Stay classy, Braz-man!

This may surprise a lot of my foreign friends (and probably a bunch of my Canadian friends as well), but Canada has a Senate. Unlike the American Senate, our Senators are appointees who serve for life, somewhat like Supreme Court Justices. They are supposed to be an arms-length body appointed from a wide swath of Canadian life whose job it is to scrutinize legislation passed through the House of Commons (something akin to the American Congress, but not really).

The most distinctive features of Canadian Senators is the fact that, unless you’re particularly interested in federal politics, they’re entirely anonymous. Canadian Senators don’t really make a big splash, and they’re rarely found in the headlines except when the entire Senate is under discussion for some reason or another. That all changed when Harper appointee Patrick Brazeau agreed to a boxing match with Liberal member of Parliament Justin Trudeau. Overnight, Senator Brazeau went from anonymous public servant to household name. But of course, because nobody checks to make sure celebrities aren’t total pieces of shit, this happened: [Read more…]

Because I am an atheist: Lunatick and phoenix_860

Today’s contribution was submitted as a comment by Lunatick.

Because I am an atheist…

…I could not rationalize suicide. As much as I wanted out, as much as I was done and wanted a break from my reality, I knew it didn’t make sense. I believe when life is over it’s a fade to black and nothing more. I wasn’t going to get the break I needed; it was better for me to stay and work through it.

…The pain of my father’s death is so raw, but I know he is gone. He was here and now he’s not. He hasn’t gone anywhere else, he’s just ceased to be. The rawness lets me see how the idea of heaven is comforting, but reason makes me wonder how people ever enjoy sex if their loved ones are looking down upon them all the time.

phoenix_860 replied:


Because I’m an atheist I stopped taking the pills that would have killed me. Even in the midst of all my pain I was able to realize that I needed to unlock the bathroom door and tell my boyfriend to call an ambulance. Because I’m an atheist, I didn’t believe in some heavenly after-life that would be better than this one. I believed that if I continued I would be gone forever. I’m finally getting help for my severe depressive disorder.

Because I’m an atheist I know now that my disorder was not due to lack of faith or prayer, as I had been told by Christian counselors in my youth. I know now that my disorder is due to brain chemistry and unresolved familial/personal issues.

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

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Crommunist on ‘Obamacare’ – an interview with Jamila Bey

I had an opportunity last week to talk to atheist and PoC issues commentator and activist Jamila Bey on her show The Sex, Politics, and Religion Hour on Voice of Russia Radio. We were discussing the recent Supreme Court Ruling on the Affordable Care Act, derisively nicknamed “Obamacare” by idiots.

Listen to part 1

Listen to part 2

Once again this qualifies as one of those times when I step firmly outside of the usual subject matter of this blog, but health policy is the kind of stuff that makes my socks roll up and down.

Some important things that I failed to articulate well during the interview: [Read more…]

Scorching the common ground

One night many months ago I was poking around on Twitter and was alerted to the now-notorious Love Letter to Creeps penned by Mallorie Nasrallah. As I was participating in the resulting fracas, I crossed swords with skeptic, magician, and broken record Penn Jillette who, in response to my attempting to clarify exactly where the problem was in Mallorie’s letter, sent me this bizarre tweet:

Penn: I don't believe you and I have any real disagreement on how people should be treated. None.

Me: but she IS trying to invalidate the experiences of others, based on her own. And you apparently agree with her.
Penn: I don’t believe you and I have any real disagreement on how people should be treated. None.

Confused by this seeming complete non-sequitur, especially since we did disagree, I pressed the point: [Read more…]

Introducing Edwin Hodge

It is my great pleasure to introduce a new contributor to the Manifesto, Edwin Hodge.

A picture of Edwin Well hey there! You’re probably asking yourself exactly why, after finding your way to the blog of the Crommunist, you are instead reading a pile of words written by me, a complete stranger.  Well, that’s a great question, my friend, I’m so glad that you asked it! Introductions are in order, and so I will oblige!

My name is Edwin, and I am a blogger, author, and political scientist soon to be attached to the University of Victoria. While my academic work is focussed almost exclusively on the subjects of gender and white supremacy, my non-academic ramblings are rather more wide-ranging. Over at my own little piece of the Internet – an obscure blog called the “Skeptical Cubefarm” – I write about pretty much anything that interests me, which usually includes the nonsense that is cult archaeology, the vapid mouthings of creationists, or the baseless assertions of alt-meddlers.

Every now and again though, I get it into my head to pick a fight with those groups who I feel are specifically poaching on my professional turf, and that more often than not tends to include the perpetual whiners from the Men’s Rights Movement. When I said that my academic work is concentrated around gender, it’s more accurate to say that I study masculinities in contemporary North American society – an area that MRAs seem to think is their area of expertise. It’s not. It’s mine, and they can’t have it. [Read more…]

Because I am an atheist: Zinnia Jones

Today’s contribution is courtesy of fellow FTBorg Zinnia Jones, who can be found at her eponymous blog.

Because I am an atheist…

…I’m able to pursue my own chosen path in life, free from the fear of displeased deities and controlling religions that would tell me what I must do with myself. Most religions have little of any value to say to a woman who was raised as a man, assuming they have even the most basic grasp of such a concept. And when going through a process of self-discovery and change that’s so intensely personal, the hostility from a world that views you with suspicion and doubt is challenging enough without having to guess at the desires of a god and whether you’re in compliance with them – desires which the religions of the world still can’t come to an agreement on.

Because I’m an atheist, I’m free to explore who I am and decide what’s best for myself, and that’s exactly what I need for this to work. It is necessary for me to be someone who’s truly happy with herself, and this is too important to let a god get in the way. Because I’m an atheist, I’m unattached to any religion which would try to push me into a conservative, hetero-normative, gender-typical life that would never fit me. [Read more…]

Some administrative notes

Hey all, just want to keep you in the loop about what’s going on.

Today’s post

Will be late. This was the first really nice weekend we had in Vancouver, so I spent all of it outside and shunned my computer almost entirely. Lots to talk about though, so I will do my damnedest to catch up.

The return of Brian Lynchehaun

Long-time Cromrades will remember guest contributor Brian Lynchehaun. Brian has been running all over hell’s half acre (by which I mean Japan) for the past few months and hasn’t had an opportunity to do much writing. I’ve just heard from him that things have evened out a bit, so expect more from him soon.

Welcome a new face to the Manifesto

I’m happy to report that there will be another new guest contributor here, Edwin Hodge. Edwin writes the insightful and compelling blog Skeptical Cubefarm. I will let him introduce himself in his own post.

Remnants of the Blogathon

Two people are still owed song requests. I haven’t forgotten them, and I am working on them but I’ve had my hands rather full over the past couple of weeks. Luckily I have a bit more free time coming up, and I plan to record and post those songs as soon as possible. JT Eberhard and I are also working on getting out duet recording underway, so I appreciate your patience.

Busy busy busy busy. I wish I could say that I see an opportunity to go back to ‘normal’ on the horizon, but abnormal appears to be the new normal. More to come soon.

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A response to geraldmcgrew on harassment

I have been going back and forth with a commenter under the handle ‘geraldmcgrew’ who was ousted from Pharyngula comment thread. He feels that his expulsion was unfair. For the record, while I understand why he received the rough treatment he did, I think the initial response to his question was egregious and unfair. I don’t have a banning procedure here, but I am satisfied that geraldmcgrew’s behaviour (specifically, repeatedly posing a question to which he had received several responses) was the reason for his banning, not simply the fact of his dissent.

That being said, he asked the following question in response to the related question of sexual harassment policies:

Except “being hit on = sexual harassment” is exactly what is repeatedly stated in this community. Heck, it was expressed in PZ’s first post to TF!

The argument encompasses meetings, but also the larger geek and atheist culture, which turns out to be pretty damned sexist. You do not correct the broader problem by turning a blind eye to the specifics; it doesn’t work to say that you reject misogyny, but oh, that meeting there? It’s OK if you hit on women there. It’s OK if you abuse women in a bar; bars are free-range markets for men to exercise their will.

Hitting on someone is lumped in with abuse of women? Sheesh…

My response to this question, coloured as it was by my zeal to provide a mindful response (as opposed to the accusations that I “mindlessly” defend anything), ran a bit long. I am posting it here both to avoid making the already-loaded comments section of that post grow to an absurd length, but also to highlight what I think is a reasonable response to a question that I suspect many people do not fully understand.

[Read more…]

I have amazing friends

I know what my role is in the ‘struggle’ for minority equality and greater understanding. I’m a writer, a describer, an arguer. That’s what’s in me to do. Although I am more or less content with my ‘job’, I can’t help but feel a deep and quasi-envious admiration for those people who actually go out there and do stuff.

Case in point:

The 13 girls and their families are mostly recent immigrants, from Nigeria, Pakistan, Jamaica, Somalia and Iraq. Two girls have only been here a month; they’ve just arrived from Iraqi refugee camps in Syria. Their friends help to translate, and they soaked it all in.

The workshop is lead by a young woman, Heather Payne of  a non-profit called Girls Learning Code. I met Heather through the Mozilla Foundation, who has hired her and others like her to build a new generation of webmakers around the planet. This summer, they’re encouraging people around the world to run Kitchen Code Parties of their own. We thought it would be great to do so at the HIGHRISE highrise too, where we’ve worked with adults for almost 3 years now with such participatory photography an storytelling projects such as One Millionth Tower.

We also knew we needed to work with the youth at this building when our Digital Citizenship Survey showed us last year that a whopping 50% of the population at this highrise is under 20 years of age. That’s a lot of kids with not much to do all summer long.

“We know that if we advertise the workshop for both boys and girls,” Heather explains to me, “Only boys will show up. So making the group open only for girls ensures girls make it to the keyboard.”

“I was so excited to hear about this workshop,” says one girl, “Because all we do all summer long is stay in our apartment and clean.” The needs of the kids are high, and so few services exist in highrise neighbourhoods such as this.

Heather Payne is a friend from high school who I (in my self-centred undergraduate haze) lost track of for a few years. When she popped back onto my radar, she had decided that it simply wasn’t enough to merely comment on the obstacles facing young women when it came to career path selection. She decided to do something about it, and in the past handful of months her brainchild Ladies Learning Code has taken off in a big way.

Read the rest of the profile about what she’s doing, and if you are so moved, follow her on Twitter. And then tell her I said nice things about her. And then… I dunno, go do something else.

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