Thursday, April 25, 2013

Another Thing (blogging contract)

I will not enable moderator approvals on this blog.

You post, you will see it right away.
I have lost track of the blogs I have posted to only to have the post never seen by others because the moderator has decided not to approve it.

Yes I find this mostly on Christian blogs, but I also know of a couple of atheism blogs that do this.

Not naming names, but I am saying I am not going to do that.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Friday, April 19, 2013

Blogging Contract

I posted this to my other blog, The Other Side.  It applies here too.

Blogging is not writing. Not really.  Sure there are a lot of similarities but there are plenty of subtle differences.

When writing an RPG book I have an audience in mind. That is a nebulous audience that I may or may not interact with.  I don't know who bought every copy of The Witch or Ghosts of Albion or Buffy.

I do have the chance to get to know each and every reader here via the comments section.  I post, you comment, I reply.  There is a social contact at work here.. You are not expected to reply, but I write my posts hoping that people will.

Implicit in that is one of control.  I try to keep my posts interesting to my known audience.  This is one of the reasons I have different blogs.   I control what I post.  You control what you reply with, but ...I also control your reply. See I can delete any reply I don't like.  But I don't.  There are few good reasons for that.

I don't because it is dishonest. Having people disagree with me is a great way for me to learn something new.  I have lost track of all the things I have looked into because some one said "no. you are wrong."

I don't because it violates the social contract we have.  You put yourself out there, those were your thoughts.  I may not agree with it, but that doesn't give me the right to shut it down.

I also don't because , and lets be honest here, controversy and conflict means more hits, more audience and hopefully more people reading my stuff.  Not fake controversy, people can see that a mile away, but real and honest.

A natural extension of that is I will also not delete old posts.  I don't see the point. You may want to go back a read something I posted in 2012. Great!  I will leave it there.  Even if it something I don't agree with, like or otherwise grok anymore.

I have been seeing too many cases of people taking down posts, editing posts to put themselves in better light. Sorry folks, between and Google cache people can find anything that was posted given time, so don't try to change history.

I'll remove a post of your own if you ask me to. I'll delete multiple posts if looks like you were fixing a typo or something. I'll delete spam.

That's my contract with you.
Your contract with me is not post anything to make be doubt this choice! ;)

Pat Robertson and D&D (Again)

Someone needs to wake this fool up and tell him it's not 1983 anymore.

In pure "No True Scotsman" tradition I keep hearing that he doesn't speak for all Christians.  But no one told him that.

Though persecution of D&D might make the sales of my book The Witch a little better!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I must be getting under someone's skin

I got an email from "Rep. Morrison" last night.
I say that in quotes since I have never gotten anything from him that wasn't a canned stock letter. This one was not a reply, was bounced through a server in VA and Google tagged it as being suspected of Phishing.

Plus the wording was all wrong from an Illinois politician.

I am not reading a lot into this.  People do crap like this all the time on the internet.  But I must have touched a nerve for them try this particular trick.  Even if it was sloppy.

Friday, April 5, 2013

April 4, Stand with Amina Day

I will be honest. I don't like religions.
When religions are used to keep a group of people down just because of how they were born it makes me livid.
Many (not all) Christians used to do it African slaves, they (again many, but not all) still do it to gays and lesbians.
And Many (but not all) Mulslims do it with women.
Granted there is a lot of cultural issues here that are hard to tease out of the religious ones.  But if the religious ones were removed then the culture would adapt.

Case in point, Amina.
This 19 year old Tunisian woman posted a topless photo of herself with “my body belongs to me, and is not the source of anyone’s honour” written on her chest.  She has been threatened with death by her family, police and there are religious leaders asking for her stoning death.

W. T. F.??

Seriously if your religion is so fucked up that it can't stand the sight of a woman's bare breasts then get the fuck off of the same planet I am on.  Seriously.

There are a lot of blogs talking about this, but here are some good links.
and a facebook group,
The main site for protest is here:

And as an extra special fuck you to any religious group that might be offended here is Amina's picture.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

An Open Letter to the Secular Community

I try to stay out of the online drama in the atheism community (and to be fair this sort of drama is common to ALL online groups).  So I am reposting this mostly without comment.

It's just a a good idea.


An Open Letter to the Secular Community

It is an amazing time to be part of the secular movement. Look at what’s happened in 2012 alone. We held the Reason Rally, the largest event our community has ever had, which brought over 20,000 atheists, humanists, and other secular people together on the National Mall. We are growing, attracting new people, and drawing more attention than ever before. A big part of that growth is thanks to our large and dynamic online community. Online secular communities have helped people encounter new ideas, deepen and broaden their thinking, and even change their minds.
A Problem with Online Communication
At the same time, the fact that so much of our community is online brings with it certain challenges. Communicating primarily online can make it difficult to recognize each other’s humanity. Online we don’t have the same vocal and physical cues to tell us what another person means by his or her comments, so it’s easier for misunderstandings to develop. The instantaneous and impersonal nature of online communication also makes it much easier for these misunderstandings to escalate, or for civil arguments to turn into bitter fights. Like many online communities, our comment and forum threads all too often become places for name calling and even threats, rather than honest dialogue based on mutual respect. Between the small but vocal number of abusive participants (often called “trolls”) who hurl threats and insults, and the overheated rhetoric of some ordinarily friendly and reasonable people, our online environment is in danger of turning toxic. Fortunately, our secular values of reason and compassion give us tools to rise above the lowest common denominator of online communication.
Our Position and Our Pledge
We, the leaders of the undersigned national secular organizations, pledge to make our best efforts toward improving the tone and substance of online discussions. The secular movement as a whole is friendly, welcoming, and committed to the use of reason and evidence as a means of resolving disagreements. We refuse to allow the deplorable conduct of a few to debase the reasonable, appropriate, and respectful conduct of the overwhelming majority of our community.
We seek to promote productive debate and discussion. We firmly believe open and candid discussion is the most reliable means of resolving differences of opinion and bringing about needed change.
Insults, slurs, expressions of hatred, and threats undermine our shared values of open and candid discussion because they move us away from an exchange of views supported with reasons.
Of course we will disagree with each other on some issues, but we can do a better job of expressing our disagreements. We can resolve to avoid mischaracterizing the positions of others, relying on rumors as the basis for our opinions, and using inappropriate tactics such as guilt by association. Instead, we can give one another the benefit of the doubt, strive to understand the whole story, and de-escalate rhetoric to foster more productive discussions. We can become better at disagreeing by treating each other like reasonable human beings.
It takes patience to educate people, but we can change how people think by having a constructive dialogue. If that weren’t the case, we wouldn’t bother in the first place to communicate online about important issues.
The Debate over Sexism and Feminism
Before listing some specific recommendations regarding improvement of online communications, we have observations about one particular set of interrelated issues that has engaged much of the secular community in the past year, namely sexism within the secular movement, the appropriate way to interpret feminism, and the extent to which feminism, however interpreted, should influence the conduct, policies, and goals of movement organizations. This set of issues is worthy of careful consideration, but in a few areas our positions should be very clear.
The principle that women and men should have equal rights flows from our core values as a movement. Historically, there has been a close connection between traditional religion and suppression of women, with dogma and superstition providing the rationale for depriving women of fundamental rights. In promoting science and secularism, we are at the same time seeking to secure the dignity of all individuals. We seek not only civil equality for everyone, regardless of sex, but an end to discriminatory social structures and conventions — again often the legacy of our religious heritage — that limit opportunities for both women and men.
Unfortunately, the discussion of these issues has suffered from the same problems that plague online discussion in general — although arguably to a greater extent. Some blogs and comments actually exhibit hatred, including rape threats and insults denigrating women. Hatred has no place in our movement. We unequivocally and unreservedly condemn those who resort to communicating in such a vile and despicable manner.
Our Approach
Here are some things that we plan to do to make our online secular community a place where we can exchange ideas and views instead of insults. We hope that others may also find this approach useful.
  • Moderate blogs and forums.
  • Any organization or individual engaged in blogging or administering a forum has an obligation to moderate comments. Slurs, threats, and so forth beget more of the same. Keeping our online spaces free of these elements creates a civil climate that makes it much easier for people to engage issues productively.
  • Go offline before going online: pick up the phone.
  • When you hear that an organization or member of our community is doing something that you think is wrong or bad for the community, call and talk with them, find out what they are actually doing and why they are doing it. If you don’t have a phone number, send a private email and arrange a time to talk. So much of the time there’s more to the story, and talking to another person on the other side of the issue can help us more fully understand the situation. Plus, a phone call makes it easier for people who are making mistakes to change course, because they aren’t on the defensive as they would be after being called out publicly.
  • Listen more.
  • We miss the nuances and differences within “the other side” once an issue becomes polarized, while continuing to see our side as filled with nuance and distinctions. There is a tendency to stop listening and treat everyone associated with an opposing position as a monolithic group. People can be painted with views that aren’t their own just because they may disagree with some aspects of your own position. We should listen more so we can see distinctions among those with opposing views and start to move toward a more accurate understanding of the issues rather than being deadlocked into two entrenched camps.
  • Dial down the drama.
  • It’s tempting to overuse inflammatory and derogatory rhetoric. It gets attention. We should be cautious about using this tactic within our community because of the long-term damage it does to relationships and morale. When critiquing people within our community, everyone should remember that our goal is to persuade our allies to see our perspective and modify their opinions. Insults don’t change opinions; they harden them.
  • Be more charitable.
  • We should remember that the purpose of argument within our community is to come to shared and correct conclusions that move us forward, not to score points against the opposing side. To that end, we should apply the principle of charity, which tells us to aim our argument against the best interpretation of the opposing arguments rather than picking off weaker versions. By applying the principle of charity we will elevate the discussion so we’re actually talking about our real differences, not just engaging in a pointless exchange.
  • Trust but verify.
  • Before we believe and repost something we see, we should ask ourselves about the evidence provided and the context. It’s easy for multiple people saying the same thing to look like a lot of evidence, but if their statements are all based on the same original source, they do not constitute independent verification. We should look for the original data and corroboration from independent sources before believing and spreading claims.
  • Help others along.
  • We should remember that we weren’t born knowing the things we know now. To get to the reasoned conclusions that we’ve reached, we learned by reading, thinking, and talking with others. When we encounter someone espousing a view we think is based on lack of knowledge or experience, we should remember that we have all held ill-informed views. We should cultivate patience and try to educate instead of condemn.
By improving our online culture, we can make this movement a place that engages, fulfills, and welcomes a growing number and increasing diversity of secular people.
David Silverman, President, American Atheists
Rebecca Hale, President, American Humanist Association
Roy Speckhardt, Executive Director, American Humanist Association
Chuck VonDerAhe, President, Atheist Alliance of America
Richard Haynes, President, Atheist Nexus
Ayanna Watson, CEO, Black Atheists of America, Inc.
Mandisa L. Thomas, President, Black Nonbelievers, Inc.
Mynga Futrell, for Brights Central, at The Brights’ Net
Amanda Metskas, Executive Director, Camp Quest
Ronald Lindsay, President and CEO, Center for Inquiry
Tom Flynn, Executive Director, The Council for Secular Humanism
Jan Meshon, President, FreeThoughtAction
Joseph McDaniel Stewart, Vice President, FreeThoughtAction
Margaret Downey, Founder and President, Freethought Society
D.J. Grothe, President, James Randi Educational Foundation
Stuart Jordan, President, Institute for Science and Human Values
Jason Torpy, President, Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers
R. Elisabeth Cornwell, Executive Director, Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science
Edwina Rogers, Executive Director, Secular Coalition for America
August E. Brunsman IV, Executive Director, Secular Student Alliance
Todd Stiefel, President, Stiefel Freethought Foundation
Fred Edwords, National Director, United Coalition of Reason

Monday, April 1, 2013

Not Doing A to Z this year

I am actually, just not here.

You can see what I am doing though over at my other blogs: The Other Side and Red Sonja: She-Devil with a Sword

Over at the Other Side I am doing demons.  Now it might sound odd an atheist and skeptic talking about demons, but really it isn't.  It was my reading about how Christians took the gods of other faiths and turned them into demons, literal and figurative demonizing, that put me on the path that lead me here.

So have a look and I promise to try to sneak in little bits of atheism when I can.