It's perhaps a debatable opinion, but I think the main way that a lot people found out there actually was such a thing as the climate skeptic blogosphere, was that its existence was highlighted by the alarmists themselves. In the complete absence of any PR budget, it was actually the alarmists who by attacking it, inadvertently spread the word that there was an alternative narrative on offer from a small skeptic community in the blogosphere.
This year’s Reason in the Rock looks to be better than 2012. Here’s a tentative list of speakers, obtained by extreme subterfuge.
- Jerry DeWitt – Former Pastor, Author of “Hope After Faith” [Jerry is the nicest guy on planet earth. This is the kind of person Christians think they're talking about when they speak about Jesus. I KNOW the guy's not perfect, but it's hard to remember that while you're with him.]
- Dr. Johnny Stine - Biologist, Owner of the Seattle biotech firm North Coast Biologics (cancer research)
- Kyle Sanders & Ben Bell - Little Rock’s “Skeptics in the Pub“ [See Ben discuss Sake here.]
- David Silverman - American Atheists President [David is not my favorite person, but it's impossible to deny the long-term work of American Atheists under his leadership.]
- Dr. Darrel Ray - Founder of Recovering From Religion, Author of “The God Virus” and “Sex & God” [If you're one of those folks in the "sex-positive movement" you must meet this guy.]
- Dan Barker - Co-President of the Freedom From Religion Foundation [FFrF is infamous for suing schools over various church-state violations. I love/hate these guys and look forward to his discussion of issues.]
- Matt Dillahunty - host of “The Atheist Experience” [In my opinion, this is the most important atheist at the grass-roots level of the movement.]
- Phil Ferguson - Co-host of “The Pink Atheist Podcast,” Board Member of the Secular Student Alliance
- Rachel Johnson - Co-host of “The Pink Atheist Podcast,” Blogger at “The Godless Vagina” on WordPress.com
- Blair Scott – co-host of “The Critical Eye” podcast
Sam Singleton, Atheist Evangelist[Sam might not make it to the conference.]
- Greta Schiller - Film maker of “No Dinosaurs in Heaven”
- Lecia Brooks – Director of Outreach at the Southern Poverty Law Center [Please join several conservative atheists planning to grill Ms. Brooks during the question period.]
- Dr. Jason Wiles – Biologist
The above list is the tip of the iceberg. Tentative local political speakers are in the works, lots more “skeptic” speakers in the works, and, first time this year, vendors!
My spy will attend the next meeting of the planning committee, so I hope to issue another update by the end of the week.
A couple of things before we begin: This title is far from correct; no one lives in a bubble, and even those who do must rely on someone else at some point. But this post reflects my feelings about a situation that goes far beyond my life. It was also written earlier this week but as you'll read, I was reluctant to hit the "Publish" key.
[Yet another unpublished post. I made private the referenced popular post. If you missed it, too bad.]
It’s been buging me no end that my most popular blog post is “Naming Your Submissive.” Really, of all the things I have to contribute to the universe, it dismays me to think that’s the best. But there it is: if it’s not the best, it’s at least the most popular.
This got me to thinking that it may be time to re-examine blogging under this psuedonym and instead re-starting more conspicuously as myself. Some content may be edited and recycled, and some my go into a “vault”, but I’m about ready to integrate my online life with my real life, and then see how the consequences shake out.
Despite the drawbacks, there are reasons I would prefer to “get real” with blogging.
1. I’m confident my readership will increase.
My offline relationships far outnumber my online connections. Most of these people have a genuine interest in my life and my opinions. For the most part, I’ve tried to keep my opinions to myself in order to “protect the innocent,” but I’ve concluded I’m robbing people of interacting with me, and only providing a character for them. That leads to…
2. People want to interact with a real person.
I am about D/s relationships. But that’s not the day-to-day hour-to-hour occupation of my life. I don’t spend a typical day managing a psycho-sexual relationship. I spend most of my day locked in a two-room office suite hammering out designs for clients. That experience, more than the D/s stuff, informs my opinions of much of life, and much of this blog. As long as I hide behind a curtain, “Dorothy” never meets the wizard. [Mind you, the wizard never got Dorothy home.]
Also, I’m handsome.
3. I’ll blog more if my personal reputation is on the line.
Much as I wish it were otherwise, much of what I don’t publish remains a draft because I’m crafting it as a persona and editing it for excessively revealing content. That just has to stop. It would be nice to talk about personal relationships more fully, not so I can reveal more nitty-gritty details, but so that I can be more honest about what’s happening in my life and how that impacts my thinking. As it stands, my readers only get that in fits and spurts.
4. I can’t take this online persona offline into the real world.
In case you haven’t noticed – and there’s no reason you should – I blog under a particulalry notorious anagram. While clever, it doesn’t take a genius to see through the ruse. I can never take this psuedonym offline.
5. My reasons for being anonymous are fading.
When I first opened this account, there was still a fair probability that I might need professional employment with an established firm. Nowadays, that seems increasingly unlikely. Business income is tolerable, so this is probably what I do until I’m ready to retire to something less stressful. I doubt that next phase will care that I blog.
Also, the personal relationships that would have made blogging a problem are either over or have transformed such that blogging my unfiltered personal opinions isn’t an issue. As for the relationships that aren’t personal… well, I don’t think my blog’ll much matter.
[This is an old post I'm finally getting arounf to publishing. It ends abruptly. Enjoy.]
I’m in a kinda funk today.
After several weeks of non-stop busy and stress, things at my office and at home slowed for just a little bit. Everything will get crazy again starting next week, and it’ll probably stay that way until at least summer – if not straight through summer. The slight “breather” I’m getting right now isn’t much for keeping me sane, however. I’m finding myself idle way too much.
This morning I managed to get out of the house and off to work an hour late. I visited two construction sites by an inefficient route, then meandered back through town back toward the first site, stopping at a new public library just to kill some time. I wandered by a client’s office and made one site visit an excuse to socialize for a little while. After a lunch meeting cancelled, I wandered back home and took a leisurely lunch, followed by more goofing off, sorting mail, some modest yard work…. you get the idea. Now I’m back at the office just as unmotivated as I was when I left the house.
Part of the issue may be that I’m still awaiting payment for some work I completed last month: not getting paid always kills motivation. Another part, I think, is a lot of the blogs and politics I follow.
I’m sure you can tell by now that I’m on the “conservative” side of the political spectrum – with some notable exceptions.
- People get to own guns – big guns.
- Abortion really isn’t a ‘choice’ – it’s more a last resort when every other possible option is off the table.
- It is immoral to tax one person so you can give that person’s money to somebody else who doesn’t do anything for the money.
- Religious opinions are irrelevant in when discussing public policy.
- Women really ought not disregard the strength of men.
- Homosexual relationships aren’t equivalent to heterosexual relationships; adjusting marriage law to accommodate homosexual relationships harms heterosexual relationships.
Things aren’t going so well for most of those opinions. Throw in a little personal and professional disappointment, and it’s enough to make one consider the cost-benefit to living. Fear not: the benefit side is still pretty heavy.
Back to the list: concerning the gun debate, 16 Republicans voted to begin debate in the Senate. Here are their names and states.
Lamar Alexander (Tenn.)
Kelly Ayotte (N.H.)
Richard Burr (N.C.)
Saxby Chambliss (Ga.)
Tom Coburn (Okla.)
Susan Collins (Maine)
Bob Corker (Tenn.)
Jeff Flake (Ariz.)
Lindsey Graham (S.C.)
Dean Heller (Nev.)
John Hoeven (N.D.)
Johnny Isakson (Ga.)
Mark Kirk (Ill.)
John McCain (Ariz.)
Pat Toomey (Pa.)
Roger Wicker (Miss.)
Some of these names shouldn’t surprise us. Kelly Ayotte, Susan Collins, John McCain, and Pat Toomey are so ideologically compromised I don’t comprehend why they’re permitted to run as Republicans. Hell, McCain ought be in prison for his part in the S&L debacle involving the Keating five.
Lindsey Graham has claimed Iraq wat service, but never left the state of South Carolina while serving. In his own words, “If I have lied about my military record, I’m not fit to serve in Congress.” i wish somebody would act on that.
Jeff Flake, like McCain, is an Arizona Senator. Former congresswoman Gabie Giffords, the victim of a man who ought never have had a firearm, and who had a firearm despite friends, family, law enforcement, and mental health professionals knowing he wasn’t mentally fit to be free, much less to possess weapons, is also from Arizona. So, yeah, he’s gotta play the game.
Mark Kirk is from Illinois. He’s got to play to Chicago, or he can’t get re-elected. Chicago is anti-gun, though you wouldn’t know it based on the rate of gun crimes. With over 5 million voters of over 12 million for all of Illinois, Cook County, with Chicago, can swing any election in the state.
Roger Wicker is also in a tough spot. Although he’s from a Republican congressional district, his state, Mississippi, is inexorably shifting from white at 59% and black at 37% to something much closer to 50-50. I wish him luck opposing our African-American president.
Johnny Isakson is similarly challenged. His state is less than 56% white non-hispanic, and 30% black. There’s more variety of minorities, but most of those have ethnic histories lacking a familiarity with firearms in the hands of the citizens.
Richard Burr of North Carolina is already shifting toward a leftist agenda. He sided with Senator Susan Collins in removing the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy from the US military. Expect other dominos to fall as soon as he gets some steam under that new course. Gun ownership restrictions are probably the next move for him.
Dean Heller succeeded John Ensign to the Senate. He’s a junior senator to Harry Reid, a successful and powerful Democrat. My instinct here is that Nevada isn’t the place it once was. Despite so many Republican gains, the state went for Obama in 2012. Again, race plays a huge factor here: the state, like many in the south, is only 54% non-hispanic white. Fully 26 percent of the state’s population is hispanic – 20 percent of that is Mexican descent (or Mexican – who knows?). Both Reid and Heller are Mormons. I suspect that plays a part in this mess, also.
Yet again, prayer in public school is on the radar in Arkansas.
The latest news comes from Riverside School District, where the school board would rather cancel the elementary school graduation ceremony (6th grade… who does that?) than omit prayer from the ceremony. Parents, incensed that
the school would rather cancel the ceremony some evil atheists threaten the place of their god in school have decided instead to organize a private graduation ceremony for “christian” students. Congratulations atheists! Now your kids are definitely subject to prejudice.
[Point of order: according to the rules of several christian denominations, children cannot accept Jesus as savior before adulthood. Having been raised in such a denomination, I find the notion of "christian" children to be reprehensible. Being an atheist just makes such notions more reprehensible.]
So, if this approach – threats of lawsuits, that is – isn’t working, what do I propose? It’s time to start boycotting the school functions where prayer happens. These boycotts need to be very public and very obvious. Let me give you an example from our Mormon friends.
Eli Herring was drafted into the NFL by the Oakland Raiders in 1995, but turned down their $1.5 million dollar contract offer because the NFL plays football on Sundays. Yep, that’s right: he took a job as a public school teacher for $22,000/ per year rather than violate the tenets of his faith.
I know what you’re thinking, you evil atheist: “What a moron! He gave up a fortune all because he believes that crap Joseph Smith told all those Mormon cultists? This just proves theists are idiots!” Well, I am glad to say you’re wrong.
What Eli Herring proved was that he was a man with principles upon which he acted. He wasn’t just talk, he did what he said he’d do. That, I suspect, has earned him a level of respect in his community that no quantity of dollars could buy him. If Eli ever needs anything from anybody, he’ll get it. If he calls Mitt Romney on the phone and says, “Mitt, I’ve got cancer and I need $1,000,000 for treatment. Can you help me?” Mitt will wire that money to him within minutes. Same goes for any number of other less-famous Mormons you might know. The guy has the respect of every one of his fellow Mormons, and that has more value that anything else one can imagine.
Compare this with a young atheist student, one Jessica Ahlquist. Ms. Ahlquist filed suit against Cranston High School West, asserting the a prayer banner hung in the school violated legal prohibitions against state sponsorship of religion. She won. Before, during, and after her suit, lots of nasty things got said about her and to her, including death threats. [One wonders at the credibility of such threats since no arrests followed. If I receive a credible death threat, I will press charges.] Some good did come of this. Many atheists (and allies?) joined forces and awarded her a monetary award for her effort. She was also invited to speak (and spoke) at the Reason Rally in Washington, DC, in 2012. This year, she was awarded the (dubious) honor of the Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award. [I shouldn't knock this: my only complaint against Hefner is his veneer of respectability. I prefer Larry Flynt's honesty and usual integrity.] Time will tell if Ms. Ahlquist is worthy of her celebrity, but I worry that her notoriety is based not on a principled protest against religious discrimination, but on her resort to legal action.
Ms. Ahlquist is not an aberration. Gage Pulliam used the same approach against Muldrow Public School in Oklahoma. He made a call to the Freedom from Religion Foundation requesting assistance with the posting of the Ten Commandments upon the walls of the school district classrooms. FfRF threatened suit against the school. The school took down the Ten Commandments, but this approach, again, has garnered all sorts of unhappiness from christians.
Here’s how we ought handle things when we know the the school will have prayer at an assembly. When that notice is received by a parent, he needs to write a letter to the school explaining why his child will not attend the assembly. He needs to notify the school district that he will NOT take legal action against the school. He will tell his child why he’s barring attendance. He will tell any who ask why his child will not attend. He will explain that prayers are almost universally sectarian. That a phrase as simple as “…in Jesus’ name…” implies all sorts of theological content. And then he’ll wait.
Nothing further may be sparked. The school and community may continue shamelessly. But our enemies are hereafter on notice.?
We know the evil they do. We can name it. Hereafter, we shall stand apart and righteous. And one day, they will answer for their crime.