Broadly Focused Podcast – Episode 19

Well, this isn’t a conventional episode of the podcast, folks, but we think it’s worth listening to anyway.  It’s a bit short (about 35 minutes), and off of our normal format and structure.  We just didn’t have a bunch of news for the week, it was hot as hell, and we were wanting to talk about the changes to the show we are putting in place.

So, we have reclassified ourselves in iTunes under the ‘News and Politics’ section, with ‘Religion and Spirituality – Other’ second, and ‘Science – Natural Sciences’ as the third.  We have talked in the past about our focus, and we think a slight shift in that focus will help us produce a better show.

The fact of the matter is that most of the articles we ended up covering that were about religion, we covered because they were about politics, human rights, or civil rights.  We were focusing on the religious angle because that has been my focus for a while now, and I was the one putting the show together.  However, we realized pretty quickly that we were really enjoying doing the podcast, but trying to find and decide on articles was getting a bit testy.  We are best friends, we don’t necessarily agree on everything we cover, and we think that’s a big part of what makes our conversations interesting.  That said, we are not looking to be confrontational for effect, and we feel this will be more organic.

For those of you coming from the atheist visibility movement who have enjoyed the show thus far – don’t stress.  The show will likely not change a whole lot.  The craziness we see out there still has a bunch of religious sources, and many of the articles we’ve covered would still be included under the ‘new’ format.  The structure won’t change much, if at all.  Also, we haven’t changed.  I am still an agnostic atheist antitheist, and Brian is still a believer with a big brain.  Our friendship and banter haven’t gone anywhere, and we’re getting more comfortable with the funny.  We have officially dropped the news game, but that is really OK since we typically have some listener feedback and/or follow up news to talk about, and the game sucked.  We also have been making much more of an effort to stick to our stated time frame of around an hour.  While I love the longer podcasts I listen to, we do understand that not everyone has an hour and a half to spend listening to a couple of assholes talk about the news.

In any case, we hope you enjoy Episode 19 of the Broadly Focused Podcast, and we look forward to hearing from you!


Broadly Focused Podcast – Episode 18

We had some family stuff come up and didn’t record the podcast until Thursday night, as opposed to our usual Tuesday.  So now it’s Saturday morning, and I’m hammering away in the office while my wife and 3 1/2 year old are watching Mickey in the living room.  That may sound like some martyr crap, but I assure you, I’ve seen more than enough Mickey Mouse Playhouse to last a lifetime!  We do a segment of news this week for the first time, and keep pretty close to an hour.

News Items:

How a Bill becomes a Vagina Monologue

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A state lawmaker who says she was barred from speaking in the Michigan House because Republicans objected to her saying “vagina” during debate over anti-abortion legislation performed “The Vagina Monologues” on the Statehouse steps — with a hand from the author.

Eve Ensler, whose groundbreaking play about women’s sexuality still packs theaters 16 years after it debuted, oversaw Monday night’s performance by Democratic state Rep. Lisa Brown, 10 other lawmakers and several actresses.

We really didn’t see eye to eye on this one.  To Matt, she’s standing up and pointing out the ridiculous and male-dominated nature of her silencing.  To Brian, she’s not showing her position the respect it deserves.  We totally throw blows.

Not just anybody can be an exorcist, can they?

St. Petersburg, Florida — A teacher at a neighborhood family center was arrested after police say she burned and cut teens during a bizarre ritual to remove their demons.

Authorities say Danielle Harkins brought the group of teens to an area near the St. Pete Pier Saturday before dusk. They gathered around a small fire and that’s when she told them to cut their skin to let the evil spirits out. After they cut their skin, she said they would need to burn the wounds to ensure they would not return.

Brian points out that she is more crazy crazy than religious crazy, and I agree.  She’s a nut.  I still wonder if what these people would come up with without the silly religious imagery floating around their subconscious minds would be better or worse for themselves and their victims.

News from around the Islamic World

The Muslim Brotherhood declared early Monday that its candidate, Mohammed Morsi, won Egypt’s presidential election, which would be the first victory of an Islamist as head of state in the stunning wave of protests demanding democracy that swept the Middle East the past year. But the military handed itself the lion’s share power over the new president, sharpening the possibility of confrontation.

In case you’re not familiar with the Muslim Brotherhood…

The Brotherhood’s credo was and is, “God is our objective; the Quran is our constitution, the Prophet is our leader; Jihad is our way; and death for the sake of God is the highest of our aspirations.” The Brotherhood’s English language website describes the “principles of the Muslim Brotherhood” as including firstly the introduction of the Islamic Shari`ah as “the basis controlling the affairs of state and society;” and secondly work to unify “Islamic countries and states, mainly among the Arab states, and liberating them from foreign imperialism”.

Really?!  Arab Spring my ass.  These guys are such assholes, Brian and I can’t figure out if we’re happy the military is holding on to all the real power despite the election results.

Muslim anti-vaccers?

A cleric in Pakistan’s Punjab province has warned that a jihad would be launched against polio vaccination teams at a time when the World Health Organisation has expressed concern at the emergence of new cases of the disease across the country.

Maulvi Ibrahim Chisti of Muzaffargarh district declared the anti-polio campaign as “un-Islamic” and announced at the local mosque that jihad (holy war) should be carried out against the polio vaccination team.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?  Are you kidding me?  You want kids getting Polio.  Yes, you are a fantastic human being.

Saudi man executed for witchcraft and adultery

Saudi Arabia executed a man for practising witchcraft and committing adultery, the state news agency said on Tuesday citing a statement from the Interior Ministry.

“Mareeh bin Ali bin Issa al-Asiri (Saudi national) practised witchcraft and sorcery, and was in possession of books and talismans from which he learnt to harm God’s worshippers and admitted adultery with two women,” said the statement.

Oh, well if he had talismans… I thought this was going to be some BS, but apparently, this guy had books and talismans.  Clearly, he needed his head removed.  At least this was in nutty, fringe-of-the-Arab-world Saudi, not some supposedly-mainstream, friend-to-the-US country like Iran.  Oh, wait… Continue reading


Broadly Focused Podcast – Episode 17

OK, ok, I took forever to edit the podcast this week.  There was more craziness.  I’ll catch up, I promise.  So, we had a good one this week, although we had to record half of it twice.  It’s what I get for not paying closer attention.  As best as I can figure, I hit the play button without first having hit the record button, so I was playing the 19 minute recording of us reviewing articles and making our selections instead of recording 19 minutes of us podcasting.  So we did it again.

News Items:

Ray Bradbury

Science fiction icon and author of “The Martian Chronicles” Ray Bradbury has died in California at the age of 91, according to news reports.

The famed writer of screenplays, plays and novels, including “Fahrenheit 451,” which predicts a dystopian book-burning future, died Tuesday night (June 5), according to his daughter Alexandra Bradbury.

We are both big sci-fi fans, and we talk about our favorites and the local connection to a real legend.

Rock the Slut Vote

Watch out Republicans, here come the sluts.

Women’s rights activists are banding together to “Rock the Slut Vote” in an online effort to register women to vote and cast their ballots against Republicans in 2012.
“If the GOP thinks that throwing the word ‘slut’ at us at this point is going to silence women they have another thing coming,” said Susan McMillan Emry, the site’s founder.

Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh thrust the derogatory word into the political arena in February when he called law student Sandra Fluke a “slut” for testifying before Congress in support of contraceptives.

After a careful and thorough analysis, we make fun of Rush Limbaugh…

Again, Kansas takes the lead again

Kansas is headed toward another debate over how evolution is taught in its public schools, with a State Board of Education member saying Wednesday that science standards under development are “very problematic” for describing the theory as a well-established, core scientific concept…

…Kansas is now among 26 states helping to draft new science standards alongside the National Research Council, with the goal of creating standard, nationwide guidelines. A first draft became public last month, and the Kansas board is scheduled to hear an update on Tuesday…

But the decision may not be made until after the November election — in which five of the 10 board seats will be on the ballot.

Board member Ken Willard, a Hutchinson Republican, said he’s troubled by the first draft of the proposed standards. In the past, Willard has supported standards for Kansas with material that questions evolution; guidelines that he and other conservatives approved in 2005 were supplanted by the current ones.

Willard said the draft embraces naturalism and secular humanism, which precludes God or another supreme being in considering how the universe works. He said he intends to raise the issue Tuesday.

No! Not naturalism!

From Google dictionary: “A philosophical viewpoint according to which everything arises from natural properties and causes, and supernatural or spiritual explanations are excluded or discounted.”

Last time I checked, this is what helps us figure out what is real and what is not.  Why, exactly is this a bad thing?  In any case, we may need a new open letter to the Kansas State School Board pretty soon.

Hagee to Atheists, If you don’t like what you see, get the funk out

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We tried to make this a reaction recording of Brian watching the video above, but like I said earlier, we weren’t actually recording, because I’m a bonehead.  So this guy tells atheists that we’re not welcome here and we should GTFO.  He also has a very interesting grasp of the history of this country.

Too bad he gets his message out to millions, especially in the third world.

Protest against violence against women in Cairo ends in violence against women in Cairo

A mob of hundreds of men assaulted women holding a march demanding an end to sexual harassment Friday, with the attackers overwhelming the male guardians and groping and molesting several of the female marchers in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.

So, basically, women march protesting sexual harassment, and the response is, “Well, if we’re sexually assaulting you, we can’t very well be sexually harassing you, now can we?” Continue reading


Broadly Focused Podcast – Episode 16

Well, I took so long publishing Episode 15, I’ll bet you thought we’d missed a week – no no!  Here’s Episode 16 of our little podcast- a bit late, but not as late as the last one!  We should start recording on Monday nights pretty consistently now, and that means you should have them in your paws by Wednesday or Thursday night.  Sorry for the delays and such, but It’s been crazy out here.

News Items:

Mustafa Drive “to the stars”

Remember the name, because you might see it again: Aisha Mustafa, a 19-year-old Egyptian physics student, patented a new type of propulsion system for spacecraft that uses cutting edge quantum physics instead of thrusters.

First, a little background: One of the strange quantum facts at work in Mustafa’s engine idea is that there’s no such thing as a vacuum, devoid of particles, waves, and energy. Instead the universe’s supposedly empty spaces are filled with a roiling sea of particles and anti-particles that pop into existence, then annihilate each other in such a short space of time that you can’t readily detect them.

Mustafa invented a way of tapping this quantum effect via what’s known as the dynamic Casimir effect. This uses a “moving mirror” cavity, where two very reflective very flat plates are held close together, and then moved slightly to interact with the quantum particle sea. It’s horribly technical, but the end result is that Mustafa’s use of shaped silicon plates similar to those used in solar power cells results in a net force being delivered. A force, of course, means a push or a pull and in space this equates to a drive or engine.

This 19 year old Egyptian girl has put us to shame, and made a mockery of our empty lives by designing a starship propulsion system. Uses a modified Casimir field effect to generate thrust. Damn her.  Next, she’ll probably publish a podcast far superior to ours.

North Carolina wins the Stupidest State Competition – for now…

North Carolina is at it again… but this time, it’s not the creationists, or the pro-life activists.This time, it’s the coastal development community people! House Replacement Bill 89 ( would require that sea level rise be determined by linearly extrapolating from a data set beginning in 1900. Oh, and it would make it illegal to make any such determination unless at the request of the state. Science loses again!

The Rabbi, The Diamonds, and The Prophecy

Inspired by the words of a revered rabbi who prophesized that precious stones were divinely buried in the area, the diamond firm Shefa Yamim ( been mining for about a decade along the steep hills and lush valleys that surround the city of Haifa.Now, Shefa Yamim, the first and only diamond explorer in Israel, says it has found strong signs that significant diamond deposits are indeed hidden in the Holy Land, surprising many who had dismissed the mission as a pipe dream.In 1999, Taub founded Shefa Yamim, which means “bounty of the seas” in Hebrew, based on a conversation that took place 11 years earlier in Brooklyn, New York between the late Rabbi Menachem Schneerson and the then mayor of Haifa. The dialogue was caught on video.Many of Schneerson’s followers believe him to be the messiah, making the comments a decree of sorts, and Taub answered the call.

So, have they found any actual diamonds yet?

Are there more gay republicans or homophobic Democrats?

In 2008, Barack Obama took aim at the “pew gap,” the overwhelming Republican edge among voters who regularly attend church. The Democratic presidential nominee came nowhere near closing it, but he didn’t have to. He just needed an extra percentage point or two among traditional GOP constituents, and he got it.

The Democratic National Committee is promising a repeat performance in 2012. But some religious leaders and scholars who backed Obama in 2008 are skeptical. They say the Democrats have, through neglect and lack of focus, squandered the substantial gains they made with religious moderates and worry it will hurt Obama in a tight race against Republican Mitt Romney.

We pretty much agree that this was political, and that he will be fine. Continue reading


Broadly Focused Podcast – Episode 15

So, this episode of the podcast very nearly sucked.  I mean, it might still suck, if you have some sort of standards or something, but it nearly really sucked.  I’ve got a bunch of crazy stuff in my personal life, have money issues, car issues, and even hair issues, but got really good news literally minutes before we pressed record.  So, we drop the game again, mainly due to a massive amount of follow up and listener feedback (I know, big loss, right?), and we keep on topic – except that time or two we go off on a tangent or three for a while… you know how this podcast is.

News Items:

Gay Georgians not Peachy with Orthodox Christians

Dozens of gay rights supporters rallied for a second day in the [country of] Georgia[‘s] capital Friday after being attacked by Orthodox Christians during their initial march in the deeply religious Caucasus state. Around 60 young activists assembled on the steps of the parliament building in the overtly Christian ex-Soviet nation holding banners with slogans such as “Stop hate crimes” and “No to religious extremists”.

So, easy for us – good on ya!  They held a rare LGBT rights demonstration, were assaulted by priests and parishioners alike, and came back with police protection.  Let’s hope this is just a part of a growing civil rights movement in the former Soviet Union.

Brian brings up the point that, if viewed in a historic frame of mind, this could indicate that the LGBT’s are gaining parity with the various sects of Christianity – they just need to bring their own sticks to the conversation next time.

Suing to protect the name of Sharia law

So, this is a weird bit of neo-McCarthyism:

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has signed a law aimed at keeping the state’s courts or government agencies from basing decisions on Islamic or other foreign legal codes, and a national Muslim group’s spokesman said Friday that a court challenge is likely.

The new law, taking effect July 1, doesn’t specifically mention Shariah law, which broadly refers to codes within the Islamic legal system.  Instead, it says courts, administrative agencies or state tribunals can’t base rulings on any foreign law or legal system that would not grant the parties the same rights guaranteed by state and U.S. constitutions.

Boy, I sure am glad they came up with a solution to this pressing problem!

Russian Moon Base declares Vladimir

“We’re not talking about repeating what mankind achieved 40 years ago,” said Vladimir Popovkin, head of Russian space agency Roscosmos, at Tuesday’s Global Space Exploration Conference in Washington, D.C. “We’re talking about establishing permanent bases.”

I would feel better if they could give us some idea as to why. Brian points out that control of the high orbitals will scare the bejeezus out of the American government, and we’ll be putting a base right next door – and reminding the Russkies that we’re the ones with mass drivers, not them.

BFP spawns a glut of astronaut applications

More than 6,300 individuals applied to become part of NASA’s next generation of astronauts. It was the highest number of applications ever received by the agency since 1978, and the call garnered more than 8,000 submissions. Typically, the agency receives between 2,500 and 3,500 applicants for astronaut vacancy announcements.

That’s right, this was totally our doing.  We love science, we talk about science, few dozen of you listen, NASA gets the second highest number of applicants to the astronaut training program in history.  The causal relationship couldn’t be more obvious. Continue reading