An evening with Angelenos

This weekend, I’m going to be speaking at the Atheist Alliance International Convention, along with a team of secular luminaries. I’ll be spending most of my time on a big boat, the Queen Mary, in Long Beach, but I will be creeping out to foment revolution at Libros Revolución on Friday, 26 September, at 7 pm. So even if you aren’t going to the big conference, you can probably catch me saying rude things about dogma at the bookstore.

I’m planning an informal talk for this one, but I’ll definitely be explaining the value of science in eroding belief, the importance of activism and protest, and the oppressive nature of religious thought. Come on down and argue and howl!


  1. andyo says

    The “Atheist Alliance International Convention” link only takes me to this same post, I think something’s wrong there.

    Will you be also attending the Origins conference the weekend after?

  2. says

    Er, PZ…Not to be rude, but are you aware that Libros Revolucion/Revolution Books is the local headquarters of a Maoist outfit called the Revolutionary Communist Party?

    I’m not making this up. I swear I’m not.

  3. says

    Epicurus (mas o menos):
    Is “god” willing to prevent evil, but not able?
    Then he is not omnipotent.
    Is he able, but not willing?
    Then he is malevolent.
    Is he both able and willing?
    Then whence cometh evil?
    Is he neither able nor willing?
    Then why call him “god??

    Pretty much takes care of the situation, since approx 400 BCE…

  4. Karey says

    I’ll be there at the bookstore meeting. I already live across the street from scientology headquarters, I can deal with Maoists.

  5. Architeuthis says

    I’ll be there on Friday, and if I’m lucky, I’ll be able to attend the saturday conference as well.

    Does anyone know of any Atheist/Humanist/ Skeptic meetups or groups in the West LA area? I live in Marina Del Rey and the only one i’ve found is near Tustin (the orange county atheist meetup). I went there once, had a blast with some amazingly cool people… unfortunately, it’s a pretty significant hike from west LA.

  6. says


    Don’t know of any. Want to start one?

    PZ, I don’t know if I can get off work early to get there (driving in LA at rush hour is an exercise in insanity) but if I can make it there, I’ll go. :-)

  7. David Marjanović, OM says

    Will be… interesting to see how the Maoists will react if you talk about their dogma!

  8. Architeuthis says

    @Russell Miller

    Sounds good to me. Shoot me an email at architeuthis72 (at)

    If any other people from West LA (around the MDR/ Santa Monica/ Culver) area are interested, feel free to shoot me an email and maybe we can get a carpool/ pub-group going.


  9. Micah says

    I’m in Culver City – I’d definitely be up for a West LA meetup.

    Anyway, I’ve bought my ticket for the conference on Saturday, so I’ll be there to hear you speak, PZ. I’ll see if I can get to the bookstore, although I work on Washington Blvd. and driving on the 10 is a miserable experience in the late afternoon (plus I’d have to leave work early).

  10. Nick Gotts says

    Libros Revolucion/Revolution Books is the local headquarters of a Maoist outfit called the Revolutionary Communist Party? – Cleon

    You still have genuine Maoists? Slap a preservation order on them! The RCP in the UK are (or were, I think they’ve folded) Troskyists-turned-“libertarians” (I kid you not) and MMGW denialists.

  11. Architeuthis says


    I work on Culver Blvd pretty close to Washington. I’m pretty certain I can get off work a bit early to hit the book store. I hope to be there Saturday, but that’ll depend on how my Saturday family plans evolve.

    Anyone in the West LA area, feel free to email me at Architeuthis72 (at) gmail so we can start our own meetup.

  12. mayhempix says

    There was chat a while back about a Pharyngufest in Long Beach, with many leaning towards one off the ship. I even sent my email to someone who said they would organize it.
    Any updates on this? Or will the bookstore be it.

    Getting to LB by 7pm will be virtually impossible. I’m working up in Topanga Canyon for the rest of the month and traffic will be a nightmare. It’s best to stay off the freeways between 4-7, especially going south on the 405.

  13. Ichthyic says



    well, with over 6 billion of us, probability alone suggests there had to be at least a few identifying themselves as such.


    bloody splitters.

    as to the Long Beach event; that’s about as close to my neck o the woods as PZ has ever been, but it’s still a good 3 hour drive for me with traffic (from Palm Springs).

    Hmm. maybe if I can convince Gary Hurd to go, I can kill two birds with one stone… so to speak.

  14. Nick Gotts says

    Well strictly speaking, I don’t think they identified themselves as such, but whenever they were arguing a particular issue, they appeared to take much the same line. They were associated with the magazine Living Marxism, later renamed LM Magazine, which always seemed to be suspiciously well-funded for a Trot group, so there were rumours they were actually corporate-funded, never confirmed AFAIK. The former editor, Mike Hume, now edits the online publication Spiked.

  15. Escuerd says


    well, with over 6 billion of us, probability alone suggests there had to be at least a few identifying themselves as such.

    That’s pretty strange, but have you heard yet of the National Socialist Libertarian Green Party? Evidently it’s a real thing…sort of.

    I think they have some fundamental differences with the People’s Front of Judea.

  16. Jafpcu says

    The Revolutionary Communist Party?! Really?!
    Well… I’ll be very interested to read PZ’s comments after his encounter.

  17. Karey says

    I’ll be coming from UCLA, so in the west LA area and I was planning on taking the bus. Either the 2 or 302 will get you straight to the bookstore’s location just about but it will take about an hour and a half.

  18. Micah says

    @mayhempix: Yeah, I haven’t heard anything on that either. Unless I hear otherwise I’m going to assume the bookstore is it.

    The 405 is a clusterfuck pretty much all evening, although I find that going south actually tends to clear up faster than going north (at least around the 10).

  19. eric says

    While I don’t agree with the RCP on a lot of things, I will tell you they are not Trots. Maoist maybe whatever that means. Dogmatists? not hardly. Obnoxious? sometimes. I think they will probably stay out of your discussions. PZ, not a bad place to apeak. Amazing how “free thinkers” screetch, pull up their skirts, and jump on the nearest table if anyone says “communist.”

  20. Ichthyic says

    Cool…do talk Gary into showing up.

    I had planned to get together with him sometime in the following week.

    I sent him an email to see if he would like to move up plans a bit and attend this. I’ll post again if so.

  21. Ichthyic says

    …Most likely scenario appears to be meeting up with you at the bookstore gig. I trust there will be a migration to a local pub afterwards?

  22. Nick Gotts says

    Maoist maybe whatever that means. – eric
    Well that’s why I queried it. What could it mean? How do you go about being a Maoist in LA? Admittedly the CCP still pays lipservice to the murderous old fool, and there are still supposedly Maoists in Nepal and India, but all those places still have peasants – political reliance on whom was what mainly distinguished Maoism from other varieties of Leninism. How many peasants are there in LA?

  23. scooter says

    The RCP ??!! Holy Crap I HAVE to see this.

    Those guys are funny as hell. They have a fearless leader, Bob Avakian, who dresses in Komisar fashion, all the trappings they are GREAT, I love those guys.

    I see them at various events around houston where they table and sell Avakian videos, and pamphlet. A couple of the locals have been trying to convert me for years, they are very evangelical.

    It’s marvelous practice for intellectual gymnastics, they employ a sort of Socratic method and feel around for a place to set the hook. As long as you are aware they are doing it, it can make for some really great conversation as you keep dodging the hook, and watch them spin.

    They aren’t stoopid like Xians, they are grounded in the same hard rational materialism as practiced here. It’s a lot more fun than tweaking a Mormon.

    I’ll try to make it, but will likely be riding a Motorcycle in LA and have to think about survival.

    Maybe I’ll polish up on my Xian act and pose as a fundie kook who came to heckle PZ in the heart of RCP. Oh fuck, this could be fun, I’ll bring a tape recorder.


  24. scooter says

    Nick @ 31

    check them out. I should mention that if this is an event promoted by the RCP, do not show up if you are trying to lay very low, or have a warrant, or if you’re planning on a serious Law Enforcement career. These guys are mercilessly infiltrated, you might end up in an FBI Flicker file.

    You’re probably in one somewhere anyway, so who gives a shit.

    Scooter’s Ike Pix and vids

  25. Brando says

    Hmm…for those of us who would be foolish to brave the traffic, I’m sure it would die down enough to converge on a watering hole nearby for an impromptu drink & greet.

  26. Federico says

    Check out Sunsara Taylor (writer for Revolution newspaper in a lively exchange with Chris Hedges sponsored by Revolution Books (Libros Revolucion) in NYC:


    An Exchange Between

    on his new book


    on behalf of Bob Avakian’s new book

    Sponsored by Revolution Books


  27. Ichthyic says

    How many peasants are there in LA?

    unless we get the current financial fiasco under control, I could see LA evolving into the first “urban feudal society”.


  28. Ichthyic says

    Hmm…for those of us who would be foolish to brave the traffic, I’m sure it would die down enough to converge on a watering hole nearby for an impromptu drink & greet.

    sounds like the nucleus of a plan.


    and yes, the traffic in LA is a nightmare, but it does calm down a bit by 7pm, and by the time PZ will be done at the bookshop, we should be fine.

    I just haven’t a clue what’s local to that area that would be worth going to afterwards.

    Google suggests this bar is less than a block away:

    gets good ratings, but anybody familiar with it?

  29. Micah says

    I’m up for hanging out wherever, afterward. Unfortunately, I have been to a bar in downtown LA *once*, don’t remember what it was called, and don’t remember liking it that much, so I’m rather useless when it comes to figuring out where to go.

  30. Nick Gotts says

    Thanks. Myself, I’d give a wide berth to any group that considers Stalin and Mao worthy of emulation. Right up there with Hitler as the greatest mass killers of the 20th century – though in Mao’s case more from sheer stupidity (in the “Great Leap Forward”) than anything else, vicious though he was.

  31. Ichthyic says

    though in Mao’s case more from sheer stupidity

    yeah, that whole “let’s make everyone a farmer” thing didn’t really work out all that well, from what I recall.


    so.. is the general idea that some of us will meet up at the bookstore and just wing it from there?

    there are a handful of decently rated bars/pubs/restaurants within a block or so of that venue.

    here’s the google of the area

  32. Fred says

    I invited some friends from UCLA’s BASS (secular, skeptic student group) so if you’re coming from the Westside and need a ride, you may want to contact them. Click on their website and send them an email. I’m really looking forward to this event and meeting PZ Myers!

    On a different note, it seems that all scientific method and rigour seems to go out the window when it comes to summing up the genuine communist revolutions (here I refer to the Soviet Union led by Lenin and Stalin and China led by Mao). I’m sure such poor methods (leading to such facile “verdicts”) would be found unacceptable in other spheres. Really, many (some who should know and once knew better!) go around repeating the lies and slanders about communism but would never go around repeating the lies and slanders and attacks on evolution. In fact, many have rallied to the defense of evolution and critical thinking, which is very important (and under attack right now). So, what I’m saying is, be consistently and systematically scientific; not just when dealing with evolution but also when dealing with history and human societies, and in particular when summing up the “first stage” of the communist revolution (which ended with Mao’s death in 1976).

    The fact is, in short, that these socialist societies mentioned above (Soviet Union 1917-1956 and China 1949-1976) were overwhelmingly positive and brought about incredible accomplishments. Yes, there were shortcomings and weaknesses (even serious ones!). But, again, if you put things on the sclaes and get a “balance sheet”, the very positive (and very real) experiences by far outweigh the negative ones.

    For more on this read “Set the Record Straight” project and Bob Avakian’s critical summation of this experience at

    I welcome any emails

  33. Karey says

    I’ve been to Pete’s Cafe, which might be a tad long of a walk depending. I wasn’t wildly impressed with the place, but there are lots of bars in that area. Broadway bar looks fine.

  34. Nick Gotts says

    So you consider:
    1) The Moscow show trials.
    2) The Ukraine famine.
    3) Stalin’s failure to realise Hitler was going to attack the USSR.
    4) The “Great Leap Forward”.
    5) The attempt to exterminate songbirds, resulting in plagues of insects.
    6) The “Cultural Revolution”,

    not to mention the establishment of dictatorships and cults of personality to be just “serious weaknesses”?

    You are, not to put too fine a point on it, an arsehole.

  35. raatrani says

    I’ll be coming up from San Diego, and leaving SD at 6pm is generally safe – northbound 405 isn’t nearly as bad as southbound… though I will have to check on the carpool situation.

    Saturday night would be better, though!

  36. Ichthyic says

    The attempt to exterminate songbirds, resulting in plagues of insects.


    that’s a new one on me.

    gotta link I can add to my ever growing collection?

  37. Susan says

    I’ll be there, too. Communists don’t scare me!

    I’ve been to some of the bars on Google’s list. The Edison Bar is pretty cool, but it’s not cheap, and almost always crowded and noisy on a Friday night. It actually is a renovated 1900’s Edison boiler room, and the bar is down in the basement with a bunch of old restored equipment; it would be about an 8-block walk, I think. The Rooftop Bar at the Standard has a great view, you can talk, and it’s a little closer, but the Communists would hate you for converging at such a yuppily bourgeois place. Also, not cheap… but unusual bathroom graphics and about a 6-block walk. The Library Bar always looked inviting, but I haven’t been there. Others, like Weiland’s Brewery, might be perfect, but they really are too far away, I think.

    There’s so much downtown now, though, I’m pretty sure we could just wander around the block and find something.

  38. Nick Gotts says

    My mistake – just sparrows, resulting in a plague of locusts:

    In my comment, I somehow forgot the Hitler-Stalin Pact. Aside from the morality of it, by signing the Pact and supplying enormous quantities of crucial raw materials, Stalin helped Hitler conquer western Europe – then spent much of the war whining that there was no “second front”.

  39. Ichthyic says

    My mistake – just sparrows, resulting in a plague of locusts:

    well, sparrows count as songbirds (depending on who you listen to wrt to common classification schemes), so you weren’t too far off.

    thanks for the link.

  40. Fred says


    You’ve gotts to be kidding me. Have you ever considered these facts:

    1. During the Mao years of 1949-1976, life
    expectancy improved greatly, more than doubling from
    32 to 65 years.

    2. In 1949, when China’s revolution took place,
    only about 15 percent of China’s population
    could read and write. When Mao died in 1976,
    the literacy rate was about 80 percent.

    3. The infant mortality rate in Shanghai in the
    early 1970s was better than New York City’s.

    4. Women’s liberation
    “We had a dream that the world can be better than today”

    Here I’ll use Nicks method of the “quotes”

    5. “Education”
    6. “Culture”
    7. “Economic Management”
    8. “Science conducted in new ways”

  41. Nick Gotts says

    All of your 1-8 could have been accomplished without totalitarianism, mass murder, and idiocies such as the “Great Leap Forward”, which by itself had a death toll of many millions. You might also like to note that your heroes’ glorious achievements have been succeeded by a restoration of capitalism – explicitly in the former USSR, de facto in China – without in either case even providing the advantages of “bourgeois democracy” such as freedom of speech and assembly. If they were so wonderful, why did their achievements fall apart so quickly?

  42. Nick Gotts says

    I don’t have the slightest interest in an email exchange with an idiot – let alone one who makes light of tens of millions of unnecessary deaths. Go worship your mini-Mao.