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The Engineer

The Life and Times of Donald F. Simmons

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No cycling, but other stuff...

Geez it's been a gloomy week, with more to come apparently.

Saturday I was going to lead a ride with my bike club for the first time, but the dreary weather forecast lead me to postpone it to this coming Saturday, which promises to be no better. i got in some cycling anyway. But the end of my cycling season seems to be nigh.

But Saturday was livened up with a talk at U of T on finding planets around other stars using the transit method (watching the star for a dip in brightness when the planet moves across its face). The guy giving the talk (argh can't remember his name) is involved with an automated observatory called MEarth currently observing nearby stars, and hinted that they are going to have some real announcements to make in a few more months. He gave a great talk and handled some of the really stupid questions that followed with much more patience than i would have been capable of.

Enjoyed Word on the Street Sunday. Weather was decent, and i picked up a knapsack full of stuff, more than I have done in recent years. Among them was a memoir written by a Lancaster pilot in WWII. He was selling the book himself with a sign saying "Yes, I bombed the Third Reich". I figured I owed him $20 for that. kelpqueen and jack_yoniga was selling ChiZine Press books as well, and looked to be having a good day. Saw a whole bunch of people I knew. The Friends of the Merril were selling bags of books for $5, and we sold enough to make back the table costs (which was all we wanted to do, besides having the outreach opportunity). Having been fresh off of the Flea Market I organized for them, I got to sit out working at the table this year.

Rob Sawyer was doing well selling copies of FlashForward, what with the premier of the show it's based on just a few days before. Quick story, there was a random kangaroo in the pilot episode. According to Rob the CGI guy said it would be easy to add a fake one in, but the producer insisted on getting a real one. But the real one had such a bad temper that its handler had to be at its side the whole time, and they then had to CGI the handler away, such it was a CGI shot regardless. BTW, I did like the pilot, we'll have to see if they can sustain a whole series.

Tuesday Richard Dawkins was in town to promote his new book on evolution The Greatest Show on Earth. Was there with Charlene, Hayden, Jeff, and other friends of them. The book is Dawkins presenting to the layman the mountain of evidence that PROVES that evolution is a FACT. One very interesting thing he talks about in the book is that he doesn't consider the fossil record necessary to prove evolution. It's a nice bonus, but the comparative anatomy studies, among others, clinch the case without them. In fact, finding fossils out of sequence (the classic example is rabbits in the PreCambrian) would be the only real way to disprove evolution at this point, so the creationists should be digging up all they can find (not that they would find any).

Dawkins is also a very outspoken atheist. The Torontoist has a whiny little piece about his talk saying why does he have to be so mean to all the "people of faith" out there. The answer is that there are enough "people of faith" out there who don't believe other people have a right to their own opinions or have a right to question them. Because they are willing to shout at the tops of their lungs ALL THE TIME to influence public debate, we have to shout right back, or they'll walk all over us.

Charlene stampeded out of there the moment the Q&A was done to get in the line for autographs, and managed to get near the front of the line. I don't bother with autographs much anymore, although I'm certainly getting the book.