Wednesday, July 31, 2013

    Impressions from the AHA convention in San Diego

    Mary McPherson and Henry Geist attended the American Humanist Association's 72nd Annual Conference from May 30 to June 2 in San Diego, California.  Here are some of Mary's impressions from the convention:

    The convention was held at the Bahia Resort Hotel just steps from the ocean on Mission Bay, with beaches and boats viewed out of every window.  The weather was great.  We missed the first day's symposium on the Philosophy of Humanism because we were off exploring the Maritime Museum ships.  We did attend the training documentary "Tough Guise - Violence, Media & the Crisis in Masculinity".  

    Friday, Saturday, and Sunday morning were devoted to break-out sessions: church-state separation, evangelical schtick, fundamentalism for children, humanism as religion, and networking.   Participants talked about good deeds in their neighborhoods and ways to expand awareness in the community.  

    Spirituality was a buzzword, and the session on Humanism and Spirituality was crowded.  The speaker was very late but others rose to the occasion and got so much audience participation that it was almost a   disappointment when the speaker finally arrived and tried to read his 27-page presentation (which was dry but readable when he sent it out to requestors).

    It was an occasion for networking, building communication ties for chapters with good ideas on spreading the humanist "word"   Some of the statistics were frightening, but the rise of "nones" was encouraging.

    A highlight for me was the "dancing humanist" Mark Harding - his presentation was a real "feel good!"  And the Evolvefish's "dancing humanists" art work which we are going to portray on our building.

    Editor's notes:
    You can see several videos of Mark Harding dancing on YouTube.  Just do a search on "Matt Harding".

    For a list of events and speakers that you missed, go to

    Tuesday, July 30, 2013

    Elena Quintana has provided links to additional information related to her presentation on ACE

    Our 7/28/13 Sunday speaker Dr. Elena Quintana has provided these links for anyone who is interested in more information on her topic of childhood trauma.

    A link to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website which gives more detail on the ACES study that Dr. Quintana presented

    Building Adult Capabilities to Improve Child Outcomes: A Theory of Change

    Resilience Trumps ACES

    "Healing Neen", a video telling the story of a woman who overcame childhood trauma to become an inspirational speaker.

    The State of Washington Family Policy Council website on ACES.

    Sunday, July 28, 2013

    An interesting column coincidentally related to the ACE presentation by Elena Quintana

    The topic of this New York Times Opinionator column ties right in with the July 28 presentation by Elena Quintana on the effects of Adverse Childhood Experiences.

    Wednesday, July 24, 2013

    Food for thought: The role of women in the "New Atheism" movement

     A commentary from the on-line magazine Salon on the relative lack of visibility of women in the New Atheist movement, Susan Jacoby notwithstanding.

    Friday, July 19, 2013

    Ask an Atheist radio program taped before live HSGP audience

    On Tuesday the Humanist Community Center hosted the Ask an Atheist radio program for a "live audience" taping of an episode to be broadcast sometime later this summer.  Co-Host Sam Mulvey softened up the crowd of about 40 people with a short presentation on "Nones", or those people who respond to religious surveys by answering "None".   Some analysts have pointed to the rising percentage of "Nones" in surveys as an indication that the atheist community is growing proportionately.  Sam pointed out that this is not necessarily true because "Nones" include people who believe in a god but who just don't like organized religion, folks who believe in what he calls "Woo" or supernatural forces as well as the various types of true non-believers.

    Sam and his lovely wife/co-host Becky Friedman then began the "live taping" portion of the program with some snappy Humanist repartee between them and current HSGP president Richard Dewey who held up his end of the program admirably.  (Maybe there's a new career for you, Richard!)  This was followed by questions from the "live" audience.  The program ended up with Sam and Becky answering questions that had previously been emailed by listeners.  The live audience clapped and laughed in all the right places.

    Sam and Becky lived in the Phoenix area before moving to Tacoma, Washington in 2008 and a running joke throughout the interchange was that Sam has regularly trashed Phoenix on his radio program.  He asked forgiveness for his "sins" now that it had been revealed to him that this area is home to a variety of non-believers, organized and otherwise.  The pair are on a road trip and have taken the opportunity to visit non-believer groups along their route.  Their next scheduled stop is Tucson on July 19.

    You can listen to past broadcasts by going to the show's website at    With any luck at all, the HSGP episode will be appearing soon.  If not, check back later.

    Tuesday, July 9, 2013

    Worth reading: NY Times columnist David Brooks discusses The Secular Society

    In today's New York Times, conservative Op-Ed columnist David Brooks offers his take on the 2007 book by Charles Taylor titled "The Secular Age".  Brooks discusses what the secularization of civilization means and, surprisingly enough, he's not completely negative about the development.  

    Find the column here The Secular Society and be sure to read the comments, many of which are as well-written and incisive as Brooks' column, sometimes maybe more so.

    Sunday, July 7, 2013

    Websites for those of us who are staying inside to avoid the heat

    We know it's hot.  It's always hot in the Valley of the Sun in the summer.  You don't always feel like going someplace outside of your carefully temperature-regulated home.  But maybe you're tired of reading and there's nothing on TV.  What to do?

    Good thing we have the Internet, huh?  Here are some websites that I like to browse from time to time.  Maybe one or two will be new to you.  In any event, enjoy.  (And keep drinking those fluids!)

    Symphony of Science    Scientific topics set to music and featuring well-known figures in the world of science.  Honest.  Always good for improving my mood.

    Science Blogs  What kind of science blog would you like to read?  They have all kinds.

    EarthSky  Lots of stuff about, what else, the Earth and the Sky.  

    StarDate  You may have heard these folks on NPR.  Now you can hear them again and also read even more.

    Cloud Appreciation Society  This one is just plain fun.  You can join or not but after viewing their library of cloud images, I can just about guarantee you'll be looking at clouds differently.