My article on the growth of boobquake at the Daily Beast

Hey everyone, just wanted to let you know that I wrote a piece for the Daily Beast on the incredible response to boobquake. I focus on the emails and traffic I’ve been getting, the media coverage, the power of social media, and the silly things people have created in honor of boobquake. Go check it out!

For the people who love number crunching (or are too lazy to read the article), here are some fun facts. Since the 19th I have received:
– About 2,600 new Twitter followers (follow me!)
– About 1,000 new blog subscribers through Google Reader, doubling my total. Yes, in a week I received as many subscribers as I did in a year.
743 friend requests on Facebook. Not sure what proportion of those are male…
Roughly 700 Facebook messages
– From April 19th to the present, 854,521 unique visitors to Blag Hag, with over 2 million pageviews. To put that in perspective, I used to get about 1,000 visitors a day.

Oh, and one more fun fact a friend brought to my attention:My name was the 72nd most popular search on Google yesterday morning? …That’s just flipping insane. Wow. …Wait, “Hotness: Mild”? Did I just get burned by search engine statistics generator? Hehe.

I now have my official atheist chick bling

I’m not typically into jewelry, but when I saw Surly-Ramics, I knew I needed one. Surly Amy (who’s also a Skepchick) is a wonderful artist who produces awesome skeptical, atheist, and science themed jewelry (amongst other things). I had been lurking on Etsy, waiting for the perfect color, but I finally found exactly what I was looking for:Yep, that’s Darwin’s sketch of the tree of life. As a female evolutionary biologist, I’m pretty much required to get this due to overwhelming awesomeness (plus, I loved the color). I’ll definitely be wearing this to my evolution class and lab!
Thanks, Amy!

Zombies live forever…and so will you!

“Zombies live forever…and so will you!” That’s the slogan I saw on the chalkboard in one of my classes today, followed by a date, time, and location. Hmm, vague yet intriguing slogan, with no identifying information? I turned to my friend Ben.

“I totally bet that’s a religious group.”

And after five seconds of Googling, I found out I was right. Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship at Purdue is putting on the event. I have to give them props for their marketing. Humans versus Zombies (effectively a giant, nerdy, insane game of tag involving nerf guns) just got done at Purdue. It was incredibly popular, and they’re working off of our zombie fascination. And the whole dishonest lack of information about what the event is really about – ah, ingenious and typical religious marketing (and not to mention, against Purdue student organization rules).

But I have to say, I’m pretty excited. I never knew that Christianity preached that we all turn into zombies when we die! Well, other than Zombie Jesus, of course. On the other hand, zombies aren’t really alive, so maybe they’re a tad bit confused…

Popped my Star Wars cherry

I have a very important announcement to make.

I just watched Star Wars: A New Hope for the very first time. That’s right, ever. Previously I had only seen very small clips, though I knew the whole plot thanks to being surrounded by nerds. I also have never seen Episodes 5 and 6.

The worst part? I’ve seen the new trilogy.

Though the oddest part was that it was just sort of alright. I mean, some parts were funny, some parts were dated, and some parts were just terrible. I guess it’s different watching it without the childhood memories and attachment. Luke has effectively no reaction to seeing the horrifically charred bodies of the two people who raised him for eighteen years, but the spooky disintegration of Obi Wan leaves him screaming and upset? What the hell, Luke? You’ve known him for only a couple hours, and all he did was give you super vague advice about the Force!

Ok, I’m going to shut up now before I make you guys want to stone me even more. Will watch the other Episodes later!

Goodbye internet, hello Final Fantasy XIII

Hey guys! I’m on spring break! While usually that would mean I have a lot of free time to blog, unfortunately I went out and bought Final Fantasy XIII. If you don’t understand what that means, you need to read this (multiple friends said they immediately thought of me):To illustrate how much of an FF addict I am, my first thought was “That’s so stupid of him! You rarely use phoenix down, especially if you’re a good player. He should have picked potions or something.”

…Yeah, I’m a FF geek.

Anyway, some preliminary thoughts about the game for those of you who got it or are thinking about getting it (don’t worry, I’m not far enough to really know spoilers yet):

1. The dialog is cheesy as hell. And I mean, cheesy compared to other FF games, even. It’s like watching Final Fantasy Days of Our Lives. I almost vomited during the lovey dovey fireworks scene.

2. Making up for that is the graphics. Oh my god. I’d all HD, and the gameplay looks just as high def as the cut scenes. I’m constantly having an eyegasm.

3. Speaking of cut scenes, wow. I know FF is notorious for them, but so far I feel like there’s a cut scene ever five seconds. Of course, it’s so pretty that I don’t really care.

4. I kind of like the new battle system. I was a little worried since I’m one of those n00bs who like turn based and active time scares me, but I think I’m getting the hang of it. It makes the battles feel a lot more real and important since you have to keep making quick decisions. The in-battle graphics are also great, it actually looks like a real fight instead of someone swinging a sword and a monster that’s a mile away going “ouch.”

5. The black guy is comic relief. Again. Oh, FF. Though his baby chocobo is kind of the cutest thing ever.

6. And finally, Vanille is the girliest girly girl ever. When she’s running she literally skips and prances with her arms up in the air. While in a scary dungeon. Wtf. I mockingly yelled “Yaaaay!” when she was running, and then a half second later she went “Yaaaay!” She’s predictably cute.

Other character: Where’s your mark?
Me: *girly voice* On my butt!
Her: Teehee, here! *lifts up skirt to show the mark on her butt*
Me: …Wow.

Alright, back to playing!

Programming + Rap = Win

I don’t know enough programming to understand any of the details, but this is still pretty cool. Two Stanford students (coincidence!) made a Rap Lyric Generator for the final project for one of their CS classes. The result? Well, I had a hard time telling the difference between the man-made rap song, and the computer generated one.

Let’s play a game! Guess which of theses verses come from a real rap song, and which were generated by a computer (answers at bottom of post).

1. And I say “a yia yia yia”
Let’s get it on every time
Holler out “Your mine”
And I say “Oh oo oh oo oh oh oh oh oh
So if you willin’ you wit it then we can spend time
And I say “a yia yia yia”

2. Now first let’s call for the motherfuckin indo
Pull out your crutch and put away your pistol

3. you take pride in suckin’ a good dick
and after i nut bitch you better not spit ha ha ha ha
you’re a dirt dobbler a goop gobbler
you’ll fuck satan for the righteous dollar
so gimme some gimme some

4. can a nigga get some to go yeah baby
she got it she got it she got it
i do my thang in the club
you can do it

5. see i won’t deny it i’m a straight ridah
i got semi-autos to put holes in niggaz tryina play me
i look to my future cause my past is all behind me
yeah see the cross on my neck that just might freeze me

Of course, that’s probably because rap sounds like total nonsensical gibberish to begin with… Alright, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and say their hard work probably had something to do with it too. I mean, they even included a graph of “Rap Quality” (which I’m pretty sure is an oxymoron). Bad music aside, the project is still cool!

(Answers: Human, Human, Human, Computer, Computer)

I literally screamed with nerdy glee



Seriously, this is freaking amazing. I just had biggest nerdgasm since I found out Dumbledore was gay or that Alan Rickman was doing the Voice for Marvin, the Paranoid Android. This is a thousand times better than my Darwin/Pokemon mash up. I’m just sad I didn’t think of it first.

There goes eighteen more dollars from my wallet.

Blag Hag 2010 Census Results

I want to thank everyone who participated in my Blag Hag 2010 Census! 467 people filled out the survey (before I closed it due to eagerness to crunch the numbers), which is absolutely amazing. I was expecting something like 50, but I guess you guys like data just as much as I do. Considering that I have slightly over 1000 subscribers (holy crap!), we did almost as well as voter turnout for the US Presidential elections! Feel special, or maybe depressed, depending how you interpret that.

Because I got a decent sample size, I actually felt safe doing some statistics and trying to interpret the results. Now, as a warning, it’s been a couple of years since I took a statistics class. It is highly probable that I screwed something up, that there was a more appropriate test to use, that one of the first five commenters will correct me, etc. I think we can see some interesting trends here, but it’s no scientific study. Also keep in mind these results don’t necessarily apply to atheists as a whole, just the atheists who read my blog and like to take surveys. Take it with a grain of salt!

Before we get started, here is how I indicated statistical significance on graphs:
* P-value less than 0.05
** P-value less than 0.01
*** P-value less than 0.001
**** P-value less than 0.0001

As always, click the images for a larger, nicer version.
We had 335 males, 135 females, and 7 transgendered readers. This actually surprised me a bit. As you can see, male readers vastly outnumber my female ones. People always ask “Where are the female atheists?” and I usually reply “We’re out here!” I know a lot of female atheists aren’t outspoken enough to want to go to club meetings or be visible, but I would have thought there would be more equal ratios on a blog written by a female atheist that often talks about feminism. My ladies are still drastically outnumbered!

I have a couple of hypotheses.

  • Females hate filling out surveys (unlikely)
  • Male atheists currently do, in fact, outnumber female atheists.
  • Male atheists currently tend to read blogs more than female atheists.
  • My blog is new, so more females haven’t found it yet.
  • This is a better sex ratio than other blogs. Who knows, maybe blogs like Pharyngula and Friendly Atheist have a 9:1 ratio.

Oh, and to my transgendered readers who thanked me for including that option, you’re welcome! Can’t forget you guys. Though I am going to apologize now – most of my analyses look for differences in responses between males and females, and your sample size was too small to work for any of my statistics. Sorry! Please don’t take it personally.
Not surprising that most of my readers fall close to my own age (22). The one bit that surprised me was that I was expecting to have a grand total of two readers over the age of 30. Nothing against my older readers – I just still feel very young and immature in many respects, and I was surprised that so many “adults” would enjoy my blog. So, thank you! There we no difference in the age distribution of males and females.

Now, onto the cool stuff!
I think this result was so cool because it didn’t surprise me. Many studies (and anecdotes) point to females having more fluid sexual orientations and more bisexual tendencies. Our results follow that pretty nicely, with the vast majority of guys considering themselves exclusively heterosexual. Or at least, that’s how they reported their sexual orientation on the survey. Who knows how honest people are even when it’s anonymous.

Oh, and one fun observation: My friends who responded tend to be gayer than my readership as a whole. I think I’m a bad influence on people. Maybe we should see how that chart changes once I get another year to recruit blog.

Favorite open responses:

  • “Science nerd” – The best sexuality ever.

Here readers were allowed to respond with as many answers as they wanted, hence the use of percentage instead of raw numbers. Unsurprisingly, “atheist” was the most common choice. The popular choices seem to be the positive labels – skeptic, humanist, secularist, freethinker – with terms with negative connotations not doing so well. And this supports my opinion that “Bright” comes off as a kind of douchey label that not many non-theists like, since it came in last.

The gender differences here are interesting. Men are significantly more likely to call themselves skeptics, freethinkers, and anti-theists. Anti-theists sort of makes sense, since I think some men are more likely to be aggressive and in your face about things (this does not mean aggressive female anti-theists don’t exist). The other two completely baffle me, though. Women aren’t using skeptic as much, even with the delightful pun of the Skepchicks? And…I have no idea about freethinker. Feel free to come up with your own hypotheses in the comments.

Another interesting thing to note is that men tended to list more labels for themselves than women did. Men used an average of 4.4 labels with a variance of 9.3, and women used an average of 3.7 levels with a variance of 5.7 (p less than 0.01). Of course, this could entirely be from the couple of terms that men like to use a lot more than women.

Favorite open responses:

  • “Awesome”
  • “Belief challenged”
  • “Human” – Two people said this, I liked it!
  • “Depends on my mood and whether I want to be annoying”
  • “Too lazy to be a secular humanist” – Ditto
  • “Shiny?” – I don’t know, are you shiny? Do we have a Twilight vampire amongst us?

Moral of the story: get PZ to link to your blog repeatedly. Seriously though, it seems being linked to by other respected, popular blogs is the best way to get new readers and to retain them. To put this in perspective, Reddit usually gives me as many hits as a Pharyngula or Friendly Atheist plug, but those people don’t tend to stick around. Getting linked to by a great blog is a level of quality control, since that blogger is saying that they like your stuff.

I wasn’t expecting to see any differences here, but there they are! Is this because Pharyngula does have more of a male bias? And what’s up with the ladies liking Google Reader suggestions so much? I have no idea, but thank you, Google Reader!

Favorite open responses:

  • “Girlfriend read occasional blog posts to me” – Aw, oddly sort of cute/cool!
  • “Divine Ordinance, a.k.a. Holy Handgrenade (I don’t remember. Shhh..don’t tell Jen)” – Divine Ordinance is an acceptable answer.

Women like posts on feminism a lot more than men – absolutely shocking! You guys better learn to love them, because they’re not going anywhere, haha. On the flip side, I have no idea why men like posts about me attending local atheist and theist events more than women. Hmmm, maybe because I tend to post a lot of photos when I go…

Other than that, the topics don’t surprise me. Politics is my least favorite topic to blog about since I don’t feel as well read in that area, and apparently my readers don’t love it either (not that they hate it, just that it’s not a favorite topic). Everything else I enjoy blogging about equally, and readers seem to enjoy them equally. Lesson: write about what you like!

Favorite open responses:

  • “Reading about Jen’s boobs” – Got this from multiple people, almost all of them from my friends. Can’t exactly get annoyed, since I am the one writing about my boobs (seriously though, thought this was funny)
  • “The review of those wretched sex scenes were read aloud at a party I threw. Good stuff.” – This is made of ultimate win.

A lot of the free responses said that they loved the blog the way it was and to not feel like I needed to drastically change anything to improve. I didn’t consider this question an ultimatum or some drastic overhaul. I mainly wanted to know if 1. I should increase the attention I put on certain things that I already enjoy doing or 2. if I should start doing things I was thinking about doing. A couple of things:

  • Apparently you guys like my art! Thanks! It’s something I always want to do more of, but a piece of artwork takes something like 6 hours, compared to a short bout of writing. You’ll probably see a lot more art this summer, when I’ll have a lot of free time.
  • On the flip side, you guys don’t care about me making any money. Sadness. A gal’s gotta eat, you know.
  • I’ve avoiding rigid Daily features (like PZ’s Friday Cephalopod) mainly because that takes planning and I’m lazy. However, I may start doing a “List of all the random cool stuff I saw this week but didn’t have enough of an opinion to blog about it” thing. But with a better title. Anyway, I amass awesome links on Google Reader, so it wouldn’t be too hard to post them here.
  • Yeaaah, don’t hold your breath on the videoblogging. I don’t own a webcam/videocamera and I hate watching myself on video. Oh, and apparently Australians have a raging hate-on for videoblogging since their internet service is so shitty, as multiple responders explained. Don’t want to ostracize my readers down under!

Oh, and of course “More sexy pirate outfit photos” did really well, with men wanting them a lot more. Mind blowing. Maybe I can combine that with community building and contests, and make you send me sexy pirate photos of yourself! Much better than photos of me, right? …Right?

I’m saving the final open response suggestions for the next post, since this post is already getting massive enough. What do you guys think of these findings? Have any comments or hypotheses? Do you have any other things you want me to look at (if certain terms are correlated with each other, etc)? Just let me know, and I’ll crunch some more numbers! Data is fun!

My first atheist wedding art commission!

My friends Julie and Don are getting married this summer, and instead of including a dorky photograph with their wedding invitation, they asked me to draw a cartoon of them! (Click image for higher quality)
If you can’t tell, all of my friends are a bit nerdy. Julie is working towards vet school and takes care of shelter animals, especially exotics – hence the snake. And apparently Don is just a big super hero dork on the inside, because he requested the Spiderman outfit.

They’re also both active atheists and skeptics, which is why they’re getting a little plug here. Julie is a frequent member of the Society of Non-Theists and often comments here at the blog. And some of you may actually know Don – he blogs over at Action Skeptics and gave a talk at TAM 2009 on Kids Thinking Critically, a “strategy to bring critical thinking skills to at-risk and underprivileged youth.” He’s also working his butt of organizing speakers for the upcoming Skepchicamp in Chicago, which Julie and I are speaking at.

An early congratulations to you to! Who says us godless heathens aren’t capable of love?

My mind is blown

Last night we had a pizza party and game night for the Society of Non-Theists’ last meeting of the semester. I brought my Wii along, and being foolish, didn’t bring the sensor bar. My logic at the time was that all the games I brought didn’t require the sensor bar, so why waste time untangling it from the jungle of wires behind me TV? As I turned the Wii on in the classroom, I remembered that you need to use the sensor bar to click the button on the Wii menu that actually starts the game. You’re unable to do this any other way – d-pad, joystick, and other random button mashing didn’t work.

My first thought was “Well, fuck.” My second thought was, “Wow Nintendo, I hate you. Way to make completely user-unfriendly controls just so people require your sensor bar.” My third and most intelligent thought was, “The internet must have a solution.”

I skimmed through a couple of pages of Google before I found something. It seemed so simple that I didn’t believe it. I yelled over the din of pizza eating heathens, “Does anyone have a lighter?”

Oh my God. AMAZING.

The way a Wiimote works is by detecting infrared light. You can also produce infrared light with fire. Members and I looked on in awe as I controlled the Wiimote by pointing it at a flame. It seemed like freaking magic, but no – it was SCIENCE.

Science wins again, allowing a bunch of atheists to beat each other up in Brawl and die hilariously in Super Mario Brothers (cooperation is hard!).