Archive for February, 2012

Final Post on Biodork

February 9, 2012

But not really. It IS my final post on WordPress.com, though – because I’m MOVING!

And I’m not even begging you to help me move boxes! Just to update your links and RSS feeds.

Guys. GUYS! This is really exciting.

I’ve been invited to move this blog over to the FreeThought Blogs network. For those of you who don’t know what that means, let me just say that THIS. IS.

That’s right. This is handmade-silly-sign-photographed-in-my-pajamas HUGE.

I’m SO excited. But first, a little information: A blog network is a group of individual blogs gathered under one umbrella. This type of setup is nice because fans of one blog get exposed to other similar blogs, and the blogs get more exposure from new readers. In this case, the similarity is that all of the bloggers are “Freethinkers” – we’re all atheists of one stripe or another, and we tend to blog either a little or a lot about atheism, infringements of church and state, humanism, and other related topics. Some of the blogs on the network are devoted primarily to exploring religion or atheism, some have a focus on politics or civil liberties, or diversity, or are more personal (like mine). They are all unique and owned by their authors.

One reason why this is exciting for me is because some of my favorite, most inspiring atheist bloggers are already in this network: Blag Hag, Pharyngula, Dispatches from the Culture Wars, Greg Laden’s X-Blog, Almost Diamonds, The Lousy Canuck, Greta Christina’s Blog, JT Eberhard, Digital Cuttlefish, Camels With Hammers, En Tequila Es Verdad. I’m not going to hyperlink all of these, but you can find them on the FreeThought Blogs front page (ooo…see how handy that network thing just was?).

But Biodork is not changing.

I don’t have to change one damn thing about the way I post, or what I post, or how often I post. The shell will look a little different, but the content will be staying mostly the same. The only thing that is changing are the pop-up ads. I know, I know! Ads are annoying, but they’re how FTB pays the bills. And hey, if you feel like clicking on an ad now and then, you’ll be supporting me and I’ll be grateful.

I’ve had some incredible commenters and discussions, tons of fun visitor interaction with the First World Problems Contest and the Close Up Photo Contest (CUP Update: Carly just got back to me with a blog topic, and I’m in the middle of putting together the winners’ photo books), and I’ve had a place opine, expound and to record and share some really neat life experiences. And that’s all going to continue over at Biodork v2.0. I’m in the process of transferring my archives, and my pages are already there.

Thanks for reading, and I do hope you’ll follow me next door to my new house:

http://freethoughtblogs.com/biodork/

If you have questions, concerns or comments about the move, let me know in the comments or send a private email to me at bio_dork(at)hotmail(dot)com, or contact me on Twitter (@abiodork), or let me know via any of the other gazillion ways we might be connected!

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Houses and Humans

February 8, 2012

Heh. Heh, heh.

Seen flying around teh Facebook.

Prop 8 Ruled Unconstitutional!

February 7, 2012

From Reuters:

The U.S. 9th Circuit of Appeals in San Francisco Tuesday upheld a lower court decision, which had declared unconstitutional California’s controversial Proposition 8 banning same sex marriage.

The matter is now expected to travel to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The ruling, made by judges Stephen Reinhardt, Michael Daly Hawkins and Randy Smith — appointed by Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush respectively — ruled on both the constitutionality of Prop 8 and whether the judge who struck down Prop 8 should have recused because he is gay.

Yes! Yes! Yes!

They heard oral arguments on the constitutionality question more than a year ago, and the recusal matter in December.

California voters agreed to Prop 8 — also known as the California Marriage Protection Act — in November 2008 by a 52 to 47 percent margin (approximately 13 million voters took part). That vote inserted language in the state constitution expressly allowing marriage only between a man and a woman.

Two same-sex couples challenged the vote, and in 2010 retired U.S. Federal Court Judge Vaughn Walker declared the proposition unconstitutional because it denied equal protection under the law. However, Prop 8 supporters argue that because Walker later acknowledged that he is gay, it was improper for him to rule on the matter.

The California Supreme Court upheld the validity of the voter initiative, and a stay has been in place on Prop 8 pending appeals.

On to the US Supreme Court! This could have huge implications for other discriminatory state constitutional amendements that would define marriage as one man to one woman. I’m looking at you, my Minnesota.

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Cross-Country Connections: Projects In Waiting

February 6, 2012

Cross-Country Connections is a Biodork weekly blog entry dedicated to telling stories in pictures of three family members – me, my sister and Mom – living in very different locations across the country. Every week we choose a different theme and then take or contribute a personal photo that fits the theme. This week’s theme is Projects In Waiting.

From Erin in Bellingham, Washington:

My bedroom wall… My husband and I have been meaning to decorate this wallspace for so long but we’re waiting until we’re the same apartment/house for longer than a year.  That hasn’t happened since 2007. 

From Mom in Carbondale, Illinois:

Oh yes.  Unfinished…untouched since December 2010 – yes indeedy.  But the nice thing about this challenge?  I might actually pick them back up.

From me in Minneapolis, Minnesota:

There always more books to be read than time! When I was working at Barnes & Noble I picked up a ton of books for very little money, and I’ve slowly been catching up since I left in 2010. Of course I’m always getting more books from holidays, paperbackswap.com, Half-Price Books, and then there’s whatever new book du jour is on my Must Read Now list.

Fallacies, Fallacies, Everywhere!

February 2, 2012

Sometimes I get stuck in a conversation with someone who is making piss-poor arguments, and I just want to shoot ’em all down. Sometimes I don’t get a chance to do this because I can’t get a word in edge-wise, or because I’m not quick enough on my feet that day to identify the particular BS being spouted. I have a lot of respect for people who can dissect an argument into its components and separate the bogus from the the valid points. This is a skill – a learnable skill – that can take discussions to the next level and allow topics to be examined rationally.

Evan Bernstein from the Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe recently responded to a fabulously fallacious and nonsensical email from a listener on the SGU blog, The Rogue’s Gallery. First Evan presents the email in its entirety, then proceeds to break it down one sentence at a time. This is an epic response, and I wanted to share with all of you.

“I don’t like your attitude on the show. You said the Chem-trails are not real. I have seen them myself and have taken many pictures. I have also seen footage of a weatherman in Oregon saying that the military was doing experiments and laying the chem-trails. Why would you be so sure that they are not real. Who are you?? A bunch of snotty punks that never leave your office? I bet the whole show is there to make real people who seek real truth; look stupid. The “experts” like you claim to be, lie all the fucking time; and so do the people on your show. Thats why you dont have the guts to put up a phone number for calls. I bet you are funded by the goverment, or drug companies or something. No normal people are so arrogant. You are not the “experts” of anything, except lies.”

Wow, that’s quite an email.  Allow me to reply one sentence at a time.

 “I don’t like your attitude on the show.” 

Unsubscribe.

“You said the Chem-trails are not real.”

Yes.

“I have seen them myself and have taken many pictures.” 

 You saw contrails, not “chem-trails”.

“I have also seen footage of a weatherman in Oregon saying that the military was doing experiments and laying the chem-trails.” 

Argument From Authority (a very poor one, to boot) 

“Why would you be so sure that they are not real.” 

Evidence, lack thereof.

Who are you??

I see where the question mark from the prior “question” went.  

 A bunch of snotty punks that never leave your office?”

Ad Hominem.

“I bet the whole show is there to make real people who seek real truth; look stupid.”

Only those who regularly botch their punctuation.

The “experts” like you claim to be, lie all the fucking time; and so do the people on your show.

Asshole Fallacy.

“Thats why you dont have the guts to put up a phone number for calls.”

(212) 384-1000

“I bet you are funded by the goverment, or drug companies or something.”

Something.

“No normal people are so arrogant.”

(Fill in your own thought, I really have no idea what this means.)

“You are not the “experts” of anything, except lies.”

Lies indeed, especially exposing the people who spout and regurgitate them.

See? EPIC. Not that this response would make any difference to the listener, but sometimes it’s enough to examine the message, deconstruct it, realize that there’s nothing you could say to make a difference, and move on with your life.

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but the Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe was my gateway drug into skepticism back in late 2009. My sister recommended the SGU podcast for its laid-back presentation of science and critical thought. And it is laid-back. This isn’t a hard-core science podcast; there is a sharp focus on skepticism and rationality (of which science and evidence play a huge part).

Listening to SGU renewed my interest in recognizing logical fallacies, and has even pushed me outside of my normal biology and medicine comfort zones to explore cosmology, physics and robotics. Each show has several regular weekly sections and the rest is a bunch of unscripted bantering between the five hosts. I describe it to newbies as a nerdier version of NPR’s Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! If this sounds like your gig, check it out The Skeptics Guide to the Universe on iTunes.

How Is It Wednesday Already?

February 1, 2012

I’m working on three different blog posts, including a super-dandy write up about the awesomeness that was my weekend trip to Chicago for Skepticamp. Things have been pretty crazy though and I’ve barely had had time to sleep, what getting back to Minneapolis late on Sunday, having to save unconscious humans from demons on Monday night with my roleplaying group (GURPS this time around), trying to pull together an interview script for this Sunday’s Atheists Talk radio show with singer-songwriter, Shelley Segal, putting together guns for this weekend’s EPIC Nerf War (yeah, there’s a photo that goes with that below), offering up a red dress to the Blogess’s Traveling Red Dress Project, and reading this hilarious blog (casually and frequently dropped F-bombs may make it NSFW) that I just discovered. So I haven’t actually gotten to any photo editing or writing, and I wouldn’t foist crappy writing off on this blog.*  But I haven’t even had time to pull together crappy writing because I’m too busy loving my life. Don’t you hate when that happens?

So until things calm down, here’s a couple of photos of people making funny faces:

Here’s Jeremy from the ever thought-provoking, humorous, breathtaking, snarky Le Cafe Witteveen. I was pleased as punch to be able to catch up with Monsieur Witteveen at Chicago Skepticamp on Saturday. In this shot he’s giving me his best grumpy old man face.

Come and get some! The Hubby shows off our new firearms for what is promising to be an epic Nerf battle at Supercon this weekend. Yeah…they’re battery operated and fully automatic.

*That’s a BIG FAT LIE. Crappy writing is one of the many services offered here at Biodork.