Friday, April 27, 2007

dorkbot-nyc may 2007 flyer

Next Wednesday evening, dorkbot-nyc will have its May 2007 meeting (the last until next fall). Douglas Irving Repetto has put up a flyer I made for the occasion. Also, he's posted photos I took at the December 2006 and January 2007 meetings.

I'm also using this occasion to kick off something I've been meaning to add to this blog for a while: an "upcoming events" section in the sidebar. For now, I'll be maintaining this manually (let's hope it stays reasonably current), but if I figure out a way to automate it, I'll do so.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

new ETFF transcripts: Gerrold and Price

Science fiction is the most subversive of all literary genres. You can get away with stuff in science fiction that you can't get away with anywhere else, because half the time, the people you are holding up to the light don't even realize that you're doing it. —David Gerrold
Three new transcripts I did have been added to the Equal Time for Freethought archives.
This is an informal chat with the renowned science fiction writer, touching on his experience with Star Trek, and his novels such as The Man Who Folded Himself, When H.A.R.L.I.E Was One, the War Against the Chtorr series, and The Martian Child, together with his real-life parenting experiences that formed the inspiration for the novel. As it so happens, the latter is the basis for a movie that's coming out this June. I wrote about this show when it first aired, in one of the earliest posts ever on this blog.
In these two provocative interviews, Robert M. Price takes on the established view of Christian history (the second being a counterpart to the Jewish-themed Hanukkah interview with Douglas Rushkoff aired the same day); in the former, he also deals with Dan Brown's claims surrounding The Da Vinci Code, as dealt with in Price's book The Da Vinci Fraud: Why the Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction (see also this article summarizing his research). Hopefully the DVC fad still has enough steam left in it to garner us some attention, as the movie was released to DVD only last fall. Price has a lot of fun tearing into Brown's sloppy research and far-fetched conspiracy theories, such as the idea that Jesus and the apostle next to him forming a vague "M" shape in Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper painting is evidence of a hidden code representing Mary Magdalene.

(thanks to Wikipedia for the images; sources here, here, here, and here; Creative Commons, public domain, and fair use images)

Neil concludes that "Dan Brown has raised the right questions with the wrong answers". Along the way, Price even slips in a sci-fi reference, with a sly example from the mythos of Superman comics.

By the way, one issue dealt with tangentially is the lack of Crucifixion revisionism in DVC. While doing the transcript, I found an interesting quote from Brown in his witness statement in the court case between him and Baigent and Leigh. I think this says it all:
One of the ideas in Holy Blood, Holy Grail perhaps even the central idea is advertised on the back of my copy of the book: "Is it possible Christ did not die on the cross?". This is not an idea that I would ever have found appealing. Being raised Christian and having attended Bible camp, I am well aware that Christ's crucifixion (and ultimate resurrection) serves as the very core of the Christian faith. It is the promise of life everlasting and that which makes Jesus "the Christ". The resurrection is perhaps the sole controversial Christian topic about which I would not dare write; suggesting a married Jesus is one thing, but undermining the resurrection strikes at the very heart of Christian belief.
Personally, I don't know what to make of the DVC furor; as silly as it's gotten, the book's themes do address a lot of unanswered questions people have. The whole aspect of fictional works whose authors exaggerate their basis on fact is nothing new; for instance The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, with its tagline "What happened is true. Now the motion picture that's just as real." (As snopes sez: "Sort of.") And really, it's hard to hate a book, no matter how bad, that includes references to Project Gutenberg in the acknowledgements and a pretty obvious allusion to the feminist classic The Chalice and the Blade (also on the DVC official bibliography).

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

more Sagan stuff

Last week, The Ithaca Times ran a great new Sagan-related article by Larry Klaes, "An Organizational Voyage" (Klaes also kindly reposted the article in the comments section of this blog, as well as on Celebrating Sagan). It centers on Sagan fan Patrick Fish's efforts to plan an upcoming Sagan Gathering to coincide with the late May/early June Ithaca Festival. The article also touches on how Pat was influenced by Sagan (he's one of the Cosmos Premiere Generation); and describes Pat's trip to Sagan's gravesite, documented further on Pat's YouTube page. At the site, Pat found two articles from last December, both also by Klaes, that somebody left there and which were preserved in the snow: "Bloggers remember Sagan" from the Ithaca Times, about the blog-a-thon I initiated; and "Sagan and the Scientific Experience" from Tompinks Weekly, about the Varieties of Scientific Experience book. It's hard to express how touched and surprised I am by this.

For even more from Klaes, check out his in-depth review of the Contact film and a 2003 Ithaca Times article on Sagan's protege Bill Nye the Science Guy.

Pat contacted me about a month ago, and since then we've discussed his plans and all things Sagan. And just as Pat was partially inspired by my blog-a-thon, he's in turn galvanized me to get back to things Sagan.

Pat is now looking for people who are interested in participating in the Gathering to contact him, which you can do at this email address.