Tuesday, July 10, 2012

TAM travel podcasts . . .

For you lucky devils traveling to "The Amaz!ing Meeting 10" in hot and dry Las Vegas, Nevada, what follows is a list of suggested podcast choices to ease your travels to TAM.  Whether you are traveling by commercial airliner, bus, train, or in the back of your friend's Mini, hopefully what follows will help you ease the hours away until you get to rub elbows with the likes of Dr. Stuart Robbins, Blake Smith, or Sharon Hill.  Not all are necessarily skeptical podcasts, but episodes that help while away the long hours stuck next to the smelly gentleman who's using your shoulder as a comfy pillow flying from Liberty International to McCarron airports.

Karl will not be at TAM but luckily
Blake & I think Karen will be.
You have four hours to kill, and you always wanted to learn about the fall of the Western Roman Empire and the rise of Medieval Europe?  May I suggest Dan Carlin's recent Hardcore History episode "Thor's Angel's."  I have only recently started listening to Carlin more or less meticulously researched, well thought-out, and entertainingly-told history podcast.  As a history person, I thought I had some background on the beginnings of Medieval Europe, but I found the episode entertaining and fairly thorough.  

Now, if you are willing spend about $5.00US you can download Carlin's four part series of the Russo-German portion of World War II, which spread over four episodes is over five hours of history.   The Eastern Front of World War II has always thoroughly fascinated me.  This did not disappoint.  There are a few bits and conclusions that I disagree with Carlin, but overall it is an impressive effort.  

A final entry in the history category, if you have about an hour to kill, then I suggest Bruce Carlson's My History can beat up Your Politics episode describing the history underpinning the majority decision in the United States Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Healthcare Act.  I have been a avid listener of Carlson's for years.  Carlson is a fairly straight shooter and fairly nonpartisan overall.  This is not a deep legal exercise, but more of the general history that underpinned the decision.

For those of you who are not history fans, then might I suggest more pop cultural leanings.  Andy Ihnatko, freelance tech journalist, movie lover, and general prince of geeks, gave a roughly two hour review of the recent superhero blockbuster "The Avengers."  What makes the episodes of his Ihnatko Almanac podcast on the 5by5 network so interesting, other than Ihnatko's infectious personality, is that it is the nicest, kindest, most thoughtful takedown and criticism of a popular and generally beloved motion picture.  At the end of the whole thing instead of wanting to dash off an angry email to him, you want to invite him out for a omelette and coffee at the nearest diner to discuss.

Ok.  You are headed off to a skepticism conference, so you want a little skepticism to prime the mental pump.  I suggest episode 10 of Karl Mamer's Conspiracy Skeptic back when it was just an hour or so of Karl's discussion of a conspiracy topic de jour.  This episode discusses various polite and fairly unknown Canadian conspiracies.  If I may be so American and toot my own horn, I thought Karl did a nice job making me sound fairly sane and knowledgable about the alleged sinking of the HMS Invincible during the Falklands War during his May, 2010 episode.  Unfortunately, Karl will not be attending TAM this year, so you won't be able to ask him what it's like in the frigid North, or why he ever agreed to have me as a guest.

If you have just a few moments before you have to flip off your iPhone on your flight, then I might suggest a more recent vintage of the latest episode of The Token Skeptic with an interview of Bridget Gaudette of Secular Women, Inc and the Director of Florida Atheist.  It is less than twenty minutes, and a challenging endeavor to launch a new group in the din of secular, skeptical, and free-thought packing the internet these days.  However, Secular Women, Inc. has managed to make a fairly big initial splash.  Although as a person of a certain age group the name "Secular Women, Inc" reminds me of "Kids Incorporated" a very upbeat super sweet television show and musical act of the 1980's.  It might just be me.

The interview was interesting, although I do wish Sturgess asked Gaudette if people of faith, but who are strong supporters of a separation between church and state are welcome.  The organization from the interviews seems open to women, men, and those of less traditional gender classification, but is it open only to the non-faithful so to speak?  Also, Gaudette indicated that they will be stronger supporters of groups that have a strong and open code of conduct.  I am still wrestling how I feel about the current move afoot within skepdom to have codes of conduct to foster a feeling of safety and comfort all the attendees.  On the one hand, I support the idea to make everyone feel comfortable and safe to draw more people to conference.  On the other hand, (as was pointed out on a SGU forum post, which I can't locate at the moment) that legally speaking such a code of conduct could open the organization up to litigation.

Once you have a code of conduct, one has set the organization's standards and if someone can argue the organization did not live up to the standard in some manner it's a nice roadmap to litigation success.  Just as bad if something happens that was not covered under the code of conduct, you could open the group up to attack for having an imperfect code that possibly permitted some terrible act.  In the act of trying to make things better for the group as a whole, the organization could be drafting a liability.  It seems to me an arguably better course would be to make it clear that the organization can remove a participant at anytime for a refund of the unspent time at the meeting for basically any reason, all partipants will obey the Federal, State, and local laws.  Sure, this does not have the warm and fuzzy feel of a code of conduct.  I think legally it might be better for the hosting organization.  If the organization is willing to accept the risk of publishing a code with eyes wide open that is an noble choice.  Boy, I sure would think twice before doing it.
(The opinions above are not to be relied upon as legal advice, and are only the personal opinions of the author.  Please seek proper and reliable advice from trained and licensed legal counsel.)

Finally, as the Astronomer Royale for the Conspiracy Skeptic Podcast as well as host of his own excellent Exposing PsuedoAstronomy podcast, Dr. Stuart Robbins will be attending TAM. I suggest listening to episode 32 discussing UFOs with Derek Bartholomaus.  This interview was one of my favorites, and I am a sucker for UFO cases.  This way when you run into Dr. Robbins at the Del Mar bar at the hotel you will have something nice to discuss.

While the above list is clearly not an all inclusive list of good things to listen to on your travels to TAM 10, I do hope you find it useful while the woman next to you on the train keeps staring at your t-shirt wondering "what the heck is a Skeptics' Guide to the Universe?"


  1. "I do wish Sturgess asked Gaudette if people of faith, but who are strong supporters of a separation between church and state are welcome. "

    Excellent question - I shall email her and then blog it. Thanks!

  2. I grew up in South Africa and I would look at maps and we were at the bottom of the world. There was this whole thing up there. I was always reading encyclopedias about the world. So travel was something I was always attracted to.

    Flights to Lusaka | Cheap Air Tickets to Lusaka

  3. It is for us to pray not for tasks equal to our powers, but for powers equal to our tasks, to go forward with a great desire forever beating at the door of our hearts as we travel toward our distant goal. – Helen Keller Flights to Dar Es Salaam
    Cheap Flights to Dar Es Salaam
    Cheap Air Tickets to Dar Es Salaam


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.