Episode 39 – Wrath of Cons!

It’s been just a few short weeks since Matt Savelkoul joined us to talk about Dr. Who.  We brought him back because we have some convention appearances coming up and Matt has been to a bunch of them.  In one of our longer episodes, we spend a great deal of time talking about conventions geeky and skeptical and Matt apologizes for something that Tim doesn’t think he should feel badly about.  We also give a brief preview of our upcoming appearance at the Skep-Tech conference in the Twin Cities.  Then, as a repeat guest, Matt gets to ask us five questions!  Make sure you listen to the end of the episode to learn how you can win a free copy of Atheist Voices of Minnesota.

Show notes below the fold:

If you’d like to see the schedule for the Skep-Tech conferences, look here.

Here’s some links to conventions we talk about: CONvergence, Diversicon, OmegaCon, The Madison FreeThought Festival, Gen Con, and Fallcon and Springcon are run by the MCBA.

Jessica Ahlquist is mentioned and in case you haven’t heard of her, you can read more here.

Matt mentions an article about PZ Myers where he talks about using science fiction conventions as a way to recuit new atheists.  That blog post is here. He even gives a shout out to a podcast you might have heard of…

Tim actually helped make a video that makes fun of Ghost Hunter TV shows for CONvergence.  Watch it here.

Here’s links to our favorite pizza restaurants: Pizza Luce, Carbone’s, Gina Maria’s Pizza.

If you’d like a chance to win a free book, you’ll need to know Matt’s five questions!  Here they are:

1.  Of what you’ve seen, favorite and/or least favorite Doctor (from Doctor Who) and why?
2.  What area or development of scientific study most intrigues you and why?
3.  What is your biggest geeky guilty shame? The one thing you really want to see or read or play that you just haven’t gotten around to? And might have even, in passing conversation, implied that you had experienced, just so you weren’t singled out?
4. What’s the craziest or most irrational belief you’ve ever held and how did you lose it?
5.  Favorite pizzeria in the Cities (or your hometown, Internet!) and why… Doesn’t have to be “the best” pizza, but your favorite overall experience. And be descriptive! (e.g. What type of pizza…deep dish, thin, etc.) Please note any biases up front (Chicago/New York style, etc.)
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10 Responses to Episode 39 – Wrath of Cons!

  1. Matt Savelkoul says:

    I’m including my answers just for fun. Please don’t include me in the book drawing – that would be the ultimate boomerang donation!

    1. My favorite Doctor from Doctor Who is Patrick Troughton. That’s pretty much a standard answer among a lot of classic Who fans who don’t share in the Tom Baker nostalgia. Patrick Troughton could have just imitated Hartnell – playing a younger version of the Doctor (as regeneration was known as rejuvenation at the time) but he didn’t. He made the character his own and improved on what Hartnell had done before him. Matt Smith, who might very well be my second favorite, has said in interviews that he was influenced by watching Pat Troughton in Tomb of the Cyberman – and you can see it both in wardrobe choice and performance (especially in Series 5 when Matt Smith was still finding the character.) Troughton is the archetypical Doctor for me and doesn’t, in my opinion, have any of the unique character flaws that each subsequent Doctor brings to the table thereafter.

    My least favorite Doctor for me has to be Peter Davison. I don’t know what it is about him or his era – he just rings so ‘blah’ and plain to me. He gets swept up in events as a bystander – he’s not individual or revolutionary, and he often gets overshadowed by the drama of his companions and their bickering. Maybe if I rewatched his era all chronologically in transmission order instead of scattershot as I experienced as the VHS and DVDs were released in the 90’s/00’s, I may change my opinion, but until then, I’ve got to go with Davison as least favorite.

    2. Answered on the podcast but I have to go with terraforming. That’s really not science, more so engineering or application of science, but I find it fascinating. I mentioned I think terraforming Venus interests me more than terraforming Mars (maybe it’s my nostalgia around the Ray Bradbury short story “All Summer in a Day”) but I recognize that the practicality of terraforming Mars presents fewer problems – although surface altitude radiation levels aren’t fully understood yet.
    Terraforming is happening on Earth too: in 2012, a US businessman named Russ George conducted a private, large-scale, terraforming experiment just off northern British Columbia, which may have been in violation of various international agreements. 100 tons of iron sulphate was dumped into coastal waters, which George claimed increased algae growth over 10,000 square miles, in an effort to boost the local eco-system and fishing industries.

    3. Also answered on the podcast but for me, my guilty shame is Harry Potter. I’ve read the first four books (and am about a third done with book 5) and have only seen the first four movies. I feel like I’ll get around to reading and watching them all at some point but I’m in no rush to do so. It’s all been spoiled for me anyhow (my own fault for taking so long) so now, it feels like an exercise in “needing to complete this course to level up my geek cred.” My version of Harry Potter, growing up, was both “The Dark is Rising” sequence by Susan Cooper and “The Chronicles of Prydain” by Lloyd Alexander. For me, I find those universes more fascinating/fun/appealing from a childhood fantasy/magic perspective. When I got around to Harry Potter, I understood how they appealed to a newer generation but I had heard these fantastic mythological tales before, in other trappings, just as generations before me were probably more into Tolkien, Lewis, etc.
    Another guilty shame for me – I haven’t yet watched Seasons 3 or 4 of Torchwood, nor have I seen any Sarah Jane Adventures post-series 1. In due time!!

    4. Also answered on the podcast but I have to go with the whole “Astral Projection” experience I had when I was 19 living on campus at Hamline University. I had the sensation of being outside by body and that there was another presence restraining me. Read the Wikipedia article on Sleep paralysis to get a better understanding of what this phenomenon actually is. It was pretty terrifying at the time and it kept me locked in a pseudo-science/deist mindset throughout my twenties.

    5. My favorite pizza place is hands down, Mama’s Pizza on Rice Street in St. Paul. Just a little hole-in-the-wall place that has great pizza (square cut, lots of cheese, decent amount of sweet tomato sauce, and lots of toppings – similar to Chanticlear Pizza, for some of you long-time Minnesotans). Mama’s also has great spaghetti and meatball dinners that you can get with a thick layer of cheese melted over it – and these are all you can eat Mondays and Tuesdays. At the end of the meal, if you dine in, you get free mini ice cream cones for dessert. It’s owned by an Italian guy named Tony – he’s got a picture of his mom on the wall and this great (cheesy?) bas-relief wall sculpture of Italy takes up one entire side of the small dining area. Runner up would be John’s Pizza Cafe Ltd., which is at the 3-way intersection of Dale, Como, and Front) in St. Paul. Get their gigantic stromboli or calzone, decedent!

  2. Albatross says:

    1. Favorite doctor: Tennant. He’s such a passionate performer he really brought a lot to the role.
    2. Genetics: I keep waiting for us to hit that watershed moment when suddenly we have enough understanding of DNA/RNA/mitochondria and we can outright hack genomes and start building whole new creatures.
    3. That I don’t watch a lot of movies or TV, or read a lot of comics, so there are broad swathes of basic nerd culture with which I have little familiarity.
    4. That I had or have a learning disability. It took a long time for me to come to understand my learning style, and I ran into a lot of obstacles to arriving at that understanding. I’d’ve never finally gotten my college diploma if I hadn’t overcome those, and key to that was having a single college instructor, Dr. Joann Hanson, who had complete faith in my abilities and the patience to help me work through it.
    5. Does the pizza place have to still exist? In 1982 I worked for a year as a graveyard shift computer operator upstairs from A Slice of New York on Hennepin Avenue at 5th Street. Having grown up on New York thin crust pizza with the grease that poured off the tip in a stream and burned your wrist, I had not tasted anything this good or authentic in (at the time) ten years. And their lemonade! It was the ne plus ultra of lemonades, tart, bitter, and barely sweet enough to drink. They closed right when I started work, at 11 pm, so at 10:45 I’d go in, order a (huge) slice of pepperoni and a lemonade, and take the tinfoil and the styrofoam cup upstairs for my lunch. Thirty years later it’s still the best pizza and lemonade ever. I’ve been to the current ASONY and it’s not the same.

  3. Albatross says:

    I am eager to make an appointment at Tim’s cosmetology clinic.

  4. Mister Hazard says:

    1) Favorite Doctor: Christopher Eccleston. He was the first Doctor to really convey toughness and a kind of war torn damage to himself because of what the character had been through. This doctor seemed as though he had experienced great pain and misery and heartbreak as opposed to just having led a life of fun and harmless adventure . I never really got that gritty sense of realism from any of the previous doctors and the later doctors all seem to carry a small bit of this same grittiness into their versions of the character as well, but, he seemed by far the most jaded, broken and distrustful of himself and the universe.
    Basically, more of a flawed character.
    He still had that same Dr. Who quirkiness that Tom Baker had imbued in the character, but appeared far more jaded, as though he still carried the experiences of the countless deaths of those he loved, the guilt of allowing and participating in genocide and having been witness to untold horrors. In short, this Dr. added the grittiness to the character that I always thought it lacked. Of the pre-modern doctors I really liked Davison the best, he still held onto that Baker-esque quirkiness yet added an air of British sophistication over the foppishness i saw in many of the other doctors.

    Least Favorite Doctor: Sylvester McCoy. I’ve only seen one episode of this Doctor, but, it stunned me with how bad it was. Dr. Who always seemed to be sci-fi aimed at people from their teens up to their early twenties as a demographic, the episode i watched (no idea what it was, but, it had daleks, took place in the english countryside and involved u.n.i.t.) was unbearably bad and seemed to be geared for 7 to 9 year olds. This doctor just seemed like a lackadaisical smart guy who bumbled around in a blue box. I also was not a fan of Colin Baker, he just didnt seem right for the part, i watched two or three episodes with him and was just bored.

    2) Virtual Reality encasement existence and melding the mind with the computer. There is probably a better description (maybe vr wetware or something would be close) of it but I cant think of it at the moment. Its where I want evolution to go. I want to live in a holodeck, or have a holodeck type suit or pod or something. Kinda like the matrix, except with a virtual world thats not so crappy. Its not really a specific development or study or something, but, it has elements of computers mixed with organics mixed with evolution.

    3) Biggest geeky guilty shame? Sci fi or other conventions make me stabby, and its not just because of the b/o. I dont really like geeks, well, at least most geeks. I write people off for being geeky and nerdy just as quickly as I write people off for being frat boys, republicans, hippies, christians or whatever. However, occasionally, i get convinced to like people in spite of their nerdistic tendencies and on rare occasions, even because of their geekiness. Yeah, lots of self-loathing, I know.

    4) craziest most irrational belief I’ve ever held? All police are bad. The government is just a conspiracy to oppress me and my peoples. Any science that the government does or any laws they enact are probably only going to be used for nefarious purposes. Most conspiracy theories hold large enough amounts of truth to be believed. How did I shed this belief? Slowly, one conspiracy at a time. but, mostly deductive reasoning, a willingness to be skeptical and challenge my own beliefs coupled with access to information (long story short: i grew up, and there was an internet I could verify stuff with and also read other points of view to see if i was missing crucial stuff)

    5) Eden Pizza in Saint Paul. A tiny mom and pop pizza shop near snelling and university with amazing pizza and a decent variety of weird toppings and even weirder sauces than I have found anywhere else in Minnesota. Prices are reasonable and I have yet to have a less than amazing pizza from them. My standard from them is an 18″ with shrooms and spinach, but using a mixture of their normal tomato sauce and the creamy garlic sauce….ggggggg. (side note, i could drink the sauce from punch pizza by the gallon, and also Luce has that Garlic Mashed Potato pizza thing that I would have mentioned, but, its really only related to pizza by shape and name and crust)

  5. 1. I have only seen the 3 most recent Doctors and I prefer Eccleston. He is not as cheesy to me and is rather intense Doctor. Are you my mummy?
    2. Space Exploration, I have always enjoyed space. I had many space shuttle toys as a kind and growing up Space Camp was one of my favorite movies.
    3. Reading the Hobbit and The lord of the Rings books. I know that books are better then movies typically.
    4. I believed I could be sucked into my closet like in the movie Poltergeist, I got over it by growing up. I first saw this movie when I was around the age of 6.
    5. I really like anything from Randy’s Premier Pizza in Maplewood/Oakdale. Always a think crust, most the time it is a Hawaiian pizza we get.

  6. @dennylii says:

    1. My favourite Doctor is a toss-up between Tennant and Smith. I like the manic eclecticism they both have and every once in a while I can hear a hint of Tennant’s *glorious* Scottish accent. Keep in mind I haven’t seen a whole lot of the older episodes except for a few on Netflix so my least favourite so far is Patrick Troughton. He seemed cranky. Maybe I just didn’t like that episode. More research is required, I suspect.

    2. Bird behaviour & mating dances. Bower birds anyone? I could watch for hours.

    3. My biggest geeky guilty shame? I have never seen Cosmos.

    4. I believed there was a thing in my basement that would come after me if I turned my back to it. I grew out of it, maybe once I realized it never caught me.

    5. My husband and I came across Greco’s pizza in North Bay once after one of those days where you wait too long to eat and you’re getting cranky and you can’t decide what you want but nothing that looks good is even open anymore and you’re not familiar enough with the town to know what’s available or anything and it was the best thing we’d ever had. The crust was perfect – not to crusty but not too doughy, enough sauce but not too much, enough cheese but mostly placed under the toppings so the pepperoni gets that nice crust on the edges. It was soooo good. The next time we went though the crust was soggy. Boo.

  7. Amanda Specktor says:

    1. Favorite doctor would have to be Tennant. I love Eccleston, he’s damn close to being my favorite, Tennant got a few extra points for being so frickin’ cute. I also love Baker, but I have not seen all of his, and I saw the new stuff first. Least favorite would have to be the sixth doctor. Something about him just irked me and I can’t put my finger on it, though maybe if I’d seen more of him he’d grow on me.

    2. Marine biology, and specifically marine life. Sharks have always fascinated me, and if I were any good at the study of science I’d probably be majoring in marine biology to work with sharks in Australia or South Africa. Though I would like to add that for a good portion of my middle school and early high school years I wanted to go into forensics.

    3. I’d have to say there are probably a lot of things that I am ashamed that I haven’t seen or read or played. These include Star Trek, I’ve only seen the new movie and am super excited for the next, but the TV show or old movies never interested me. I’ve also definitely pretended to know more about comics than I really do, though often before seeing the movies based on comics I’d read up n the comic itself without reading the comics. I wish I were into comics more, but it’s to the point where I just don’t know where to start, ad unlike Tim I don’t have friends who have great comics to lend me. Those are probably the big two, though I’m sure there are more.

    4. It would probably be ghosts. I had some rather odd experiences as a child, a few that I still don’t know how to explain. I think when I began to really question religion and God I realized that the two beliefs could not co-exist and my Atheism was a stronger belief than the belief in ghosts. I still think that there are things out there that we have not figured out and understood, but it isn’t soul of a dead human being. Though I do still find the possibility interesting and enjoy joking around about it.

    5. Ok so I go to school in La Crosse, WI and there is a pizza place here called Pizza Doctors. It is not the greatest pizza, but it is the best pizza experience I’ve had. The place is a pizza buffet with a lot of crazy specialty pizza. They have spaghetti pizza, big mac pizza, mac and cheese pizza, bbq chicken pizza. The regular dinner pizzas are good, but what makes the experience is the wide variety of dessert pizzas. They have a delicious PB&J pizza, oreo pizza, puppy chow pizza, and many, many others. The service is pretty good, once there’s a crowd you rarely have to leave your table because every fresh pizza is taken around the room before being brought up to the buffet table. You also have the opportunity to order which pizzas you want made. Though not perfect pizza you get your moneys worth and leave pretty damn full.