Reasonfest 2014!

Goodness, it’s been a while since I posted. Sorry about that. I started a post covering some thoughts on being two-decades-old but apparently never finished it. Whoops.

Anyhow, there’s this group at KU called The Society of Open-Minded Atheists & Agnostics (SOMA) and they put on this con called ReasonFest, which was this past weekend. It was a really good show, though I wish there’d been more people in attendance. There was a debate between Dan Barker and a baptist pastor and I expected more of the pastor’s flock to be there. I’m actually not certain anybody from his church came, so there wasn’t the swell that usually accompanies the debate.

The main theme for the weekend was Joy. JT talked on Friday night about how atheists and secularists find joy in life. Lyz Liddell from the SSA talked about reframing the way we view the fight (sort of as a way to prevent burnout–giving the good things the attention they deserve). The interfaith panel was kinda boring but in the ways you expect “interfaith” to work; nobody wants to step on anyone’s toes. Ed Brayton talked about the harm Christians actively do in our communities today. Darrel Ray tackled the question of whether Jesus masturbated. (There were a couple other talks that I didn’t see because I had to sleep for a bit Saturday morning.) Continue reading “Reasonfest 2014!”

Harassment Policies and the Government Shutdown

I just had a spectacular idea:

The Republican (Tea Party) view of the government pretty much boils down to “the government doesn’t work, so let’s get rid of it”.

Which is awfully similar to a lot of the commentary I saw about harassment policies at cons… People seemed to insinuate that because a harassment policy could potentially be abused means that we shouldn’t have them at all.

News flash, kids: Just because something doesn’t always work 100% perfectly doesn’t mean it’s a better idea to toss it out the window.

VIDEO: Stop conflating mental illness with religious fundamentalism!

Alright, you guys know I make videos sometimes.

Well, recently Miri brought to my attention that Dave Muscato likes to say things that misconstrue the actions of religious people to be due to mental illness. Since this is not only WRONG but also stigmatizing and fallacious, I decided to make a video explaining exactly why one should not make this conflation.

Putting it below the fold:

Continue reading “VIDEO: Stop conflating mental illness with religious fundamentalism!”

"Mystery ‘Angel’ Priest Appears at Missouri Car Crash"

Looking through my Facebook front page, I noticed one of my family members shared an article about this. Basically, in Missouri, this car wreck happened in which a young woman was pinned in a mangled car.

This process was apparently stressful, so the woman asked for someone to pray out loud. A priest showed up, anointed her with oil and prayed over her. After the rescuers freed the woman, they went to thank the priest and he was gone.
And apparently he isn’t in any of the pictures that were taken during the event.
So people are asking if he’s an angel, thinking he’s a mystery, wondering where he came from and where he went.
My initial response to this was: Leave it to a holy man to show up after the tragedy has already occurred and leave without doing anything actually useful.

Seriously, why would anyone thank this priest for saying some words and putting oil on her? The rescuers and the woman got very lucky in that she was freed and survived (though she’s reportedly in serious condition). 

Yeah, it could be said that comfort in these situations could be helpful, but still, why are we giving this priest credit for work that he didn’t do? In fact, for doing nothing to help, keeping the rescuers from just doing their job (because I’m sure they stopped to let him pray over her), and perpetuating the false notions of religion and theism?
And why are there a bunch of ignorant people asking if he’s an angel? Oh, right, because we live in a century in which people fucking believe in angels.

**EDIT: The priest didn’t actually impede the rescue; apparently the rescue team was waiting for another team to show up with some equipment when the priest prayed.**

How Jen McCreight is an inspiration to me

If there’s anyone who ever keeps up with my blogging and vlogging, you have probably noticed my incredible lack of participation over the last several months. (Starting in February-ish) I’ve been basically unable to put coherent thoughts together, or I want to blog in the middle of the night and publishing at that time is essentially useless, or I just have nothing particularly poignant to say, or I have no motivation to do shit. There are a lot of factors, and it makes me feel pretty guilty.

I mean, I consider myself an activist, but can I still consider myself an activist if I’m not actually being active? Not actually fighting for anyone’s rights and mostly just having pointless arguments with Degon about feminism and feminist approach? I’ve been told that I totally have the right and ability to take a break and step back without feeling guilty. Because I should be taking care of myself, right?

And then there’s Jen McCreight at Blag Hag. Jen has depression, and several months ago (forever ago, god, I don’t even remember when it was) she stopped blogging because of all the vehement hate she was getting, mostly from anti-feminist men in the skeptic movement. People were making fake accounts pretending to be her and saying sexually explicit things about her. It was all very triggering for her depression, so she decided it was best for her health to step away. I thought she might have been gone for good, but I kept my subscription to her blog on my RSS thing just in case.

And then she started blogging again.

It was pretty recent that she started blogging *regularly*, though she did have a post about Pokemon biology a few months ago. Then about a week ago (maybe two?) she put out a post about her mother and the problems they were having. She’s posted several times since then.

You know, if Jen stepped away for her health and to focus on her research, isn’t it okay if I do that, too? Maybe if I blog once in a while when I have the motivation, which isn’t often?

Jen came back.

So maybe so can I?

Home from CONvergence!

We’ve been home since about one-ish? I had a delirious half-nap earlier and I’m quite tired, since we woke up yesterday morning at like seven. We’re staying up until an appropriate bed time in order to wake up for work tonight. :p bleh

I don’t write enough; it’s one of many problems I’ve allowed to continue for way too long. So even though I’m incredibly tired and my thoughts have been increasingly difficult to organize coherently, and I keep typo’ing, I figured I’d post something.

In short, CONvergence was a blast. I met some cool people and saw some of my friends (many of whom I met at last year’s CON). I got lots of hugs and met Caitlin Blackwood (baby Amy Pond). Degon came with me and got to meet a lot of my buddies, effectively putting names to faces.

I made a pretty important promise to get better, both to myself and Degon. I’m going to do everything I can to keep it.

There’s an adorable kitty in my lap, who missed me. They’re both being so sweet right now.

I’m pretty upset that I have to go to work tonight. Throughout the weekend, I was pretty casual about my plans to quit my job. It seems like it’s fairly-well decided that I need to find a new job quickly. It’s just the healthier decision at this point.

There were some shitty moments, as is to be expected with the depression. And we missed some things I would rather have caught. But overall the good outweighs the bad and I’m going to remember it well.

I may have planted a seed for blogging at FTB someday, but part of me (depression-brain or not) is pretty certain that it’s going to be a forgotten notion. I suppose it seems counterintuitive to try blogging at FTB if I haven’t been blogging at TS or Queereka. It’s hard to describe, but basically I don’t feel like I have the proper structure or voice to blog at a group thing like Skepchick network sites. I guess I feel like there’s a standard of professionalism and non-personalism that I can’t live up to on a regular basis. Meh. I dunno. (I’m also, honestly, kind of done being a “blogger at Teen Skepchick”).

So yeah, I’m glad to be home. Love my kitties, love my Degon. Glad he came with me. Look forward to next year and/or the next time I get to see any of my skeptics.

Afraid of the Dark

We all like to think that we’re rational people, lots of us having come from a background of woo or religion or some other superstition. I have to admit that I sometimes fall victim to culturally-instilled views and some of it is so ingrained in me that I have a hard time mastering it with reason.

Sometimes when I walk through the dark, I feel a gripping fear in my chest. I grew up watching horror movies, and some of them have had themes of things materializing in the blackness, such as Darkness Falls. I’m not complaining–I thoroughly enjoy the experience now as well as then, even if the bad guys used to be plausible in my mind.

Continue reading “Afraid of the Dark”

The Importance of Work Culture

One of my Facebook friends is great about sharing helpful tips on how to get jobs. Something she recently linked was a guide to ‘crushing’ a job interview. At the bottom, the author lists five questions that are essential to ask at the end of an interview. The second question, “How would you describe your company culture in five words?” got me thinking about the place and importance of company culture in society and my life.

The culture of the work environment isn’t something I’ve given much thought to–nor have I heard others in my age range (let’s call it 16-23) talking about it. I’m sure older people who have had a variety of jobs could tell stories of hilariously awful work environments and supertasticawesome ones. I’d bet that a lot of them value a good one when looking for new jobs or considering promotions.

How will you be received by your peers? How will your first impression change over time as your boss(es) and coworkers get to know you? Will you have to behave differently to fit in? Will you have to be closeted about something to avoid discomfort? Continue reading “The Importance of Work Culture”

Women Leaving Atheism

In an attempt to turn this blog into something more than a diary where I complain about how awful everything is, here’s a post that matters.

Going through my updated RSS feed, I stumbled on this Pharyngula post about Natalie Reed leaving FTB. This is the second person I’ve ‘known’ who left Freethought Blogs. The other is Jen McCreight on Blag Hag. My dad stopped keeping up with atheism news because of the negativity and ended up shutting his Atheist Neighbor blog and network down for various reasons.

The negativity is really awful for some people. I don’t really notice a big difference in my own moods based on whether or not I’m exposed to whatever crap is happening in the world. I’m definitely fortunate in that I haven’t achieved much notoriety and thus don’t get harassed regularly like some of my fellows. It’s easier for me to be emotionally detached since I’m viewing as a third-party. Continue reading “Women Leaving Atheism”

Moving Forward (Or Trying To)

There are a lot of things stressing me out right now. In fact, I’m quite anxious as I write this, for a number of reasons that may all be better discussed in detail in their own time. To summarize: I have no idea when we’re leaving, what state our living affairs will be in, or (especially, as of late) where we will be living and what we’ll be doing after we’re finished with Ren Fest.

The details are all quite fuzzy at the moment. What is clear is this: I am anxious, and something needs to change to address it.

When I got in the car and left work some twenty minutes ago, I was very upbeat. Immediately, I started singing heartily to I Fight Dragons’ version of “Never Gonna Give You Up”. At some point in the very short drive, my mood started to wriggle around and finally sink. Continue reading “Moving Forward (Or Trying To)”