Secular Woman creates travel grant program to Skepticon 5!

This is wonderful news. From a press release I received from SecularWoman.org:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

For more information, please contact:

Brandi Braschler, VP of Programs: 404.669.6727, VPPrograms@SecularWoman.org

Kim Rippere, President: 404.669.6727, President@SecularWoman.org

Atlanta, Georgia – July 12, 2012- On the eve of its two-week birthday, Secular Woman announced its first major conference travel grant initiative, pledging to help send at least 10 women to Skepticon 5 in Springfield, Missouri this November. Kim Rippere, president of the new national organization serving non-religious women, said, “Skepticon is a natural partner for Secular Woman’s first disbursement of travel grants. We’ll be able to help more women atheists and skeptics experience a major secular event, thanks to Skepticon’s free registration and its track record of high attendance and engaging speakers.”

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Atheist Film Festival 2012 tickets on sale now!

If you’re planning on being in or around San Francisco on August 11th, you should really consider checking out the Atheist Film Festival and supporting indie filmmakers who have kindly made for us some atheist brain candy.

Join us for the 4th Annual Atheist Film Festival Saturday, August 11th at the Roxie Theater!
An all-day Festival Pass is just $45 in advance ($50 at the door) and gives you access to 7 feature films and two shorts programs! (Planning to buy a pass? Consider becoming a Stellar Supporter and attending the Directors’ Reception–see below!)
Individual tickets are $10 in advance ($12 at the door).

The trailer looks pretty fun, too.

Shame I’ll be nowhere near. I’ll gladly watch whatever gets posted publicly though!

Jay Smooth on feeding trolls

This actually makes an excellent companion piece to our Don’t Feed the Trolls panel in the SkepchickCON track at CONvergence.

Ill Doctrine: Why I Will Feed The Trolls If I Damn Well Want To from ANIMALNewYork.com on Vimeo.

At Jay Smooth’s blog, he adds a few salient words:

One of the main reasons “Don’t Feed the Trolls” falls short as a universal pat answer is that it assumes one’s only possible goal in speaking up would be to induce a change of heart in the individuals doing the trolling. Many of the stories people have shared in response to this video illustrated how speaking up can be a net positive for your community as a whole, regardless of whether it inspires some epiphany in the trolls themselves. Gauging the usefulness of speaking out strictly by tracking whether a miraculous troll epiphany occurs is often missing the point IMO.

It’s almost like he knew the ins and outs of our specific fight! So uncanny!

Feeding the trolls almost never happens in isolation — if it’s a single person attacking you singly, you simply ignore that person and move on. But these attacks are often public, and include “pig-fucker” charges (by which I mean, charges designed to force you to rebut, rather than because they’re actually true) that the public gets to see.

Sometimes you need to counter spurious argumentation, to put that argument’s metaphorical head on a metaphorical pike to show others exactly how it fails and why you shouldn’t use those lines of argumentation in the future. It’s almost never about changing the troll’s mind, because their mind was often made up long before they ever deigned fit to visit your post; countering trolls is for the benefit of those who come afterward.

Doug Stanhope: more irresponsible messaging for DJ to rebuke

In his interview with Russia Times, Doug Stanhope, who will be part of The Amazing Meeting’s entertainment at 9pm Friday night, gives full-throated defense of Daniel Tosh’s right to make rape jokes — which right nobody has actually denied.

But not just rape jokes — also the right to suggest that it would be humorous if five men suddenly started raping an audience member who dared to say that rape jokes aren’t actually funny.


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Digital archaeology of Elevatorgate – a timeline

Oh, the huge manatee! Suirauqa has taken it upon xirself to chronicle the origin of the DEEEEP RIIIIIIFT that the community has found itself in, between people who think Rebecca Watson magically ruins everything by her mere presence, and people who think she’s just another human being. Xir googling efforts are chronicled here, and the proceedings of the event now known as “elevatorgate” make a sort of prequel to the harassment policies campaign in how major forces in the skeptical and atheist movements decided to align for and against female bodily autonomy.

A friend of mine was curious about the ‘Deep Rift’ that has been cooking in the atheist-skeptic blogosphere for about a year now, culminating in the Twitter storm over the FTBullies hashtag. I offered to make a timeline with bullet points. Little did I know that chronicling those cataclysmic events was going to be such a monumental task, requiring the last drop of my Google-Fu and reading/listening comprehension. Anyhoo, I must admit it was eeriely fun revisiting those events, and consequently, wondering anew how, atheist-skeptic or not, we all are subject to the very human foibles and frailties of ego, prejudice, presumptions, and sadly, blind irrationality. Vraiment, the humanity of it all!

Well worth the read, if you’re unsure why people deluge Watson with hate for otherwise completely unobjectionable statements.

In case you missed the link the first time through, click here.

Scientists protest death of evidence on Parliament Hill

Canadian scientists marched on Parliament Hill this past Tuesday to protest the ongoing campaign by the Harper government to squelch any and all science whose results go against party lines on topics like (and especially) the environment.

Evoking images of the Grim Reaper, protesters held a mock funeral procession through the streets of Ottawa before ending up at the House of Commons.

They chanted: No Science, No Evidence, No Truth, No Democracy.

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Coles Notes and alt audio for Don’t Feed the Trolls

Matt Lowry was so kind as to post his notes on the Don’t Feed the Trolls panel, which while it’s not a full transcript, certainly pulls out a lot of the relevant details.

In Canada, you call that a “Coles Notes”, after the Coles bookstore from whence these synopsis books come. I hear in America, the same idea is called CliffsNotes. I like Coles Notes way better, not the least reason being the unpretentious space included between the two words.

I’ve also done an alternate audio recording from the panel, so if you’re interested in the original take by Cristina Rad’s friend which is uploaded to Youtube presently, but don’t have the tech to hit Youtube at the moment, or just want to grab the mp3 for posterity, you can use this podcast doodlybopper like what I done used for the other two panels.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Also, here’s the mp3 link (20 megs) if you’d like to download it for later listening. Again, lose the -lr if you want a 128kbps version that doesn’t add much in the way of lost audio.

Don’t forget to visit Cristina’s original at her blog in case the ridiculousness in the Youtube comments didn’t do it for you with regard to rampant trolling and misogyny.

Dawkins stabs at Skepchick over “Hug Me I’m Vaccinated” campaign

One of the most painful lessons I’ve learned over the past several months is that there are no heroes. There is always — always — some measure, small or large, of disappointment hiding behind all the awesome things that drew you to idolize one person or another.

Of course, while I always thought of Dawkins as a science popularizer and atheist first, and a humanist dead last, I figured this latest Great Sorting of the skeptical and atheist communities into those that are down with social justice causes and those that would rather entrench themselves in privilege would pretty much end exactly this way. The hyper-privileged folks nearest the top of our movement have pretty uniformly fallen on one side of this divide — the side that would rather not skeptically examine ideas like social conventions, consent, harassment policies and protecting the underprivileged.

So it’s absolutely no surprise to me that Dawkins has, again, sided against Skepchick — this time, instead of writing a “Dear Muslima” comment at Rebecca Watson (telling her that the sexism she encounters isn’t nearly as bad as female genital mutilation, so she should grow up or get a thicker skin), he’s stabbing at Skepchick the organization for a) being on board with the idea of harassment policies, and b) for having written a post last year offering free vaccinations with hugs as your reward.
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CONvergence: Growing Up Online

The second of my three panels from SkepchickCON at CONvergence. I grew up online and was probably in the first generation that would have had the opportunity to spend all of my formative years on the internet (if you include that hairy period where the “internet” was a series of BBSs and the connections you made were over 300-baud modems).

This panel discusses the difference between “online” and “meatspace”, e.g. that there is no real difference, just that “online” is a sort of shadow-culture that evolves in parallel with “meatspace”. We also discuss flame wars and their genesis, which Stephanie posts about in greater detail.
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CONvergence: Doomsday Scenarios

Another of the three panels I was on, audio only unfortunately. Do let me know if the questions from the audience aren’t audible, I might be able to normalize the volume some. I’m not terribly experienced with Audacity, but I’m willing to play with it some more if you have problems.

Also on the panel were biologist and medium-calibre blogger PZ Myers, sci-fi author Adam Whitlatch, math professor and zombie afficionado Robert Smith? (yes, the question mark is part of his real name), and The Skeptical Teacher Matt Lowry (who tried to bite PZ’s head and whapped me about with a CONvergence schedule — I’m just saying).
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