Last Day for discount hotel reservations for PA state atheist conference (get your tickets now!)

From Margaret Downey, president of the Freethought Society:

On September 13, 14, and 15, 2013, the Freethought Society (FS) and other co-sponsors will host the 2013 Pennsylvania Atheist/Humanist Conference in Philadelphia at The Embassy Suites (9000 Bartram Avenue, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania). To take advantage of discounted room rates that are good only until August 18, 2013, please visit:

(Mention group code 113 for the discount of $130 a night.)

Phone: (215) 365-4500

The weekend events will kick off with the opening of the world’s only Friggatriskaidekaphobia Treatment Center staffed by Friggatriskaidekaphobia doctors and nurses who will seek to cure attendees of their superstitions. The anti-superstition bash will include mirror breaking, dancing under a ladder, a magic show and many more activities. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own umbrellas for dancing inside. An interactive museum of superstition will disclose the origins of common and uncommon superstitions.

There will also be live musical performances, games, souvenirs, caricature artists and dessert.

The activities continue with a different focus on Saturday, September 14 and Sunday, September 15. Local and national nontheist speakers will highlight the subjects of freedom of thought, maintaining separation of religion and government, building community and the promotion of a unified effort to attract supporters.

The program also includes a comedy show and two concerts.

To purchase tickets and to get more information, please see the following website:

The list of speakers and entertainers so far include:

American Humanist Officers and Board Members
Herb Silverman
Becky Hale
Debbie Allen
Maggie Ardiente


Others include:


Seth Andrews

Author, Blogger, Podcaster and Video Producer


Jamila Bey

Washington, DC Journalist and Podcaster

Rob Boston

Author and Senior Policy Analyst at Americans United for Separation of Church and State


James Croft

Representing the Harvard Humanist Community


Dave DeLuca

A rising atheist star debuting his Common Sense Comedy act


Jerry DeWitt

former minister and author


JT Eberhard

Blogger, Debater and Co-Founder of SkeptiCon


Sean Faircloth

Author and Director of Strategy and Policy for the Richard Dawkins Foundation


Fred Edwords

Activist and Executive Director of UnitedCOR


Steve Hill

Atheist Comedian


George Hrab

Popular Atheist Musician, Comedian, Podcaster and Gadfly


AJ Johnson

Writer, Promoter, Vice-President and Co-Founder of BeSecular


Amanda Knief

Author and Executive Director of American Atheists


Lauri Lebo

Journalist, Writer and Author of “The Devil in Dover: An Insider’s Story of Dogma vs. Darwin in Small-town America”


Tracy Lockwood

Former religious cult member


Teresa MacBain

Former pastor and Executive Director of Humanists of Florida


Joe Nickell

Author and Skeptical Investigator of the paranormal


Edwina Rogers

Executive Director of the Secular Coalition for America


Shelley Segal

Popular Australian Singer/Songwriter at the Top of the Charts!


David Silverman

President of American Atheist


Jamy Ian Swiss

Magician and Senior Fellow of the James Randi Foundation


David Tamayo

Podcaster and Founder of Hispanic American Freethinkers


Joe Wenke

Lawyer and Author

The conference fee is $113. The price includes the Friday night Friday the 13th party ticket, Saturday buffet lunch and dinner, plenary passes for Saturday and Sunday. A VIP package is available, as well as student pricing, day passes, and other options.

Please do not miss this great event on par with national conferences. Remember that the deadline for discount hotel rooms is August 12, 2013.


I will be there all weekend (I will be a volunteer performing all sorts of tasks), and will look forward to seeing you there!

So, remember Friday the 13th of September.  If you have not seen Maraget’s friggatriskaidekaphobia parties (she does them every couple of years), you should come for that and then decide to spend the entire weekend with awesome people (no, I’m not just talking about me).


See you all there.

Two Philadelphia atheist events this weekend

For those of you in the Philadelphia area, I have a couple of events you may be interested in.  They are both affiliated with the Freethought Society, which is run by my friend Margaret Downey, and I will be attending one of both of them.

The first is the Human Tree of Knowledge in West Chester on Saturday December 3rd at 3:00 PM.  The reason it will be a human tree rather than a real one is because the presence of a real tree has been blocked by the city of West Chester, as has been covered recently over at Hemant’s place.  I was there for at least two of the real trees before this form of protest was necessary, as I have worked with Margaret Downey and the FTS for many years.

If you are interested in following news or in networking with people involved, there is also a facebook group.  I will be there on Saturday and will almost certainly do dinner afterwords.  After that I may grab a point at the Iron Hill Brewery since I love their Pig Iron Porter so much.

The second event is the following day, Sunday December 4th, and is in Philadelphia.  More specifically it is at the Ethical Society at Rittenhouse Square.  Here is an image of the flier, copies of which may appear there in the next couple of days.

I am not yet sure if I will attend this event.  I’m not big on holiday rituals, but it may be a good time to catch up with local people of reason.

If you will be in the Philadelphia and/or West Chester area this coming weekend, make a point to attend or pass along the information to others who may be interested.

Dragon*Con provides synchronicity and skepticism

So, I attended Dragon*Con last weekend.  It was sort of a last minute thing, really.  See, my friend Margaret Downey was scheduled to speak there and needed an assistant.  I was in need to go to Atlanta to do some apartment hunting, and things fell together nicely.

Margaret Downey (left) with Eugenie Scott of the NCSE
Margaret Downey (left) with Eugenie Scott of the NCSE

If I were a less rational person, I might have thought some intelligent design was at work. But I’m a skeptic.  And luckily for me, there was a track at DC for people like me.  The skeptrack dragon can be seen to the right with two of it’s guests.

Margaret Downey has been doing a variety of characters over the years to deal with a number of issues related to skepticism, atheism, and freethought in general.  On Friday night, she did a presentation about anti-superstition parties, and superstition in general, at the Skeptrack section of Dragon*Con as the Friggatriskaidekaphobia Treatment Nurse.

After all, we know that there are lots of people who are into science fiction and fantasy who believe lots of silly woo things.  The skeptrack, organized by Derek of Skepticality, is focused on trying to introduce skeptical thinking into this culture, as a sort of outreach to the larger community of slightly nerdy, geeky, and sciency people.  The fact that Dragon*Con 2009 attracted more tha 45,000 people means that there are a lot of people to reach out to, and in future years they hope to become a larger and more significant part of the event. I’ll look forward to that.

I mean, we all like to meet some celebs, right?  I got a chance to meet some of the cast from Babylon 5, which was pretty sweet because it is among my favorite sci-fi shows.  I also got to see people from Stargate, Star Trek, and he recent Battlestar Galactica (don’t get me started on how annoying I thought the ending to that was…).

Those Skephicks love them some aliens.
Those Skephicks love them some aliens.

On top of all that there were some pretty awesome costumes. In the picture to the left, Maria from the skepchicks is getting to know the local alien population a little better.

Of course, alcohol was involved, and hopefully she won’t have any little aliens popping out from her stomach anytime soon.

And what was great about the plethora of costumes, from a male heterosexual point of view, was how economical many girls can be with their costumes.  I mean, making a whole costume while using so few materials? Brilliant! I must say my head was turned on more than a few occasions, which distracted me sufficiently as to not get my camera out in time.  My lovely girlfriend, who stayed back in Philadelphia for work training, would have been thoroughly amused by this.  Actually, she would have likely done the same thing with the many guys who were not afraid to show off their various attributes.  We are quite a pair.  And speaking of great pairs…never mind.

And there certainly were a lot of people there.

Just one shot from one of the many hotels involved in the convention on Saturday night.
Just one shot from one of the many hotels involved in the convention on Saturday night.

And I got a chance to meet some pretty cool people there as well as well as catch up with some friends I only tend to see at such events.  A few drinks, late night conversations, fun panel discussions, tens of thousands of people and science fiction.  What else does one want from a weekend?

And you read correctly above; I was looking for apartments.  My lovely lady and myself will be relocating to Atlanta come October 2009, just a few weeks away.  But there is a good set of communities down there so we will be able to make ourselves at home.  I’ve already been in communication with people from a skeptical community down there, I will be in contact with the atheist and polyamorous communities, and then I will have to find myself employment in Atlanta.  We are moving because of Seana’s new job, and I love her enough to relocate to be with her.

Philadelphia is a great city and I will miss living here.  What I won’t miss is cold winters with snow, slush, and ice.  A nice cool winter with occasional snowfall seems much preferable.  I will miss hot, fresh Philly pretzels off the conveyor late at night, however.

But I’ll still continue to be your friendly neighborhood atheist, polyamorous geek.