#FtBCON: Atheism Is Not Enough panel

As proven by the deep rifts that exist within movement atheism, a common acknowledgement that there is no god is often not enough ground on which to build a coherent, lasting community. Social justice movements often encounter tipping points where they either take into account the natural allies that are other movements, or they fail. Debbie Goddard, Desiree Schell, James Croft, Kimberley Veal, Kim Rippere and Yemisi Ilesanmi all joined me to discuss atheism and social justice, and how atheism shouldn’t be the endpoint of a journey into freethought, but the beginning.

This was a two hour panel. It will be a beast to transcribe. I will pitch in when I can, if someone sets up a transcription project for this.

#FtBCon: Mission Creep (with text)

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My talk for FtBConscience! Hooray!

Comments are disabled there, but are enabled here. The video should hopefully also helpfully direct would-be commenters here via the description.

Full text of my speech below the fold. It doesn’t contain any of the verbal burrs or slight tangents I took but it’s largely intact. I hope some kind soul is good enough to transcribe the Q&A portion, but if not, I’ll do so myself eventually. Richard Carrier asked a question about libertarianism, and I was forced to answer honestly rather than hedging. I’m sure I’ll incur some wrath!

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FtBCONscience: the seven panels I’m facilitating

Here’s a convenient list of the seven panels I’ve got set up as On-Air Events on Google+. All times are GMT -5 (Central).

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FtBCON: Atheism Is Not Enough
Sat, Jul 20, 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
As proven by the deep rifts that exist within movement atheism, a common acknowledgement that there is no god is often not enough ground on which to build a coherent, lasting community. Social justice movements often encounter tipping points where they either take into account the natural allies that are other movements, or they fail. This panel will discuss how movement atheism should not be the end-point of a journey into social justice, but the beginning.

FtBCON: Atheism, Science and Art
Sat, Jul 20, 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Artists within the secular, scientific and skeptical communities online discuss using their art to popularize their preferred field. Hosted by Amy Roth and Glendon Mellow.

FtBCON: Skepticism and the DSM
Sat, Jul 20, 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Multiple personalities? Personality disorders? The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) contains a list of all recognized mental illnesses. How valid is it? Kate will look at the best and worst mental health diagnoses and talk about what makes for useful skepticism when it comes to mental health.

FtBCON: Video Games, Religion and Morality
Sat, Jul 20, 10:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Religion and morality systems in video games are often grossly oversimplified, to the point where choices are entirely binary and you’re often forced, as a gamer, to do things that you might otherwise find appalling, like working in service of a god or gods. How are these heady topics handled in the slowly-maturing video game industry? Who’s already doing this stuff right? How can these topics’ treatment be improved?

FtBCON: Female Protagonists in Video Games
Sun, Jul 21, 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM
Women make up 45% of the gamer population, a number that’s climbing rapidly toward parity. And yet, female protagonists in games are few and far between — and when games are exclusively fronted by female characters, they get far less marketing budget than their equivalent male-led titles. Why? What can be done about this?

FtBCON: Atheism and Grief
Sun, Jul 21, 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Moderated by Rebecca Hensler, founder of Grief Beyond Belief. Featuring Freethought Blogger Greta Christina, Blue-Collar Atheist Hank Fox and Black Skeptics LA’s Nicome Taylor. “I’ll keep you in my prayers,” “Everything happens for a reason.” We’ve heard all the cliches. But what happens when we grieve free of myths and mysticism? How do atheists take care of themselves and of each other in times of profound sorrow? Grief Beyond Belief’s Rebecca Hensler moderates a discussion with panelists Greta Christina, Hank Fox and Nicome Taylor about their personal experiences of grief without God and how the freethought community can help provide rational comfort in times of tragedy and loss.

FtBCON: Where are the Asian Faces of Freethought?
Sun, Jul 21, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
John Xu the new Director of CFI Canada made this observation: “I have often remarked how little interest people of my ethnicity have for secularist and freethought issues. My theory is that this is because they are the product of very complicated and difficult social, political, and intellectual turmoils of the 20th Century. Most Chinese people I know are brought up with a single-minded concern about generating wealth and a general apathy about philosophical matters. This is likely because their parents lived through such hard times.” Although East Asians are the largest group of irreligious adherants in the world, the prominent faces of irreligion are white men like Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris. The panelists will discuss and dissect assumptions and stereotypes about East and South Asians and their puzzling absence in representative numbers in the freethought and secular microcosm.

The Full Schedule for the convention is available at Lanyrd.com. All panels will be held via Google+ Hangout On-Air Events. Visit the official conference page for more details!

CONvergence: Evolutionary Psychology panel video

Those of you who rightly complained that the audio I’d taken and posted on my blog earlier was unlistenable because of the audio quality, rejoice, for this panel was properly recorded, with video no less.

The full transcript for this panel is available over at Skepchick, done by Stephanie Zvan. Having a panelist do the transcripts is a great idea, though I don’t envy her the effort, because the word count is astronomical.

I did the silly video effects. So I feel entitled to posting it here.

(Those of you who complained less about the audio quality and more that the “talk” or “debate by Stephanie Zvan and PZ Myers” was horrible because “they’re being science denialists”, or that the “walkout” was a “huge success”, well, you’re still out of luck — you have to at least listen to the panel before you can make ridiculously contrafactual claims like that. Stop clinging to your woo, just because that woo wraps itself in the mantle of science and tells you things you want to believe. You piss-poor skeptics.)

Help provide shelter to a fellow heathen

Daniel Samuelson, a disabled atheist steampunk author whom you might know as Luarian on comments or Teh Tweeters, is in a bit of a bind with regard to making his rent. I’ve long said that we atheists need to be far better at taking care of our own when each of us finds ourselves in need.

As you can see in the video, I’m kind of between being homeless and not being homeless right now. I paid rent to live in the place I’m in this month and it’s the first time I’ve had a room in over two years. I am also disabled, as you can hear, and I am unable to work anymore. This leaves me with very few options for doing anything to support myself. While I have applied to Social Security for support, I still haven’t heard back on this decision and, even if it’s successful, it could be months before I get my benefits and it could be over a year before they could find a place for me to live. The HUD lines are, essentially, closed in Orange County and there are no other systems for disabled people to get rental support here.

Except for you. That’s why I’m reaching out – with a little bit of help, I can pay this deposit and no longer be homeless. My partner is paying for my rent but she can’t afford the deposit being asked for. I already have a fifth of my goal met by a variety of awesome people, but it will take more. It’ll take more donations to be sure, but it’ll also take more sharing, more conversations, and more discussion. It’ll take all of us working together to pitch in a little bit to do a big thing. My health and wellbeing suffer every day since as my disability has grown to affect me more, I have been unable to deal with it effectively due to being homeless. With a little bit of help, you could make my life infinitely better.

Please, consider pitching in $5, and please share with your friends on your favorite social networks. I need all the help I can get, and I appreciate everything everyone has, and will do, for me.

~ Danny

If you have some spare scratch, consider throwing it Daniel’s way.

12-year-old boy speaks truth to Egyptian power

If this translation is anywhere near accurate, this child could absolutely be, as the title of the video suggests, the next President of Egypt. That is, if he survives that long. He is astoundingly clued-in, and he is possibly the bravest young man I’ve had the honour to see in my entire life, knowing how volatile the Egyptian situation is, and knowing how quick to silence dissent the fascist theocracy is that’s rising to replace the overthrown Morsi.

I fear for his life. That should not be the first reaction a person has to seeing someone contradict power structures. That’s no way to win the hearts and minds of your people, to build a country and a society that will last.

Remember Zimmerman on FOX News? Remember Marissa Alexander? Remember Ralph Wald?

Edit: Though I got Marissa Alexander’s name right in the post, I somehow screwed up and had “Marissa Thomas” in the post title (where did THAT come from??). I’m changing the display title, but as I already have incoming traffic on it, and I’m not about to SSH into the server and make an htaccess 301 redirect to fix one blog post on my personal blog because that’s stupid, I’m not changing the post slug.

In the wake of George Zimmerman being declared not guilty in his actions of following, confronting against orders of the 911 dispatcher, then shooting the unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin, I want to remind you that he had an interview about eleven months ago on FOX News. During that interview, he told every one paying attention what would happen when tried by a jury of his peers in Florida.

It was God’s will that Zimmerman ignore the dispatcher, follow the teen and confront him. It was God’s will that Zimmerman shoot and kill Martin. Therefore Zimmerman doesn’t need to have any remorse.

Remember, also, black Floridian Marissa Alexander firing a warning shot at her aggressively-approaching abusive husband and getting twenty years?

Remember also Ralph Wald, 70 year old white man, shooting and killing his wife’s lover in a crime of passion, and getting off scott free?

It doesn’t seem to matter the circumstances of the shooting or who was the aggressor. It matters, it seems, only whether or not the shooter and the victim were white.

There is no justice in this. This is an absolute miscarriage of justice. And Zimmerman has zero remorse because he — like so many others — believes that everything he did was in service of a god that we’re almost certain doesn’t exist.

This Stand Your Ground nonsense, selectively applied to hurt only black folks, disgusts me. Floridians, for allowing that law to exist, and for acquitting a man who was most certainly guilty of being the aggressor in a confrontation with an unarmed teenager, disgust me too.

Mock The Movie: War of the Robots transcript

Playing catch-up with my Mock The Movie stuff. Due to a perfect-storm series of impossible work crises that had me working fifteen hour days all week, I missed out on this one, though I did manage to get the scrape bot running in time. Enjoy the transcript of this trainwreck of bad sci-fi, low budgets and what appears to have been some sort of automatic pan-and-scan that made me feel seasick for the five seconds I watched near the middle.

Going to try to catch up on updating the Mock the Movie page now.
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