Virtually speaking

Tonight, in about an hour, I’m going to be on Second Life in a talk show called Virtually Speaking. You can show up there in your avatar, or if you aren’t quite that nerdy, you can just listen in on the audio simulcast.

Strangely, I just realized that I have absolutely no idea what the topic of the interview will be. I guess you can just surprise me with questions!


  1. Bill says

    Good luck, PZ. May the flying penises not hit you in the face.

    I’m a pretty big nerd, but not enough to be in 2nd Life. However, I will be listening in on the audio simulcast.

  2. Ted Powell says

    Strangely, I just realized that I have absolutely no idea what the topic of the interview will be. I guess you can just surprise me with questions!

    Well, on the web site, it says:

    PZ Myers comes to the Virtually Speaking studio to talk about truth, justice, evolution and squids.

    (Not that that narrows it down very much.)

  3. Ian says

    Meh. Second Life. Some time ago, I created my free account, then I didn’t use it for awhile and forgot my username. I couldn’t find any way to recover it, so I tried to create another one, but it wouldn’t let me create a second free account (at least, not without lying about it). So I sent them a support email to recover my original username, and they never responded. At that point, I pretty much lost interest.

  4. firemancarl says

    I just signed up for it, from work- since thats where I am now, and it asked me to download some crap.. not from here!-anyway, i will just have to listen on the net and hope we dont overload the server.

  5. says

    Breaking news, if OT:

    There’s plenty of rhetoric and posturing, but not much truly intelligent debate, in this controversial documentary about evolution. Co-writer and host Ben Stein is startlingly one-sided in his unnatural selection of experts.

    The proponents of intelligent design are well-spoken and rational, and almost uniformly American. Those who believe in evolution often have foreign accents, are stuffed shirts or seem ready to foam at the mouth. This is propaganda, a political rant disguised as a serious commentary on stifled freedom of inquiry.

    A documentarian is not required to be objective, but Stein’s point of view is blatant advertising. While he cites the holes in Darwin’s theory, he never identifies specific flaws. He does directly link the theory to Nazism and eugenics.

    While he gets points for addressing the debate, the way in which Stein goes about it undermines his efforts to be even-handed and intellectually rigorous.(Rated PG for thematic material, some disturbing images and brief smoking. Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes. Opens today nationwide.) — Claudia Puig

    Well, there you have it, if USA Today labels it a political rant, who can they get a good review from? Sure, blatant right-wing and religious rags, but that’s about it.

    Glen D

  6. Ryan F Stello says

    USA Today wrote,

    Those who believe in evolution often have foreign accents, are stuffed shirts or seem ready to foam at the mouth.

    And which people were those?

  7. says

    PZ, while you’re there on Second Life,
    Just take a look–perhaps you’ll find my wife;
    I think I lost here there–it seems that I,
    In mundane First Life, don’t know how to fly.

  8. Jsn says

    /USA Today wrote,
    Those who believe in evolution often have foreign accents, are stuffed shirts or seem ready to foam at the mouth./

    Funny, those who write for USA Today are underqualified to write for the National Enquirer…

  9. dcwp says

    I don’t know if I missed it or showed too early. This whole second life thing is a little baffling for me so far…

    Back to Welfare Island where I can earn some free Linden Dollars!

  10. James F says

    UprightAlice @14

    Thanks for those! Love the chambered nautilus, squids with fan signs, and the gigantic octopus!

    I say, more geekiness! More!

    Cuttlefish @ 12

    I’m so used to lighter fare from you – that was touching.

  11. says

    PZ sez:

    Whew. For a moment there, I was afraid you’d be posting photos of me wrestling the giant penis at Cafe Wellstone.

    I got yer back, man. What happens in Cafe Wellstone, stays in Cafe Wellstone. Just don’t be telling people how you earned that Rolex.

  12. says

    Don’t worry PZ, I saved some snaps just in case I need to blackmail you one day. Glad you enjoyed the rolex.

    ~Trent A.K.A. Dapper Drakes

  13. shane - dancin' slut says

    You gave the man a rolex? Newbs don’t have a penis. What good is a rolex if you don’t have any junk?

    Ok, back to dancin’ for Lindens now.

  14. says

    It was an interesting event. As per SL requirements, there were technical glitches, of course. I was going to snap a SL photo – but PZ’s avatar took a nap. Then I forgot.

    We had no Creationist gate crashers, as far as I could tell. Could be the 20 meter Octopus above us protected us.


  15. Michelle says

    Ugh, second life. A buggy place full of ugly graphics and people that should focus more on their FIRST life.

  16. says

    GaaaAAAAHH! I miscalculated timezones. Or, more likely, somebody was on a daylight-saving-time thing. I got there – literally – just in time to see PZ saying goodbye. I hung around long enough to hear he’d be at the Cafe Wellstone.

    So, got to the Wellstone. Approached PZ, long enough to say “hi, I post comments on Pharyngula” under THIS name. I NEARLY managed to say “love the blog, makes me wish I understood more biology”… when the SL viewer crashed on me. Came back, crashed again.

    A pox on lag, a curse on heavily loaded SL servers. Giant flying penises against all computer faults, I say. Damn them all. May they all be infested with drooping, syphilitic virtual penii.

    PZ: apologies; I was Arnott Timtam. Thanks for the tolerance. I look forward, very dearly, to seeing the captured video. Or, dare I hope somebody will post a transcript, please, please, pretty please?

  17. Ruetha Jewell says

    PZ, thanks for coming and speaking to us. I had a great time. Please come back and speak again. I’d love to hear your thoughts on resources for non-scientists on evolution.

  18. jayackroyd says

    thanks for coming by PZ. We really appreciated it.

    Thanks for the snaps Alice. And for the, um, kind words about us.

    This program has been going along pretty well. Next week Glenn Greenwald. Next month, Rick Perlstein will talk about Nixonland–he wants a Nixon avatar.

  19. jayackroyd says


    the blogtalkradio archive has a podcast. I had a little trouble getting started–this is only our second BTR simulcast, so there is about 2 minutes of scarlatti before we get started.

  20. Quiet Desperation says

    Rated PG for thematic material, some disturbing images and brief smoking.

    This stood out above everything for me. A movie’s rating can be affected by a person *smoking*? Really? That the silliest thing I’ve read online this week.

    And this is from someone who thinks smoking is only slightly above taking a dump in public.

  21. says

    A review that ties in the political aspects of Expelled rather well:

    Film omits little details like separation of church and state

    Someday perhaps it will be possible to look back on Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed as a relic and reminder of the rhetorical logic employed during the era of George W. Bush. Until then, it should be seen simply as a tiresome ideological bludgeon, an attempt to deceive audiences into believing it is one thing when it is, in fact, quite another.

    Entertainer, pitchman and political commentator Ben Stein begins the film by intoning that there is a growing conspiracy within the academic and scientific communities blocking out proponents of “intelligent design” as a means to explain the origins of life and human development in favor of lock-step enforcement of Darwinist theories of evolution.

    By setting the argument up in this way, one which is never fully pursued or proven, Stein has, of course, attempted to use a textbook tactic of Karl Rove to reframe the discussion, putting it in terms by which his side seems the valiant underdog, suppressed and belittled by their opponent, while turning notions of right-and-wrong, freedom of speech and even the meaning of science upside down. When in doubt, Stein falls back on vague claims regarding “freedom” and “dire consequences for every American.” (Sound familiar?)

    A newspaper movie review is, of course, not really the forum for debating the ins, outs and what-have-yous of intelligent design, but it certainly can be said here that if a film like Expelled is meant to be the vanguard action for turning public opinion, the movement has a long, long road ahead.

    Directed by Nathan Frankowski and co-written by Stein and Kevin Miller, the film follows along gamely but charmlessly on the Michael Moore path, with its hapless everyman guide, ironic use of antiquated educational films and even showing host and crew half-heartedly kicked out of the Smithsonian.

    The film quite pointedly never particularly makes the case for intelligent design, also never fully explaining how the concept is not, as its detractors would have it, simply shoehorning a space for faith-based creationism within the boundaries of science. Also notable in its absence is the notion of separation of church and state.

    All this is without even touching on the most spurious and risible sections of the film, in which Stein visits a Nazi sanitarium and concentration camp, attempting to draw a line from Darwin to Hitler to Stalin to John Lennon (for real).

    Expelled has already kicked up quite a dust storm within the confines of the Internet, as a series of preview screenings around the country have led to various garden-variety contrived controversies both pro and con. Some of those interviewed onscreen have subsequently claimed they were approached under false pretenses, and even the rights clearances for songs and animation used in the film have come under scrutiny.

    In some ways the film is itself an afterthought, a formal necessity toward the ultimate aim of mobilizing and propagating a specific agenda. As a work of nonfiction filmmaking it is an atrocious sham, and as agitprop it is too flimsy to strike any serious blows. The most rational, genuinely effective way to deal with Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed is to not be drawn into its web, to simply ignore it.

    >>>Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (Rocky Mountain Pictures) A documentary starring Ben Stein. Directed by Nathan Frankowski. Rated PG for thematic material, some disturbing images and brief smoking. Time 90 minutes.

    Mark Olson writes for the Los Angeles Times.,0,4344175.story?track=rss

    Glen D

  22. says

    National Review decides to cease making the presentation that conservatism can be intelligent:

    Intelligent Critique
    Expelled adroitly addresses the dogmaticism of Darwinian theory in the scientific world.

    By Dave Berg

    I like rebels, especially ones who go against type. Take Ben Stein in his latest film, Expelled, which comes out this Friday. Dressed in a sport coat, tie, and tennis shoes, he’s not who you expect — the deadpan, monotone-voiced but ever-likable teacher he portrays in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and The Wonder Years.

    Stein retains his characteristic deadpan affect, but this time he’s playing himself — a deceptively erudite and well-educated interviewer, who is passionately skeptical of evolutionary biology and its leading proponents.

    The film’s endeavor is to respond to one simple question: “Were we designed, or are we simply the end result of an ancient mud puddle struck by lightning?”

    Big science doesn’t like that question because they can’t answer it. Underneath their antagonism toward explanations that suggest an intelligent cause, lies a fundamental egoism. Science wants to deny any evidence of a supreme being precisely because it wants to be a supreme being. Moreover, representatives of big science in the film are unsettlingly snippy, suggesting that they feel threatened by rival opinions, rather than assured of their own.

    To make this point, the film introduces teachers and scientists who are shunned, denied tenure, and fired for questioning dogmatic Darwinism. The film’s producers spent two years traveling the world, talking with more than 150 educators and scientists who say they have been persecuted for questioning Darwin’s theory of natural selection.

    Dr. Richard Sternberg, a biologist, publishes a peer-reviewed paper, which posits evidence for intelligent design (ID) in the universe. For his efforts, Sternberg’s bosses at the Smithsonian Institution trashed him so badly that it led to a congressional investigation.

    Iowa State University denied tenure to Guillermo Gonzalez, an accomplished astrobiologist. University officials admitted that Gonzalez’s work on ID is a factor.

    For Richard Dawkins, by contrast, job security is not a problem. To this superstar Oxford University evolutionary biologist, and devout atheist, intelligent design is nothing more than an “ideological cousin of creationism.”

    The highlight of the film features Ben Stein interviewing Dawkins, who concedes that an intelligent being may have created life on earth. But that being cannot be “God.” Instead, he suggests it may be an alien, itself a product of “Darwinian evolution.” Oh, the scientific imagination — there’s nothing like it on God’s green earth.

    Dawkins has since complained that the interview was set up under false pretenses, and that he didn’t even know who Stein was. It is rather astonishing that it did not occur to the world’s smartest atheist to look up Ben Stein on the Internet, where he might have readily discovered numerous examples of his writings that are critical of Darwinism.

    Dawkins dismisses the Emmy-winning actor as having “no talent for comedy.” He believes during the interview Stein is an “honestly stupid man, sincerely seeking enlightenment from a scientist.” A lawyer, a law professor, an economist, and a speechwriter for both Nixon and Ford, Stein hardly seems to fit the description “honestly stupid.”

    In the end, the film isn’t really about intelligent design as much as about a relentless attack on an authentically free inquiry. As Ben Stein points out, “Freedom of inquiry has been greatly compromised, and this is not only anti-American, it’s anti-science. It’s anti-the whole concept of learning.”

    — Dave Berg is a senior segment producer at The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

    Honestly, as little as I’ve thought of them, I didn’t think they were that stupid. He’s really doing nothing but mouthing rank lies, long exposed on the web, that the film and its producers put out.

    If anything, this puts me off Leno’s show.

    Sure, Derbyshire will no doubt demonstrate what a moronic film it is. But what’s the point? There only seem to be a few intelligent folk who will stand up for science on the conservative side by now, and it seems that they’d probably do best to leave. Not their politics, if that is important to them, but the wretched pile of shit that the conservative movement has become.

    Start over, if you think conservatism has inherent value. The group as a whole is simply wallowing in stupidity, lies, and an incapacity to think. Any intellects remaining had better think to saving themselves.

    You even know that a number of people at National Review are smarter than to think Berg and Stein are anything but chowderheads. And what of that? They’ll sell out to the most blatantly stupid propaganda, all to “save” the movement? That just means there’s nothing to save, other than perhaps a few individuals.

    Glen D

  23. says

    #29 jayackroyd wrote:

    Thanks for the snaps Alice. And for the, um, kind words about us.

    Consider it a compliment. I haven’t done a virtual world thing for many many years, so you should feel special. :) Definitely worth a chuckle, especially when PZ’s avatar kept nodding off.