#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 Curious Case of the Mega-Shark, Locked in Mortal Combat with the Giant Octopus

My forfeit for Geek Girl Con having raised $2500. Yes, this means I’m participating in the DIY Science Zone track at GGC, specifically, doing a set of demonstrations about statistics, randomness and 20-sided dice.

A silent film about two giant underwater monsters. Done for Geek Girl Con 2014 fundraising, with great regrets. When the fundraiser hits $5000 raised, I vow to play Battletoads beginning to end, with unlimited lives, on Twitch.tv! Donate now to inflict pain upon me in retribution for my making you watch this nonsense!

Fonts:
Nickelodeon NF – http://www.1001fonts.com/nickelodeon-font.html
Little Lord Fontleroy – http://www.dafont.com/little-lord-fontler.font

Music: Royalty Free silent film score by Kevin MacLeod

http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/?genre=Silent%20Film%20Score

Hyperfun, Fig Leaf Times Two, Amazing Plan, Villainous Treachery
(and some sub-thirty-second snippets that would be spoilers)

Visit the Donations Page to donate to Geek Girl Con. Do it now!

Visit… well, right here… to point and laugh at the performing monkey.

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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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.

FtBCONscience: the seven panels I’m facilitating

Here’s a convenient list of the seven panels I’ve got set up as On-Air Events on Google+. All times are GMT -5 (Central).

FtBConscience banner

FtBCON: Atheism Is Not Enough
Sat, Jul 20, 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
As proven by the deep rifts that exist within movement atheism, a common acknowledgement that there is no god is often not enough ground on which to build a coherent, lasting community. Social justice movements often encounter tipping points where they either take into account the natural allies that are other movements, or they fail. This panel will discuss how movement atheism should not be the end-point of a journey into social justice, but the beginning.

FtBCON: Atheism, Science and Art
Sat, Jul 20, 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Artists within the secular, scientific and skeptical communities online discuss using their art to popularize their preferred field. Hosted by Amy Roth and Glendon Mellow.

FtBCON: Skepticism and the DSM
Sat, Jul 20, 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Multiple personalities? Personality disorders? The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) contains a list of all recognized mental illnesses. How valid is it? Kate will look at the best and worst mental health diagnoses and talk about what makes for useful skepticism when it comes to mental health.

FtBCON: Video Games, Religion and Morality
Sat, Jul 20, 10:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Religion and morality systems in video games are often grossly oversimplified, to the point where choices are entirely binary and you’re often forced, as a gamer, to do things that you might otherwise find appalling, like working in service of a god or gods. How are these heady topics handled in the slowly-maturing video game industry? Who’s already doing this stuff right? How can these topics’ treatment be improved?

FtBCON: Female Protagonists in Video Games
Sun, Jul 21, 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM
Women make up 45% of the gamer population, a number that’s climbing rapidly toward parity. And yet, female protagonists in games are few and far between — and when games are exclusively fronted by female characters, they get far less marketing budget than their equivalent male-led titles. Why? What can be done about this?

FtBCON: Atheism and Grief
Sun, Jul 21, 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Moderated by Rebecca Hensler, founder of Grief Beyond Belief. Featuring Freethought Blogger Greta Christina, Blue-Collar Atheist Hank Fox and Black Skeptics LA’s Nicome Taylor. “I’ll keep you in my prayers,” “Everything happens for a reason.” We’ve heard all the cliches. But what happens when we grieve free of myths and mysticism? How do atheists take care of themselves and of each other in times of profound sorrow? Grief Beyond Belief’s Rebecca Hensler moderates a discussion with panelists Greta Christina, Hank Fox and Nicome Taylor about their personal experiences of grief without God and how the freethought community can help provide rational comfort in times of tragedy and loss.

FtBCON: Where are the Asian Faces of Freethought?
Sun, Jul 21, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
John Xu the new Director of CFI Canada made this observation: “I have often remarked how little interest people of my ethnicity have for secularist and freethought issues. My theory is that this is because they are the product of very complicated and difficult social, political, and intellectual turmoils of the 20th Century. Most Chinese people I know are brought up with a single-minded concern about generating wealth and a general apathy about philosophical matters. This is likely because their parents lived through such hard times.” Although East Asians are the largest group of irreligious adherants in the world, the prominent faces of irreligion are white men like Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris. The panelists will discuss and dissect assumptions and stereotypes about East and South Asians and their puzzling absence in representative numbers in the freethought and secular microcosm.

The Full Schedule for the convention is available at Lanyrd.com. All panels will be held via Google+ Hangout On-Air Events. Visit the official conference page for more details!