Atlas Shrugged: Solidarność

Solidarity

Atlas Shrugged, part II, chapter VIThe villains are debating the membership of the Unification Board, the new government agency that will control every aspect of America's economy under Directive 10-289. The first proposal is for them to choose a representative of each industry and profession; but then Fred Kinnan, the union leader, steps in."No cross-sections," said Fred Kinnan evenly. "Just representatives of labor. Period.""What the hell!" yelled Orren Boyle. "That's stacking … [Read more...]

Colorado’s Conservative History Whitewash

Fig. 1: Slave owners voluntarily set their slaves free.

There are a lot of stories I want to write about, especially the infuriating Texas law that will close down nearly every family planning clinic in the state. But for today, there's an important one that's been flying under the radar and deserves more attention: the fight over high school history classes in Jefferson County, Colorado. It's a local story, but it has a much broader national resonance.The background of this is that, in 2012, the College Board rolled out a new curriculum for … [Read more...]

Book Review: Nature’s God

NaturesGod

(Editor's Note: This review was solicited and is written in accordance with this site's policy for such reviews.)Summary: A dense philosophical-historical synthesis that rewards the diligent reader by opening up a new window on the beliefs of America's founders.Matthew Stewart's book Nature's God: The Heretical Origins of the American Republic, like Susan Jacoby's Freethinkers or Jennifer Michael Hecht's Doubt: A History, plumbs the freethinking ideals that played an outsize role in the … [Read more...]

Tiptoeing Around the Civil Rights Act

Segregation

The Civil Rights Act is an abiding dilemma for members of the right-wing Church of Not Gay. As marriage equality continues to progress, their latest cause celebre is arguing that believers should have the right to refuse service to gay couples - whether they be photographers, bakers, owners of wedding venues, even county clerks - all in the name, supposedly, of "religious liberty", which they believe should be a trump card allowing holders to opt out of any generally applicable law.The … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: Indian Givers

FirstThanksgiving

Atlas Shrugged, part II, chapter IVAfter unleashing a tirade at his family during Thanksgiving dinner, Hank Rearden decides he's had enough of them. He stands up and announces that he's going to New York, knowing that Lillian understands exactly what this means:"Why do you wish to go to New York tonight?""I think, Lillian, for the same reason that makes you wish to stop me.""Tomorrow is your trial.""That is what I mean."He made a movement to turn, and she raised her … [Read more...]

You, Sir, Are No Robert Ingersoll

RobertIngersoll

Before I went on vacation last month, you may recall how I tangled with a mob of nasty sexists who misleadingly call themselves "men's rights activists". Most of their comments were pure ad hominem filth, not worth the trouble of responding to, but there was one I wanted to address: from an atheist MRA who fears that feminism is ruining both science and atheism, and who thinks that some famous historical freethinkers would have taken his side.Surprisingly, my largely religious family was … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: The Three-Fifths Compromise

AntiSlavery

Atlas Shrugged, part II, chapter IILet me make one thing clear, to begin with: I don't think Ayn Rand was an unintelligent person. She was fiercely dogmatic in her opinions, quick to anger, possessed an enormous ego, and rarely if ever forgave. She also had more than a few intellectual blind spots, which I've been pointing out throughout this series. But I believe she put real thought into her moral system, flawed as it is, and had a genuine desire to be taken seriously as a … [Read more...]

TV Review: Cosmos, Episode 1

101-011-cosmos-standing-up-in-the-milky-way-large-photo-960x540

(It's a Cosmos double feature this week, as I finally revisit the first episode and post my long-delayed review.)Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, Episode 1, "Standing Up In the Milky Way"When I first heard that Carl Sagan's Cosmos was being rebooted, I was thrilled. As much as I loved the original, even the best science series inevitably becomes dated sooner rather than later, as our knowledge advances. And this was a great opportunity to see how modern special effects, which are light-years … [Read more...]

TV Review: Cosmos, Episode 5

104-015-cosmos-hiding-in-the-light-large-photo-960x540

(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 5, "Hiding in the Light"With computer graphics getting cheaper and better every year, every new TV show and movie has to grapple with the question of how much is too much. That's no less true for a hard-science series like Cosmos than it is for a sci-fi drama. There's always the temptation to put more … [Read more...]

Cosmos Upsets the Courtiers

GiordanoBruno

I'm greatly enjoying the new Cosmos, but there are those who are none too pleased by it. Some of the critics are too laughable to take seriously, like the creationists who're whining about not getting equal time. Then there are the ones who represent an allegedly more sophisticated theology, like this post by Andrew Sullivan, in which he straightfacedly asserts that Carl Sagan and Neil deGrasse Tyson's popularization efforts are giving science a bad name. Why? His complaint stems largely from … [Read more...]


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