Greta has some questions for you. So does Stephanie.

Ever notice that pushback against certain ideas always develops internal themes and memetics that need to be directly countered before we can move on to actually talking about the ideas themselves? Ever notice that pushback tends to cluster around irrational objections to otherwise unobjectionable suggestions or ideas? One of the pushbacks against those of us who primarily identify as atheists who also care about and talk about social justice, humanism and atheism in equal measure, who’ve declared an appropriate label for that nexus of issues “Atheism Plus”, is that we’re somehow “divisive of the movement”. Greta has a few questions for those of you repeating that meme. Well, really, they all boil down to one singular one if you think about it.

Why is Atheism Plus being seen a terrible threat to the cohesion of the movement… and yet a solid year of feminist women being subjected to actions and words that demean us, objectify us, inappropriately sexualize us, and literally threaten us and make us unsafe is not getting called “divisive”?

reddit screenshotA 15 year old girl posted a photo of herself holding a Carl Sagan book to r/atheism, and got a flood of rape jokes in return. Why was that not “divisive”?

A leader of a major skeptical organization speculated on the causes of low female attendance at his conference… and blamed it on women who were speaking out about sexual harassment. Why was that not “divisive”?

A widely respected and beloved atheist celebrity publicly called a woman he disagreed with a cunt. And when this was brought up and criticized in an atheist blog, the comments were flooded with people defending him, and defending his use of the word. Why was that not “divisive”?

As part of a dispute about feminism, an atheist blogger and local atheist organization leader publicly posted Surly Amy’s address, with photos of the building. Why was that not “divisive”?

A popular atheist videoblogger deliberately tried to trigger a rape victim, by posting graphic threats of rape. Why was that not “divisive”?

A thread was posted on an atheist forum posing the question, “Would it be immoral to rape a Skepchick? Not for sexual gratification or power or anything like that, just because they’re so annoying.” Why was that not “divisive”?

Stephanie also has some questions for followers of Christina Hoff Sommers’ strange libertarian conservative definitions of “feminism” (you can tell, because they call themselves “equity feminists”, who believe that everyone else in every feminist movement represents “gender feminism” – a.k.a. misandry). That question is a simple one: what’s your evidence?

Many of the people complaining most insistently about the formation of Atheist+ are also among the number who claim that they are feminists, just “equity feminists”. They claim to be the true advocates for social justice. They claim that the “gender feminists” at FtB, Skepchick, and elsewhere are the oppressive force in this argument. We, of course, disagree. But who is correct? Is there one form of feminism that is based more on real-world data? Is there one that leads to more freedom?

The false dichotomy of “equity feminists” (e.g., libertarians who don’t like trying to fix tilts to the playing field) vs “gender feminists” (e.g., the subset of radical feminists who hate men and want to subjugate them to the Gynocracy) is reductionist to the point of absurdity. Hey, isn’t there a fallacy for that?

Dad wears skirt to make dress-loving son more comfortable

Via Gawker, apparently people can come to the conclusion that traditional gender roles are inherently harmful completely unbidden.

“I didn’t want to talk my son into not wearing dresses and skirts,” Pickert tells the German feminist magazine EMMA. “He didn’t make friends in doing that in Berlin already and after a lot of contemplation I had only one option left: To broaden my shoulders for my little buddy and dress in a skirt myself.”

At first, Pickert’s son was reluctant to wear a dress in public, fearing he would be laughed at, particularly by other kids at his preschool. But that all changed one “skirt and dress day” when he and his dad made a resident of the town stare so hard she slammed into street light face first.

“My son was roaring with laughter,” says Pickert. “And the next day he fished out a dress from the depth of his wardrobe. At first only for the weekend. Later also for nursery-school.”

This is a really nice story. Dad wants his little guy to feel more comfortable doing things that he likes doing, so he decides to do those things too. That inspires the confidence in his son to challenge those gender roles himself and wear dresses to preschool, defying the bullies and telling them that THEIR dads aren’t brave enough to wear dresses like HIS dad.

It’s like “my dad can beat up your dad”, only more like “my dad sticks up for me and the things I enjoy; yours attacks you and enforces conformity.”

The picture at the original article is very much a “d’awwwww”-inducing shot.

Mock The Movie: In the Year 2889

Promotional poster for In The Year 2889

This Thursday at 9pm EST (UTC-5), we’ll be sneaking a peek into our distant future, where cannibal telepath supermutants harangue some atomic war survivors. Judging from the reviews on IMDB, it looks like the primary pass-times in the future are drinking moonshine, complaining, and being eaten. I mean, what else are you going to do when your neighbor not only knows your dirty little secrets, but is also trying to eat you?

This one’s by Larry Buchanan, whom I’ve never heard of. Reviews suggest this guy’s as good as Ed Wood, so I’m sure we’re in for a real treat.

As always, here’s how we do this thing.

- First, follow @MockTM on Twitter. Yes, you’ll need Twitter to participate.

- Grab a copy of the movie from Archive.org in advance, or simply stream it directly from the server if your computer/browser/network connection can handle it. Movies from Archive.org are public domain, so it’s free. We try to alternate between public domain / freely-available movies, and paid services or geo-locked services like Netflix and Hulu, as much as possible so everyone can participate.

- At 9pm EST, we’ll all press play at the same time. This might require a tiny bit of coordination in advance, since all of us love to shout “annnnnd NOW”.

- As the movie plays, we all snark at it. To avoid filling up your friends’ stream, we’ll prefix all our snarkery with @MockTM, so people won’t see those tweets unless they also follow @MockTM.

To watch other snarkers while you’re participating, either use the Twitter search function (remember to hit All!), or grab a Twitter client that allows making a stream column for a search. I use Seesmic presently, though Tweetdeck may or may not suit your needs.

Friday morning, I’ll try to have a transcript of everyone’s snarkery posted so you can see what you missed or relive the experience. CompulsoryAccount7746 will usually convert this into a subtitle file so you can overlay the snark if you watch the movie with VLC later, though I’ll probably forget (as always) to upload it and you’ll have to email me for it.

Transcript for Google+ hangout on Atheism Plus

Some kind folks at A+ Scribe have transcribed the hangout we had recently on the topic of Atheism Plus, labeling, divisiveness, and looking forward.

It was a great discussion, and while I honestly thought I was talking everyone’s ears off, looking at this transcript makes me feel better about how much mic time each of us got. However, I need to clarify something here.
[Read more...]

Four Megaman games played with one controller

This is either a work of art or a work of madness. Apparently, via heavy use of speedrun tools that allow a person to frame-by-frame step through an emulated version of a console game, someone’s built a speedrun that uses one controller input on Megaman 3, 4, 5 and 6 simultaneously.

Advice: play this on Fullscreen, with the volume down. Chiptune music is grating enough to some folks that having four simultaneous tracks playing might just be too much to handle.

Tool-assisted speedruns are fascinating in that they often do some things that a human player could never pull off. This is probably only possible via manipulation of the synchronization in subtle ways — passing input to one game while another is in a screen transition or on the “weapon get” screen, or having one game walk into a wall while another is proceeding through the level, for instance.

This run found its genesis in someone joking that Capcom had basically produced the same game for every Megaman sequel. While they are certainly formulaic, the challenges all build off one another, and the Megaman games are traditionally grossly unforgiving which makes the speedrun all the more impressive.

James Croft on what Humanism is

While I largely disagree with James Croft that humanism (small H) is what Humanism (large H) delineates, owing mostly to the confusions brought about by self-identification and the frequent re-use since the Renaissance of the word “humanist” to mean various things, this post is worthwhile if you’re looking to understand what exactly Humanism comprises and what does not, actually, fall under its banner.

Humanism is a philosophy of life which embraces three central values: reason, compassion, and hope. Humanists believe that the best way to figure out how the world works and what is really true is through the exercise of our reason, using disciplines like science and philosophy to better understand our situation. We believe that every person is of equal moral worth and dignity, meaning that no person should be discriminated against or treated poorly based on their race, sex, gender identity, sexuality, ethnicity, ability, class or other identifying characteristics. And we believe that human beings must solve our problems ourselves – that any hope for the future we have comes through our efforts as individuals and groups to improve the human condition.

Humanism is defined in the third Humanist Manifesto* in the following way:

Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.

A short version: a rational mind plus a heart aflame for justice = a Humanist.

It is for that reason that I have defined Atheism Plus as the intersection between social justice advocacy, humanism and atheism. They, and we, are very similar. We are natural allies. We are willing to put the priority on the “atheist” part of the name not only because we want to challenge the stigma it’s accumulated, but because we demand that our positions on humanism and social justice are the consequence of our lack of belief in deities and the supernatural. Since there are no gods, we are the only ones we can turn to.

I believe that Humanists (large H) are very much in the same intersection as Atheism Plusers. We don’t intersect on a few other circles, though; like our predilection toward antitheism, coming from movement atheist stock.

What is Atheism Plus a response to?

By now, you’ve probably already read this article on The New Statesman about the inception of Atheism Plus and what it means to the movement. There are, to my mind, a few misconceptions within it, and I think some people — even some high-profile people in our various communities, judging by Richard Dawkins’ recent pushback against “controversialist blogs” in response to this article — have evidently bought into those misconceptions. Chief among them is that Atheism Plus is a response to Dawkins’ New Atheism.

Any community, new or old, has its tensions, and in the past year the atheist/sceptical community has been rocked by a divisive and increasingly bad-tempered debate over sexism and, more generally, a sense that the dominant voices have tended to be white, male and middle-class. On the one hand, there have been suggestions that atheism and scepticism are philosophies disproportionately attractive to men. Indeed, the stereotype of the atheist as white, intellectually overconfident male – as Richard Dawkins – has long been a favourite among religious apologists.

While this is all in some sense true, that atheism has an image problem, it’s certainly not Richard Dawkins’ fault that the folks who’ve done the most to popularize atheism are educated white males. It’s society’s own fault that these folks’ voices are overprivileged — that those with privilege are heard disproportionately more easily than other valuable voices representing other demographics that have been left to the wayside.

The Atheism Plus movement is not a response to these privileged folks representing atheism. The people now identifying themselves as A+ have been talking about social justice, humanist ideals and privilege for some time. Factions within the community absolutely loathe the idea that these topics are being broached within “their movement”. And those intractable folks are simply horrified, despite the fact that these A+ people have been talking about these topics for quite some time. Years, in some cases. The Atheism Plus movement is primarily a response to those people who are horrified that someone would dare intermix these other concepts in “their” movement, and simultaneously it is a labeling of an already-existing faction within our communities.

So, I’ve prepared some Venn diagrams to try to help illustrate who and what Atheism Plus is a response to, exactly. First though, we have to find Atheism Plus on it. I’ve had to make a number of design choices that mean some things are not perfect. I expect people will argue with this; that’s fine. Please do. I kept the .odg file so it should be easy enough to manipulate.
[Read more...]

I know where that January spike came from, and it had nothing to do with TAM

Shane Brady posted a quantitative analysis of web traffic for Skepchick and Freethought Blogs using Alexa’s daily reach statistics. While this data is certainly only a subset of the actual data — a sort of Nielsons ratings for the web — it’s probably pretty close to representative of the actual data we’ve collected via StatCounter. The traffic matches extremely closely to what we’ve seen ourselves on the Freethought Blogs end, though despite common misperceptions I have no access to Skepchick’s stats, not even through the hive mind uplink.

A screenshot Shane provides for Freethought Blogs’ (admittedly short) existence:

Shane says of this:

As you can see, FreethoughtBlogs is a relatively new blog network, so we don’t have the same history as with Skepchick.org. However, FreethoughtBlogs has substantially higher traffic than Skepchick.org and spikes might be harder to detect. That said, we can see some traffic increases that seem to correlate with some posts by Greta Christina that were heavily commented and cited. The trend for 2012, though, has primarily been flat. There was a slight increase during the days leading up to TAM2012, but nothing dramatic.

Emphasis mine.
[Read more...]