Dialog Delayed

I had intended to bring you my latest response in the dialog yesterday. I submitted it Friday night. However, it hasn’t been posted yet. For those of you who are interested in following the dialog, I’m afraid I can’t tell you when it will be posted.

Apparently, the moderator for the other team has decided that my post is better moderated than argued with, and Mick Nugent has not ruled that out. I’m disagreeing strongly. I did not sign up to have my posts changed before they see the light of day. I haven’t asked for any changes to their posts, even where they clearly haven’t met the requirements of the dialog (i.e., Skep Sheik’s failure to indicate agreement or disagreement with the points he responded to). This was not part of the terms I agreed to.

We’ll see what happens next.

Denied and Disruptive

If you haven’t already, you should read Amanda Brown’s story of how her father was denied access to his partner despite having all the legal requirements in place.

After I pack up the house, my daughter, and arrange plans for someone to come and get her at the hospital because I have no idea how long I will need to be there we arrive all at the same time to see Allen received by the nursing staff and my Dad, Roger Gorley, follows him in along with Lee, Allen’s brother. This is when things started to get ugly. [Read more…]

Saturday Storytime: The Day Coffee Stopped Working

Science fiction doesn’t have to be serious in order to be serious science fiction. Take this story by John Bailey Owen, odd duck and coauthor of The Hunger But Mainly Death Games: A Parody.

“…And that is why I have called you here,” the President said to the Cabinet. “By this time next year, coffee will no longer work.”

The room was silent. The members of the Cabinet couldn’t believe it. They were also quiet, because it was early, and none of them had gotten any coffee yet. As usual, there was coffee waiting for them on a side table, but they weren’t sure if it was O.K. to drink it now. But then, the President stood up and got some, thank God, so everyone else did, too.

A little while later, they were sipping their coffee and feeling much better. They were all in their own little worlds. But the Secretary of the Treasury always drank his coffee annoyingly quickly. He really guzzled it. And now he was talking.

“So,” he said.

“Hmm?” said the President, looking up from his coffee. Then he remembered. “Oh, as I was saying, in the near future, coffee is going to lose its characteristic effects. It’ll still be around, it just won’t work on us.”

Two people committed suicide right then and there.

“You mean like hot coffee?” asked the Attorney General, after the paramedics had cleared away those bodies.

“Yes.”

“What about espresso?”

Everyone in the room looked up all hopefully, like, oh yeah, espresso’s not so bad. I could get used to espresso.

“No,” said the President. “That won’t work either.”

“But iced coffee will be O.K.?”

Keep reading.

Reply the Second

…is posted. This one is their response to my response to their opening statement. That makes relevant links so far:

I’ll have my response ready shortly. Right now, I put this here so those who to talk about it have a space.

“Denialism on a Large Scale”, Greg Laden on Atheists Talk

Climate denialism operates on a scale and with funding that would have made an old-school tobacco executives green with envy. This makes the climate wars a perfect venue for learning about all the tricks of denialists.

Greg Laden stumbled onto climate denialism through a combination of concern for the environment and studying what climate history can tell us about human evolution. He has documented lies, threats and simple misinformation while working to get good information on climate change out to audiences on his blog and elsewhere. In the process, he’s received legal threats, death threats, and more factually incorrect comments than he can count.

This Sunday, Greg will join us in the studio to help us learn to spot denialism in the wild and to tell us what to expect from climate change denialists in the next few months.

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.

Follow Atheists Talk on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates. If you like the show, consider supporting us with a one-time or sustaining donation.

Sex in Cyberspace

The students who ran SkepTech are astounding overachievers. They already have a bunch of talks and panels available for viewing.

This was how the conference started its Saturday morning. Very smart programming, that.

I think we even all managed to be fairly coherent. I love getting placed on panels with smart, thoughtful people, and everyone up there with me qualified.

The Reply

…to my opening statement is up at the dialog site. That makes relevant links so far:

I’ll have things to say about the response at some point, of course. I won’t post anything new there until they’ve also responded to my response to their opening statement. Right now, I put this here so those who to talk about it have a space.

Talk away. I spent the little energy I have today on a two-hour interfaith panel at a local community college and talking to the students afterward. Now I need a nap.

Mock the Movie: Friday Edition

Jason and I have people to meet at the airport this Wednesday, so we’re shifting the date on this week’s movie mocking.

This Friday, April 12, we turn to Edgar Allan Poe. Sort of. Well, we turn to Roger Corman and what he, and only he, could do with Poe as source material. That’s right. We’re watching Masque of the Red Death. And yes, we know. Sometimes, though, it’s nice to be able to mock the over-the-top elements of a movie that doesn’t bore us to tears.

If you would like to be utterly unprepared for the movie, you can read the short story before we start. Or you can just pull up the movie on YouTube and watch without the additional horror that is appreciating the source material. [Read more…]

The Unbelievably Fun Conference

I don’t mean Skeptech, which I’m currently still at, although that’s been a blast too. I’m talking about Minnesota Atheists’ 2013 summer conference coming up in August.

Promotional pic for conference with speaker pictures. Text in post.

Minneapolis, MN August 10, 2013

  • Susan Jacoby
  • Amanda Knief
  • PZ Myers
  • Greta Christina
  • Hector Avalos

Plus several morning workshops!

Registration for the conference has just opened. Early bird pricing is currently in effect.

As with last year’s conference, there will be a special baseball game the evening before. For one evening, the St. Paul Saints will again become the Mr. Paul Ain’ts and play for your entertainment. The stadium will be “redecorated” for the occasion. Related minor league silliness will occur between innings. And we’ll probably all have Chick tracts left on our cars again. Registration for the game isn’t available yet, but we’ll let people know when it is, along with Ain’ts merchandise (only some of which is available now) and conference hotel pricing.

We’ve finalized our headliners, but we’re still working on our morning schedule. If you’re attending the conference and think we should know you’ll be there as we plan the workshops, drop me a note. I’ll let the committee know.

I hope to see lots of you in August!

Saturday Storytime: Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain

It’s only been a couple of months since Cat Rambo appeared in this feature, but she has a short story nominated for a Nebula that you probably ought to see.

Places to take tourists on Planet Porcelain:

  1. A birthing factory, where the citizenry are mass produced. The list is short; tourists are only taken to the upper class factories, where citizens are made of the highest quality porcelain, rather than one of the more sordid working class manufactories.
  2. The bridges of Etekeli, which run from building to building in a city more vertical than horizontal. There is a daring glee to the citizenry here; the ground is littered with the remains of those who came to this place, which has a suicide rate twenty times that of elsewhere on the planet.
  3. The Dedicatorium.

The first sight of the Dedicatorium awed him. She understood how it must look: from afar a wall of thorny white. Then as one approached, it resolved itself into a pattern made of feet and hands, arms and legs.

“People leave these here?” he half-whispered, his voice roughened by the silence.

“They do it for several reasons,” she told him. “Some in gratitude for some answered prayer. Others to leave a piece of themselves behind.”

As they watched, a woman approached. She carried a bundle in her only hand. When she got close to the wall, she fumbled away the coverings to reveal the other hand. She searched along the wall until she found a place to fold it into a niche. It curled there, its fingers clustered as though to form a hollow where a secret might be whispered.

His face was flushed, but she could not read the emotion. “Your people can detach their own limbs?”

“It is easier to get someone else to do it,” she said. “It is not without pain. The joints must be detached, and it usually breaks them to do so.”

“I have seen no amputees on your streets,” he said. His eyes searched the wall, taking in the delicate point of a toe, the rugged line of a calf’s stilled muscles.

“It is an injury that often leads to cracking,” she said. “Few survive unless they take great care of the point where the limb was severed.”

“It’s barbaric,” he said, but she heard only love and appreciation in his voice.

Keep reading.