Ludicrous asked an excellent set of questions on a post here a bit ago, and I thought I’d take it out of comment-section obscurity and upgrade it to a post of its own:
So, you’ve got a day to visit Mount St. Helens. Huzzah! All right, if you don’t now, you will someday, quite possibly maybe, and you’ll want to know how you can do All The Things when you haven’t got much time. Never fear! In response to a request from Silver Fox, I’m putting together your very own field trip guide, which will show you things you can do in a day there, and feel you got your visit’s worth. Keeping in mind, this is a Pacific Northwest summer day and so it is very, very long.
First, download Roadside Geology of Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument and Vicinity by Patrick Pringle. You can print it out or take it on a tablet, but don’t leave home without it!
To whet your appetite, you can curl up with the field guide some weekend, and peruse these posts: Prelude to a Catastrophe: “The Current Quiet Interval Will Not Last…” and Prelude to a Catastrophe: “One of the Most Active and Most Explosive Volcanoes in the Cascade Range.”
Now that you’re wound up and ready for adventure, start up Highway 504 – Spirit Lake Highway. Crusing along with a passenger who can read bits from Pringle’s book, you’ll see quite a lot of geology even before you get to our first stop – Mount St. Helens and the Toutle River Valley have a long history. Evidence of the area’s dramatic past will pop out at you all the way along.
Optional beginning: Mount St. Helens Visitor Center at Silver Lake. For you strange people who like to get a super-early start, this is a nice place to get oriented. It’s got many lovely displays, some handy and inexpensive guide books, and a great little walk along and over Silver Lake, which was created by a lahar that dammed Outlet Creek 2,500 years ago. On a clear day, you will have a lovely if distant view of Mount St. Helens, 30 miles up the valley.
If, on the other hand, you’re driving in from Seattle, Portland or similar and arrive late in the morning, skip ahead to our first official stop.
Stop 1. Hoffstadt Viewpoint
Try to come hungry and arrive around 11 am, when the restaurant’s open – I’m not kidding when I tell you they have the absolute best ranch I have ever tasted. And you’ll want to be freshly fueled for the rest of the day. If you’re here on a warm day, you can sit out on the deck, where misters will keep you cool, and this view up the Toutle River Valley will keep your eyes happy:
We’re about 15 miles (25 kilometers) downstream from Mount St. Helens here. The Toutle River is a braided channel weaving its way through lots and lots of sediment, carrying lots and lots more sediment. If you’ve got sharp eyes, you’ll see the remains of the N-1 dam, built to retain some of that sediment. Unfortunately, it failed to retain a rather large 1982 lahar, and winter storms and floods finished off what was left of it. A new, larger, and simply awesome sediment retention structure was built later (if you’ve got time left over, you can make a short side trip over to marvel at it – delightful little walk, nice engineering, and in certain seasons, you can nibble some delicious oxalis).
The remains of N-1 mark the edge of the debris avalanche, which we will be getting to know intimately later today. But most of what you’re seeing here are older volcanics – Spud Mountain (the rather pointy peak in front of St. Helens in the above photo) and the other mountains hereabouts are far older than our active youngster – they’re around 36 million years old, whereas St. Helens clocks in at around 40,000. You’ll see the occasional bedrock outcrop. If you could get up there, you’d also find, somewhere beneath all the biology, evidence of glaciers that mantled this area, some of which came and went before the Puget Lobe of the Cordilleran Ice Sheet was so much as a gleam in the Cordilleran’s ice. River terraces reveal evidence of pre-1980 lahars that roared down from the mountain in more recent times. Put it like this: this area has a long and exciting history, one that makes reading quad map documentation epic. Not even kidding.
Once you’ve had your fill of scenery, a short wander down a trail near the Visitor Center will take you to the Memorial Grove planted in memory of the people who died in the May 1980 eruption. Don’t worry if you don’t get a chance to pay your respects here – you’ll get a second chance at the end of the trip.
When you continue on, you’ll soon be entering the blast zone….
Decker, Barbara and Robert (2002): Road Guide to Mount St. Helens (Updated Edition). Double Decker Press.
Doukas, Michael P. (1990): Road Guide to Volcanic Deposits of Mount St. Helens and Vicinity, Washington. USGS Bulletin 1859.
Evarts, Russell C and Ashley, Roger P. (1992): Preliminary Geologic Map of the Elk Mountain Quadrangle, Cowlitz County, Washington. USGS Open-File Report 92-362.
Pringle, Patrick T. (2002): Roadside Geology of Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument and Vicinity. Washington DNR Information Circular 88.
As with any collection of writings, even those chosen more for “God wants you to include this and will curse you if you don’t” rather than literary merit or storytelling chops, the Bible has a few gems of real value amongst all the religious dross. I don’t really approach it differently than any other body of mythology: I’m a writer, and I will damned well cannibalize anything. In fact, back before I was even an atheist, I had an atheist character who regularly spouted bits from the book of Revelation, and would have bopped the noggin of any one of the crowing Christians who love to scream “GOTCHA! You DO believe!” whenever he did so. Revelation spoke to him; God, not so much, and certainly less than the Norse gods. If he ever converts to anything, it will be something to do with Odin long before Yahweh gets an audition.
No, even the story he tells where Satan possesses him in an attempt to murder God while God just sits there and watches, drinking coffee, doesn’t mean he’s a believer. It means he’s a writer who knows how to use myth and powerful imagery to make a point.
I’ve become more like Chretien, as I’ve grown older. For one, I have become an atheist, and for another, I’ve fully accepted doing what I like with the Bible, just as I do Buddhist and Hindu and Norse texts. Any body of mythology is up for grabs; any stories people have told each other in order to make sense of the world and find their way in it can be powerful, and worth incorporating. And sometimes, the language is just pretty.
I do try to stay away from overtly Christian themes, however – not because they’re terrible (although sometimes they are), not because I don’t want people claiming me for Christianity (although I’m sure they’ll try anyway), but because they’ve been done. Often, they’ve been done to death. But sometimes, you can incorporate them in such a way they’re fresh and relevant, and so I’ll do that (still not a Christian, Christians). Sometimes, it’s the character who’s Christian and, when that’s the case, the Christian theme is unavoidable. And sometimes, it’s because I’ve discovered something new (to me, at least) in that terribly old book.
All of this is a long lead-up to a Thing that was going around some time ago, about atheists and their favorite Bible verses. There are several bits that I sometimes enjoy, and a lot of things that are beautifully stated (not that their equivalent can’t be found elsewhere – what a long stint in reading history and comparative mythology taught me was that nothing was original to Christ, and often I can find the equivalent said by some non-Christians in profound and beautiful ways. Sorry, Christians who like to believe God said it first and best). However, one verse has rather come to the fore, both because it’s beautiful in and of itself, and because it’s the one that springs to mind whenever I see these Good Christians™ doing things like demanding we send children away to die, or enthusiastically endorsing the death penalty. It’s the one I hope Jesus says to these disgusting little shits should that particular myth prove to be true and he comes back to whup some ass. And it’s one that turns out to be Ed Brayton’s favorite, as well:
I was a little surprised that no one offered up my favorite verse, Matthew 25:40.
Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
I have always found this to be a powerful statement of human compassion. It is the core of all moral reasoning, the idea that we must treat others well because we wish to be treated well.
That’s some powerful stuff, indeed. In context, it’s basically saying that the folks who refuse to give sanctuary to refugee children (because brown) or who advocate for the painful executions of possibly innocent people (because criminal and probably brown) aren’t getting that mansion in heaven they thought they already had the keys to. And there’s no extra credit for treating people well who looked and acted like you. That’s not difficult, after all. What’s hard is having empathy and taking care of people who are different or sick or even fuck-ups. Not all of us can live up to the standard of treating everyone well, but we should at the very least refrain from actually demanding harm.
So that’s a good verse.
The other bit I discovered recently whilst doing other things was one of the Proverbs I’d never read. Did you know that the first thing God created was Wisdom? And that Wisdom’s a woman? Well, definitely a she. Read it right here, for yourownself. I really like the final bit:
“And now, my children, listen to me:
happy are those who keep my ways.
Hear instruction and be wise,
and do not neglect it.
Happy is the one who listens to me,
watching daily at my gates,
waiting beside my doors.
For whoever finds me finds life
and obtains favor from the Lord;
but those who miss me injure themselves;
all who hate me love death.”
Of course, I’m sure my definition of wisdom is different from religious people’s definition of wisdom. But it’s a very nice thing to have in my mental pocket, that, waiting to be unloaded on someone who insists upon being an ignorant dipshit.
Now, after encountering some of the folks who spout Bible verses and expect you to repent or be damned, or who claim you’re not an atheist just because you have some money in your pocket that has “In God We Trust” stamped upon it by the government (who really shouldn’t be doing that), you may be reluctant to even look at the bloody book, much less consider any verse of it worth keeping. And I don’t blame you. There have been times when I wish we could get rid of the whole sorry lot, too. But Valerie Tarico is right, here:
As a young adult, I struggled to recover from the crazy parts of my childhood. I once had a therapist who said, “You’ll know you are independent from your parents when you can do what you want for yourself even if they want it too.” To my mind, the Bible writers are like dysfunctional parents to our whole society, parents we have turned to, collectively and individually, for guidance. but who all too often instead have caused harm or trauma. One of the ways we will know that we have truly outgrown them is when we are able to claim what we believe to be useful and beautiful, even if they said it.
Indeed. So I’m bloody well calling dibs on some good bits. You can have the other 9/10ths that are either long boring stretches of begats or a bunch of horrifying drivel, dear Christianists. And the best part is, it will probably drive you into conniptions.
In which our own RQ riffs off my Fifty Shades of Fucking Abuse post. (say something about the gender binary) The floor is hers:
I got to thinking about your post during the day, and on what it means regarding who is reading what, and what kind of reading is marketed to whom. Especially romance and/or sex-related stuff, or, hell, just books that might have sex in them somewhere.
Because all those tired housewives? What’s marketed to them? Insipid romance where the man saves the day (or is horribly abusively ‘romantic,’ right, because what woman doesn’t love a good stalker?), magazines on housewifery and how-to-keep-your-man-interested… What else? Not much – I read a pretty decent science magazine (GEO, not to be confused with NatGeo) that explicitly states in its subscription description that it is geared towards middle-income, successful men. And what is in this magazine? Well, it’s not women in any state of undress – it’s very interesting science and geography articles, with nary a nod towards ‘typical’ male interests (except in advertising, and even that – alcohol, watches, suits…). Why can this kind of stuff not be geared towards women, too? Those bored housewives who are so uninteresting to their husbands – wouldn’t this kind of thing be perfect for them? Educate themselves while gaining a broader perspective on the world (they’ve had some neat articles on transgender children and non-traditional relationships, plus a very feminist one on the role of fathers from a scientific perspective), while acquiring information useful in ordinary, daily conversation with their far more worldly husbands. Sounds great to me, so why not market it as such?
Then there are the women’s magazines, which are… well, cooking, interior design, and, on occasion, nicely dressed and fully clothed men (there was that one comparison of Hugh Jackman on the cover of men’s and women’s magazines a while back). And that’s all fine, until it’s the only thing ‘appropriate’ for married women with children, and the thought of showing a bare-chested man in a housewife magazine (YUMM) is considered racy and borderline non-permissible… Where’s the women’s equivalent to FHM and Playboy? And I don’t mean just erotic shots, I mean the intelligent interviews with the interviewee posing in his underwear as eye-candy. I can think of a few local candidate athletes who would be perfect for this.
Women, especially women in long-term, childed relationships, don’t have sexuality. Not one worth talking about, at least, except as a ‘haha I bet you never have sex’ joke. This is something that needs to die a very, very painful and quick death (I’d say slow, but I’ve had enough of slow).
And that leaves me to wonder, from whence do women get their ideas about their own sexuality, in a fairly puritanical society that deems them worthy only of having children and being satisfied only under the wing of a man?
And that is what leaves them wide open for books like 50 Shades – because, unfortunately, with all the abusive aspects of it, and the childish language (they can’t even talk dirty enough because it will hurt the sensitivities of women? what?), it does speak plainly and openly about sexual love within the bounds of a relationship. I mean, I read a lot when I was young, and my first awakenings into sexuality came through SF/Fantasy novels (Hel-lo, Lions of Al-Rassan). And then for a while I made sure that all the books I read had at least one sex scene in them, because that shit was awesome! Masturbation material! (Sorry if it’s TMI.) And it was in all kinds of books!
Which leaves me to wonder, are people really so limited in their reading choices (and more specifically, are housewives really so limited in their reading material) that they have to resort to such ridiculous trash as 50 Shades to re-awaken those feelings? To allow them to feel like sexual beings again, to let them know that it’s perfectly normal to want sex and love your body and have someone do wonderful, touchy-feely, hot things to it? Is it just the marketing this time around? Is it a lack of resources to know that, hey, having kids doesn’t automatically turn the pleasure-centres in your vagina and environs off? Because there’s so much literature out there that can get people hot and bothered – if they bothered to look at it that way. But I think I’m slowly discovering that, indeed, there’s a very narrow lane you have to walk when you’re set in a certain role, a very narrow set of interests you’re supposed to cultivate in order to be the right kind of wife/mother/girlfriend. Because the gods forbid you start having fantasies about imaginary characters or unattainable athletes or actors on-screen… Because Hugh Jackman would set a bad precedent by taking his shirt off in a women’s magazine, while being all bare-chested and manily aggressive is perfectly fine for the men to see (because that’s how they should be, too!), but there’s no reciprocating audience to accept him as such, from a sexual point of view (I feel like there’s some underlying homophobia here, too, because sexy pictures of men might be looked at by gay men, and ew, right???).
I suppose this is a rant against the dual nature of marketing towards men and women (and never mind those who aren’t straight and cis, because… well, because, right?), how men are allowed to be sexual, women are too nurturing to understand, and women who want sex for the sake of sex and pleasure are sluts and shouldn’t be treated with respect… Yes, that’s rape culture. But is it really so ingrained that it subtly limits everyone’s reading choices? That it denies such self-examination and acceptance of all of one’s self?
I’m sad to think that the answer is yes – that the only way to awaken women’s ‘lost’ sexuality is through aggressive marketing piggy-backing on the coattails of an already-terrible romance. That there’s so much beautiful, sexy stuff written out there, that would appeal to both men and women without resorting to silly cliches and harmful stereotypes of romance that doesn’t get a single note of attention because… because it doesn’t fall neatly into a box. Because it doesn’t fall under the definition of ‘housewife’ or ‘husband’ or ‘sex after marriage’ (I’m pretty sure there isn’t even a box for that last one). And this is only in the context of plain, vanilla relationships (which can be pretty hot too).
The Lions of Al-Rassan isn’t marketed or ever described as a romance novel – even though, in essence, that’s what it is. No? And it’s not the only book that avoids the ‘romance’ label even though it is chock-full of romance.
Anyway. I’m not sure how to end this in a good way, because it’s saddening and slightly angering that this is what women have to resort to – that this is what is pushed at men as a model – because society is too afraid to acknowledge sex and sexuality as a real, living aspect of all adults, whether single, married, with or without kids, of any orientation or sexual proclivity. Sex is too awesome to be demeaned and swept under the rug like that – why does it happen?
(And yes, I have some idea… I just wish there was a better way to stand against it and make a change.)
I’m republishing our Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education series over at Rosetta Stones. The posts are essentially the same, but with fewer in-jokes (like the word “Christianist”), and aimed toward an audience whose computers (or brains) have naughty-word filters. There will be places where I’ll add direct invitations to creationist students to really think about what they’re learning. I’m also letting through some creationist comments I’m getting, in case you want to go have fun with their myths, misconceptions, and outright ignorance about science. I’ve already had a dude making the “we only use 10% of our brains” claim – it’s hilarious. I’m still contemplating how much creationist schlock I’ll allow to clog up my comments section, but I actually haven’t gotten much. I’m impressed.
And I’ve had a ton of comments from people who fully support robust science education. And then there are my favorites: comments from people who survived that creationist crap and managed to discover what science really is later on. Some of them broke my heart. But all of them give me a lot of hope. At least some of these kids make it out.
Please go read their stories, and if you have a story of your own, I’d absolutely love for you to share it either here or there. All my respect and support to you!
Amanda Marcotte brought this horrific bit of fuckery to my attention: an app called Good2Go, which ostensibly is there to ensure both parties are enthusiastically consenting to sex, but really isn’t doing that job. Observe:
Worse, I feel this app could be seized upon by rapists as a way to rape women and get away with it.
In fact, Good2Go could contribute a dangerous new element to those he-said she-said rape cases. What Good2Go doesn’t tell users is that it keeps a private record of every “I’m Good2Go” agreement logged in its system, tied to both users’ personal phone numbers and Good2Go accounts. (Records of interactions where users say “No” or just want to talk are not logged in this way.) Allman says that regular users aren’t permitted access to those records, but a government official with a subpoena could. “It wouldn’t be released except under legal circumstances,” Allman told me. “But it does create a data point that there was an occasion where one party asked the other for affirmative consent, that could be useful in the future … there are cases, of course, as we know, where the accused is an innocent party, so in that case, it could be beneficial to him.”
So, in other words, if you’re a rapist, all you need to do is convince your victim that you’re having a legitimate hook-up. Get her to log in her “consent” on this app. Once the record of her saying she wants sex is created, you then rape her, by say, forcing her to do a bunch of stuff she didn’t want to do. If she says no, who cares? You created a record of her saying yes. It’s basically a way for rapists to give themselves blanket permission to rape someone by creating a point in time she said “yes”, and then saying everything that happened after that was covered by it. Sure, the app says that you can withdraw consent at any time, but if you’re going to court with this and she says, “Well, yes, I said yes to sex on the app, but I didn’t think he meant he would hold me down and anally rape me,” odds are that little disclaimer will not offer much protection to the victim. It’s already hard enough for victims of rape who were tricked into thinking they were on a real date only to have rape sprung on them to convince juries they weren’t consenting. This would make it a nightmare.
I have bolded the bits that screamed, “We don’t give a shit about consent, we just want to shelter rapists!” to me.
I’ll tell you right now, anybody trying to get me to use this app with them is getting nothing. I will not touch the app or them. They will be required to exit my presence immediately.
And if I end up on a jury, and some dumbshit wants to claim xe didn’t rape this person because look! the app recorded they consented! – well, let’s just say that fucker’s going down hard, because I will end them. I’ll know they’re playing silly buggers. I’ll know all they cared about was covering their ass, not making sure their partner was having safe, consensual fun with them.
If you’re having trouble seeing the problem, imagine an app called Good2Tattoo, which your tattoo artist made you use, and which only recorded you saying yes to getting a tattoo – but didn’t record if you said “no” or “yes, but not that Boy Bands Rule! tattoo you’re offering.” Imagine the tattoo artist stamped you permanently with the boy bands ink anyway, over your objections, and used your initial yes, recorded by the app, to argue in court that you agreed to the whole thing – and increased their chances of getting away with violating you because of it. That’s basically what this app is doing. And rapists will see it as a spiffy new tool in their getting-away-with-rape arsenal, whether they admit what they’re doing is rape or not.
As for those who genuinely think this app is a great idea and they should use it to protect themselves from false accusations of rape: I think you should probably not have sex with other people. Sex toys have gotten very good over the years. Please avail yourself of them instead, at least until you are educated enough to have consensual, safe sex with an enthusiastically consenting partner, sans awful app.
So, remember how I talked about taking our activism, passion and filthy atheist lucre elsewhere? Here’s an elsewhere: the Ada Initiative. It’s named for Ada Lovelace, “the enchantress of numbers” and the first person who wrote an algorithm meant for machines. She was essentially a computer programmer before there were even computers, people. That’s how awesome she is.
So this foundation honors her memory by supporting women in tech. They are not afraid of a certain f-word, either:
And they’re currently raising money for another excellent year of activism. They’ve got a challenge out to us: raise $5,000, and they’ll bring their Ally Skills Workshop to Skepticon.
The Ally Skills Workshop teaches men simple, everyday ways to support women in their workplaces and communities. Participants learn techniques that work at the office, at conferences, and online. The skills we teach are relevant everywhere, including skills particularly relevant to open technology and culture communities. At the end of the workshop, participants will feel more confident in speaking up to support women, be more aware of the challenges facing women in their workplaces and communities, and have closer relationships with the other participants.
You know, this seems to be aimed at men, but all genders could benefit. We’re swimming in sexism, and we don’t always know how to combat it. So yes, let’s bring this to Skepticon, train up as allies, and get to work defeating sexism in all our spaces.
We’ve got lots of days left, but not many more dollars are needed! Like PZ said, getting a lot of broad support going would be outstanding, so if you can only chip in a small amount, do it! You may not think it’s much, but it’s another voice speaking up, and we need all the voices we can get.
This is how we change the culture, people. I love this stuff. Moar, pleez!
Ophelia mentioned this before in one of her comments. Now she has a post up on the wall of silence that’s gone up round Shermer, and has included this jaw-dropping bit of fuckery:
Another datum on that: before all this, before the Oppenheimer article, even before the “let’s rank kinds of rape and if you don’t like it go away and learn how to think” tweets – at the end of our email conversation that resulted in the joint statement, Dawkins asked me to dissuade people from spreading the “libellous allegation that Michael Shermer is a rapist or a sexual predator.”
I must say, I stared at the screen in shocked disbelief for quite awhile when that came in. What was I supposed to do, tell people who reported their own experiences to stop doing that? On what authority? On the basis of what knowledge? I don’t know that they are not telling the truth, do I.
I so badly wanted to reply with something along the lines of “How would that be different from what the bishops have been doing for decades?” But that would have been a bad beginning to the post-joint-statement situation, so I didn’t…quite. I pointed out that these were first-person accounts and that I didn’t know they weren’t true, so I couldn’t dismiss them. I did conclude with “It’s too reminiscent of the Catholic church and the rapey priests.” I haven’t heard from him since.
Keep in mind, this was about a year after various unconnected sources came forward and said that Shermer had harassed and/or assaulted them. And he’s still busy covering Shermer’s ass. Even after so many women have come forward under their own names, he still won’t admit there may be something to this. And the little hyperskeptic lickspittles he’s got crowded round his feet are happy to help out, demanding evidence well beyond what they’d require to denounce a homeopath.
I used to get rather upset with smarmy religious assholes calling Dawkins our pope, but that’s exactly what he’s acting like – right down to covering for sexual abusers.
Like Anne, Lurking Feminist Harpy & Support Staff said: “Bunnies aren’t just cute like everybody supposes!”
No. Indeed they are not.
Anne has done well to listen to the wisdom of Anya, who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of bunnies.
Lyrics for them as don’t or can’t watch the video:
Giles: I’ve got a theory that it’s a demon! A dancing demon? No something isn’t right there.
Willow: I’ve got a theory some kid is dreaming, and we’re all stuck inside his wacky Broadway nightmare.
Xander: I’ve got a theory we should work this out.
Anya, Tara & Willow: It’s getting eerie what’s this cheery singing all about?
Xander: It could be witches, some evil witches! Which is ridiculous ’cause witches they were persecuted. Wicca good and love the earth and women power and I’ll be over here.
Anya: I’ve got a theory, it could be bunnies!
Tara: I’ve got a theory-
Anya: Bunnies aren’t just cute like everyone supposes. They got them hoppy legs and twitchy little noses, and what’s with all the carrots!? What do they need such good eyesight for anyway!? Bunnies, bunnies, it must be bunnies!! Or maybe midgets…
Willow: I’ve got a theory we should work this fast
Willow & Giles: Because it clearly could get serious before it’s passed.
Buffy: I’ve got a theory, it doesn’t matter. What can’t we face if we’re together? What’s in this place that we can’t weather. Apocalypse? We’ve all been there. The same old trips, why should we care?
All: What can’t we do if we get in it. We’ll work it through within a minute. We have to try, we’ll pay the price. It’s do or die.
Buffy: Hey I’ve died twice.
All: What can’t we face if we’re together.
Giles: What can’t we face?
Buffy, Anya, Willow, Tara & Xander: What’s in this place that we can’t weather?
Giles: If we’re together
All: There’s nothing we can’t face
Anya: Except for bunnies…