My Light the Night Walk Dare — The Bubblegum Pink Manicure

Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Light the Night Walk logoSo Freethought Blogs has gotten into the Foundation Beyond Belief/ Leukemia & Lymphoma Foundation Light the Night game, and has started a virtual team! Even small donations help — it really does add up. As of this writing, we’ve already raised almost $6000!

For each $1000 we raise, I’ve promised to do a different forfeit or dare. I’m having to do them somewhat out of order — largely because I have to get the first draft of my new book written by October 31, and some of these dares will take time — but I’m posting the ones that I can do as soon as I can do them.

So here, as promised, because we raised $4000, is my bubblegum pink manicure.

Bubblegum pink manicure 1

Bubblegum pink manicure 2

And in case you don’t trust that this is really me — if you think I just pulled a pic of a bubblegum pink manicure off the Internet –

Bubblegum pink manicure 3

For those who don’t know me and my fashion aesthetic: This is a manicure I would not have gotten in a million billion trillion years. And to show just how committed I am to this cause, I would like to point out: This is a shellac manicure. Those are the super-special manicures that last 2-3 weeks.

Update on my other dares: Because we raised $1000, I will dye all my hair purple and green, for Skepticon. I’m going to do that right before Skepticon, so the color will be super-fresh and bright. Because we raised $2000, I will go to church. I won’t pray — that would be dishonest — but I’ll attend, and I’ll even be polite. (It’ll have to wait until after the book is finished, though.) Because we raised $3000, I will wear a Tea Party hat and make a ridiculous speech about health care. That’s coming up next. And because we raised $5000, I will dress as a nun and sing the Leslie Gore song, “You Don’t Own Me” to a crucifix. This should be coming up soon: fortunately Halloween is close, so the nun costume should be relatively easy to come by.

And as of this writing, we’re just $113 away from our next benchmark! Right now, we’re at $5,887. If our team raises $6000, I will eat entirely vegetarian for a month. (I’m largely vegetarian-ish now, but I make exceptions. For a month, I won’t.) This should be an easy one, folks!

Other lofty goals to aim for: If our team raises $7000, I will eat entirely vegan for a week. If our team raises $8000, I will read, and review, “Fifty Shades of Grey.” (Again, though – this will have to wait until my book is finished.) If we raise $9000, I will eat bugs. And if we reach our team’s fundraising goal of $10,000… I will eat broccoli. Seriously.

What’s more: If you participate in the Light the Night Walk by just donating some money to our team and then walking up and down in your living room as part of a “do it yourself” walkathon — and you videotape it and put it on the Internet — I will personally donate $50 to the FTB Light the Night team. $50 per video, capping out at $500. (I’ll also post links to the videos on my blog.)

foundation beyond belief logoAnd if the entire Foundation Beyond Belief team reaches its goal of raising $500,000 in 2013, I will walk across the entire city of San Francisco, in the wildest outfit I can come up with. (With sensible shoes, though — I’m not stupid.) Yes, I’ll be doing my very own personal Bay to Breakers, with whatever friends and family I can sucker into joining me.

I won’t be the only Freethought Blogger doing assorted forfeits and dares if we reach various fundraising milestones, btw. PZ Myers, Ed Brayton, and Avicenna are all offering themselves up as sacrificial lambs as well. (PZ has already blogged about tumor suppressor genes while naked and wearing a pirate hat.)

What’s more, fellow blogging network Skepchick is offering a bunch of seriously cool dares and offers for their own Light the Night Walk virtual team, including custom superhero drawings, custom cocktails, shaven heads, juggling videos, comic reviews, and more. Rivalry! Rivalry! We can beat those Skepchicks! Rah! Rah! Go team!

todd stiefelAnd Todd Stiefel — the Foundation Beyond Belief Light the Night International Team Captain, the guy who came up with the whole “Foundation Beyond Belief and the atheist community supporting the Light the Night Walk in a big way” idea in the first place, and whose Stiefel Freethought Foundation is doing matching funds for a big-ass chunk of it — has promised that if either the Freethought Blogs team or the Skepchick team raises $20,000, he’ll get a buzz-mohawk. (His hair isn’t long enough for a big one). And whichever team gets to the goal first will get to pick the color of his mohawk!

In addition to (or instead of) being part of our virtual team, you can actually take part in the Light the Night walk in your own city: as part of a Foundation Beyond Belief team, or as part of some other team, or just on your own. You don’t have to be part of an official team to be part of the walk — you can just register as an individual, either online or at the event.

So sign up! Be an official part of the Freethought Blogs Light the Night team! Get me, PZ, Ed, and Avicenna to do awesome, embarrassing, painful, or hilarious things against cancer! Let’s make use of human beings’ evolutionary tendency towards tribalism and group loyalty and pointless competition — and our tendency to treat irrelevant sacrifices as both a social bonding mechanism and proof of serious commitment — and turn it towards good! Go, team, go!

Brief Blog Cat Break

I’m going into writer hibernation and taking a blog break through October 31, while I finish my next book, “Coming Out Atheist: How To Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why.”

In the meantime, here is a cat photo. I’ve pre-scheduled at least one cat photo for every day of my break, so you won’t be lonely.

All three cats snuggling with Houdini yawning

All three cats snuggling — with a yawning Houdini!

Blog Break Cat Photo

I’m going into writer hibernation and taking a blog break through October 31, while I finish my next book, “Coming Out Atheist: How To Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why.”

In the meantime, here is a cat photo. I’ve pre-scheduled at least one cat photo for every day of my break, so you won’t be lonely.

Snuggly tabbies

Snuggly tabbies!

Blog Break Cat Photo

I’m going into writer hibernation and taking a blog break through October 31, while I finish my next book, “Coming Out Atheist: How To Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why.”

In the meantime, here is a cat photo. I’ve pre-scheduled at least one cat photo for every day of my break, so you won’t be lonely.

Comet

Comet!

More Than Two: Guest Post on Ethical Polyamory from Franklin Veaux

I’m going into writer hibernation and taking a blog break through October 31, while I finish my next book, “Coming Out Atheist: How To Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why.” This is a guest post from Franklin Veaux.

“Without God, there is no morality.”

Anyone involved in skeptical, atheist, or freethought communities has probably encountered this trope; and if you’ve been around for awhile, you’ve probably run into it quite a number of times.

Any alternative community of any sort that’s poorly understood by mainstream society probably has an equivalent–some common objection that gets trotted out whenever a discussion of that community comes up. In polyamorous circles, the trope is “rules and hierarchies (often, by implication, the rules and hierarchies of monogamy), are the only things that keep relationships from descending into unbounded, anything-goes chaos.”

The atheist community has an answer to this trope in books like Good Without God: What a Billion Nonreligious People Do Believe. Whether we find their arguments compelling or not, at least there’s an effort to address it.

In the polyamorous community, though, that book doesn’t seem to exist…at least not yet. Our goal is to change that.

We’re working on a book on polyamory called More Than Two. There are already quite a few books on polyamory on the market; Jenny Block’s memoir Open: Love, Sex and Life in an Open Marriage, for example, and Tristan Taormino’s survey of open relationships, Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships. What’s largely missing, though, is a book on the tools and strategies to create and maintain successful, healthy polyamorous relationships, and that’s what More Than Two is.

It’s difficult to talk about polyamory without hearing the expression “ethical non-monogamy.” There’s a bit of a sticky wicket, though, in that we rarely talk about the definition of “ethical,” beyond the obvious “don’t lie to your partners.” That’s a good start, sure, but it’s not enough to construct an entire foundation of relationship ethics on. When we’re living in a society that proscribes everything except heterosexual marriage between exactly two cisgendered people of opposite sexes, how do we even start talking about what makes an ethical non-monogamous relationship? Where do we turn for ethics? What distinguishes an ethical relationship from a non-ethical one? Are ethical relationships egalitarian, and if so, how does that align with BDSM relationships that are deliberately constructed along the lines of power exchange? If two people make an agreement and then present that agreement unilaterally to a third person, who is given few options other than accept the agreement as-is or walk away, is that ethical? What happens when people make relationship agreements, and then their needs change? What are ethical ways of revisiting and renegotiating previous agreements? How do we even define “ethics” in the first place, without resorting to religious or social conventions? What does it take for a person to make ethical relationship choices that aren’t aligned with a religious tradition or a cultural norm?

To us, it’s not possible to talk about non-traditional relationships without addressing the core foundation of ethics; once we remove religious tradition and cultural expectation as the foundation on which we build our relationships, it’s hard to imagine any other framework other than an ethical one.

We have an ambitious goal. We are trying to set out a rational basis for ethical relationships. Our focus is on polyamory, naturally, though the same ethical principles could apply to any romantic relationship: couple or plural, gay or straight, with or without elements of BDSM. Everything else we write about follows from the core ethical foundation we are seeking to create.

The approach to ethics we’re taking in this book centers on the ideas of consent, agency, opportunity, and expectation management. These ideas seem straightforward when considered independently, but interact in complex ways. For example, we would argue that the principle of agency allows people to negotiate for, and enter into, relationships that best meets their needs, even when those relationships don’t fit established social or religious templates. However, we also argue that consent is an integral part of ethical relationships, and consent is meaningful only when it’s informed; therefore, a person who enters into multiple relationships without informing his or her partners has deprived those partners of their ability to give informed consent, and by doing so is behaving unethically. We also argue that creating relationship structures whose primary function is to transfer relationship risk from one person onto another person, without acknowledging that that’s what’s happening, is unethical.

So it’s definitely a sticky wicket. It turns out that constructing a robust and consistent ethical framework that doesn’t rely on external authority is a nontrivial undertaking; in fact, when we have finished More Than Two, we plan a second book entirely dedicated to the ethics of interpersonal relationships.

More Than Two is aimed at people who are new to polyamory and are looking for practical resources for building healthy, stable relationships. We are two polyamorous writers; Franklin has maintained a website on polyamory since 1997; currently housed at www.morethantwo.com, it’s among the top Google hits for “polyamory.” Eve has over a decade of experience in professional editing, and she owns a communications firm in Canada, Talk Science to Me, dedicated to publications support for science organizations. We’re blogging about polyamory and the book project at www.morethantwo.com/book. And we’re running a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo at http://igg.me/at/morethantwo, which will help pay for editing, design, copyediting, indexing, printing, and distribution. We’re hoping to contribute significantly to the poly community worldwide, and we’d love to have you on board. Please help!

Blog Break Cat Photo

I’m going into writer hibernation and taking a blog break through October 31, while I finish my next book, “Coming Out Atheist: How To Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why.”

In the meantime, here is a cat photo. I’ve pre-scheduled at least one cat photo for every day of my break, so you won’t be lonely.

Comet and Houdini

Comet and Houdini

Blog Break Cat Photo

I’m going into writer hibernation and taking a blog break through October 31, while I finish my next book, “Coming Out Atheist: How To Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why.”

In the meantime, here is a cat photo. I’ve pre-scheduled at least one cat photo for every day of my break, so you won’t be lonely.

All three cats snuggling

All three cats snuggling!

How Did People Help You Come Out Atheist — And How Did You Help Others?

I need your stories, and your advice!

I’ve already gathered lots of coming-out stories for my new book — a how-to guide about coming out atheist, “Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why.” Thanks so much to everyone who took the time to tell me your stories! All of it is hugely useful and illuminating, and all of it is going in the book — even if I don’t quote you directly.

But there’s a particular kind of information/ story that I’m finding myself in need of. An entire section of my book is devoted, not to how we ourselves can come out, but to how we can help each other come out. So I want to ask you all a new question:

How (if at all) did other people help you come out atheist/ agnostic/ humanist/ skeptic/ freethinker/ other sort of non-believer? And how (if at all) have you helped others come out?

IMPORTANT NOTE: By “coming out atheist,” I do not mean “deciding/ realizing/ accepting that you don’t believe in any gods.” I mean, very specifically, “telling other people that you don’t believe in any gods.” I’m fascinated by stories of how we’ve helped each other realize that there are no gods — but that’s not what this book is about. This book is about being more open about our non-belief.

If anyone else helped you come out as an atheist — who did it, and how? Was it a friend, a family member, a colleague or fellow student? Was it a community — in the flesh, or online? Was it a writer, a videoblogger, a podcaster, a community leader, or someone else you never met but whose ideas or example you found helpful? Was there something specific that they said or did that helped you? Did they give you useful advice, practical assistance, a sympathetic ear, a supportive community, something else? Was it them simply being an out atheist that helped you?

And if you have ever helped someone else come out as an atheist — who did you help, and how? Was it a friend, a family member, a colleague or fellow student? Was it a community — in the flesh, or online? Was there something specific that you said or did that helped them? Did you give useful advice, practical assistance, a sympathetic ear, a supportive community, something else? Was it simply being an out atheist that they said helped them?

Related question: Was there anything that someone else did to try to help you come out atheist — or that you did to try to help someone else — that wasn’t actually helpful, and/or that actually made things more difficult?

And if the answer is “No” — nobody has ever helped you or tried to help you in your process of coming out atheist, and/or you’ve never helped or tried to help anyone else — and you think your answer and the particulars of it are instructive or interesting, please share that as well.

If you have more than one story, please feel free to tell me as many as you like.

It’d be helpful to tell me some details about your story or stories: where you and the other person/ people lived, or any other demographics — yours and/or theirs — that you think might be relevant (age, race, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, economic class, type of workplace if it’s a workplace story, etc.)

Also — if I quote you in the book, what name do you want me to use? Real full name, your real first name, your online handle, or a made-up name? (If you don’t specify, I’ll assume you want your online handle used if you reply in comments, and a made-up name if you reply in email.)

You can reply in the comments here — or, if you prefer more privacy, you can email me, at gcgreta (at) doubtfulpalace (dot) com. If you email me, please put the words “Coming Out” in the subject line.

BTW, if you read through the comments here and think, “Oh, so-and-so’s story is really similar to mine, I don’t need to tell mine” — please, please, please, don’t think that. I want to hear every story that people want to tell. In fact, if certain kinds of stories come up over and over again, that will be very useful for me to know.

Thanks so much! Your time starts… now!

Perverts Put Out and Godless Perverts Social Club Coming Up Soon!

I have some perverted events coming up in the next week!

perverts put out logoPerverts Put Out, San Francisco’s legendary pansexual reading/performance series, is having their pre-Folsom Street Fair event this Saturday, September 28. I’ll be reading some of my smut, along with Jen Cross, Philip Huang, Steven Schwartz, horehound stillpoint, Naamen Tilahun, Xan West, and Mollena Williams, and hosts Simon Sheppard and Dr. Carol Queen. It’s at the Center for Sex and Culture, 1349 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA (near Civic Center BART), starting at 8pm. $10-25 sliding scale.

Godless Perverts Banner

And Tuesday, October 1 is the next Godless Perverts Social Club — the casual, hanging-out social arm of the Godless Perverts empire. Community is one of the reasons we started Godless Perverts. There are few enough places to land when you decide that you’re an atheist; far fewer if you’re also LGBT, queer, kinky, poly, trans, or are just interested in sexuality. And the sex-positive/ alt-sex/ whatever- you- want- to- call- it community isn’t always the most welcoming place for non-believers. So please join us at Wicked Grounds, San Francisco’s renowned BDSM-themed coffee house — 289 8th St in San Francisco, near Civic Center BART — for an evening of conversation and socializing. All orientations, genders, and kinks (or lack thereof) welcome. 7:00 – 9:00 pm. There’s no admission, but we ask that you buy food and drink at the counter, or make a donation to the venue.

If you want to be notified about all our Godless Perverts events, sign up for our email mailing list, or follow us on Twitter at @GodlessPerverts. You can also sign up for the Bay Area Atheists/ Agnostics/ Humanists/ Freethinkers/ Skeptics Meetup page, and be notified of all sorts of godless Bay Area events — including the Godless Perverts. You can even RSVP on the Meetup page for the Social Club, if you like to RSVP to things. Hope to see you there!

Blog Break Cat Photo

I’m going into writer hibernation and taking a blog break through October 31, while I finish my next book, “Coming Out Atheist: How To Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why.”

In the meantime, here is a cat photo. I’ve pre-scheduled at least one cat photo for every day of my break, so you won’t be lonely.

Houdini

Houdini!