Evolving Thoughts

Evolution, culture, philosophy and chocolate! John Wilkins' continuing struggle to come to terms with impermanence... "Humanus sum, nihil humanum a me alienum puto" - Terence

Monday, July 25, 2005

And so to the promised land...

Well, dear readers, I have arrived in the land of milk, honey, medical marijuana (what? Oh. Sorry, scratch that) and well muscled governors. Wesley Elsberry picked me up at Oakland airport after I successfully escaped in the night from the clutches of M. and Mme Silberstein, who had planned many years of good eating in Manhattan for yours truly. Matt's sister was there to help me escape though. She knows the ropes already.

Various and sundry folk arrived in New York to see if I was real or just a figment of somebody's fevered imagination. They of course found out it was both.

Catshark captured the mood well. I merely wish he hadn't Photoshopped such a large belly on yours truly. In actual fact I am a svelt and atrociously handsome 28 year old. The disguise, however, is working, despite being body searched at Newark airport by the minions of Homeland Security. Other incriminating evidence can be found from Andrew Arensburger, who turned out to be a nice guy despite his ability to make me look fatter than Catshark did.

Paul Gans did a good report on talkorigins, corrected and amended by Catshark, which I plagiarize here without permission or royalties. So sue...

>It was a GREAT Howlerfest! ...
>We gathered as announced at 11:00 AM under the Horse's
>Tail at the AMNH in New York.

Except for John and Matt and Susan, who were fashionably late.

>Among those attending
>were John Wilkins, Matt Silberstein and his sister
>Susan Silberstein (yes, that's right), David Utidjian
>and his father, John Vreeland, John (catshark) Pieret,
>and the indefatigable Walter Bushell, who had flown
>in from Hawaii just the day before and was suffering
>from major jet lag. And of course Andrew and I were
>there as well.
>There were several others there as well, but I must
>sadly confess to not writing names down (idiot me) so
>I trust that those omitted will let me know so that we
>can set the record straight.

There was "R. Dunno" as well, who drove up from Tennessee the day before
but whose real name I failed to write down as well. Chris Thompson and his
daughter ("Jane", I believe, but I wouldn't bet any Alzheimer-free
braincells on it) were there also.

WILKINS: "Jade".
>Since there were about a dozen of us present we did the
>usual Howler thing and milled about for a period of time,
>eventually deciding to actually *enter* the museum.
>We trekked up to the new dinosaur exhibit which was
>rather interesting. The museum is doing a better and
>better job of education, but they are still not stressing
>evolution as much as they might. Nevertheless we watched
>videos (and a scale model) of a T. Rex running flatfooted

That's shown in the picture I labeled "One of the more knowedgeable
participants points out 'one of them dead things'".

>(which I doubt was the case since the bone jarring impact
>would really not be fun -- and indeed the scale model did
>NOT run that way) and saw various talking heads explain much
>about dinosaurs on the ubiquitous TV sets at the exhibit.
>Why, I must interject, did all of them (except for one
>female) ALL have beards? Is that now a requirement. I
>shall start to grow one immediately.
>After that we went to lunch via one of the older dinosaur
>halls. Readers must understand that our movement was slow
>with many stops at interesting exhibits so when I indicate
>a movement it really was more like a mass migration.
>Lunch (of which there are several photos on Andrew's pages)
>was sufficient to stave off hunger and provided a place
>for much animated and interesting conversation.
>After lunch we were joined by Matt's wife,


making three
>Silbersteins present and thus winning the award for
>most persons with the same surname present.
>After that we sauntered off in the general direction of
>the display of minerals and gems. In doing so we passed
>through an excellent exhibit on the evolution of man (which
>is where Andrew's shot of the skeletal ape and man together
>was taken.
>(He was going to use two of us, but we wouldn't stand
>still long enough for him to do that.)
>We finally reached minerals and gems, milled about, and
>mainly ended up on some convenient seats where long bouts
>of conversation again broke out.

An interesting incident while we were there: A young boy was being told by
his father that they had to leave. The boy blurted out "But there are so
many things to discover." When Susan reacted to that, the father said he
thought his son might grow up to be a scientist. From his lips . . .

>The afternoon was waning and it was suggested that we
>move on toward the Hall of Libations when Matt suggested
>that we make a small detour to a rather interesting Bone
>Shop on Columbus Avenue whose name I have misplaced in
>my memory. After that we headed toward the Subway and
>a trip downtown.
>That trip was slightly marred by the closure of one
>subway line and a street fair that caused a detour of
>the bus substitute.
>After a short saunter through Union Square Park we
>found our way to the Old Town Bar and Restaurant where
>we were met by my wife. We'd lost a few here and there
>due to other committments, but there were still eleven
>of us.
>We libated and ate for a while. Sadly the table
>was rectangular and it ended up with most of the
>men at one end and the women at the other, but
>co-mingling occured and I think that a good time was
>had by all.

I wasn't watching Paul every moment but let me say for the record (in case
my wife might someday read this) that I didn't mingle anything of mine with
anyone else, male or female.

>After that we lost several more who had to head for Penn
>Station and a long trip home. The rest of us made an
>unscheduled stop at the Strand Bookstore nearby, one
>of the largest used book stores in the US if not the
>world. Practically all of us ended up buying more books.
>Around 9:30 PM my wife and I said goodby to everyone
>and headed home, a short walk away. Thus ended for
>me a 10.5 hour Howlerfest that was absolutely wonderful.
>Let me close by saying just a few words about John Wilkins.
>He is just as wonderful in person as he is on the internet.
>Interesting, able to dredge up Quotations from the Masters
>without a moment's hesitation, and with fewer puns than
>on the internet, John's a polymath who is really good to
>be with.

Much seconded!

WILKINS: Thanks, but I used all my material with you guys. Don't post it or I'll have to find new stuff for use in CA.

>I know that every one present enjoyed the get-together
>and the chance to talk to John face to face. And I hope
>that the legend of New York hospitality for visiting
>Howlers has been upheld.
>My personal thanks to everyone who attended and to those
>who wished us well.
>As for John, he's on to Oakland and the Oakland Howlerfest.
>Good luck to you folks and take good care of him!