April 6th, 2012


We've gone on hike... by mistake

IMG_0023 by Essentialsaltes
IMG_0023, a photo by Essentialsaltes on Flickr.

The bossfella gives us Good Friday off, so Dr. Pookie and I set off to climb around Rancho Palos Verde. Just a few steps into the relative wilderness, we found the Ostara Lagomorph.

Sadly, this was not the hike we were looking for. Through some ambiguity in instruction, we wound up clambering around the Forrestal Reserve instead of the PV Peninsula Land Conservancy. We took the trail less travelled (and more poorly maintained), And that made all the difference. Oh, there were nice views of the cliffs and the hills and Catalina and the ocean, but we were scrambling up hillsides, and the trail was becoming less and less a trail, and more of a track, or perhaps a vague figment.

Then Dr. Pookie let out an ululation of cosmic terror that puts to shame the noise she made at her surprise birthday party. This noise was to indicate that I had rather blithely trodden on a rattlesnake. Oh pshaw, thinks I, this is the Dr. Pookie who once mistook a twig for an earthworm, surely th.. Holy Shit there's a snake, disappearing into the manzanita. It does seem to have what one might call a rather distinctive sort of diamond-y pattern on its back, but mayb... "Shk-shk-shk-shk-shk-shk-shk-shk-shk," quotha the snake.

It is clear that I do not have what it takes to be a war photojournalist, because my only thoughts were of self-preservation. At this point, the trail is a line segment AB, with Dr. Pookie at A, your humble narrator at B, and a pissed off invisible rattlesnake somewhere just to the side of AB. I found an alternate route to A, and we decided the adrenaline was probably the equivalent of a good 20 mile hike, and it were best if we descended and returned to the car.

More pics, including one more adorable bunny, if you click through. In addition to the Easter Bunny and the Easter Rattlesnake, we saw Easter Crows, Easter Hawks, other miscellaneous Easter avians, and the Easter Stink Bug. Oh, and a run-over Easter Skunk on the way back.
atheist teacher

Moral Combat: Black Atheists, Gender Politics, and the Values Wars by Sikivu Hutchinson

I wanted to love this book. I wanted to hate this book.

Sikivu Hitchinson is female, black, and, I seem to recall, a communist. So based on thumbnail identifications, it wouldn't seem we had much in common. Then again, she's an atheist from Los Angeles. (Indeed, recently when fracking in the Baldwin Hills was in the news, I learned that her father lives a stone's throw away (though he's in the black Beverly Hills (we'll skip over why the black Beverly Hills is in the middle of an oil field) while we would be stretching the truth to claim being in black Beverly Hills adjacent.)).

Anyway, I keep an eye on her blogs, and find my reaction a mix of agreement and disagreement. And the same is true in the case of her book, though for the most part I can't say anything rose to the level of either love or hate.

On the good side, the book provides a very comprehensive look at the 'lived experience' of black America as it related to religion. The church is very central to black experience, both for direct services it may provide (food, tutoring, childcare, etc.) and for the general center of community it provides. And she spells out how a more successful atheist/humanist campaign would strive to duplicate or replace that social network, but with a humanist face. If you like, there are benefits that accrue to religious 'privilege' that the non-religious currently don't have the network to replace.

As a *practical* way of spreading atheism to the black community, this is probably a very valid tactic, and something organizations should address. At the same time, it smacks of bribery. Oh, you have cookies over there? Well, we have cookies that are even better over here! The missing ingredient is the actual truth of the matter. The book is curiously incurious about the actual state of affairs in the universe. (This, of course, is just my reaction as one of the old, white, scientist, atheists.)

Maybe atheism is simply assumed by the book, but if I were to characterize the implicit argument for it in the book, it would go something like this:
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