Godless Perverts Social Club in SF! Discussion topic: The Future of Godless Perverts

godless-perverts-social-club-oct-4-for-website-1

We’re having a Godless Perverts Social Club in San Francisco on Tuesday, October 4! We have a specific discussion topic this time: The Future of Godless Perverts. Where do you want to see Godless Perverts in a year, two years, five years? Godless Perverts is incorporating as a non-profit — and when we do, we’ll be able to take on new and different kinds of projects. What ideas do you have? What would you want to participate in? Chris and Greta will be presenting our own ideas, and taking suggestions from the community.

Community is one of the reasons we started Godless Perverts. There are few enough places to land when you decide that you’re an atheist; far fewer if you’re also LGBT, queer, kinky, poly, trans, or are just interested in sexuality. And the sex-positive/ alt-sex/ whatever- you- want- to- call- it community isn’t always the most welcoming place for non-believers. So please join us! Hang out with other nonbelievers and chat about sex, sexuality, gender, atheism, religion, science, social justice, pop culture, and more. All orientations, genders, and kinks (or lack thereof) are welcome.

We meet on the first Tuesday of every month at Wicked Grounds, 289 8th Street at Folsom in San Francisco (near Civic Center BART). 7-9 pm. Admission is free, although we do ask that you buy food and/or drink at the venue if you can: Wicked Grounds has beverages, light snacks, full meals, and milkshakes made of literal awesome sauce. Continue reading “Godless Perverts Social Club in SF! Discussion topic: The Future of Godless Perverts”

Godless Perverts Social Club in SF! Discussion topic: The Future of Godless Perverts
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7 Sexist Critiques of Hillary Clinton — Not The Ones You Think

Hillary Clinton

(Comment policy: In addition to my regular comment policy, I’m going to ask people to keep comments narrowly focused on the issues raised in this piece. This is not a platform to discuss everything else you do or don’t like about Clinton or Trump. This piece was originally published on AlterNet.)

It’s entirely reasonable to criticize Hillary Clinton. She’s running for President of the United States, after all. It’s an important job, and she should be subject to careful scrutiny. If she’s elected, she’s going to be representing all U.S. citizens: we should tell her what we want from her, and speak out when she lets us down.

But a significant amount of anti-Clinton criticism is loaded with sexism. It’s not just the obvious examples, like critiquing her clothing (women’s appearance is policed far more heavily than men’s), critiquing her voice (ditto), microanalyzing her gestures and mannerisms (ditto), sexualizing her, or targeting her with sexist and misogynist slurs. Much of the sexism against Hillary Clinton flies under the radar. On the surface, it looks like legitimate political commentary: the sexism underlying it is largely unconscious. But when you understand some of the ways sexism commonly plays out, it’s glaringly obvious. Here are seven examples. Continue reading “7 Sexist Critiques of Hillary Clinton — Not The Ones You Think”

7 Sexist Critiques of Hillary Clinton — Not The Ones You Think

Niki Massey, 1980 – 2016

Niki Massey on stage at Skepticon
Niki Massey on stage at Skepticon 8

Niki Massey, one of the founding members here at The Orbit, died yesterday, at the appallingly young age of thirty-five. (The cause of her death is still unknown: please don’t speculate on it.)

I’m struggling for words, so this may be brief. Niki was an extraordinary person and an extraordinary writer. She was a force of nature: she filled every space she was in with humor, rage, passion, intellect, honesty, and love. She was fierce: many people writing about her have described her brilliant and unparalleled snark. But she was also deeply kind. She was kind in that way that shows up as fierce anger towards those who cause needless pain.

She was brave. Brave doesn’t mean not having fear: it means being afraid, and moving ahead anyway. She was strong. Strong doesn’t mean not having weakness: it means having weakness, and moving ahead anyway. She had so many strikes against her — a culture that hated her race and held it in contempt, a body that betrayed her, a crappy social safety net that forces sick people to struggle and claw so they don’t fall through the gaping holes. And she kept fighting, for herself and for others. To give just one example among so many: I was gobsmacked by the fact that she struggled with serious physical disability and anxiety disorder — and still did clinic escorting at abortion clinics. To give one more example: At last year’s Skepticon, when a scheduled speaker no-showed, Niki stepped up and gave a full presentation to hundreds of people with zero advance notice — and hit it out of the park.

She was thoughtful and insightful. Her rants were hilarious — holy shit, were they hilarious — and they were full of rage. But they were also needle-sharp in their perception. She could smell bullshit a mile away, and pinpoint its true source with deadly accuracy.

Niki was my friend, and my colleague. But the word “colleague” doesn’t begin to describe the intimacy and value that a working relationship can have. When you work with people doing work you’re passionate about, work that is embattled and attacked every day, work that is working to change the world, you can become closer than blood family.

It was a delight and an honor to know her and to work with her. The world has become smaller without her. I love you, Niki.

If you want to do something to honor her memory, please consider donating to Whole Women’s Health of the Twin Cities (the place where she did clinic defense) or This Week in Blackness — or, if you can, volunteer to do clinic escorting at your local abortion clinic. Here is some other good writing about her. I’ll update this list as more writing about her comes in.

Who Niki Massey Was, by Stephanie Zvan, at Almost Diamonds
For Niki, by Olivia, at We Got So Far To Go
Rest in Power, by Ania Onion Bula at Alyssa and Ania ‘Splain You a Thing
Remembering Niki Massey, by Alex Gabriel, at Godlessness In Theory
The word for Niki was VIVID, by PZ Myers, at Pharyngula

Niki Massey, 1980 – 2016

Frivolous Friday: What Makes a Game Fun?

game-pieces-assorted

What makes a game fun for you?

I was in Austin last weekend (thanks again for the invite, Atheist Community of Austin!), staying with Russell and Lynnea Glasser. We spent a lot of time talking about games, what games we do and don’t like, what makes a game fun or not-fun for us. (We also played an awesome game of Slash.*) And I’ve been thinking about what qualities I look for in a game.

For games I play in person with people, I like games that can be dropped in and out of fairly easily. If someone walks by and thinks the game looks fun, I like to be able to deal them in; if someone needs to take a bathroom break or has to leave early, I don’t want them to feel like they’re disrupting the game. (Some of this bias comes from the fact that much of my game-playing happens at the Godless Perverts Social Club, where people often arrive late, leave early, circulate to socialize, or even switch games.)

A winning hand in Slash, the fanfic/ 'shipping game, in which Count Chocula is romantically paired with She-Hulk.
A winning hand in Slash, the fanfic/ ‘shipping game, in which Count Chocula is romantically paired with She-Hulk.
I like games that aren’t particularly competitive. I like games like Slash, Fluxx, Apples to Apples, or Snake Oil, where you can theoretically keep track of who’s winning but nobody really does and it’s not the point. There are exceptions — I’m very fond of Ingenious, which is quite competitive and even a bit cutthroat — but they’re rare.

(EDIT: Michael Dodd on Facebook said something that perfectly encapsulates what I mean when I say I want a not-so-competitive game: “I have a regular game night with good friends. One of my main criteria for a game is that it’s fun to play even when you’re not winning. I know this depends heavily on the attitude you bring into the game, but there it is.” Yes. That.)

I don’t like games where you have to count cards or remember what’s been played. I want to be able to figure out what to do based on what’s on the table, now. And I like games that don’t take too long to learn, and don’t take too long to play. Again, there are exceptions — I’m very fond of Chrononauts, a time-travel game that took me ages to figure out what I was even doing — but they’re rare.

For games I play on my phone or other devices, my criteria are very different. I have one large, deal-breaker qualification: I want my device games to be solo. I DO NOT want them to be multi-player or social. There’s a joke I often make about this: The whole reason I play phone games is that hell is other people. I obviously don’t think that (mostly), but I am very introverted, and I’m getting more so as I get older. I find human interaction with anyone other than my closest friends to be valuable but ultimately tiring. One of the main reasons I play games on my phone is to create a mental space I can withdraw in for a while.

Wordament high score 96th percentile
My go-to phone games are Threes, Wordament, and Klondike solitaire (the classic solitaire card game, with seven columns and building on aces and putting black tens on red Jacks). Wordament is pushing it, since you’re playing the same word-search grid with hundreds of people at the same time, and you’re scored against them as well as getting an absolute score. But the basic game mechanic is solo, and you can ignore your rankings if you want. And while you are scored against other people, you don’t actually, you know, interact with them.

I also want my device games to not take very long. I often play them when I’m killing time waiting for things (like waiting in line for coffee), when I’m taking a break from work, or when I’m getting ready to go to sleep. I don’t want to have to stop a game and re-start it and remember where I left off, just because my coffee order is up.

High score in Threes game of 87,444
I don’t, however, much care about having a clear “win.” In fact, until I was talking with Russell, it hadn’t occurred to me that this might be a preference for game players. I was showing Russell Threes, a game I’m completely obsessed with, and we had a brief but interesting communication breakdown when he was asking what the goal of the game was. I kept explaining that the goal was to get lots of high numbers, and he kept asking “But what’s the goal?” — and we finally realized that he was asking how you win the game, and I couldn’t answer, because there is no winning. You try to get the highest score you can before you lose. If you care about winning, you have to define what a “win” means for yourself. (For me, an acceptable outcome is when I get a 384 tile, a good one is when I get a 768, an awesome one is when I get a 1536 — and of course, an extraordinary one is when I beat my previous high score.) It hadn’t occurred to me until this conversation that having a clear win condition might be something game players might want, and might even be a dealbreaker.

And I realize this may be an unpopular opinion, but I’m going to say it anyway: For reasons I can’t fully articulate, I hate, hate, HATE Tetris. I can see the appeal, but playing it makes me anxious, frustrated, and actually angry.

So what makes a game fun for you? And what makes it not fun? What are your preferences — and your deal=breakers?

*I still think Rosebud the Sled would have made a better pairing for Bella Swan. Stiff, wooden, not very original, but somehow the object of obsession of someone far more interesting — these two are made for each other.

Frivolous Fridays are the Orbit bloggers’ excuse to post about fun things we care about that may not have serious implications for atheism or social justice. Any day is a good day to write about whatever the heck we’re interested in (hey, we put “culture” in our tagline for a reason), but we sometimes have a hard time giving ourselves permission to do that. This is our way of encouraging each other to take a break from serious topics and have some fun. Check out what some of the other Orbiters are doing!

Frivolous Friday: What Makes a Game Fun?

“A good life can mean many things”: Meme from The Way of the Heathen

"A good life can mean many things, and move in many directions. It doesn't have to constantly move forward."

“A good life can mean many things, and move in many directions. It doesn’t have to constantly move forward.”
-Greta Christina, The Way of the Heathen: Practicing Atheism in Everyday Life
(from Chapter 48, “Atheist Thoughts on a Life Well-Lived”)

(Image description: above text, juxtaposed next to image of balloons floating in the sky)

I’m making a series of memes/ inspirational poster thingies with my favorite quotes from my new book, The Way of the Heathen: Practicing Atheism in Everyday Life. Please feel free to share this on social media, or print it and hang it on your wall if you like. (The image above is pretty big: you can click on it to get a bigger size if you like.)

Way of the Heathen cover
The Way of the Heathen is available in ebook on Amazon/Kindle and on Smashwords for $7.99. The audiobook is at Audible. The print edition is at Amazon and Powell’s Books, and can be ordered or carried by pretty much any bookstore: it’s being wholesaled by Ingram, Baker & Taylor, IPG, and bookstores can buy it directly from the publisher, Pitchstone Publishing. Check it out, and tell your friends!

“A good life can mean many things”: Meme from The Way of the Heathen

And Now, A Brief Pledge Break

the word fundraising
Photo by HowardLake

We’ll return to our program, “Feminism Is Awesome and God Doesn’t Exist,” in just a moment. But first:

If you like this blog, won’t you consider supporting it?

Blogging isn’t like any other publishing medium. And it doesn’t earn income like any other publishing medium. As much as I love doing it — and as much as many of you enjoy reading it — the ratio of time spent to income earned is kind of ridiculous. This blog isn’t like a magazine or a newspaper or a book publishing company. This blog is more like public radio.

Which is brought to you by generous donations from readers like you.

If you’ve enjoyed great new posts like The National Anthem, and What It Means to Love One’s Country; classics such as Why “Yes, But” Is the Wrong Response to Misogyny; or ongoing serieses like Reasons to Vote for Clinton, my Frivolous Friday posts, and my writing on depression and mental health — then won’t you consider supporting this blog with a small contribution?

You can make a one-time contribution, or you can set up an automatic donation once a month (which you can cancel at any time). Continue reading “And Now, A Brief Pledge Break”

And Now, A Brief Pledge Break

A Reason to Vote for Clinton: The Supreme Court

Hillary Clinton

The next president in November will be nominating at least one Supreme Court justice, and likely as many as four. Yes, you heard me — four. Almost half of the Supreme Court could be nominated by the next president.

For this reason alone, the next president will have the power to shape every aspect of life in the U.S., for everyone, for decades.

Reproductive rights. Drug policy. Privacy. Health care. Policing and prisons. Workers’ rights. LGBT rights. Voting rights. The results of this election will resonate in all our lives, for years after the president is no longer in office. Supreme Court justices generally live long after the president appointing them has left office, and Supreme Court decisions made in the next four to eight years will set precedents lasting decades.

Who do you want nominating those justices? A largely liberal Democrat, with a strong track record on civil liberties and an extensive and detailed knowledge of government? Or a literal fascist, who’s repeatedly made it clear that he’s ignorant of the Constitution and holds it in contempt?

There are countless reasons a Trump presidency could set the country back decades. The Supreme Court is only one. But it’s one of the most obvious, and one of the most profound.

When you vote in November, you’re helping choose one to four Supreme Court Justices. Pick wisely. Vote for Clinton.

(Comment policy: In addition to my regular comment policy, I’m going to ask people to keep comments narrowly focused on this issue. This is not a platform to discuss everything else you do or don’t like about Clinton or Trump. Thanks.)

A Reason to Vote for Clinton: The Supreme Court

“It can be comforting to externalize evil”: Meme from The Way of the Heathen

"It can be comforting to externalize evil, to see it as something the bad guys do. But it's a false comfort, and a dangerous one."

“It can be comforting to externalize evil, to see it as something the bad guys do. But it’s a false comfort, and a dangerous one.”
-Greta Christina, The Way of the Heathen: Practicing Atheism in Everyday Life
(from Chapter 9: “Two Different Ways to Be a Good Person”)

(Image description: above text, juxtaposed above photo of cannons in field of grass with blue sky)

I’m making a series of memes/ inspirational poster thingies with my favorite quotes from my new book, The Way of the Heathen: Practicing Atheism in Everyday Life. Please feel free to share this on social media, or print it and hang it on your wall if you like. (The image above is pretty big: you can click on it to get a bigger size if you like.)

Way of the Heathen cover
The Way of the Heathen is available in ebook on Amazon/Kindle and on Smashwords for $7.99. The audiobook is at Audible. The print edition is at Amazon and Powell’s Books, and can be ordered or carried by pretty much any bookstore: it’s being wholesaled by Ingram, Baker & Taylor, IPG, and bookstores can buy it directly from the publisher, Pitchstone Publishing. Check it out, and tell your friends!

“It can be comforting to externalize evil”: Meme from The Way of the Heathen

Frivolous Friday: Exit Sign Novel Titles

exit sign with arrow

Ingrid and I were driving on I-5 last weekend, and I invented a road game to beguile the long hours. (It’s entirely possible that others have invented this game or similar ones, and that this is a case of convergent evolution. If you’ve ever played this game or one like it, let me know!)

The game: Exit Sign Novel Titles. Rules: When driving by highway exit signs, you pick out ones that seem like titles of novels, and come up with plot summaries.

Here are some of my favorites:

Henley Hornbeck. An adventure book for children — probably aimed at boys — about a 19th century sailor. Sort of a junior Master and Commander. It may be the first in a series: Henley Hornbeck and the Secret Island, Henley Hornbeck and the Pirate Gold.

Hilt. A mystery novel, part of a series in which all the titles are parts of murder weapons. Other books in the series: Trigger, Blade.

Wonderland Blvd. and Mountain Gate Wonderland. (IIRC, these signs came right after each other on the highway). Wonderland Blvd. is a novel set in the Haight-Ashbury in 1967, written by a Tom Robbins wanna-be. Mountain Gate Wonderland is the sequel, with the same characters a few years later living in a hippie town in the Cascade mountains.

Grenada Gazelle. A children’s book about a friendly gazelle named Grenada, and her adventures with other animals in the African plains. Other titles in the series (I obviously love coming up with serieses for this game): Ernestine Elephant, Gina Giraffe, Wanda Wildebeest.

Turntable Bay. A hip-hop act in a small coastal town becomes an overnight sensation and starts a recording label in the town, which unexpectedly becomes a locus of hip-hop culture. How will the town cope with its sudden transformation from Port Harbor to Turntable Bay? The novel explores cultural, racial, and economic tensions with both drama and humor.

Vollmer’s Delta. The tangled, darkly intertwined lives of the Vollmer family, whose great-great-great-grandfather, Elijah Vollmer, founded their small town in the Mississippi delta.

Siskyou Summit. A tense political thriller about global superpowers on the brink of war. Espionage, double-crossing, triple agents — you know the drill.

Sunset Hills Auction Yard. A gritty, down-to-earth set of interwoven short stories, each telling the tale of an item sold at the auction yard and the down-on-their-luck lives of the people who buy and sell them.

What plot summaries would you give these exit signs? What exit sign do you drive by every day that needs to be a novel title?

Frivolous Fridays are the Orbit bloggers’ excuse to post about fun things we care about that may not have serious implications for atheism or social justice. Any day is a good day to write about whatever the heck we’re interested in (hey, we put “culture” in our tagline for a reason), but we sometimes have a hard time giving ourselves permission to do that. This is our way of encouraging each other to take a break from serious topics and have some fun. Check out what some of the other Orbiters are doing!

Frivolous Friday: Exit Sign Novel Titles

“We love to think we believe on impartial conviction”: Meme from The Way of the Heathen

"Like Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, we love to think our decisions are not influenced by our hopes or fears. We love to think we believe on impartial conviction, not because we wish to. And like Mr. Darcy, we are full of it."

“Like Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, we love to think our decisions are not influenced by our hopes or fears. We love to think we believe on impartial conviction, not because we wish to. And like Mr. Darcy, we are full of it.”
-Greta Christina, The Way of the Heathen: Practicing Atheism in Everyday Life
(from Chapter 11: “Starting With the Assumption That I’m Wrong”)

(Image description: above text, juxtaposed next to drawing of four people in Regency garb doing Regency dancing)

I’m making a series of memes/ inspirational poster thingies with my favorite quotes from my new book, The Way of the Heathen: Practicing Atheism in Everyday Life. Please feel free to share this on social media, or print it and hang it on your wall if you like. (The image above is pretty big: you can click on it to get a bigger size if you like.)

Way of the Heathen cover
The Way of the Heathen is available in ebook on Amazon/Kindle and on Smashwords for $7.99. The audiobook is at Audible. The print edition is at Amazon and Powell’s Books, and can be ordered or carried by pretty much any bookstore: it’s being wholesaled by Ingram, Baker & Taylor, IPG, and bookstores can buy it directly from the publisher, Pitchstone Publishing. Check it out, and tell your friends!

“We love to think we believe on impartial conviction”: Meme from The Way of the Heathen