic genre. But after finishing it, I shared the concerns that others have had about it, and I wanted to write about why.The genesis of the podcast came when Reed was contacted out of the blue by John B. McLemore, a resident of a rural … [Read more...]

The Fountainhead: A Randian Guide to Retirement

The Fountainhead, part 1, chapter 6After losing their last chance at a big commission, Henry Cameron and Howard Roark both know that the end is in sight. Finally, the day they've been dreading arrives:In February of 1925 Henry Cameron retired from practice.For a year, he had known that the day would come. He had not spoken of it to Roark, but they both knew and went on, expecting nothing save to go on as long as it was still possible. A few commissions had dribbled into their … [Read more...]