Yes, it’s been a while

Personal 2 Comments

At some point I’ll probably be taking down this blog. Not because I’m not ever going to blog again, but because I’m blogging elsewhere.

The new blog is in support of the book I just wrote:

Red Neck, Blue Collar, Atheist: Simple Thoughts About  Reason, Gods & Faith

The landing page for the book, with the full description, is HERE.

The book is up on Amazon.com HERE.

And the new blog, Blue Collar Atheist, is HERE.

Thanks to all those who have stuck with me as readers over the years — a lot of what went into the book was material I developed here and in my earlier blogging and blog commenting.

This is  a pretty good  book, and it’s not just me saying it. Early reviews have been really positive. I hope you’ll order one and let me know what you think.

‘Culture Wars’ and the Ground Zero Mosque

Personal 1 Comment

To tell you the truth, I’m not really in favor of it.

I’m reading a piece over at Dispatches from the Culture Wars, where Ed Brayton focuses on the “hypocrisy of opponents of the Manhattan mosque, particularly the American Center for Law and Justice …”

And I understand that a religious freedom broad enough to allow equal rights of belief to all is, in some undeniable ways, in all our interests.

But it seems to me that it’s turning into a black-and-white knee-jerk issue of equal rights with too many of us unbelievers, when there’s a few shades in between that we should be pointing out.

I left a reply:

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Thanks, PZ

Personal No Comments

I’ve been writing a book: Red Neck, Blue Collar, Atheist.

And I’ve been really busy with Life, and all that entails, so I haven’t been posting much.

But I went to see PZ Myers last night, in a talk at Syracuse University, and I see he mentioned me in his blog post, Early Morning on the Road, so I figured I’d better respond, just so people who click over to here know I’m not dead.

I can say from this experience that if PZ ever comes within a 3-hour drive of where you live, you should make a point of going to see him. He gives a great talk, there was a stimulating Q&A after, and afterward we went to a nearby pub and quaffed (according to Terry Pratchett, quaffing is like drinking, only with more spillage) beers until late.

Just FYI, I’m getting some last-stage feedback on the book from a few people, and I’d like to do the formal roll-out in early summer. The response so far has been overwhelmingly positive.

To the organizers of this talk, the great people at Syracuse U’s atheist group — great event, guys! Really nice meeting you, and I look forward to being on the other side of the podium when my fabulously successful book comes out.

Below: PZ Quaffing with friends (Carl Buell just to the left) — and yes, that’s a pic of Noah’s Ark behind him.

Unfinished business … finished

Personal 4 Comments

This is a reaction to a post by my friend Chris Clarke, a notoriously bright and creative guy whom I admire very much. Among many other things, he writes the blog Coyote Crossing.

His original post is about depression, but it also touches on his own life accomplishments. Both subjects strike a chord in me, and I had to comment. As often happens, the things I write elsewhere I echo here, just to keep a record:

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COWs

Philosophy 3 Comments

I started thinking of myself as a Citizen of the World some years back, and I’ve even thought there should be an organization. But strangely, I’ve felt shy about publicizing the idea, for fear that someday I’d be subject to revocation of my American citizenship by some zealot with power. Perverse to the COW concept, though, I’m also rather proud to be an American. Just being associated with this particular philosophical experiment is rather cool.

[—> Just to be clear to anyone in government who might read this later, no, shithead, I’m not renouncing my citizenship. I was born in Texas, I’m proud to be an American, I vote, I pay taxes, I drive a Chevy truck, I support the American government and the Second Amendment, I shed tears when I see an American flag, I intend to stay a proud American until the day I die, paying taxes and voting until I’m as senile as Ronald Reagan. I ride horses with good American WESTERN saddles and not those sissy English ones.

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The Range of Permissible Acts

Philosophy, Religion 6 Comments

Say you’ve picked out a private kindergarten for your little girl, and you’ve gone down to take a look at the place to check on a last few details.

During the hourlong tour and consultation, you ask “What are the classroom rules here at Bronfield Academy? What will be expected of my daughter while she’s actually in class?”

“Ah,” says the director. “Glad you asked, because we’ve got a list of the rules we send home for each new student before the term begins. Let me get you a copy of that. Yes, here we are.”

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Lonely Words

Personal, Philosophy, Religion 4 Comments

Here’s something I’ll bet you never considered before:

We have a lot of words in common usage, and I mean a LOT of them, a whole specialized vocabulary, that refers to things that don’t actually exist.

So there’s a word for the thing, but no thing for the word.

Fairy. Werewolf. Ghost. Bigfoot. Vampire. Channeling. Telepathy. Telekinesis. Clairvoyance. Goblin. Teleportation. Afterlife. Leprechaun. Zombie. Valhalla. Hell. God.

There are multi-word terms in the same vein: Spirit guide. Trance medium. Guardian angel. Mutant powers.

Knowing this, and knowing that there was a time when I DIDN’T know it, I think that’s a fairly profound problem.

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Earth Day 2009: Thoughts Like Falling Leaves

Personal 30 Comments

Leaf One

Con games and sleight-of-hand magic work because, one, we humans only have so much attention to spare at any one moment, and two, they direct that attention deliberately in one direction. If you look at where the finger points, you miss … well, everything else.

Like the movie teen backing through a darkened doorway in the serial killer’s lair, we focus intently on one thing while something more important takes place just outside the sphere of our focus.

I’ll give you a real-life example that has bugged me for a long time.

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Head to Head

Personal 1 Comment

I’m caught up in a back-and-forth argument with a guy online. He maintains that all news media are in the business of entertainment, and that there’s no difference between them. The far right, the far left, they’re the same. Fox News equals CNN equals MSNBC equals Jon Stewart, yada-yada-yada.

This was my final shot at explaining how wrong I think that view is:

Shane: The news media are entertainers, yes. I’m glad you see that. I worked in the news media for a number of years, and yeah, news pieces are put together as “stories.” Each item is framed in a narrative the viewer will find interesting and digestible. This is known — from the first days a budding journalist is  learning to write news, you’re taught to do this. And yes, sometimes the story can overpower the facts.

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Letter Home to Texas on the Eve of Seccession

Personal, Political 3 Comments

Howdy!

Hope things are going well for you all down there.

I’m self-employed just now, and struggling with it. I think things are about to turn around, but argh, I’m in a bind right at the moment. It’s not the economy so much as a few of my own bad choices, but the economy is definitely playing into it.

Other than having no money, life’s going good. It’s spring here. The place I live, I wake up most mornings to the sounds of wild turkeys in the yard. So far this spring we’ve had whitetail deer, raccoons,four kinds of squirrels (gray, red, chipmunks and flying squirrels), blue jays, cardinals, goldfinches and crows (plus a lot of other birds passing through) as daily visitors. Some nights we see red foxes, and there have even been a few coyotes strolling through in the moonlight.

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