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Tags D.J. Grothe , jref

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Old 2nd September 2014, 10:48 PM   #161
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Originally Posted by Foolmewunz View Post
Until we see some decent investigative reporting, it's highly unlikely we will get the ins and outs of exactly what happened, here. I'm going with a Gestalt Theory. I'd say that you combine the evidence you have and it may not have been any one thing.

> DJ did not have the loyalty factor that Randi had. DJ's not Randi. But was the Amazing Charisma the reason for the departure of long-term people when Randi handed over? I don't know, but I think that was only a part of it. I think DJ wanted to run his own show and maybe rubbed some people the wrong way.

> He's not the sort of presence you get (in terms of PR and exposure) as releasing something to the press or networks with "James Randi Said....". Not even the kind of PR you get with a Plait or Banacek or Gillette or Savage if any of those folk were proposed as the head. (Not commenting on views or skeptical cred, just the very needed promotional aspects.)

> Certainly he was targeted by the FTB crowd and FTB wannabe crowd. The only way to place yourself above the fray is to place yourself above the fray. It doesn't work if you tweet them and tell them you're above the fray.

> If anyone has a wayback machine, check out the promotions for this year's TAM. DJ was barely mentioned, and in the few weeks right before TAM he was actually not mentioned at all. I understand he was present and was involved in some of the panels, but you'd think the President of the JREF should've been more prominent. I recall speculating at the time (with friends) that there was something up, possibly a parting of the ways in the offing.

Frankly, I think the Foundation missed the boat with the appointment of DJ. Nothing against him or his creds, in fact I think his outing of the rent-a-boy hypocrite was one of my favorite events in guerrilla theater of the past decade. At the time, we were all speculating about a big-name presence - Phil came close enough to that, but then he opted out. I truly think they should've looked for someone else with a higher public relations quotient.

The real question is where (and if) they go from here. TAM has a built-in following if Randi's behind it and promoting it. He can get a Who's Who in the sketpic(k)-atheist community to show up. If they want to include PZ or Rebecca in some side event or on the dais, I have no problem. I want to hear dissenting voices. Maybe they can repatriate the SJ wing? Lord knows they could use the gigs!

But where does the foundation go? Randi is rather senior and can't go on forever. I still think they need a major presence, e.g. someone who can call Anderson Cooper or (OMG) Bill Reilly and get quoted or even interviewed on a topic. Neil dG Tyson would be ideal. Alas, I think he makes eleventy-seven times what they could pay and I'm not sure he could hold down his current job and be the JREF president, also. Absent Dr. Tyson, Banacek or Plait. (My choices - not yours - not the Foundation's)

If the JREF had a choice, I think they'd go for Bill Nye. Of course, he's not going to take the job, as he's already CEO of the Planetary Society and in any case I doubt the JREF could afford him. Who else can take this? I have no *********** idea. I don't know if the JREF board does, either. Maybe they can convince David Silverman to jump ship. He's good. Actually, a probably relatively less known skeptic, but who's more capable, would probably be a good choice. Hint to the JREF: JW. Too bad it's not going to happen.

As an aside, yes--I also had noticed that DJ was barely mentioned in this year's TAM promotional materials (did he participate in any of the panels? I think I missed that, and I was there). That did seem strange. In previous years he was always mentioned as one of the speakers, IIRC. So maybe this wasn't as unexpected as many people think.

Last edited by AdMan; 2nd September 2014 at 11:01 PM.
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Old 3rd September 2014, 12:11 AM   #162
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Mod WarningBickering and off topic posts have been split to AAH.

Please keep to the topic of the thread, and do take the time to re-read the MA if you are having trouble remembering what you agreed to.
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Old 3rd September 2014, 12:20 AM   #163
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Originally Posted by SinisterBen View Post
Tyson would be awesome, and has the added value of being way too popular for the crazies to smear. That would be awesome. Skepticism could possibly be identity politics free. That would be nigh utopian.
You contradicted yourself there.
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Old 3rd September 2014, 05:08 AM   #164
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Originally Posted by MattusMaximus View Post
A fair point. But... how much of that decline had to do with the overall economic slump? Let's face it, TAM is expensive, and a lot of people lost a lot of money since 2009. Not to mention, when money is tight people tend to donate less to non-profits.

So I'll go far as to say there is a correlation, but it's a far cry from proving a causal connection.

ETA: It's entirely possible, assuming that the financials were the reason for DJ's sacking, that he just happened to be the poor bastard in charge when the economy went in the crapper.
Isn't that what presidents are for, to take the heat when needed, even to be a sacrificial goat at times?
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Old 3rd September 2014, 05:21 AM   #165
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Originally Posted by MattusMaximus View Post
I'm not disputing that plenty of Skepchicks and FTBers have said plenty of not-so-pleasant things about DJ Grothe.

What I am disputing is your implication that the JREF Board decided to make their decision to sack him based upon those blog posts. I'm perfectly willing to concede the point, if you can provide evidence.

So... evidence?
Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
Can you provide any links to show that the people who matter (e.g. Randi, Adams, Denman) give half a **** about those bloggers?
Other than PZ and Greta Christina, I doubt that Randi/Adams/Denman even know who the other #FTBullies are. They certainly don't know who the A+ loons are.
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Old 3rd September 2014, 05:42 AM   #166
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Originally Posted by AdMan View Post
Hint to the JREF: JW. Too bad it's not going to happen.
Who is JW?
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Old 3rd September 2014, 05:48 AM   #167
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Originally Posted by The Central Scrutinizer View Post
Who is JW?
Hint: You were on a cruise that he organized not too long ago.

You were also at his wedding.
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Old 3rd September 2014, 06:18 AM   #168
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Old 3rd September 2014, 06:24 AM   #169
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Originally Posted by Cleon View Post
Hint: You were on a cruise that he organized not too long ago.

You were also at his wedding.
Joe Wagg?
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Old 3rd September 2014, 10:41 AM   #170
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Originally Posted by Foolmewunz View Post
But where does the foundation go? Randi is rather senior and can't go on forever. I still think they need a major presence, e.g. someone who can call Anderson Cooper or (OMG) Bill Reilly and get quoted or even interviewed on a topic. Neil dG Tyson would be ideal. Alas, I think he makes eleventy-seven times what they could pay and I'm not sure he could hold down his current job and be the JREF president, also. Absent Dr. Tyson, Banacek or Plait. (My choices - not yours - not the Foundation's)
MY GUESS:

Randi stays as president/figurehead/public face/etc for the rest of his life, however long that is. The board brings in (I hope) experienced NPO people for the day-to-day running of things and the lights stay on. I'd like them to go outside the skeptical community for those jobs and just get the best available. That effectively means the JREF is a tax shelter that throws an annual conference.

Randi eventually leaves us, and the JREF shuts its doors soon after. Maybe they start fresh with a different organization, I don't know. But I think we've seen the last JREF president, and he's an older version of the first JREF president.
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Old 3rd September 2014, 11:03 AM   #171
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Originally Posted by MattusMaximus View Post
Good point.

I seem to recall that the entire Skepticamp phenomenon also got started at about the time that DJ became JREF president (our first Chicago Skepticamp was in early 2010, I think, and we were one of the first ones). That combined with the expense of TAM (Vegas ain't cheap) and the general economic downturn seems like it could easily contribute to less money flowing into the JREF's coffers.
The very first Skepticamp was in Denver during the summer of 2007, IIRC.
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Old 3rd September 2014, 11:13 AM   #172
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Originally Posted by marplots View Post
It's all dissolving around us. Things haven't been the same since Sylvia passed. Great heroes need great enemies.

She's dead; Randi's old; I'm old.

Sadness abounds.
I had no idea. I guess this closes the door on my prediction that Randi and Browne were going to get married.

Originally Posted by Stellafane View Post
Not to read too much into it, but the gist of the message seemed to be "we're dumping DJ as part of our ongoing effort to actually educate people." Whether or not that's the actual intended message, it does seem that whoever wrote that announcement didn't exactly bend over backwards to ensure DJ didn't have any hard feelings.
I thought the announcement was strange, certainly if you're fired from a large organization the public announcement drips with platitudes and often the fired individual is allowed the fiction of resignation.

I didn't understand the alphabet soup of speculation about sexual harassment being the reason very well, but in the absence of some other plausible reason it seems possible to me. It provides an explanation for the minimalist announcement of the change.

Originally Posted by RemieV View Post
There's actually plenty of evidence to suggest what's going on.

The steady financial decline since DJ started, for instance.
Assuming this was the case, I would have expected a routine announcement of the change that thanked Grothe for his services and wished him well in his new ventures.

Originally Posted by AdMan View Post
...
In any case, it's obvious there's more going on behind the scenes than most of us are aware of.

...
That seems like the only thing knowable at this point.

Some uninformed speculation that I don't have evidence for:
I thought there might be something to the estate planning idea. Perhaps Randi is in the process of planning how something of JREF survives him. Randi still seems to be mentally sharp and he probably is aware that the JREF he created depends on his celebrity for its existence. That idea supports the notion that JREF could be folded into an existing skeptic organization that is less dependent on the celebrity of the founder but that has a more stable base for its existence.

Although, even though Randi seems to be a pretty well known celebrity, based on anecdotal polling I've done he is not as well known as I thought.
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Old 3rd September 2014, 11:29 AM   #173
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Originally Posted by davefoc View Post
Although, even though Randi seems to be a pretty well known celebrity, based on anecdotal polling I've done he is not as well known as I thought.
He's not very well known at all. Every year, people ask why I'm going to Vegas. When I tell them "for Randi's conference", I've never met a single person who knew who he was. Even at local Skeptics In The Pub events, I've met skeptics, especially younger ones, who have no idea who he is.
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Old 3rd September 2014, 11:40 AM   #174
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Originally Posted by davefoc View Post
I thought the announcement was strange, certainly if you're fired from a large organization the public announcement drips with platitudes and often the fired individual is allowed the fiction of resignation.

I didn't understand the alphabet soup of speculation about sexual harassment being the reason very well, but in the absence of some other plausible reason it seems possible to me. It provides an explanation for the minimalist announcement of the change.
Although, Darat was similarly kicked to the curb, having administered this forum for years on a volunteer basis, and not so much as a heads-up about the changes nor a thank you. In fact, the only word from JREF (that I saw) was in the stickied thread above, where the lady representing jref (forget her name) posted some ungenerous, and apparently untrue, things about emails sent by Darat.

It may just be that Randi is running things, and he's insensitive to these formalities. I dunno.
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Old 3rd September 2014, 12:16 PM   #175
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Originally Posted by The Central Scrutinizer View Post
He's not very well known at all. Every year, people ask why I'm going to Vegas. When I tell them "for Randi's conference", I've never met a single person who knew who he was. Even at local Skeptics In The Pub events, I've met skeptics, especially younger ones, who have no idea who he is.
He needs to get on Happy Days again.

Kids still love The Fonz, right?
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Old 3rd September 2014, 01:26 PM   #176
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Originally Posted by varwoche View Post
Although, Darat was similarly kicked to the curb, having administered this forum for years on a volunteer basis, and not so much as a heads-up about the changes nor a thank you. In fact, the only word from JREF (that I saw) was in the stickied thread above, where the lady representing jref (forget her name) posted some ungenerous, and apparently untrue, things about emails sent by Darat.

It may just be that Randi is running things, and he's insensitive to these formalities. I dunno.
Except that Darat is not gone and is still working with the forum. I think there was some early mis-handling of the forum situation, but cool heads seem to be working to make the transition easy. Darat is one of those cool heads.

Ward
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Old 3rd September 2014, 02:50 PM   #177
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Originally Posted by wardenclyffe View Post
Except that Darat is not gone and is still working with the forum. I think there was some early mis-handling of the forum situation, but cool heads seem to be working to make the transition easy. Darat is one of those cool heads.

Ward
I think his point was that the mishandling of the Darat situation suggests that the Grothe announcement could be just another example of clumsiness at dealing with these kind of situations by the powers that be at JREF.
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Old 3rd September 2014, 05:14 PM   #178
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Originally Posted by kajata View Post
He needs to get on Happy Days again.

Kids still love The Fonz, right?
Who?
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Old 3rd September 2014, 05:49 PM   #179
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Originally Posted by tsig View Post
Isn't that what presidents are for, to take the heat when needed, even to be a sacrificial goat at times?
A fair point. After all, DJ was the public face of the JREF. It's easy to kill the messenger.

My concern is that perhaps there are even deeper problems than those that might be attributed to DJ. If there is still considerable dysfunction on the JREF Board, then I don't see things getting better anytime soon.

I hope I'm wrong.
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Old 3rd September 2014, 05:53 PM   #180
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Originally Posted by The Central Scrutinizer View Post
He's not very well known at all. Every year, people ask why I'm going to Vegas. When I tell them "for Randi's conference", I've never met a single person who knew who he was. Even at local Skeptics In The Pub events, I've met skeptics, especially younger ones, who have no idea who he is.
There's that. The earlier suggestion from another competing events is also a very good point; many of the non-VIP/speakers who attend skeptic events have neither the money nor the time to budget several of these conferences per year and have to be selective. The economic downturn, plus just economic wisdom in general, might be leading people to stay closer to home. International events like the London gathering and the Galapagos cruise were quite costly and might have depleted some attendees' resources for an extended period of time.

Certainly for some, the urgency to attend TAM (or attend it again) began to wane once it seemed clearly to become a regular event that would continue to be held for the predictable future.

If what some say about DJ is true - that he was basically hired to handle TAM - then there doesn't have to be some deeper motivation for letting him go than the JREF deciding not to do TAM anymore. This could well be due to declining return - but that doesn't necessarily mean DJ was blamed for that, or that there was ever necessarily considered a "fault" to assign.

TAMs were fun for skeptics; but despite the valiant efforts of many, they were ultimately never anything more than a bunch of already-skeptics gathering to gam about how skeptical they are while they listen to skeptical speakers rehash the exact same skeptical talking points about the same issues for yet an umpteenth time and occasionally peddle skeptic-books doing same. Yeah, it feels kind of cheap characterizing it in such a way and I don't mean to imply that such a meeting can't be a perfectly acceptable end unto itself, and I'm sure plenty of people will be able to chime in about something new they actually learned at a TAM; but the point is, it wasn't outreach or education in the public sense that JREF has professed interest in since whenever. It was just choir-preaching and hobnobbing. A decade of TAM does not seem to have created any more visibility or awareness of the JREF, the MDC, or skepticism generally, in the public consciousness. Meanwhile, I wouldn't be surprised if TAM or TAM-related tasks began to dominate or monopolize more and more of the JREF's resources as time went on.
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Old 3rd September 2014, 06:04 PM   #181
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Originally Posted by Checkmite View Post
TAMs were fun for skeptics; but despite the valiant efforts of many, they were ultimately never anything more than a bunch of already-skeptics gathering to gam about how skeptical they are while they listen to skeptical speakers rehash the exact same skeptical talking points about the same issues for yet an umpteenth time and occasionally peddle skeptic-books doing same. Yeah, it feels kind of cheap characterizing it in such a way and I don't mean to imply that such a meeting can't be a perfectly acceptable end unto itself, and I'm sure plenty of people will be able to chime in about something new they actually learned at a TAM; but the point is, it wasn't outreach or education in the public sense that JREF has professed interest in since whenever. It was just choir-preaching and hobnobbing. A decade of TAM does not seem to have created any more visibility or awareness of the JREF, the MDC, or skepticism generally, in the public consciousness. Meanwhile, I wouldn't be surprised if TAM or TAM-related tasks began to dominate or monopolize more and more of the JREF's resources as time went on.
Yeah, this was one of the reasons TAM started to become less fun for me as the years went on (I haven't attended since 2012). Don't get me wrong, I always had fun at TAM when I went, but once the sheen of being a new TAMer wore off I started to notice the same thing you mentioned.

Eventually, I became more involved in TAM on the "inside", so to speak: I participated in the TAM Talent Shows (never won, but it was fun), I helped to run a few Skepticism in the Classroom workshops, I helped to run two vaccination clinics at TAM, and I even was consulted a couple of times on the MDC (where I once got into a yelling match with Jamy Ian Swiss that he later thanked me for *swoons*).

As time went on, I was less and less interested in being in "the big room" with almost everyone else watching presentations, discussions, and lectures. So that side of it wore off for me.

In the last couple of years I didn't go to TAM because of financial reasons (I bought a new house last year) and the fact that I wasn't previously scheduled to do anything specific to education (like a workshop, etc). So I couldn't justify the expense.

Hopefully I'll go next year
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Old 4th September 2014, 05:59 AM   #182
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I don't go to TAM to "learn" anything. I don't go to software conferences to learn anything either. I go to hang out with friends, make new friends, and hear some interesting talks. And drink.
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Old 4th September 2014, 06:30 AM   #183
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It's sad that something I care a great deal about is small potatoes. I suppose this is how people who collect wishniks feel.
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Old 4th September 2014, 03:37 PM   #184
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LA JREF office closes, D.J. Grothe no longer with the JREF

Pfeh. Topicality is for n00bs.

ETA: Heard that Ray Hall will be organising TAM2015. So that's sort of topical, yeah?
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Old 4th September 2014, 09:10 PM   #185
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Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
Pfeh. Topicality is for n00bs.

ETA: Heard that Ray Hall will be organising TAM2015. So that's sort of topical, yeah?
Where'd you hear that?
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Old 4th September 2014, 09:11 PM   #186
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Originally Posted by MattusMaximus View Post
Where'd you hear that?

http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/...ing-ahead.html
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Old 4th September 2014, 09:59 PM   #187
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Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
Pfeh. Topicality is for n00bs.

ETA: Heard that Ray Hall will be organising TAM2015. So that's sort of topical, yeah?
Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post

I greet this news with cautious optimism. Ray Hall has done an outstanding job running the Sunday Papers for many years. I've always thought that the decrease in time allotted for these talks the last few years was a big mistake. Hopefully with Ray in charge, this trend will be reversed.
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Old 4th September 2014, 10:19 PM   #188
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Ray is top notch. This is good news indeed.
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Old 5th September 2014, 02:45 AM   #189
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Originally Posted by MattusMaximus View Post
In my opinion, the best TAM years were pre-DJ.
Back when they had real musicians instead?

Personally, I could never figure out why the JREF needed a DJ in the first place.
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Old 5th September 2014, 06:42 AM   #190
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It's not all that mysterious. Let's state the obvious.

TAM is safe, even as you all mostly acknowledge it has no role in outreach.
Million dollar oddity is safe.

The new educational hand waving is un-budgeted and un-specified. Ie no strategy at all. Barely aspirational. DJs 100 grand isn't going to bankroll much of a new curriculum given the continuation of TAM management overheads.

Really, all that has happened is that DJ has been burnt together with the forums. In as unprofessional a fashion as could be imagined. Even the attempted smoke screen was a farce.

Bravo. Go Randi. Go JREF. You make me proud.

Last edited by Brive1987; 5th September 2014 at 06:59 AM.
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Old 5th September 2014, 07:17 AM   #191
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Originally Posted by Brive1987 View Post
…DJ has been burnt together with the forums. In as unprofessional a fashion as could be imagined. Even the attempted smoke screen was a farce.

Agreed.

Still waiting for the third shoe to drop.
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Old 5th September 2014, 07:25 AM   #192
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Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
Agreed.

Still waiting for the third shoe to drop.
The Sharon Hill presidency?
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Old 5th September 2014, 07:28 AM   #193
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LA JREF office closes, D.J. Grothe no longer with the JREF

Originally Posted by Denver View Post
The Sharon Hill presidency?

If that's third shoe, I'll be relieved. She's good people, IMO.
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Old 5th September 2014, 08:02 AM   #194
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That, and/or acquiring Doubtful News?
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Old 5th September 2014, 08:25 AM   #195
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Originally Posted by Denver View Post
The Sharon Hill presidency?

Radial Tire re-instated as a mod at the new forums?
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Old 5th September 2014, 03:37 PM   #196
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Originally Posted by Brive1987 View Post
It's not all that mysterious. Let's state the obvious.

TAM is safe, even as you all mostly acknowledge it has no role in outreach.
Million dollar oddity is safe.

The new educational hand waving is un-budgeted and un-specified. Ie no strategy at all. Barely aspirational. DJs 100 grand isn't going to bankroll much of a new curriculum given the continuation of TAM management overheads.
Unspecified here in the forum, you mean. No strategy having been posted here in the forum. Unless you have special awareness of the issue, for instance from personally attending actual board meetings and such, this is baseless. To my knowledge, the JREF has never posted such particulars about its business in the forum at any time during my decade-plus of usership here.

Since TAM overhead existed and was covered while DJ was still being paid his 100 grand, it doesn't make sense to suggest the continuance of TAM necessarily means that cash would not be available to use for spending on other things; but at any rate, it should be pointed out that the closing of the office in California represents a freeing up of more than just DJ's salary.
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Old 5th September 2014, 04:03 PM   #197
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Originally Posted by Checkmite View Post
Unspecified here in the forum, you mean. No strategy having been posted here in the forum. Unless you have special awareness of the issue, for instance from personally attending actual board meetings and such, this is baseless. To my knowledge, the JREF has never posted such particulars about its business in the forum at any time during my decade-plus of usership here.

Since TAM overhead existed and was covered while DJ was still being paid his 100 grand, it doesn't make sense to suggest the continuance of TAM necessarily means that cash would not be available to use for spending on other things; but at any rate, it should be pointed out that the closing of the office in California represents a freeing up of more than just DJ's salary.
It looks to me (based on the last three-year 990 filings) that Randi's total compensation is about 15% of the prior year's total revenues. So he's gone from 150K to 250K down to 200K. But last year's revenue was not pretty, and 15% of it is around 130K.

I speculate that part of the reorganization is to get that compensation back up for this year, regardless of the 15% trend of the past. Maybe DJ's 100K, and the office closing, will be part of that.

Total speculation, of course.
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Old 5th September 2014, 06:23 PM   #198
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Originally Posted by Checkmite View Post
Unspecified here in the forum, you mean. No strategy having been posted here in the forum. Unless you have special awareness of the issue, for instance from personally attending actual board meetings and such, this is baseless. To my knowledge, the JREF has never posted such particulars about its business in the forum at any time during my decade-plus of usership here.

Since TAM overhead existed and was covered while DJ was still being paid his 100 grand, it doesn't make sense to suggest the continuance of TAM necessarily means that cash would not be available to use for spending on other things; but at any rate, it should be pointed out that the closing of the office in California represents a freeing up of more than just DJ's salary.
It is traditional when communicating "a big new strategy and change of direction" to have done enough work to be be able to supply enough detail to enthuse the troops. It's about credibility.

Now naturally everything said here is opinion (duh) - but (IMHO) the release smacks heavily of hand waving smokescreen rather than (say) Point 2 of a considered marketing strategy for a newly mapped out focus.

Also, it has been a consensus here on the thread that DJ's job was to run TAM. Either by intent or by default. The opening premise was that no DJ = no TAM = more money and focus for the Big New Strategy.

Keeping TAM (and the requirement for a manager) kind of mucks this calculus up - no?

Last edited by Brive1987; 5th September 2014 at 07:43 PM.
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Old 5th September 2014, 07:30 PM   #199
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So that's who D J Grothe is.

I kept getting e-mails from him (or her) and I just assumed he was looking to play at my wedding or bar mitzvah or something.
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Old 5th September 2014, 07:42 PM   #200
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Originally Posted by Brive1987 View Post
Also, it has been a consensus here on the thread that DJ's job was to run TAM.
While we're at it let's settle the pesky "Pluto, planet or not" question by vote here.

And let's just pick some simple date for Easter.
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