What are your favorite science resources?

Halp!

I’m going to do an interview with James Zimmerman from Minnesota Atheists next week. He wants to talk science, which I’m super excited about, and he’s asked me to come prepared with some resources that I can list for adults who want to learn more about science.

Not like that’s a HUGE areas or anything.

OhioSciOrg

Image via OhioSci.org

I’ve got my personal favorites, but they’re mostly centered around medicine and biology. I’m definitely going to mention the Science Museum of Minnesota and their Social Science program, and I’m going to get a plug in for the upcoming SkepTech conference in April. And I thought I’d ask for some help from you all. If you’d be so kind – what are your go-to places – physical locations, special events, open-source learning/classes, websites, TV shows, social media outlets, etc – for your various interests? General science resources are good, but if you’ve got any resources for specific fields that you think really shine, I’d love to hear about those too!

If you haven’t met Jazz…

I’m very late to this party, but damn. This is Jazz. She’s incredible. Her parents and siblings are incredible. It makes me very emotional to see a transgender girl who has been so loved and supported. Her parents have fought for her right to be herself, and they’ve raised her with such an apparent sense of self-worth, happiness and self-acceptance. If you haven’t met Jazz, do.

You can see more videos by and about Jazz on her Mom’s YouTube channel. Jazz’s family started the TransKids Purple Rainbow Foundation, an organization that provides inspiration and education about issues affecting transkids and transyouth.

Cross-Country Connections: Shadow

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 Shadow.

From Erin in Takoma Park, Maryland:

CCC Shadow Erin

This picture was taken during my great cross country adventure to Washington, D.C. from Washington State. It’s the park down the street from my childhood home and there live all the shadows of the swing sets, games of tag and tennis matches from my past. (Why yes, I am feeling poetic and maudlin today).

From Mom in Carbondale, Illinois:

CCC Shadow Mom

In Paris, on the Champs-Elysées in 2007

From me in Minneapolis, Minnesota:

CCC Shadow Brianne

A long shadow of me in front of the setting sun on Laguna Beach, California during last week’s work trip.

Churchy Signs – What’re you thinkin’ fer?

Louise has a couple more signs from our favorite church in Indianapolis, Indiana:

STFU2

Sign reads: “THE DESPISED OF EVERY AGE OF HISTORY HAVE BEEN CALLED CHRISTIANS”

HALP! Our ability to do whatever we want in the name of Jesus is under attack!

That’s what they’re talking about. Christians aren’t despised in the United States, and certainly not in Indianapolis! Christians are the majority and Christian privilege is the norm in many parts of this country. There are places in the world where Christians are systematically persecuted – historically and in these modern times – but here and now ain’t one of them. Signs like this are a fear-based rallying call to Christians who feel that their “way of life” is threatened when we hold the government accountable for observing the separation of church and state.

STFU1

Sign reads: “RATHER THAN REASONING GOD’S WORK, JUST TRY OBEYING IT”.

Critical thinking – who needs it? Certainly not God’s sons and daughters – just listen to your sky daddy! Okay…so sky daddy hasn’t actually said anything, but the priests and preachers are happy to interpret God’s words for you! And they never get it wrong or have personal biases or anything. Just listen to sky daddy’s representatives here on Earth and it will ALL. BE. OKAY.

Go West, Young Woman!

I’m traveling this week!

To California.

In February.

I win.

I mean, it’s for work, but it’s still traveling to California in the middle of a cold, damp Minnesota winter.

I left the Minneapolis-St.Paul International Airport on Monday morning. I love being in airports – watching people rush to and fro, wondering where they’re headed and what adventures or experiences are waiting for them on the other side. I wonder who I’ll meet on the plane, who I’ll be squished next to in the tiny traveling tin can in the sky. On a plane personal boundaries are grudgingly ignored in the name of cost-effective, fast travel. That and a prolonged travel time sometimes leads to unique interactions: alliances and temporary friendships forged and then forgotten in the space of a few hours.

We flew right over the Grand Canyon on the way to Santa Ana . *sigh* I love the Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon

I walked out of the John Wayne airport to a sunny 55°F winter. It was bliss. My 2013 V6 Toyota Camry rental is so much sweeter than the POS 4-cylinder Ford Focus that I usually drive, and traffic at 1pm was minimal. I did come straight to the Brea facility and put in a solid seven hours of work, but that just made the hotel bed feel awesome when I finally collapsed into it later that night.

Everyone assumes I speak Spanish out here, I’m guessing because of the prevalence of Spanish speakers and the olive skin/dark hair thing I’ve got going on. I’ve been greeted in Spanish on four separate occasions and the rental car shuttle driver even got exasperated at me – she repeat some phrase at me four times, each time enunciating more and getting more irate at my blank stare and helpless shrug. I finally gathered “Lo siento - no hablo español.” to my brain and tongue. She looked annoyed and switched to broken English. Poor woman seemed like she was having a tough day.  *sigh* Quiero hablar español! Sadly, the Rosetta Stone and I haven’t been able to make that happen yet, but we’re working on it. Either that or someone could please discover the frickin’ Babel Fish already. Geez.

On Saturday I’ll be doing the Tar Pits tourist thing with my bestest college friend; she’s driving up from her home in San Diego on Friday afternoon. Everyone says I should do Hearst Castle, but that’s four hours away, y’all! I’m thinking I’ll have to see the ocean while I’m out here. Maybe I’ll have some time after work on Friday afternoon to drive over to the coast. Any recommendations for scenic overlooks/memorable oceany sunsets within 45 minutes of Brea?

Cross-Country Connections: Curious

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 Curious.

From me in Minneapolis, Minnesota:

CCC Curious Brianne

Can anything peak excited curiosity as much as a door framed as a TARDIS? When presented with a blue phone box, we must find out if it’s bigger on the inside! Photo taken at CONvergence 2012.

From Erin in Takoma Park, Maryland:

CCC Curious Erin

I still have no idea what necessitated four fire trucks, four squad cars and two ambulances to come tearing down my block at 12:30 am on Saturday night.

From Mom in Carbondale, Illinois:

CCC Curious Mom

This is not my cat, though Jasper looks just like Edgar, who owns my very good friend, Christina Bearden-White.  The curious thing is that all cats do this.  The purse cannot be comfortable to lie on but if it’s there, they will chose that over a nice warm spot on the floor.  Do not understand.

The Empty Sidewalk

IMAG0033 (645x1024)I showed up for clinic escorting last Wednesday in Minneapolis. It was me and one other escort.

And that was it.

No protesters. No gruesome signs.

No pamphlets stuck under the windshields of patients who don’t want them.

No little plastic fetuses. No shouting.

No shaming. No tears.

I held the door open for some patients going to the dialysis clinic that is in the same building.

I smiled and hummed a lot.

I could deal with this.

Cross-Country Connections: Hope

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 Hope.

From Mom in Carbondale, Illinois:

CCC Hope Mom (1024x765)Hope I sell this soon.

From me in Minneapolis, Minnesota:

CCC Hope Brianne (577x1024)

I took this photo at last year’s Good Friday counter-protest at Planned Parenthood in St. Paul, Minnesota. Every time I see this photo I grin and feel a sense of excitement that the next generation of pro-choice activists is on the way (yes, I know I’m assuming a lot. Let’s just say there’s a good chance that she’ll be raised to support womens’ reproductive rights). More than that, though, it gives me hope when I meet people who understand that pro-choice doesn’t mean anti-children or anti-family. 

From Erin in Takoma Park, Maryland:

CCC Hope Erin (1024x765)

At a visit to the National Museum of Health and Medicine, an entire display about Biomedical Engineering pretty much defines hope. 

What? That’s not racist!

Here’s the story – a male cop in St. Paul, Minnesota decided it would be funny and clever to dress up as a female Somali Target employee for a private Halloween party that he attended last year. He wore a hijab, tucked a cell phone next to his face underneath the hijab, and pinned a Target nametag bearing a common Somali name to the front of his clothes. Someone took a photo of him in his costume and that photo was posted to Twitter. Now the backlash is starting to catch up to him.

The woman that he turned into a costume – I know her. In the South Minneapolis neighborhood where I live and shop, I have walked by her on the street, smiled at her, shared a bus seat with her, and have done business with her. For some reason, this man thought she was something to be mocked – a stereotype that he could wear, a joke.

His apology, as quoted by the Star Tribune, is a mockery of apologies – a prime example of the Not-Pology (i.e. – he’s very sorry if you were offended). Actually, I think the Star Trib captured it perfectly in the title of their article: “St. Paul officer in hijab apologizes for photo.” There is no doubt in my mind that he is quite sorry about the photo.

In addition to this story, I want to talk about the discussion that was had about this story that took place among me and some acquaintances. Someone was reading the paper and mentioned it. A few people sighed, shook their heads, said something to the effect of “That’s not right.” And then somebody said this:

“But you know…some people will get offended by anything.”

A few others chimed in with their agreement and it was ON. Here are some of the things that were said during that discussion:

“I don’t get why people are upset. It was just a joke.”

“He wasn’t trying to be offensive.”

“But…it’s Halloween! And really, his costume wasn’t that much different than the stuff they sell in Halloween stores. Nobody says those costumes are racist.”

“We’ll just have to disagree.”

You all are a pretty savvy bunch when it comes to issues of racism and privilege. I’ve learned a lot from the blogs and commentary that I read, and apparently all that internet-learning has paid off; I was pleasantly suprised to find myself holding up a pretty cogent argument for why the cop was in the wrong and why it was wrong to try to shame the people who were offended by his actions.

Let me step back and share something with you: It’s taken me a long time for me to begin to grasp the complexities of race, class, gender, sex and ableist privilege. Hell, to grasp the idea of privilege at all. And I’ve still got a ways to go. I’ve had some deeply uncomfortable moments when being confronted with these issues. It seems strange to have to go through so much internal struggle and self-questioning to come to this understanding:

“Oh! I get it! What I’m doing is offensive because you’ve told me that I’m being offensive. I should stop being offensive.”

But really - it’s that simple.

We can learn a lot by letting our discomfort be the starting point for conversations. Although, as was recently pointed out to me, the person who has been offended might not feel like having a conversation about the offense-causing behavior, in which case it becomes the our job to do the research and find out how and why we screwed up, and to try to not do it again.

Back to the conversation about the cop’s Halloween’s costume. Someone said this: “Anybody can be offended by anything, then! I don’t like your pink scarf. Pink offends me!”

O rly?

That argument is a distraction. First of all – you’re not offended by me wearing pink. Stop being an ass. And in my experience, people really aren’t offended “by anything” – they’re usually offended for a reason. When we say “some people are offended by anything”, we’re trivializing the worth of their complaint. It’s not right to dismiss someone’s pain or anger just because you can’t understand why they’re offended.

One surprising thing that seems to happen as I learn more about privilege is that complex topics sometimes get a lot simpler. For example, let’s revist the rest of those comments from the discussion:

“I don’t get it. It was just a joke.”

It’s not a joke to the Somali community that the cop was mocking.

“He wasn’t trying to be offensive.”

Doesn’t matter – he was.

“But…it’s Halloween! And really, his costume wasn’t that much different than the stuff they sell in Halloween stores. Nobody says those costumes are racist.”

Yes they do. Lots of people say that (too bad hyperlinks don’t work in r/l conversations).

“We’ll just have to disagree.”

OK. You’re still in the wrong. Also, it’s kind of shitty to play the “agree to disagree” card when we’re talking about whether or not we should treat our fellow human beings with respect.

Here’s another thought - take a look at the situation in which the offense happened. If some random man had dressed up like a Somali woman for a costume party, that would make him a jerk of one stripe or another. But this story is getting attention in part because the man is law enforcement officer who is entrusted with serving all of the citizens in his area. How can the Somali community trust him to serve them equally and fairly when his actions have shown that he thinks they’re a joke?

No really…how?

Well first, he could offer a sincere apology and acknowledge that his costume was unacceptable and bigoted. He could say “I was wrong. I apologize to the people who I offended. I will do and be better going forward.”

That would be an excellent start.

Cross-Country Connections: Surprise!

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 Surprise!.

From Erin in Takoma Park, Maryland: 

In honor of this week’s theme, Erin surprise-submitted a video instead of a photo.

Surprise doggy freak out.  Hiking in Rock Creek Park, we came across a sand beach and Ivan went wild.

From Mom in Carbondale, Illinois: 

(I can’t believe the shit my own mother has me post on my own blog)

CCC Surprise Mom

Ehrmagurd -Serr-PRIZE! Brianne and Erin goofing around at Thanksgiving 2011.

From me in Minneapolis, Minnesota:

CCC Surprise Brianne

Happy Pheonix thinks that nothing could ever ruin this wonderful day.