Beta Culture: Drowning Puppies So You Don’t Get Dogs

I’m a professional editor. I’m also a professional writer. I can tell you which one is easiest: Editing.

When I sit down to a blank screen and have to write, oh boy, is it a challenge. Normally I write with what I call “the fire.” I might wake up in the morning with a … well, call it a shape in my head, the shape of an essay or short story, and I can sit down and write the entire first draft in no time at all.

When I don’t have the creative fire – annoyingly, it seems to come less often as I get older – writing is like shoveling dirt. Every word comes hard. The whole piece, whatever it is I’m writing on, is a beastly chore. Ugh. It’s so laborious that sometimes I walk away from it. And sometimes I never come back.

But editing! Oh man. Whether it’s my own work or somebody else’s, I can gleefully wade in, slashing, burning, chopping, wielding the machete of my editing skills to shape what is already there. No back-breaking creativity required! Continue reading “Beta Culture: Drowning Puppies So You Don’t Get Dogs”

Bracing For Superstorm Sandy

Storm preparations:  Guns, knives, ammo … check, check, check. Mormon neighbor with year’s supply of food … check.

Storm Survival Tips #413: Lhasa Apsos are nicely marbled, but mini-dachshunds have more actual meat.


When Hurricane Irene made landfall in August of 2011, I lived in a nice, safe farmhouse well above floodline. We even had a fireplace, so if the power had gone out, we’d be warm and might have even finagled a way to cook. Continue reading “Bracing For Superstorm Sandy”

I’m Speaking at Eschaton2012!

I’ve been invited to give a talk at Eschaton2012: Celebrating Reason at the End of the World in Ottawa (woo-hoo!) on the subject of Beta Culture!

Come to Ottawa for a weekend gathering of scientists, philosophers, authors, academics, skeptics, rationalists, humanists, atheists, and freethinkers, where you can see presentations and join discussions on science, skepticism, gender issues, theocracy vs secularism, godless ethics, parenting beyond belief. Continue reading “I’m Speaking at Eschaton2012!”

Fill ‘Er Up, Jesus — This Time With High-Test!

Did I post about these guys before? Forgive me if I did, but I’m newly horrified by the Christian Prayer Center.

After 3 months of unemployment due to downsizing. Standing in faith & sowing down to my last $2.00 in my wallet/empty bank account; I have been blessed with a better job & benefits than my previous 2 jobs. I start this on Monday. I was offered another job @ less money $10,000 less than I made last year, but God told me not to accept it out of fear, but to trust HIM as this was an Ishmael. I turned down the job & was offered this other job which I accepted the next day. The new job starts on Monday. God also gave me $100, put gas in my car & treated me to dinner. Thank you for your prayers of agreement ~Roger V.

Ooh, baby! Thank you Jesus for GASOLINE!! Continue reading “Fill ‘Er Up, Jesus — This Time With High-Test!”

Asking a Bit of Support for a Fellow Warrior

Another unfortunate hit to our beloved Greta Christina:

I have some more news of the crappy variety. It’s not as alarming as it’s going to sound: it’s probably going to be fine in the long run, and even in the medium run. So even though your first reaction may be alarm, try to not go there if you can avoid it. But I want to fill you in. And I’m going to ask you for some help.

The bad news is that I was just diagnosed with endometrial cancer. I got the initial biopsy results Saturday, and met with the oncologist Tuesday.

Visit her blog to read the entire post: Bad News, Good News, and Asking for Help. Also, as a way of supporting her during this difficult time, see what you feel like donating via the links in her post.

The Passing of a Loved One

Greta Christina recently lost her father.

My father died on October 1, 2012, at the age of 79.

My dad, like me, was an atheist. And when you’re an atheist and a non-believer, and the people you love die, you don’t get to tell yourself that they aren’t really dead. You don’t get to tell yourself that you’re going to see them again someday, in some hypothetical post-death existence that somehow both is and is not life. You have to accept that death is really permanent, and really final.

This may be surprising to many believers… but atheist ways of dealing with death and grief are not actually dire, or hopeless, or without consolation. I’ve been surprised, in fact, at how comforting my humanism and my naturalism have been during my grief.

Go over there and read it. It’s that rarest of obits, one from an atheist. Illuminating, uncompromising, and very, very touching.

How the Wind Does Blow

I don’t know why this intrigues me so much, but there’s a place online where you can see close-to-realtime maps of the actual WIND — Wind Map — in motion!

Click to zoom, mouse-hover to see the wind speed at any point, and look at some of the past maps to see weird and wonderful patterns of the river of atmosphere flowing over and around us.

Balls Out at the Speed of Sound

CREDIT: Jay Nemeth/Red Bull Content Pool

There are a lot of “stunts” I don’t care much for. David Blaine standing for 72 hours in a chamber with Tesla-coil lightning … well, he might as well have stood there for 72 hours with a coin taped to his forehead.

When I was about 5 years old I decided I would stay up all night by myself, just to see what it was like. The answer is: Boring.

Ditto for David Blaine. Yes, it’s sort of impressive that someone can stand on their feet for 72 hours without a bathroom break. But it’s the standing there that’s the real deal. The rest is just bells and whistles, which makes it a silly accomplishment, and not worth watching. Continue reading “Balls Out at the Speed of Sound”