It’s Okay, Redux

I have a migraine, and the neighbors across the street are having one of their highly amplified fiestas. They’re usually fun, but today, it just means that, even if I could think, I couldn’t hear myself think.

So, instead of content, have the earworm that’s been plaguing me for…oh…a little over a week now.

Not how I’d phrase it, but I think it gets the point across.

Teeny, Tiny Rifts

Well, really, I doubt they’re even rifts for the most part. Different modes of working. Different skills to bring to the table. Different locations for organizing. Different emphases.

Last weekend, Alex Gabriel of The Heresy Club suggested a few of us get together to talk about this newfangled Atheism+ thing and how it relates to Atheism and Humanism. We ended up with him, me, Debbie Goddard (of CFI, AAH, and Skepchick), Jason, and Ophelia.

It was a fun talk, and I think it ended up covering territory we haven’t covered before. Watch out for Debbie. She’s very good at asking the questions that will make you do that. Part of the reason I love her.

As a little bonus, watch as I talk to Alex about generational differences in atheist rejection of homophobia while being very, very careful not to tell him his perspective is due to his age.

If you haven’t read them, here are a few of the blog posts we talk about in the video:

Update: Thanks to the lovely folks at A+ Scribe, there is now a transcript of this video.

Saturday Storytime: Honey Bear

It is always dangerous to bargain with the Fair Folk, but sometimes what they offer is exactly what you’re looking for. Sofia Samatar studies African languages and literature, as well as a writing speculative fiction. Her first book, A Stranger in Olondria, comes out next spring.

On my first visit to the clinic, I went through all the usual drills, the same stuff I go in for every two weeks. Step here, pee here, spit here, breathe in, breathe out, give me your arm. The only difference the first time was the questions.

Are you aware of the gravity of the commitment? I said yes. Have you been informed of the risks, both physical and psychological? Yes. The side effects of the medication? Blood transfusions? Yes. Yes. The decrease in life expectancy? Everything: yes.

That’s what you say to life. Yes.

“They chose us,” I told Dave. Rain lashed the darkened windows. I cradled tiny Honey in my lap. I’d dried her off and wrapped her in a towel, and she was quiet now, exhausted. I’d already named her in my head.

“We can’t go back,” Dave whispered. “If we say yes, we can’t go back.”

“I know.”

His eyes were wet. “We could run out and put her on somebody else’s porch.”

He looked ashamed after he’d said it, the way he’d looked when I’d asked him not to introduce me as “my wife, Karen, the children’s literature major.” When we first moved into the neighborhood he’d introduce me that way and then laugh, as if there was nothing more ridiculous in the world. Children, when almost nobody could have them anymore; literature when all the schools were closed. I told him it bothered me, and he was sorry, but only for hurting me. He wasn’t sorry for what he really meant. What he meant was: No.

That’s wrong. It’s like the Simkos, hateful and worn out with saying No to Mandy, saying No to life.

So many people say no from the beginning. They make it a virtue: “I can’t be bought.” As if it were all a matter of protection and fancy goods. Of course, most of those who say yes pretend to be heroes: saving the world, if only for a season. That’s always struck me as equally wrong, in its own way. Cheap.

I can’t help thinking the absence of children has something to do with this withering of the spirit—this pale new way of seeing the world. Children knew better. You always say yes. If you don’t, there’s no adventure, and you grow old in your ignorance, bitter, bereft of magic. You say yes to what comes, because you belong to the future, whatever it is, and you’re sure as hell not going to be left behind in the past. Do you hear the fairies sing? You always get up and open the door. You always answer. You always let them in.

Keep reading.

Actually, LGBT Status Is a Bit Like Polygamy or Addiction

First off, kudos to at least one RNC delegate for attempting to bring the party into the 21st century on marriage equality. Pat Kerby, congratulations on standing up to one nasty facet of the party you call home.

The effort failed, of course. And in the failure, Kris Kobach, one of Romney’s advisors, said something that is getting passed around:

Our government routinely judges situations where you might regard people completely affecting themselves—like, for example, the use of controlled substances. Like polygamy that is voluntarily entered in to. We condemn those activities even though they are not hurting other people, at least directly. So this is worded way too broadly for inclusion in the platform.

There is, however, a grain of truth to this statement. There are negative consequences to being LGBT or to using illegal drugs or to ending up in a polygamous marriage in the sects that practice it.

[Read more...]

Atheists Talk: Atheist Voices of Minnesota

Atheist Voices of Minnesota is a unique book. Other books on atheism are mostly philosophical or political. They are written by people who derive their income from their writing. They argue for atheism, or at least for secularism, and tell atheists how to be atheists. They are often specifically about religion.

Atheist Voices of Minnesota is none of those things. It is instead a collection of personal writings, talking about the effects of atheism on our lives and on our values. It covers voices who are not usually included in atheist projects. And it is receiving rave reviews.

This Sunday, we are doing an unusual show to talk about this unusual book. Nine of the contributors will gather in the studio to. Join us to hear:

  • Bill Lehto (editor)
  • George Kane
  • Jill Carlson
  • Ryan Bolin
  • Stephanie Zvan
  • Eric Jayne
  • James Zimmerman
  • Michelle Huber
  • Kim Socha

They will be talking about how the book was made and their contributions to it.

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 radio@mnatheists.org during the live show. If you miss the live show, listen to the podcast later.

Oh, That Dawkins

When all the pushback is getting you down, remember this.

When they tell you your credibility is gone, remember this.

When they tell you everyone hates you, remember this.

When they you the movement is abandoning you for your crazy ways, remember this.

That great controversialist, that person who has been called too confrontational, that person who told everyone religion is delusion, that person who has debated beloved religious leaders, that person who has publicly faced down the nastiest pundits of our time–Richard Dawkins–has no better means of telling you you’re wrong than posting passive-aggressive tweets trying to attack ad revenue.

I'm told Adblock stops websites earning money from ads: thwarts bloggers winding up controversy for sole purpose of raising hitcounts. True?
@RichardDawkins
Richard Dawkins
Boycott websites that deliberately wind up false controversy in order to generate advertising revenue
@RichardDawkins
Richard Dawkins
Greta Christina gave data suggesting controversy doesn't drive blog traffic, in which case boycott pointless, intuition wrong – as often
@RichardDawkins
Richard Dawkins

Remember this.

Horrible, Horrible Warnings

I don’t know anyone who kicks quite as much ass as Desiree Schell does. I don’t know that she does anything that isn’t designed to make the world a better place. Nor does she do it in any sort of haphazard way. She studies. She takes the best of what’s been done before and avoids what didn’t work.

In her talk at Imagine No Religion 2 this May, Desiree shared some of what she’s learned with us.

Maria Maltseva’s Big Laden Lie

At this point, I have no idea why anyone would trust a single thing that comes out of the mouth (or fingers) of Maria Maltseva, aka Bluharmony. She’s been caught in the middle of so many “Oh, I mispoke” and “Oh, I meant” and “Oh, why are you so mean as to hold me to what I said” moments that she really shouldn’t have a shred of credibility with anyone who’s been paying attention. But she’s at it again, and some people are eating it up because she’s lying about Greg Laden.

As an attorney, I can tell you that most people can’t afford to bring a libel lawsuit, so trashing people and lying about them is far more common than it should be. Also, a lot of us still don’t want to actually harm others, even after they’ve hurt us.

[...] 

On a personal note, and as I stated elsewhere, I don’t see why it was OK to publish my home address (where I was previously raped) but not Amy’s public address (and Jean, who is now defending Amy, snarled at me for complaining about it — oh, where was her super-sensitivity then?) Anyway, I don’t think Amy gets to dictate what people wear or find funny. And, unlike Amy, I don’t think that shirts supporting gender equality or parody jewelry are items that can or should be addressed in anti-harassment policies.

First paragraph included for the irony. Maltseva didn’t identify Greg here, but when another commenter claimed, “Greg Laden…published that alongside her real name and work info” (suggesting she’s been telling this story elsewhere), she responded.

First of all, thanks Julian, I appreciate your comment.

She didn’t correct the record then, and she didn’t correct it during a long Twitter conversation over the matter yesterday. So I’ll do it for her.

[Read more...]

Whose Liberty Are We Talking About?

Jean Kazez has a post up about differentiating between the various people who are opposing anti-harassment policies. She tries to make a distinction between real (dare I say, “legitimate”?) misogynists and those with other objections to the policies.

The respectable skeptic may be on board with all substantive feminist goals, but they lean very liberal on sexual issues and libertarian-ish on rules and codes. They may also have distinctive positions on purely empirical matters, like how often harassing incidents occur, and what the impact is of discussing them at blogs. Their views on what will advance the status of women may also be distinctive. It strikes me as inflammatory and distorted to accuse these people of misogyny, or even of being anti-feminists.  Even if some of these people dress their views in provocative clothing, underneath it all they do not have troubling attitudes toward women.

There are a number of moving parts in this paragraph. There’s the implication that those of us who championed anti-harassment policies are not very liberal on sexual issues (see Jean’s comment below for clarification on the kind of “liberal” we’re talking about here). There’s the idea that we haven’t addressed the frequency of harassment in general or within our movement, or the effects of talking about sexual harassment currently or in general, or otherwise backed up our own “distinctive positions” with rather a lot of data and explanation.

That’s not really what I want to talk about, though. I want to address this idea that “underneath it all they do not have troubling attitudes toward women.” [Read more...]