Monday, August 29, 2011

I'm not the only one moving to a new home

My apartment is (mostly) packed, and in an hour I'll be off to pick up my soon-to-be roommate and our U-Haul. Then the real fun begins. Blah. After some thought, I realized this will be the ninth time I've moved in five years. As much as I hate packing up all my crap just to unpack it a couple of hours later, I'm looking forward to escaping my terrible apartment. And I'm glad some of my classmates are helping us lug stuff around, since I pretty much have no upper body strength. Thankfully grad students are easily bribed with promises of pizza and beer.

But I'm not the only one moving soon. So is my blog!

In a couple of weeks, Blag Hag will have a cozy new home, and Pharyngula and Greta Christina's blog will be her roommates. That's right - I'm joining Freethought Blogs!

I'm super excited that I was invited to be a part of this project. I've been itching to get off Blogger for a while, and I'm honored to be in such good blogging company. And don't worry - nothing major will change for you guys. The content will be exactly the same, just with a better situation for me and a new layout (which I've been promised will be prettier than it is currently once all the technical and advertising kinks are worked out).

If you have any questions about the move, please leave a comment here and I'll make a FAQ post. Have to finish moving my physical crap before I start worrying about my internet crap.

Friday, August 26, 2011

My life is weird

As I was mulling around some indie games at PAX, a very familiar face approached me. Very familiar, because I was certain it was Jerry Holkins, the writer of Penny Arcade ("Tycho") and half of the duo putting on the very awesome convention I was currently enjoying.

"Don't I know you?" he asked.

"Uhhhhh." I glanced down at his name tag. Yep, Jerry Holkins. "I know you, but I'm pretty sure you don't know me."

Keep in mind the expo hall was super loud with the various bells and whistles of video games going off in the background, so it was hard to hear what he was saying. Plus I was very confused. And a little fangirly.

He asked me if I had a game there, and I said no. Now I was convinced he was mistaking me for someone. But then he seemed to remember something and said something about seeing me holding up a sign, but that just confused me more. I don't remember holding up a sign anywhere.

Then he said "I followed all of Elevatorgate!"


I then realized the "sign" he was referring to was my profile photo here. I was a little dumbstruck, and bumbled out something along the lines "You read my blog?" Yep.

We then babbled about the atheist movement for a good while and giggled about how stupid the internet can be sometimes. And how happy he was to run into me. And how happy I was to run into him.
I've oddly gotten very used to strangers approaching me (which also happened a couple of times today). Within the last year I've gotten used to famous people within the atheist or skeptical movement approaching me. But I'm definitely not used to someone from a totally different corner of the internet I appreciate approaching me.

Yeah, my life is really freaking weird.

And as an unrelated PAX update - I collected six gym badges today. Though to be honest, one was because I came up with a Pokemon haiku, another was because the IR connection kept glitching, and the third was because I was a "good sport" as I got my ass kicked. I'm going for the Ash Ketchum route to the Elite Four. I have no shame.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The church for gamer geeks

Oh goodie. I was already super excited for PAX - my cosplay outfit is done and my Pokemon team is all ready - but now I have a new thing to look forward to. What could possibly top three days of the largest video game conference in the US?

Church! has a booth at PAX. The site hosts game reviews from a Christian perspective, a "Strategy Guide for Life," and a geekified version of the Bible titled "Jesus, For The Win!" From the introduction (yes, I couldn't not download it):
"But wait! How can you be a Christian and kill zombies, cast spells and shoot someone?!? Isn't that hypocritical!?!? I get that question from Churches and also from people that don't want anything to do with Christians. It's unfortunate that it's even a topic. We're ALL hypocrites. Every last human. Video games are not the problem. The problem is that we have complicated the message that Jesus brought to us. And yes, I do believe He would be leveling up with me in World of Warcraft."
I can see it now. "Starving children in Africa? But daaaad, I'm in the middle of a raid!"

I can't stop reading this thing, it's full of terrible gems:
"Jesus... many people see Him like Gandhi, or the Pope. He was a good guy, maybe even a prophet, who died before I was born and has nothing to do with me. What if you found out that Jesus is not who the world says He is? What if you heard that Jesus came to Earth and hung out with stinky fisherman and prostitutes? What if He spent His time with tax collectors and people who were looked down upon by "higher society?" What if Jesus came to Earth for the GAMERS? Despite what you may have heard before, He did! Jesus loves Gamers, just as much as He loves thieves, soccer moms, and even pastors. Jesus came to PWN the Devil and save the world for YOU."
Bahaha. I don't even need to add my own commentary, do I?

I'm not going to lie. Part of me wants to stop by their booth for the chance that they'll have some ironic free swag. I would definitely love a shirt about Jesus respawning (their words, not mine). The only difference is I realize magical Jesus is about as real as Zelda or Mario.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A new earthquake hypothesis

Apparently the idea that immodestly dressed women cause earthquakes is sooooo last year. The real reason? Gay marriage, duh.

A New York rabbi claims gay marriage and the earthquake that shook the East Coast are directly connected.

In a video uploaded to YouTube, Levin says gay rights legislation, like the gay marriage law passed in New York, are responsible for earthquakes, like the one that struck Washington, D.C. Tuesday.

“The Talmud states, 'You have shaken your male member in a place where it doesn't belong. I too, will shake the Earth,'” Levin says.

He also notes that he does not dislike gay people.

"We don't hate homosexuals," he says. "I feel bad for homosexuals. It's a revolt against God and literally, there's hell to pay."

On Top Magazine reports that Joseph Farah, editor of, expressed similar sentiments.

Obviously I must find some lucky lady to marry me in the name of science. Or we can just stop listening to bigoted religious wackadoodles who know nothing about natural disasters. What a novel idea.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Gawker asks: "Was today's earthquake another Boobquake?"

Jen responds: No.

I know I said that I didn't want to talk about Boobquake anymore, but I can't help myself when data crunching is involved. Well, it's also hard to ignore when dozens and dozens of people are tweeting at me asking if I'm wearing anything revealing. For the rest of my life I'm going to know when every major earthquake occurs via a very strange alert system.

But when a huge blog like Gawker decides to comment, I feel compelled to reply. Especially when they throw out all knowledge of statistics for the sake of giggling at boobs:
Remember when an Iranian cleric said earthquakes were God's punishment for scantily-clad women, and then a bunch of scantily-clad women organized a naked protest to disprove the cleric, but then an earthquake actually occurred at the moment they bared their breasts? Well, there is a chance that today's East Coast earthquake was a boobquake, too, because it's National Go Topless Day, and there are all kinds of naked boobs in Central Park right now.
I already established that the earthquakes on Boobquake were not statistically significant - that is, they occurred at the same frequency and magnitude that you would expect at random chance. But one of the main criticisms of my "study" was that there was only one data point. I never realized I had National Go Topless Day to add to my data!

So, does bearing some boobage actually cause earthquakes?

Being the giant nerd I am, I've spent the last couple of hours looking up earthquake data at USGS, writing simple Python scripts, and plotting things in R. I'm pretty sure this isn't how my graduate program envisioned me using the skills I've learned, but oh well.

I found the dates for the 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 National Go Topless Day. Today actually wasn't National Go Topless Day - that was the 21st. New York was doing their own thing today, so I counted both the 21st and 23rd of days of decreased modesty. I downloaded the worldwide earthquake data for those 5 days plus boobquake, for a total of 6 samples. Now, we want to compare those especially lascivious days to "regular" days to see if earthquakes actually increase. For controls, I got the data for the three days before and the three days after any event. I picked neighboring days to control for any temporal changes that have nothing to do with boobs, but may reflect overall trends.

(As an aside, apparently National Go Topless Day is run by the Raelian cult. WTF? Allah may not support boobs, but aliens apparently do.)

Do boobs increase the number of earthquakes?
Nope (t test, p value = 0.65)

Do boobs increase the magnitude of earthquakes?
Nope (t test, p value = 0.26)

Sorry to disappoint all of you, but yet again, we have shown that boobs do not have the ability to manipulate plate tectonics. Alas, it seems this is another example confirmation bias - remembering the "hits" and ignoring the "misses."

But if you're still skeptical, I wasn't bearing any cleavage when the earthquakes hit Colorado and Virginia today. Hmmm, though I was pantless. My butt isn't anything to write home about, so many that's why both of these earthquakes weren't exactly devastating.

Scientists confirm that bisexuals exist

Oh science. You amuse me sometimes. File this one away in "We kind of already knew that, but thanks for getting actual data to make sure."

Well, I already knew that, at least. But from all of the straight people who have told me bisexuals are just slutty or want attention, and all of the gay people who have told me bisexuals are just closet cases, maybe we did need a scientific study.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The video of me learning how to ride a bike

My part starts at 1:14:

I have to keep reminding myself that I did this for the children. Hooray for Camp Quest! Take that, PZ!
And no, I swear I'm not a chain smoker. I lost my voice from having too much fun at the Secular Student Alliance conference. And yes, that's the farthest I rode the bike. As in typical Midwestern fashion, a thunderstorm popped up and started to produce a torrential downpour.

Thanks, Ashley, for making the video!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

I am a geek


1. I just bought this:
I love Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, dinosaurs, and surrealism. How could I not resist?

2. Next weekend I'm going to PAX Prime, the ginormous gamer festival that's the brain child of the guys who make the webcomic Penny Arcade. When I say ginormous, I mean ginormous - over 60,000 people have attended in the past. I'm a huge video game geek and haven't been to any sort of geeky convention since ACen in high school, so I'm looking forward to it. The tournaments haven't been announced yet, but I'm hoping at least something I'm good at will pop up. Mario Kart plz? Or if we're going esoteric, Pokemon Puzzle League?

And unlike the poor shmucks who are flying in and have to deal with hotel, transportation, and food confusion, I can just hop on my same ol' bus to downtown! Huzzah!

Upon further reflection, I just realized I've been reading Penny Arcade for over 10 years now. I feel old.

3. I became overly excited when I found out that there's an unofficial Pokemon League taking place during PAX. Yeeessssss! Time to tweak my party in Pokemon White, charge my DS, and prepare to get my ass kicked. Seriously, I'm great at in-game battles, but I've never played competitively. People get pretty hard core about Pokemon. IV breeding and EV training lolwut?

If you're going and can hunt me down in the crowd of 60,000, feel free to challenge me to a battle (or say hello, if you're not a Pokemon geek like I am). I'm sure I'll be tweeting the whole time, making con-stalking even easier.

4. Speaking of Pokemon... I'm currently constructing my cosplay as Hilda from Pokemon White:
Don't judge.

I have to give a shout out to my mom, who's dealing with my geekery. I made her hunt through my old bedroom for my Burger King Pokeballs (which apparently suffocated small children) and mail them to me to complete the costume. Now I'm just trying to hunt down some cheap boots and a hat that I can alter with pink paint. May have to give up on a pink purse. EDIT: Boots and purse acquired at thrift store! Now just for the hat, shoelaces, and wrist band thingies. I AM GOING TO BE SO COOL.

5. And if that's not enough, I just bought my ticket to Geek Girl Con in October.

I am in geek heaven.

That's not skepticism - that's bubbleheaded post modern BS

EDIT: A couple readers have pointed out that I'm wrong about skepticism not being the claim that we can know nothing. Apparently the definition of "skepticism" that I am familiar with - and honestly, the only definition I've heard after years in the skeptical movement - is really methodological skepticism. The author at Feministe is likely talking about philosophical skepticism. I believe my misconception came from the fact that the former is the more commonly accepted, modern definition of "skepticism" alone, and that post modernism also claims that there is a problem with objective truth. But I'm a good scientist, so I'll admit where I'm wrong. She's using the term fine, though I still think her views are utter hogwash.

It pains me whenever anti-science claptrap surfaces in feminist blogs I typically enjoy. It's more evidence that feminism isn't some monolithic entity or hive mind that constantly agrees. It's also more evidence that we need to keep talking about how skepticism can aid feminism, because some feminists are writing rubbish like this:
As you may know from the numerous threads in which I’ve gone about it ad nauseum, I’m a skeptic (an fallibilist, existentialist …sort of). Without boring you to death, here’s the short version. I don’t think you can know things. I mean know them, know them. Not feel them, not experience them…but KNOW them. We (humans) cannot (probably) be absolutely certain of anything.
Skepticism is not some ideology where one cannot know anything. And before someone runs in screaming "No true Scottman!" - you could claim skepticism means you enjoy picking your nose while riding elephants, but that wouldn't make it so. Skepticism is, at the very core, the application of the scientific method. To relabel it as some bizarro philosophy in where there is no such thing as knowledge is ridiculous. I can't help but think of Tim Minchin's wonderful Storm:

Conversation is initially bright and light-hearted
But it’s not long before Storm gets started:
“You can’t know anything,
Knowledge is merely opinion”
She opines, over her Cabernet Sauvignon
Some un-hippily
Empirical comment made by me
Hint: You don't want to be making the same arguments as Storm.
There are a lot of reasons that Certainty, or at least certainty of the world outside ourselves, doesn’t work. There are the limits of human cognition. The limits of human perception. The unbridled arrogance of dogmatism. The centrality of certitude in the oppression of many, many people. But the one I want to talk about today is that dogma means that you stop learning, you stop listening to other people. In that sense I see certitude as antithetical to social justice.
Ok, I'm with you so far. Dogma = bad. Our brain messes up sometimes. That's why we have science, right? To get around the limits of human cognition and perception. She then goes on to talk about how this sort of dogma that's accepted as the most popular belief often gives privilege to those groups and oppresses others. Sure, I can see that. But then the argument goes back into lala land:
In my view, we can tear down all of the institutions, create perfect equality of resources or equality of opportunity, reshape the external world to our liking, but unless we reshape ourselves, address the underlying flaw in our understanding of the world and each other we will simply recreate the same power dynamics over and over again. One group will see their collective perspective as truth, as more valid than the perspectives of others, then they will once again attempt for force that reality on to others.

Which brings me back to skepticism. If we accept that we (probably) can’t know what is real, that as much as we consider, think, feel, explore we will (likely) never grasp the totality of truth, we are free to accept or learn from other people’s perspectives. We are free to accept contradictory perspectives, holding each as true for that person in that moment. We dismantle not just the current dominant narrative but also the very concept of a dominant narrative.

That to me is the goal of social justice.
You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

The idea that we can't definitively know what's 100% true, therefore we must accept all people's views of reality as equally valid is fucking ridiculous. You can't simultaneously accept that there is no god and that the Christian God is sitting up in the sky hating on gays, just like you can't simultaneously accept that gravity exists and doesn't exist. Reality is independent of whatever delusional ideas our brains come up with.

But her views (not valid) make a lot more sense when you see what she says in the comments:
"Science to me contains the same claims to certainty (in many instances) as the most fundamentalist religion."
Hooooooooo boy.

Science is the antithesis of dogma. We don't base our views of truth and reality on whatever idea pops into our poorly evolved ape brains. We collect evidence, perform experiments, and repeatedly try to correct our view of the world so it's close and closer to reality.

The fact that you're making the same arguments as in-character Stephen Colbert should be a giant red flag:

Shermer: The only way to tell, really, the difference between these true patterns and false patterns is science.
Colbert: Really? You think science is the answer? But isn't that just your belief? You are a skeptic. You are inclined to believe that skepticism is - the scientific method - the right idea, so you look for evidence out in the world that evidence is a good thing to luck for. But isn't science just another belief system?
Shermer: It is another belief system, but it's sets apart from another belief systems because it has built into it self correcting machinery, that says if you don't look for your disconfirming evidence that debunks your own beliefs, someone else will, usually with great glee in a published form.
To claim that that science is bunk, or worse, just another religion, is to obviously not understand how skepticism, science, or the universe works. You may label yourself as a skeptic, but you're the complete opposite.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Mennonite mass rapes

I hate to follow one horrifyingly depressing rape story with another, but this needs to be shared. File this one away in "Proof Religion Doesn't Automatically Make You a Good Person." If you can find room, that is (emphasis mine):
Wall is among 130 women and girls of the Mennonite colony in Manitoba Colony, who claim that from 2005 to '09, the same cloudy horror visited them. They're the victims of what is allegedly one of the ugliest sex scandals in the history of the Mennonites, a pacifist Christian Anabaptist denomination founded in Europe in the 1500s, if not Bolivia and South America. In a criminal trial now under way in nearby Santa Cruz, Peter Weiber, 48, a Mennonite veterinarian, is accused of transforming a chemical meant to anesthetize cows into a spray to be used on humans. For four years, Weiber and eight other Mennonite men allegedly sprayed the chemical through bedroom windows in Manitoba at night, sedating entire families and raping the females. One of the men is a fugitive, the others have pleaded not guilty. If convicted, each faces a maximum 30-year prison sentence.

The criminal charges detail depraved acts few would expect inside a supposedly upright sect like the Mennonites. "When there were no grown women" in the houses that the men allegedly targeted, says Wilfredo Mariscal, an attorney for the victims, "they did what they wanted with the kids." Court-ordered medical exams reveal a 3-year-old girl with a broken hymen (most likely, doctors note, from finger and not penis penetration). The formal indictments list victims ages 8 to 60 years old, including one who is mentally retarded and another who was pregnant and sent into premature labor after allegedly being raped by one of the men — her brother.
If you can stomach it, the whole article is worth the read. It goes more in depth with how the women in the Mennonite community are completely isolated from the world through various patriarchal rules, and how the men on trial for the rapes have been spending the trial goofing off, laughing, and falling asleep.

...Can I ragequit humanity yet?

Girl expelled for being raped, then raped again

Disgusting (emphasis mine):
According to the Springfield News-Leader, the 7th grade special ed student at Republic Middle School in Springfield, MO reported her rape in the spring of 2009. The lawsuit alleges that school officials told her they didn't believe her, and after "multiple intimidating interrogations," she recanted. The lawsuit also notes that a school psychological report said the girl "would forego her own needs and wishes to satisfy the request of others around so that she can be accepted," meaning she might have been especially susceptible to pressure to change her story. But the pressure allegedly didn't end there. The girl says she was made to write an apology note to her attacker and hand-deliver it to him. She was also expelled for the remainder of the school year.

When she came back the following year, the school allegedly refused her mother's request for extra monitoring and did not separate her from her alleged attacker. In February 2010, the lawsuit says he "was able to hunt [her] down, drag her to the back of the school library, and again forcibly rape her." She and her mother reported this rape to the police, and a rape kit tested positive for her attacker's semen — he plead guilty to charges in juvenile court. But instead of taking her seriously at long last, the school suspended her, this time for "Disrespectful Conduct" and "Public Display of Affection." Her lawsuit requests damages for medical expenses, emotional distress, and attorneys' fees, as well as "punitive damages to deter School Officials and others from similar conduct in the future."
...I have nothing to add. This atrocity speaks for itself.

Suspect arrested in Mabus case

Says a tweet from the Montreal Police. Who knew an internet petition could actually do something.

I'm going to assume it's Mabus, since he's been particularly quiet lately. Unless there's a surprise twist, and Mabus's mom was the one sending all of the threats. Or if the internet was directed by M. Night Shyamalan, Mabus is PZ Myers.

I hope this man gets the help he needs.

Atheists no longer the most unpopular group in America!

We're now ahead of... the Tea Party.

Oh gee. A bunch of selfish illiterate racist godbothering wackadoodles who aren't smart enough to google "teabagging" before they start national campaigns. Good to know we barely have more support from the general public than those guys.

I'm not sure whether I should be hopeful or full of despair.

Fighting religion in public schools

Jessica Ahlquist's talk from the Secular Student Alliance annual conference is online. I can confidently say it was my favorite talk of the whole conference - and that's competing with excellent talks by Greta Christina, PZ Myers, Jamila Bey, and David Silverman.

In other words, I order you to watch the whole thing right now. You won't be disappointed.
I wish I had been as strong as Jessica when I was a sophomore in high school.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Indiana hits new low of homophobic bigotry

UPDATE: From the original source: "Alfarena Ballew from the Marion County Coroner's office called to offer this statement, "Her friend and her aunt are working together with the life partner to take care of the remains. We have nothing in writing from the partner asking to claim the body. Our records show that the next of kin is her aunt. Our understanding now is that they're all working together to release the body and take care of the services." Ms. Ballew described the incident as a "misunderstanding" and says the office is on track to release the body shortly."

This weekend the main performance stage at the Indiana State Fair collapsed during unusually high winds, killing five and injuring 40. You probably already heard about this, since terrifying videos of the stage crushing concert goers quickly went viral. Due to the quick emergency response and bravery of people in the audience, many lives were saved. And thankfully none of my friends or family were harmed in the incident.

But for those who lost their loved ones, you'd hope they can eventually move on from this tragedy through mourning and memorial services. Unless you're a lesbian, in which case Indiana says Fuck You:
When a stage collapsed during the Indiana State Fair over the weekend, Christina Santiago, manager of programming for the Lesbian Community Care Project at Chicago's Howard Brown Health Center, was one of the casualties. Santiago's partner, Alisha Brennon, was also injured in the tragedy.
The Marion County coroner's office is refusing to release Santiago's body to her partner; the office cited the Defense of Marriage Act as the reason why they've turned down Brennon's request to pick up her loved one's remains. DOMA allows states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

Indiana has its own version of DOMA that outlaws same-sex marriage. Since Indiana law requires the next-of-kin to pick up Santiago's body, but the state won't recognize Brennon as the surviving spouse, Santiago's body is still laying in the morgue awaiting a solution. Brennon, who is still hospitalized, is now working with Santiago's aunt to pick up the body and make funeral arrangements.
Nausiating. It shames me to be associated with this state at all. Dan Savage already put it best:
This is what DOMA is designed to do. DOMA does nothing to strengthen traditional marriages. It doesn't prevent straight couples from divorcing or make straight couples any more likely to take responsibility for their children. The federal DOMA and all the mini-DOMAs enacted by the states only serve to torment and persecute gay people at the most trying moments of their lives: when a partner is ill, when a child is sick, when a partner dies. And people who claim to be Christians will howl the loudest if DOMA is repealed.
When are we going to move out of these dark ages?

Monday, August 15, 2011

I think he takes landLORD a little too literally

It's no secret that I hate my apartment. tl;dr I have no privacy, I'm getting ripped off on my electric bills (which he once refused to pay), I don't have control over the heat or internet, and the place is infested with spiders. Seriously, I've killed about one a day since I moved in. Last night a hairy one CRAWLED ACROSS MY CHEST WHILE I WAS LAYING IN BED.

Sorry, my terror deserves all caps.

The upside to all of this is that I'm finally moving in two weeks. Hurray! I found a wonderful new place in Capitol Hill (not Washington DC, the Seattle neighborhood that's filled with gays and hipsters and awesome food and bars). But that also means other people are checking out my apartment. I missed most of the viewings this weekend since I was in Omaha, but today one couple from out of state called me to ask how it was.

Thanks for giving my phone number out to random strangers, landlord.

Anyway, they were really nice, and I told them the truth about the place. I was in the same situation last year - moving from out of state and unable to find anything - and I wish I would have had someone to ask about the place (the current tenant had already moved out). When they asked if I felt comfortable here, I relayed the story about the time my landlord found out I was an evolutionary biologist and proceeded to debate me for twenty five minutes about how creationism was correct.

She paused. She said it wasn't surprising, since he had made some anti-Catholic remarks at the end of their phone call, and that her husband was Catholic. And he had also asked them if they were church goers - they weren't (like many Catholics?).

I shouldn't be surprised that he was dumb enough to say anti-Catholic stuff on the phone, since he's had no problem ranting to me about creationism or how horrible unions are. But the latter makes me wonder. Is it because of me? Is my landlord running around fretting that he has a Dirty Atheist living in his basement? It's obvious if you look at my bookshelf or glance at my mail that arrives in our shared mailbox - lots of letters from the Secular Student Alliance, Secular Coalition for America, and Planned Parenthood.

I better not see a fee for exorcisms or blessings come out of my security deposit.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The reason why you're single

No, it's not because you have reasonable standards of attraction and Seattle is just filled with ugly bitches who are deluded into thinking they're prettier than they are.

It's because you're a self absorbed douchebag.

This seems like a brand of Nice Guy Syndrome, but slightly different. "Nice Guys" focus on how women don't appreciate all of their nice acts, despite said nice acts being shallow manipulative ploys so Nice Guy can stick his dick in you, rather than genuine kindness, empathy, or respect. No, this seems like "Not Ugly Guy," where he has reasonable standards of who he's attracted to, but a city of over 500,000 people happens to be full of nothing but ugly women. Ugly, "dumpy" women who spend their free time sitting in (metaphorical) circle jerks talking about how pretty they are and concocting plans for tricking attractive men to stay in miserable relationships with them.

Slightly different, but there is a common denominator: Passive aggressiveness and pure delusion to avoid the possibility that you, Oh Perfect Penis Bearer, could have any sort of flaw.

It really boggles my mind how so many men can't comprehend that the way to get a date is to treat women like human beings, rather than some monolithic hivemind or dungeon level that can be easily solved with a strategy guide. Or worse, an item they quite obviously deserve, despite being raging dickbags who can't take a hint when their friends are saying they have too high of standards.

Translation: That's the nice way of saying you don't deserve the women you're aiming for. Probably because you're a raging dickbag whose justification for 13 years of singledom is blogging not-so-thinly-veiled misogyny.

Oh wait. I just disagree because I'm not pretty enough. Right. I always forget that.

EDIT: The author says he received a death threat because of his post. If this is true, that's despicable. I hope it wasn't any of my readers who did that, since we just got done talking about how that's not okay. Shred someone's arguments to pieces and point out their idiocy, but never threaten them.

Friday, August 12, 2011

It's like the atheist equivalent of duct tape

Hemant and I have neighboring rooms in the hotel that are joined by a shared door. We were having trouble keeping the doors open until Hemant had a great idea:
Finally, those hotel Bibles are useful!

Off to Omaha!

I'm about to hop on a plane to the Midwest Humanist and Freethought conference! I'll be yet again ranting about how religion treats women (Hint: not well).

I'm not going to lie. I know nothing about Omaha. I drove past it once on my way to an Ecology conference in Lincoln. I'm sure the locals will prove it's awesomeness to me. Though we're starting off with dinner at Herman Cain's Godfather Pizza, so I'm a little wary... Is this like SSA's field trip to the Creation Museum or something? Does every slice come with a free side of bigotry?

I know I have at least one reader in Omaha who can't make stuff during the day. I'm not sure if I'll have time for other meetups, but watch my Twitter feed for any announcements about bars we happen to be in. Knowing atheist conferences, it'll probably happen.

Another Hoosier Hypocrite

Indiana State Representative Phillip Hinkle (R, of course) was caught soliciting craigslist for a gay prostitute using his public email address. And if you were wondering - yes, he's a good married Christian who opposes gay marriage. Such a good Christian, in fact, that he's the person who forced the In God We Trust license plates on the state.

Before those plates just made me giggle whenever I saw a driver with them breaking some sort of traffic law or being an all-around asshole. Now they're a symbol of Christian hypocrisy. Nice.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

It's not just one person sending death threats to atheists

Edit: Well, apparently it wasn't 8,000 death threats - just many death threats in 8,000 comments. The correction comes from Blair himself. Shocking, can't trust the media to report things accurately...

Fox News' Facebook page was flooded with threats calling for the rape, crucifixion, and murder of atheists. The cause? Blair Scott, Communications Director of American Atheists, appeared on Fox News to defend their lawsuit against the Ground Zero cross. Just look at some of the examples one blog collected:

Frankly, however you feel about the cross lawsuit* it irrelevant - no one deserves to be treated like this. I can't get over how despicable these messages are. I may disagree strongly - very strongly - with some religious people, but I never wish them dead. I know this doesn't represent all Christians, but it certainly debunks the notion that religion automatically makes you a good person.

*And if you want to know how I feel about it... go read the incredibly well written article by James Croft. No point rehashing what he already said so eloquently.

DM's death threats covered by Canadian newspapers

The petition for Montreal police to take action on Dennis Markuze's constant barrage of death threats has reached 4,000 signatures, and the local news is starting to pay attention. As someone on twitter quipped, this may be the first time an internet petition accomplished something, because the police have opened an investigation:
Monday afternoon, following an inquiry by The Gazette, a Montreal police public-relations official said: "We haven't received any complaints" about 'Mabus.'

The police tune changed Wednesday morning, with a tweet from @SPVM that "we are investigating the case." It included a plea to "please stop sending emails to our media address by signing the petition."

Lafrenière said he was not aware of earlier complaints to police about the man's activities. Complainants are "mainly from the (United) States," he added, with others "from all over the world."

Each time the petition is signed online, Lafrenière said, an email is relayed to a Montreal police publicrelations email address. By 8 p.m. Wednesday, that attention-grabbing tactic had yielded a barrage of 3,224 such individual emails.

Prior to Lafrenière's announcement, PZ Myers, a frequent recipient of threats from 'Mabus,' and a biologist and associate professor at the University of Minnesota, blogged that the St. Laurent man's tone has escalated in recent years - "his hate messages have gotten crazier, more vicious, and more frequent."

"I have reported him to the police," Myers added, and "seen these complaints climb the ladder from the local department, to the FBI, to the RCMP, to the Montreal city police, where they promptly fizzle out."

Montreal police, according to Myers, have had "this deranged man making death threats on their watch for over a decade, and have done nothing."

Lafrenière said he wasn't aware of any complaint from Myers.
Thank you for pointing out your own incompetence.

This other report is all in French, but I included it because it has an interview with Mabus's mom. The below excerpts translated by reader QoB (thanks!):
In a brief telephone interview with La Presse yesterday, the mother of Dennis Markuze confirmed that he is the author of the messages. However, she refuses to condemn the writings of her son, who still lives in her house, and ensures[?should be 'assures us'?] that he is not violent. "I have not asked him to stop, no. Why should I? It is his job, it is what he believes. Why should I stop him? " said Ms. Markuze in English.

She was promptly taken aback when La Presse told her about death threats that many people say they have received. "He never did that. He does not even kill a fly, sir. I do not believe it. You probably do not understand his messages." When some excerpts were quoted to her ("I'll put a bullet in the head," "I'm going to execute you"), she replied: "Read fully what he writes and you'll see" before hanging up.
Oh dear. Looks like Mom has typical Mom Blinders on, and refuses to believe her ittle wittle Dennis could be sending hundreds of death threats every day. I feel a bit bad for her. Apparently DM has done a very good job at hiding his obsessive hatred, so this must come as a shock to her.

Some people think this is "just internet culture," but the internet is part of the real world. If someone was sending hundreds of people five letters or phone calls a day saying he was going to cut off my head, you know damn well the police would do something about it. And DM has been getting worse over the years - more persistent, and more violent, more nonsensical, and even showing up to atheist events in person.

I think a good example of DM's decline is a post from 1994 on a chess message board (yes, chess):
Women are on a lower rung of evolution compared to men, the difference between men and women is like the difference between animals and plants. First comes God, then the Angels, then men, then women, then animals, then plants.

You can count the number of female geniuses on one hand!

Which women have contributed to philosophy, painting, music, chess,etc..? Alright, the Polgar sisters may be geniuses, but they are freaks of nature! To be a genius by defintion is to be a male (Webster, if you are reading this, be sure to add this in your next edition). A female genius is a contradiction of terms. A woman may be intelligent but never a genius,of course, exceptions do occur, like the baby that is born with twelve fingers.

P.S. No hate mail from the ladies, please. I'm safe here behind my computer,you can't scratch out my eyes even if you wanted to.

Dennis Markuze
Holy crap! At one point in time, DM had the ability to write in complete, understandable sentences! Granted, they're misogynistic bullshit, but grammar!

I laugh because that's what keeps me sane - but this is perfect evidence of DM's escalating madness. His writing went from sentient to erratic word salad. The threats become more and more violent. The messages are obsessively persistent - he hops from internet cafe to internet cafe since bloggers keep banning his IP addresses, and he creates dozens of new email addresses and twitter accounts a day because his get banned so quickly. He has started physically showing up to atheist meetings, and repeatedly try to enter after being thrown out by security.

This is not the behavior of a mentally healthy person. DM needs to be committed and evaluated before he finally snaps and hurts someone. And if that shows him to be a sane but particularly motivated God botherer, he needs to be prosecuted for harassment, stalking, and death threats, all of which are crimes in Canada.

What used to be an annoyance is now a red flag - stop this man before he's the next École Polytechnique massacre, Anders Behring Breivik, or decides to actually cut off someone's head.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Demand that Montreal Police take death threats against atheists seriously

If you read atheist blogs, you probably know Dennis Markuze. Possibly under another name, since he shifts around a lot - David Mabus, DM, Nostradamus. And if not, here's a brief introduction:
For several years Dennis Markuze has harassed and threatened scientists, writers, public figures, atheists, and their friends under the pseudonym "David Mabus". While this was previously a minor annoyance, the intensity and frequency of his contact have increased.

"Mabus" attacks now include hundreds of Twitter accounts (used and discarded as they are reported). He has threatened young boys and girls as well as adults (including Rys Morgan, 16, who was acknowledged by some in the science community for exposing a dangerous quack medical treatment). In fact, anyone who associates with scientifically and skeptically minded people like PZ Myers, Phil Plait, James Randi, Brian Dunning or Michael Shermer is likely to become a target for unsettling rants and threats to their life and well-being.

Markuze has even gone so far as to attend meetings of such people, including attending the American Atheist Convention in October 2010, held Montreal.
You don't see him around here that much because I've tightened up my comment moderation quite a bit, and probably banned every IP address in Montreal in the process. But I get at least one crazed email and multiple tweets from him every day, usually containing a variety of threats - punching us, shooting us, nuking us, chopping off our heads, references to krystallnacht.

This has become a common occurrence for any bloggers, scientists, or activists who are associated with atheism. But I've also received personalized threats, such as "feel safe, jen?" and "jen we are going to exterminate you, cunt."

And despite multiple people making multiple reports to the police over years and years, the Montreal Police do nothing.

How much longer are the Montreal Police going to sit on their hands? Until Dennis Markuze finally snaps and hurts someone? If these were religious leaders receiving constant death threats, you can be sure it would have been taken care of instantly. But when atheists are on the receiving end, they twiddle their thumbs.

I don't necessarily think this man needs to be thrown behind bars - but he has a history of mental illness and has become more and more threatening and persistent, and something needs to be done before he follows through with his threats. I especially fear for atheists he targets that live near Montreal - and I certainly will not feel safe ever visiting that city until the police take some action.

And if you're from Montreal...a tip to your local newspaper probably wouldn't hurt.

Good thing I'm working toward my PhD

Once I become Dr. McCreight, I can finally make as much money as a man with a bachelor's degree.


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The first ever Women in Secularism conference

The Center for Inquiry has just announced an exciting new event for next year - the Women in Secularism conference. It will be May 18 - 20 2012 in Washington, DC, and the speaker lineup looks amazing:
  • Ophelia Benson
  • Jamila Bey
  • Greta Christina
  • Elisabeth Cornwell
  • Margaret Downey
  • Annie Laurie Gaylor
  • Jennifer Michael Hecht
  • Sikivu Hutchinson
  • Susan Jacoby
  • Jennifer McCreight
  • Wafa Sultan
  • Rebecca Watson
Look! Somehow my name snuck in there! Woohoo!

This conference is a wonderful idea - hats off to Melody Hensley of CFI for creating and organizing it. No longer will people be able to say that men outnumber women as speakers because there just aren't as many deserving or interesting women. ...Well, people will still say that because people can be frustratingly dense, but now we can hold up this event as evidence.

I also hope that it's well attended. The other argument I hear a lot is that we need to keep inviting the Big Names, not because they're old white men, but because they're popular and otherwise no one would come to the conference. But frankly, as much as I enjoy hearing Dawkins and PZ speak, seeing them for the 49839847th time gets a little old. I'm way more excited about seeing a bunch of people I've still yet to see - Annie Laurie Gaylor, Susan Jacoby, and Wafa Sultan. And usually I never see these amazing women all at the same time - I'm looking forward to seeing what happens when you stick us in a room together.

But really, I see the goal of this event is to make itself obsolete. We shouldn't need specific women in secularism conferences in order to get the voices of women heard. We shouldn't be shocked when conferences occasionally have more women speaking then men - we certainly take the opposite to be the norm. So while I'm greatly looking forward to it, I'm being optimistic that we won't always need it.

Of course, some people are already whining in the comments of the announcement, claiming that the atheist movement obviously has no problems recruiting women or dealing with sexism. Surprise, surprise. My favorites so far are by John D:
"A conference just for women featuring several very vocal self described “Liberal/Progressive Feminists”... I have a feeling that trouble is brewing. I suspect I will enjoy the free flowing man bashing that will come from this event. I also look forward to the blog explosion which will result."

"I will listen if only because I have respect for Susan Jacoby. Inclusion of Watcon, McCreight, and Christina insure that the pot will be stirred with great vigor and that the misandry will be served up rare!"
Stuff like this cracks me up. Yes, I am that radical, man-bashing, misandrist! And so is Greta (though we all obviously knew Rebecca was one). Seriously, do these men know that I'm kind of Feminism Lite? A Feminism Gateway Drug? I'm the type of feminist that's one of the easiest for outsiders to tolerate - I'm extremely sex positive, pro-porn, have written about how we shouldn't suspend skepticism in all rape cases... If you think I'm a man-hater, just wait 'til you meet the feminists who don't like me! Your brain will surely explode.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to the conference, and the pre-freakout from insecure men is just going to fuel my fire.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Greta Christina in Seattle tomorrow!

The perpetually fabulous Greta Christina is coming to Seattle tomorrow! Well, technically she's here now, but you don't get to see her tonight unless you can stalk us down and figure out where we're eating dinner (please don't). But you can see her tomorrow at the event by the Seattle Atheists:
DATE: Saturday, August 6

TIME: 1:30 - 4:30 pm, including my talk, Q&A, and panel discussion

LOCATION: 2100 Building, 2100 24th Ave. S., Seattle, WA

TOPIC: What Can the Atheist Movement Learn From the LGBT Movement?

SUMMARY: The atheist movement is already modeling itself on the LGBT movement in many ways -- most obviously with its focus on coming out of the closet. What else can the atheist movement learn from the LGBT movement... both from its successes and its failures?

COST: Free (donations accepted)
The panel discussion will be on women in the secular movement. I'll be on it as well, along with some other local godless ladies. And snacks are usually provided at Seattle Atheist meetings. What more can you ask for - snacks and awesome atheist women!

I hope I'll see you guys there!

Well, that backfired

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has positive billboard campaigns popping up across the country. The most recent batch went up in Columbus, OH and were followed by a bit of controversy. Dylan Galos's billboard was removed from its original location, because said location was on church property and the church complained.

Whatever, Dylan's billboard has a new home. End of story, right?

Apparently the FFRF tipped off the county auditor that the church hadn't been paying taxes on the billboard they owned - and now they'll have to. Wah wah.

I don't believe in karma, but...

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Secular Student Alliance conference was freaking awesome

The title is my tl;dr.

The SSA annual conference is something I look forward to every year. It's by far my favorite atheist gathering, for a number of reasons. One, it's for my demographic - students. Even though I'm an ancient grad student, I'm still among peers, which makes networking and socializing fun and stress-free. Two, the programming is consistently superb, and I always leave motivated to run my local groups and save the world from religion.

But first, my only complaint about the conference, which has nothing to do with the conference itself. The Revolution Books people drove everyone fucking crazy. I wish I could say they were simply annoying, but they were borderline stalker-like with their evangelical communism. They wouldn't take no for an answer when you said you didn't want to talk about radical communism (race specific autonomous regions? Businesses picking 20% of the politicians? Okkaaaay). Some people got stuck with them for hours when they followed you to student lunches and social events, they frequently interrupted private conversations, followed you down hallways, and even harassed one speaker all the way into the bathroom. Dozens and dozens of people complained to me how uncomfortable the Revolution Books people made them feel, and I hope they don't return next year.


The talks are slowly being uploaded to YouTube, and I plan on sharing some of my favorites. Until then, I'll list some of my top ten favorite parts of the conference. I'll surely forgot some, since my schedule got left behind in Columbus since it was being passed around the SSA board meeting to show off my doodle of some of the staff:
1. Jessica Ahlquist. It's indisputable that she gets the #1 slot, even if she may think she's not deserving (her modesty is one of her many endearing qualities). Jessica is a (soon to be) junior in high school who spent the last year fighting an illegal prayer banner in her school, and now spends her time encouraging other high school students to join her. Jessica's talk was moving, inspiring, and down right fabulous. I think she got something like four standing ovations, and she deserved every one of them. One of my favorite comments from her was the realization that "grown ups" don't always do the right thing, and even high schoolers can fight for what's right. I'll have more to say when I share her video.

2. The social events. I ended up going out four nights in a row, which means I pretty much didn't sleep the whole conference. But it also means I met a lot of awesome people and had a lot of awesome conversations. I make new friends every year at SSA. The downside to this is that every year I come back, I have more and more people I want to see, so I feel like I don't get to spend enough time with any of them! Alas.

3. Waxing JT's legs.
(Photo by Ellen Lundgren)

I love his facial expression as I pull the strip off. Mwahaaha.

4. Dave Silverman's talk on the first night really set the tone for the whole conference. I didn't necessarily agree 100%, but it was certainly motivating. The main message: We can win this fight, and we are winning it. Sometimes I need that reminder when I see all the hateful crap still being done in the name of religion in this world. It was also great finally meeting Dave in person, since we've been working together on the Reason Rally for a couple of months now.

He also knows how to pander to his audience, because every slide of his talk featured one of his rage faces:
(Photo by Ellen Lundgren)

5. Jamila Bey. Everything about her. Sometimes I meet a person and I instantly think "Why the hell did it take me so long to meet you? I command you to be my best friend right now." That's exactly how I feel about Jamila. She was amazing to chat with, and her talk was wonderful, especially considering Hemant had basically stolen her whole talk during his own, forcing Jamila to wing the whole thing.

6. Greta Christina debuted a new talk on why arguing religion is worthwhile, and it was delightful like always. It's summarize it, but she already posted an outline at her blog.

7. Hemant's talk on critical thinking in math education was wonderful. He succinctly summarized why people like me grew up hating math, and how we should be teaching math to children. I'll definitely post the video when it goes up. I wish Hemant had been my math teacher in high school!

8. Katie Hartman's talk on fundraising was practical and supported with psychological research. She's also a natural speaker. I now have a bunch of tips for the next time I'm doing a fundraiser on my blog or for my campus group. Also, Katie definitely wins the Prettiest Powerpoint Presentation award, which isn't surprising since she designed the lovely Skepticon and Reason Rally websites.

9. The terrifying baby cake Ashley made for Hemant.
(Photo by Ellen Lundgren)

10. ...The wacky adventures of Ryan getting shot with a bb-gun. I know it's horrible, but the story has already reached legendary status. And his write up is hilarious.

Sometimes I couldn't get my ass down to a talk, and I missed some awesome stuff. Apparently Kelley Freeman dedicated a whole slide of lolcats to me. I also missed Ed Clint's talk on "Transfaith" - an alternative to Interfaith work - that was apparently mindblowingly amazing because everyone couldn't stop talking about it. I'll have to watch the videos when they go online.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who said kind things about my talk on diversity. I know the topic is getting stale for some, so I'm glad that it seemed so effective for many of you. So, thank you!

And other than, I had so much fun. I'm sad that it may be another year before I see many of you. Time to go into post-conference withdrawal...

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Atheists, drive by bb gun shootings, donuts, and a balloon

That summarizes my most interesting night at the Secular Student Alliance annual conference. I should clarify this adventure happened after the end of the final official event of the night, which was socializing at Buffalo Wild Wings. Which also means I and everyone else over the age of 21 were a bit inebriated during these shenanigans, which explains a lot of the situation.

I was going to write up what happened, but my friend Ryan, the protagonist of this adventure, has already done so in a hilarious fashion:
[...]A group of us were walking back to the dorms where we were holed up for the weekend, when someone with a couple of ranks in Knowledge:Local pointed out that there was an Insomnia Cookies a few blocks away.

“Oooo… Insomnia! We have to get some!” said Jen (who is not to be confused with Jenny), because she always gets nostalgic after a few drinks.

So we walk down the street, and as we approached the UDF o’er on the corner of Walk and Don’t Walk, this blue beater sedan slows down — CRACK — then speeds off.

I grab the side of my left leg.

“Uph. I’ve been shot.” I said. “Pretty sure it was just a BB gun though.”

Jen looks back and smiles, thinking that I was recounting one of my wild stories to someone else, unaware that one was happening right then, and that she was a character in it. [Jen Note: I so didn't hear you say anything about a BB gun! That's why I thought you were just joking around after tripping or something! D: ]

It felt like being cracked with a giant rubber band, like in high school we tied rubber bands to other rubber bands repeated the process again and again then tied knots in the end until we had some 30 foot rubber band to crack jokers with. The shot didn’t hurt that bad, and that terrified me. I learned that the more horrific the injury, the less it hurts. A shoulder dislocation feels several orders better than a Charlie horse.

[...]Anywho, since my friends had no real intention of stopping, I hobbled on for another two blocks or to Insomnia Cookies, but it was closed, just like how it’s not supposed to be. We were all pretty depressed. Then whoever had Knowledge:Local pointed out there was this stomp-ass donut shop a few blocks away. I look at my leg and don’t see a giant blood stain, so I hobble along.

We get to the donut shop. I buy peanut-coated donut for $0.95. It was totally clutch. I ask if they have a bathroom, they send me to one in the back of the kitchen. I drop trou to get the lay of the land.

Sho’nuff, there was a hole in my leg, right where the hole in my pants was. It seemed bigger than a BB; in fact, it looked to be the right size as a .22, and that’s bad. There was bleeding from the surface, but it was a slow creep, like a scraped knee, or a road rash. There was blood on my underpants, but interestingly enough, the only holes were the ones placed there by the manufacturer intended for my legs. Since the shot went through my pants, but not my underpants, it became clear to me that it had to be a BB, because they don’t sell any bulletproof shit at K-Mart.
You really need to read the rest of it. It involves ambulances, the Saddest Photo Ever taken by Hemant, me being generally worthless after four drinks, and Jessica Ahlquist's adorable idea.

I have to give it to Ryan for staying cool during the whole situation. I would have been crying instantly and liveblogging the whole thing. Instead I was tipsily tweeting cryptic messages that nearly gave Lyz Liddell of the SSA staff an ulcer, asking people to be Meat Shields for the Important Bloggers, and whining about how I really wanted Insomnia Cookies. I am apparently a horrible friend when drunk.

Resurrection was the only solution

I've bitched about American Airlines before on my blog, and had issues with them that I didn't bother to whine about publicly. Compared to other airlines I've flown (which is many), AA is the most frequently delayed and has the absolute worst customer service. I found another example of that today, but thankfully it didn't happen to me - I only had the all too common annoyance of a middle aged guy who felt the need to take up half of my seat in addition to his.

I was about to board my flight from O'Hare to Seattle. My gate was in an oddly isolated corner of the airport, and was the only one boarding. As I was getting on, I heard a commotion to my left. An approximately four year old girl was wailing near a garbage can, little brother standing nearby, and her mother was in a yelling match with one of the AA employees at the desk.

I paused long enough to figure out what was going on. Mom was holding a plastic mesh container that once housed this little girl's pet. Either a mouse, hamster, or gerbil - I couldn't tell. I say once housed because the little brown rodent was now very dead, and Mom was lifting his limp body to throw him in the trash can. The AA employee was yelling that she couldn't just throw the pet away, but Mom yelled back that she needed to make this flight, but AA wouldn't allow her on the plane with a dead animal.

At that point I had to board. We ended up sitting in our seats for an extra 15 minutes or so - I wonder if debates about dead animal disposal were going on outside. But I never saw the mom and children get on the plane.

I can understand having regulations about not being able to just put dead animals wherever you want...but seriously, could they not have come up with a better solution? Were they hoping for a miracle and Fuzzy would spring back to life? Couldn't they have turned a blind eye and claimed the pet died during the flight? Or offer to dispose of the pet themselves so the family could make their flight? Or attempt anything to make an already traumatizing experience for a four year old a little less traumatizing?

Boo hiss, American. I don't know what happened to the family, but I hope they got home alright, with or without a proper burial for Fuzzy.

The cherry on top of my AA hatred was that Katie, the main organizer of Skepticon, also just found out that my flight from Missouri to Seattle got messed up. You remember - the one you guys helped fund so I could have a direct flight and arrive at a reasonable and safe hour? Yeah, they just changed it to include a three hour delay, so I'm not getting in until 1am, after the public transportation is closed. Which I could have done for $130 less.

I jokingly suggested that she should email AA insisting that they upgrade me to first class because her speaker is a Very Important Prima Donna who insisted on a direct flight and has angrily blogged about how terrible AA is in the past and would surely do it again. Then she actually did, because why not. At best I'm expecting a drink coupon. At worst they'll stick me on the wing.

I'm adding this quote to my resume

"But sometimes you have to be just a little skeptical, otherwise Blag Hag will get after you." - Dan Savage, Savage Lovecast Episode 250

I am always watching, waiting to eviscerate stupidity with my words. And occasionally lolcats.

Insert diabolical laughter here.

I'm alive!

Sorry that I haven't blogged since Thursday - I apologize for all of your withdrawal symptoms. I was at the Secular Student Alliance annual conference and was too busy having an amazing time. I pretty much didn't sleep for four days straight and I sound like a chain smoker because I've lost my voice from all of the various merriment.

I know this is more of a meta-post, but I just wanted to let you know I'm still here. I'm currently sitting in the Columbus airport - if I decide to splurge on wifi for my flight from Chicago to Seattle, expect some posts this afternoon.

So....anyone care to fill me in on what world news happened since Friday? Or what internet news? Consider this an open thread.