50 Book Challenge: 31-35

It is week 30!

31. Hogfather – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer

I saw the BBC version of Hogfather and I loved it and it’s a large part of the reason I decided to actually read (listen to) the Discworld series.  I love Susan, she’s an excellent character.  Half Mary Poppins, half Death.  I loved this book.

32. Jingo – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer

In general, I like the books about the watch, but this one really didn’t do it for me.  The book is basically satirizing war and nationalism and that sort of behavior, but I just didn’t find it that compelling for whatever reason.

33. Last Continent – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer

This book is about a continent that is not Australia.  I didn’t much care for this one either.  It’s a Rincewind book.  The best part was the drag queens.

34. Carpe Jugulum – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer

Yay!  A witches book.  This one had vampires and was pretty fun to read in light of all the modernization of vampires lately.  Because these are old world vampires in the old world trying to evolve beyond being subject to people’s superstitions.  I also really like all the witches.

35. Dealing with Dragons – Patricia C. Wrede

This is a re-read, haven’t read this book in ages, but I loved this series as a younger person.  I can’t recommend them strongly enough.  I imagine the rest of the books will appear throughout the year, if I can find them at the library.  I like what she does with the series, each of the four books has a different main character, but they interact closely with the characters you already know and love.  Third Person Limited FTW!

Homophobia Round 2

Interesting.  I just got this e-mail about the girl in Augusta who is suing her school for making her attend diversity workshops.

Hi Ashley,

I just saw your short post on Jennifer Keeton, the Augusta State University student who is suing the school for her right to be homophobic and not attend diversity workshops. Keeton, who wants to be a counselor, has received both quite a bit of criticism and some praise for her unyielding position. Many are claiming she has no right disturbing students with these beliefs at school and is certainly not tolerant enough to be a counselor. I think you will find the following video interesting:

http://www.newsy.com/videos/student-sues-for-right-to-be-homophobic

The video gives some background into this controversial power of the wills between Keeton and Augusta. It includes a number of different opinions on Keeton’s stance itself, how the school is handling the situation, and whether it is her right to be openly homophobic around campus or not. I hope you will consider embedding this video to your site.

Newsy.com videos analyze and synthesize news coverage from multiple sources. Its unique method of showing how different media cover the news helps viewers better understand complex stories.

Please feel free to e-mail me with any questions on either the video or Newsy.com.

For instructions on how to embed videos, read #3 on this page:

http://www.newsy.com/faq/3

Thanks,

Katie
[email protected]
Newsy Community Team

I didn’t get anything new from it, except it’s even more obvious that this girl refuses to take sensitivity training and wants to do a job that is essentially all about sensitivity.  Fail.

In other incredibly fucked up news, Bill O’Reilly of Fox News is now to the left of President Obama on Gay Rights. Seriously.

President Obama has the power to stop this ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ business. Just sign an executive order. I don’t know why it’s taking so long—it’s not fair. We should stop this nonsense.

Well said Bill O, as freaked out as I am to agree with you, well said.

Things to Make You Angry – Lots of Links

More money for Homeopathy in UK
Despite being ridiculed by the British Medical Association, homeopathy products will still be available on a tightening NHS budget


Evil Parents
A Beavercreek couple who left their infant daughter’s fate to God rather than seek medical treatment for a mass that grew over her left eye will face charges of first-degree criminal mistreatment.

Evil Rape Enabler Goes Free
The Utah Supreme Court has reversed Warren Steed Jeffs’ two convictions on charges of rape as an accomplice and ordered a new trial.

Christians fire people for being gay, still get tax breaks!
Apparently NZ doesn’t like Homos either.

Ted Haggard is Still Completely Heterosexual
But now he curses!

Is meat making you fat?
I’m always really skeptical about these food studies, it’s so difficult to separate correlation and causation, and there’s always one study that says this, that or the other is bad for you. And they don’t differentiate between fat gained or muscle gained.

Ipad Owners are Selfish Elites
iPad owners tend to be wealthy, sophisticated, highly educated and disproportionately interested in business and finance, while they scored terribly in the areas of altruism and kindness. In other words, “selfish elites.”

—-
And to cheer you up:

Baby Daydreams

Augusta, GA – Home of the Homophobes

Does a public university have the right to prohibit someone from a particular program based on their personal beliefs?  Is that a violation of the first amendment?

Well, if that student is trying to impose those beliefs on others and those beliefs violate the code of ethics of the profession she’s trying to join, then yes, the school has the right to prohibit the student from the program.  Would it make sense to keep someone out of a program if they refused to counsel black people?  Immigrants?  Christians?  I would think so.

Nicholl 2010

Didn’t make it to the QFs.

I’m bummed, but trying not to be too bummed.  I know the script is in much, much better shape than it was when it SFed last year — I’ve got industry reader feedback, so it’s not just my opinion.  It comes down to the fact that it’s an incredibly arbitrary process with over 6000 scripts competing, and if you’re script addresses anything controversial or is a weird genre, it’s not unlikely that it might hit someone the wrong way.  That’s all I can guess from the PS, 2 readers liked it and one hated it.

I am really surprised and bummed after how well it did last year, but I guess that just underlines how much luck is involved.

Summer

Why don’t we get a summer break?  Doesn’t the world know that people need breaks?  Doesn’t the world know that people burn out spending 50 hours a week doing some job in some office?

TAM: For the Ladies?

Jen McCreight and PZ Myers have both posted on this — how welcome are women to skeptic events?

I want to say, before I get into some of the less flattering stuff, that I had an excellent time at TAM8 and I met a lot of really interesting, cool people, both men and women.  And many of the women there were strong, outspoken and hilarious, so even if the women are under-represented, they’re well-represented.  I say under-represented because there was a 20 guy long line to the men’s bathroom and no wait to the women’s bathroom.  If that doesn’t speak to gender ratio, what does?

Of course, there were the constant murmurs of how every guy wants to “bag a skepchick” and the winners of the skepchick party costume contest were the girls willing to make out with each other, but I generally accept that with just some eye-rolling.  There were comments I heard about the looks of the female speakers, but then people were making fun of James Randi and Michael Shermer’s height, so maybe that plays out.

I hang out with geeks, I like geeks, I like geek humor, and a lot of that is offensive if you’re easily offended.  And there can certainly be an air of sketchiness around some of those guys with less familiarity with social interaction, and I will say that TAM was a lot less creepy than Comic Con or Dragon*Con when it came to my average interaction with a strange dude.  People there seemed to be genuinely interested in what I had to say, and the environment seemed to be as deliberately nonsexual as possible most of the time.  Though I was occasionally asked if I was in high school, but ageism is a whole nother thing.

I was, however, really bothered by how the female psychic, Anita Ikonen, was treated and talked about.

I understand that the “other” in a skeptic convention is not going to be gender, race, or sexuality but opinion and point of view.  Someone who thinks that they have magical powers is automatically going to be the center of a fair amount of eye-rolling, derision and name-calling.  It’s natural for groups to behave that way, unfortunately, and I’m not here to say that I support the things Anita believes or even her behavior, I don’t know her that well.  But I will say that most of the insults and jeers thrown her way were all based around the fact that she was a young and attractive woman.

Someone called her, on her facebook page, a “psychic slut”.  Many people at TAM accused her of using her sexuality to her advantage, of sleeping around, of sexually getting off on attention.

I will break this down in a second, but let me make one thing very clear: No one, male or female, should ever call a woman a slut.  The intent of that word is to make a woman feel ashamed of her sexuality, to humiliate her, to make her feel degraded.  Not only does it shame the woman in question, it also makes every other woman scared of admitting to being a sexual creature.

It is the fear of being thought a slut that keeps women from accepting their own sexuality and it keeps victims of rape and molestation from feeling safe revealing that they’ve been hurt.  There is, in my opinion, no more hurtful word you can use towards a woman, it is as vile and low as the N-word.  And society uses it to keep women in their place, especially uppity women with opinions and beliefs you disagree with.

So, if you want to say this psychic woman revels in attention, fine, but you don’t get to start calling her names because you don’t like attractive women who are at home with their own sexuality.  You do that and you start driving away the skeptical women in the group.  I don’t want to be part of a group that slut-shames any woman who doesn’t agree with them, though I don’t think the majority of the skeptical group is guilty of that behavior.

I talked to Anita yesterday, I let her know I was writing this and she told me some other things that had happened to her.  She got turned away from taking pictures with a skeptic celebrity with a brusque, “I’m married,” as though she was trying to sleep with them rather than get a photo, and she was asked to send topless photos to a skeptic when they learned she was a psychic.  I know I just went off the other day on how skeptics don’t need to show a consistent face, but this behavior is completely unacceptable in any human.

The girl may be nuts, she may have HPD, she may be incredibly attention hungry for whatever reason, but that doesn’t make her a slut.  I know some people may have personal reasons to dislike her or the discord she apparently causes, but that doesn’t make her a slut.  And if you hate her, fine, and if you hate that the JREF brings her more publicity, fine, but you don’t get to go around complaining that she’s too flirtatious or that she gets all this attention just for being young and cute.  If people react to that in a way you don’t like, it’s their own fault.

This reminds me of the TDS kerfluffle.  Everyone is pissed at TDS for not hiring enough women or having enough visible women.  So, when does everyone get really vocal about it?  When TDS hires an attractive, sexualized woman.  Guess what?  Women have sex!  Women can have sex and be funny!  Olivia Munn is being punished and slut-shamed for pursuing a career in comedy because she’s not the right kind of woman.  You think that when you complain about it the only person you’re hurting is The Daily Show?  How would you feel if someone hiring you turned into an internet shit storm about how you posed in Playboy and just aren’t that funny on G4?

The feminist movement can really hurt women who aren’t the “right kind of woman”.  Women who are naturally thin (real women have curves), like to have sex (sex is men taking advantage of women), or really like clothes or barbies or the color pink.  It’s hard enough to be a woman, it’s hard enough to be different, can’t we let women be human?  Can’t we let them be sexual beings without trying to make them feel horrible about themselves?  Can’t we focus on the intellectual shit instead of petty bitchery?

Flipping Out Season 4

The great show Flipping Out is coming back for season 4 on August 10th. I am biased, of course, but you should really watch it. And I’m not the only one who says so!

http://www.televisionaryblog.com/2010/07/its-great-day-at-jeff-lewis-office.html

I had the chance to watch the Season Four opener of Flipping Out a few days ago and instantly fell back in love with this series, which manages to effortlessly remain one of the most consistently funny and eye-opening reality series on television today. (That it remains off the radar of the majority of viewers is a crime against reality TV that simply cannot stand.)

Yeah! Take that… reality TV?

Ultimately, the Season Four premiere perfectly matches just what I love about this series, offering the perfect entrypoint for new viewers while continuing the misadventures of the lovable misfits that make up Jeff Lewis Design. So grab a martini, turn off the phone, and prepare to flip out yourself.

See, even new viewers can enjoy it! With a martini no less. So friggin’ watch the show already, jeez. Um, but it won’t be on until August 10, but… on August 10, friggin’ watch the show already, jeez.

Here’s the official site on Bravo: http://www.bravotv.com/flipping-out

I look like crap, but Jeff looks great

Phil Plait Says Don’t Be A Dick

OK, so, Mr. Plait, who I am told is normally super super awesome and does genuinely seem like a nice guy, really irritated the shit out of me during TAM. And I say this with as much respect as possible and I acknowledge that this is my first exposure to him, and that people who know him and his work took what he was saying a bit differently than did I. He was basically saying that skeptics have a tone problem and more flies with honey and stop being assholes.

My level of being incredibly irritated with him for trying to be the Skeptic Tone Police has subsided a bit, partially because I think he didn’t mean it the way he said it. I think he was using general language because his argument was a little sloppy, not because he genuinely thinks no one should ever raise their voice in angry disagreement. To me, however, it sounded like he was saying “Christopher Hitchens, PZed and Dawkins have all got to stop being so strident and angry and dickish. Why can’t we all just get along?” But, apparently he was saying “The JREF forums are fucking hellish”. But I don’t read the JREF forums, so I wouldn’t know.

I agree that, generally speaking, you should be nice to someone you’re trying to convince if you’re having an argument with them to convince them. But, and this is important, that’s not the only reason you have arguments. Sometimes it’s to convince everyone else that you’re right, regardless of what the other person thinks. The internet is an amazing place where your arguments are all public. Sometimes humiliating someone who has a stupid point of view has the effect of convincing everyone else that you are right. Particularly if you can do it in a hilarious way. Hitchens made me OK with self-identifying atheist simply because he was such a hilariously snobby jerkface.

The entire speech was somewhat patronizing — here’s daddy figure Phil Plait telling us all to mind our Ps and Qs and not be so abrasive because daddy doesn’t like that. Pissed me off something hardcore having to sit through him lecturing me about being too mean to people. I felt the same way in a thread over on Pharyngula where people were saying women didn’t like how abrasive the skeptics/atheists are. It’s not true, I love it, it’s entertaining, it’s informative, it’s fun. I’m not a weak little girl, daddy doesn’t get to tell me to play nice with others.

And the fact is most of the people he’s talking about are people who are incredibly nice, polite and respectful in person. He’s got a problem with their online behavior. And frankly, it’s the fucking internet, that’s how people are and to fucking yell at a bunch of people who are really into the same thing you are because you don’t like the tone they take is a bit much.

AND I take issue with him treating skepticism as something we should be in charge of proselytizing. If I want to have an angry discussion about people hacking off little girls privates and be a complete dick to anyone who disagrees with me, I get to do that. Will that change people’s minds, I dunno, but it’s my way of dealing with the information and skepticism isn’t some fucking religion that has rules. His speech, more than anything, makes me a bit reticent to call myself a skeptic rather than an atheist because it makes me think he wants it to be treated as a religion, and that makes me very squeamish.

I know that this wasn’t the first skeptic event for most of the people in the crowd, but it basically was for me… and now I’m quite skeptical of this whole “Skeptic Movement”. I’m an uppity ginger, and I’m not joining any “movement” that tells me that who I am is not OK.

And, as I said, I don’t think that that was what he intended, I suspect it was at least partially him venting about behavior he witnesses online, and, as he doesn’t know me, I’m 80% sure it was not intended as a personal affront. Which is good, because then he’d be guilty of the behavior he’s denouncing. And probably he didn’t mean it was never OK to raise your voice in a crowded room, but that’s sure what it sounded like to me.