Archives for posts with tag: blogging

I see Atheist Ireland have “publicly dissociated” themselves from PZ Myers, the firebrand blogger from Minnesota. It was a long time coming. The spat between Michael Nugent and Myers has been a long running one. It was too much to expect that it would resolve itself amicably.

I used to read Pharyngula quite a bit a few years back but I eventually tired of it. Not because of Myers’ laudable espousal of feminist and minority causes, but simply because he seemed hellbent on finding targets within the atheist movement and pulling the trigger. Sure, there are some real assholes within atheism, but it’s simplistic to divide the world into such extremes of good and evil. Too many people were frozen out who had valid – if sometimes unpopular – contributions to make. Since 2011, the conversation has died away, and for good reason.

Atheist blogging is too much like a civil war these past few years. The useful, engaging, challenging and interesting stuff has been drowned out by emotional rhetoric turned to maximum volume. There is way too much self-righteousness and in-fighting getting in the way of good commentary. The principal take-away is “you should hate this person because of x,y and z”. I can understand why people who espouse humanism over atheism have given up on it entirely. Over time, we have tuned out in droves, finding other places more deserving of our attention.

My feeling is that far too much time has been spent on PZ Myers. He’s not going to apologise in a million years and he’s not going to change. Defamatory and obnoxious he might be, but I’m pretty sure he’s not going to wash off his spots any time soon – whether or not he’s called out on it. He’s taken worse, doled out worse and I’m not sure he cares either way. Ultimately he’s a just a blogger and as such, he’s one voice among many. He’s not the only influence on what is a very large and diverse community of non-religious people in this country. I doubt I’m alone in wishing that we can close the book on this and move on.

I need to apologise. I’ve been very quiet with my blog postings over the past few weeks.

The reason I have been remiss?


Stuff? Yes. Stuff. Those dreary things that get in the way of regular blogging. Reality. Life. Work. That kind of thing.

I’ve had a lot of Stuff to deal with over the past while. Every time I think I have enough Stuff on my hands, more Stuff seems to come along out of the blue.

I’m very rich in Stuff right now. I’m like a Stuff magnet. If there were shares in Stuff, I would have a triple A rating. Stuff investors would be delighted with me. Commentators would be speculating about a Stuff bubble.

For a while, I pretended the Stuff wasn’t there. People would tell me I had a lot of Stuff to be getting on with, but I would politely ignore them, imagining that a few blog entries would hoover up the Stuff. As you can imagine, this strategy hasn’t quite worked out as I expected.

I promise I will be back in action soon. Just as soon as the flow of Stuff begins to abate or I decide to stuff the Stuff for a while. Stay tuned.

Ok – I think I have pressed the right doohickeys, pushed the right whatchamacallits, entered the correct thingamabobs and set in force a train of irreversible events that may lead to total annihilation, but it’s done.

We are now live on Nice view, eh?

Ok – I am moving my blog from the old account, just up the road to a brand new address:

Hopefully, when all this is done, you will be automatically redirected to my new web address. If you have subscriptions or you are linked to me via a blog reader, you might want to check that you are still getting my posts and update your settings as appropriate.

Right then. Wish me luck. See you on the other side.

What a tremendous and wholly unexpected reaction to my “Five Reasons” post last Friday. To everyone who commented, “Liked” or shared my entry I would like to thank you all.

The entry had been in the works over several weeks due a renewed interest in astronomy caused in no small part by a recent visit to some huge meteorite craters in Germany. I had refrained from posting it earlier because of some problems with wording. I certainly didn’t expect it to get much of a reaction because my posting has been quite sporadic lately and comments tended to be few and far between.

How wrong I was. The entry was placed in a prominent position on WordPress’ Freshly Pressed page, and the numbers began to shoot up immediately. My initial reaction was that I was the victim of a spam attack, but after reading the comments I was delighted to discover that something entirely different was happening. My site got thousands of hits over the weekend with over 120 comments to the entry at the time of writing, many of them very positive and supportive.

Some of the commenters were exceptionally kind. Many of you share my love of the stars and planets and the sense of wonder it creates. A few of you lamented the lack of light available in urban areas – a concern I share too. Here is a small selection of comments from you that I thought I would respond to.

Ishana wrote:

Nothing is more fascinating than that which we cannot obtain.

Very true. But who knows what awaits us in the future? Arthur C. Clarke once said that when a distinguished but elderly scientist declares that something is impossible, he is probably wrong. I think we have a lot to learn yet, but yes, it seems there will always be an “unobtainable” when it comes to the vastness of the Universe.

CommentatorandPoet said some particularly nice things about my use of the English language, and I would like to thank him for this. If only I could always be so fluent, as it often takes quite a bit of work for me to come up with the right words.

Nora Weston said

“Every time I venture into virtual space to find information and photographs…I’m left in awe”

A great point Nora. Astronomy is not just about what we can see, but what these amazing instruments such as Hubble can perceive. We can experience so much just sitting at our desktops now.

Pduan quoted Carl Sagan, one of the foremost science communicators of the last century.

“every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.”

This piece of writing should be on the desk of every politician and religious leader in the world.

Rebelliousvanilla said

“I was laying on my back on the grass during the night and looking at the stars and thinking that if a civilization advanced enough to see details on Earth’s surface will look this way from Andromeda in 2 million years, they will see me, laying on the grass, looking towards them.”

You never know. Keep having weird thoughts, RV.

Chemical Marriage said

“Plus, IT IS HUGE! Space is a never ending hill to look over.”

Spot on and well said. I just quoted five reasons. I’m sure there are hundreds.

mndals said

“The universe is indeed filled with wonders and the more we learn about it the more wondrous it becomes.”

So true. We are only now beginning to learn about planets around nearby stars, and their strange and wonderful ways. What next? Life?

Last but not least, Tom Baker said

“I think my favorite heavenly body is my wife, but next to her is the Horsehead Nebula.”

Thanks Tom! That brought a smile to my face.

These are just a selection of the comments. I will try to visit as many of your blogs as possible over the coming days to see what I can find.

Thanks again for all your kind words.

So, what are your must read blogs? There are a few blogs on the Internet that I particularly enjoy reading*. Among them are the following sites:-

Bad Astronomy. Phil Plait takes on the loonies while keeping us up to date on the latest in the astronomy field in a high-octane, informative way.

Strange Maps. A collection of weird and wonderful maps from across the interwebs.

Word Spy. The latest additions to the English Language.

Unreasonable Faith / Friendly Atheist. For the heathen in me. Daniel Florien and Hemant Mehta share their thoughts on life without God.

Presentation Zen. Garr Reynolds has oodles of ideas about jazzing up your presentations.

Boing Boing. Cory Doctorow presents clippings and odd news stories from around the Internet. It is indeed a crazy world.

Techdirt: Mike Masnick does a regular deep dive into the Intellectual Property wars. There are a lot of people out there that don’t really “get” the Internet.

Erk. I feel naked having shared all this stuff with you, now that I have revealed myself to you as a quirky, pedantic, godless, astro-geek! Which blogs should I consider adding to my “must read” list? 

* Friends’ blogs not included here. Trust me, your writings are much cherished by me!

I’m not sure about you, but my blog account is stuffed with a ton of half-finished draft postings that have yet to see the light of day. Among them are the following: 

1) A thought that if business people are looking towards technology for the answers to their business problems, then they are looking in the wrong place. Technology has already provided most of the big benefits. It’s all about strategy and process now.

2) Googlehoaxing: an idea, born out of a Bigfoot story some weeks back, that people might start making serious money by staging a hoax (no matter how pathetic), publishing it on the Internet and benefitting from the AdWords revenue.

3) A poem, written after waking up at an ungodly hour and looking at an unflattering image of me in the mirror. I haven’t given up yet, but it’s painfully slow.

4) Some thoughts about the practical management of risk on projects. Project management is all about managing risk, and yet the mechanisms in place for doing it are often woefully inadequate. I have some thoughts on this.

5) Mass-customisation and prison: is tailor designing a sentence for your personality, background and genetic make-up the future of criminology?

6) A somewhat conflicted article on the importance of consumer trust to Google. I’m not sure if this one will be published any time soon.

That’s a sample. There are plenty more.

Am I alone in having all these limboed postings floating around? Do you have any postings that have somehow got lost in the Drafts section your Blog?

I’m like a little kid at the moment. I’ve just recieved an iPhone and I have been busy over the last two days tinkering around with it. It’s an incredible little box of tricks.

The basic features of the phone are excellent, what with touchscreen and GPS and the Accellerometer etc.. However, what makes the phone really stand out are the huge number of apps that can be downloaded for it. I have downloaded a few games, installed planetarium software, turned it into a remote control, and I am writing this posting from the new WordPress app despite the fact that I have no connection to the Internet.

And no, I haven’t yet made a phone call with it…

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