Mock the Movie: Lose It in Translation Edition

If you were the ghost of a mummy, reawakened by a CAT scan and bearing the name of a demon, what would you do? Burgle the Louvre, of course, but only after possessing Sophie Marceau.

Look, I’m sure Belphégor – Le fantôme du Louvre made more sense in French–in the Sixties, when it was a cult TV hit show and everyone did more drugs. Well, maybe I’m not sure, but I am hopeful. Either way, we’re going to mock it this Wednesday.

This one is available on Netflix and Amazon. [Read more...]

Let’s Call It a Hitler

So by now you’ve probably seen that Ricky Gervais is once again desperately clinging to a word that he desperately needs to…well, for some reason anyway, I’m sure. I first saw it on Facebook:

If you grabbed Hitler and shouted “stop killing innocent people you cunt”, someone on Facebook would call you out on your sexist language.

As I pointed out there, if you grabbed Hitler and shouted at him, people would rightly point out that he’s dead and hasn’t been killing people for nearly 70 years, which just raises the next question: What are you really doing that’s so vitally important you can’t spare a moment to deal with sexism?

When Ophelia posted more of Gervais’s “defense”, such as it is, it struck me how hard he was working to defend something that’s fundamentally useless. It just doesn’t work as a serious epithet, unless your entire point is the misogyny. It’s even more useless for a comedian. [Read more...]

Rebecca Watson Interview at Skeptech

You might have heard me mention (oh, once or twice before) that this weekend is Skeptech. It’s a cool conference with a great set of speakers. They could still very much use some funds to make this an ongoing concern. But I’ve told you all that.

What I haven’t mentioned is that I’m playing a role on stage as well. I haven’t mentioned it because we weren’t sure it was going to happen. Rebecca Watson has graciously agreed, however, to get up early Saturday morning so we can fit one more session into the schedule. (We promised her really good coffee from Open Book, just down the road.) So the morning’s opening remarks will start at 9, and as soon as they’re done, I will interview Rebecca to get her tips on single-handedly destroying a movement.

Here are a few of the topics I expect to ask her about:

  • How did she manage to limit American Atheists to running two special capital campaigns of $100,000 and $50,000 with a 1-for-1 match, down from the multimillion-dollar campaigns with triple matches they were running just a few years ago?
  • How did she undermine the Secular Student Alliance so thoroughly that they’ve been forced to rely on unpaid, untrained interns for key positions?
  • How did she so thoroughly sap and demoralize the Center for Inquiry that they’ve stopped taking on new, important projects?
  • How did she work with Meetup.com to halt the spread of new atheist groups in the U.S.?
  • When will she be rerunning her special seminar on community dismantling that we heard such rave reviews on from D.J. Grothe, Michael Shermer, Ben Radford, and Lawrence Krauss?

So get up early on Saturday and bring your coffee. You won’t want to miss this event.

The Price of Constant Debate

Not only is debate useless for getting at the nature of reality, but it isn’t always good for you, or for communities where debate is fetishized. As I was looking for my previous words on debate, I came across this, originally published here. It seemed like a good time to repost it. “PTDD” is not intended to be remotely taken as a serious mental illness. It shares the element of hyper-vigilance with PTSD, and that’s about it. This is about what consistent debate trains you to do.

You may have Post-Traumatic Debate Disorder if:

  • Nobody really disagrees with you.
  • People who claim they disagree with you are being dishonest.
  • People who claim they disagree with you are out to get you.
  • You argue that someone (else) getting mobbed online “deserved it.”
  • You find yourself not understanding a lot of things but don’t ask any questions.
  • You consider accounting for differing situations to be hypocrisy.
  • You don’t know what your goal is in an argument, but that doesn’t stop you.
  • You view all discussions that consist of more than, “Yeah, me too,” as arguments.
  • All disagreements have a right and a wrong.
  • All disagreements must have a winner and loser.
  • Wrong = evil, unforgivable, delusional.
  • You alone understand what everyone “intends” by what they say. Better than the speaker.
  • You consider sympathy for both sides in a disagreement to be the same thing as no sympathy for either.
  • You crave real-world consequences for things said online, but not for you.

These are but a small sampling of the symptoms of PTDD. If you find yourself experiencing any of these symptoms, it is highly recommended that you log off the internet immediately. Further treatment may consist of quarantine to avoid denialists of all stripes, lots of face-to-face and eye-to-eye conversation, and outdoor exercise.