SSA Blogathon Songathon wrap-up

Phew! I think it’s all done.

My original plan to play the 5 or 6 song requests that would trickle in over the course of a single Sunday afternoon was COMPLETELY BLOWN OUT OF THE WATER. Apparently you were far more generous than I thought, because I received a total of 22 requests! A summary of these is below: [Read more...]

Kiva project update: our fifth loan

Hello Cromrades,

Once again it’s time to throw our money at a problem and see if we can’t make someone’s life a little better. Sadly (?), the loans that you suggested were already fully funded when I checked (less than 48 hours after you made the suggestion, I swear). So I just went with our general theme of prioritizing African women, and then going on an ad-hoc basis for everything else.

Here’s the result: [Read more...]

SSA Blogathon songathon: Highway 61 Revisited

Here’s a little fact that most of you probably don’t know about me: I hate Bob Dylan’s music. Not only do I hate Bob Dylan’s music, but I don’t understand anyone who likes it. I recognize that everyone has their own preferences when it comes to something as subjective and personal as music, but Bob Dylan is just objectively terrible. Thus, I have to assume that Brad Self was either punishing or trolling me when he asked me to play this:

EDIT: I have uploaded this three times and every time it has this 2-second delay. I apologize, but I don’t know how to fix it. The original video file is not delayed.

Compare this to the original here (or don’t… because of how awful Bob Dylan is).

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The new coolest part of my job…

…is that I get invited to participate in stuff like this:

For those of you who somehow managed to miss it on the other FTBlogs, yesterday a group of us, along with Rebecca Watson of Skepchick, convened online to host the first (and, judging by the response from the other folks, not the last) Google+ hangout forum. We were discussing, among other things, sexual harassment at skepty/athie conferences like The Amazing Meeting, and specifically the piss-poor way in which DJ Grothe of JREF was handling the issue.

It practically goes without saying that I enjoyed the shit out of myself.

I said it jokingly, but I was serious in my self-appraisal as someone who was more or less a dispassionate third-party observer. I don’t really have a dog in this fight – I wasn’t ever planning on going to TAM, and it had nothing to do with any kind of sexual harassment policy. It just doesn’t really interest me a great deal – the stuff that I care about doesn’t really fall under TAM’s umbrella, and unless the JREF decides to suddenly adopt a radically different mission in life, I don’t see that changing. This isn’t a criticism – TAM should keep doing what has apparently been a very successful event – it just means that I don’t really care either way if TAM succeeds. I’ve therefore intentionally stayed out of the discussion, because I don’t really have that much to contribute besides saying “I agree with Stephanie Zvan” until my vocal chords are hoarse.

That being said, I did have two main points that I wished to contribute to the discussion around this issue: [Read more...]

Because I am an atheist: Hank Fox

Today’s contribution comes from the incomparable Hank Fox, author of Blue Collar Atheist.

Because I am an atheist…

…I understand that the real world is the real world.

That means I know that praying — wishing, whining, begging, whatever you want to call it — doesn’t work. What works is doing it yourself. Hard work by PEOPLE.

You learn, plan, think, and DO for all the best results in life. Not every plan works out, but when you compare the people who plan and work to those who depend on fate, or luck, or prayers to a supposedly benevolent god, those who depend on their own efforts manage to make good stuff happen a lot more often. Those who sit back in learned helplessness, who believe their best hope is for some outside supernatural agency to swoop in and solve every problem, they suffer whatever fate happenstance dishes out to them.

Yes, there are plenty of unpredictable things that will enter our lives, but that happens to everybody. What doesn’t happen to everybody is voluntary good planning. In fact, it doesn’t happen at all unless we DO it. [Read more...]