Weekend Coffee: September 3

• Michele Bachmann says Christian conservatives will never win another election if Hillary Clinton wins this one. From her mouth to God's ears!• On Radiolab this week, "The Girl Who Doesn't Exist": Alecia Faith Pennington escaped a conservative-Christian/sovereign-citizen homeschool cult, but her parents deliberately never got her a birth certificate, a Social Security number, or any other ID. How do you prove to the world that you exist?• Humanity is solving … [Read more...]

On Human Negativity Bias

What was the best year in history? If you could choose any year out of the entire span of human existence so far to be alive in, which one should you pick?You could pick your answer for any number of reasons. You might choose to live in the age of exploration, or at the dawn of the scientific revolution, or in the company of great historical figures. But if you want the best chance of living a peaceful and happy life, if you're going solely by the numbers, then it's obvious: the answer is … [Read more...]

The End of Christian Hegemony

The Atlantic reports on a survey by the Public Religion Research Institute with an eyebrow-raising finding:Almost half of Americans say discrimination against Christians is as big of a problem as discrimination against other groups, including blacks and minorities. Three-quarters of Republicans and Trump supporters said this, and so did nearly eight out of 10 white evangelical Protestants.Nearly 80% of white evangelicals say that "discrimination against Christians" is as big a … [Read more...]

Turning the Corner on Climate Change

The future is bleak for Miami.Built on low-lying swampland, it's one of the most vulnerable places on the planet as storms strengthen and seas rise. The city is already suffering from streets that flood at high tide and saltwater seeping into drinking wells. With just a few feet of sea-level rise, which may be unstoppable at this point, most of South Florida will vanish beneath the waves. As a famous Rolling Stone article puts it, Miami is "doomed to drown", possibly sooner than we … [Read more...]

New on the Guardian: Loud Fear, Quiet Hope

In 2015, our attention was riveted by crisis, disaster and violence, and politicians flourished by pandering to bigotry and xenophobia. But behind these discouraging headlines, there's a quiet trend of progress unobtrusively transforming the world.That's the topic of my latest column in the Guardian, Buried in the darkness of 2015: the seeds of hope for a better 2016. To find out more, read the excerpt below, then click through to the full piece:In 2015, the brutal violence of the … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: November 8

• A Texas homeschooling family has been taken to court after allegedly refusing to teach their children anything at all since "they were going to be raptured". Of note, the family's 17-year-old daughter ran away from home because she wanted to go to school.• Violence in the Name of the Messiah: Ultra-Orthodox Jewish fundamentalists aim to create a theocratic state in Palestinian territory through terrorism. An infamous rabbinic document called "Torat ha-Melekh", or "The Law of the … [Read more...]

Movie Review: The Martian

Content note: Contains some spoilers.It says something about our era that so many of the most popular movies and TV shows are grim, depressing stories of disaster and dystopia. Is it a reflection of the popular mood? A sign that we've lost hope in ourselves and our ability to achieve great things? Why are there so few works of culture which make us feel optimistic, which tell us that better days are ahead?This weekend, I saw a movie that's a welcome exception to that gloomy trend: Ridley … [Read more...]

Pay Attention to the News You Don’t See

Last week, there was a powerful magnitude 8.3 earthquake in Chile near the city of Illapel. The tremors were felt as far as São Paulo, 1,600 miles away, and triggered tsunami warnings throughout the Pacific, from Hawaii to Japan to New Zealand.If you didn't hear about this quake, there's a reason for that: in spite of the widespread damage and massive evacuations, it had a tiny death toll. Just 11 people died, compared to the 525 people who died in a similar quake five years ago. That … [Read more...]

With Liberty and Justice For All

June 26, 2015 will be remembered as the day love won out in the United States of America. In Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court made marriage equality the law of the land, striking down all remaining bans on same-sex marriage.While waiting for the decision, I admit I had some doubts. I never seriously doubted that the Supreme Court would rule for equality; they signaled their intent months ago, when they refused to halt pro-marriage decisions by lower courts, and it was obvious that … [Read more...]

When Would You Rather Be Alive?

Reading the news is always a marathon race between hope and despair, but that conflict has been especially sharp these last few months. While every era has its doomsayers, they've lately become a lot harder to dismiss.Europe remains slumped in depression and wracked by infighting over the future of its union, with no way out in sight. America is sweltering under political stagnation, fraying at the seams from breathtaking inequality and the brutal violence of a police state, and there's a … [Read more...]


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