FreethoughtBlogs Just Got That Much More Awesome

Sometimes, I have no idea what I’m doing here, and I mean that in a good way. It’s nice to blog on a network filled with so many consistently awesome people. And we’ve just added two kickass atheists to the bunch: Zinnia Jones and Ashley Miller. They’re the vanguard for our videoblogging horde. Not only do they vlog, they blog, and they are outstanding writers. With Ashley and Zinnia, I think we have achieved a majority share of awesome atheists online. And dere r moar on teh wai!

Suddenly, taking over the world doesn’t seem like an impossibility…

FreethoughtBlogs Just Got That Much More Awesome

She'll Make It a Country For Women

This is still kinda secret, because magic buttons haven’t been pressed in order to make her appear on the front page, but Taslima Nasreen has joined us, and she’s come out of the gate roaring. I’ll admit that I read her first post at work. I very nearly told the person who called in while I was in the middle of it to hold a minute while I finished, or at least let me read her post aloud to them so we could finish it together.

I feel like reading the whole thing to you, but you’re old and wise enough to go read it yourself. I’ll just give you a taste:

A recurrent question that is often raised claims that I have hurt religious sentiments of people. Feminism has long opposed religion; whoever has even the slightest knowledge of women’s rights knows this. Religion is patriarchal through and through. I shall follow a religion and I shall acknowledge women’s rights – this stance is akin to saying I shall drink poison along with honey. Whenever religion-motivated abuse of women has been challenged in order to wrest women’s rights, immediately the slogan “Religious sentiments must not be hurt” has been raised by those that are anti-democracy, anti-free speech, and opposed to women’s freedom. I, however, don’t refer to any kind of barbarism as culture.

Hells to the fucking yes! I wish she’d been writing when I was in college. I wish I’d had these words, from someone who is there, to give to the well-meaning folks who were all about the respecting other cultures and not judging because that’s like totes imperialistic. I think my Women’s Studies teacher might have got it. Quite a few of the rest of them might have, too. Respecting different ways of living is all lovely, and diverse cultures welcome, but respect for those differences does not and should never extend to shrugging off oppression and violence by saying, “Well, it’s their culture, and we’re wrong to judge.” I wish I’d understood that back in my early twenties.

Thanks to amazing and courageous people like Taslima, I’m starting to get it.

So go read her post.

And maybe also this interview, in which so much territory is covered that I can’t really sum it up, but includes this bit on exile that has haunted me since I read it:

People ask why I don’t stay in Europe. In India, I am in a familiar place. (Points to a tree outside the window) I know the trees; I have grown up watching the same trees in Bangladesh. People won’t understand this… For someone who has lost her home, it means a lot. That’s why I feel at home in Kolkata.

With Taslima Nasreen, FtB has just leapt a megaparsec forward in awesomeness.

She'll Make It a Country For Women

The Obligatory Introductory Post, or "Just Who the Hell Are You?"

¡Bienvenidos a mi cantina! Mi casa es su casa. Pull up one of the nice comfy chairs, and have a beer. One thing you’ll discover is that geologists are mad for beer. It’s practically a job requirement. If, like me, you’re not quite so keen on beer, I’m assured that gin and tonic is just as acceptable. So is whiskey. Or rum. Wine’s a great geological drink, as geology is so much a part of making it. Or you could – oh, hell, any sort of alcohol’s okay with this crowd. Pour your poison of choice.

Right. We’ll just let the regulars get on with kicking the new furniture, then, and have some introductions. Hullo. I’m Dana Hunter. That’s not the name on my driver’s license, but it’s the name I go by in all situations aside from my workplace and among family members, who haven’t quite figured out that the name I was born with isn’t the one I most frequently answer to. It’s gotten to the point where I’m startled when I see my birth name on something. So, call me Dana, and I’ll know who you’re talking about.

So, we know what to call each other. Now on to the important stuff.

First important thing: I’m not a geologist.

Exploring Doherty Ridge with George’s rock hammer.

Yes, that is indeed me on an outcrop, with a rock hammer. I can pass for a geologist in a good light, I’ll admit. But I’m not a professional geologist. I’m not even in school. I’m entirely amateur. Thing is, I have this love affair with rocks, and I do a massive amount of reading and research. Most of my best friends are geologists, and they send me papers and answer questions and write amazing blog posts and sometimes, when we can arrange to be in the same state, take me out and teach me how to bang on rocks. This is how a total amateur gets away with writing about geology without screwing it up utterly.

I’m a writer. I write blog posts, and I am writing speculative fiction stories, and a novel that I will somehow manage to complete, and a book on geology or two that I turn to when the fiction won’t come. I’ve been writing ever since my mother told me I was old enough to tell my own stories at the age of six, and I haven’t ever stopped. That’s over thirty years, for those of you who are curious. Not well over, but still, over.

I’m an atheist. And not just any old atheist, not even just a New Atheist, but one of those dreaded Gnu Atheists. The only use I have for religion is occasionally cannibalizing the more interesting ones for bits of myth to put into stories, and as fodder for rants. My religious friends have grown used to this, and even occasionally egg me on when I take off after a particularly egregious creationist. You’ll not see me do that quite as often as my fellow Freethought bloggers do – I’ve got other things I’m busy with – but I do love taking the metaphorical rock hammer to Flood geologists especially. Fun as that is, though, I enjoy celebrating atheism far more. Life as an atheist is gorgeous. I’ve seen both sides, you see: I was a Christian (briefly, long ago), and for a while a pagan, and an agnostic, but none of that worked. Atheism works. Life has never meant as much, been so precious or beautiful or worth living, as it has since I finally accepted I was an atheist, full stop. I wish I’d had the courage to do it sooner.

I’m a raging liberal. Got me start in political blogging, actually, and kept on with that until I ran out of new and creative ways to call Republicans fucktards. You will notice, however, that there’s a sleek, shiny implement hanging over the bar. It’s the Smack-o-Matic, and you’ll see me lovingly take it down on occasion and apply it to some deserving Con. I’d much rather blog about science and SF writing and other things that make me intensely happy, but there are times that require furious anger, savage snark, and perhaps even a touch of satire, and I’m never out of practice.

There are some people who will groan (I’m looking at you, PZ), but I own a cat. She is what convinced me to never have children of my own. If she’d been a human, I’d be one of those wretched mothers on the teevee apologizing for my serial killer offspring. She hasn’t actually killed anyone yet, though not for lack of trying. However, she’s beautiful and sometimes disgustingly cute, and I love her beyond measure and blog about her on occasion. Consider yourself warned.

I, along with Ed Brayton, am a ginormous Peacemakers fan. I blog about them sometimes, too. They are my favorite band, and I will sound like a hopeless fangirl, but if you come along with me to one of their shows, you’ll probably not emerge without at least a deep fondness for them, so you’ll forgive me for it one day. The title of this blog, in fact, comes from one of their shirts. In tequila is truth.

That’s one thing that threatens my atheist cred – I practically (I say, practically) worship them. The other threat is Doctor Who. Steven Moffat, people. That’s all I’m saying, and those of you who love the show will know exactly what I mean.

Last but not by any means least, I am a woman. I sometimes write about things pertaining specifically to women, and I’m way past the age where I think we’ve won all the battles and misogyny’s harmless and cute. If that’s something that threatens your sense of self, this is not going to be a comfortable cantina for you. For those interested in creating a world where women and men are on equal footing, you’ll be right at home.

Right, I think that’s enough babbling about myself. I want to take a moment to tell you about my regulars: they are incredible people, a wise and wonderful mix of geologists and bloggers and science geeks and political junkies and atheists and writers and incredible people who make me want to be the best blogger I can possibly be because they deserve nothing less. Without them, my world would be a far smaller, much duller place, and I wouldn’t be writing this right now. Raise a glass to them, my dear new readers, and join me in saying, “Salud!”

Then raise another glass to the incredible folks at Freethought Blogs who inflicted me upon you brought me on board: Stephanie Zvan, whose writing brings me to tears, elevates me to heights of joy, and brings on a nice righteous outrage – sometimes in the same post. PZ Myers, who got me started on this whole science blogging thing and helped me over the threshold from agnostic to atheist. Ed Brayton, who’s not only one of my favorite political and religious idiocy bloggers, but is a fellow Peacemakers fan. Ophelia Benson, who has introduced me to subjects I never thought about and made me care intensely about them. Jason Thibeault, who is not only a fabulous writer but a genius at making this whole migration thing painless. Raise a glass to everyone at Freethought Blogs, those glorious freethinkers who are making this world a better one, one post at a time.

And raise a final round for yourselves. Without you, my dear readers, these words would be nothing more than pixels on a screen. If I ever write something that inspires you, touches you, moves you, just remember: without you, it would be a lonely echo in a void. People like to think writing is a solitary art, but they’ve just failed to notice that magnificent audience, reading and engaging and egging the author on. You lot, you’re marvelous. Don’t ever forget that.

Are we suitably intoxicated? Right. On with it, then. ¡Vámonos!

The Obligatory Introductory Post, or "Just Who the Hell Are You?"

A Welcome to New Readers and Paeans to the Old

Oh, my.  When one gets linked by PZ Myers, Maria Dahvana Headley, and Neil Gaiman in the course of a few days, traffic suddenly goes through the roof, and new readers show up.

Allow me to quote Rowan Atkinson: “My god, there are a lot of you.”

Let me just state this clearly and upfront: you are the reason writers write, and I’m incredibly grateful too see you all here, whether you’ve come for a single post or plan to stick around a while.  Without you, I’d have nothing to drive me onward through those lonely dark hours, no reason to strive for the right word in the right place at the right time.  I’d still write for only myself, but not half so much or half so well.  So, thank you.  I’d pour you a drink of your choice, only we’re in cyberspace, so I’m afraid you’ll have to pour one for yourself.  Hopefully, some of us will remedy that someday.

So, introductions would seem to be in order.  You’re very likely busy people without time to delve the archives.  A few facts, then:

I’m Dana Hunter, which isn’t the name on my drivers license but is the name I go by in all situations but legal transactions and at work, so I consider it my “real” name.  I started out using it because my birth first name got filched by one of my characters, who won’t give it back, and my last name is awesome but leads to horrible retail jokes.  And Dana Hunter is now more than a ‘nym, but me.  But if you really want to know my original name, I’ll tell it to you when we meet in the physical world, and you will probably laugh.

Those wanting the story behind the ‘nym, see here.

I have a homicidal cat.  If you stick around, you will be subjected to pictures of her.  Fair warning.

I’m not a professional geologist, but a passionate amateur with a lot of friends who are professional geologists.  I write about geology a lot.  I live in the Pacific Northwest and came from Arizona, which both have the kind of geology that leaves you awestruck by the magnitude of it.  But that’s not the only science that catches my fancy, so you’ll see bits on biology and chemistry and physics and whatever else grabbed me by the lapels and said very firmly about an inch from my face, “NOTICE ME.”  I research my posts as thoroughly as I can and try not to say inaccurate things, but if you catch me in an error, by all means say something.  I don’t like letting mistakes stand uncorrected.

I write SF.  Someday, I will even publish SF.  Those who want an advance peek at my fiction and non-fiction projects can shoot me an email and become a Wise Reader.  Yahoo knows me as dhunterauthor.  For those in the audience who like reading about the craft, I do up a Dojo right here on ETEV every Tuesday, wherein writing is discussed and the wisdom I’ve obtained from others and via my own experience is passed on.

I’m a Gnu Atheist.  That’s “New Atheist” to those without a sense of humor.  I am not fuzzy and accommodating to religion, but if you’re one of the faithful and your religion is tough enough to take it, we’ll all be fine.  This is just by way of fair warning (which the folks who arrived here via Pharyngula don’t need): I write about atheism and religion, and I do not do so moderately.  Oh, and I’m a liberal Democrat.  I started out as a potty-mouthed progressive political blogger and sometimes return to my roots.  If those two things don’t scare you away, then we’re a good match. ;-)

I read each and every comment on every post, but with two book projects, this blog, a full-time job that has nothing to do with either, an erratic but existent social life, a weird paranoia that acknowledging one person means I’ve just disrespected the others, time management skills that can only be described as teh suck, and the memory of a brain-damaged gnat, I don’t respond as often as I should.  I’ll try to do better, but I can make you no promises.  Just know that I do actually appreciate each and every comment.  Live for them, actually.

Right, I think that’ll do as an overview.  Now on to the really important matters: the readers and fellow bloggers who have been here for a long time.

If I tried to get specific, I’d miss some of you and feel horribly about it.  So I won’t try just now.  You know who you are, and you know I’m talking to you right now: all of you geobloggers, my long-time Twitter tweeps, my intrepid companions and my cherished commenters and friends.  All of you who have been there mixing it up in the comments threads and saying things on Twitter that make me tear up while punching the air, because to have done something that made you happy, to have written something you liked, is the ultimate.  You know how much I love my cat, but if some freakish circumstance forced me to choose between you and her, I’m afraid she’d have to go.

You’re everything I ever wanted when I began writing, all alone, oh so many years ago.  You are the wise and the wonderful people, so often smarter or kinder or more talented than me (or all three), who somehow yet find something of worth in the words I write.  You egg me on and lift me up and apply the judicious prod to the buttock when necessary.  You correct me when I’m wrong, and give me sound advice, and cheer and jeer and basically just provide me all the reason I’ll ever need to brave carpal tunnel and all the other hazards of the writer’s life.  You make me believe that this whole writing-for-a-living thing may just be possible.  And you show me wonders.  You give me intriguing new paths to explore.  You inspire me.  You make me do things I’ve never done but turn out to have been a fabulous idea.  A lot of you ends up in what I write, and a lot of what I write is for you.

Without your links and retweets and recommendations, this blog would be nowhere.  I cherish each and every one.  I’m always astonished and flattered and incredibly grateful when you deem something I’ve written as worthy of sharing.

And if my wildest dreams come true, and fame and fortune are achieved, I will never, ever forget you.  You’re all coming with me.

It can never be said enough: Thank you.  Thank all of you.

And now, introductions and paeans achieved, I shall get on with giving you all the very best I am capable of, because you damn well deserve it.

A Welcome to New Readers and Paeans to the Old

One More Night

Nightwish best expresses my sentiments tonight:

One more night to bear this nightmare.
What more do I have to say?


Ocean Soul – Nightwish

You know what nightmare I’m talking about.


Let no locked doors thwart George W. Bush as he gets the hell out of our White House. In fact, let’s make sure there’s doorkeepers standing by, just in case.


Thank you, President Obama, for ending the nightmare. Come on in.


You can laugh a lot
And bring out that smile

For now we’re hanging in
Even though we’re blessed with sin
You make my heart…
You make my tired heart sing


Tender Trip on Earth – Tristania

As ridiculous as it sounds, you do indeed make my tired heart sing. And judging from the evidence, I’m not the only one.

One More Night

I Think I'm Running Out of Alcohol…

There’s an astounding number of new faces in this cantina. Hello and welcome! Whether you swung by from Pharyngula, Reddit, or Daily Kos, arrived by way of a blog that’s gotten wiped off of Sitemeter by the general stampede, or clicked in from a blogroll, pour yourself a drink and allow me to do my level best to keep you entertained. Good to see you!

Muchos gracias all for the visits, the comments, and the shout-outs. I’ve been thoroughly enjoying having you about the place.

Muchos gracias especial to those bloggers who linked here yesterday. Really unexpected, and definitely appreciated.

While you’re here, take some time to get to know my regulars. They’ve got astoundingly good blogs, and if you haven’t sampled them, you’re deprived. You can find their links in the blogroll or their names. As for knowing who they are, well – any comments on a post before today likely come from the brilliant, beautiful people who frequent this cantina.

I’ll trust my regulars to point themselves out in the comments here. I’d put together an actual list myself, but there’s this little Carnival of the Elitist Bastards coming up on Saturday, and this captain has to get her arse busy making sure the ship leaves port. Please stop back by on Saturday evening and enjoy the delicious elitist bastardry – we’ve got some truly amazing submissions for our second voyage.

Right. Let’s get on with it, and hope the alcohol doesn’t run out…

Salud!

I Think I'm Running Out of Alcohol…

Hello, You!

I knew something was up when Sitemeter went batshit insane. Dana, I said to meself, I think the Pharyngulites have arrived.

Checked referrals. Sure enough, it was you. Hello, you!

A Blog Around the Clock picked us up as well. Hello to you, too!

I’d like to turn the floor over to Rowan Atkinson for A Warm Welcome:

Your response has been overwhelming, and overwhelmingly encouraging. When the HMS Elitist Bastard sails once more, it seems we’ll be going forward with a fleet. I can’t wait to have you aboard! My swarthy crew and I will be honored to have you all as shipmates.

Thank you for supporting us in this endeavor. I’m sure you know by the entries, but each and every one of my crew members deserves all the recognition they can get. I’m stealing this opportunity to say, publically and as profoundly as I can, how much I appreciate them.

They made this happen. Without their enthusiasm, their effort, and their encouragement, there never would have been a Carnival of the Elitist Bastards. From graphics to random quote generators to excellent elitist entries, from plugging the Carnival to putting their backs into hoisting the sails, they’ve done an amazing amount of work. And they believed.

Even the atheists. After all, while we don’t believe in gods, we sure as hell believe in each other.

They believed in the purpose behind this Carnival: to take back the word “elite,” to glory in brainpower, to celebrate intellect and resist ignorance. And I do believe we’re going to be victorious, even if the battle is a long and bitter one.

I believe this because I believe in them.

The best thing about writing this blog isn’t the chance to pull the Smack-o-Matic off the wall and let myself go. That’s fun, don’t get me wrong. But it’s nothing compared to what’s ultimately happened because of it: it’s the people who come here, who comment, who help me create carnivals and have so much fun running with ideas, who make this so rewarding.

I’ve met some of the best people in the world doing this.

I know I’ll meet many more.

Hello, you. Mi casa es su casa. Come on in, pour yourself a drink, and join us when we set sail again next month.

Special thanks and a tip o’ the premium tequila (or drink of their choice!) to PZ Myers and Coturnix for their spectacular shout-outs!

Hello, You!

Bienvenido a Mi Casa

For those of you who no hablo espanol, Welcome to my house!

Introductions are likely in order. I’m Dana Hunter. I’m an SF writer in Seattle. Don’t bother looking me up on Amazon just yet – there’s a reason I call myself a writer rather than an author: not published. We’re working on it.

This is my cat, Misha:

Do not pet the cat. She is a homicidal maniac.

Of course she looks too cute to be homicidal. That’s her modus operandi.

Don’t fall for it.

You’ll notice the place is still under construction. Bare bones, alas. But we have a full bar, so we should do all right. Pour yourself a drink and get comfy.

Right. Let’s get this party started.

Bit o’ a tour, to start. You’ve met the homicidal beastie. Down at the bottom there, you’ll note the Video Bar, fully stocked, of course. To your left, I’m slowly but surely building links to places I find fascinating, and playing about with various and sundry interesting bits for you to explore. You’ll notice that big red A right off, I’m sure. That stands for Atheist. It doesn’t stand for anti-religion, mind. But if you’re a morbidly pious sort, or a right-wing evangelical prostelytizing judgement-passing fuckwit, you’re probably not going to be very happy here.

Ah, yes, I should mention the language. There will be language here. Plenty of it. If you faint at the word “fuck,” you should probably move on. There was a time I tried to be more polite in public, but that was before the Bush Regime radicalized me. Now I’m true-blue, and I use the same color language.

You’ll have noticed by now I lean left. That’s not a lean, it’s a sprawl, caused by being shoved rudely from the middle by aforementioned regime. I reserve the right to inch back toward the middle if and when such an option becomes available, but for now, the left is where I stay, and that’s where you’ll hear my voice screaming from.

And there will be screaming. Feel free to join in.

You’ll notice from the links (sadly sparse right now, but check back later) that I love science, and I’ve become something of a political animal, and I thrive on snark and oddities. I hope you’ll enjoy those blogs as much as I do. There’s great stuff in there, a lot of great people who restore my faith in humanity, and I invite you to go strike up a conversation with them. We get outrageous at times, I admit. I don’t always agree with the views expressed. But that’s the beauty of the First Amendment: it allows for a variety of voices, a cacophany of choices, and a plenty of challenges to entrenched ways of thinking.

Which brings me to another point: comments. Time was, I’d have requested a civil discourse, discouraged flame wars, and pleaded for you to avoid name-calling. No more. I do moderate comments, but there are very few things that will get your comment banned. Let’s go over those, shall we?

  1. Threats.
  2. Hate speech. Yes, I know it’s a limit on the First Amendment, but it’s mi casa, and I won’t tolerate racial slurs, ethnic attacks, and other such nonsense.
  3. Sexual harassment.
  4. Stuff that should be taken outside. Which means that if you want to talk about some personal quibble, you email it. It doesn’t belong in comments. An example of this would be, “Dana, you left your underwear sitting on my kitchen counter.” Dirty laundry doesn’t belong in the comments section, are we agreed?

And that’s about it. If other things become problems, we’ll revisit this, but I think we’re all adults here. We can argue and hurl insults and laugh at the sheer ridiculousness of the world without crossing the line into the grotesque.

If someone expresses a view you don’t like, refute it. I don’t care how much dirty language you use and how much name-calling you do, but please, address the issue rather than attacking that person’s gender or background or what they eat for breakfast. Wikipedia defines ad hominem for us:

An ad hominem argument, also known as argumentum ad hominem (Latin: “argument to the man”, “argument against the man”) consists of replying to an argument or factual claim by attacking or appealing to a characteristic or belief of the person making the argument or claim, rather than by addressing the substance of the argument or producing evidence against the claim. The process of proving or disproving the claim is thereby subverted, and the argumentum ad hominem works to change the subject.


And this is what I’m talking about. Let’s try to keep ad hominem to a minimum here. Enough said. Go forth and comment prolifically and with abandon.

I know, I know. Right now you’re asking yourself: Dana, what the hell am I supposed to comment about? You haven’t written anything.

Muy verdad, mis amigos. However, there’ll be plenty to come: science and pseudoscience, atheism and religion, writing and reading, and catblogging, for a start. There’s a poll, there, just to your left, asking – nay, begging – your opinion. There’s a comment section just waiting for you to put your own two cents in. Use it. Let’s talk. I enjoy a good talk about Life, the Universe, and Everything.

You see that blogroll, over there? You, too, could be listed! Send me the link. Don’t have a blog? Create one. Don’t blog enough to create one but came up with a fascinating diatribe you just know we’ll all love? Email it. If it tickles my fancy, you’ll end up a guest blogger, with all the fame and – well, with a little more recognition than you had this morning, anyway. And maybe someday, my snark will count for something and guarantee you a wider audience. Stranger things have happened. Just look at 2004.

While mi casa’s under construction, I invite you to amble on over to my alternate sites: MySpace and danahunter.net. If you’re truly bored, you can even read my previous rantings along with more recent outpourings and, gods help you, my old short stories which are lurking around. Just remember that yes, the views I professed then are not necessarily the ones I hold now. People get older, they get jaded, they get new obsessions, and their minds change. Don’t hold the me of two years ago against the me of now. I’m not a politician: I don’t have to be consistent, right?

Right.

Not that I’ve changed that much, mind. Just gotten a lot less patient with woo, embraced a more skeptical outlook, and various other minor course corrections. Change is good. Especially when it’s larger coins.

Anyway. The rambling must cease. Again, welcome, and enjoy your stay!

Bienvenido a Mi Casa