Podcasts I think are wortwhile

So I’ve already mentioned some of the blogs I read regularly. This is a list of the podcasts I listen to that I think deserve a wider audience. The ones I’ve tagged with a ★ I think are especially worthwhile; as in you should consider not just subscribing but also listening to old episodes.



Science, Medicine, Politics


James O’Keefe makes an incoherent video

It’s too bad James “Mr. Undercover” O’Keefe doesn’t have any friends. Or at least anyone in his life who will tell him when he’s about to make a mistake. Like the time he tried to bug the office of U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu which netted him a criminal conviction. His latest mistake is to record a video showing us how to sing and dance. Assuming, of course, you want to set a new personal worst for lame “singing” and “dancing” (quote marks intentional and deserved):

Not to mention an inability to make a coherent point.

A song about birth control (Hobby Lobby)

I was listening to the FFRF’s “Freethought Radio” podcast and was amazed that a song written thirty years ago is still relevant today. That song is “Days of the Theocracy” by Kristin Lems.

First they fight abortion, birth control is next,
Then comes sex if you’re not married, finally, out goes sex
Put the prayers back in the schools, install parochiaid
Allow for corporal punishment, and then you got it made!

We’re going back, back to the good ole days
When men were really men and women knew their place
Back, back a couple of centuries
And welcome back the days of the theocracy

The family is so holy, there must be no divorce
And if a wife is not content, she must adjust, of course
And if he’s forced to beat her, it’s all for her own good
She must know what her limits are, as any woman should

The next to go is daycare, it’s all a commit plot
What could be more fulfilling than a child, wanted or not?
A woman’s work is housework, God wanted it that way
A salaried job degrades her since she never works for pay

We’re going back, back to the good ole days
When men were really men and women knew their place
Back, back a couple of centuries
And welcome back the days of the theocracy

They teach us women’s lot is “love honor and obey”
And while their crusty notions seem like jokes to us today
They’re sitting in the Capitol, they’re voting on our lives
If we don’t stop them now, our freedom will not long survive

No going back..to the bad ole days…let’s go ahead for future centuries,

And build a world that’s based on true democracy
And build a world that’s based on true equality
Ah – person!

FRC begging with lies

I just received another “action alert” email from Tony Perkins at the FRC (Family Research Council). It starts like this:

Today, America’s President has surrounded himself with an administration that disregards the law. The result: wave after wave of outrageous scandals.

Then goes on to urge me with a bright red background:

Donate Now – to Defend Faith, Family & Freedom

Followed by the obligatory mention of “the ever expanding IRS scandal” due to “the use of a federal agency to target Christian and conservative individuals and groups who don’t agree with the President”. Without noting that this a) isn’t a scandal except to Republican politicians who need an excuse to get their name in the news, and b) the IRS was doing what the law required them to do and conservative groups were not singled out disproportionately. You’ve got to love Christian morals that apparently allow lying when it serves your goals.

They then get to the real heart of the matter: “they can turn their sights on churches as well, and on those who donate to churches.” OMG! Obama’s jack-booted thugs might begin knocking down the doors of my church at any moment! And that is followed, you guessed it, with another plea for money:

Donate Now So Your Gift Is Doubled

I feel sorry for the people who respond to such messages. They appear to live in a constant state of fear. But for grifters like Tony Perkins I have only contempt.

Hobby Lobby: FRC says get on your knees

I recently signed up for email alerts from the FRC (Family Research Council) under a non de plume (or “nom de rude” as others might say). The FRC is a theocratic, reactionary, right-wing, group. The type of group that Saint Ronald Reagan sucked up to and the cause of my defection from the Republican party.

Yesterday they sent me an email urging me to tell my US senators to
oppose a bill that would address the travesty that is the SCOTUS ruling on the Hobby Lobby case:

The Senate plans to vote as early as Tuesday on a bill offered by Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) that would “overturn” the Supreme Court’s ruling in Hobby Lobby and force all private and employer based healthcare plans to cover contraceptives, drugs which can destroy a human embryo and sterilization services, without copay—or face crippling fines.

The Supreme Court correctly held that the HHS mandate violates the free exercise rights of family businesses like Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties, who do not want to violate their conscience in order to earn a living. But that hasn’t stopped Senator Murray, pushed by radical groups like NARAL, Planned Parenthood and National Women’s Law Center, to demand religious American’s bow to their pro-abortion agenda.

But this bill is not only anti-religious and anti-constitutional—its anti-woman!

Nearly one-third of the business plaintiffs in these cases calling the HHS mandate on religious liberty grounds are women. In addition, women judges have voted to halt implementation of the mandate 24 times. In only 15 cases have they voted in favor of the employer mandate. Finally, more women oppose the mandate than support it in poll after poll across the United States.

How can Senator Murray and this bill’s supporters claim to be supporting women when they are directly opposing the sincerely held religious beliefs of so many American women?

Please urge your Senators to oppose the misleadingly titled “Protect Women’s Health From Corporate Interference Act of 2014.” This discriminatory bill runs contrary to the values Americans hold dear and the ruling the Supreme Court handed down earlier this month.

Notice the logical fallacies and ridiculous conclusions. For example, the alleged fact (no citations by FRC) that more female judges have “voted” to oppose the ACA. Not the contraception mandate but the entire ACA. Furthermore, what the heck does it mean for a judge to “vote” on the matter? Did they rule against the government on a case brought before them? Do they mean that those judges voted in an election? Heck if I can tell from that email. Not to mention that a cornerstone of our constitution is to guard against the tyranny of the majority by protecting the rights of the minority.

I didn’t even have to read Senator Patty Murray’s bill. The fact that the FRC is against it is sufficient for me to send the following message to my US senators and representative:

I expect you to support the bill introduced by Senator Patty
Murray titled “Protect Women’s Health From Corporate
Interference Act of 2014.” I admit that I know nothing about
the bills particulars. But the fact I received an email from
the FRC (Family Research Council) expressing outrage for the
bill is all I need to know. The theocrats in this country
need to be stopped before they return us to the European
Dark Ages.

Blogs I read (and you should too)

This is not about my favorite books (although if you haven’t read Andy Weir’s “The Martian”  stop right now and get a copy). This is about the blogs I make time to read even when my time is overcommitted. These must read blogs cover politics, science, atheism and often a combination of the three. In no particular order:

  • The Politics Blog by Charles P. Pierce. His incisive, biting, observations of the American political landscape are in a class of their own. I often wonder if he’s channeling Molly Ivans.

  • The Rude Pundit by Lee Papa is even more acerbic than “The Politics Blog” by CPP.

  • Freethought Blogs is a home for many talented freethinkers and atheists. Including

  • XKCD is “A web comic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language”. If you like the TV show “The Big Bang Theory” you should be reading XKCD.

  • Science-Based Medicine focuses questionable medical practices; especially, but not limited to, quackery like homeopathy.

Why “Life Itself”?

The blog title “Life Itself” is shamelessly stolen from the movie and book of the same name celebrating the life of movie critic Roger Ebert. It was coincidence that I had recently seen the movie when I decided to start this blog. Yet as a long time admirer of Mr. Ebert, especially for his support for humanistic principles, as well as a cinephile (I typically see two movies each week) it seemed fitting. I hope I exhibit half his courage and positive attitude if I ever have to deal with a major illness.

Time to begin blogging

I’ve been meaning to start a blog for a few years but couldn’t find the time to setup a site. This has bothered me each time I’ve wanted to publish something potentially useful to others. For example, how to setup an application or workaround a bug or quirk of some piece of software. After one too many lost opportunities I’ve finally setup WordPress on my home server. Today begins what I hope will be at least weekly posts. The posts will typically cover something interesting I’ve learned related to computer technology, social issues (especially related to atheism and religion), or things happening in my life such as my first participation in the San Francisco Gay Pride Parade (more on that later).