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...]

Reflections on #AAcon13


I'm writing this in the airport, on my way home from a weekend in Austin, Texas for the 50th anniversary convention of American Atheists. New York is all bare gray branches, still; it's too early in the season even for buds. By comparison, Austin was a startling riot of green, with tree-lined streets and forested riverbanks that bloomed explosively in the perfect, gorgeous warm weather. The branches were thronged with big, sleek black birds (grackles, according to a thread on B&W) that kept up a … [Read more...]

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...]

Photo Sunday: Edinburgh


On the second half of my U.K. trip, we spent a few days in the lovely city of Edinburgh, the capitol of Scotland. My wife Elizabeth has written a thorough review of the best part of our stay: the pubs! Here are some other highlights:On our first day, we went out for a walk in what turned out to be one of the biggest rainstorms the city had seen in a while. It rained so hard my umbrella soaked through, and we got lost wandering around the downtown and ended up taking shelter in a … [Read more...]

Photo Sunday: London


I'm home again after my swing through the U.K., and I've finally had time to go through all the pictures I took. Here are a few of the best from our first few days in London:We got a taste of real English weather on our first day there, but the second day favored us with some sunshine. We walked through Whitehall Gardens in the center of the city near the Thames......and then went for a ride on the London Eye.Looking north along the Thames as we … [Read more...]

SSA 2012 Conference Wrap-Up, Day 3


Read Part 2 here.To finish off Saturday night, atheist comedian Keith Lowell Jenson and journalist Ted Cox gave a demonstration of "ex-gay" conversion therapy. The quack idea undergirding this is that men are gay because they were deprived of love by their fathers, and experiencing real manly affection will cure them of their confused and unnatural lust. Here, Hemant Mehta (who was an extremely good sport about the whole thing) demonstrates how this works with the help of … [Read more...]

SSA 2012 Conference Wrap-Up, Day 2


Read Part 1 here. On Saturday, the SSA conference was in full swing, with three simultaneous tracks of talks going on throughout the OSU student union. As Murphy's Law predicts, the ones I wanted to see the most were inevitably scheduled at the same time as each other. But I still got to see some outstanding speakers, with topics running the gamut from the nuts and bolts of campus organizing to high-level political strategizing to important lessons on community and social justice. Here are some … [Read more...]

SSA 2012 Conference Wrap-Up, Day 1


We've survived fire and flood! The Reason Rally in March was a day of gusty cold and battering rain. This July 4 weekend we went to the opposite extreme, as secular students and atheist movers and shakers from all over the country converged on Columbus, Ohio for the 2012 Secular Student Alliance Leadership Conference. And the summer was merciless, as Columbus broiled under 100-degree temperatures all weekend. (There had been a violent storm across the Midwest the previous week, and some areas … [Read more...]

Photo Sunday: A Houdini Pilgrimage


At the Reason Rally in Washington, D.C. last month, my friend Greta Christina told me something that I, a lifelong New Yorker, never knew: Harry Houdini is buried in a cemetery in New York City. Houdini, of course, made his fame in the early 20th century as a magician who could escape from handcuffs, straitjackets, and all manner of bizarre contraptions. But atheists should know him best as a dedicated debunker of mediums who claimed the ability to channel the dead. For Houdini, this was a … [Read more...]

Reason Rally Wrap-Up, Part 3

Read Part 2 here. I've talked about the weather, the crowds, the protesters and the speakers, and I wanted to end up with some overall impressions. One of the things about the Reason Rally that made me happiest was how young and diverse the crowd was. I've been to atheist conventions that were overwhelmingly populated by old white guys, and this was a big step forward. A major part of this, I'm sure, was the enormous student involvement, and it's that more than anything else that makes me … [Read more...]