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No First Sunday Meeting
There will be The Smoky Mountain Advance on July 3rd and 4th instead. Contact aledendecker@me.com for details.
July 05, 2015
HIghway Trash Pick-up
Remember, the Rationalists of East Tennessee will have their summer trash pickup on Saturday, July 11 at 5:30 pm. The late hour is intended to avoid the midday heat. We should easily finish before sunset. Meet at the Burger King at the intersection of Lovell Road and the Pellissippi Parkway. Gloves, insect repellant, hat, and a picker-upper device are recommended. Should finish by 8 or 8:30.
July 11, 2015, 5:30
Skeptic Book Club for July
The book for our July meeting is “House of Debt: How They (and You) Caused the Great Recession, and How We Can Prevent It from Happening Again” by Atif Mian and Amir Sufi . The Great American Recession resulted in the loss of eight million jobs between 2007 and 2009. More than four million homes were lost to foreclosures. Is it a coincidence that the United States witnessed a dramatic rise in household debt in the years before the recession—that the total amount of debt for American households doubled between 2000 and 2007 to $14 trillion? Definitely not. Armed with clear and powerful evidence, Atif Mian and Amir Sufi reveal in House of Debt how the Great Recession and Great Depression, as well as the current economic malaise in Europe, were caused by a large run-up in household debt followed by a significantly large drop in household spending. Though the banking crisis captured the public’s attention, Mian and Sufi argue strongly with actual data that current policy is too heavily biased toward protecting banks and creditors. Increasing the flow of credit, they show, is disastrously counterproductive when the fundamental problem is too much debt. As their research shows, excessive household debt leads to foreclosures, causing individuals to spend less and save more. Less spending means less demand for goods, followed by declines in production and huge job losses. How do we end such a cycle? With a direct attack on debt, say Mian and Sufi. More aggressive debt forgiveness after the crash helps, but as they illustrate, we can be rid of painful bubble-and-bust episodes only if the financial system moves away from its reliance on inflexible debt contracts. As an example, they propose new mortgage contracts that are built on the principle of risk-sharing, a concept that would have prevented the housing bubble from emerging in the first place. Could we have prevented the Great Recession and its consequences? And what actions are needed to prevent such crises going forward? Please join us on Sunday, July 12, at 2:00 pm at Books-A-Million, 8513 Kingston Pike, Knoxville.
July 12, 2015, 2:00 - 4:00 pm
Third Sunday Meeting
RET member Professor Marty Carcieri will present a talk titled "Rawls and the Right to Die"
July 19, 2015, 10:30 am - 12:30 pm
Word Game
Why not discuss, define, defend, and play with our own opinions of some words pertinent to RET? Among those being: "Antireligion, antitheism, nontheism, atheism, agnosticism, Irreligion, skepticism, free thought, non-belief, naturalism, secularism, humanism, and rationalism." And if that does not exhaust our interest, we can throw in: "Theology, Philosophy, Morality, and Sociology". Just come prepared to discuss your concepts and understandings of any/all of the above ideas, and we will have a fine word-game afternoon. This meeting will be at 9219 George Williams Road; call 865.690.8742 for directions. There will be a light lunch before the discussion begins, so please bring a bottle, bag, or dish if possible (we always have plenty, if that is inconvenient for you). We hope you will join us for a Sunday afternoon of Rationalist word-play. Schera & Ted
July 26, 2015, 1:00 to 4:00 pm
Happy Birthday Ingersoll
Robert Green Ingersoll: born August 11, 1833 To celebrate his birthday we will learn about his history, influence, and have some readings (one by Ingersoll himself.
Aug. 02, 2015, 10:30
August Book Club
The book for our August meeting is “Sons of Wichita: How the Koch Brothers Became America's Most Powerful and Private Dynasty" by Daniel Schulman. Like the Rockefellers and the Kennedys, the Kochs are one of the most influential dynasties of the modern age, but they have never been the subject of a major biography until now. Not long after the death of his father, Charles Koch, then in his early 30s, discovered a letter the family patriarch had written to his sons. "You will receive what now seems to be a large sum of money," Fred Koch cautioned. "It may either be a blessing or a curse." Fred's legacy would become a blessing and a curse to his four sons-Frederick, Charles, and fraternal twins David and Bill-who in the ensuing decades fought bitterly over their birthright, the oil and cattle-ranching empire their father left behind in 1967. Against a backdrop of scorched-earth legal skirmishes, Charles and David built Koch Industries into one of the largest private corporations in the world-bigger than Boeing and Disney-and they rose to become two of the wealthiest men on the planet. Influenced by the sentiments of their father, who was present at the birth of the John Birch Society, Charles and David have spent decades trying to remake the American political landscape and mainline their libertarian views into the national bloodstream. They now control a machine that is a center of gravity within the Republican Party. To their supporters, they are liberating America from the scourge of Big Government. To their detractors, they are political "contract killers," as David Axelrod, President Barack Obama's chief strategist, put it during the 2012 campaign. Bill, meanwhile, built a multi-billion dollar energy empire all his own, and earned notoriety as an America's Cup-winning yachtsman, a flamboyant playboy, and as a litigious collector of fine wine and Western memorabilia. Frederick lived an intensely private life as an arts patron, refurbishing a series of historic homes and estates.
Aug. 09, 2015, 2:00 - 4:00 pm
Third Sunday Meeeting
RET member Michael Lance will present a talk based on the book "Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America", by David Hatcher Fischer. This cultural history explains the European settlement of the United States as voluntary migrations from four English cultural centers. Families of zealous, literate Puritan yeomen and artisans from urbanized East Anglia established a religious community in Massachusetts (1629-40); royalist cavaliers headed by Sir William Berkeley and young, male indentured servants from the south and west of England built a highly stratified agrarian way of life in Virginia (1640-70); egalitarian Quakers of modest social standing from the North Midlands resettled in the Delaware Valley and promoted a social pluralism (1675-1715); and, in by far the largest migration (1717-75), poor borderland families of English, Scots, and Irish fled a violent environment to seek a better life in a similarly uncertain American back country. These four cultures, reflected in regional patterns of language, architecture, literacy, dress, sport, social structure, religious beliefs, and familial ways, persisted in the American settlements. The significance of these regional cultures for American history up to the present.
Aug. 16, 2015, 10:30 am - 12:30 pm

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