Brief Blog Semi-Break/ Shameless Self- Promotion Opportunity/ Open Thread

I’m currently in major manic overwhelmed overdrive, trying to get “Best Erotic Comics 2009” (which is already late) out the door and to the printers by the end of the week. I thought I’d have time and energy to at least put up some stuff from the archives, but it turns out that these last couple/few days I pretty much have time and energy to collapse in front of Rachel Maddow (no, not literally, more’s the pity) and then go to bed. I will definitely be back on the blog by Sunday or Monday; hopefully before that.

So in the meantime — talk amongst yourselves! Let’s make this an open thread and a shameless self- promotion opportunity. If you have a blog or some other interesting endeavor, let us know about it. If you wanna yak about something, yak away. I’ll be checking in periodically to make sure nothing’s catching on fire — and I’ll be back soon.

And Now, A Brief Pledge Break

5dollarbillSo I have a quick question for y’all. Do you spend five dollars a month on your favorite sources of entertainment, enlightenment, information, and distraction? Do you spend five dollars a month on, say, books? Magazines? Cable TV? Pay porno sites? Music downloads? Video games? Live wrestling? Movies?

Do you think it’s worth it?

If so, I’d like to ask you to consider subscribing to this blog, for the low low rate of five dollars a month.

And I have some lovely gifts for those who do!

Hoe's_six-cylinder_pressThe publishing world is changing. It’s increasingly becoming an online game instead of a printing- on- paper one… and as of yet, very few publishers have figured out a way to make online publishing pay. But bloggers, and other creators of online entertainment/ enlightenment/ information/ distraction, work just as hard as people who write books, write magazine articles, make TV shows. make porn videos, create video games, wrestle, or make movies.

Retro_tvSo if you think my blog is just as entertaining, enlightening, informative, and/or distracting as the cable TV or movies or magazines or whatnot that you enjoy, I hope you’ll consider supporting it financially, with either a five- dollar- a month subscription for one year, or a one-time donation. I give this blog away for free, and I passionately love doing it… and at the same time, I am trying very, very hard to get to a place where I can make a living as a writer. Subscriptions and donations from my readers are an important part of how I’m making that happen.

Think of it as public TV or radio. This blog is brought to you by generous support from readers like you. If you’ve enjoyed recent posts like Atheism and the “Shut Up, That’s Why” Arguments and The Big Guns: Greta Answers Some Theologians — or classic posts like Atheists and Anger and The Top Ten Reasons I Don’t Believe In God — then won’t you consider supporting this blog with a small contribution?

And like public radio, I’m offering swag to my supporters!

Anyone who subscribes to my blog (an automatic $5 donation a month for 12 months) — or who makes a one-time donation of $60 or more — will get a signed copy of their choice of any of my three books:

ThrkinThree Kinds of Asking For It

Payfor
Paying For It: A Guide by Sex Workers for their Clients

Bec_2008_smallor Best Erotic Comics 2008. (Quick note about BEC 2008: I do have some copies left, but the first printing sold through and the second printing is still being shipped. So depending on demand, if you pick that one, you might have to wait a few weeks for me to replenish my supply.)

Just email me (greta at gretachristina dot com) with a name and mailing address when you make a donation. I’ll even take requests for how to sign it, if they’re not unreasonable.

You can go the subscription route, which spreads your donation out in small increments over a longer period. (A subscription to my blog is $5 a month for 12 months.) Or you can make a one-time donation, and that can be for any amount. Even small donations would be very much appreciated. You can use a credit card if you don’t have a PayPal account, or your PayPal account if you do. And if you don’t want to use the PayPal system at all, you can send a check or money order to:

Greta Christina
PO Box 40844
San Francisco, CA 94140-0844

(And if you’ve donated in the past, but never gave me your address so I could send you your book — please do that today! There are a handful of donators who never got their books, and I’d love to show you my gratitude.)

Please help make this a world where blogging is a viable career option for writers. Thank you so much for your patience. We now return you to our regularly scheduled programming.

Commenting Trouble?

A couple of people have emailed me saying they’re having trouble commenting on my blog. It’s obviously not a bniversal problem, but it’s happening enough that it’s clearly not an isolated incident, either. I’m trying to get a clear picture of what’s happening, and under what circumstances, so I can let Typepad know and see if they can fix it.

So if you’re having trouble commenting on my blog, please email me, at greta at gretachristina dot com. Let me know, in as much detail as you can, what exactly happened. Did you get the “captcha check” screen that makes you type in a code before your comment is posted? Did your comment include any HTML? Have you been able to comment on my blog in the past? What machine are you using, and what browser? Let me know, and I’ll see if I can get this handled. Sorry for any inconvenience!

Greta at WonderCon Panel on Queer Women in Comics, Sat. Feb. 28

WonderconLogo_170Hi, all. If you’re going to be at the WonderCon comics convention in San Francisco this weekend, come by and see me. I’m going to be part of a panel discussion on Queer Women in Comics, along with Paige Braddock, Joey Alison Sayers, and Leia Weathington. Here’s the whole spiel on the panel:

Queer Women in Comics: You think Alison Bechdel (Fun Home, Dykes to Watch Out For) is one of a kind? We know she’s unique, but there are lots of other queer women working in comics. Paige Braddock (Jane’s World), Greta Christina (Best Erotic Comics), Joey Alison Sayers (Thingpart), and Leia Weathington (Bold Riley) present a spirited discussion of what it means to be lesbian, bi-female and transgendered in comics today. Moderated by Patty Jeres, Prism Comics board co-president. Saturday, Feb. 28, 1:30 – 2:30, Room 220.

WonderCon will be at Moscone Center South in San Francisco, February 27 through March 1. Other events being hosted by Prism Comics include The Birth of “Gay Comix,” Friday, February 27, 5:30 – 6:30 pm, in Room 236-238; and Self-Publishing Queer Comics, on Sunday, March 1, 2:00 – 3:00pm, in Room 220-224. See you there! And if you come to the panel, come by afterward and say hi! I always like to meet my blog readers. Especially when they’re in costume.

Brief Blog Break, Plus Shameless Self- Promotion Op, a Fun Game, and Blog Carnivals

Wedding ringsI’m going to be out of town for a few days, officiating at the wedding of my friends Chip and Hayley. I’m bringing my computer and will check in on the blog now and then, but it’s unlikely that I’ll have time to post anything new until after I get back. Don’t expect anything new here until Monday or Tuesday.

In the meantime, why don’t y’all use this post for some shameless self- promotion. If you want to plug your blog — either a particular post or just your blog in general — here and now is the place and time to do it. Or if you have a project you’re working on that you want to tell the other readers here about — or there’s a post on another blog that you think is keen and want to plug — you can do that as well.

There’s also a fun contest over at Friendly Atheist that you might want to check out. The rules: Replace any word from the title of, or a line from, a book about atheism… with the word “Pants.” (Example from one of my own submissions: “Pants: The Failed Hypothesis.”) Winners will get a nifty Friendly Atheist bracelet. And just reading the submissions so far is about twenty five hoots.

Finally — blog carnivals!

CarnivalHumanist Symposium #32 at A Superfluous Ramble.

Carnival of the Godless #110 at The Greenbelt.

Carnival of the Liberals #84, at Submitted to a Candid World.

And Skeptic’s Circle #105, at It’s the Thought that Counts.

That ought to keep you busy while I’m gone. Have fun, and I’ll see you soon!

I’m Number 10!

Ontario_10.svgI’m Number 10!

This is kind of surprising and neat.

A little while back, Daniel Florien of the Unreasonable Faith blog came up with a list of his top 30 atheist/ agnostic/ skeptic blogs… and I made the list. I was honored and flattered (thanks, Daniel!), but I didn’t mention it here, since “Hey! Some other blogger thinks I’m cool!” was a little too much tooting of my own horn even for me.

But inspired by this, Hemant Mehta of Friendly Atheist decided to come up with a list of the top 30 atheist blogs… based not on his own subjective preferences, but on an analysis of five different objective metrics measuring a blog’s popularity (Alexa Rankings, Google PageRank, Google Reader Subscribers, Technorati Authority, and Technorati InLinks).

And I’m in the Top 10.

#10, to be precise.

Now, I’m not a statistician, and I don’t know how accurate this measuring system is. (Hemant’s a math teacher, so it’s probably not completely wack…) I do suspect that the results may be somewhat skewed by Atheists and Anger, since a lot of these metrics measure how often a blog is linked to… and everyone and their great- aunt Martha seems to have linked to that post.

Hand_count_10But I am tickled pink to even be on this list. The idea that I might even conceivably be in the Top Ten? By any sort of objective measurement? It’s kind of freaking me out. In a good way.

One of the top ten atheist blogs in the blogosphere. That’ll look good on my writer’s resume. Neat!

Greta Reading in Marin, Greta on Sirius Radio, and Blog Carnivals!

A couple of announcements, and some blog carnivals!

X erotic treasuryI’m going to be doing a reading tomorrow (Friday), in Marin County. It’s part of Susie Bright’s book tour for her new anthology, “X: The Erotic Treasury.” It’ll be at Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., in Corte Madera. This reading will feature Bill Noble, and Susie Bright, and me, with discussion time afterwards. It’s Friday, Feb. 6, at 7pm.

Philco_cathedral_radioI’m also going to be on the radio! Listeners to Sirius Radio Left, Channel 146 on your Sirius Satellite Radio dial, can hear me being interviewed live on the Mike Feder Show this Saturday. We’ll be talking about religion in the Obama inauguration and other fun topics, and will be taking calls and everything. The show will not be available on podcast (damn them!), so you have to tune in live. I know. It’s like the Dark Ages. The show will air on Saturday Feb. 7, at 5pm Eastern time, 2pm Pacific time, 10pm Greenwich mean time, 7am on Sunday in Tokyo, 146:23:2457 on the Rigel 7 Glognax Zone Clock… oh you get the idea.

Finally, since I’m so far behind on these: blog carnivals!

CarnivalCarnival of the Godless #109 at Reduce to Common Sense. (And, which I somehow missed, Carnival of the Godless #108, at CyberLizard’s Collection.)

Humanist Symposium #31, at An Apostate’s Chapel.

Carnival of the Liberals #83, at And Doctor Biobrain’s Response Is… (And, since I missed it when it came out, Carnival of the Liberals #82, at Accidental Blogger.)

And Skeptic’s Circle #104, at Space City Skeptics. (And again because I missed it — I know, I’ve been a bad blogger — Skeptic’s Circle #103, at Bug Girl’s Blog.) Happy reading!

Come See Greta Read! SF 1/16 and 1/29, Oakland 1/22, Marin 2/6

X erotic treasury Hi, all! It’s going to be a crazy month of literary porn readings for me. I have four different readings scheduled in the Bay Area for the next few weeks — in San Francisco, Oakland, and Marin County. Three out of four of these readings are for Susie Bright’s stunning new erotica anthology, X: The Erotic Treasury… and the fourth is the always astonishing, always inspiring Perverts Put Out!. So if you’re going to be in the Bay Area on any of these dates, come by and listen to me read my porn! And say howdy — I like to meet my readers whenever I can.

Here’s the schedule.

Friday, Jan. 16, 7:30 pm
Counterpulse, 1310 Mission St., San Francisco
Perverts Put Out!

Perverts Put Out!, San Francisco’s long-running pansexual performance series and its premier salon of dirty talk, has featured stellar line-ups of truly twisted, mega-talented artistes…and even an occasional naked mayoral candidate. Join us for the Bye-bye Bush edition, as we throw one last shoe at W. There will be the usual excellent array of delightfully pervy performers, including Charlie Anders, Greta Christina, Stephen Elliot, Shar Rednour, Kirk Reed, Thomas Roche, and horehound stillpoint, all emceed by your devoted servants Carol Queen and Simon Sheppard. A splendid (if somewhat disreputable) time is guaranteed for all.

Thursday, Jan. 22, 7 pm
X: The Erotic Treasury reading
Diesel, A Bookstore, 5433 College Ave., Oakland

The reigning mistress of erotica, Susie Bright, has expertly chosen 40 of the hottest stories ever written: breathtaking new stories as well as the most sought-after stories from the Best American Erotica series, which are sure to amuse, arouse, and twist your sheets. Elegantly designed in a “gotta-touch-it” die-cut slipcase with a stunning and sensual cloth-covered book, the package cultivates the quality and taboo satisfaction of the stories about all kinds of lovers: heartbreakers, foxes, maniacs, romanticists, hell-raisers, and utter bandits. This reading will feature Greta Christina, Donna George Storey, Pam Ward, and Susie Bright, with discussion time afterwards.

Thursday, Jan. 29, 7:30 pm
X: The Erotic Treasury reading
Books. Inc., 2275 Market St., San Francisco

See above about the book. This reading will feature Rachel Kramer Bussell, Greta Christina, Donna George Storey, Susie Hara, and Susie Bright, with discussion time afterwards.
Important note: This event is now at the Books Inc. on Market St. in the Castro, not at the one in the Opera Plaza. If you thought it was at the Opera Plaza… you thought wrong, pal.

Friday, Feb. 6, 7pm
X: The Erotic Treasury reading
Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera

See above about the book. This reading will feature Greta Christina, Bill Noble, and
Susie Bright, with discussion time afterwards.

So if you’re in the Bay Area, or you’re going to be visiting in late January or early February, come listen to me read, and say hi. Or if you’re shy, just come listen to me read, and then slink off into the night. In either case, hope to see you there!

Comment Policy

Computer_keyboard
I’ve known for a while that I should write a comment policy for this blog. But I kept putting it off. Not out of any resistance to it, but simply out of laziness: I’m lazy about doing things that don’t need to be done immediately, and the blog seemed to be doing okay without an official comment policy. The overwhelming majority of commenters understood the “lively but respectful,” “listen to each other and cut each other slack,” “don’t treat each other like enemies” tone that I try to set here, without my needing to spell it out.

But it’s been borne upon me in recent weeks and months that I need a comment policy. This blog has been getting more heavily trafficked: and in what’s probably an inevitable result of that, comment threads have occasionally been getting more aggressive, and I’ve been having to intervene more than I usually like. I’ve had to ban my first commenters, and close my first comment thread. So to make it clear that I’m not doing these things on a mere whim, I’m posting my official comment policy. (I should have done this sooner; for that, you all have my apologies.)

Crown_of_Italy.svgI’m going to start with the all-important Reminder of Benevolent Autocracy: This is my blog.

Mine, mine, mine.

I ultimately have the right to moderate the comments here in any way I like. If I choose to ban all commenters whose names end in the letter W, or to delete all comments that post at 1:13 in the afternoon on any 17th of the month, I would be within my rights to do that.

Newspaper_boxes
And it would not be censorship or a restriction of free speech. Again, I refer you to the This Is My Blog principle. This is my free speech area, in which I am free to say whatever I want, and which I am free to moderate in any way I see fit. If I were a newspaper publisher, I would have the right to decide which letters to the editor I did and didn’t publish. Think of comments here as letters to the editor. My right of free speech means that I have the right to decide which letters get published in my newspaper, and which ones don’t.

Or think of it this way: Commenters in this blog are guests in my home. And I have the right to decide who I let into my home and who I don’t.

If you don’t like my comment policy, you’re free to visit other blogs… or indeed to start one of your own. Starting your own blog is cheap/ free. You can say whatever you want in your own blog, and you can set up whatever fickle, autocratic comment policy you like.

Now. That being said:

W
I’m not going to be fickle or autocratic, and I’m not going to ban all commenters whose names end in W. In fact, I generally moderate this blog with an extremely light touch. In three years of blogging, I have, as of this writing, banned only two people from commenting, and shut down only one comment thread. I don’t delete comments simply because I don’t agree with them; I don’t ban commenters simply because they disagree with me.

But I do moderate. This is my official comment policy. Violations will cause me to intervene, with varying degrees of severity, including warnings, editing or deletion of comments, disemvowelling of comments, closing of comment threads, and temporary or permanent banning from the blog.

Anticapitalismo2
No advertising in the comments. Comments with obvious commercial content will have their links stripped at best, and will be deleted and marked as spam at worst.

No flame
Be respectful of other commenters in this blog. No personal insults; no namecalling; no flame wars.

In this blog, I draw a distinction between criticism of public figures and criticism of other commenters in this blog. If you want to call Rick Warren a bigot or Richard Dawkins a fascist, Ted Haggard a hypocrite or Christopher Hitchens a fucking asshole, that’s more or less okay. (I prefer that people keep that sort of rhetoric to a minimum even about public figures, as it tends to shed more heat than light; but I’ve been known to indulge in it myself, so I’m not going to insist that other people consistently hold themselves to a higher standard. Excessive use of it may result in consequences. Occasional use of it is cool.)

But if Warren or Dawkins or Haggard or Hitchens were to show up in this blog and start commenting, I would ask people to stop that sort of language immediately. When you talk about public figures, think of yourself as an op-ed writer. When you talk about other commenters in this blog, think of yourself as a guest in my home, engaging in conversation with other guests. If you can’t be civil, then take it outside.

There’s a difference between criticizing ideas and actions and insulting people. When you make comments in this blog, please draw that distinction. Lively debate is fine, but keep it respectful. Listen to each other and cut each other slack. Don’t treat each other like enemies. If you prefer a more aggressive style of online conversation, there are other blogs where that’s considered standard and indeed desirable. This isn’t one of them.

Piggie
No comment hogging or hijacking of comment threads. When I moderate, I don’t just watch for things being said in individual comments. I also watch for patterns over multiple comments. And one of the patterns I watch for is comment hogging: excessive commenting by one person, to the point where that person’s conversation is dominating one or more threads. If you’re essentially using this blog as if it were your own, then maybe you should be starting your own blog. If you already have a blog, maybe you should be posting there.

Addendum: Posting extremely long comments is a form of comment hogging/ hijacking. I’m not yet going to put a hard upper limit on comments…. but if your comment is very long, please consider writing it as a post in your own blog instead, and posting a summary and a link in the comments here.

Blackboard
No repeated attempts to bring up the same topic over and over again. Again, when I moderate, I watch for objectionable patterns across comments as well as objectionable content in any given comment. And one of those patterns is bringing up the same topic of conversation again and again, in multiple comment threads, regardless of whether it’s relevant to the topic currently being discussed.

I get that a certain amount of topic drift does happen in comments, and I’m (grudgingly) okay with that. But bringing up the same topic again and again is potentially very problematic: especially if it’s a topic that’s irrelevant to the post at hand, and double especially if it’s a topic that’s proven fruitless and poisonous in the past.

Troll
No trolling. I am defining “trolling” as “deliberate attempts to pick fights.” Disagreements and debates are fine; trying to stir up shit and get people mad for your own entertainment is not.

RESPECT
Respect my right to moderate my blog. If I’m asking commenters in a thread to dial down the hostility, then please dial down the hostility, or take yourself out of the thread. If I’m asking commenters to stop feeding a troll, then please stop feeding the troll, or take yourself out of the thread. If I’ve had to shut down a comment thread, then please don’t try to revive the thread elsewhere: drop it, or take yourself out of the blog. If I’ve asked you to stop commenting, or to limit your comments to a specific nature (e.g., links to your own blog posts where you’ve replied to my posts), then please respect that request. Etc.

If you think the specifics of my moderation are unfair or inconsistent, email me and let me know. And if you’ve been put in the doghouse and want to be let out, email me and let me know. But don’t treat the very fact that I moderate my blog as censorship or a violation of your rights. It’ll result in you going straight to the top of my Think Hard About Banning This One list (not a long list, but I do have one), and may even get you banned immediately. And it’ll result in me giving you the giant horse laugh.

Law books
The usual legal stuff. No copyright violations, no threats, no incitement to violence, no slander.

I think that’s it. If I need to add anything later, I’ll let y’all know. Thanks, and have fun!

My Trip to the LGBT Bloggers’ Conference

My Trip to the Bloggers’ Conference
by Greta
Mrs. Marx’s Homeroom
Grade 4

Last weekend I went to a bloggers’ conference in Washington D.C. It was a lot of fun. There were a lot of kids there from other schools. We talked about government and computers and how we can make the world better for every body. Washington D.C. is the capital of our country. There is a big Christmas tree there, and a museum with lots of butterfiles butterflies. I hope we can go back soon.

Pink_triangle_repeater.svg
I’ve never done one of these conference reports before. I’m not quite sure how you do it. I was at the National LGBT Blogger and Citizen Journalist Initiative in D.C. last weekend, and some people have said that they want to hear about it; but I’m not sure how to do that in a way that’s not mind-bogglingly tedious. So instead of talking about the high points of what I did, I think I’ll talk about the high points of what I learned.

*

In political discussions, don’t use the generic word “we.” If you’re talking about a group, be specific.

DiversityIt’s important to take on difficult, thorny issues of race, class, gender identity, nationality, etc. — even if you’re not totally comfortable with it. In other words: White people have to talk about race, middle- and upper- class people have to talk about class, non-trans people have to talk about trans issues, etc.

When you’re taking on difficult, thorny issues of race, class, gender identity, nationality, etc., and you fear that you’re going to put your foot in it because it’s not your particular issue and you don’t know enough about it… acknowledge that from the outset. Frame your piece in the form of questions you’re asking rather than opinions you’re asserting, and ask for feedback. People will cut you more slack for mistakes you may make if you make it clear that you’re aware of your limitations.

When other people are taking on difficult, thorny issues of race, class, gender identity, nationality, etc., and they make mistakes, don’t be an asshole about it. If you think they’re perpetuating misinformation or bigotry, call them on it — but the flame-war dogpile of a jillion people screaming “You’re an asshole” does not foster mutual understanding. Cut each other some slack for good intentions already.

How the homosexuls saved civilization
The LGBT community needs to stop defining ourselves as victims, and start defining ourselves as victors. Framing ourselves as victims feeds into our opponents’ narrative (we’re whiny, we’re weak, we want special rights, etc.) Instead of demanding equal rights, we should demand equal responsibilities: demand to be equal participants and contributors in making our country/ world stronger and better. We need to frame our demands not in terms of what we want, but in terms of what we have to offer.

On that topic: The LGBT community should frame our history as part of the narrative of American history: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And when we do that, we should frame it in a positive way — not as part of the American history of bigotry and brutality and oppression, but as part of our historical arc towards equality and justice.

There are different forms of political communication: education, persuasion, and motivation. With persuasion, you have to meet people where they are.

The LGBT community should encourage our straight allies to stand up for us. (See “taking on difficult, thorny issues” above.)

Beehive
Conservatives tend to have a hive mentality, and are by nature better at all staying on one message than progressives. But progressives don’t need to see this as a weakness on our part. We have a strength that conservatives tend not to: the ability to see a wide variety of viewpoints on a topic. When co-ordinating our efforts, we don’t have to all take the same talking points — but we can co-ordinate our diverse efforts (such as co-ordinating the timing of posts on big stories to maximize attention).

Television.svg
If you’re going to do TV appearances, practice in front of a camera — find your sweet spot, the angle from which you photograph best, and stick with it. Stay present on camera — “adjourn the court” of self judgment, you can’t be a participant and an observer at the same time. On a microphone, talk softer than you normally would in public speaking, as if you were talking into someone’s ear — it will pick up the nuance of your voice better. You live with video forever, so be careful of what you say on camera. Don’t let your appearance distract from your message. Have good posture. And on camera, no matter how mad you are, your default should always be a smile. (Examples: Bill Clinton and Rachel Maddow.)

To do effective public relations and get your blog noticed by the mainstream media: Remember that journalists are either busy or lazy, and make their job easier for them. Develop relationships with journalists, know what they’re looking for and be willing and able to feed it to them. Offer something different — news, new information, or just a strong point of view. Most journalists are looking for topical pieces — if your work isn’t necessarily topical, hook it to a topic, or find a publication that’s doing a theme issue.

To make more money blogging, I pretty much need to keep doing what I’m doing. I just need to do it more, consider some additional income streams, and work harder on building my traffic.

And finally: I really need to get a flip camera.

*

Oh. And I learned this:

The queer community sure talks about religion a lot.

But that’s a topic for another post.