2012-07 Latino Atheists Meeting

We had a meeting of the Latino Atheists more than a week ago. The monthly writeup is late.

The roster was myself, Jose, Martha, Jaime, Luz (Jaime’s wife), Lee, Victoria, Mike and Elyse (I think that is how it is spelled) and Franco and Margaret. Pablo showed up much later as well.

The new people were Mike and Elyse and Lee. Lee is from Taiwan. I arrived late, so I did not hear her story.

I have seen this trend that we get some new people at a meeting, and then they never come back. At least it’s not just Jose, Jaime and me complaining about low attendance.

A big chunk of the meeting was Franco giving prophecies of doom about the environment, pollution and energy. He says that climate change and pollution have passed the point of no return. He says that people put too much faith in technological solutions because those solutions may be unfeasable or have aftereffects and/or byproducts that people ignore. He said that we need to consume less. Early in his speech, Luz asked him if he thinks it is a contradiction to talk about pollution if he uses plastic, objects that are made of plastic (like a cel phone) or drive a car. He insisted that what he does makes no difference. Margaret says that they use as little plastic as possible, almost zero.

But I think that Luz asked a valid question. If you do not consume less, then how can you persuade others to consume less? And if you are worried about the environment, is it rational to wait for everybody else to change? Also: I do not think that consuming less and technological solutions are mutually exclusive. And I think that we should also push efficiency, but I do not have a solution to the issue of the rebound effect. This phenomenon is that when you make a process more efficient then people do more of it. So making energy generation more efficient may result in higher consumption.

Jose also gave us a video assignment: Arithmetic, Population and Energy  by Dr. Albert Bartlett, professor emeritus at the physics department at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

A few people came late, and Jose said that when people come late they should tell a joke. I think we should get rid of this rule. Few peopel can be funny on demand. Someone told us a joke, and they had to point out the punch line after they gave it.

As for Mike and Elyse: Mike did more of the talking. Mike and Jose both said that we should not shy away from the term atheist, which I agree with. Many people avoid that term since “atheist” has a bad image in this country. But by avoiding using the term, they are not doing anything to change the negative image. Mike also talked about his Polish grandmother’s deathbed de-conversion. It is interesting that even the non-Latinos at the meeting are from Catholic ethnicities.

This may be the last meeting with Martha for a while. She is being transferred to a small town in Iroquois County, Illinois. All the towns in Iroquois County are small towns. Illinois is the only state with an Iroquois County.

One theme that I am seeing come up at the Latino Atheists meeting (as well as other atheist/skeptic meetups in general) is the isolation that many female atheists/skeptics can feel, particularly minorities. It first came to my attention when Black Nonbelievers of Chicago brought Sikivu Hutchinson here for a lecture.

There was some discussion about whether or not to use Atheist Nexus for communication, or to use Facebook. Someone pointed out that there are ways to make stuff really really private on Facebook. Personally I do not like Facebook, and they have a habit of changing privacy settings and default settings without telling people.

Next month, Jose will be in DC. I will be in Austin that month, so depending on when the meeting is one of us will not be there. So there may not be a monthly write-up.

Image from Wikipedia page for Mexican state of Baja California

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