The Weekend of Unbelievable Fun: The Second Coming

Hey…guess what’s coming up fast? It’s The Weekend of Unbelievable Fun: The Second Coming!

mna-conf-aints-1

Image is an advertisement showing the Mr. Paul Aints logo with information about the baseball game and conference (detailed in text below), and a photo of the Minneapolis Skyline.

This will be the second year that I attend. Last year’s baseball game was a blast, and the conference had inspiring speakers presenting novel and timely information about atheism and the secular movement.

This year the Mr. Paul Aints will take the field again on Friday August 9th to play the Sioux City Explorers at Midway Stadium in Saint Paul. The party starts at 5pm with tailgating in the parking lot and the game begins at 7pm. The meetup description for the event promises between-inning atheist-themed antics (hmmm…devil worshiping in the infield and baby tastings, perhaps?), and there will be an auction of Mr. Paul Aints jerseys with proceeds to go to a local charity.

The next day – Saturday – Minnesota Atheists and American Atheists will hold their second consecutive Twin Cities-based regional conference. The conference takes place at the Ramada Plaza in NE Minneapolis, and the lineup is exciting (I’ve taken out the breaks in the list below – for the full schedule, visit mnatheists.org):

9:15-10:15 Hector Avalos: “How Archaeology Killed Biblical History”
10:30-12:00pm Breakout Sessions & Workshops
1:45-2:45 Greta Christina: “Coming Out: How To Do It, How to Help Each Other Do It, And Why?”
2:45-3:45 Amanda Knief: “Ten Legal Issues Atheists Need to Know”
4:00-5:30 Annie Laurie Gaylor: “The Religious War on Women”
7:30-9:00 All-Star Panel Discussion: Atheism and Religion: Confrontation or Accommodation – Annie Laurie Gaylor, Hector Avalos, Greta Christina, Amanda Knief, PZ Myers, and Kelli Clement. Moderated by Stephanie Zvan (Author of Almost Diamonds blog on Freethought Blogs).

The conference organizers did a good job of packing in a wide variety of topics in a few short hours – one day conferences are hard! I’m especially excited by the 10:30-noon workshops, which are being led by local atheists. Topics include science, family and raising kids in atheist households, treatment of (nonhuman) animals, mental health, addiction, and shame. For descriptions of the panels press the big red button on the frontpage of the Minnesota Atheists website.

If you’re interested in joining us, the information for signing up for the baseball game and/or the conference can be found at the MN Atheists website. The cost for the game starts at $10 and the conference starts at $30 (if you’re 25 years old or younger AND a student, you can buy a discounted conference ticket for $10). These are early bird prices, and early bird sign up ends on July 31st – in just three days! After that prices for the conference goes up to $40 (student admission stays $10).

And if there is any doubt that you’re going to have a good – and occasionally goofy – time, check out these lyrics that Paul Heffron and Jerry Rauser wrote for the Mr. Paul Aints game:

To the tune of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game

(Verse 1)
Let’s all go to the Aints game.
Let’s all show who we are.
The big red A says a lot about us.
We’re here for fun, so please don’t make a fuss.
So we’ll root for the Mister Paul Aints team.
For they accept us by name.
So it’s hip, hip, hip, hip hooray
At the Aints ball game.

(Verse 2)
Let’s have fun at the Aints game,
Tail-gate party supreme.
Hamburgers, hot dogs, and drinks for all.
Under our banner we’ll all have a ball.
We will root, root, root for the pigs’ race.
In Pig’s Eye town there’s no shame.
For it’s one, two, pick up the pace
At the Aints Ball Game!

The Weekend of Unbelievable Fun: The Second Coming
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Now where were we?

It started two weeks ago when Mom came to visit. I decided that I wouldn’t be spending a lot of time online while she was here. I already had to sacrifice 10 hours of the day to work, plus another 4-6 hours to sleep, and I wanted to spend every last second with Mom in between those mandatory work and sleep times.

Then Mom went home and … I didn’t feel like blogging. Not that there wasn’t a ton of stuff to write about – there’s always something to write about, and usually always waaay to many things to write about – but I just didn’t feel like writing. And I didn’t just stop writing; I pretty much went off the net (don’t worry – I brought smelling salts – just take a whiff of these – it’s going to be alright). I lost track of my google reader (thanks for mocking me “1000+” new posts to read, Google. Thanks for that. I see a “Mark All As Read” in your future, buddy.), I cut way back on Twitter and Facebook, and I spent time doing non-computer things. I think those 4-6 hours of sleep I was getting every night for a week may have caught up to me. And  just falling out of the pattern of sitting down, reading the interwebs and writing made it hard to get enthusiastic about picking it up again.

While I was away I had a chance to read Hank Fox’s Red Neck Blue Collar Atheist, Jenny Lawson’s (The Bloggess), Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, and Dan Simmons’ Hyperion Cantos (thanks to the commenter who suggested – nay insisted – that I read this book. It was very thought-provoking and I’m still processing it all. I need to Book Club this thing). I put in a few hours on the Wii, finished the first season of Torchwood, did a few radio shows for Atheists Talk. And I caught up on my sleep.

An aside – I’ve heard that parenting is very rewarding for those of you who want to be parents, but having free time to watch John Barrowman and James Marsters simultaneously make out, flirt and beat the crap out of each other is way more entertaining to me than  cleaning up baby diapers. Yeah, yeah, yeah…rewarding, raising the next generation, imparting values, continuing your family line…I see and raise you JOHN BARROWMAN SNOGGING JAMES MARSTERS. I rest my case.

Now where were we?

Ah yes, writing hiatus. I was starting to get worried that I wasn’t wanting to write, but today I felt the sparkle. My carpool mate didn’t ride with me today, so I able listen to NPR and a few podcasts, and on some level my brain started writing posts and I had to get to a computer. HOLY CRAP THERE’S SO MUCH TO WRITE ABOUT!!!!

But then, before my head exploded from information overload and a backlog of news stories and not knowing where to begin, I decided to write a “dip my toe back in the water” post.

This is that.

This weekend I’m going to the Midwest Freethought Conference. I’m driving down tonight and tomorrow there’s an awesome lineup of AWESOME. I’m looking forward to sharing my experiences and impressions of the weekend. If you’re attending the Midwest Freethought Conference, I’d love to meet you. And if you’re a conference twitter fiend, the hashtag is #MWFT2012.

Now where were we?

10 Reasons Why Women In Secularism is Going to RAWK.

I am pretty jazzed to attend this weekend’s Women In Secularism conference in Arlington, Virginia. Here are 10 reasons why.

1.  I usually always enjoy attending live talks, and a conference is a great way to attend a lot of live talks at once. There’s something exciting about being in the same room as a speaker, seeing their facial and body expressions, watching and listening as they answer audience questions.

2.  Awesome speakers.

3.  Women in Secularism! This isn’t a general atheist conference, but an atheist conference with a concentration on women in the movement, how women are affected by various religious dogma and religious-based legislation, feminism and religion, the history of women in secularism. This is a novel focus and one that I as a woman and atheist have a certain amount of interest in.

4.  After-conference bar fun. Drinking Skeptically, anyone?

5.  Blog fodder! Oh yeah, you’ll be hearing more about this.

Continue reading “10 Reasons Why Women In Secularism is Going to RAWK.”

10 Reasons Why Women In Secularism is Going to RAWK.

FTF1 Hemant Mehta – How Can We Help Young Atheists?

This entry is a  recap of Hemant Mehta’s Freethought Festival 2012 presentation as observed by me as an audience member. Shitty writing or misinterpretation of the presenter’s material is completely my fault. If you think I got something wrong, please let me know in the comments or feel free to email me at bio_dork(at)hotmail(dot)com.

Hemant Mehta opened his talk with a story about an eight year-old child who was asked to draw what a Christian looks like, and what a non-Christian looks like. This is what the child produced:

Kids are often introduced to this idea through one venue or another. As Hemant points out there’s no philosophical underpinnings for why this kid thinks that Christians are happy, clean-cut, and nicely dressed, while a non-Christian is angry with messed-up crazy hair, booze in one hand, cigarette in the other, tattoos all over the place and raggedy clothes. He just knows that he knows this.

Continue reading “FTF1 Hemant Mehta – How Can We Help Young Atheists?”

FTF1 Hemant Mehta – How Can We Help Young Atheists?

FTF1 PZ Myers – Scientists! If you're not an atheist, you aren't doing science right!

This entry is a  recap and review of PZ Myers’ Freethought Festival 2012 presentation as observed by me as an audience member. Shitty writing or misinterpretation of the presenter’s material is completely my fault. If you see any egregious errors or you think I got something wrong, please let me know in the comments or feel free to email me at bio_dork(at)hotmail(dot)com.  

With a level of maturity rarely seen in presentations of this type, PZ Myers from Pharyngula somberly and respectfully called all scientists to abandon superstition and set down their God beliefs.

Oh, I’m sorry. Are you experiencing déjà vu? As promised – a second viewing of the divine nipple tweak.

“Science is godless. Relgion is nonsense. ” These are the themes that ran through Dr. Myers presentation. Like JT Eberhard’s talk, PZ focused on the arguments and excuses that people give for believing in religion, but PZ focused on the rationalizations that religious scientists give to explain how they can be rational, critical, scientific method-using people and yet retain their religion.

Continue reading “FTF1 PZ Myers – Scientists! If you're not an atheist, you aren't doing science right!”

FTF1 PZ Myers – Scientists! If you're not an atheist, you aren't doing science right!

FTF1 PZ Myers – Scientists! If you’re not an atheist, you aren’t doing science right!

This entry is a  recap and review of PZ Myers’ Freethought Festival 2012 presentation as observed by me as an audience member. Shitty writing or misinterpretation of the presenter’s material is completely my fault. If you see any egregious errors or you think I got something wrong, please let me know in the comments or feel free to email me at bio_dork(at)hotmail(dot)com.  

With a level of maturity rarely seen in presentations of this type, PZ Myers from Pharyngula somberly and respectfully called all scientists to abandon superstition and set down their God beliefs.

Oh, I’m sorry. Are you experiencing déjà vu? As promised – a second viewing of the divine nipple tweak.

“Science is godless. Relgion is nonsense. ” These are the themes that ran through Dr. Myers presentation. Like JT Eberhard’s talk, PZ focused on the arguments and excuses that people give for believing in religion, but PZ focused on the rationalizations that religious scientists give to explain how they can be rational, critical, scientific method-using people and yet retain their religion.

Continue reading “FTF1 PZ Myers – Scientists! If you’re not an atheist, you aren’t doing science right!”

FTF1 PZ Myers – Scientists! If you’re not an atheist, you aren’t doing science right!

FTF1 – Valerie Tarico – Recovering from Religion

This entry is a  recap of Valerie Tarico’s Freethought Festival 2012 presentation as observed by me as an audience member. Shitty writing or misinterpretation of the presenter’s material is completely my fault. If you think I got something wrong, please let me know in the comments or feel free to email me at bio_dork(at)hotmail(dot)com.  

Valerie Tarico is a psychologist, author and ex-evangelical. Her talk, Recovering from Religion, addressed some of the challenges that people face when they are attempting to reconcile their loss of faith or lack of belief, especially in an environment where it is more advantageous for them to retain their faith.

She showed us how religion sets up booby traps for those who question church teachings. Common ideas that are ingrained into religious lessons: Doubt is from the devil, questioning is sinful. She mentioned that some groups think of books that discuss doubt, leaving religion and religious criticism as “spiritual pornography”. Valerie commented that she had thought she would be making more money as a writer of pornography.

A slide from Valerie’s presentation

She did a nice job of explaining the process that one might go through while deconverting and attempting to extricate oneself from religion. She briefly mentioned the grieving process, and throughout the presentation gave resources that might be useful for people in this situation – exchristian.net, recoveringfromreligion.org, losingmyreligion.com She focused on how she was working to help bridge the gap between belief and non-belief, and presented this one possible way that people who are leaving religion might go about doing that.

FTF1 – Valerie Tarico – Recovering from Religion

FTF1 – Kevin Padian – Lessons from the Dover Trial

This entry is a  recap and review of Kevin Padian’s Freethought Festival 2012 presentation as observed by me as an audience member. Shitty writing or misinterpretation of the presenter’s material is completely my fault. If you think I got something wrong, please let me know in the comments or feel free to email me at bio_dork(at)hotmail(dot)com.  

The keynote speaker on Friday night was Dr. Kevin Padian. He was one of the most laid-back and charismatic speakers of the entire weekend, and that’s saying quite a bit considering the speaker lineup that FTF1 put together! His talk was Evolution, Education, and “Intelligent Design” – Lessons from the Dover Trial.

Dr. Padian is an evolutionary biologist and he served as an expert witness in  Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District. He is currently the President of the National Coalition for Science Education (NCSE).

Continue reading “FTF1 – Kevin Padian – Lessons from the Dover Trial”

FTF1 – Kevin Padian – Lessons from the Dover Trial

FTF1 – Impressions and Evidentialism

I had a great time at Freethought Festival 2012 (FTF1) in Madison, Wisconsin. Y’all. Seriously. If you’re active in the atheist online community and want to get more involved in person “on the ground”, if you’re looking to connect with other freethinkers, if you want to compare notes with other organizations and people from other parts of the country, you gotta, gotta, gotta get to a conference.

Continue reading “FTF1 – Impressions and Evidentialism”

FTF1 – Impressions and Evidentialism

Thanks, CASH!

Last night I spoke at Coffman Memorial for the Campus Atheists, Skeptics and Humanists (CASH) meeting. If you’re in the Twin Cities area and want to learn about atheist and skeptic events, you need to join CASH’s Facebook group. They’ve hosted some truly awesome speakers like Michael Shermer, Banachek, JT Eberhard, Jen McCreight, Greta Christina, and some guy named Richard Dawkins(?). And now moi!

This was my first talk that I’ve given about atheism and blogging, and my first “full length” presentation to an atheist/skeptics group (I spoke for an hour and 15 minutes, not exactly a fillibuster, but long enough for me prattling on). You know how in Rainman Dustin Hoffman’s character was able to look at a bunch of objects and instantly know how many there were in the pile? I’m the opposite of that. I think there were maybe 20-30 people in the audience, but I could be really, really off.

Continue reading “Thanks, CASH!”

Thanks, CASH!