Photos of readers

Just when the tank runs dry, a helpful reader sends in his/her contribution. Today’s helper is Dennis Rankin from Ontario, whose words are indented:

I keep following your writings “religiously” since your publication of WEIT, including your website, although I seldom participate, with not much more than community college, and Spanish as my native language; your academic circle can sometimes be intimidating. Nevertheless, we have had a few short exchanges a while back that I like to use as bragging rights among my atheist friends. Thank you for that.

Here’s a selfie while hiking a tiny stretch of The Trans Canada Trail in Blackwater, Ontario, northeast of Toronto, within the Beaver River Wetland Conservation Area. And then a picture of a cricket (sorry I do not know the species) that I caught while getting gas.

As a last note, I’ve also been following Andrew Sullivan because of your writings and Sam Harris’s podcast. Sullivan is really good, and I can’t say I disagree with him on anything other than his Catholicism. I don’t get it. That’s when I throw my arms up, thinking: I guess human psychology is complicated.


  1. rickflick
    Posted August 1, 2020 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    I guess human psychology is complicated. – It probably is. But, sometimes I like to imagine it comes down to a few simple ideas. As for Catholicism, I’d go with: raised in it from infancy(brainwashed).

    • GBJames
      Posted August 1, 2020 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, but. Many atheists, perhaps most, were raised up in one form of religious brainwashing or another.

      • rickflick
        Posted August 1, 2020 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

        So the question is – how do some escape and others stay put? Now it’s getting complicated again.

        • GBJames
          Posted August 1, 2020 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

          Yeah, it is complicated.

          • Posted August 1, 2020 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

            Not my case. Growing up in Mexico, my family was more culturally catholic and only believers when cornered. I never bought it, though. Even from a young age, I always saw it as theatre for the weak-minded. A bit harsh, perhaps, but after putting it that way, my mother stopped asking me to go to church, even when she avoided it!

            I bet we all know very smart people that also believe in magical beings. So, yes, it’s complicated.

  2. merilee
    Posted August 1, 2020 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the hiking tip, Dennis. Will check it out. We’ve hiked most of the Bruce and part of Oak Ridges Trail. We have so many lovely hiking opportunities In southern Ontario, which have helped keep us sane during the pandemic.

  3. Diana MacPherson
    Posted August 1, 2020 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    I think that’s a tree cricket.

    • jezgrove
      Posted August 1, 2020 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

      Looks like a gas station notice cricket to me.

  4. Posted August 1, 2020 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    I think it might be a katydid.

  5. Janet
    Posted August 1, 2020 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    I would love to be as fluent and eloquent in a second language as you are! Thank you for the cute little green critter.

    • Posted August 1, 2020 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

      Thank you for your complement, and you are welcome.

      Jerry kindly changed if for of on “because of your writings and” that I only noticed after I had sent the message. Doh!

  6. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 1, 2020 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    … although I seldom participate, with not much more than community college, and Spanish as my native language …

    Wouldn’t let a little something like that keep you from participating more around here, Dennis. Heck, I rarely let an unfamiliarity with a topic stand in the way of my spouting off. 🙂 ¡Diganos, amigo!

    Here’s the Doobies in quarantine, just because your mention of a visit to a place called Blackwater put this worm in my ear:

    • Posted August 1, 2020 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

      I have heard of the Doobie Brothers but I am not familiar with their music. I guess I’m by-product the 80s and the heavier stuff that came out at the time, but this is a really cool song. Thank you for sharing Ken!

      I’ll try to participe more often.

  7. Posted August 1, 2020 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    I do not know whether it is an illusion, but that appears to me to be a very large katydid (or whatever).

  8. phoffman56
    Posted August 1, 2020 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    Lots of nice country up that way.

    I used to go once a year up to Udora, Ontario in the winter. A bunch of people of Finnish extraction have a big spread up there. They’d put on a 10 km. nordic (XC) ski race every year, but don’t seem to anymore, as only one of them still races with us old farts. I remember once when their 4 old men (2 really top–one, Risto Santala, had won Canadian championship decades ago) very nearly beat a university team (I won’t say which) of 20 year olds in the relay race. Actually, maybe they beat them; my memory fails.

    All my hiking has been west, not east, and north of Toronto, much closer for me. The Guelph trail, connecting between Bruce Trail and Grand Valley at Cambridge used to be very good hiking–likely still is, I bike and ski only now.

    • Posted August 1, 2020 at 10:38 pm | Permalink

      Udora, Ontario is really the middle of no-Tim-Horton’s-land.

      I have never had the chance to ski on snow, only on water. Comes with the weather growing up in Mexico, I guess. Also, boots 14 wide are hard to find or non-existent, I’ve been told.

      I used to do a bit of mountain biking mostly at Durham Regional Forest, and road biking around the same area, until I got hurt. Love it though. Thanks for your comment phoffman56.

  9. Posted August 1, 2020 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

    Not knowing what I’m talking about hasn’t stopped me often enough. People here are a forgiving bunch so join in.

  10. Posted August 2, 2020 at 1:28 am | Permalink

    HA! I also use my extremely brief interactions with Prof C. to brag to my atheist friends!
    “He read my article don’t you know?”

    Nice bug, btw. I came across a crowd of people on my Manhattan street a few moths ago admiring a similar specimen on a planter. Made a change from subway rats!

    D.A. J.D, NYC

  11. Posted August 2, 2020 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    When it was first opened, I wanted to find a way to walk (with a friend!) the entire length of the TCT. Now that seems unlikely. But I still enjoy seeing bits of it!

    • merilee
      Posted August 2, 2020 at 11:50 am | Permalink

      Keith, I first misread your comment as your wanting to walk the length of the TTC 😂(Toronto’s subway, streetcar, and bus system.)

    • phoffman56
      Posted August 2, 2020 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

      C’mon, Keith, don’t be a wimp.

      It’s only 17,000 kilometres. Won’t even take 3 years if you walk 17 km. every day. In the arctic, freezing to death in winter and being eaten by mosquitoes, blackflies and polar bears the rest of the year is just one of those minor obstacles.

      When finished, you could then do that Adam Shoalts’ route I recently mentioned as ‘book read’, more-or-less parallel to the Arctic Circle, all but a tiny bit disjoint from TCT, mostly dragging and poling a canoe for another 4,000 km. No worries about the much more dangerous cars there. It’s the grizzlies that have to worry about them in places, mostly further south.

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