The Brights' Bulletin


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Issue #100
August 31, 2011

(Note that links in archived Bulletin issues may no longer be valid.)


BRIGHTS BULLETIN -- SEPTEMBER 2011 


Brights Logo Design Option
 
Fred in Ohio (USA), a new Bright, was hoping to find a square Brights’ graphic for use on his Facebook profile. He didn’t find the shape. But now, thanks to his prompting and some steps taken by Brights’ Shopkeeper Diane, a new “square logo” is available.
 
This new iconic expression of the Brights’ name is an acceptable adaptation of the original (still preferred) version that you can find on every page of the website.
 
The square image is apropos to centering on the bib of an apron or the brim of a cap. It is also well suited to the front pocket of a golf/polo shirt or hoodie. You can see it pictured on a broad assortment of merchandise in The Brights’ Shop at Café Press:
 

International Brights Forum Report
 
Predictably, there was a fair amount of discussion this month about the civil unrest in the UK, which ranged from calls for sympathy to the plight of the poor to frank condemnation of all forms of violent protest.  Though some participants in this discussion could be said to disagree almost diametrically about the underlying issues, it should be said by no one that brights do not have ethical concerns or moral foundations, as is often alleged, for this topic shows otherwise!

Attracting fewer responses but numerous page-views was this Topic: Can U.S. Non-Believers Become a Political Force? The near-eponymously quoted blog post by Adam Lee at AlterNet raises some interesting critiques of "movement" atheism and an informative historical context.  Though the post focuses on the U.S. situation, surely there are many parallels to any environment where prevalent super-naturalistic norms curtail the fair consideration of brights and their ideas.  If you are reading this Bulletin, you are likely registered with at least one civic action movement: the Brights Network; what can we learn from the history of freethought in society and the effect and effectiveness of the various "consciousness-raising and civic activism" campaigns on offer?

All are welcome to register at the Forum to share their perspectives.  See the "Register Now" link, top-right of page.
 

Seculars to Celebrate
 
It’s a USA location, but all are invited! Whether or not at this early date you hope to attend, you can help spread word of the Reason Rally that is being planned for March 24, 2012 on the mall in Washington, DC. The Brights’ Net is one of the co-sponsoring organizations.
 
To help the jamboree name go viral, consider putting a logo button on your Facebook page, website, etc. Starter material is available at:
http://reasonrally.org/resources/
 

Did They Hear (about the Brights) from You?
 
It’s an option on the registration, but a great many registrants do report how they learned of the Brights. Recent examples:
  • a pen-pal in prison
  • a member of my Meetup hiking group
  • TED
  • a Facebook page “Brights Israel” (in hebrew ‘?????? ?????’)
  • my father
  • Daniel Dennett's book, “Breaking the Spell”
  • happenstance
  • Christopher Hitchens' “God Is Not Great”
  • Wikipedia
Most of the above come from USA states, but constituents hail from all over. Included in above are recent registrants from the UK (Shropshire), Israel, Italy, Canada (Ontario), and Serbia. Be sure to tell others about the Brights movement -- it’s how we grow!
 

Goodbye Mike, Hello Kevin
 
It’s personal for us here at Brights Central. Kevin Schultz starts work today as our new “main man” for computer operations and website functionality. (This Bulletin blast is his first.) Welcome, Kevin!
 
With this new hire, BC bids adieu to Mike McElroy. We knew the day would arrive sometime, and now it has. After three years assisting The Brights' Net on top of a fulltime job at an organization close by, Mike McElroy is moving on. Several months ago, he sought and acquired a better fulltime position, but it is located too far away to make combining efforts practical. (Already living over 20 miles from BC, Mike has faced commuting a large triangle.)
 
Sad for ourselves, of course we are glad for Mike. And we think we’ve been pretty lucky, too. When first hired to help out here, Mike said he would commit to just 6 months. (He would promise only to “try it out and see how it goes.”)  
 
And yet we have held onto him for all of 3 years. It’s been wonderful. Many thanks, Mike! Perhaps it bodes well for Brights Central that Kevin, who works fulltime for the State of California, recently said about this auxiliary job that he will be “trying it out to see how it goes”.       ;-)
 

Brights Morality Project Report
 
Received from Ruban, Project Director (Malaysia):
  • Some of the team met 21st August over Skype to plan strategy for how best to streamline the 4 research-based statements and communicate them via viral images.
  • We proposed to communicate an overarching strapline and the 4 "simplified" Declaration Statements all combined into one easy-to-understand infographic. 
  • We have a cartoonist and a graphic artist on our team who are central to this specific task.
  • We will then induce the infographic to go viral, testing it on the general English-speaking public.
As a reference point, the 4 statements can be found here: 
http://www.the-brights.net/action/activities/organized/arenas/1/area_b/statements.html
 

Rather Pleased to Be Here
 
Tanner (Minnesota, USA): “As an openly gay skeptic in a pathetically conservative and christian town, I am happy to be a Bright!”
 
Glenn (Georgia, USA): “I guess you would say that I am now a bright that struggles with faith instead of a believer that struggles with doubt!”
 
Erich (South Africa): “I’m proud to be an atheist or whatever I might be called, I’ve never been happier or more content in my life.”
 
Jordan (Ohio, USA): “As an enthusiastic atheist, I am happy to put my support behind this movement. It's an absolutely brilliant idea.”
 
Daniel (Sweden): “It was about time I joined up and showed my support.”
 

We Can Talk Now!
 
 “I want you guys to know that my discovering your website last year actually may have saved my marriage. My wife is a super (strongly so!) and I am a bright (just as strong). We have had some rugged times. Now, though, she agrees with the Brights vision statement that it isn’t fair that I can’t be who I am, especially in this state. We can talk and we’re learning to let each other be more who we are.”

The above, from Carver (Texas, USA) is a favorite of the emails (“out of the blue”) received during August at BC. It relates closely to what we think is proving one of the more important of the principles of the Brights movement (Principle #8):

“The movement is to be a positive force toward full civic participation (fairness for all) … What is sought is social acceptance and civic equality. This movement unequivocally rebuffs not only verbal comparisons that cast Brights as lesser citizens than the religious, but also those that cast the religious as lesser citizens than the Brights.”
 

Personal Relations / Civic Relations
 
We had learned of romance being spurred within the Brights’ forum, but Carver’s comment is the most direct we recall having so far received as regards the improving of already established personal relationships. It came almost on the heels of a somewhat similar exchange with another Bright that had prompted this comment:
 
(Paul) “I hope that you, as a bright, and your wife, a super, can find that civic goals give something both are able to agree on, even if existential interpretations of the world strongly differ. I've been told by more than a few couples that the civic focus has aided their communications, so I'd be glad to add another example to the lineup.”
 
This got us to wondering how common is this type of situation within the community of Brights? Question: Has this movement had any effect on your own interactions, not just with spouses or relatives, but with fellow citizens? If it has, we’d like to hear your story (but be brief). Please send it to the-brights@the-brights.net and put OURSTORY in upper case letters in the subject line.
 

Action Arena 2: (Budding Brights)
 
A related post in the Brights Forum by participant “cejuan” has pointed Brights Central to a new resource that will likely be of interest to many parents or guardians, as well as to educators and others who care about the development of thinking youngsters. It is “The Skeptic’s Dictionary for Kids.”
 
Here’s the information cejuan provided:
 
Phil Plait at Bad Astronomy has a link to a great new resource for kids.
http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2011/08/12/skeptics-dictionary-for-kids/

Here is the site. The articles about Scientific Skepticism and Clever Hans are good.
http://sd4kids.skepdic.com/

Said cejuan: “This site is particularly good for people like me in mixed marriages who have to be careful not to pro-actively undermine our spouses’ beliefs. It doesn't talk about religion. It focuses on how scientists know things and superstition in general.”
 

How We Tell What Is True
 
Soon to be released is another resource related to Action Arena 2 (Budding Brights). This one is coming very soon from Enthusiastic Bright and noted evolutionary biologist and atheist, Richard Dawkins. Dawkins’ forthcoming children’s book is titled, The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True. In it, he will be contrasting myth with reality, all the while celebrating the grand and poetic magic of the naturalistic over and above the fantastical and supernatural explanations of phenomena.
 
Dawkins’ renown among atheists extends worldwide, so it is a sure bet that many fans of his will be acquiring the new book for youngsters that they know. Some Brights, though, want to take actions in the public at large that will be helpful to the overall movement vision. They are looking for actions to personally take in the broader community.
 
If that latter characterization fits you, then why not see to it that your nearest public library puts in an order for a copy for its young readers section? 
 

Shopping for Books?
 
In the past, we have made sure that folks who are purchasing books (and especially Books by Brights) knew that a purchase via an Amazon a link on the Brights’ website would bring a small commission our way at no extra cost. However, with the loss of the Amazon contract bemoaned last month, we’re removing that link and now pointing Bulletin readers to the iGive.com shopping network as a potential way to help out the Brights.
 
Registering at the iGive.com site and selecting The Brights’ Net as your “Cause” conveys a small bonus, and any purchases made later carry small commissions. (Amazon is one of the over 800 stores in that network; its commission is 0.8%; Barnes & Noble’s is 3.4%.)
 
We have since learned from iGive that anyone making a purchase (through the iGive link) within 45 days of joining its network brings an additional $5 bonus on top of the usual donation to The Brights' Net. The stores with their varied donation rates, and some coupons, too are at this link:
http://www.iGive.com/shop/merchants.cfm
 

Owing Apology?/Recognition/Gratitude!
 
Have we been too much bemoaning the Amazon loss? Okay, then - we owe you an apology for it. Amazon had proved just so very dependable a source of support for the Brights’ initiative. (Brights do seem to be high-volume readers!)  
 
Are we now sounding too exuberant about iGive? Perhaps. There’s a big disparity between that mechanism and the Amazon procedure. We recognize that there are pros and cons to registering into any new commercial situation, and you must consider for yourself whether reaching online stores via that network makes sense for you. Apparently, you may have to judge more by experience with iGive than by its stated Terms of Service. Canadian Bright Eugene, who explored the matter, found the TofS rather mum about the frequency of unwanted emails. BC is all ears for your experience.
 
Still, if you were one of the folks who responded to our invitation and proceeded to register with iGive.com (whether or not you plan to shop that way), we owe you our thanks for the resulting $5 that will soon be headed our way at no cost to you. But, maybe you’d rather just PayPal us? ;-)
 

So Pleased with Posters!
 
Joe, a Massachusetts (USA) Bright, was among those taking advantage of the ability of Brights to purchase versions of the evolution poster from our first printing (the background is a “night sky”). BC got the following message from Joe:
“Hello Paul. Just letting you know that I received my poster today. It is B E A U TIFUL!”
 
Dave, a Canadian Bright, had ordered two posters and was also pretty happy:

“They look great and as you point out give a clear and complete picture. I will be putting [one] up in ‘The Man Cave’ when my wife gives me the ok.”

Anyone interested in obtaining a poster at cost of printing/mailing can email Brights Central (the-brights@the-brights.net) for instructions on purchasing. Please put “dark sky poster” in your email subject line.
 

Wall Posters Go Free to High School Science Teachers
 
Tell a Teacher!--“Earth and Life: Changes over Time” -- Any high school science teacher who teaches about evolution can acquire this full-color 5-foot-wide classroom wall poster FREE. It’s quite unique and a great value. Links to view and instructions for acquiring are at:
http://www.the-brights.net/action/activities/#poster
 

Bright Pride - Bright Promise! (USA)
 
Conrad (in California): “Keep the Enlightenment Project alive and flourishing by a rational world view.”
 
David (in Virginia): “I have been moved in recent years by Richard Dawkins making a strong argument for atheists to become more socially and politically involved.”
 
Todd (in Georgia): “I prefer the respect paid to believers in your vision statement to the adversarial language…”
 
Allan (in Maine): “I have long disliked the negative connotation of "atheist"--not wanting to be defined for what I am not.”
 
Scott (in Ohio): “… I'm pleased to find a community that is proud to espouse a naturalistic world-view without wishing to suppress all those who do not agree with them.”
 

Boost the Brights -- Subscribe!
 
If you are inclined and able to do so, there are several ways to add support via monthly subscription:
http://www.the-brights.net/funding/supportbrights/
 

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