Retrospective

In the last four months of 2011, since moving to FreethoughtBlogs, my blog has received more visits than it did in its entire Blogger incarnation. That means (I hope) that some new people have discovered my blog and liked it. Assuming that’s the case, this seems like a good time to let you know what you might have missed this year. Here are a few posts that were favorites.

Dirty Little Geeks
This post made more people happy than anything else I’ve posted this year, I believe.

Male Rape Victims: Let’s Talk About the Men
This one made a lot of people happy as well, but for an entirely different reason. This covers research on male rape victims and their (few) differences from female rape victims.

Talking About Leadership
Debbie Goddard recommended this post on leadership challenges in the skeptical movement. I won’t even try to give you a better endorsement than that.

The Comments You Didn’t See
There’s a lot of noise from some quarters about free speech and comment moderation. This post captures a number of the comments moderated into oblivion during “Elevatorgate.” I’ve considered making this a semi-regular feature.

Confidence
This year, I only posted one of my stories on the blog. This is that.

The Judgment of Rep. Weiner
In which I responded to many of the common reactions to and assumptions about the pictures and sexting.

Sexism Always Wins, but It Still Loses
On not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good.

The Politics of the Null Hypothesis
The common charge is that it’s those on the “largely nuture” side of the IQ/genes debate who make their claims for political reasons. I took a little look at that.

True Equivalence
Putting the words of “atheist fundamentalists” up against religious moderates and fundamentalists.

Skepticism and Rape Adaptations; More on the Science of Rape “Adaptations”; and Skepticism Is a “How,” Not a “Who”
In which I start by criticizing an evolutionary psychology “researcher” and end up telling a CFI chapter how to do skepticism.

At the Atomic Testing Museum, At the Nevada Test Site, and Duck and Cover
Sharing the experience of a trip to Las Vegas for something very different than gambling.

Sex, Science, and Social Policy
Does crime go up in neighborhoods with adult businesses? Well, it depends on how you gather your data.

Should Have Known
On all the “She should have known” statements surrounding the assault of Lara Logan.

On the Assange Case
This is the last of a series of posts addressing the arguments against following through on the rape allegations against Julian Assange. It contains links to the rest.

Paying for Free

It’s one of those days, the sort that happen a lot this time of year, where a moment to sit down and write is in short supply. Apropos of that, and the early comments here (really?), enjoy this repost. It was originally posted here. For the record, he money earned by having ads on the site don’t change this math.

What is the point of entertaining you if you only tell me when I’m doing it wrong?

I will point out up front that I’m very lucky in my audiences. Some of this is work on my part, since I have no problem being fiercely critical of the hypercritical. A lot of it, though, is having largely other bloggers as readers of my blogs, other fiction authors as readers for my stories. There are few things more grand than to have work appreciated by those who understand what went into it.

How other bloggers cope sometimes is beyond me, though. [Read more…]

Minneapolis FtB Meetup

As long as we have Jason in town for another week, and Greg is mostly between the holiday obligations that come of marrying into a very social family, it’s time to take advantage of having a bunch of us in the same place at once.

So this Friday (December 2) at 5:30, we’ll be at Bar Abilene in Uptown, along with Ben and Jodi and, if we’re really lucky, Amanda and the hyper-cool Huxley. Join us for dinner or a little later for drinks. I recommend the cherry margarita and the guacamole prepared fresh at the table, but everything is good.

It is a Friday evening, so please let us know if you’ll be there. We’d hate to run out of seats. Leave a comment or drop one of us a line to let us know when you plan to show up.

Parking on the street requires the willingness to walk a few blocks or an undependable degree of serendipity, but there is a lot behind the restaurant on Fremont that’s fairly reasonable.

I hope to see you Friday!

We are Overwhelmed

It isn’t just that PZ has managed to transfer most of the Pharyngula traffic here from ScienceBlogs. Well…okay, it is largely that. But it’s also Ed, and it’s Chris and Justin and….

Look, to tell the truth, it’s not us. It’s you. FreethoughtBlogs has an awful lot of readers, many of whom read several blogs. That is really, truly awesome…and we just weren’t prepared for it.

You’ve noticed the problems: posts disappearing back into draft status, comment counts not keeping up, occasional long load times. So tonight, in order to fix that, we’re moving to the beefiest server our host can manage. This means downtime. At 10 p.m. EST, FreethoughtBlogs will go away for a bit.

You’re just going to have to find something else to do with your Friday night, I’m afraid. The current estimate is three hours, but you know how these things go. Well, being married to an IT guy, I know how these things go.

You’ll also need to bear with us a bit as we discover problems and straighten them out. Report them in comments as you see them. Give us pages where they happen and browser information so we can duplicate the weirdness. We’ll pass it all along to our tech. Fair warning: We will insist that he sleeps some this weekend, so you may not see immediate fixes.

It will also take some time to find an appropriate level of caching, which we’ve been using to fight the lag times, in order to fix the original problems. We’re on it, though, because really, it is about you.

Now It’s My Turn

Well, you know you’ve struck a nerve when people start researching you. It happened with Rebecca, of course. Juvenile jokes were blown up into “crimes” in an attempt to tell people they shouldn’t listen to anything she has to say. Information about her relationship history was passed around. Years-old insensitivity was posted as though it had been uttered yesterday as evidence of massive hypocrisy.

Think of it as a nifty little combination of character assassination and argument ad hominem. A particularly insidious way of saying, “If you don’t shut up, we’ll shut you up.”

Rebecca hasn’t been alone in this, of course. [Read more…]

“Elevatorgate” Challenge #4

Let’s talk pseudonymity and anonymity.

To borrow a cliche, some of my best friends are pseudonymous. Really, truly. Scicurious, Bug Girl, Dana, Enmelishment–all fun people on- and off-line (I’m extrapolating for Dana since I haven’t met her yet, but she has promised me margaritas).

In most of these cases, I know their secret identity but I interact most with the pseudonym. I don’t even think about their “real” names unless I’m talking to them in the context in which they use them. I don’t want to. Those names get tucked away where they won’t accidentally pop out at inconvenient times. I’m a bit protective that way.

I’m even more protective of the “real” names of people I haven’t always gotten along with perfectly. I attended ScienceOnline in 2010 and managed to avoid reading Isis‘s name tag, and not because we weren’t in the same places. When I accidentally found out DrugMonkey‘s secret identity, I told him and offered up a small piece of leverage in return. It was silly, but I did it anyway.

I habitually protect pseudonymity. Except…

[Read more…]

From the Neighborhood

While I’m busy arguing with some guy who thinks I can’t possibly not use the same insults he would, and another who thinks only one white guy can handle the problems of Canada’s First Nations, have some tasty blogging from my neighbors who have a bit more time.

Dana was at GeekGirlCon on a panel about skepticism, and she’s bringing back the goodies for the rest of us.

Skepticism 101: In Which I Say What Skepticism Is, and Shoot a Video

Being a skeptic isn’t something you are so much as do. Because, you see, skepticism is a tool. It’s a way of detecting bullshit. It’s a set of methods applied to assess the truth of a claim. It saves you from falling for Nigerian princes and people who claim there’s a curse upon you which can only be lifted by silly rituals and the application of generous funds to the fortune teller.

And that’s what we tried to impress upon the audience at GeekGirlCon: skepticism is a tool, or rather a tool kit. I’ll show you mine.

[Read more…]

The Admiral Has Arrived!

If you don’t remember the Carnival of Elitist Bastards, you missed out. It was a web carnival dedicated to getting things (proudly) right, and it inspired some gloriously bizarre behavior, like carnivals in short story form or as a Shakespearean play or as a lesson in proper arrogance. Also, pirates. Lots of pirates.

Well, today our wondrous admiral, Dana Hunter, who built and steered our strange vessel, has joined us at Freethought Blogs. And she’s brought with her fine self an amazing crew.

Al Stefanelli, A Voice of Reason in an Unreasonable World

The Atheist Experience

Ian Cromwell, The Crommunist Manifesto

JT Eberhard, What Would JT Do?

Justin Griffith, Rock Beyond Belief

Kylie Sturgess, Token Skeptic

All right, maybe they’re not Dana’s crew, but they’re ours–and now yours. Enjoy.

 

A Perfect Birthday Gift

It’s been a long, busy weekend visiting friends. I held a 4,000-year-old cuneiform tablet in my hand and touched 600-year-old vellum. I also got one of the best birthday presents of my life.

Congratulations on lapping the sun once more. Though I’m sure you didn’t put any direct effort into it, you’ve managed to make it all the way around again. Sure, Earth may not be where it was this time last year, what with the movement of the solar system in this galaxy and the movement of the galaxy in this universe, but hey. As fixed frames of reference go, this is the best we have, saying that we made it all the way around the sun again. And as is customary for marking such an arbitrary and otherwise fluid milestone, I did something for you that I hope you’ll appreciate.

I do. I appreciate the gift, and I appreciate all the people who got together behind my back and made it happen.

Now it’s time to recover from an grand weekend and an amazing gift.