June 22, 2007

Summer reading

The good news: according to the (subscription-only) Wall Street Journal, Christopher Hitchens’ God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything is one of this summer’s surprise bestsellers. Seven weeks after being launched with an initial run of 40,000 copies, the book now has 296,000 hardcover copies in print, and Hitchens is set to earn at least $1 million for debunking America’s One True Deity™©.

The bad news: apparently the religious crazies are snapping up copies. It’s not clear whether that’s because they care about knowing thine enemy, or plan mass book burnings.

Whatever: the past year has probably seen the strongest sales of atheist books in history. Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion has 500,000 hardcover copies in print, Sam Harris’s Letter to a Christian Nation has 185,000, while anti-religious books by Daniel Dennett and Victor Stenger account for another 120,000 or so between them.

Hitchens, meanwhile, is winning friends and influencing people during a marathon U.S. publicity tour:

An estimated 1,000 turned out in Miami to listen to Mr. Hitchens challenge a panel that included an Orthodox Jew and a Buddhist nun. “I now wish I hadn’t participated,” says Nathan Katz, a professor of religious studies at Florida International University. “He was utterly abusive. It had the intellectual level of the Jerry Springer Show.”
Mr. Hitchens says he purposely focused his tour on what he describes as “the states of the Old Confederacy,” in part because he says that people in the South are more generous-spirited and less religious than generally thought. He also knew that religion was of particular interest. “Everywhere we had to turn hundreds away,” he says. “I wouldn’t say that I won or lost those the debates, but the audience was much more on my side than people predicted.”
… Mr. Hitchens says he has received surprisingly little hate mail since his book was published. What does he think readers have learned from “God is Not Great?” “That your life is probably better led after you’ve outgrown the idea that the universe has a plan for you,” he says. “The cosmos isn’t designed with you in mind. You might as well just consult an astrological chart.”

Go grab a copy here, or at your nearest independent bookstore.

Posted by Stephen at 1:00 PM in Humanity | Religion + cults | Whatever | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

June 10, 2007

Sunday boredom watch

It’s Sunday and I’m bored to death. Fortunately I’m not Canadian, or there would be folks lining up to help me shuffle off this mortal coil. On the other hand, thankfully I’m not American, or I’d be too fat to kill myself.

Plus I’m not that bored. Certainly not bored enough to become a Roman Catholic deacon, a career move that Tony Blair is allegedly considering—presumably as penance for his years as Bush’s bitch.

(The management would like to apologize for this exceptionally boring post. Normal service will be resumed, etc…)

Posted by Stephen at 1:33 PM in Whatever | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

May 31, 2007

A day in hell

Ah, the joy of house renovation. The “highly recommended” carpet-fitter upstairs is listening to Christian talk radio at full blast, complete with James Dobson’s daily hate speech, Ken Ham describing his “museum” as “edutainment” (well, he got that half right), and apparently medicated callers describing just how scared and angry they feel when they see homosexuals holding hands.

Oddly, I’ve never heard Christian radio before. And I didn’t realize that it would be quite so venomous.

Needless to say, this particular carpet-fitter won’t be getting any more business from me or anyone who knows me.

But in the meantime, he and his savior are holding my bedrooms hostage.

Posted by Stephen at 1:08 PM in Religion + cults | Whatever | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

May 10, 2007

The end, sort of

I’ve been messing with this blog for well over two years now, and it’s been—mostly—a lot of fun. But it also takes up a lot of time, which is something I have much less of these days. I guess I’m feeling pretty blogged out, an ailment that’s clearly afflicting others: I see that fellow Pacific Northwest blogger* Jacqueline Passey is also heading for hibernation. (Jackie, however, has been known to change her mind. So have I.)

I’m not going to shut down DP: this year has seen readership soar—for which many thanks—and I don’t want to let folks down. But for now, expect more pointers, less prose, and fewer pictures (which take forever to find). Think somewhere between Danny Yee and Atrios—although with less of The Economist and no damn thread.

And perhaps in a few weeks I'll change my mind.

In the meantime, first pointer: go read this entertaining exchange between Richard Dawkins and Ruth Gledhill, The Times of London’s religion correspondent.

[*Yeah, I know that Jackie is now shacked up in Vegas with boyfriend #452. And that my bio says I live west of Eastport, Maine. The map makes everything clear.]

Posted by Stephen at 1:31 PM in Evolution | Whatever | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

April 8, 2007

Postsdated

For the next couple of weeks I’m going to be on the road, traveling to ancient lands where even dial-up access is flaky or non-existent. To fill the void, I’ll repost some old favorites, in the (vain) hope that not too many people will notice. Normal service will be resumed later this month.

Posted by Stephen at 3:55 PM in Whatever | Permalink | TrackBack (0)