This Is Not Normal

The latest polls, which suggest that Hillary Clinton has a commanding lead over Donald Trump in many critical swing states, give progressives a reason to take a breath of relief. The data suggests that Trump is such a poor candidate, he's even at risk in traditional Republican strongholds like Arizona and Georgia.But even if Trump and all he represents is soundly beaten in November, there's reason to fear for American democracy. His transgressive rhetoric and campaign style has normalized … [Read more...]

Why We Shouldn’t Want Manufacturing Jobs Back

The words "Rust Belt" evoke a vanished age of American greatness.Cities like Pittsburgh and Detroit, once mighty economic powerhouses, now have a reputation for dwindling and decline. Their factories have closed; their populations are aged and shrunken; their civic architecture has fallen into desolation and decay, spawning the genre of "ruin porn". And the resentment and despair of rootless former blue-collar workers is a central issue in the presidential race.This story resonates … [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...]

I Get Religious Mail: That’s Not What “Miracle” Means

The newest charity that's sent me an explicitly religious solicitation is American Leprosy Missions, "the oldest and largest Christian organization in the United States dedicated to curing and caring for people affected by leprosy and related diseases around the world". Take a look:Imagine pulling a dollar bill out of your pocket and seeing it multiply 33 times, like Jesus multiplying the loaves and the fishes!That's what you can do today. Because now every $1 you give will turn … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: Primitive Technology

My latest obsession is Primitive Technology, a video blog from remote northern Australia. The creator, who hasn't identified himself by name, has an ambitious goal: to go out into the wilderness and recreate as much human technology as possible, starting from the Stone Age and working his way up.Working with nothing but his bare hands and whatever natural materials he can find, he makes tools from scratch, which he can then use to make more complex tools: knapping stone into hand axes, using … [Read more...]

The White Supremacist Roots of Evangelicalism

I came across an anguished essay by Amy Gannett, a millennial evangelical writer, that's titled "How Evangelicals are Losing an Entire Generation". With a teaser like that, I just had to read on, and I wasn't disappointed. In the post, she explains how Donald Trump's nomination is resulting in her "losing faith in Evangelicals":This morning, I had no more than opened the app on my phone and there it was: Wayne Gruedem's endorsement of Donald Trump.Maybe you're unfamiliar with Grudem, … [Read more...]

Rise of the Atheist Voting Bloc

I missed this story when it came out last month, but it deserves attention:More American voters than ever say they are not religious, making the religiously unaffiliated the nation's biggest voting bloc by faith for the first time in a presidential election year. This marks a dramatic shift from just eight years ago, when the non-religious were roundly outnumbered by Catholics, white mainline Protestants and white evangelical Protestants.You read that right. If you took all the … [Read more...]

New on the Guardian: Should the Democrats Pander to Atheists?

For all their lip service to diversity and inclusion, the Democrats snubbed atheists at their convention and in their official party platform this election year. The convention was all God all the time, with not a word of acknowledgement for the increasingly important non-religious part of their voting base.Is there any hope for this partnership? I argue that there is, and that atheists' votes and political organizing has had a profound effect on the Democrats, even if their rhetoric hasn't … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: July 30

• Yes, the Green Party nominee Jill Stein is an anti-vaxer. Since Stein is an actual doctor, this is especially inexcusable. Note that Hillary Clinton is the only remaining presidential candidate who's pro-vaccine.• In very good news, a federal court strikes down North Carolina's brazenly racist voter ID law. They didn't even try to disguise what they were doing:As the court explains, North Carolina passed its omnibus voting bill, SL 2013-381, almost immediately after the … [Read more...]

We Need All the Brainpower We Can Get

I don't believe, as some people fear, that economic growth has come to an end.This is equivalent to saying that we'll never be any richer, more prosperous or more technologically advanced than we are right now; that you and me, the people alive today, are living through the zenith of human civilization. I find this implausible. Innovation and change have been churning away for thousands of years, and it's unlikely that we just happen to be living in the one era when it's all about to come … [Read more...]


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