Geeking for Good

Starting tomorrow at noon Central time, Jason and JT are starting a marathon gaming session for fundraising. Half the proceeds will go to Camp Quest and half will go to the Women in Secularism conference. The whole thing will be streamed and captured for your viewing pleasure (see Jason’s blog tomorrow for the stream link). Also so you can taunt people later over being trounced in the games.

Now, if you listen to JT, you’d think these guys were doing old school gaming:

I’ve spent some time seeing if we can run some of the arcade games from my youth which I never got to beat because it cost too many damn quarters.  Old school arcades will be playing include:

  • NBA Jam/NBA Hangtime
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  • Street Fighter II
  • Aliens vs. Predator
  • Battle Circuit
  • Smash TV
  • R-Type LEO
  • Cyberbots
  • Ninja Baseball Batman
  • Altered Beast
  • Contra
  • The Simpsons
  • Turtles in Time
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Shadow over Mystara
  • Ninja Commando

It’s not new. I’ll give them that. But oy, these kids, thinking that’s old. If you want to talk old, you’ll want to tune in when I join the guys at 8 a.m. CDT Sunday morning.

That’s also when I’ll announce a funding challenge. Only my challenge won’t be for JT and Jason. It will be for the viewers. I’ve been trying to track down a long-lost game for a while. As far the official lists go, it seems to have never existed. Only I know I played it (and I know others who played it), and I want to play it again if I can.

So if you think your Google-fu is better than mine, up for the challenge of finding a game that is well-hidden, watch Sunday morning. For that matter, tune in whenever you can. Give the guys and their guests challenges, either now or in the chatroom they’ll have set up. Or even just make a donation and watch the fun bits later on the recording.

However you do it, everybody wins, even when one of them is losing.

Atheists Talk: Michael De Dora on the Campaign for Free Expression

Here in the U.S., there are places where being openly atheist can cost you your job or bring on harassment by your neighbors. If you speak against the dominant religion, someone might go to the newspapers or even on television to shake a heavy finger of disapproval in your direction. In extreme cases, you may face violence from individuals, or government representatives may abuse their power to make your life difficult. You may have to push the government to give you all the protections it promises.

That’s here, where we have the First Amendment to back us up.

Things are different elsewhere in the world. Being an infidel or blasphemer, words we use laughingly here, can see people fined or imprisoned or killed. These problems aren’t limited to countries we complacently dismiss as “backward” either. There has been considerable pressure on the UN for more than a decade to recognize a “right” for religions to be free from “defamation”.

Michael De Dora, Director of the Center for Inquiry’s Office of Public Policy and their UN Representative, is fighting hard against laws like these, as well as to bring science and secularism to U.S. policy and law-making. This Sunday, he will join us to talk about why all this matters to us and what we can do to make a difference.

Related Links:

Listen to AM 950 KTNF this Sunday at 9 a.m. Central to hear Atheists Talk, produced by Minnesota Atheists. Stream live online. Call in to the studio at 952-946-6205, or send an e-mail to radio@mnatheists.org during the live show. If you miss the live show, listen to the podcast later.

Telling Our Stories

A week from today, we’ll be doing a special event for Atheist Voices of Minnesota. August Berkshire, Greg Laden, Robin Raianiemi, Eric Jayne, and I will be joining the U of M’s Campus Atheists, Skeptics, and Humanists from 7 to 9 p.m. in room 412 of the Science Teaching and Student Services building. We will do a little bit of the usual: reading and talking about the stories we contributed to the anthology.

The rest of the time, however, will be dedicated to talking about story. It’s important that we, as atheists, get our stories out, but not everyone has the tools to do that. I do promise you, though, that everyone has a story worth sharing. We’ll talk about how to do that. We’ll discuss the structure of story, what makes it relatable and memorable, where story can serve a good purpose. If the audience is game, we’ll get some of them to share their stories too.

So if you like story (and face it, the overwhelming majority of us do), consider coming out next Thursday. It should be a good time all around, and if it’s like the last CASH event I attended, there may even be some social time afterward. There will definitely be plenty of stories.

Give the Gift of Atheism

It’s the time of year when lots of people are giving lots of gifts. Here are a few books suitable for atheists or people who you think should maybe just understand atheism better.

Santa holding a copy of Atheist Voices of Minnesota.I would be remiss if I didn’t start with Atheist Voices of Minnesota. I’ll just quote from my own review to tell you why you should share it:

What you won’t find in this book is a lot of philosophy or counter-apologetics or science or anti-theism. Despite having a couple of good-sized names on the cover, what you find here isn’t what you find in most atheist writing. You find stories. Personal stories, small stories, the kind of stories that explain who were are.

These are the kind of stories that build up our own collective mythos, one based in reality. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first book that does that. It shouldn’t be the last.

That’s worth sharing. [Read more...]

A Different Wedge

I’ve finally gotten to hear Anthony Pinn’s talk from Skepticon. Sadly, due to a conflict in Pinn’s schedule, he couldn’t be on until I was so far out into the middle of Nebraska that I didn’t even have the cell signal to follow the talk on Twitter. But (but!) talks from Skepticon are recorded, so we all get the benefit.

Here’s the talk, and a few of my comments are below the fold.

[Read more...]

Mock the Movie: Cecil B. DeMille Edition

This Thursday, on November 29, Mock the Movie will return to its SyFy (then SciFi) roots with Sands of Oblivion. It is supposed to be one of their better productions, but…well. Still, we’ll have Morena Baccarin and Adam Baldwin for the slash lovers (did anyone ever actually want Jayne and Inara to hook up?), Homer Simpson as Cecil B. DeMille, and American desert that, for once, isn’t standing in for Egyptian desert. Just fake Egyptian desert. This one is available on Hulu or YouTube if you’re willing to fall behind slightly for commercials.

[Read more...]

“Faitheist”, the Review

Simon Davis got caught up in some of the discussion around the Salon excerpt from Chris Stedman’s Faitheist. He ended up reading the whole book, and once he was done, he asked whether I’d be interested in a review. I am, so here it is.

The recent excerpt from the first chapter of Chris Stedman’s book Faitheist in Salon.com piqued my interest. It told the story of Stedman’s attendance of his first atheist event in 2009 and how this influenced his interfaith advocacy as a nonbeliever. I had already read some of Stedman’s past blog posts discussing his disagreements with well-known atheists and their approaches to religion; however, his retelling of this personal experience was what caught my eye. To be blunt, I was not convinced that the account was accurate and wanted to investigate the facts–to the extent I could. In the process of doing so, I thought to myself “in for a penny, in for a pound” and so decided it was only fair to read the book in its entirety and offer my thoughts accordingly.

Faitheist is part memoir and part interfaith advocacy. Chapters 2-6 detail Stedman’s life from childhood all the way through graduate school and his internship at Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) and include his personal journey from being non-religious to Evangelical Christianity and then to no longer believing in God. Chapters 7 and 8 also contain personal anecdotes from after this but are primarily Stedman’s arguments for interfaith engagement by nonbelievers. Stedman was 24 when he wrote the book (p. 159). [Read more...]