Posts Tagged ‘secular’

$10 000 dollars to encourage rational video makers! Your help needed.

January 4, 2013

We recently had David Silverman on The Magic Sandwich show, and I agree completely with him that above all, the conference scene should be FUN!

Fun like this!

I have great memories of our group singing of ‘Always look on the bright side of life’ at the end of that conference!  Telling ya, we have GOT to adopt that as our anthem!

Kinda difficult to have fun like that with the killjoy PC police telling you ‘your tshirt is too offensive‘ or ‘creates a sexualized environmental‘ or that  ‘fake jewelry is against the conference code‘.

We are responsible adults thank you, and do not need to be treated like children!

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…..anyway, I digress.  However much fun conferences might be, they are effectively still a side show compared to the potential reach of the internet.  Lets keep it real: the internet is a place where religions come to die!

-New media is a game changer in a way that conferences never were, and likely never will be!

In this sense, I see it as vital that we maintain a strong internet presence on viral media.  Regrettably the secular/ rationalist community has a problem on youtube at the moment.  Established players have been slowly drifting away, and because the barriers to entry are so high, there are not being replaced!  To be honest, this is to me a far bigger issue than pretty much anything that is happening on the conference scene.

The way I see it we want people making good videos on a semi-regular basis.  But how to encourage this?

Well I actually care about this a lot!, and so I am going to put basically all of the donations I received from last year into a fund to encourage this ($10 000).

So how best to do this?  Well this is where I want your help, for many minds are better than one, and I have essentially no experience at doing this sort of thing.

So far my rough ideas looks like this:

The first thing is of course, while I will supply the prize money, I should detach myself from the judging.  So far Eugenie Scott, Elisabeth Cornwell and ZOMGitscriss have suggested that they would be willing to help out with the judging.  If you have any other names you would like to suggest, please leave them below.

I was thinking about three categories:

1) Merit grants.  This is basically giving money to established people who have contributed much for little reward.  Its just a small way for the community to say thank you for all you’ve done! I also think this would create a lot of good will among our established video makers.

2) Equipment grants.  This is for folks are happy to spend their time making videos, but think that its a bit much to have to spend their own money to make videos for other people to watch for free.  The solution is simple, buy them what they need, HD webcam, microphone, green-screen, etc. and everybody wins!

3) A video competition.  Youtube is becoming an increasingly competitive attention economy, and what is really needed is people who are making competativley good media on a semi-regular basis.  So I suggest that people get to submit their three best videos made over a period of 3 months with the winners taking home cash prizes, and getting their work featured on my channel etc.  We do our best as a community to bring new blood in that are making good videos on a semi-regular videos.

So what do you think?  Good ideas? How best to partition up the prize money?

That is, if you had $10 000 dollars to spend to invigorate the secular presence on youtube, how would you spend it?

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On the Failure of Atheist Organizations and Choosing Life!

September 1, 2012

Y’know I kinda knew it all along that feminism was the third rails here.  You can even see it in the very first video I put up on this subject, that I knew this was going to end ugly (“tactically dumb” I think were the words I used).  I really didn’t have a ‘dog in this fight’ beyond the fact that having all these professional victims trying to pass off the most mild transgressions as systematic and pervasive misogyny in the secular community, really did make the group that took this seriously looks like a bunch of jokers, and then to have ‘leaders’ of the community take an accommodationist stance to such professional victim-hood really doesn’t inspire one with much faith that these are dynamic organization capable of prioritizing and focusing on important goals to achieve results.

Having said that, I don’t really feel too badly about how this all came out.  I certainly learned a lot on the journey about the nature of this community, and why so much (although notably not all) of it is operationally ineffective.

In the current case the problem seems to be quite simple, that a group, notable centered around Freethoughtblogs and Skepchick have mistaken (initially arguably accidentally, but later apparently willfully) the odd troll as ‘evidence’ that the community is ridden with misogynists etc.  Indeed now it seems that folks from these forums almost relish the trolling, as they can then use it to ‘score some online pity’.  This path of ‘embracing victim-hood’ is not healthy for them or the community and ends in this hypersentivity to criticism that really doesn’t do anyone any good (‘use the block and ban functions’ urges Rebecca Watson in 100% VFX terms, and we all know how well that worked out for him!).  For instance they see the word “bitch is a gendered insult that demeans ALL women” (a point which Rebecca Watson of Skepchick assures us is so uncontroversial that almost everyone ‘gets’ it), but will have no problem in using the words “don’t be a dick” in their guidelines for their new ‘Atheism Plus’ forum (whose rules prohibit degrading people using sexual slurs).

Yes, ‘Bitch is a gendered insult to all women’ but in the utterly consistent Utopian world of AtheismPlus, ‘dick’ (mentioned only one line earlier in the forum rules!) does not count as the hate speech of a gender slur.

When such casual and common use of language becomes a matter of heated debate, arguably you have already been rendered operationally impotent by your political correctness.  Take another example.  The founder of atheism plus is quite candid about being ‘banned’ from the internet by her boyfriend, while doubtless if I had similarly imposed such restrictions on my girlfriend I would have been labeled a misogynist intent on subjugating women (“WHY NOT JUST TELL HER TO GET BACK IN THE KITCHEN!” etc) and she a propagator of destructive submissive female stereotypes, a gender traitor and therefore a rape culture enabler etc etc.  This is the disproportionate destination you arrive at when you are so sensitive to criticism: seeing the most banal activities that you engage in everyday as fine and healthy but as evidence of horrible sexism endemic in society when anyone else does it.  It also seems to have enabled a formidable cognitive dissonance in these folks.  For example many of these people consider “you’re only a feminist because you are old fat and ugly” as some great evil that should get you pilloried, but have no problem in thinking that saying “you’re only a misogynist because your privilege as a member of the patriarchy means you don’t ‘get it’ ” is some great argument winner.  In both cases the statement may well be perfectly accurate, but even if they were, the arguments constitute little more than personal mudslinging, while the more virtuous path would have been to actually address the argument, not the person.  Yet the latter example here is typically considered by such folks to be an argument winner, but the former beyond the pale as an ad hominem.  The cognitive dissonance is formidable.

However, going back to the original problem though, personally I wouldn’t give such trolls the time of day.  Example in question, coughlan616 in a recent exchange (over a month ago at the time of writing) ended up suggesting that he had performed needless sexual exchanges with my mother.

Inject yourself into the free speech arena? Better be ready for the slings and arrows! However that does not mean those who have not injected themselves into that arena are ‘fair game’.  For those with an interest, this was the full exchange.

Did I go ballistic at this and get a load of ‘secular leaders’ to write letters of support saying that this sort of hate should not be tolerated?

Did I campaign for a code of conduct for the atheist community etc?

Did I demand that anyone who opposed my proposed changes be driven out as C.H.U.D.s, as rejecting my proposals clearly meant that they endorsed Coughlan’s views?

Did I sit there crying at how unsafe this made me feel until someone paid attention?

No! I just ignored him.  If he wants to use his freedom of speech in the open arena to be a dick, that’s his affair. However there are of course some limits, and arguably coughlan crossed those in this case. Not by insulting me, as I’ve CHOSEN to inject myself into the public domain, and in such a free speech arena you have to suffer the slings and arrows of that arena.  This is not true however of my mother (see ‘YOUR MOTHERS A WHORE.. and other stuff‘.  She did not inject herself into the public arena, and is not therefore fair game.  Nor is impersonation, and various other elements such as slander and liable etc, but outside that, everything else, within a VERY broad remit is pretty much fair game.

This is in stark contrast to the way in which the ‘atheism plus’ people apparently think things should go, where one of them says that saying something that hurts someones feelings should be regarded in the same fashion as physical assault.

This is simply bullshit, and it is a damning indictment of everyone in that room that not one of them, not PZ Myers, Rebecca Watson or Jen McCreight actually stood up or questioned this proposition that would involve no less than the abolishment of the first amendment.

AtheismPlus, as defended by PZ Myers, Rebecca Watson, Jen McCreight and other is about as popular with their own base (freethinkers?) as venomfangxs arguments are with his audience!  A religious man would say ‘God is trying to tell you something there!’

Indeed the mere fact that even with their ‘home audience’ (secularists and rationalist?) they can only get a video rating comparable to that of venomfangx should be giving them a warning that a lot of people actually have issues with what they are saying.  I mean did they not think this through merely on personal-gain-logistical-grounds?  That if just one person finds their comments hurtful, then they will be prohibited from talking about it on freethoughtblogs and skepchick or get prosecuted for ‘assault’.

However, I’ve become increasingly of the opinion that these people are functionally incompetent, to the point where ‘being drummed out of such a community’ is not actually a punishment but a welcome and valuable gift.

My opinions of this were further backed up by checking out the google ‘web interest’ stats on this which show that I actually have a sizably bigger footprint that freethoughtblogs (both comfortably unique search terms).  Not bad seeing as I’m only one guy and pretty much only work on this half time!

So according to Google Insight, ‘Thunderf00t’ has about twice the web interest of Freethoughtblogs. I’m not a big player in the grand scheme of things.  -Freethoughtblogs CLEARLY make a disproportionate amount of noise for their size.

So yup, I figure I’m pretty much done with these hapless noise makers.

Done with those folks who think patronizing ad hominem/ ’emperors new clothes’ style arguments like “you just don’t ‘get it’ ” is some great cerebral, thoughtful and persuasive argument.

-I’m looking ahead and choosing life!! (que upbeat music)

I’m getting back to making videos that can appeal to everyone, not just some petty drama of just how incompetent certain fractions of the secular community are.

There are bigger fish to fry!

Skepchick: Embrace Victim-hood!

July 24, 2012

Westboro Baptist Church being allowed to perform the protests they do highlights exactly how much the US as a whole recognizes the importance of free speech.  Of course I don’t agree with WBC, but it nonetheless underscores the high regard that first world nations have for folks to have the freedom to express themselves. Y’know its one of those ‘I disagree with what you say, but will fight to the death for your right to say it‘ type things.

Now lets compare this attitude to that of Surly Amy (Amy Roth) over at Skepchick.  She was apparently reduced to tears simply because someone wore a Tshirt (see below).  Not only that, she seems to be working on the delusion that she has the privilege that the rest of the world owes it to her to make sure she is never offended.  In her own words:

“I think one of the most hurtful things I experienced while attending TAM was Harriet Hall’s Tshirt that she wore three days in a row. I told her through tears, in the speakers’ lounge, that it was dehumanizing and gender/color blind and very hurtful to me specifically as a person who does have to deal with harassment regularly.”

Yes this is exactly the T-shirt that Amy Roth describes as “dehumanizing”

If you are banging your head on the desk in disbelief at the moment I just want to remind you that this is a girl who blogs regularly on skepchick, and has been supported by freethoughtblogs.  She’s also the girl who makes those little ceramic pendants that many people wear (or maybe used to wear at conferences before Amy’s crying over a Tshirt antics).  Indeed the only way I think you might have a chance of explaining her self-centered position to Amy is though the concept of reciprocation.  How would she feel if I were to be in tears because of people wearing those little ceramic pendants at conferences, suggesting that they indicate people support her anti-freespeech position, and that merely wearing these pendants is ‘dehumanizing’ and ‘very hurtful to me’, with the clear expectation that everyone else should conform to behaviors that I do not find hurtful or offensive: anything less would just be hateful.

Yup, I’m pretty sure Amy would fairly quickly come around to the position that just because someone takes offense at a t-shirt (or similar), no how matter how hysterical the outburst, it really should have no impact on the way conferences are run.

Now it turns out Amy Roth has since issued a ‘clarification’.  It’s often said that a clarification is not made to make oneself clear, but to put oneself in the clear.  Regrettably that only works if you are honest and/or competent, rather than just the shamelessly self serving ‘Rebecca Watson’ type attempt to rewrite history.

So initially Amy writes:

July 17, 2012 at 11:32 am“I think one of the most hurtful things I experienced while attending TAM was Harriet Hall’s Tshirt that she wore three days in a row. I told her through tears, in the speakers’ lounge, that it was dehumanizing and gender/color blind and very hurtful to me specifically as a person who does have to deal with harassment regularly.”

Well that seems pretty clear to me as to what Amy thought the score was, and then one day later this becomes:

July 18, 2012 at 9:42 am  “So know that just a ‘silly tshirt’ did not reduce me to tears. Sadly, there was a lot more going on.”

Yup in just one day, a T-shirt goes from “dehumanizing”, “gender/color blind” and “very hurtful” to now just a “silly tshirt”.  Think someone is trying to shamelessly rewrite history there Amy!

But this is peanuts compared to the Skepchick dishonesty.  Initially Amy writes:

July 17, 2012 at 11:32 am “I said I was glad she felt safe and that I wouldn’t have sent 22 women to the event if I didn’t think it was safe for them either. So who was she talking to?”

Bravo Amy for saying how you think TAM is safe.  Great so what was all the ‘we want a policy and to lynch someone at TAM’ tantrum of FTB and skepchick all about?

Oh wait…. wait… Amy is about to retell the story….

July 18, 2012 at 9:42 am “I hope that Harriet will realize why it was so hurtful and why I was offended by both the front and the back. Some of us have been harassed at events and do not feel safe. The shirt was also hurtful to those in that context as well.”

Bravo Amy, Bravo (slow hand clap), so now we have two sequentially, mutually inconsistent accounts of ‘history’ from the same person, both given within about a day of each other.  One in which TAM is safe, and that’s why you have worked to send people there, and in the other versions of ‘Skepchick’ history, where you worked to send people to an environment that was not safe, indeed that you worked to send women to an environment populated by “gropers and PUAs and drunk fumblers“.  **SLOW HAND CLAP**

Amy concludes with this:

“I have a lot of respect for Harriet, I hope that at some point she will realize that she could have sent the message she wanted without using the name of the blog I write for in the wording and that it was unnecessary.”

and

“I will continue to try to be a better person and I will continue to try to help other people get involved and to set an example of kind, productive, proactive behavior in hopes that more people will follow my lead than the those who want to mock and belittle.”

The sheer double standards here is knee weakening!  Not two posts from one her blog entries on Skepchick, Rebecca Watson is saying that people (notably myself and Paula Kirby) who disagree with them on reason based arguments, actually all think they are a Totalitarian Nazis clique. (FACEPALM)

The last person I saw with such a relish for playing the professional victim was Dawahfilms.  Now Rebecca ‘Rape threat’ Waston just can’t resist the temptation to play the victim again.  I guess it’s like trying to teach an old dog new tricks 😦

Great Amy, so on one hand you are reduced to tears because someone uses the name of the site you blog for, and on the other you have no problem with that same blog suggesting that someones reasoned argument is invalid because you (skepchick) claim they think you are nazis.  Wow a great double whammy there of professionally playing the victim and wholesale well poisoning.  That’s right, professional victim Rebecca ‘rape threat’ Watson leading the Skepchicks effort to ‘set an example of kind, productive, proactive behavior in hopes that more people will follow my lead than the those who want to mock and belittle.’ by suggesting that those who disagree with her think they are Totalitarian Nazi.  Damn not seen anyone so zealously eager to embrace victim-hood since dawahfilms.

Thunderf00t 2012: The Aspirations.

April 13, 2012

The Priorities :

Why Do People Laugh at Creationists.

Of the people I talked to at The Reason Rally, (of the stuff I’d done) this was mentioned more than anything else as the key factor in ‘saving the saved’.   Two more episodes were meant to be put out before the Reason Rally (they are all scripted, just need a couple of weeks to put them together), just all the distractions that WLCs DMCA abuse and Dawahfilms flagging harassment took up all my spare time.  The Reason Rally, above all else convinced me that this is an area to focus on.   I am hoping to get 1/3 to ½ the time devoted to this (probably means somewhat under half the videos will be WDPLAC).

 

“OMG, The Bible says WHAT?!”

The bible is batshit crazy.  Most Christian have never read it, and so Im going to make the media.  I may even start this up as a guest spot for people read their favorite crazy bible verses.  This may take the form of a ‘mid-week short’.

 

SCIENCE BITCHES, IT WORKS

I’ve already got permission to get the footage from within a nuclear reactor for an experiment (~June).  Last year I showed you how close the edge of the unknown was and even demonstrated, for the first time as far as I can tell, that gaseous potassium is evolved when the metal is thrown into water, and its GREEN!  This year I’m going to show you the REAL face of the unknown, and how it could affect your life.  Yup going to go inside a nuclear reactor to look at something a billion times smaller that your typical human!

 

Nailing the religious types in the 2012 elections.

I would have liked to have been more active here, but regrettably I got sidetracked into DMCA and flagging complaints.

 

Build the community. 

The secular atheist community on YT emerged strongly, quickly overtaking all the religious communities.  In order to maintain and take full advantage of this position we need to increase the number of people producing good media regularly. I will be moving towards facilitating that goal.  There will be two mechanisms, 1) A (biyearly?) competition for people who have produced at least 3 good videos in three months.  This way promotional effort is focused on those who are both committed to, and capable of producing the goods 2) donation of equipment (green screen, cameras, sound equipment etc) to active folks who are making quality content videos, but that have the amateur-ish look that doesn’t fly so well on youtube these days.  Basically, imagine if someone had supplied ZOMGitscriss with a camera, green screen and other kit early on how much this would have helped.

-Deploy the resources where they will have greatest benefit for the community.

 

Create a DVD.

This is another project I’ve been trying to get done for about a year, to create a dvd of the work, if not for sale, then simply so it can be hosted and torrented.  Indeed I had wanted to get a thousand or so pressed (several kgs) to give away at the Reason Rally.  Sadly again event overtook the aspirations.

This year I’m not going to get enough time to go touring, so sadly no touring or dark sky astro video.   I might yet be able to get a good timelapse of Mars though!  Hope for clear skies 🙂

Yup, it’s going to be a busy year!

 

-=Support via Paypal=-

 

July 6-7th (On the Road)

July 9, 2011

Wednesday 6th July 2011

Got to Columbus about midday and hooked up with Ashley and a friend of hers from Secular Student Alliance (SSA).  We had lunch, then I went to a coffee shop to do some work and she went back to the office.  Time lapse with the GPS looked cool, but I was running late and eventually Ashley came to pick me up at the coffee shop.

We chatted for a while, then she decided it was time for me to learn to eat fire.  Kinda fun, and no burns!  Still think it would work with Bacardi 151 instead of kerosene, but we didn’t give it a go.  Pah, prudence!  That evening we went out to the Meadery.  Not sure what strength meade is, but seems like it packs a hell of a punch more than wine, and we were both well hammered by the time we got back to her place.  Drunk blogTV!  Where is prudence when you need it!  I would suggest that she only got me drunk to strategically deflower me of my YT password, apart from its clear that she, having watched the video we uploaded in the cold light of day that she was in no better state to do plot anything than I!  After that we went our separate ways to pass out.

Thursday 7th July, Up bout 9ish and groggy.  Before heading off to work, Ashley suggested I visit Westboro Baptist Church seeing as I drove virtually right past their front door.  Hadn’t given it any thought, and wasn’t sure what the best approach would be?  Sunlight the best sterilant or don’t give feed the trolls.  I sorted out the car etc for an hour or so till the mind felt sharp again.  Turns out WBC were protesting aboutIndianapolis at some great concert thing, but by the time I got there they had gone (even though there were scheduled to be there for another half hour or so).  With the help of Ashley managed to arrange a meeting for the next day.  All that meant was I had to cover another 500 or so extra miles.  Got caught up in some great Tstorm enroute, bad enough to consider stopping on the side of the road.  Always a difficult decision as someone coming up behind, if they see you lights is liable to drive right in the back of you.  Similarly if you keep going, you can aquaplane right of the road.  When the wheels don’t find purchase on the road, you can be in a world of hurt in seconds.  I kept going!  Stopped in a rest area just short of Kansas city.