It’s Also Geek Pride Day. I’m Geeking Out On…

…This amazing Mount St. Helens Lidar image.

Image is a LIDAR view of Mount St. Helens. With all the trees stripped away, the various volcanic deposits and stream incisions are wonderfully clear.

Mount St. Helens lidar
by Vivian R. Queija/USGS.

Oh, people! Those flows! If you look closely (which is far easier if you download the pdf file), you’ll notice the drastic difference in texture between the young, pyroclastics-rich north and the older south side with its stubby flows. Oh so delicious!

I never would’ve appreciated Lidar before moving to the Pacific Northwest. Up here, having a technology that can look past trees is priceless. This is so neato! And yes, I literally drooled when I saw the full file available for download.

What are you geeking out on?

Some #Gamergate Links Hand-Selected for the Curious

A lucky few folks have heard the word GamerGate, but have no idea what it is. If they’re anything like B, they’re getting curious, and would like some links about it. They may even have a feminist friend who’s made their eyebrows rise to their hairline with stories about the shit GamerGaters get up to, like driving women from their homes with death and rape threats.

But, y’know, they may also have heard rumors that it’s actually about ethics in video game journalism.

Image shows Dr. Evil doing air quotes. Caption says "#Gamergate is about 'Ethics in journalism'"

I collected several select links at B’s request. Then I figured B probably wasn’t the only person in the universe who wants said select links. So I offer them to the internets at large, plus some explanatory verbiage, knowing I risk having a bunch of angry GamerGaters appear in my social media. They can howl their lungs out, if they like: that only gives me ammunition.

Right. So, let me let other folks introduce you to the raging bunch of misogynist shitstains who hide behind ethics figleafs in order to viciously attack women. [Read more…]

“This isn’t their problem, guys. It’s ours.”

Comic-Con, mecca for geeks, reflects geek culture – and that includes the harassment (h/t). This isn’t the only event that’s put geeks harassing women who are also geeks in the spotlight recently, but it’s one of the biggest. It’s also seen a cosplayer brutally attacked.

Sexual harassment and misogyny are huge problems in fandom, as evinced by the above. So now seems like a good time to share this bit I’ve been meaning to highlight from Andy Khouri’s Fake Geek Guys: A Message to Men About Sexual Harassment. [Read more…]

Nonsense Handily Diagrammed in a Variety of Languages

This is one of those things that every skeptic should have handy at all times. Happily, there are t-shirts (use the drop-down for a variety of styles, including women’s. Yay different styles and colors!).

Anyway, here’s the diagram:

Shamelessly filched from the Reason Stick.

Shamelessly filched from the Reason Stick.


 Visit the link, and you’ll find one in Croatian, one in Italian, one in Spanish, and another that includes conspiracy theories. I bloody love this thing! I’ve gone ahead and ordered one on a snazzy shirt. I’ll post a picture of me strutting round in it when I get it. Should I wear it to one of the local fundie churches and bring my Skeptic’s Annotated Bible? Or would that be too obvious?

Skepticism 101: How May Skepticism Be of Service? Plus Pictures!

Pictures or it didn’t happen, right? At last we have photographic evidence of the awesomeness that was the Skepticism 101 panel at GeekGirlCon, courtesy of the woman who brought Nerf guns to work and, in general, ensures I do not stab myself in the heart with my pen at work. A round of applause for my good friend Caeli Kane, otherwise known as Starspider, ladies and gentlemen. And another for her snazzy new DSLR, if you’d be so kind.

Skepticism 101 panel, from near to far: Valerie Tarico, Meg Winston, a sliver of Jen McCreight's noggin, Amy Davis Roth, moi, and our delightful moderator Case.

That’s some serious Seattle star power right there.

So we’ve had a chat about what is skepticism, and talked about popular pseudoscience. Let us continue ever onwards, and I answer a rather personal question put to each panelist: how has skepticism helped you?

[Read more…]

So Sorry to Disappoint

My first foray into the realm of public humiliation was a great big flop on the humiliation front, but happily completely successful in the not-dribbling-on-myself front.

I should begin by saying I love the concept of GeekGirlCon. I love a sea of women with a few islands of men getting together to celebrate all things geek. I wish I’d known about it sooner, that it hadn’t happened the weekend a certain popular phone launched and thus closed the vacation calendar, and that I hadn’t already promised I’d attend Frankenstein. I only got to attend the panel I was on, and then we had to skedaddle rather than dawdle. Next year, I sincerely hope, will be different. And I think I shall assemble a costume.

As it was, my poor long-suffering coworker and dear friend and I rousted ourselves out of bed at an obscene hour (we are nocturnal) and raced down to the Con, arriving at ten-thirty. Plenty of time, we thought. We found parking. We went in search of the Con. We discovered that Seattle Center is utterly enormous when you think you know where you’re going but really don’t and nobody at the main entrance has any idea such a thing as GeekGirlCon is taking place.

[Read more…]

Our Vulcan President

Ladies and gentlemen, the evidence that Barak Obama is, in fact, a Vulcan, despite his penchant for flashing beaming grins.

Exhibit A, which is evident in his every speech and appearance, and thus needs no link: his preternatural calm.

Exhibit B: His ability to flash a Vulcan salute.

And Exhibit C: His response to inane questions about public plans driving private plans out of business:

I believe it was David Jackson, from USA Today, who suggested to the president this afternoon that a public health care option would “drive private insurance out of business.” I thoroughly enjoyed the Obama’s response.

“Why would it drive private insurance out of business? If private insurers say that the marketplace provides the best quality health care; if they tell us that they’re offering a good deal, then why is it that the government — which they say can’t run anything — suddenly is going to drive them out of business? That’s not logical…”

Pure Spock, that is. And you know something? It’s fantastic to have a Vulcan in charge, especially after the last eight years of Tweedledum and Tweedlevil.

Others have compared Obama’s remarks to Spock, but none of them created a clip. This means that instead of filching one, I had to create my own:

Live long and prosper, Mr. Sp – er, President.

(Tip o’ the shot glass to and the unwitting fools at, who respectively supplied sound and image.)

Look, You Snide Son of a Bitch…

…I’m sorry if the only comics your mommy let you read were Richie Rich and Archie, but before you go hating on comic book fans, you might want to get to know a few. You know, like your fucking president.

What a dumbfuck:

The New Yorker‘s Anthony Lane, in his review of “Watchmen,” casually dismisses comic-book fans as “leering nineteen-year-olds” who fear “meeting a woman who requests intelligent conversation.” Adam Serwer offers a welcome response.


I’m not going to argue with Lane over the quality of a film I haven’t seen, but I really find it hard to understand why comic book fans are the subject of such persistent abuse. You’d think we clubbed baby seals for a living or perhaps sold sub-prime mortgages. The unbridled contempt for people who like comic books reaches something close to the feelings people have for parking cops and tax collectors.

Comic book nerds can count Barack Obama, Rachel Maddow and Patrick Leahy among us…. Whatever Lane’s opinions of Watchmen’s source material, comic books are the closest thing Americans have to folktales, and their content is about as close as a reflection of American cultural identity, for good or for ill, as we have. You’d think that for that reason alone, the material and its consumers would be worth at least a minimum of respect.


As it happens, right around the time Adam was posting his defense of comic-book readers everywhere, Matt Yglesias (comic-book reader) referenced a remark by Ana Marie Cox (another comic-book reader) about Watchmen and contemporary politics, which Matt then expanded on to make a point about Cold War policy towards Russia.

It’s almost as if comic books have something compelling to offer to those who aren’t socially-awkward teenagers.

Which you would’ve known if you’d ever bothered to read one, you lackwit.

Observe what Watchmen has to teach us. In a post entitled “What Obama Could Learn from Watchmen,” Yglesias relays the following:

Ana Marie Cox does a webchat for The Washington Post:

Singapore: Obama likes comics; can he learn anything from Watchmen?

Ana Marie Cox: We can all learn something from the Watchmen. Personally, I hope he repeals the law against costumed vigilantes soon.

More seriously (tho not totally so), I think Cheney and Bush modeled their presidency on Ozymandias.

Watchmen was written during the Thatcher and Reagan years, when it seemed the whole world was going batshit insane (subsequent myths notwithstanding). Nonfiction books on politics don’t achieve the level of discourse this comic does. It’s one of those things that shows us how our world really works by holding a mirror up to it and watching while we recoil in horror, and then edge closer in fascination. We’re in 1984 territory here. And yes, if you’ve never read it and you’re wondering, Ozymandias is an excellent analogue for Bush. Both of them did horrific things with a relentless sense that they were right and good. Both of them seemed incapable of introspection. And both of them suckered people in by appearing heroic at the outset – although in Bush’s case, it took a nation too shell-shocked by 9/11 to think so.

Social commentary? Relevance? Meta-themes? Oh, it’s got it, in spades.

So look, you pissant little wretch of a reviewer, before you uncap your pen again and make an absolute ass of yourself by hating on those who have better reading comprehension skills than you, try actually reading some comics. Hang out in the comic store on New Comic Wednesday. Chat up the people who’re coming in for their fix… shit, no, on second thought, don’t. It’s always sad when someone who thinks they’re all that and a box of pet rocks gets taken off at the knees by those with superior intellect. Wise yourself up first. Read Watchmen, read these, and then maybe you’ll understand that the Comics Code Authority stopped castrating comics a long fucking time ago.

But I’m not holding out much hope for you. Someone who apparently didn’t both to watch Watchmen before reviewing it is probably far beyond rescue.