Secular charities are almost there

It takes something really important to get me to burrow up out of my sickbed, especially when I was so enjoying the dark coolth nestled in a web of soft fungal mycelia and was busily contemplating the various flavors of soil. But this issue matters. It’s the final two days of the Chase Giving campaign, with multiple tiers of donations depending on the ranking. Last time I listed the three secular candidates, you all dutifully put the first two in a solid position…because each of you had two votes.

so Foundation Beyond Belief is securely on a high tier. Poor Camp Quest has the lowest number of votes. If you didn’t see the original posting and didn’t vote before, click on that link and give them a little love. Well, cash. Even better — it mulches.

The Secular Student Alliance is doing OK, but they’re teetering right on the edge of a tier. If you’ve got a second vote, make sure they don’t fall off the edge by clicking on that link!

I also want you to think about how hard it was to type this post with only a pair of tiny paired anterior ganglia and no arms. I had to do it by writhing elaborately. And now my keyboard is a slimy mess, just like the rest of me. If I can make this sacrifice, you should be ashamed for not bothering to click, you with your endoskeletons and your digits and your image forming eyes.

Atheists, secularists, freethinkers: vote for these secular charities

Chase Community Giving is handing out almost half a million dollars in a great big blatant popularity contest — it seems like a very poor way to distribute funds, and you know what I think of online polls. But hey, it’s their money, and they’ve come up with this scheme to distribute, so who are we but poor peons to play the game. Greta Christina has the details. The bottom line, though, is that you each have TWO votes through your Facebook account (if you don’t have a Facebook account, get one just so you can vote!). Pick two of the three secular organizations below and vote for ‘em.

It’s a bit weird: when you vote, you get a link that you can share via email, facebook, google+, whatever, and if other people vote using it, you get credited for another vote. So spread the word and share the links.

There are various tiers of success, so we don’t have to get first place to get some money for our favorite groups — but we’re in competition with others, so we do have to push to get into the best tier we can.

Vote, vote, vote. I know these polls are usually utterly pointless, but at least this one has a chance of getting a good group a substantial reward.

Now the real rankings emerge

There’s a charity auction going on for Doctors Without Borders, and among the items being sold are autographed photos of various people. Aron Ra is dismayed that his photo is going for a quarter of the price of Matt Dillahunty’s.

So how should I feel?

Here’s the whole listing of the charity auction. At least my photo is selling for more than the price of the ballpoint pen. If you really hate me, I suggest you start bidding on that pen and get the price higher.


Heh. I notice that the bidding for the pen is already climbing. It really is a magnificent writing instrument, awesome in its elegance and beauty, and deserving of far more than $1.58 — in fact, I’m sure it’s worth ten times the price of that photo of a homely guy with a beard.


Behold! How can you bear to be without it?

Support a good cause this weekend!

DPR Jones’ yearly fundraiser for Doctors Without Borders will be broadcast on BlogTV this weekend, the 8th-9th of September. The full schedule is online, but you should tune in for some interesting and entertaining discussion anytime (although the 7pm hour is problematic, with the fabulous Cristina Rad paired with someone we’d all rather forget). Ignore the toxic toad in the corner, though, the cause is well worth supporting and the conversation will be enlightening.

I might pop in somewhere in there, too, but we’re still talking about when. It’ll be a surprise!

Oh, gosh — I have cheesed off Sam Harris!

He is clearly quite peeved. It looks like the final straw was that I, as he claims, “gleefully endorsed” a post on The 5 Most Awful Atheists. Actually, what I did was challenge the author to write something positive about atheists, and agreed that the criticisms were valid, but not gleefully, and I also said that I do not consider any of those atheists irredeemable (except, of course, SE Cupp).

And I’ll stand by that.

Sam Harris has been a significant contributor to the atheist movement, and is far better known than I am. But that does not make him flawless. I disagree strongly with him on his position on torture, as do many others; I know he’s not a casual advocate of torture, but he does invent ridiculous, improbable scenarios (in which torture wouldn’t even work!) to justify some instances. I think his advocacy of profiling was repugnant, irrational and unjustifiable, and Bruce Schneier also found it problematic. To now dismiss Schneier’s informed discussion as a “long and rather tedious debate” and to characterize Schneier’s position as a failed argument from expediency is ridiculous.

For real fun, look at his complaints about blogs in general.

It is difficult to overlook the role that blog comments play in all this. Having a blog and building a large community of readers can destroy a person’s intellectual integrity—as appears to have happened in the case of PZ Myers. Many people who read his blog come away convinced that I am a racist who advocates the widespread use of torture and a nuclear first strike against the entire Muslim world. The most despicable claims about me appear in the comment thread, of course, but Myers is responsible for publishing them. And so I hold him responsible for circulating and amplifying some of the worst distortions of my views found on the Internet.

Hmmm. I think Harris’s reputation as an illiberal advocate for atrocious policies long preceded any of my criticisms of his positions, and I suspect that the commenters here could make a far better indictment of Harris than he can a defense. But what do I know? You guys have destroyed my integrity!

Let’s complete the total sellout. Since I am now a notorious and unscrupulous opponent of all that is Sam, I will turn it over to you: there is currently a competition to raise money for Camp Quest. I’m falling far behind. If you think I’m on the side of Goodness and Righteousness, donate to Team PZ’s Revenge. If you think I’m full of it and adore Sam Harris, donate to Team Awful Re-defeat PZ, that gang of 13 bloggers (we’re all evil!) who have teamed up to conquer sad, lonely, isolated me.

Sam could really teach me a lesson by making a big donation to Team Awful. A good trouncing would show everyone how pathetic my influence actually is.

Chickens or summer camp?

I’m supposed to be raising money for Camp Quest — I’m competing against a team of tiny, gnome-like little people — and they’re actually edging ahead of me. But now a distraction has come up.

Kasese Humanist Primary School is trying to raise money for a chicken coop, so they can get eggs to feed the kids. Aargh…defeat little pests in competition, or feed hungry children in a humanist school?

You knew what had to win. If you can, donate to Kasese Humanist Primary School. We’ll crush our opponents later, after the kids have had their breakfast.

Great Camp Quest battle?

Apparently, a team of teeny-tiny, insignificant people decided to band together and have a fundraising competition with me. Without telling me. Or maybe they did, and my email is just so screwed up right now that I never saw it. Anyway, they’re all feebly whiffing about my ankles right now, squeaking their defiance in their cute little piping voices — really, it’s adorable, like being mugged by little white mice — so I guess I should acknowledge their existence.

I do notice, though, that this year they haven’t described any forfeits they’ll offer up if they win. Too burned by that last effort, eh? Still have memories of that leg-waxing, JT, or that appearance in a dress, Matt? I really should wait until the little people have screwed up their courage to make it worth my while, but oh, hey, it’s a good cause. They’re raising money for Camp Quest.

They’re doing their best to stack the odds against me, but 12 to 1? Seriously? You’re going to need a bigger boat, Team Awful.

My skin is at stake!

The Stiefel Foundation is backing a huge charitable donation: they want to give $1,000,000 to cancer research. They need godless atheists to join in, though, to show the world that we care and we can get things done, so Todd Stiefel has started a recruiting drive on Reddit to bring in donors and participants in a charity walk. We need 5,000 more people to sign on this week to meet the goal. And we’re volunteering our flesh and, umm, hair to motivate you. Let’s get some Pharyngula people involved!

our goal this week is to go from 400 to 5,400 people on the Foundation Beyond Belief international team raising money for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. We need your help. Please join our team at http://pages.lightthenight.org/2012/FBB. Please encourage your friends and local freethought groups to join as well. If we make this viral, we can hit this stretch goal!

If we are able to add 5,000 people before the end of Saturday, July 14, I will shave to a mohawk while at Camp Quest South Carolina next week. Additionally, PZ Myers and Hemant Mehta will get tattoos. (Watch their blogs today for proof.) Yeah, they are more braver than I am.

I also want you to know that while Hemant was trying to decide what sacrifice to make, I came forward with my plan to get a tat if we reach 5,000, and then he succumbed to his competitive instincts. Hey, Hemant, if I said I was going to jump off a cliff…?

But heck yeah, I will go through with it — in a tasteful, discreet way — if enough people step up and sign up for this endeavor.

(NO, you have absolutely no input on where or what tattoo I get. I’m not brain-damaged.)