Stanford summary

Let me provide you with a visual explanation of why I want to go to Stanford:
Oh my god, how could one place be so beautiful? I think I’ve been living in Indiana way too long.

Seriously though, I really enjoyed Stanford, and not just for the lovely weather and beautiful palm trees (but those were definite perks). The professors and students were super nice and easy to talk to, the research was really interesting, and I think it would be a good fit for me. I’ll find out if I’m officially accepted later this week! The major downside is the cost of living – the cheapest apartments there are more than twice than what I’m paying now, sheesh. At least in grad school I’ll actually have a pay check. If I can live off virtually nothing, I think I’ll be okay even on a grad student’s salary.

In addition to going through the typical interview process, I also was invited to AHA!‘s meeting at Stanford. It was basically a big Q&A session where I talked about my experience blogging and a little bit about being an atheist in the midwest. I had a blast, and really enjoyed meeting the club members! Depending on my grad school decision, I might be going to those meetings a lot more often.

On Saturday we got a mini vacation, which was a lot of fun. We went to the Exploratorium, took a boat ride out to Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge, and ate at a yummy pub in downtown San Francisco.
Sea lions!
I had no idea that there were boat police that could actually pull over other boats. And with a mounted gun! …I am easily amused.
Alcatraz and San Francisco
Golden Gate Bridge
And meeeee, just to prove I’m not just making up my adventures.

An eerie resemblance

Brought to you by the same relatives who produced the best blasphemous birthday gifts, I now show you my new awesome Christmas gift:Look familiar? I’ll help you out:Yep. Chris and Erin got me the same awesome, soft, cuddly, adorable octopus plushie from the PZ photo. And it wasn’t a coincidence – they got it because they know I love PZ’s blog and would know the photo.

The funny part is when I walked in and saw an octopus plushie under the tree I exclaimed, “Man, I want that!” thinking it was for my nephews (since 99% of the presents were for them, naturally). At the time I didn’t recognize exactly which exact plushie it was, since it was upside down and half buried by the twins’ toys. Later on I was telling Erin how awesome it was, and she went “Well good, because it’s for you!” Yaaaay!

Nothing makes a better pillow than a cephalopod. Well, maybe a kangaroo rat…

Halloween!

Sorry that I’ve been somewhat absent lately, guys. I’ve been partaking in this thing called a “social life.” Yes, it’s a bit foreign to me as well. I had a Halloween party at my place last night, and I had a pretty famous date:No American Flag pin!!! Proof that Obama is a Muslim communist Anti-Christ.

You can tell my friends are pretty darn nerdy when you look at the types of costumes that were there. For example, Picard:A Scout from Team Fortress and a mad scientist:Sweeney Todd and the Penguin (sans umbrella at the time of this picture because he’s apparently double fisting drinks…):And my favorite…a lolcat:
My friends are kind of awesome.

Blogging is serious business

It seems like I’ve been on a trend of ranty/serious blogging lately. While I enjoy reading the discussions that go on in the comments, they also start to drain on me after a while. So, here, have something silly:

Me: Will you take my picture? I want a before shot, while I’m still female
Friend: Sure. No, pose more girly.
Me: KayAmerica’s Next Top Model, I am not. I can totally imagine Nigel telling me that my hand looks like a claw or Tyra saying I’m not smizing enough (yes, I fully expect you all to shun me for watching that stupid show). Oh, and sunburn from our Pastafarian preaching, yay!

But then the clock struck 8, and instead of turning into a pumpkin, I turned into……a skeevy used car salesman! I mean, a male! Actually, with my hair down I looked eerily like Penn Jillette, which would explain my magic trick of making my D-cups disappear.

Yes, Friday night I held a drag party. I think that’s an acceptable excuse for not blogging.

Photo Scavenger Hunt Results

So a month ago I mentioned that our club would be having a freethinking photo scavenger hunt, where they had to take photos of various atheism and science themed things. I finally have most of the photos from people (still missing some good ones, but I give up) so I’m going to post some of my favorites. Feel free to do this event at with your group too!

1. …your team spelling out a word related to science or atheism. (Bonus point for each stranger you get to help you)
Lipid! Randomly ran into an old high school friend who helped us.
2. …physics in action.
3. …someone NOT in your group playing chess, go, sudoku, or other strategy/puzzle game
4. …a teapot.
5. …a scientific statue.6. …the oldest scientific apparatus you can find.
7. …a man with a Darwin-like beard.
8. …an atheist stereotype. (The best was one of my secretary with a stuffed Devil on each shoulder, but no one sent me that one! Boo hiss!)
9. …the oldest copy of “The Origin of Species” you can find. (Bonus: Team w/ oldest).
10. …the silliest version of the Bible that you can find.
11. …evolution.
A classic.
12. …natural selection.
Josh is about to be removed from the gene pool.
13. …a scarlet A.
14. …a mutation.15. …someone in a lab coat.
16. …as many places of worship as possible in the background (Bonus point for each extra building).Mine had a Christian, Jewish, and Mormon place, but I think we counted six churches in this one.
17. …someone NOT in your group who was reading an atheist/science book
18. …your group smiling with a theist wearing some sort of religious clothing (Bonus: Awesomeness of outfit. For example, cross necklace = +0, Pope = +infinity).
19. …an endorsement of a religion in a public place where such an endorsement shouldn’t be or just seems silly.
Ah, the Indiana “In God We Trust” license plate. No brainer there.
This is the artwork you see when you walk into Lilly, the biology building (where I basically live nowadays). Yes, those are the hands of God creating all life on earth. In the biology building. All of the biology professors hate it, and it’s been vandalized and removed multiple times since its been put up.
20. …a dinosaur.
21. …a mythical creature.
22. …the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Secular Student Alliance Conference!

Yes, I just can’t stop posting! Or as PZ said, “I think the blogathon has permanently warped her brain.

After our trip to the Creation Museum, we drove north to Columbus, OH for the Secular Student Alliance conference. Passed two signs that each had five of the Ten Commandments (I think Mark was waiting for a third sign to appear), and stopped in a rural gas station totally forgetting I had atheist buttons and stickers all over me. Whoopsie. I already mentioned how when we were checking into the dorms we watched part of an episode of Wife Swap featuring an atheist and evangelical family with PZ, which was good fun. Oh, and the fact that PZ’s dorm room was directly across from ours. Weeeeeee.There were a lot of great talks at the conference, covering activism, basic club running, volunteering, cooperation with other groups, and just some silliness. I met a lot of great people who I knew of but I had never personally met – Jesse Galef, who works for the Secular Coaltion for America and sometimes posts at Friendly Atheist; Debbie Goddard from the Center for Inquiry, who helped bring Eddie Tabash to Purdue last year; Lyz Liddel, the SSA’s Senior Campus Organizer, who has helped our club so much and delt with thousands of my emails; Ashley Paramore, who video blogs as healthyaddict; Jon Sussman, who I talked to for various SSA things and who made a big list of topics for me for my blogathon…and I’m probably forgetting people, so I apologize. I also met a lot of cool people from Indiana, and I really want to try to organize some state wide freethinker event.

The talks were excellent, but I don’t want to talk about them too much since they’ll be online soonish, and then I’ll link you to my favorite ones. And I’m totally burnt out from all those other posts, heh.

Some highlights:

- Meeting people who read my blog! It was very cool and weird having people saying “Oh, you’re the Blag Hag!” (which, in retrospect, was an unfortunate name choice). If I looked freaked out I promise I wasn’t – I’m just sort of socially awkward and not used to this whole random-people-knowing-me thing yet. Hi everyone!!
- Someone asked me for my first autograph! A student had PZ, Hemant, Ashley and me sign two Creation Museum tickets, and they’re going to try and auction them on eBay so they can start a club at their university! Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure my signature just devalued them…
- Jon Weyer, a Christian minister who gave a wonderful talk about cooperating with religious groups, had a little contest where the first six people who could name what PZ and Ken Ham were riding in my comic would get a free book! Seeing all the people who ran up there was very cool. I then shunned one of my close friends because he got it wrong. Boo.

- They used my I Squid Cephalopods design for some of the signs!
Photo by evodevo_mike
- My group of Purdue people and Hemant went to Buffalo Wild Wings for some much needed relaxation…and after spending the day in the Creation Museum, I had a MUCH needed giant glass of beer. Mmmm Blue Moon. Oh, and being outnumbered by math geeks at the table was interesting…
- PZ actually remembered my name, which I did a little internal fangirl flail about.
- PZ also said he reads all of his comments on his blog, which I find absolutely amazing. Oh, and just so you know, I do too – I get so excited when I get emailed about a new comment.
- Playing freethought trivia games. Sadly I could recite the Chinese zodiac, yet couldn’t name more than four of the last ten US Vice Presidents. Ultimate failure. I could practically feel my history teacher father’s scorn from miles away.
- Watching people play “throw the atom bombs in the volcano to blow up the Thetans” while wearing Xenu crowns:- Saturday night had incredible fun socializing and PZ actually attended, and I’m pretty sure I can’t say much more than that (but Jesse already said it involved Captain Morgan, so draw your own conclusions). Multiple male students commented on my boobs, so I’m pretty sure they weren’t listening to Hemant’s atheist dating advice.
- A group of us decided that a required session for next year’s conference should be a “sexy lingerie party.” Still trying to convince people about that one.
- Collecting way too much atheist flair (plus a FSM one which you can’t see in this photo):- Listening to George Carlin for three hours on the drive home.

And I may not have gotten to ride the Triceratops at the Creation Museum…but I got something even better (click for larger):Photo by Gus Brunsman
The whole conference making Cthulhu faces! Though no, we didn’t all transform into Cuttlefish. I guess PZ wasn’t trying hard enough.

As long as I can travel there, definitely looking forward to going to the conference again next year! It was super fun and got me totally motivated for this upcoming school year. Now, time for me to go plan club events!

Creation Museum Part 6

Now that Adam and Eve ate the fruit, the world’s about to go to crap. We rounded the corner and found this pleasant scene:A very kids-friendly museum! Of course, it’s alright to scare little kids if it teaches them to follow the Bible – think hell houses. This was also in a dark scary room, but the flash from my camera kind of ruins that feeling. Anyway, this is supposed to illustrate their shame of being naked, and how they need to make animal sacrifices to God to make him happy.Please join me in facepalming: “But because humans are not related to animals.” So, let’s get cracking on the human sacrifices then with that logic! And as a side note, does God love nudists because they have no shame? …Moving on.
We meet Adam and Eve again, but now things are different. They have their sons, Caine and Abel, they have to produce their own food, Adam has put on a few pounds (sin = beer belly?), and Eve is barefoot and pregnant like she belongs (somehow I missed a photo of that, oh well). This seems tame enough, but things start getting really crazy here with a new theme: Before Adam’s Sin, and After (you really should click for a larger image and read these things, they’re terrible).
Plants aren’t alive? The hell? I guess we need to kick Botany out of Biology! What do those silly scientists know about what’s alive, anyway? I guess animals not dying for the short period of time they were in the Garden of Eden isn’t too preposterous. Well, immortality is silly, but it’s not like the entire ecosystem would be out of whack or overpopulated because of a lack of deaths. But this is the sign that killed me:
Wut.

They’re saying a T-Rex was a vegetarian until sin. I don’t think I need to explain why this makes no fucking sense. Why the hell did some dinosaurs have big freaking pointy teeth? So they could munch up lettuce better? I don’t think so. Either God did a shitty job at designing creatures and arbitrarily gave some useless teeth, or he already knew the fall was going to happen so he had some animals ready to fill the carnivore niche. In which case, did Adam and Eve really have free will if God already knew what was going to happen because it was part of his plan? Did God really just want an excuse to make bacon? EDIT: Apparently I missed a vital part of the exhibit: Velociraptors prior to the fall had MOLARS that through “natural selection” (not evolution, since that doesn’t exist) turned into canine teeth. What the HELL. NO.
Om nom nom. Meat is murder. Tasty, tasty murder.

Of course, I’m probably thinking about this too much. I’m sure there’s a simple explanation to all this. Oh…maybe that the Creation Museum is full of shit and denying everything science or even common sense has ever told us! That’s right, I forgot.
Yeah, I’m not even going to touch this one. It’s just here to show you how outstandingly stupid this room was.

Of course, once you think it can never get worse, it does. I stood in front of this sign for a good long time, probably with a look of confusion and rage on my face (click for larger):
God logic for why Biblical incest is okay but modern incest isn’t hurts my brain:
1. “All humans are related. So whenever someone gets married, they marry their relative.” You know, this is true with evolution too! But I think all reasonable people can see a difference between marrying your sister or cousin and marrying someone thousands of years removed from you.
2. Abraham was a cool guy and married his half sister, so that makes it okay! Well okay for then, then God changed his mind and now you can’t marry close relatives. So, are they actually saying that some of God’s laws were applicable for ancient times but not for modern times? I guess there’s hope for gay and women’s rights! Right?
3. We have inbreeding depression today because Adam’s sin caused mutations. Ugh, I hate when they bring in genetics to explain their crazy ideas.
4. Adam was genetically perfect, so inbreeding back then didn’t matter because there we less mutations. Man, at the mutation rate necessary to go from “genetically perfect” (whatever that means) to our current level of diversity in just 6,000 years, I’m surprised we don’t all have superpowers or extra limbs sprouting out of our foreheads.
5. Irrelevant comment about sex outside of marriage.
6. Lie about marriage being defined by God. You have no right to criticize the Bible if you don’t believe it. Wait…what? Well isn’t that convenient. Only the people who don’t have anything to criticize are the ones that can criticize it!

We all felt like soon we’d have no brain cells left, so we moved on.

The next room has a absolutely terrifying animatronic Methuselah. He was creepier then the little girl we first met, and I nearly jumped out of my skin when his eyes moved and looked right at me. I didn’t take a photo because I was afraid my camera would disintegrate from the pure evil emanating from this thing. They had a sign next to Methuselah with all the ages of various famous people from the Bible, and I think they were trying to show that people lived shorter and shorter lives since sin was introduced. I’m not quite sure how sin “builds up” over generations (I think they meant mutations), but I’m not sure about most of the stuff in this museum.

(Thanks to Vanessa and Josh for extra photos)

Part1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9

Creation Museum Part 5

Never fear, Creation Museum goer. After going through terrifying Atheistland, you enter a serene black tunnel dotted with Christmas lights – er, stars, I mean stars. You pop into a mini theater where they’re showing a video about how God created the universe in 6 days. I have to admit, this is where the museum starts being educational – in the sense that I learned about a literal interpretation of the Bible. I was not raised Christian, nor have I read the Bible other that some select passages (which I feel guilty about, I mean to do it soon). I couldn’t tell you what order God created things, or exactly what happened to Adam and Eve and their children, so this was pretty informative from a Bible as Literature point of view (if you ignore all the dinosaurs). Past that, absolutely hilarious. My favorite part of the movie was Adam and Eve watching brontosauruses as the sun sets:You pop out into a room showing various videos playing on loop. The first one I watched gave the same old “DNA is information, information can’t randomly come about, therefore there is a God” argument. It then took a random word (don’t remember what it was) and started rearranging it Text Twist style, this somehow being the best argument against evolution. Uh, what? Then a clip about irreducible complexity in the eye came on, and I got upset. I went on a mini rant to a friend about how stupid that argument is, and how octopuses have better eyes than vertebrates anyway…but then I had to stop watching or I probably would have started yelling at the screen. Then I found this brain breaking sign:

This is where my brain officially broke during the trip, and I really felt like a part of me had died from the mind boggling ignorance. Let me take a big breath and swig of beer before I touch this one.

Okay, much better.

Let me break this down for you, in case it’s not jumping out from that image. First came plants. Then came the sun. Then came DNA. See anything a little odd about that order? When I first tweeted my distress, I said “But…but…photosynthesis!” I’ll admit that’s not the best response. Theoretically plants can live a day without sunlight (since we are talking about 24 hour days here), and it may just be silly rather than impossible for God to make plants first. But the sun doesn’t just produce sunlight – it produces warmth. There’s no way plants could survive in the freezing cold of space for 24 hours – most of them have a hard enough time when the first frost comes. Of course, this is God we’re talking about – I’m sure a creationist would wave their hands and say God protected the plants from dying with his magical powers, and that’s that.

And then there’s the little bit about DNA. How the hell did plants exist before the building blocks of life? Are you telling me that every plant cell’s nucleus was empty, that not a single protein was made in 24 hours, that plants sat in suspended animation for 24 hours before God zapped DNA (and supposedly RNA) into every plant cell on Earth? Really? Does it make any sense for an all knowing God to create things in such an illogical, silly order? Or does it sound like the creation story is a myth made up by people who know nothing about biology or evolution, and now they’re desperately trying to apply it to the story?

Brain broken, I decided to go take solace in Eden:Wait, what the freaking hell? What are penguins doing in the Middle East?! You think with all the dinosaurs, I would be desensitizes by now…but no. Dinosaurs existing with humans is pure fantasy, penguins in the middle east put me in an Ecologist Rage. But then I got a photo with a cute dinos and all was well:Om nom nom prehistoric pineapple.Not so sure if I was allowed to touch that. Whoops.

I think I’d like to take the time here to actually compliment the Creation Museum on one thing: it was extremely well made. Nothing looked cheap, all of the fake dinosaurs and humans were excellently made, and all of the signs had very nice designs. Of course, all of this makes me even more sad, because people are easily swayed by snazzy, professional looking things.

Moving on, we reach the bow chicka wow wow part of the garden. Well, I guess technically not yet, since there’s no sin yet. I have to admit, Adam was kind of attractive, and some of these dioramas with Adam and Eve were oddly suggestive. I mean, what a romantic location:…with a velociraptor in the background. Can you spot it?Oh my! Naughty Adam and Eve! Keep those hands above the water, Children of God with Strategically Placed Hair! Oh, and in case it’s been too long since the museum made a political/cultural statement, here you go:Oh, well that’s good to know! Since we have a separation of church and state here, and they claim the only basis for heterosexual marriage is religion, then no problem approving gay marriage, right? Or more realistically, since the idea that Adam and Eve even existed, let alone that Eve was made from Adam’s rib, is complete malarkey, and that’s they’re only argument against gay marriage, then equal rights here we come! …I have a feeling my argument isn’t going to go over well with them.

And just because I really like this photo:
Note the serpent lurking overhead and the fact that the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge actually looks more like grapes. Guess the Creation Museum didn’t want to get involved with the cultural meme of the fruit being an apple. Right about then PZ randomly appeared behind us, so we slowed down a bit to be a part of the hilarity. Then it happened. They ate the fruit, and the museum went from being a peaceful garden of Eden to scary as hell again.

(Thanks to Vanessa and Josh for extra photos)

Part1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9

Creation Museum Part 1

I’m finally home from this crazy, awesome, non-stop weekend. People have been asking me how the Creation Museum was, and I always have to pause before I answer. There is just so much to say about it that I don’t know where to begin. In order to make sure I don’t forget anything, I think I’m just going to retell my trip in chronological order. This is going to take multiple posts, so stay tuned throughout the day!

Mark, Josh, and I left around 6 am Friday morning. The drive from West Lafayette, IN to the Creation Museum in Kentucky was supposedly a little under 3 hours, and we didn’t want to be late. I was driving (won a lovely travel grant from the Secular Student Alliance, thank you!) and functioning on about 3 hours of sleep due to over excitement the night before, but I was so pumped that morning that it didn’t really matter. Only about 45 minutes into our drive we saw an anti-evolution billboard which seemed very appropriate for the day. Really not surprising though – if you’ve ever driven through Indiana, you know religious billboards are a common sight.

I thought Kentucky was much prettier than Indiana. It’s always a relief to see rolling hills and something other than corn and soybean fields. When we were about 15 minutes from the Creation Museum, an eerie fog rolled in:Me: This is really creeping me out. It’s like we’re going to Jurassic Park.
Josh: Through the mist of time, back to the beginning… six thousand years ago…

In a movie like fashion, the mist cleared once we arrived at the museum gates. When we parked there was already a small gaggle of heathens hanging out in the parking lot, even though we were an hour early. There was something very strange and satisfying about knowing those people you’ve never met are your allies. I mean, it wasn’t hard to figure out who was in the group, since everyone was wearing science or atheism shirts. Four of my other Purdue friends who were driving in a different car arrived right after us (even though they left 20 min before…whoops, guess I was being a speed demon). Eventually the group was getting a little too big, and since I didn’t want anyone to get run over by a car, I sort of ushered the group towards the front of the museum. I think it’s instinct for me to go into my Leader role when dealing with a bunch of atheists, haha. A security guard checked out bags, which was really just a quick glance and not invasive at all. Everyone was very polite and cooperative. This is also where we met our first dinosaur:The Creation Museum was nice enough to set up a little tent for our group so we could check in in an organized fashion. I was near the front of the line since we got there early, and it was very fun to watch the group grow.Almost immediately after I signed in, PZ walked right by me. Apparently I visibly freaked out in a fangirlish way, because my friends started laughing at me. I didn’t want to bother him since he just got there (and I was still too shy), so we went to get into the museum. The first thing you can do when you enter is get your photo taken in front of a green screen to make it seem like a giant T-Rex is about to eat you. The Purdue group – 8 students and a mom – thought why the hell not, and took one. The photo was hilarious, but then we found out it was 15 dollars to get a copy. Screw that. I had already spent 10 bucks to get in, an I wasn’t giving them a penny more.

Immediately after that I spotted the infamous Pastor Tom walking around the entrance. Not wanting any kerfuffles, our group quickly moved towards the exhibit. The first thing you’re greeted with is an impressive mastodon:
It’s description, however, was less impressive. I made a mistake of not taking a photo of the sign so I don’t know the exact number, but they hilariously think that the last ice age occurred within the last two or three thousand years. We already had major human civilizations around at that time, many of those who had written records. I don’t think we’ve discovered any Egyptian hieroglyphics about extreme temperature changes. They’d probably claim that just because we can’t find them doesn’t mean they don’t exist (sound familiar?). But really, it’s pointless to harp on this one fact, since the whole museum is filled with ridiculous dating. As PZ already pointed out, it’s hilarious that they take the time to say dinosaurs were alive and well in 2348 BC. I wonder what would be harder for multiple human civilizations to fail to record: giant lizard creatures roaming the earth, or drastic temperature changes and cold? Hmmm

Part1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9