Where to See Me in March

I managed to cluster three speaking gigs in March. If you’re in Minnesota, come find me at one of them!

Tomorrow night and March 29, I’m taking part in Dakota County Library’s Religion and Faith Series.

Explore and gain a new understanding of Atheist, Baha’i, and Unitarian Universalist traditions by discussing their history and beliefs with our guest panelists. Find out how their traditions and beliefs impact their understanding of citizenship and role in the community and how they feel they are perceived. Audience participation is welcome. Attend one or all four program topics. Presented
in partnership with the St. Paul Interfaith Network.

A Minnesota Legacy program sponsored by Minnesota’s Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.

Discover some of the varying views of atheists living in our area and how this worldview impacts their day-to-day actions. Hear how panelists find community and purpose within the larger world.

Thursday, March 8, 6–8 p.m.

Interfaith Dialogue
Interact with people of diverse faiths, religions and beliefs living in our communities. Gain knowledge of other traditions to understand difficult events in our modern world. Join our series panelists in discussing basic questions about how to live together peacefully and equitably in our diverse society.

Robert Trail
Thursday, March 29, 6–8 p.m.

Then, on Sunday March 18, I’m speaking at the Minnesota Atheists public meeting. My talk is titled, “What Do You Mean Science Is Racist?!”

When someone says that science is racist, many of us take it as an affront to our worldview. Science can’t be racist! It’s how we come to an objective understanding of the world. Unfortunately, when we’re affronted, we stop listening. We never find out why people call science racist, never evaluate whether they may be right, never find out what change they’re asking for. We simply stay upset that anyone’s saying this at all.

The problem, of course, is that science is still a human endeavor. With that comes all the biases that plague humanity. While we may eventually manage to purge those biases, it’s a long process, and there are forces working against it.

So what do people mean when they say science is racist? Come find out. Take a tour of science’s racist past, learn how it’s improving, and find out where some of the major challenges still lie.

I’m sure it will be in no way controversial. The talk is at 2 p.m. at the Brookdale Library.

Where to See Me in March

Putting Asses (and Terrible People) to Good Use

I’m reassured that I’m doing something right in my life when I know so many people who annoy regressives just by going about their lives, by saying who they are, by making art. So it was with the Sad Puppies of Hugo Award infamy. They saw stories about queer people celebrated where they were not, so they knew there must be something wrong with the celebration.

These days, the Sad Puppies have mostly stopped jerking the awards around. They’ve left that to the Rabid Puppies, who are like the Sad Puppies but think it’s good PR to cackle and rub their hands together while monologuing. (Somebody really wants a movie made about him, especially if he doesn’t have to be an interesting bad guy to do it.) But jerking the awards around still means keeping queer and POC writers and themes out of the awards.

Rachel Swirsky, whose story “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love” makes puppies feel all squicky, has decided to do something about it. She’s using her Patreon this month to raise funds for queer health care, with the promise to do more things that will make puppies feel squicky and entertain the rest of us as she hits various fundraising targets.

In my family, humor has always been a way of putting crap into perspective. When life hands you lemons, make jokes. And then possibly lemonade, too. It is coming up on summer.

In that spirit, I’m trying a self-publishing experiment. And that experiment’s name is “If You Were a Butt, My Butt.”

If my Patreon reaches $100 by the end of the month [Note: it has!], I will write and send “If You Were a Butt, My Butt” to everyone who subscribes with at least $1.

I will be donating the first month’s Patreon funds to Lyon-Martin health services. Lyon-Martin is one of the only providers that focuses on caring for the LGBTQIAA community, especially low-income lesbian, bisexual, and trans people. They provide services regardless of the patient’s ability to pay.

You don’t have to keep on paying into my Patreon  in order to participate! It’s just fine if you want to sign up, get your silly thing, and just support Lyon-Martin. I’ll send out a note after I release “If You Were a Butt, My Butt,” and remind folks to unsubscribe if they want to.

Those of you who have been following this year’s puppies news may already understand the joke in that stories title. If you don’t, well, it involves gay erotica that is also performance art and a poor attempt at trolling, and you should go read about it. Then consider donating to Rachel’s Patreon this month. It costs very little, and it helps and pisses off the right people respectively.

Putting Asses (and Terrible People) to Good Use

Supporting Space Unicorns

Uncanny Magazine is currently finishing up its annual subscription drive. If you can, you should subscribe. If you appreciate the stories I highlight here on Saturdays, you should subscribe. If you like my takes on pop culture and geek culture, you should subscribe. If you know what it means to piss off a rabid puppy and you like that idea, you should subscribe. If you believe in opening doors for diverse writers and paying them while you do it, you should subscribe.

The editors of Uncanny are friends of mine, but we’re friends in part because we share a lot of the same values around art and inclusion. I’m impressed with what they’ve done with the magazine, even having seen how ambitious they were to start. I want to see them keep it up, and that takes support. But they’re offering plenty in return. Continue reading “Supporting Space Unicorns”

Supporting Space Unicorns

“Sexism and Harassment at Professional Events” Discussion Tonight

I’m doing an event tonight in Northeast Minneapolis with Women Who Code Twin Cities and Minnesota Speculative Fiction Writers, but it’s open to all. We’ll be talking about harassment in professional contexts for people whose professional lives include a lot of non-office events. From the description:

Microsoft recently came under fire for hiring women in “tiny schoolgirl outfits” to interact with guests at an event at the GDC gaming conference. Unfortunately, these incidences are all too prevalent in tech.

As a developer, I’ve seen my fair share of inappropriate behavior at conventions, conferences, meetups, happy hours and other work-related gatherings. These incidences include anything from awkward situations to inappropriate comments to outright harassment and abuse. As a writer, I’ve also been involved in the Speculative Fiction community, which has had a number of harassment issues at conventions in the past few years. Since this is a problem both communities share, I’ve invited a local speculative fiction group, MinnSpec, to partner on this event.

Discussion Topics

I’ve had a number of women ask me for advice on handling various situations at professional events. We’ll discuss the following topics:

• How to escape an uncomfortable situation, especially ones with potential to become hostile

• Recognizing body language to understand when someone else is in distress

• Understanding consent

• How to help someone else out of an uncomfortable or potentially hostile situation

• Recognizing body language to understand when you might be making someone else uncomfortable

• How to escalate issues to organizers and/or authorities

• Understanding the potential backlash or criticism that may come from reporting issues

The Schedule

6:30 – 7:00 PM – Mingle and Network
7:00 – 8:30 PM – Panel/discussion
8:30 – 9:00 PM – More Mingling and Networking

For more information, see the Meetup event.

“Sexism and Harassment at Professional Events” Discussion Tonight

That’s Me!

The lovely people at The Humanist did a little interview with me that they published last week. If you’ve always wanted to know:

  • Where I come from in an educational and professional sense
  • What drove me to apply to produce The Humanist Hour
  • Where I come from in a religious sense, including why I identify as humanist
  • What my favorite book is and why
  • And who will be the featured guests at my imaginary dinner party

You should check it out. Heck, you can still check it out if you’re only now interested in the answers to any of those.

That’s Me!

Susan Jacoby in Minneapolis Tonight

When we talked to Susan Jacoby on Sunday, we mentioned on the air that she was making two appearances tonight in Uptown. They’re at 6 and 7 p.m., just a couple of blocks apart. From the Minnesota Atheists Meetup site:

Discussion with Susan Jacoby

Uptown Church and Magers & Quinn Booksellers present Susan Jacoby

Join us for a SMALL GROUP DISCUSSION with the author at Uptown Church at 6:00pm before the main event. This is a special opportunity to meet Susan and hold an extended conversation with her about her work.

Registration is requested at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/small-group-discussion-with-susan-jacoby-author-of-strange-gods-tickets-22807952199

If you’re curious, as I was, what kind of church would host Susan Jacoby talking about religious conversion as a secular event, well, I looked them up online Sunday. This is what I found. Continue reading “Susan Jacoby in Minneapolis Tonight”

Susan Jacoby in Minneapolis Tonight

Announcing the Atheist, Humanist, and Skeptic History Index

Here it is, the Atheist, Humanist, and Skeptic History Index. This is the project I’ve been working to make come to pass for the last few months. It is here. It is ready to go. In fact, it’s already underway.

It needs help, however. It needs visibility, volunteers, and a moderate amount of funding. Read on to find out what the project is and what you can do to support it if you want to see it succeed. And once you understand it, I think you’ll want to see it succeed.

Line graphic of an open magazine with a magnifying glass with "AHSHI" in the lens. Text below: Atheist, Humanist, and Skeptic History Index

What is the AHS History Index?

What is the AHS History Index? The Atheist, Humanist, and Skeptic History Index is a project to make the information contained in the publications of these movements easily discoverable by historians and anyone else with an interest in the history of these movements. Several organizations have done a good job of collecting this information and making it accessible to people who ask to see it, but it’s difficult to ask for things you don’t know exist. This project aims to fix that problem. Continue reading “Announcing the Atheist, Humanist, and Skeptic History Index”

Announcing the Atheist, Humanist, and Skeptic History Index

Black Death: The Musical

Full disclosure: The composer for this project has been a friend of mine for a very long time.

That being said, this is the kind of thing plenty of people who read here are going to enjoy.

The fundraiser for this ends in five days. You’ll receive the most out of the rewards if you can make it to Minneapolis, but there is plenty there that isn’t tickets to the show.

Oh, also? Go, zombies.

Black Death: The Musical

Dancing for Uncanny

It’s no secret around here that I’m a fan of Uncanny Magazine. It isn’t just that the editors are friends of mine, though they are. They publish plenty of fiction that is to my tastes, like here and here…and, uh, here, here, and here. They’ve also published me, so I have every reason to be biased.

Still, there are plenty of people who agree with me that Uncanny is well worth supporting. You might even be one of them. This is part of the reason I’ve offered up two rewards in their Kickstarter to pay for their second year of publication.

PICK A SKEPTIC BRAIN. Stephanie Zvan of Freethought Blogs (Almost Diamonds) will blog about a topic chosen by you. Includes everything from the SUSTAINER level.

Want me to write about a topic that interests you? No problem. You get a year’s subscription to great art and essays as well, plus additional fan goodies.

Or maybe you want to go for something a touch more cruel.

TORTURE A SKEPTIC Do you love to hate ghost/monster hunter or UFO shows? Choose your best-worst episode of paranormal TV and have skeptics Dr. Rubidium, Jason Thibeault, or Stephanie Zvan rally the Mock the Movie crew to watch and live-tweet the pain. (We’ll contact you to select the episode and skeptic. First come, first choice.) Includes everything from the SUSTAINER level.

This reward was built out of the long-standing trolling of one of the Uncanny editors who loves to tell me how much he’s enjoying his ghost-hunter shows. (Yes, Michael, I said, “trolling”.) He’s been telling me I need to watch them for years and finally found a pitch I couldn’t resist.

Even if neither of those rewards suits your fancy, go check out the Kickstarter. Basic subscriptions are available, as are plenty of other rewards. Uncanny has just a few days and $6,000 to go to to maintain its ability to support diverse stories, new writers, great fan writing, art, and kindness. Help make that happen.

Dancing for Uncanny

SSA Week: On Criticism, Improvement, and Asking for Help

We’re in the middle of SSA Week right now, the Secular Student Alliance’s annual major fundraising push. It’s unusual for a fundraising drive in that the SSA often concentrates more on the number of donors than on the amount raised. This is particularly true this year, when their challenge grant isn’t a matching grant but $20,000 in donations that will kick in if 500 people donate by June 17. Small donations mean even more this year.

Text banner for SSA Week: "Secular students week, June 10th-17th, 2015. Help us get to 500 donations!",
I know a lot of people are burnt out on atheist organizations after the last few years. I am less so than most people I know, but even I feel it from time to time. Still, the SSA is one of the groups that continues to regularly receive the revenue I make from this blog. Let me tell you a little bit about why. Continue reading “SSA Week: On Criticism, Improvement, and Asking for Help”

SSA Week: On Criticism, Improvement, and Asking for Help