Special feature: Crommunist goes to Montreal

Last Monday, work took me to Toronto for the annual meeting of one of my projects. The following Monday was a conference held by the team I work for in Montreal, which meant that I was facing a week-long gap between events. Given how friggin’ expensive it is to fly across Canada, I figured it would be easier for me to take a few vacation days and spend the time on some rest & relaxation than try to cross the distance twice. And so it was that I found myself at Toronto’s Union station on the 11:30 train bound for Montreal with my good friend Nate.

A picture of my friend Nathan and I [Read more…]

Flirting, fucking, and tossing the pigskin

So immediately after my first-ever atheist conference, the atheist community was all a-Twitter about people trying to fuck other people at conferences. It’s kind of difficult (I avoid using the word ‘hard’ intentionally) to suppress my ego, but I’m going to go ahead and conclude that this was simply coincidence, and not a sign that everyone was secretly trying to bang me. At any rate, people are talking about it, and there’s the usual crowd of folks managing to miss the point, so I thought it might be fun to throw in my two cents.

I have had a few interactions with people who write, or play music, or do their jobs, solely to achieve some other goal. They write because they want to be influential. They play music because they want to be famous. They’re in their respective fields because they want to get rich. I suppose the term for people like that is ‘goal-oriented’. The various things they take part in are a means to a more enjoyable end – they’re the necessary legwork required to attain the true object of desire.

For my purposes, I tend to align myself more to being ‘process-oriented’: I do stuff because it’s fun and I like it. I write because I like to organize my thoughts and to play with words. I play music because I enjoy the intimate collaborations that are made possible by mixing it up with other musicians. I do my job because it’s challenging and interesting. Any notoriety or attention or wealth I gain from doing these things are all of secondary importance. [Read more…]

Imagine No Religion 2: parte the seconde

Aside from the piss-poor performance by the theists during the debate, there were a couple of low points for me during the conference.

Some of y’all are intense

At the risk of sounding completely bigoted and neuronormative, I gained a lot of appreciation for the stereotyped image of atheist conference-goers as a bunch of oddballs. I’m sure any group of people who have a passionate interest in a specific topic will produce its share of wackies, but I don’t go to conferences (except things that are work-related, which is a whole different thing to tackle) – I don’t think this is an ‘atheist problem’ per se, I think it is a problem inherent to human interaction. That being said, there were some things that were kind of offputting for me.

First of all, as pugnacious as I am about a wide variety of topics, I know better than to turn every verbal misstep into an opportunity to mount a soapbox. Part of human interaction involves putting others at ease, in order to allow trust and emotional intimacy to build. If your objective is to cultivate that kind of interaction, then jumping up and down any time anyone says something incorrect or insensitive is counter-productive. There were a number of times when I found myself sitting and chatting pleasantly enough with folks I didn’t know, only to have the conversation jerk wildly into a combat situation with no real warning. I didn’t want to be around those people. [Read more…]

Coming out Atheist: Greta’s collecting stories

Greta Christina, writer extraordinaire and sometimes conscience of the atheist community, is collecting testimonials for a new book project she’s working on:

I’m writing a new book — a how-to guide about coming out atheist. And I need your stories, and your advice.

IMPORTANT: Please read this entire post before commenting! I’m looking for somewhat specific kinds of stories, with somewhat specific kinds of information. So please don’t just scroll to the comments and pour out your heart. Please read this entire post before pouring out your heart. It’s not that long, I promise.

I’m writing a how-to guide about coming out atheist. I obviously want this guide to reflect a wide range of atheist experiences. So I’m gathering stories. And I’m looking for somewhat specific kinds of information. You don’t have to answer every one of these questions, btw — if you do, it’ll help, but partial answers will also be very useful.

So if you are openly atheist, please consider e-mailing Greta and telling her your story.

Imagine No Religion 2: parte the firste

As many of you are aware, this year I attended the Imagine No Religion 2 conference in Kamloops, BC. What you may not have been aware of is the fact that this was my first ever atheist conference. I’ve only been ‘out’ for a couple of years, and because nearly all of the atheist meetups I’ve ever seen are in the eastern United States, I haven’t really had much motivation to go. While it would be cool to meet some new athie folk, the fact is that I can think of quite a number of things I’d rather spend $1200 on.

This year, however, I was asked by members of CFI Vancouver and Okanogan to attend the function in Kamloops. At the time they asked, they were concerned about not being able to recoup their expenses. Seeing as I owe a great deal of my public profile to the hard work done by my fellow CFIers, and that I genuinely like them and am happy to help out when I can, I decided to pop my conference cherry and attend INR2. Overall, I am incredibly glad that I did. Not only was it a wonderful chance for me to hang out with a group of (largely) like-minded people and have fun for a weekend, but I also got a chance to meet some folks that I’ve been looking forward to crossing paths with for some time. [Read more…]

I’m back!

Ladies and gentlemen (and any other label you may prefer), I am home after a long trip that took me to Kamloops for Imagine No Religion 2, Toronto for work, and Montreal for vacation (and more work). I stupidly left my laptop in my apartment, so I have been unable to blog. This has been (by far) the longest I have been away from the site since I started it over 2 years ago, and I can’t imagine such an absence happening again.

Anyway, I’ve got lots to talk about: the conference, the protests in Montreal, the things I saw and did while on the road, and apparently there’s some talk about hooking up at conferences and flirting, so I might weigh in to that mess as well. I won’t be back to normal (and neither will the blog) until the weekend, so I hope you will bear with me as I try to get back into my groove.

Glad to be back!

A picture of me in Montreal

Here’s what’s happening now

A brief recap:

I was at Imagine No Religion 2 in Kalmoops, BC. I had a great time meeting a lot of fun new people, and enjoyed myself a great deal. I am currently on vacation until the 29th, when I will be flying back to Vancouver from a conference in Montreal.

However, like an idiot I left my laptop at home. As a result, I will not be blogging at all over the next week. My apologies to regular readers and to new ones, but while my phone can do many things, it is lousy as a device for writing. I will have very limited internet access in Montreal, even with my phone, so I will be almost completely off the grid for a while.

When I come back, I will be summarizing my experiences at INR2, posting pictures, and generally writing my ass off to get back up to speed. In the meantime, you can follow me on Twitter, or read the other fabulous authors here on FTB, many of whom were at INR2 as well. My repeated apologies for the extended downtime.

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Movie Friday: Why we #Occupy

I have not written about the #Occupy movement in a while, owing somewhat to the disappointing failure of Occupy Vancouver to resurface at the beginning of this month. However, I have not stopped believing in the validity and necessity of the cause. I recognize that there is a Sisyphian task of convincing the general public – like a frog in a pot of gradually warming water – that there is an urgent problem that needs addressing. Most people would rather retreat to trite platitudes about ‘laziness’ and ‘entitlement’ and ‘handouts’ instead of bothering to take a moment and look around and realize that something is really rotten. The myths about hard work and achievement that this society was built on are hollow in the face of reality, but like so many other things, it is easier to perpetuate the myth than make the necessary change.

There are few people on television I find more odious and more historically unnecessary than Sean Hannity. I say ‘odious’ for reasons that I imagine are obvious to anyone who’s watched him interview anyone that isn’t Ted Nugent. He hops from ‘question’ to ‘question’ (they are actually not questions, but straight-up lies thrown at a guest who is not given a chance to respond before the next salvo is launched), reducing the interview to little more than a televised bullying session. I say ‘historically unnecessary’ because men like Hannity have always been around, arrogantly strutting and trying to pass their stereotypes off as wisdom. This is perhaps no better displayed than in this video: [Read more…]

So here’s what’s happening

Tomorrow afternoon I am going to be heading to Kamloops, BC for the Imagine No Religion 2 conference. I am looking forward to getting a chance to meet some of my fellow FTBorg, as well as soak in some godless goodness up in the mountains. This is pretty much the perfect time of year to go to Kamloops, because it will be sunny and pleasant.

On Sunday I am flying to Toronto for work, and will be shortly thereafter heading to Montreal. I’m there for another conference, and also because it’s Montreal and Montreal is amazing. I will be returning from my work/vacation on the 29th.

What this means for y’all is that I will be in vacation mode – fewer posts and shorter posts. Less activity on Twitter, and the comment moderation is going to be super-slow for those of you who are first-timers (or use a lot of links). I’d apologize, but I’m not sorry – between working full-time, blogging part-time, and trying to manage a rock band (on top of, y’know, having a social life), I feel like a couple of weeks of relative down time is not too much to ask.

It usually takes me a few days to bounce back following a trip like this, so expect normal functioning to resume starting at the beginning of June.

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