Atheist Community of Austin board election this Sunday

Hey Austin locals, our annual elections will be taking place this Sunday at 1:00 PM CT at the ACA Freethought Library, 1507 West Koenig Lane in Austin. Any member in good standing may attend the election meeting and vote on board members. If your membership has lapsed, you may renew at the meeting and vote.

Here is a statement our current president Jen Peeples made on our official Facebook group earlier this week:

After much consideration, I have decided not to run for the board this year. This was a difficult decision, because I’ve had the pleasure of serving with an amazing group of people on the current ACA Board of Directors. We’ve been able to get a lot done, and although we’ve had some disagreements, they’ve been constructive, and the organization is better for it. The ACA Board is not an echo chamber, and that’s a good thing.

My reasons for not continuing on the board are entirely related to competing demands on my time. Without getting into more detail than anyone needs or wants, I have a number of things going on right now, both personally and professionally, and I just don’t feel like I can give the ACA the time and attention it deserves. Being the ACA President really is just like running a small corporation. I’ve fallen far short of what I’d hoped to do as President, and when I consider what I have ahead of me in the coming year, well….I need to step back and not be the roadblock.

So, I’m passing the reins to Russell, who will run for President in the election on Sunday. Tracie Harris has graciously agreed to run for Vice President. They’ll both be phenomenal in their new roles.

I’ll still be around as an admin in this group and in the other ACA groups and pages, engaging in spirited debate and swatting the occasional troll. You’ll still see me on the TV show, and who knows, maybe I’ll even (finally) make an appearance on the Non-Prophets.

I’m currently running unopposed, although if you would like to show up and vie for that position, or any other board seat, please feel free. See you Sunday!

Open thread for #20.14: Matt hosts Sarah Morehead and Neil Carter

Sarah and Neil discuss their project “Removing the Fig Leaf” with Matt.

At the “About” section of their blog:

Those of us who will be contributing to this blog have plenty to say about the deleterious impact of religion on our sexuality. Each of us has shouldered the burden of guilt and shame placed on us by our religious upbringings. Each of us has had to “remove the fig leaf” in our own way, and perhaps we will never be completely done with that process.  When you are taught to be ashamed of your humanity during your formative years, the baggage stays with you for the rest of your life.

But it does get better. Each of us has worked through these issues to some level of personal satisfaction (heh), and this digital space has been created to talk about how we’ve progressed. We will use this blog platform to unpack our own religious hangups around our sexuality, picking apart those ideas which shackled our own enjoyment of ourselves and of others. Just about anything related to sexuality is fair game, since it’s all connected, although the focus of this blog will be on the intersection of faith, skepticism, humanism, and sexuality.

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

Of Liars and Truth-Tellers

(Hidden tribute to the late David Bowie here)

I used to really love logic puzzles when I was a kid. I’ve mentioned the professional logician Raymond Smullyan a few times as a big influence of mine, and I highly recommend his puzzle books. Here’s a complete list of what Amazon carries, and I’ll highlight some, roughly in order of personal preference:

Also noteworthy is his book of philosophical essays, The Tao Is Silent. Smullyan, like fellow mathematician Bertrand Russell, dabbles in philosophy a bit, and this book is a westerner’s perspective on eastern religion. I’m sure it takes a lot of liberties with the subject matter, and I imagine if I reread the whole thing now I’d find I agree with him a lot less than I used to in my teens and twenties. But still, his style is playful and entertaining, and there are a couple of essays in that book which I love to reference: “Is God a Taoist?” and “An Epistemological Nightmare.” The first is one of my favorite speculations I’ve ever read on the nature of the “god” concept.

But I digress. I wanted to talk for a minute about Smullyan’s logic puzzles in order to illustrate a point about religious arguments.

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