Back home from TAM 8. I’ve got a couple of long things I’ve written, set off by specific things that happened, but those will keep until I’ve had time to think a bit longer and edit. For the most part, I had a heck of a lot of fun. Can’t wait until next year!
I liked almost all of the talks, though I missed a lot of the stuff on Sunday just because I slept late (non-alcohol-related upset tummy) and had to leave early to catch my flight.
DJ Grothe gave me a goodbye skeptical hug when we were headed out of the hotel! Squee!
As always, the SGU dinner was a highlight of my TAM. I even wore a dress for it this year, and I never wear dresses. And of course the two hours of live SGU in the morning were definitely worth dragging myself out of bed earlier than I ever get up for work these days.
I got to make an angry vagina hand puppet with Sean Faircloth in the feminist skepticism workshop. That’s right, you heard me. And Sean Faircloth gave an extremely good speech on Friday. I wanted to vote for him (Sean Faircloth for… for… EVERYTHING!) and to throw dirty big handfuls of cash at him and the Secular Coalition for America.
Hanging out with everyone was fun, of course.
I really enjoyed the “interview” format that was used for both Randi and Richard Dawkins.
Simon Singh and his epic, epic hair.
I feel like there was something of an unofficial theme this year of skepticism directed toward ourselves as a movement. Massimo Pigliucci, Phil Plait, and Carol Tavris all took a turn at this, from looking at the trouble our egos get us in to (Massimo), to how we can often work counter to our own goals (Phil), to an acknowledgment that it’s really easy for us to think that we’re more whatever (such as: skeptical) than everyone else (Carol Tavris). I think these are really important points that need to be made, and probably more than once. Massimo pointing out that skeptics are for the most part not, in fact, scientists, is one that struck a real chord with me. I’ve run across some people who consider themselves skeptics who are also global warming deniers, and claim to have read the literature. I’ve probably had more environmental science education than a great many of them, and let me tell you, the literature doesn’t make a lick of sense to me; I think anyone that lacks the specialized training but still thinks they can better understand/analyze/interpret the data may very well be beyond hubris and in to some new, terrifying realm of pure ego.
I regained a lot of respect for Michael Shermer this year, actually. And his power point was only mildly embarrassing instead of an abomination that threatened the fabric of space and time itself. So good on him.
Really, I can’t be that descriptive about the good, since so much of it was good, and it all sort of blurs together in a big ball of awesome.
Really don’t like what they did with the seating this year. I know that it was necessary to take away the tables so that we could fit enough seats in. But could we maybe put an inch or two of space between each of the seats? I know I’m kind of tubby, but those chairs are narrow enough that it wasn’t a comfortable situation for anyone with broad shoulders.
I was also kind of annoyed about the reception. This was my first year of doing it, but everyone told me that it was basically a reception like you’d expect it. Instead this year they tried to have some kind of guest conversation in the middle of it, on the floor where almost no one could see. It’s a bad idea to tell people to come expecting one thing and give them something completely different. If I’d known it was supposed to be “shut up and listen to the guest” time, I could have come prepared for that instead of being half drunk and in the mood to chat with my friends. I ended up stomping off like a big flaming drama queen (since I was kind of drunk and not terribly rational) after being told that my talking to a friend was “ruining” the reception. I get the impression a lot of other people ended up leaving to talk.
This was Hal’s last TAM, due to “creative differences.” I’ve got a lot more to say about that, but it will be its own post. Needless to say, I’m going to miss Hal a lot and I don’t think TAM will be the same without him, his cheery outlook, and his bad jokes.
I still miss being on the strip. I don’t really like feeling like I’m just trapped in the hotel, probably because I’m not a big fan of just hanging out and drinking. I really need to get better at meeting new people.
I did not have the money to go see Roy Zimmerman. Boo. I also did not get to have my much anticipated crab dinner due to scheduling conflicts. Double boo.
The moon hoaxer that was following Phil Plait around and then tried to get in Adam Savage’s face during his talk. That was very, very strange. I thought Adam handled it really well, though. He’s probably pretty used to that crap, sadly.
The guy that had a “question” for Randi, which turned out to be him wanting to tell us all about his “ability” to magically fix post operative nerve damage. There was a collective facepalm when he said that could “even do it over the phone.” He apparently filled out the paperwork for the Million Dollar Challenge.
Okay, this was a fun bizarre, but when I was at the SGU Steve Novella sat at my table for a little while. And said the word “fuck” like three times. Which just seemed so strange considering you never hear him cuss on the podcast, of course.
And seriously, what the hell was up with that terrifying green packing-foam-like thing masquerading as cake during lunch on Saturday? Proof of aliens? Just maybe.