Some Cool Stuff Coming Up

There are so many geeky, gaming, skeptical, atheist events on the horizon for 2014! Eeeeeee!

GwoGGeeks Without God on Atheists Talk – January 18th, 2014

This Sunday I’ll be interviewing Tim Wick, Molly Glover and Nick Glover on Atheists Talk. They’re the hosts of the podcast Geeks Without God. They’re Very Funny People and totally worth waking up for at 9am on a Sunday morning. You can listen locally on KTNF AM950, livestream the show online, or you can always catch the podcast later. Look for Atheists Talk on iTunes or check out our website.

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raidersThe Hubby’s 40th Birthday Celebration! - January 24th, 2014 This is a semi-private event, but I want to share that I am SO excited! We rented a movie theater, y’all.  We’ve invited a bunch of friends, and we’re going to serve sandwiches and soda and then show Raiders of the Lost Ark. In a theater. That we rented. A theater!

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ftbcon2

FTBCon2 – Jan 31-Feb 2, 2014

The second Freethought Blogs virtual convention – FTBConscience2 – is at the end of the month! More info is coming so very soon. Panels in place. Final schedule being scheduled. Final Lanyrd being Lanyrded.

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Con of the North – Minneapolis, MN – February 14-16th, 2014

conofthenorth

Con of the North is a local board game convention. This will be my second year attending because last year was a freaking blast. I played back-to-back board games in two and four hour time slots from 8am-midnight all weekend long. I discovered a ton of new games. Board games. Card Games. All weekend long. They also had LARP, computer gaming and RPGs. Miniatures has a huge presence, and while I don’t do miniatures, it was amazing to stop and look at the art and craftsmanship of the games.

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skepcamp

Chicago Skepticamp 2014 – Chicago, Illinois – April 5th, 2014

A day long event promoting science and critical thinking, put on by volunteers from the Chicago Skeptics. Participants are encouraged to discuss and question both traditional skeptical topics and new subjects. Attendance is free, though all attendees are encouraged to help by either speaking, helping set up/clean up, or by making a donation. I attended back in 2012 but had to miss last year’s event. I’ve got my fingers crossed that I’ll be able to make the drive down this April.

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SkepchickCon – Bloomington, MN – July 3rd-7th, 2014

convergence

CONvergence – the first and purest of my scifi/fantasy convention loves, and then the Skepchicks come along and make it that much more awesome! Once again, Skepchick.org and FreethoughtBlogs will combine our awesome powers to bring kick-ass science and skepticism panels and rock-til-you-drop room parties to CONvergence. SkepchickCON is fundraising right now – they’re auctioning off a hand-knit MISANDRY! hat – perfect for the man-hating feminazi in your life – and a customized voice message from Debbie Goddard.

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Okay! So what else is going on that I shouldn’t miss?

Through God-Colored Glasses

The Skeptic's Annotated Bible

This morning I took part in the Atheists Talk interview of Steve Wells, creator of the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible. I’ve been a big fan of the SAB website for several years, mostly because of the “categories” that he has put together to capture the different messages that are presented in the Bible. For instance, if I want a quick list of scientific and historical inaccuracies in the Bible, or passages that threaten, blame or harm women I can reference the SAB. I want to pick up a copy of the hardcover print edition because I find that format very appealing for perusing whole chapters. Okay…if I’m honest you can already do that with the website. Really I’d just like to see the pretty leather-bound hardcover version on my bookshelf next to my King James version. And if the Skeptic’s Annotated Quran and Book of Mormon are ever released in hardcover (Wells has wepages for both of these books as part of the Skeptic’s Annotated series) I can have the whole set!

During the interview I was keeping an eye on the Facebook and Twitter because sometimes we’ll get comments or questions for the show through social media. I have to be careful because every once in a while I’ll see something during the show that almost makes me lose my shit on the air. Today was one of those whiles. From Facebook:

two-third cupImage transcription, a screen cap from a Tumblr:

How Awesome is Our God?!! He even cares about the littlest things in our lives… I needed 2/3 cup of milk to make my recipe tonight… And this was all the milk in the carton… Exactly 2/3 cup… EXACTLY! I mean, EXACTLY!! Wow! God is GOOD!

[picture of a pyrex measuring cup filled with approximately 2/3 cup of milk]

[Response by] eltigrechico:

this actually makes sense.

people go ‘why does God let bad things happen?’

its because while some poor bastards are being herded into a mass grave somewhere God is busy making sure Kathy in Dunghole, Wisconsin has exactly the right amount of milk for her recipe.

you gotta pick your battles

My first thought was: POE. I found this screencap on a couple of different websites, and I started to dig in to try to find the source, but then I went, Fuck it! I’ve got better things to do on a Sunday! I know people who think like the OP (and not just on the internet, y’all. Just last week one of my coworkers told me that she had prayed to God the night prior that we’d have enough buffer to run our study. And praise Jesus, we did!), so let’s just go forward under the assumption that this is real, k?

So yeah…the response is spot on. If you’re going to say that god is responsible for all things in our lives, then go ahead – praise him for the good. But he also gets to answer for the bad shit. This is philosophy 101 – the Problem of Evil right? But  to praise god for the coincidence of having the right amount of milk for a recipe? That ain’t exactly some loaves and fishes-grade work going on. God phoned this one in.

I’m having a bit of trouble getting over the type of worldview that lets one’s mind wander to god for every little thing. It’s just…silly. It’s not like this woman offered up a muttered “Thank you, God” under her breath and kept making dinner. Nope, she was so moved and awed by the wonder of her heavenly father’s influence that she was compelled to stop working on her recipe, take a picture of the miraculous event and draft a status update on Facebook so she could share this blessing that God has bestowed upon her and her family.

It’s not just silly. It’s blind and privileged and unexamined and obsessed.

This is one of the reasons I’m glad for god-free spaces. We’re not always right, but at least gods are off the table when we talk about things like coincidence and confirmation bias.

BTW – one of my favorite responses to this post over on FB was “That’s no 2/3 cup. You need read the volume at the meniscus. Where’s your god now?”

Interview with Greta Christina for Atheists Talk

Who had the most fun this morning? That would be moi.

Today I had the pleasure of interviewing Greta Christina for the radio show that I co-host for Minnesota AtheistsAtheists TalkWe discussed anger – what it is, what it isn’t – and anger’s place in activism. The inspiration for our talk was Greta’s book Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godlesswhich she published in 2012.

I recommend Greta’s book to those who are genuinely interested in why atheists are “so angry” about religion (spoilers: we’re angry, but not all the time, and for very worthy reasons, and many of us want to do something effective with this anger). The book is written for believers and non-believers alike, for atheist activists, religious apologists and those who haven’t given the topic much thought, but wonder what all the fuss is about.

One of the most interesting aspects of the book is that it addresses those who argue that the religious right extremists aren’t “real” Christians, that Christianity is all about love and tolerance. Greta explains reasons why one can’t simply be “a better Christian”, why moderate and progressive religions, New Age religions and those who identify as “spiritual but not religious” aren’t let off the hook when it comes to the religious-based and reality-blind injustices that are committed by believers and by religious or spiritual institutions.

You can listen to the interview on iTunes, on the AM950 radio station website, or at the Minnesota Atheists podcast page. Or here, if I figured out how to embed the link properly :)
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And I would be remiss if I didn’t take the opportunity to say that if you enjoy the interview, and want to help Minnesota Atheists continue to keeping doing work like this, you can donate at the Atheists Talk radio show Fund Page.

Godless Money Fundraiser

How cool is this? A member of Minnesota Atheists has donated some of her early-1950s US paper money to use as a fundraiser for the Atheists Talk radio show that I co-host with Stephanie Zvan and other members of Minnesota Atheists. The bill is free from God – the “In God We Trust” motto didn’t appear on paper money until 1957, although it has been stamped on some US coins since 1864. This particular bill is a circulated 1950 B series $20 bill.

The eBay auction started last night and ends on Friday. Because we were accepted into the eBay Giving Works program, the purchase is tax-deductible. 100% of the proceeds are able to go toward keeping Atheists Talk on the airwaves and available as a podcast around the world. So all of you godless radio supporters, take a look at the auction, read more about our radio program, and consider placing a bid!

Godless20

As a side note, I was looking up information about the “In God We Trust” watermark and found a 2011 article by Freethought Blog’s Ashley F. Miller over at Open Salon called Why “In God We Trust” is a Problem.

Gangland Turkey Killing

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you who celebrate the holiday! I have a few odds and ends for today’s post, and then I’m getting back to the party!

Things are all a-flurry in the Bilyeu-Hubby family households. Over the past two days I have made gluten-free mincemeat pie, Mom’s made cranberry sauce, many board games have been played, and much 12-year Glenlivet has been drunkified.

I’m hosting Atheists Talk on Sunday. You can listen live at 9am CST when we interview Dr. Ivan R. Schwab about his new book Evolution’s Witness: How Eyes Evolved.  I can already tell this interview is going to be a blast; in 2006 Dr. Schwab won an Ig Nobel award in ornithology and he wore a giant, red woodpecker hat for his acceptance speech! Silly + Science Talk sounds like a good reason to wake up early on a Sunday to me! If you listen live, remember that you can always call or email us with questions during the show. We love that. Doooo eeet!

Here’s a little holiday-themed stupidness that my brain did when I was glancing at the newspaper yesterday:

Of course, the image is associated with the article beneath it, but at first glance I thought Thanskgiving had gotten really weird this year. Considering the seriousness of the first story, I have to say that’s some odd article formatting, Star Tribune.

Here are links to the first, very not-funny story about a gang feud in St. Paul, and to the second story about the weird not-really-a-pardon-more-of-a-stay-of-execution for the turkey named Bipartisan. 

And with that I’m back to the holiday chaos!  Have a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving weekend!

Student Atheists on the Radio

On Sunday I had the pleasure of interviewing two members of the University of Minnesota’s Campus Atheists, Skeptics and Humanists (CASH), Bryan Carver and Joshua Brose. The interview was a live, in-studio chat for Atheists Talk on KTNF (AM950). Carver and Joshua were good sports and agreed to take a photo with me, even though it was before 9am on a Sunday morning.

From the left: Joshua Brose, me, Bryan Carver

During the interview we discussed Joshua and Carver’s background, how they as students found CASH, and what their involvement in the group is. We chatted about the role that CASH plays on campus and in its members’ lives. We discussed some of the events that they’ve already held this year including the Brother Jed counterprotest and Everyone Draw Mohammed Day. They shared information about upcoming CASH events (which are usually open to the public), including a mentalist in November and SkepTech, a conference that they’re hosting next spring which will feature some pretty big names in the secular community (whoever is first on the list is the coolest speaker ever. Truth.). And to close the interview, they each shared what they believe is the one of the most important issues affecting young atheists today.

I had a very good time doing this interview, and I love working with Atheists Talk radio as a host and interviewer. I like knowing that there is a weekly atheist radio in my area that not only delivers awesome interviews (In the past couple of months alone we’ve have Alex Bezerow, Howard Bloom, Chris Rodda, Rebecca Stott, Guy P. Harrison, Matt McCormick, Herb Silverman, Teresa MacBain, David Niose, Jessica Ahlquist…well, I could go on, but now we’re all the way back to July), but also information about local atheist events and activities individuals and families.

You, uh, know we primarily fund this radio show with donations from listeners and supporters, right? *cough* Anyone, any donation amount, anytime. Go ahead, click the link. You know you want to. We have the best tagline ever: “Atheists Talk: It’s good radio without the Good Book.” That’s worth a few bucks just for sheer awesomeness, right?

You can listen to the CASH interview with Joshua, Carver and me in several places: the Minnesota Atheists radio page, in the KTNF archives, or you can search on iTunes for the podcast “Minnesota Atheists Atheists Talk”. Or maybe even here if the player embeds correctly:




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Weekend Report

I was hoping to get a lot of writing done this weekend because there is SO MUCH TO WRITE ABOUT! I got exactly zero writing done, but looking back on my weekend, it turns out I did some pretty cool stuff.

Friday night was supposed to be a night of relaxing and hanging out with the Virtual Drinking Skeptically (VDS) gang. Unfortunately, work setbacks trashed that idea. I didn’t have all my ducks in a row and ended up working until midnight :(  Long story short, I grabbed some material (calibrators) for a study and forgot to check the expiration date. After doing all of the set-up on Friday morning, I went to use the calibrators and discovered that they were expired. No problem, I’ll just go grab a new lot, right? Ohhhh…so sad for me: there are no unexpired lots left in the freezer. Luckily, my company makes the darned things on site, so I’ll just go over to manufacturing and pick some up. Three hours later…

At some point during the morning’s series of fiascoes I noted with that sort of inappropriate hilarity that often precludes a mental breakdown that I was going through various stages of grief as my Friday night went up in flames.

  • Shock/Denial: WHAT? How the hell are the calibrators expired? What do you mean we don’t have any extra calibrators in the building? How is that possible? I am NOT letting this get in the way of Virtual Drinking Skeptically tonight.
  • Pain/Guilt: How could I be so stupid as to not check the expiration date before I started!? How could I have everything in place and forget that? I haven’t been to a VDS in months and I feel horrible for not showing up and supporting it because it’s awesome and I can’t believe I’ve ruined my evening like this!
  • Anger/Bargaining: How did NO ONE stock calibrators? Why did this have to happen tonight!? Maybe I could use the expired cals and write some sort of justification. No? Okay, if I can just get the study started, I can sneak away and come in over the weekend to finish things up.
  • Depression/Loneliness: This sucks. I hate working late on Friday nights. Everyone goes home to relax and start their weekend and I’m going to be stuck here pipetting samples until kingdom come. Which isn’t coming, so that means FOREVER. I’m not making it to VDS.
  • Upward Turn: Okay… I have new calibrators. The instruments are all ready to go. Let’s calibrate and see if the controls pass. Samples are thawed, time to start pipetting. If I can load 20 samples per hour and I’ve got 149 samples to load… awwww, man. Wait, calm…I can do this.
  • Acceptance/Hope: Okay, there’s no way I’m getting out of here in time for VDS, but I’ll just have to plan to make the next one. And hey, everything’s running well and I’m going to make it through at least half of these samples today. I’ll come back on Sunday and finish ‘em up. And I’ll still have all of Saturday. Every little thing… is gonna be alright.

That’s a whole lot of emotion to go through over the course of a day! Like I said earlier, I left at midnight, but I did get to come home to a sympathetic partner and a whiskey nightcap. So that was nice.

[Read more…]

6 O’Clock BS: What Should We Ask Katherine?

Guess what? This weekend Atheists Talk radio show is interviewing Katherine Stewart! This Katherine Stewart:

So, we’ve got Katherine Stewart, investigative journalist, parent and author of The Good News Club: The Christian Right’s Stealth Assault on America’s Children. She’s going to be on the air with us to discuss her personal experiences with The Good News Club, as well as what she has learned about the the tactics of the Child Evangelism Fellowship and other fundamentalist, evangelical campaigns that are targeting kids in public schools across the United States.

You can listen to the show on Sunday morning, 9am Central Standard Time and call in or shoot us an email with questions or comments. You can find information on how to do all of that at the Minnesota Atheists Atheists Talk website.

So what do you think? What should should we ask Katherine on Sunday?

 

Today: Atheists Talk

This morning at 9am CST, Scott Lohman and Carl Hancock will be interviewing Robert Price, the author of The Christ-Myth Theory and Its Problems on KTNF AM950. You can stream the show live or download it later on iTunes or listen to it on the Minnesota Atheists podcast page.

“The Christ-Myth Theory and Its Problems” Robert Price on Atheists Talk #171 Sunday, June 10th, 2012

Even among those who don’t believe that Jesus was divine, disagreement remains over whether he existed at all. On one side, there are the historicists, who believe that Jesus was a fully human preacher who founded a small cult. On the other side, there are the mythicists, who believe that the cult was formed later and Jesus was hallucinated and/or invented to support the cult.
The academic fight between the historicists and the mythicists is heating up at the moment. A number of leading scholars have released or are about to release books making their cases to the public. In his recent book The Christ-Myth Theory and Its Problems, Robert Price makes a case for the mythicists.

The Christ-Myth theory … “Worse Than Atheism”? New Testament scholar Robert M. Price, one of America’s leading authorities on the Bible, has assembled in his book evidence that shows that almost the entire “biography of Jesus” is a conscious reworking of earlier literature.It is one thing to say “There are no gods” or “Jesus was not a god, just a man.” It is quite another thing to say “Jesus of Nazareth never existed at all” or that “Christ is a myth.” But scholars have been saying exactly that since at least 1793 when the Enlightenment scholar Charles Dupuis began to publish his 13-volume Origine de Tous les Cultes, ou Religion Universelle, which elucidated the astral origins not only of Christianity but of other ancient religions as well.

New Testament scholar Robert M. Price, one of America’s leading authorities on the Bible, here summarizes much of the scholarship that has led him and a growing number of modern scholars to conclude that Christ — a partial synonym for Jesus of Nazareth — is mythical. Most usefully, Price has assembled evidence that shows that almost the entire “biography of Jesus” has been created from Greek Old Testament stories and themes and even incorporates motifs from Homer, Euripides, and perhaps Aesop. Because readers will have a hard time “taking it on faith” that the Jesus biography is merely a reworking of previous material, broad swaths of “Old Testament” context are quoted in association with each New Testament equivalent, so readers can judge for themselves whether or not Dr. Price’s claim be true: the “Live of Christ” was not fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies; it was, rather, a conscious reworking of earlier literature.

This is post 40 of 49 in the SSAweek Biodork Blogathon. Donate to the SSA today! Read more about my reader challenges here.