Episode 20.10: Matt and Martin

Nice show today, although my mic was still messed up. I’m starting to wonder if I simply function as a damping field for all of the studio’s electronics. My light even went out about a minute before the show. Ah, well. Apart from that, I enjoyed our first caller, a Christian with whom we had a fruitful discussion, in which Matt made himself understood as to why personal testimonials about life-changing results are still no measure by which we can conclude anything about the truth of Christianity’s supernatural claims.

Also, here’s the Presuppositionalism Panel Discussion video that Matt talked about participating in.

Phones are now better than the Access studio

We’ve been working like beavers to get the new phone system up and running at last in the ACA library, and here, according to Matt, is where it currently stands:

The Internet connection is fixed. The coaxial connector on the telephone pole across the street had been loosened (probably due to high winds and not being tightened properly initially). We just performed a full test of the phone system thanks to some fans who quickly responded to a tweet. Call quality is on par with what you’d get from any cell phone.

We have 6 lines. (The public access studio had 4, sometimes 3.) We can lock any of those lines “on air”. I had all 6 lines live and everyone could hear everyone. (The public access studio could only ever have 1 line live.)
This means we can do a “conference call”-style discussion…or have remote guest host(s) able to address calls alongside the studio hosts. We also have caller ID. Public access does not.

We’re looking into a few more options (I’d like to be able to flag calls from known numbers—to highlight hosts or prank callers), but the phones work really well.

Remaining audio tweaks:
– Sound dampening to get rid of street noises.
– Double check audio to/from stream/record box
– Final check of all sound levels and the compressor/limiter/expander gate
– Additional sound dampening in studio
After that, or along with it:
– A couple of lighting tweaks
– Green screen support
Long term:
– Video conference guests
– More ideas

#RichardDawkins #Awkward

Like a lot of you, I look back wistfully upon a time when Richard Dawkins was a name to inspire admiration, and not one whose mere mention immediately triggers an “Oh shit, what has he said this time?” response. Over on Twitter, where he’s cultivated a reputation for (to put it politely) shooting from the hip and being nearly as reactionary as any Teabagger, his latest gem goes something like this:

Hmm, okay. And yet, oddly, in 2013 (*corrected posting date), the Richard Dawkins Foundation website was favorably reporting on this:

‘Secular safe zones’ offer campus shelter to atheist students

The small sticker on professor Robert Schmidt’s office door isn’t just a decoration — it’s a beacon of safety for students who feel they are being singled out for their lack of religious beliefs.

The blue, green, yellow and pink rectangle signals that Schmidt’s office at Utah State University is a “Secular Safe Zone” — a place where students who are atheists, agnostics or just questioning their faith can go for advice about dealing with bullying, discrimination and other forms of aggression.

“Being an ally to ‘create safe spaces in which secular students can question, criticize, and discuss topics and issues important to them’ feels right to me,” Schmidt said from his Logan office, quoting the goals of the Secular Safe Zone program. “All students should feel safe on campus.” [Emphasis added.]

Yeah, this is one of those moments best addressed by a Fillion GIF.

giphy-3


Addendum: Sadly, it didn’t take me long to find another example of Dawkins being a bit two-faced. I noticed this tweet exchange…

…and remembered that, in the wake of Elevatorgate and “Dear Muslima,” Dawkins got some personal revenge by demanding Rebecca Watson be disinvited from Reason Rally. #Awkward.

Open thread on episode #917

Russell and I are fending off the theist hordes with our mighty brains today on the show. But we will also be dissecting this condescending article on Salon, in which an “I’m an atheist but…” dude (apart from perpetuating the annoying meme that Dawkins, Hitchens and Maher are the global ambassadors of New Atheism, dictating a party line to us all) whinges that we lack proper appreciation of religion’s warm fuzzies. And of course, callers. Below is where you write your thinky bits.

Discussed on show: The Hotline Project.

(Yes, I know I can prattle on. Bad habit.)

When you know you’ve butthurt the right people

It’s when they add you to their “Bigotry Map,” that’s when.

It is a well-understood and even tiresome habit of bigots and bullies that they adopt the language of those they oppress in order to make themselves seem righteous in thought and deed. Heck, even old Adolf got into the act with his famous justification for the “racial purity” platform that ultimately killed millions. “By defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord!” (Emphasis added, because why be subtle?)

Screaming baby Hitler

It’s not really Godwinning when it’s accurate, is it?

So this is how a noted and infamous hate group of hateful bigots, the American “Family” Association, can convince themselves that those who criticize them and who stand for equality and against discrimination are the true bigots. Because when self-righteousness takes up residence in very tiny brains, it must drag self-awareness into the trash to free up disc space.

And so you get the comical spectacle of the AFA condemning the Southern Poverty Law Center for labeling “Christian organizations who support the Biblical definition of marriage as ‘hate’ groups and falsely disseminat[ing] this information to liberal news media,” and they post that right next to a panel proving just what a hate group they really are (by describing LGBT marriage equality as forcing poor put-upon Christians to embrace “sexual perversion”). It would be a lot funnier if folks like this really weren’t so dedicated to hurting actual people.

Check out central Texas, and you’ll find the Atheist Community of Austin on their map, for which we are enormously proud. When the kind of people who call hate “love” and love “perversion” decide you’re the bad guy, you know you’re really on the side of the angels.

Oh…and which “Biblical definition of marriage” are they using again? Because that can get a bit confusing, you know.

Matt’s comprehensive new takedown of Pascal’s Wager

Matt has been Patreoning a new series of videos in which he plans to take on arguments for belief in as detailed and complete a manner as possible, and the first of these is now available. It’s a full-on brilliant demolition of Pascal’s Wager, which he has addressed many times on AXP itself, but never to this degree of fine-tooth analysis and rebuttal. In particular, he distinguishes between modern colloquial versions of the Wager Christians today commonly use, and Pascals’ original wording. Definitely worth the 27 minutes. Enjoy.

So have you heard the one about the pastor who wants to sentence gays to 10 years’ hard labor?

Yeah, sure you have. It’s the latest thing blowing up the atheist blogosphere and social media. Some utter fool named Pastor Michael V. Williams, who runs a website called PreachingPolitics.com (to which I am not linking — take note of this brilliant trick, other atheist bloggers), has, in a YouTube video, offered up this solution to the homersectionality problem as he sees it.

Can I just make an observation?

Yes, this is a recapitulation of the “don’t feed the trolls” thing, but it bears mentioning that Williams’ YouTube channel, on which this drivel appears, has all of 10 subscribers. Generally, his videos get fewer than 100 views, and most get fewer than 50. He has some that have gotten only one.

Except this one, which has, as of this writing, gotten close to 10,000. Because some people got their panties in a twist, decided this mouth-breather was actually someone in a position of being able to influence real policy and lawmaking decisions (here’s the Progressive Secular Humanist blog calling the utterly obscure Williams a “Christian leader” and treating his “proposed amendment” like it’s a clear and present danger and something that may be about to go up for a vote on Capitol Hill any minute now), and have — O! irony, you cruel mistress — given Williams exactly the exposure he’s always dreamed of but never would have otherwise gotten by embedding and sharing his asinine video everywhere they can.

For fuck’s sake.

Look, religious bigotry against gays, atheists, women, minorities, what have you, is a vile thing and an ongoing real problem that produces real victims. This is not in dispute. But the real battles against those things are being fought in a much bigger arena, and while there is a long long long way to go, headway is being made. There has been a sea change in public attitudes towards marriage equality, for instance, and the momentum is on the side of the good guys here. We are almost certain to see nationwide legal gay marriage by the 2020’s, at least.

But the ongoing threat to equality does not mean we need to do the enemy’s work for them, overreact to every online outlier with a webcam and a Neanderthal opinion, and elevate his importance by giving him unwonted and undeserved exposure. The proper reaction to the Williamses of the word is to point and laugh, people. History is already leaving the pathetic, benighted clowns behind. So let us make merry at their increasing irrelevance, and their butthurt at this state of affairs. Point and laugh.