I’m Now On Patreon (And I Feel a Little Weird About It)

I am now experimenting with Patreon, the crowdfunding service, in order to see if I can ease some of my financial stress by creating meaningful units of consumable Content™. I feel a little weird about it, and I’m a little uneasy about the idea that there might be people who want to give their money to support my extracurriculars. But I already have one patron (thank you so much, Lisa Boban!), so maybe there are more who are similarly generous.

Go check out my Patreon page if you’re so inclined, and if you’re feeling really inclined, maybe pitch in. If you want. But you totally don’t have to.

Have You Been Thinkery-ing???

I assume you’ve been keeping up with Thinkery, my new-ish podcast with Brian Hogg. In fact, I’m so confident that you have that I don’t even really need to do the thing I’m going to do, which is link to the most recent three episodes, which are…
Episode 5: Just Abduct Elon Musk

    • Brian contemplates doing more Mosspuppet and also feels terrible about how his crowdfunding campaign went!
    • Christians should have no problem with abortion!
    • Darth Vader’s ‘redemption’ is morally simplistic!
    • Is there a god or afterlife in Star Wars?
    • Neither Paul nor Brian can read fiction anymore!
    • Will Voyager outlast us all?

Episode 6: Competitive Pedantry

…with 100% new content and 60% new jokes! And Brian is literally sitting in a closet for optimal sound quality!

Plus, we talk about these specific topics:

    • More listeners — and attention — makes us deeply uncomfortable, but we want them!
    • Creativity is mechanical, and the muse is mythical!
    • How Brian and Paul met!
    • Richard Dawkins is the stripper you take home with you!
    • Why people disappoint you!
    • The Berenstain Bears are fracturing reality!
    • Was Brian wrong when he made fun of alien blood?
    • Mind control fungus!

and Episode 7: It’s Free Once You’ve Paid For It

It’s a new episode, and it’s bigger and shorter than ever!

What do Paul and Brian talk about this time? Lots of things, like:

    • Kids, and taking care of them!
    • Paul wants to save his precious, delicate phone!
    • Is the universe real? Who cares!
    • Amazon Prime, and the lunacy of saying you get ‘free 2-day shipping!’
    • How can an established company still be a startup?
    • And more, possibly!

Go get some, subscribe in iTunes or from your favorite podcatcher.


The iMortal Show Now Available on iTunes

I have no idea why it's filed under "history."
This is just a quick post to let you know that the iMortal Show, which I unveiled a few days ago, has finally been approved by the iTunes gods.

So now you can subscribe to the show through iTunes on your computer and on the iOS Podcasts app, as well as (presumably) any other podcast app.

I was really happy with how the first episode turned out, and I can tell you now that I’m editing it, episode two is going to be awesome too. I think I may also rope in the Apple event “one-off” podcast discussion from a couple of weeks ago as a “special,” and add it to the feed (and probably add the nifty theme song too).

So, tell your friends, tell your enemies, tell people who you’ll never meet: go check out the iMortal Show. It’s less painful than jabbing a pencil in your ear!

Thoughts on an iMortal Podcast

My public is waiting to hear from me!!!
I think that iMortal should have a podcast.

The subject matter of the site is ripe for conversational exploration, and I have a number of friends and colleagues who would be great to talk to about the various topics that fall under this site’s (admittedly pourous) umbrella; technology, humanism, media, and culture. I feel that as the site’s author, I can better elaborate on my own thoughts, and explore new ones with guests and panelists.

Less nobly, I am (or was?) a performer by trade. I enjoy the act of expounding upon subjects for which I have a passion. And I feel like a broadcast of some sort would go a long way to help with the iMortal “brand,” open up the site to new audiences, and reveal new avenues as yet unconsidered. Who knows?!

I’m about to take a week off of work with some vacation time I’ve saved up, and I’m not traveling. Among the things I want to do with this time (which includes healthy doses of “nothing”) is seriously explore the possibility of, and perhaps even launch, an iMortal podcast.

But what should it be?

You might know that on my personal site, Near-Earth Object, I did eleven episodes of a show called the Obcast which primarily used a longform interview format; me and a guest for one to two hours. There were also two “special” episodes that were panel discussions with me and two guests conversing about a specific topic. Though I really enjoyed the interview shows, they were stressful to set up and prepare for, and relied heavily upon the availability of guests, and over time I grew to look forward to them less. (Though I always enjoyed the actual interviews themselves, with every guest, from episode “zero” to the last.) After a couple of booked guests had to cancel on me (totally legitmately), I lost some momentum, and simply never recovered it.

At this point, I’m pretty sure an iMortal show would not exclusively be an interview show, but I don’t want to rule solo interviews out entirely. I have a number of potential guests in mind I’d like to speak to on their own, as opposed to sticking them in a group setting.

But largely I did find the panel discussion format far more fun. I worry that this is because it’s more akin to hanging out with friends than anything else, and might not be as enjoyable for the listener, who may prefer a more focused interview. But who is “the listener”? No one right now. So, again, who knows?

This is all to say that I’m still working out what this ought to be. And it doesn’t even begin to address the issues of who I would have on the show (regular co-hosts? rotating panelists?), how often I would do it (I have a full time job and small children), on what platform I’d host it, how I’d pay for said hosting, what specific topics I’d cover, what structure the show should have, and a pleathora of others concerns.

But it’s amazing how sometimes questions just answer themselves once you resolve to do something. I wager that if I plow ahead next week, I may have something before I know it. What will that something be?

Who knows!?!

Update: One thing I do know, is that it won’t just be a bunch of dudes. If the last thing the Internet needs is another podcast by some nerd guy, the super-last thing it needs is one that only has other nerd guys on it.

The Obcast Was a Good Call

I’m definitely very glad that I began the Obcast. For years I’d toyed with the idea of doing my own podcast, but I always hesitated because it felt kind of pointless, as in, “oh boy, another podcast by a nerdy atheist type.” But then I let go of being terribly concerned of where a hypothetical podcast would fit in the grander online universe of content, and instead rested upon the simple idea that it’d be a lot of fun to do.

And it has been. Don’t get me wrong, there’s real work involved, but it’s totally worth it. I get to have genuinely fascinating and enlightening conversations with really smart, creative, funny people who might not otherwise have a platform (or, for those who do have platforms, might not get to talk on subjects outside of their outlets’). And then I get to share those conversations with anyone who wants to dip in. Each episode is, I think, evergreen, and can be listened to any time, and in any order. I’m really proud of the series so far.

I haven’t highlighted the last few episodes here on the blog, so I thought I’d do that now. I just completed the Obcast’s first panel-discussion episode, a chat about Transformers: The Movie with Matt Licata and Ryan Koronowski, both previous guests, here and here. That should be posted in the next couple of days.

Last week, I talked to an old friend from my days at the Actors Studio Drama School circa 2000/2001, writer and performer Lauren Milberger. I think this one has been my wife’s favorite so far, an episode in which Lauren and I talk about the craft of acting, the power of good television writing, and what she’s learned about herself from her study of some classic comedians.

Before that, reporter from the Great White North, Peggy Revell, diagnosed the state of journalism, some of the quirks of American versus Canadian politics, and what it means to learn to tell a story.

And I’m just getting warmed up, 10 full episodes in (the first one with Matt was labeled “Episode Zero,” which I’m already regretting). In the coming weeks, I’ll have writer Emily Hauser, tech-in-education expert Kyle Calderwood, and comic actor extraordinaire Chuck Caruso. And those are just the folks I’ve confirmed.

If you’ve been listening, thank you. If you’re not listening, I’m going to keep making them anyway.

Stop Me Before I Podcast Again

I’ve been casting-pod like a crazy person.  Just as a quick update, yesterday I posted a brand new episode with my former iPad-slinging colleague Chris Sawyer, and we get all geeky and commiserate about the awful real world and the worlds we’ve created for ourselves online. 

Not too long before that, I posted a truly enlightening episode with the Clergy Project’s Catherine Dunphy. It turned out to be a pretty deep exploration of not just losing one’s faith, but the inner political machinations of a particular church you may have heard of. 

Who knows what I might do next. 


Near-Earth for Your Ears

This is an experiment. I’m interested in perhaps — perhaps! — beginning a podcast project, in which I’d read selections from this blog on a semi-regular basis. For now, in order to avoid podcast “episodes” that last only four or five minutes, I’m thinking about grouping posts together that follow a certain theme. For example, I might find three or four recent pieces about technology, and record those as a single episode.
Here is my first highly experimental stab at this idea. I’ve chosen three recent posts about my struggles with the Western Canon, and with keeping up with culture generally, and it turns about to be about 25 minutes long.

I have a lot more thinking and tinkering to do. For example, what’s the best way to record blockquotes? In this, I try out the idea of slightly altering the quality of the sound when I’m quoting from another writer, adding a little reverb and panning to one side or the other. I dunno, we’ll see.

So give it a listen, if you’re inclined. And I’ll keep working on what this should actually be, and whether it should be at all.

Comments. Boy, I Don’t Know.

I don’t generally like comments sections. Though I appreciate the ethos behind them, the notion that a blog is a place where folks can continue an article’s discussion beyond the written post, it rarely serves this purpose. Most of the time, in my experience as a reader and writer, comments are usually a bulliten board for banal or thoughtless exclamations, and at worst, a cesspool of hostility and idiocy.
Freethought Blogs clearly is identified with a robust commenting culture, and its commenters have exemplified both the best and worst of this. Indeed, most of the time in this particular blog’s short history with FtB, the comments have been friendly and considered.

But it doesn’t take much to draw the attention of the parade of fanatical ignoramuses.

So, look, I want to give the well-meaning folks a fair shot at participating in the discussions here (and I’ve actually really enjoyed some of the comments on posts about technology and gadgets) before I decide to shut the whole comments section down. Which I’m really close to doing.

But in order to have folks behave in a manner that I think suits this blog, I probably need to lay out what the comments policy actually is. Fine then.

So here’s how this is going to go.

First and foremost, this is my blog. I am the supreme evil dictator of this stake of Internet property. It’s not a democracy, it’s not a town meeting with the city council. I’m not disinterested in other people’s perspectives, but in the end, this is my space and it’s going to reflect that fact.

I have no obligation to host a comments section at all, and many of the best blogs have none (Andrew Sullivan, John Gruber, etc.). And no, that’s not an example of “censorship,” and it’s not silencing anyone. The Internet is a big place, and if you really want to respond or react to something I’ve written, you can do it on your own blog. Your links back will only increase my Google ranking.

While I do have comments, here are the rules, and they’re simple. You can’t comment here just to abuse or be an asshole to me, other commenters, or anyone else. I will be the one who decides what counts as abuse or “being an asshole.” Debate and disagreement with me is fine, but if you get shitty about it, I’ll mark you as spam. I may just decide you’ve got a crummy, nasty attitude, and that’ll mean you’re out. Again, I will be the one who decides what counts as shitty, crummy, nasty, or what have you. Again, if this doesn’t please you, start your own blog and complain about it there.

Needless to say (or is it?), racist, sexist, bigoted comments, or anything containing threats, won’t be tolerated.

If a comment thread goes off-topic, straying into subjects irrelevant to the post in question, I’ll probably turn comments off for that post.

Life is short, and I have no incentive to waste my time by subjecting myself (or my tens of readers) to a bunch of abuse and garbage.

Hopefully, things will be cool, and there’ll be little reason to act on any of this.

But if it becomes a waste of time or even an additional source of stress, well, I’ll just shut the section down.

(Note: The title of this post is inspired by this immortal exchange. I hope Jed Bartlet does not want to kick my ass.)

No, I Was Not Bullied into Not Being an Asshole

Oh, barf.

Okay, so apparently that Thunderf00t guy (who I didn’t know anything about before the tumult he brought to FtB) has a video in which my name appears among a list of folks who contributed to the Skepchick series on rejecting anti-woman vitriol in the skepto-atheosphere, and asserts that the aforementioned folks were all “bullied” or “cajoled” into taking part.

I mean come the fuck on. Do I really have to do this?

For the record: I was honored to be asked to participate, I am proud of what I wrote, and stand by it entirely. I know bullying. I am still recovering from a lifetime of it, and yeah, being asked to state the obvious on a great website is not bullying.

Also for the record: I still don’t understand why anybody cares what this guy with the zeros-for-o’s in his name thinks.

Gah. I can’t believe I even had to dignify this nonsense. My eyes are rolling so far back in my head I can read my own thoughts. I need a blog shower.