Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Paranormal Podcast

The latest episode of the Paranormal Podcast features two interviews by host Jim Harold.  The first is someone with whom the reader is likely very acquainted -- Blake Smith, also known as Dr. Atlantis of the Monster Talk Podcast, and Dr. Todd Disotell of the Department of Anthropology of New York University.

The theme of the episode was "skeptics speak out."  While Smith discussed the paranormal in more general terms including ghosts, UFOs, and cryptids, Disotell was more focused on Bigfoot.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

iMortal podcast

Listened on Arment's podcatcher app
The guy knows his programing, not cars
Note: This post is really more about tech than skepticism.  If such a topic holds no charms for you please skip this post.  

Paul Fidalgo is probably known by the reader as the communications director of the Center For Inquiry (CFI) and posting the Morning Heresy web news roundup during the week.  Fidalgo is also a tech geek, and in particular, a fan of Apple products.  I will not paint him with the 'fan boy' brush, although some might consider him one.

Fidalgo has a new tech/Apple-centered podcast called iMortal.  He also has a blog by the same name.  So far, five episodes have been released of which I listened to episode 4 and a special episode between episodes 2 and 3, which I shall refer to as 3.5.  Both of these episodes revolved around one of Apple's two recent announcement events.  Episode 3.5 covered the iPhone and Apple Watch event in September and Episode 4 covered the iPad and OS X Yosemite release event.  As a person who enjoys his Apple gear, and enjoys Fidalgo's tweets on Apple and tech topics, I thought I would give the podcast a listen.  I was pleasantly surprised.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

TV Time: How We Got to Now

James Burke created two television series that I just fell in love with when I was a kid and teen.  The first was "The Day the Universe Changed" and the second was Connections.  Connections was aired first in the 1970s, but I personally viewed Universe first.  Both series are similar in style to Carl Sagan's Cosmos wherein the host leads the viewer through a series of events surrounding a topic with an on camera host giving the play by play.  In Cosmos' "Blues for the Red Planet" Sagan gives a history of Mars in the popular imagination and the going and
Burke rocking that 70s style
changing search for life on Mars.  An episode of Connections propounded how mining pushed for the need for more efficient pumps that resulted in the steam engine and birthed the industrial revolution.   Granted, sometimes the storytelling upon reflection is somewhat forced to fit story, and things are likely more complex than presented and yet it was fascinating.

Now the BBC and PBS have joined forces to produce How We Got to Now, a series hosted by Steven Johnson revealing how relatively unknown folks in today's popular memory invented and triggered events that drastically changed the world.  I have watched the first two episodes and it has a very 'Day the Universe Changed' vibe about it more than a Cosmos one.

Before I watched the show, I did not know who Johnson was but upon doing some research, I knew of some of his work.   He has written a number of books and articles for outlets such as Wired discussing technology and its interaction with society.  Thought-provoking stuff for the most part.  The first episode, Clean, tackles how the modern world became the much more sanitary world of non-filth-filled street along with clean drinking water.  The second episode, Time, weaves the tale on how time went from something very local and daily to the standardized international time standard society enjoys today.  

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Comrades

While there is a significant amount of infighting within skepdom these days, I would say more so in the United States than Australia or Britain, but infighting there is aplenty.  However, skeptics have shown recent evidence of still being able to band together against a common threat.


British and French fight as one (wikipedia)
Litigation is the "Germany" that causes skeptics to rally together as the French and Brits did in '14 and '39.  The current plight of British skeptic Mark Tilbrook being threatening with legal harm as well insinuated physical harm at the hands of people close to famous British psychic Sally Morgan has triggered a groundswell of support for him.  Simon Singh's Good Thinking Society has kicked off psychic awareness month, and provided some legal aid or advice.  This matter has been covered by Doubtful News, The Token Skeptic, and The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe among others.  

Further litigious threat is that the SGU's Steven Novella and Science Based Medicine are being sued for expressing a negative view of the medical notions of Dr. Edward Tobinick.  Skeptics with a K noted in their latest podcast that Q.E.D. is donating over $1,000.00 to the SGU's defense fund.  (Yes, Brits think it's spelled "defence" and they add an extra "m" as well as a random "e" to the word "program," but we still respect them.)