Sunday, September 25, 2011

SGU24 and The Skeptics' Guide episode 323

The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe's SGU24 is over.  It was ambitious.  It did not go perfectly.  The first couple hours were very rocky.  At one point around the 9pm EST mark I thought the whole thing might get shelved by a lack of bandwidth.  Technical issues dogged the show during the entire program.  The Skype connections were dodgy with freeze frames, jerky video, and dropped connections.  The video feed from Justin.TV looked the best on my iPad and just a blocky mess on my iMac or on SR HQ's living room television.   And yet in the end, they did manage to pull it off.  I suspect a host of valuable lesson were learned by the Rogues and the support crew behind the scenes.  Likely, the biggest one is that one can never, ever have enough bandwidth.  That lone would have solved most of the worst offending technical issues.  They pulled it off, so my hats off to them.

As an overall event it was a stunt, and while the show featured a number of guests, and news segments, and five science or fictions, the episode was more about the event itself than anything else.  Unfortunately I missed some of the guests I looked most to seeing: Richard Saunders and Dr. Rachel Dunlop, as well as Frasier Cane and Pamela Gay.  I did watch Phil Plait, Brian Dunning, Joshie Berger, as well as Adam Savages' brief appearance.  However, Pa-pa Novella's appearance near the end of the show was wonderful and stole the show.  The father of the Rogues was a robust 81 year old, and the childhood stories they shared was a great glimpse into how the brothers' Novella came to be what they are today.  Also, Rebecca's brief phone chat with her mother was a bit of fun too.  Yes, Rogues have families too.  Jay showed another skeptical spoof with a gangster theme entitled "Truefellas."  It was far better than the "The G Hunters," although I had the gut feeling Steve Novella was only modestly taken by it.

Overall, the show came off better than I thought it might.  I am sure the Rogues had grander plans than what actually transpired.  There are a hosts of suggested changes I could share and I am sure the Rogues are pondering changes if they try a video show again in the future.  I don't wish to bore the reader with my ideas.  Ok, I will share two.  First, an audio feed for the fan to stream one's smartphone while out and about would have been great.  To stream a video feed would kill my 3G caps.  Therefore, when I left home I was left in the dark.  Second, while I missed some of the guests on the show, there was a bit of a sausage-fest going on with the show.  Yes, I missed Dr. Dunlop and Dr. Gay with Saunders and Cain respectively.   I am aware there is fine balance between forced diversity with tokenism and the desire to have an interesting panel of guests given time and scheduling constraint, but this bit might have needed a tad more fine tuning.  Maybe a spot with Hayley Stevens or a Skepchick would have jazzed this up a bit. Overall, I give the Rogues a ton of credit for the effort, and a gentile pass on some of the execution.  If the SGU gang do attempt something similar in the future, I suspect the next effort will have a lot more polish.

Then I listened to the regular weekly episode of the The Skeptics Guide to the Universe.  Yes, they still uploaded the normal weekly show as well as the live program.  This episode was recorded at Dragon*Con 2011.  George Hrab and Brian Brushwood (Mr. Brushwood was suppose to be a guest on the SGU24, but I believe a cascade of technical and scheduling snafus prevented it.) were guests.  The episode was far more free flowing than your typical SGU episode.  I enjoyed it for this change of pacing.  I don't know if I would want all episodes to take on this vibe, but this episode it worked.  If you want to hear some hard hitting skepticism this is likely not the episode for you.  Although, the Rogues do get into a nice discussion/debate of nature vs. nurture in molding the personalities and interests of boys and girls.

So between the SGU24 show and the regular podcast I listened/watched about 14 hours worth of SGU skeptical goodness.  If this were a buffet of skepticism, I would be stuffed, popping an antacid, and semi-comatose on the sofa.

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