January 16, 2018

Expanding Buffer With Evergreen Content: A Review of Hiplay

evergreen tree
I use Buffer for most of my social media activity. By scheduling tweets, Facebook posts, and the like to go out at specified times, I am able to get my content in front of people when they are most likely to be using these various platforms. And since I am rarely online when my followers are, this helps considerably. As happy as I have been with Buffer, it lacks some important features offered by a growing number of competitors. For example, Buffer offers no system for bloggers to use in distributing "evergreen" content.

In a blogging context, evergreen content refers to posts that do not go out-of-date quickly. That makes them posts that should be shared repeatedly over time. Most systems set up for distributing evergreen content work in a similar way: the blogger fills a queue with a couple hundred evergreen posts appropriately formatted for social media distribution (this works best on Twitter because of the short half-life of tweets), sets up a distribution schedule (e.g., Wednesdays at Noon and 3:00pm, Thursdays at 9:00am, 11:00pm, and 6:00pm, etc.), and the system distributes posts from the queue using that schedule. The better systems allow finer control (e.g., the blogger can set the minimum number of days before a post can be repeated). Unfortunately, Buffer does not do this.

Highlighting Christian Extremism to Stimulate Thought About Christian Beliefs

Geocolor Image of Hurricane IrmaIf significant numbers of atheists with large platforms for spreading their views consistently used their platforms to spread hate, bigotry, or assorted nonsense that was detrimental to society, I would expect many religious people to call attention to them. Many religious believers who were not fans of atheism would point to these atheists and say something along the lines of, "This is atheism."

Obviously, this could be misleading. Any group is going to have its share of assholes, and one must be careful about claiming that a small number of assholes is representative of the larger group in any way. But if there were enough atheists doing this regularly and if there seemed to be a high degree of convergence in the nonsense they were spreading, it would be hard to fault the religious believers for pointing them out like this. Even if they weren't representative of atheism, they would still be part of atheism. Their presence would be relevant and could raise troubling questions about what other atheists thought, especially if other atheists seemed to be enabling them in some manner.

January 14, 2018

A Visit to the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum

Mississippi Civil Rights Museum exterior

I visited the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum in December, a couple weeks after it opened. I had little idea what to expect since all I really knew about it was that our "stable genius" of a president had generated some controversy by his recent visit. I wanted to go into the experience with as few expectations as possible, so I went out of my way to avoid reading anything about the museum beforehand.

As I walked in the museum entrance and through a metal detector, I found myself reflecting on how sad it is that this sort of security is necessary at this or any other museum. I encountered a long line that did not appear to be moving at all. There were lots of families with young children, and I thought it was great that their parents were bringing them to a museum. As it turned out, the extremely slow-moving line was probably deliberate. Once I was through the line, the entry point to the exhibits was so crowded that it was almost unbearable. I felt like I had to hold my breath to make myself as thin as possible to fit. Had it not been for the slowness of the line outside, this wouldn't have worked at all.

January 13, 2018

Changed My Mind About the Religious Tax Exemption

Change direction

When I write about topics such as reason, freethought, critical thinking, being open-minded, and/or the importance of acknowledging that we could be wrong about anything, I am often asked something along the lines of the following question:
Can you give a specific example of something relevant to atheism or secularism where you've changed your mind?
Absolutely. For years, decades even, I believed that it was preferable to maintain the tax exemption religious organizations enjoyed as long as they steered clear of politics. I thought this seemed like a fair and reasonably successful arrangement. I have changed my mind about this, and I now believe that religious organizations should be taxed in the same way that non-religious organizations are taxed.

January 11, 2018

Overcoming the Atheist Divides

unity
Atheism and the City brings news that the Atheist Conference, planned to take place in New York City this summer, has been canceled. Among the reasons for the cancellation were the deep divisions among atheists (e.g., pro-SJW atheists vs. anti-SJW atheists, pro-Trump atheists vs. anti-Trump atheists) and what sounds like some poor management decisions. Based on what he says, the second of these reasons was likely sufficient to bring down the conference since it seems to have resulted in several of the scheduled speakers pulling out. But I suppose it makes sense to focus on the many divisions and continued infighting among atheists. After all, this is the one that should be within our power to address.

While it seems impossible to quantify the extent to which divisions and infighting among atheists contributed to the demise of this particular conference, I believe the persistent nature of these problems warrants our attention. This stuff has gone on for entirely too long, is showing no signs of improvement that I can detect, and may even be getting worse. If we cannot get past our differences, stop the infighting, and learn to work with people with whom we disagree on some issues in order to advance the goals we share, our ability to improve our world will continue to be limited.