One reader's rave

"Thanks for the newspaper with your book review. I can’t tell you how impressed I am with this terrific piece of writing. It is beautiful, complex, scholarly. Only sorry Mr. Freire cannot read it!" -- Ailene

Help the Honey Badgers in their fight for freedom of speech and thought!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Uploading My Art

The other day I decided to start trying to sell my art, most of which is mathematically inspired. I've just uploaded some of it to my flickr account. My user name there is stripeyseven, and you can find my work in the set called "My art."

Monday, December 22, 2008

Exchanging Languages

Relax! That doesn't mean I'm posting in Korean from now on. Not yet anyway. What it does mean is that I've started conversing with a Korean exchange student, with the object of learning each other's languages.

Why am I doing this? you may ask. Well, a Penn undergrad I met at the ICSA conference in June, on hearing of my efforts to overcome social anxiety -- and especially my desire to get more comfortable in one-on-one interaction with people -- suggested I look for ads from people seeking English conversation. In the past month or two I've noticed a couple such ads on Penn's campus (where I use the library's computers for Net access) and responded to them. The first person had already found a conversation partner, but the second was still looking. After exchanging emails I got a call from her yesterday, and met her (with her sister) this evening. I'll be seeing her again Friday.

I got that call while receiving a ride home from a HumanLight celebration in Horsham, hosted by the Humanist Association of Greater Philadelphia and sponsored by PhillyCOR, the Philadelphia Coalition of Reason. HumanLight is a humanist winter holiday officially observed on 23 December. The celebration featured food and drink,a speech or two, a storyteller, live music, and the gathering of all the volunteers for a group picture. The ceremonial part involved the lighting of three candles representing reason, hope, and compassion. The mother candle was red while the daughters were green, yellow, and blue, but I don't know whether these colors symbolized anything.

The ceremonies opened with singing a song specifically written for HumanLight, and closed with John Lennon's "Imagine." I get rather emotional from that song.

Today, I was pleased to see that PhillyCOR has its own display on the mall by the National Visitors Center, set a little further back than the Hannukah menorah and the Nativity creche. PhillyCOR's display is a giant globe on a pedestal, "brought to you by your friendly neighborhood atheists, humanists, and freethinkers."

Eric Hamell

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Early yesterday morning, a college professor told me and my classmates to write an essay (don't remember what about), and that we each should put not only our name on it, but also something that would distinguish our work from others'.

I was worried that I wouldn't know what to write, but before thinking about that I made up this logo, based on my initials.

Then I woke up.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Quote of the Month

"Is there reason to be happy that the insufferably religious George W. is soon to be history? 'I believe that Christ died for my sins and I am redeemed through him. That is a source of strength and sustenance on a daily basis.' That was said by someone named Barack Obama.[1] The United States turns out religious fanatics like the Japanese turn out cars. Let's pray for an end to this." -- William Blum

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Help Keep Sex Worker Media Alive

The nation's premier magazine by and about sex workers, maintained by an all-volunteer staff, is in serious financial trouble. I'm going to help them in whatever ways I'm able and hope you will too. Here's a recent communication from outgoing editor-in-chief Rachel Aimee, including some special premium offers to loosen you generosity:

Help Us Keep the Hustle Up–And Get Cute $pread Stuff!

Back in August, I sent an email to the $pread staff list saying I thought we were going to have to stop publishing. Within the space of a year, most of our core staff members had left, and I was feeling burned out to the point where I had to accept that it was time for me to leave too. When we started this magazine, we optimistically figured it would only be a couple of years before we were able to start paying our staff. Turns out the publishing industry is a brutal place for an independent magazine like $pread, and four and a half years on this ass-kicking project is still completely dependent on an all-volunteer staff, many of whom put in 20 plus hours a week on top of their day—or night—jobs.

Fortunately the new team of $preadsters are still enthusiastic enough to see our daily struggles as challenges instead of defeats. (2008 has certainly brought its fair share of challenges: On top of our collective mass burnout, we’ve had to move offices twice in the past six months and are now operating our of a six by six foot closet packed from wall to wall with boxes of magazines.) The problem is that $pread is not going to be able to carry on like this forever. Eventually even our most devoted volunteers will burn out, and it’s really difficult to keep morale up—and the magazine going—with such a high staff turnover. We’ve talked about cutting our Outreach Program to move toward financial stability, but we don’t want to have to stop sending free magazines to low income sex workers. That’s why we need your support.

To inspire you to support $pread this holiday season we have two new cute giveaway items to tempt you with, both available until January 31st.

DONATE $50 or more to get the cute $pread tote bag, pictured above!

Or, DONATE $25 or more to get your very own $pread magnet.

You can also get your hands on either of these items by becoming a Member or Lifetime Member, and of course, you can always support us the old-fashioned way by subscribing!

The holiday season is upon us! A subscription to $pread, t-shirt, tank top, tote bag, back issues, and art posters are the perfect way to give to your friends while supporting an organization you love. Please help us keep the hustle up—and your favorite magazine in print—by buying, donating, and supporting. Thank you!

Eric Hamell

Workers Occupy Chicago Factory

I received the following news yesterday. Bank of America's homepage doesn't offer a fax number or email address, but if you click on "Contact" you'll be directed to a web form. The article tells how you can contribute financially.

Workers occupy Chicago factory! Give your support!
By Jill White
Published Dec 6, 2008 9:18 PM

Dec. 6—This afternoon more than 250
community activists, union leaders and others gathered in a rally in front of
Republic Windows Factory on Chicago’s northwest side. They were voicing their
solidarity with the workers who have refused to leave the factory in protest
over the shutdown of the plant. Speakers included members of the Service
Employees International Union; Teamsters; Chicago Teachers Union; American
Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees; and others.

In an interview following the rally, Armando Robles, President of UE Local
111, described the anger felt by the workers when they were told, with so little
notice, that not only were they losing their jobs but that their insurance
policies had been canceled and workers were not to receive vacation earned or
severance pay.

Robles said that according to Illinois law, the company is required to give
75 days notice of a shutdown, or pay workers for 75 days. The company blames the
Bank of America for not providing a line of credit to the company. But,
according to Robles, management has been lying to the workers and the union
about the status of company.

Following the vote to stage the sit-in, Robles described how the management
tried to isolate reporters from the workers, but they blocked the door so the
reporters could remain in the meeting.

Another worker, Silvia Magna, described how shocked and angry the workers
were when they found out they were losing their jobs. She said they all work
hard, and yet she only brings home $328 a week.

Many workers have been cut and lost fingers on the job. Magna said the
workers are determined to stay in the plant until “we get what we worked for.”
They blame both the owners and the bankers because the owners have not been
honest with the workers.

Magna says they are fighting not only for themselves and their families, “but
to be an inspiration to other workers to fight like we are. We are making
history because people have not seen the workers fight from inside the plants.”
She says the workers will do whatever is necessary and requested solidarity from
people from the outside.

UE organizer Leah Fried said that if there is no satisfactory resolution at a
meeting Dec. 8, and all else remains stable, the next solidarity action in
Chicago will be held at noon Tuesday, Dec. 9, at Bank of America at 231 S.
LaSalle. Fried said people should email and fax Bank of America demanding the
workers receive their pay due. Chicago supporters are encouraged to come by and
sign a solidarity banner that is posted in the plant lobby. Financial
contributions should be sent to Local 111, UE Hall, 37 S. Ashland Ave., Chicago,
IL 60607.

Articles copyright 1995-2008 Workers World. Verbatim copying
and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without
royalty provided this notice is preserved.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Foxhole Myth Rears Its Head Again

In an otherwise well-reasoned opinion piece about the hypocrisy of many erstwhile "free (capitalist) market" ideologues, David Faris regrettably (and quite superfluously to his actual point) repeated that old canard about atheists in foxholes. I've posted the following comment which I'll also submit as a letter to the editor:

It was disappointing to see David Faris trot out that old myth about there being no atheists in foxholes. There are plenty of atheists around who've been in foxholes and can testify otherwise. I'm optimistic that, once this is brought to his attention, Faris will realize how insulting this saying is.

Eric Hamell