Our local canadate

So there’s evidently a local election going on that I wasn’t aware of. It’s probably something at the town level, or I would have seen signs driving about. Want to know how I found out about this election? Well, it’s a funny story actually. I came home from work a few days ago, and Jodi says, “We got the most ridiculous note in the mail today.”


“I can’t even explain… just read it. It’s on the counter.”

I pick it up. It is folded in half.

Your Canadate [Local Politician] 2012
Ohhhh, this has promise, thought I.
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What’s in a name? Quite a lot, actually.

Every time someone writes something relatively controversial, what interests me the most is the pushback. The Atheism+ name, attached to our current third wave of movement atheism as defined by Jen McCreight and her commenters who crowdsourced the name, has invited certain specific lines of pushback that are every bit as interesting as the third-wave idea itself. Since my usual modus is to find and examine the side-concerns that otherwise are being raised but never adequately dissected and deconstructed, this post.

This new Atheism Plus (A+, Atheism+) movement is something I’ve been thinking about for a while. We’ve all actually been thinking and writing about this for a while around these parts, without ever having given it a name. We’ve long known that the greater atheist and skeptic communities have been fighting amongst themselves and have been developing Deep Rifts over whether or not there’s any room to deal with topics other than challenging creationists and theists, and we’ve all fought against the idea that there’s simply no reason to bring social justice causes into the mix when we’re already having trouble combining skepticism and atheism in a meaningful way. And the conclusion I keep coming to, since at least my essay called Mission Creep, is that we need to deepen the rifts between those of us who care about social justice and those of us who think feminism, anti-racism, anti-homophobia and other social justice causes have no place in the atheist movement — oftentimes because these people have a vested interest in those other sentiments and think they’re fouling up our common ground.

A number of others have already tackled whether atheism+ is just humanism, and I think the case has been made adequately that the factions are allied and overlapping but not identical. What I’d like to tackle specifically is the charge that this is merely a rebranding effort, and thus doomed to fail.
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The Heresy Club on Age Trolling

Alex Gabriel, Hayley Stevens and Rhys Morgan, a trio of young skeptics and atheists from a group blog known collectively as The Heresy Club, had a Google+ hangout describing some of the trolling they’ve received in our communities from other members over, of all things, being too young. They discuss the strange double-standard of lauding young skeptics when they agree with a person’s philosophies, but turning around and dismissing their concerns as stemming from inexperience when those very same trolls disagree. It’s funny how many parallels there are to the A+ and feminist blogospherics of late.

Excellent hangout, folks. I think the only thing I’d clarify is that dismissing someone as not having had the experience you expect — which Rhys and Alex rightly point out is an unfair preemptive dismissal of someone’s perspective — does not implicate the privilege argument at all. When someone is privileged and has no way of understanding the scope of a certain tilted framework by virtue of never being affected by it, it’s possible they don’t have any valuable insights to offer. I agree that it’s terrible to suggest that because a person is young, they are too inexperienced to have valid arguments. I expect this wouldn’t extend to understanding problems that are unique to old age — short of what they’re able to read about those things, they haven’t yet experienced them themselves.

I’m heartened by this video significantly, regardless of picayune clarifications like mine. These folks aren’t just the FUTURE of skepticism and atheism in our respective movements. They are the PRESENT. And I’m glad to have them on our side.

A new atheism

The Rifts are Deepening, it would seem.

Jen McCreight laments that she had no idea exactly how prevalent the misogyny, privilege, irrationality, and Boys Club mentality all are in the atheist and skeptic movements before she got involved. Honestly, me neither.

I was exactly what a Boy’s Club wanted. I was a young, not-hideous woman who passionately supported their cause. I made them look diverse without them having to address their minority-repelling privilege. They liked that I joked about sex and boobs not because it was empowering for me, but because they saw it as a pass to oggle and objectify. But the Boy’s Club rescinds its invitation once they realize you’re a rabble-rousing feminist. I was welcome at TAM when I was talking about a boob joke, but now I’m persona non grata for caring about sexual harassment. I used to receive numerous comments about how hot and attractive I was, but when I politely asked for people to keep the discussion professional, the comments morphed into how I was an ugly cunt. I was once considered an up-and-coming student leader, but now I’m accused of destroying the movement.

So what’s to be done of this?
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Mock The Movie: 2-Headed Shark Attack Transcript

This might be the first movie we’ve done that passes the Bechdel test. Yes, despite its obvious cheesecake premise, the presence of so many women in bikinis whose dialogs are organized to maximize the boobs-on-screen actually has a positive effect on that famous cinematic test where a film passes if two women have a dialog with each other without the presence of, or mention of, a man or male problems.

That’s maybe this film’s only redeeming quality. The two-headed shark can change size at will, hates bisexual threesomes, and is ultimately done in by a plan that depends on something arbitrarily happening differently the third time it happens. It’s still available on Netflix if you want to subject yourself to this nonsense. But if you’re just looking for bikini babes, just go find some pictures online — it’s more honest and less wasteful of anyone’s time.

Dr. Rubidium made this one again, yay two in a row! Stephanie Zvan had to drop out for lack of sleep, but PZ Myers pinch-hit for her. And it looks like CompulsoryAccount’s VLC plugin is almost ready to go. Which reminds me, I still haven’t posted the subtitles files for the last MtM. Geez, I’m slacking.
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The campaign against Amy Davis Roth

I met Amy Davis Roth, also known as Surly Amy, two years ago at CONvergence 2010 – SkepchickCON 2. Jodi and I were on our honeymoon — yes, we spent our honeymoon at a geek convention. Couldn’t have picked a better venue. Amy had a table in the dealer’s room, selling her ceramic Surly necklaces, and I picked up a green atom necklace so I could wear science iconography where so many others wear their religious iconography. Her partner Surly Johnny was a bad influence on me and I drank too many Buzzed Aldrins. The experience was a bit of a whirlwind one, but I got a sense from everyone working the Skepchick party room that they were passionate, committed, and principled, even when they were doing their damnedest to make sure everyone had a good time.

My already favorable impression of Amy was redoubled when I found out that she’d nearly singlehandedly sent dozens of women to TAM over the years, organizing and running fundraisers and committing resources from her Surlys to that end. She had a great deal of help, but she was almost certainly the lynchpin. And she writes timely and important rallying cries when the movement needs them the most — and that’s what a leader does, even if they don’t necessarily want or accept that mantle.

I met her again at SkepchickCON 4 a month and a half ago, and her enthusiasm and pink Darth Vader costume put her over the top for me — I have a ton of respect for the lady. If we ever disagree, it’ll be on good terms. She’s earned quite a bit of goodwill with me.

So I guess it comes as a bit of a surprise to me that a mainstay of the skepto-atheistic blogosphere, who’s done so much to promote skepticism and atheism, and to foster inclusiveness of women in our communities, is under concerted attack.
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Curiosity, from the eyes of one of its creators

I cannot imagine having had a single project for seven years that culminates in a seven minute Schrodinger’s Cat where your work either failed or succeeded. I cannot imagine the magnitude of relief or heartache or joy or sorrow that might have come from either result. This gives me the same sort of minute glimpse of the triumph felt by its three thousand engineers and physicists and mathematicians responsible for this project, as when I watched the live feed for the control room during the landing.

If you are unmoved by this video, you might want to check your pulse.

My Geeks Without God podcast appearance: Ancient Aliens

CONvergence represented a whole bunch of firsts for me — the first time people recognized me from my blog before they introduced themselves as readers, the first time a blogger literally got in my face in real-life over a difference we had in philosophies, the first time I drove in a big city (e.g. bigger than Halifax), the first time I was on a panel at a convention, and the first time I was on a podcast.

Well, okay, sure, I’d already cut my teeth on being on the radio, and that’s technically got a podcast attached to it, but this… this was something special. I was helping launch a brand-new podcast and hanging out with some hilarious geeky atheists all at once.

That’s right. I helped launch Geeks Without God.
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Catholic disinformation site shows how to use condoms

Via Christian Nightmares (in turn via Friendly Atheist), there’s apparently a Catholic site touting itself as the “revolution against contraception in marriage”. And they’ve built a great little infographic explaining how to properly use a condom.

Just look at this twee motherfucker. You KNOW you want to click Read More.

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Meet the new Mohawk saint

A reader named Dan sent in this tip, telling me that the Roman Catholic Church is about to pressgang their very first Aboriginal saint into service. Kateri Tekakwitha, who was baptized at age 20, declared herself God’s wife, fasted and self-flagellated and slept on thorns, and evangelized Christianity to her fellow Mohawks. And now, three hundred and fifty-odd years after she died, she’s apparently curing little boys of flesh-eating disease.

In 2006, a Washington State boy, about five years of age, hurt himself while playing basketball.
The young boy bumped his chin on the ground and ended up contracting Flesh Eating Disease.

Unfortunately, the only treatment for the disease is amputation and the doctors had gotten to a point where they couldn’t do anything for the boy after removing much of his face.

Eventually a priest was brought in to anoint the boy for healing purposes and then spoke with the parish, asking them to pray to Kateri, who is known as a healer.

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