That’s how many hours it’s taken me to get to Bucharest. But I’m here now! The sun is shining! I’m about ready to pass out! I’m hoping a shower will reawaken my will to consciousness.
May 23 2013
May 22 2013
Go to twitter now: David Silverman (@MrAtheistPants) is tearing the atheist trolls a new one. This is really what I like to see: a leader of a major atheist organization taking an unambiguous stand against this ulcer in our midst, and repudiating the spammy, photoshopping, lying behavior of the anti-feminist clique.
How much do I appreciate it? With my dollars. My wife is going to sign us up for a lifetime membership in American Atheists while I’m away. It’s not a casual investment, so not everyone can do that, but you could send them a donation to let the organization know that you like a leader with a spine.
May 22 2013
I’ll be boarding a plane very shortly and going totally incommunicado until I land in Bucharest sometime tomorrow morning…so I’ll leave you something pretty to look at. This is Rosa canina, the dog rose, and the national flower of Romania.
And just because I like it, here’s Salvia transsylvanica, or the Transylvanian sage.
My destination is looking gorgeous already.
May 22 2013
Secular Woman has issued a formal statement on the ‘introduction’ to the Women in Secularism conference. It’s pretty potent stuff…I like it.
I look forward to the CEO’s response, which will probably compare it to a communique from Red China. A declaration of war, perhaps?
May 22 2013
One of the talks that had everyone buzzing at Women in Secularism was Rebecca Goldstein’s. She introduced an idea that clicked for everyone — that all people have a need to matter in the world, that all of us strive to make some difference, have some effect, on others. It’s true of everyone, men and women alike, but what often happens is that women are ignored — a women has to work much harder than a man to matter. On a small scale, it happens at every committee meeting in which a woman proposes an idea and it’s neglected until a man echoes it (and then he gets the credit); on a large scale, open your history books and look at the genders of the notable names. There’s a bit of a numerical disparity.
Kameron Hurley has written an excellent essay on these narratives that make women invisible, ‘We Have Always Fought’: Challenging the ‘Women, Cattle and Slaves’ Narrative. She’s coming at it from the perspective of a SF/Fantasy writer who has noticed all the lazy tropes we expect from our stories: the hero is a man, or if she’s a woman, you either get the novelty of her doing ‘man-like’ things (and isn’t it unfair that we tie those activities to gender?) or she’s constrained to stereotypical women’s ways. “Woman” is a synonym for “Other” so often.
If women are “bitches” and “cunts” and “whores” and the people we’re killing are “gooks” and “japs” and “rag heads” then they aren’t really people, are they? It makes them easier to erase. Easier to kill. To disregard. To un-see.
But the moment we re-imagine the world as a buzzing hive of individuals with a variety of genders and complicated sexes and unique, passionate narratives that have yet to be told – it makes them harder to ignore. They are no longer, “women and cattle and slaves” but active players in their own stories.
It’s a wonderful read, go read it.
Another recommendation: she references The Women Men Don’t See by James Tiptree. It’s online! You can read that, too! It’s a story that will make you think. You’ve heard of the unreliable narrator…this one features the irrelevant narrator, a man who comes along for the ride and really doesn’t understand anything that’s going on, because he can’t see the real protagonists as anything but a couple of women.
The theme resonates with me in so many ways. It’s not just feminism, but atheism and science that demand that you open your eyes and see the world as it really is. Every time we break out of our preconceptions, we gain.
May 22 2013
The fact that dumb-as-dirt Wolf Blitzer still has a job is one of those ineffable mysteries that I can’t explain.
Don’t worry, though: I caught a bit of CNN this morning, and it’s a lot of people praising god and saying they prayed continuously through the storm. It’s like they’re overcompensating now.
May 21 2013
I just returned from Washington DC yesterday, and early tomorrow morning I have to fly off for the IHEU General Assembly and to speak at the Humanism Romania conference. The theme is “Education, Science, and Human Rights” — I might be able to say a few words about that.
I don’t think I’ve fully recuperated from the last trip, though, so I’m going to be thoroughly worn out by this one. Blogging may be a little intermittent for a while, especially since I think my flights and layovers total about 13 hours each way. And I’m plunging into the lab as soon as I get back, too.
May 21 2013
Some people have considered the recent criticisms of the CEO of the Center for Inquiry to be a wholesale attack on the organization (well, “some people” meaning “freakin’ loons”). Nothing could be further from the truth. I’m a supporter; I think many of their causes are essential; I appreciate the work of many of the people there. Let’s not forget that the whole of the organization is not the brain of the CEO, whether it’s Paul Kurtz or Ron Lindsay, both of whom have also done good work. We have to trust in the quality of the group to overcome the flaws of the individual.
So I thought I might throw out an occasional post to let you know about a few of the commendable efforts of CFI — you know, try a little positive reinforcement in addition to my usual spiked bludgeon of criticism.
CFI has an Office of Public Policy.
The Office of Public Policy (OPP) is the Washington, D.C. political arm of the Center for Inquiry. Our mandate is to advocate for public policy based on reason, science, and secular values. This includes lobbying at all levels of government — Congress, the Administration, and the international community, including the United Nations — to promote and defend separation of church and state, the role of scientific evidence and secular ethics in policymaking, and basic civil and human rights.
This is the unit that lobbies the government directly for secular causes — if there is something that pisses you off about public policy, this is an effective place to ask for assistance. The director of the OPP is Michael De Dora, who has been working his butt off to get things done. He’s also their representative to the UN.
He meets with the State Department on issues of international concern for secularists, and as we all know there have been a number of those lately, with atheists being persecuted in several countries. He lobbies to keep religion and politics out of science, and has fought against the corruption of our educational system.
He’s also stood up for women’s issues, opposing restrictions on emergency contraception and abortion. You can find a good summary of his position in his speech at the Unite Women rally.
If CFI had really felt it necessary to tap a high-ranking man to give an introduction at the Women in Secularism conference, it would have been a good choice to delegate it to De Dora, who has a solid record on women’s issues and would definitely have been politic enough to avoid throwing a few rhetorical grenades into the crowd. In the past I’ve said some rude things about a few remarks he made about creationism, but…he got better. I’ve met with him a few times, and I’m confident in his abilities in his job — and he’s one of a lot of faces at CFI who do great work.
So keep on criticizing where criticizing needs to be done — it’s how the organization gets better. But let’s not forget that CFI also does invaluable work on our behalf.
May 21 2013
As mentioned in this post, I was waiting for Foundation Beyond Belief to put up a crisis response page. If you were thinking of making an aid donation, go here to help victims of the Oklahoma tornado.
I’ve seen some reluctance to donate because Oklahoma’s senators, Coburn and Inhofe, are fucking selfish scumbags. Don’t let that hold you back — the children who were killed or hurt or made homeless didn’t vote for them, so just think of them when you dig into your pockets.
(Also, apparently my very general link from last night led to about $3000 in donations — you can do better now that you’ve got a specific focus!)
May 21 2013
Adam Lee has a nice summary of the Women in Secularism conference. However, he does reveal that we Ftbullied him into talking the picture below, which is a no-no. You were told not to tattle, Adam Lee. The next time we meet, expect a pantsing, or even a swirlie. Also, put your lunch money in an envelope and mail it to me right now.
Oh, and look — even more ftbullying! We’re all holding signs abusing the theocratic governments that jail atheist bloggers.