Saturday, 31 March 2012

On Skeptics in the Pub.

It's been hard to contain my excitement about announcing this.

I promised it at #QEDCon (still using the hashtag?) and I now offer to the world:

Kingston Skeptics in the Pub.

A little over a year ago a small group of self-confessed 'skeptics' met in a very 'local' pub in Portsmouth and since then various venues have hosted some absolutely amazing speakers on everything from philosophy to cosmology, time travel, crypozoology and juggling. Yes, mathematics through juggling.

Unfortunately, I then took the decision to accept a job in South West London and, well, it needs one here too!

The venue is:

Ram Jam Club

46 Richmond Rd
Kingston upon Thames

We will be meeting on the first Thursday each month from 7th June 2012.

Check out the website for full details of speakers:

Of course, we're also on Twitter and facebook

I am looking for anyone else, ideally local to the Kingston area, who would be happy to help in the running and organisation. There are lots of things that people can help with and it won't take a huge amount of your time. It really is worth it.

Monday, 26 March 2012

On the power of prayer.

Do I really have to spell out that God doesn't heal?

I mean, it's obvious. Right? However, Twitter lit up today with this article:

"MPs try to overturn 'God can heal' ad ban.

Soccer star Fabrice Muamba's recovery has sparked a group of Christian MPs to try and reverse an ad ban on saying that worship works"

Oh please (stop the planet and let me get off).

Prayer doesn't work. It may well make people feel better or like they're making a difference but it doesn't.

Monday, 12 March 2012

On #QEDCon 2012 :D

Wow. QEDCon finished for another year and Twitter server admins can relax.

For the uninitiated, this is QEDCon:

There are few things in life that can put a smile on your face for an entire weekend. QEDCon is, and certainly did.

I'm going to make a lot of mentions. QEDCon is about the people. The science, skepticism and other fascinating stuff is a delicious bonus :)

Kicked off with the Mixer evening on Friday night. We arrived early but the party was already in full swing, Who would have thought that skeptics were such a sociable bunch? Much cider and chatting was enjoyed by everyone. I took a few time lapse videos. One is particularly amazing as the bar staff asked that it was moved, and in the another I spotted that it had attracted the attention of Tom (@skepticCanary) and includes his successful attempt to feature is right at the end. Here they all are:

Last year it was sometimes impossible to choose which room to go to, this year was no different. So many wonderful speakers on stage and interesting discussions around the bar it was always hard to know where to be or go. Everywhere I went I found the atmosphere to be welcoming and open. Deborah Hyde (@jourdemayne) gave a brilliant morning talk on werewolves, the InKredulous recording was hilarious. Evening comedy from Robin Ince and Alun Cochrane from the best seats in the house :) Can anyone explain the hell was going on with the mechanical baby and theremin though?

Apologies to Trish (@cherryblack) for offending her with the sight of my bare, naked feet.

@EmmaJaynewithaY sent me this tweet: I've got my fingers crossed for next year LOL

Mr Ash Pryce (@AshPryce) is not only thoroughly charming company he is also an epic dancer/ pillar-hugger. Nothing else is bloggable I'm afraid :D

Hayley (@HayleyStevens) is a blogger, paranormal researcher and confirmed ghost and was someone who I'd chatted to online on a number of occasions and I was delighted to finally get a chance to meet her in person. What a genuinely lovely human. She was even up for me photographing her '42' tattoo next to @gellerby's 'don't panic' AND it was what would have been Douglas Adam's 60th birthday. Therefore, empirically, this is one of the finest images ever captured.

Quite, quite perfect. Inspiration hit me and I had to create this and put it in one of the lifts. I'd like to thank everyone for the love it got, anyone know who the proud owner is now? @Arakwai? (You may have spotted other references around the hotel... ta to the staff that provided the Post-Its!). QEDCon is the perfect place to find and share random snippets of comedy.

Also, great to chatting to DJ Grothe (@DJGrothe) and all the Dublin Skeptics, Steve (@66Steve) in particular deserving a mention just for lending me his hat for the below, yesterday evening:

Rhys (@RhysMorgan), sorry. Just sorry. I'll keep Jen and George away from you next time :P For hilarity go and check out Rhys's tweets (inc. @gellerby/@gwendes/@LudditeWebDev and the, only occasionally, terrifying @JenClone!)

Delighted to have the chance to go and personally thank Richard Wiseman (@richardwiseman) for writing '59 Seconds' which found me at exactly the right time in my life. It's quite, quite brilliant and a must read.

#nerddancing? Well, there was plenty. Sorry I was a little late for the first but I got sidetracked by George (@gellerby) and ended up discussing Darwin with Robin Ince (@robinince). Everyone that made it will no doubt agree I arrived in style and 100% redeemed myself with the selection of Frank Turner's wonderful 'Glory Hallelujah'. Spontaneous jazz hands at the end was one of my personal highlights! #There is NOOOOO God, so clap your hands together. Oh yes!

The second bout of #nerddancing happened in conjunction with #nerdkaraoke had the additional fun factor as a result of featuring a very dangerous dance floor. #nerdsliding? Of course we did!

I was very proud that #QEDConAdvice got a mention at the end. This is our community to own, it's not run from the top-down and that's so important. I do have a very, very important addition to make though:

#QEDConAdvice: Book the Monday off work. 

Most people will be aware that I was pretty efficient at losing my possessions but hopefully you'll be glad to know that everything has been located now and I'll be in contact with Keir (@endless_psych) to sort out the return of my Kindle. I can highly recommend making a stencil and spray painting your laptop:

A lot of love for my t-shirts so I've decided to offer them up as vector images, here's the first few of them including the ones I didn't actually print! Right-click on the links and save, then open with Inkscape if you want to do any editing.

What next? Well I'm currently investigating running a summer skeptical mini festival, codename #Skeptival in the south, probably London. Anyone interested in getting involved or speaking please get in contact - it will happen if the community is behind it.

I'm also aware that Tannice (@Tannice_) and Brighton Skeptics (@BrightonSkeptic) are looking at arranging a southern QEDCon-esque event of some kind. I am 100% behind that and sure other groups in the south will be too (@sitpPortsmouth). Kingston-Upon-Thames #SitP will be born eventually too... give me time to settle back into reality first! Again, any offers much appreciated :)

Finally, sadly, QEDCon has decided that it is unable to marry me :( I am crying.

Massive, massive amounts of love to you all and thank you for making this weekend one of the best I've ever had.