Friday, August 29, 2008
Well, it's actually the first official day of Dragon*Con, but it's the second day here in Atlanta for me.
I started the morning early, getting up at 8 am for registration. I didn't want to wait in a line. Of course I ended up in the absolutely slowest line and waited for about 30 minutes as it advanced at a snail's pace.
I spent some time artfully arranging our postcards near the exit of registration and interviewing a few unsuspecting attendees. And I realized I was carrying too much. And it was way too hot to worry about carrying a sweater, so I headed back to my room for a few minutes before the Con started in earnest.
The first panel was Skeptics 101 with James Randi Director of the JREF - , DJ Grothe - host of Point of Inquiry, Jeff Wagg - General Manager of JREF, Ben Radford - Managing Editor of Skeptical Inquirer, Phil Plait - President of JREF, and Richard Saunders of the TANK vodcast. It was a good panel. They touched on atheism quite a bit, partially due to questions from the audience. At one point the panel was talking about how theists and atheist could work together as long as the theists accepted reality and then talked a little about how atheism wasn't even a term they really used. DJ spoke up and said that yes, he agreed with the sentiment, but that he called himself an atheist and that wasn't a label he was willing to hide. James Randi also started the talk by calling himself an avowed atheist.
I sat next to the fabulous Meg during the session (Hi, Meg!) and she was pretty cool being a theist and yet still very receptive to the idea of the AGP podcast.
Then I visited the dealer's room and bought a pretty cool shirt that says, "I refuse to engage in a battle of wits with an unarmed person," from Buzzy Multimedia.
The second panel I attended was Lake Monsters I Have Known with Ben Radford. It was a good discussion about cryptozoology investigations and skeptical investigations in general. His least believable monster - the chupacabra.
And somehow I kept following Dale from Saskatchewan around from panel to panel. We ended up talking between most panels and he was the first guy to agree to an interview. Way to go, Dale!
Skeptics and Non-Theists: A Politically Powerful Alliance was next with Lori Lipman Brown. She gave a really good talk about what the Secular Coalition is doing to lobby the government for separation of church and state. I recorded the session and hope to incorporate some of it into an AGP podcast. I asked her about the "defacto" religious test that our politicians seem to be engaged in. After the panel I talked to her a bit about politics and about interviewing her in the future. She was fantastic.
Then I rushed over to the Marriott to see Michael Shermer talk about Shermer's Last Law. It was a good panel and he touched a little bit on why people turn to religion and why religious groups seem to be gaining ground in America.
I have one last event I hope to attend. There's a film festival of shorts, Blood, Shock, and Discomfort at 1 am featuring horror films. These are comic and disturbing. I'm hoping mostly comic.
Anyway, it's been a good, but very tiring day. Tomorrow there's a lot more in store and I can't wait.