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Rationalists of East Tennessee Newsletter

April 2021 

First Sunday Meeting

April 4 Sunday 10:30 - 12:30 

Video conference meeting using Zoom

This will be the ever-popular "BYOT (Bring Your Own Topic)" meeting. 

Along with any interesting topics, bring your own snacks and coffee. 

Topic: RET First Sunday Zoom Meeting

Time: Apr 4, 2021 10:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 970 1548 9815

Passcode: 835073

RET Skeptic Book Club

April 11      Sunday         4:00 – 6:00 pm                    

Video conference meeting using Zoom

Why We Drive: Toward a Philosophy of the Open Road

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 977 6626 9422

Passcode: 298920

     Once we were drivers, the open road [was] alive with autonomy, adventure, danger, trust, and speed.

     Today we are as likely to be in the back seat of an Uber as behind the wheel ourselves. Tech giants are hurling us toward a shiny, happy “self-driving” future, selling utopia but equally keen to advertise to a captive audience strapped into another expensive device. Are we destined, then, to become passengers, not drivers? Why We Drive reveals that much more may be at stake than we might think.

     Ten years ago, in the New York Times bestselling Shop Class as Soulcraft, philosopher-mechanic Matthew B. Crawford—a University of Chicago PhD who owned his own motorcycle shop—made a revolutionary case for manual labor, one that ran headlong against the pretentions of white-collar office work. Now, using driving as a window through which to view the broader changes wrought by technology on all aspects of contemporary life, Crawford investigates the driver’s seat as one of the few remaining domains of skill, exploration, play—and freedom.

     Blending philosophy and hands-on storytelling, Crawford grounds the narrative in his own experience in the garage and behind the wheel, recounting his decade-long restoration of a vintage Volkswagen as well as his journeys to thriving automotive subcultures across the country. Crawford leads us on an irreverent but deeply considered inquiry into the power of faceless bureaucracies, the importance of questioning mindless rules, and the battle for democratic self-determination against the surveillance capitalists. A meditation on the competence of ordinary people, Why We Drive explores the genius of our everyday practices on the road, the rewards of “folk engineering,” and the existential value of occasionally being scared sh*tless.

     Witty and ingenious throughout, Why We Drive is a rebellious and daring celebration of the irrepressible human spirit.   ---  Summary from the book cover

Third Sunday Meeting

April 18 Sunday 10:30 - 12:30 

Video conference meeting using Zoom

RET President, Jenn Taylor, will give a presentation titled "My Secular Journey" about growing out of religion. 

Bring your own coffee and snacks. 

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 936 1602 0221

Passcode: 152699

Reflections Sunday Meeting

April 25 Sunday 4:30-6:00 PM

Video conference meeting using Zoom

Fit and Trim for Privilege Rather Than Health?


Why are we so interested in working out?  Is it for our health?  To finish in the top 10 in the state championships?  To show off our hard working nature and achievements?  As a status sign to get the privilege we feel we deserve?  To buy into the system?

Check this out:

Why are Americans obsessed with fitness? The answer: Neoliberalism (


Drop in and tell us about your experiences.  Did fit and trim work to get you any privilege?  Does pretty and trim work?  Ever get judged based on physical issues you can’t control?

Trash Crash

RET January 9, 2021 Adopt-a-Highway Trash Pickup Ordeal

Reported by Bob Morris

Our normally uneventful January Pellissippi Parkway trash pickup was rudely awakened into the reality of crushed metal, police, and outlaws that afternoon.  We started out with the usual meeting at Burger King and the distribution of trash bags and safety vests, all at the recommended socially safe distance.  The group was a bit smaller than usual, but the weather was okay so we each were assigned a stretch of roadway and a buddy or two to work with.  My duo started near the RET sign on the south bound lanes of the Parkway.  We made good time picking up a fair amount of trash and slowly worked our way south dropping off filled bags along the way.  My fateful stop was between the Lovell Road and Dutchtown Road exits.  I parked the car well off the shoulder on the grass, and the two of us walked north picking up trash.  After we were about a quarter mile up the road, the fellow I was working with happened to turn around and exclaimed, “Someone just hit your car!”  I turned and looked and noticed that my Subaru Forester had been pushed back about 20 feet from where I had parked it.  Apparently, a guy in a white Crown Victoria, trying to pass, turned into the left lane, passed a car, and then overcorrected, swerving over two lanes, the shoulder, and into rear driver’s side of my car in a glancing impact.  He then managed to swerve back into the right lane of the Parkway and came to a stop about an eighth mile from the impact.  As we would soon find out, his car was still driveable.  Mine was not, lacking an attached rear wheel.

We hustled back to the scene and met the driver near the damaged Subaru.  He asked if we were okay and said he called the police.  We said we were fine, and he went back to his car.  A few minutes later he drove off.  Fortunately, a guy in a black pickup truck had seen the accident and pulled over to the shoulder.  He was also about an eighth mile down the road near the Crown Victoria.  After the damaged, but still driveable Crown Victoria fled the scene, the guy in the pickup truck followed and called the police.  At this point my trash picking up partner called 911, and a state trooper showed up a short time later and started the accident investigation.  Meanwhile, the Crown Victoria had gotten off at Dutchtown Road, travelled a bit more and was involved in another crash with a stationary object which finally disabled his vehicle.  The police soon arrived, and the errant driver was taken in for a DUI and driving with a suspended license.   

The Subaru was towed to a wrecker lot at an outrageous price and then towed to a collision shop in Oak Ridge where it was declared totaled after a few days.  I got a ride home from my son, and fortunately the uninsured motorist coverage handled almost all of the episode’s cost.  The (new?) RET member went home, probably having had more than enough action for one day.  By then, the rest of the pickup crew had arrived and were surprised by the event and glad no one was injured.

Currently, the RET board is reviewing the Trash Pickup activity and looking for a new location, one with less traffic and hazards.  The state Adopt-a-Highway coordinator was notified, and he offered some new locations.  We will see what happens.  The April Trash Pickup has been cancelled.  We hope to have a new location by July.


The Rationalists of East Tennessee is continuing to meet using the video conferencing program Zoom.  Our Zoom meetings can be accessed with a traditional phone if needed. 

If the meeting will be recorded, that fact will be announced at the beginning of the meeting. Attendees who wish to remain anonymous can use an alias name and turn off their cameras (or stay out of view of their cameras).

When you join a Zoom meeting, you will see a screen “Join a Meeting” and a box with your name in it. You can change your name in the box before joining a meeting so that you maintain anonymity. 

Please contact if you need assistance using Zoom.


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Edited by Sharron King:
Opinions expressed are those of authors and/or editors and are not necessarily the opinions of RET.

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