Freethinking for Dummies

Skepticism, secular humanism, social issues

Writing In a Post MacBook Way

My Late 2009 MacBook bit the dust last week.  It had been having problems with charging for quite a while and I even had the MagSafe board replaced back in March, which worked for a little while.  But, sadly, it went back to not having any LED light on when connected to the charger and taking over 24 hours to charge from 20% to 100%.  My solution was to keep it plugged in at all times, which worked well, until it somehow got unplugged.  Now it wont power on at all, even with the charger connected. 

I’ve invested a fair amount of $$$ into outstanding software like Scrivener, Mars Edit, BibDesk, and MacJournal.  These three (well two, actually, which I’ll explain in a minute) were the core of my writing tools. 

Scrivener makes it insanely east to create entire writing projects.  It gives you everything you need to organize, research, and compile a writing project, for anything from research papers and short stories, to complete Novels.   I used it for articles that I periodically submitted the JREF blog, as it allowed me to easily keep track of my various research results and integrated them into my articles (since the JREF deals with skeptical topics which required copious and well cited research this was a huge plus).  I also used it for longer and more rigorously researched articles like one that was published in Skeptical Inquire magazine earlier this year.

BibDesk is an essential and excellent bibliography manager.  It is exclusively a Mac application.  It does it’s job beautifully.  It even has an excellent search engine that goes out and finds not just articles based on your search, but will add them and format them in several standard different professional citation styles.

MacJournal was my first blogging software.  It worked beautifully with my WordPress blog (the one you are reading now).  I ended up replacing MacJournal with Mars Edit, mainly because MacJournal did not have an easy way to create Block Quotes.  Also, Mars Edit handles media attachments a bit better.

Now, Mac-less, I have only my Windows 7 laptop, which I purchased mainly for my job as a computer field engineer (my company pays me a stipend in each paycheck to use our own computers), I have had to start using this for pretty much all my computing activities, in addition to my work related stuff.

Fortunately, Scrivener just recently (in the past year, I believe) began offering a version for Windows.  I just downloaded the trial version and will purchase the full version.  From what I’ve seen and read so far, it has all the feature of the Mac version.

I’m currently writing this using Windows Live Writer, which works well enough, and looks pretty, but doesn’t keep track of older posts, at least not in any useful way.  It does, however, have an easy to use Block Quote feature. It is on a par with MacJournal and Mars Edit.

Alas, there are no really good replacements for any of the other software tools I used on my Mac.    I’ve tried bibliography managers for Windows, but none of them offer the comprehensiveness and rich feature set of BibDesk.  The free versions pretty much suck.  There are good ones that I could pay for, but I can’t really afford any of those.  BibDesk is free.

So, I have most of the types of tools I used to have on my Mac on my Windows box, it’s just that except for Scrivener , they just aren’t as a easy to use and thus I spend more time and effort to accomplish the same tasks on Windows compared to my Mac.  This just makes my job of writing that much harder.

I love Mac.  Their apps are better and the companies that produce them seem to really try hard to make the writer’s job as easy as possible.  Plus, the all adhered closely adhered to the Mac look and feel.  They just looked and worked better.  Period.

At least on my iPad, I have my trusty old MacJournal, so there is that. 

September 19, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I Will Weep For Thee

” I will weep for thee;

For this revolt of thine, methinks, is like

Another fall of man.”

– Henry V, Act II, Scene II.

Actually, I weep for my MacBook. It won’t power on. I suspect that it has a bad battery. I’ll have to try to have it fixed as soon as I can afford to.

For now, my iPad will suffice. Then there is always my (gasp!) Windows laptop, which I normally only use for work.

Why did I quote Shakespeare? One, I am sad that my trusty MacBook is possibly dead, and it is revolting against me by refusing to power on when I push the power button. Two, it is one of my favorite quotes from my favorite scene from Henry V. Finally, it’s William Fucking Shakespeare! Do I really need another reason?

September 6, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Taking Sides

There has been a battle going on in the atheists/skeptical movement over the past year or so.  It is a battle about sexism.  I won’t go into the details because there are too many incidents and opinions to mention here.  For an introduction, if you are not familiar with what’s been happening, see PZ Myers’ blog post.  Make sure you visit the links there, and the links in those links.  

PZ feels that it is time to take sides, and I agree.

Sexism is wrong.  Rape is horrible and wrong.  Anyone who supports these things whether openly, through making excuses for them, or just pretending they don’t matter is wrong; period.  These people try to explain away sexism, to rationalize it, to excuse it in any way they can.  They make threats of violence, rape, and even death agains the women who come forward with their experiences of being victimized.  

These are the same people who claim to be rational.  They deride the religious for being irrational in their beliefs; for supporting and rationalizing their beliefs with senseless excuses and rationalizations while they do exactly the same thing in their defense and denial of sexism in the atheist and skeptical communities. 

These people are wrong and no amount of rationalization can change that.  They are immoral, plain and simple.

I take the side of every woman, all women, who live with sexism every day.  I take the side of inclusion.  I take the side of equality and fairness.  I take the side of humanism.  I take the side of what is right and moral; the idea that every woman has the right to not just be safe, but feel safe, at all atheist and skeptical conferences and events, to never have to live with threats of violence, rape, and death just for speaking out about their experiences with sexism.

These are painful times we are going through, but if we want to advance the causes of atheist and skepticism, we must clean our own house or we can never claim the high moral ground against the religious, who use their gods to claim the same.

We must demand of our conference organizers that they not invite speakers who are known to engage in sexist and predatory behavior.  We must demand that they bar these people from all conferences and events.   If they refuse, then we must refuse to attend their events and to contribute to their organizations.  We must insist that the CFI, the JREF, and all other atheist and skeptical organizations refuse these sexists and predators venues for their speeches and writings.  We must insist that they remove these people from their organizations.  If they don’t, then they don’t get our support or our money.  

As a society of atheists and skeptics, we must shun those sexist predators and all who support them.  This is not a war, but a boycott.  We must boycott their speeches, their appearances, their books, and their podcasts.     We must make them outcasts and pariahs.   

It is time to take sides.  If you truly care about your community and what it should stand for, then take the side of what is right and moral, or be left in the dustbin of history.

August 15, 2013 Posted by | Atheism, Feminism, Humanism, Skepticism, Social Justice | , , , , | 3 Comments

Here Is A Very Pretty Picture

I tried posting a link to this on Facebook, but they pulled it because they don’t appreciate anything with nipples, no matter how artistic.  So, here is the link.  It’s really pretty, go have a look!

 

http://duongquocdinh.deviantart.com/art/DQD-387002736

July 22, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

MacJournal For iPad

I’m trying out MacJournal for the iPad for my blogging. I have MacJournal on my MacBook, but haven’t used it for blogging for a while since I’ve found that I like Mars Edit better. Unfortunately, they don’t make Mars Edit for iPad, so I’m trying out MacJournal.

Does anyone out there know of any good blogging software for the iPad?

July 21, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Testing Live Writer

Unfortunately, for this Mac guy, I am sometimes forced to use Windoze.  Windows Live Writer comes bundled with Windows 7, so I’m trying it out.

This is bold.

This is italic.

This is underline.

This is strike through.

This is block quotes.

Yea!  It works decently enough.  Hopefully I won’t have to use it much.  I still love my Mac for most anything.

July 17, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

An Atheist Monument Being Unveiled Next to The Ten Commandments is Nothing to Celebrate

An article in the Washington Post reports on the new monument that has been installed next to one of the Ten Commandments outside a Florida courthouse.

Atheists had sued to remove the Ten Commandments monument because it violates the the Establishment clause of the U.S. Constitution.  An agreement was reached that, instead of removing the monument, atheists would be able to erect their own monument on public property next to it.

The monument that the atheists erected contain quotes by various founding fathers that are much more apt for a courthouse than the Ten Commandments, almost half of which apply to how God should be worshiped and have no bearing on U.S. Law.  

While I support displaying monuments to our founding fathers and quotes from them that support actual U.S. legal principles, I have serious reservations about how this particular case played out.

Allowing a secular monument on public land, of course, does not violate the Establishment clause, but doing so in this case inextricably links the secular monument with that of the Ten Commandments.  In essence, it gives validity to the idea that it is OK to allow a religious monument on public property.   By agreeing to erect a secular monument next to a religious one, these atheists have legitimized the display of religious symbols on public property.

We have secular monument aplenty across our land.  The Jefferson and Lincoln monuments come to mind.  This is how it should be.  Our legal system is founded upon the U.S. Constitution, a document that never once mentions God, and even explicitly forbids the government showing preference for any religion.  

We don’t need the condecending permission of religious minded judges or politicians to allow us to erect a monument to those who founded our country.   By accepting this settlement, atheists essentially allowed the religious crowd, who erected their monument in violation of the laws of this land, to give them something that was theirs by default.  

This is not a win for atheists.  By agreeing to allow an obviously illegal monument to stand, they have legitimized those who seek to push their religious agenda into our government at every level, and thereby made it a win for the enemies of secularism.

June 30, 2013 Posted by | Atheism, Religion, secular humanism, Social Justice | , | 1 Comment

Everything You Wanted to Know About Why Christianity is Bullshit.

I recently discover a very nice site, Jesus Never Existed,  that provides a plethora of information showing that Christianity is a manufactured religion (but aren’t they all?). They provide sources for much of their material, which is a good thing.  Some of what I’ve read I’m familiar with, but a lot of it I haven’t encountered before. 

If you are interested in the history of Christianity, check them out.

June 23, 2013 Posted by | Religion | , , , | Leave a comment

Help For People Recovering From Religion

The organization Recovering From Religion has started a hotline for those who are recovering from religion.  This is in response to all of the “…countless emails and phone calls from people seeking help on their journey away from faith, at all hours of the day and night”.

If you are recovering or have recovered from religion, you know how terribly painful a process this can be.  Not only are you abandoning a life-long set of beliefs, but you face ostracization from friend, family, and co-workers.  You also live with the fear of the negative reactions you may receive when people find out you are an atheist.  

I have applied to answer the Hotline and to help out with their Facebook page.   If you are recovering from religion, or are an life-long atheists, and want to help, go and apply.  It is a great cause that will help the millions who are struggling with losing their religion.

June 23, 2013 Posted by | Atheism, Religion, secular humanism, Skepticism | , , , , | Leave a comment

My Response to the CFI’s Response to the Skeptical Community’s Response to Ron Lindsay’s Opening Statement at the Women in Secularism 2 Conference

I’ve been out of action here for quite a while due to work and family and just life in general.  That doesn’t mean I haven’t been paying attention to what’s been going on in the skeptical and atheist communities.  There has been a lot going on there, but it took something unbelievably appalling and rage inducing to motivate me to start writing again.

As you can see by the title of this posts,  something happened at the Women in Secularism 2 Conference.  Something so unthinkably insensitive you would have thought it was said by one of the disgusting Republican, Tea Party loving, rape apologists.  But, no.  sadly , it was said by the leader of one of the leading and most influential secular groups in America; the Center for Inquiry, or CFI.

I won’t get into the particulars.  If you haven’t heard about it, you can read the outrage from different individuals here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.  The CFI response to all this outrage can be found here.  

My personal response, which I’ve emailed to the CFI Board of Directors is below.

June 22, 2013

To Tom Flynn & the CFI Board of Directors

Dear Mr. Flynn and CFI Board members,

I am writing today to express my outrage at your response to the outcry caused by Ron Lindsay’s opening statement at the Women in Secularism 2 conference.  

You have shown that you are either incapable, or unwilling, to take an definitive stand on sexism in the Skeptical community.   Your official statement regarding this issue, far from helping to quell the protests, only exacerbated the situation.  

Your refusal to issue an apology, either as an organization, or though Ron Lindsay personally, is a disgrace.   Your insipid claim to value equality in the community is woefully inadequate at best, and pretentiously self-serving at worse.

Over the past year or so, sexism has become possiblty the most important and divisive issue in the Skeptical community.  The examples of blatant misogyny and raw hatred by  a relatively small number of members of the community toward anyone who dares support feminism and women’s right are disgusting, abhorrent, and almost too numerous to count.  They include vile insults, threats of rape, and even death threats against those, mostly woman, who speak out against them.

By refusing to take a stand against these misogynistic, hate-spewing members of our community, you only encourage, enable, and by your silence, tacitly accept their continued hatred and harassment of those who work tirelessly towards equality for all in our community.

I can no longer support the CFI, given it’s stance regarding sexism within our community.  I will no longer be donating to your organization, and this includes renewing my subscription to Skeptical Inquirer magazine.  This last honestly pains me because not only do I feel that it is the best skeptical magazine tin existence, but having been published in it, I can no longer in good conscience submit my work to be published there.

I fervently hope that the leadership of CFI will take an unambiguous public stand in support of ridding our community of sexism, misogyny, and hatred.

I’ll leave you with a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. that I feel sums up my feelings toward the current state of the CFI leadership.

In his “Letter from a Birmingham jail” he said:  “We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.”

Sincerely,

James Walker


If this issue upsets you as much as it does me, please do something about it.  At the very least, let the CFI know how you feel.  You can email them, as I did, at tflynn@centerforinquiry.net, or snail mail them at:


Center for Inquiry Transnational
P.O. Box 741, Amherst, NY 14226


Do something!  Don’t let your “appalling silence” allow the injustice to continue.

June 22, 2013 Posted by | Atheism, Feminism, GLBT, Humanism, secular humanism, Skepticism, Social Justice | , , , , | Leave a comment

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