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Jul 30 2014

The Reading List, 7/30/2014

I share a lot of links on Twitter and Facebook that I don’t blog about because I don’t have much to add. The reading list is a periodic feature where I share those links with my blog audience too. Of course, you’re still welcome to follow me on Twitter.

Around FtB

The Wider Web

Jul 29 2014

Sexual Assault Plus

I don’t usually do reposts so soon after the original publication. This was originally posted last fall, when Dawkins was talking about “mild pedophilia. He’s ranking rape again. It’s worth pointing out that Dawkins isn’t doing this because no one provided him with any better information. He’s been told this is inappropriate and why, in great detail.

Yesterday, Richard Dawkins issued an apology. In talking about his own sexual assault at a young age, he had generalized their experience from his. He was relatively unaffected by the experience and expressed his opinion that the same was true of “all of us”. He apologized for doing so.

Dawkins’ apology was very welcome, if incomplete, as was his admission that he should not speak to the experience of other victims of sexual assault. Alex has a pretty good take on what it missed. I don’t agree 100%, but I’m close enough not to quibble. Instead, I’d like to dig into this idea of degrees of assault. What Dawkins has had to say on the topic isn’t entirely wrong, but his naive take on the topic obscures as much as it reveals.
Read the rest of this entry »

Jul 28 2014

What Happened After I Reported

This is a guest post from Elise Matthesen. It is a follow up to her post from last year, “How to Report Sexual Harassment“. Find more background and reactions on the situation with WisCon here.

Last year at WisCon 37, I told a Safety staffer that I had been treated by another attendee in a way that made me uncomfortable and that I believed to be sexual harassment.  One big reason I did was that I understood from another source that he had reportedly harassed at least one other person at a convention. I learned that she didn’t report him formally, for a lot of reasons that aren’t mine to say. I was in a position where I felt confident I could take the hit from standing up and telling the truth. So I did.

I didn’t expect, fourteen months later, to have to stand up and tell the truth about WisCon’s leadership as well.
Read the rest of this entry »

Jul 28 2014

The Time Lord Was Fine, but Creation?

A friend of mine sent me a link to a news release from Big Finish Productions, producers of Doctor Who audio plays. They’re celebrating their 15th anniversary with some reminiscences, and this one made him think of me.

“One other thing sticks very closely in my mind from running Big Finish in 2001 – death-threats. The aforementioned Bloodtide was a brilliant script by Jonny Morris, his first for us. I asked him for a Silurian story, he opted to put the Sixth Doctor and Evelyn on the Galapogas Islands with Charles Darwin and thus emerged an amazing story about evolution of the species from both a human and Silurian perceptive, with the villain of the piece taking responsibility for genetically engineering mankind in the first place. And cue the complaints, every single one from certain areas of America known as the Bible Belt. And within these outraged letters came three death threats. I had apparently challenged these peoples’ belief in God, and they were going to make me pay.

“Having offended possibly the same group earlier in the year by not spotting that Clay Hickman had inverted a pentagram on the cover of Minuet in Hell (which we changed for later repressings and the music collection), I really had run out of patience so rather than cowering from their self-righteous wrath, I pinned the letters up in the Big Finish office and delighted in the fact that a play I had produced and directed (not written, mind) had caused such a bizarre amount of vitriol from people whose grasp on the fundamental concepts of fiction was shaky at best.

“Yes, what a fun year 2001 was :-)”

A time-traveling alien with two hearts is fine. A race of lizard people who have lived alongside humanity unseen is just dandy. But don’t you dare let your fictional creatures say anything about Creation or we’ll threaten to kill you.

Jul 27 2014

The Reading List, 7/27/2014

I share a lot of links on Twitter and Facebook that I don’t blog about because I don’t have much to add. The reading list is a periodic feature where I share those links with my blog audience too. Of course, you’re still welcome to follow me on Twitter.

Around FtB

  • Inclusive Becomes Sexist, In One Easy Step–”What the research is telling us is what feminists have long realized: you don’t do your business any favors by excluding half of the potential brainpower.”
  • CONvergence 2014 panel audio: Alien Conspiracy Theories–”Come join us as we talk about some of the alien conspiracy theories that have entered into popular culture, what’s implausible, what’s impossible, and what’s just good OBEY clean family STAY ASLEEP fun.”
  • Do not tell me to stop fighting–”And Glenn herself of course is not above ‘infighting.’ She’s doing it right now. She’s doing it in her latest video about ‘Atheism + pussies’ (her blurb) and she’s doing it in this very post.”
  • Movement cohesion–”The surest way to earn my enmity, my directed criticism, is to ask us to stop other fights so we can pretend we’re all one big happy big-tent family.”
  • Shermer rides again!–”Pretending that climate scientists want everyone to be ‘swept away’ to deal with ‘one threat’ is simply dishonest. Reprehensibly dishonest.”
  • Depression and Self-Gaslighting–”What happens when you teach yourself not to trust your own perception? How many toxic people become ‘just difficult for me to deal with because I’m so insecure and oversensitive’?”
  • Atheism, love it or leave it–”And even when I was 9 years old I could see the deep logical flaw in the bumper sticker people.”
  • “I’m a strong woman and I don’t need help.”–”A friend of mine responded that, well, some of us aren’t strong, and some can’t set boundaries, and why do these people deserve to feel uncomfortable or even unsafe just because they don’t have the capability to be ‘strong’ in this way?”
  • Mystery Flora: Bitey McBiterson–”Some are subtle and devious jerks, drawing you in by seeming all tame and pretty, then giving you a stealthy stab.”
  • So close–”C0nc0rdance is basically making the same mistake (to a lesser degree!) this clown in his comments is doing, caricaturing the feminist position because he doesn’t have the slightest clue what it is, so he fills it in with garbage he heard on the internet.”

The Wider Web

Jul 26 2014

Why This Matters

American Atheists’ official representative calls a group of people who’ve been harassed for years “pussies” and an American Atheists official posts it to Twitter and Facebook suggesting it’s a reason people should subscribe. The Friendly Atheist posts a video from the Amazingly Notorious Atheist and says, “Oops”, in a buried comment. Some random but persistent asshole spends hours “caricaturing” FtB bloggers, Rebecca Watson, and someone who dropped out of organized atheism after intense abuse—then some other asshole decides he has to send each one of these caricatures to their targets on Twitter.

What does all this mean? It’s time for one of those periodic reminders of exactly what it is those of us standing over here are arguing for.

Have you forgotten how all this started? Read the rest of this entry »

Jul 26 2014

Saturday Storytime: Witch, Beast, Saint: an Erotic Fairy Tale

It is as the title promises, and C. S. E. Cooney has more for you in her Witches Garden if you want it.

I put him in the cellar and fed him up until he was able to move about on his own. Then I began the arduous task of coaxing him outside to the wishing well and washing him, which took many days and a great deal of patience. Already the potatoes and last year’s apples and the onions greening in their barrels had begun to take on his dank and desolate stench. And really, he was so grateful for the attention.

Like many beasts, he found the sound of my voice soothing. So I told him the story of how he came to be.

“This cottage passes from witch to witch,” I said. “My predecessor was ancient by the time she mistook an oak tree for an open passage and drove her mortar and pestle right into it. They say mortar and pestles are safer than brooms. I don’t know about that. I prefer to walk everywhere, or maybe hitch a ride on a wagon. You have nice broad shoulders. Perhaps I’ll teach you to piggyback me, by and by. There’s a bit of a pig in you. Well, boar. It’s the tusks. Your nose is more stag. Soft and broad from bridge to tip. Those gently flaring nostrils.  But your horns are definitely bull. Anyway. What was I saying?”

The monster made a gesture like a pestle grinding something in a mortar.

“Right!” I cried. “My predecessor. Apparently in the last few decades before her terminal flying accident, she’d developed this habit of turning local boys to beasts every time they slighted her—or she imagined they did. The most famous case was that of our sovereign prince himself. He lives in a castle, in a stretch of forest not far from here. Don’t worry though. He found a local hedge-witch—much like myself—to break the spell. They say she was so beautiful she could shatter strong sorceries with a kiss.”

I shrugged. My hands were wrist-deep in his sudsy fur, the soap black with his murk.

“Could be. Or she might have been a scholar—much like myself—who knew the right incantations, under which phase of moon to utter them, how to transfer all that moonlight and magic words from her lips to his. It looks much like a kiss. All very standard, unless you slip in some tongue. Fact is she was probably tired of trading chicken eggs and goat milk for her minor miracles. Thought to have a go at the princessing business instead. Never have to pick nettles in a midnight graveyard ever again—unless she wanted to. And once a witch, we like to say, always a witch. Princess or no.”

Pausing, I regarded the monster, wondering what it would be to kiss him. The juncture at my thighs prickled, swelled, pulsed, grew moist. Then he exhaled and I stepped back.

His fangs needed brushing. Badly. Too, I wasn’t sure he was used to me yet. That he wouldn’t startle back in panic, catching my lip on one of his pointy bits and taking half my face with him.

His eyelashes were very long, coarse and curly. He would not yet meet my gaze. But when I stopped scrubbing, he knocked his large skull against the palm of my hand, urging me on.

“Beast, be still!” I commanded, and he was. Except for his tail, which swept around to brush my hip in shy apology. I ran my hand along it, muttering as I scrubbed, “Why I didn’t just shave you bare-ass naked so we could start afresh, I don’t know. Probably because my garden shears aren’t big enough.”

Keep reading.

Jul 25 2014

“Greater Minnesota Freethinking”, Amy LaValle Hansmann and Ken Kressin on Atheists Talk

What’s it like to be a humanist, an atheist, a freethinker in outstate Minnesota?  How do atheists find each other in a small town, where they risk exposure leading to the loss of friendships or even business if word gets out that they aren’t religious?  On Sunday, July 27, Atheists Talk has invited Amy LaValle Hansmann from Brainerd and Ken Kressin from Cannon Falls. These two have taken the initiative to form groups for atheists to gather, to talk, to have fun and to provide mutual support in areas that can be less than supportive.  We will talk about their struggles, their successes and a bit about what sorts of activities they have engaged in.

Related Links:

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.

Follow Atheists Talk on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates. If you like the show, consider supporting us with a one-time or sustaining donation.

Jul 24 2014

Breathing

I’ve known for a long time that I don’t do well with extended aerobic exercise. I get intensely overwarm, to the point of nausea. I get lightheaded and have trouble thinking. I take a long time to recover, and frequently end up with a headache. I cough for hours afterward.

That last one, I knew was exercise-induced asthma. I didn’t know it when it started, in junior high track. I was given to believe I was malingering instead, that the problem was somehow shameful. But I figured it out some years later on my own.

I’ve mentioned it to doctors in intake interviews. None of them ever followed up. There were no questions about managing the condition, no tests to measure how impaired my breathing was, no suggestions even that I should have a rescue inhaler. They probably assumed that it was mild rather than self-diagnosed.

I didn’t have any way to gauge the severity of the problem either. I knew I couldn’t sustain activity that required me to breathe heavily, but I also knew the asthma kept me from training. I knew I coughed afterward, but I’d always done that without my breathing feeling particularly impaired.

Then I started my new job this summer. Read the rest of this entry »

Jul 24 2014

Sentenced!

Jason has received the most wonderful* piece of FtB fic in his comments. The whole thing is a rather awesome** exercise in comparing FtB to the slave-owning South and YouTube atheists, but the last paragraph is the most amazing*** part.

We (the Union) will inevitably stamp out the scourge that is the FtB fanaticism (that’s you, the South) when basically all of the relevant groups see the light of reason and leave you by the way-side. General William T. F00t’s scorched earth campaign has pretty much decimated your resources and left no idiot standing. General Ulysses S. Mykeru has either entirely defeated or cornered your leaders here while your stronghold of Atheism+ forums is all but deserted. Eventually, General Mykeru will capture your president Peezey, force him to surrender unconditionally, and then proceed to eat Generals Brayton, Watson, and Benson alive. General F00t will ensure Secretary of State J. Glenn and Chief Justice TJ Kincaid oversee movement Reconstruction, whilst F00t takes his place as Secretary of Education in President Dawkins’ Cabinet. President Dawkins’ cabinet is by far the most outstanding, and includes the noted Vice President Abbie Smith, Attorney General D.P.R. Jones, Secretary of Defense Sam Harris, and the famed Secretary of the Treasury Neil deGrasse Tyson. Your president Peezey will be sentenced to hard labor in Karen Straughan’s service; General Svan will be sentenced to a diet. You and the rest of your confederates will be expelled into Utah, the pit of Mormon, as punishment for your warmongering. May those crazy bike-riding, creepy, thieving missionaries have mercy on your souls.

In my copious**** free time, I may have to revisit those proposed positions for the lulz. For now, though, take a look at the punishments.

To start with, it’s hard to claim you’re the North when you want to have people eaten alive. That wasn’t exactly how they went about it. Burning? Yes. Cannibalism? No. Your position as the “good guys” is in danger here.

It’s even harder to position yourself as the anti-slavery North when your next step is to sentence someone to slavery.

Me? I’m sentenced to a diet.

No, really. A diet. The punishment this fantasist came up with for me is that I have to not eat a whole bunch of food. He doesn’t have any idea how much I eat now, but I’m fat, so not eating scads of food must be punishment.

Eek.

Gasp.

Yawn.

Honestly, dude, could you find a better way to show off your shallow thinking than that? Oh, wait. You can. You can brag about how Team You is death to all religion, then reveal that you find Mormon missionaries terrifying.

Oh, no, Brer James! Please, please don’t throw me into the…bicycles?

Hey, Richard Dawkins, these are the people who claim to be speaking for you. How does this make you feel?

* By “wonderful”, I mean that it really makes me wonder about the person who wrote it.

** My jaw dropped as I read it.

*** Someone wrote this? Really? And they were serious?

**** This is just sarcasm.

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