Jamie’s story: three months

My friend and fellow skeptic Jamie’s saga of activism here in Vancouver continues anabated. You can read part one here, and read part two here.


My life has become a complete fucking mess this month. Since publishing the two-month summary of Action Against Misogyny (here), one of my former friends has come under the media spotlight and multiple simultaneous ongoing investigations for a) misconduct as an officer of the law, b) suspected involvement (the degree to which, if any, has yet to be determined) in the Robert Pickton serial murder spree of 49 women (most of whom were aboriginal) he abducted from Vancouver’s Downtown East side, and c) being as icky a complete creep as an unapologetically sexist pig could possibly be found to be by a psychologist who has worked with law enforcement for over 30 years. Read about my personal (sometimes intimate) relationship with him here, about the beginning of a localized red herring panic wave about privacy within the pervert community here, and about where I finally lose my patience and ask the same community to stop and think instead of resorting to tearing my own hair out by the fist-full here. I’m also losing my housing and will have to resort to indefinite couch-surfing for the second time in my life, in order to avoid becoming homeless for the third time. Read about how that news made me feel here.

So after Week 7, we decided as a group to try and occupy the intersection on Fridays and Saturdays. I wound up standing there alone (but still down to my skivvies), picketing a huge posse of these misogynist assholes, on the Friday. That was all sorts of wacky and powerful. The cops made it plainly apparent right away that they are there to protect me, I was truly moved that two men who had just been released from prison took the opportunity to stand up for women’s rights when they saw me, and a woman (a fucking WARRIOR) told me her rape survival story. On the Saturday, I was joined by more people, and it rapidly became apparent to us that we are making a difference and they are getting desperate. Read about Week 8 here.

During Week 9, as I limped around on second-degree burns on the bottom of both my feet, utterly desperate pro-lifers resorted to punching and grabbing pro-choice women. My friends. I was fury, bro. It wasn’t enough that a bus driver actually refused me service because my exposed arms and cleavage were offensive to him (I was wearing a bra). But on a scale of 1 to 10, I was only at 10 until the cops showed up and pretended no crime had been committed because the offenders in this case are elderly. Now I was mad out of 10. I took it out on sexist assholes by yelling at them — while wearing a loincloth. Read all about it here.

Jamie is a total BAMF, and you should definitely be reading the rest of this story. I’d particularly like to draw your attention to this post on the overlapping problems of relative privilege, in case you thought that this ‘social justice’ thing was a cut-and-dry issue with clear “right and wrong”.

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Movie Friday: I am the ANTIPOPE

For some reason I cannot fathom, there is an OLD story from the Telegraph with the most misleading headline of all time that is currently floating around the Facebook walls of my friends. No clue why it’s popping up, and why people who I generally know to be reliably skeptical didn’t bother to read the timestamp before hitting the ‘Share’ button.

The story is supposedly about a “dramatic shift” that the Pope made with regard to the Vatican’s stance on condoms. I covered this story when it was actually news:

Come the fuck on, Ratzinger! Condoms are only appropriate in exceptional situations? Apparently in the Pope’s world view, it is better for a woman to become pregnant with a child she does not want and cannot afford to raise than it is for her to protect herself during sex. It’s better for a man to become inextricably yoked to another person for the rest of his life than it is for him to use a piece of latex.

And why is it a male prostitute?

Not all sex results in pregnancy (and I thank my lucky stars for that fact), but there’s always a chance. Many people want to have a child, for whatever reason, and are in a position to provide for it. Using condoms, unlike implants or hormone therapies or other intrusive forms of birth control, do not prevent people who want to have children from doing so. It is a simple technology that harms nobody (unless you count sperm, which I don’t).

Whatever claim to some kind of moral insight or authority that the Catholic Church pretends to have is repeatedly undermined by the ethical stupidity that is repeatedly on display from the Vatican.

The Pope deserves no cookies for saying that an HIV-infected (male) prostitute MIGHT be okay to use a condom. That’s not a “shift” in anything. That’s just him continuing to be a gaping asshole.

So today’s video is in honour of Pope Benedict XVI (seriously… 16? Get some new names going on, guys!):

A bit of humorous absurdity to balance out the totally-not-funny absurdity that is the internet today.

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I get (ridiculously sexist) e-mail

I have no idea why, but my fears of getting hate mail or death threats simply have not (yet) materialized. Knowing what I know about what happens to those who poke their heads out of anonymity long enough to point out societal racism or the need for anti-racist and feminist dialogue in a community that may not be the most welcoming to that conversation (yet), I expected the worst. What I’ve gotten instead has been nothing short of amazing. The only unprompted blog-related e-mails I get are either a) people asking me for advice on some sticky piece of ambiguity or another; or b) telling me how amazing I am. I am always happy to do what I can for the ‘a)’ people, and the ‘b)’ people consistently knock me on my ass and leave me sputtering to convey adequate thanks.

That being said, I do get a fair amount of spam from people who advertise themselves as ‘publicists’, hawking this book or that one. A lot of them are pr0-religion or talking about some miracle cure for some disease; a very precious few are about interesting and useful scientific studies; most of them, however, are useless and deleted immediately. Despite my repeated attempts to unsubscribe from whatever mailing list I’m on, they flow in at the rate of one or two a day, which I am happy to chalk up as a minor annoyance.

Until today, when I received an e-mail entitled “Fake it Till You Make It” – 10 Fantasy Football Tips Every Girl Should Know ASAP: [Read more…]

And now this bulletin from the Department of Irony

Many former theists (like myself) describe their deconversion as a process of ‘illumination’ – reality finally comes into stark focus and you begin to see things that your deity-soaked brain would simply delete from your awareness. Most of the former theists I’ve come across (a ridiculously biased sample, to be sure) describe this as a profoundly liberating experience. After all, the world is freakin’ BEAUTIFUL

A picture of Half Moon Bay on Granville Island

This picture taken in the world

And so it was with more than a little bit of whimsical pleasure that I read this story: [Read more…]

Oak Creek – some thoughts

This past Sunday, a man walked into a gurdwara (Sikh temple) in Oak Creek, Wisconsin and opened fire with a 9 mm pistol, killing six people and wounding four others. After a firefight with police, he turned his weapon on himself and committed suicide. I learned of this story days after it happened, as I was far away from any news sources. As a result, there is really very little for me to contribute that hasn’t already been highlighted by countless others. I will briefly summarize my thoughts as best I can.

[Read more…]

I am a non-Prophet!

So yesterday I had to heroically jump in to save Russell Glasser who was stranded without Non-Prophets Podcast co-hosts. For an hour, I chopped it up with him and a handful of others:

Incidentally, if you want to read my takedown of the Black Atheists of Atlanta, you can read it here. Please be sure to read the follow-up as well.

I will have more thoughts on the Wisconsin temple shooting later today.

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My triumphant return

I am (at least physically) back from Tofino after an unbelievable weekend, only some of which I am comfortable describing on the internet 😛

It’s going to take me a couple of days to have new content up here, so unfortunately my hiatus continues for a while but (as always) I will get back to my routine as soon as I can locate my frontal lobe. Until then, you can check out my photo album from the trip. I haven’t yet had a chance to resize these pics for those of you without ludicrous-speed internet, so please stay tuned.

There is video, however:

What happens when you throw naphthene on a fire?

We bought fire colourant packages from a park administrative office. Very pretty result:

When our fire got shut down, we started a mobile beach dance party:

I’ve also freed some people from comment jail. Again, my apologies, but it was either that or get spammed to hell. New stuff up soon!

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Two philosophers walk into a bar…

This is primarily a response to commenters asking for my own opinion on the origin of the universe.  If this is not your bag, I beg your patience, and suggest you skip on to Crommunist’s and Edwin’s most excellent discussions.

This is written in two parts. First, I’m going to outline the general philosophical discussion on the origin of the universe. This is going to be long. Following that, I’ll express an opinion.

I’m going to begin with Aristotle, and to begin with the three classical laws of logic. You may, of course, disagree with these laws, or disagree that they apply, or whatever the hell you want. That’s fine. Not all Philosophers are committed to these laws. I am, however, not a logician. These rules are the logic that underpins the rest of this essay. I’ll then outline his original position, and how that position has been generalised (and wielded by the religious).

Following that: Kant. Some of you may be giving up on this already. I’d encourage you to bear with me, as I’m going to keep it simple. (Meanwhile, a Philosophy Professor at my Alma Mater will be dying of laughter that I’m going to try to explain Kant to people, should he get wind of this)

Finally, my position will follow, and I’ll rephrase/rehash Krauss’s error in the context of Aristotle and Kant. If all that sounds like a good time, keep reading. I can totally understand if it doesn’t.

[Read more…]

Having Gender, or Doing Gender?

I began my stint here at the Manifesto with a post discussing the current state of gender studies with regards to men and masculinities. That seemed to go pretty well – especially after it was linked to a rather notorious MR forum. Good times were had by all. While the primary purpose of the post was to illustrate how far research into masculinities has come since the early (and embarrassing) attempts of the early 1980s, there was another element that I chose to gloss over. It wasn’t that this topic isn’t important, or that I thought it might bore you all but rather that I felt a discussion about the structure of gendered behaviour would have made an already long post longer. I still think the topic is important for us to take a closer look at though, so buckle up, adjust your sociological monocles*, and let’s drive on ahead into the world of gender performativity.

Traditionally, the concept of gender was pretty much built around the concept of biological essentialism – a woman was a woman because everyone with her genitalia and physiology shared certain intrinsic traits, including mental ones. In the same way, there were some things that were intrinsic to being a man, like being strong, brave, honest, and forthright. Notice that men somehow ended up with all of the ‘noble’ traits. Weird, I know. In any case, being a woman or being a man had everything to do with biology, and the social, political, familial, and even religious roles, duties, and privileges were merely expressions of those innate biological elements. That understanding has moved on somewhat – which is to say that in large part, the essentialist model has been abandoned altogether.** The reason for this move away has been a steady march towards increasing our understanding of the social aspect to the formation and maintenance of gender. Social scientists began to ask themselves, “if gender is biologically determined – if it is hardwired into the human brain and body, then shouldn’t its expression be rather narrow in scope? If there is an essential ‘maleness’ or ‘femaleness’, then shouldn’t it manifest plainly and consistently across national, linguistic, and cultural boundaries? If it does not, then how can it be universal?” [Read more…]

Movie Friday: Off the grid

I’ll be in Tofino this weekend, which means no phone, no e-mails, and best (or worst, depending on your perspective) of all, no blogging. I will be complontly unplogged for 4 glorious days. This means I will not be supervising comments or posting new stuff for a few days, which means y’all are on your own. I’m sure I’ll come back to a bunch of people with comments in moderation complaining about how I’m “censoring” them and how un-“freethought” that is of me. I won’t care though – did I mention I’ll be in Tofino?

See you when I get back.

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