Congratulations to Team Douchebag on their first major victory

It’s war once there’s casualties, right?

Jen McCreight and her commenters dubbed the necessity for a third wave of atheism — a wave that actually gives a shit about people who are getting forced out of the movement by a cloud of vile hatred just because they’re not cis males — as “atheism plus”. A forum is built and a thousand members join within a week. Organizations form to shore up some social justice movement intersections with the atheist community. We built something good. Something energizing. Something that portends a great swamp-draining. A way for movement atheism to heal itself.

Then a whole antifeminist and anti-woman wing of the atheist movement rallies to show us why we can’t have nice things. They amp up the hatred, the vitriol, the vileness. They steal Jen’s resources and leave her drained and incapable of contributing, by making her clean up rivers of bullshit aimed at tarring her personhood, slut-shaming her, and threatening her job by taking the same bullshit to her employers. They make her dread contributing her writings to this movement. This movement which she loved. This movement in which she gathered fans of her writing as easily as some people breathe.
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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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Gamers Against Bigotry hacked repeatedly by computer-savvy bigots

Example #645,257,329 of why one must always sanitize every piece of user input that your code has to process. Doesn’t matter how foolproof or dead simple you think the action will be, or how safe or sane your users — someone will try to buffer overrun, break out of the current SQL statement and inject their own code, or just generally find any way imaginable to deface or destroy your work. Especially if your work is a direct confrontation of a particularly entrenched bit of misogyny amongst a terribly entitled and relatively tech-savvy audience, and that audience is inclined toward trollishness to begin with.

A group of social justice advocates in the video gaming community put together a pledge website called Gamers Against Bigotry (WARNING: Chrome reports malware!), asking people to sign onto the following statement:

As a gamer, I realize I contribute to an incredibly diverse social network of gamers around the world, and that my actions have the ability to impact others. In effort to make a positive impact, and to create a community that is welcoming to all, I pledge to not use bigoted language while gaming, online and otherwise.

Bigoted language includes, but is not limited to, slurs based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and disability.

Read more about the pledge, including what is and isn’t included, and the overall purpose here.

Read why you shouldn’t use the word “rape” casually here.

All in all, it’s a simple statement, and a rather unobjectionable one at that. The only way one can end bigotry within a community is to “be the change you want to see” — to never engage in bigoted behaviour, and to challenge it when one is able.

The response, however, was in no way proportionate to the pledge, especially given its entirely voluntary nature.
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Microsoft adds “Big Boobs” to Linux; apologizes

There are a number of relatively new phenomena in the server world that Microsoft has been rather slow to catch up on. Server virtualization is one of them. Where companies like VMWare and Sun (now Oracle) had pretty much already built the defining server virtualization software, with a robust hypervisor (software that lets you run multiple virtual machines on a single physical server) in ESXi, and a great general-purpose software-based virtual machine in VirtualBox, Microsoft made their own hypervisor.

And in traditional Microsoft style, their server virtualization implementation required modifying the Linux kernel to get it to play nice. Rather than emulating the system hardware in such a way that the Hypervisor does all the heavy lifting, they chose to use OS-level drivers to “get the most out of” the hypervisor’s features.

This isn’t generally a bad decision, honestly. VMWare requires guest OS tools to be installed in order to do some stuff too. Microsoft’s actual failing, in this case, was in employing juvenile dudebro programmers who submitted kernel code that included a constant for the upper limit for virtual server guest IDs defined as 0xB16B00B5.
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CONvergence: Rebecca Watson ruins everything

I noticed something shortly after the very well-received Don’t Feed the Trolls panel at CONvergence’s SkepchickCON, once ZOMGItsCriss posted the video. People who otherwise have never seen the level of anti-Watson hatred that her mere existence incurs, were surprised and angered by the fact that the comments on Criss’ video largely ignored the fact that there were five other panelists present. As such, Watson only comprised a smallish fraction of the discussion — and yet, some folks’ comments ran along the line of “why would I listen to That Skepchick bitch whine hysterically about nothing for an hour? She should get raped so she loosens up, the prude whore.” (This is, of course, a composite of real comments on that video. Edit: For skeptics of this exceptional claim, like “…” in the comments, click this to see a Youtube comment that’s very, VERY similar.)

That sort of shit was exactly our point, and it appears to have catalyzed at least one bystander to radicalize against that sort of trolling.

The last night I spent in Minneapolis, Skepchick Kammy held a barbecue at her place for the participants of the SkepchickCON track. At one point, Kammy’s son pressganged his parents into moving the attendees into their driveway so they could set off the remainder of the fireworks (left over from the celebration a few days prior, when Minnesotans celebrate Three Days After Canada Day in a sweet, but odd, gesture to your neighbors to the north). We pulled our chairs out from their back yard and set them up to watch the firework display, and I found myself setting my chair up near enough to Watson to pronounce loudly:

“Well, I was really looking forward to seeing this firework display, but now that I’m stuck here next to Rebecca Watson, it’s just ruined for me. I mean, who wants to listen to her sit quietly for an hour?”
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Doug Stanhope: more irresponsible messaging for DJ to rebuke

In his interview with Russia Times, Doug Stanhope, who will be part of The Amazing Meeting’s entertainment at 9pm Friday night, gives full-throated defense of Daniel Tosh’s right to make rape jokes — which right nobody has actually denied.

But not just rape jokes — also the right to suggest that it would be humorous if five men suddenly started raping an audience member who dared to say that rape jokes aren’t actually funny.


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Ashu Solo increases pressure on Saskatoon prayer-mayor

I’ve covered previously Ashu Solo’s complaints to the mayor of Saskatoon for one of their councillors’ prayers during a volunteer appreciation dinner, and the CCLA asking them to stop it.

It appears that several days ago, Solo contacted me to let me know that he’s built a blog post regarding the media’s coverage of this ongoing issue, and of Atchison’s and Donauer’s odious and religiously-privileged responses. (My email has been inundated lately though, so it kinda got buried, and I’m only getting around to posting this now.)

That post is here, and includes an open letter to the pair that documents where they’ve doubled down publicly.
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“An open letter to the tone troll”

You know who you are.

George Waye lays it all out for you.

Hi there!

I bet you’re wondering why I’m writing you this letter.  You might even be wondering why people are all so mad at you right now- and why they are calling you mean names.  I know, I know- you were only trying to help, right?  You just wanted to see a little decorum, a little civility- and everyone is just amplifying the very thing you are trying to help them discard.  It must be frustrating.  It must feel as though you are experiencing the cruel effects of tribalism- a sort of “internet xenophobia”, if you will.  You are a mere missionary preaching the gospel of civil discourse and the lynch mob stands with torches and pitchforks waiting for you at the county line.

Amirite?

Here is the thing.  Those people you were trying to help?  They are having a conversation.  That conversation has a topic.  That topic is important to them.  It is important enough that they are wearing their gut reactions on their sleeves.  So when you come waltzing in, and you say “Guys- hey, guys- Y U mad, bro?” they are more than likely going to turn on you.

Why, you ask?  You’re only trying to let cooler heads prevail, right? I totally get what you’re feeling right now.  I understand.

What you need to understand is that the reason they are mad is right in front of you.  It’s right there- in the post you are reading.  Heck, it may even be summed up pretty succinctly in the title of the post.  Yet here you are, telling these people that you don’t understand what could possibly have them up in arms.  This, to them, is the problem.

Imagine you find yourself in a hotel burning to the ground.  You see a number of people frantically yelling to wake the guests up- pounding on doors and shouting.  You have that mental image yet? Don’t worry, I’ll wait…..

We good now?  Alright, so now imagine- for the sake of argument- you see this one man who seems perfectly calm.  He is standing at the Continental breakfast table pouring himself a coffee and unwrapping a stale shrink-wrapped danish.  Instead of showing any concern at all for the crisis going on around him, he grabs the occasional screaming patron and notes to them how the curtains don’t match the sofa in the lobby.  WTF, right?

You are being that guy.  You are walking into a that burning hotel to talk about interior decorating.

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An unidirectional “conversation” with an MRA on Google+

Wanted to throw this on the blog for a few days now, but it’s been… busy. Over at Google+, it seems the only people who engage with my linking back to various websites are the MRAs and antifeminists who probably make up the majority of the early-adopters of the technology.

I had posted a link to Chris Clarke’s thoughts on the latest skeptical sexism imbroglio, and the only answers I got were from one guy who was entirely disinterested in engaging with the points I attempted to make in a pithy, I-don’t-have-time-for-fisking-this kind of way.

Seriously, it’s a hell of a gish gallop. You should see it.
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You Must Always Be Nice: why I’m not being nice to DJ Grothe

Women supporting harassment are told they're just recounting "locker room tales" and "sexual exploits"... BUT SOME GUY CALLED ME A DOUCHEBAG SO BOTH SIDES ARE EQUALLY BAD.

If I’ve learned anything over the last week, it’s that there are two opposing factions that slaver at the bit to attack us feminists for different kinds of slip-ups — or perceived slip-ups, rather. There’s the “free speech” crowd who think that freethought means you should be free to use whatever racial, sexual or other slurs you want while making your arguments, who will scream and yell and build controversy over your banning them as disingenuous asses. There is, at the same time, another faction who will taunt and misconstrue and manufacture controversy over any perceived instance of being “mean”.

People like me — people who both condemn folks for using sexist slurs repeatedly and with impunity, but at the same time are willing to call people names when I get emotional — are stuck in the middle of both groups. I look like a tasty target to both sets of people because I appear to be a hypocrite. And surely I am! I mean, how could I possibly advocate not using certain insulting words when I’m willing to use other insulting words?

It’s rather easy to sort this out, of course. Though it does take a bit of intellectual honesty. And probably more patience and empathy than a certain class of reader has to hir credit.
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