Because we’re apparently on a bad tech movie kick, this Wednesday, May 22, we’ll be mocking Expect No Mercy. We don’t expect we’ll be giving this film any. There will be Tae Bo jokes.
This movie is freely available on YouTube.
May 19 2013
Rebecca Watson inhabits an alternate universe.
That’s how Ron Lindsay, CEO of Center for Inquiry, who is attending his organization’s own Women in Secularism conference, opened a blog post last night. That blog post is noteworthy mostly for missing the point and much of the text of the post it’s responding to. However, that is obvious enough that it’s already been pointed out in the comments and probably will be repeatedly noted in other blog posts across the ‘net. I don’t care much for pointing out the obvious, but there is one thing about this post I would like to address.
May 18 2013
The classic picture we have of a child victim of sexual abuse in religious institutions is a boy being abused by a Catholic priest. There are a couple of good reasons for that.
The first is that the hierarchy of the Catholic Church has given us a central group of people we can point fingers at for the decades of inaction (or action against victims) in their churches. The victims of Catholic priests have a powerful central authority to deal with, and it’s given them reason to band together and reason for news media to report on their immense struggle to be acknowledged.
The other reason is that, again because the Catholic Church has a central authority, it has made it easier for researchers studying church-facilitated abuse to use the Church as a proxy for religious institutions more generally.
The Catholic Church, however, is unusual. It is extreme both in the degree of organization and in the degree to which it limits the role of girls in the church. This means that stereotypes of child sexual abuse in the church are likely going to be misleading. Not surprisingly, a new study and report has found just that.
May 18 2013
Douglas F. Warrick writes surreal short stories, weird little realities that make internal sense but don’t leave the reader exactly comfortable. His first collection of these stories, Plow the Bones, is just out.
“You know the funny thing about these visits?”
Eisley looked up again. For a second, his glasses looked like they might flood with whiteness again, but just a flicker and then his eyes were on Cotton, those eyes that used to be so wild, so mad with the things he knew, now just sad and accommodating. He sighed and said, “What’s that, Cotton?”
“When you’re around,” Cotton said and shifted his weight on the hard, lumpy hospital bed. The memories of his dead–sleeping mind still stuck to him and he was grateful. “I feel better… Not… you know, not all the way right again. Just… I know where I am.”
Eisley nodded. His eyes left Cotton and he sighed again. He really hadn’t changed. Not in sixty damned years had he changed. His brown hair still crept down across his wide pale brow and he still brushed it back in place with the side of his finger like he didn’t even know he was doing it. He had the same suit. Even now, in spite of his compassionate tone and his pitying eyes, he was still performing, still impressing himself with his own aesthetic control.
Nobody really changed all that much. Not in the end.
The things in the shadows chattered and mumbled. They sounded like children… no… no, like the tapes he used to play for… for his grandkids, the ones, the… the Chipmunk tapes. In the van. On the way to… to what? Jesus, what a thing was this that he could remember the goddamned tapes but not the names of the kids he used to play them for. What a goddamned thing was this.
“I guess… this will probably be the last visit?”
Eisley leaned forward, rested his arms on his knees and squeezed his long thin hands together. His fingernails looked blue. His voice was clinical. “What makes you say that, Cotton?”
“I’m tired. I’m… running out of…” His mind locked up. He felt his mouth open up, heard the confused mewling, croaking noise that came out. He felt stuck, locked inside his own body, pounding his fists against the walls and screaming, No, damn it! Don’t do this to me now! Give it back, it’s mine, it’s been mine for eighty–four goddamned years! It’s my body, my mind, let me have it back!
“You’re running out. I understand.” Eisley stood up, brushed his hands down the front of his brown pants, the pleats standing out from the shadows they cast. They were too long on him, bunching around his well–polished loafers. This was the way with Eisley. Everything always polished. Everything always just slightly ill fitting. “I hope,” he said, his eyes disappearing again behind the great white flood in his spectacles, “that you’re right, Cotton. About this being the last, I mean. I hope that quite sincerely.”
The things in the shadows, slick and black, smiling with their whole faces, crawled forward. Cotton closed his eyes again.
May 17 2013
I went to the taping of Wits last Friday. A couple friends are fans of Neko Case and Kelly Hogan, and they asked us whether we wanted to join them. We said, “Sure.” Case makes good music, even if it isn’t the sort of thing I listen to on my own, and we’d been curious about Wits for a while. In their case, encouraging your audience to live-tweet is great viral marketing.
It was good show. In fact, it was nearly tailored to my interests. The comedy bits were highly surreal, Case and Hogan had some very frank things to say about living in poverty and are funny themselves, there was the appliance guy who chalked everything up to angels, and I got to see a Minnesota public radio audience try to figure out what to do during an Iron Maiden sing-along.
May 17 2013
The history of atheists, secular Humanists and other freethinking people is not well known. Freethought Historian, Dan Allosso is out to change that and bring to life people who have advanced society and at the same time lived outside the religious norms of their day. Allosso does this in his book about Charles Knowlton in his book: An Infidel Body-Snatcher and the Fruits of His Philosophy is the story of a freethinker. From the books description: “Charles Knowlton called himself a “free enquirer”—his enemies called him an “Infidel.” Knowlton was also a “Body-Snatcher.” As a medical student, Charles Knowlton stole corpses to dissect. Charles was caught and convicted, and served time in jail.
“The Fruits of His Philosophy” refers to a book Charles wrote in 1831. It was the first medical birth control manual in America, and Knowlton was convicted and imprisoned for that as well—this time with hard labor. Charles was an outsider for most of his life, swimming against the stream of religious and social conformity. This is a true story about why outsiders are important, and what they can achieve.
Growing up surrounded by superstition and hypocrisy, Charles developed an unswerving dedication to finding and telling the truth. If the truth he’d found was opposed by authorities in the church and government, Charles went ahead and told it anyway. This is a true story about the power of integrity.
It’s also an adventure story, full of conflict, drama, humor, and a little horror. Charles Knowlton led an unusual life; it gave him a radical outlook and led him to develop a unique personal philosophy. But it was what Charles did with this outlook and the fruits of his philosophy, that really mattered. This is a true story about how experiences become ideas, and how ideas become actions.”
Please join Scott Lohman as he interviews Dan Allosso on his new book and freethought history.
Listen to AM 950 KTNF this Sunday at 9 a.m. Central to hear Atheists Talk, produced by Minnesota Atheists. Stream live online. Call in to the studio at 952-946-6205, or send an e-mail to [email protected] during the live show. If you miss the live show, listen to the podcast later.
May 16 2013
I get rather a remarkable number of comments like this one about a letter I sent to CFI regarding Justin Vacula’s attendance at the Women in Secularism conference this weekend.
Attempting to have him excluded from the event –which is clearly the subtext of the letter you quote here, if it wasn’t why give them a “situation” to “resolve” – will force people like me, who are new to this whole kerfluffle, to believe that you really don’t have ideas worth defending.
Now, setting aside the fact that I, at least, am aware of several ways that conference organizers can limit the disruptiveness of an attendee short of barring them from the conference, and setting aside that I thanked CFI for taking one of those options, there’s a failure of critical thinking in this comment and comments like these that boggles my mind.
May 16 2013
Do you want to make all the policy? Or to put it another way, are you a public policy person with a dedication to secularism who is looking for a job?
This has been posted elsewhere, on blogs with a much larger readership. However, this is a specialized role, so the more people who see it the better.
American Atheists, Inc., a non-profit and nonpartisan educational and advocacy organization dedicated to the separation of religion and government and the equality of atheists, is seeking a qualified individual to take a leadership role in the development and implementation of its public policy activities. Responsibilities may include:
- Arranging and taking meetings with Congressional and Administration officials.
- Drafting action alerts for mass emails to American Atheists members.
- Collaborating with coalitions of national nontheistic and secular organizations to create
better outcomes for the nontheistic community in everyday life.
- Monitoring federal legislative and administrative policies.
- Monitoring state actions for bills and laws that violate the separation of religion and
- Developing policy proposals related to secularizing the tax code
- Preparing comments and other position statements.
- Other tasks as assigned.
Candidates should have at least 3 years of professional experience in public policy and legislative affairs and have a degree in law or related to public policy as well as knowledge of the Constitution, federal government, and the tax code; excellent analytic and problem solving skills; creativity and leadership; knowledge of the legislative process; ability to work independently; and excellent written and verbal skills.
Well-qualified candidates will have Capitol Hill experience and a demonstrated commitment to the nontheistic community or separation of religion and government issues.
American Atheists’ headquarters is in New Jersey; this position will be based at a satellite office in Washington, D.C.
Salary will be commensurate with experience. Additional benefits include paid sick, holiday, and vacation days; health insurance and dental insurance.
Please send a cover letter, resume, and a writing sample related to public policy or a public policy issue to [email protected] Applications will be considered on a rolling basis until June 3, 2013.
May 15 2013
Today is the final day to pre-register for CONvergence, the home of SkepchickCon. Today the price is $60 for an adult. Tomorrow…well, you can’t pay tomorrow. If you don’t pre-register, you’ll have to pay at the door and live with a badge that doesn’t look like all the other kids’ badges. And you’ll pay $100 for the privilege.
This four-day event brings you lots of tasty science and skeptical programming aimed at geek audiences. Skepchick has lined up a bunch of cool guests, largely women to talk about skepticism and science and communicating about both of them. See all the guest bios here.* See the schedule for programming here. Look at all the other cool things happening at CONvergence. Show their anti-harassment campaign some respect.
Then go register while the prices are still a steal.**
*Melanie, who is organizing this year’s SkepchickCon, made a tactical error. While trying to collect headshots and bios from us, she threatened to post drawings of us done by her kids. Here’s mine. I seriously considered using it for their page.
**No one will actually charge you with theft. They may ask you to applaud the horde of volunteers who keep the prices low, though. Do it.
May 14 2013
As I post this, Minnesota’s marriage equality bill should have just been signed into law by Governor Mark Dayton. To celebrate (again! more!), I bring you this charming picture.
I retweeted someone sharing this* yesterday, and Kelly Barnhill (you remember Kelly) responded to let us know that this image was produced by friends of hers. Spunk Design Machine created this for their Poster Offensive. Now I’m sad I didn’t know about the poster offensive when it happened.
Still, I can squee over it now. Because, you know, I needed another reason to be happy about this.