Reddit’s jailbait problem

God, Rebecca Watson, why must you castrate men because they act upon their evolutionarily formed biological desires? I mean, it’s a fact that men are attracted to signs of youth in women. How dare you calmly suggest that spreading oversexualized or naked private photos of 14 year old girls is wrong.

…Ouch, that amount of sarcasm was painful to write.

In all seriousness, go read the article over at Skepchick that documents the child porn controversy that’s erupted at reddit thanks to its contentious r/jailbait subreddit. It makes me feel dirty for liking the site at all, with the piss poor way the Powers That Be are handling it. Of course, this is the same site that is notorious for it’s MRAs and allows an entire subreddit devoted to sharing photos of beaten women, so I shouldn’t be surprised.

I just want to look at stupid rage comics and drool at food porn and keep up with Seattle shenanigans and laugh at period jokes without associating with this filth. Is that too much to ask?

Michigan venue cancels Dawkins event

Richard Dawkins is currently touring the US promoting his children’s book, The Magic of Reality, and was scheduled to speak in Michigan in an event hosted by the Center for Inquiry. But the venue, Wyndgate Country Club, has now changed its mind and canceled the event. Why?

The Wyndgate terminated the agreement after the owner saw an October 5th interview with Dawkins on The O’Reilly Factor in which Dawkins discussed his new book, The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True.

In a phone call to CFI–Michigan Assistant Director Jennifer Beahan, The Wyndgate’s representative explained that the owner did not wish to associate with individuals such as Dawkins, or his philosophies.

…How do you not know that Dawkins is a raging atheist? I mean, I feel like that should be general knowledge by now anyway, but you think you would double check who a speaker is before you agree to host them. You know, instead of canceling an event solely because someone is an atheist, which is just going to give even more media attention to those terrible atheists.

And in case you’re wondering, here’s the clip of Dawkins on O’Reilly. See how much of it you can bear to watch:

Pfft, why waste money on battered women?

Topeka, Kansas is considering decriminalizing domestic violence in order to save money. I don’t care how big your budget problems are – this shouldn’t even be up for debate. Even if you’re looking at this from cold, Machiavellian reasons, it costs the state more money in medical aid and lost work hours to let women (and more rarely but not negligibly, men) keep getting abused.

But legalizing marijuana? What a preposterous idea!

Who wants a PZ pin-up photo?

You know you do. And while it seems like such a photo would normally be hard to come by, you can now fulfill your dreams. This is thanks to the fact that PZ also posed for the skeptical pin-up calendar that’s being released in November, like I did. All you have to do is make a donation to Skepticon, the fantabulous, student-run, totally free skeptical event that’s coming up in November. They’ll slowly reveal the photo piece by piece with each donation.

And now that I think of it, that’s exactly like one of those poorly made hentai puzzle games. But because I have a dark sense of humor, I find this hilariously awesome.

Oh, what’s that?

If you donate to another widget on the Skepticon website you can reveal an alternative photo of me that’s a lot more revealing than what I chose for my calendar photo?

Meh, I guess that’s cool.

JT’s there too, but that guy throws topless photos around like glitter at a gay pride parade. I’m afraid what he’d show if you have to pay money.

Anyway, the money goes to a great cause. Just look at this lineup!

I’ll be debuting a new talk on Skepticism & Genetics, so I hope I’ll see you there!

Kitten assimilation has begun

We’ve named her Pixel. It seems appropriate – she’s already thinking with Portals:

And helping me blog:

And appreciating my nerdy coffee table books:

And helping out my roommate as he plays video games:

She even managed to mark all of my Google Reader items as read as she pawed at my laptop. I think that’s her way of saying “Stop reading blogs and pet me!”

The godless résumé gamble

If you’re a first or second year grad student, you’re probably working on your application for the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (…Or you should be, but instead you’re blogging about it). It’s a prestigious fellowship to acquire that comes with a number of perks, including access to special databases and networks – and a nice stipend increase, which makes us grad students drool.

The application consists of three two-page sections: your Research Proposal, your Past Research Experience, and your Personal Statement.” The Personal Statement generally causes the most headache and stress. It’s your main chance to set yourself apart from other students, since you can assume that most people who are in graduate school have the research part down, or at least have people in their lab who can help. But editors can’t magically send you back in time to teach classes, work with diversity programs, be an officer in clubs, volunteer in an elementary school science fair, or fly to Africa to help AIDs ridden children. That’s what the Personal Statement is about – showing your leadership, organizational skills, strength of character, and motivation for being a scientist.

As unfair as it is, if you just like sitting in a lab all day, you’re kind of screwed. You have to do it all.

But every time I have to write one of these things, I start getting worried. Many of my achievements are directly related to atheism. I founded and was president of an atheist student group. I’m on the board for a secular non-profit. I write a popular blog that, while talking about science, also often talks about atheism. When I go speaking across the country, I’m usually hosted by atheist groups. And hell, my very motivation for being a scientist is highly interrelated with my atheism. Learning about evolution led me to a naturalistic, godless worldview, and said worldview makes science and the search for truth even more important to me.

I still wonder if I was ultimately rejected from graduate schools – after very successful interviews – because someone in the chain of command was wary of my atheist activism. But I feel like to omit these things would mean not being true to myself. Not to mention, it hides the achievements that set me apart from other graduate students.

But mentioning godlessness is still a gamble. The NSF fellowship reviews are already a bit of a crapshoot – reviewers only have a couple of minutes to read your application and make a decision. You’re already hoping you’re lucky enough to get someone who had a good breakfast and isn’t in a cranky mood. But now you have to hope you don’t get the rare super devout biologist, or even a fellow atheist who doesn’t like her vocal sisters.

And the gamble is there no matter how diplomatically you put it. There’s always a chance someone will read what you wrote profoundly negatively. Four of my peers read my statement and had no problem with it – but another said I sounded like a “belligerent atheist” despite the fact that they personally agreed with me. And despite the fact that what I actually talk about was skepticism, naturalism, and scientific inquiry, with passing references to secularism and humanism when mentioning specifics. And despite the fact that the only time I actually say the word “atheist” is in the sentence:  “Also during my time at Purdue, I co-founded the Society of Non-Theists, a student organization that provided a safe place for atheists and agnostics, a minority on campus.”

Gasp! So belligerent!

This is a shining example of the privilege religion has in our country. I know for a fact that three other students in my department mention their involvement with religious organizations. But would anyone ever think of telling them to cut those examples of leadership out because they’re associated with religion? No, nor should they. So why is it okay to tell the atheist to tone down the atheism?

At least I have it easy, being in a field that’s already fairly godless. We had club officers who had to leave off their main leadership experience because they felt there was no way they’d get a teaching or financial job with “atheist” branded on their résumé. And that’s simply unfair.

GeekGirlCon is being invaded with SKEPTICISM!

Okay, I guess it’s not really an invasion. Skepticism goes hand and hand with GeekGirlCon‘s mission – “promoting awareness of and celebrating the contribution and involvement of women in all aspects of the sciences, science fiction, comics, gaming and related Geek culture.” Due to a last minute opening in their schedule, the skeptics get a panel of their own! …Which I frantically organized so hopefully it will still be awesome!

Skepticism 101
Sunday, October 9th
11 am – Noon
Fidalgo, Seattle Center Northwest Rooms

What can people do to keep their bullshit detector well calibrated, and why is this especially important for women? This panel will provide people with the toolkit to be a good skeptic when it comes to extraordinary claims, using geek girl-relevant issues like:

– Pseudoscience that’s popular with the ladies (astrology, crystal healing, etc)
– Women’s intuition, why it’s a myth, and how the anti-vaccination movement has exploited this idea at the expense of science
– Scams that target women (stay away from that homeopathic yeast infection treatment!)
– More severe manifestations of irrational misogyny, like witch burnings in Africa

Learn why the scientific method is a powerful gadget to have in your utility belt!

The panel will be moderated by our Friend of Girl Geeks, Paul Case, who is the head of the Seattle Skeptics. And the panel is packed with awesome skeptical ladies, including:

Dana Hunter
You want to know about Dana Hunter, then, do you? I’m a science blogger, SF writer, compleat geology addict, Gnu Atheist, and owner of a – excuse me, owned by a homicidal felid. I loves me some Doctor Who, Buffy, Angel, Firefly and Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers. Sums me up. Find me at my blog En Tequila es Verdad (freethoughtblogs.com/entequilaesverdad).

Jen McCreight
I do stuff.

Amy Davis Roth
Amy Davis Roth (aka Surly Amy) is a 4th generation visual artist from Hollywood, California. She runs a handmade art business called Surly-Ramics where she creates ceramic jewelry inspired by science and skepticism. Amy is a longtime contributor to the widely popular blog Skepchick.org where she writes, among other things, a skeptical advice column called “Ask Surly Amy.” She is managing editor for MadArtLab.com, which deals with the intersection between art, science and skepticism called.  She loves to add her creative skills to the fight against pseudoscience.

Valerie Tarico
Valerie Tarico is a psychologist and writer in Seattle, Washington who explores the intersection between belief and psychology with candor and compassion.  She is the author of Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light, the founder of www.WisdomCommons.org, and a contributor to the Huffington Post Religion Page.  Her articles can be found at Awaypoint.Wordpress.com.

Meg Winston
I was raised on faith healing, pyramid schemes, supernatural beings, and conspiracy theories. After figuring out that this was not serving me well as an adult, I am now dedicated to promoting a culture of science literacy. I am a theater major returning to school for physics! Hmm… a former professional actor who is currently a youth worker in social services pursuing a career in popular science writing and curriculum development? You got it. Other than being a co-organizer with Seattle Skeptics and involved in local Humanist/Free-thought organizations, I also enjoy gaming as much as possible.

If you were already going to GeekGirlCon, make sure to stop by! And tickets are still on sale in case this is the extra motivation you needed.

Ben Cochran is a raging asshole

Remember that nursing student I blogged about the other day? The one who went on a disgustingly misogynistic diatribe in his student newspaper because someone couldn’t wipe his runny nose fast enough since harlots were getting birth control? Well, Ben Cochran’s apology was printed in the same newspaper today.

“Apology.”

If you were among the many who were offended by my column last week, then let me take this opportunity to offer you a heartfelt apology. I am well aware that my stance was not a popular one. As an Opinion columnist, my primary goal is to generate informed discussion. To that end, I intentionally try to be provocative. As such, sometimes my columns offend people. Please understand that my intent was not to cause people to become enraged. I simply hoped they would disagree with the expressed opinion and state reasons for that disagreement. I wanted to see a lively debate, and hopefully, learn something in the process. The position I argued for is a valid opinion by virtue of the fact that it is an opinion. Unfortunately, my word choice was not the best. I cannot believe I said “conscientious” when I really meant “conscious,” among other things. From now on, I will take greater care to exercise better judgment. As always, your responses are welcomed and encouraged.

…what a sack of shit. You have quite the class act there, East Carolina University.

“I’m sorry that you were offended by my perfectly correct and true statements” is the oldest not-pology in the book. And it’s also the biggest sign that you’re either incredibly dense, or incredibly full of yourself. Or in this case, likely both. Seriously, it’s not your provocative language that was the root of the problem – it’s the outright hatred of women and appalling ignorance about women’s health. Your choice of words just made that misogyny crystal clear, as if there was ever any question.

And really, “conscientious” instead of “conscious”? You have hundreds of people emailing your (female) Dean of Nursing explaining why you’re not fit to be a nursing student, and you respond by being a total smartass?

I hope this letter gets stapled to ever job or school application you ever submit. Prepare to have a Google Problem, Ben Cochran.

Did I mention his name was Ben Cochran? I’d say it a third time, but I’m afraid he’ll appear out of thin air.