Tuesday, April 30, 2013

This Is Why I Support Recovering From Religion

A little while ago, a request was made on the Recovering From Religion Facebook page[1].
We have an urgent request for help from the Denver area. Someone there is trying to escape her ultra-Orthodox Jewish community. This has been verified by a social worker. Her most urgent need is housing. If you can help or know a resource to direct her, please contact me IMMEDIATELY at admin@recoveringfromreligion.org. Folks, this is why the Hotline Project will make such a difference. Imagine her being able to make one call to hear a friendly voice to help point her towards an Exit Strategy.
People responded on that thread and elsewhere with suggestions & offers, resulting in this follow-up[2].
We had an outpouring of support for the woman escaping her orthodox Jewish community. I have passed all the information I received on to her case manager, and the CM has assured me they are working with the woman. She also has my direct contact information, and should we hear from her, many of you who offered your homes as a safe space will likely hear from me at that time. For now, I have been informed she has been admitted to an inpatient ward for severe depression, and they will work with her on establishing a safe place when she is able to discharge. Thank you again, to each of you who either shared our message or contacted us offering assistance. Your kindness is overwhelming, and I know the facility was blown away by your generosity. I appreciate you all so much! ~Sarah Morehead, Executive Director, Recovering From Religion
This is why I support Recovering From Religion.  Religion does very real damage to real people.  Recovering From Religion is doing something about it in tangible ways.  If you'd like to help them do more of this, you can donate here[3].

1.  http://www.facebook.com/RecoveringFromReligion/posts/490287517687786
2.  https://www.facebook.com/RecoveringFromReligion/posts/492584884124716
3.  http://recoveringfromreligion.org/donate/recovering-from-religion/

Wil Wheaton On Why It's Awesome To Be A Nerd

Whatever you thought about Wesley Crusher, Wil Wheaton has grown up to be pretty awesome. He's been a great advocate for all things nerd/geek, especially for my preferred area of geekdom, table top[1] gaming.

He recently further proved it when a woman asked him to tell her daughter (who based on the context appears to be either quite young or not yet born) why it's awesome to be a nerd, and this happened.

1.  https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL4F80C7D2DC8D9B6C
2.  https://twitter.com/Alyssa_Milano/status/329248926848921601

Monday, April 29, 2013

What Women Deserve

I recently attended a small training class at my local Planned Parenthood[1] where I learned a bit about how to better discussion the issues related to Planned Parenthood, women's rights, reproductive health, and reproductive freedom, and reproductive justice.

I hope to be able to share more details of that later, but for now here's Sonya Renee[2].  I hadn't ever heard of her before, but this performance is too spot on to not share.

1.  http://www.plannedparenthood.org/
2.  http://youtu.be/mOV7RyHjl5c

Red Flags Of Quackery

Sometimes things have good timing.  I had a recent experience with obvious quackery[1], and then I see this shared on Facebook[2].

For the full version, see sci-ence.org's post[3].  It even references the best thing I've ever seen addressing "alternative medicine", Tim Minchin's[4] "Storm"[5].

1.  http://allthesepiouspeople.blogspot.com/2013/04/homeopathy-minus-water-plus-jesus.html
2.  https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151572256535155&set=a.496176595154.294030.8798180154&type=1
3.  http://sci-ence.org/red-flags2/
4.  http://aparticularblogbyaparticularatheist.blogspot.com/2012/12/twelve-apostates-tim-minchin.html
5.  http://youtu.be/HhGuXCuDb1U

Saturday, April 27, 2013

He Swears It's Not Photoshopped

The person who posted this to Reddit[1], says it's not photoshopped.

What do you think?  We see these things all the time, and it's nearly always a question.  I usually assume they are photoshopped.  But that's the thing about this kind of stuff.  Either explanation is as believable as the other[2].

1.  http://www.reddit.com/r/atheism/comments/1d7067/i_swear_to_jesus_this_isnt_photoshoped_welcome_to/
2.  http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Poe's_Law

Saturday Morning Shares - 04-27-2013

Here's the links & tweets to share from the last week.  Most were also shared on this Facebook page or retweeted.  Please add any fun or informative stories I missed in the comments.

Random Stuff:

8-Bit Socks Bring the '90s to Your Wardrobe (via @mashable)

(via @mashable)
Hear 15 Classic Songs Remixed With Mario's Help (via @mashable)

(via @thinkgeek)
The First Ever Email, the First Tweet, and 10 Other Famous Internet Firsts (via @Alyssa_Milano)

100 Ideas That Changed Film (via @Alyssa_Milano)

8 Ways to Recycle Your Old Smartphone (via @mashable)

Reddit Blacks Out Some Comments to Protest CISPA (via @mashable)


Here's what the Big Bang probably sounded like (via @GoAngelo)

Religion Stuff:

(via @ASHlmThtAtheist)
(via @PumaBare)
(via Progressive Secular Humanist Examiner)

Conspiracy Theory Stuff:

The Conspiracy Theory Flowchart "THEY" Don't Want You To See (via @hemantmehta)

Why people believe in conspiracy theories (via Doris)

Why Boston Marathon Bombings Ignited Conspiracies (via @SkeptInquiry)


Bangladesh Atheist Bloggers Are Getting Censored and Threatened (Friendly Atheist)

Protest the injustices against atheists in Bangladesh. (WWJTD)

Bangladesh censorship: gotta stop militant atheists. (WWJTD)

‘Hang atheist bloggers’: Bangladeshi Muslims call for execution of blasphemers (PHOTOS) (RT)

Bangladeshi clerics fight atheist bloggers (Al Jazeera)

Worldwide Protests for Free Expression in Bangladesh (Center for Inquiry)

Join us in New York City on Thursday for #DefendDissent: A Protest to Support Free Expression in Bangladesh (American Atheists)

Tweet Of The Week:

Asshole Of The Week:

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Challenge For Oppressed Christians

I saw this in my Facebook stream today:
(via Chad Aldridge)
I would very much like to see a Christian take on this challenge.  I see too many Christians whine about how oppressed they are.  I see it often enough, this picture was relevant in an conversation today on Twitter.

So, if you're a Christian who thinks you're oppressed for being Christian, I challenge you to wear an atheist shirt for a week.  Until then, you have no clue what you're talking about.  I would also accept you wearing a turban all the way through air travel, wearing it when you get to the airport and not taking if off until leaving the destination airport.

And if you know a Christian like that, go ahead and present them with this challenge.  I hope to learn about someone actually doing it.  I highly doubt they will, because I think they know exactly what would happen if they ever left their comfort zone bubble and walked a mile in our shoes.

But I can still dream.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Looking For A Christian Blogger To Be Socratic With

I'm looking for a Christian blogger to have a pro-longed back and forth with.  It would take the form of a series of blog posts.  Each post would include a response to the other's previous post and have a question for the other[1] to address in their next post.

My intended purpose is for us to create an understanding of the other's views.  For this project, I am proposing very few ground rules.
If you're interested, please post a link to your blog and your e-mail in the comments, tweet me[4] a link (with something extra to let me know you're not a spambot), e-mail me at aparticularatheist@gmail.com[5].  If you're not interested, but know someone who might be, please send them a link to this post.

UPDATE:  I apparently need to add that attachments will not be opened.  Also, I will not click a shortened URL.  Both of these are for the obvious reasons.

1.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socratic_method
2.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straw_man
3.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troll_(Internet)
4.  https://twitter.com/aparticularA
5.  aparticularatheist@gmail.com

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Saturday Morning Shares - 04-20-2013

Here's the links & tweets to share from the last week.  Most were also shared on this Facebook page or retweeted.  Please add any fun or informative stories I missed in the comments.

Random Stuff:

(via @mashable)

(via @mashable)

Why Do We Love Cats So Much? [INFOGRAPHIC] (via @mashable)

Arrested Development On Vinyl (via @MattersofGrey)

(via @mashable)

Why The Mantis Shrimp Is My New Favorite Animal

The NYPD's Taunting Thieves with iPads and Purses Full of Cash (via Aaron)

The 50 Most Perfectly Timed Photos Ever (via Sarah)

20 Gentle Quotations from Mister Rogers (via @Alyssa_Milano)

How to Get Along with an Introvert


Belief in Angry God Associated with Poor Mental Health (via Atheism Resource)

Ancient creature mixed human, apelike traits

Political Stuff:

Here Are The Twitter Handles Of The Senators Who Voted No On Background Checks Bill (via @Alyssa_Milano)

Religion Stuff:

An Atheist Mission Trip… Without the Proselytizing (via @hemantmehta)

15 Unintentionally Sexual Church Signs (via Mommy Has A Potty Mouth)

Gay Stuff:

How to Respond to the Anti-Gay ‘Day of Dialogue’ (via @hemantmehta)

Macklemore is pretty awesome – almost as awesome as coming out of the closet. (via @jteberhard)

Secular Coalition of America's Weekly Update:

National Secular Movement Update Call (04/18/2013)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

More On Boston

The Boston Marathon Bombing have sparked an incredible amount of stories.  If you're so inclined to read any of it, I've compiled a few of them below.  Observant readers may notice that great sources for information are @Mashable@Alyssa_Milano, and Reddit.

My Previous Posts On This Topic:

About Today's Bombings

Young Turks On Reacting To Tragedy

Help For Victims & Their Loved Ones:

Register here to find loved ones. (via @MattersofGrey)

Immediate Aftermath:

Boston Blast: Man Knocked Over By Explosion, Got Up, Finished Race (via @nprnews)

Police Tweet Request for Video From Boston Marathon After Blast (via @mashable)

Obama Addresses the Nation Following Boston Blasts (via @mashable)

Aftermath of Boston Marathon Bombing: How Do Terrorists Use Improvised Explosive Devices? (via @sciam)

Inspiration And Stuff:

(via @Alyssa_Milano)
Did Mr. Rogers say that his mother responded to scary news by telling him, "Look for the helpers"? (via @snopes)

"This could help restore your faith in humanity after yesterday: http://bostonmarathonconspiracy.com/" (via HuffPost Politics)

Chicago Tribune Sports Section Expresses Solidarity With Boston After Marathon Bombings (PHOTO) (via @Alyssa_Milano)

10 Powerful Images of NYC Showing Its Love for Boston (via @Alyssa_Milano)

Boston Marathon Tragedy Met With Unbelievable Acts Of Kindness (via @Alyssa_Milano)

The Internet Offers Pizza to Displaced Boston Marathoners (via @mashable)

Boston Marathon Volunteer Who Helped Injured Shares Story on Reddit (via @mashable)

Official Responses:

American Humanist Association (via @hemantmehta)

American Atheists (via @hemantmehta)

On How To Deal With It:

Boston Marathon bombings: How to talk to your kids about tragedy (via @Alyssa_Milano)

Boston Marathon Explosions: How You Can Help (via Reddit)

Atheists Giving Aid - Boston Marathon Tragedy (via @OmahaCoR)


Less Than Four Hours After Boston Bombings, There’s a Theory For Whatever You Want

The Boston bombing produces familiar and revealing reactions (via The Wrong Stuff)

Twitter Mentions of 'Boston' Increased 20,000% (via @mashable)

Rumors and conspiracy theories associated with the Boston Marathon bombing (via @snopes)

5 viral stories about Boston attacks that aren't true (via @Alyssa_Milano)

Atheist Groups Team Up to Fundraise for Boston Bombing Victims and Their Families (via @hemantmehta)

Our Values Must Unite Us After Tragedy in Boston (via @HuffPostRelig)

Other Compilations Of Links:

Live Update Thread On Reddit (via @mashable)

Live Update Thread #2 On Reddit

Live Update Thread #3 On Reddit

Live Update Thread #4 On Reddit

Live Update Thread #5 On Reddit

Live Update Thread #6 On Reddit

Live Update Thread #7 On Reddit

Live Update Thread #8 On Reddit

Live Update Thread #9 On Reddit

Summary Of Events On Reddit

Crazy People Reacted Too:

Alex Jones On Boston Blasts: U.S. Gov't Is "Prime Suspect"


Young Turks On Reacting To Tragedy

Since learning of the Boston Marathon Bombing, I've had various thoughts about who I think might be behind it.  I've intentionally kept them to myself because I hate how speculation & misinformation get out of hand so easily[1] in the immediate aftermath of events like this.  That's why I like what the Young Turks had to say about it.

1.  http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/regret-the-error/158541/a-year-later-false-reports-of-rep-giffords-death-still-reverberate-for-the-press/
2.  http://youtu.be/7lYzjZp9SJg

Monday, April 15, 2013

About Today's Bombings

Today, we were surprised by news of some deadly explosions.  BBC News has reported[1],
At least 31 people have been killed and more than 200 others wounded in a series of early-morning explosions in cities across Iraq, officials say.
The bombings were on the day of their first elections since American troops left more than a year ago[2].
Iraqi officials believe the insurgent group is growing stronger and increasingly co-ordinating with allies fighting to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad across the border. They say rising lawlessness on the Syria-Iraq frontier and cross-border cooperation with a Syrian group, the Nusra Front, has improved the militants' supply of weapons and foreign fighters.
The intensifying violence, some of it related to the provincial elections scheduled for Saturday, is worrying for Iraqi officials and Baghdad-based diplomats alike. At least 14 candidates have been killed in recent weeks, including one slain in an apparent ambush Sunday.
This, of course, shouldn't take away from the tragedy today in Boston[3], but hopefully it provides some perspective on how lucky we are to have such things be so uncommon[4].

To provide a little bit more perspective, I'll leave you with the words of Patton Oswalt[5].
Boston. Fucking horrible. 
I remember, when 9/11 went down, my reaction was, "Well, I've had it with humanity."
But I was wrong. I don't know what's going to be revealed to be behind all of this mayhem. One human insect or a poisonous mass of broken sociopaths. 
But here's what I DO know. If it's one person or a HUNDRED people, that number is not even a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population on this planet. You watch the videos of the carnage and there are people running TOWARDS the destruction to help out. (Thanks FAKE Gallery founder and owner Paul Kozlowski for pointing this out to me). This is a giant planet and we're lucky to live on it but there are prices and penalties incurred for the daily miracle of existence. One of them is, every once in awhile, the wiring of a tiny sliver of the species gets snarled and they're pointed towards darkness. 
But the vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evil doers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We'd have eaten ourselves alive long ago. 
So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, "The good outnumber you, and we always will."

1.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-22149863
2.  http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2013/04/15/iraq-bombings-wave-attacks.html
3.  http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/04/15/17764747-explosions-rock-finish-of-boston-marathon-3-killed-and-scores-injured?lite
4.  http://www.iraqbodycount.org/database/
5.  https://www.facebook.com/pattonoswalt/posts/10151440800582655

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Saturday Morning Shares - 04-13-2013

Here's the links & tweets to share from the last week.  Most were also shared on this Facebook page or retweeted.  Please add any fun or informative stories I missed in the comments.

Random Stuff:

What's in a Nickname? The Origins of All 30 MLB Team Names (via @Alyssa_Milano)

Kermit the Frog's Kickass Vacation in 15 Epic Photos (via @mashable)


'The Dumbest Generation' by Mark Bauerlein

Why Smart People Do Stupid Things (via Reddit)

Religion Stuff:

Atheists plan large national convention in Utah next Easter weekend

Logs reveal someone in Vatican is illegally downloading porn

Secular Coalition of America's Weekly Update:

National Secular Movement Update Call (04/11/2013)

Asshole Of The Week:


(via @thinkgeek)

Monday, April 8, 2013

Camp Quest Oklahoma Kicked Out Of Their Own Fundraiser

During a fundraiser for Camp Quest Oklahoma at Oklahoma Joe's, they were asked to leave, specifically because they are a secular organization.

You can see the various details on Reddit[1].  Oklahoma Joe's stance appears to be that they didn't realize that the Camp Quest is associated with atheists and is secular[2] when they agreed to the fundraiser[3].  That's their defense, to admit that they would have rejected the fundraiser, for a summer camp for kids, if they had known that the people running the camp dare to run it in a secular manner, which really just means that they don't preach to the kids.  They think that's a defense?

Camp Quest Oklahoma's table at Skepticon was right next to the tables I was volunteering at, so I got to meet a few of their volunteers.  They're wonderful people.  Any kid would be lucky to spend a week at camp with them.

It's unfortunate.  I've often made a point to go to Oklahoma Joe's whenever I'm in Kansas City.  Now I'll be making a point to never go there again.  Luckily, they've made a point of separating themselves from the Broken Arrow, Oklahoma location[8].

You can donate to Camp Quest Oklahoma here[4], or Camp Quest in general here[5].

Update:  Camp Quest Oklahoma also has a Kickstarter for their art project[6][7].

Update2:  I linked to his entries, but I forgot to include that Dave Muscato was on this like Donkey Kong, showing me that American Atheists made a good hire (as if I didn't already know that the moment I learned they'd hired him).

Update3:  I've added a correction regarding the association of the Kansas City Oklahoma Joe's and the one where this incident occurred in Oklahoma.
1.  http://www.reddit.com/r/atheism/comments/1by9y0/camp_quest_oklahoma_was_just_kicked_out_of_their/
2.  http://www.reddit.com/r/atheism/comments/1by9y0/camp_quest_oklahoma_was_just_kicked_out_of_their/c9b9fkm
3.  http://www.reddit.com/r/atheism/comments/1by9y0/camp_quest_oklahoma_was_just_kicked_out_of_their/c9ba530
4.  http://campquestoklahoma.org/donate/
5.  http://www.campquest.org/donate/
6.  http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1029846501/art-4-youth-project-art-that-shoots-for-the-stars
7.  https://twitter.com/pyrojoe711/status/321457006642860033
8.  http://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=10151420453457637&id=120089257636

Sunday, April 7, 2013

An Open Letter To Some Atheists

My love for table top gaming has its roots with my father. I don't recall ever engaging in the stereotypical father-son bonding experience, playing catch in the yard. Our version of that was games like Risk & Trivial Pursuit.

It was through this experience where I learned a great number of things. It was there I learned how to lose gracefully. He never let me win these games, and the way I knew he never let me win was because I never won. He had confidence in my ability to know the value of earning your own victories and trusted that I wouldn't like it if I he let me win and that I could learn from defeat.

The reason we[1] couldn't beat him in strategy games was because of his intelligence. He was a computer programmer in the 80s, before GUIs or the Internet. Before being a nerd was popularized and was closer to the characters portrayed in Revenge of the Nerds than Chris Hardwick[2]. Closer to Bill Gates than Mark Cuban.

When I was 4, he left that career to join the Air Force, who eventually sent him to the Naval Post Graduate School to earn a Masters degree in an area where even the title of the degree was confusing to me. I never fully knew what he did in the Air Force because the half of his job that wasn't classified was over my head. I know that he did something with communications and once got a process that took 12 hours down to a few minutes.

I've aced nearly every math class I've ever taken, without even trying. But after my father died, I found some of his math text books and they were ridiculously complex and confusing.

I got a great deal of my ability to think analytically from my father.  Some was certainly genetically inherited, but it also came from him teaching us to think critically. We didn't play games labeled as "educational", but we did play games that required thinking strategically.  My thought process often thinks several steps ahead of the present. I'm confident that I have my father to thank for that.

He's been gone nearly 4 years and I still find myself wanting his opinion on things. I never got to see his reaction to things like the Tea Party, our first Black President, or the former's insane reaction to the latter.

I've since evolved to slightly more complicated games like Settlers of Catan[3], Puerto Rico[4], Twilight Imperium[5], etc.  It makes me sad that I'll never be able to share most of these games with him.  Especially Catan, as I think I could actually beat him in it.  Probably not Puerto Rico though, as I did get the chance to lose to him in that.

My father was one of the smartest people I've ever known. And he was a Christian.

I frequently see atheists making blanket statements about Christians, saying they're all stupid. And even when challenged on it, they often stick by the generalization. If that is you, then you're my target audience for this letter.

When you do that, you hurt the cause. Calling them all stupid does nothing to convince those on the fence that there's something worthwhile on our side of the fence. All you accomplish with that behavior is the creation & reinforcement of the negative stereotype about us that we're all arrogant dicks.

By treating them all like shit, you alienate potential Christian allies like my father would have been. Not only that, but you offend people like me, who have had Christians in our lives who we loved and respected, who we wish were still here.

You make my job as an activist more difficult. Christians are the majority.  We cannot preserve things like the Separation of Church and State without their help.

Please stop calling them all stupid.  Go ahead and call individuals stupid when they are, or point out trends if they're valid.  Go ahead and criticize the beliefs as irrational, as they typically are. But it's important that we don't alienate ourselves from a large portion of the population when we have giant hurdles to cross to even be accepted as normal or trustworthy.  They could just as easily take the side of the Fundamentalists they share a holy book with. Let's show them our side is the right one and not give them any more reason to hate us than the Fundamentalists already do.

Plus, saying they're all stupid is flat out not true[6][7].

The "TL;DR" version of the above is:  Please stop calling all Christians stupid.  It's not true, and saying it makes us look like assholes.
1.  My brother couldn't beat him either.
2.  http://www.nerdist.com/
3.  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000W7JWUA/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B000W7JWUA&linkCode=as2&tag=omahathe-20
4.  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00008URUT/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00008URUT&linkCode=as2&tag=omahathe-20
5.  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/158994206X/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=158994206X&linkCode=as2&tag=omahathe-20
6.  Francis Collins believes in a god.
7.  Isaac Newton

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Saturday Morning Shares - 04-06-2013

Here's the links & tweets to share from the last week.  Most were also shared on this Facebook page or retweeted.  Please feel free to add any fun or informative stories I missed in the comments.

Random Stuff:

New 'GTA V' Screens Show Extreme Action and a Beautiful Game World (via @mashable)

24 Things You Didn't Know About Beer (via @Alyssa_Milano)


Major study finds no link between vaccines and autism

Gay Stuff:

Marriage Equality: 18 Creative Red Facebook Pics (via @mashable)

God Condemns Same-Sex Marriage? Really? (via @HuffPostRelig)

Religion Stuff:

Teresa MacBain, a Pastor-Turned-Atheist, Celebrates Her One Year ‘Coming Out’ Anniversary (via @hemantmehta)

(via @mikecannytalk)
I’m now a target for believers (via @PatheosAtheist)

The Periodic Table of Irrational Nonsense (via @hemantmehta)

(via God of the week)

(via New York City Atheists)

Painting of Jesus comes down in Jackson school (via United Atheists of America)


Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens: New Atheists flirt with Islamophobia (via @mxoom)

Criticism of Islam Is Not ‘Islamophobia’ (via @hemantmehta)

The Open Letter & Some Responses:

An Open Letter to the Secular Community

Why the American Secular Census didn't sign 'An Open Letter to the Secular Community'

A Response to "An Open Letter to the Secular Community"

#AACon13 (American Atheists Convention 2013:

Salas: Bringing people of all faiths — and no faith — together (via @exploregod)

American Atheists Convention 2013 recap: Friday (via @RussellGlasser)

American Atheists Convention 2013 recap: Saturday (via @RussellGlasser)

American Atheists Convention 2013 recap: Sunday morning (via @RussellGlasser)

American Atheists Convention 2013 recap: Sunday evening (via @RussellGlasser)

Reflections on #AAcon13 (via @DaylightAtheism)

Preacher or Parodist? Jerry DeWitt’s Inspired Self-Deconstruction and Self-Affirmation (via @jerry_dewitt)

Back from American Atheist convention and other things. (via @SkeptimusPrime)

American Atheists Conference (via @hemantmehta)

Roger Ebert:

I do not fear death

The ‘Roger Ebert is in Heaven’ Cartoons Are Coming… (via @hemantmehta)

Secular Coalition of America's Weekly Update:

National Secular Movement Update Call (04/04/2013)

Asshole Of The Week:

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Helping A Child Eat

Teresa MacBain's a pretty awesome person[1].  So seeing her make a request for help is something I couldn't let go unanswered.
My friends, I must ask a favor. You know that I've never asked for any personal favors, but this is a desperate situation. My nephew has lost his job which has put his family in a very bad spot. While that is a tough thing, (which many of you have or may be facing) the big issue is his 2 year old son. Noah was born with PKU (pku.com) which is a serious condition. Noah can't eat any protein at all, ever. Because of the PKU, he has to eat special food that is very expensive. (Formula is $695 per month!) Obviously, they don't have the funds to buy his food. Get this... they went to their catholic church and they told them that they couldn't help. The disease is so rare (only 14k cases) that there aren't any resources for Noah. 
My sister (the one who is very religious and tells me that she is so upset that she won't see me in heaven) called to tell me about Noah. She personally asked me if my "atheist friends" would help. Did you get that? The church won't help so my sister is asking for my atheist friends to help. 
I'm not asking you to send me or them money. All that we have to do is go online to the PKU store and purchase a gift certificate for my nephew. If you're willing to do this, send me a PM and I'll give you the information you need to get it to Noah.
Where the church refused to help, I believe atheists will step up.  To help, please visit the donation page Teresa created[2]

But don't do it to show up the Catholics.  Don't do it because I'm asking nicely.  Don't do it because Teresa's the very deserving Atheist of the Year[3].

Do it because the kid needs to eat.  Do it because it's the right thing to do.

And for what it's worth, my belief that atheists would step up is not without evidence.  The page was newly created, and thus at $0, half an hour ago when I started typing this (and trying to get my crappy computer to cooperate with the donation page).  Now it's already at $385.  I bet our community could get this goal achieved overnight.

1.  http://aparticularblogbyaparticularatheist.blogspot.com/2012/12/twelve-apostates-former-clergy.html
2.  http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/help-noah-get-his-pku-formula/51198
3.  https://twitter.com/AmericanAtheist/status/318181106316873728

Monday, April 1, 2013

Why I Come To Atheist Conventions

This was my second American Atheists Convention[1][2].  My first was last year right after the Reason Rally[3], which was also my first atheist convention in general).  I've been to two more since, last year's Midwest Freethought Conference[4] (now called Apostacon[5][6][7]) and Skepticon 5[8][9].  I've enjoyed the conference so far, but I don't come to these things for the speakers.  Even with my social anxiety and lack of people skills, my reason for coming to these things is to meet other atheists.

It's not that I have a problem with having speakers at these things.  I enjoyed seeing some of them.  David Silverman[10][11][12], Greta Christina[13][14], JT Eberhard[15][16], Matt Dillahunty[17][18], and Katherine Stewart[19][20] all gave good talks that I'm glad I didn't miss.  Jay Jay French[21][22] , Pete Stark[23], and Keith Lowell Jensen[24][25][26] were highlights as well.  But, at these things, I'm usually not interested in more than half the speakers.  Even with some of the people who I really like (Christina Rad[27][28][29], Hector Avalos[30], Hemant Mehta[31][32]), I'm not that interested in their talks.  Then there's the ones I wanted to see but missed due to a mix of time and exhaustion (Edwina Rogers[33], Richard Carrier[34], Dale McGowan[35][36], Jerry DeWitt[37][38], Cara Santa Maria,[39][40] Seth Andrews[41][42], Ophelia Benson[43][44], Edwin Kagin[45], Teresa MacBain[46][47], and the Panels on Women in Atheism and Atheism vs Humanism).

Despite that impressive list of speakers, I do have some issues with the focus on them.  I've noticed, what seems to me at least, too much focus on the stage.  I'm guilty of it myself.  At the Reason Rally, I was so focused on the stage that I forgot to go see the protesters, something I had really looked forward to doing that day.  By focusing on the stage so much, I completely missed out on meeting some of the more than 20,000 other atheists there.  It was caused by a mix of excitement about the event and the weather, but it still happened.

Coming to these things is definitely worth it.  I just need to not forget that the real magic of it isn't on the schedule or on the stage.  It's in the hotel lobbies and at the bars.  It's when organizers for local groups meet and share ideas.

The speakers can sometimes have some interesting things to say or get people motivated to action, but they can also often be merely preaching to the choir and unnecessary.  I would love to see speaker lists that are less packed, with more room for actually socializing with the other atheists.  But without that, I'll keep on ignoring half the lineup on stage and mingling as best as this awkward geek with social anxiety is capable.

1.  http://atheists.org/convention2013
2.  #AACon13
3.  http://reasonrally.org/
4.  http://youtu.be/8NCaRpkcGKk
5.  http://www.apostacon.org/
6.  @Apostacon
7.  http://www.facebook.com/Apostacon
8.  http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLDyZC8lflYBvkxmJGFeAihtz-OoDqVMy7
9.  @RealSkepticon
10.  http://www.atheists.org/
11.  http://youtu.be/2BCipg71LbI
12.  @MrAtheistPants
13.  http://freethoughtblogs.com/greta/
14.  @GretaChristina
15.  http://www.patheos.com/blogs/wwjtd/
16.  @jteberhard
17.  http://www.atheist-experience.com/people/matt_dillahunty/
18.  @Matt_Dillahunty
19.  http://www.thegoodnewsclub.com/about
20.  @kathsstewart
21.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jay_Jay_French
22.  @jayjayfrench
23.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pete_Stark
24.  http://www.youtube.com/user/klfly/videos?view=0&flow=grid
25.  @keithlowell
26.  http://www.facebook.com/kljfans
27.  http://www.youtube.com/user/ZOMGitsCriss
28.  http://freethoughtblogs.com/cristinarad/
29.  @ZOMGitsCriss
30.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hector_Avalos
31.  http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/
32.  @hemantmehta
33.  http://secular.org/node/637
34.  http://freethoughtblogs.com/carrier
35.  http://www.parentingbeyondbelief.com/
36.  @MemingOfLife
37.  http://youtu.be/BqaN0gZtQ-A
38.  @jerry_dewitt
39.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/cara-santa-maria
40.  @CaraSantaMaria
41.  http://www.thethinkingatheist.com/
42.  @ThinkingAtheist
43.  http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels
44.  @OpheliaBenson
45.  http://freethoughtblogs.com/kagin
46.  http://www.npr.org/2012/04/30/151681248/from-minister-to-atheist-a-story-of-losing-faith
47.  @Teresamacbain