A Taste of 2012

There was one fairly obvious theme on this blog in 2012. Anyone who’s been around for most of it knows I did an awful lot of feminist blogging. That started all the way back in January, when I interviewed Melody Hensley on Atheists Talk about the Women in Secularism conference. Feminism is always pretty overt at the ScienceOnline conferences in Raleigh as well.

Things really ramped up at the WiS conference, of course. My most-read post this year is the one I wrote during the conference and on the plane on the way home, when I realized an off-hand comment from Jen McCreight was going to be very big indeed. So I followed up quickly to put some of that energy to good use. I’m very happy to say it was successful, if not entirely easy going. [Read more…]

Spam Attack

Those of you subscribed to comment threads may have already noticed this. Hell, all of you may have noticed this because it’s been so pronounced, but either Akismet has glitched or someone has figured out how to get reams of spam past it.

I hate spam. I don’t want it on my blog. I don’t, however, want to feel that removing those comments requires my constant vigilance. For the duration, I’ve turned on first-comment-approval moderation. I don’t like that either, as it messes with the flow of discussion in comments, but…yeah, bleah all around.

By My Toes

I’m not sure what it is. Could be that the last several months are just now catching up with me and demanding I erase my sleep debt. Could be I’m fighting off a bug. Could be my body is trying to compensate for increased exercise. Could be the drop in temperature and the shortening days.

All I know is this is how I feel right now whenever I stop moving.

Good thing I can hang on even in my sleep.

In Praise of Whistleblowers

By now you’ve heard that Thunderf00t exploited a security vulnerability [details and logs now available] to continue to receive confidential FreethoughtBlogs business emails after he was removed from the network and from the mailing list. If you haven’t already, you should read Natalie’s post covering the personal dangers to some of the members of our list and Zinnia’s on the importance of privacy.

I’m not particularly vulnerable here. Anything I can think of that Thunderf00t could try to hurt me with would either have to be taken badly out of context or is something I’ve already taken knocks for. No real surprises coming. What few secrets I have, I don’t commit to a general list, even of colleagues I trust and enjoy working with. I’m more wary by nature than that, even when it’s limiting.

You’ll hear from others of those colleagues, though, about the fact that prying into that list does leave them vulnerable. They’ve come to our list with problems they wanted perspective on, or personal joys and frustrations, or really awful ideas they threw out to see whether they could be improved or how badly they’d be shot down. They’ve been candid rather than politically astute when someone needed to know the lay of the land. They’ve discussed information it was later decided should stay private. They’ve used the list as scratch space, as a working group does. Again, no real surprises.

That was what Thunderf00t claimed access to under false pretenses. That was what he received, very quietly, knowing that was not what we wanted or expected. Some people will claim that releasing that information would make him a whistleblower. Thunderf00t is making a version of that claim himself, though not using the word. [Read more…]

An Auspicious Beginning

There’s this idea the slimepitters are trying to promote that they’re thinking seriously about acting like civilized human beings. One example in the wild:

Actually we started having that conversation days ago. Scroll down and you see see one slimepitter annoyed with another about “cleaning up our act”. This was July 1st. and the conversation started before that.

Not surprising it started before that. I sent Seed Media a letter on June 28. [Read more…]

But You *Must* Talk About the Letter

There’s some commenting happening on Sunday’s post (though by how many actual people is an open question) to the tune of:

You can pretend this isn’t about bin Laden but it is quite strange that someone so finely attuned to “harassment” doesn’t have a Goddamn thing to say against her BFF who is threatening to “kick [someone’s] fucking ass”.

This is kind of funny after the reaction to my comments on D.J. apology.

The “leaders” in this skeptical movement, the Rebecca’s and the DJs, would then do us all a favour if they counted to ten before firing off a blog post and picked up the phone to talk to each other.

I have hardly ever seen people work differences out through email, because it is so hard to do in writing. Get two people in a room or let them speak on a phone and usually they work out that either it was a misunderstanding or how they can resolve their differences.

Why don’t you people just talk to each other and leave us out of it?! Why don’t you people tell us your reactions to everything so we can pick them apart?! [Read more…]

What Am I Doing Here Again?

Please welcome to FreethoughtBlogs Taslima Nasreen:

For a couple of years, the Pen Club had been organizing massive demonstrations in support of freedom of expression. Various authors from Asia and Africa, almost all little known, have been brought over. Salman Rushdie was aware that I have been recently thrown out of India; there were loathsome and incredible attacks against   my freedom of expression. Almost all of my books have been banned in Bangladesh, either officially or socially. Not just Bangladesh, even West Bengal banned my book and threw me out of the state. Not only that, I was kept under house arrest in Kolkata and Delhi for a long seven months during the process of banishment. Eventually, I have been ousted from India. Salman Rushdie was celebrating freedom of speech by cunningly ignoring my glowing history. He can do whatever he wants. One of his security guards wrote an unflattering book about him; he made arrangements with publishers so that the book would not see the light of the day. Yes, he is celebrating freedom of speech. He is a man, people think nothing of it when he chases after young women, even at sixty plus. Even if women have complained that Rushdie doesn’t consider them anything more than sex objects, people don’t hate him. This epitome of male chauvinism, this author has garnered immense name and fame; I am glad that I don’t have any similarities with him beyond the fatwa. To be honest, it irritates me no end to have my name joined with his.

Yet Taslima is joining our network, blogging for the first time in order to do. I’m honored and humbled and suffering from an attack of impostor syndrome. That’s been growing for a while, of course, with every activist, well-known speaker, published book author, and generally really smart, accomplished person we’ve added (and the ones you don’t know about yet whom we intend to add).

I’ll get over it. Even a network of activists needs some people who talk mostly about other things, who remind us that most of us are active on the small scale instead of the large one. And in the meantime, I have plenty to read to inspire me to that next level. Now you do too.

Around Freethought Blogs

Things not to miss on the network today.

Natalie has the information on yet another Harper attempt to remake all of Canada in his image:

it appears that recent amendments to the Canadian Aeronautics Act, the laws and regulations regarding aviation in Canada, have added a regulation that permits discrimination against transgender passengers, entitling airline employees to refuse them permission to board. Specifically, this one:

Sec 5.2(1)(c) of the ID screening regs of Aeronautics Act: “An air carrier shall not transport a passenger if the passenger does not appear to be of the gender indicated on the identification he or she presents.”

Oh hell no, Harper.

Frederick has a little something to say about being used by Be Scofield in an attack on Greta Christina and “New Atheists”:

I’ve observed a few the written exchanges between Scofield and Greta Christina and agree with the assessment that he is either sloppy or downright dishonest in his characterizations of what she says.  And Greta of all people least deserves to be a target of criticism on the issue of diversity and the “atheist movement.”

Scofield quotes from Sikivu Hutchinson’s critique of the New Atheists blind spot with respect to social justice issues, and the interplay between African American religiosity and these issues of social justice. Yet if he bothered to read the rest of the book besides the passages criticizing new atheism, he’d see that Hutchinson hardly argues for walling off god belief and African-American religious institutions from criticism. Her critique is aimed at presenting atheism/secularism to African-Americans in a way that makes it relevant because it addresses issues of racial and economic inequality.

And Greg has the latest on the war against women’s bodily autonomy–and the strange role the Susan G. Komen foundation has chosen to play in that war, presented here as a picture for the added irony:

Misplaced Komen Ad

Go read them all.

Troll Alert: Do Not Engage

Those of you who read a number of blogs here at Freethought Blogs have probably noticed that we’ve had an ongoing infestation. It’s gone by a lot of names, but the commonality is that it can’t stand us talking about equality. I know that this sort of troll is a favorite food for commenters here, but after doing a bit of digging and seeing this guy in several places, I’m going to recommend that people stop engaging and simply report sightings to the blogger in question. Reasons why below the fold.

[Read more…]