This is what they call a life lesson

It’s not exactly fun when you’re experiencing it, but you’ll be able to look back at it ten years from now and know you learned from it.

I went on a fancy pub crawl last night with a bunch of the other grad students. The last place was a dance club, so I wanted to ditch my coat. Knowing this was potentially a bad idea in a crowded club, I took my driver’s license, student ID, credit card, and phone out of my coat pockets and stashed them in my bra (yes, I can can use my boobs for storage).

Problem: I forgot I also had my keys in my coat pocket. And my coat got stolen. Goodbye, apartment, lab, and car keys.

After being the Classy Hysterically Crying Drunk Girl in The Club, my friends eventually got me into a cab and I crashed at their place. I looked like the ultimate Walk of Shame this morning, with my black cocktail dress, blistering/bleeding heels from dancing in dress shoes, hangover, and male friend’s oversized jacket (since I was cold and obviously no longer had mine). I then sat in front of my house for 45 minutes until the locksmith came. I called the club to see if anyone turned anything in on the off chance someone accidentally took my coat and returned it, but no one answered and I got a defunct voicemail box.

I’m now in my apartment and I have a spare key, so that crisis is temporarily averted. But I’m still car-keyless…and I have to drive to Eugene, OR for a speaking event on Friday. Fuck.

Lesson: Don’t be fucking stupid and make it easy for people to take your shit.

The stupidest part? I know this will be alright, I can replace locks, I can get a new car key, I can buy a new coat (even though I really liked that one)… but I can’t replace my Venusaur keychain. I won that in a Pokemon tournament 13 years ago, and I still loved it. It’s stupid to care about a little piece of beat up nerdy plastic when your keys are gone… but I’m sentimental. It’s depressing losing a symbol of your childhood due to…well, not thinking like an adult.

And to add insult to injury, during the night out I got rejected by a guy I like in a pretty stupendously awkward way, and I’m worried I’ve ruined our friendship. When it rains, it pours.

Off my ASS for …myself – Week 15

Starting weight: 186.4 lbs
Two weeks ago weight: 171.8 lbs
Current weight: 169.8
Weight loss past two weeks: 2.0 lbs
Total weight loss: 16.6 lbs

Getting back on track. Don’t have much to add this week, except that I’ve gone from this:To this:Next goal*: Be able to take that last photo without sucking it in.

*Real next goal: Put on more muscle and keep up the healthy diet.

To PZ Myers

I second your motion for this:

If there were any sense and justice in the world, the next atheist meeting I attend would be populated entirely with angry women looking to overthrow the temples of the patriarchy.

Godless Gal Smackdowncon. Who wouldn’t come?!

Feel free to discuss you dream speakers and events in the comments.

I’m torn

On one hand, I can totally get behind the message of this public announcement:

“Seattle Public Schools has been receiving numerous questions regarding the District’s policy on the celebration of religious holidays. We have a ‘Religion and Religious Accommodation’ policy, approved by the School Board in 1983, stating that ‘no religious belief or non-belief should be promoted by the School District or its employees, and none should be disparaged.'”

On the other hand, the thing they’re objecting to?

A local high school sophomore, Jessica, on a community service project was volunteering for a third-grade class at Seattle Public Schools. “At the end of the week I had an idea to fill little plastic eggs with treats and jelly beans and other candy, but I was kind of unsure how the teacher would feel about that,” said Jessica, reports MyNorthwest. “She said that I could do it as long as I called this treat ‘spring spheres.’ I couldn’t call them Easter eggs.”

…Alright, I know I’m a rabid militant extremist angry atheist and all, but even this seems a bit a silly to me.

For one, they’re certainly not spheres – and we wonder why math scores are so low.

But are Easter eggs even religious anymore? When I was a kid, I never really thought about spiritual dogma as I was checking under the couch – I just wanted some chocolate. Or maybe a dollar bill if I was really lucky. I think I may lump this in with singing about Santa Claus – something that maybe used to vaguely link to religion, but now is thrown around for entertainment purposes and happens to retain a historical name.

I do find it amusing that Christians are the ones flipping out about this. Pfftttt, like Easter eggs have anything to do with Christianity. Where are the angry emails from pagans?

EDIT: Apparently the Seattle Public Schools haven’t been able to verify this story yet, and the radio show where it was first presented is a conservative pundit. Who smells a manufactured controversy so people can make a stink about those evil atheists taking god out of our schools? (Thanks, Liz)

Well, *my* Ask an Atheist Day was uneventful

Today was National Ask an Atheist Day. The Secular Student Union at the University of Washington had a table out on Red Square. The result? We had seven people sign up for our mailing list. Two white haired, bearded professors laughed and gave us fist bumps. One guy asked what our favorite food was.

Guess Seattle doesn’t have much to ask atheists.

But Virginia Tech’s day wasn’t so peaceful:

Virginia Tech Police were called to the Drillfield Wednesday afternoon following a report of a student stabbing his own hand with a pen.

Police were called at 1:19 p.m. by a 911 call from a witness at the scene.

Alexander M. Huppert, a freshman university studies major, then assaulted an officer who approached to check his welfare, according to a police press release. After a short struggle with the officer and several witnesses, he was taken into custody.

The incident took place near a table promoting a local version of “Ask an Atheist Day.” The student group Freethinkers at Virginia Tech sponsored the table.

Witnesses said Huppert stood near the table for nearly an hour. Approaching the table, Huppert borrowed a pen and drew a circle with a cross inside on the back of his hand.

Nicole Schrand, a senior psychology major, said Huppert then asked students at the table to stab him in the cross with the pen to “prove to us God existed.” The students declined.

“We don’t believe in assaulting people,” Schrand said. “We’re very against assaulting people.”

Huppert then asked for the pen back, a request Schrand and other students declined. Seeing another pen, Huppert grabbed it and began stabbing himself in the back of the hand.


If 13-year old Jen could talk now

Last night Dan Savage got the following question at an event at Cornell:

Cornell professor Ritch Savin-Williams said in the New York Times that he’s concerned that it’s not about gay youth, but about gender-atypical kids. Is the “It Gets Better” campaign too narrowly focused?

Dan’s response is spot on:

The kids who suffer the most from anti-gay bullying—the prime targets—are the gender-nonconforming kids, i.e. the sissies and the tomboys, the kids who can’t pass for straight. And some of the kids who can’t pass for straight are straight. Most kids who are gender nonconforming, or gender atypical, are lesbian, gay, bi, or trans, and the IGBP was created to reach out to these queer kids. But the messages at the IGBP are relevant to straight gender-atypical kids, and we know that straight-but-gender-nonconforming kids are watching the videos, commenting on them, taking hope from them, and contributing their own videos.

If I could hop in a time machine and go back 10 years, my 13 year old self would probably say something like:

Dear Mr. Savage,

I like boys, and I have a huuuuge crush on one who I think likes me back. But I’m a tomboy and I always have been. I’ve always hated it more than anything else when my mom tries to put me in a dress or skirt or tights. I don’t get makeup even though every girl is wearing it now. I like playing video games and Pokemon cards even though I’m the only girl at the comic shop, while all the other girls just like to argue about which Spice Girl they’d be. My only friend that’s not a boy is also a tomboy – I’ve always been “one of the guys.”

And that’s why everyone thinks I’m a lesbian. I don’t care if people are gay, but the way they say the word hurts so much. They whisper it like I’m dirty or broken. Girls don’t like changing by me in gym class, even though I’m more concerned that my underwear is dorky than what they look like in their underwear. I know it’ll probably stop when I get a boyfriend (if that ever happens, sigh) but that just makes me feel worse, knowing that the kids who really are gay can’t hide like that and have to put up with this forever.

But when I’m feeling down, I can watch the It Gets Better Project videos and know I’m not alone. So this big letter was to say “thank you.”

And what would my 23 year old self say?

Thank you.

Quotes revealed, with context

We have a winner! Chris Hayduk-Costa matched the atheists to their quotes correctly, with the following logic:

The only statements I can see Dawkins saying (as a result of his normal speech and reading of hatemail) are 1 and 4. From reading Jen’s blog for a year, I would only feel comfortable attributing 1 or 2 to her. Given the options already proven wrong (if I’ve gone through them properly) the above is the only answer left (assuming my assumptions hold obviously).

The answers, with context, as as follows:

1. “I feel like a prostitute!”

Said by Richard Dawkins, after finding out that 10 more students registered for the conference after finding out that they could effectively pay to have a private breakfast with him. Wish I had a recording.

2. “Now, back to buttfucking!”

Said by yours truly, after a conversation with Greta and JT about…well, buttfucking got sidetracked because JT had to make a phone call.

3. “Eat a bag of dicks!”

Said by JT Eberhard, after Greta was rubbing it in about how great being a lesbian is and how bad we have it. It was extra funny because he didn’t initially realize how that particular saying related to the situation at hand.

4. “Eat shit and die!”

Said by Greta Christina, after JT and I were whining about having to wake up at 7am to go have our private fancy breakfast with Richard Dawkins.

I love how most people correctly guessed that the only plausible thing for Dawkins to say was number 1, unless he was reading hate mail. But I love more that pretty much everyone assumed Greta had to be the one talking about buttfucking. I tricked you, mwahaha!

Atheist conferences are so fun.

I just bought my genome!

Well, kinda sorta. 23andMe, one of the more popular personalized genomics companies, is having a DNA Day sale today. Usually the price to get your genome analyzed (more on this in a bit) is $199 for the kit and $9 a month for a year for their update service – where they’ll rerun your data when new research comes out. But today you can get the kit for free!

I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time but was prohibited by the price, but this is a deal I can’t pass up – so my kit is ordered. I’m prepared to muster up a lot of saliva and then still have some left over to drool over the data. Yep, not only do they give you general interpretations, but you can access the raw data – something a geneticist like me can actually have a lot of fun fiddling around with.

But before everyone runs off and buys their own kit…a warning. I honestly don’t think I’d recommend 23andMe (or any other type of personalized genomics) to a non-geneticist. Not yet, at least. There are a couple reasons:

1. The technology in this area is greatly improving. They just upgraded from a 550,000 single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) chip to the 1 million SNP chip. That means they’re looking at a million sites in your genome that are known to be variable across humans. While that may seem like a lot, it’s really just the tip of the iceberg. Pretty soon you’ll be able to have your whole genome sequenced. You may want to wait to get the biggest bang for your buck.

2. Genome Wide Association Studies (GWAS) sort of suck, and that’s what a huge chunk of their data, especially the medical stuff, is based off of. GWAS look for SNPs that are associated with a trait, usually disease. The thing is, usually an association can explain a tiny percent of cases of that disease – something like 1%, or even less. And often times that SNP doesn’t always produce a certain trait – for example, having the infamous BRCA gene doesn’t mean you’ll get breast cancer for sure. And almost all studies are done with people of European ancestry, so if you’re not, your results will likely be very inaccurate. So tl;dr, it’s really wishy washy.

3. Because of that, you need to take your results with a grain of salt – which is hard for people without genetic or statistical backgrounds. And that can result in a lot of self-diagnosing that really can’t replace just going and talking to your doctor and giving them a medical history.

People ask if I’m afraid I’ll find out something I don’t want to know – but I’m the type of person who rather know. I’m going to be honest – If I’m predisposed to some horrible disease that will kill me in my 30s, I would not be sitting in a laboratory pipetting or programming. I very much have the view that I want to live life to it’s fullest, and I want to know if I have significantly less years to do so. That and I think learning more about my biology and my ancestry is worth the risk. I’m a scientist and a skeptic – what’s more interesting than the truth?

I obviously won’t share all of my data since much will be very personal, but definitely expect more blog posts about the subject in the future.

Match the atheist to the conference quote

Time for a match game! Our celebrity atheists are:

A. Greta Christina
B. Richard Dawkins
C. JT Eberhard
D. Jen McCreight

The quotes overheard at the American Humanist Conference and presented hilariously out of context:

1. “I feel like a prostitute!”
2. “Now, back to buttfucking!”
3. “Eat a bag of dicks!”
4. “Eat shit and die!”

Feel free to guess and discuss your reasoning in the comments. If you overheard one of the quotes, please don’t spoil it for others.

…And yes, atheists are a classy bunch. Don’t you wish you came now?