25 April 2014 (Friday) - A Day Off Work

Today I had a rather later start than usual, being on a day's holiday. Originally the plan had been for a weekend away caravaning, but things didn't go quite as we'd hoped. But I still took the holiday, and after a spot of brekkie I took "Furry Face TM" for the sort of walk we used to do back when I was on three-day weeks. We went through the Bowens Field wetlands to Viccie Park and on to Singleton Lake. The weather forecast hadn't been good, and we did get rained on for five minutes. However the rain soon let off, and we even found one of the two munzees in Singleton. Mind you the other one still has me foxed.

Once home I went through my letter rack. There wasn't much of note there; mostly bills for the next year. I did the monthly accounts. On the one hand I've had a pay rise. On the other hand I have to spend more on petrol now that I'm doing five day weeks. The extra money from the pay rise is almost exactly equal to my increased petrol costs. Ho hum...

I was going to mow the lawn; it was raining. I was going to repair the tent poles; I needed a hacksaw. So I had a bite of lunch and watched more lame 1960s Doctor Who and a documentery about Queen until the Rear admiral arrived to collect some odds and ends.
I then spent half an hour on sax practice. Or to be more precise I spent five minutes on sax practice and twenty five minutes stopping my dog from howling along. I then had another look for a hacksaw, and having found one I managed to fix those tent poles.

The rest of the afternoon was spent bashing my head aagainst a brick wall solving geo-puzzles, and then I went round to McDonalds wheere I met the Rear Admiral and Stevey for some McTea. From there it was on to astro club. We had a huge turnout and a guest speaker.
I have mixed feelings about guest speakers.
On the one hand its good to get an expert lecturer in. On the other hand these so-called experts are often little more than people like me who've taken the trouble to research astronomy on Wikipedia and then put on a show for a bemused public. I much prefer the astro club to have lectures from our own members.
Tonight's talk had been billed as being on exo-planets; a fascinating topic. The speaker however announced he wasn't going to talk about exo-planets; he was going to talk about how unlikely it is that the human race and the planet Earth exist at all. It could have been interesting...

Whenn discussing a rather esoteric and complex subject some speakers try to illuminate and elucidate. Some try to blind with science. Some endeavour to baffle with bullsh*t. Personally, when I'm lecturing I like to think that people are listening to what I am saying, and if anything is complicated, then that I have conveyed the salient points in a way that people can understand.
I could see the eyes of many of the club members glazing over as tonight's speaker droned on.

He presented random speculation after random speculation as established and proven facts. His fundamental arguments and reasoning were factually wrong on at least three seperate key issues. And in the question and answer session after the lecture he contradicted what he'd said earlier with nearly (but not quite) every answer he gave.
I can't help but feel that the misconceptions presented about living things and living ecosystems would have been blown out of the water by a two-minute discussion with a professional life-scientist. Perhaps as a professional life-scientist I should have said more; but I felt it would be bad form to have one of the most prominent club members present vociferously arguing with the speaker.

It was a shame that the speaker then went on to plug his latest book. Yet another book which has the age-old argument back to front. It's not amazing that the human race exists despite all the vagaries of the Earth's multi billion year history. We are here precisely because of the specific vagaries of the Earth's multi billion year history. And had things been different, then humanity would be different.
Had the moon not been present, or had the solar constant not been quite so constant, or had the ice ages been more intense then maybe we would now be twelve feet tall on average; or green skinned and photosynthetic, or intelligent octopi.

Normally after an astro club meeting the club's Facebook page is alive with comments about how well the evening's talk went down. Tonight - not a sausage... which is a shame.

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