Help me spend our money

One of the perks of joining the FTBorg collective, aside from the fact that I now share internet real estate with personal heroes of mine, is that my traffic generates revenue. Well… your traffic generates revenue, through a formula based on number of hits and ad sale rates and other numbers that aren’t worth going into. While I do aspire to one day make my living as a writer, the fact that I get any recognition at all for my efforts at this comparatively early stage of the game is incredibly gratifying. I am deeply indebted to all of you who make the Crommunist Manifesto part of your regular reading.

Which brings me to a bit of a conundrum – one I’m hoping you’ll help me out with. I live simply, and in pretty comfortable circumstances – I don’t have a family to support or a vicious drug habit (coughcoughJasonThibealutcough). As a result, the marginal utility of the money the blog makes each month is, for me, pretty low. There are people, however, who could really do something amazing with the 40 or so dollars that this site brings in each month, and many of them are listed at

For those of you who don’t know, Kiva is a microlending site, where people loan small amounts of money to development projects. The money is usually paid back, and can then go toward financing another loan. They are, apparently, very successful and have a remarkably low rate of default. I figure there’s no better way to put this stuff to use, and I was hoping you could help me.

Every month, when I receive may big fat paycheque, I will open up nominations for a worthy project. What I hope you will do is browse Kiva’s website and suggest a cause that you think is the best candidate. I’ll look through your suggestions and pick one. As the loans are repaid and the blog generates more revenue, we will be able to fund multiple projects every month.

So here’s the kickoff post:

For the month of October (the first month this site went live), we made $46.38.

Total amount loaned so far: $0
Total loan funds repaid: $0
Fund balance: $46.38

Where should our inaugural loan go? Put your suggestions in the comments and I will announce the winner in a week’s time.

Happy Monkey! Getting in the Xmas spirit

Whatever your practice on this most confused of holidays (if it is indeed a holiday for you or just another Sunday), here is a video that will certainly have you donning your… well, just watch the video:

In case anyone was curious – I can’t move like that. Not voluntarily, anyway.

Happy Monkey, everyone!

Blowing away the smokescreen

Apologists for religion, when confronted with the ugliness that has been justified by adherence to scripture, will often retreat into a stance that goes something like “people will always do harmful things, regardless of their religion.” The argument, I suppose, is that human beings will find ways to commit atrocious acts, and that criticizing religion is therefore a red herring argument. “After all,” they’ll say “the kind of people who would do evil in the name of religion will still do evil even if you atheists do away with faith altogether!”

First of all, anyone who has ever made this statement has just admitted to losing the argument. Religion is chock full of morality claims, and by admitting that people who follow religion are not more moral than those who do not, you’ve admitted that your particular religious philosophy is entirely orthogonal to being a good person. It would be just as valid for me to say “don’t do bad things” and call that a moral system. Considering the number of people who use the argument from morality as what they think is a “slam dunk” proof of a deity, this kind of “well people will be bad regardless of religion” statement should be particularly troubling.

Some atheists are willing, however, to cede this point. In a world without religion, they say, people would probably do bad things at roughly the same rate. Some people are just opportunistic, or unthinking, or cruel, and will find some other way of justifying their actions even in the absence of a god to blame it on. This argument has bothered me for a while, and I have finally figured out why.

[Read more…]

Not sure if real or…

This might be a giant fakeout, but it costs you absolutely nothing and may help some people a lot. If you’re on Reddit, follow this link and just upvote the topic. Those of you familiar with .self posts know that the OP gets no karma, so the only downside is some elaborate troll is having a go at us, in which case it’s egg on my face, not yours.

It’s fake! 4chan got us good! Great joke, guys!


A disturbing turn

I’m a bit shaken by this.

After the Vancouver hockey riots (which weren’t about hockey, but whatever), I posted a video of a busker I saw downtown. He was really good, and encapsulated the mood of people working to rebuild the city after massive and unnecessary destruction.

A commenter has just brought the following to my attention:

Just wanted to let you know that the busker in your Video’s name is Randy Ponzio. He passed away this saturday. there is a memorial fund setup for his kids:

I had heard about Randy’s death in the newspaper, but I didn’t know anything about him to make the connection. A very weird coincidence. If anyone feels so moved, they could consider donating to the fund.


Movie Friday: Movin’ on up

So I couldn’t find a version of this video with the actual music, but this is close enough. I have exciting news, and today’s video is a big clue about what it is. For those of you who can’t guess (or haven’t already), stay tuned for a special Saturday post explaining what’s been going on, and what’s in store for your immediate future.

I want to take this moment, seeing as I don’t have much else that is relevant to say, to thank you all for being loyal readers. I consider myself incredibly lucky to have anyone read this stuff, let alone the number of you who comment, and e-mail, and Facebook, and quietly lurk in the background. You make me want to be better at this every time I put pen to paper (to borrow an aphorism for which there is no electronic equivalent yet – ‘fingers to keys’ makes me sound like a David Firth character).

Nothing more to say, so here is a hilarious video of a kid who reminds me of me at that age:

Like this article? Follow me on Twitter!


Apologies, apologies, one thousand apologies

You know what I didn’t feel like doing when I got back from my 3-day outdoor concert?


I am back to my old self and recharged. I promise that this will be the last trip I take for a little while, so there shouldn’t be any more interruptions. I will work triple hard tonight and get lots of new content for you by tomorrow.

I lied…

Today’s post will also be delayed.

When I say ‘delayed’, please rest assured that this is exactly what I mean. I fully intend to post a ‘Monday think piece’, this one about transforming races. Tuesday’s post (that should have gone up today) is about alt-med scams. They’re written in my head, I’ve just had difficulty finding time to sit down and write. I dislike missing posts, but sadly real life has not been so accommodating. They will go up as soon as I find an opportunity.

I hope that I have built up enough credibility in my regular readers (you guys are the reason I feel bad about missing posts) to earn me a bit of a pass, and enough trust that I will deliver on my promise of new content. For my new readers (thank you for coming), there’s lots of really good stuff in the archives that should keep you entertained for a while. Considering the number of things that could be happening in my life right now, I hope you will all take some solace in the fact that I am missing posts because I have been partying with my best friend of 15 years, rather than due to illness or loss of employment or something similarly calamitous.

By way of apology, please enjoy this sexy picture of me in a skin-tight wetsuit, indicating which way the beach is:

Depending on how good the resolution on your monitor is, you can judge for yourself whether or not I fit the stereotype about black guys and penis size.

Late Post and bit of advice

Today’s post will be late, but I have a suspicion that this will be the last time this happens for a while. As always, my apologies but real life is providing precious little writing time.

Some advice: in the same vein as a previous post, I want to remind people that it’s not okay to dress up as a First Nations person. While it might be a totally cute costume, it’s incredibly disrespectful to wear a feathered headdress and “war paint” to a bar, particularly if you’re going to forgo a shirt for simply a bra, get up on stage and sing a song about fucking guys in exchange for alcohol. This falls under the twin categories of “not okay to do” and “things I can’t believe I have to tell people.”

Anyway, regularly scheduled post to follow as soon as I find the time.

Today’s post will be late

Just a heads up. Today’s post is going to be a few hours late.

It’s been a pretty crazy summer. Lots of traveling, plus a nearly non-stop stream of friends visiting from afar (the latest of whom is due to arrive tomorrow, so blogging will continue to be spotty). This weekend I was camping in Tofino, BC. Had a great time, but obviously no computer access which meant no blogging.

At the risk of making promises I can’t keep, I will say that I expect things to be back to normal (regular posts at regular times) starting in mid-September. That’s when the last of my summer plans is over and I go back to being a mild-mannered scientist rather than a jet-setting rock star.

– Crommunist