Berkeley meetup report

We didn’t think to take any photos that I know of, so I’ll have to make do with an image to capture the gist of the meetup at the Jupiter in Berkeley on Wednesday.

Artist's impression

Artist’s impression

Known hordelings in attendance were Ron Sullivan and her celebrated trophy husband Joe Eaton, robro, moarscienceplz and a lovely gentleman whose real name I caught but whose posting name remains a mystery to me, so I’ll let him decide whether to announce that he was there and bought me a beer. (Thank you.)

There was also someone who came by the table and asked whether any of us was PZ. I jovially identified myself as PZ-lite, and he left in a hurry before anyone could clarify. If that was you,

  • I’m sorry I wasn’t clearer, because we’d very likely have enjoyed your company, and
  • Dude. Read the bylines.

Also in attendance were a few other good friends from various sections of the last 35 years of my life, and it was an incongruous but simpatico mix of people. It was too bad that Andrew Alden couldn’t stay longer, but he had a geologists’ meeting to run off to, and several in attendance didn’t get a chance to meet him. But you can all still read his geology blog.

I did have a moment of something like terror when I mentioned the BBC show QI and no one there had heard of it.  You can no longer say that. Here’s the first episode of Series 1. There are 10 years of QI so far. See you later.

Comments

  1. says

    Aww man, QI is awesome!

    I discovered it somehow and went strait up to s01e01 and watched ‘em all… still do (they’re on break currently I believe).

  2. says

    QI is fantastic, but I think what you’ve got there is the unaired pilot, not the first episode of Series A.

    I’m sorry. I’m one of “those” people.

  3. toddsweeney says

    Sorry I missed it. Had to work an evening shift.

    Anyone else recognize the cultural reference being made before the top image had even finished loading? I saw the tops of those three windows and knew what was coming.

  4. nonzero says

    I love QI! I also love the fact that Rich Hall, an American from the South no less, is a regular guest that holds his own and lessens my shame for my country. Though the shame returns when I hear QI won’t have an American version or even have the British version aired on BBC America due to low interest. I guess Ancient Aliens and Ghost Hunters are more up this country’s alley. Sigh.

  5. opposablethumbs says

    I saw it live once, as in being a member of the studio audience when they were recording. Not a really stellar episode, alas, but it was still pretty cool.
    .
    Rich Hall is one of the best regulars on the show.

  6. opposablethumbs says

    … oh, and – I almost forgot to say: glad you enjoyed Berkeley, PZ!
    .
    That’s something I’d really love to do. Imagine having the opportunity to just sit and chat with PZ at a table full of like-minded people for a little while … better than QI any day!

  7. carlie says

    Auntie Ron! I hope she’s doing well, and that she stops by here more often.

  8. zibble says

    Hot damn, never thought I’d see QI mentioned on this blog!

    When you run out of QI to watch, there’s a british radio program called The Unbelievable Truth. Here’s the first episode:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k83QoyXxbXw

    It’s hosted by David Mitchell, the shamelessly nerdy guest in a lot of QI episodes. It has a lot of the same rotating panelists as QI – Alan Davies is a fantastic guest on the show, and keep an eye out for any episode with Henning Wehn, who’s fantastic.

  9. nonzero says

    @zibble

    Thanks for the recommendation for The Unbelievable Truth! I enjoy David Mitchell’s rants immensely, must make time for this new show.

  10. cm's changeable moniker says

    Pssst. opposablethumbs, you need to check the byline. ;-)

    (mrs cm was in-studio for the G(?) series: Phil Jupitus, Hugh Dennis, and Andy *mumble* episode.)

  11. neutrinosarecool says

    What’s up? Shouldn’t you be off telling us about the horrors of desert solar power, while blatantly ignoring the effects of coal-fired pollution and global warming on desert ecology?

  12. says

    neutrinosarecool, you’re completely full of shit. I write about climate change all the time. I just trust that most people are smart enough to see blatant corporate greenwashing when they see it.

  13. Ulysses says

    I give up.

    Oh no! PZ has given up. Now we’ll just have that gormless Clarke (or is it Lewis, one of those two) running things.

  14. Ichthyic says

    What’s up? Shouldn’t you be off telling us about the horrors of desert solar power, while blatantly ignoring the effects of coal-fired pollution and global warming on desert ecology?

    shouldn’t you be at home wanking?

    oh, wait.

  15. loopyj says

    @13 – Just to clarify, Alan Davies is on every episode. He’s the foil to Stephen Fry and his miming and accents are adorable.

    QI is brilliant. As a Canadian, I’ve only ever watched it online. Even better are the ‘XL’ episodes which run 30% longer and include marvelous edited-out tangents and jokes. A really wonderful introductory episode to the show (and an XL) comes from the F-series. (Note to North Americans: In the U.K. a ‘series’ is what we call a ‘season’.) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NxEkMCQHiHA&list=PLACB58CAEECB35FA7&index=8

    I so wish we had comedian panel shows in North America, but I’m not sure they’d be anywhere near as good. North Americans don’t have the same cultural history of taking the piss out of each other with humour and fun.

  16. chigau (違う) says

    So, PZ Chris, are you coming to Edmonton any time?
    I would even go to Calgary to buy you a beer.

    I ♥ QI.

  17. zibble says

    @nonzero

    My pleasure! I’m a huge fan of David. The UT wouldn’t work if not for his quick witted pedantic rants.

    Also check out The Bubble and Would I Lie to You if you haven’t already.

  18. chigau (違う) says

    I’d buy PZ a beer, too.
    But I hafta be able to get to the bar by bus.

  19. says

    Hi, Carlie! Thanks, I’m doing OK. Just a bit laconic lately. Except after a beer or two, as some can attest.

    Good to see everybody there. I note that the outside part of Jupiter is marginally less rackety than either upstairs or downstairs inside, which IMO makes that part better for meetups. Really good beer, decent li’l pizzas; skip the “cottage pie” which wasn’t lethal or anything, just boring. We do need a flag or a helium balloon or something; I was standing maybe three yards from Chris & co. and had to text him to find him.

    Trophy Hub is putting bangers and mash on the table. Gotta go.

    What, no kittens or bunnies?

    Aloha, all.

  20. Ichthyic says

    pile on for QI.

    halfway through first season. Man, I love Stephen Fry, and not just because he takes his friends on adventures where they get head-raped by flightless parrots.

  21. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I want a bunny video.

    Ah, the “safe” bunny, even if angry.

  22. says

    Each episode of QI has a (very loosely followed) theme, and each theme starts with the letter of the current series. The first year was A, and they’re up to J now. I’ve watched them in order over the last couple of years, and last week watched the latest J episode I could find. New ones come up online after they air on the BBC. But every once in a while, Youtube purges the videos because of copyright. As said above, the XLs are the ones to watch; 45 minutes instead of 30.

    I’m glad there are no plans for an American version. It would be so dumbed down that it would be embarrassing to watch.

    And I love how religion is openly laughed at on occasion. Alan Davies and Stephen Fry are both very open about not believing in nonsense. Would that fly in the US? And naughty words are acceptable.

    Another fun thing about it is that many guests are not particularly knowledgeable, but are able to add something anyway, and can laugh at their own ignorance while also teasing the more informed and educated. The show really works, most of the time.

  23. tardisblue says

    THANK YOU, Chris! I have loved QI for quite some time, but I only ever get to watch a couple of minute segments at a time, because I couldn’t find full episodes anywhere. Also, thanks to zibble for even more goodness. Looking forward to lots of good watching!

  24. opposablethumbs says

    I didn’t look at the byline. My apologies to Chris ::iz embarrassed:: Mind you, the sentiment still stands.

  25. anchor says

    Sorry about this being off topic, but check out the episode A S01E05 of the QI series beginning at the 18:38 mark – its the third one that came up automatically for me here, i happened to keep it running while working, but here’s the link to the YouTube direct:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=4kHuuA-lfj8&list=PL1952C22BECA5C0F7#!

    [man, i hope this doesn't post up the vid...apologies to all if it does]

    In the spot a contestent describes a curious tradition with regard to how the Vatican maintains a curious tradition, allegedly, based on what they used to do until fairly recently, uh…i gather, to ‘validate’ a newly elected pope…something I had never read or heard about before. that i found incredibly creepy and disturbing, given the revelations of widespread – and apparently institutional – sexual abuse that has emerged so explosively on;y over the last several years…

    The weird thing to me is that this episode of

    Anyone here know more about this bizarre ritual?

  26. anchor says

    ackkk…it posted without me finishing. damn

    i meant to say –

    This episode aired on October 2nd, 2003…just about the time the shit really began to hit the fan.

    and the clip runs between 18:38 and 19:33

    drat. i had another point i wanted to ask about on this, but its escaped me now.

  27. davidmc says

    They had the balls checking chair in “The Borgias” when Jeremy Irons became pope, although they didnt lift him up. I belive it is so they dont get a woman imposter trying to be pope The researchers on the show, probably would have checked that story and debunked it there and then if it wasn’t true, which happens, Quite Interestingly, often on the show.
    I have tickets to see Rich Hall, who does a brilliant stand up show. He has also done some excellent docmentaries for the BBC, most recently one about Native Americans in the movies.

  28. says

    If you love QI, you will most likely enjoy BBC Radio 4′s Museum of Curiosity.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00k3wvk

    It’s like QI, only without video and the guests are rarely comedians but range from neuroscientists to adventurers. There are of course several jokes that could only possibly work on the medium.

  29. slowdjinn says

    davidmc

    The researchers on the show, probably would have checked that story and debunked it there and then if it wasn’t true, which happens, Quite Interestingly, often on the show.

    They do drop the ball every now and then. They repeated as fact the nonsense that a duck’s quack doesn’t echo, and didn’t correct themselves until a later episode..in a later series IIRC.

  30. ChasCPeterson says

    Suppose (without regard to profitability) one wanted to put together a USAn version of QI. Who would be good? Who seems smart, funny, and spontaneous enough to pull it off? Who could sit in the middle seat?

  31. One Day Soon I Shall Invent A Funny Login says

    I’m so ignorant — only now do I understand the format of the InKredulous podcast. It isn’t quite so brilliant, but not bad for an amateur production.

  32. Emrysmyrddin says

    I can highly recommend Inkredulous as following in the fine footsteps of Just A Minute, I’m Sorry I’ll Say That Again, etc. The Skeptics With A K podcast is free from the same stable (Merseyside Skeptics) and they’re both well worth a listen. The latest ep of Inkredulous is excellent, featuring Tom and Cecil from the US podcast Cognitive Dissonance, my current fave.

  33. says

    Suppose (without regard to profitability) one wanted to put together a USAn version of QI. Who would be good? Who seems smart, funny, and spontaneous enough to pull it off? Who could sit in the middle seat?

    That’s an interesting question. Stephen Colbert comes to mind, were he to drop the schtick that goes with his current show and just be his actual urbane self. But it would be a very different show from the one with Mr. Fry.

  34. zmidponk says

    I think the highlights of it are really where the panel sort of conspire together to make Stephen Fry lose it a bit, like here:

  35. eclipsse, very happy kitten says

    QI is brilliant – I am not sure that a USian remake would add anything (except, if the US version was like ours, (lots of challenge to WASP normatives) incidence of outrage-induced congestive heart failure among certain political and religious groups would probably rise!)

    Love the picture, but sadly do not have the financial wherewithal to travel to the US and buy any squidly individuals beer.

    Just have to watch more QI, then. Such a tragedy.

  36. avalon says

    Been a QI watcher from day one, best thing on BBC..would also like to recommend an excellent podcast series featuring Brian Cox and Robin Innis..The Infinite Monkey Cage can be downloaded free from Itunes science and humor and debate..outstanding

  37. loopyj says

    At 8:36 is a lovely exchange between Alan Davies and Stephen Fry over the nonsense of religious belief. Alan has done this sort of thing more than once in the past, and Jimmy Carr frequently makes remarks about religion being complete bollocks.

  38. dysomniak, darwinian socialist says

    The only Yank I could ever imagine holding down Fry’s chair (metaphorically, of course) is Judge John Hodgman. I’m pretty sure he even appeared on an episode but I could be wrong.

  39. Matt Penfold says

    The only Yank I could ever imagine holding down Fry’s chair (metaphorically, of course) is Judge John Hodgman. I’m pretty sure he even appeared on an episode but I could be wrong.

    He did, as a fifth guest. Another American who has started appearing is Reginald D Hunter, who can be incredibly funny.

  40. says

    I’m sorry I missed it!

    Ended up having to listen to a series of very expensive concert flutes. My spouse knows how to make her hobbies expensive.

  41. says

    I did show up, a bit late, around 6:30 or so. I looked around but did not recognize Chris. I thought maybe I was too late or something. I feel a little chagrined now. Do you remember a funny-looking bald guy in dark blue vest-jacket peering at your table with a befuddled look on his face? Maybe next time you could wear a funny hat (like the pope!) for the facial-recognition impaired. ;-)

    Glad the meet up went well and will try again when another comes up.

  42. paullockett says

    One of my favourite clips on QI is the skillful demolition of the idea that seat-belt laws increase road safety. I can’t think of another show which would offer such a reasoned and initially counter-intuitive argument.

  43. thumper1990 says

    I did have a moment of something like terror when I mentioned the BBC show QI and no one there had heard of it.

    Aw man, you guys over the pond are seriously deprived :(

  44. thumper1990 says

    @Matt Penfold

    He did, as a fifth guest. Another American who has started appearing is Reginald D Hunter, who can be incredibly funny.

    I love Reginald D Hunter, he cracks me up :) And he manages to do it without ever really saying anything. Not that he never says anything, he can be very insightful.

  45. persiflage says

    loopyj @54 – Oh, Linda Smith (from 23:59). Wonderful, wonderful Linda Smith. I’ve not seen those early series for a long time; it came as an unexpectedly saddening surprise to see her there. For all of you new to QI in the last few years, I’m sorry to say you’ve missed her; she died from cancer in 2006. To flash her Pharyngula-friendly characteristics a little, she was the president of the British Humanist Society.

    “Well, I sort of sympathise with them a bit, looking for these weapons of mass destruction, because I’m like that with scissors. Honestly. I just turn the house upside down.
    Course, the difference is, I know I have got some scissors.”