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Vandals for Jesus 13 Jul 2011

Posted by Jessa in Atheism, Religion.
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Way back when I was in college, one of my friends had a car emblem that I’d never seen before.  It looked like a Christian fish, except it had feet and said “Darwin” in the center of it.  I thought it was amusing, even though I was a Christian at the time.

Apparently somebody didn’t like it.  One morning, said friend came out to his car to find the emblem missing and the air let out of all four tires.

It appears that times haven’t changed much. (more…)


On Elevators and Schrödinger 10 Jul 2011

Posted by Jessa in Atheism, Feminism, Skepticism.
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I’m resurrecting this long-neglected blog by jumping right into the deep end.

If you follow the skeptic/atheist blogs, you probably already know about The Elevator Incident.  While at a conference in Ireland, Rebecca Watson found herself on the receiving end of some unwanted attention while in an elevator at 4 AM.  She talked about it in a vlog post, relevant part transcribed below:

So, thank you to everyone who was at that conference who, uh, engaged in those discussions outside of that panel, um, you were all fantastic; I loved talking to you guys—um, all of you except for the one man who, um, didn’t really grasp, I think, what I was saying on the panel…? Because, um, at the bar later that night—actually, at four in the morning—um, we were at the hotel bar, 4am, I said, you know, “I’ve had enough, guys, I’m exhausted, going to bed,” uh, so I walked to the elevator, and a man got on the elevator with me, and said, “Don’t take this the wrong way, but I find you very interesting, and I would like to talk more; would you like to come to my hotel room for coffee?”

Um. Just a word to the wise here, guys: Uhhhh, don’t do that. Um, you know. [laughs] Uh, I don’t really know how else to explain how this makes me incredibly uncomfortable, but I’ll just sort of lay it out that I was a single woman, you know, in a foreign country, at 4am, in a hotel elevator with you, just you, and—don’t invite me back to your hotel room, right after I’ve finished talking about how it creeps me out and makes me uncomfortable when men sexualize me in that manner.

So, yeah. But everybody else seemed to really get it.

And after that, things just seemed to explode.  See here for a fairly exhaustive link farm of the whole debacle.  Basically, a lot of people felt that Rebecca was making a big deal out of nothing, that the guy didn’t mean any harm, etc.  Many others tried to explain, some very politely and with relevant links,  why Elevator Guy’s behavior was inappropriate.

In an ideal world, what followed would have been a back-and-forth conversation until the “no big deal” people at least understood that the situation would make many women uncomfortable, even if they really couldn’t fully grasp why.  What happened instead is that those who were trying to explain Rebecca’s reaction were caricatured as overreacting misandrist wet blankets who think that all men are rapists and who also think that men should never, ever, ever hit on women.

So, even though eleventy-billion electrons have been exchanged over this issue, I’ll try to explain, yet again, why The Elevator Incident was creepy.

First, some background.  One in every 6 women in the US has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime (link).  And the unfortunate thing for you good guys out there who would never harm a woman is that the vast majority of the bad guys look exactly the same as you.  Until a woman gets to know you better, she has no idea whether you’re a good guy or a bad guy.  So there will always be a baseline level of wariness at first.  This does not mean that you can never approach a woman you don’t know.  There are ways to approach women in a non-threatening manner (see here for a very good primer), and there are behaviors that will raise mental red flags.

Elevator Guy’s problem is that he raised a lot of red flags.

First, the time and location.  In an elevator at 4AM.  Most women have been taught all of their lives to avoid isolated spaces, especially late at night, in order to reduce the chances of getting sexually assaulted.  Many, many, police department safety tips specifically mention avoiding elevators.  So when a woman finds herself alone in an elevator with a strange man, her guard is higher than normal.  Elevator Guy may have been a perfectly nice guy and not a threat at all, but Rebecca had no way of knowing that at the time.  Remember that, for the most part, dangerous men look exactly the same as non-dangerous men.  And at 4AM, if something had gone wrong, the chances that someone else might be around to stop an assault are pretty much nil.  So, even more wariness.

Second, no prior contact.  Even though he had ample opportunity earlier in the evening, Elevator Guy apparently made no attempt to engage in conversation with Rebecca prior to The Elevator Incident, and took the first opportunity to talk to her to proposition her.  Big red flag.

Third, disregard for her previously-expressed desires.  She had stated earlier in the day that being sexualized made her uncomfortable.  Elevator Guy supposedly heard it, but decided to disregard her stated wishes by propositioning her.  Or, for those who insist that “coffee” really meant coffee (despite the fact that they both just left a place that was serving coffee), he decided to disregard her expressed wish to go to sleep.  If he disregarded those wishes, what else is he likely to disregard?  Another red flag.

Three big warning signs in the space of a short interaction.  That is why it was creepy.



Another Pi Day 14 Mar 2010

Posted by Jessa in Uncategorized.
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Since the search term “pi” is the most one of the most popular terms to bring people to this site, I’ll just direct anyone who is searching to this site.

And Happy Pi Day to all!

New Rule 10 Nov 2009

Posted by Jessa in Religion.

From Skepchick’s Comment o’ the Week:

I propose a new rule: from now on, anyone who worships a dude who spent His entire adult life hanging out with a dozen other guys, was known to be kissed by them and wash their feet, and is frequently portrayed in a nearly-nude S&M glamour shot, isn’t allowed to have a problem with gay people.

Sound fair?


Seriously, Folks 07 Sep 2009

Posted by Jessa in Politics.
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…channeling my inner Comrade PhysioProf,

If I hear one more douchebag braying about how Obama’s speech is trying to turn the kiddies into the new Hitler Youth, I’m going to personally reach through the TV/Intertoobs and give them a hearty bitch-slap.

The Face of Insurance Denial 07 Sep 2009

Posted by Jessa in Politics.
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HT Almost Diamonds

This Week in Stupidity 31 May 2009

Posted by Jessa in Religion, Science, This Week in Stupidity.
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Today’s Theme: Moronic arguments purporting to refute evolution

Before we begin, I should note that there is a possibility that Poe’s Law is in effect. I am leaning towards believing that these people are not Poes, given that one of the examples comes from a person that goes by the name “supersport”, who has been spewing forth ridiculous statements like these all over the internet for quite a while. So s/he is either really that ignorant, or is the best Poe ever. Either way, I’m going to treat them as serious, because I know that there are at least a few people out there who would seriously make these kinds of arguments. So, on to the show!

Gem #1, we don’t constantly drool, therefore God exists:

Ok, I have an Evolution Challenge for you. Make your mouth produce a bunch of spit, let it dribble down your face and time how long it is before you simply have to wipe it off. Go ahead; try it! I promise you it won’t be very long. It’s extremely uncomfortable to have it sit there.

Think about the babies in your life. Have you ever thought about the fact that they stop drooling after the first couple years of life? Have you ever imagined what life would be like if we didn’t stop? Some, sadly, know what this is like. Children with cerebral palsy that don’t stop drooling or those that begin drooling due to loss of facial muscle control know the horrors of this. Have you had to endure watching people stare at your parent or child as they experience this humiliating social embarrassment? Have you tried to alleviate the irritating sores that develop from skin being constantly wet? Have you tried to keep them in presentable clothing when saliva keeps staining their clothes?

What evolutionary advantage is there to developing the oral neuromuscular control at age 18-24 months? What if drooling, the default condition at birth, was the way our lives always are? How would you like to date, make love, run a business meeting, ride horses, grocery shop and take care of kids while drooling? How cool would you feel driving your fancy car down the road with sunglasses and drool? How would your wedding go with everyone trying to be discrete with their designer drool cloths or bibs?

The human body is designed to give us dignity. These specific designs and abilities point to a Creator who cares about even whether we are embarrassed or not. There’s no evolutionary advantage to not drooling. It’s the gift of dignity.

So this person spends several paragraphs giving examples of why drooling might be evolutionarily disadvantageous, yet then claims there’s no reason why not drooling is evolutionarily advantageous?  It’s all just about the fact that God doesn’t want us to look undignified?

Onto gem #2, by the über-troll supersport:

So moms are everywhere in nature. Females often go to great lengths to feed, save, and protect their young. Many construct homes and shelters…(all without knowing/understanding she’s even pregnant) and do so with great care and attention to detail.

So I’ve got two questions about this:

1) What is the evolutionary advantage of mothers doing everything they can to feed/protect their young? And remember, mothers often give food to their young that they might otherwise eat. And going out into the world to look for food is often dangerous — she could be killed looking for food. Wouldn’t there be an advantage to her personally just to forget about the kid and go about her own business of eating and finding a mate? Why the unnecessary risk? Why go to the trouble of building a nest to protect the young? Wouldn’t it be easier just to skip all that? I thought evolution was all about being selfish……….so why do so many animals put others’ needs before themselves? What’s the advantage to that?

2) Why wouldn’t it be an evolutionary advantage for mothers to eat their young? I know it sometimes happens in nature…..but not as a general rule. As a general rule, mothers and fathers very rarely eat their young…even when they’re hungry. But wouldn’t an animal be more likely to breed if it didn’t starve? Mothers should be consuming their offspring everywhere in nature — afterall, it would advantageous getting that extra nourishment.

How do the evolutionists here get around this? Where does this “love” or devotion for child come from? Got a gene you can show me? What’s the evolutionary advantage for all this? And remember — evolution cannot plan ahead.

This is a classic example of misunderstanding what the Theory of Evolution is about.  We are all familiar with the term “survival of the fittest” (which is not strictly true, but too long to get into right now).  What people fail to comprehend is that when scientist talk about “survival”, they’re talking about reproductive survival.  It doesn’t matter if a mother lives to a ripe old age through starving/eating her babies – if she dies without leaving offspring, her genetic information dies with her.  So any propensity to behave in a selfish manner would have died out quickly.  Mothers with altruistic behavior, who care for their offspring until they’re mature enough to survive on their own and reproduce, will pass on their altruistic behavior through successive generations.  It’s not difficult to see how altruism towards offspring might become prevalent in a species, assuming you’re not willfully ignorant.


The Word of Christ 25 May 2009

Posted by Jessa in Uncategorized.
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Whenever I have a conversation with a Christian and I point out some weird passage in the Bible, the reply is always, “God’s ways are ineffible, we cannot understand him”. And then in the next sentence, it’s “this is what God thinks.”

Okay, so you can’t understand what he thinks, but, on the other hand, you know what he thinks. Okay…..

I Call Poe on ChristWire 23 May 2009

Posted by Jessa in Atheism, Religion.
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Here’s their 404 error message:

Our holy servers are currently experiencing miraculous amounts of high traffic and atheistic evils.

Why do 404 error messages occur?

Image and video hosting by TinyPicThe 404 Error message was created by an unholy menagerie of vile atheists, Democrats, liberals and Godless Soviets in the Year of our Lord 1992. We’re told through electronic pathogens and demonic incantation rituals, they managed to create ways to electronically limit the amount of lost souls and seekers of truth that ‘web servers’ could process in a given minute.

Though their machinations are evil and everlasting, through hope, prayer and clicking refresh you can eventually overcome these wicked limits during times when tens of thousands of people flock to ChristWire per hour to discover the works of True Christians.

Bill Maher Nails It 03 May 2009

Posted by Jessa in Humor, Religion, Science.
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On last Friday’s episode of his show Real Time, Bill Maher urges Creationists to put their money where their mouth is:


If you believe that evolution is untrue, you’ll stay away from modern medicine, since it is based on the theory of evolution.  Don’t rail as loudly as you can against science and then scurry to the doctor or pharmacy when you get the sniffles.