TV Review: Cosmos, Episode 13

CosmosEpisode13

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, Episode 13, "Unafraid of the Dark"For their final episode, the authors of a show usually focus on their core message, on the one element that lies at the heart of what they want to say. The new Cosmos is no exception, and for the series finale, what they chose to emphasize was intellectual humility: the fact of our fallibility and the immensity of how much we still don't know. In the vastness of the cosmos, there are many wonders yet to be revealed; but it's only … [Read more...]

#800deadbabies: A Fresh Catholic Horror

In the last few years, Ireland has been reckoning with a shameful part of its history: the Magdalene laundries. Established in the 1700s and surviving well into the 20th century, these were church-run institutions, overseen by nuns, where women were sent for transgressing against conventional morality or custom, or simply because they were viewed as a burden to society. Prostitutes, unwed mothers, rape victims, orphans, the mentally and physically disabled, or those who were deemed too … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: The Incorruptibles

SterlingSilver

Atlas Shrugged, part II, chapter IIThe time has come for the first of The Speeches. These are Ayn Rand's infamous filibusters in which the action comes to a halt so that one of her characters can deliver a lengthy philosophical lecture expounding their author's views. The speech in this chapter is one of the shorter ones - a mere 2,600 words, scarcely a footnote compared to what's coming later - but even that would take at least 20 minutes to recite at normal speed. Naturally, in the world … [Read more...]

Religious Violence Isn’t a Mental Illness, and Neither Is Misogyny

Sexism

In the wake of the mass shooting in California last month, committed by a killer who left a long, misogynist manifesto vowing to punish women for not dating him, many pundits and commenters have strained to blame something other than sexism for his rampage. The most common claim is that the shooter, Elliot Rodger, was mentally ill, that the illness was the real cause of his killing, and the misogyny is just what his disturbed mind happened to latch onto as an excuse; if not for that, it would … [Read more...]

TV Review: Cosmos, Episode 12

CosmosEpisode12

(I've decided to review the new Cosmos series hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson that's airing on Fox. If you missed it, you can stream full episodes online.)Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, Episode 12, "The World Set Free"For its penultimate episode, Cosmos returns to the subject of climate science, a familiar variation on a sermon it's already preached more than once. I have some mixed feelings about this. With the series pressing against time constraints, I worry about the lost opportunities … [Read more...]

New on AlterNet: Catholicism’s Demonic Revival

My latest column is up on AlterNet, Why Do Many Christians Still Literally Believe in Demons and Satan? In it, I sum up the Harvard Black Mass fracas and place it in a wider context, showing how Pope Francis and the Catholic church are pushing a major revival of belief in the demonic. Read the excerpt below, then click through to see the rest:The Harvard Satanist fracas shows the immense hypocrisy of the Catholic church and its spokesmen. In their battle against the contraception mandate, … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: Offshore Accounts

TropicalIsland

Atlas Shrugged, part II, chapter IIAll the movers and shakers, including Hank and Lillian, have showed up for James Taggart's wedding in New York. Dagny is also there, and obviously she and Hank have to keep up the pretense that there's nothing between them. This makes Hank grit his teeth at his inability to, I don't know, have sex with her right there on the ballroom floor:...he wondered why he stood here, he wondered who had the right to demand that he waste a single irreplaceable … [Read more...]

The Supreme Court’s Ignorance on Secularism

GavelAndJustice

I'm coming late to the subject, but I wanted to circle back and talk about the Supreme Court's ruling in Town of Greece v. Galloway, where a 5-4 conservative majority held that official prayers before town meetings are constitutionally permissible.Make no mistake, this is a bad ruling, although not as bad as it could possibly have been. The one consolation is that the court didn't slam the door completely, as they could have done and have done in other cases; they didn't wipe out the right … [Read more...]

Male Entitlement Is a Deadly Drug

When I wrote about atheism's MRA problem, I wrote that it was imperative to drive these sexists off because of the harm they do through harassment and threats against women. Now there's a much more graphic and horrible example of the threat posed by misogynists: a mass shooting in the California town of Isla Vista this weekend, in which seven people died including the shooter.The apparent killer left a video monologue ranting about how he had been unfairly spurned by women, whom he accused … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: The Marital Contract

WeddingRings

Atlas Shrugged, part II, chapter IIFollowing his illegal meeting with Ken Danagger, Hank Rearden is still in his hotel room in New York, eagerly anticipating a night of adulterous sex with Dagny, when he has a surprise visitor:When the door of his room flew open without warning, he did not quite hear or believe it, at first. He saw the silhouette of a woman, then of a bellboy who put down a suitcase and vanished. The voice he heard was Lillian's: "Why, Henry! All alone and in the … [Read more...]


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