Blogkeeping

Over the next little bit I’m going to be catching up mostly with Mock The Movie transcripts that I’ve been neglecting to post. I’m also fundraising for Geek Girl Con, so expect a livetweeting of both the soundtrack and movie proper of Glitter when we hit $2000, and a livestream of Zelda 2: Adventure of Link once we hit $3000. Last I heard, we were at $1780, but that was around noon on Sunday. Not sure where we’re at now, but I’m hoping at least a hair more — maybe even to the Glitter goal already.

Once I’m caught up on MtM and the GGC AoW, I’ll make you go WTF with a BBQ of all the Steam games in my library. I’ve been hurting for content that won’t be particularly likely to draw people’s unmitigated ire, and I honestly don’t have a lot of resources for serious conflict lately (no, honestly, I don’t). So, I got this bright and probably delusional idea that perhaps since I have bought so many Humble Bundles, and perhaps since I’ve not really talked about many of them outside of maybe a tweet here or there, I could do proper reviews of them. I’m also considering doing long-plays of various video games and recording the results, hopefully with my musings on the problematic bits, or the design parts that need critiquing, intermingled.

As though talking about video games from a social justice perspective is a totally safe and conflict-free vocation. It’s certainly worth a try, though! Maybe it’ll keep me writing, even where every other time I open my big trap I make shit explode for, as far as I can tell, no properly-scoped reason. Maybe video games will be different, he said knowing full well Gamergate exists.

We’ll see how all of that goes!

#FtBCon 3: My facilitator track

The full schedule for FtBCon3 is at Lanyrd, and finding your way to the Google Event page (where the Hangout will be broadcasted) is as simple as going to the panel you want, and clicking on the Official Session Page. This will work even after the event was over hours ago, even if you’re a little late, even if you have used a TARDIS and gone to the distant future (assuming Google’s servers still exist). And if you’re early, you’ll probably see no video, or a countdown clock til go-live.

Q&A will be handled in the Pharyngula chat room, accessible by going to http://tinyurl.com/ftbcon.

Here are the sessions I’m facilitating, with the Google Event pages linked in the titles. All times are in Central.

Asexual Spectrum Atheists – Friday, 9pm-10:30pm
An asexual is someone who doesn’t experience sexual attraction. While it’s a simple definition, we will correct common assumptions, and explain the the asexual spectrum through our personal experiences. We will discuss obstacles faced by asexual-spectrum folk and why it’s important to be aware of it and talk about it. And completely unique to this panel, we’ll discuss the good and the bad of how our experiences intersect with atheism and skepticism. This is especially important considering that the asexual community is predominantly non-religious right now.

The Psychology of Trolls – Saturday, 10am-11am – panelist
Much has been made recently of trolling on the internet, and how it betrays the trolls’ sociopathy. Is there any truth in that? Why do trolls troll, otherwise? What traits do they have in common, and what tactics do they use as a result?

Fundraising for a Secular Cause: Because It Takes Money To Change the World – Saturday, 1pm-2pm
It takes money to scale an organization up from its seeds as a good idea into a major player with local and/or national impact. Organizing a successful conference entails similar costs. But fundraising is hard, and very few people enjoy asking others for money.
This panel will show you not only how to ask people for money, but also to understand who you should be asking in the first place! Presenters range from those serving as volunteer fundraisers for a local group, to organizers of highly successful conferences, to professional staff with responsibility for raising a million-dollar budget.

Student Advocacy and Why Students Need to be Involved in Politics – Saturday, 3pm-4pm
Cara and Dan will illustrate the how and the why of political activism, and how to make allies out of your state representatives, city council members, and school administrators.

Secular Cults – Saturday – 5:30pm-7pm
Not all cults are religious. Attributes of a cult include traits such as: unquestioning commitment to one or more leaders, who are considered unaccountable to any authorities; punishment of dissent; mind-altering practices such as meditation and chanting; and deceptive recruitment practices. Many organizations that are not overtly religious still exhibit many of these traits. In this panel we will discuss some examples of this phenomenon, such as the Amway and other multi-level businesses, the self-help movement, and some homeschooling organizations.

Evidence-Based Feminism 2 – Saturday – 7pm-8pm
HJ Hornbeck continues to put feminism’s claims under science’s microscope, this time by examining economic equality, representation, and that perennial favorite “rape culture.” Watching his previous talk is optional, but recommended.

Secular Asian Community – The binary nature of diversity discussions – Saturday 9pm-10:30pm
A panel of Asian freethought community members will discuss successes in making Asians more visible in the community, things the secular community could be doing better to make Asians feel more welcome, and the consequences of not building organized and humanist communities, such as the situation in China presently.

Questioning the Historicity of Jesus: Commentary and Q&A by Dr. Richard Carrier – Sunday 11am-12pm
Dr. Carrier will briefly discuss his new book On the Historicity of Jesus (published by the University of Sheffield), his online course on the topic, and some of the issues of debating the historical existence of Jesus, and then take live Q&A from the audience. Exactly the opposite of a Sunday sermon. On Sunday. At sermon time.

Teaching Critical Thinking – Sunday, 4pm-5pm
How can teachers use their role as educators to instill critical thinking and ideas like rationalism and empiricism? Are such approaches intrinsic to teaching or separate? We could also go into the ethics of where to draw the line between instructing and “preaching” but I’d actually prefer to stick to the praxis and methodology of bringing critical thinking into the classroom. How do we adapt assessments and assignments? How do we model thinking behaviors we’d like to see?

Digital Self-Defense – Sunday 6pm-7pm – panelist
Experts in various fields related to technology and intellectual property come together to discuss the art of self-defense on the internet. How do you protect yourself online from all manners of attack, be they hacks or legal threats?

And of course I’ll be in the last panel, the denouement of the con, Wrapping It Up.

On Avicenna, plagiarism, and thanking those who regularly cry wolf while flailing us raw

Today, on the heels of a very bad overnight shift that had already despoiled my mental resources and spoiled my mood, I woke up to learn that one of our bloggers, Avicenna, had committed a cardinal sin and was kicked out of the network as a result. He’d plagiarised large sections of text from a wide variety of sources and incorporated those appropriated words into his post without attribution, and he’d done it serially, on a number of occasions.

In comments, much is being made of his quality of output, that it is unpolished, rambling, unstructured; these are absolutely forgivable in my eyes because what he was passionate about, what he decried or wrote in support of, I largely felt the same way. My main problem with his writing now, knowing that he’s plagiarized with such aplomb, is that I’m now inclined to wonder if every moment of lucidity he had actually came from someone else.
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The Hangouts I’m facilitating at #FtBCon 2

I’ve got the Google+ Events that I’ll be facilitating all set up for the convention this weekend! Check it out:

FtBCon2: Welcome / Orientation

FtBCon2: Evidence-Based Feminism

FtBCon2: When You Need a Hand, Not a Prayer: The State of the Secular Support Movement

FtBCon2: Between A Rock And…: Non-Binary Gender in Atheism

FtBCon2: Racism and the Zombie Apocalypse

FtBCon2: Women in STEM

FtBCon2: Trans* Representation in Video Games

FtBCon2: Godless Perverts Story Hour

FtBCon2: Secular Asian Community discussion

FtBCon2: Bible Study (or Taking the Bible Seriously as Fiction: A Read-Along)

FtBCon2: Curtain Call

Okay, I’ll admit it, I made this post mostly as a to-do list for my own purposes. Why do something that only has one purpose, when it can have two by simply posting it at my blog as well?

Skepticon video: Greta Christina – Avoiding Activist Burnout

I absolutely loved the shorter version of this speech that she did at another con a while back, and was pleased to get to see it live. Unfortunately for me, though, Dave Muscato of American Atheists had put out a call to the intertubes asking whether or not anyone had a flash card reader and the ability to transfer a movie file to him by email. I happened to be on my laptop with a flash card reader and an internet connection, so I swept out to be the big damn hero and ended up missing a significant chunk of this speech. I’m happy this video exists so I can fill in the missing bits.

At the moment, I am actively attempting to control my activist burnout by learning Java programming, learning LibGDX, and generally pursuing my pipe dream of building a rogue-like Castlevania-alike platform game with retraversal and RPG stats*. It seems like a more immediately attainable goal, to me, than expunging sexist sentiment from a community whose members often prioritize getting along in a big-tent fashion rather than actually fixing the systematic empathy failures entrenched in some quarters.

* If you don’t get this, and care, ask me. I’ll explain. At length.

Beta-testing a new feature.

I’ve had the plugin that I’ve been talking about for Freethought Blogs mostly-done for a few weeks now, and I’ve had it installed on the live server for that time with no ill effects. Tonight, I managed to get the final pieces of the puzzle out of the way, and it’s ready to go live.

However, I never like to go into production without a slow rollout, with only the bravest of the brave testing out the features and making sure things are kosher. So, here we are.
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You are free to choose how to use the internet

I’d like remind everyone that you are free to curate your internet experience however you please. When your internet experience starts to suck because people are trying to make your life miserable, you are free to deal with that as you see fit.

You are free to withdraw from a space. You are free to ban and block. You are free to call on friends for help. You are free to dig in and argue with every entitled douchebag who comes along trying to win a war of attrition in order to force you out of that space. You are free to be pseudonymous; you are free to use your real name. You are free to publicly disagree with them, even via a blog post if you so choose; or you can privately disagree with them amongst a small tight-knit circle of friends and allies. You can use any number of block-list services like Akismet, RBL, the A+ Block Bot, or even a whitelist-only setup like making your Twitter account Private. You can engage with everyone who thinks the internet is a debate club, or you can ignore those people, or you can block them.

And be damned anyone who says that this is “fascist”.
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While in Cambodia…

… do all your banking at FTB ATMs.

Cambodian ATM sign: "FTB ATM"

I totally didn’t hack it to shave off pennies from every transaction into my own account, honest. And all bank fees go toward the campaign to kill all local deities, naturally.

Sent to me by Ben Sweatervest Blanchard, of the Pathfinders Project. He’s in goddamn Phnom Penh and he thought of me, to send me an image meme he found on the internet, and a photo he snapped himself. (The meme, I’m going to save for a rainy day, it’s that good.)

Attempting to fix comment preview bug

Just so everyone’s aware, I just made a small change to the comment preview plugin to wrap the comment preview in the correct CSS div class. As I made this edit within the plugin itself, it’s not going to be future proof — if we update that plugin, my change will be reverted.

The correct solution is to edit our stylesheet to honor both div classes, or change the class we use for our comments, but either of those might have ripple effects, and I was in a rush this morning so I did the least intrusive change to potentially fix the problem. Worst that can happen here is the preview is still broken.

Can you folks kindly test and let me know if it’s better now? If so, I’ll see about making a more permanent change ASAP.