It’s shortly after 4:00 p.m. Phil Plait is either speaking in the conference room or just finishing up, and I’m missing it to type this. I feel bad, but that’s the way it goes here—you can’t take a bathroom break without missing something.
TAM is a pretty remarkable thing. We were ready for record-breaking numbers—we were perfectly prepared accommodate 1,000 TAMmers this year—but we passed that once-unimaginable benchmark a long time ago. The registration desk ran out of badges yesterday and I got lost in Vegas trying to find more. (Random educational aside: it is possible to traverse the entire Las Vegas strip, south to north, without once finding an opportunity to take a legal U-turn.)
After four hours of much needed sleep, I find myself at the bar of the Cornado Café at South Point in Las Vegas. It is 6:00am, and I am eating alone. I find this experience odd, not because I'm up this early, but because this is likely the only time today that I will be left alone with my thoughts.
We've had a tremendous couple of days at TAM. Despite the expense in this challenging economy, we've managed to bring over 1000 people from all over the world into the desert to talk about science and skepticism. It's nearly impossible to express how important this is.
Webcam chat at Ustream As an experiment, we're live streaming TAM 7 on Ustream. We'll try to keep it live as long as possible. Come watch and be a part of TAM! You can also watch at this URL http://bit.ly/1BmU3E.
Jeff Wagg will try to be in the UStream chat room as much as possible to answer any questions you might have..
Today marks the official start of The Amaz!ng Meeting 7! The ceremonies were opened by Randi himself, and below is a transcript of his talk.
Greetings, all! First, welcome to The Amaz!ng Meeting 7. The JREF staff and I have been repeatedly astonished – if not “amazed” – at the steady growth of this annual event, and we are appropriately grateful and humble for your presence here. But, I must explain my somewhat subdued appearance…
This is what I call a major bummer. During a routine medical examination more than a month ago, it was discovered that I had a nasty visitor inside me – yet another stunning example of Intelligent Design at work, friends. My doctors went in and removed it, and things are looking up again. I’ll be pretty weak for a couple of months, but I assure you all that I’m fighting this thing with the very best technical help – I’m not at all shy about embracing technology! – and I’ll be able to keep up with my regular duties as the treatment proceeds.
This is the reason you’ve not seen any recent videos from me. Of course, I’m very fortunate to have good folks like Phil Plait, that Bad Astronomer, along with the ever-present, ever-diligent, and very fierce Linda Shallenberger, to back me up. They stepped in to manage and resuscitate TAM 7, and I think the results speak for themselves…!
The Del Mar bar is empty right now, which is weird. It is a big bar, roughly the shape of an oyster shell, separated from an ocean of evil-looking slot-machines by several hundred feet of polished brass railings. Each of the slots advertises an ever-growing jackpot, which had edged up near $1,300,000 last time I checked. But we are not interested in slots. We are interested in the bar. By 3:30 on Tuesday afternoon, a small band of early-bird skeptics led by a large and improbably cuddly Danish Viking named Toby had colonized one of the Del Mar’s central tables. We were a small bunch, but loud, and The South Point Casino’s more traditional patrons eyed us curiously as though we were some rare, geeky species of desert fauna.