ConFusion 2007

Yes! We made it home! The plane was a few hours late, the weather was awful, and we didn’t pull into our driveway until 3AM (my brain is not exactly humming along right now, I tell you what…), but it was a great weekend at ConFusion.

I have to thank a few of the people who made this a most excellent event.

  • The con organizers, who made the whole experience completely painless for me. I’m very impressed with the amazing art of con organization.

  • Matt Arnold, who was my GoH Liaison, and was most pleasingly obsequious and servile. I scarcely had to lift a finger all weekend, and I ate very well. Skatje wasn’t too keen on the sushi cafe we’re at in the picture above, but but I think even she enjoyed herself.

  • The smart people with whom I shared some panels: Eric S. Raymond, Bruce Schneier, and Karl Schroeder. We argued…intelligently! It’s great fun to sit down with people who have thought through opinions on science and aren’t afraid to wield them.

  • The attendees who showed up at all those panels. They argued, too—it was like leading the best kind of discussion sections at the university, where the students have all done their homework and don’t need to be coaxed to contribute.

  • The younger set at KidFusion, who also were pretty darn vocal. Who knew that the best way to hunt giant squid was with a fighter jet?

By the way, John Scalzi also has a ConFusion wrap-up, and it’s mostly true. Mostly.

Everyone should go next year. Go ahead, surprise the organizers, and let’s have 2,000 people register. It’ll freak them out.


  1. Nomen Nescio says

    you got to share a stage with ESR and Schneier?! dangit, i would’ve paid good money to be able to get there to pay good money to hear that talk. even though ESR is annoyingly libertarian-nutty, getting on a panel with the likes of him (much less Bruce Schneier!) is still the mark of breaking through in earnest. congratulations, and color me deep jealousy green.

  2. W. Kevin Vicklund says

    Hopefully, I have pictures from the squidblogging panel. I still have to download them, so I don’t know if they turned out (actually, my wife has to download them, since the software is on her computer, so I had to wait for her to return from visiting friends). The panels were a lot of fun – maybe some of the questions asked might even prompt some posts from PZ (hint, hint).

  3. Flex says

    As an attendee myself, I thought I’d throw some of my own impressions into the thread.

    Just a little background, I first attended Confusion in 1983, when C.J. Cherryh was the pro guest of honor. I attended for several years, then stopped. I had enlisted and the military thought I would better serve my country through being far away from south-east Michigan. After I returned to the area I only attended occasionally, but there were constants about Confusion even though all these years.

    Like any traditional science-fiction convention, the event is more about meeting people than meeting celebrities. Many of the same people I met in 1983 were still attending in 2007, a little greyer and a little slower, but still sharing a feeling of community. For many of the fans, the point of the con is to catch up with each other and make new friends. It may come as a surprise to some Hollywood scriptwriters, but most of the conversations are the same as with any social group, i.e. who is doing what with whom type discussions. Anyone who thinks that they won’t fit in at a science fiction convention because they don’t speak Klingon or dress like Gandolf hasn’t really given them a chance.

    I attended four of the functions with PZ; the ‘reading’ on Friday evening, the Re-making Humanity panel on Saturday morning, the Evolution Q&A Saturday afternoon, and ‘Coffee with PZ Meyers’ on Sunday morning. [Yes, even SF geeks can get a name wrong on a schedule. ;) ]

    The ‘reading’ was not, as we hoped, selections from the recently announced book. ‘It’s premature!’ was the (paraphrased) response to a couple of questions about it (in person PZ doesn’t use exclaimation points). But the ‘reading’ event extended well past the designated hour and covered a number of topics, to diverse to cover here, but it was clearly enjoyed by all the attendees.

    The Re-making Humanity panel included a writer and a publisher along with PZ. (And I don’t have my notes to give them the credit they deserve. Blast my un-retentive memory!) The basic question was the old thought-experiment of wondering if evolution was re-run would we end up in the same place. However, as typical with panels like these, the discussion ranged far over the map. The discussion touched on topics from the nature of consciousness to the primate plague. It was enlivened by questions from the audience, most of which covered broad scientific and philosophical ground.

    The Evolution Q&A was also interesting. While only an hour long, with only PZ on the panel, there were probably thirty people in the audience. Which isn’t bad for a small convention of mainly scientifically literate attendees. Far more people were interested in Brother Guy Consolmango’s presentation about Pluto (which ran long), than curious about the confusion over evolution.

    I took notes of the questions for this panel, and while I won’t list them here, there were 25 questions asked (or statements made) during the hour. Ranging from how to argue with creationists, to quorum communication, to sexual selection vs. natural selection, and rapid adaptive radiation. (Maybe we were just lucky, but there wasn’t anyone in the audience who took up lots of time explaining how it’s all just cosmic and unfathomable.)

    The final event I attended with PZ was the coffee time with PZ on Sunday. The discussion was interesting, ranging from the decline in funding for science and science education (and education in general) to making a distinction between science (research) and engineering (application) I think this viewpoint is mistaken, but this comment is long enough already.

    I’m glad PZ found the convention to be enjoyable, and I’ll second his recommendation to attend. (Not that my voice counts for much.) While I only spoke to PZ a couple of times during the convention, that didn’t bother me. I reckon that if I really have something to say to him, I can e-mail him. Otherwise we’re just exchanging pleasantries, which is certainly enjoyable but my life doesn’t revolve around them.

    So thanks, PZ, for attending.

  4. Bobryuu says

    Okay, this picture confirms it: why the hell do you think that you’re so ugly? You’re ugly enough to be interesting looking; I think it’d be awesome to take a crack at painting/drawing a portrait of you.