Contact Juggling Tutorial Videos and Books

December 10, 2009

I was asked via comments what are some good videos and books to grab for picking up Contact Juggling.

First up is Drew Batchelor’s book Multiball Contact. Thanks to Hurricane Ike I’ve actually purchased two of these. I would gladly purchase a third copy if something were to happen again.

The book is phenomenal for a number of reasons, the most important of which is it’s organization. Multiball Contact is arranged as such to introduce a beginner to multiball contact juggling to the fine details of motion control and visual appeal. There are plenty of incredible pictures and useful appendices filled with useful information.

Secondly we have the two DVD set, Contact Juggling parts 1 and 2. In general, it’s easier to learn object manipulation by seeing someone perform. Subtle nuances can be easily lost in translation when it comes to the written word.

All three of these items can be picked up at Neon Husky, a great supplier for CJ equipment.

Not in the mood for purchasing videos/books? Well then head over to ContactJuggling.org! The main wiki page has links to plenty of move tutorials, which themselves have plenty of links to video tutorials. On top of all this, the community there is really swell, and can answer any questions you might have.

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Origin of Species Signed by Skeptics Charity Auction

December 2, 2009

they scribbled all over it!

Skepticon II was such a mind blowing experience, and now that the Skepticon 3 main site is up it’s probably worth noting that we are trying to raise money by auctioning off a copy of Origin of Species signed by many of the speakers!

On the cover page I was able to get signatures of DJ Grothe, Rebecca Watson, Dan Barker, PZ Myers, Joe Nickell, JT Eberhard and Richard Carrier. My heart will sink a bit to see this leave my apartment, but with all the money going back to Skepticon I feel it’s worth the despondence.

All the speakers for Skepticon came to the midwest to speak for little more than travel costs and booze (which we supplied aplenty), and all the volunteers that organized the event pulled it all together from cash out of pocket. The event was offered to all attendees for free of charge, with free condoms and pirate swords also available. This meant all 13 hours of lectures were played to a packed house. Hundreds of people in attendance and everybody had a blast.

Video of all the lectures are going up, for free mind you, on youtube via Hambone Productions.

I’ll have to do a write up soon about my experience at the event, but the short of it is that it was an absolute blast and really energized me about the skeptic and atheist movement.

Hopefully my enthusiasm will spread.

Edit: Here, for everybody’s amusement, is the email I penned to Ray Comfort on the matter:

Happy Holiday!

I’m in the midst of a charity auction, which is hoping to raise some funds for a nonprofit out of southern Missouri that is using your copy of the 150th Anniversary Edition of The Origin of Species to raise awareness of the Evolutionist and Atheist Agenda.

From the sound of your stirring introduction, I feel that you would be most interested in publicizing our little auction for us. Here is a linky:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=260516601473


Rom Houben and Facilitated Communication

November 29, 2009

I think the media is pulling my leg again with this Rom Houben bullshit. I mean, facilitated communication has been a con for quite a long time, and even viewing the video it would absolutely amaze me if anyone actually believes that a man who can barely twitch his eyes and has been in that condition for 25 years can type that fast. I mean, take a look at the communicator, she is clearly just moving his hand and banking in on this poor man’s condition.

This is possibly one of the most deplorable things I’ve ever witnessed and I’m stunned that the media has picked this up and ran with the idea that Houben can actually communicate this well. Dr. Steven Novella has more on his Nuerologica Blog, and it gets me more and more angry as I read about this sort of bullshit.


Same Old Intelligent Design Arguments

November 24, 2009

Skepticon II had a huge turn out and was a total blast for everybody involved, so it pains me to articles like this one on over at National Geographic entitled, “Evolution vs. Intelligent Design: 6 Bones of Contention.” As had come up during Skepticon, articles like these mislead the public into believing there is actual debate among the scientific community about Evolution vs Creationism. But there isn’t, the community at large is in consensus that evolution is most certainly true.

The good news is that at least the article has the common sense to have every one of the claims shot down. I swear, if I hear that the eye is Irreducibly Complex or that Whales couldn’t have evolved I will choke somebody. Don Prothero does a very good job with quick responses and I’m sure his book, Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why it Matters, would be an incredible read. I’ll have to pick it up some time.

Right now I’m in the midst of a back log of Sagan, Dawkins and Calvino.


Gay Rights Groups Gear Up for Calfornia Battle

August 12, 2009

Equality California and Courage Campaign both have announced their deadlines for overturning the voter-approved ban on same-sex marriages.  Initially I was reading  in the Wall Street Journal how EQCA decided it was best to delay efforts in the fight for same-sex marriage until 2012, but I decided to check a few other articles to see how they compare.

For starters, the WSJ article really reads as a downer, and I was initially upset since I’m pretty strong supporter of same-sex marriages.  Denying rights based off of sexual orientation is either discrimination or religion creeping into government, and in either case I oppose it. The article has line after line of how there isn’t strong support for a bill, it’s too soon, most groups agree, momentum will be lost, the battle will be waged over several years and so forth.

After looking into a few more articles, and checking the WSJ source, I discovered a much more optimistic picture was initially painted. The New York Times article headline reads, “Caution on Fighting Marriage Ban.” The article reads much clearer, and you get a better sense that two independent groups are trying to tackle the issue, but have differences of opinion on when to begin.

Courage Campaign, an online grassroots activism community, feels they have necessary support and donations to begin a battle for the 2010 ballot. Equality California, a more organized group with seven office buildings and a better website, would rather put pressure on 2012, claiming that a presidential bid will mean a larger turnout for younger voters, who traditionally vote in favor of same-sex marriage.

Although I can see EQCA’s rationale, Courage Campaign’s founder worded it perfectly by saying, “We are not going to let the calendar dictate people’s rights”

So I say let EQCA build up steam and a strong network of supporters over the next few years, but if Courage Campaign were to lay dormant in 2010 it would be a lost cause. They have to keep the fight fresh in people’s minds, even if that does mean a wasted ballot entry in 2010.


Choosing Your First Contact Juggling Ball

March 16, 2009

Nearly every Contact Juggling video I see on YouTube, the question of “What type of ball is that?” or “Which type of ball to start with” is asked. I went ahead and put together a video showcasing the different types you can find, and the easiest to start with.


Playing Gods: A Satirical Game about Religious Warfare

March 13, 2009

My fiancee and I just got our hands on a copy of Playing Gods, a game developed by skeptic and atheist Ben Radford.

We were listening to a Skepticality podcast (#95) on the way back from visiting my parents and they interview him, during which he mentions his board game.

We stopped by a Fantasy Shop games store on the way back as well, partly because I needed to do more Watchmen promoting and partly because I needed more dice for my recently acquired 1st edition dnd books. When we walked in, we saw this bad mama-jamma:

Buddah totally has a Minigun

Buddah totally has a Minigun

Gameplay

The game features a very simple playstyle, with players taking turns going around the board trivial-pursuit style, collecting cards that can either destroy or convert followers. Whoever converts half the globe, or destroys all other gods, wins the game.

There is a small amount of strategy in the game, not as much as Settlers of Catan, but more than Zombies!!!. That said, it keeps board game nerds, like myself, interested enough during the short run of the game (45 minutes), but offers enough randomness for players looking for a fun departure from more mundane board games.
 
Final Thoughts

A few situations can become repetitive. Such as players going back and forth trying to get a wrath/conversion card to progress the game. But all in all, I would recommend this game for anyone who wants a game they can pull out every once in awhile for fun.

I wouldn’t recommend it for more frequent play. Nobody is going to be seeing any Playing Gods tournaments pop up any time soon.

Christ in the midst of beating Buddah

Christ in the midst of beating Buddah