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

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

In Oakland and Berkeley, I

Well, the Oakland fest is over and well worth the effort of staying awake after I got hit by delayed travel lag. Despite a throbbing headache this morning, I went with Wesley to Berkeley campus, where my academic grandparent Paul Feyerabend did his thing (my advisor had him as an advisor).

We met Michael Siemon and Mark Isaak, who had with them Professor Steve Steve, a noted expert on bamboo and creation science.

We saw the outside of the museum of paleontology and the herbarium, and discussed whether T rex was a scavenger or a predator, and decided with Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes that they were predators, because that is so much cooler. Professor Steve Steve found out the hard way that those forelimbs weren't at all vestigial (seriously - they are longer than my arms. I suspect they could do some serious lifting). Shortly afterwards, he found out that however badly sculpted, Smilodon teeth were not vestigial either.

Thence to an authentic California diner where we had a passable slider or two (mini hamburgers for those furriners not so blessed as to have experienced this delight). We were joined by Nick Matzke, Glenn Branch and Sue Spath from NCSE, and we debated all manner of things [read: John Wilkins didn't shut up], after which we went to NCSE offices, where we discussed all manner of things [read: Wilkins didn't shut up]. Oh, before that Wesley and I went to Michael's home and mooched beer off him.

I met Genie Scott, and we went to a lovely dinner at her place, where I met her family and we were joined by Alan Gishick. We discussed... oh, OK, I didn't shut up. I asserted several heresies from the Evil Darwinian Conspiracy, and was roundly condemned by all present as a backslider, and made to recant. Actually, they were remarkably open to my esoteric and exotic notions. And, like all the Howlers I have met this trip round, they were lovely people. None of them even made comment about my lack of sartorial style, as is the outcome of travelling and not doing one's laundry frequently enough.

Tomorrow a lay day, then Wednesday to Hawai'i, to see the wallabies and bore whoever comes to my talk Friday at U Hawai'i...

Many thanks for accommodation and driving around and feeding and company to Wesley and his lovely partner Diane who put me to shame for activity and skill. Not only can't I program a computer like Wesley, I certainly can't train Harris Hawks like Diane. I got to feed one, though, and luckily not with bits of me. And they have lovely dogs, too. I may nick one when I go. I'm sure they won't miss the lucky victim. And I failed to thank the Familie Silberstein for putting me up (and putting up with me) in New York. I wish I could visit more often.

And so to bed.