In a gallery in Ballard

I was in Ballard yesterday afternoon, and I was walking down Ballard Avenue, which is a protected historical district with beautiful 19th century brick buildings – old hotels and shops and newspaper offices – and passed a gallery with some amazing sculptures in the windows, so I went in to look at all of them.

They’re like this:

The woman in the gallery said to me, “You know what they’re made of?” I said, “I assume paper.”

They are made of lottery tickets!

How cool is that?

The sculptor is Alex Lockwood.

Guest post: Josh has the ear of Vermont Public Radio, so…

Guest post by Josh, Official Spokesgay. He wrote to Vermont Public Radio to cancel his donation because of NPR’s coverage of Chelsea Manning, and then –

So I waited for five days to hear back from Vermont Public Radio, and all I got was a polite, non-committal “Thank you for your support. . bye bye” form letter confirming my cancellation. This next won’t surprise you—I sent the board and executive staff an irritated letter for their shitty donor/listener engagement. I run a nonprofit myself and my board would have my head if I blew off a longtime donor who took the time to write such detail.

That got some attention. The development director emailed me today to apologize for “dropping the ball” —I totally get making that kind of mistake, so I understand. It was a miscommunication. He wants to meet with me in town for coffee since we live practically next door to each other, and he wants to hear what I think of the Manning coverage and NPR in general.

QUESTION—What would you like me to highlight? I plan to give him a 101 in how terribly trans people are conceived of in our culture and media (the best that I can, being a cis person) and suggest that Vermont Public Radio (at least) do a series on trans issues in society, work, and media.

Those of you who are trans—I am your vessel. I’m not the person who should be speaking for you, but I don’t want to miss this opportunity. I’ll appreciate your guidance!

Creative destruction

We hear a lot about “tearing apart” this or that – skepticism, the atheist movement, the world of skeptoatheo science-loving nerdery. Sometimes the idea is that the tearing apart is mutual, and sometimes it’s that it’s only the pesky feminists (or the mythical Atheismplussers, who are always people who aren’t in fact Atheismplussers, like PZ and Rebecca and me).

Anyway – this idea of tearing apart is interesting. It seems like an odd thing for people who see themselves as involved in a movement to object to, because being involved in a movement also tears things apart. That’s the point of being in a movement. A movement about Keeping Everything Exactly the Same needn’t bother to be a movement. It can relax. [Read more…]

AA 1, New Jersey 0

So – Dave Silverman got his godless license plate after all. The New Jersey DMV backed down.

From the press release:

Cranford, NJ—As public backlash was growing, the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission reversed its decision on Wednesday, approving American Atheists President David Silverman’s application for custom license plates reading “ATHE1ST.”  American Atheists, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, is a national non-profit dedicated to fighting discrimination against atheists.

On Monday, Silverman received a rejection email from the Commission concerning his application. It stated, “Reason for denial: Objectionable or Need Clarification.” When Silverman called to offer this clarification, he was told by a Commission official that his proposed plates were “offensive.”

“There was absolutely no reason that this plate should be denied; this is outrageously discriminatory,” said David Silverman. “There is nothing offensive about atheism or atheists. The state of New Jersey had no right to deem this ‘offensive’ as though it was their place to do so.” [Read more…]

Guest post: a plant evolutionary biologist on GMOs

From comments by quixote on First world phobias.

I’m a plant evolutionary biologist. The problem with the GMO debate is, as others have said, the conflation of many issues.
1) The modification in approx. 75% of GM foods is RoundUp resistance. Both seed and RoundUp have to be bought from Monsanto, which strikes everybody who isn’t Monsanto as a conflict of interest. Result: besides chaining farmers to Monsanto, a whole mess of environmental issues, bad farming practices, etc., etc., etc. Triple-plus Ungood. [Read more…]

How do you get your information?

Mano has a great post on the strange disdain for bloggers.

I move in circles (socially and at work) where people tend to be politically interested but surprisingly ignorant of many facts. I blame it on the fact that they spend far too much time following a few big name sources of TV and print news that they think are comprehensive and giving them the full picture, but in fact are very narrow. When I discuss politics with them and point out all manner of things that they do not know, they sometimes ask me how I get information that they were unaware of. I tell them that I read a lot of blogs that monitor a wide range of news sources and alert me to news that I would otherwise have missed, in addition to providing valuable insights and commentary.

But it is surprising to see the disdain that the words ‘blogs’ still conjure up in these people as soon as I say it. Some of them proudly say that they never have and never will read blogs.

Because any damn fool can set up a blog, therefore they must all be terrible. Uh huh. On the other hand, bloggers can be more independent than people who work for Major Media™, and the good ones combine independence with other valuable qualities. People who never read blogs aren’t in a position to find this out.

It’s all the paperwork

Aw, damn, those oppressive bureaucrats in China are really oppressive – now they’re six years ago they started saying monks have to get government permission before they can reincarnate! That’s just mean.

China has banned Buddhist monks in Tibet from reincarnating without government permission. According to a statement issued by the State Administration for Religious Affairs, the law, which goes into effect next month and strictly stipulates the procedures by which one is to reincarnate, is “an important move to institutionalize management of reincarnation.” [Read more…]

One of 18 women

It’s everywhere. There’s the mayor of San Diego, for another example.

A San Diego parks employee who says Mayor Bob Filner put her in a headlock and rubbed against her breasts at a public event this year filed a $500,000 battery and sexual harassment claim against the city on Monday, her attorney said.

Stacy McKenzie, one of 18 women who accuse Filner of making unwanted sexual advances, is the second in two months to initiate legal action against the embattled politician. Her claim is the precursor to a lawsuit. [Read more…]

Bungling the libertarian tweet

I should start a category here, called Twitter Over-reaching or Trying to Say Too Much in a Tweet or Twitter Is Not the Place for Grand Generalizations, or something. Because I keep seeing people doing that, and it can be funny or pathetic or destructive or all those.

The latest one that I’ve noticed is by Peter Boghossian. It’s not part of a larger conversation, the previous and following tweets aren’t related, so it really is meant to stand alone and say something true.

Attempts to engineer social justice will be unfair if they target equality of outcome as opposed to equality of opportunity. [Read more…]

What a feminist looks like

God damn John Scalzi is good.

Yesterday: To The Dudebro Who Thinks He’s Insulting Me by Calling Me a Feminist

Just read it. I don’t want to spoil it with appetizers or remarks; just read it.

But I’ll give you a visual appetizer.

I’ve always wondered what that pleasant sweep of green at the top of his blog was, and vaguely assumed it was a nearby park. It’s his fucking front lawn. That plays a part, and gets its own meme, so read. Read read read.