10 Things I’d like to do in 2014

pusheenresolutionsI never make resolutions, I tend to think of them as lies we tell ourselves through the month of January.  But I do have some goals for 2014.

1. Make people call me Doctor.  I am still in the proposal process of my dissertation, but since my advisor is leaving in May, I really need to get everything done by then.  I also just want to be finished.  Honey Boo Boo and me gonna spend some quality time these next four months.
hbb
2. Take advantage of having decent insurance.  I have had pretty awful school insurance for the last several years and, while the insurance I now have is not super fancy, it is enough that I can go see someone about my growing list of things that need attention.

3. Watch all the rest of John and Hank Green’s videos and read all John’s books.  I’ve watched both series of Crash Course history, all of vlogbrothers, Mental Floss, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, and maybe 1/4 of hankgames, which leaves Crash Course sciences and literature, Sci Show, Emma Approved, and the rest of hankgames. The books are: Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, Paper Towns, Will Grayson will grayson, The Fault in Our Stars (I’m halfway through this).

calvin-hobbes-resolutions4. Learn to cook some new things (I welcome recipes for picky eaters who hate to cook.)

5. Record more ukulele videos (I consider requests!) and blog at least once a week even if it’s just about my New Years resolutions

6. Finish writing my novel and novelize my screenplay.  I mean, what else am I going to do with my free time when I’m done dissertating?

7. Do something amazing for my 30th birthday (Cage diving with sharks? Tour Britain and see Cornwall, Wales, Scotland? Australia and New Zealand?? Hawaii?)

8. Be vulnerable, feel feelings, risk rejection, be OK with how I feel rather than anxious about how other people respond to my feelings.

9. Figure out where I am going to live.

10. World Cup. Experience this one and figure out how to attend the Women’s World Cup in Canada in 2015.

Happy Nerdy Christmas — Santa Baby, Geek Edition

Geeky santa
Slip a Catbug under the tree
For me
Been an awful big nerd
Geeky santa
And hurry down the chimney tonight

Nerdy santa
A chameleonless TARDIS too
Bright Blue
Hope it’s bigger inside
Nerdy santa
Hurry down the chimney tonight

Think of all the cons I’ve missed
Think of all the morons that I haven’t dissed
Next year I’ll be comprehensive
If you make my hobbies a bit less expensive

TV Santa
Explicitly gay Sherlock
It’s not a lot
Moffat’s teased us for years
TV santa
Hurry down the chimney tonight

Science santa
Fill my stockings with Bill Nye
and Ty-
son. For a dot we do fine.
Science santa
Hurry down the chimney tonight.

Come and deck my Festivus tree
With Companion Cubes bought from ThinkGeek
I really don’t believe in you
But free Amazon Prime might change my mind

Bechdel santa,
Equal representation too
From you
It just can’t be that hard
Bechdel santa
Hurry down the chimney tonight…

DFTBA tonight…
Live long and prosper, tonight.

To those of us fighting the good fight

I wrote this, originally, to console someone who was sick to death of her efforts being met with rape threats and death threats and inaccurate accusations.  I debated posting it, knowing it would undoubtedly bring with it some backlash.  I spend my free time volunteering for atheist, humanist, and skeptic causes only to be constantly met with people telling me that I am not a “real” activist.  There are other things I could be doing. It is hard to watch all of the misogyny and sexism go on in this movement.  It’s hard to watch people as wonderful as Pamela Gay be torn down for coming forward with her story.

It’s exhausting to know that there are people who hate you and believe ridiculous, untrue things about you, no matter how clear and unoffensive you have tried to be. I am tired of being accused of being in it for the money when being involved in atheism costs me loads of money every year — travel costs I don’t ever expect to see returned by my blog. I’m tired of every post being a target and rage commenters trying to tear me down for my appearance, education, and family. I have never been targeted by religious people the way I am by atheists. And how much worse is it to be targeted by a group of people you spend your free time working to help.

I am tired of being worried about legal threats and hackers, people who have targeted me as “collateral damage” to others as well as those who’ve directly targeted me. I am tired of getting flooded on Facebook by people I don’t know whenever I post something vaguely in the area of things they label social justice warrioring. I’m tired of everything being a fight. I’m tired of trying to be the bigger person. I’m tired of feeling like all the abuse is pointless because there’s no movement. I’m tired of people with power laughing or shrugging off sexual assault and harassment. I’m tired of people making value judgments about those who’ve been harassed — demanding you have had certain experiences to be able to comment on them and then mocking you if you come forward with those experiences.

I am, in short, very tired. And I don’t have it the worst, by any stretch of the imagination.

But then, sometimes, strangers come up to me or email me and thank me. They thank me specifically for talking about things that get me the most bile. There are people who hear what you say and change their mind, but they’re usually not very loud, because changing your mind is hard and takes a while and is difficult to talk about when you’re in the middle of it. I have many friends who became not very close friends for a little while because I was on the SJW side of things and they weren’t sure which way to go who are now among my strongest allies.

That said, I’ve had a hard time blogging lately because, on top of all the drama of day to day life, it’s so infuriating and upsetting to deal with the internet assholes. It’s hard to find the reward. Every post is a constant decision to put up with attacks.  I have to remind myself that it’s worth it.  And sometimes, it’s just not.  Sometimes, I am just not in a place where I can deal with the abuse.  Ultimately, while changing minds is a lofty and important goal, it’s also not our responsibility. If you’re tapped out, you are, and there’s nothing wrong with that. There’s no reason to subject yourself to this if you don’t find it rewarding. And there are less hostile audiences within the movement as well.  The SSA, for example, has been nothing but wonderful to me.

I don’t know if that helps at all, just know I feel what you’re feeling an awful lot.  You’re not alone.

Atheism as Social Justice

Social justice is the view that everyone deserves equal economic, political, and social rights and opportunities.

Sarah Jones wrote a post yesterday about why, despite the fact that she’s an atheist, she is not a secular activist.  This made me think long and hard about how our movement receives wonderful activists who agree with us on the God question, and how we sell what our movement is doing.  I have a lot of problems with the atheist movement, and I’ve struggled with engaging with it recently. The level of hostility towards women and hatred for the social justice framework, especially online, makes it really unappealing at times, and almost always exhausting.  But Sarah, sort of ironically, reminded me that I got involved with atheism because of the social justice imperative.

Sarah says:

I care more about social justice than I do about atheism, and I think a person can be a strong ally for social justice causes without being an atheist. Your belief in God matters less to me than your position on gender equality. I don’t strive for a godless world. I would rather see a world defined by respect and tolerance than by spirituality or the lack thereof.

I very much respect Sarah’s greater interest in gender equality and agree with her that respect is a better goal than ending all theistic leanings.  She also has an interest in social justice in the south (particularly Appalachia), which is also close to my heart.  And there is nothing about being an atheist and an activist means you have to be an atheist activist, there’s a lot of causes that are worthy.  If you are someone who cares a lot about equity, racial and gender justice, and you don’t see religion as the primary root of these problems (which I do not), addressing individual issues nothing directly to do with atheism might be more appealing or important to you.  So I have no problem with Sarah’s choice of focus and I think it’s got nothing to do with how secular/atheist she is, and anyone who accuses her of being not atheist enough is being absurd.  And I think it’s a shame that she, justifiably, feels the need to define herself against atheism as a movement.  But I need to push back against the idea that social justice does not or cannot include atheism as a cause.  (The rest of this is not about Sarah, just inspired by her post.)

Atheist equality is very much a social justice cause.

Atheists are not treated as equals in the US.  I know that for my friends and colleagues in various causes I’m invested in, especially those who live in blue areas and big cities, this isn’t always as transparent as it is to those of us from rural, red, or very religious areas.  The amount of social isolation and judgment the non-religious face is shocking.  We are the most reviled group in the US, below Muslims and gay people, on par with rapists.  There’s a reason we borrow the term “coming out” to describe letting people know our non-religious status — because there’s a lot stigma involved in the label and family, work, and social strife comes with openness.

Religious people get special tax consideration. You functionally have to claim religion to be elected to public office.  There are states (including my own) with unconstitutional and unenforcible laws on the books to prevent atheists from holding public office as small as public notary.  We have prisons where only Bibles are allowed as reading material (also South Carolina).  Under God in the pledge, God on the money, court mandated religious drug/alcohol treatment, child custody being determined against non-religious parents because they’re necessarily seen as immoral, discrimination and forced religious events in the armed services, religion being pushed into public schools, inability for non-religious to get credentialed to perform marriages or funerals, and it goes on in ways big and small.

There are a lot of places in the US where it really sucks to be an atheist.  Where your boss will fire you if he finds out.  Where you can’t get jobs if it’s known.  This is not oppression olympics, a lot of people have it worse.  And it’s much harder when you are on the receiving end of multiple systems of oppression.  But a truly intersectional examination of these systems of oppression reveals religion as an important source of injustice, socially, politically, and legally and atheists as victims of the cultural majority.  I think a lot of the anger in the movement is drawn from feeling disenfranchised because of minority status and the evangelism comes partially from wanting people to also be “freed from the shackles of religion” but also so that there are more people like you to be around.

But the resistance to unfairness that drove me to fight for LGBT issues, to fight for women’s rights, to fight racial injustice, to fight economic injustice, to work for progressive causes, to work in reproductive justice, is the same drive that brought me to atheism and keeps me here, despite the high level of pushback from a vocal minority in the movement who are more interested in being mean and boundary policing than effecting change.  I can’t blame anyone for leaving, I can’t promise never to leave myself, but it’s good to know why I am here.

20 Random Things Friday

1. The threat of 30 has been looming over my head, but Hank Green has cheered me a bit with the concept of Logarithmic Aging.  “So that you have more birthdays when you’re younger, when you like birthdays, and fewer birthdays when you’re older, when you don’t wanna think about em!”  Brilliant.

2. He is, incidentally, also right about the eating less meat thing — that we need to stop dividing people into meat-eaters and vegetarians, but instead encourage people to be thoughtful about their meat eating and do it much less.

I was a vegetarian for a couple years and my cholesterol got so low that it was bad for me.  Because even though we’re all “Cholesterol is bad” it turns out your body, you know, actually uses it.  Too low cholesterol is associated with depression, anxiety, and higher rates of mortality!  It also makes you bad at making vitamin D — and I don’t go in the sun much, so my vitamin D also got quite low.  So now I eat meat occasionally and feel better and categorizing me as a terrible meat eater isn’t useful.

3. Christina Hendricks is almost always wearing a wig or a hair piece.  I can’t believe I never noticed it, it’s super obvious.  Beyonce as well.  I feel so lied to.

christinahair

4. I had this thought today: “My flowery galoshes are almost perfect, except that no one can see my dinosaur socks.”  I’m a grown-up.

Galoshasaur

5. Also on hair, I’m trying to re-train my part to be further from the center, partially because I’m not entirely convinced one can train their part and the internet doesn’t have any authoritative claims on that front that I can find.

6. Photos from meeting Annie Leibovitz: https://www.facebook.com/mgafm/media_set?set=a.10100422213881817.1073741832.2605101&type=3

7. Photos from my trip to New Orleans: https://www.facebook.com/mgafm/media_set?set=a.10100422226162207.1073741833.2605101&type=3

8. Video of a real rescued baby sea turtle: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10100422239111257

9. Video of koi murdering a butterfly: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10100422242968527

10. Occasionally South Carolina does something amusing in a positive way.

sclawnmower

 

11. I thought I’d try this whole mindful meditation stuff that Greta is doing but I feel totally incapable of teaching myself to do it and the internet seems mostly filled with hippie dippy woo crap.  Thoughts on where to start?

12. Number one on this list so hard.

13. How many of the world’s 197 countries can you name in 15 minutes? I got to 120. I can place all the country names in the middle east in 1:45.  BAM.  I wonder if there’s a world map where you can place names instead of having to remember them off the top of your head?

14. DRUNK DIAL CONGRESS: http://drunkdialcongress.org/

15. Our prison system is just the worst.

16. Once again when a woman says “Guys, don’t do that,” atheist dudes are there to blow the whole thing up and call her irrational and oversensitive.

17. I really miss google maps Wikipedia plugin.  How am I supposed to learn random stuff about Western China?

18. Rebecca wrote a wonderful article about how useless the police are when it comes to online harassment.  It reminds me of my experience with Eddie Kritzer.  First comment? Go to the police.  I did.  And they told me they wouldn’t file a restraining order unless I changed my email and phone number and he kept harassing me.

19. ARGH ANTONIN SCALIA BOOO

20. Me repeatedly today:

jonwhat

 

mugatu

Lindsey Graham finally responds on ACA shutdown

Two weeks ago, fearing the impending shutdown, I sent my congressman and senators an email about the ACA and why it was important to me.  I got e-mails from all three of them — Tim Scott and Joe Wilson both sent me on topic responses, but I just got a form letter from Lindsey Graham saying that he’d respond later.  And he did, finally.

I am not sure what I expected, but I figured if it took him this long to send me an e-mail in response, it’d actually acknowledge what my opinion on the issue at hand is or give some indication that he (or someone on his staff) at least skimmed my letter.

Dear Ashley:

Thank you for contacting me regarding the vote to defund the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  I have always opposed the ACA and proudly voted in support of the House passed bill to fund the government and defund the ACA.  Unfortunately, with Democrats controlling the Senate, they were able to remove the defunding language without a single Republican vote.  The ACA has been and will remain a financial disaster for our nation.  For this reason I will continue to work towards repealing the ACA.  As the Senate considers this issue I will keep your comments in mind.

My job as your United States Senator is to represent your interests.  While I cannot guarantee we will see eye-to-eye on every issue, I can guarantee you I will give your thoughts and opinions the consideration they deserve.  Hearing directly from you about the problems facing our nation helps me better serve constituents like you and the people of South Carolina as a whole.  I hope you will always feel free to pick up the phone, write, or email about this, or any other issue, that comes before the Senate.

If you are online, I would also encourage you to visit my website — http://lgraham.senate.gov — as it has information on the most recent activities before the Senate.  While there you can sign up for my e-mail newsletter, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube pages which will provide the latest information, and my up-to-the-minute views on the major issues facing our nation.

Thank you again for taking time from your busy day to contact my office.  I look forward to hearing from you again in the future and truly appreciate the opportunity to represent your interests in the United States Senate.

You’ve had many opportunities to represent my interests, Senator, I look forward to the day when you actually do.

Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll, transcribed by a Mac

Yesterday I tried Middle English, so today, nonsensical English seemed to be the next best thing.

Twist Briley again the slightly toes,
Did jarring gimbal in the wave:
Almonds you were the Bora Groves,
And the mom race outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the closet catch!
Beware the judge of Bird, and shunned
The feminist benders snatch!”

He took his mortal sword in hand;
Long time the men’s own photo he sought –
So rested he by the tom-tom tree
Instead a while in thought.

And, as an office thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the told you would,
And verbal does it came!

One, too! One, too! And through and through
The vocal blade went snicker snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, might beamish boy!
Of fab just day! Hello! Calais!
It chortled in his joy.

Twist Greg, and the slighty toes
Did John gambling the wave:
On Mimsy were the Bora Groves,
And the Momerath upgrade.

The original:

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”

He took his vorpal sword in hand;
Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
He chortled in his joy.

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Canterbury Tales in Middle English, transcribed by a Mac

Once, long ago, Ms. Markham, my eleventh grade English teacher, made me memorize the beginning of the Canterbury Tales.  In Middle English.  Because it was basically a rote memory task that required repetition, it’s a parlor trick I still have in my memory banks.  I was playing around with my Mac transcription function and greatly appreciated its ability to type “Arnold Schwarzenegger” and “schadenfreude.” Obviously the next test would be Chaucer.

What I find most interesting about this transcription is that you can sort of half hear it, if you read it out loud.

One that I feel with the shorter so that,
The drop of March of passion to the realtor,
And bothered everything and switch the core
Of which virtue engendered is the floor;
One selfish act with the switch of breaking
Spirit half an difficult and hit
The gym the compass, and the young the summer
Of in the Ramas Honda Accord Urona
I’m smaller father smocking melody,
That Shevenell the needs an open yet,
So picket him not to inhere crushes,
The moving forward to going on to the motions
I’m Palmitas what to say can Strom just send those,
To family how is, Cruisin something on this;
Especially if I’m ever shadows in the
Oven but I’m to kind about it I wonder,
What it is for Monteforte to Seca
Him have open one that they were sick.

The Original:

Whan that aprill with his shoures soote
The droghte of march hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
Whan zephirus eek with his sweete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
Tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the ram his halve cours yronne,
And smale foweles maken melodye,
That slepen al the nyght with open ye
(so priketh hem nature in hir corages);
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,
And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes,
To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;
And specially from every shires ende
Of engelond to caunterbury they wende,
The hooly blisful martir for to seke,
That hem hath holpen whan that they were seeke.