Caustic Soda

I am exhausted. Very very exhausted. Between the controversies last week, the Axp thread, another shitstorm of atheist/skeptic bigotry and hostility and flaunted privilege over at CFI Okanagan’s Facebook page, and this lovely comment posted about me at r/lgtb:

I am getting very worn out. I’m a tenacious little bitch, but even I have my limits. I’m about one more hostile, petty, transphobic remark away from taking Stephanie up on her suggestion to just spend the rest of the week posting My Little Pony videos and drinking Sonic Screwdrivers (vanilla vodka, blue curacao, and lemon/lime soda). Unfortunately, I’ve kinda already set aside the last week of the month for a break (since I’m finally moving into a new apartment), and I’d be loathe to take it early. So carry on I must.

*wilting flower back-of-hand to forehead pose*

But for this afternoon, I’m nonetheless just going to take it a bit easy, and simply recommend a particularly awesome podcast based here in Vancouver, and featuring some intensely awesome people… Joe Fulgham, Toren Atkinson and Kevin Leeson. It’s called Caustic Soda.

Caustic Soda isn’t really a skeptical podcast or science podcast per se. It’s more just based on the underlying sense of wonder and giddiness and “man this stuff is cool!” that drives a lot of skeptics and scientists. Each episode picks some kind of topic or another, like “Burns”, “Cocaine”, “Bacteria” or “Brainwashing and Mind Control” and delves into all kinds of science, trivia, and pop culture surrounding it.

One of the particular pleasures of Caustic Soda, at least for me, is how they have such a robust ability to derive glee and squirmy fascination from all kinds of macabre, horrific and skin-crawling things. Like that bacteria episode? Yeah. It’s the same kind of kick one gets from things like that episode of House where he puts the maggots on the burn victim to treat his infection without using antibiotics. And I really can’t wait for them to do an episode on body modification or surgery so I can come on as a guest and describe SRS in all its grisly detail.

Really, their talent for this kind of thing is amazing. Check out the “Food” episode for insight into how they can draw the horrific out of even the most mundane things.

Anyway, a few recommended episodes

– Doomed Expeditions (Part 1 and 2)

– Quackery

– Bacteria

– Cholera

– Blood

– Cults

– Fecal Matters

– Psychotherapy

– Human Sacrifice

and, though I wouldn’t recommend starting with it, an interesting one is the “Alcohol” episode, where they all get really really drunk. None of them really remember making it, and they all entertainingly make total asses of themselves.

They also have lots of terrific guests from around the Vancouver skeptic scene, like the awesome Dr. Rob Tarzwell.

Anyway, check it out. It’s fantastic. Really.

Now I need to go buy some vanilla vodka and blue curacao…




  1. Anders says

    As I’ve told you on Twitter, if you feel like you have to take a break then do so. No one will blame you. No one is better off for you running headlong into the wall. Please.

    New podcast, eh? Intriguing.

  2. baal says

    I’m not sure I’ll check out the podcast but I have to say thumbs up to blue curacao. I get grief for liking it. I also get, “why are you drinking mouthwash?”

    • bryanfeir says

      Heh, just tell them it’s Romulan Ale. A group of friends of mine back at University (while ST:TNG was still running) made up a drink which I think was mostly Blue curacao and vodka, called it Romulan Ale, and drank it while watching a Star Trek marathon.

      For that matter, a different SF comic I once read (Empires: Ace of Spades) had a side-mentioned drink they called an Ice Blue Rose. A friend of mine made up a version of it using Blue curacao, pink lemonade, rum, and a fragment of dry ice to get the proper foaming effect.

      SF fans come up with all sorts of odd drinks…

  3. Dalillama says

    You have my support. for what it’s worth, and like Anders said, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, there’s no shame in knocking off for a bit.

  4. phrankeaufyl says

    I’ve kinda already set aside the last week of the month for a break (since I’m finally moving into a new apartment) . . . .

    This, at least, is very good news. I’m so glad to hear you’re getting out of that hell hole.

  5. Happiestsadist says

    If you need a break, I (and it looks like the rest of us) understand. Take care of yourself, and know that while we’ll miss you, we’ll be here waiting for your return.

  6. jolo5309 says

    Sonic Screwdrivers (vanilla vodka, blue curacao, and lemon/lime soda)

    For purely research purposes, what are the amounts of each?

    As for the rest of your post, there are people that cannot tolerate people that aren’t “just like them”, you are one of them. Since you are a public figure that is not “just like them”, you will attract them. The people that read and post on your forums have got your back.

    BTW, Caustic Soda should be a drink, maybe (cheap) tequila based for that extra burn.

    And lastly, congrats on moving to your new place!

  7. says

    I’d offer hugs, but that always seems a bit weird coming from internet strangers, so here’s some sympathy and internet cookies and tea, instead. Don’t let the bastards get you down.

      • Stevarious says

        The Absintherely, Natalie Reed.

        1 ounce white rum
        2 ounces Scotch
        1 teaspoon absinthe
        1/2 ounce Swedish Punsch
        1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
        1 or 2 dashes angostura bitters

        Shake in an iced shaker, strain into glass, add lemon twist.

        Sweet and bitter at the same time, this drink might have the only name that gets easier to pronounce as the night progresses.

        • says

          That sounds interesting, but are you sure the scotch is a good idea? Sounds like it might make it a bit over-complicated and muddy things. But the idea of going for a sweet and bitter rum/absinthe blend is a good idea. The colour might end up brown and ugly, though, mixing the green of the absinthe with the pink of the bitters.

          • Stevarious says

            I was working off what I am now told is apparently the Modernista, though the aquaintance who taught me how to make it called it the Modern Maid (which is what made me think of it, as well as my memory of it being both sweet and bitter). It’s supposed to be made with dark rum but I much prefer dark rum all by itself so I never mix it with anything – and the original uses orange bitters, which I have no real love for so it seemed logical to switch it out. (Also the Punsch is impossible to find now that I don’t live in California anymore. Say what you want about Sacramento, but the bloody grocery stores out there have a better booze selection than the liquor stores here in Pennsyltucky. I’m no alcoholic but I do miss being able to walk out of Giant Martin’s with a decent bottle of wine.)

            That said, you could easily drop the Scotch for just rum and then more rum. Now that I think of it, that might even be better, and would certainly be a more interesting color, as you say. (Also I’d be one step closer to being able to make it as I don’t have any Scotch. Not that I’ve got any absinthe either, or Punsch, or bitters… or lemon juice. I guess all I have is the rum… which is more than I usually have. Curse you, poverty!)

            And it’s your drink, after all. So here we go:

            The Absintherely, Natalie Reed.

            1 ounce white rum
            1 more ounce of white rum
            Another ounce of white rum
            1 teaspoon absinthe
            1/2 ounce Swedish Punsch
            1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
            1 or 2 dashes angostura bitters

            Shake in an iced shaker, strain into glass, add lemon twist, appreciate color, drink. Rinse, or repeat as necessary.

          • Sebor says

            That sounds like one of those would be enough to kill me.
            But if you can handle the alcohol and are worried about the color, you could try some different absinthe.
            Ulex dark for example is already brown and does not contain aniseed so it does not become white and opaque once you add water.
            Or Absinthe Suisse La Bleu Clandestine which is transparent but clouds white if you add water and on top of the aniseed it smells of honey. It’s fucking expensive though.

  8. Sebor says

    I wonder where you get the energy to put up with this shit, so your need for a break is fairly easy to understand. I wish I could offer some consolation, but my own words never seem good enough. So I will just borrow someone else’s, even if they may seem a bit over the top.
    But they shall not pass – we shall not yield
    For freedom is a love not proved
    In the letting go

    And btw thank you for recommending Caustic Soda, I just listened to one of the episodes and found it delightfully dark and twisted.

  9. says

    Sorry about bringing the douchenozzles out of the woodwork over at our blog. Still, if it didn’t happen these people would never get called onto the carpet and have their views challenged, even if their reaction is often just to double down. Consciousness raising and all that.

  10. gabbeh says

    For what it’s worth from a mostly-lurker, you’ve done kickass work on this blog- you shouldn’t feel ashamed at all if you need a break.

    • Lucy says

      This. Your writing is top notch, always thought provoking, often touching and very encouraging to those of us nervously putting our heads above the fence…thank you, and look after yourself first. If that means a break or an end to this blog then I’ll miss it, but you’re more important by far. Good luck with the move 🙂

  11. Emily Somers says

    It’s why I don’t blog, babe. There’s enough battles already, with far higher spoils for victory, than gone-tomorrow keyboard duels. You’re no good to anyone (especially yourself) burnt out — which I’ve seen happen to far too many transactivists.

    • embertine says

      *little mucle under eye twitches*

      It’s chaise longue. Longue. Not LOUNGE. It means “long chair” in French.

      Sorry, just a little nitpick.

  12. says

    Like I said on Twitter…take care of your you first. I can only read here and imagine what it’s like to get that sort of abuse. If there’s anything that us community members can do, tell us!

  13. secha says

    Natalie, you are awesome. Maybe its silly but it means a lot to me to hear trans voices speaking out in the skeptic community.

    Just this past week I’ve been looking for podcasts to listen to on the way to work. Suffice to say that after checking a few out I’m downloading more per week than I can listen to already.

    *adds Caustic Soda to the list*

  14. Cimorene says

    I’ve never actually seen the new My Little Pony show before. That was all sorts of cute. Thanks for posting it.

  15. Mr.Kosta says

    I admire your strength. If I had to take all the shit you have to take every day, I’d probably give up.

    Relax for a while, listen to your favourite music, hang out with friends, watch whole seasons of My Little Pony, whatever makes you forget all this for a while.

  16. Rasmus says

    I suspect that there are people who have developed a taste for verbally abusing other people and who get a power trip out of doing it, and who will do so whenever they feel that they can get away with it.

    It’s not easy to hold them accountable when they are anonymous, but I think a lot of them are probably incredibly insecure. In my experience, insecure anonymous people on the internet tend to respond well (i.e. shut the fuck up) to verbal abuse and to being outed or being threatened to be outed. The really persistent ones are hopeless, cause they’ll just get a new psuedonym, but a lot of them seem to be less persistent than you’d think.

    It’s so much easier to talk back to people in real life! Or I guess it’s easy for me as a white straight cis man… Sigh.

  17. Sebastian says

    I just read through that The Atheist Experience comment thread. Gawd. Just *facepalm* a hundred times over.

    The bigotry displayed was horrid, but as others have probably said, I’m willing to bet that for every arsehole commenter, there’s probably 20 lurkers who had never thought about trans related topics before and have come out this better educated. And I assume I’m underestimating by a great amount.

    Anyways, big hugs, and definitely take a break if you need it, health comes first 🙂

    • homeless2009 says

      I am one of the lurkers who reads your blog every day (almost) and I just want to say you do a wonderful job. I am amazed at your endurance so far. If you need a break, take a break. Your readers will wait for you.

  18. SallyStrange: bottom-feeding, work-shy peasant says

    Hey, you’ve done excellent work this week. I didn’t realize just how many fronts you were fighting on! Take a break, for sure. I’m catching a cold, so hoist one for me please, since I won’t be drinking for a few days.

  19. says

    Sheesh, the crap you have to put up with.

    I really wish I had something encouraging to say but I’ve go nothing, except to say that I really enjoy your blogging, but if you feel too snowed under then I could totally understand if you needed a break. Hell, I barely mange to write 2 posts a month.

    Still, at least you have a new apartment to look forward to. Is it nice?

  20. Cynthia says

    Oh baby, no one faults you for needing a break! And if the aliens are invading, sometimes you have to fall back to the phone box and rest up for another day.

    I’ve got a bottle of vanilla vodka bought for a italian wedding cake martinis, but hated the drink. So I’ll give the Sonics a try and toast to you.

    Moving tip #1 – pack and unpack based on survival. I always pack all bathroom must haves together and unpack them first. Because after moving, I NEED that shower. The kitchen comes next, because coffee is SO IMPORTANT and I hate having to get dressed before I can have some.

    Once I have those 2 things handled, I can get on to the rest of the stuff. But unpacking an entire apartment to find the coffee maker is just not fun.

    Good luck with the move and the drinks. May you return rested and re-armed to face down the jerks who would try to defeat you!

    • Anders says

      Moving tips #2: Moving boxes can be had for free at the nearest supermarket. Just ask for the cartons that they pack bananas in – they can take a shitload of weight and stack easily. And the store has no use for them so they’re usually happy to be rid of them.

      Moving tips #3: Remember – moving should bring out the best in your friends. Organize a moving party with all your friends, then have a potluck to celebrate a job well done. Nothing brings people together like food.

      • Ringo says

        Not all grocery stores. At the store I work at we crush all our cardboard right away as we get money back for recycling it. We do have packing boxes for sale but 1.25$ a box is pretty steep.

  21. says


    I don’t envy what you have to put up with. I wish you all the best. I also want to thank you. I have come a very long way in my life. I’m not finished either. I grew up in a small rural town in Tennessee. The concept of diversity never extended far past what denomination of Christian someone was or how poor or wealthy they happened to be. Everyone was white. Everyone was (supposedly) Christian. Everyone was (supposedly) heterosexual. The concept of transgender didn’t even exist for me or my peers. I still live in the same town. Were it not for the family I want my children to know I would have left years ago. Though things change here painfully slowly, they are changing and for the better.

    I spent many years working to overcome the limitations imposed on my mind by this place. Little by little I have grown to understand others and the multitude of forms beauty can take. I knew very little about transgender before reading your blog. Most of what I thought I knew was hopelessly uninformed. You have helped me grow as a person. My children will be more understanding and compassionate people because of you. Thank you for that.

    I don’t presume to know what you’ve been through or what you’re going through. I only know that I am grateful for what you do. You are are wondeful, beautiful woman. You can ask WilloNyx, I’m not very good with the sentimental stuff. I just wanted to say thanks. You make a difference. Stay strong.

  22. says

    Look after yourself and keep up the good work. I really enjoy your writing. Also, thanks to you, I just watched my first ever MLP episode and may watch some more later if I have spare time.

  23. christophburschka says

    drinking Sonic Screwdrivers (vanilla vodka, blue curacao, and lemon/lime soda).

    Sorry to distract from the topic at hand, but this is the most awesome name for a cocktail I’ve ever seen.

  24. nats says

    Augh! All of those links are perfect illustrations of “never read the bottom half of the internet.” All I read was “but I didn’t INTEND any hurt” / “that offended you!? Educate me!” / “I’m not trans/homophobic, but…” and other excruciatingly, mind-numbing variations.

    On the plus side, that was the first episode of MLP I’ve ever seen, and you’ve convinced me. I loved how they used saddle bags as backpacks.

  25. says

    At the risk of being obvious, a week’s break now and a week’s break later are not the only options. There’s a lot to be said for “a break today and see how I feel tomorrow.”

    Your posts are worth waiting for.

    And please do notice that most comments think you’re cryogenically cool, and besides, we’re clearly more intelligent than the trolls. (Modest, too.) Seriously, after being alone with so much for so long, I could imagine that penny taking a while to drop.

    Off to check out Caustic Soda.

  26. carolw says

    I’ve got to agree with everyone, you’re pretty stinkin’ awesome. I may skip other of the FTBs, but I try to read yours every day. If you’ve got to take some time time, take it. Don’t let the turkeys get you down!
    And Caustic Soda sounds awesome! I have a morbid curiosity about weird shit. I’ll have to check it out.


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