Blogathon BEGINS!

Hello Cromrades,

This is me officially signing in for the Secular Student Alliance’s Blogathon. As you may know, I pledged to learn, record, and post songs that you request, provided you pledge a donation of at least $10. The response has been overwhelming, and I am going to try to get to as many of them as I can today, but it will likely stretch into the week. You still have time to pledge your own request. Just let me know what song you want me to learn, and I will do my level best to produce something worth listening to. You can donate through the widget on the sidebar.

Hopefully this will be a fun and painless exercise for you. It will be fun for me, but certainly not painless – my fingers are already sore in anticipation 😛

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Bonus movie Friday: Let me Rest in Peace

Hey Cromrades, my #SSAweek Blogathon contribution day is rapidly approaching. For those of you who don’t know, I’ve pledged to learn, record, and post songs that you request, for a minimum donation of $10. Here’s a recap of the requests I’ve received thus far:

  • lorenprice pledges $15, and requests “Helter Skelter” by the Beatles
  • Cunning Pam pledges $25, and requests something by They Might Be Giants
  • jolo5309 pledges $10(? – didn’t specify), and requests one of three Canadian jazz(ish) tunes, to be chosen by me
  • John Horstman pledges $50, and requests “Thanks, Bastards” by Mischief Brew
  • Julia pledges $10(? – didn’t specify), and requests an original pro-science song her a capella group performs
  • Frogmistress pledges $10, and requests “3 Small Words” by Josie and the Pussycats
  • MSM16 pledges $50, and requests “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor
  • Karen pledges $10, and requests “The Ballad of Day Kitty” by Lou Barlow

A total of 8 donors and $180! I’ve certainly got my work cut out for me. There’s still lots of time for you to pledge and submit your request. I’d love to get past the $500 mark. Remember if JT Eberhard and I combine for a total of more than $1000, we’ll face off in an epic song battle to the tune of “Under Pressure” by Queen. If we outraise him, I’ll make him sing the RikRok part to Shaggy’s timeless “It Wasn’t Me”. Trust me – you’ll enjoy my Shaggy impression.

To try and pry your wallets open just a little bit more, here’s a video I shot last night that exposes me as the Buffy fanboy I am: [Read more…]

Movie Friday: Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos

Public Enemy was the very first rap group I ever heard (aside from Hammer, but even at age 6 I wasn’t particularly a fan). My own internal conversation about race was between me, my father, a nearly-monochromatic mountain town, and Messers D, Flav, and Griff. In light of the theme of ‘othering’ and black Americans’ experiences with the ‘justice’ system, I felt this song was appropriate (language obviously NSFW):

Lyrics below the fold [Read more…]

Manufacturing the ‘other’

One of the frequent memes that emerges from racial discourse is that people of colour are expected to try extra hard to justify their existence and inclusion in American society. Nowhere was this more evident than when Congressman Peter King basically revived Joe McCarthy to investigate whether or not Muslims were ‘patriotic’ enough. It is not enough, according to Mr. King, to simply live in the United States – to be a real American, Muslims have to go above and beyond to prove that they’re not ‘too Muslimy’.

Of course, those kinds of obsessive intrusions often only serve to contribute to the general climate of xenophobia that leads to radicalization in the first place. Why on Earth would you be patriotic toward a country that uses the force of its government to peer into your personal life simply because you worship the wrong god? I alluded to this kind of self-fulfilling prophecy of exclusion earlier this week:

It’s not hard, therefore, to imagine why black Americans do not see themselves reflected in the priorities of their country. It is certainly not hard to imagine that they may be less patriotic than one might expect. They see a country that seeks to lie about what it cannot hide. They see a country that seeks to erase what it cannot destroy. They see this country, and they say “god damn America”.

I would be interested to see a study investigating the causal association I believe exists between feelings of exclusion and likelihood of antisocial behaviour. We know, for example, that racial profiling by police makes members of minority communities less likely to co-operate. It’s not exactly rocket science – if you don’t believe the police are on your side, why would you work with them? What I’m curious about is whether or not that refusal to comply with social norms (i.e., recognizing authority figures) translates into a generalized contempt for other types of normative behaviours, like compliance with the law.

Or put another way, are New York’s ‘Stop and Frisk’ policies making their problems worse: [Read more…]

Thefte moste foule

There have been some great musical thieves in history. Elvis Presley stole blues and R&B music from greats like Chuck Berry and B.B. King. Led Zeppelin pretty much just stole indiscriminately from everyone. Kevin Federline was a thing for a while.

However, no musical theft has ever been so egregious as the one perpetrated against me by someone I thought was a friend and colleague. JT Eberhard has unapologetically stolen my idea to record and post songs as part of SSA’s Blogathon:

::UPDATE::Ian Cromwell is auctioning off songs.  I think that’s brilliant!  For $10 Ian will post himself playing a song of your choice.  I’ll do the same (I sing a bit).  For a $10 minimum donation to the SSA (because you can always donate more) I’ll record a song of your choice in the courtyard of the SSA office (the acoustics are great!).  I prefer musicals.  I’ll get to as many as I can and post them as a Blogathon entry on Monday.  :)

This. Will. Not. Stand.

As a response, I hereby challenge JT to a ‘sing-off’. No idea-thief is going to out-fundraise me. So here’s the deal: if JT’s Blogathon and mine raise a combined $1000 (that’s only 100 pledges of $10 – I know there’s at least 50 of you out there with a tenner in your pockets), we will join forces and sing the epic Queen ballad Under Pressure, with JT holding down the Freddie Mercury part and yours truly doing David Bowie’s lines.

As an added bonus, if we outraise JT, I will make him be the RikRok to my Shaggy on It Wasn’t Me, and we will post that as well. My Shaggy impression is actually pretty decent (Boombastic used to be one of my go-to songs back when I hosted karaoke back in my undergrad days).

The gauntlet has been thrown down. Don’t disappoint me, Cromrades!

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Because I am an atheist: Carina

Today’s submission is courtesy of Carina from South Africa

Because I am an atheist…

…I no longer live in fear

I do not have to fear eternal torment that would be forced upon me because of my human nature.

Because I am an atheist I am a better parent to my daughter

I raise her to be independent in her thoughts, sceptical of accepted “truths” and above all to always question. She will never have to travel the long and painful road that I did and she will be better off for it. She will grow up to be confident in her opinion and able to accept and admit when evidence proves her wrong. She will not subscribe blindly to fairy tales and make-believe. She will fight for her rights, speak her mind and not be downtrodden by misogynistic and ignorant fools who would fit her into the cardboard cut-out that they perceive to be a lady. Though she is only 11 she has started her own blog and also writes for Teenskepchick. She will “rock” this world.

Consider submitting your own statement, by e-mail or as a comment!

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Whose ground are you standing on?

When Trayvon Martin was killed, the whole world was suddenly confronted with the terrifying reality of the “Stand Your Ground” laws – an approach to “self-defense” that removes from a would-be-shooter the onus to back down from confrontation. Stand Your Ground is a law that specifically grants a license to kill for merely feeling threatened. Of course, given the news-stoked paranoia surrounding black folks in the United States and Canada, simply being black is a threatening act, thus justifying the lynch-mob fantasy of every nutjob with a gun and a nursed belief that life was better in the “good old days” when black people knew their place. Now, in order to avoid getting shot (with no consequence to the shooter), black folks had to make sure they were super-turbo-extra non-threatening.

Now I am not sure that the removal of legal punishment makes murder more likely. While there are undoubtedly people who go out with the intention of murdering black folks, they are rare, and I sincerely doubt that they factor legal consequences into their plans. The issue with Stand Your Ground laws is that they make confrontation more likely. People know that they have a right to accost ‘threatening’ people, and that if push comes to shove, they are armed and can take matters into their own hands.

A cartoon of a black man with a smoking pistol in his hand, speaking to a police officer over the corpse of a similarly-armed white man. The black man is saying "I had a reasonable fear the neighbourhood watch guy following me was going to fear for his life and shoot... so I shot him first." The officer replies "makes sense to me". The caption reads "The 'Stand your ground before he stands his ground' defense"

[Read more…]