Saturday Storytime: Water, Birch, and Blood

This story from Sara Norja makes me wonder what I’d find if I returned to the lakes and forests of my childhood. I mean, I know, all impaired memory aside, but it still makes me wonder.

“A magpie laughing in front of a house,” mutters Kristiina, “means bad things are coming. Old things.”

“Old superstitions!” My father laughs. “Have some more cake, Mother.”

The magpie shimmers in the sun, its feathers gleaming blue-metallic. I can’t keep my eyes off it. Only when it takes off and flies into the forest, towards the lake, do I come back to this world.

The white stone is still clutched in my hand. It should be hot and sweaty from contact with my skin, but it’s cold. As if it had that moment appeared from the bottom of a lake. Continue reading “Saturday Storytime: Water, Birch, and Blood”

Saturday Storytime: Water, Birch, and Blood

Frivolous Friday: Mark Reads Chuck

The following is a video recorded this year at CONvergence’s erotica reading. In it, Mark Oshiro reads a brand new Chuck Tingle story. If that doesn’t immediately have you pressing play, here’s what you need to know to appreciate the video:

  • The Rabid Puppies are a group of neoreactionaries dedicated to mucking up the Hugo Awards by nominating as a bloc because people who aren’t white men have received a substantial number of nominations in the past few years.
  • One of the stories they nominated this year was by gonzo erotica writer, Chuck Tingle.
  • Tingle has taken steps to make it unpalatable for the puppies to vote for him. He may win the Hugo because of it (though I hope my friend Naomi wins for her short story and Tingle gets a fan writer nom next year for the way he played this).
  • Tingle is currently very popular in parts of the F&SF fan community because of this.
  • Oshiro’s gig is reading cold and reacting as he reads. He was not prepared for this. No one was prepared for this.
  • Oshiro had originally been going to read a different Tingle story for this panel, but he received an email from Tingle shortly before the panel, offering him this exclusive.
  • The interruptions are a traditional part of this panel, even if they don’t really work well for this recording.
  • This entire thing was translated live into sign language. The interpreters who do CONvergence live for this sort of thing, and they are every bit as much part of the entertainment at this panel as the people reading.

So if you think you’re ready….

Continue reading “Frivolous Friday: Mark Reads Chuck”

Frivolous Friday: Mark Reads Chuck

“Gaytheist Manifesto”, Callie Wright on The Humanist Hour

This week, Jenn Wilson caught up with Callie Wright after seeing her at AHACon in Chicago in May.

When Callie Wright came out as a trans woman in 2013, there weren’t a lot of queer voices in the secular movement that focused on issues affecting queer people. She set out to change that. With her partner in crime Ari Stillman, she now runs The Gaytheist Manifesto podcast and the blog of the same name. She is also co-chair of the American Humanist Association’s LGBTQ Humanist Alliance.

Callie joins Jenn Wilson this week to talk about founding the podcast and its mission to support the LGBTQ community within the secular movement. They discuss Callie’s outlook on activism, her goals for the LGBTQ Humanist Alliance, and even a recent controversy in LGBTQ media representation. After we hear from Callie and Jenn, we’ll also give you a quick sample of the work Callie does educating humanists at conferences.

You can listen to the podcast here.

“Gaytheist Manifesto”, Callie Wright on The Humanist Hour

Serious Answers to Sloppy Questions, Part 3

Finally, an end to these questions! This is the last batch. If you haven’t, see Part 1 and Part 2.

  • In your version of equality, will white men ever have a voice in society, or will white men always be too privileged to participate in discussion?
Photo of about a dozen and a half questions marks stenciled onto black pavement in white paint. Alternating right-side up and upside down in three rows.
Crop of “What?” by Véronique Debord-Lazaro, CC BY-SA 2.0

This isn’t one of the most coherent questions in this bunch, but I’ll still give it a go. I’ll assume “ever” here means “Will they still get to talk then?” not “Will they come to be able to talk then?” since the latter is ridiculous. White men still have far more say in our halls of power and in our cultural touchstones of movies, television (pdf), and publishing than their numbers would account for. Not to mention YouTube.

Since equality and being privileged are contradictory, I’ll also give this questioner the benefit of the doubt and assume he didn’t mean for this question to be taken literally. I would assume, then, the question actually means “Aren’t you just trying to grab all the power for yourselves and push white men into the crappy positions you’ve all been in for ages?”

The answer is no. Whatever you yourself might do in my position, that’s not what I and the people around me are going for at all.

  •  What makes you think that the power of censorship that you are so desperately trying to establish now will at no point be used against you?

On the short list of things that have been done in an attempt to shut me up: Posting my employer information online, contacting my (then-former) employer, petitioning the wrong people to have me removed from a book, complaining to a board that I hosted their radio show, complaining to a group that had me speak at their event, complaints to groups I do activist work with, and several years of continual background harassment including threats.

If you start from the assumption that “SJWs” have never met any attempts to censor them, you’re starting by being wrong. This is the world we already live in. It’s just unequal.

In fact, this is one of the things that makes it so hard to combat the relatively small portion of harassment and threats that do come from SJWs. When the stuff coming at them is constant and pervasive, it gets much harder to persuade people that it isn’t a valid tool. People think they need it because other people do it to them. So if y’all could stop pointing your followers at SJWs without being clear that pile-ons and threats aren’t just part of the fun, that would be very helpful. Continue reading “Serious Answers to Sloppy Questions, Part 3”

Serious Answers to Sloppy Questions, Part 3

Saturday Storytime: El Cantar of Rising Sun

In most of our fantasy stories, the magic works to make things better, even if it’s a dangerous force. Then there’s this story from Sabrina Vourvoulias.

Before the candles, before the stoles and bells, before the cop—I get the call.

Every people to their duty.

This is an epic written in collective, changing every time the street tells it.

This is a vernacular cantar de gesta.

This is the legend of son, brother, daughter, sister, over whose broken body we spill words and tears.

This is, today at St. William, the story of one who lived two decades in the six–eight time of bachata, rumba clave, and gunfire. Continue reading “Saturday Storytime: El Cantar of Rising Sun”

Saturday Storytime: El Cantar of Rising Sun

Serious Answers to Sloppy Questions, Part 2

Another day, another nine questions rendered largely impenetrable by having bounced around the alt-right echo chamber for so long. Still, I’ll give them a go. In case you missed it, Part 1 is here.

  • What do you hope to gain by bringing back racial segregation?
Photo of about a dozen and a half questions marks stenciled onto black pavement in white paint. Alternating right-side up and upside down in three rows.
Crop of “What?” by Véronique Debord-Lazaro, CC BY-SA 2.0

Racial segregation has never gone away. It’s gotten better in many places, but the U.S. remains highly segregated long after the Jim Crow laws that enforced that segregation were taken off the books. White suburban flight, informal hostilities, the need of those in poverty to live close to services, redlining and other practices that haven’t gone away just because they’re illegal all make racial segregation an ongoing reality.

It doesn’t make much sense for you to be asking me about wanting to bring back Jim Crow laws though. That’s just not a position that’s taken among “SJWs”. So I assume you’re asking me about groups or policies that involve spending resources specifically on marginalized populations. Those resources might be money, attention, or time. The simple answer here is that people who do this expect to be able to get more for those resources by aiming them where they’re most needed. It’s certainly reasonable at least in theory, though it does sometimes have unintended consequences, often as a response to white people being unhappy about the allocation of resources.

  • When my granduncle was dropping bombs on London, did your grandparents get out of their bunkers to protest with signs that read Not All Nazis?

This is vague and strange. If I weren’t trying to seriously engage with these questions, I’d just invoke Godwin’s Law. But I am, so let’s see what I can suss out of the assumptions behind this one. Continue reading “Serious Answers to Sloppy Questions, Part 2”

Serious Answers to Sloppy Questions, Part 2

Serious Answers to Sloppy Questions, Part 1

Photo of about a dozen and a half questions marks stenciled onto black pavement in white paint. Alternating right-side up and upside down in three rows.
Crop of “What?” by Véronique Debord-Lazaro, CC BY-SA 2.0

Niki transcribed the latest video of “unanswerable” gotcha questions. No, this isn’t another one aimed at atheists by Christians, though it’s about as effective and as grounded in real attempts to understand another person’s position. This one is aimed at social justice warriors by the status quo warriors.

Niki’s answers were mostly snark. I love them. You should read them. But it’s also worthwhile to have a few people answer even questions like these seriously, so I’m going to take a stab at that. I’m technically a social justice assassin, so not all the warriors want to admit I’m in the guild, but whatever.

It’s going to be long and tedious, since there are plenty of assumptions to unpack along with the questions themselves and the list itself is long and repetitive. But if we’re going to adopt this kind of tactic from the Christians, we might as well gallop while we’re at it, right? In order to keep it from getting unreadable, I’ll break it into thirds.

  • Do you realize that your war on language through political correctness has made you bedfellows with true rape culture? In other words, Islam, the world’s most misogynistic ideology.

Let’s start with your assumptions. Continue reading “Serious Answers to Sloppy Questions, Part 1”

Serious Answers to Sloppy Questions, Part 1

“Feminism in Current Politics” and “The Oasis Network” on The Humanist Hour

With no blogging last week, there are a couple of The Humanist Hour shows you can catch up on. I spent a little time with Amanda Marcotte at CONvergence talking feminism and politics:

Any year in which we have the first female major party presumptive nominee for president is going to be a busy one in feminist politics. Beyond Hillary Clinton, however, there’s still plenty going on in current political discourse that’s of interest to feminists. From the misogyny of Donald Trump to the recent Supreme Court decision on abortion, we have a lot to talk about.

To cover these topics—as well as Clinton’s rise to nominee—Stephanie Zvan talks this week with Amanda Marcotte, a political writer for Salon with more than a decade of experience covering these kinds of topics. Listen and catch up on the presidential campaigns, online discourse, and the state of abortion rights.

You can catch that podcast here. Continue reading ““Feminism in Current Politics” and “The Oasis Network” on The Humanist Hour”

“Feminism in Current Politics” and “The Oasis Network” on The Humanist Hour

Not Looking Away

Oh, man. 2016. Fuck this year. It can’t end soon enough.

Or was that 2015? I distinctly remember people saying that about 2015. Maybe 2014 too. Huh.

Yes, 2016 has its unique challenges. Presidential elections don’t happen every year, much less close nomination races. Major parties imploding under the weight of their own racism, sexism, and fascism happens rather less frequently than that. The rock stars who sustained us as teenagers frequently fade away instead of becoming institutions before they die.

Many of this year’s stresses, however, happen all the time. Refugee crises brought on by sectarian violence and climate change have been a regular part of my decades on this Earth. I’ve watched too many national governments fall apart to count. Violent pushback to civil rights gains has been a constant, alongside the erosion of those rights. Sexism, racism, homophobia, and other forms of bigotry–they’ve all been a constant drumbeat.

So why has 2016 been so bruising? Continue reading “Not Looking Away”

Not Looking Away

No Debate

They don’t actually want to debate us.

These people–mostly men, mostly white–claiming that we’re destroying the world by shutting down debate? These people claiming that blocking someone instead of hashing out their issues (personal or political) is damaging public discourse? These people claiming that telling them to “get bent” is abridging their freedom of speech?

Yeah, that’s as far as they really want things to go. Complaining bolsters their reputations, at least among the people who don’t think things through. It generates easy content. It garners cheap outrage. It requires neither work nor accountability. Smears and insinuations are much, much simpler.

That’s a big reason there aren’t many of these debates. Sure, plenty of people aren’t willing to directly debate racism and sexism any more than they’re willing to share a stage or their spotlight with creationists. Some people refuse to be harassed into a debate. Some people know debate is bad both for getting at the truth and because framing every disagreement as a debate is bad for communication. But when the smear merchants come up against someone who is willing to engage them directly, they tend to get a bit scarce.

Take, for example, “The Amazing Atheist” (aka a number of names, but we’ll call him “Kirk” here, since that’s the last name he’s currently using publicly) deciding not to debate Martin Hughes. Continue reading “No Debate”

No Debate