“Climate Consensus”, John Abraham on Atheists Talk

There is a much-bandied-about figure in the reporting of Global Climate Change: 97% of climate scientists agree that the science shows that the climate is warming and that the increase in global mean temperatures is due to human activity. This is a strong consensus, and it is based on readings that come from many sources. The temperatures of the ocean and air and the raising of the sea levels all indicate that the level of carbon dioxide and methane are acting as we would expect them to under anthropogenic climate change models. They are wreaking havoc on the natural world and threaten our food supplies and habitable environments. The ice caps at our poles are melting, and the Alps are shedding their glaciers. As a species, we are letting inaction on climate doom us, and we need to make some political decisions as to what we are going to do. Are we going to mitigate the effects of climate change? Are we going to adapt?

Dr. John Abraham is our guest for this show. Abraham is a research professor in thermal sciences at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul.  He is a member of the Climate Science Rapid Response Team and has been our guest in shows past. Dr. Greg Laden will conduct the interview.

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Secular Women Work: Fundraising, or How to Ask for Money

We have some video conversion and editing to do before we can release all the talks and panels from the Secular Women Work conference. We had several people tweeting the event, though, so I am collecting and releasing Storifies of the sessions over several days.

Asking for money, even for a project I believe in, is far outside my comfort zone. Obviously, I’ve managed to do it anyway, or we wouldn’t have been able to raise the funds for this conference. Still, it’s something that makes me anxious, and I know I’m not close to alone in that. So we put together a panel for Secular Women Work to demystify and even destigmatize the process.

I knew going in to the this panel that everyone on it had successfully raised money for their projects, so I wasn’t surprised at the practical advice that came out of it. I was surprised and pleased to see that our panelists had a wider variety of experiences than I thought. It’s always nice to be able to see what advice generalizes and what doesn’t. [Read more…]

Steel and Onions

In case you missed it Saturday night, Hugo Award voters soundly rejected at least the tactics of the Sad and Rabid Puppies. No Award won in all the categories only containing puppy picks, and Guardians of the Galaxy was the only nominee appearing on either slate to win an award. Voters in the WorldCon business meeting also endorsed changing Hugo nomination rules to make it much harder for a slate to dominate in the future, though the change will need to be ratified next year.

There has been, of course, much coverage and analysis of the puppies situation in the days following the awards ceremony. It ranges from affirmation of the diversity of the field to vote geekery to distress over the awards being marked by conflict to cheaply theatrical hand-rubbing to “Look at you so-called social justicey people who are willing to deny a woman an award.” File 770 will enable you to read up on this to your heart’s content–and far, far beyond. (If you want to read just one or two posts on this, I recommend starting with Alexandra Erin’s.)

The post I want to draw your attention to today, however, is from Foz Meadows, who writes about peeling an “onion argument”. [Read more…]

Secular Women Work: Taking Over from the Old Guard

We have some video conversion and editing to do before we can release all the talks and panels from the Secular Women Work conference. We had several people tweeting the event, though, so I am collecting and releasing Storifies of the sessions over several days.

We organizers originally conceived of the “Taking Over from the Old Guard” panel as a chance to talk about the challenges of entering a relatively homogenous space and working to make it meet the needs of a broader group of people. This panel was that and more, with panelists talking about developing themselves as leaders and about succession planning.

Kudos to all the panelists, who spoke frankly about their challenges in positions they still hold and communities they still work with, particularly to Heather Hegi, who spoke with her peers sitting in the audience. Also, if more people don’t start asking Amy Monsky to talk at their events, they’re really missing out. [Read more…]

Secular Women Work: The Future of the Movement

The Secular Women Work conference was this weekend. I found it intense and exhausting but very valuable. I’m told that people who weren’t organizing the conference had a different perspective on the exhaustion.

We have some video conversion and editing to do before we can release the talks and panels. We had several people tweeting the event, though, so I’ll be releasing Storifies of the sessions over the next several days.

First up is Debbie Goddard’s talk on the future of the movement and the challenges we face going forward. Goodness knows I’ve been discouraged at points over the last few years, but this talk goes a long way toward reminding me that making a better movement and meeting that movement’s goals is a possible thing. If I weren’t still tired from the conference, it would probably even make me start organizing something. [Read more…]

Secular Women Work Starts Today!

Yeah, so I’ve been running around like mad for the last week and some, and it won’t stop for a few more days. But our first speakers arrived in town last night, more are on their way, and we’ve only had one shipment of critically needed supplies go astray! (I should be getting a call about that any minute. *grump*)

I’m so very ready for this conference. I hope to see a bunch of you there.

Saturday Storytime: Catcall

All I can really say about this story from Delilah S. Dawson without spoiling it is, “Enjoy the punch in the gut.”

I was doing my homework at the dining room table last night, and my dad came in from cutting the grass. I knew he’d been drinking, because he was always drinking when he was in the yard. But he was drunker than usual, and I didn’t know that until his fist slammed into the table just a few inches away from my Calculus book.

“Why do you dress so weird?” he said in a haze of moldy wheat breath.

“Because I like it,” I answered. I moved the book over, sighed, and tapped my pencil against the table. “Do you mind?”

“Hell, yeah, I mind. You look like a lesbian. Short hair and baggy shirts and army boots. Is that what you are?”

I bit my lip and forgot everything I knew about numerals. My dad hadn’t talked to me much since I’d gone through puberty, and I’d just gotten accustomed to being ignored most of the time and staying out of his way when he noticed me. I wasn’t ready to have this conversation, but his other fist landed on the other side of my book, and I could feel his sweaty shirt against my back. My mom wouldn’t be home from work for another hour, and there was nowhere else to go, nowhere at all.

I took a deep breath.

“Yeah, maybe I am gay. Is that a problem for you?”

I didn’t know if it was a lie or a truth or a half–truth, but does it matter?

He shoved my face down into the math book, the paper cold against my cheek. “No, you’re not.”

I exhaled, my hands in fists. “Make up your mind, dad.”

He growled and pressed harder, and I closed my eyes and wished that he would quit, that he would just explode, that he would catch fire and scream and go away forever with his stupid face and bad breath and bigotry.

Something popped overhead.

“What the hell?” He released me and backed away, staring at the dining room chandelier. All four bulbs had exploded, and tiny bits of hot glass covered the table, my book, the arms of my sweatshirt. His bloodshot eyes jerked back and forth from me to the chandelier. His hands were covered in glass, red with tiny cuts and burns.

“Did you do that?”

I smiled, or maybe sneered. “Yeah, maybe I did. Is that a problem?”

“You didn’t. You can’t.”

I didn’t blink, didn’t waver.

“Make up your mind, dad,” I said.

Keep reading.

Democrats Can’t Win on the White Vote

Like most progressives, I’ve seen far too many people I otherwise respect talking about how terrible it was that Black Lives Matter protestors have interrupted Bernie Sanders campaign events. “Why make this harder for Bernie? Don’t they want a progressive elected?”

Dana did a good job rounding up perspectives from POC activists and cultural critics that folks should really go read on this. I mean, why ask, “Why?”, when people have been trying to tell you for days? There are plenty of answers if you really want to know.

I’m not in a position to add to any of that analysis, but I can give you some numbers to back up what they’re saying. [Read more…]

Readings in Sex and Gender

There have been plenty of people who appear to want education and/or debate on the topics of sex and gender recently. I’m not going to give you debate, in part because this isn’t my field. I don’t know enough to make any debate produce anything useful.

Education, however, I can help with. If you want to understand sex, gender, and how debates over both have been used against trans people, you’d do worse than to read these free, online resources. And even if you do want debate, you want to be debating from a place of education, right? [Read more…]

Saturday Storytime: The Totally Secret Origin of Foxman: Excerpts from an EPIC Autobiography

My friend Kelly McCullough just launched his new book, School for Sidekicks, this week. (No, literally, he launched it.) It’s his first middle-grade book after a history of writing for adults, and it’s getting ridiculously good reviews. This story is set in the same universe, though the protagonist and the intended audience are both older.

The railway provided us with a little slice of urban wilderness mostly cut off from the city around it. We could sit on the brush-covered slopes out of sight of anyone official and do the sorts of things that teenage boys playing hooky have always done. There were bums around, sure, but we had something of a truce with the regulars. Besides, we were fifteen and sixteen—you know, invulnerable.

But tonight was different. Tonight we were going to test my rocket board. It was December fifteenth, around six p.m.—solidly dark and into rush hour. There’d been some real snow finally, which made the pavement into a death trap for a skateboard going a reasonable speed. Add in the rocket . . . yeah. Not going to happen. Not inside the warehouse either. I’d already had plenty of warning about the dangers of mixing rocket fuel and interior spaces.

That’s how I’d settled on the railway. Not only was it clear of snow, but it was a perfect straightaway. I’d had to rig up a custom wheel set and a magnetic lock, but now the only way off that rail involved me hitting the toe release. That meant I didn’t need to worry about turns or bumps or anything but staying on the board. Perfect!

Michael shook his head as I locked the board onto the rail. “I don’t know, Rand. Don’t you think this is kind of dangerous? Maybe an unmanned test first . . .”

“Don’t worry. I’ve already tested the thrust on the rocket seventeen ways from Sunday. It’ll barely get me up to fifteen miles an hour before it tops out. A bike goes way faster than that. If anything goes wrong I can jump clear easy. It’ll be fine.”

“What about the bridge?”

“That’s nearly a mile away. I don’t even have enough fuel to make it that far. I’m going to go half a mile on rocket assist, max. I’ll coast to a stop well short of the bridge. I’ve done all the math more times than I’d care to count.”

I was more nervous than that, but hell if I’d admit it to Michael. I did check the straps on my helmet and various pads one more time. I know I didn’t mention them in the script version of this scene, but that’s the movies, man. Safety gear isn’t cinematic. I stepped up onto the board.

“Wish me luck.”

“Good luck, crazy man!”

I poised the toe of my sneaker above the rocket engage, and . . .

The world vanished with an intense purple flash like the world’s biggest black-light strobe firing off. For one brief instant I could see Michael’s skeleton like a green framework within the translucent purple outline of his body—oddly, nothing else seemed to go translucent. But I barely registered that over a sensation that felt like someone pumping every cell in my body full of hydrogen and lighting it on fire.

KRAKOOOOM!

The sound of the Hero Bomb hit like summer lightning taking out the tree I was leaning on. If not for the sheltering banks of the railway, I think it might have knocked me off the board. Is it any wonder I accidentally stomped on the rocket ignition?

Keep reading.