Photo Sunday: Returning to Nature


In spite of all the damage we've done, our impact on the earth is more evanescent than you might imagine. I'm fascinated by books like Alan Weisman's The World Without Us or Jonathan Waldman's Rust: The Longest War, which describe how all the artifacts of our civilization would dissolve and disappear without human beings to maintain them. Here's a case in point: a long-abandoned pickup truck, left to peacefully rust and rejoin nature, in New York's Adirondack Mountains. Note how the wheels are … [Read more...]

Photo Sunday: Late Summer


A late summer afternoon, when ripe sun and yellow-orange air holds the crackle of autumn hidden inside like corn in a husk. The drowsy heat makes languor a pleasant option, but there's a road ahead that remains to be traveled before rest can come.Image credit: Olli Henze, released under CC BY-ND 2.0 license … [Read more...]

Photo Sunday: Solstice


In spite of all our technology crafted to isolate us from the natural world, human beings feel the call of the seasons, the axial pull of gravity and sunlight. We gather across the millennia, drawn by the same deep impulse that first inspired the ancient builders to rear these stones.Image: Summer solstice gathering at Stonehenge, June 2014. Via Paul Townsend, released under CC BY-ND 2.0 license. … [Read more...]

Photo Sunday: Dark Sunrise


For us Americans and others who still rely on the antiquated agricultural ritual of Daylight Savings Time, we "spring forward" this weekend. For the next few weeks, we'll be rising in the morning dark once again. But as discouraging as it is to lose an hour, it's a welcome reminder that spring is on its way, that sun and warmth are slowly, patiently creeping back into the world. After a long, bitter winter here on the east coast that's tried our spirits, the thaw can't come soon enough.Image … [Read more...]

Photo Sunday: Stone Wall, Winter


High walls imply defensiveness, and thus implicit hostility; they announce the owner's intent to keep others out regardless of their intentions. A low wall, like this one, says something different and more hopeful. Being only a symbolic barrier, it implies a society where people are friendly and peaceable - where common courtesy and the rule of law suffice to convince people to respect others.Image credit: mike138, released under CC BY-ND 2.0 license … [Read more...]

Photo Sunday: #NMOS14


Last Thursday, my wife and I attended one of the National Moment of Silence rallies that were held across the country to protest the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, and all other deaths from police brutality and overreach. This one was at Union Square in Manhattan. There was an immense, diverse crowd; the tone was angry and grieving, but peaceful.Though I had been half-expecting the NYPD to show up in force, there was no show of strength by the police at the scene. (There was a … [Read more...]

Photo Sunday: Vestmanneyjar

The last tour we took in Iceland was of the Westman Islands, a volcanic archipelago off the southern coast. One of the islands, Surtsey, is brand-new: it was created by an eruption in 1963, and scientists are studying how new species arrive to colonize the previously vacant land.The largest island, Heimaey, is the only one that's permanently inhabited. It's famous for the eruption of Eldfell, a volcano which appeared overnight in 1973 virtually in the middle of the town, forcing the entire … [Read more...]

Photo Sunday: The Golden Circle

While I was in Iceland last month, I took a tour of the Golden Circle, a famous tourist route that encompasses some of the country's most spectacular scenery. Here are a few of the highlights.Once you get outside Reykjavik, Iceland is a young and fierce land, still being shaped by the natural forces that birthed it: an endless topography of dark highlands, impossibly steep mountains and fantastic volcanic formations. In the midst of the magnificent isolation, there are occasional … [Read more...]

Photo Sunday: Reykjavik


My wife and I spent the last week on vacation in Iceland, which is like a liberal's dream: an peaceful, egalitarian society with no standing army, very low inequality and scarcely any crime, consistently ranked as one of the best countries in the world for women and LGBT people, with a Scandinavian-style social welfare system and energy derived almost entirely from renewable sources. And its people were the friendliest, politest and most hospitable I've ever met - possibly surprising, … [Read more...]

Women in Secularism 2 Wrap-Up


This past weekend, I was in Washington, D.C. for the second Women in Secularism conference, sponsored by the Center for Inquiry. As promised, here's my report.I was expecting the conference to be overwhelmingly attended by women, but I was pleasantly surprised that there was only a slight majority of women over men, maybe 55-45 or 60-40. That could just be a consequence of the fact that men generally outnumber women in the secular movement, but I don't think so, since I'm told the first WiS … [Read more...]