Don’t be sexy, or guys have the right to randomly ejaculate on you

Feminist rage in 3…2…1…

No one disputes that an on-duty Irvine police officer got an erection and ejaculated on a motorist during an early-morning traffic stop in Laguna Beach. The female driver reported it, DNA testing confirmed it and officer David Alex Park finally admitted it.

When the case went to trial, however, defense attorney Al Stokke argued that Park wasn’t responsible for making sticky all over the woman’s sweater. He insisted that she made the married patrolman make the mess–after all, she was on her way home from work as a dancer at Captain Cream Cabaret.

“She got what she wanted,” said Stokke. “She’s an overtly sexual person.”

A jury of one woman and 11 men—many white and in their 50s or 60s—agreed with Stokke. On Feb. 2, after a half-day of deliberations, they found Park not guilty of three felony charges that he’d used his badge to win sexual favors during the December 2004 traffic stop.

And apparently since you decided to show us all that you’re flaming asshole, you want me to punch you in the face. You’re obviously just asking for it.

Not only is this a disgusting case of slut shaming and victim blaming, but the police officer was actually stalking the stripper. He knew her profession would make her an easy target, as her “sexiness” was his only defense. The only sensible person at the trial was apparently the prosecutor:

In his closing argument, Stokke pounced. He called Lucy one of those “girls who have learned the art of the tease, getting what they want . . . they’ve learned to separate men from their money.”

Kamiabipour wasn’t amused. “Dancer or not, sexually promiscuous nor not, she had the right not to consent,” she told jurors. “[Park] doesn’t get a freebie just because of who she is . . . He used her like an object.”

There is no excuse for rape or sexual assault. It doesn’t matter if they’re wearing revealing clothing, a stripper, walking around alone at night, or drunk. The blame lies with the man who is sexually assaulting and raping others. The fact that some people still can’t get this through their tiny brain mildly terrifies me.

(Via Dispatches from the Culture Wars)

Ah, relaxation

I’ve discovered a unique trend. I actually blog more when I’m incredibly busy and stressed because I use it as a fun escape from that insanity. Aka, I use it to procrastinate doing real work. Why does this matter? Because unfortunately for you guys, I’m on winter break, which means I’m doing nothing but sleeping, eating, and playing video games. That also means I’m feeling fairly uninspired at the moment. So, you have two options:

1. Inspire me. Leave a question or topic in the comments, or email me at [email protected] Ask me anything, doesn’t have to be intelligent or about atheism.

2. Tell me how you’re relaxing over the holidays. Going on vacation? Reading an awesome book? Playing a great game? Drinking excessively? Inquiring minds want to know!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go crack open my new copy of Little King’s Story until I get some blog fodder.

How to Meet Atheist Women (and not scare them away)

“How do I meet atheist women?” It’s the question asked over and over by other atheists, and answered over and over again by random bloggers. Random male bloggers. I’m not saying men can’t give good dating advice, but it seems logical to me to get an atheist woman‘s point of view since…well, the goal is to attract an atheist woman. I also feel somewhat obligated to write an article on the topic, since “atheist dating” and “how to meet atheist women” are some of the most popular search terms that lead people to my blog, yet I don’t really have a post on it. Of course, using that rationale I’d have to write posts on some pretty strange, kinky stuff, so…scratch that. I’m doing this out of the goodness of my heathen heart.

As a disclaimer, this advice is being generated with straight men in mind. To all the bisexual women and lesbians, you know I love you gals (and most of this advice is probably still applicable), but I’m a straight chick and writing what I know. And even though my many years of listening to Loveline and Dan Savage make me feel like a qualified relationship guru, I’m just some blogger with opinions and a vagina. No suing me if you’re single for life.

The first major problem men seem to have is finding atheist women. There’s not really anything different that you need to do for an atheist woman versus women in general. If you’re a jerk/creep/slob/etc, finding an atheist chick isn’t going to magically solve your girl problems – especially because atheist women have their pick of the litter. We’re not necessarily outnumbered by atheist men, but I think it’s safe to say we’re currently harder to find. Many atheist groups, meetings, and conferences currently have a male bias (the reasons why are for another post), so we have more out atheists to choose from. Women are becoming more out and active, and I suspect we’ll see an equal gender ratio soon – but you need companionship now, so enough of this speculation.

Where to find atheist women:

  • Local atheist organizations: Starting with something painfully obvious, go to your local atheist/skeptic/freethinker meetings. Some have better gender ratios than others, but if you’re looking for someone who’s active and vocal about her atheism, it’s the place to go. Unitarian Universalists also tend to attract a lot of atheist women, so don’t count them out.
  • Other nerdy or liberal organizations: Looking for clubs is probably easiest for those of us at college or in a big city, so I apologize to all of you atheists living in the middle of nowhere. Don’t limit your search to explicitly atheistic organizations – not all atheists need a club for their atheism, and you can find them elsewhere. A lot of (but not all) atheists tend to also be science oriented, geeky, and or liberal – so take an Evolution course, check out the Anime club, or get active in your local ACLU. Obviously, pick things that also interest you (more on this later).
  • Artsy, non-traditional hangouts: As an artist I can speak pretty confidently on this one – for every artist that’s crazy into woo, there’s one who thinks it’s bullshit. Artsy people tend to be pretty non-traditional and independent, and that can manifest itself in anything from weird spirituality to rabid rejection of religious dogma. Even the woo ones tend to be fairly tolerant of atheists, since they’re at least not following the man. Or something like that. Check out local coffee shops, art galleries, poetry readings, or any other avant-garde events you may find.
  • The internet: Online dating may weird some people out, but I know women (atheist women!) who have had it work out great for them. OkCupid is teeming with atheists, to the point where talking about atheism greatly increases your number of replies (and religious talk is a conversation stopper). There are also plenty of atheist women who blog (woo!), comment on blogs, post in atheist forum, tweet, put videos on YouTube, etc. However, don’t be a stalker (more on this later).
  • Let them find you: If you’re comfortable with your atheism and don’t feel like it’ll get you lynched (people in the Bible Belt may want to ignore this advice), wear it proudly! Put on a skeptical shirt. Wear a scarlet A or Flying Spaghetti Monster pin. Deck out your backpack or man purse with heathen buttons. Decorate your lap top with skeptical stickers. Read the God Delusion or any other godless book in public. I know I’ll usually at least say “nice book/sticker/etc” or give a smile to a kindred atheist – that can be your opening to start a conversation. Now, doing all of these things at once may come off as overkill – you don’t want to be a walking billboard for atheism (as cool as our billboards are) unless you only want a woman who’d appreciate that. But small things do help. If you’re out, it’s more likely someone will find you or you’ll pique her interest. When I was single, friending a new acquaintance on Facebook and seeing that he lists himself as “atheist” or “Pastafarian” or “Jedi” definitely made me interested. Once I was tempted to drive after a cute guy because he also had a Darwin fish on his car. Being out pays!

So you’ve finally found an elusive atheist woman – but now what? You don’t want to frighten her away by being too forward, but you don’t want to miss your chance by being too passive. It’s a lot like catching that Chansey in the Safari Zone – you need a happy medium and a bit of luck. Or with a lot of luck, you’ll find a woman who loves Dawkins and can make random Pokemon references.

How to not scare atheist women away:

  • Don’t be a poser: Remember when I listed all those cool hobbies and clubs you should frequent because they may have atheist women? Only go to the ones that you’re actually interested in. I’m not saying you have to be a master of whatever subject the club focus on – novices are often welcomed in organizations so they can cultivate their interest. But if you have absolutely no interest in Astronomy and you’re hanging around just to pick up some godless chicks, stop. Women will find out you’re feigning interest just to get in their pants, and it’s creepy.
  • Remember that women are people, not just mates: While you may be on the prowl for a date, that doesn’t mean every woman is too. Atheist women will go to clubs and coffee shops because they enjoy club activities and want a cappuccino. They’ll partake in atheist activities on the internet without the goal of a relationship in mind. That’s not to say they’re completely unwelcoming to flirting – but constant flirting from every atheist with a penis does get old (Obvious Tip: Don’t stare at boobs). It’s enough to scare women away from atheist meetings because they’re seen as a piece of meat rather than a fellow human being. If you follow the previous tip about being sincere about your interests, you should have common topics to talk about instead of coming off as desperate. Or at the very least, try to recognize when your advances are unwanted – I suggest all men go read Schrodinger’s Rapist to see how many women perceive unwanted flirtation.
  • Have interests other than atheism: I am a very active atheist activist – I’m President of a club, I blog, I’m outspoken – but I have other interests. I have favorite books, TV shows, foods, sports, hobbies, etc. I am a person, and so is every other atheist women. When you meet one of us, the conversation shouldn’t only be over how religion is silly and Richard Dawkins is awesome. Not only will you seem a bit one sided and obsessive, but it’ll also make it seem like you’re not really interested in us as a whole. This is especially true if you’re dealing with a non-rabid atheist chick – she may not want to discuss religion at all.
  • Don’t stereotype atheist women: I know this whole post I’ve been speaking in generalities, so this seems a bit hypocritical, but it really is important. Don’t assume all atheist women are alike just because they’re atheists. Some may be science oriented, and some may be bored to tears by your geek talk. Some may joke about eating babies, and some may punch you for such a crass joke. Some may be all about promiscuous sex and kinky orgies, and some may be waiting for marriage. This is yet another reason why communication is key; you just can’t judge someone’s personality, interests, and political beliefs because of their lack of religion.
  • Look presentable: I didn’t want to delve into general dating tips, but this is so important that I have to mention it. You don’t have to be endowed with fabulously handsome good looks, but simple effort to look decent is noted. Shave, unless you’re one of the few men who can pull off the sexy rugged look (if you’re not sure, you probably can’t). Wear deodorant. For the love of FSM, shower. You’d think by now I wouldn’t have to say that, but I’ve seen far too much greasy, unkempt bed head in my days at Purdue. I personally don’t care about clothes as long as they’re clean, but not every woman is as fashion apathetic as I am – something other than baggy sweatshirt can give you that extra bonus point over the other atheist guys. I fully understand that everyone has their bad day – I’ve stumbled off to meetings looking horrible and not giving a damn – but consistent sloven appearance leaves a lasting impression. If these suggestions sound patronizing, then you’ve probably been doing it right all along and they’re not for you. If they seem like novel ideas, I suggest you take my advice.

Hopefully by now you can locate an atheist woman and get her to talk to you long enough to persuade her that you’re not a giant creeper: congratulations! But if you’re still having trouble, here are a couple of more tips:

  • Don’t judge a book by its cover: A giant studded cross necklace or religious t-shirts don’t automatically mean the woman wearing them is religious. I know my friends and I own some religious merchandise for irony’s sake – because nothing is funnier than an in-joke of an atheist wearing that tacky “Jesus Saves” lifeguard shirt. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking – now women are camouflaged? Why do they have to make it so difficult?! I guess it’s just to teach you a lesson that you need to get to know a person before judging them. Sorry, guys.
  • Lame atheist pick up lines are still lame: No, you are not the first guy to joke about your noodly appendage. No, doing the “I just wanted to tell you about Jesus – jk, I’m an atheist and Christians are dumb” switch isn’t funny either (about 25% of the messages I receive on OkCupid do this; not creative, guys).
  • Don’t rule out non-atheists: Agnostics, deists, and “spiritual but not religious” types should be dating options as well – don’t rule out someone who may have a little woo in their life. And while I believe you should never go into a relationship with the goal of changing someone, people without strong religious beliefs can and often do become atheists. Sometimes it’s from being around an atheist so much, but other times it’s because they were an atheist all along but never comfortable enough to admit it.

Like always, questions and comments are welcome. Particularly insightful and helpful tips may be added to this post if deemed worthy. I’m not sure what else to tell you other than good luck!

Downsizing rational books

I’m back home for the holidays, woo. One of the weird things about being away from home for so long is seeing all the changes when you come back – favorite restaurants disappear and new ones pop up, businesses change, roads appear… These things seem gradual when you’re living there, but are a little unnerving when you’ve been away.

I went to Borders today and noticed the same thing. I always make a B-line to the science section…but it wasn’t there. I had to search for a while before I found it stuck in the reference section. Instead of three bookshelves worth of science books, there were now one and a half. Why had science been moved? Because religious books now took up sixteen bookshelves instead twelve, and supernatural/astrology books took up six bookshelves instead of two. It also took me forever to find the atheist books, which I knew were usually stuck in religion, because they now got a single shelf (so 1/5 of a bookshelf) instead of three…and half of the books there were actually against atheism.

Boo.

I understand it’s all about supply and demand, but that still makes me sad. How many Christian apologetics books does a person need? How many versions of the Bible could you possibly want? Four bookshelves were devoted just to the Bible, so apparently you can want a lot. Not only that, but they didn’t have hardly any new atheism or science books that have been published in the last year or so – only new book I saw was Dawkins‘, which was on display next to the Atheists Delusion.

How the heck am I supposed to buy Christmas gifts for all of the heathen friends and family?!*

*And before someone comments about my whining, I really don’t care. I just thought it was an interesting observation. I’ll get my heathen fix from Amazon.

Google’s religious censorship: the double standard

Anyone who has used Google before knows that when you start typing a phrase, Google will start suggesting searches for you based on common searches of other people. This can be useful, and it can also lead to some pretty wacky stuff popping up sometimes. But what happens when you combine religion and Google’s search suggestions? Let’s take a look at some major world religions:Wow, a lot of negative and critical stuff being searched, huh? Because I’m an equal opportunity offender, let’s throw in atheism too, even though it’s technically not a religion (though apparently most searchers don’t understand that).
But wait, what about Islam? Did I just forget about them? Nope – there’s just nothing to show.
Yep. Google censors the search “Islam is,” presumably so negative phrases don’t pop up. Apparently it’s okay to criticize other religions – but Islam? Oh ho ho, nooooo, we’re not opening that can of worms.

But maybe no one is searching for “Islam is,” and that’s why we don’t see it. Let’s take a look at the number of search results per term:

“Christianity is” – 2,600,000
“Judaism is” – 486,000
“Hinduism is” – 270,000
“Buddhism is” – 550,000
“Atheism is” – 548,000
“Islam is” – 14,400,000

Yes, even though “Islam is” has the most search results, it offers no search suggestion.

Maybe this is an isolated case. What happens if we look at a similar type of search term?
Huh, looking pretty empty around here. I guess this goes with the old “Respect the person, not the idea” mantra that I support. As long as Google does that for all of the groups…
Well…okay, I guess none of those things are really bad things…
Aaanndd never mind. Guess it’s still okay to pick on the ickle atheists, but not anyone else.

Let’s look at the search results:

“Christians are” – 2,600,000
“Jews are” – 7,880,000
“Muslims are” – 1,890,000
“Hindus are” – 268,000
“Buddhists are” – 95,300
“Atheists are” – 390,000

Again, an odd little correlation. Two of the terms with the lowest amount of search results are the ones that actually show search suggestions. It’s obvious Google is covering its ass and trying not to offend religious users – and you know what, as a company they have that right. And as long as they’re not censoring the actual results (which seems true, looking at the number of search results), that’s okay with me. But I think this really illustrates the attitude that surrounds criticizing religion.

We’ve gotten to the point where it’s okay to criticize everything but Islam – which is a better than not being able to criticize religion at all – but we shouldn’t be putting Islam on a special pedestal. We can’t be bullied into silence through threats and incidents like the Muhammad cartoons, because that only gives them even more power. Even something as simple as Google being afraid to highlight the searches of others (not their own personal views) shows how strongly people can fear criticizing Muslims.

And as for the search terms about individuals? I personally don’t think Google should censor anything, as it leaves silly loop holes like this. It shows which groups scare them the most – the ones with the most power – rather than any sort of logical, uniform censoring system. I don’t think Google hates atheists, but rather that they realize we won’t flip our shit at a couple of nasty search terms. It just all seems a bit ridiculous, really.

(Hat tip to Reddit for finding this)

Military abortion ban and the horrific story of a female soldier

Folks, it takes a lot to trigger me; not just to make me mad – we all know how easily I can rant about something. But this story literally had my mouth gaping and left me feeling sick. Kathryn Joyce, who you may remember as the author of Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement, has written an article on the US military’s abortion ban. I didn’t even know such a ban existed, but the horrifying part comes when you realize how this actual affects women.

Sorry for the huge quote, but it’s a must read (with bold emphasis mine). Article is fairly long, so click the link above for the full thing. Also, warning that this contains some graphic imagery.

For military women, who lack all rights to medical privacy, facing an unplanned pregnancy is a daunting obstacle. Thanks to anti-abortion forces in Congress, military hospitals are banned from providing abortion services, except in cases of life endangerment, rape, or incest (and for the latter two, only if the patient pays for the service herself). Amy says her options were “like being given a choice between swimming in a pond full of crocodiles or piranhas.”

“I have long been aware of the stigma surrounding this circumstance and knew my career would likely be over, though I have received exceptional performance reviews in the past,” Amy explains. Although Fallujah has a surgical unit, and abortion is one of the most common surgical procedures, Amy knew that if her pregnancy were discovered, she would be sent back to her home base at North Carolina’s Camp Lejeune, where she would then have to seek a private abortion off-base, or she could request leave in Iraq and try her luck at a local hospital. She also knew she could face reprimands from her commanding officers for having had sex in Iraq (part of a broader prohibition on sex in war zones), and that she might not be promoted as a result: a potentially career-ending situation in the Marines, where failure to obtain regular promotions results in being discharged. Moreover, as a woman in the military, accustomed to proving herself to her male peers over her six-year career, Amy was wary of appearing a “weak female.”

“If you get sent home for something like that, everyone will know about it,” says Amy. “That’s a really bad stigma in the military. I thought, that’s not me, I’ve worked harder and I could outrun all the guys. So I chose to stay, and that was just as bad.”

From a remove of two years, Amy now sees the sex that resulted in her pregnancy as rape: something that may have qualified her for an on-base (though self-funded) abortion. However, at the time, because the rape wasn’t brutally violent, and because she had seen fellow servicewomen be ostracized for “crying rape” in the past, she imagined nothing but trouble would come of making a complaint.

Instead, using herbal abortifacient supplements ordered online, Amy self-aborted. Unable to find a coat hanger she used her sanitized rifle cleaning rod and a laundry pin to manually dislodge the fetus while lying on a towel on the bathroom floor. It was a procedure she attempted twice, each time hemorrhaging profusely. Amy lost so much blood on the first attempt that her skin blanched and her ears rang. She continued working for five weeks, despite increasing sickness, until she realized she was still pregnant.

The morning after her second attempt, she awoke in great pain, and finally told a female supervisor, who told Amy to take an emergency leave to fly back to the United States where a private abortion clinic could finish the procedure. However, Amy was afraid that she would miscarry on the 15-hour plane ride and have no medical escort to help her. She went to the military hospital instead and told the doctor everything. Shortly thereafter, her company first sergeant and other officers were notified of Amy’s condition. The first sergeant came to her hospital room to announce that Amy would be punished under Article 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which addresses violations of general regulations, for having had sex in a war zone.

That night, Amy miscarried alone in her shower. Fearful of the advice of a sympathetic female officer who suggested that Amy might be charged for the abortion as well (she wasn’t), she flushed the fetus down the toilet. “I don’t believe there was ever a life or a soul there,” Amy says, “but I feel undignified for doing that.” When her nonjudicial punishment (a plea sentence for a misdemeanor-like offense) went through, Amy was fined $500 and given a suspended rank reduction.

Master Sergeant Keith Milks, a public affairs officer in Amy’s former unit, the II Marine Expeditionary Force, says he can’t comment specifically on Amy’s case, as the administration action of the punishment and Amy’s personnel details are covered by privacy provisions. However, he says, her sentence is in keeping with the options for disciplining soldiers for breaking the prohibition on sex in a war zone.

At Amy’s request, she was sent home from Iraq, after a military psychiatrist determined that she was “too psychologically unstable” to remain, and diagnosed her with acute anxiety, PTSD, and depression. “They convinced themselves that anyone who would do a self-abortion is crazy,” Amy says. “It’s not a crazy thing. It’s something that rational, thinking women do when they have no options.”

What. The. Fuck.

I really don’t know if I can comment on this issue without becoming too emotional, but I’ll try my best. No, I’ve never had an abortion, but the idea of being put through this situation terrifies me. To know that a clump of unconscious, parasitic cells is more important to some people than the life of an adult woman – than my life – nauseates me. And a life is what’s at stake when you ban abortions. Women will chose abortion when it’s the right option for them, and they will do it by any means possible. The only only thing banning abortion does is increase the death of women.

To think that these women are fighting for our rights, yet don’t even get to exercise theirs… That they’re labeled as crazy because they want to terminate their pregnancy… That all of their options include stigma and career trouble…

Goddamnit. And people call me a feminazi because I point out women and men are not yet equal. If you can still say that after reading that piece, you’re heartless.

A blast from the past: my high school paper on intelligent design

Oral Roberts died, etc. It’s already been covered by other blogs (My favorite title being “Oral Roberts has finally been killed by God for not raising enough money.”), and no matter how many horrible things I think a person did while they were alive, I just don’t feel right talking bad about someone when they’re dead. So I’ll leave it at that.

Why mention it, then? Well, it reminded me of a girl I went to high school with who now attends Oral Roberts University. We were sort of friends – the kind that talk a lot in class, but don’t really do anything outside of school. She was super nice and a brilliant student, and always outshone everyone in our honors english, history, and math classes. So when I found out she was going to Oral Roberts, it felt like a step down. This is the kind of person who could go anywhere on scholarship, and she was going there?

But it didn’t really surprise me, because I found out how religious she was that semester. We were in AP Composition together the spring of our senior year (one of the most hellish, ridiculous classes I had to take at my high school – that’s a rant of its own) and our next assignment was a debate paper. One person had to be pro, the other con on a topic of our choice. We were partnered together by the sheer luck of sitting near each other, and started brainstorming topic ideas.

I had been reading a lot about evolution lately, so I suggested “How about whether or not Intelligent Design should be taught in school?”

“Oh, that’s a great idea!” she said. I smiled. “My father has his PhD in theology, so he’ll be able to help me a lot.” And smile gone.

I shouldn’t say my smile was gone – rather it was likely replaced by the smug grin of an 18 year old who knew she had this debate in her pocket. After devouring information about evolution and the ID debates for the last four years, this paper was going to be easy to write. The hardest part was shoving it all into a 4 page limit in the constraints of the formal thesis-3 supporting paragraphs-conclusion format. And fulfilling all of the random requirements our teacher created, like interviewing people, using a certain number of magazine articles versus books, yadda yadda.

I found that paper now (pdf here). I have to say, it’s fairly good for an 18 year old who self-taught herself evolution – still more intelligent than most of the creationist bull crap you hear today. I’m actually more impressed by my writing style, which has apparently totally deteriorated after being subjected to nothing but science classes at Purdue (which pretty much never write anything, least of all essays).

But that’s not the fun paper.

The fun paper is my rebuttal. We got to read each other’s papers* and write a 1000 word rebuttal, which would factor into our overall grade. She didn’t seem too unnerved by my initial paper. But I still remember that day when we were sitting in the library and swapped our rebuttals.

I made her cry.

Oh, those big bad evolutionary biologists. Keep in mind I was a extraordinarily passive agnostic who was just coming out of deism at this point. Making her cry was not my goal – winning this debate, sure, but not tears. Thinking about this experience now, I can’t imagine what I said that could have upset her that much. That is, until I went back and read my rebuttal (pdf here).

Oh my god. Hilarious.

Not only did I call her paper a “futile attempt” with “claims [that] hardly contain even a modicum of truth,” but I invoked Hitler at the end. Yes, I failed Godwin’s law, but at least I did it spectacularly (in my unbiased opinion).

Even Behe’s book Darwin’s Black Box inclusion as “one of the most important books of the twentieth century” speaks little: Mein Kampf is considered one of the most influential books ever, but that hardly makes its message true (Sobilo).

I wasn’t trying to be mean. I think I just really, really wanted to win that debate – especially since, if I remember correctly, our teacher had some inane grading system where the better paper of the two got an automatic 100%. Niceties were not getting in the way of a grade boost I desperately wanted.

Needless to say, I got the 100%. Oh, she’s a far superior writer than I am – it’s just hard winning a debate when you have zero logical points to make (don’t worry, she still got an A for the writing). I remember I even showed all of the papers to my AP Biology teacher at the time. He just blinked slowly and said “You destroyed her.”

Of course, did I do anything to help the cause of evolution? Probably not. I guess this illustrates the fine line we have to walk between opening up dialog, or letting our frustrations win and calling people names. Do the big names of ID who are spreading lies deserve ridicule? I’m in the camp that says “sure.” Do 18 year olds who don’t really understand the topic? Probably not.

Ah, young Jen fail. Though on an interesting note, I had just started reading Pharyngula while writing that paper. Coincidence, or contagious crankiness – I’ll let you decide.

*I don’t have a copy of her paper or rebuttal. Well, a hard copy is probably buried somewhere back home, but I still wouldn’t want to post it since it’s her intellectual property. You can pretty much imagine what she said by reading any creationist argument on the internet, since they just parrot each other anyway.

It’s not lupus…

…it’s mono! Yay. Just what I needed right before winter break, to get sick.

Apparently it was pretty obvious to my doctor, just looking at symptoms alone. Apparently giant tonsils (enough to make him go “Woah!” – I felt kind of accomplished, like I had grown a giant pumpkin for a competition or something), white spots, swollen lymph nodes, and an achey spleen = mononucleosis.

Doctor: Have you been feeling tired or fatigued?
Me: …I always feel tired and fatigued (unsaid: I’m a college student). I guess I’ve been feeling more tired and fatigued, but it’s also finals week, so who knows what the cause is.
Doctor: …good point.

It was even obvious enough that he didn’t claim I was pregnant, which notoriously happens to every female who ever goes to our health center for any kind of ailment. He sent me down to get my blood drawn to confirm that it was indeed mono. I had actually never had my blood drawn before today. I’m not sure how I got to age 22 without it; guess I just never have been really sick. I was a weenie and closed my eyes, since I’m stupidly squeamish – now you know one of the reasons I’m not going to medical school.

I came back about a half hour later and he confirmed the lab results. Though I have to say, I love it when doctors find out I’m a biologist, because they get visibly excited that they can start explaining things more in depth. He told me how all the various tests worked and why they showed I indeed had mono (on the bright side, I’m not anemic like I suspected – guess my fatigue was the mono). I was starting to geek out as well until I realized, crap, I have mono. Sigh, I guess if there’s a time for me to have no energy for many weeks, it’s during winter break. Not like I was planning on doing anything other than blog writing and video game playing.

Though I thought it was appropriate that not only do I have mono the disease, but I have mono the plush microbe:
Guess I needed to lay off the kissing.

The History of Christmas: The Case of the Missing Jesus

I know, you all are probably sick of reading Christmas related posts by now. It seems like nearly half of the posts from atheist blogs I read are about Christmas in some way or another, and it’s starting to get old. But I just read this great summary of the history of Christmas, and I wanted to pass it along. I think the author does an excellent job documenting Christmas’s pagan history, how various traditions came about, and how only recently it became a holiday about Jesus’s birth. Hearing “put the Christ back in Christmas” is driving me crazy, and this is a nice post to forward to anyone who needs a history lesson. Just a snippet:

Christmas spent the best part of 800 years as a holiday of misrule. It was the time of year to subvert natural order. Servants were crowned and lords played fools. You were allowed to kiss and cavort and roll in the hay. Drunkenness, promiscuity, and gambling weren’t just permitted, they were encouraged. You went wassailing — what we would call caroling — where the objective was to get someone to give you ale and bread in exchange for your song. If you got ale at every house, I imagine this tradition looking something like a medieval pub crawl.

Hmmm…I think we need to preserve Christmas’s true roots!