Sunday, December 14, 2014

Skepreview is not dead. Just taking a nap.

I have been quiet as of late.  I have had a bit of writer’s block, or at least a bout of writer’s unhappiness.  For whatever reasons swirling in my brain, the last few pieces I have drafted have come out as angry.  Angry not against the cultural competition, but about fellow skeptics.  All the in-fighting and sniping has been wearying.  I have no desire to be an angry type of blogger.   

I do plan on authoring a post on my end of the year thoughts.  I doubt there will be many surprises in it. 

Lately, I have been listening to a lot of “The Great Courses’" series on Audible.  It’s all been history related, and the current series I am enjoying “Human Prehistory and the First Civilizations” with Professor Brian M. Fagan.   What I found interesting with this series is it is very science heavy.  Much of what we know from this part of human history is based upon radiometric dating, genetics, and climatology.  As a science enthusiast and history guy, I find the combination wonderful, but I do wonder if for some if all the science talk is mumbo jumbo or if for others this entire course is nonsense as it all is clearly not in accord with biblical history.  I do enjoy it when my interests overlap. 

Of note on the skeptical podcast front, Dr. Stuart Robbins of Exposing PseudoAstronomy has produced a lengthy but interesting take down on the alternative scientific views of James McCanney in two episodes.   McCanney's notions and 'scientific' ideas are numerous and varied.  They are also not just unconventional but flawed.   I do not recall ever hearing of McCanney prior to this episode.  Although I have heard of his ideas, which range from the electric universe theory, Apollo moon hoax notions, an alternative view of what are comets, and on and on.  Dr. Robbins, as always, is thorough in his criticisms and in this instance perhaps almost overly generous toward the subject.

Also of note, Dr. Mark Crislip of Quackcast, Science Based Medicine Blog, and new Society for Science Based Medicine has just released a slew of new episodes.  This did put a smile upon my face, and so far I have listened to Chaperons Needed, Why get a flu shot, Homotoxicology, and In the Spirit of Choosing Wisely.  All of which were released today on December 14, 2014.  Not sure what caused the backlog or if this is a new release strategy.  Each episode is about 10 to 15 minutes in length and as always Crislip's wit and take no prisoners attitude abounds.  I particularly enjoyed In the Spirit of Choosing Wisely.  

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.