Privilege and the Skeptic Community

From http://tacit.livejournal.com/588331.html

Privilege matters. Photo by Kevin Carter, via Franklin Veaux.

I can’t quite grasp why so many people who consider themselves Skeptics reject the concept of Privilege.

Skepticism is about doubting and questioning beliefs and claims. Good skeptics know that it’s especially worthwhile to examine one’s own beliefs. This can be a really uncomfortable process, because it can be humbling and stressful to realize that you’ve been wrong about something, especially if it’s something important. Skeptics call themselves Skeptics because they think this process is important. It’s important if we want to understand the world we live in, and it’s important if we want to be able to understand each other and live a peaceful existence. We believe it’s better to swallow our pride and set aside our unsubstantiated beliefs rather than start wars over them.

It goes even further than that. Continue reading

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We Need to Start Talking about a Basic Income

A “Basic Income” is the seemingly crazy idea that every citizen of a country will get a check each month from the government as a “basic income”.  It is my opinion that this crazy idea is the best/only hope we have of making our economy work in the future.

The Exigence for a Basic Income – 1) Computers took our “jerbs”!

How to effectively price labor is a contentious topic at the moment.   Continue reading (391)

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Protest Party Update: New Website

I’m excited to announce that the Protest Party website is finally online at TheProtestParty.com! The graphics are embarrassingly generic, and I don’t have a bank account set up for donations, but it does have a blog  and a nice enough look. Frankly, I think it looks better than most corporate websites (thanks to Squarespace), except the main graphic is probably way too silly. Click over and check it out. The post you are reading is the first announcement of the new website, but I will also be posting an announcement on that site’s blog very soon. (Of course, anybody reading it will have already found the site, so it seems a bit silly to post an announcement there now that I think of it.)  Continue reading

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Protest Party 2016, not 2014

A recent conversation with Bob Fitrakis has convinced me to give up my plan to get the Protest Party on the ballot in 2014, and instead aim for 2016. In the meantime, I still need to seek supporters (the Meetup Group now has a third member) and develop some infrastructure such as a website and by-laws. The Ohio ballot-access laws are currently in flux, and there is a chance (according to Fitrakis) that they will become much more lenient for 2016. More likely, the Protest Party will need to collect over 28,000 petition signatures from unaffiliated voters starting in Fall 2015. That’s a lot of signatures, so obviously I will need gear up in the interim and try to hit the ground running in around 18 months. I will also use the time to consider other strategies for undermining our corrupt political process.

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Protest Party Progress

Screen Shot 2014-02-20 at 5.03.31 PMI haven’t written about the Protest Party since January 9. Since then, I’ve (among other things):

1. Established a web presence for the Protest Party with a Meetup Group, Twitter account, and email address.

2. Learned that the Ohio Ballot Access laws are in flux after the November 2013 laws were temporarily blocked.

3. Searched desperately for a lawyer to help me navigate these legal complications.

4. Found “Legendary citizen advocate and political agitator” Bob Fitrakis, who is also a ballot-access Guru of sorts, and

5. Attended the Ohio Green Party Convention to meet Fitrakis.

In short, things are getting more complicated, but I expected as much. I always assumed the most likely outcome of this project would be that I would fail to get a party on the ballot, but that I would at least learn much more about the ways in which minor parties are suppressed. Read on for more details about my efforts in the past six weeks.

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Letter to Radio Dispatch on Climate Change and the Skeptical Critical Thinking Movement

Update below (1/31). Update #2 below (2/20).

The Radio Dispatch podcast (which calls its listeners “scoochers”) stated that they wanted to focus more on climate change this year. I wrote them a too-long email explaining why trying to educate ourselves more on climate change is a bit of a waste of time, and why I think the ultimate solution is to agitate for better Skeptical critical thinking education. Here’s the letter:

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The “Protest Party” Name

solidarity-11It was suggested that I consider a name for my new political party that sounds more positive than “Protest Party.” I actually think stressing the negative is probably fine, because the party is designed to be for those who are disaffected, anyway. Also, I never came up with any other decent names. (My wife did, though.) Here are a few more possibilities I’ve considered and rejected, plus Brigid’s idea.  Continue reading

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Protest Party Elevator Pitches

I was recently asked to give an elevator pitch for the Protest Party. While I don’t often feel compelled to harangue my fellow elevator passengers, I do think this could be useful for explaining the idea in social settings and for when I need to go canvassing for signatures to get the party on the ballot. (If I understand the rules correctly (doubtful), I will need almost 56K signatures by early July 2014 to gain ballot access in Ohio.)

I think I have a decent, one-size-fits-all “Elevator Pitch,” but since the party is designed to appeal to a rather wide range of people, I’ve also come up with pitches based on the political ideology of my elevator-mates. In the case of canvassing, an initial question about the person’s political leanings could help choose which pitch to use. Let me know what you think.  Continue reading

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Making people pay attention: How the Protest Party could succeed where Alternative Media fails

Pierre Omidyar

(Update below 11/16)

How much of an impact will the journalistic alliance between billionaire Pierre Omidyar and superstar journalists Glenn Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill have? Their stated objectives of transparency and accountability are similar to that of the Protest Party. I will be rooting for them, but I’m not as optimistic as some. The power of journalism to change the world is limited by its ability to make people pay attention. With the internet, nobody has to bother reading things they don’t agree with, and most people therefore don’t. Of course, we don’t yet know exactly what the Omidyar project will look like, but unless it can solve that problem, I don’t see it making much difference.  Continue reading

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It’s not the spying, it’s the secrecy that’s the real problem for America

Outrage over the NSA’s “Collect Everything” spying strategy and other abuses leaked by Edward Snowden has sparked a debate about the appropriate role of the NSA. Critics point out that the agency has exceeded its mandate; that excessive spying is authoritarian and stifles dissent and creativity; that it runs afoul of the Fourth Amendment; and that our spying on other countries is not only unnecessarily invasive but also harmful to our diplomatic relations. Apologists counter with invocations of 9/11 terrorism and security.  Continue reading

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