An Outstanding New Addition to the FtB Family

I love it when we get new people here. I love it even more when they’re as awesome as Yemisi. I’ve only just started reading her and got sucked in the first night, ending up spending far more time with her words than I’d intended. She’s one of those bloggers who grabs my mind with both hands and stretches it out beyond its well-worn little ruts. So having her here on FtB where she’s nice and easy to see every day is awesome, and I hope you’ll all drop by and say hello and welcome and enjoy her as much as I have been.

Her intro post leaves me no doubt we have a superbly strong blogger joining us:

My tagline is Proudly Feminist, Proudly Bisexual and Proudly Atheist. These tags are not things I do part time or caps I take off when things get hot, as they often do, it is simply my life.  I live it every day, every minute, actually every second with no apology.

Hopefully her archives will be live soon, and I look forward to her new material. Welcome to the network, Yemisi!

oh hai kitten

 

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!

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.

I Can’t Keep Up With the Added Awesome Anymore

We’ve added even moar vloggers. Superstar vloggers. Outstanding vloggers. This community of ours keeps growing, and keeps getting more amazing, by the day.

I’m going to have to have a discussion with my computer about this whole “I’ll only stream for so long before I kick you off the internet” thing it’s got going on lately. Because now there are videos, right here, where I can’t miss ‘em. Also, these folks blog. Regular ol’ text. Images and words and voices, oh my.

Drop by and say hello, or allo, or your greeting of choice.

Ace of Clades.

Christina Rad.

And, I know I’ve introduced them before, but figured I’d mention them again:

Zinnia Jones.

Ashley F. Miller.

 

FreethoughtBlogs Just Got That Much More Awesome

Sometimes, I have no idea what I’m doing here, and I mean that in a good way. It’s nice to blog on a network filled with so many consistently awesome people. And we’ve just added two kickass atheists to the bunch: Zinnia Jones and Ashley Miller. They’re the vanguard for our videoblogging horde. Not only do they vlog, they blog, and they are outstanding writers. With Ashley and Zinnia, I think we have achieved a majority share of awesome atheists online. And dere r moar on teh wai!

Suddenly, taking over the world doesn’t seem like an impossibility…

She’ll Make It a Country For Women

This is still kinda secret, because magic buttons haven’t been pressed in order to make her appear on the front page, but Taslima Nasreen has joined us, and she’s come out of the gate roaring. I’ll admit that I read her first post at work. I very nearly told the person who called in while I was in the middle of it to hold a minute while I finished, or at least let me read her post aloud to them so we could finish it together.

I feel like reading the whole thing to you, but you’re old and wise enough to go read it yourself. I’ll just give you a taste:

A recurrent question that is often raised claims that I have hurt religious sentiments of people. Feminism has long opposed religion; whoever has even the slightest knowledge of women’s rights knows this. Religion is patriarchal through and through. I shall follow a religion and I shall acknowledge women’s rights – this stance is akin to saying I shall drink poison along with honey. Whenever religion-motivated abuse of women has been challenged in order to wrest women’s rights, immediately the slogan “Religious sentiments must not be hurt” has been raised by those that are anti-democracy, anti-free speech, and opposed to women’s freedom. I, however, don’t refer to any kind of barbarism as culture.

Hells to the fucking yes! I wish she’d been writing when I was in college. I wish I’d had these words, from someone who is there, to give to the well-meaning folks who were all about the respecting other cultures and not judging because that’s like totes imperialistic. I think my Women’s Studies teacher might have got it. Quite a few of the rest of them might have, too. Respecting different ways of living is all lovely, and diverse cultures welcome, but respect for those differences does not and should never extend to shrugging off oppression and violence by saying, “Well, it’s their culture, and we’re wrong to judge.” I wish I’d understood that back in my early twenties.

Thanks to amazing and courageous people like Taslima, I’m starting to get it.

So go read her post.

And maybe also this interview, in which so much territory is covered that I can’t really sum it up, but includes this bit on exile that has haunted me since I read it:

People ask why I don’t stay in Europe. In India, I am in a familiar place. (Points to a tree outside the window) I know the trees; I have grown up watching the same trees in Bangladesh. People won’t understand this… For someone who has lost her home, it means a lot. That’s why I feel at home in Kolkata.

With Taslima Nasreen, FtB has just leapt a megaparsec forward in awesomeness.

The Obligatory Introductory Post, or “Just Who the Hell Are You?”

¡Bienvenidos a mi cantina! Mi casa es su casa. Pull up one of the nice comfy chairs, and have a beer. One thing you’ll discover is that geologists are mad for beer. It’s practically a job requirement. If, like me, you’re not quite so keen on beer, I’m assured that gin and tonic is just as acceptable. So is whiskey. Or rum. Wine’s a great geological drink, as geology is so much a part of making it. Or you could – oh, hell, any sort of alcohol’s okay with this crowd. Pour your poison of choice.

Right. We’ll just let the regulars get on with kicking the new furniture, then, and have some introductions. Hullo. I’m Dana Hunter. That’s not the name on my driver’s license, but it’s the name I go by in all situations aside from my workplace and among family members, who haven’t quite figured out that the name I was born with isn’t the one I most frequently answer to. It’s gotten to the point where I’m startled when I see my birth name on something. So, call me Dana, and I’ll know who you’re talking about.

So, we know what to call each other. Now on to the important stuff.

First important thing: I’m not a geologist.

Exploring Doherty Ridge with George’s rock hammer.

Yes, that is indeed me on an outcrop, with a rock hammer. I can pass for a geologist in a good light, I’ll admit. But I’m not a professional geologist. I’m not even in school. I’m entirely amateur. Thing is, I have this love affair with rocks, and I do a massive amount of reading and research. Most of my best friends are geologists, and they send me papers and answer questions and write amazing blog posts and sometimes, when we can arrange to be in the same state, take me out and teach me how to bang on rocks. This is how a total amateur gets away with writing about geology without screwing it up utterly.

I’m a writer. I write blog posts, and I am writing speculative fiction stories, and a novel that I will somehow manage to complete, and a book on geology or two that I turn to when the fiction won’t come. I’ve been writing ever since my mother told me I was old enough to tell my own stories at the age of six, and I haven’t ever stopped. That’s over thirty years, for those of you who are curious. Not well over, but still, over.

I’m an atheist. And not just any old atheist, not even just a New Atheist, but one of those dreaded Gnu Atheists. The only use I have for religion is occasionally cannibalizing the more interesting ones for bits of myth to put into stories, and as fodder for rants. My religious friends have grown used to this, and even occasionally egg me on when I take off after a particularly egregious creationist. You’ll not see me do that quite as often as my fellow Freethought bloggers do – I’ve got other things I’m busy with – but I do love taking the metaphorical rock hammer to Flood geologists especially. Fun as that is, though, I enjoy celebrating atheism far more. Life as an atheist is gorgeous. I’ve seen both sides, you see: I was a Christian (briefly, long ago), and for a while a pagan, and an agnostic, but none of that worked. Atheism works. Life has never meant as much, been so precious or beautiful or worth living, as it has since I finally accepted I was an atheist, full stop. I wish I’d had the courage to do it sooner.

I’m a raging liberal. Got me start in political blogging, actually, and kept on with that until I ran out of new and creative ways to call Republicans fucktards. You will notice, however, that there’s a sleek, shiny implement hanging over the bar. It’s the Smack-o-Matic, and you’ll see me lovingly take it down on occasion and apply it to some deserving Con. I’d much rather blog about science and SF writing and other things that make me intensely happy, but there are times that require furious anger, savage snark, and perhaps even a touch of satire, and I’m never out of practice.

There are some people who will groan (I’m looking at you, PZ), but I own a cat. She is what convinced me to never have children of my own. If she’d been a human, I’d be one of those wretched mothers on the teevee apologizing for my serial killer offspring. She hasn’t actually killed anyone yet, though not for lack of trying. However, she’s beautiful and sometimes disgustingly cute, and I love her beyond measure and blog about her on occasion. Consider yourself warned.

I, along with Ed Brayton, am a ginormous Peacemakers fan. I blog about them sometimes, too. They are my favorite band, and I will sound like a hopeless fangirl, but if you come along with me to one of their shows, you’ll probably not emerge without at least a deep fondness for them, so you’ll forgive me for it one day. The title of this blog, in fact, comes from one of their shirts. In tequila is truth.

That’s one thing that threatens my atheist cred – I practically (I say, practically) worship them. The other threat is Doctor Who. Steven Moffat, people. That’s all I’m saying, and those of you who love the show will know exactly what I mean.

Last but not by any means least, I am a woman. I sometimes write about things pertaining specifically to women, and I’m way past the age where I think we’ve won all the battles and misogyny’s harmless and cute. If that’s something that threatens your sense of self, this is not going to be a comfortable cantina for you. For those interested in creating a world where women and men are on equal footing, you’ll be right at home.

Right, I think that’s enough babbling about myself. I want to take a moment to tell you about my regulars: they are incredible people, a wise and wonderful mix of geologists and bloggers and science geeks and political junkies and atheists and writers and incredible people who make me want to be the best blogger I can possibly be because they deserve nothing less. Without them, my world would be a far smaller, much duller place, and I wouldn’t be writing this right now. Raise a glass to them, my dear new readers, and join me in saying, “Salud!”

Then raise another glass to the incredible folks at Freethought Blogs who inflicted me upon you brought me on board: Stephanie Zvan, whose writing brings me to tears, elevates me to heights of joy, and brings on a nice righteous outrage – sometimes in the same post. PZ Myers, who got me started on this whole science blogging thing and helped me over the threshold from agnostic to atheist. Ed Brayton, who’s not only one of my favorite political and religious idiocy bloggers, but is a fellow Peacemakers fan. Ophelia Benson, who has introduced me to subjects I never thought about and made me care intensely about them. Jason Thibeault, who is not only a fabulous writer but a genius at making this whole migration thing painless. Raise a glass to everyone at Freethought Blogs, those glorious freethinkers who are making this world a better one, one post at a time.

And raise a final round for yourselves. Without you, my dear readers, these words would be nothing more than pixels on a screen. If I ever write something that inspires you, touches you, moves you, just remember: without you, it would be a lonely echo in a void. People like to think writing is a solitary art, but they’ve just failed to notice that magnificent audience, reading and engaging and egging the author on. You lot, you’re marvelous. Don’t ever forget that.

Are we suitably intoxicated? Right. On with it, then. ¡Vámonos!

A Welcome to New Readers and Paeans to the Old

Oh, my.  When one gets linked by PZ Myers, Maria Dahvana Headley, and Neil Gaiman in the course of a few days, traffic suddenly goes through the roof, and new readers show up.

Allow me to quote Rowan Atkinson: “My god, there are a lot of you.”

Let me just state this clearly and upfront: you are the reason writers write, and I’m incredibly grateful too see you all here, whether you’ve come for a single post or plan to stick around a while.  Without you, I’d have nothing to drive me onward through those lonely dark hours, no reason to strive for the right word in the right place at the right time.  I’d still write for only myself, but not half so much or half so well.  So, thank you.  I’d pour you a drink of your choice, only we’re in cyberspace, so I’m afraid you’ll have to pour one for yourself.  Hopefully, some of us will remedy that someday.

So, introductions would seem to be in order.  You’re very likely busy people without time to delve the archives.  A few facts, then:

I’m Dana Hunter, which isn’t the name on my drivers license but is the name I go by in all situations but legal transactions and at work, so I consider it my “real” name.  I started out using it because my birth first name got filched by one of my characters, who won’t give it back, and my last name is awesome but leads to horrible retail jokes.  And Dana Hunter is now more than a ‘nym, but me.  But if you really want to know my original name, I’ll tell it to you when we meet in the physical world, and you will probably laugh.

Those wanting the story behind the ‘nym, see here.

I have a homicidal cat.  If you stick around, you will be subjected to pictures of her.  Fair warning.

I’m not a professional geologist, but a passionate amateur with a lot of friends who are professional geologists.  I write about geology a lot.  I live in the Pacific Northwest and came from Arizona, which both have the kind of geology that leaves you awestruck by the magnitude of it.  But that’s not the only science that catches my fancy, so you’ll see bits on biology and chemistry and physics and whatever else grabbed me by the lapels and said very firmly about an inch from my face, “NOTICE ME.”  I research my posts as thoroughly as I can and try not to say inaccurate things, but if you catch me in an error, by all means say something.  I don’t like letting mistakes stand uncorrected.

I write SF.  Someday, I will even publish SF.  Those who want an advance peek at my fiction and non-fiction projects can shoot me an email and become a Wise Reader.  Yahoo knows me as dhunterauthor.  For those in the audience who like reading about the craft, I do up a Dojo right here on ETEV every Tuesday, wherein writing is discussed and the wisdom I’ve obtained from others and via my own experience is passed on.

I’m a Gnu Atheist.  That’s “New Atheist” to those without a sense of humor.  I am not fuzzy and accommodating to religion, but if you’re one of the faithful and your religion is tough enough to take it, we’ll all be fine.  This is just by way of fair warning (which the folks who arrived here via Pharyngula don’t need): I write about atheism and religion, and I do not do so moderately.  Oh, and I’m a liberal Democrat.  I started out as a potty-mouthed progressive political blogger and sometimes return to my roots.  If those two things don’t scare you away, then we’re a good match. ;-)

I read each and every comment on every post, but with two book projects, this blog, a full-time job that has nothing to do with either, an erratic but existent social life, a weird paranoia that acknowledging one person means I’ve just disrespected the others, time management skills that can only be described as teh suck, and the memory of a brain-damaged gnat, I don’t respond as often as I should.  I’ll try to do better, but I can make you no promises.  Just know that I do actually appreciate each and every comment.  Live for them, actually.

Right, I think that’ll do as an overview.  Now on to the really important matters: the readers and fellow bloggers who have been here for a long time.

If I tried to get specific, I’d miss some of you and feel horribly about it.  So I won’t try just now.  You know who you are, and you know I’m talking to you right now: all of you geobloggers, my long-time Twitter tweeps, my intrepid companions and my cherished commenters and friends.  All of you who have been there mixing it up in the comments threads and saying things on Twitter that make me tear up while punching the air, because to have done something that made you happy, to have written something you liked, is the ultimate.  You know how much I love my cat, but if some freakish circumstance forced me to choose between you and her, I’m afraid she’d have to go.

You’re everything I ever wanted when I began writing, all alone, oh so many years ago.  You are the wise and the wonderful people, so often smarter or kinder or more talented than me (or all three), who somehow yet find something of worth in the words I write.  You egg me on and lift me up and apply the judicious prod to the buttock when necessary.  You correct me when I’m wrong, and give me sound advice, and cheer and jeer and basically just provide me all the reason I’ll ever need to brave carpal tunnel and all the other hazards of the writer’s life.  You make me believe that this whole writing-for-a-living thing may just be possible.  And you show me wonders.  You give me intriguing new paths to explore.  You inspire me.  You make me do things I’ve never done but turn out to have been a fabulous idea.  A lot of you ends up in what I write, and a lot of what I write is for you.

Without your links and retweets and recommendations, this blog would be nowhere.  I cherish each and every one.  I’m always astonished and flattered and incredibly grateful when you deem something I’ve written as worthy of sharing.

And if my wildest dreams come true, and fame and fortune are achieved, I will never, ever forget you.  You’re all coming with me.

It can never be said enough: Thank you.  Thank all of you.

And now, introductions and paeans achieved, I shall get on with giving you all the very best I am capable of, because you damn well deserve it.

One More Night

Nightwish best expresses my sentiments tonight:

One more night to bear this nightmare.
What more do I have to say?


Ocean Soul – Nightwish

You know what nightmare I’m talking about.


Let no locked doors thwart George W. Bush as he gets the hell out of our White House. In fact, let’s make sure there’s doorkeepers standing by, just in case.


Thank you, President Obama, for ending the nightmare. Come on in.


You can laugh a lot
And bring out that smile

For now we’re hanging in
Even though we’re blessed with sin
You make my heart…
You make my tired heart sing


Tender Trip on Earth – Tristania

As ridiculous as it sounds, you do indeed make my tired heart sing. And judging from the evidence, I’m not the only one.