Gay Marriage TONIGHT!

Okay…technically tomorrow. But in less than four hours and before I go to bed tonight, so tonight.

A little before midnight I’m going down to City Hall with friends to take in the smiles and tears and wedding couture and to celebrate the history in the making that will be the first several dozen gay marriages in Minneapolis.

Two women and two men cake toppers under a rainbow

There are marriage ceremonies happening all over Minnesota, including St. Paul, Rochester, Duluth and even at the Mall of America!

Other friends are heading down to the Minnesotans United Married At Midnight party at Wilde Roast Cafe

I’m so excited. And it feels surreal. It’s just…it’s HERE! After all of the controversy, the legal and political fights, the heart-wrenching personal stories, the injustices…People are GETTING MARRIED.


Click on the image below to be taken to the Star Tribune article on tonight’s marriages. R.T. Rybak, the mayor of Minneapolis, says a few words, and you can hear from Cathy ten Broeke. She and her SOON-TO-BE WIFE!!! will be among the first to be married at Minneapolis City Hall.

1st marriage

Gay Marriage TONIGHT!

Pathfinders Project – Support Ben!

I’ve had a chance to meet and work with Ben Sweatervest at several secular and skeptical conferences. He is a passionate, optimistic and forward-thinking Whovian humanist, and all-around awesomesauce person.

And he needs your help. Specifically, yer monies.

Image shows Ben Sweatervest posing with his Staff/Speaker Skeptech 2013 badge and a huge smile.

Ben has committed to spending a full year as a Pathfinder. The Pathfinders Project is a “yearlong international service trip (July 2013-July 2014) sponsored by Foundation Beyond Belief, a non-profit organization created to focus, encourage, and demonstrate the generosity and compassion of secular humanists.

The work that Ben and his fellow Pathfinders are doing will support the launch of the Humanist Service Corp, a future program of the Foundation Beyond Belief.

This project will have benefits for the individuals involved, for Humanist communities and the movement as a whole. They’ve put quite a bit of work into demonstrating why a program like the Pathfinders and the Humanist Service Corp is needed, what they’re hoping to accomplish, how they’re measuring success, how they will meet the needs of the volunteers who work with them and how they will efficiently work with already-existing service organizations.

But back to Ben! Ben, as one of the Pathfinders, is raising money to support this project. Click on this link or the image below to be taken to his Indiegogo fundraising page. There you can learn more about the project, see a personal video of Ben explaining why he’s involved and where the money will be going. Oh yeah – and then you can donate!


Image shows a screenshot of Ben’s IndieGogo fundraising website – the project title and information is a banner across the top of the page, Ben’s YouTube video takes up the left hand side, and his goal stats are on the right.

Good luck, Ben! Thank you for your service.

Pathfinders Project – Support Ben!

Ohio Holocaust Memorial Controversy

So this exploded on Friday:

Dan's First Post

Image shows a Facebook status update by Dan Fincke: “This seriously does not strike me as something that should be a priority for the FFRF. Opposing a star of David in a Holocaust memorial. I mean, really??” A link to the story he’s referencing by Fox News is attached as this link.

This first post by Dan has generated 144 comments as of Sunday afternoon. It has also inspired at least eight more FB posts from Dan, three full blog posts over at his website, Camels With Hammers, and numerous responses and writings on the issue from all over the internet (including this one).

Continue reading “Ohio Holocaust Memorial Controversy”

Ohio Holocaust Memorial Controversy

Cross-Country Connections: Drink

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 Drink.

From Mom in Carbondale, Illinois:

CCC Drink Mom
What better way to spend a lazy evening?

From me in Minneapolis, Minnesota: 

CCC Drink Brianne

Sparkling red wine and water in a mason jar at Spill the Wine on Lake Street in Minneapolis.

From Erin in Takoma Park, Maryland:

CCC Drink Erin

Iced coffee, the only reason to wake up on a Monday morning.

Cross-Country Connections: Drink

Sims Cosplay

I play Sims3 – my “best friend” got me into it and I just get drawn in for hours trying to improve my skill levels and find rocks and meet objectives, and fulfilling wishes and goals, juggling multiple players (but I haven’t picked up the Pets expansion yet…), tracking down celebrities, fishing, and putting additions onto my houses. So yeah, thanks “best friend”.

But all of that also means that I got a big happy over this cosplay.

SIMS Cosplay

Image shows five people cosplaying Sims, with various outfits and mood diamonds over their heads and holding Simlish speech bubbles.

I especially like the “nudity block” – tee hee! Seen on Being A Geek on Facebook

Sims Cosplay

The Weekend of Unbelievable Fun: The Second Coming

Hey…guess what’s coming up fast? It’s The Weekend of Unbelievable Fun: The Second Coming!


Image is an advertisement showing the Mr. Paul Aints logo with information about the baseball game and conference (detailed in text below), and a photo of the Minneapolis Skyline.

This will be the second year that I attend. Last year’s baseball game was a blast, and the conference had inspiring speakers presenting novel and timely information about atheism and the secular movement.

This year the Mr. Paul Aints will take the field again on Friday August 9th to play the Sioux City Explorers at Midway Stadium in Saint Paul. The party starts at 5pm with tailgating in the parking lot and the game begins at 7pm. The meetup description for the event promises between-inning atheist-themed antics (hmmm…devil worshiping in the infield and baby tastings, perhaps?), and there will be an auction of Mr. Paul Aints jerseys with proceeds to go to a local charity.

The next day – Saturday – Minnesota Atheists and American Atheists will hold their second consecutive Twin Cities-based regional conference. The conference takes place at the Ramada Plaza in NE Minneapolis, and the lineup is exciting (I’ve taken out the breaks in the list below – for the full schedule, visit

9:15-10:15 Hector Avalos: “How Archaeology Killed Biblical History”
10:30-12:00pm Breakout Sessions & Workshops
1:45-2:45 Greta Christina: “Coming Out: How To Do It, How to Help Each Other Do It, And Why?”
2:45-3:45 Amanda Knief: “Ten Legal Issues Atheists Need to Know”
4:00-5:30 Annie Laurie Gaylor: “The Religious War on Women”
7:30-9:00 All-Star Panel Discussion: Atheism and Religion: Confrontation or Accommodation – Annie Laurie Gaylor, Hector Avalos, Greta Christina, Amanda Knief, PZ Myers, and Kelli Clement. Moderated by Stephanie Zvan (Author of Almost Diamonds blog on Freethought Blogs).

The conference organizers did a good job of packing in a wide variety of topics in a few short hours – one day conferences are hard! I’m especially excited by the 10:30-noon workshops, which are being led by local atheists. Topics include science, family and raising kids in atheist households, treatment of (nonhuman) animals, mental health, addiction, and shame. For descriptions of the panels press the big red button on the frontpage of the Minnesota Atheists website.

If you’re interested in joining us, the information for signing up for the baseball game and/or the conference can be found at the MN Atheists website. The cost for the game starts at $10 and the conference starts at $30 (if you’re 25 years old or younger AND a student, you can buy a discounted conference ticket for $10). These are early bird prices, and early bird sign up ends on July 31st – in just three days! After that prices for the conference goes up to $40 (student admission stays $10).

And if there is any doubt that you’re going to have a good – and occasionally goofy – time, check out these lyrics that Paul Heffron and Jerry Rauser wrote for the Mr. Paul Aints game:

To the tune of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game

(Verse 1)
Let’s all go to the Aints game.
Let’s all show who we are.
The big red A says a lot about us.
We’re here for fun, so please don’t make a fuss.
So we’ll root for the Mister Paul Aints team.
For they accept us by name.
So it’s hip, hip, hip, hip hooray
At the Aints ball game.

(Verse 2)
Let’s have fun at the Aints game,
Tail-gate party supreme.
Hamburgers, hot dogs, and drinks for all.
Under our banner we’ll all have a ball.
We will root, root, root for the pigs’ race.
In Pig’s Eye town there’s no shame.
For it’s one, two, pick up the pace
At the Aints Ball Game!

The Weekend of Unbelievable Fun: The Second Coming

Cross-Country Connections: Derp!

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 Derp!

From Erin in Takoma Park, Maryland: 

CCC Derp Erin
Angry Garibaldi fish derp face. Taken at the National Aquarium in Baltimore.

From Mom in Carbondale, Illinois: 

CCC Derp Mom
Hurr-durr – it’s mah burrrthdur! Taken at my 61st Birthday part at Christina and Roy’s House. 

From me in Minneapolis, Minnesota: 

CCC Derp Brianne
Wheeee – I’m a Pirate! Avast ye scurvy corporate dogs! – The Hubby finds a sword at Target.

Cross-Country Connections: Derp!

FtBConscience TONIGHT!

It’s here! Yay!

Oh crap – it’s here!

You’ve read about it! You’ve chatted excitedly on social media about it! And now the wait is over! Tonight is the start of


This is very exciting. I LOVE attending conferences. They’re little nuggets of energy-packed, inspiring, information-sharing. They’re like a triple shot of caffeine! A jump start to the engine of my skepticism! Okay, I may not have gotten much sleep last night. And speaking of caffeine: I’ve had a lot already this morning.

FtBConscience is FREE and ONLINE. It’s nice not having to pack an overnight bag, make hotel reservations or find couch space, take a long car ride or navigate an airport and get groped by theTSA, or budget for meals and gas and all of the little expenses that come with traveling. And FtBCon has an incredibly laid back dress code for attendees and presenters alike (PJs! PJs!)

Another really cool thing about being online: We have booked speakers from all over the world. We have booked ONE HUNDRED AND NINE panelists, according to Lanyrd! Many of our speakers are in North America, but we also have panelists from Australia, Africa, Asia and Europe. I’m not sure if we have any South American-based speakers… Hmmm… Next year we need to go for FULL world domination. We are, however, anticipating audience participants from all four corners of the globe (I love the contradictory nature of that statement. You know what I need right now? MOAR COFFEEEEEE!!!)

You can view the schedule of this weekend’s events on our Lanyrd site, the official FtBCon website, or on Google+. We have a Facebook page, and the Twitter hashtag is #FtBCon. To learn about HOW TO PARTICIPATE as an attendee, check out the front page of the FtBCon website.

I’ve listed the panels that I’m going to be on below. Hope to see you there!

Reproductive Rights

Satuday July 20th – 2pm CST – Official Google+ session page

A panel of reproductive rights activists come together to discuss access to abortion in current events, clinic escorting and some common religious and non-religious arguments against abortion. Our panel consists of clinic escorts – including one panelist who volunteered before FACE laws went into effect (Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances), health care professionals, an author and several bloggers who write about reproductive rights. Our panelists hail from Minnesota, Kentucky, Virginia and Ireland.

Atheist Music

Saturday July 20th – 9pm CST – Official Google+ session page

Join us to hear a few songs and have a casual chat with ukulelist and FtB blogger Ashley Miller, classically trained singers Ania Bula and JT Eberhard, and Australian singer-songwriter Shelley Segal. At conferences you can sometimes catch JT belting out musicals or warming up a mike with a bit of opera. Shelley Segal published An Atheist Album in 2011, and she has played at the Reason Rally, the American Atheist Convention, Women In Secularism and other events. Ashley graces YouTube with her ukulele stylings and Ania will wow you with her clear, heady soprano. Seanna Watson, director of CFI-Ottowa, and Steve Watson – a former church guitarist – will also be joining us. We’ll discuss issues relating to music and religion, the role music plays in our lives as secularists and some our favorite atheist songs and artists. Panel facilitated by Brianne Bilyeu.

Video Games, Religion and Morality

Saturday July 20th – 11pm CST – Official Google+ session page

Religion and morality systems in video games are often grossly oversimplified, to the point where choices are entirely binary and you’re often forced, as a gamer, to do things that you might otherwise find appalling, like working in service of a god or gods. How are these heady topics handled in the slowly-maturing video game industry? Who’s already doing this stuff right? How can these topics’ treatment be improved?

FtBConscience TONIGHT!

Cross-Country Connections: Pollockian

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 Pollockian.

From me in Minneapolis, Minnesota:

CCC Pollackian Brianne
I didn’t originally intended to take the theme so literally, but I was visiting a friend last night and saw this painting on her wall, and I knew that I wanted it to be my submission for this week’s CCC.

From Erin in Takoma Park, Maryland: 

CCC Pollackian Erin
Paint supplies and the debris of crafting.

From Mom in Carbondale, Illinois: 

CCC Pollackian Mom
Can you guess what this is?

Cross-Country Connections: Pollockian

Mjolnir On Military Headstones

Huh. On the way home from work I learned that a) there are only certain symbols that are approved to be etched on the tombstones of soldiers killed in the line of duty (which applies, I would assume, only if the solider wants to be be buried with a government headstone), b) that Mjolnir is one of these approved “emblems of belief” and c) that there are symbols for atheists and humanists on the list.

Here’s the link from PRI’s The World if you want to listen to the story:

While I was doing some digging for this post, I learned that Americans United for Separation of Church and State played a part in gaining equal religious representation on government headstones, and participated in the fight to allow a Wiccan pentacle to be placed on the gravestone of Sgt. Patrick D. Stewart, a soldier who was killed in Afghanistan in 2005.

Mjolnir On Military Headstones