The Symbol of a Circle Produces a Single Sound

October 10, 2018

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CFI’s Council for Secular Humanism has announced the winners of this year’s Forkosch Awards: Kurt Andersen for his book Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History and Rebecca Goldstein for her Free Inquiry article “Mattering Matters.” 

So it turns out that just 100 companies are responsible for over 70 percent of global carbon emissions. When it’s put like that, suddenly it feels like there are some pretty immediate solutions to the climate crisis. (Seems, I said. Seems.)

Frank S. Robinson, at his blog Rational Optimist, writes in praise of CFI’s Secular Rescue program, and pledges to match the donations of his readers. Thank you, Frank!

Current EPA chief Andrew Wheeler seems to enjoy racist social media posts.

This is just awful: During a Virginia middle school’s active shooter drill (I can’t believe this is just a normal thing now), instructors could not figure out what to do with a transgender student as they hustled kids into their respective bathrooms and locker rooms. So they just had her sit in the gym. Local group Equality Stafford said:

During an event that prepares children to survive an attack by actual assailants, she was treated as if she was so much of a danger to peers that she was left exposed and vulnerable. These events occur across our country right now but this one happened here.

Massimo Polidoro has a fascinating piece in Skeptical Inquirer on an investigation into an allegedly psychic mother-daughter team that claimed to be able to telepathically communicate shapes on cards to each other. I loved this part, where the two are kept from being able to see each other as one draws the symbols to be transmitted:

A pen writing on the surface of paper (when the transmitter writes down the symbol to be sent) produces different—and easily distinguishable—noises for each symbol drawn. The symbol of a circle produces a single sound, the cross two sounds, the wavy lines three, the square four, and the star five. It is clear that if you hear three or more sounds being drawn you will not draw a circle, even if it is the target that came to mind first.

A new study shows a lot of growth in the number of women clergy in the U.S., now at 20.7 percent. Unitarian and United Church of Christ clergywomen are now equal in number to male clergy.

OK Google, what were those mysterious lights over Fort Collins, Colorado last month? You should really ask Joe Nickell.

A group called the U.S. Pastor Council sues the city of Austin in order to make sure churches have the freedom to discriminate against LGBTQ people in employment, because, you know, “member churches rely on the Bible rather than modern-day cultural fads for religious and moral guidance.”

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is suing a hospital for demanding an employee get a flu vaccine despite their religious objection.

A court in Alaska says the prayer/invocation policy of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly, which only allows invocations from a pre-approved list of faith groups, is unconstitutional.

The UK Supreme Court rules in favor of a cake baker who refused to make a cake that expressed support for same-sex marriage and…HEY WAIT we already did this over here! There’s a little bit of a difference in this case, though. The court said:

The substantive question in this case is whether it is unlawful discrimination, either on grounds of sexual orientation, or on grounds of religious belief or political opinion, for a bakery to refuse to supply a cake iced with the message “support gay marriage” because of the sincere religious belief of its owners that gay marriage is inconsistent with Biblical teaching and therefore unacceptable to God. … In a nutshell, the objection was to the message and not to any particular person or persons.

Quote of the Day

A letter to the editor of the New York Times by Rabbi Noam Marans and Ari Gordon, responding to Republicans who assert that Islam doesn’t count as a religion, but merely as a political ideology:

A threat to religious freedom anywhere is a threat to religious freedom everywhere. All faiths and religious practices are under assault when anti-Muslim advocates pretend that Islam is not a religion and use this fallacious argument to deny American Muslims the rights extended to Americans of all faiths.

The strength of America has been its assertion of freedom of religious expression as a bedrock principle, while maintaining a wall of separation between religion and state. …

… Delegitimizing Islam threatens not only people of faith, but all Americans.

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