Ellen’s Squishy Pumpkin Halloween Extravaganza!

As you may know, Ellen Bulger – a regular guest blogger here at Biodork, was in the path of Hurricane Sandy. She asked that I let you all know that she is fine, and that Sandy for her city was no worse than being a beagle in Mitt Romney’s carpool.

Because of hurricane preparations, the reveal for PPA 9 will be a few days coming, but Ellen did pass along a collection of squishy, soggy pumpkin photos for Halloween.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Used and Abused Pumpkins © Ellen Bulger

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Read ALL the FTB Blogs!

Some of you read Biodork because you’re my friends and family, and you read me uncaring of the fact that I’m on a larger, atheist blog network. This post is not for you. I’m writing this for those of you who want to read blogs that are about atheism or which are written from an atheist perspective. This is for those of you who read some, but not all, of the FTB writings.

You may have noticed that we recently had two new bloggers join Freethought Blogs: Non-Stamp Collector (oh my FSM – sweeeeet!) and Avicenna (love A Million Gods, been reading it for several months). I was scanning the comments on NSC’s intro post, and this one made me pause:

Another FTBer to add to the rss feed. Aaaarrrrgggggg.

To which I say: Do you mean to tell me that you’re not reading ALL the FTB blogs???

Okay, okay. I get it: There are currently over 30 blogs on FTB, we’re growing all the time, and many of us post at least one new entry every single day, if not more. That’s a lot of new material to read.

Or is it?

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t read everything that is published here. But what I do manage to do is scan through every new article on Google Reader using the FTB RSS Feed. Right now this is one screen-width of FTB feed for me (click to enlarge):

Represented above are articles by Duncan Deacon (Althenian Worldview), Kylie Sturgess (Token Skeptic), Avicenna (A Million Gods), Jason Thibeault (Lousy Canuck), Ophelia Benson (Butterflies and Wheels), PZ Myers (Pharyngula), Stephanie Zvan (Almost Diamonds), Mano Singham (Mano Singham), Cuttlefish (The Digital Cuttlefish) and Ian Cromwell (The Crommunist Manifesto)

That’s a lot of variety in both author and subject matter, and they’re all under the same feed! I can quickly scan through the articles in Google Reader and choose to stop or not. Sometimes there’s fluff piece or an administrative update that I don’t want to read. Sometimes there will be an in-depth analysis of some minutia of something I don’t care about. Sometimes I’ll not want to get involved in a post topic. *click* Aaaaaand it’s gone. Easy-peasy.

“But Brianne,” someone says, “some of those people make me really angry or bore me nigh unto death and I don’t wanna read them!”

Click right past ‘em. Just keep going. Seriously, you can see a name that you don’t like to see and just fly on by. Because seeing and skipping a post in order to potentially find something else that’s new and exciting is very much worth it. There are such different focuses and interests among the bloggers here at FTB, something that I mentioned in my “I’m moving over to FTB” post back in February:

… we’re all atheists of one stripe or another, and we tend to blog either a little or a lot about atheism, infringements of church and state, humanism, and other related topics. Some of the blogs on the network are devoted primarily to exploring religion or atheism, some have a focus on politics or civil liberties, or diversity, or are more personal (like mine). They are all unique and owned by their authors.

I thought that back when I joined. Nine months after I started, I know it.

I love the diversity of ideas here at FTBs, and not only between bloggers but in the ideas of a single blogger (interblogger vs. intrablogger, if you will). On a fairly frequent basis, a blogger who has a style that I think I know will post something completely unexpected, either because they’ve created something completely different (this is one of the great beauties of blogs; they can change and fluctuate with their authors’ moods, beliefs, and new experiences), or because I’m getting to see or know a new side of a blogger because I’ve been following their work.

As an example of a blogger throwing me for a loop, I offer up yesterday’s post by Crommunist. Here’s an excerpt that made me laugh out loud at work, to many puzzled looks:

Adam: Snake! Right. It was a snake. And it talked. To her (pointing at Eve). And she ate the fruit from the tree. And then she made me do it.

Eve: Okay that’s totally not what happened. Adam came to me with this fruit that had a bite of out it and…

Adam: (Interrupting again) Shut it, rib! (To YAHWEH, laughing, gesturing with his thumb) Look at her, thinking that she can talk. (To Eve) Ribs can’t talk, stupid.

Eve: Oh, but snakes can? (Adam glares at her, she rolls her eyes)

So, my humble suggestion, dear readers: If you like to read blogs by atheists or about atheism, freethought, or lives lived without the influence of belief in the supernatural – follow the full FTB RSS feed. Scanning the new content takes seconds, and you never know when you’re going to find something that really connects.

Student Atheists on the Radio

On Sunday I had the pleasure of interviewing two members of the University of Minnesota’s Campus Atheists, Skeptics and Humanists (CASH), Bryan Carver and Joshua Brose. The interview was a live, in-studio chat for Atheists Talk on KTNF (AM950). Carver and Joshua were good sports and agreed to take a photo with me, even though it was before 9am on a Sunday morning.

From the left: Joshua Brose, me, Bryan Carver

During the interview we discussed Joshua and Carver’s background, how they as students found CASH, and what their involvement in the group is. We chatted about the role that CASH plays on campus and in its members’ lives. We discussed some of the events that they’ve already held this year including the Brother Jed counterprotest and Everyone Draw Mohammed Day. They shared information about upcoming CASH events (which are usually open to the public), including a mentalist in November and SkepTech, a conference that they’re hosting next spring which will feature some pretty big names in the secular community (whoever is first on the list is the coolest speaker ever. Truth.). And to close the interview, they each shared what they believe is the one of the most important issues affecting young atheists today.

I had a very good time doing this interview, and I love working with Atheists Talk radio as a host and interviewer. I like knowing that there is a weekly atheist radio in my area that not only delivers awesome interviews (In the past couple of months alone we’ve have Alex Bezerow, Howard Bloom, Chris Rodda, Rebecca Stott, Guy P. Harrison, Matt McCormick, Herb Silverman, Teresa MacBain, David Niose, Jessica Ahlquist…well, I could go on, but now we’re all the way back to July), but also information about local atheist events and activities individuals and families.

You, uh, know we primarily fund this radio show with donations from listeners and supporters, right? *cough* Anyone, any donation amount, anytime. Go ahead, click the link. You know you want to. We have the best tagline ever: “Atheists Talk: It’s good radio without the Good Book.” That’s worth a few bucks just for sheer awesomeness, right?

You can listen to the CASH interview with Joshua, Carver and me in several places: the Minnesota Atheists radio page, in the KTNF archives, or you can search on iTunes for the podcast “Minnesota Atheists Atheists Talk”. Or maybe even here if the player embeds correctly:




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Song for Sandy

This is a post by guest blogger Ellen Bulger, who is located on the East Coast and preparing for Hurricane Sandy’s arrival. Stay safe, all of you who are in the line of God’s wrath the upcoming storms.

God must be punishing Connecticut. About twenty years ago, I was traveling down south, down in Georgia or somewhere and this guy, noticing I was not a local, told me I was in God’s Country. And I wanted to say, “Yeah? Well I’m from Martha Stewart Country and she could kick his ass!”

Surely God must be punishing us. What worse Yankee than a Connecticut Yankee? Seriously, we’re awash in lawyers and bankers and big pharma and insurance companies and stock brokers. By any reading of any holy book, that’s a lot more sinning than all the queers and atheists and evolutionary biologists in the world could get up to, no matter how hard they tried! But I don’t think Pat Robertson has called us out yet. Yet. Man, I could almost see how God would want to slap down Fairfield County. They don’t even have good pizza. But then again, we got broke folks here too.

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Cross-Country Connections: Halloween

Cross-Country Connections is a Biodork weekly blog entry dedicated to telling stories in pictures of three family members – me, my sister and Mom – living in very different locations across the country. Every week we choose a different theme and then take or contribute a personal photo that fits the theme. This week’s theme is Halloween.

From Mom in Carbondale, Illinois:

Old and New. Both homemade.

From Erin in Takoma Park, Maryland: 

Haunted Corn Maze and Fall Festival at Cox Farms in Chantilly Virginia

From me in Minneapolis, Minnesota:

Come closer. Gaze into my triangle eyes. Too close! A little too close!

 

 

Absentee Voting

This November 6th marks the first time that I will be out of my precinct during general elections. I freaked out a bit when I realized this yesterday; I have never done absentee voting. Since the election is less than two weeks away my first thought was that I’d be too late to turn around a mail-in ballot. But a Google search for “Absentee Voting Minneapolis” gave me all the information I needed to make a decision about how to cast my absentee vote.

I chose to vote in person at Minneapolis City Hall. The Hubby has the week off, so he agreed to drive me downtown today. I could have easily taken public transportation, but this helped save me a few precious minutes so I could get down there, vote, and get to work on time.

I walked into City Hall and was immediately helped by one of the election office clerks. She had me fill out a brief absentee ballot application, then gave me my ballot and a manila envelope. I went to the privacy booth, marked my choices, sealed the ballot in the envelope and returned to the desk. The clerk then placed the manila envelope containing my ballot into a second envelope that was marked with my absentee voter information and filed it away until it can be counted (I think she mentioned they start tabulating votes after 5pm on Friday 11/2/12).

For me, this was a super easy process. Don’t be afraid to vote absentee! You do not have to be pre-registered. If you need a non-traditional voting alternative, do check out your local options.

Seeing the ballot was a bit surreal. I was especially struck by the Constitutional Amendment sections. Seeing the language on the ballot that I have been speaking about with friends and family and strangers for the past several months made my heart skip. There it was – the moment when I was able to make my stand on issues that I feel so strongly about. It was all I could do to keep from driving my pen through the paper as I covered every millimeter of the NO circles with dark black ink.

It was moving. Even as an activist who works to dispel this myth, some days in the far back corner of my mind I hear a whisper that tells me I can’t make a difference. But today there was no whisper. I felt empowered and I felt that my voice would be heard. Because I know that there are a lot of our voices out there. I felt connected to all of you who will join me in voting against discrimination in the next week and a half. This election cycle we’re going to make history.

PPA 9: Halloweenscapes

Happy Halloween, dear readers! Brianne here, introducing a special Halloween Pareidolia Play Along by Ellen Bulger. I see a craggy, alien landscape, a breeding ground littered with the eggs of the land’s greatest predator. The time is ripe; this evening the hatchlings will emerge and a frantic stampede over the treacherous, uneven ground to nearby shelter will begin. Many will fall; only the toughest, the strongest, the meanest and most wily will succeed. Beware those who survive this first foray; they will grow to become great terrors to the human race.

Enjoy this Halloween offering – IF. YOU. DARE!!! Mwahahaha!

The following is a post by guest blogger Ellen Bulger.

Oh one can get up to all kinds of things this time of year. Where are we? What do you see?

Pareidolia 9

Pareidolia 9 © Ellen Bulger

PPA 8 Reveal: Jack Shellington?

This is a post by guest blogger Ellen Bulger.

In this installment, Ellen reveals the answer to Pareidolia Play Along 8.

Last Light and Shells

Last Light and Shells © Ellen Bulger

“Crassostrea virginica” while otherwise drab (and delicious) gets a little nuts when it makes a shell. This is a quiet beast, hiding under sediments so as to avoid the attention of carpenters and their tusked pinniped companions. It has the same dreary daily schedule filtering the water as the tide rises and falls. But while most other mollusks follow a set of blueprints very carefully when they grow their shells, the eastern oyster does some freestylin’ and expresses some personality. This bivalve tells you, “I would have been the belle of the ball, given the chance.” or “I am indeed a quiet sort.” or “I can’t possible have enough ruffles” or even “I don’t give a fuck all for your aesthetics, for your symmetry because I am a wild and crazy guy if only, only, only I had legs or fins or wings, damn it all!”

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Why I’m Voting No

Ben from TheSweatervest blog invited me to write about why I’m voting no to the Minnesota Marriage Amendment this November for his 42 Days of No project, which is highlighting “Why I’m Voting No” stories by Minnesotans (he started it 42 days prior to this November’s vote). This piece was submitted for that project.

I am voting NO on the Minnesota Marriage Amendment because a yes vote is a vote for discrimination. I don’t want to hear one more story about gay families being denied hospital visitation, bereavement rights or control of their possessions or children because they were not afforded the same legal protection that straight couples receive. The Minnesota Marriage Amendment is a Hail Mary pass supported by bigots that is intended to delay the inevitable; gay marriage WILL be legal in my lifetime.

I am voting NO because the Minnesota Marriage Amendment is a ploy by Republicans who are trying to win support from religiously-motivated voters. It is a cheap trick and dirty politics, and I don’t support it.

Vote No Jeep

Vote No Jeep parked outside of the YWCA in Uptown, Minneapolis.

I have a coworker who told me that she’s voting yes because the bible implies that gay marriage is wrong. She says she respects gay people, and that voting yes doesn’t mean that she doesn’t love her gay friends and family.

Bullshit.

If you love your gay friends and family, help protect them against inequitable representation in the legal system. If you are voting yes in November, you are spitting in the faces of people who need your help. You are telling them that you think they are wrong, that you know who they should love and marry better than they do.

Vote No Car in Front of Uptown Theater

 Vote No Car stopped in front of the Uptown Theater in Minneapolis

I have an acquaintance who doesn’t believe the government should be involved in marriage at all. He says he’s going to vote yes because he thinks this will send a message that government shouldn’t have any say over marriage at all.

That is an incredibly fucked up viewpoint.

The Minnesota Marriage Amendment would exert more government control over marriage, not less. It would be so bold as to define who can and can’t get married. What right does government have to make that call? For right or wrong, the government does have some say in marriage and in the rights of married people. If it is going to exert that control, it should at least do so without preference to one set of people over others.

It is my honor and duty to vote, and I am voting NO on the Minnesota Marriage Amendment because I will not stand quietly aside as discrimination is codified into our constitution. Neither god nor politics has a place in the Minnesota Marriage Amendment, and I will not let arguments to either of these blind me to the fact that voting yes to this heinous, sorry excuse of a proposed amendment would harm my fellow Minnesotans.