GAC coverage, parts IV & V

Part IV of my coverage of the Global Atheist Convention (and fringe) has been viewable online over here at B&W for a few days. Apologies for the late update, I’ve been quite busy away from the computer in my spare time, owing to something being put down a toilet that didn’t belong there…

Part V has just gone live over here, in the past few hours. Now there’s just the redux post left to finish off…

…then it’s on to media meta-analysis (kidding… or maybe not).

Enjoy. Open-mouthed smile

~ Bruce

… the Global Atheist Convention (and fringe) part deux, over at B&W

You may or may not enjoy this entry as much as the last. I get stuck into a Jim Jeffries act that headlined the first night.

I’ll be off to see Chris Stedman, PZ Myers, and the excellent Leslie Cannold, in action tonight, where they’ll be discussing the possibility of cooperation between atheists and the religious.

~ Bruce

Positioning postponed…

I have two drafts mostly finished, in anticipation of the Global Atheist Convention and surrounding fringe events. One is a review of Russell Blackford’s Freedom of Religion & The Secular State, which I hope to finish and publish tomorrow afternoon/evening.

The other is/was, a positioning of my views versus that of Richard Dawkins.

One degree of meta-analysis away from the heat, I’ve done a lot of chasing around, pointing out misquotes, technically illiterate misinterpretations, and spurious analysis. In all of this, I haven’t spent much time pointing out exactly what differences I have with Dawkins.

It wasn’t to be hostile, nor was it intended so much to position myself away from Dawkins. Rather, it was to be more of a clarification of where I’m coming from, in anticipation of some of the curiosity I may encounter given the coverage and analysis I’ll be doing over the next few weeks.

As you can expect, things are incredibly polarised. Perhaps ABC’s QANDA has calculated on as much, or perhaps not (QANDA does have form for this kind of thing).

The likelihood then, of finding someone wanting to critique my perspective, albeit casually as my post was intended to be, is pretty low. It’ll likely either be the dutifully fair, or the foaming-at-the-mouth angry.

The dutifully fair deserve a little more than a casual post, and I’ll endeavour to turn my draft into something more worthy of their consideration, which I’ll publish at a later point. I suspect this group of people are capable of being patient, so there shouldn’t be any problems there.

The other group, the mouth-foamers; well, I couldn’t care less about entertaining them. Indeed, the climate of pretentious pre-positioning on the #QANDA Twitter channel is becoming more and more insufferable, and I’m only human (poor frail me).

(I don’t mind some of the good-humoured tweets – but that’s another thing all-together from what I’m talking about).

I’m now beyond the point of being able to patiently humour this kind of thing, or lightheadedly jest about it. Now I’m just too annoyed.

I’ve been reminded that social media can bring this out of people, but all the same, I’ve had enough. I’m raising my oars and waiting for this particular storm to pass.

Now, I’ll get back to my other duties/preparations/drafts.

~ Bruce

Look out, Melbourne…

ImageAnimal-product-free luggage… check.

Gold convention, and Gala Dinner Tickets… check.

Train tickets for the scenic route… check.

Accommodation… check.

Ironing and packing clothes… okay… Innaminute.

That’s it Melbourne – I’m on my way down to sneer at your cafes, point at your soggy chips, and mock your dreary weather.

The Global Atheist Convention is my main objective, that and a few of the fringe events, but I do hope to find a good book exchange or two, and soak in a bit of this and that. I’ll be writing a few journal/essays on the convention (and fringe events), probably on a daily basis, for Ophelia Benson over at Butterflies and Wheels, and I’ll post links as they’re published.

I’m not overly-inclined to live-tweet a live event I’m taking notes on, but I should have my Twitter client turned on at various points to make comment. You can track my feed over here if you’re so inclined.

Possibly, if I can find the time to draft suitable questions, I’ll be able find someone of academic or community standing, amenable to a beer and twenty questions.

I wouldn’t mind catching up with some of the Melburnian wonks I’ve pestered on the blogosphere over the past seven years, if they’re up for it, and if we can find the time. I’m already lucky enough to be meeting and eating with one of their families at the gala dinner, so I won’t get sooky if I don’t get more than that.

The fringe event I’ve committed to is Secular Australia: A 10 Point Plan, featuring Russell Blackford, Meredith Doig and Graham Oppy. It’s on Thursday night at 6:30pm at Embiggen Books. It’s worth mentioning, and I’ve had Russell Blackford emphatically confirm this – this isn’t an atheist-only gig*. Secular theists are more than welcome – they’re wanted.

Don’t worry about my bluster, Melburnians. I come bearing hugs.

~ Bruce

2012 Global Atheist Convention – I’m going, are you?

I missed the Global Atheist Convention (GAC) in 2010, being reduced to analysing developments at a distance; online interviewing, raw footage and the like. While I suspect this had benefits, perhaps along the lines of insulating against the crowd-induced amplification of cognitive biases (helping for example, with this), there’s still nothing like reporting from the frontline, right?

I’ve got my dinner gala and gold tickets. Maybe I’ll see you there.

Of course, I’m biased. Or at least as an atheist, I’m about as biased as a cat can be herded.

I am a member of the Atheist Foundation of Australia, which you may suspect pre-disposes me towards positive coverage of the event, so there’s that. But I do expect to have a number of disagreements with people on-stage, beyond the disagreements they’ll have with each other, and my tastes are possibly a little more proletarian than those of most in attendance.

Not to detract from the general thrust of things, I’m also in large part interested in a number of the speakers as writers or academics, rather than just as prominent atheists. I’ve been following a number of them, for various reasons, well before there was this rise of The Atheist Thing. I’ll be taking that baggage with me.

A deliberate effort will be made on my part not to prejudice the performance of Catherine Deveny in the process of any critique. It’s a fair cop; I may not have enjoyed her writing up until this point, but really, I’ve never seen her live before. (And maybe I’ll re-read her writing differently afterward, who knows? Or maybe it’s just one of those irreconcilable Adelaide versus Melbourne things).

Beyond all of this, I wouldn’t mind catching up with a few people I’ve met online if they’re free in Melbourne at the time – maybe some of the left-wonk crowd down that way? Maybe I’ll have to see if Father Bob is up for visitors. I’ll definitely want to pop in to Embiggen Books as well (who at the time of writing have just had a flood, forcing a temporary closure – damn Melbourne).

Then there’s the matter of just looking around town, checking out the local sights and the various fringe events, and sniffing haughtily at the spectacle of South Australia’s neighbouring penal colony. Maybe I’ll even see you there.

~ Bruce

Information and tickets here: 2012 Global Atheist Convention.