Dublin!

Tonight’s my last night in Dublin. I’m getting ready to fly to Paris tomorrow (woooo!) but I wanted to give a brief update before I disappeared into vacation again.

We stayed near the grand canal, which was a cute area:

Overall one of my favorite things about Dublin was the architecture:

The other thing I loved about Dublin was the food. I forgot to take photos of some of the stuff I ate (mmmm, giant pot of mussels) and other stuff was delicious but not photogenic (a giant hunk of lamb on top of a giant pile of mashed potatoes that was supposed to be a “stew”). But here’s the awesome breakfast I had at Queen of Tarts:

Some fancy fish and chips:

And Baileys cheesecake. Om nom nom

We checked out the Natural History Museum, aka “Dead Zoo.”

Of course we went to the Guinness Storehouse:

And this made me giggle because I’m immature:

Overall I couldn’t help but notice Dublin bore a remarkable resemblance to Seattle: overcast, raining, not particularly fashionable, and filled with 90′s music. I guess that’s why I liked it so much.

Sources claim Purdue’s next President is Mitch Daniels

As a liberal Purdue alumna, this is terrible news:

Purdue University officials plan to vote on a candidate for the school’s next president this week – and WISH-TV has learned Gov. Mitch Daniels is the candidate in question.

The Purdue Board of Trustees will meet at 10 a.m. Thursday in Steward Center’s Loeb Playhouse to vote on a nominee to be the school’s 12th president. Several sources close to the proceedings tells WISH-TV that the nominee is Daniels. After the vote, the president-elect will be introduced, the school said in a news release.

Daniels’ office had no comment Tuesday afternoon. However, sources with connections to both Purdue and the governor said it’s a done deal.

There’s a lot of reasons to be freaking out that this Republican Governor is about to become President of my alma mater. He defunded Planned Parenthood, hurt public education with conservative voucher programs, supported anti-union legislation, opposed same-sex marriage and civil unions, and enacted voter ID laws that primarily negatively affected young, elderly, and minority voters…just to name a few things. But the thing that will enrage most of my blog readers is what he had to say about atheists in 2009:

People who reject the idea of a God -who think that we’re just accidental protoplasm- have always been with us. What bothers me is the implications -which not all such folks have thought through- because really, if we are just accidental, if this life is all there is, if there is no eternal standard of right and wrong, then all that matters is power.

And atheism leads to brutality. All the horrific crimes of the last century were committed by atheists -Stalin and Hitler and Mao and so forth- because it flows very naturally from an idea that there is no judgment and there is nothing other than the brief time we spend on this Earth.

Everyone’s certainly entitled in our country to equal treatment regardless of their opinion. But yes, I think that folks who believe they’ve come to that opinion ought to think very carefully, first of all, about how different it is from the American tradition; how it leads to a very different set of outcomes in the real world.

When I was at Purdue, I founded the Society of Non-Theists, a student organization for atheists, agnostics, and irreligious students on campus. I founded it because I felt like the only atheist on campus, and Purdue was not a welcoming place to me. Over the years as my old club has grown and grown, so many people have thanked me for providing a place where they can openly discuss their non-theism without fear or stigma. And now Mitch Daniels is slated to be President.

Let’s be honest. Purdue is one of the most socially backwards universities in the Big 10, if not the most socially backwards. We’re always dead last when is comes to having GLBT resources on campus, and the community is hostile to anyone who isn’t a white, conservative Christian. My only hope before was that the administration was very supportive, even if the students and greater community wasn’t. Now I’m not so sure.

During my time at Purdue, I was also a member of the President’s Leadership Class. 30 of the ~7,000 incoming freshmen were selected for PLC based on their academics and exemplary leadership abilities. We met in the living room of President Jischke’s house every Monday to discuss leadership, receive training, and make connections. They were fostering us to be the leaders of tomorrow.

The leaders of tomorrow don’t discriminate against atheists, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered individuals.

If you’re a Purdue student or alumni, please email the Presidential Search Committee and [email protected] and let them know why you don’t support Mitch Daniels as President of Purdue.

I’ll be speaking in Dublin this Thursday!

I know I have some Irish readers who were wondering if I’d be doing a meetup while I’m in Dublin, and I have good news! The event will be a double-header: I’ll be giving my talk “God’s Lady Problem” on the intersection of atheism and feminism, and David Horgan, writer of http://www.jesustheremake.com, will talk about the portrayel of Jesus in movies.

Thursday, June 21
7:30 pm
Bankers Pub on Trinity Street, Dublin 2
Everyone welcome, free
Hosted by Atheist Ireland
Facebook event here (delightfully titled “Jesus and Jen”)

It should be interesting. I’m landing at 8am that morning, so I might be delirious from jetlag. It’s also my first time attempting to give this talk without any slides… How will I ever survive without internet memes?! But regardless, it should be a lot of fun. Hopefully I’ll see you there!

We’ve lost an atheist blogger…to Catholicism

Leah Libresco, atheist blogger behind Unequally Yoked, has just announced that she’s converting to Catholicism.

…Um…what the fuck?

I love Leah, and I’ll continue to be friends with her and have fun discussing Harry Potter genetics over dinner. But being friends with someone doesn’t mean you stop telling them when they’re wrong, so:

Leah, you’re wrong.

I’m seriously disappointed. Of all religions to join, you choose Catholicism? One of the most despicable, nonsensical, homophobic, misogynistic religions on the planet? Because of its system of morality? I could understand saying you’re converting to deism or unitarianism or maybe even buddhism, but Catholicism?

I know some people will say I’m an asshole for not being supportive of her personal decision…but that’s not how friendship works in my mind. When my friends make terrible decisions, I don’t shut up about it.

What’s really scary is how dozens of Catholics are flocking to the comments of her posts, gushing about how happy they are that she’s come home. Providing social incentive to adhere to certain beliefs? Nope, nothin’ culty about that. Seriously grosses me out.

EDIT: Please no “She was never a True Atheist” idiotic arguments.

Blogathon 2012 is complete!

A fourth year has gone by without me passing out or overdosing on caffeine, huzzah! I was oddly less delirious this year – grad school must have trained me for this level of sleep deprivation. The current level of donations for SSAweek is around $90,000, which is freaking amazing. Thanks so much to everyone who donated, spread the word, and commented. Special thanks to my boyfriend for making sure I actually ate and didn’t accidentally fall asleep.

Those of you who didn’t get your doodles yet – you’ll get them before I go to Europe, don’t worry. I just forgot to bring my tablet for the blogathon.

And with that…I’m going to go pass out. Good nighhhzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

This is post 49 of 49 of Blogathon. Donate to the Secular Student Alliance here.

Random things I have learned from this year’s blogathon

  • Don’t go to parades and expect cell phone service to still work
  • People born in the 80s are most likely to take part in naked bike rides, judging from the theme of the costumes
  • Going outside now that the 9 months of Seattle winter gloom have passed = instant sunburn
  • Calling a fancy Italian extra-thin triangular flatbread panini thing a “quesadilla” will get you a dirty look from a barista
  • A hot box and dutch oven are not the same thing
  • Diablo is basically a lot of random clicking
  • Tyler Perry sucks
  • There are way too many ways to cook an egg
  • 5 times the daily recommended amount of vitamin B6 will not kill you (yet)
  • I can listen to Tropico music for 12 hours without getting sick of it

This is post 48 of 49 of Blogathon. Donate to the Secular Student Alliance here.

Deepak Chopra wisdom generator

This site is brilliant:

“It has been said by some that the thoughts and tweets of Deepak Chopra are indistinguishable from a set of profound sounding words put together in a random order, particularly the tweets tagged with “#cosmisconciousness”. This site aims to test that claim! Each “quote” is generated from a list of words that can be found in Deepak Chopra’s Twitter stream randomly stuck together in a sentence.”

Some of my favorite random quotes include:

  • Knowledge requires your own life
  • Quantum physics is the wisdom of boundless knowledge
  • The unexplainable relies on visible creativity
It’s a little frightening how hard it is to distinguish the fake quotes from something Chopra would actually say. If only his publishers knew they could replace him with a random sentence generator.

This is post 47 of 49 of Blogathon. Donate to the Secular Student Alliance here.

Catholic Bishops reduce their issues to “PR problems”

How clueless can you get? Very, if you’re a Catholic Bishop:

There’s no doubt that America’s Roman Catholic bishops have had their share of what might quaintly be called bad press. The priest sex-abuse scandal, a Vaticancrackdown on nuns, a head-knocking fight with the president of the United States over contraceptive coverage — none of these would qualify as good news.

On Thursday, the bishops said they’ve had enough. It is time, they said, to beef up their public relations arsenal.

“We need more help and sophistication in our messaging,” said Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, who decried the “latest debacle” of bad PR over the treatment of American nuns (which involves an investigation by the Vatican, not the American bishops).

Hemant beat me to what I was going to say:

You don’t need more sophistication in your messaging. You don’t need someone who can deliver your message more clearly.

You need a new message.

Your current image is that of men who are anti-gay, anti-women, and anti-comprehensive-health-care. You don’t do enough to punish the rapists in your midst. A spokesman (I was going to say spokesperson… but we all know they would never hire a woman for the job) won’t be able to make you look good when so much of what you preach goes against common decency.

Exactly. “PR” can only spin so much.  Good PR can convince you Franzia tastes pretty good. Good PR can’t convince you that child rape is somehow awesome.

This is post 46 of 49 of Blogathon. Donate to the Secular Student Alliance here.

The tale of Taq

One donor requested that I talk a little bit about polymerase chain reaction, or PCR.

PCR is now a super common laboratory technique for people doing any sort of molecular biology. It’s a way of amplifying a specific section of DNA so it’s present in millions of copies. This is really important if you want to, for example, sequence a specific gene. You want that gene to be present in such high quantity compared to the rest of the genome so nothing else is sequenced.

As for how it works…I’m not sure if I’m able to explain that in a coherent way right now, so here’s a handy dandy video!

Most PCR uses a specific type of DNA polymerase known as Taq. Taq is an enzyme that was originally isolated from Thermus aquaticus, a thermophillic bacteria that lives in hot springs and hydrothermal vents. Taq is special because it can withstand high temperatures without losing its function. Since PCR requires DNA polymerase to be functional at higher temperatures, this makes Taq super important. The one downside to Taq is that it’s not very good at proofreading, which makes it error prone. Thankfully DNA polymerase has been isolated from other thermophillic species. Pfu is an example of a thermophillic DNA polymerase with proofreading ability.

This is post 45 of 49 of Blogathon. Donate to the Secular Student Alliance here.

Dessert break!

If I had a kryptonite, it would be Molly Moon’s ice cream:

This particular pint is a seasonal batch called Sasquatch. Theo chocolate ice cream with chunks of dark chocolate and caramel coated granola. Holy fuckballs is it good. They aren’t serving it anymore but you can still buy pints. I may or may not have gone and bought three to hoard up.

#Foodporn

This is post 44 of 49 of Blogathon. Donate to the Secular Student Alliance here.