Boobs may not cause earthquakes, but abortions cause oil leaks

Just to remind everyone that middle-eastern Muslim clerics don’t have a monopoly on crazy wackjobbery, here’s a new supernatural hypothesis from an American Christian minister:

It has been widely broadcast that the largest Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in the nation has been built in Houston, TX. This six story tall (six is the number of the flesh man*) abortion supercenter was opened in May, just a short time before the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster began.

And because Houston has other places that provide abortion services, that’s obviously the cause of the oil leak. Yep, air-tight reasoning, right there. And while I’m pro-choice, I think testing this hypothesis scientifically may have some ethical ramifications, soooooyeah, let’s just skip right to calling this guy a loon, okay?

He also rambles a bit about how “nice” Christians like Joel Osteen are ruining Christianity, and something about hurricanes and babies, but hell if I can figure it out. I just like this graphic he uses of a hurricane baby:Aha! Proof of…um…something. Maybe an overactive imagination?

(Via Jezebel)

*WTF?

You guys are amazing – TAM goal reached!

It was brought to my attention that the ChipIn widget wasn’t updating, but it doesn’t matter – you guys obliterated my goal! I went to bed soon after making the fundraising post at 2:30am, and upon waking up at 10:30am you all had donated $1,562.

Holy fuckballs.

I’m seriously tearing up. I put a low goal for fundraising since I felt guilty enough asking, and thought maybe I could raise a couple hundred bucks, hoping that any little bit would help. Now I feel bad for underestimating the generosity of effectively strangers. It’s moderately terrifying to imagine what would happen if that post went up now, instead of in the middle of the night.

I took the ChipIn widget down since I now have plenty of money for TAM. Like I said, anyone who donated $50 or more will get an autographed copy of The Atheist’s Guide to Christmas once the American version (with me!) comes out in November. I’ll use some of this extra money to defray the cost of buying and shipping books. And any money that’s remaining after that I’ll donate to the Secular Student Alliance to start off my Blogathon charity fundraiser in July.

If you still want to donate out of the goodness of your heart and to support this blog, I’ve added a PayPal button in the right column. But more importantly, THANK YOU! I seriously can’t express how appreciative I am. Maybe size 60 font and animated sparkles would get the point across, but I’ll spare you. Seriously, you all have only confirmed that I have the most wonderful readers ever! I love you guys .

Now if you excuse me, I’m going to go dance around naked. Weeeeeee!

I’ll be speaking at TAM8, but I need your help!

EDIT: Holy crap! You guys absolutely destroyed my fundraising goal! More information here. I love you all. Seriously, free fucking hugs at TAM.

I just found out that I’ll be speaking at The Amaz!ng Meeting 8, the annual skeptical conference (or more accurately, the epic skeptical extravaganza) organized by the James Randi Educational Foundation! My talk will be during the Sunday session on “Skepticism, Humor, and Going Viral: What we can learn from Boobquake.”

Needless to say, I’m super excited. This my first time speaking at a skeptical conference, and I can easily say it’s the biggest skeptical conference out there. Setting the bar high, I guess.

But it’s not just about people hearing my talk – TAM is an amazing networking opportunity for skeptics. I’ve been repeatedly told it’s one of the few places where you can comfortably talk and mingle with all sorts of big name people. The list of speakers this year includes James Randi (of course), Richard Dawkins, Adam Savage, Penn & Teller, Rebecca Watson, Phil Plait, Michael Shermer, D. J. Grothe, Jennifer Michael Hecht, Simon Singh, Karen Stollznow… Yeah, wow. For someone who’s just starting their skeptical career, and hopefully has many productive years ahead of her, this will be an amazing opportunity for me. There’s just one tiny problem.

I’m kind of a poor college student.

My scholarships from Purdue have ended because I just graduated, and my first paycheck from the University of Washington doesn’t come until mid October (and we all know how rich that grad student salary will make me). On top of that, TAM isn’t cheap. Student registration is $350, a plane ticket is around $400, then there’s hotel, airport parking, that awesome looking optional workshop on feminism… Yeah. I may be able to pitch in a couple hundred, especially if I eat nothing but ramen for a month, but I still need help.

So, faithful readers, I’m asking you to help a blogger out. I know the economy is tough, but it would mean so much to me if you could chip in even a dollar. Or if you don’t have the cash, spread the word. I’m the kind of person who hates asking anyone, even my parents, for money, but some of my twitter followers said they really wanted to help me out. If I’m still short I’ll beg mom and dad, but I’m not sure how two retired teachers outside the skeptical movement will react to me asking for money to go to Vegas.

If you can help, you can do so through PayPal using the ChipIn widget bellow:

EDIT: Widget removed because my goal was more than met. If you’re really dying to donate more out of the goodness of your heart, I’ve added a PayPal button in the rightmost column.

What’s in it for you? Well, for one, I’ll definitely be blogging and tweeting about TAM! And if this opens doors for me (which it hopefully will), that only means more exciting blogging in the future. And if you’re going to TAM, well, then you’ll get to meet me!

But for those of you who need more tangible motivation… If you donate $50 or more, I will send you a personally autographed copy of the American edition of The Atheist’s Guide to Christmas after it’s release on Nov 2. Paypal will give me your email, and we can discuss shipping later.

And if that’s not enough, if I reach my goal of $850, I will dance around my apartment naked! You won’t be able to see it, but won’t the world be a better place simply knowing it happened?

So if you can, please help out! I’d really rather not rely on hitchhiking to Las Vegas or selling myself into Hemant‘s harem for cash (he’s supposed to be in my harem, goddammit!). Anyway, thanks in advance for your help! Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some presentations to work on – TAM, Secular Student Alliance conference, Evolution 2010*… busy summer!

*In case you’re wondering, the SSA conference is cheap and only a couple hours away, and I’m getting reimbursed for Evolution 2010 through my research lab…so, no, not just spending all of my money on those!

Mario Marathon 3 is approaching!

From their website:

Mario Marathon is an annual fan run fundraiser for Child’s Play Charity. Child’s Play provides toys, games and books to patients of children’s hospitals worldwide.

The multi day internet event, broadcast live online, attracts an audience from around the world to watch as the team plays through twenty five years of Super Mario Brothers video games.

Now in its third year, the event has attracted over 300,000 viewers, and raised nearly $45,000 for Child’s Play.

This is a fantastic, fun way to raise money for charity. Plus, they’re based in Lafayette, IN! I actually met one of the players when they came out to our Boobquake rally to show their support. Check out their site to donate, and make sure to tune in on the 25th!

Spit, Swallow, or Soufflé?

Friends send me strange sex-related articles all the time. I probably should be concerned what this says about my interests and personality, but I’m more intrigued by the articles themselves. I always think to myself, “Wow, nothing can be stranger than this.” I’m usually wrong.

Latest example: The cutting edge in cookbooks, Natural Harvest: A collection of semen-based recipes.

“Semen is not only nutritious, but it also has a wonderful texture and amazing cooking properties. Like fine wine and cheeses, the taste of semen is complex and dynamic. Semen is inexpensive to produce and is commonly available in many, if not most, homes and restaurants. Despite all of these positive qualities, semen remains neglected as a food. This book hopes to change that. Once you overcome any initial hesitation, you will be surprised to learn how wonderful semen is in the kitchen. Semen is an exciting ingredient that can give every dish you make an interesting twist. If you are a passionate cook and are not afraid to experiment with new ingredients – you will love this cook book!”

Uhhh…what a delicious looking…glaze?

…I think I suddenly became a vegetarian.

(Via Living the Scientific Life)

Man, binomial nomenclature is naughty!

What happens when biologists try to get nerdy license plates? They get rejected for being potentially inappropriate:

A forest ecologist’s application for a personalized license plate in the state of Michigan has been denied on the grounds that “PINUS” looks and sounds too much like “PENIS.” Marvin Roberson, who works for the Sierra Club in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, says he applied for the specialized plate out of arborous love for the white pine (pinus strobus in Latin). However, officials denied his request on the grounds that the plate “might carry a connotation offensive to good taste and decency as judged by the Department of State.”

For the sake of appreciating the juvenile humor, I’m going to ignore the fact that the name of a body part is considered offensive in our society. But really, Pinus isn’t the worst genus you could come up with. Arses, Colon, Bugeranus, Enema, Fartulum, Labia, Orgia, Turdus… Hmmm, us biologists haven’t progressed very far past potty humor, have we?*

I’d love it if scientists could successfully sneak in real “dirty” terms if we’re nerdy enough that the DMV doesn’t recognize them. I think a lot of mammalogists would kill for a BACULUM** license plate!

*If you want to see other silly binomial nomenclature, this site has a great database.

**A baculum is the penis bone found in most mammals (but interestingly, not humans). Mammalogists have a strange and amusing fascination with it, partly for scientific reasons, but partly because it’s funny. Seriously, when I went to the Mammal meetings last year, the most popular merchandise at the auction was carved baculum stuff. Scientists, so weird.

The more feminists distrust science, the more women look like fools

I want to make this clear: This post is not about porn. I am not saying it’s awesome, and I’m not saying it’s horrible. There is a time and place to discuss the effect porn may or may not have on men and women, and that is for a different time.

This post is about rational discussions, and the feminists who fail at them.

I’ve often said one of my big pet peeves about feminism are those feminists who distrust science. Not all feminist are like that, but there are definitely some vocal ones. Our newest example is Twisty Faster, over at I Blame the Patriarchy. From the title alone, you know it’s going to be a real winner: “Science dudes declare porn good, support claim with Danish graphs, flawed reasoning

Not Danish graphs. Nooooooooo!

I suggest you go read the post on your own, since there’s just too many goodies to quote. But here I’ll offer a summary of how Anti-Science-Feminist logic works:

  • Scientists who study sex are totally just doing it to get their rocks off, not for the insights into human reproduction, medical breakthroughs, or the sheer pursuit of truth. The only reason they’re sticking a thing in your vagina is to go beat off later.
  • Put scare quotes around any description of the equipment used, to make sure the reader knows it’s wrong and icky. Ignore the fact that all the subjects are volunteers.
  • If science disagrees with your ideological/philosophical/ethical/political viewpoint, it is science that is wrong, not your subjective opinion. If it agrees with you or actually improves the lives of women, conveniently ignore those studies
  • When persistently presented with research, belittle it by using “science” as a derogatory word. Make sure to sneer, similar to “neeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrddddddddd
  • If it’s a man disagreeing with you, it’s because he has a penis. This logic is so obvious that you must make sarcastic remarks about how shocking it is, and belittle him by calling him a “dude”
  • If it’s a woman disagreeing with you, it’s because she’s brainwashed by all the humans with penises around her. Completely disregard her comment, even if that may seem unfeminist of you. It’s for her own good
  • Moderate your comments so only people who agree with you can add their opinions, thus making your argument seem even more airtight!

Therefore: You are always right.

Seriously though, were some science experiments misogynistic? Probably, sure. Are some scientists still misogynist? Again, probably, just because scientists are people too. But you know how we deal with that, other than educating men? By getting more women in science, NOT by acting like woo-filled idiots screaming conspiracy theories.

Every time a feminist treats science like some great big boogeyman, she makes all feminists and women look foolish and ignorant. Science isn’t a bunch of horny dudes in plush chairs sitting around a grandiose table commiserating about how they can best oppress women and get to poke a vagina in the process. To treat it that way by disregarding all scientific studies is simply ignorant. If someone shows me a bunch of scientific studies and I disagree, my response is not going to be a lot of hand waiving, speculation, opinion, and anecdotes. It’ll be scientific studies that contradict their findings, or critiques of the methods and analyses of those studies. One of the comments really illustrates how pervasive this woo-thinking is:

“Alas, this is why I prefer to hold up women’s intuition, which is actually a rational scientific tool of reasoning, over dude science any day. That doesn’t mean science is bad, it means that woman’s intuition is often far superior.”

No. Woman’s intuition is not far superior because it does not exist (you also have no idea what “scientific” or “reasoning” means). PZ Myers just wrote an excellent post on how supporting the myth of women’s intuition actually hurts women and science:

One of the most cunning tools of the patriarchy is the assignment of woo as a feminine virtue. Women are supposed to be intuitive, nurturing, accepting, and trusting, unlike those harsh and suspicious men. It’s a double-trap; women are brought up indoctrinated into believing that being smart and skeptical is unladylike and unattractive, and at the same time, anyone who dares to suggest that intuition and soothing, supportive words are often unproductive can be slammed for being anti-woman, because, obviously, to suggest that a human being might want to do more with their life than changing diapers and baking cookies is a direct assault on womanhood.

This naive imposition of unscientific modes of thought on women specifically leads to the state we have now. Assume a fundamental difference in attitude: women feel, while men think. Now declare an obvious truth: science requires rigorous thought. The conclusion follows that women will not be taking advantage of their strengths (that woo stuff) if they are trying to do science, therefore they will not be as good at science as men, and they will also be harming their femininity if they try to shoehorn their tender and passionate minds into the restrictive constraints of manly critical thinking.”

…Woo is powerless; you want to make someone powerless, put them in charge of nothing, but give it a happy-sounding title. Women have been taken on a millennia-long snipe hunt. But, you know, it keeps them busy and out of the hair of the guys doing the real, important work.

Oh, wait. PZ has a penis, I forgot. I get that makes everything he said bunk, and I only agree with him because I’m trying to be a funfeminist or something. Damn. I guess I’ll stop thinking rationally, quit my job as a scientist, and sit around expressing how I feel about things with no facts to back my assertions! Good thing I already have a blog.

But the really mindbending thing? The feminist PZ quotes who is so clearheaded about all of this, saying that intuition is just as affected by patriarchy? Yep, that’s the same feminist who brought out the major woo-guns when faced with something she personally disagreed with. Um, can we get a little consistency at least, please?

Florida Trip part 3

The next day we went to Epcot, which was a horrible but necessary decision. It was a Thursday, and we knew it would be super busy if we went on any other day of our trip. On the other hand, we were exhausted from the drive and Magic Kingdom. That set the mood for a miserable beginning of the day. Vanessa had lost her driver’s license at MK, so she spent the first hour and a half wandering around Disney trying to find the lost and found office since they would never let her off hold on the phone.

I totally geeked out when I saw this. I was too lazy to get on the ground again for DNA, though.

Ben, Jeff, and I tried to waste time while she was gone, but we didn’t want to go on any of the rides she liked without her. But in the end, it didn’t matter because pretty much every ride was down, including the giant globe-y thingy. So much for embracing technology of the future and all that jazz. I was especially sad Honey I Shrunk the Audience had just been closed, because I had liked that one a lot when I was little.

Eventually Vanessa came back, and we decided the only thing that would make us happy was food. On the way to eat, we ran into Mulan and got photos with her, which made us feel a little better. Ben, Jeff, and I ate at Morocco (which ironically was hosting Aladdin and Jasmine…really, Disney? Really?), and Vanessa ate in America. I really wanted to make fun of her for doing so, but she was already ticked off from losing her license that I resisted doing my worst.

A Norwegian troll, much nicer than the Internet version.

Then the day got infinitely better because we played the Kimpossible spy game, which was the best thing ever. Seriously, the next time I go to Epcot, I’m doing nothing but play that game all day. Basically they give you a cell phone and send you to one of the countries at Epcot, and then you have to find certain things in that country and activate them with your phone. So if you’re standing by the koi pond, then a little waterfall will become activated. Honestly it’s probably just a ploy to lead you into the stores, but it was pretty much an awesome treasure hunt with animated things you could control. I enjoyed it the most – the other three just enjoyed watching me run around like a fool and dance to the spy music.
I also love it because it led me to A PILE OF POKEMON DOLLS SQUEEEEE! I bought an Eevee and Snorlax.
Happiness was momentarily dashed when I overheard a ten year old boy say how he wants to find homos and punch them in the face. And then he and his class (field trip, I guess) cut us in line for ice cream. Little bastards. But then I got my humongous ice cream cone, and I felt better again.
OM NOM NOM NOM
Then rides started working again, so Epcot didn’t suck as much. Ellen’s Energy Adventure was pretty great (Ellen + Bill Nye + Science = Win), and so was Test Track. We also finally got to go on the big globe thingy. Again, it cracked me up that the “future” and “progress” was defined by technology we had in the 90s. Oh, and apparently this is how all female scientists dress:
Groovy.

I also got to ride on a segway! I was seriously geeking out about this. I have absolutely no sense of balance, so it was tricky at first for me. Then I started to get the hang of it, so the lady training me was going to let go of the handles.

Lady: Now, look straight ahead, just like you’re riding a bike *lets go*
Me: *starts frantically going backwards* I never learned how to ride a bike!

Lady: *grabs on* Okay, let’s scrap that idea.
Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

For dinner we ate in England, mainly because it was the cheapest place we could find. Apparently Brits eat nothing but fish and chips, and drink nothing but Bass and Harp.

This photo has nothing to do with England, I just thought it was funny.
I was amused that there was a group of about 25 British people eating around us. I still don’t understand why you would eat at your own country at Epcot, especially when it’s going to be the greasy American version of your traditional food. The fish and chips were pretty nasty. Though I was amused at listening to all the children with their cute British accents. Did you know crying can have an accent? This was probably the first time ever a crying, tantrum-throwing child didn’t annoy me, because his screams totally sounded British and adorable!
Revenge for eating the fish and chips.

We half heartedly watched the fireworks before limping back to the car. I don’t know how parents with small children do it. I felt like dying after two days, and that was with setting my own pace!
D’awww, it looks like we all like each other or something!

Florida Trip part 2

We started at Magic Kingdom and went directly to Space Mountain, so I could conquer my fear of the ride. Of course I got stuck being in the very first car – but it was a lot of fun. I guess things aren’t exactly as scary as you remember them being from 12 years ago.Overall, I had a blast at Magic Kingdom. We went on pretty much every ride, and I don’t think we ever had to wait more than 15 minutes. Hooray for strategically using their Speed Pass system!

I almost couldn’t get through the bars because of my boobs.

I was also impressed by the amount of food they gave you for lunch. I was expecting to be ripped off by high prices, but they were all reasonable and I could never finish what they gave me. Though I did have a facepalm moment when a middle aged American woman asked the cashier what a taco was and needed a detailed explanation. She was seriously shocked by this exotic cuisine she had never heard of. What the fuck, America.All that’s missing is a scarlet A.

The one downside to Disney was that it was a ton harder to get a photo with any of the characters. There were way less characters than when I went at age 10, and there were always huge lines to get a photo with them. Last time you could just walk up to any character to get a photo. We ended up settling on a photo with Woody (Speaking of which, I can’t believe Toy Story came out when I was EIGHT. And now there’s Toy Story 3? Ugh, I field old.)Actually, I take that back: the other downside to Disney is all the annoying children. No, not children in general – Disney is more for them than for me, and they’re allowed to have fun and be loud and all that good stuff. I mean the kids who are running around completely unsupervised, or are throwing tantrums even though they have light-up color-changing Mickey Mouse balloons. No. Once you get that, you are not allowed to throw a tantrum for the next year.
I AM SO MUCH MORE MATURE THAN THESE KIDS.

And if you’re young enough that you can’t stay by your parent’s side, then mom or dad should be holding your hand. If not, I am probably going to step on you. Seriously, I have no idea how many little kids I trampled at Disney. I’m 5’11” and have big boobs. There’s a cone shaped blind spot around my feet, and if you’re under four feet tall and running at me because of the triple scoop ice cream you just ate (albeit most of it is on your face), you’re going to get kneed in the head.

Trying to get a weapon to keep away the hordes of children.

*ahem*

I’ve also come up with a great idea for a more terrifying replacement to the Haunted Mansion. It wouldn’t cost Disney a lot of money, since all they would have to do is combine parts of already existing rides:

  1. Take the acid-trip…I mean, honey-trip part of the Winnie the Pooh ride (formerly Toad’s Wild Ride).
  2. Take the scary Deliverance-like scenes from the Splash Mountain ride.
  3. Let the robots from It’s a Small World go without maintenance until they’re slightly falling apart and have ragged movements.
  4. Slow the It’s a Small World music down, lower it an octave, and then make it slightly off key.

Fucking terrifying. (And yes, I went on It’s a Small World, mainly because Ben had never been on it. And yes, the ride decided to stop while we were in the final room. If the US ever needs new interrogation techniques, there you go.)Other random observations about the Magic Kingdom:

  • Alien Encounters was turned into some stupid Lilo and Stitch thing! What the hell. That was my favorite ride from last time, and it was legitimately scary. Now it’s just Stitch spitting on you. Lame.
  • Apparently they’re now selling Hooker Minnie Mouse:
  • The designated smoking area was called Miner’s Cove. This made me giggle.
  • We accidentally got on this horrible ride/theater thing about progress, mainly because Jeff thought it was something else. The only comical thing was when they got to the scene about a family living in the “future,” it looked like the late 90’s. I mean, their video game had graphics worse than an N64. This small amusement was not worth them singing “It’s a great big beautiful tomorrow” over and over and over…
  • My friends were all going to pitch in to get me a Fairy Princess Makeover. Thank goodness the line was always full of little girls, and they didn’t want to take the opportunity away from them to see me in gaudy sparkly makeup. Especially because this is pretty much how I feel about the Disney Princesses.
Sweet Jesus this could have been me. Except I would have totally picked Belle or Mulan.

We ended up eating at the Winnie the Pooh buffet area. The food, at the time, was the most delicious thing I ever ate. This is almost entirely due to the fact that I was exhausted and starving, especially since we had to wait an hour to get in. In retrospect, it was the same quality as Old Country Buffet and cost $35. The perks were 1) The ability to go back for seconds, thirds, and fourths (hey, we’re college students) and 2) Photos with Tigger, who’s badass. We were all so full we started making jokes about how we were going to have foodbabies later (yes, that’s a poop joke). I was extra classy and joked that maybe I should go have a food abortion (vomit) since I felt so full. Our waiter happened to walk by right at that moment and give me a strange look. Note to self: refrain from poop and abortion jokes in Disney World. Hey, at least I didn’t say it in front of Winnie the Pooh!

By the end of the day, I had come up with a new ride for Disney: Sleeping Beauty. All they would need are a bunch of beds for adults, and a separate play room for children. I think that ride would have the longest wait in the park.

I also bought the most adorable Fat Mickey:
Vanessa: (after buying a Fat Buzz Lightyear) I wonder if they have a Fat Woody.
Me: *laughs like a five year old for about a half hour*
Vanessa: …It was a serious question :(