I announced I’d be at Skeptics in the Pub in St. Louis this Friday. Enough people are now going they had to relocate to a different bar. So if you were planning to go, don’t forget to check the update!
It’s come time. I’m so cumulatively busy with all my work and life things, I can no longer find time to moderate comments on my blog beyond a fraction. I have struggled to keep up with the most recent and important ones, but I still have a backlog of nearly four hundred uncleared comments on various blog posts from last year. I hope to get to those eventually, since I consider them grandfathered in, although I might not answer them, for want of time.
Years ago I switched to full moderation. No comments ever post until I’ve seen and approved them. That has been extraordinarily effective at cutting down trolls to a tiny fraction, and even forcing them to start acting more like real people, in order to ensure their comments will ever post. Most importantly, it has driven away almost everyone who only wanted to graffiti my wall and became outraged that their Very Important Words will not be seen by anyone for days and days (and will only ever appear with my reply instantly attached, a fact for which I was accused of censorship, to the laughter of many).
I also don’t want to call upon unpaid labor to “hire” comment moderators to take over the task. I’m not a strong believer in unpaid labor. And I don’t earn enough to pay someone else what this job would deserve.
So, my only remaining option is to close down comments threads after a short time. I have thus revised my standing Comments Policy to say the following:
Comments Now Close after Six Days. Because I no longer have time to keep up with endless discussions in comments, I have had to set a fixed end-date on accepting comments at all. For now I am siding with Fake God on this one: after the sixth day, we rest. If you have something terribly important to send me after that, email me. Do not expect a reply. I receive a huge volume of email. I can only respond to a fraction of it. But I will at least see it. If it’s a valuable correction or piece of information, I will thank you. If it’s insulting, I will share it with my girlfriends, and we will laugh at you.
I have accordingly removed the grandfather clause of past yore (as now being rendered obsolete by this new rule) and renumerated the remaining blog rules. All else remains unchanged.
My article on The Will of God: 24 Evil Old Testament Verses is now available again for viewing. Among much else. Apparently Google changed a setting on us without telling us and the companion site to the book The Christian Delusion has been inaccessible for almost a year. And we didn’t know, because Google didn’t change the setting for everyone, so it appeared to work fine for some people, including us. It took until now to find out. But that’s fixed. We set the setting back. So now if you’ve been trying to access it (as apparently hundreds of people were), you can. Merry Post Christmas!
I won’t be on the roster for Skepticon this year. Which means I have nothing scheduled for November, and I’m looking for an event to do then. So are you in a group, maybe one a long way from Skepticon and thus whose members usually don’t get to go, who’d like to have me out as a speaker around that time? My requirements aren’t too demanding (details here), and if you coordinate with other groups for multiple events or a mini-tour, you can get a discount.
It occurs to me that not everyone might know my basic requirements for speaking (not everyone has read that last link), and I am looking for events in any month of this year or next (although most of this year is booked, I have a few openings here and there, besides all of November).
So here is an excerpt from my booking page:
… For any speaking engagement I require expenses, a $250 honorarium, and (usually) an opportunity to sell my books at your event. If you want to do a teleconference, I charge only $150 (per hour), and no expenses. But even for having me appear in person, normally the only expenses you have to cover are transportation and lodging.
The largest expense is always transportation. I live in California … The lowest expense is often lodging, as I actually prefer to stay as the guest of a local freethinker … all I need is a warm bed and a hot shower. …
Consider teaming up several organizations for a single joint event, or more. I am willing to stay several days for multiple events. You will have to board me for those extra nights, and I charge only $50 for each additional debate or speaking engagement, but informal events are free (e.g. dinner parties, meet-and-greets, etc.). Just feed me copious amounts of alcohol. To give you an idea, I once spoke at a university, the costs of which were split three ways by the campus freethought group and two different academic departments that were interested in the subject of my talk. On another occasion I spoke to two separate atheist community groups in cities near each other, a volunteer driving me between them, and the two groups split my honorarium and airfare. So feel free to be creative. My time is flexible.
Interested? Shoot me an email.
Six years ago I put out a call for benefactors to fund a research and writing project to help me cancel my student debt. I said I’d do whatever my donors asked for. You unanimously said: the historicity of Jesus. For that project I raised $20,000, with the generous help of Atheists United (which made it possible for each offer of support to be a deductible charitable donation). It led to the production of Proving History: Bayes’s Theorem and the Quest for the Historical Jesus. And now the project has reached it’s completion, with the publication of On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt (that link will be updated when it becomes available on Amazon).
To all my donors: Thank you so much for helping fund my research and writing of both books. This will finally bring to completion a years long project. And now, it’s done! The publisher has informed me that On the Historicity of Jesus has been printed and will begin shipping in a few weeks. It may appear on Amazon within a month. So if you don’t want to wait a month or two more, you can buy (pre-order) direct from the publisher and get your copy within a few weeks I expect (although see my caveats about that here), otherwise you can wait for it to become available on Amazon, to see if Amazon offers a better deal.
To all my donors who did not receive my email earlier this week: Many of you did not respond to my last progress report, in which I asked about relief from my final obligations owing to the high cost of stock from an academic publisher. If you donated at a level high enough to earn a promise of free copies, please email me right away and let me know if you still want to receive your free copies, and if you want only one or two (or more, if you were owed more), and what address I should send them to (and whether they should be signed). The less you ask for, of course, the less I suffer financially. Because, this being an academic press, the wholesale author price even for softcover (which is certainly all I can afford) is enormous ($24.50…that’s not the list price, that’s what I have to pay). So I would greatly appreciate a reduced request. Some donors were incredibly kind enough to waive their free copies altogether. That was a great help. Note that I will also only be receiving my own stock a month from now. So if you are claiming free copies, they might not arrive to your address until the end of August.
Whatever you decide, thank you again for all your support. These books would not have been written but for it. This is what private patronage can accomplish, in an age when academics is largely controlled by universities.
We are going to be onboarding some new bloggers in coming months, mostly after we launch a redesign of the site (coming soon), but one has joined us already:
Kaveh Mousavi is the pseudonym of an atheist ex-Muslim living in Iran, subject to one of the world’s remaining theocracies. He is a student of English Literature, an aspiring novelist, and part-time English teacher. He is passionate about politics, video games, heavy metal music, and cinema. He was born at the tenth anniversary of the Islamic Revolution of Iran. He has ditched the Islamic part, but has kept some of the revolutionary spirit.
Kaveh’s blog here is On the Margin of Error. His subjects range widely (he has already posted dozens of entries on his new blog), and he brings a perspective you might not find anywhere else: someone living under a theocracy, who has to hide his identity to save his very life. Maybe start with his post explaining his pseudonym and blog’s title. Then explore from there!
So sorry I’ve left comments in the queue a whole week. Apart from all the stuff keeping me busy to the very wire (as I noted a day or two ago), I really, really wanted to get my review of Maurice Casey’s anti-mythicist’s book posted tonight. So I’ve been reading and annotating it nonstop every spare moment this week and most of today. And now I just realized the time. And alas this terrible book is driving me crazy. I can’t endure the tedious stream of consciousness awful of it any longer. I need to put it down and do other things for a bit. I have my weekend free so I’ll try to get it done by Monday or sooner. But I thought I’d throw this up to at least explain what’s going on. I’m going to try and clear the moderation queue tonight. So any good comments you’ve been waiting forever to see post, at long last they shall!
P.S. The last half of the proof for OHJ didn’t arrive as promised, so I’m hoping that will come early next week. Want. That. Done.
I was on forced hiatus from my blog for over a week after FtBCon 2, due to a number of tech difficulties on the site and my being in studio all week recording (an exhausting and time consuming business). And then all the chores that were left undone (e.g. a major shop; business correspondence; taxes–which for us are pretty complex, a two-day operation) had to be done. And so on. So just this moment I finally got to and through my whole backlogged moderation queue for comments and finally cleared everything and replied where needed. So anyone who was waiting forever for their comment to post or to see what I or other people said (e.g. on my latest FtBCon 2 posts about the Philosophy panel and Bible Study), now you can go check that out.
I will be in studio again next week, but for fewer days. But also Valentines Day is coming. And I have a ton of other work to do. So although I have a lot of things I want to blog about, I’m going to have to put most of them on a to do list and slowly trickle them out. And some will seem already to be coming late (since they’ve been on the back burner for awhile).
At noon today, California time (2pm Central) I’ll be drinking fine scotch, while teaching the people about the literary weirdness of the New Testament, in Bible Study (or Taking the Bible Seriously as Fiction: A Read-Along). Please grab your bible, tune in, and read along with me. (The link to the video feed is the “Official Session Page,” down the right margin of the Lanyrd event page.) I will not be taking questions during the show. But any questions you do have, post them here, and I’ll get to them all eventually (but please heed my comments policy).
Here is a select reading list for anyone who wants to dive further into this kind of thing:
And for beginners in New Testament Studies: