The Brights' Bulletin


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Issue #144 (latest issue)
February 28, 2015

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


BRIGHTS BULLETIN -- MARCH 2015 


--from a painting by Derek Beggs

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In a Nutshell

Each of us is just one person with a naturalistic worldview.  So what might one person, as a mere individual, do to "step forward" for civic equality?  As the Brights' tagline suggests: find ways to "illuminate and elevate your naturalistic worldview."

In general, The Brights' Net advances four “Action Concepts” for consideration. With these general aims in mind, you can plan your own strategies. 

• Openness

• Visibility

• Constructive Engagement

• Principled Participation

The Brights' mini-site's "whirlwind tour" is even more succinct.

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Evolution Poster Evolving

Recall the Earth and Life: changes over time image that The Brights’ Net has been disseminating to high school science teachers to aid their teaching about evolution?

That image, highly praised by teachers, has recently undergone an important improvement. While incorporating more recent scientific understandings, its developers have also been identifying helpful informational materials and creating a simple resource website to augment the information presented pictorially.

The supplementary material will span the sweep of the poster (looking back through time to the birth of the universe) and be useful to teachers and students alike. They can access more information on the notable physical and/or biological events that occurred during the various time periods.

This is an exciting new development!  A new poster with QR codes can steer viewers to the supportive instructional material for key eras/eons. Please continue to support the project so we can print new posters for qualified teacher applicants!

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online!

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49 and Counting!

California has long held rank as having acquired more classroom posters than any other state, with almost 12,000 California students having benefited from the Brights’ Evolution Poster Project across the past 3 years.

High school science teachers in over 300 U.S. cities have received posters from the latest printing alone. (In some cities, multiple schools have received posters.) In addition, some posters from that printing have been sent to qualified teachers in the United Kingdom, Canada, and Germany.

But “a poster to every state” has remained out of reach. Kelly, who is in charge of validating teacher applications and disseminating them, remarks on being so-o-o close to that elusive, albeit trivial dissemination milestone (all 50 states). With at least one school in Idaho and one in West Virginia, we are almost there. But why have no posters ever been sent to Delaware?

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Initiating Reason Rally 2

Reason Rally 2

Planning for the second “Reason Rally” is in the works, with place and time yet to be decided by the new Rally board. This month the board elected Sarah Morehead, Executive Director of “Recovering from Religion,” as president.

If you are interested in obtaining ongoing news of the planning process, sign up for the RR2 newsletter.

The first Reason Rally was billed as “the largest gathering of the secular movement in world history” (Washington, DC, 2012). Despite the weather, it was fairly reported as such.

The Brights’ Net was a supporter and helped to sponsor RR1.  Brights Central is presuming there will be interest from American Brights in continuing the support and participation. The sponsorship costs have multiplied several fold, so please earmark any extra donation to this purpose.

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online!

Non-USA attendance at the RR2 event will be welcomed. Christine Shellska, the president of the Atheist Alliance International, has expressed hopes of being involved in some capacity. To indicate your interest to Kris, you can use the AAI website.

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Amazon Smile vs. Affiliate

Many Amazon shoppers have selected The Brights as their preferred charity on Amazon Smile. If you do that, we thank you, because then 0.5% of the price of your purchase(s) is donated to this organization at no cost to you. You have to start your shopping experience here though.

Did you know that you can start your shopping here and have much greater impact? You donate 6-7% of the price of your Amazon purchase(s) to The Brights by using our Amazon Affiliates link instead?

There is still no additional cost to you, and by anyone's math the donation amount is significantly larger (12x larger)!  The Brights is an Amazon affiliate in North America, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. (All other Brights should use Amazon Smile.

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Inbox Delights from Brights

“A Little Brightness” Now Brighter!Michael (incarcerated in North Carolina, USA) wrote in about Brights Central’s decision to print in color at least one page of the “A Little Brightness” newsletter for prisoners. (ALB, which reaches prisoners in 22 states, was formerly black and white, but BC recently decided to add a touch of color (the page carrying the prominent image that leads off each Brights’ Bulletin.)

“I love the color photos on the first page of ALB.  They are usually cheerful and really brighten up my life.  Thanks."

After reading that, Joel, who edits Brights' Bulletins for the prisoner project, wrote:

“I decided to brighten up the ALB title--using a color other than blue to contrast with the Bulletin banner.”

Bulletin Draws Kudos — The February Brights' Bulletin hit a spot with some folks. BC’s favorite response comes from Charlotte (New Jersey, USA):

"My Dears; this bulletin is amazing. So well done and informative, with just the most wonderful links that have connected me with areas of our secular world that I was not familiar with. kudos on growing and cultivating this movement in such a positive way. Now all we need is a Brights flag to fly . . . Hehehe. Congratulations,"

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Sporting a Flag?

Should we at BC take a flag suggestion seriously? Anyone else interested

It is possible to resort to creating one’s own flag, of course. That’s what one family did for the winter solstice. We’ve received a smattering of earnest requests over time for a banner of “sports flag size” to be offered.

Maybe we should gauge the current interest. Email to the-brights@the-brights.net (simply use FLAG, nothing more, in upper case in the subject line) and we will see from the March responses if it the idea of making such an item available as merchandise (minimum markup) should or should not be carried forward.

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Secularism in Symmetry

Secularism’s “Angelic” Aim
(as perceived by David Brooks, New York Times columnist)

"As secularism becomes more prominent and self-confident, its spokesmen have more insistently argued that secularism should not be seen as an absence—as a lack of faith—but rather as a positive moral creed. Phil Zuckerman, a Pitzer College sociologist, makes this case as fluidly and pleasurably as anybody in his book, Living the Secular Life."

Secularisms "Devilish" Demographics
(as perceived by Phil Zuckerman, professor of sociology and secular studies at Pitzer College and author of Living the Secular Life, being interviewed by Sam Harris)

“[T]he vast majority of nonreligious Americans are content with their current identity; among those who now claim ‘none’ as their religion, nearly 90% say they have no interest in looking for a religion that might be right for them. Of course, one wrench in all this is birthrates. Religious people have more kids than secular people. So demographically, the future is unclear.”  (emphasis added)

Read the complete interview: “The Frontiers of Secularism”.

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Celebs & Sensibility

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Skating on Thin Ice (USA)

American research and innovation may be admirable, but will it remain such? Reduced federal research funding slows scientific enterprise at very real cost.

“What we are sorely missing in the Congress today are those who are science-minded. We are skating on thin ice.”

Mary Woolley, president of science advocacy group Research!America, decrying the fact that only two members of the US legislature currently hold PhDs in hard science.

Some organizations are working on that aspect.

“Success in both the public and private sectors relies on updating creaky national policies to reflect the excitement and potential of 21st century science and technology.”

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eBay & the Brights

Most of us know that eBay is one of the world’s most popular online marketplaces. More transactions are conducted on eBay every day than than either the New York Stock Exchange or the Nasdaq (NBC News, 2005).

But, did you know that eBay also supports over 30,000 charities, and The Brights’ Net is listed?

You can donate 10-100% of your next eBay sale to The Brights by listing your items through The Brights’ eBay Giving Works Page. All donations are tax deductible in the USA, and a portion of your seller fees are refunded once your item sells. The best part is that your listing is highlighted with a special eBay Giving Works charity ribbon! Charity listings often get more bids and higher prices than regular eBay listings.

To support The Brights today, please take a look at some of the items being sold on eBay. You might be surprised at what you’ll find there!

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At the International Forums

Technology takes an ever larger share of resources, but also does an ever larger share of our work.  What are the effects of the penetration of high technology into everyday life?  What are the effects of the inclusion of robotic pets in our lifestyles?  Do we surrender too much autonomy to our tools?  What moral obligations are due artificial persons?  These questions emerge from the speculations put in the topic, "Robots Getting Smarter, Humans Dumbing Down." Do you have a thought to share?

Tragically, American blogger Avijit Roy, the founder of a prominent Bengali blog site, has been killed in Bangladesh.  His wife was also seriously injured in the attack.  The founder of a prominent Bengali secularist blog site, Mukto-Mona, translated "Free Mind" in English, Roy often received death threats relating to his criticism of religion and his advocacy for secular principles.  Read further or comment in the Topic.

Participation requires only a brief and confidential registration.  See you there!


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