Look at your wrist. If you do a fair amount of computer gaming (or computer work in general, really) you likely have a mark on your wrist or the ball of your palm. Mine’s a rather boring redness, not quite as impressive as some others I have seen. Mine has likely been mitigated somewhat by the way I prefer to use a mouse—with my palm on the table.

Calluses, such as the gamer mark or the zebibah (“Raisin”) seen on older Muslim men, are caused by repeated friction on the skin. They’ve been used to size up one’s profession in the case of milker’s callus or “working hands.” They’re a tell-tale sign of some sort of repeated action. Whether it’s shuffling a mouse or rubbing your head on the floor, these marks have become a status symbol within their own circles. With the prayer bump, it has apparently begun appearing on younger people, likely with the aid of some sort of extra-prayer-icular forehead chafing. Serious business.

Where my guff was gotten, was the perceptions of these stigmata bearers by outsiders—more precisely, the video gamer’s case. A friend of mine went to a conference, and in casual conversation remarked about how many hours a week he played video games (not an obscene figure by any means). His colleagues were stunned, and advised him to seek help for his “addiction.” He was equally, if not more annoyed at their reaction. After all, how much time do they spend knitting? Golfing? Reading? It doesn’t interfere with his work, so why the stigma?

The real difference is that my gaming compatriots know that they’re spending their time in a fantasy.

What’s your prayer bump?

Monday’s comic caused a little bit of a stir. Just a little—but an important one that hasn’t really been addressed here. When it was posted, I asked Nadir to make a slight copy change to his brilliant comic, as the original text was much a little too direct and lacked the context that would inform viewers that he was speaking from historical precedent. I dusted my hands of the incident and moved on, but it became clear that the text wasn’t the only issue. Even after, a few folks from Mad Art Lab (people I know and trust greatly) felt panel 3 made them feel uneasy—I think “weird” was used. My tendency is to leave it alone as a faux pas, but do chime in if you feel otherwise.

Maybe I’m biased, but I consider to be a pretty awesome site. I think our readers are pretty awesome too. I’m especially pleased with the diversity of our readership, and I work hard to reach out and make everybody feel welcome (except creationists and reiki practitioners, el-oh-el). In particular, I try to keep this a welcoming place for women, because 100% honestly, skepticism/atheism can be a pretty crappy place for them. I’d like this site to be a friendly place free of bros and crotchnozzles. Though it is bound to happen now and then.

Have I failed? Sure. As recently as the other week I gaffed in my write-up for the embryo comic. I unintentionally marginalized an entire gender in six words. In hindsight, I couldn’t believe what I had said. Even though there was no malice intended, I was truly embarrassed at my gross inaccuracy. Scary how it would have went unnoticed if a commenter didn’t speak up and say, “Hey waitaminute…”

We’ve always encouraged folks to speak up and voice their concerns, objections, and grievances. It’s part of the process, and I welcome it. I do have some new requests though:

  • Mind Hanlon’s Razor - Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity or ignorance.
  • In general, play nice. Not only to us, either. The person you called an idiot may very well be my aunt, and I will smite you with the fist of an angry deity for it. Let’s argue without being insulting, and do so in a respectful manner while giving your opponent a face-saving way to let things go.
  • Leave a name with your comment. I generally know who you are because I have magic moderator powers, but it’s easier to address the concerns of a person, rather than an IP address. It’s also easier for those looking to join the debate to tell who’s who.
  • And Let It Be Known: Hinting at men’s rights or casually invoking biological imperatives will net you a variety of gtfo’s. I think the “war on christianity” is a joke, so you can imagine how I feel about men claiming they are being oppressed.
As commenter Mopey Hat put it, We will continue being awesome, skeptical, and hilarious, and avoiding bias where possible.

Now then. I have to start getting ready for 21812. Also tonight there is a Story Collider at Union Hall and tomorrow Ben Lillie and Carl Zimmer (among others) will be speaking at AMNH as part of Social Media Week. Hope to see you out there.

This post was brought to you by Praseodymium (Pr).