Philosoraptor, the geneticist

Discussed in one of my classes yesterday:
The corollary was “If a gene falls in the woods, does it make a noise?” This is what happens when you give grad students too much coffee.

Genetics geeks – feel free to discuss.

14 year old stands up for gay-defending teacher

Graeme Taylor is my new favorite person in the world. He’s an openly gay 14-year old who eloquently defended Jay McDowell, a teacher who had been recently suspended without pay at his school in Howell, Michigan. What horrible thing did McDowell do that warranted this suspension? He told a student to take off a confederate flag belt buckle and removed two students for making anti-gay remarks.

You can hear Taylor’s speech to the school board here:

Videos like this make me simultaneously proud and disappointed. Proud that young people can so eloquently understand and defend the rights of minorities…and disappointed that so-called adults still don’t get it.

The lesbian agenda…

…is to not abuse their children or force them to be homosexual.

The paper found that none of the 78 [National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study] adolescents reports having ever been physically or sexually abused by a parent or other caregiver. This contrasts with 26 percent of American adolescents who report parent or caregiver physical abuse and 8.3 percent who report sexual abuse.

[...]On sexual orientation, 2.8 percent of the NLLFS adolescents identified as predominantly to exclusively homosexual.

I can’t wait for the religious right to desperately attempt to spin this into showing how everyone deserves a Mom and Dad, or that gays aren’t fit parents, or that gays secretly want to turn children gay. Really, what can they say? The heterosexual abusers aren’t True Christians? 2.8% homosexuality is still too much?

…Oh wait, that’s exactly the sort of stuff they’re likely to say. I give it a day before a press release is out.

When are people going to realize it’s better for children to be raised by adults who want them than by adults who can accidentally create them?

THIS is what religious oppression looks like

To all the Christians who have persecution complexes due to people simply disagreeing with them, despite being the privileged majority religion in their country… Maybe this will put religious oppression in perspective for you:

[Asia] Bibi has been held in prison since June last year. The court heard she had been working as a farmhand in fields with other women, when she was asked to fetch drinking water.

Some of the other women – all Muslims – refused to drink the water as it had been brought by a Christian and was therefore “unclean”, according to Mrs Bibi’s evidence, sparking a row. The incident was forgotten until a few days later when Mrs Bibi said she was set upon by a mob. The police were called and took her to a police station for her own safety.

Shahzad Kamran, of the Sharing Life Ministry Pakistan, said: “The police were under pressure from this Muslim mob, including clerics, asking for Asia to be killed because she had spoken ill of the Prophet Mohammed.

“So after the police saved her life they then registered a blasphemy case against her.” He added that she had been held in isolation for more than a year before being sentenced to death on Monday. “The trial was clear,” he said. “She was innocent and did not say those words.”

While most blasphemy cases are successfully appealed in Pakistan, Bibi is still likely to be further harassed or even killed during the trial.

Situations like this are absolutely horrifying and really highlight the immature attitudes of some privileged Christians, like the one in my earlier post. Those “militant New Atheists” simply disagree with you and vocalize their disagreement. Notice how we’re not throwing you in jail or murdering you. Whining about how you’re a martyr because your feelings are hurt trivializes the deaths of millions of people who have been and continue to be killed in the name of religion.

Some religious people are so anti-blasphemy…until they realize their beliefs are blasphemous to someone else. How the tables do turn when you’re not in a position of privilege.

Canada, here I come!

I’ll be speaking at four different skeptical groups in Vancouver next week*. Here’s my crazy schedule (links go to facebook events):

Simon Fraser University Skeptics
Thurs. Nov. 25 3:30-5:30 pm in AQ 5037
Atheism and Feminism
Hour talk followed by Q&A
Free & open to the public
Likely impromptu pub night to follow

University of British Columbia Freethinkers
Fri. Nov. 26 7-9 pm in Buchanan A203
My Trip to the Creation Museum
Hour talk followed by Q&A
Free for members, $2 for general public
Post talk drinks and fun at the Frog and Firkin

CFI Vancouver
Cafe Inquiry with Jennifer McCreight
Sat. Nov. 27 11 am-1 pm at SFU Harbour Centre
Tentative topic: Closing the gender gap in skepticism
20 min talk followed by discussion
Free & open to public (donations welcome)

British Columbia Humanists
Sun. Nov. 28 9:30-11:30 am at Oakridge Seniors Centre
Boobquake & Its Aftershocks
Hour talk followed by Q&A
Open to public & donations welcome ($2 suggested)
I’ve never been to Canada before, and I can think of no better way to pop my Canada-cherry than hanging out with a bunch of skeptics and heathens. Especially since my other option for Thanksgiving break was sitting in my apartment dreaming about all the delicious food I’m missing out on since I wasn’t going home this year. A mini-vacation to Vancouver is a wonderful alternative, even though I’ll probably spend my time between talks working on homework. At least I’ll be working on homework in Canada.

…Though to show how much of an ignorant American I am sometimes, it didn’t originally dawn on me that Canadians don’t have the same Thanksgiving holiday as us. I promise to keep the stereotypical questions about bacon, hockey, and Celine Dion to a minimum.

*And by next week, I mean in two weeks. I have no concept of time, apparently.

Who doesn't like a 2X multiplier?

The Secular Student Alliance is having a fundraising drive, thanks to a generous donor. Ron Verstappen has pledged to match all donations to the SSA up to $15,000 until New Years Eve. That means if you make a tax exempt donation before January 1st, your donation is effectively doubled! As a board member of the SSA, I can’t stress enough how wonderful this organization is. Young people are the future of secularism and skepticism, and we want to be able to provide resources to our skyrocketing number of groups.

If you need a little more motivation to donate, Ashley Paramore (aka, healthyaddict) will be having a live video fundraiser tonight starting at 9pm EST. I heard there will be games and geeky prizes!

Looking at your vagina, or criticising religion?

Which offends religious people the most?

This is a toughie. Why don’t we look at the faux controversy coming from Dartmouth College. Mayuka Kowaguchi created “The Orchid Project” for her sexual health peer-advising group on campus. What was this horrifying project? Small hand mirrors were distributed to women on campus, with an accompanying note describing female anatomy and the statement that the project was “to shift [women’s] perspective from the expectations and limitations of belief patterns, societal cultural or religious conditioning.”

Cue the religious hysterics:

If these mirrors were truly meant to encourage the consideration of issues surrounding body-awareness, then, I believe, those who consider themselves to be members of Dartmouth communities of faith — which do not support acting on this knowledge in a sexual fashion — would not have been offended.

[...]This is one of many occasions where I have found the liberal body at Dartmouth to completely violate those principles that it purports to advance: respect and freedom. Regardless of the offensiveness of the message, if the Orchid Project’s main goal was to encourage consideration, what possessed them of the idea that a direct attack on all faiths was the way to do that?

[...]The body of believers at Dartmouth and the body of non-believers would often mutually benefit from sitting down and “considering” the issues surrounding sexuality. Respectful discussion will only bred further respect and discussion, but blatant attacks on an entire outlook on life, will only bred further animosity, ignorance and offense.”

Oh boo hoo! Someone dared to suggest that my religious beliefs are wrong! Don’t they know that criticizing belief patterns and societal culture are okay, but irrational religious beliefs are untouchable? Who missed the political correctness memo?! Help, help, I’m being oppressed!

I can’t even conceive how someone can read that initial statement to mean that all religious beliefs are completely wrong, unless they’re trying to play the victim. And then turn around and presume to speak for every religious person at Dartmouth. And then go and condemn “acting on this knowledge in a sexual fashion,” thus proving the initial point that some religious beliefs can lead to sex-negative beliefs.

If you think a simple suggestion that you’re incorrect is a “blatant attack,” then what the hell is “respectful discussion”? Bashfully going “Shucks, whatever you want to believe must be right! I sure won’t ever present a viewpoint that disagrees with you! Because your beliefs cannot be criticized, even if it means my beliefs must be silenced”?

Fuck that. I’ll respect your beliefs once they’re deserving of respect – that is to say, when they’re not based on some ancient book about a invisible sky daddy and his zombie self-child that was scribbled together by some misogynistic dudes in a desert – or whatever particular illogical mythology you prefer to subscribe to. Feel free to keep believing, but don’t assume that gives you immunity from criticism. Pleasantries and political correctness only allows insane ideas to flourish.

Why are so many people starting to criticize Christianity? It’s not a mass conspiracy – it’s because you’re wrong.

So back to my original question: I guess that’s a vote for “criticising religion.” Meh, I’ll go look at my own vagina too, just in case.

(Via Jezebel)

Me-ow-sis

What I saw:
What I thought: “Ha, biology lolcat! Wait… That’s not identical, obviously one has some sort of somatic mutation if that’s mitosis. The image would fit better if they were making a joke about meiosis, since crossing over occurs during meiosis I, resulting in non-identical daughter cells. But then what would meiosis II result in? Half-cats? Kittens?”

Goddammit grad school, you’re making me overanalyze funny pictures of cats. I’m doomed.

More Magazine interview online, now with Feminist Drama!

More’s piece “What the New Feminists Look Like” is (finally) online. You can check out my interview and all the other New Feminists’ interviews there. I’m a bit sad that our video interviews didn’t make it online – or at least, haven’t yet. I basically geeked out about how more feminists should embrace science and skepticism. Of course, that’s what I talked about during my phone interview, and the article is still predominantly about boobquake… Sigh, journalism.

On a related note, More is holding a panel on Young Leaders in Feminism in New York tomorrow based on this piece, and there’s already been a bit of controversy. Jessica Valenti, author and founder of Feministing.com, dropped out of the panel when she realized one of the other “New Feminists” falls into the category of “conservative women who have long fought against feminist ideals and goals are now identifying as feminists in an attempt to woo women’s votes for the GOP.”

Her reason for not participating will make sense to my readers:

“But I do think their participation is a strategic mistake. It’s like debating someone who insists that the sky is red – what does it accomplish besides lending credibility and valuable activist energy to a laughably false assertion?”

Creationists, anyone?

As someone who has had her “Feminist Card” revoked too many times to count for being too sexual or too critical of religion, I generally hate hearing that someone is “not a true feminist.” But it ceases to be a No True Scotsman Fallacy when you’re the antithesis of what that feminism actually is about: equality for the sexes. That includes allowing women to make choices that don’t necessarily agree with your personal morals or opinions, like being in porn, waiting until marriage to have sex, getting an abortion, or being a stay at home mom.

Seriously, the next time I hear Sarah Palin being called a feminist, I will puke. And in case you say it to purposefully get a rise out of me, I will aim my puking at you.

Why my building has key cards


Now I just need to figure out how to make the doors say “Good morning, Ms. McCreight” instead of “Beep.” Then I’ll really be living in a sci-fi movie.

(Alternate reason why my building has key cards: To keep the undergrads out. I like my reason better.)

EDIT: I originally had pi = 0.6 because my project is currently looking at heterozygosity in humans, which is represented by pi, but I realized the inevitable nerd rage I would invoke when people would think I was too stupid to realize pi (approximately) = 3.14. So x it is.

…I have become too nerdy to make nerdy jokes, gah.