Croppies Lie Down

August 5, 2013

The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities. 

So former Rep. Barney Frank is an atheist. Now you tell us, Barney. 

Avery Thompson writes of the "10 best things" from the CFI Student Leadership conference, and somehow omits one particular bespectacled neurotic who will nonetheless find a way to forgive (and who otherwise pretty much agrees with his list). One of the folks on the list, James Croft, is coming to CFI-DC this weekend.

Ian Pollock asks a hum-dinger of a question in a fascinating post: Do the compromises that make up "secularism" mean that the whole enterprise is, though necessary, without principle? (h/t to Robert Long

Four Republican former heads of the EPA take to NYT to call for action on climate change.  

Ben Radford brings the skeptic perspective to the History Channel's series Your Bleeped Up Brain. Ben also offers some wisdom on the frustrating muddle surrounding vaccines thanks to folks like Jenny McCarthy:

All the facts, data, and research fades away under the glare of human anger and suffering-whether the target of that anger is justified or not. 

Carrie Poppy gets weed. From a porn star. Who is a plastic surgeon. 

The AP looks at the particular challenges facing atheists in the Arab world, noting that some post-revolution governments' turns towards Islamism have given rise to even more religious rejection. 

Andrew Sullivan continues a thread on women in atheism, with reader responses that will be familiar to those following the subject.

A meeting of human rights activists in Pakistan declares that blasphemy laws "must be stopped." 

Science says that evolution does not necessarily favor the selfish. However, science also says that money turns people into huge jerks.  

Dahlia Lithwick previews what may come from a pending Supreme Court decision that may give corporations can "invoke religious freedom rights enshrined in the First Amendment."

Oh look, Dr. Phil has fake psychic Jonathan Edward on and calls the episode "Skeptics Beware." Feel free to subject yourself to it, or, you could stab yourself in the eye with a fork.  

Ghosts, fairies, witches, and other "Scottish enigmas" -- who you gonna call? Joe Nickell, of course

Pope Francis pens a love note to Muslims

Why yes, Mr. Pastafarian. You may wear a collander on your head for your government ID. 

The Obama administration does not want a prayer added to the FDR memorial. 

I'm starting a side project, a new podcast called the Obcast, and "Episode Zero," my beta-test episode is up, with fellow CFIer Matt Licata. 

There's apparently a new "reality" show about teenage exorcists. Great. 

Jeffrey Elliott at the On Campus blog wants student skeptics to deemphasize the "antagonistic and confrontational" and look more to thoughtful study.

Sam Harris attempts to clarify his stance on free will an an illusion, and where love and hate fit in. 

Frederic Rich, author of the alternate-reality book about a Palin presidency called Christian Nation, warns that, silly as many on the religious right seem to us, they must not be dismissed as "knuckleheads." 

Is there a silver lining around the dark cloud of UFO conspiracy theorists -- one that doesn't mean the mothership is hiding behind said dark cloud? Possibly, says Sharon Hill:

This may be a new dawn for UFOlogy as the old guard dies away and the new, more centered serious thinkers take over. One can hope. 

Christian activists are none too happy about a Facebook group called "Mary Should've Aborted," and demand it be taken down. 

FFRF goes after "faith-based housing" at Troy University in Alabama. 

Sunday Assemblies are becoming a thing in the UK and US, but also in India, atheists are looking to build their own communities. 

I didn't even know this existed, but apparently my backyard of Portland, Maine is home to the International Cryptozoology Museum

These dead dogs in NJ and Texas are obviously chupacabra

Special Educational Bonus!

In the last Heresy, I mentioned how I had never heard the term "croppies" before, in reference to folks who do crop circles. Friend-of-the-blog, journalist Robert Evans, was kind enough to explain more about the term's origins so we can all be a little smarter. Oh, and it has nothing to do with space aliens, like, at all. Bob writes:

In my time reporting from Northern Ireland (1972-73), when I was still a British citizen, "croppies" was a disparaging term used among hard-line "Loyalist" Protestants for Catholics or Irish Republicans in general. The term originated in 1798 when the Revolutionary French government sent an expeditionary force to Ireland to back up an uprising against British rule -- which, ironically, was led by a Protestant, Wolf Tone. The Irish rebels adopted the short-cut hair style of the French soldiery -- hence they were dubbed "croppies" by their pro-British enemies. The term gave rise to one of the best-known Protestant songs, "Croppies Lie Down", created during the uprising but still a favourite in the pubs of the Protestant Shankill Road in Belfast in the early 1970s, and it remains a favourite of the Loyalist bards.

But the scornful epithet was also adopted by Catholic anti-British rebels as a sort of badge of honour, and counter-songs appeared about "croppie" hero-martyrs -- on the Irish Republican side the songs are dominated by brave "Soldiers of Erin" who died battling overwhelming odds. "The Croppie Boy," composed around 1799, is still a favourite of the Irish "rebel song" groups on CDs in every Dublin tourist shop, as -- now an Irish citizen myself -- I found on a visit a couple of months ago. 

Quote of the Day

Peter Buffett, son of Warren, is unimpressed by billionaire philanthropy, calling it a kind of "conscience laundering," and asks for something better:

I’m really not calling for an end to capitalism; I’m calling for humanism. 

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