The Humanist Hour #72: the Reason Rally

The Humanist Hour #72: the Reason Rally March 31, 2012

A new episode of the Humanist Hour is available for listening. Keep reading to find out about the guests on this month’s show.

In this month’s podcast, experience the Reason Rally, the largest gathering of the secular movement in the world: Author and blogger Greta Christina tells us why she is angry, Taslima Nasrin describes her experience of fighting for secularism in a country from which she has been exiled, Mythbuster Adam Savage describes his definition of reason, with Australian musicians Tim Minchin and Shelley Segal.


Segment 1: Thank You, from Roy Speckhardt, on behalf of the American Humanist Association

Roy Speckhardt considers the Reason Rally a “coming out” party for humanists and atheists.

Also, Roy was on Fox News to discuss the Reason Rally, as well as humanism and atheism. Watch the video below.

Segment 2: Saved by Shelley Segal

Shelley Segal is a singer-song writer from Melbourne, Australia. Growing up in a musical family, Shelley began singing at age three. She started writing songs and performing from the age of eleven.

Shelley plays guitar and piano. She teaches vocals, music theory and song-writing and has been performing live, around Melbourne and internationally, for the last ten years. She completed a Bachelor of Applied Music at the Box Hill Institute of Tafe in 2010. Shelley has recently written and recorded a song with DJ Carl Cox. The track, ‘Chemistry’ spent two weeks at #1 on the techno charts in November 2011.

Over the last few years, Shelley has become involved in the secular movement and it is a cause that she sees as indispensable. In response to her views, this year Shelley has recorded and released, ‘An Atheist Album.’ The seven songs on the album are her thoughts on religion and related themes, through the prism of her secular humanism.

Shelley’s musical style is influenced by commercial, folk, jazz, blues and rock genres. As a songwriter, Shelley’s music is often biographical and story-telling in nature.

In 2012, Shelley will be releasing two albums, touring Australia and will be performing in March at the Reason Rally, in April at the Global Atheist Convention and in June at the American Humanists Annual Conference.

Segment 3: Why is Greta Christina angry?

Greta Christina has been writing professionally since 1989, on topics including atheism, sexuality and sex-positivity, LGBT issues, politics, culture, and whatever crosses her mind. She is on the speakers’s bureaus of the Secular Student Alliance and the Center for Inquiry. She is editor of the “Best Erotic Comics” anthology series, and of “Paying For It: A Guide by Sex Workers for Their Clients.” Her writing has appeared in multiple magazines and newspapers, including Ms., Penthouse, Chicago Sun-Times, On Our Backs, and Skeptical Inquirer, and numerous anthologies, including “Everything You Know About God Is Wrong” and three volumes of “Best American Erotica.” She lives in San Francisco with her wife, Ingrid. You can email her at greta (at) gretachristina (dot) com, and follow her on Twitter at @GretaChristina .

Why are atheists angry?

Is it because they’re selfish, joyless, lacking in meaning, and alienated from God?

Or is it because they have legitimate reasons to be angry — and are ready to do something about it?

Armed with passionate outrage, absurdist humor, and calm intelligence, popular blogger Greta Christina makes a powerful case for outspoken atheist activism, and explains the empathy and justice that drive it.

This accessible, personal, down-to-earth book speaks not only to atheists, but to believers who want to understand the so-called “new atheism.” “Why Are You Atheists So Angry?” drops a bombshell on the destructive force of religious faith — and gives a voice to millions of angry atheists.

Segment 4: Freedom Fighter Taslima Nasrin

Taslima Nasreen, an award-wining writer, secular humanist and human rights activist, is known for her powerful writings on women oppression and unflinching criticism of religion, despite forced exile and multiple fatwa calling for her death.Not many have risked their life to tell the truth.In India, Bangladesh and abroad, Nasreen’s fiction, poetry and memoir have topped the best-seller’s list.

Taslima Nasreen was born in Mymensingh in Bangladesh in 1962. She started writing from the age of 13 and was acclaimed as a major writer in Dhaka in her late 20s. Her writings also won the hearts of people across the border and she landed with the prestigious literary award Ananda Award in 1992 and 2000.

Subsequently, Taslima was acclaimed as a writer in Europe and the USA. She won The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought from the European Parliament in 1994. She received the Kurt Tucholsky Literary Award in 1994 from Sweden and the Simone de Beauvoir Award and Human Rights Award from Government of France in 2008 and 1995 respectively. She got the UNESCO prize for Promotion of the Tolerance and Non-violence in 2005.

Bestowed with honorary doctorates from Gent University and UCL in Belgium, and American University of Paris and Paris University Diderot in France, she has addressed gatherings in major venues of the world like the European Parliament, National Assembly of France, Noble Institute in Norway, Universities of Sorbonne, Oxford, Harvard, Yale, etc.

She got fellowships as a research scholar of Harvard and New York Universities. And she was a Woodrow Wilson Fellow in the USA in 2009.

Taslima has written 35 books, which includes poetry, essays, novels and autobiography series. Her works have been translated in twenty Indian and European languages.

Some of her books are banned in Bangladesh. And she has been banned, blacklisted and banished from Bengal, both from Bangladesh and West Bengal part of India. She has been living in exile for more than 17 years.

Segment 5: Confessions by Tim Minchin

Tim Minchin is an Australian musician, composer, songwriter, actor, comedian and writer. He has been performing his unique brand of musical comedy in front of appropriately excitable and ever-growing audiences since starting out in South Melbourne’s Butterfly Club in 2005. He won the Directors’ Award at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival for his break-out show Darkside, and followed this later the same year with one of the most successful debut acts ever at the Edinburgh Fringe – winning the Perrier Award for Best Newcomer. Many more awards followed over the years, and without wanting to go on and on about it, he’s done some pretty successful live shows since then too, often in Australia or the UK, but also on the North American continent (yes that includes you too Canada). But not you Guatemala. Maybe one day.

His current songs span various musical styles and topics such as environmentalism, rationalism, prejudice(ism), logical fallacies(ism) and his amour de fromage et de boobs(ism). In fact, it would hardly be over the top to say that his love of boobs would be up there in the back of Plato’s cave in the bit that’s carved out for the most perfect and complete example of the love of boobs. But not in a weird way. He plays the piano, always nicely and oftentimes uproariously and excitingly, whilst looking wonderfully athletic in a pair of delightfully uncomfortable skinny jeans. As well as his grand piano and apparel befitting a style guru, Tim is joined onstage by his iconic dance moves, wildly teased hair, gently calmed eyebrows, natural aplomb and his enormous… sense of occasion.

During 2009 and 2010, Tim wrote the music and lyrics for Matilda The Musical with the Royal Shakespeare Company. This adaptation of the Roald Dahl classic ran, from November 2010 until January 2011, in Stratford-upon-Avon and then transferred triumphantly to London’s West End, at the Cambridge Theatre in October 2011, winning great critical acclaim and a stack of awards. Tim embarked on his first Arena tour of the UK, joined by the 55-piece Heritage Orchestra and a band, in December 2010. He took the show to Australia in early 2011, performing with the state symphony orchestras all over the country, including four sold out dates with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra at the Sydney Opera House. The fourth of these shows was recorded and broadcast live on Australian TV by ABC2. He returned to the UK for some more arena dates with the Heritage Orchestra in April and May 2011, including two dates at The Royal Albert Hall. Tim Minchin And The Heritage Orchestra Live At The Royal Albert Hall was filmed for DVD. Tim had dates in various cities across the US in 2011 and he toured Australia in early 2012 with Tim Minchin vs The Orchestras – Round II. He performed at several festivals in the UK and the US in 2011 and will do so again in 2012.

Tim has made many TV appearances, the most recent of which include his first US TV appearances on Conan (11/10c on tbs) and The Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson (CBS) in January 2011. In Australia, 2011, he was interviewed and performed a cover of the Crowded House classic ‘Better Be Home Soon’ on Adam Hills In Gordon St Tonight (ABC1), and he performed a new song ‘Lullaby’ with part of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra on Ben Elton’s Live from Planet Earth (Channel 9). In the UK, in 2010, Tim joined Robert Llewelyn for Carpool, hosted an episode of Never Mind The Buzzcocks (BBC) and appeared on Genius (BBC) and 8 Out of 10 Cats (Channel 4). He’s also performed on radio; his most recent project being Strings, a brand new comedy sitcom pilot for BBC Radio 2, which he both wrote and starred in. He also joined the regulars for an episode of The Infinite Monkey Cage on BBC Radio 4 in 2010.

His acclaimed 9-minute beat poem, Storm, has been animated and previewed at TAM London in October 2010. It was made available to all on YouTube in 2011, following some film festival fun. He narrated Shaun Tan’s Oscar winning film The Lost Thing, an animated 15 minute short, based on the children’s book of the same name.

Tim, his wife and two young children now live in London.

Tim is an Ambassador for The Prince’s Foundation for Children and the Arts and ran a Half Marathon in 2010 on their behalf.

Segment 6: Adam Savage’s Reason

Adam Savage has spent his life gathering skills that allow him to take what’s in his brain and make it real. He’s built everything from ancient Buddhas to futuristic weapons, from spaceships to dancing vegetables, from fine art sculptures to animated chocolate — and just about anything else you can think of.

The son of a filmmaker/painter and a psychotherapist, Adam has been making his own toys since he was allowed to hold scissors. Having held positions as a projectionist, animator, graphic designer, carpenter, interior and stage designer, toy designer, welder, and scenic painter, he’s worked with every material and in every medium he could fathom — metal, paper, glass, plastic, rubber, foam, plaster, pneumatics, hydraulics, animatronics, neon, glassblowing, mold-making and injection molding to name just a few.

Since 1993, Adam was concentrated on the special effects industry, honing his skills through more than 100 television commercials and a dozen feature films, including Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace and Episode II: Attack of the Clones, Galaxy Quest, Terminator 3, A.I. and the Matrix sequels. He’s also designed props and sets for Coca-Cola, Hershey’s, Lexus and a host of New York and San Francisco theater companies.

Not only has he worked and consulted in the research and development division for toy companies and made several short films, but Adam has also acted in several films and
commercials — including a Charmin ad, in which he played Mr. Whipple’s stock boy, and a Billy Joel music video, “Second Wind,” in which he drowns.

Today, in addition to co-hosting MythBusters, Adam teaches, lectures and consults on a variety of topics to students, business folks and everyday Joes. Somehow he also finds time to devote to his own art — his SCULPTURES have been showcased in over 40 shows in San Francisco, New York and Charleston, West Virginia.

Links from this month’s episode:

Reason Rally

American Humanist Association

Shelley Segal

Greta Christina

Taslima Nasrin

Tim Minchin

Adam Savage

Upcoming Event links:

Music from this month’s episode (in order of appearance):

  • Theme Song: “Sound Scientist” by Bill
  • “Saved” by Shelley Segal
  • “Confessions” by Tim Minchin
  • “Thank You God” by Tim Minchin
  • “My Morality” by Shelley Segal
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