Some notes I jotted down during talks at TAM 8:
My wife and I have an agreement: if Brian Williams ever becomes single, she gets to leave me and marry him. And if Rachel Maddow ever… um, changes her mind… then I get to marry her.
— Hal Bidlack(?)
I’m a vegetarian zombie. I only eat rotten fruit.
— Joe Nickell
At the Q&As after talks, most people would introduce themselves by giving their name and employer. But one person prefaced his question with:
Hello. My name would waste valuable time, and where I work is embarrassing.
Paul Provenza on George W. Bush:
He’s like a low-rent antichrist: two sixes and a five.
He thinks history will vindicate him. Who does he think he is, The Velvet Underground?
He also mentioned getting into a fight with a network censor who allowed a sketch that made fun of God, but not one about Jesus, because:
You can make fun of God, because he doesn’t exist. But you can’t make fun of Jesus, because he’s God’s son.
I’d brought Richard Dawkins’s The Greatest Show on Earth to read on the plane.* Colour plates 18-19 show a map of the Earth’s tectonic plates, including one labeled “Philippine Plate”.
So of course, given my precedent of having people sign books they didn’t write, I had to get Phil Plait to sign it:
I didn’t get to read much of it on the way over, though: I didn’t get an assigned seat in advance for the flight from Detroit to Las Vegas, so instead of getting an aisle seat like I’d wanted, I got stuffed next to two Chinese young men in the very last row, by the window, the complete opposite of where I wanted to be.
But during the hustle and bustle of people competing to see how much crap can be shoved into an overhead bin without making the fuselage bulge, a Chinese man asked me if I’d be willing to trade seats with him so that he could sit with his sons. He even apologized that his was an aisle seat instead of the window that I so obviously wanted. I thanked him, and we traded.
When I got to my new seat, there was someone already in it, chatting up the good-looking lady in the middle seat. He went back to his seat in the row behind. A few moments later, a young woman from the row behind came up and swapped places with the lady the guy had been chatting up.
So my new seat neighbor turned out to be a geologist on her way to TAM. I suppose if we weren’t headed for the same convention on skepticism and rational thinking, it would’ve been easy to invoke mystical forces of fate or destiny. But of course that would’ve been silly.
At any rate, she was a better conversationalist than Dawkins’s book, so I didn’t get as much reading done as I’d thought.