Not to get your hopes up…

… but JT Eberhart and I were chatting recently about the possibility of staging a 24hr classic video gaming marathon via UStream or similar, to raise funds for some good causes. The two of us, playing video games and shooting the shit about religion and skepticism and the various topics intersecting with for TWENTY FOUR HOURS STRAIGHT (minus food and bathroom breaks), all while soliciting your donations. We’d be splitting the proceeds between Camp Quest and sending students to Women In Secularism 2.

I don’t have a date, though we’re going to try for Hallowe’en-ish (or probably a weekend thereabouts).

I don’t have a list of games, though we do have a few good ideas, including TMNT: The Arcade Game, River City Ransom, Bubble Bobble, and Kirby Superstar – The Great Cave Offensive.

I have exactly one confirmed-lock guest for an hour of chat time, and three people I’d like to ask.

What do you folks think?

Blanding’s turtles, nearing extinction, find help in NS zoo

Our local zoo, Oaklawn Farm, has reportedly taken on and hatched some hundred Blanding’s turtle eggs, a breed of Nova Scotia turtle that’s on the endangered species list. Oaklawn Farm Zoo is the former home to the largest African lion in captivity in North America, Rutledge, who died of old age recently.

Blanding turtle hatchlings in a tank

In June, more than 100 Blanding’s turtle eggs were moved from Kejimkujik National Park — in the southern half of the province — to the Oaklawn Farm Zoo in Aylesford.

They’ve since hatched and the tiny turtles are quickly getting stronger and bigger on a steady diet of trout pellets and mealworms.

“There is a very high predation rate and it’s estimated that only about one per cent of these hatchlings survive naturally,” said Duncan Smith, a biologist with Parks Canada.

“That’s why we’re seeing if we can bolster that with this incubation and headstarting program.”

Blanding’s turtles are medium-sized freshwater turtles. Adults have dark-green, high-domed shells with yellow flecks and are easily identified by their distinctive yellow throats and undersides.

The Nova Scotia population of the Blanding’s turtle is listed as threatened by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, while the provincial Endangered Species Act lists them as endangered.

The original story at CBC has some absolutely adorable video of the hatchlings.

It is good that the Zoo is taking on these new challenges, with how clean and safe and expansive the habitats are (in my estimation) for their charges. Every time I’ve visited, I’ve gotten the sense that the animals are taken care of very well, with plenty of roaming room and appropriate habitats for each species. It warms my heart that the endangered turtle species is being given a second chance by these great folks. If it weren’t nearing the end of the zoo season, I’d take a run down just to see them.

That reminds me, I have yet to post my recent visit to the Halifax Natural History Museum and the pics I took of Gus and some other turtles. Now that I’ve remembered once, I’ll surely forget again. Remind me again sometime, will you?

Halifax NSIS talk: GIRLS and Science

Dr. Tamara Franz-Odendaal will be presenting the following talk at the Halifax Natural History Museum auditorium, 1747 Summer St., on Oct. 1st, 7:30pm:

GIRLS and Science: Why it’s Important and How You can Support Them

October 1, 2012

Dr. Tamara Franz-Odendaal
Mount St. Vincent University

The NSERC Chair for Women in Science and Engineering (Atlantic Region) describes how she became a biologist specializing in craniofacial development and evolution. She will outline why it’s important to encourage girls to pursue science, technology, engineering and medical (STEM) careers.

Hat tip to Shawn Wilson of CFI-NS.

More information and more upcoming NSIS events available in this PDF.

How to get more women in STEM? Stop telling them they don’t belong

Sometimes it takes someone saying something so gobsmackingly obvious that it makes people ashamed they didn’t realize it before, to clue people in that there might actually be a problem, and how to address it. This post, I truly hope, is one of those times.

Sometimes, men talk about the gender disparity in tech communities as if there’s some big mystery. I have to conclude that these guys haven’t talked to women who currently work in computer science academia and the tech industry, or who did and then left. As someone who was perceived as a girl or woman doing computer science for 12 years, my solution to the lack of women in tech is:

Stop telling women that they aren’t welcome and don’t belong.

Sounds pretty obvious, right? Well, you’d think. But read on to see what counts as telling them they don’t belong. A tip — it’s not just making the blatantly sexist comment, like Prof. Doaitse Swierstra’s saying that more women in Haskell’s programming school would make the program “more attractive”.

When I watched the video, what I heard after Prof. Swierstra’s comment about attractiveness was laughter. No one called him out; the discussion moved on. I might be wrong here, but the laughter didn’t sound like the nervous laughter of people who have recognized that they’ve just heard something terrible, but don’t know quite what to do about it, either (though I’m sure that was the reaction of some attendees). It sounded like the laughter of people who were amused by something funny.

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Maddow: Paul Ryan Pals Around with Right-Wing Terrorists

Hey, remember the whole “palling around with terrorists” argument, about Bill Ayers? Yeah, it was misdirection.

Rachel Maddow has to do a lot of framing — over ten minutes — to give the scope of this issue before getting to the “punchline”, being Paul Ryan’s latest nonsense and the Right Wing Conspiracy Theorists’ latest outrages.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

The scope of the problem, and the availability heuristic

One of the big complaints we’ve seen recently regarding the anti-harassment-policy campaign, the question of feminism intersecting with our communities, and the question of whether the assholes in our movement represent the movement, is whether the feminists and anti-bigots are blowing things out of proportion. How often have you seen someone say “the whole community doesn’t have a problem with [X-brand bigotry], only a very small subset“? Often enough, I bet, that I hardly feel the need to repeat these arguments or point to any specific ones, though I’m certain I could give you a dozen or so with a quick search of my own blog’s comments. Never mind big names like Thunderf00t and Paula Kirby making it the entire premise to their opposition to harassment policies and to “feminazis” and “FTBullies”!

So the question, then, is why does this argument gain so much traction? No matter how measured we are with describing the scope and scale of the problem, people will always say we’re making mountains out of mole hills. I posit this is because of the availability heuristic — a cognitive bias wherein, when you’re presented with specific examples of a problem, it is easier to remember those examples, and you assign improper levels of importance to them.
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“Too ugly to be raped”? Whatever! Let’s talk about MY feels!

[T]hree years ago, I participated in a blogswarm set up to raise money for rape victims of the war in Liberia. I tried to do a little more than just raise money, to talk about why rape is and should be an expected consequence of going to war.
[…]
Anyone who has ever in the history of the internet talked about Schroedinger’s Rapist knows what happened next. We didn’t. That post hadn’t been written yet.

The first thing people did, of course, was deny at length and with many attempts at diversion that we should be talking about rape at all. There were demands for statistics, demands for the sources of statistics (which had already been given), demands that we talk about women exactly the same way we talk about men despite no evidence that female soldiers do the same thing.
[…]
Why am I bringing this up now? Because those people who are totally not unhealthily obsessed with FtB in general and me as one of many in particular are also talking about this three-year-old set of blog posts.

And the commenters do their damnedest to erode any faith in humanity I’ve ever had by diverting the topic of discussion to their own feels instead. Get over there and fix that, please.
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Mock the Movie: Hercules transcript

I ended up an hour late to this one thanks to a work emergency that very conveniently came up just fifteen minutes before the start of Mock The Movie: Hercules. CA7746’s subtitle files should have me timeshifted appropriately, but I haven’t bothered to go and interweave my contributions back in sync with everyone else.

Work has been a huge timesink lately. And a huge stressor. Sorry that I’ve not been writing as much as usual these past few weeks.

Subtitle files are here for colors for each mocker, and here for monochrome, depending on your subtitling needs. Download, rename to .srt, make sure it’s named the same as your movie file and in the same folder, and VLC should pick it up automatically.
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Dr Pepper vs the creationists

You might remember the quiet unassuming soda Dr. Pepper from its recent foray into potentially-parody toxic masculinity with its Dr Pepper Ten campaign. It appears the company has discovered that controversy is really good for its business, so its marketers came up with a new brilliant plan: make an ad that references evolution.

“What? But that’s not controversial at all! Tons of products have obliquely mentioned evolution in a mild and tangential sort of way!” you say. And you might be right, if the intended market wasn’t heavily populated by antiscience creationists on a hair trigger.
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Shame In Your Game

An absolutely pitch perfect rant-slash-analysis from Emily Gordon detailing sexism in the video gaming community. It must be read, especially by those of us who see this shit happening in our community but don’t have any insight into the nearly-identical fight going on in the gaming world.

I’m a female with a podcast about video games, so I am frequently asked tough questions: “How do I get my girlfriend to like video games?” “Are you a ‘real’ nerd?” “How do we fix sexism in the gaming world?”

My answers to those questions are, in order: “Start with two-player platformers,” “What?” and “I wish I knew.”

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