Thursday, August 25, 2011

Episode 020 gets weirded out by PK cockroaches

Download it directly here or get it on iTunes

This Week:
- Earthquake in Virginia
- Texas Freethought Convention (
- We're doing a lkive show in San Antonio next week
- David Mabus
Bill Clinton goes Vegan
West Memphis Three released
Teacher acquitted of anti-creationism
INteresting parasychology guy Helmut Schmidt dies
Lightning Round

And special silent treatment by the dogs (though they make a show of eatng at us at some point)

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The Big Board

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Big Board for 019

Yeah, I forgot...what?!

Episode 019 effortlessly does it's multiplication tables

Download it directly here or get it on iTunes

This week:
Arkansas Coalition of Reason bus campaign update
Health stories:
- Perry OKs vaccination for universities
- Breakthrough leukemia drug trial
- DRACO kills all viruses?
- first Vampire bat bite death in US
- Ultra thin electronic medical  device
Poe's Corner
Conservative versus liberal thinking study
DNA material found in a meteorite
Lightning Round
Everybody go to the Texas Freethought Convention Aug 7-9, 2011 in Houston, TX!

With a special interjection or two by Dog the Younger.

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Help bring some skepticism to SXSW in 2012

Brian Dunning of the "Skeptoid" podcast and "In Fact" vodcast fame is a proposed interactive event for South By Southwest 2012. Go to the link below and vote "This Rocks" so Brian can help make Austin a little less weird (in a good way).

You do have to register an account, but they promise not to put you on any mailing lists. But we all have that extra Yahoo or Gmail account that we only use for this type of thing, right?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

This week's Poe for Episode 019

The following quotes were culled from youtube videos.
Which one of the following is a person pretending to be a Fundamentalist Christian? Bonus if you know who said them!

1. I think that the Bible is the most scientifically accurate book in the entire world

2. Where in the Bible does it say God will heal amputees?... God never said he would and he doesn't. That aligns perfectly with my definition of God. Why SHOULD God heal amputees, he's the one who allowed you to lose your arm in the first place! Does God have a moral obligation to heal someone who has sinned against him? Absolutely not... So, why doesn't God heal amputees? Because they don't deserve their arms, we deserve to die, that's what the Bible teaches. 

3. You can't prove that God exists with a picture: he's invisible. But everything in the world is evidence of God's creation, simply because it's here. So the non-believers are the ones who have to provide evidence for their non beliefs. Confused? Well, keep watching and try not to think too hard: this stuff is actually very simple.

4. I eat bread and drink wine in order to remember starving people in the world. That aligns perfectly with my definition of Christian, so Mom and Dad and I would get together and eat ten different herbs, and eggs, and bitter herbs, and stuff like that as a remembrance of starving people. Through feasts, we remember certain things, and by eating bread, we remember the act of chewing, the breaking, and I don't have a moral obligation to feed all the fallen, sinful people. Absolutely not.

Exhaustive Schedules

We've all heard the advice of not driving when tired because we make unwise decisions behind the wheel. I definitely remember taking finals on no sleep and looking at the questions as if there were written in Swahili instead of good ole American English. One particular area that has come under fire in recent years is medical school. Talk to an intern or resident and they will regale you with tales of being on shift for 36 hours at a time. More and more schools are requiring that their medical students be subjected to a more regulated schedule with interns and residents only working a maximum of 80 hours per week.

But is that a solution to medical mistakes?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

On Rick Perry and the death penalty

On last week's show, I made an off-the-cuff remark that “...Bachmann hasn't killed an innocent person”. I think I should explain myself, as that is a very serious assertion and I don't like to cast unwarranted aspersions.

The event that I was referencing (though I did not state it in the discussion) was the state execution of Cameron Todd Willingham, who was accused, convicted, and eventually executed for killing his children by setting fire to his house while they were inside. I am not going to go through the trial and all of the evidence as there are other pieces written that cover it thoroughly, specifically the big investigative piece by the New Yorker in 2009 (1.).

Friday, August 12, 2011

Dark Matter, Smark matter. I want antigravity antimatter!

There’s an article over on ( about a paper by CERN physicist Dragan Slavkov Hajdukovic. Rather than the usual hypothesis/experiment paper most of us laypeople are used to, Hajdukovic is theorizing a different explanation for the gravity observations that have led us to the “Dark Matter” concept. (FYI I have given up: hereafter I will refer to Mr. Hajdukovic as “DSH”, because typing out his name gives my English speaking typing fingers vertigo.)

To summarize the dark matter issue: observations of galaxies and star clusters have found that they rotate faster than would be expected given the amount of normal or “baryonic” matter that can be seen in the various wavelengths. There are currently two, main competing ideas to explain this:

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Episode 018 Responds vaguely to requests for signs of intelligence

Download it directly here or get it on iTunes

This Week:
- Live from Rick Perry's "The Response" protest
- School supplies rally (thank you Carol Chesser)
- Kurt Vonnegut book ban update
- Perseid Meteor Shower this coming 12-13Aug2011
- Shout out to Phil Ferguson at
"The Response"
Warren Jeffs' trial and conviction
Holistic Chamber og Commerce
Poe's Corner
Lightning Round

And the dogs quietly play "Godzilla" in the background.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Poe's Corner for Episode 018

This week's Poe's Corner asks the Skeptic Wire team (and you, loyal listener) to tell the difference between an actual cult people claim to believe in and one made up for a TV show.

  1. The Kinda are a primitive jungle cult where psychic powers are fostered to protect against the Mara, an evil, snake-like being of the subconscious that longs for corporeal reality.

  2. The Hindu cult Aghori will eat anything from rotten food to animal faeces. The finality of their rituals is attained from eating the decaying flesh of a human.

  3. The Russian Cult of Gadget Hackwrench believe in a Disney cartoon that is Gadget Hackwrench from the famous the “Disney's Rescue Ranger TV show”, as being a divine being.

  4. The Feeders of Vaal cult reveres a dragon named Vaal that they say controls every element of the environment from lightning to the fruit on trees. Only by feeding the dragon are they spared its wrath.

  5. The Creativity Movement is a xenophobic and White-supremacist cult which advocates a religion known as the “White Religion” called Creativity.

  6. Foundationism is a cult that aims to get back at the roots of all the religions, asserting that the core message of existing religions often get lost when politics and money and nationalism get in the way of things.

  7. Blaintology is an American magic worshipping cult who, after failing to achieve tax-exempt status in 2001, attempted a mass suicide in Washington D.C.

  8. Ho Na Hana Sanpogyo is a Japanese cult often referred to as the “foot reading cult,” as the founder of this cult believed that he could make a diagnosis by examining people’s feet.
Source Sites:

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Rick Perry's "Day" of Prayer and "Fasting"...kind of

Greetings podlisteners and blogarinos. It's nearly 10 PM on August 6th. The day of Rick Perry's big ol' revival meeting. From 8 AM to almost 4 PM I stood outside reliant stadium in the 100+ degree heat with the (approximately) hundred or so protesters. ...and boy are my arms tired (along with everything else). As has happened a lot lately I'll be going on (and on and on) a bit about this event. So more info after the jump.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Howdy from Houston, the night before...

Greetings from Houston-town! What's the nickname for Houston? Oil city? Crazy driver town? I'm too tired to google it. It's late and I'm tired. Good thing I don't drink.
I drove out to Houston this afternoon with Paul Mitchell, another member of the San Antonio Skeptic/Atheist groups. We talked about the Skeptic/Atheist movement, TAM, and the upcoming Texas Freethought Convention (tickets available now! sign up now!). FYI: Even though Paul heads up the Convention organizing, I would have plugged that anyway. We went our separate ways for the evening. Paul went to a dinner meetup sponsored by the Freedom From Religion Foundation. Sounded like a fun social and networking event. Apparently Dan Barker also performed a full set of his songs.
I chose to go to the "Family Faith and Freedom" event at the Mt Ararat Baptist Church. The event was sponsored by Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the ACLU. There was a imam, a Hindu, a Unitarian Reverend, a stand in for a Rabbi (who couldn't come because of sabbath services), and a Humanist/Atheist. Oh yeah, and several Christians. The evening opened (and closed) with a prayer...a very thinly veiled Christian prayer. I don't think everyone got the concept of the evening: that a christian prayer only event is NOT inclusive. The imam made the focus of his speech that, to paraphrase, "all of you believe in the one god, whatever you call him, so go out there and tell these divisive christians that they don't speak for you." When I'm told to pray "in the name of the father" or that we're all together because we believe in the one true god I got ticked off. Not just for me the atheist, but for the hindu and the Unitarian as well!
So not everyone got the concept of including everyone because we're all humans and we're all Americans, but the two main speakers DEFINITELY got the point. Those were AU's Rev. Barry Lynn and Rev. William Lawson. They are believers, but they really got it right. It's not a governor's job to instigate a religious event. When government and religion are mingled BOTH are corrupted. Perry's supposed to represent ALL Texans, not just particular christians. Good stuff. Because of open minded people like this we can have "interfaith" events that are ACTUALLY inclusive. 5-10 years ago no "interfaith" event would have a hindu, a unitarian, and (especially) no atheist.
Side note: I met some audience members who were pagans. Not the pagans evangelicals accuse atheists of being, but *actual* pagans. Good mix of audience members too.
OK, this may not be a particularly coherent post, but it's 1 AM. You get what you pay for. I'll be getting some sleep now and then getting up early to join the protests outside the Response rally at 8AM. It's looking like about 8 or 10 thousand people RSVP'd for the a ~75,000 seat stadium. Don't know if that includes the bus loads being driven in from out of state by influential preachers participating in the Response, but that stadium is gonna be mega-empty. And a lot of those RSVP's are from people who just want to watch the train wreck that will be Perry's Evangelical revival.
I'll let ya'll know how it goes. There's gonna be a live feed and I'm sure that if Perry decides to declare his run for president you'll know before I do. G'night

Problems with least at from my POV

We appeared to have a brief RSS feed misconfiguration for a little bit. I think it's fixed. I HOPE it's fixed! Perhaps iTunes humors the n00bs who have less than 15 podcasts, and once you go over that number- and, perhaps, show a tenacity not seen in many 'casters- they decide that you damn well better get the feed right.
So now the RSS checker shows happiness. And iTunes shows a nice little blue dot next to the unlistened-to podcast. So I'm happy. Are you happy?! I am.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Episode 017 has just The Response you're looking for

Download it directly here or get it on iTunes

This Week:
Juston Griffith's "Rock Beyond Belief" is on (31Mar2012),
JUNO Probe to launch this week,

The Response (grrrr)
- Just a discussion and a brief go-over of some of the people involved,
- such as: The American Family Association, John Hagee, David Barton, C. Peter Wagner, etc

UFO's in the News: Ft. Worth and Europe  [embedding doesn't appear to be working]


David Servan-Schreiber cancer treatment opponent dies of cancer
Poe's Corner: Real Presidential quote or Fake Presidential quote?
Lightning Round

And the dogs realize that staying out of the way is the best way to handle the recording process.

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The Response: The Webcast

The Family Research Council has graciously decided to webcast the entire "Response" call to prayer hosted by none other than our own Governor, Rick "The Hair" Perry. At least two of our members, Greg and David are attending the prayer/protest planned. Unfortunately, due to work circumstances, I cannot. So I'll be checking in here and posting updates to my twitter account (that yes, I know I haven't used in forever!!!)

So while my compatriots will be outside in the blistering Texas heat, I'll be watching from the air-conditioned office. Assuming that I'm not surviving possible rolling black outs...

That website again is

Poe's Corner 3 August 2011

In the Poe's Corner from last night's recording, I decided to see if my compatriots could tell the difference between a fictional democratic president and an elected democratic president.

In one corner we have quotes from President Barack Obama made during this administration. In the opposite corner we have quotes from two term President Josiah "Jed" Bartlett from the television drama "The West Wing".

1) We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history;

2) There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won't agree with every decision or policy I make as president. And we know the government can't solve every problem.
But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree.

3) Here's evil in the world, there'll always be, and we can't do anything about that. But there's violence in our schools, too much mayhem in our culture, and we can do something about that.

4) More than any time in recent history, America's destiny is not of our own choosing. We did not seek nor did we provoke an assault on our freedom and our way of life. We did not expect nor did we invite a confrontation with evil.

5) As a nuclear power - as the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon - the United States has a moral responsibility to act.

6) There are times when we're fifty states and there are times when we're one country, and have national needs.

7) But what we can do, as flawed as we are, is still see God in other people, and do our best to help them find their own grace. That's what I strive to do, that's what I pray to do every day.

8) We're for freedom of speech everywhere. We're for freedom to worship everywhere. We're for freedom to learn... for everybody. And because in our time, you can build a bomb in your country and bring it to my country, what goes on in your country is very much my business.

9) In all the talk about democracy, we forget it's not a democracy. It's a republic. People don't make the decisions. They *choose* the people who make the decisions

10) Terrorism has long been a tactic, but modern technology allows a few small men with outsized rage to murder innocents on a horrific scale. In today's wars, many more civilians are killed than soldiers; the seeds of future conflict are sown, economies are wrecked, civil societies torn

1)Inauguration Speech
2)Election winning speech 2008
3)BARTLETT: College Kids, episode 4.2
4)BARTLETT: 20 hours in America 4.1
5)Prague speech, May 5, 2009
6)BARTLETT: Game On: 4.5
7)In response to a question in NM, 9/2010
8)BARTLETT: Privateers 4.17
9)BARTLETT: Lame Duck Congress: 2.7
10) Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech, December 2009

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Skepticism’s Broader Mission

I think many people would agree with me that one of the top ten most interesting panels at TAM9 ( was the “Diversity In Skepticism” panel. To paraphrase the primary opinion of many of the panelists: “we can do more than vaccines, creationism, and woo.” There was much more to the conversation, and it focused more about adding social injustice issues to the skepticism tent, but the broader point was what I latched onto. We skeptics can still stay true to the movement’s “critical thinking” message and maybe broaden our scope to help more people and, in general, do better.

One of the local topics that we didn’t get to on our podcast last week was an article I found on San Antonio’s KEN5 news station website ( It described how Texas has, for the last year and a half at least, been leading the nation in child-in-hot-car deaths. In 2010 thirteen of the forty-nine child deaths from hot car heat stroke were in Texas. As of July 2011, Texas accounts for six of the twenty hot car deaths in the US. That’s a thankfully small number compared to our national population of 310 million, but the way I read the article was that we’re on track to have the same amount of annual hot-car deaths in the U.S. and in Texas. The rational community had a great institutional victory for children’s education in Texas last week (, but is that all we can do? Where are the op-eds in papers and people from skeptic groups testifying at board meetings about this “I’ll just leave my child in the car for a minute” nonsense? We can do better.

Also in the news lately is the media controversy over Raquel Nelson of Marietta, Ga ( . She was jaywalking with her three children after getting off a bus and her four year old boy got hit by a car. Most of the news articles and blogs I see are discussing the issue focus on the fact that the driver only got a 6 month hit-and-run conviction whereas the mother got 36 months for second-degree vehicular homicide, reckless conduct, and failure to use a crosswalk. Let’s consider the basic facts of the actual incident: She was trying to cross in the middle of a four lane road…with three children in tow. For a minute set aside the legal system side of the story: why were these children in mortal danger? Mz. Nelson herself said “I know that nobody gets up that day and says, ‘I’m going to kill a 4-year-old.’” The driver was an idiot for driving away from the accident, yes, but the accident wasn’t anything he chose to do. The mother, on the other hand, made the conscious choice to cross in the middle of traffic rather than walk to the “nearest crosswalk from the bus stop [that] was nearly three-tenths of a mile away.” Where are the advocates for critical thinking who could be calling for parents to stop jaywalking and putting their children in danger? We can do better.

The skeptical movement has made a great start in getting the message out to parents that vaccines are important and safe for your children. ( ) This is a perfect message for our movement: science based medicine, consumer protection, and saving children. Vaccines have become a contentious issue, but in conversations I’ve had in meet-ups and at conventions most of us in the skeptical movement can at least understand that most of the average “antivax” parents might be mis-educated, but that they’re still trying to do what they think is the best for their children. The problem is a minority group of people out there that are the ones actively spouting nonsense. We need to fight this fight, but we can do more.

Let’s look at this last point another way: There aren’t any organizations out there kicking skeptics out of “leave your baby in the car” conferences ( There aren’t any celebrities telling us to trust your mommy instincts, that the crosswalk industry is just trying to get our money, and that regardless of the science we should “space out” where and when we cross roads. Compared to the antivaxers I actually think that the people who “just leave the baby in the car for 10 minutes to pop into the store” or “just cross here because the next crosswalk is some blocks down” are, in my opinion, a much less sympathetic crowd to me. (All opinions are my own, not my podcast team’s.) I think that we skeptics can, and should, raise our voices on these basic child-safety issues. It will make just as much of a difference in saving lives and has the added benefit that no one can accuse us of being in the pocket of “big auto” or “the crossing guard mafia.” There is no “us versus them” in this battle. Getting involved in these broader parenting issues would be an easy win.

In Neil deGrasse Tyson’s TAM9 Keynote address {Yes, I’m still going on-and-on-and-on about TAM ( . Get used to it.}, he recounted the story that in 2006 when a New Jersey teacher was spouting creationist, Noah’s Ark nonsense Tyson tried to remind everyone of the broader issue that “This case is not about the need to separate church and state; it's about the need to separate ignorant, scientifically illiterate people from the ranks of teachers.” Let’s allow our rational spotlight to cover these broader issues too. We can get the “reality based” message out and get people on our side for the harder battles.

I suggest that we all take a break from posting Tim Minchin videos on facebook and post links to the articles about these more general stories. Helps others not see you as a one-trick-skepticism-or-atheism pony. At your next skeptics in the pub start the night by writing letters to the editor calling for critical thinking every time a child dies in such a preventable manner. Sharing these stories will move people and will get them on our side. Diversifying our call for rationality creates a feedback loop that brings in a more diverse group and then adds to the variety of issues that we can tackle. Even as we make our skeptical tent bigger the message of “think before you act” will stay our main message. We can do more, and we can do better.