Perhaps it is time that DJ Grothe resign as the President of the JREF

DJ Grothe has done some great things and he’s taken the James Randi Educational Foundation a long way; he’s made an important mark and we should all appreciate him and his prior efforts. Hell, we should create an award named after him and give it to people every year. Thank you DJ Grothe for all you’ve done for the skeptic movement. (more…)

The Mohawk

Paunee or Omaha Chief

This man is a Pawnee or Omaha Chief, not Mohawk.

I grew up in, or at least, very near the traditional home of the Mohawk Native Americans, who were in turn part of the Iroquois. You are most likely to have heard of the Mohawk because of their famous hair style, a strip of hair like a crest down the middle of the head, with the rest of the head shaved.

You may also know of the Mohawk because of their famous ironworking in New York City. We who grew up along the Hudson-Mohawk confluence learned of the Mohawk because it was their river, and their valley, and the stories that had been passed down told us that they were more powerful than the Algonquin, and also, the bad-ass-est of all of the tribes in the region. Well after the American Revolution and maybe even after the Civil War, Mohawk warriors were said to travel around the area being tough, engaged in tricky balance between acting as security and acting as actors for the numerous travelling “Indian Shows” and “Wild West Shows” of the day. Of course, the reality of the Mohawk Tribe and its history is far richer and more interesting than that, but here, I just want to say a word or two about their hair.

The Mohawk did not wear Mohawks, and a Mohawk is not what you might think.

JT Eberhard's Girlfriend, Michaelyn

Michaelyn will get a Mohawk if you give JT Eberhard money.

First, Native Americans who ‘shaved’ all or parts of their head usually used plucking instead of shaving. All that bald area … that hair was torn out not shaved off. Just so you know. Second, Mohawk Indians did not wear that crest thingie that is now called a “Mohawk.” They wore something more like a patch of hair near the back of their head. The Pawnee and Omaha Indians wore something more like the “Mohawk” crest. Nobody seems to mind, these days, though calling this hair style a Mohawk. I’m not certain, but I don’t think people are too overly concerned about cultural patrimony or ripoff. The Mohawk is today a respectable haircut, if you want that special fierce look, and it is cool enough that a lot of younger Mohawk have taken the tradition on as “real” either because it’s been around so long, or because it isn’t worth correcting people, or they have a rather post-modern view of it all.

But more relevant to the moment is this: The woman you see in this photograph is planning to get a Mohawk haircut, to make her look more like the dude in the painting. And she is doing it for money. Your money. JT Eberhard has the details. Michaelyn will cut her hair into a Mohawk if they can raise $1,000 cash for the upcoming SOMA Reasonfest.

Last year’s Reasonfest drew 700 people, and this year looks to be even bigger! There will be a game room for socializing and good times all around – and it won’t cost anybody a dime to get in.

However, free to get in does not mean free to produce. Putting on an event like this takes a LOT of leg work and a LOT of fundraising by the organizers – and they do it all for the benefit of this movement. Right now they’re a few thousand short of covering the event, which is where we fit in: we’re going to help them with the fundraising.

My girlfriend, Michaelyn, who is part of SOMA, will get a mohawk and dye the tips red if we can raise $1,000 in two weeks.

So click here and learn more and give a few bucks. And help turn Michaelyn fierce.

Congratulations to Rebecca Watson

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca Watson (Photo from here: )

Skepchick founder Rebecca Watson has been awarded the Blag Hag Most Influential Female Atheist of 2011 Award!

The awarding blogpost is here.

The acceptance speech is here.

I’m very happy Rebecca won this award, and I’m also glad Greta Christina came in a strong second. The other women on the list were all deserving of recognition as well.

And when I look at this list I am not left feeling that there are any particular men that should be added as tokens. Funny that. (Especailly funny if you go read Rebecca’s acceptance speech!)

The Damage Richard Dawkins Did

And now, the final installment in this series of posts (the previous installment is here).

Picture of Richard Dawkins Scowling

This is Richard Dawkins. There are about 27,000,000 atheists and other sorts of non-believes in the United States.

Richard Dawkins didn’t do any damage to himself. Most of the people who were going to buy his books will still buy his books, he’ll continue to pack lecture halls as he travels around giving talks, and he’ll continue to have the kind of influence that he has had for several years now, which is by and large a very positive one, on the way society approaches things like religion, atheism, and skepticism.

But he has probably lost some colleagues. His treatment of both the issues surrounding Elevator Gate and his treatment of his colleague Rebecca Watson was appalling. And yes, Rebecca and Richard were colleagues. The two of them have traveled similar circuits, sat on panels together, and so on. Despite what star struck fans may think, Richard Dawkins does not actually live in an utterly different world than the rest of us. He still puts his pants on one leg at a time, and he is still part of a community of people doing similar, and overlapping things. (more…)

We’ve Talked About This Enough, We Can Shut Up Now (Or, Don’t Feed the Trolls)

Continuing from the previous conversation

I’ve written about this before (Shut up about everything all the time unless what you have to say is HITLER!!!!) and it relates to the previously discussed topic, as Godwin-Scaping is a way to tell someone to stop talking. Richard Dawkins told Rebecca Watson that her comments were not about the repression of women by Islam, therefore she should shut up. Numerous Nuclear Power Apologists have told Ana Miller and me to Shut Up about Fukushima because more people die in automobile accidents world wide every day than were killed by radiation at that power plant. Recently, Rebecca Watson wrote about how being told to “not feed the trolls” might sound like friendly and helpful advice (and may even be meant that way sometimes) but it is actually just another way to tell people to shut up. (more…)

Calibrating and Recalibrating Sex Positiveness

Continuing our discussion (see Making sense of our fights on the Internet, Power and Presence on the Internet and Elsewhere, and A Spectrum as a Slippery Slope and OMG Hitler is a Nazi!!!!) …

I was at a local event recently where a group of sex-positive third-wave feminist women had traditionally used a certain amount of overt sexuality to raise some money. They had been doing it for a few years and had gained a certain reputation and a certain following. A friend of mine who knew of their work but did not know them personally joined in during this most recent event and volunteered to work the door, as it were, to help to relieve some of the visitors and participants of a little cash (this was a fundraiser). I was not present for that part of the event but some of the people involved, who had been involved for several years, later said to me that they felt my friend had gone a bit over the top in her performance. I asked for a description of what concerned them, and when I heard it I had to laugh a little. You see, over the years, these women have changed their own act from a more to a less sexy parody version of themselves, toning it down and calibrating, for a number of different reasons. The young woman who joined them this year had calibrated her own approach to their reputation and not to their current approach. She was a blast, as it were, from the past, and that was a little shocking. (more…)

A Spectrum as a Slippery Slope and OMG Hitler is a Nazi!!!!

… Continuing with our discussion …

When Rebecca discussed a range of topics from being bothered by clueless gents to sexual abuse to rape, some of her critics scolded her for linking these different things together, and insisted that when she mentioned something about a guy asking her over at 4 AM for coffee being clueless that she was accusing him of rape. Even Richard Dawkins got that wrong and he is known for being smart and stuff.

This is one of those things where WikiThinking can muddy the waters. There are two named fallacies of argument discussed in The Wikipedia that people will refer to when someone discusses a range, or spectrum, of behaviors. One is the Slippery Slope argument. The other is the Godwin Principle. The former is only sometimes a fallacy … there are slippery slopes and there are times when people worry about slippery slopes that are not real. Either way, it does not matter. The spectrum of behavior exists, and it is a matter of discussion as to whether being fast and lose at one end of the spectrum makes it harder for society or individuals or whomever to deal with the other end of the spectrum. It is worth discussing. Presuming that because one senses that there is a slope that therefore there must be a slippery slope fallacy is sloppy thinking.

And you know what sloppy thinking can lead to if you are not careful. It can lead to a very slippery slope indeed! Down which we will surely slip! (more…)

Should Scientists Date People Who Believe in Astrology?

I remember, when I was getting to know Amanda, carefully exploring certain key issues such as this. It actually didn’t take long to find out that we had almost identical political views, and perspectives on science, rational thinking, religion, and so on. (I say “almost” only because there is room for variation, but I can’t think of any actual differences in perspective … only differences in level of attention to various issues).