Sunday Song: Love, Fate, Fertility, and Bagpipes

So as some folks celebrate a pagan holiday stuffed uncomfortably in a Christian suit, and some of us resist (or fail to resist) the urge to eat horrid hollow chocolate animals for old time’s sake, and the more adventurous among us wait for the Peeps to go half price so we can find ever more interesting things to do with them, I figure it’s time to get back to the real reason for the season: fertility! Well, spring and new life and sowing crops and such. I would encourage all of you with enthusiastic partners to (safely!) make like bunnies in honor of this season. Or, if you prefer and you live somewhere that’s experiencing the first flush of spring, get out and admire the new life springing (ha) up everywhere. In other words, if you have a chance to haz a happy, go seize it. I certainly intend to, once I’m done being extraordinarily lazy.

But first, let’s remember a Norse goddess of love, fertility, and fate, mostly because this song has got bagpipes in it and I know you lot love bagpipes.

Right. Now you’ve had your bagpipage, go play.

You Can Haz Easter Bunny

Ah, Easter! The time of year when devout Christian folks celebrate an impossible sequence of events, and the rest of us sometimes engage in some of the pagan rituals incorporated into the holiday, especially if we have kiddos. I won’t be hunting any eggs myself, but I got you a bunny.

Wild bunny at North Creek.

Wild bunny at North Creek.

Sorry it’s not chocolate. But it’s cute and fluffy and sweet.

Ducklings have a little something to do with Easter for some reason, don’t they? Excellent. Have the cutest baby duckie I’ve got.

Baby duckie along North Creek.

Baby duckie along North Creek.

I know, right? You’re welcome.

I may celebrate later today by reading the Easter stories in my Skeptic’s Annotated Bible. Or not. It’s supposed to be nearly seventy degrees and sunny. I may just go sit outside with a notebook for a few hours and soak up the sun. I like celebrating life like that. I’ll read what Steve Wells has to say about Easter later.

Have a happy day, my darlings. I hope it’s filled with lots of delicious and fun things, just as every day should be.

Cantina Quote o’ the Week: Mignon McLaughlin

Every society honors its live conformists and its dead troublemakers.

-Mignon McLaughlin

I haven’t got a Mignon in any of my stories yet, but after reading some of Mignon McLaughlin’s Neurotic’s Notebook lines, I think maybe I should. She’d be sharing a name with a person with a ready pen and a keen ability to cut through bullshit and smokescreens to the truth.

It’s hard to get a sense of her from anything except her writing. She was born in 1913, lived through two world wars and two teenage boys (do I repeat myself?), wrote for Vogue, Redbook, Cosmopolitan and other magazines, became a Managing Editor of Glamour, co-wrote a play with her husband, wrote two books full of aphorisms that are sometimes almost painful in their truth. She had a clear view of gender relations, and religion-wise, seems to have talked herself into a cautious agnosticism – although she had no problem telling God he could do better.

I like to remember the above quote when I see society react to those pushing for a better world. I think it pays to remember that many of the people we venerate now weren’t so venerated in their lifetime, when they were shaking up the status quo. It helps to remember that, when the pushback against equality for women and people of color and LGBTQ folk and so many others becomes vicious and discouraging. Someday, if we never give up, some among us who fought for change will be the dead troublemakers our descendants honor. And there will be a whole new set of troublemakers pushing the boundaries further than we can dream.


Adventures with Cumulative Trauma Disorders

I finally gave in and saw a doctor about my horrible wrists. The verdict: thumb tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and possible arthritis in the finger joints. Whee! This means the doctor pulled me off of typing duty until I’ve seen a neurosurgeon, and I get to navigate the byzantine byways of our company’s medical leave and accommodation policies.

This should be fun.

I loves me nice, comforting ACE bandages, but they're no longer enough.

I loves me nice, comforting ACE bandages, but they’re no longer enough.

We’re not sure yet if I’m going to need surgery. I’m hoping to get away with physical therapy. At home, I can use Dragon, which means you may see some really fascinating typos while I train it on all our weird words. The nice gentleman at Nuance I chatted with assured me it should learn fairly quickly.

At least the blogs won’t suffer. And special happy bonus: I should be able to reply to email more consistently. Well, once the software’s trained, anyway.

I figure I’ll blog this wrist-fixing experience for the morbidly curious. The more squeamish of you may want to look away. It could get graphic. Some of you might actually enjoy that. If I can get the doc babbling, we’ll get some of the medical science behind it. Yay, more new words to teach Dragon!

In other news, my primary care physician is now monitoring the SAD I haz, so no worries on that front, either. Once we have the timing and dosage of Wellbutrin adjusted properly, it should be smooth sailing. I can tell you this stuff has already worked miracles. Despite some troubles, it’s been a huge help in keeping me out o’ the pit. Love it.

Modern medicine is teh awesome.

***I dictated this post with Dragon Premium Edition. It’s remarkably accurate for being brand-new. We’ll see how it does with scientific terminology, but I think it’ll do very well. I just taught it lolz and teh. That was fun.***

Now I Wanna Go to Church…

No, seriously. I do. I even have my Bible:

Mah very own Skeptic's Annotated Bible. I loves it and it is mine. My own. My - wait...

Mah very own Skeptic’s Annotated Bible. I loves it and it is mine. My own. My – wait…

I seriously do love my Skeptic’s Annotated Bible. I cackled when it came in the mail, and immediately took pictures of it, then took it out of its clear plastic wrapper and took more pictures, then I took it to bed and promptly began reading. About forty-seven seconds later, I had an almost overwhelming urge to go to church. I want to find the most Bible-believing biblical literalist church possible, and sit there with my big ochre bible, and innocently thumb through it. “Excuse me, Pastor, did you just say God wants us to be saved? But what about here in Second Thessalonians 2:11 and 12, where it says God will make us believe lies so that we’re damned? How does that work?” Cue puzzled but beatific smile.

This is a wonderful book. Granted, there’s a website. But somehow, having this book in hand is utterly different. I think it’s because it feels like the very serious bibles we thumbed through in church every Sunday morning. Its pages are thin and crackly; it has a solemn weight, and somber binding. When you open it, there are the King James words, ever so familiar and hallowed by centuries of repetition. But you’ll never find this introduction in a Christian Bookstore bible: “When I was a Christian, I never read the Bible. Not all the way through, anyway. The problem was that I believed the Bible to be the inspired and inerrant word of God, yet the more I read it, the less credible that belief became. I finally decided that to protect my faith in the Bible, I’d better quit trying to read it.”


Steve Wells did us a huge good service by going through this nasty book verse by verse, annotating and highlighting. In the margins, you’ll find a simple key, little icons that tell you where to find absurdity (okay, more absurdity), injustice, cruelty and violence, intolerance, contradictions, conflicts with science and history, Biblical family values (ha!), interpretation, misogyny and insults to women, sex, false prophecy and misquotes, language (as in naughty), homosexuality (all few references), and, just occasionally, good stuff. Those little icons make skimming through to find what you need quite easy.

Each chapter is introduced with highlights. To take a chapter at random, we’ll flip to Philippians, where the highlights tell us, “Forget Jesus. Paul says you should follow him and people that follow him.” That’s in Philippians 3:17, for those who want a peek. I loved those chapter highlights: it helped me orient myself and gave me fun things to look forward to in what is, let’s face it, an atrociously written book. Well, atrociously written books mashed together any-old-how. A good read-through makes me wonder how anyone’s powers of self-deception are up to the task of convincing self and everyone that this mess is meaningful. Yeesh.

After a while, you just want to skip to the end. Which is where the really good stuff is. Steve included a list of contradictions (spoiler alert: it’s really really long). I think this may be my favorite part of the book, because it’s such a simple, clear-cut reference showing the contradictions with eye-opening clarity – and citing chapter and verse.This is the part I will turn to the next time proselytizers arrive at my door. I will sit them down, open my SAB to that list, and go down the whole thing, asking for explanations until they flee. It’s going to be such fun.

And then, the pièce de résistance, the greatest list of all: “God’s Killings in the Bible.” It begins with Noah’s flood and ends with Jesus. A few killings seem to be missing, but the dude’s such a homicidal maniac it’s hard for even someone as thorough as Steve to keep track. It doesn’t matter. By the time you hit line 25 or 50 (representing untold bloodshed) that you start to realize the God of love was actually the God of “Dang, I love killing humans!” By line 135, it’s really hard to see the Christian god as anything other than a genocidal freak, and throwing a few more bodies on the pile seems, frankly, like overkill. Which is something God engaged in with alarming frequency.

All of this awesomeness is sandwiched between Selected Quotes from the Old Testament (front end-papers) and Selected Quotes from the New Testament (endpapers). And you know those quotes are the ones guaranteed to make all but the most blinkered Christian squirm. “Hey, kids! Let’s read the Bible together! How about Second Kings 18:27? That’s wholesome!”

I’m loving this. I figure if people are going to believe the bible’s their good book, they should read the thing, and prepare to defend it in all it’s blood-soaked, slavery-approving, misogynistic, ignorant, violent and contradictory glory. The Skeptic’s Annotated Bible  makes it easy to help that process along. We can do bible study together! Hooray!

It’s also suitable for gifting to religious relatives and friends, and all you have to do is practice your innocent look: “Oh, it’s a skeptic’s view of the bible? Wow. I thought it was a bible you’d give to a skeptic to bring ‘em around!” *bat eyelashes, shrug bashfully*

The only thing that will make this better is having my pantheist friend join me at church with her LOLcat Bible. And I am breathlessly awaiting the day when the Skeptic’s Annotated Book of Mormon and the Skeptic’s Annotated Qu’ran are available in print. I’ll be bloody well tempted to become a comparative religions scholar in my free time, and if I do, I will enjoy it.

Thank you, Steve, for such an outstanding reference bible. It will have pride o’ place on my shelf, and I hope it will pass down through many generations of my skeptical family. Those of you who’d like to join me at church, you can get your copy here.

New at Rosetta Stones: A Pioneering Geographer Named After My Old Home State

I think you’re going to adore Zonia Baber. I do. She’s fantastic. I wish I could be like her when I grow up, and I wish I could have met her, and I’m glad I got to know about her. Go have a read-through and tell me if you feel the same.

(And yes, her name really was Arizona. Those of us from Arizona have that extra incentive to think she’s the best, but really, it’s not like anything more was needed.)

New at Rosetta Stones: Wherein I Introduce Our Series on Women in the Geosciences.

And ’tis an awesome introduction. You should totally check it out. Here’s a taste to whet your appetite (or possibly apatite. Ha):

Geology has many fathers, and we know them well. But few of us can name its mothers. Mothers who sacrificed far more than most of the men did – many women could only succeed in the geosciences if they remained unmarried and childless (and some organizations, like the British Geological Survey, made that a formal requirement). They fought discrimination and doubt. They worked hard for a fraction of the recognition their male colleagues got. Despite all the decks stacked against them, they made important contributions to our knowledge of the world. Forgetting the women who left us geoscience legacies is intolerable. We need to remember.

Read the rest. And stay tuned: tomorrow, we get our first profile. Huzzah! I think you’ll love her as much as I do.

Interesting Times II

Here’s the news we’ve all been waiting for: the results of the investigation. Huzzah! After running their cherry-picked* interview statements past Legal and HR, the most that management could manage was a counseling notice for insubordination. As far as punishments go, it’s like a slap on the back of the hand and a giggled, “You naughty girl, stahp!” I’m wondering if that’s because Legal said something like, “WTF? Are you trying to get sued for millions?”

I’m vastly amused. Disappointed, but amused.

Where do we go from here? Well, my two ethics complaints (one for my manager’s legally questionable termination, and one for my legally-questionable suspension) are still in play. They have a counseling notice I refused to sign (politely! Wouldn’t want them to think I was being insubordinate or anything!). I have a disciplinary action against me that gets the union’s foot in the door for a grievance. What they seem to be doing to me is trying to stretch a tripwire across my path, since shutting me up has proved to be such a spectacular failure. What I’m doing is hopping right over it with a grin and a whistle. What do they have? A very weak sauce. What do I have? A heaping helping of wasabi – a documented pattern of behavior that looks for all the world like retaliation. Oh, honey.

I have also got a hostile work environment. I feel ganged up on and targeted. I have coworkers who are either terrified or despairing – but after what happened to me and my manager, the terror and despair have begun to turn into a righteous outrage. People are tired of living in fear. They’re uniting to make things better. And it is beautiful.

Still. It should never have come to this.

Under the microscope, I shall continue on my quest to improve working conditions, with my union and my co-workers at my side. We won’t be stopped.

Meanwhile, my manager has only just begun to sue.

Stay tuned.

The giant gavel of justice at the Ohio Judicial Center in downtown Columbus, Ohio. Image and caption courtesy Sam Howzit via Wikimedia Commons.

The giant gavel of justice at the Ohio Judicial Center in downtown Columbus, Ohio. Image and caption courtesy Sam Howzit via Wikimedia Commons.

*I say this because witnesses who were standing right there who happened to be my peers were, oddly enough, never interviewed. One of them is my friend and a union steward, and lo, she was never called upon. Interesting coinky-dink, that, and leads to the strong impression that this investigation may have failed to meet the minimal qualifications for totally unbiased. Color me shocked.

Interesting Times

So Friday was a bit of a strange day. It started with management splitting up my former manager’s team and parceling us out other managers. It continued with me filing an ethics complaint because of my concerns over the legality of his firing. It concluded with them suspending me with pay “pending investigation.” Investigating what? They wouldn’t say. Not to me, and not to the union steward. Why did they suspend me, then? They said they were investigating to find that out. True fucking story. What they appeared to be doing is getting me out of the way while they attempted to find something they could use to intimidate me into silence. That’s certainly how it seemed.

That impression intensified Monday, when they tried to intimidate me with some pretty weak tea. Alas for them, witnesses witnessed, and they have nothing. They ended up returning me to duty after a brief attempt at silencing me about the whole affair, which I nixed by pointing out that such attempt is very possibly illegal and I would have to seek advice, after which the request changed from silence to “discretion” with a quickness. They’re still “investigating.” I have no way to be certain, but it looks very much like a spirited attempt at retaliation, boys and girls. This appearance is creating what we in the business call “a hostile work environment.” This could lead to Very Interesting Times, indeed. I’m certainly finding them fascinating so far.

I’m not ready to tell the whole story just yet. I have certain avenues I’m pursuing, and shall hold my tongue publicly until I have professional legal advice. I will, however, make the observation that both my manager and myself found our jobs threatened or ended just after filing ethics complaints. I believe that fact will prove to be of some interest to various parties going forward.

Thank you, those of you who forwarded the names of attorneys. That will be very helpful to both my former manager and myself, and possibly others.

A few things I want to make sure are crystal clear:

1. I don’t want you to worry about me (this means you, Mom and Dad!).

2. Please don’t die of curiosity. I know this is all rather vague, but depending on certain outcomes, it may not be vague for long.

3. I’m fine. Seriously, fine. I was prepared for this eventuality, and I have time now to prepare even further. So see #1

I may at some point need to hold out the tip jar. You’re under no obligation to fill it if so, but anyone who can help when that time comes will have my undying gratitude and possibly swag. I’ll do me best to make it worth your while. And I beg your patience in advance, because there may be some days when I have to neglect the blog in favor of working on this stuff. Hopefully, it won’t last long.

Wish me luck, my darlings.

The giant gavel of justice at the Ohio Judicial Center in downtown Columbus, Ohio. Image and caption courtesy Sam Howzit via Wikimedia Commons.

The giant gavel of justice at the Ohio Judicial Center in downtown Columbus, Ohio. Image and caption courtesy Sam Howzit via Wikimedia Commons.

Sign to Save Amina

So here’s a thing that shouldn’t be happening: a young woman posts a picture of herself topless with the slogan “my body belongs to me, and is not the source of anyone’s honour” has been kidnapped “for her own good” and condemned to death by a cleric who thinks boobs and defiance are terrible things to display.

There is a petition here for those who would like to inform her government that neither of these things are at all acceptable. International pressure may help protect and save her from harm.

Also, April 4th will be the International Day to Defend Amina. Maryam Namazie has many excellent suggestions for doing so.

Let’s help make this shit stop.

Image courtesy Maryam Namazie.

Image courtesy Maryam Namazie.