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 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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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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