Kiva project update: request for projects

Hey Cromrades, pay day was this week, so we’ve got a hole burning in our Paypal account. Help me spend our money by going to and picking out your favourite project. We have enough cash this round to fund FOUR projects (owing to loan repayments and a really stellar month of March), so let’s get cracking!

By the way, you can check out our donor page here.

For the month of October, we made $46.38, and loaned $50.
For the month of November, we made $65.81, and loaned $50.
For the month of December, we made $44.76, and loaned $50.
For the month of January, we made $58.59.
For the month of February, we made $57.33 and loaned $125.
For the month of March, we made $78.68.

Total amount loaned so far: $275
Total loan funds repaid: $41.49
Fund balance: $108.64

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Crommunist joins SSA Blogathon

Now I’m assuming everyone reads every post that every FTB author posts every day, so it is perhaps entirely extraneous for me to draw your attention to Jen McCreight’s announcement this morning:

Blogathon is a blogging marathon for charity where I make a new post every 30 minutes for 24 hours, with no pre-writing or autoposting allowed. Just like someone can pledge money to support someone running in a marathon, people can pledge to support a caffeinated, deliriously sleep deprived, and (hopefully) entertaining blogger. Like the last three years, I’m raising money for the Secular Student Alliance. But this year there’s a twist:

I’m not alone.

This year Blogathon will include 18 other bloggers who have pledged to devote their time going just as crazy as I am. From June 9th to June 16th, at least one blogger will spend their day furiously typing away. Instead of me running this blogging marathon on my own, it’s a relay race! We’ll be passing the e-baton, or something. I don’t run, so these analogies are hard. The current schedule is here, including bloggers like Greta Christina, Dale McGowan, JT Eberhard, Ian Cromwell, Natalie Reed, Ed Brayton, and more! I’ll be blogging from 6am PST June 16th to 6am June 17th.

Those are some big names there. Greta Christina? Wow – a person as busy and talented as Greta giving her time to this thing? JT Eberhard – well I guess that’s a bit of a given since he works for the SSA but still, he’s a good ‘get’. And then this Ian Cromwell guy… where have I heard that name before?

Wait, shit. I’m Ian Cromwell.

SSA week cover pic

[Read more…]

Because I am an atheist: mouthyb

Today’s contribution was submitted by reader mouthyb via e-mail.

Because I am an atheist…

…I am not married to a Christian man who mistreats me, forced to have no more ambition in life than to have his babies and try to be obedient to his whims, because he is male and doctrinally superior to me. This is what I was trained to do, growing up: to say nothing, to think nothing, to do nothing which could be construed as competition for authority with the men around me. Being an atheist allowed me to start routing that bullshit from my brain.

Because I am an atheist, I know that my actions have consequences, and that if I do a bad thing, it is because I chose to do it, not because I was possessed by satan or because an imaginary god was ‘working through me.’ The action was mine, the consequences are mine as well, and the reward is mine. I am freed of the weight of being a pawn in a war between good and evil, free of the fear that an angry god is always watching me, even when I use the restroom. I am free to learn to behave more ethically, not bound to a predestined plan. [Read more…]

God Damn America

Jason Thibeault over at Lousy Canuck brought up a pretty tragic story of a 13 year-old child who was shot and killed by a neighbour in the states while he (the boy) was taking out the garbage. The neighbour apparently (mistakenly) believed that the boy had stolen something, and that the appropriate response was murder. The conclusion Jason drew from this unbelievably horrible story is that greater gun control was needed to prevent these kinds of incidents form happening. I’m sure he’s right, but of course that’s not the whole story.

Unless you were living under a rock in 2008, you’re probably familiar with Jeremiah Wright’s infamous “god damn America” line, taken wildly out of context from a longer sermon about the need for government priorities to be in line with biblical priorities. Now even when I first saw the excerpt from the speech, I knew where he was trying to go with it. It’s no different from when a wingnut pastor calls the President the antichrist, except that when a black pastor does it, all of a sudden it’s a threat to America as we know it. Obviously, as an atheist, the whole idea of bringing the government into line with biblical principles is terrifying to me, but there was another message in that sermon that I understood quite well. [Read more…]

Lazy, spoiled, entitled whiners

I think if I was ever really hard up for cash, I could make a pretty decent living as a conservative columnist. It would actually be pretty easy – all I’d have to do is learn to stop thinking things through and rely on ‘common sense’ to justify all of my boneheaded, reductive, stereotypical leaps to whatever conclusion was sure to resonate with those who hadn’t bothered to learn anything about an issue. I could have made a killing opining on the Montreal protests – it was the first time most Canadians (myself included) were paying any attention to Quebec’s provincial political scene. All I’d have to do is denigrate this group or that group (maybe blame it on immigrants to boot), and collect my cheque.

Unfortunately, I am a liberal, and a skeptic liberal at that. I just don’t have it in me to pass off simplistic pseudo-explanations as statements of fact – not for money, anyway. Since announcing my intention to travel to Montreal (and a number of times since returning – and once while I was still there), I’ve had many conversations about the protests, and managed to get my counterpoints down to pretty concise talking points. [Read more…]

Because I am an atheist: Denis Robert

Today’s contribution was submitted as a comment by Denis Robert:

Because I am an atheist…

…I no longer feel cursed.

I’m an Aspie (Asperger’s Syndrome), and throughout my life, I felt like I was targeted by whatever my conception of the divine was at that time for “special attention”. I kept having difficulties no one else I knew had. I had no relationships, or bad relationships. I just couldn’t adapt to my educational environments, even when I excelled (perfect GPA, Dean’s list).

Once I finally gave up on the concept of some sort of Agency underlying the Universe (I went through a dozen iterations of the concept, from my Catholic upbringing to a very new-agey/pagan view to a relatively long interest in Aleister Crowley), I was liberated of this delusion. I really saw that my “condition” was just that: a condition, a state of being. It was up to no one but myself to make the most of it, and no amount of wishing could make it any different; only acceptance of who I was, and hard work to dull the hardest aspects of my “condition” would make my life any better.

And it has. I’m free of this overarching sense that I’m “specially targeted”. It’s given me a sense of self I never had, a belief in my own power, and a healthy dose of modesty: I’m just a human being. And that’s more than good enough for me.

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

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Une brique en plus sur le mur

I suppose it would be fair to criticize me as a radical. There is a scene in the movie Across The Universe where Evan Rachel Wood’s character is on the phone to her mother, who is concerned that her daughter has just become too radical in her political opinions. Wood’s character replies “you should be radical! We should all be radical!” The fact is that there are deep and fundamental problems with not just our political system, but the entire way in which our global society is structured. Nothing short of consistent, ceaseless, radical action will create the kinds of change we need to see if our world is going to improve meaningfully.

It is for this reason that I was so excited to travel to Montreal during the largest student protest movement in Canada’s recent history. This is a protest movement that has caught international attention – due in no small part I’m sure to the fact that it stands in sharp contrast to the stereotype of Canadians as meek, friendly and passive people. It also has the dubious ‘advantage’ of being a story that conservatives can sink their fangs into with gusto: a bunch of rich pampered kids who would rather whine for handouts than work a shovel.

For me, this story is about a central question of how power is exercised in our society, and it is perhaps the most important question we are in the process of deciding the answer to: do political leaders derive their power from the consent of the governed? Are politicians truly beholden to the articulated best interest of their constituents, or is voting merely a cosmetic exercise in choosing which individual goes on to pass the same kinds of laws? Do we have the ability to enforce rules and constraint on the powers that be, or has our democratic system merely become a showy diversion to obscure the influence of those who hold true power? [Read more…]

Because I am an atheist: Brianne Bilyeu

Today’s contribution comes from fellow FTBorg Brianne Bilyeu who blogs at the most excellent blog ‘Biodork’.

Because I am an atheist…

I am very aware of time. I don’t believe that there is an afterlife, or a second chance offered by reincarnation, or a ghostly plane where I will continue to exist in some nebulous form. I have a few short decades in which to experience all that I will ever know.

Because there is only this I value the friendships and family that I have. I grieve for my loss when friends and family die. I wish desperately that I could see them again, but knowing this is unlikely I love deeply and fiercely while I have the chance, and take comfort in having loved them well when they are gone.

Because I am an atheist I am never hopeless that my life is out of my control. I know that the responsibility for my decisions and actions rests solely on my shoulders. I bear my failures and recognize myself for my achievements. If I’m in a rut, I don’t waste time praying for guidance; I seek guidance from earthly sources. I thank the people who have supported me along the way and I don’t diminish their efforts by giving the praise to fabled non-interventionist beings that have done absolutely nothing to help. [Read more…]

The darkness before dawn

It is more or less inevitable that, in any discussion of turmoil within a social movement, there will be those who archly perch atop some combination of a high horse and a fence, raining down tongue-clucking pronouncements about how the mere existence of dissent is the reason why they will never get involved. I suppose if one was being charitable, one could interpret this as an impulse to avoid conflict. After all, not everyone wants to jump into the midst of a fight, and I can certainly sympathize with that impulse. Some people simply want to exist and be at peace without having to ‘pick a side’ between factions that should be united in purpose.

Of course, the question becomes why those who wish to avoid conflict so ostentatiously announce themselves to be above it rather than just butting out the way they claim to want to do. Standing up on a soapbox and doing the whole ‘plague on both your houses’ lecture is not a statement of non-involvement; it’s a statement of philosophical purity and superiority. “I would never lower myself to so crass a level as to care about something and fight for it. How vulgar!” It is the same spirit of false equivalence we are so often ‘treated’ to from faitheists who would hush Gnu atheists for being ‘too strident’ and ‘attacking’ religious folks instead of engaging in a sort of faux-ecumenical hand-holding exercise where we hold our noses and pretend each other’s shit doesn’t stink. [Read more…]

“It’s my movement too”; the white whine of atheism

*Trigger warning for misogyny.

*UPDATE 2014/02/14 – I was contacted by one of the subjects of this piece, asking me to take it down because “the internet takes things out of context”. Ordinarily that kind of weaksauce pleading doesn’t cut it with me, but I can make the argument in this post without using his name, and he has to use his name to get jobs and such. I have deleted it from the body of the text and from the comments. It is still present in the screencap of the tweet though, because seriously fuck that guy.

Sometimes the world does your job for you.

A tweet calling Rebecca Watson an 'uppity cunt'

So one of the most fun aspects of male privilege is that I can look at stupid bullshit like this and laugh. First of all, Ian A*** isn’t a member of CFI Amherst, he’s just a douchebro with a big mouth. But hey, that’s one of the hallmarks of douchebroism – a ludicrously inflated sense of self-importance. Because I’m a guy, I get to look at words like ‘cunt’ in purely anthropological terms and pick apart the various types of ignorance and privilege that would lead someone to make that word choice. Of course, Mr. A*** immediately disavowed any sexism in his tweet: see, there are a lot of things he could have meant by ‘cunt’. He might have been calling her an old old wooden ship from the civil war era! Words can mean anything! I guess he’s relying on the assumption that we’re all as stupid as he is. [Read more…]