Skepticake Vol. 2

It’s that time again! Here are this week’s links:

Hate these links? Send us better ones at [email protected]

-Lauren

Skepticake! Vol. 1

Hey everyone!

Over here at Skepticon Headquarters we have decided to enact a weekly blogging effort because, well–WE CAN.

So what is skepticake? It’s delicious, it’s sugary, it has zero calories! …Ok, so actually it is what have decided to call our weekly posting of links that we find awesome. Why skepticake? Well why NOT? Let them eat cake–skepticake–we say!

Here are this week’s links:

Have an awesome week, all!

-Lauren

P.s.–want to see your blog or a specific article up here? Send us a link to [email protected]!

Sponsor Highlight: Secular Woman

Secular Woman: Skepticon Sponsor

“Skepticon is a natural partner for Secular Woman’s first disbursement of travel grants. We’ll be able to help more women atheists and skeptics experience a major secular event, thanks to Skepticon’s free registration and its track record of high attendance and engaging speakers.”

– Kim Rippere
President, Secular Woman

In conjunction with our new travel grants program, Secular Woman is pledging to help at least ten women make it to Skepticon 5. We couldn’t be more pleased! Together, we’re making SK5 the most accessible Skepticon event yet.

Please help us show our gratitude to this fantastic new organization!

Interested in getting a travel grant? Stay tuned! Details will be available when registration launches on July 31st.

SK5 Lineup: Week 2

It’s that time of the week: time to announce three new speakers for SK5! Drum roll, please…

George Hrab

Hrab is a talented musician who often explores themes related to atheism and scientific discovery in his performances. He serves as drummer for the Philadelphia Funk Authority while masterminding for the Geologic Orchestra. His podcast – The Geologic Podcast – is indisputably fantastic.

Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is simply one of the better people you will ever have the good fortune to meet. He’s the founding blogger at Friendly Atheist, a platform he frequently uses to raise funds for charitable causes within the secular movement. He also teaches math, and insists that you need not despise it.

Deborah Hyde

Hyde is the editor in chief of The Skeptic magazine and a prolific writer on superstition and the supernatural – suffice it to say that her writing career is old enough to drink! She blogs at Jourdemayne.

Our fundraising goal this week is $1000! If we get there, we’ll immediately release the next handful of speaker bios. Thanks for all your support!

30 Questions

In response to all of your questions in our recent survey, we wanted to address some things. 

Q: PLEASE bring Teresa MacBain as a speaker this year!! Please, please, please!
A: We already have our (tentative) lineup for this year, but I can assure you she is being added to our speaker database for future Skepticons.

Q: I think after the event it would be great to get a special link or somewhere where we could capture the talks or get the option to get a DVD with them all.
A: Each speech has been uploaded to Youtube by Hambone Productions, but that is a great idea to help us raise money for skepticon.

Q: Need a streamlined check-in/registration process–long lines and waits last year.
A: We are working out the details about registration and hope to have everything working smoothly this year.

Q: For Friday if they do not have speakers will we be able to get our badges and conference items early? Maybe have a special meeting where people could mingle.
A: On Friday we will be having workshops in the afternoon and will start the presentations after dinner. The local skeptics group is planning Skeptics In The Pub for both Friday and Saturday. If our attendees are more interested in something formal, we’re willing to look in to it!

Q: PLEASE no book sale advertisements masquerading as talks. PLEASE.
A: We try to give our speakers the opportunity to speak on the topic of their choice, but we’ll be sure to let your criticisms be known. We’re very appreciative of our speakers, all of whom donate their time and effort to us without any sort of payment.

Q: I would love to see a speaker session where several people who have left various religions discuss their process of leaving that religion. I know as a person who is still trapped in pretending to be religious (mormon), it inspires me to hear how others survived and were able to reach their own independence from religion.
A: That sounds like an interesting topic that might make for a good panel discussion/Q&A session.

Q: Try,try,try to bring in Dan Dennett.
A: He has been added to our database, and maybe in the future you will see him at Skepticon!

Q: I encourage the speakers to submit their topics in advance and that these topics be communicated with the other speakers to limit redundancy.  I appreciate an equal discussion of science and religion mixed in with history.
A: Last year we had a snafu with a couple presentations where it would have made more sense to put them in a different order, and we are going to try to avoid that this year.

Q: Is there any chance of getting Lawrence Krauss to speak?  I appreciate your efforts.  I am sure it will be another great year at Skepticon!
A: He’s in our database, and we do hope to host him in the future!

Q: I’m really excited about the idea of workshops!
A: So are we!

Q: There needs to be a national circuit for this.
A: Maybe one day!

Q: Diversity!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Need more DIVERSITY!
A: We try to invite a wide array of speakers from many different ethnic, experiential, and professional backgrounds. It’s definitely a priority to us!

Q: I would like to see Valerie Tarico and/or Marlene Winell at the next Skepticon, if at all possible.  :)
A: Added to our database – maybe in the future!

Q: Neil deGrasse Tyson Neil deGrasse Tyson Neil deGrasse Tyson Neil deGrasse Tyson Neil deGrasse Tyson Neil deGrasse Tyson Neil deGrasse Tyson Neil deGrasse Tyson . That is all.
A: …Can you repeat that?… I am not sure I quite understood you…

Q: Neil deGrasse Tyson Neil deGrasse Tyson Neil deGrasse Tyson Neil deGrasse Tyson Neil deGrasse Tyson Neil deGrasse Tyson Neil deGrasse Tyson Neil deGrasse Tyson . That is all.
A: Okay, okay! Yes, Tyson would be a great addition to Skepticon… but is Skepticon ready for Neil deGrass Tyson?

Q: If you start things on Friday evening, I’d like to see a debate.
A: We have other plans for Friday. =D

Q: Please contact Amy Roth to set up a community art project.
A: Not a bad Idea – how many people want to see a public sculpture of the FSM? Maybe that’s the next step after our billboard…

Q: Food drive-I think it’s great that it’s a free conference, but if you do a food drive for a local pantry or a diaper drive for planned parenthood for “suggested admission”.  and if everyone brought one thing it would add up so fast and be a cool way to support the community.
A: Not a bad Idea! After we’re set with the event planning, we’ll definitely be interested in setting our sights on that sort of endeavor.

Q: need more cowbell.
A: Babies, when we’re done here, y’all are going to be wearing gold plated diapers!

Q: We needed more time and/or a later lunch to accommodate those restaurants not being available or open to us.  Also I really do think the dinner breaks should be longer–I missed a speaker Saturday evening because we were waiting so long for food at a busy restaurant.
A: No problem, All lunch and dinner breaks have been increased to 1.5 hours.

Q: Increased representation of women, people of color, LGBTQ populations among the speakers/presenters.
A: Definitely a priority for us.

Q: I can’t wait to attend my first Skepticon!
A: WOO!

Q: It would be nice if there were some sort of free or low-cost childcare provided. I know a lot of parents who have wanted to attend for the past couple years, but could not find/afford childcare while they were at the event. Helping out skeptic parents helps them raise better skeptic kids!
A: This year we will have childcare available! We’re still working out the details.

Q: I needed coffee last year!  It would have been great to have it provided at the venue, even for a price.  Maybe have a group donate to run a coffee cart?
A: We’ll see what we can do!

Q: Keep the “skeptics” branding. Don’t make it turn into another exclusively atheist anti-God event.
A: Skepticon has never shied away from applying critical thinking and skepticism to religion, and we don’t plan to start.

Q: there’s a guy on the news a lot lately named Jerry DeWitt, he’s a former pastor and now runs a group called Recovering From Religion He spoke at the AA convention in DC and was soooooooo AWESOME. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE get him.
A: Maybe next year!

Q: Where are thinking of having it this year?
A: Downtown Springfield – details are coming soon!

Q: MORE PIRACY
A: Lauren… is that you?

Q: Are you ready for Skepticon 5?
A: Damn right we are! Skepticon 5: bigger, more skeptical, and the most fifth annual Skepticon yet.

Kitten Billboard: Brief Answers to Brief Questions

Why?
When the idea of an adorable atheist billboard was proposed on a prominent blog, we immediately loved it. When donors started saying, “Hey, I’d pay to see that!” we were thrilled. We really couldn’t have asked for a better way to interface with the local community in Springfield, MO.

Where’s the billboard?
At the intersection of Glenstone Avenue and Seminole Street in Springfield, Missouri.

Is there a press release?
Yes!

I am disgruntled. What should I do?
If it would make you feel better, we have a contact form you can use to air your grievances. Otherwise, I recommend a glass of wine and this video on repeat.

Who paid for the billboard?
The billboard funding was provided by you, the internet, with the explicit purpose of making a horrendously cute billboard for atheists. Most of the donors were readers of the Friendly Atheist blog, where Richard Wade first suggested a generation of totally innocuous atheist billboards.

Those are cats, not kittens.
Yep.

What are you going to do with the billboard?
The billboard is printed on vinyl that we’ll get to keep after it’s been taken down. It’s 36 feet wide and 10 feet tall – so… kitten tent? Kitten parachute?

More likely: we’ll auction it at SK5 in November.

Press Release: Kitten Billboard

LOCAL ATHEISTS PUT UP KITTEN BILLBOARD

Springfield, MO – Commuters on Glenstone Avenue may be surprised by a new billboard with an unexpected message.

The advertisement, created for the Skepticon atheist convention, features the innocuous tagline “Kittens are cute,” framed by several inquisitive-looking tabby cats.

“Atheists are among the most despised minorities in the United States,” said Skepticon organizer Jeffrey Markus. “We want to set the record straight: we’re not evil, and we’re not scary. We’re part of this community.”

A 2007 Gallup poll showed that 53% of Americans would refuse to cast their vote for an otherwise well-qualified atheist candidate. The following year, another Gallup survey found that only 13% of Americans have a positive view of atheists as a group.

Skepticon’s director of development, Katie Hartman, says that last year Skepticon attendees were briefly barred from a local Gelato shop after the owner discovered the conference’s irreligious content. “The ‘Skepticon not welcome’ sign was up for only a short time, but we got the message – and it doesn’t have to be this way moving forward. We’re a friendly, playful bunch of people. The billboard is an olive branch.”

Billboards raised by atheist groups in other parts of the country have sparked public outrage and been subjected to vandalism. Hartman says the Skepticon organizers don’t anticipate any setbacks. “They’re kittens. Who could possibly be opposed to kittens? They’re intended to make people smile. I can’t imagine this offending anybody.”

Skepticon has been held in Springfield since 2008, when it was created by the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster at Missouri State University. The organizers anticipate an audience of about 1,500 at the 2012 event, which will be held November 9th-11th at the Springfield Convention Center.

The billboard will remain in place through July.

Press Contacts:

Micah Weiss
(417) 425-6150
[email protected]

Katie Hartman
(360) 450-8678
[email protected]

WordPress Resources at SiteGround

WordPress is an award-winning web software, used by millions of webmasters worldwide for building their website or blog. SiteGround is proud to host this particular WordPress installation and to provide the following resources, which facilitate the creation of WP websites:

WordPress tutorial
The WordPress tutorial at SiteGround shows how and where to actually start creating your blog site. It includes installation and theme change instructions, management of WordPress plugins, upgrade and backup manuals, and more.

Free WordPress themes
The WordPress theme gallery at SiteGround contains a rich collection of free to use WordPress themes. The themes are suitable for any type of blog and are easy to customize for the particular use the webmaster might need.

Expert WordPress hosting
SiteGround servers are fully-optimized to accommodate WordPress-powered websites. Free installation of WordPress is also included in the hosting services provided by SiteGround.