Dragon*con Friday

Today was the first full day of Dragon*Con and Suzie dropped out of attending to do other things. Reuben and I met up with Grant who is a fine fellow but with whom there is a storied meeting history. He has no car at college and the last few times we met with him had to pick him up and work around the narrow windows of his schedule.

Reuben and I dashed to Con after a short lunch, made our way through registration, and darted to our first session. My schedule was stacked with science, space, and skepticism bits and Reuben wanted to see some segments on voice acting.


Curiosity and Skepticism – The presenter for this session ran The College of Curiosity which runs field trips in major cities. The presenter had some interesting objects like tektite, trinitite, and a styrofoam cup crushed by 2100 feet of oceanic pressure. I don’t think the session had much of a message so much as a parade of neat stuff.

James Randi and Alice Cooper – James Randi, the patron saint of skeptics, was the magician behind the effects on Alice Cooper’s Billion Dollar Baby tour. Alice is witty and cogent and told wonderful stories.

*Alice: Everyone in the 70s wanted to be a hero in Rock n’ Roll. I had no problem being the bad guy.
*Alice: One city wanted to present us with the key to the city and he had to work as hard as we could to find a reason to not get it.
*Alice: During one of our shows a live chicken appeared on stage so I picked it up and threw it into the audience. It came back a few minutes later torn apart and I was known as “Alice Cooper, Chicken Killer”. The thing was, the first four rows, and that’s the farthest I could have thrown it, were all people in wheelchairs.
*Randi: Alice called the magic shop I was in and owner said there was an Alice Cooper on the phone. I said I wanted $100 just to talk to him. Alice agreed, and I ran down the stairs so fast they may have burn marks on them.

Blood Drive – I gave blood and was told by a pregnant nurse that I looked like Ethan Hawke, I’ll take it. Later at the snack booth:

Me: Do you have any low carb snacks?
Nurse: You need sugar, honey.
Me: I’m on a ketosis diet.
Nurse: How low carb is that?
Me: 20 net grams a day.
Nurse: If you can, you want to make an exception if you want your red count to rebound in any reasonable amount of time and not have fainting spells.

I took her advice and had the tastiest Nutter Butter that I can remember.

Stealth Skepticism – The panelists talked about skepticism in popular media. Each panelist was interesting but the unified theme was “ask smart people questions” and I was fine with this. Rebecca Watson gave her commandment of “a good question is identifiable for being short, having a point, and ending in a question mark”, advice that everyone followed. One person asked: “my brother is a physics major and believes he can perform faith healing, what can I do to sway him?” to which Michael Stackpole replied “Waterboard him”.

Cryptographic Engineering – I attended this panel because it was done by Bruce Schneier and Randal Shwartz, the security expert and programmer, respectively and just kind of sat in awe as they were smart for an hour or so. I took their pictures a lot and they politely posed.

Evening Photos

I walked around and took photos. In the process, I lost track of Reuben frequently.

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