It’s oh so quiet (or, personal stuff)

I’ve been quiet for the past few weeks. Through October, you won’t have seen much blogging from me either here or over at my personal blog – though I did make a guest appearance at Maria Maltseva’s blog on the Skeptic Ink network, and as previously mentioned I did an extended interview for RationalHub.

Still, you haven’t been hearing much from me, so here’s a bit of the story for those who are interested. A large chunk of October was devoted to some intensive work on my new book, co-authored with Udo Schuklenk, 50 Great Myths About Atheism. This can be seen as, in a way, a sequel to our co-edited volume 50 Voices of Disbelief. We managed to submit the manuscript in mid-October, but since then there’s been a flurry of continuing activity, as we plot and plan the next steps with each other and our commissioning editor at Wiley-Blackwell. There will be more news as the book goes through the editing/publishing process, but we’re very excited about it, and we’re getting great positive feedback from the publisher. As the title might suggest, we’ll be examining a wide range of myths, misconceptions, slanders, and half-truths about atheism and atheists. Amongst it, we’ll also have quite a bit to say about the rise of modern atheism and why we think atheism is the most reasonable response to the God question.

I also have a deadline looming for another book, Humanity Enhanced, which will be published by MIT Press. This has involved a lot of work over the last few months, and it is intensifying as that deadline approaches.

October was a busy month in other ways. I stepped up a few weeks ago now to become the new chair of the board of a significant local arts body, here in Newcastle, Australia, the Hunter Writers’ Centre. This immediately involved me (in a modest way – I don’t want to hog credit that is not due to me) with the lead-up to the Centre’s annual flagship event, the award night for the prestigious (and even somewhat lucrative) Newcastle Poetry Prize. The NPP is one of the most important annual literary awards in Australia. And there’s the prospect of even more news relating to literature in Newcastle. That will have to wait for now, but I’m very pleased to find myself more closely involved in the cultural life of this beautiful city where I grew up, and to which I returned from Melbourne three years ago.

In the background of my own life, though, there are ongoing and worrying health issues in my family (not directly involving me!). That’s placed some demands on my energy level just lately … well, since about June. Like a lot of people my age, or even a bit younger, I’m now facing issues to do with the problems of elderly parents/in-laws.

All in all, October wasn’t a great month for optional activities like blogging. However, I’m very pleased to be associated with Talking Philosophy, and I expect to resume normal transmission soon (one nice thing about belonging to a good multi-person blog like this, of course, is that it goes on even if one contributor is a bit quiet for a period).

I’ll also be resuming more normal transmission at my personal blog, though I expect that the mix of material over there will continue to change. I did take one step with it last night, changing its title from the rather difficult and esoteric “Metamagician and the Hellfire Club” to simply “The Hellfire Club”. That’s something I’ve had in mind for some time now.

As I explain over there, the “Metamagician” part did have some meaning back in 2006 when I started blogging. In fact, it’s still a name that I use in various places on the internet. However, it really has very little to do with anything that happens on the blog, and as far as I can see just causes unneeded difficulty and confusion. The “Hellfire Club” bit still makes sense, though, and not just because there’s something of an anti-religious streak going on there.

Getting back to Talking Philosophy, we seem to be going from strength to strength, with some fine additions, in recent times, to our list of contributors. It’s also been especially gratifying that we’re picking up more coverage from mainstream media and other high-traffic sites. I’m sure that we’ll see even more strengthening of this blog as the months roll on.

[Pssst … my Amazon author’s site.]

  1. I would like to hear more about your book “Humanity Enhanced”.

    There has been a lot of talk about human enhancement lately, especially about the idea of ‘moral enhancement’.

  2. Yes, that will come up in the book. “Moral enhancement” may not (well, will not) be a main focus, as there are many other issues in this whole “enhancement” labyrinth. But for example, I’ll at least need to say something about Unfit for the Future by Persson and Savulescu.

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