The Doxxing of Isis: Selected Links – UPDATED

There are few worse sins in cyberspace than outing a pseudonymous blogger. It’s barely forgivable to do it to someone who was using their pseud to break the law. Doing it to one who did nothing worse than harshly criticize you is roughly equivalent to the Unforgivable Curse. Henry Gee, an editor at Nature, apparently saw a few posts and the occasional sideswipe on Twitter as terrible persecution. I hope to contact Henry and get evidence of this defamation, persecution, and bullying very soon, as I was unable to discover any in several days of Googling. Certainly, it must be severe in order to justify giving a woman’s meatspace name to the public, therefore opening her private life to all of the lovely death threats, rape threats, and endless harassment enjoyed by women everywhere on the intertoobz. Would a white man with power punch down at a woman of color without suffering a campaign of harassment that would put Rebecca Watson’s stalkers to shame?

I wish I could say I think not. But perhaps he’ll surprise me. I live in (cynical) hope.

Whilst I search for evidence of this terrible persecution that was so, so horrible he had a right – nay, a duty – to dox a mouthy woman uppity female critic, I thought I’d share some recent musings on the situation. If you know of ones I’ve missed, please do include them in the comments.

And Nature? After at least three spectacular fails when it comes to the way your hallowed pages and your editors treat women, I’d be seriously reconsidering what one must do in order not to behave as raging sexist assclowns. I will here simply point out that two of the three incidents infuriated women in science and their allies involved your esteemed Henry Gee, and leave it at that. Also, I see Henry’s Twitter page was somehow tragically lost. If you need its contents from the time of the incident in question, I have preserved them.

On with the linkage, then…

Isis the Scientist: Be Not Afraid… Wherein Isis discusses her outing by Henry Gee, and explores its optics and possible consequences.

Pharyngula: Oh, Henry. In which PZ adds his caustic two cents.

Biological ANthropology Developing Investigators Troop: Outing Dr. Isis: A retaliation of consequence by a Nature editor. Wherein we are advised that we should not poo-pooh this incident as “just happening online.”

Balanced Instability: On bullying and being outed. In which Gerty Z discusses why being outed is being bullied, and how damaging it is.

Jezebel/Groupthink: Do people know about Nature editor doxxing a science blogger? Oh, dear. Looks like this misstep’s gonna make it out of the sci-com community… whoops.

Tobias Buckell: Dear Mr. Gee: you don’t punch down. In which the propriety of an editor of one of the most prestigious science journals in the world outing a young university scientist of color is explored.

DrugMonkey: The protection afforded by pseudonyms depends on the community. In which community standards are discussed. Hint: they do not include outing pseuds.

Supernova Condensate: We must not tolerate this and An addendum. In which both doxxing and behaving like assclowns towards women is strongly discouraged.

it is NOT junk: On anonymity in science and on Twitter. In which a former target of Dr. Isis’s wrath explains why he’s grateful she nailed his ass under a pseud.

FrogHeart: Is it Nature or is it Henry Gee? science’s woman wars continue (or start up again). A battle-weary soul takes Henry Gee to the woodshed, whilst wishing that woodshed doesn’t have to be used so damned often.

 

UPDATED LINKS 1/23/2014

Popular Science: Why Did This Top Science Journal Editor Expose A Blogger’s Pen Name? Title says it all, really.

Respectful Insolence: On “Orac,” Isis, pseudonymity, and anonymity. This post was perfect in nearly every particular, and a welcome, happy surprise.

NPG: Statement from Nature. Oh, Nature. Nature, Nature, Nature. This is a step, but… you’re still so very, very far from getting it. Step one: this isn’t something that just happened, it was something one of your editors did. Sigh.

Pharyngula: Henry Gee is gently, delicately, softly chastised. In which PZ explains how Nature done fucked up. Again.

The End Of The Pier Show: Reflections On This Weekend’s Events. Henry apologizes. Not perfectly, and amusingly under a pseudonym, but I’m going to hold out a tiny sliver of hope that this will be the beginning of Henry Gee finally coming around. Sometimes, it happens. Sometimes, it takes fucking up hugely, harming people in the process, to realize you’re not the person you wish to be, and to change. And while I’m fairly positive my tiny sliver of hope will be ground to powder and then set on fire, and then nuked, I’m not going to crush it preemptively. I’ll have some possibly helpful advice later for you, Henry, and good on you for taking this step towards being a better human. Just remember: nobody owes you a damn thing. And some people won’t accept your apology, not one iota of it, and don’t owe you the benny of the doubt. Step one in being a better human is realizing and accepting that.

 

unacceptable

And, last and very much least, Larry Moran gets to stand as the example of the (mostly) White Doodz Who Don’t Get It. Look, you little fucks: women, minorities, and other less-powerful folk have many and good reasons for shielding their identity. They would prefer not to have other Clueless White Fuckers like you google their name while, oh, say, researching them for a job, and find their name linked to their ‘nym by some asshat, which in turn is linked to some pointed things they said to Clueless White Fuckers, which might cause you to dismiss them outright as being Not The Right Type. Among other reasons. (The wishing to avoid threats of rape, death, and having raging asswads show up at their door to deliver a little comeuppance at two in the morning is also a favorite reason to be a ‘nym. There are ten thousand others.)

Let me repeat for the terminally hard-of-thinking: A ‘NYM IS NOT AN UNKNOWN.

And a huge, ginormous thank-you to all the dudes who’ve got, I mean, really, got it. There was an encouraging number of you out there. Thank you for taking the time to understand the lives of people without your advantages, and act. You are awesome and give me (non-cynical) hope.

In a future post, I will highlight posts that took Nature to school over the previous bout of dumbfuckery. And if Henry Gee decides to speak with me in regards to this incident with Dr. Isis, I will be happy to publish that exchange.

Full disclosure: I also blog at Scientific American, which is part of the Nature Publishing Group. The views expressed in this post are my own.

Summer Reading That Will Give You the Secrets to Conquering Missionaries

I can’t wait for the Mormon missionaries to show up at my door again. Usually, I don’t have the patience to deal with people trying to sell me religion – I’ve got kittehs to play with, rocks to pound, posts to write, food to savor… Who wants to spend a glorious summer afternoon arguing religion with two scrubbed (in mind and body) young people when you could be lounging on the patio with book, cat, and drink?

Me!

After two books and a website, I’m eagerly scanning the horizon for those poor innocent folks. I might even invest in two extra patio chairs so we can lounge outside with the Book of Mormon, the cat (granted neither are allergic), and drinks (non-alcoholic, of course. See – I can be accommodationist, too!).

“Dana!” I hear you cry in my vivid imagination, “what can possibly lead to such a dramatic change?!”

I shall tell you. What’s more, I shall arm you with fascinating, often funny, reading, and questions guaranteed to make missionaries sweat more than the weather warrants.

Dwindling in Unbelief masthead, via the DiU blog.

Dwindling in Unbelief masthead, via the DiU blog.

It began because Steve and Phillip Wells are Blogging the Book of Mormon. They’re brave people. I haven’t attempted to read the BOM since our badass cat – you know, the one who could catch jackrabbits twice her size on the hop – took a serious dislike to it.* Look, when my mama cat tells me not to do something, you think I’m gonna argue? Kitteh knows best!

Besides, as the Doctor would say, it’s not holy writ – it’s atrociously writ. The ingredients list on a shampoo bottle is better than that book: it’s (probably) non-fiction and teaches me interesting words, plus some chemistry. The BOM causes my Inner Editor to have a complete nervous collapse, which process is painful to witness. Who wants to suffer all this? So I’m grateful to Steve and Phillip, who are sparing us much agony.

Thanks to them, I can now have a somewhat in-depth discussion of the BOM up through most of Mosiah. I can ask questions about things like how fast ancient Hebrews can walk**, and why God likes the phrase “and it came to pass” so much. I can explain that one of the reasons I’m having a hard time abandoning my atheism is that I can’t believe any god could be such an awful writer. And I can give them a handy URL (http://dwindlinginunbelief.blogspot.com/2010/07/blogging-book-of-mormon.html) to visit showing them how their holy book appears to skeptics. Heck, if I’m feeling really ambitious, I can direct them to the Skeptics Annotated Book of Mormon, lovingly edited by two brave blokes blogging the BOM.

It’s kind of like if MST3K did holy books. Hilarious!

But that’s pretty skeptical stuff, and only super-useful if a) the missionaries are already wavering in their faith and just need a loving push off the fence, or b) I want to see how long it takes to make the pair of them run away screaming. It’s a great way to read a really fucking stupid religious screech screed, but doesn’t give me the real dirt. You know, the stuff you can only learn by investigating the “making of” a religion.

The Mormons book cover via Goodreads.

The Mormons book cover via Goodreads.

Enter The Complete Heretic’s Guide to Western Religion: the Mormons, by David Fitzgerald. ZOMG, you guys! Now, mind you, I’ve been subjected to an hours-long rant about the fraudulicious origins of Mormonism by an enraged ex-Mormon who’d become ex by engaging his brain, and I’d picked up more bits and pieces hither and yon, but this book packages the juicy bits with premium snark. Like so:

So despite all FAIR’s [Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research] smug assertations, it would appear the Book of Mormon’s ancient Nephites had, in fact, not a barley-based, but bullshit-based economy.

Oh, snap. (By the way, barley didn’t show up in the New World pre-Columbus. You might want to ask your anxious young religious salespeople what God did with all the archaeological evidence of these ancient civilizations. Then, after they’ve stumbled through an answer on that, ask ‘em why God mucked up all the Native American DNA.***)

David’s book was as informative as it was entertaining. He’s got great useful factoids like the weight of the mysterious “Golden Plates.” Joseph Smith’s first wife Emma must have been superpowered, because she could lift the box they were in with one hand whilst dusting. Thing is, the buggers weighed more than 198 pounds (50, if God was a cheap-arsed barstard and let his scribes use mere gold-plated plates). I can’t wait to ask about things like that. And the discrepancies in Mormonism’s foundational stories (Jo Smith couldn’t keep his lies straight, poor bugger). And I’ll want to know why there’s so many corrections to “the most correct book on Earth” (62,000 words added or deleted, for instance). And so much more!

The whole book is a rollicking good read, but the most valuable chapter of all is Chapter 14: Talking to the Ex-Mormons of the Future – Today! This was like getting special Mormon-spectacles. They and their bizarre belief system had been sort of fuzzy and out of focus, despite growing up with Mormon friends. Now they’re in better focus. I never quite knew quite how sheltered, terrorized, and lied to, not to mention programmed and brainwashed, the poor things were. Chapter 14 gives excellent advice on how to talk to missionaries. That was worth the price of the book right there. And it quotes our own Greta Christina‘s fabulous Why Are You Atheists So Angry? Awesomesauce! There’s a whole list of things that will help you effectively talk to Mormons – and plant the skeptical seeds that may eventually help them grow out of a very destructive faith. Priceless!

But don’t stop there. Not when you can get Kay Burningham’s An American Fraud: One Lawyer’s Case Against Mormonism. Guilty!

 An American Fraud: One Lawyer's Case Against Mormonism cover art via Barnes and Noble.

An American Fraud: One Lawyer’s Case Against Mormonism cover art via Barnes and Noble.

Before I sing the book’s praises, a caveat: Kay’s a lawyer, not a writer. You will have to gird your loins (or thwack your Inner Editor over the head, slap some duct tape on their limbs and mouth, and bundle them into a closet for the duration). The first portion of the book, her autobiographical bit, does, shall we say, reveal that the author is not a polished prose professional. The flashbacks are more like switchbacks that include several detours, a blizzard, and an impaired driver. Throughout, there are spelling and grammatical errors that demonstrate that a) no professional editor got so much as a glimpse of the book or b) if one did, they were also grievously impaired. The violence done to the common comma will make you weep and perhaps start a charity fund. In other words: this book will win no awards for its literary perfection.

And that doesn’t matter at all.

A flawed gem is still a gem, and a gripping story can survive an amateur storyteller. Kay gives you a raw, honest look at what it means to grow up Mormon: how even an intelligent and skeptical person can fall for a pious fraud. She kept me up all damned night – twice. And just about did for me the rest of the nights. It took a lot of self-control to keep from trying to finish in one marathon session.

Through Kay, you’ll get an inside look at super-sekrit Temple ceremonies (newsflash: they suck).You’ll see how the Church’s misogyny destroys women. You’ll learn why Utah is among the psychiatric medicine industry’s best customers. You’ll learn what it takes to break free of a lifetime of indoctrination. It’s harrowing.

I love the two-thirds of the book devoted to a lawyer’s assessment of the evidence against the Mormon church. You’ll discover the lengths the Mormon church’s elders have gone to in order to keep the flock ignorant. You’ll see the devastating effect the internet’s had on America’s second dumbest religion (you know what the first is). And you’ll learn how the Church could be prosecuted, without disturbing the First Amendment a bit.

This is the kind of book you mark pages in and keep by the door, ready for the missionaries’ next visit. It’s the one you go through, quoting original source material fatal to their religion, until they flee. And the beauty of it is, nearly every primary source Kay cites is or once was a devout Mormon. These are people who were privy to the secrets at the top, people who were there at the beginning, people who did their homework, desperate to restore their faith – and ended up killing it dead. These are people who are still trapped inside. All folks these poor missionary kids will find impossible to impeach. Learning this stuff may free them before they’re in far too deep to rescue themselves. And it’s certainly a book you should give to anyone in your life who’s considering converting.

So there you are. All you’ll need for a rollicking good time the next time the kids in white shirts and dark ties appear at your door. You’ll probably end up on the Church’s do-not-visit-this-house-under-any-circumstances list, but hopefully not before you’ve made inroads on church membership.

Freeing people of damaging dogma is one of the best things we can ever do. Take these keys and open some cages.

 

*One of my friends did give me the Book of Mormon once because she wanted me to understand her faith better. I tossed it on the couch and didn’t give it another thought until my big calico mama cat came in, looked at it, puffed up and hissed, walked waaaay way around it, and sat down staring me in the eye with a “What are you going to do about that evil thing?” look on her face. I trust my cats. I got rid of the book.

**The average human walking speed is roughly 5 kilometers per hour. Based on the length of time the BOM says Lehi and his family took to walk the 407km (straight line) from Jerusalem to the Red Sea, ancient Hebrew families could apparently hoof it at nearly 6 kilometers per hour, and never had to pause for food, water, restroom breaks, sleep, thorns in sandals, heatstroke, etc. for up to 72 hours. Now dat’s stamina!

***Mormons believe barley was introduced by Hebrew immigrants to the Americas long before Christ, and that Native Americans are descended from some of those immigrants. Alas for them, archaeological and biological evidence refuse to cooperate.

 

Los Links: I Laughed, I Cried, They Became a Part of Me

Some of you will remember Los Links from back in the day when I could spend two days out of every week reading blogs, and then share the linky goodness with you. Life’s been too busy for a while for that, unfortunately. It should have been too busy tonight, but my brain said, “You know what? Fuck you. I’ve been thinking all day.” War at work, y’see: fighting to make things the best they can possibly be at an American megacorporation. It’s fun, and fulfilling, but taxing.

Thankfully, I had posts written (longhand) in advance, but my wrists said, “You know what? Fuck you. We’ve been typing most of the day.” So today ended with me lying about catching up on some freethought reading. If this continues tomorrow, I can bring you a roundup of recent geology posts. I suppose that won’t be so bad, now, will it? And then, on Wednesday, you will be guaranteed an original post of near-epic proportions, because we’re going to talk about why Mount St. Helens melted some bits but not all the bits on the cars. If we’re very fortunate, we’ll end up on Boing Boing again (thank you, Maggie Koerth-Baker!). I say we, because I wouldn’t have written up cars if it hadn’t been for you lot liking things like that, and as it turns out, you’re not the only ones. So, thank you, my darlings!

It’s not all happy fun times, alas. The thing with frequenting the freethought and skeptic blogs that I do is that Things That Are Not Happy get discussed, and if it weren’t for the bloggers and commenters restoring my hope for humanity, I’d have crawled off to a cave and become an official misanthrope by now. Between all of you, though, I am not willing to declare the vast majority of human kind irredeemable arseholes. Only a subset of it. Sigh.

There will be a humorous intermission, and loving comfort at the end. Stay with me.

Almost Diamonds: When You Already Are the Middle Ground. An important read, this, reminding us that people who are screeching for some “middle ground” between “the two extremes” haven’t quite noticed that one of those “extremes” is already the middle ground they’re howling for.

Being out of patience with the whole make-peace-with-the-howling-bigots sanctimonious shits, I’d like to recommend, in a calm and even voice, that they read the above post, and then please, if it’s not too much trouble, take their sanctimonious faux-peacemaking shit and stuff it in the orifice of their choice.

Love, Joy, Feminism: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Abortion Wars. I am inspired by Libby Anne’s post about her first experience as an abortion clinic escort. I’m inspired to start walking in to abortion clinics on days when protesters are present, just so I can shout at them, “Wow, thanks! I was just coming in for an ultrasound, but your signs featuring fake dead baby parts and your religious howling has inspired me to abort instead, because I don’t want to raise my child in a world featuring you assholes!” I’d love to see their dear little faces as they tried to compute that, and whilst we were facing off, some women could hopefully walk unmolested into the clinic for their procedures.

Skepchick: Ain’t I A Skeptic? This is just… I don’t even… I’m ashamed of humanity and any feminist who would complain that a woman isn’t a good enough feminist because she chooses to stay home with her kids. This is a reminder that feminism is about a woman’s choice, not about forcing her into a different set of narrow boxes. It’s also a reminder to white feminists such as myself that there are feminists of color whose experiences are different from our own, and we cannot shut them out. Why the fuck is it so hard for people to realize that mileage varies with varying degrees of privilege?

Blag Hag: Indiana high schoolers want to ban gays from prom. And just when the clueless gits within the skeptic/atheist communities have just about turned me off from speaking out against religion, because their toxic bullshit seems more or less equally toxic, along comes religion to remind me that, no, while people can be toxic bullshit-spewing arseholes no matter their creed, religion makes people just that much more likely to spew disgusting, hateful, poisonous shit. So, um, thanks for reminding me that religion is still a force worth fighting… and if you’ll excuse me, I wish to crawl into a corner and weep for humanity before I don my fighting trousers (thank you, Avi, for a memorable phrase).

Mah new battle standard.

Mah new battle standard.

I promised you a humorous interlude, and a humorous interlude you shall have.

Butterflies and Wheels: The wot is feminism chart. Funny-sad or sad-funny that anti-feminist tropes can be made into such a humorous and apropos chart? I think we should establish a drinking game based upon it.

Daylight Atheism: Why Atheists Should Care More About Education. We already do care, of course, and not just when creationists get frisky. But there’s so much poverty, and so many lost opportunities, and so many kids who need better chances. Give a child a bible, and they can be stuffed full o’ falsehoods. Give a child a good education and a bible, and they can say, “Wait. Just. A. Minute. WTF???”

Choice in Dying: Wafa Sultan and the Position of Women in Islam. Warning: contains women-as-property, pedophilia, little boys being taught that women are nothing but property that should remain silent, animal cruelty, and a charming hadith about the kinds of nasal secretions a wife is expected to lick off her husband’s face with her tongue. I’m sure I missed some trigger warnings for various forms of horrible misogyny, cruelty and sexual violence – but hey, Islam’s totes the religion of peace, amirite?

(Deep breaths. Deep breaths. Find a happy place… ah, here we go. I hope.)

WWJTD: Boggle on mental illness and “a cry for help”. I like this muchly. Makes me want to go handing out sticks.

As originally seen somewhere on Skepchick.

As originally seen somewhere on Skepchick.

And if you’re still needing something warm and fuzzy after all that, might I suggest Cats Hugging Things? Because it’s pretty damned hard not to squee at this.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go back to avoiding absolutely everything by re-reading Marriage, a History and sniggering at all the “traditional” marriages therein.

Karen Locke, the Introduction

Hello all!  Dana claims that snagging me for an occasional guest post is a great success on her part, but the truth is I’ve been wanting a blogging outlet for a long time; I just don’t have enough to say to write my own blog (or enough time to say it).  I’m really honored that she’s taken me on.

A bit of bio: I started my professional career as a computer engineer, first designing hardware and then developing software.  I even got talked into a short stint as an engineering manager, which tried my patience almost beyond endurance.  But after a couple of decades and some in the field, just as I was getting incredibly bored with solving what seemed to be the same old problems with new technology, I actually needed to quit work altogether to take care of aging parents.  When that task was done, and my parents passed on, rather than re-invent myself as an engineer I listened to my Inner Scientist and took up studying geology.  After a lot of catch-up, I graduated with an MS in December 2011.

Due to chronic health issues, I have trouble working full-time.  However, I’ve been making beaded jewelry for years and will soon open an Etsy shop (and you all will have to endure some shameless self-promotion).

Geology is still my first love, and I’ll mostly use my blogging opportunity here to talk about geo-things that interest me.  I especially love sedimentology*, petrology, petrography, and maps and mapmaking.  But I’ll look at and listen to any rock that’s willing to tell me a story, and share those stories.

As far as family goes, I have a wonderful husband of 32 years.  We are staff to two feline boys, Rocky and Paddy.  I’ll close with photos of our masters:

 

Rocky

Rocky is a big, fat, loving, ultimate scaredy-cat.

 

Paddy

Paddy is a great lover of boxes. Yes, he only has one eye; a serious eye infection he had when he was rescued as a kitten caused the loss of one eye.

 

*Locke, Karen Marie, “Composition and Provenance of Sand from Wells, Santa Clara Valley, California” (2011). Master’s Theses. Paper 4100.  http://scholarworks.sjsu.edu/etd_theses/4100

Ode to a Caboose, the Reprise: The Story of the Iron Goat Trail Caboose

My intrepid companion (otherwise known as Cujo359) wrote a wonderful post on the Iron Goat Trail caboose. If you want to know its history, and see a lot of detailed pictures showing how various bits of a caboose work, head on over there. Hell, go even if you aren’t that interested – you might be surprised how quickly you get sucked in.

Iron Goat Trail Caboose. Image courtesy Cujo359.

Iron Goat Trail Caboose. Image courtesy Cujo359.

The comments system here hates Cujo, so he sent me a reply directly to nedchamplain’s question on the original post: “those are real metal tracks.” Indeed. And you can see photos of them putting the caboose in here. Which is awesome. There’s an excellent shot of the tracks, for them as is interested.

Cujo just got a fantastic new camera, by the way. I’m going to be dragging him all over the northwest and possibly other places next summer, and between us, I think we’ll manage some shots that’ll blow you away. If you wish to suggest places you’d like to see us visit, you may do so in comments, and we will take them into consideration. Also, for those who are interested, I’ll plan a few trips where cantina patrons can join. Feel free to leave suggestions for places you’d like to go with us!

No, Patheos, You Can’t Have These New Bloggers Either!

Huzzah, Miriam and Paul are here! And they are awesome. You should go read them if you haven’t already.

Brute Reason

Brute Reason banner, image courtesy Miriam.

Miriam does a lot of social justice, psychology, and other interesting bits. I’ll confess I’ve been spelunking her archives while I should have been doing Very Serious Work. I’m enjoying her a lot, and she’s another reason why I’m proud to be a part of FtB.

Near-Earth Object banner, courtesy Paul

Near-Earth Object banner, courtesy Paul

Paul’s blog is lovely – lots of fascinating tidbits and quotes and science. And his banner has Galileo’s stars in it. I <3 his blog!

Between the main bloggers and the co-bloggers and guest bloggers on this network, we’ve got an incredible lineup. Some days, I have no idea why I’m a part of it. Other days, I know it’s because FtB is smart enough to know it needs a resident geologist. Doesn’t every network?

And every network should have a Miriam and a Paul, but they can’t have them because they joined us. Ha ha ha suck it, Patheos! Hands off our new bloggers.

Everyone else, please give Miriam and Paul a very warm welcome, and enjoy!

For Nicole

Lockwood and I went to Avery Park for the geology, but stayed for the rose garden. I’ll have a full bouquet of roses for you sometime in the nearish future, plus one of the best bee photos I’ve ever taken. But for now, I wanted to share one very meaningful rose.

This is Nicole.

Nicole rose cultivar

A lovely Nicole rose at Avery Park, Corvallis, Oregon.

Actually, this is Nicole. We’ve been friends for nearly a decade now, ever since those halcyon days in the Death thread on the Writer forums. Nicole and I were both aspiring-to-be writers then. Now she’s a full-time freelancer, and one of my inspirations: if she can do this as a single mom with two kids, I have no damned excuses.

Nicole rose

The petals look a bit flamenco, don’t they? I love the way they whirl, and their lovely pink tips. It’s one of the only times I’ve actually thought pink looked quite lovely.

She’s one of the strongest people I know; also, one of the kindest. But she can be fierce. She’s beautiful inside and out. She is, in fact, quite a bit like the rose that bears her name.

Cluster of Nicole roses with autumn trees in background.

I didn’t expect roses to be blooming so vigorously so late in the fall, but it’s fantastic. I love these blooms against the autumn leaves in the background.

And so, this Nicole is for Nicole, with love, from her heart sister.

To Patheos, Re: Our New Bloggers

Dear Patheos,

After having seen our ranks decimated* by your network, we here at Freethought Blogs have finally recovered enough to add two excellent new bloggers: Avicenna and NonStampCollector. You probably noticed them the instant they appeared, but for the edification of others, I shall proceed to say a bit about them anyway.

Avicenna is a British medical student of Indian descent who is completing his clinical training in India. He’s genius. We folks who live and work in countries dominated by the three “great” monotheistic religions don’t know how good we’ve got it. Yes, these religions can be nasty, brutish and theocratic, but there is at least only one god** to contend with. Avicenna has to deal with a million (numeric 1,000,000 or French “holy fuck that’s a shitload of gods!”). And he does it brilliantly, while also taking on a plethora of other issues. I think he may even have sparked the beginnings of the logical evolution of Rickrolling, which in this case would be Psyrolling, or some clever word I’ve not come up with. Despite that, I’ve been enjoying his work immensely.

NonStampCollector is a superbly talented Australian living in Japan whose YouTube videos helped preserve my sanity during costume-sewing madness. He made me laugh hard enough to stab myself with a needle more than once. I now have an arsenal of videos for lobbing at literalists. Here is one:

His blog often takes ridiculous comments from his YouTube channel and skewers them mercilessly.

These are our new bloggers. They are awesome. We’re excited they’re here. And no, you can’t have them. Don’t even try.

Sincerely,

Dana Hunter

 

*For the pedants: yes, it was a decimation. We have ~30 blogs, and they took 3: Libby Anne, JT, and Dan. That’s a tenth. So shh before you start.

**Or, if you count a certain way, three. Or one god plus thousands of saints. Or 3 gods + 1,000s of saints. Still: not a million.

One of Our Best Bloggers Needs You

Greta Christina is one of the writers I respect most in the world. She recently became a full-time freelance writer, and it seems the world has been out to get her ever since. Her father died just a few weeks ago – then she was diagnosed with endometrial cancer early this week. It’s not the worst kind of cancer a person can have, and hopefully was caught early enough so it can be cured with merely major surgery, but it’s going to sideline her for a bit. And this is at the beginning of her freelance career, which means no cushion built up. And this is freelancing we’re talking about – there is no paid sick leave.

So she could use a hand. Do you want to help out? You can donate to her directly, or buy her excellent book, or recommend easy entertainment to keep her from going mad during convalescence. I’m assuming things featuring cute kittehs are priority, but please try to grade things by humor: aww cute should be fine for the first two weeks, gentle giggles for weeks 2-3, ramping up gradually to chuckles and, eventually, when healing has progressed so far, gales of laughter.

And give her love. Lots and lots of love.

Greta Christina’s head, plus kittehs. I think her body is under that pile somewhere, but it’s hard to tell from the photo. Image credit Greta Christina, from 6 Things Cat Owners Dare Not Think About on Catster.

(A note to any religious readers: please respect the fact that Greta is an atheist. Please don’t tell her you’re praying for her, that God has a plan, etc. You’re welcome to believe those things, but we don’t, and don’t find them at all comforting. Thank you for understanding.)