Reason Rally!

The Reason Rally is on Saturday! I know many of you are going and preparing to leave right now — a contingent of students from UMM are leaving today, although I have to teach tomorrow, so Mary and I are not getting on a plane until late Friday. I have a few words for those of you who will be spending a few days traveling and sleeping on couches at friends’ apartments and such.

I have complaints about a few of the speakers, but that’s to be expected: in a large and diverse and growing movement like this, there are bound to be differences of opinion. Don’t worry about it. The one thing most of us are united in is agreement that reason and evidence and rational policy making must rule our country — celebrate that in common with your fellow godless folk. But don’t be shy about arguing, because that’s what we do.

I know there are plans floating about for meetups and lunches and dinners with groups of people, and I’ve told people that I’ll try to make them. However, the current estimates are for 30-50,000 to show up! I suspect that all plans are going to disintegrate in the confrontation with channeled chaos. I recommend that everyone embrace the unpredictability, enjoy the company of the people you find yourself with, and go with the flow. Abandon all preconceptions that you have to be at some particular place at some particular time, and if you are, great, if you aren’t, don’t be stressed.

One possible downer: rain is predicted for Washington DC, with thunderstorms in the afternoon, which may reduce attendance. Come prepared. In large crowds, ponchos or raincoats are better than umbrellas. Cultivate the right attitude, and savor the weather — I’m a Seattle native, so I plan to see any rain as a blessing. And if there’s any thunder during my talk, all the better: obviously, that will be Thor shouting his approbation.

Read the pro tips.

I may be a little bit out of touch for a while. I have to give a speech to 30,000+ people? I don’t think I should just wing this one. If I sound a little nervous up there, be gentle.


  1. Randomfactor says

    Finding it hard to get excited, out here in Siberia West. :(

    IF ONLY there had been some way of letting people on the left coast see the speakers. IF ONLY there were some way of getting local atheist groups who COULDN’T fly cross-country participate. Some…I don’t know…interconnected network of computers or something.

    Oh, well, that’s one of them sci-fi things, I guess.

  2. Nerdette says

    They have been pitching rain for the Virginia area for the last week, but so far it’s mostly been night occurring.

    No worries, PZ! I’m one of the WASH volunteer backstage/VIP ushers – we’ll get you anything you need to prepare facing the godless horde, be it water, chips, or battleaxe. Well, maybe not battleaxe, what with the Mall rules, and all, but what about a nice comfort object? I can bring the stuffed squid we use as our winter solstice tree topper, if that’d help.

  3. Pteryxx says

    Good luck speaking, PZ. Just pretend they’re every class of bright-eyed, runny-nosed undergrads you’ve ever had, all up there at once in a big open-air classroom like in cartoons of Socrates.

  4. RW Ahrens says

    As a local guy that has attended other large gatherings on the Mall, another thing I’d like to add to PZ’s warnings is that you shouldn’t stress out if your phone doesn’t work.

    Unless the carriers have drastically improved their mobile cellular tower tech, these things get overwhelmed fast (especially iPhone service), so IN ADVANCE, set up a gathering point for your party if you get separated that doesn’t depend on telephone communication.

    You may be glad you did!

  5. hexidecima says

    i’m waiting for the theists to claim that the rain is their god’s actions. A cheap rainsuit would be a good thing, or just make your own rain kilt and cape from garbage bags. Then to clean up cinch up the drawstring and fill them from the opened end.

  6. Gregory Greenwood says

    I may be a little bit out of touch for a while. I have to give a speech to 30,000+ people? I don’t think I should just wing this one. If I sound a little nervous up there, be gentle.

    We are the blood-thirsty, baby-eating, shrill, uncompromising, Catholic Morality(TM) detroying, Pharyngula Horde of godless-muslim-commie-fascists – what is this ‘gentle’ you speak of?

  7. Rieux says

    So… any news on D.C. atheist-social gatherings (other than the “complementary events” announced on the RR official site, all of which look way too formal for me) going on between now and Saturday morning?

    Anybody up for a Smithsonian visit sometime within the next few hours?

  8. nurnord says

    Randomfactor “He misspelled “gentile,” Gregory.”
    – No he did not ! Gentle is correct and what he intended !

  9. David Marjanović says

    And if there’s any thunder during my talk, all the better: obviously, that will be Thor shouting his approbation.

    “It wasn’t a dark and stormy night. But it should have been.”

  10. David Marjanović says

    So… any news on D.C. atheist-social gatherings

    Go to the Endless Thread and look for comments by onion girl.

  11. Matt Penfold says

    And don’t forget people, it is a poor weekend when the army is not on standby.

    (Bonus points for anyone who gets that reference)

  12. leepicton says

    Sort of on topic. I do not have the stamina to attend a rally but if there are any of you who are not coming from a distance because of poverty, I have guest beds available. You can drive to a metro station and go on in to DC. I am only 45 min away in Ellicott City. Upscale townhouse retirement community, privacy in upstairs suite. mizleeataoldotcom

  13. says

    You want tips???

    For long trips, take the Metro (subway) not a cab.

    Walk on the left or stand to the right on escalators.

    At the end of an escalator ride, walk ten feet before stopping.

    Don’t bring fake weapons (phasers, blasters etc…).

    Don’t joke about having weapons or make threatening comments about public officials.

    When a homeless person directly asks you for money, either give them some, or say sorry. Don’t just walk past them. That’s an invitation for an unpleasant conversation.

    Be nice to the police. They want an incident even less than you do.

    Believe me, this comes from thirty years of being on the Mall during big crowds.

  14. RahXephon, Giant Feminist Mecha Robot says

    I live like, a thousand miles from DC and have no spare cash to travel. Is any of the rally going to be streamed online?

    Also, I may not be able to watch because they’re releasing the first two episodes of The Legend of Korra online on Saturday.

  15. kieran says

    People over six five are allowed to use umbrellas since they are unlikely to poke anyone in the eye with them.

  16. nancymartin says

    I was so looking forward to going but alas I broke a bone in my foot and really can’t stand that long. Hopefully it will be simulcast.

  17. Disturbingly Openminded says

    I haven’t seen anyone else mention this, but the Tea Party Patriots are having a rally not far from the Reason Rally. Also on March 24. 10-2 in the Upper Senate Park (just north of the Capitol Building.) Turns out they don’t like the Affordable Care Act.

    So if you need a chance to point and laugh and the proselytizing xians aren’t sufficient, you might take a stroll.

    Herman Cain and Louie Gohmert will be there along with other assorted losers.

  18. psocoptera says

    Luckily it is cherry blossom season, so Metro is probably prepared. For Jon Stewart’s rally, I had to park across the river in Rosslyn and walk. I hope the acoustics are better at this one. Visitors should give our food trucks a try (not hot dog carts). I hear the Po’ Boy one is really good, but the line is always too long. I’ve never been able to wait long enough to get one.

  19. imback says

    I will be at the rally, and I will be strolling throught the near-peak cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin in the morning on Saturday. If anyone wants to join the stroll (bonus memorials MLK and FDR and Jefferson), respond here.

  20. says

    David @ 14:

    Go to the Endless Thread and look for comments by onion girl.

    I tried that and no luck. Do you mean to look for comments by onion girl on the day of the rally?

    I did find something while trolling (the other kind of trolling) through the ET for OG and that was the Android App for the Reason Rally. (Fiddling with it now and getting all registered up.)

    Reason Rally App
    (Thanks to StarStuff for mentioning it.)

  21. kreativekaos says

    Question for anyone:

    For those of us who would love to be there but can’t due to scheduling, responsibilities, financial difficulties,.. are there any suggestions on what can we do to show support for the Reason Rally? Are there ‘Reason Rally’ T-shirts available that can be worn in support of it? Bumper stickers? Anything?

  22. says

    imback @30: I wouldn’t at all mind working in some sightseeing around the Rally, though I’m not sure when I can get downtown. I’ll be way the hell up in N.Bethesda at the AA Con hotel.

  23. says

    Well I am all set to go. Train ticket, check. Hotel reservations, check. Almost done packing, check. Electronics fully charged and stowed, check. Itineraries, check.

    I am bringing one of those nylon and aluminum folding chairs. They are pretty lightweight and fit in a nylon bag that has a shoulder strap. Looks like us non-WIPS are gonna be standing around from 9AM to 6PM. I also have a spare.

    I would be willing to lend it out to someone, if they are interested… with some conditions. I will be staying at the Hilton/Rockville. It would be best if the person who wants to borrow my extra was staying at the same hotel. Otherwise… we have to arrange a way to meet up. Carrying two around + other gear will be a bit much for me. I have to know before 9AM tomorrow otherwise I won’t bother lugging the extra with me.

    You can contact me through facebook (click on my name.)

  24. imback says

    Eamon @34, I was going to meet up with one other person in the garden directly behind the Smithsonian castle (called the Enid Haupt Garden) at 9 am on Saturday. I will be wearing a black baseball cap with a green and yellow frog on the front. You can take metro down to the Smithsonian station from the White Flint station, which will probably take about an hour. It’s then about a 2 mile walk around the Tidal Basin. We would get to the rally perhaps shortly after the national anthem. Let me know if you are still interested.

  25. says

    dewd @ 24: I tried adding you as a friend in the app and I get
    “Error Invalid Friend Code.”
    Sucks when apps don’t work as expected. Mine is 243-340.

  26. Psych-Oh says

    I’m packin’ up and heading out! PZ, I am psyched to hear you speak. Looking forward to seeing some other pharyngulites.

  27. Conor Sans Pantaloons says

    I downloaded the Reason Rally app for Anroid, my friend code is 994-675, apparently. I’m heading to a friend’s place in DC tonight, so I’ll probably be in attendance for most of the events. Looking forward to it!

  28. dewd says

    David @ 38,

    I was able to add you. My name is also David.

    Conor – I added you as well.

  29. Conor Sans Pantaloons says

    If the app doesn’t work out, I’ll be the fella with the Darwin holding a guitar tattoo.

  30. petzl20 says

    Schedule shows “National Anthem” at 11:00 and “Military Ceremony” at 11:15. Really?

    I thought rote declarations of fealty to the state at mass events were relegated to republicans and totalitarians. But, I guess we have to go through the motions to “prove” we’re not despicable traitors.

  31. dewd says

    While I’m sure the Android app worked well for some, I had no connectivity at the mall. I had service, but nothing was leaving my phone.

    Oh well. Maybe NEXT year. :-)