In Memoriam: Gangubai Hangal, 1913 – 2009

A tiny woman with a preternaturally deep voice, Gangubai Hangal achieved national fame in India as one of the greatest singers of the ornate improvisational artsong called khyal (“imagination” in Arabic). She died on Tuesday, July 21st, 2009, at a hospital near her home in Hubli, Karnataka State, India. She was ninety-seven years old and had given her last public concert two years before.

She overcame the dual barriers of caste and gender to become a nationally revered and respected artist. Her life was marked by rejection and sorrow, but her extraordinary voice and powerfully emotional singing brought her acclaim and international recognition.

Her story spans almost a century; her life as a professional performer lasted at least seventy-five years. Keep reading, and find out about Gandhari “Gangubai” Hangal, a woman who triumphed over tragedy to become one of the century’s greatest voices.

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Mostly, there is not much good news…

350 days in the life of the retreating Mendenhall glacier near Juneau, Alaska.

The Extreme Ice Survey is the most wide-ranging glacier study ever conducted using ground-based, real-time photography.

Y’all should subscribe to’s YouTube channel.

Growing Up Atheist

I am a member of the most feared, hated and despised religious minority in the United States. I am an atheist. For years I never talked about it…because I’ve always been an atheist; I never thought there was anything particularly noteworthy about it.

But a few days ago I got into a conversation with an old friend who was in favor of tax-funded prayer in the public schools, and I “came out” as an atheist to him. The subsequent back-and-forth was long and deeply unsatisfying, and reminded me anew of the amazing array of our society’s misconceptions and fears about what atheists believe, about who we are, about what we’re like.


I grew up in a family of atheists, and most of the people I’ve been close to over the course of my life have been atheists, agnostics, secular humanists and Hindus. This article was originally written for the “Atheist Digest” series at Daily Kos, and I wanted to write it because one of the questions that is always asked about atheism is, more or less, “What shall we tell the children? How do we teach them ethics and morality without God?”

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