August 11th, 2009


[links] Link salad returns to the Day Jobbe

An unanticipated personal encounter with the Canadian health system — Tobias Buckell in Montreal.

Smackdown: Orwell vs Huxley — Advantage Huxley. (Thanks to KF.)

Steampunk Monkey Nation — Mmm. Art.

Nanowires that behave like cells — For you futurists and hard SF types reading this. Some cool tech.

The Earth Impact Database — In case you were wondering.

Titan: A Fishing License to Broaden the Hunt for LifeCentauri Dreams with more exobiology. I especially like the discussion of terrestrial or Martian contamination on the outer moons.

Tangled phrases or straight-out lies?Language Log goes deep on the bizarre (largely) conservative meme that Medicare is not a government program.

The Edge of the American West on the New Stupid — Underneath the snarky rhetoric (which I did enjoy), an interesting analysis of why right wing idiocy seems so much more idiotic now (birtherism, deatherism, etc.) than it was in years past.

?otD: Tuesday again?

Body movement: n/a (post conventioneering oversleeping)
This morning's weigh-in: 224.0 (yikes!)
Currently reading: Eight Skilled Gentlemen by Barry Hughart; Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

Originally published at


[personal] A stray thought about religion and SF

Was thinking this morning about my anecdotal observation that genre fandom and writerdom skew heavily to the irreligious, far more so than the general population so far as I can tell. (I have no data on this, but if someone does, please do post in comments.) I wonder if this is because of our fascination with the classic "sense of wonder."

Does sensawunda scratch the same itch that spiritual experiences scratch, at least in some of us? Am I full of it?

What do you think?

Originally published at


[personal] More on religion and SF (well, religion, at least)

My question this morning about the intersection between religious belief and genre fiction has spawned a sprawling, fascinating, and mutually respectful series of replies both on my LiveJournal and on my blog. Both threads are worth checking out if this topic interests you at all.

Also, at one point, I responded in comments to a question about whether atheism is another form of belief with the following:
I'll swing at this one as well. I'm not a "quiet" atheist in Sundog's sense, but I am what I only somewhat jokingly call a "Low Church" atheist. Which is to say I personally find the existence of God not only unprovable, but impossible to prove, and therefore empirically irrelevant outside the personal experience of individual faith holders. That does not translate to a dismissal of the beliefs of others — however silly or irrelevant they may strike me as — but it does translate to a fierce opposition to the imposition of religious belief into educational, civic and political structures. A highly secularized society is the best possible protection for religious freedom, something which seems to escape many American Christians who appear to assume that a natural form of exceptionalist majoritarianism pertains to them.

But I don't find lack of belief its own kind of belief, at least not in the "leap of faith" sense. Do I "believe" there is no God? Yes, the way I "believe" that 1 G accelerates at 9.81 m/s2. That's not a faith-based belief, it's a judgment based on available empirical evidence, or lack of same.

At the same time, even as an atheist I believe the human spirit is gloriously irrational, obsessed with miracle and wonder, and quite capable of nonempirical transcendence. I just don't require an outside agency to which I can ascribe those impulses.

Also, as an atheist, I deeply resent the assumption that a number of religious people seem to bear that those without faith are incapable of morality. That strikes me as the worst sort of poverty of spirit, not to mention a profound personal weakness in requiring a larger outside authority to create moral force.

Originally published at


[personal|writing] Progress of the day

Worked the Day Jobbe today. Popped out for shopping over the lunch hour so I could cook dinner for calendula_witch while she worked on Our Lady of the Islands after her Day Jobbe day ended. Futzed with twitterfiction. Began a new collaborative short story, though it's just a stub of 300 words or so right now. Read the dailies on Our Lady of the Islands. Now we're packing for jane_o_trades' wedding, which we're hieing off to tomorrow after workage. I'm back to Portland on Thursday afternoon.

And just because, Collapse )

Originally published at