A quick update

I’ve been neglecting you, O Readers! It’s been a busy couple of days out here in sunny Arizona — they keep telling me it is a surprisingly cool weekend, which I take to mean it is a blazing hellhole most of the time — and I’ve been having a grand time attending talks and deferring any worries about what I’m going to say tonight. Here are a few of the highlights:

  • I had a very nice dinner with some weirdos from ASU, and also had a well attended meetup at Rúla Búla. The Trophy Wife and daughter attended for the first time, and they were clearly baffled by all those strange people who wanted their photograph taken with me.

  • I very much enjoyed a talk by William Lobdell, author of the book Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America-and Found Unexpected Peace(amzn/b&n/abe/pwll). It was one of those very humanist talks — lots of empathy for the religious, but pulling no punches at denouncing their problems.

  • Barbara Forrest gave an excellent talk on a familiar subject: how intelligent design creationism really is built on a purely religious foundation. It was very tightly argued — you can see why the creationists fear her. (Buy her book(amzn/b&n/abe/pwll)!)

  • They had musical entertainment for Friday night: Roy Zimmerman. I coulda swooned. Too bad he didn’t play this one for Lynch’s benefit.

  • John Lynch asked “Was there a Darwinian revolution?” Like a typical history/philosophy science nerd, his answer was yes and no, but mostly no. It’s very annoying that I’ve been finding myself progressively more sympathetic to historical and philosophical questions that I had to agree with him. Darn it. Anyway, you can see his presentation slides, or even watch a podcast of Lynch in action. I think he’s trying to become King of All Media.

  • Norma Ramos gave a powerful speech on women’s rights and the trafficking in women. This was not comfortable or cheerful, but it was important stuff that needed to be said.

  • The Rev. Barry Lynn gave one of his usual great talks — how to tell if you might be a right-wing fundamentalist. Seriously, if you ever have a chance to attend one of his lectures, don’t miss it…he can find the humor in the most horrific excesses of the religious right, and he’s hated by them even more than we atheists are.

OK, now I have to get back to meeting stuff and thinking about what I should say tonight. It’s been a very good conference, so there is some pressure not to be a let-down here!