Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Skepticon IV, a major skeptical conference, took place over the weekend in Springfield, Missouri. Several of my favorite bloggers were attending or giving talks at the event, and I would have LOVED to be there. Unfortunately Florida is rather far from Missouri, but at least I got to enjoy reading about it from the perspective of some of my favorite writers! One image that kept popping up as I read through updates from Skepticon was a picture taken of a sign in the window of a gelato shop.
'Skepticon is NOT welcomed to my Christian Business'
'Wow, what a dick,' I thought. 'Guess he'll be losing a lot of money this weekend.' I figured that was it. But who can predict what will take the internet by storm? Even though the sign was reportedly only up for a few minutes, the damage was done. The above image was widely circulated in the atheist blogosphere. Gelato Mio's online presence was hit hard, with negative ratings dominating their Yelp, Urbanspoon and Facebook pages overnight.

In an attempt to restore his reputation, the owner posted apologies online and attempted to explain his side of the story. First he tried his company's Facebook, followed by their website and finally published an open letter of apology on Reddit. And that's where it gets interesting.

Some atheists, such as Hemant at Friendly Atheist and Jen at BlagHag, feel that the apology is sincere and the owner of Gelato Mio ought to be given props for admitting he was wrong and trying to fix it. Others, including PZ of Pharyngula and JT of WWJTD, feel that the owner is just trying to save face to prevent losing anymore potential profits and the apology is irrelevant since he ignores the actual problem with his behavior. The debate currently rages...how should the atheist community react to this insult and the subsequent apology?

This is one of the things I love about the atheist community. We have a million different perspectives and we write about what we think so that others can critique our positions. We disagree on stuff all the time, and that's ok! There's no correct answer, no single True Path of Atheism. It's awesome.

Also, wow! Look at the power of the internet! Douchebags can't get away with being discriminatory anymore. Every little fail can be caught on camera and plastered across Reddit and Facebook instantly. This guy only had that sign in his window for maybe ten minutes, and that was enough. We have an unprecedented ability to share information and make our opinions known. The ability to rate businesses based on how they treat their customers gives us a tangible way of expressing our disapproval and provides real consequences for subtle discrimination that may have escaped comment or notice in the past. That's pretty damn cool.

But getting back to the debate at hand, I'm personally unsure about where I fall on the spectrum of responses to Gelatogate. Let's take a closer look at what I think the important questions are in this situation and see if I can figure it out by the time I'm done.

What did he do wrong?
The owner of Gelato Mio apparently saw something he didn't like at Skepticon: Sam Singleton, the Atheist Evangelist. Sam is a comedian whose act is basically an atheist rant disguised as a Pentecostal revival. It's supposed to be hilarious, but it makes a lot of people uncomfortable because of how blatantly it mocks Christianity. Offended to his very core by what he saw of the performance (which he neither paid for nor was he obligated to watch), the owner of Gelato Mio marched right back to his store and decided to let those damn dirty atheists know they weren't welcome in his place of business. 'Cause that'll show 'em.

Basically, the guy was offended by someone who was mocking his religious beliefs. Instead of just complaining about it or explaining why Sam Singleton was wrong or just leaving the show if he didn't like it, he decided to tell the entire convention they weren't welcome in his store. As a private business owner, he gets to make whatever stupid business decisions he wants. He also gets to live with the consequences of those decisions. Maybe he's heard of this thing called the internet.

Is his reaction justifiable?
Several people are saying that it is understandable that the Gelato Mio guy reacted so strongly because Sam Singleton's act is so inflammatory. Wouldn't you feel self-righteous is you saw someone mocking your beliefs? He wasn't expecting to find atheist sentiments at a skeptics conference, he was expecting to see UFOs and psychics. Maybe skeptic conferences should be focused on debunking frauds and encouraging scientific thought instead of becoming an atheist platform.

I do not like this response. Not one bit. It doesn't just miss the point, it misses several points:
  • Why are we throwing Sam under the bus here? His act is extremely popular and entertaining, and it reflects how many atheists really feel. Atheist sentiments are not inherently bad or wrong just because they are inflammatory, and the fact that Sam's act happened to be the thing that the gelato guy saw doesn't make his reaction any better.
  • You can mock what I believe all you want, doesn't mean I'm going to act like a total douchenozzle. I'm fine with criticism, and I am confident that the facts are on my side. Otherwise I'd be switching sides. So no, I do not think his self-righteous indignation justifies the subsequent discrimination.
  • Skepticism does not stop at bigfoots and UFOs and psychics! Skeptical thinking can, and should, be applied to everything! Climate change, anti-vaccine campaigns, public policy, gender stereotypes...and especially religion! The idea that religion should be exempt from skeptical thought just 'cause is ludicrous, and it is totally unreasonable to call Skepticon an atheist platform because some of the speakers are applying skeptical thinking to theism.
So no, I don't think the fact that his beliefs were being mocked makes what he did any more understandable.

Is the apology sincere?
Honestly, I'm leaning towards 'no'. The first apology that went live was a total 'I'm sorry if what I did offended you'-style notpology, and it only happened in response to negative online ratings and loss of business. When that didn't work, the apologies became more elaborate and personal. The owner sure seems like an intelligent guy, and the long-form apology on Reddit comes across as well-meaning, but it really seems to me like the sincerity is a product of him figuring out how to appeal to this particular audience more than anything else. If all I had seen was the latest apology, then I might be more convinced. But the behavior pattern I'm seeing here is that the more damage his business takes, the harder he tries to apologize sincerely. Not because he unfairly discriminated against a group of people, but because he was caught doing so and is losing money.

Regardless of how sincere he may be though, the guy is still making an effort and that counts for something. As Jen rightly pointed out, publicly admitting you were wrong is hard. But does that mean the atheist community should forgive and forget, or try to undo any of the damage done to Gelato Mio's online ratings as Hemant suggests? I don't think so. I honestly think we should leave it alone. He fucked up, and there was a justifiable backlash. He has apologized and I appreciate that, so I will not add any more fuel to the fire against his business, but he's going to have to rebuild his reputation without my help and I damn sure wont support him.

What is he actually apologizing for?
In the actual apology, the owner admits that his actions were inappropriate and he apologizes for offending everyone. That is nice of him, certainly. But he doesn't acknowledge that not only do we have the right to our own beliefs, but we also have the right to mock his beliefs. Sam Singleton did nothing wrong, and gelato guy was free to leave the performance if he didn't like it.

Yes, gelato guy acted rashly out of self-righteous indignation. He unintentionally showed the world that when faced with viewpoints that were in conflict with his beliefs and privilege that he would respond with bigotry. He's learned a valuable lesson about pissing off potential customers and atheists on the internet, but if he really thinks the problem is just about offending people then that's all he's learned and I don't care how nice his apology is or how much of a discount he's offering to try and make up for it.

Why is this such a big deal?
This is an important question. Because really, this is just one short-sighted business owner. There were plenty of welcoming businesses in Springfield, and being banned from gelato isn't going to have any lasting impact on the Skepticon attendees. So why are people still talking about this, and still arguing about whether or not to accept the apology? Largely because there is one. Most atheists experience discrimination in small ways all the time, and there's not much we can do about it. This guy just happened to get caught, and there just happened to be a perfect venue for atheists everywhere to express their discontent. We were actually able to do something about it in a way that the owner couldn't ignore.

Frankly, we're not used to Christians apologizing to us. It certainly threw me for a loop. I spent this entire blog post just trying to figure out what I thought about it. But I think that's what it comes down to. Gelato guy isn't really any more guilty than all of the other privileged theists out there that are outraged by the fact that atheists exist. He just got caught and actually tried to fix it, so we're holding him up as an example. It's the principles behind the argument that are relevant, not the specifics of the situation. Honestly, expecting any small business owner to change the way he views the world to appease an online community that will probably never shop at his store isn't particularly reasonable. Looked at in that context the apology is a pretty big gesture. But we want theists in general to understand that their beliefs are no more privileged than any other and that we have the right to criticize them, so that's what we want from him too. That's not what we're getting, but maybe this is a step in the right direction.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Girly Toys Suck

Every year, the Tarot Guild I belong to buys Christmas presents for a few children in the Guardian Ad Litem program here in Alachua County. It's a lot of fun, because we get to buy presents for kids using guild money. I'm generally considered to be the resident expert, seeing as how I spend a significant chunk of my time playing with toys. Toys are awesome.

The Guardian Ad Litem program doesn't tell us very much about the children we're shopping for, though. We know race, sex and age and that is all. Which puts me in the uncomfortable position of having to reinforce gender stereotypes. Boys are easy. There are tons of amazingly cool toys marketed towards little boys out there. However if I want a random girl to like the toys she is getting for Christmas, strictly speaking in terms of probability, I should purchase the toys that are marketed to her gender. And I hate it. I hate passing up the erector sets and model-building kits and transformers in favor of dolls and jewelry and purses. Girly toys suck.

Don't get me wrong, I veto anything ridiculously girly that we some across while shopping. I have never purchased a Bratz Doll or Suzy Homemaker playset or makeup kit for any of our anonymous girls. I try to steer towards dinosaurs or gender-neutral toys like games, arts and crafts or scientific playsets. But that doesn't always work, especially when shopping for teenagers.

See, when I was a kid I absolutely hated being told that 'this toy isn't for you' because I was a girl. I hated that girl's Happy Meals came with stupid Barbie's and Hello Kitty's while the boys got Transformers and racecars. I hated that my brother got all of the cool toys that I wanted, while people kept buying me diaries and purses and pink plastic castles. The thought that I might be doing that to another little Me out there makes me sad.

But I have no way of knowing! Practically speaking, most little girls want stereotypical little girl things. Whether that is because they are told that is what they should want or because girls genuinely like girly things is another debate. So I have to do my best to work within the stereotypes. I try to find things that girls would like, but that aren't completely pink and glittery and useless. But it is hard to walk past all of the neat toys that are designed for boys when I'm shopping for the little girls on our list, knowing that no one will ever think to buy those toys for them even if that was what they really wanted.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Wait...you're Catholic now? WTF?

I have a friend in Gainesville that I've known for about ten years. We've never been really close and she tends to pretend the internet doesn't exist and disappear for months at a time, but I've always liked and respected her and we've always gotten along. She's an independent, intelligent liberal with feminist leanings who maintains a full bar in her home and raises chickens. As long as I've known her, she's been pagan. Last night, I found out that she had converted to Catholicism.

This information has been difficult for me to process. She didn't just start going to church, she attended months of classes and fasted during Lent and other serious shit like that. She's a full-blown Catholic for realsie-reals. From what I have heard second-hand, this decision was motivated by her love of ritual and the stability the church offered. I can see that. What I can't quite understand is how any independent, intelligent, liberally-minded woman could even tacitly approve of what the Catholic Church represents by adding her name to their roster.

I should take a moment here to distinguish between the abstract concepts that the Catholic Church represents, based on the actions of church officials and the actual dogma and teachings of the faith, and Catholics themselves. Catholics are like any other group of people. Some of them are crazy and messed up, but most of them are all right. Recent polls suggest that a majority of Catholics don't actually understand or believe in some of the key teachings of the Catholic Church. Transubstantiation, Vatican Authority, celibacy of priests, contraception use, same-sex marriage...many Catholics are flexible on these issues, or act in direct conflict with the teachings of the church while still considering themselves Catholic. For many of them, Catholicism is more about tradition or pageantry or their personal connection with God. Which is totally cool with me, do whatever makes you happy as long as you don't go around hurting anyone or try to legislate your particular flavor of religious morality.

People who are not born Catholic, though...they don't have those established traditions or family connections. They don't have a personal idea of what it means to be Catholic that is softened by those traditions. They just hear about the child rape and the cover ups. They read about Catholic AIDS workers who, until recently, refused to provide condoms to patients because of the church's positions on contraceptives...even though condoms are effective in halting the transmission of AIDS and other STDs. They see the Catholic church not only refusing to give women equal standing within the clergy, but making the attempted ordination of a woman a crime that is equivalent to child rape. They see Catholic adoption agencies shut down rather than allow gay couples to adopt children. They see scandal after scandal come to light, such as the recent revelation that Catholic hospitals were stealing babies from 'unfit' mothers and selling them. They see, unfiltered and without rationalization, the institution of the Catholic Church acting amorally and its teachings being used to justify horrible things. And I'm barely touching on the attacks on female and LGBT equality.

Now if I'm being honest, I don't completely understand why anyone would want to be affiliated with an organization like that. I do get the appeal of the tradition and the pageantry, and I'm sure being born into it helps. I understand that a lot of Catholics don't really believe that the Eucharist literally becomes the body and blood of Christ or that the Pope is infallible and Vatican Authority is absolute, so they're clearly reasonable people. Maybe it's a case of selective hearing. Or maybe when they hear about all of the awful things that are justified by the tenets of their own faith they tell themselves 'that's not me, I wouldn't do that, I don't think that way' and just ignore all of the people who do. Maybe they don't listen at all. Maybe they just don't care what the Catholic Church does as long as they're happy and their kids aren't being molested.

However it works out, there are plenty of reasonable, intelligent Catholics out there that are totally ok with tacitly approving of the Catholic Church's actions by their continued membership. A lot of them even actively support the institution by tithing. I don't get it, but I've come to accept it. Actually making the informed decision as an adult to join such an institution, though? Is there really no other way to incorporate ritual and stability into your life? What is the appeal of this institution of scandal, excess and fucked-up priorities? It seems to me that whatever good you may be able to get out of associating with the Catholic Church you could easily find elsewhere without having to join the ranks of child-molesters and baby-stealers. There are secular charities, secular meetup groups, Universalist Ministries, meditation techniques...the only thing you couldn't find elsewhere would be your personal traditions, and my friend wasn't born into Catholicism. She has often called herself a 'recovering Southern Baptist'. She has always struck me as delightfully irreverent, and I am left befuddled by her philosophical paradigm shift.

What really sucks is that I may never understand this. It seems unlikely that she will continue associating with the predominantly-pagan social circle through which we are acquainted (she hasn't been around for ages, anyway). I have no idea how she would react to questions about her faith if I even got the chance to ask. I may just have to add this to the increasingly-long list of 'Things BW Doesn't Get About Religion' and let it go. Sigh. I hate it when things don't make sense.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Science Fair 2011: Round 1

I've been a volunteer science fair judge in my area for about five years now. The school administrators try really hard to get actual professionals in scientific fields to come in and judge projects in their area of expertise, and as a grad student I have a pretty flexible schedule. I usually end up judging microbiology or biochemistry projects. It's fun to see what the kids are up to and talk to them about science and see all the projects. This year I'm judging four different fairs, and I thought it would be fun to recap them on my blog. Yesterday was the first one I signed up for.

I've judged a lot of fairs over the past few years, and some are better organized than others...but this was the worst by far. The gentleman in charge admitted from the get-go that this was his first time in charge of the fair, and apparently the guy who did it before him didn't leave any notes. He basically gave all of the judges a list of every single project (or tried to...the printer wasn't working properly, and of course he waited until five minutes before the fair to start printing) and told us to split into groups of three and make sure every project was judged enough times, especially the physics projects because there were a lot of them.

First rule of managing volunteers? Don't make them responsible for figuring out what they're supposed to be doing. Eventually us judges determined who the other experts in our fields were, picked the categories most relevant to us and got started. Never mind that all of that information was available to the organizers in our applications and it would have taken all of twenty minutes for that to be established before-hand. We kind of had to hope all of the categories were adequately covered. I think I ended up judging around 25 projects in Human Health and Microbiology...which is a lot, especially since we had to get everyone judged before the kids' lunch time.

The projects themselves weren't very impressive for the most part. Not to be too harsh on the middle schoolers, but like I said...I've been around the proverbial scientific block, and I know what these kids are capable of. I've seen some amazing projects, but this fair had a redundancy problem. As a science teacher, how do you not notice that 7 or 8 of your students are doing the exact same vitamin C titration experiment? Isn't that a problem? They were using an iodide solution to determine which fruit juices had the most vitamin C in them. By measuring the volume of the juice needed to trigger a color-change reaction in the iodide, they could plug some numbers into a formula and figure out how many milligrams of ascorbic acid were in each milliliter of juice. Only one of the kids actually understood that they were doing a titration and that a chemical reaction was happening. She got third place.

The other big project, with at least five entries, was determining what brand of toothpaste worked best at whitening hard-boiled eggs stained in coffee. What do eggs have in common with teeth? Why, they're both white! Seriously. I asked that question every time, and that was the only answer I got. None of them knew how the toothpaste whitened the eggs, and the hypotheses were basically 'this is the brand I use, so it will be the best at cleaning the eggs'. When I tried to get them to understand that the universally subjective measurements of 'how white is this egg on a scale of 1-5' might not be that scientific, I got blank looks.

There were few controls, and only a handful of kids repeated their experiments. One of the girls argued with me when I tried to explain to her why the 12-hr pain relievers she used in her experiment dissolved slower that the 4-hr pain relievers, and how that just might be a confounding variable in determining how effective they are based on solubility. She was quite certain she understood it better than I did, though. Another girl, when asked why she chose to perform her experiment, responded - and I quote - 'I wanted to do something unique, so I found this project on the internet'. Without a trace of irony. My fellow judge barely stopped himself from bursting out laughing.

Best Project: A surprisingly eloquent 11-year old attempted to make self-cleaning bathroom tiles by mixing methylene blue, an antimicrobial, into a glaze and applying it to ceramic tiles. He even created a built-in control by applying the anti-microbial glaze to half the tile and untreated glaze to the other half. He inoculated the tiles and counted colonies that grew on them. He didn't have nearly enough replicates and the firing process may actually have rendered the methylene blue inactive, but I was still super impressed. His uncle worked in a lab and helped him with the project, but he actually understood it and did something really cool and interesting.

Worst Project: A tie.
One kid wanted to determine what conditions were the most conducive to growing mold...but he used a different kind of bread in each condition. There was wheat, rye, and white bread...some containing preservatives (Which, surprise, didn't grow mold during the three day experiment), and some fresh from the bakery. He actually did replicate his experiment once, but he switched types of bread for the replicate too.

Two girls working together wanted to see what liquids would dissolve skittles and m&ms the fastest, because they wanted a project where they could eat candy. They actually told me that was why they picked this project. It took two of them to figure this out. Neither of them knew what solubility meant, and the first trial where they dissolved the m&ms didn't work because they used peanut m&ms and peanuts don't dissolve. They still recorded and presented the data, though. It was painful.

I don't expect these kids to know everything. They're in middle school, after all. If they don't know the answer to something I drop a few hints and eventually explain it to them. If they say something really dumb I try to just smile and move on. But I was doing an awful lot of smiling at this fair, and my dropped hints just kept falling for the most part. They aren't trained scientists either, so they don't always have controls or understand about subjective measurements or why replication is important. As a judge, it's my job to help them understand the strengths and weaknesses of their projects so they can improve them and get a better understanding of the scientific method. I have never had such a difficult time getting those concepts across. Here's hoping the next fair I judge is more satisfying.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Skirts at Sporting Events?

A few weeks back I came across this article, criticizing recent rules changes in the Badminton World Federation requiring female players to wear skirts or dresses. Previously, the decision to wear skirts or shorts was left up to the players. The BWF offered up some pretty lame justifications, claiming that they wanted to 'improve the presentation of players'...meaning, put hot chicks in skirts and see if we can get more spectators involved. It's silly, pointless, and transparently sexist. But it's also badminton, which nobody gives a fuck about. So I just rolled my eyes and moved on.

Today I found out that a similar debate is happening in the Olympic Boxing arena. Apparently the Olympic dress code authority is seriously considering forcing female boxers to wear skirts in the ring. The 2012 London Olympics is the first time female boxers will be participating, since they were rejected in 2005 for failing to 'reach standards of medical safety and universality', whatever that means. The International Amateur Boxing Association apparently is under the impression that 'wearing skirts would help the women stand out from the men’s competitions'. Read, 'if we're going to give you your own Olympic event we at least want the viewers to know you're female'. Again, it's incredibly silly, pointless and quite possibly sexist. Seriously, why is this even being discussed? Who actually thinks that because the boxers are female, they ought to be beating the shit out of each other in skirts instead of pants?

Sure, in the past dress codes for female athletes primarily consisted of skirts and dresses. In the past, women also couldn't expose their wrists or ankles without being considered immodest. Alternate dress codes for women have largely fallen by the wayside...except for some cases, like beach volleyball, where female players are required to wear bikinis. Which does seem to work well for them, in spite of several complaints from players who feel the uniform violates their cultural traditions of modesty. It does so well in fact that in 2004 the president of FIFA encouraged female soccer players to emulate the beach volleyball dress code to increase the popularity of women's soccer. Apparently he did not grasp why such statements might have upset the players themselves.

People who run tournaments need spectators, so they need to create a spectacle...and sex sells. For sports that are relatively new or reaching new audiences, like female boxing and badminton, it almost makes sense that they would be doing anything they could to get more viewers. Except in this case they're doing it by diminishing the very athletes people would be paying to see. Can you imagine spending your entire life training to be good at something, and then being told 'that's great and all, but wear this skirt so people will want to watch you'?

Now I enjoy checking out hot chicks in short skirts as much as the next person, but making skirts mandatory is just impractical. Making skirts mandatory specifically to capitalize on the sexy physique of your athletes is just disrespectful. But there are ways around this! Female tennis players are not required to wear skirts. They have the choice to wear skirts, pants, dresses...whatever they like, but most female tennis players choose to wear skirts. Why? Most likely because it increases their popularity and fan support, which means they make more money from endorsement deals. See, the players can benefit from being sexy too...but it should always be their choice to do so.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Is That Blood Gay?

A recent project I've been working on for my internship has been to coordinate a blood drive between groups in different cities. There is always a shortage of blood and the Red Cross is very supportive of groups willing to host a blood drive or make group donations, so it seemed like a good way to get lots of people involved for a minimal amount of effort on their part. When I sent the information out to the groups however, there was an unexpected problem. A few of the groups weren't comfortable with the idea of participating in a blood drive because donation centers do not accept blood from sexually active homosexual men. They would effectively be excluding their gay members from the event.

Now, I can totally understand where they are coming from here. I do not like supporting discriminatory institutions. I even gave up eating at my favorite fast food restaurant because they donated upwards of a million dollars to anti-gay groups. And believe me, that was not an easy decision to make. I still get Chick-Fil-A cravings sometimes. But I think they're missing the point.

For one, it isn't actually the Red Cross and other blood donation centers that are being discriminatory in this case. They are actually acting in accordance with FDA regulations, which were put in place during the 1980's. At the time, there was no effective screening process for HIV or hepatitis...diseases which were significantly more prevalent in the gay population. The actual wording of the ban targets 'any man who has had sex with another man since 1977' specifically because of the high incidence of HIV during that time period. Since incidence rates were so high and there was no screening process in place, the entire group was labeled as 'high risk' and banned from giving blood. Maybe a bit reactionary, but not totally unreasonable given how terrified people were of AIDS when it first hit the infectious disease scene in America.

The reason this policy is often called discriminatory is because that is simply no longer the case. Tests for HIV were developed back in 1985, and have only gotten faster and more effective. The current risk of transfusion-related exposure to HIV is estimated at less than 1 in 2.5 million. This is why maintaining this policy often strikes people as homophobic, and I happen to agree. Not only does the ban seem entirely impractical given how desperately blood is needed, it is unusually harsh. Other groups that engage in 'high risk' behaviors (traveling to certain regions, history of drug use, etc.) are generally banned from blood donation for one year, whereas buttsex gets you banned for life. Even if it was just that one time in college. Honestly I think that the FDA just doesn't want to deal with the inevitable media circus of misinformation that will circulate if it raises this issue, even if it would mean more blood donations and more lives saved. I almost don't blame them. Maybe in another year or two.

So wait, if I agree that the policy is discriminatory then why do I disagree with groups boycotting blood donations to show support for their gay members? Isn't that exactly what I did when I stopped eating at Chick-Fil-A?

The thing is, when I stopped giving Chick-Fil-A my money I stopped facilitating their support of anti-gay groups. That was important to me. Now, if I refused to donate blood or support blood donation centers I would stop facilitating...the delivery of blood to people who need it to live? No. This does not help anyone. It does not help your gay friends be treated equally. It does not help the people who are depending on blood donations.

If you think it is ridiculous that a significant portion of the population is banned from donating blood when the nation is constantly in a state or critical need? Sign petitions. Write letters to the FDA or your local representatives. Organize a protest. Hand out flyers at blood donation centers. But doing nothing is not a form of dissent in this situation. It doesn't raise awareness or correct the problem. I'm certain that most patients don't even think about where the blood that saved their lives came from, and those patients should not suffer to prove a point.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Getting my Groove Back

BW has been busy! I've had conferences and conventions to capture my concentration, presentations to prepare and pronounce, reviews to rewrite (and rewrite again) plus an internship involving an institution of intellectual integrity. Goodness but I love me some alliteration.

Anyway, I haven't been very good about making time for my blog. I've still got most of those things going on, but I am going to be more proactive about making time to research interesting goings-on and develop my opinions in my blog instead of in Facebook comment threads. And man, are there ever some things that I've been dying to write about!

There have been LOTS of interesting reactions to some of the blatant sexism in the DC New 52 line of comics, which I have been dying to dive into.

There have been alternately annoying and uplifting developments in the LGBT scene.

The controversy of atheist money has been unfolding in a particularly frustrating story involving the Foundation Beyond Belief and the American Cancer Society.

The U.S. House approved Rep. J. Randy Forbes' pandering resolution "reaffirming 'In God We Trust' as the official motto of the United States...and you know I'm going to have something to say about that.

The Personhood Movement has gained so much ground in Mississippi that it actually made it onto a ballot. This may be difficult to address without intense levels of sarcastic ranting. Be warned.

I also want to continue my Internal Consistency series and take a closer look at the reasoning associated with my tarot-reading hobby. Plus I'd like to return to a subject I've blogged about before, the banning of blood donations from gay men by the FDA. I have some new thoughts on the matter.

However! I am out of time for today. Tomorrow beckons, glistening with potential. Or something. One of these issues sound especially interesting to you? Maybe I'll rant about that one first. If you ask nicely.