Why are you a feminist?

I know why Laci Green is.

As long as I can remember, I’ve been one…even before I knew what it is. I felt it.

My parents married young, immediately had a string of kids, and weren’t highly educated: my father pumped gas for a living and my mother was a homemaker. Do I need to tell you we were poor? That didn’t matter to us: we could see that our parents loved each other very much and also loved us, but to be honest, you’ve got to admit that love doesn’t pay the rent. There were stresses and strains. I know my father was torn up because he was struggling so hard to meet that traditional male role as the breadwinner, and he wasn’t doing so well…and there was also a problem of binge drinking.

And then, my mother got a job to help out. And my parents argued. I knew that wasn’t right; if Dad can work, why can’t Mom? And then one night they fought. My father actually slapped my mother. I didn’t see it, but my sisters did, and they immediately started such wailing and crying and running through the house — that was wrong. Our parents were in love, they never ever hit each other. We were in total shock.

I’ll never forget what my mother did. She left. She took my sisters and moved back to stay with her parents. Our family was torn right in half, and it was probably the most traumatizing, terrible event of my childhood…but I still knew my mother had done the right thing, and that was important. My mother has always been quiet, soft-voiced, the stereotypical sensitive one, but I also knew in that moment that she was also damn strong and righteous. Even if I was crying myself to sleep every night, I was proud that she had stood up for herself.

The good news is that my father was also strong, and strength in this case meant admitting that he was wrong and changing his behavior. I never saw him drunk after that day; I never saw him strike my mother ever again. The usual description would be that he went “crawling back to her”, but that wouldn’t be it at all — it was more that two people who loved each other also realized that respect was part of the equation.

I was eight years old. I learned that forcing people into traditional roles tore them apart, and mutual respect and equality brought them together again. I also learned that women can be strong, and that good men can make mistakes. And years later, when I learned about this feminist thing, my reaction was to think, “But of course…isn’t everyone?”

I’m going to Seattle!

It’s a good deal — I’m going to spend a few days with my family, and then on Thursday, 5 June, at 7:30pm, I’ll be at Town Hall to talk about An Atheist’s Insight. I’m planning on specifically addressing the conflict between science and religion, and then opening it up to a nice thorough Q&A — you’ll be able to grill me. Lots of fun!

One catch: they’re charging admission. You’ll have to cough up a whole $5 to have the privilege of pestering me.

Oh, also, the big reason for doing this: The Happy Atheist is coming out in paperback. There will be a book signing. Or if you’d prefer, a book burning (it’ll sell copies, so that’s fine with me). I’ll also be in town most of that week, so if we want to do an informal get-together, we might be able to arrange that, too.

How to celebrate Easter

Here’s how I did it: I’ve been composing a genetics exam all day, and updating stuff for a review session tomorrow. And in a little bit, I’m going to sit down with a cup of tea and watch Cosmos.

The best way to celebrate? Leave Jesus and church out of it. Also, no magic eggs.

Into the heart of Morridor

It’s just been a fun day — we’re having a dreadful nasty snowstorm (it’s April! It’s Minnesota!), so we had to drive in last night, lest we get snowed in and to remove any temptation to rush, and after a harrowing 5 hour drive I’ve been stashed in a motel. Next up is a quick hop to the airport, and then…Salt Lake City!

Maybe I’ll convert. <snort>

Weird eyes

I’ve been having some odd vision problems lately, and I’d sort of resigned myself to that common symptom of aging, and that I was going to inevitably need bifocals. So this morning I went in for an eye exam.

It turns out that’s not it at all — my eyes are healthy, no serious problems, but one of my eyes has gotten slightly better, which was causing some disparities that were bothering me. So no bifocals. New lenses to compensate.

Also, it was my left eye — which I prefer to call my sinister eye — which has grown more powerful. The little devil PZ dancing on my left shoulder is rewarding me for paying attention to him.

Now I have to get back to grading. Wait, that’s a reward?

Are you planning to go out to eat today?

We did. My wife and I went out to Mi Mexico in Alexandria for a celebratory lunch (she has put up with me for 34 years! Yay!). It was very good — they have a vegetarian menu and prices were reasonable.

But just before I left, I was reading this terrible site, Sundays Are the Worst, which has a huge collection of stories from restaurant waitstaff about serving the Sunday-after-church crowd. You know where this is going: appallingly rude Christians stiffing people right and left. And then we went to a restaurant.

I think I over-tipped. I felt like I had to compensate for Jesus’ selfish followers.

Hey, KPOV Bend Community Radio!

I’ve gotten multiple requests from KPOV to participate in an interview, and I’ve replied to every one, saying I’d be happy to do so…and then a week or two later I get a query again asking if I’d be interested. I think all my replies are getting dumped into a spam trap or something — you might want to check on that.

Still happy to join in. If any of you are in Bend, you might let ’em know that I really haven’t been ignoring them.

Chaos in email land!

The combination of an attempted hack, jacking up my email security, and breaking my usual email reader have lead to a worse-than-usual mess in my email in-box, and I’m implementing a few changes that won’t affect most of you who write to me, but just in case, I’m spreading the word.

You want to email me? You can still use pzmyers@gmail.com. That is the only valid address for most of you.

Some of you occasionally write to my umn.edu address. That one is getting thoroughly locked up: if you send email there, it will automagically be fed into a nuclear furnace and vaporized, unless you are writing to me from another umn.edu address or from a small set of authorized domains (and I won’t tell you what they are). Pretend that email address doesn’t even exist anymore. This has become necessary as essential work and student email has been getting buried under the noise.

I’m actually enjoying the purity and simplicity of that account right now — it’s so clean and manageable!

Today is my birfday!

I had such plans, such grand plans for today. We’re on spring break, and I am 100% caught up on my grading, so I have no obligations hanging over me. I had a list in my head:

  • Pancakes!

  • A little writing, off and on, on my big super secret project.

  • Build a model airplane. My daughter got me one as a souvenir of her trip to Japan, and my first thought was, “I haven’t built one of these since I was a teenager, 30 years ago”…and then I had to recalculate. 40 years ago. 40. So I was going to aggressively regress to a spotty gangling teen nerd today.

  • Cosmos on the TV tonight!

Doesn’t that sound relaxing? But no, instead I have come down with the Mother of All Colds, and I am hacking and weezing and got little sleep and am feeling miserable.

So plans…revised.

  • Sit.

  • Ooze slime from cranial orifices.

  • Hot tea.

  • Archer season 4 on NetFlix.

  • Hope I’m conscious for Cosmos.

Thst’ll have to do. Maybe later this week I’ll have my party, belatedly, once I finish destroying this virus.