I have a full schedule!

I have a busy bunch of days ahead of me! Sorry if the blog goes slightly quieter for a bit.

Tomorrow I’ll be starting the set-up for CONvergence’s Freethought Blogs room (and I might even pitch in on the Skepchick room too… perhaps, if they ask nicely enough). The full convention schedule is ridiculously jam-packed with geekery and science. The Skepchickcon track is where all the skepticism and sciencey goodness is located, and it’s where I’ll be spending most of my weekend.

I made the cut on these panels:

Worldbusters!
Worldbuilders, you think you have a crackerjack rationale for how zombies work, or how the entire galaxy is populated with humanoids, or how your spaceships can travel faster than light…bounce those ideas off our critical panel of scientists. Panelists: Laura Okagaki, Siouxsie Wiles, PZ Myers, Jason Thibeault (mod)
Thursday July 4, 2013 10:00pm – 11:00pm

The Gods of Geekdom
The Avengers movie had several gods, atheists, agnostics, and Christians all mingled together- we comfortably mix up multiple pantheons and a hard-nosed scientific attitudes in comics and SF literature. How do nerds do that without their heads exploding? Panelists: Jason Thibeault, Ryan Consell, Fionnuala Murphy, Nick Glover
Saturday July 6, 2013 12:30pm – 1:30pm

The Real World vs. the Internet
A line is a blurring and a distinction is fading: social networking and online communities are becoming just as real as face-to-face engagements. Panelists: Jason Thibeault, PZ Myers, Lux Pickel, Stephanie Zvan (mod), Jamie Bernstein
Saturday July 6, 2013 8:30pm – 9:30pm

There were two other panels I was on in the first draft, that I guess got overbooked, and I’m not particularly fighting to get back onto. I’m more than happy with these ones, especially Gods of Geekdom. Though I do sort of wish I could have made Fight the Trolls, I would have been moderator on that — and Stephanie’s therefore a far better choice for that particular panel for two reasons.

I also look forward to having a terrible cold after this weekend as is tradition, and then the week after, I’ll be doing FtBCONscience! The full schedule is not yet finalized, and I expect there will be some fluidity to the panels (as there will be with when you folks decide to watch them), but I’m at least doing a panel on Saturday morning at 9am CT (subject to change), with Desiree Schell, Debbie Goddard, James Croft, and I’m wrangling a fourth guest. The panel is called Atheism Is Not Enough (named after my post), and we’re going to talk about atheism as a gateway into the wider world of social justice activism.

My organizer line is pretty packed, in fact, so it looks like I’ll be getting my fill of moderating panels (read: herding cats) after all.

Look forward to seeing you all! Both in person, and virtually.

The contact form is now changed…

Ed got annoyed after one too many letters like this:

Name: kristopher kusch
Comment: I would start off by saying that even though I disagree with your faith, I do respect that you have one. Faith is believing in things that you cant see,so with that thought yes by definition people who believe in Jesus are opperating in faith. The fact that you haven’t seen him and dont believe in him follows that same amount of faith. I would add that my heart isn’t to prove you wrong. What I’m asking you to consider is this, is it possible that you are angry with God.

SNIP.

My only response to this, was “*sigh*”.

So, because of his annoyance, the contact form has been modified to be for technical support only. I included the language he gave me verbatim. (With a slight tweak to retain the “we will do whatever we want with the info you put in this form, be warned” language I inserted the first time around. You know, the language that gives me carte blanche to post this.)

The full rant is below the fold, if you’re interested.
[Read more…]

Weird login redirect issue should be fixed

Some folks have complained that when clicking on the FtB logo above the comment forms at any blog where anonymous comments are allowed, they were being redirected to a presently-useless dashboard page and had to manually navigate back to the thread they wanted to post at. This isn’t the behaviour exhibited on blogs that require sign-in — the login links send you back to the post you were at, after logging in via the WordPress login form.

I’ve committed a change on the live site that should fix this, constructing the “log in” link added by the theme, identically to how the Graphene-stock link is constructed. As an added kindness, I’ve also changed the top “Account Dashboard” icon (the WordPress icon) to go to the blog’s dashboard, rather than the whole site’s, just in case you happen to be a subscriber / submitter / author. Regular users shouldn’t be affected, but I’m letting you know regardless.

I’ve tested these changes, but I’m not 100% sure I’ve covered all border cases. If there are issues, let me know here please.

My life in upheaval, but in a good way

In February 2010, Jodi and I got married. In June, we spent our honeymoon in Minnesota, going to CONvergence in Minneapolis. (My wife is every bit as much a geek as me.)

Little did I know that that visit would plant the seeds for what’s been happening over the past few months in my life.
[Read more…]

How I feel about the latest round of “civility” calls

Something like this, actually.

Panel 1: evangelist beating atheist with a cross, while calling him names. Panel 2: atheist about to break the cross, evangelist crying 'Hey! Let's have a little RESPECT here!'

Only, imagine the cry in panel 2 coming from a third party supposedly on our side. And imagine the evangelist is an antifeminist attacking women and people trying to improve women’s lot in life.

Yeah. I don’t have a lot to say about this nonsense. I agree that we shouldn’t denigrate one another’s status as full human beings, but I damn well don’t think that fighting back against someone doing exactly that is “uncivil”. And I recognize that people can be hideous hatchet-men arguing for terrible things without ever uttering anything but the most flowery and “civil” of language.

I took Chris Clarke’s pledge though. And I’d gladly further take mythbri’s addendum:

I further pledge to do my best to help make this a place where your argument is challenged, but never your humanity or status as a person. I pledge to make this a safe space for people to be insulted about the quality of what they say and how they say it, but not their gender, gender identity, race, sexual orientation, class or mental/physical health state. I pledge to refuse to give ground to anyone for the sake of unity with those who might have one thing in common with me but don’t respect me as a full human being.

That’s MY pledge. Don’t expect your assholish, bigoted or damaging ideas to escape scrutiny and critical analysis. And don’t dare call me uncivil for banning and muttering “asshole” when an antifeminist who calls women cunts regularly comes along and bloviates about how terrible we all are for drawing lines in the sand about sexism.

Impostercide tweak

Hoping this ends the lamentations of people forgetting to sign in before posting a comment, and using an already-registered name. Impostercide should now do something like this:

Possible Imposter

You are attempting to post a comment with information (i.e. email address or login ID) belonging to a registered user. If you have an account on this site, please login to make your comment. Otherwise, please try again with different information. Copy and paste the comment below into another document before returning to the previous page or you may lose the comment.

Comment submitted:
Don’t mind me, testing Impostercide updates.

Let me know if this mangles anything else. It shouldn’t; it was a very simple tweak.

In case you’re forgetting why this is even necessary, here’s a reminder.
[Read more…]

Back from vacation. Need a vacation.

I’d been trying to maintain a post-a-day schedule for a few weeks now despite trying to suck the marrow out of a precious oasis of respite from a job that has, as late, challenged me to exceed what even I thought myself capable. I am back home now. My wife and I arrived home at 1:30am to a house with no food, short one bag.

While in Minneapolis, a mouse attacked our luggage and we decided to get new luggage rather than try to force one more trip out of the already haggard container which had to that point lasted almost ten years. All of the clothing was intact, though it all had to be washed; the bag was discarded. The bag we got to replace it attempted to take a diversion to Quebec and was apparently left in Chicago rather than following us all the way back to Halifax. We haven’t gotten it back yet. We’ve been told to call them for updates; the updates via the automated system presently say they’re “searching” for it. The number we were given to talk to a human landed at a voice mail box. Tomorrow, if our bags aren’t returned, we will be quite… put out.

And our car wouldn’t start today. Dead battery. Not just dead, DEAD dead. The money pit of a car had been sputtering during the summer and we’d suspected the alternator; the only piece of good news was that the battery had simply succumbed to the winter, and it wasn’t something more serious.

It was a lovely vacation with food, people, fun, happiness and love. It’s sometimes rough, I suppose, to switch back to home life mode and focus on the good things, ignoring the bad. Might take a few days. Bleh.

The 2012 Lousy Year In Review

Welcome to the End of the World after-show, where we look over the highlights of the year prior to the Mayan calendar’s running out. Of course, we’re all still around after the apocalypse because all the prayer averted Planet Nibiru at the last possible second, but we already had the after-show all planned out, so let’s do the highlights anyway. Highlights of, at least, my favorite blog posts from my favorite blog: Escher Girls err… mine!
[Read more…]

The bug report thread

Because we don’t seem to have a general purpose one, I’m making one right now, right here.

See the new theme? It’s a bit buggy. We want to hammer everything flat and put a coat of gloss before the rest of the network is subjected to it. What do you think?

The top menu and “chiclets” (social networking icons — Facebook and RSS) need some work yet, as do some CSS bits and bobs. Also want to get a Dashboard / Log In link up there somewhere. See anything that’s just plain not working as it should? Say so now.

Install the OpenDyslexia font and tell us how it works for you

I’m interested in doing a little science experiment. I’ve read that a commercial font designed by a dyslexic university student apparently didn’t help reading speed, but does help with certain classes of reading errors. Readers of any Freethought Blogs would certainly classify as folks who read a lot on the internet (yeah, yeah, get the “because you talk too much” jokes out of the way now). So, if there are any dyslexics among our readership — and I’m sure there are — I’d like to collect your anecdata on how a similar, open-sourced (read: free) font helps or hinders your reading.

Font demo of OpenDyslexic

A demo of the font provides a good example, in case you’re skeptical about how well this will work in practice. You can download the font for free from this page, because as an open-source project, it is community-driven rather than profit-oriented. Made by dyslexic users, for dyslexic users.

So, if you are dyslexic, and you’d like to participate in giving this font a trial run, I’d love to hear your stories — success or otherwise. FtBloggers primarily generate text, as opposed to other media, and many if not most of our bloggers are interested in accessibility (by extension of being interested in how privilege intersects with our various struggles). So I’d like to know, from people who might benefit from this, if it’s worth my campaigning to get a custom theme based on this font for FtB. The fact that the studies of the commercial offerings are less than ironclad makes me wonder if it’s worth our time.