Attention Washington Peeps: Lawyer Recommendations Needed

Some of you may be aware that all is not happy families at my place of business. Now the family is broken, because they decided to fire my manager. Yes, the one who stood by his employees. Yes, the one who had just filed an ethics complaint. And yes, they did it for a reason that is very close to blatantly illegal, if not right over the line.

My manager is, shall we say, exploring options in pursuing legal remedies . He’d like your assistance in finding the right person for the job. Let me know if you’re an employment attorney licensed to practice in the state of Washington, and enjoy the challenge of taking on well-known multinational companies. If you’re not an attorney but have recommendations, we’re all ears. Send your info to dhunterauthor at yahoo.

Thank you for your help!

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.

Crowdsourcing Foundational Freethinkers of Color

Here’s a sad fact: my shelf of pre-1930s freethinkers is overwhelmingly white, male, and Western (WMW). They’re excellent thinkers, of course, but variety is the spice of life. Not to mention, I know that not all freethinkers were WMW. The problem is this: there have been too many periods in history when WMW opinions were widely appreciated, so anyone not fitting that description was essentially shunted off to the side, ignored by all but a fringe.

I’m tired of them being ignored. I certainly don’t want to be part of the problem. And I don’t want to miss important freethinkers because I’m relying on randomly-Googled lists rather than utilizing my greatest resource: you.

So crowdsource me. Tell me about your favorite freethinkers of color. Let me know about female freethinkers I’ve missed. If you know of female freethinkers of color, that would be especially awesome: even the lists that are dedicated to people of color have very few women pre-1960s. I don’t want the ones who were there to be ignored.

Do you know of LGBTQ freethinkers from the past? I’ll take ‘em. Non-Western freethinkers? Bring them to me. Pre-Enlightenment, pre-Renaissance, from ancient days? List them. If you find a person writing atheist screeds on clay tablets, I’ll be thrilled to bits.

There are only a few criteria to keep in mind:

  1. I’m looking for freethinkers who were active prior to 1940.
  2. I want out and proud freethinkers – people who were speaking and writing on freethought, or who otherwise made their status as freethinkers clear. They don’t have to be part of any freethought movement, just people who were forthright about their freethought.
  3. Please link to any resources about them you know of – writings, recordings, biographies, etc. If there’s nothing for me to work with, it’s hard to do a proper write-up.

Now, if someone falls outside the spectrum, but you really want me to know about them, tell away. Just because I focus on the history of the freethought movement doesn’t mean I’m not interested in finding out about recent and exciting people. If there aren’t any resources online, but they exist in the offline world, that’s okay – if I have to beg, borrow and/or steal* photocopies of old books and periodicals because no one’s bothered to digitize those works, that can be done as well. It just might take longer.

If you know of super-outstanding (or even just pretty good) lists of freethinkers who fall outside the WMW spectrum, link me the links.

Let’s make Friday Freethought as diverse as possible.

Butterfly McQueen, actress and atheist. Image courtesy African Americans for Humanism.

Butterfly McQueen, actress and atheist. Image courtesy African Americans for Humanism.

*Maybe not steal – pesky moral compass and all.

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.)

Monday Music: Help a Choir Out

Some might be surprised to find out, but I sang in concert choir in high school. It was full of personalities, so to speak, and always had some drama going on. Most of us (self included) had voices of indifferent quality at best. And we were hormonal teenagers who were often too distracted to follow instructions properly, much less throw heart and soul into making wonderful music. But our director was an amazing fellow who took less-than-ideal ingredients and mixed them into magic. It was great fun. And there’s something wonderful about turning words into a rich, flowing sound that fills every cranny of an auditorium.

We could have used better outfits, though. Our men looked like cheap Vegas best men and the ladies looked like they’d just stepped out of a production of Macbeth, still holding the ladle for stirring cauldrons and cackling. New outfits weren’t in our stars, though – not a small town high school concert choir competing for microscopic funds against the football team.

So when one of our own turns out to be a member of a choir that’s looking to get new uniforms, of course I want to help! You can, too. They’re doing a sort of Latvian version of a Kickstarter, but in this case, you don’t have to donate dollars, just vote. You’ll need a cell phone, because this site texts you a code to use, and it’s in Latvian, so you’ll need RQ to guide you through, but it’s not terribly difficult.

First, a song for motivational purposes.

RQ says that’s a “Latvian epic poem about dead heroes rising again, classic Latvian choir fare and a favourite at any possible venue, no matter how badly performed – one of those songs everyone thinks they know by memory until they actually have to sing it.”

Right. That should have you warmed up a bit. Let’s move on to a “traditional Latvian song about bread and working hard to get it.” We can all identify, even if we don’t understand a word, right?

Right? Now, let’s have “Latvia’s unofficial national anthem, traditional song about going home and getting the girl – now a drinking song because it’s fun to sing off-key.” I like a song that’s fun to sing off-key, because despite the concert choir training twenty years ago, I am still better at singing off-key…

Okay, that should have you thoroughly ready to jump on a Latvian site and attempt to upvote RQ’s choir, I hope. Here’s what to do:

CLICK HERE: . The column in orange on the right – where it says ‘Valsts:’, select country of origin [ASV for Americans]; where it says ‘Numurs:’, enter your mobile (cell) number (the country code changes automatically when you select your respective location); then press the button that says ‘Saņemt kodu (bezmaksas)’. That means ‘Receive code (free)’. The site has all the usual assurances about not sharing your cell number with third parties and secure connections and all that, in case anyone’s interested. Then they’ll send you a code that you have to enter in order to vote, and when THAT happens, you’ll notice a new, empty fields with the title ‘Kods:’ will have appeared; enter the code, and hit the button ‘Balsot!’ (‘Vote!’).
Everyone who does so has my eternal gratitude, as well as an invitation to the Canadian-Latvian Song and Dance Festival in Hamilton, Canada* in 2014 (my choir are the officially invited choir from Latvia for that particular year). You can all come to the Latvian festival, which is next year, here, in Riga, Latvia, and if we have the (a) house by then, we might be able to put you up (if nobody minds putting up with 3 active children on a vacation :P ). It’s a small country but there’s lot of interesting things to see (including some geology that I used to think was rather boring but turns out it isn’t so much).

See? Pretty simple. Of course, when I tried, I didn’t get the text, but I have crappy pre-paid service, so your mileage will probably vary, especially if you’re in Europe.

For those who would like more music from RQ’s choir: “try . The playlist is on the right side, go nuts. I recommend, from that list, items 3, 4, 5 and 6 – just because they’re Latvian songs by Latvian composers. The others are pretty heavy, technical fare.”

Those of us who have fond memories of our concert choirs probably began salivating gently at the “heavy, technical fare” bit. Go. Vote. Listen. Enjoy! And join me in planning to get a passport and head up to Canada, if not save some pennies and get the hell over to Latvia. Geology and music, plus new uniforms we helped them get? Brilliant!


*RQ adds, “By the way, the Hamilton area has some neat geology, for some added incentive… It’s right on the Niagara Escarpment (of which the Falls are only a part), which is full of all kinds of trails and stuff, and I have no doubt that it is full of geological and other nature discoveries. :)”

O, Computer Geeks, May I Request Your Wisdom?

I’m emerging from my sickbed – well, sickchair – for a moment to request a favor from the computer geeks in the audience. Does anyone know of a simple and preferably free way to set up your television as a dual monitor? I’ve got me HDMI cable, and I’m happily playing content through the PC, but I’d like to have video playing on the teevee whilst still being able to work on the machine. Right now, what I see on the PC screen is what I see on the teevee. This makes working whilst streaming movies difficult.

I’m sure this is simple, but I’m rather muddled at the moment and don’t trust myself not to fuck it up without expert guidance. Thanks in advance!

In other news, I’ve taken this unexpected absence to discover the joys of nasal spray and contemplate the invention of a cuisine based on texture and sensation rather than taste. It’s been very exciting. Wish you were here! You would be greatly amused.

I think I just managed to sort-of smell an English muffin, and I might have detected one out of the forty or so spices in the chili soup, so I’m off for what promises to be a somewhat lively lunch. I’ll be back soon with actual, y’know, content. Just you wait ’til you see what I’ve got for the Sunday Song. You’ll never be the same again…

Info Request for GRE, Quitting Update, and Kitteh Rescue

A few items on the agenda, here.

Firstly, I’ve got a G+ friend named Craig DaGeek who is investigating the possibility of getting into grad school for geology. He could use some insight from those in the know: what’s the new GRE like? Do you know of any good study resources for it? Any info you can give him would be much appreciated. Let’s get another geology major into grad school and out in the field!

Lockwood alerted me there’s a kitteh in Sequim, WA that could use a home. Keep an eye on the comments section there if you’re interested: they may have found a place for it, but maybe not, and it would be nice to know it has several potential homes willing to take it in just in case one falls through. Lots of people have already pledged to help with vet bills and transportation. Yay, crowdsourcing!

(For those wondering why I’m not in a car to Sequim right this moment, let me just say Misha would murder us both upon arrival home. We lost the chance at a fantastic brother because she wouldn’t accept the idea of a second kitteh. I still have moments where I deeply regret not being able to keep him – he was the sweetest thing in the universe.)

On the quitting front: the dreams are fading, which makes me sad. I’m tempted to ask Dr. John if it would be safe to up the dose to bring them back! Outside of that, Chantix is beginning to work. I’ve had four cigarettes this weekend, which is unheard of for me. I went an entire phone conversation with my best friend without smoking, which hasn’t happened in over fifteen years.

The cravings still come on rather strong at times, but I can go up to 8 hours now before it gets to the point where I need to smoke a bit to allow myself to focus on other things. Some of my friends who were on Chantix said it took them three or four weeks before they were able to quit completely, so since we’re only one day into Week Three, I’m not stressing. We’ll see what happens at work tomorrow, though! After the second or third call, it’s possible I will be marching into Dr. John’s office asking if dosage can be upped. Yeesh.

My stepmother, who is undergoing quite a lot of stress, is still smoke-free. My mother is trying to quit. My father, damn him, quit over a year ago without a single patch or pill. Damn him.

We live in hope that the whole family will be non-smoking by the end o’ the year. Woot!

Right. That’s the end of the housekeeping items. Please do mention to current/recent grad students and other such denizens of academia that we’re in the market for GRE info – I want to see Craig DaGeek become Dr. DaGeek, and know we gave him a little help along the way!


Okay, Geos – We Have a Chance to Hook a 4 Year-Old On Geology

Scicurious is looking for gift ideas:

So, anyone recommend a geology starter with pretty rocks for a...4 year old? She's got this budding interest in rocks. I like to encourage.
sci curious

Anyone know of anything good? I’m a total loss when it comes to this sort of thing.

Are There Any Mineralogists in the Audience?

If so, have you ever howled at silly mineralogical mistakes in a piece of fiction? Wanna prevent me from making you scream?

I’m in the midst of worldbuilding, you see, and I’ve just come across the uncomfortable fact that I know bugger-all about minerals. I know some basics: that when a geologist is talking about a mineral, it’s not the same type of mineral your nutritionist will be yammering about. I know rocks are made of minerals, and that some minerals are commercially useful. I can, if pressed, name a few. Well, probably several. And that’s about it.

It’s pathetic is what it is.

So I’ve got this mining region. It’s got some normal aspects, and some that are decidedly not. On top of that, some mining operations take place off-world, on asteroids and suchlike. I’ve got questions piling up like tribbles. What sorts of minerals can only form on a planet like Earth? What kinds of minerals are found only in space? What are the properties of minerals? What might we be able to do with those strange outer space minerals?

If you’re a mineralogist who likes talking about minerals, and you’d like to give me a crash course, plus engage in some wild speculation, and in addition have some nifty resources you’re just itching to point an interested party to, I’m dhunterauthor on yahoo, and I’m standing by to take your email.

You could earn a bit of publicity if you like, certainly a drink, and more than likely a nice meal at your eating establishment of choice when I can make it by your neck of the woods.

And you will have the opportunity to make sure an SF writer gets it right.

If you’re not a mineralogist, but know one, please point them my way.

Thanks in advance, my darlings!

Right. I Want to Try Something.

There’s a Welsh phrase I love very much: “Like killing snakes.” Means “very busy.” I’m like killing snakes right now. The start of the Winter Writing Season is always like throwing a grenade into the middle of my life, and this time, I decided to go nuclear, what with starting the Geokittehs blog with Evelyn, joining Freethought Blogs, offering to do some of the social media work for Burien Little Theatre, and participating in the Skepticism 101 panel at GeekGirlCon. And I’m not going to tell you the major cell phone carrier I work tech support for, but I’ll put it like this: we’re getting the iPhone 4s, which means they’ve closed the vacation calendar, opened up overtime slots, and are basically expecting us to be like killing snakes at a snake farm in which some mad strange person has been giving the snakes fertility drugs.

As I said, busy.

And that won’t leave as much time as I like for in-depth research for meaty geology posts. Not that we won’t have meaty geology posts. We will, at least a few. I’ll also be highlighting my beloved geobloggers as the weeks go by, because they deserve to be known and you’ll be happy to know them. But I’ll also need topics I can do as a hit-and-run. Which brings me to a somewhat pathetic cry for help.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to provide me with quotations. I loves me some quotations. Give me your favorite geology and/or science quotes. Bring me the ones that inspire you, get right down into the core of you and light a bright little fire. And what I shall do with those quotes is use them as a jumping-off point for posts. Who knows what will come of them? Who knows what I will make of them? Only way to find out is to place them in my hands and see where they take us.

But that’s not all!

Perhaps there’s a subject you’d like me to pontificate about. Perhaps you’d like my opinion on some matter. Perhaps you’d like to show me something outrageous and see if it gets up my nose far enough for the Smack-o-Matic to come off the wall. Believe it or not, I’m not nice all the time. You might like me when I’m angry. You can have a look through the archives, now that our own Jason Thibeault has managed to migrate them over, and see. I figure a good rant’s like a brisk run: good for the blood on occasion. We might want to engage in one at some point.

And if you have pictures of some very delectable geology you’d like to throw my way, I could do up a nice showcase of same. Perhaps you want to tell me a little about your field work, or a particular bit o’ geology you know and love. Write me up a paragraph or two, send me a photo, and we’ll display it here. Yahoo knows me as dhunterauthor. I’m not at all hard to find.

That should maintain this establishment’s reputation for quality whilst I’m also engaged with trying to lock some fiction into a full nelson and get it pinned to the page.

Thank you in advance, my darlings, for your kind assistance.

And while we’re on thanks, go over and show Jason some love. He worked his heart out getting the archives online here, whilst he was also responding to others’ pleas for help, and he deserves a tanker truck full of his preferred beverage. Muchas gracias, Jason!

While We Wait for the Carnival to Come to Town…

Due to a breakdown, one of our sideshows is coming in late, so Ye Olde Accretionary Wedge #34 Addendum won’t be up until later today or tomorrow.  It will be worth the wait.  And if you missed the first go-round but have something you’d like to submit, please do feel free!

Due to a breakdown in my mad time management skillz, I haven’t got anything to fill the gap.  And I’ve got five hours of hard writing ahead, which means I can’t whip up anything brilliant.  So I’m going to ask your input instead.

Y’see, I’m fast running low on quotes for Cantina Quote o’ the Week.  And I figured, rather than scouring the intertoobz for more quotes, I’d invite you, my darlings, to submit your own favorites.  Anything you like.  I can’t promise I’ll use them, but I’d love to see them all.  I likes a good quote, me.

And now, ’tis time for a quote from my best friend: “I’m off – and I’m leaving, too.”

See ye at the sideshow.