CFI's Policy, SSA's Press, and Cromm's Doom – Happy Caturday, Everyone!

I haz a happee. And it’s not just because I spent all last night and this morning in bed with science, although taking some time to devour a book on random bits of science and reading some nummy posts was excellent. So was having a purring felid curled up with me. But I iz happee for moar reasons!

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CFI's Policy, SSA's Press, and Cromm's Doom – Happy Caturday, Everyone!

Secular Woman Launches

First came American Atheists adopting a Code of Conduct, and now Secular Woman has launched. It’s been a good week!

I had no idea Secular Woman was in the works (shows how dialed in I am, right?), but this is wonderful. I’ve read over their mission statement and values, and this looks like the kind of thing women in this movement need: a coalition of secular women who can address issues that disproportionately impact women. Especially when it comes to health and reproductive issues, we need a strong secular organization that can focus attention on Religious Right shenanigans. There are just too many politicians out there fueled by a base whose idea of proper women combines domestic servant with incubator, they’re passing odious laws, and they’re trying to take us back to a very dark age. There’s all manner of other idiocy to deal with. It will be nice to have a central organization that can fight this dumbfuckery from a secular woman’s perspective.

They’re also keeping a list of organizations that have adopted harassment policies. If your organization is one of those, get that information submitted!

If you’ve got a local group of godless ladies, let them know.

And watch for the speaker’s list to grow.

There’s all sorts of excellent stuff there. Check out the site, and if you’ve got $20, join up! I certainly intend to, once I’ve got extra cash.

Hell, you may even see me pop up on that list of speakers someday. I can talk about, y’know, stuff. And wave around shiny rocks. (I’ll wave around shiny rocks no matter what I’m talking about, so if you’re in to geology, come hear me even if my talk’s about caring for homicidal felids without supernatural assistance.)

If you’ve got something to say, and you’ve joined up, get your name on that list so we might end up speaking at the same conference! One with, mind you, a harassment policy.

Secular Woman Launches

Nurse Froggy Helps Preston Convalesce

Prepare for the squee! Reader Jes has got it for you:

One morning while checking the cat kennels at the clinic where I work, I discovered a small frog in one of the kennels, curled up next to/under a sleeping cat.

Froggy nursing Preston. Image courtesy Jes.

If there’s anything guaranteed to melt me into a puddle of goo, it’s this. I mean, seriously. Froggy and kitteh sleeping together. If that isn’t adorable, nothing is.

It certainly found itself a warm, safe place to sleep.

Preston’s nurse close-up. Image courtesy Jes.

It reminds me of one of those service animals in hospitals who hang round the patients and aid their healing with the power of cute.

This has almost got me heading to the pet store to acquire a frog. I’m relatively certain Misha wouldn’t try to munch it. I think she’d find it fascinating for all of ten minutes, then ignore it for the rest of its life. She’s been an indoor cat for so long she doesn’t understand the whole hunting thing – she’ll occasionally stalk birds as long as there’s a window between her and them, but get her outside, and she freaks out if they get too close. Small crawly things don’t interest her for long. She won’t even eat insects, which is unfortunate, since she insists on me leaving the door open in the summertime.

What is it about frogs? I understand cats – they’re soft, they’re cuddly, they purr, they play. Of course we love them. But frogs? They’re cool and slightly moist. They don’t cuddle (unless you’re a convalescing cat, in which case, they do cuddle, apparently). They’re bald. And yet they also make us squee. Combine cats and frogs, and you’ve got squee squared.

Thank you, Jes!

Nurse Froggy Helps Preston Convalesce

New(ish) at Rosetta Stones: Sunset Crater

Yes, this is a repost. No, I wasn’t able to write up our next installment of Mount St. Helens yum. But at least I gave you esplodey things! And some of you may never ever have seen this post before. Even for those who have, the pictures have been prettied up, so it’ll be all fresh and lovely. Enjoy!

I’m going to go beg my uterus to stop hurting me now… ow.

New(ish) at Rosetta Stones: Sunset Crater

Ooo, Geo-Sites Meme!

Right, I’m in. I won’t win, but I can certainly enjoy playing the game – and so can a good number of you, I suspect. Callan Bentley just finished reading a review copy of 101 American Geo-Sites You’ve Gotta See, which seems like a damned fine book for getting people interested in geology. I likes it.

Let’s see what I have seen. Places I’ve visited are in bold.

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Ooo, Geo-Sites Meme!

Suzanne's Citrine

I’m going to be doing a post on a magnificent bit of citrine I’ve currently got joint custody of, but this is not that post. Instead, this is me thinking of citrine and realizing I’ve had a piece sitting in a box by my bed for years, waiting for the right home. It’s one of a pair I picked up at a little shop in downtown Seattle called Raven’s Nest Treasure.

It’s going to Suzanne, who is one of my favorite people in the entire universe, and who doesn’t (yet) have enough pretty rocks lying around. We had some lovely sunshine on Sunday, so I took photos of her new delight. I figured a few of you might enjoy them as well.

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Suzanne's Citrine

UFD Fans – Behold the Red Bird o' Fury!

George found you something great. Go here.

That is one scary-looking bird!

For something a little cuter, go here.

Incidentally, if anyone has some Unidentified Flying Dinosaurs they’d like to see published and identified here at the cantina, please feel free to send them in! I can be reached at dhunterauthor at yahoo dot com. Please put UFD in the subject line, and note where you took the photo.


UFD Fans – Behold the Red Bird o' Fury!

A Huge Step Forward

I just got off a conference call with Amanda Knief and Dave Silverman of American Atheists. They invited me and several of my fellow FreethoughtBloggers, along with other prominent bloggers throughout the community, to discuss the harassment policy they’ve just adopted. You know what’s fantastic? Seeing an organization this large and established step up and do the right thing. That makes 11.

What really came through in that call, from my perspective, was just how sensible doing this is. Dave had a situation recently where an attendee reported harassment to him, and he realized he has nothing in place to deal with it. That’s not a great position for the head of any organization to be in.

They had been considering the adoption of a policy for about a year, and were committed to making it happen. They reviewed a number of sample policies, adjusting them to their specific needs, and will continue refining theirs as needed. They want American Atheists’ conventions to be safe, happy, and informative, where people are allowed to have fun (hell, even have sex!) as long as it’s consensual. Sexual and physical harassment won’t be tolerated: Dave is “emphatically intolerant of harassment.” Don’t pester other people, follow a few simple guidelines, and you’re good to go.

These are the points I found most important:

  • This policy will help create a safe and fun (yes, you can haz both) environment in which everyone can enjoy themselves.
  • Staff and volunteers will be trained.
  • Reporting procedures will be solidly in place for every conference, and incidents will be documented.
  • The policy applies to attendees, staff, volunteers and speakers – no one is exempt.
  • There will be consequences for violating the policy. As Dave said, “Not just don’t do this, but don’t do this or else.”
  • Victims of harassment will have their concerns taken seriously.
  • People who are engaging in inappropriate behavior will be given an opportunity to correct that behavior. It’s not “one strike and you’re out” across the board – although in some situations (such as if you assault someone) you won’t be given a second chance.
  • This is a living policy. It will evolve, adjust, and improve over time. I love this, because it tells me Amanda, Dave, and the rest of the staff at American Atheists aren’t just putting a document up for CYA and PR purposes. They really mean for harassment to be effectively addressed and stopped.

And least people believe this means the end of sexy fun times, keep in mind that nothing in this policy prevents you from having consensual fun with willing partners. Nothing. Here, let me underline that for you: nothing. Folks who are afraid the policy will make everyone turn into terrified mannequins can relax. Good times are good to go. You just have to ensure the folks you want to have fun with are on board for good times, as well.

Amanda Knief is phenomenal. She understands how harassment policies work, she understands how to effectively implement them, and since she’s a lawyer, she knows how to navigate legal minefields while protecting victims of harassment. Reports of harassment will end up in her hands, and I can’t think of better hands for them to be in. Anyone who is the target for bad behavior can feel confident, knowing she, Dave and the staff and volunteers will take care of it. Dave will be the one who makes the ultimate decisions about what happens with harassers, and believe me when I say people do not want their bad behavior reaching him. He and Amanda will be fair, but also very, very tough.

So, y’know, read the policy before you go.*

This is a huge step forward. It’s good to see an organization like American Atheists stepping up and putting policies in place that will ensure harassment is not welcome at their conferences, and is dealt with effectively when it happens.


*I’ll link to it directly once it’s live on the American Atheists site. For now, I’m linking to PZ’s post, which includes the draft we were sent. The Code of Conduct is now online. You can see the press release here.

A Huge Step Forward

Unidentified Flying Dinosaur: LBBs the Reprise

Forgive me if you’ve already identified these. I am teh suck with Little Brown Birds. And these are too damned adorable not to post. I’ll have more interesting UFDs coming as long as the little buggers decide to cooperate.

These are from Sunday’s walk along North Creek. There were all sorts of birds around, some of which I even recognized, and I shall include them for variety’s sake.

The problem with shooting birds along the North Creek corridor is that there are so very many places for birds to hide. When the trees leaf out, you can’t see much of anything, and the birds pretty much sit within the foliage tittering at you and your wretched efforts to photograph them. Sparrows swoop overhead, too swift to catch an image of. LBBs give you a brief glimpse before popping off into the trees or deep in the tall grass, where your camera will never catch them.

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Unidentified Flying Dinosaur: LBBs the Reprise

Surely We Have Some Real Threat Assessment Experts in This Community

And I’d like to hear from them. Threat assessment isn’t a simple task for the layperson. Since Dr. Blackford decided he’s the world’s expert* and has deemed the communications Ophelia received to be “not threatening,” I got curious as to whether we’ve got folks who do threat assessment for a living. You see, I did quite a bit of (informal) study on forensic psychology when I was younger. And one thing I remember actual threat assessment experts** saying is that threats are context-dependent.

For instance, if someone says they’re going to shoot me in the head, make sure my brains splatter all over the sidewalk, and then pour gasoline over the remains and set fire to them, I might become upset – if, say, that was conveyed to a third party by someone who is obsessed with me. But that graphic explanation of what will happen to me would make me giggle if some friends and I were discussing the best method for handling me should I become a zombie. Context is key, people.

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Surely We Have Some Real Threat Assessment Experts in This Community