Lazy Sunday of DEATH

By Phil Plait | May 8, 2011 7:00 am

When I was at the Northeast Conference on Science and Skepticism (NECSS) in April, my epidermically bepated pal George Hrab and I performed an acoustic version of his song "Death from the Skies", based on my book. We actually did it twice; once at a bar where Geo was playing with his trio, and again at the conference to close the whole thing out.

People seemed to like it. Geo certainly did, so much so that he wanted a nicer version to release. He therefore did such a thing and made it available to you, the science-loving throng out in the vast BA sphere of influence. He included the song in Episode 212 of his Geologic Podcast, and the skeptiliciousTM MsInformation put it into a feed of its own for you to download and keep in your digital music storage device.

I love both the original version of the song with its funky beat, but I also love this new version. The tongue-in-cheek lazy Sunday feeling of the soothing music coupled with me talking about the statistics of getting wiped out by a gamma-ray burst appeals to my sense of irony. Hope it does yours, too!

And go buy his album. It’s great.

Image credit: Terry Robinson’s Flickr Photostream


By Phil Plait | April 14, 2011 10:42 am

Last weekend I was in NYC attending the Northeast Conference on Science and Skepticism, aka NECSS. It was a lot of fun, as I kinda figured it would be. Skeptic conferences usually are! And of course it was a chance to catch up with a lot of old friends.

Attendees are writing their opinions of the meeting all over the place (like here, here, and here for starters). I’ll spare you the recap, which would boil down to how awesome my talk was, and cut to the chase which is to thank Michael Feldman from the New York City Skeptics, and all the folks from the New England Skeptical Society for inviting me and throwing such a fab conference.

I’d be remiss, though, if I didn’t include this little bit of funnery. Skeptical singer songwriter and BA friend George Hrab was at NECSS. On Geo’s last album, "Trebuchet", he wrote a tune called "Death from the Skies" — based on the brilliant book of the same name. He plays the funky beat, and I read statistics of getting killed by various astronomical events. We performed this song live both at Paddy Reilly’s, a bar where Geo had a gig, and to close out the ceremonies.

Here’s the recording of the latter, which is pretty laid back considering how many octillions of Joules of energy I’m talking about:

And what the heck, here we are at the somewhat more rambunctious bar the night before:

See? If you go to skeptic meetings you can experience stuff like this live. It’s way too much fun.

There are photos of NECSS popping up all over the place (search Flickr), including for example a nice set by Bruce Press. I also like this shot of Geo and me taken by Brian Engler. Apparently I had just stubbed my toe.

NECSS really is a terrific event. I hope to see you all there next year!

Reminder: NECSS in April!

By Phil Plait | March 10, 2011 7:00 am

The critical thinking meeting season is about to kick off, and the first big one in the US is NECSS: The Northeast Conference for Science and Skepticism. It’s from April 9 – 10 in New York City, and has a pretty cool list of speakers. I’m honored to be giving the keynote address, and there are lots of fun extracurricular activities planned as well.

Still not convinced? Then listen to the smooth basso of my pal George Hrab in this promo he put together for NECSS. He’ll be there too, and I bet we can convince him to do a song or two from his latest album.

Registration is now open, and there’s an event page on Facebook if you’re into that sort of thing too.

UPDATE: George just let the cat out of the bag on this, too: we’ll be doing a live performance of his song "Death from the Skies!" Saturday night at the reception. Here’s a taste of what you’ll get:

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Cool stuff, Skepticism

Two skeptical events coming up!

By Phil Plait | January 14, 2011 9:59 am

Two very cool skeptical announcements:


The Northeast Conference on Science and Skepticism — NECSS, pronounced "NEXUS" or possibly "glaven" — has just opened its registration! This weekend conference is in downtown NYC, and will be a terrific event. The speakers include Jennifer Michael Hecht (who spoke at TAM 8 and was terrific), George Hrab, Genie Scott (I <3 her so much), and many others, including (ahem) me! In fact, I’m the keynote speaker for the conference, which paradoxically makes me proud and humbled.

NECSS will be held April 9 – 10, 2011. There are plenty of other extracurricular events as well, including a trip to the American Museum and Natural History (which I’ll be attending as we tour the space exhibit), a concert by George Hrab, and more. Registration is only $95 for both days, and some discounts are available. So go here to register. I want to see lots of BABloggees there!


My friends at the Center for Inquiry-Vancouver are performing a homeopathic overdose for the Canadian TV network CBC’s show Marketplace, a consumer advocate program. From the online preview it really looks like this will be an actual fair and balanced presentation… in that it shows homeopathy not to work. If so, this will be one of those very rare times when reality actually makes it on TV, and homeopathy is shown for what it is: nonsense. The show airs tonight, January 14, at 8:00 p.m. So, my neighbors to the north, tune in and watch what one of your Canuckian skeptical groups is doing.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Cool stuff, Science, Skepticism
MORE ABOUT: homeopathy, NECSS

NECSS registration open

By Phil Plait | February 4, 2010 12:15 pm

Just so’s you know, the NYC Skeptics and NESS are throwing a big skeptic meeting in New Yawk called the Northeast Conference on Science & Skepticism, and registration just opened. This will be a really fun event with lots of cool people like George Hrab, Jamy Ian Swiss, the Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe wackos, and apparently someone named D.J. Grothe who is also apparently the President of JREF.

Oh yeah: Randi will be there too! You can see the entire speaker list here.

I really really want to go to NECSS, but I don’t know if my schedule will allow it. Be assured that if I can, I’ll let y’all know here. And if so, see you there!


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