Scattered Thoughts from the #ForwardOnClimate Rally

I just got back from Washington, D.C., where I was taking part in the Sierra Club's Forward On Climate rally against the Keystone XL pipeline, which is intended to carry crude oil from Canadian tar sands to American refineries. I'm still a bit washed out and don't have anything profound to say, but here are some scattered impressions: • It was cold in Washington, D.C. all weekend, with bitter, frigid winds lashing the National Mall, which made the immense turnout all the more surprising. … [Read more...]

Open Thread: Weather Stories

Well, once again, a major storm is heading toward the East Coast and New York is in the bullseye. (Climate change? What climate change?) Last year, it was all about Hurricane Irene, which ended up passing over where I live without causing too much havoc. Hopefully, I'll be lucky twice. But just in case my power does go out, don't be too alarmed if I disappear from the internet for a few days. While we all stockpile bottled water and sandbags, let's have an open thread: What are your best/worst … [Read more...]

Dinosaur Weather

I usually write optimistic posts. This is going to be a scary one. I apologize in advance. While I was in Columbus last month, I mentioned the furnace-like heat. Well, it wasn't just me. In what's becoming an annual tradition, heat records are being broken all across the country. And it's not just hot, it's dry: more than 80% of the continental U.S. is experiencing abnormally dry or drought conditions, with no relief in sight. Corn and other crops are being decimated by the drought, the worst … [Read more...]

Book Review: God, No!

(Author's Note: The following review was solicited and is written in accordance with this site's policy for such reviews.) Summary: Just what you'd expect from its author: outspoken, boisterous, crude, frequently vulgar, often hilarious. Unapologetically atheist, but more about Penn Jillette the person than about atheism per se. God, No! is written by Penn Jillette, the louder half of Penn & Teller who's well-known for his skeptical and libertarian views. He's also known for being … [Read more...]

Rick Perry’s Prayer Follies

Whether you're an atheist or not, you should be alarmed by the sight of elected officials making a big public show of praying during a crisis. It's not that prayer itself does anything one way or the other - it's that their beseeching the gods for help is a good hint, not just that they have no ideas, but that they've given up even trying and are staking their hopes on a miracle. Which is why this story, about the man who happens to be the most recent entrant in the Republican presidential … [Read more...]

Weekly Link Roundup

Some scattered thoughts to contemplate on a Saturday morning: • Earlier this year, my post on urban agriculture drew some spirited disagreement. Now there's a study from Ohio State University which concludes that Cleveland could supply all its own produce, poultry and honey if the many vacant lots in the shrinking, post-industrial city were converted into gardens. • A Missouri high school, in response to a complaint from a homeschooling parent who doesn't even have kids in the … [Read more...]

A Humanist Easter Homily

Today is Easter Sunday, the day when Christians celebrate Jesus' supposed resurrection from the tomb. But though they believe this holiday commemorates a unique and singular event, their timing is suspicious. As you may have noticed, Easter is very close (making some allowances for calendrical drift) to the vernal equinox, the first day of spring. This strongly suggests that the story of Jesus' death and resurrection is another offshoot of the ancient harvest myth: the story of resurrection … [Read more...]

A Confluence of Holidays

This year, there's an interesting calendrical coincidence: Today is both Earth Day and Good Friday. That being so, I thought it would prove enlightening to compare these two holidays and the messages they respectively send to their practitioners. One of the holidays on this date is to commemorate the gory death of a Jewish mystic some two thousand years ago, a dimly remembered event in an obscure corner of a long-vanished empire - an event which, we're told, takes precedence over everything … [Read more...]

Movie Review: Into Eternity

This weekend, my wife and I saw Into Eternity, a gripping documentary by the Danish filmmaker Michael Madsen. It's well worth a wider audience, so here's a review of it that I hope will provoke some interest. Every nuclear power plant in the world produces several tons of high-level radioactive waste each year. In total, there exists in the world about 250,000 tons of radioactive waste, which is potentially deadly and will be for tens of thousands of years. Most countries that rely on nuclear … [Read more...]

Using Purchasing Power for Good

Since 'tis the season for commercialism, shopping sprees and big-ticket purchases, I thought I'd write a post that I've had in mind for a long time. It's less about atheism per se, more about rationalism and being aware of the ways our choices shape the world around us. We may scoff, and rightfully so, when the Supreme Court uses free speech as an excuse to lift campaign-finance restrictions on huge multinational corporations. But it's true, nevertheless: Money is a form of speech - and not … [Read more...]


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