Find Me in Freethought Today

If you want to know more about the mysterious person behind Daylight Atheism, I was the interview subject of FFRF's "Meet a Member" column in the June-July issue of Freethought Today.

August 18, 2011, 5:45 am • Posted in: The FoyerPermalink3 comments
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Request for Technical Help

So, I feel a bit embarrassed about this, since I'm a computer guy in my day job and all. But my home machine is experiencing a very annoying problem that's got me stumped, and I was hoping that the Internet, being the source of all human knowledge, can offer me some advice. I know I have some technically inclined readers who might be able to make suggestions.

I have a Dell Studio 540 desktop running Windows 7, and recently, it's started randomly freezing. I don't mean a blue screen of death. The screen freezes exactly as it is, the keyboard and mouse stop responding, and if music or video is playing at that instant, my speaker begins emitting the last half-second or so of sound in an endless loop. The only thing I can do is power-cycle it. The Windows 7 Reliability Monitor doesn't have any log entries for the crashes afterward, so I'm assuming the freeze is so hard that even the operating system doesn't have a chance to realize what's happened.

There's no pattern of any kind that I can discern in what causes this. It's happened when I'm watching videos or surfing the web, but it's also happened while I was asleep and the computer was idle. Sometimes it happens within a few minutes of booting up, sometimes it runs without a problem all day and then freezes.

I got this computer last year and used it for nine or ten months without any problems. This first started happening earlier this year. At the time I suspected a driver conflict, so I went into the Control Panel and found exactly one driver that was reporting a problem (the "Teredo Tunneling Pseudo-Interface", which according to a cursory search is associated with IPv6). I disabled it, and the problem went away for several months, so I thought for sure I had solved it and spent some time feeling smug. Now, within the last few days, it's started happening again, and that driver is still disabled.

The day after it started happening again, I did a system restore to the last restore point, about a week prior. That didn't make a difference. I downloaded a system monitor utility, but I haven't seen any spikes in CPU or hard driver temperature associated with the freezing. I've done a clean boot, disabling all non-Microsoft services, as described in this link, but that didn't put a stop to it either. I've also considered that the computer may be infected with some sort of malware, but I use a firewall, I keep my patches up to date, I don't see any unusual processes in the Task Manager or any other odd behavior besides the freezing, and just the other day, I ran full scans with four different malware detectors, including one designed to detect rootkits, and they all came up clean.

So, I'm pretty much out of ideas at this point. I have only one solid clue to go on, which is that I've never observed the freeze to happen when I'm running in safe mode. This makes me suspect that my first instinct was right and it really is a driver problem, but I don't know how I can test that hypothesis. Anyone have any ideas? I have nothing to offer except my sincere gratitude and the knowledge that my blogging output is likely to improve if I don't have to spend the time debugging this damn thing!

July 19, 2011, 9:27 pm • Posted in: The FoyerPermalink45 comments
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Find Me on Google Plus

Well, a kindly person (thanks, Jayson!) sent me an invite to Google Plus, so I've signed up. I don't really know what this is going to be useful for just yet, but if you're also there and want to send me a friend request (or whatever the heck it's called), go right ahead.

July 14, 2011, 6:46 am • Posted in: The FoyerPermalink5 comments
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Photo Sunday: The Beard Experiment

Regular readers may remember that last month, I let myself get talked into growing a beard as the result of a fundraising contest for Camp Quest. Well, I'm not about to suffer through an entire scorching summer with this extra insulation - but I've let it grow freely for a month now, and I think that's more than enough time to judge the finished product. If you think you can handle the sheer masculine power, follow me below the fold...

(more...)

July 3, 2011, 9:59 am • Posted in: The FoyerPermalink22 comments
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I Am An Atom of Atheism

The blog Ungodly News has created a whimsical periodic table of atheism, and I was surprised and pleased to find out that I'm on it:

I'm an actinide, if you can't find me - one of the green rows on the bottom, labeled as "The Wicked of the Web". I'd never have counted myself as one of the basic and indivisible elements of atheism, but given the distinguished company I'm listed among, this is a true honor! You may now commence the jokes about making compounds of atheists...

In other news, here's a quick link roundup:

• I was happy to hear that Geert Wilders has been acquitted by a Dutch court, putting an end to the shameful prosecution of a man for exercising the right of free speech. Whatever one thinks of Wilders' ideas, the correct way to respond to an argument is with another argument, not the threat of punishment. The court's ruling recognized this principle, even if it disappointingly described his opinion as "the edge of what is allowed".

• The self-help guru James Arthur Ray has been convicted of negligent homicide in the deaths of three people in a sweat lodge at an October 2009 retreat he organized. Woo is not harmless, not even the vague and fluffy-headed New Age variety.

• Via Andrew Sullivan, this haunting and gorgeous short film of Saturn and its moons, made by splicing together thousands of still images from the Cassini mission.

• In the wake of (unfortunately small and sporadic) protests by women across Saudi Arabia asking for the right to drive, a Saudi Arabian doctor has appealed for the right to choose her own husband. The fact that women are still denied these incredibly basic human freedoms ought to be a cause for national embarrassment in this ignorant and backwards theocracy.

• Via Slacktivist, an evangelical pastor tries valiantly to silence his own flickers of conscience over the doctrine of eternal damnation:

"It is clear that Bell is not comfortable with the idea that billions of people may suffer in hell. But then, who is comfortable with that? The majority of evangelicals who hold to the orthodox understanding of hell... are troubled by its implications."

Maybe those evangelicals should consider listening to their consciences for once.

June 26, 2011, 4:07 pm • Posted in: The FoyerPermalink10 comments
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Link Roundup and Facial Hair Update

As regular readers may remember, when our team of underdog bloggers triumphed last month in a fund-raising contest for Camp Quest, I vowed to grow a beard so as to prove that PZ Myers wasn't the only atheist overlord out there who could boast of manly facial hair. Well, that experiment is underway as we speak.

At the end of the month, I'll post before-and-after pictures with the results. In the meantime, the beard is still in an incomplete state, and I don't want it seen by the prying eyes of search engines until it's in its full glory. But if you want to see updates, I've been posting them every week or so on my Facebook wall - so if you're a fellow user of that sinister privacy-robbing corporate behemoth, why not send me a friend request? My friends list is sadly short compared to some of my fellow bloggers, and I'd like to take steps to rectify that.

And you know, it's the strangest damn thing, but ever since I started growing this beard, I've begun to find marine invertebrates unaccountably fascinating. Here's a mini-link roundup of some stories I've come across that I thought were worth sharing:

June 18, 2011, 5:22 pm • Posted in: The FoyerPermalink9 comments
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Meet Your Guest Admins

As I mentioned earlier this month, today is my first anniversary, and to celebrate, my wife and I are taking a vacation abroad. (We'll be going to Spain, where hopefully I'll be able to avoid the vicious hordes of elderly Catholics.) We'll be away from this coming Friday until Memorial Day weekend, and I'll probably have limited internet access. But never fear, Daylight Atheism won't go dark while I'm gone. I've found some guest editors to keep an eye on the site, approve comments, and write new posts to keep things lively around here.

There'll be three guest administrators minding the store this time. Returning from last time are SuperHappyJen and Ritchie, who did a superb job while I was away on my honeymoon and whom I have no doubt will do so again. For the third, please welcome Leah, whom you may already know as the author of Unequally Yoked. Be sure to thank them for volunteering! I'm eager to see what they come up with.

May 15, 2011, 9:15 am • Posted in: The FoyerPermalink3 comments
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Thanks to San Francisco Readers

My thanks to all the Daylight Atheism readers who attended the meetup this past weekend in San Francisco. We had a very sizable crowd show up, much fun was had, and much sangria was consumed - all the hallmarks of a successful get-together, in my opinion. And thanks, of course, to the amazing Greta Christina both for suggesting the place and for brightening the whole evening with her presence!

I have no doubt that I'll be back in the Bay Area sometime. Until then, where else are there people who'd be interested in a meetup?

January 18, 2011, 9:58 pm • Posted in: The FoyerPermalink15 comments
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A Personal Dilemma

I do my best to live consistently with my principles and to stand up for atheism in my personal life, as well as on the Web. But sometimes, even I fall short. I had one of those experiences this past weekend, and I'm still not sure how I should have handled it. I'm posting this to gather advice, in the hope that I'll do better if this happens again - or, if it's still not too late to stand up for myself, to figure out what the best response would be.

My wife's godparents came over to our house for dinner last Sunday, for the first time since we moved in two years ago. They're an older couple, the same age as our parents. My wife's godfather is Catholic, like most of her extended family, while his wife is Jewish.

They'd run into traffic and arrived about an hour late, and since we were all hungry, I wanted to sit down and eat as soon as possible. Dinner was served, and we were all sitting around the table - when, completely out of the blue, my wife's godfather announced that this was a special occasion for him, and that he wanted us to hold hands while he said grace.

In that split second, I'm ashamed to admit, I couldn't think of any way to object that wouldn't sound incredibly rude. I let him take my hand, though I didn't bow my head or close my eyes, while he said out loud a brief, generic prayer of thanks that we could all be together (there was, at least, nothing offensive like thanking God for the existence of the meal my wife and I had spent several hours cooking).

I badly wanted to object at the time, and I still wish I had, but I don't know what I should have said. I have no desire to make a scene or to start a family feud. My wife's godfather is a sweet, well-meaning old man who didn't mean to proselytize or to offend, and who probably doesn't know (or had forgotten, if he ever did know) that I'm an atheist. Nevertheless, I object to the automatic assumption that I shared those beliefs and wanted to participate. It's just that kind of reflexive prejudice toward religion that I want to dispel.

Daniel Dennett has said that religion has contrived to organize things so that you can't object without being rude, and I personally felt the truth of that this weekend. But I'm convinced there must have been a more graceful way to deal with this, short of launching into a lengthy justification of my beliefs at the dinner table. Even now, I think, it's not too late for me to contact them and explain some things. What would you have done in my place?

November 16, 2010, 9:44 pm • Posted in: The FoyerPermalink100 comments
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Reminder: Find Me at the FFRF Convention

As I mentioned previously, I'll be attending the 33rd annual convention of the Freedom from Religion Foundation in Madison, Wisconsin on the weekend of October 29-31. Yes, I know that's also the date of the Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert rallies; I made my hotel reservation and booked my flight long before those were scheduled. Their loss!

If you're also planning to attend (or if you just live near Madison) and would like to meet up sometime over the weekend, please leave a comment or send me an e-mail. The past few meetups I've planned have gone well, and I'm always interested in meeting readers in person...

October 2, 2010, 4:50 pm • Posted in: The FoyerPermalink3 comments
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