Hiya, Illinois!

It's true — I'm going to be speaking at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana on Friday, 13 March, at 6:00 in Gregory Hall. Well, nominally at 6:00 — my flight schedule is cutting it awfully close, giving me only an hour of leeway, so we'll see if I make it in time. If I don't, start the conversation without me. This one is going to be a bit on the history of embryology, with some discussion of modern interpretations of the well-known facts of development…including the thoroughly bogus claims of creationists. I will be teaching the controversy — I'll be showing the audience how idiotic the Discovery Institute's claims are.

I have no after-the-talk plans…yet. I'm sure that an informal get-together will coalesce afterwards, however.

For future reference, I'm also going to be in Michigan in two weeks, in Ashland, Oregon on 22-24 April, and LA in mid-May. I cut back a bit on my travel schedule this semester just to protect my sanity.


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The first day of classes is on Wednesday. <insert long despairing wail here> I have to get ready now, so life is going to be a bit frantic for a few days. This term I'll be teaching Developmental Biology, a fun class and not a problem right now, and I'll also be teaching our intro course,…
It's another long travel day for me, I'm afraid, and this after a long night of trying to keep up with a lively mob of 20 and 30 year olds at a bar in Champaign-Urbana (and giving a talk yesterday that I think went over fairly well — I even had protesters outside! For a talk on the history and…
The mild nausea I mentioned earlier? Gone now, it seems to have vanished as soon as I disposed of the wretched rag Answers in Genesis sent me. It's a good thing, too, because I have a frantic weekend ahead of me. Today and tomorrow, I'm pounding the keyboard to prepare a couple of talks. At least…
My life isn't easing up just yet as we wend our way to the imminent end of the term. I'm going to be flitting about over the next few days. I'm chauffeuring #1 son to a job interview in Minneapolis today, and then returning him home to St Cloud again sometime this evening. I'm planning to be in St…

Last year, I turned down a faculty job at UIUC --if only you had told me earlier, PZ!

I'm there!

No, really...I mean I'm there...right now! I'm here on business and leaving tomorrow, grrr. Well, maybe I can still make the trip back over again Friday night. This is open to the public, yes?

We kind folk in Boston are still waiting for you to grace us with your presence.

It's spelled "Champaign." It means open level countryside, which is much more descriptive of this place than delicious sparkling wine. I have class till 5:45; I hope they allow late-comers.

Welcome to what my Minnesota in-laws think of as the Deep South!

curses, if only it was U of I Chicago, instead of the Champaign-Urbana variety. I have work that day, I probably won't be able to drive down.

Awesome, hopefully my lab meeting doesn't run too long on Friday afternoon.

Another Bostonian wondering when you are going to make your way to our neck of the woods.

Well, that's member's night at the Field Museum. Next time!

Re: "I will be teaching the controversy — I'll be showing the audience how idiotic the Discovery Institute's claims are."

Is the controversy around quantifying "how idiotic"?

More of the same: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29628516/

East coast...please.

As a U of I alumni, I feel obligated to direct you to the best thing Champaign offers: Papa Del's deep dish pizza.

Been looking forward to this for months. There's been a slow-moving back-and-forth exchange in the local paper (the News-Gazette, a right wing rag) over evolution. Last Sat. there were two anti-evolution letters that I had to respond to. (My reply will be printed Thersday or Friday, probably.) If you want some local ammunition, PZ, I'll e-mail them to you. They weren't very good- we have low quality creotards in C-U.

Can't think of a better way to spend Friday the 13th. I'll definitely be there.

Yes, after lurking here for months and months, as a UIUC grad student I also feel compelled to come out of the woodwork in support of Papa Del's.

An exciting activity on friday the 13th!

Sigh, so close, but you can never show up in Chicago can you.

Aww! My husband and I have our stepson that night and he's far too young to bring to such an event. I hope it goes so well that you get invited back again, PZ.

If you do go to Papa Del's, a word of warning-you will be waiting for your yummy pizza until the next Friday the 13th.

!!! Damn it, I'm here right now... was planning on heading out tonight, though. I may have to stay the whole week now.

I am currently a graduate student here at UIUC in Entomology, and I cannot express to you how excited I am about your visit! Up until August last year, I lived in Kentucky and was lucky enough to participate in the Rally for Reason outside of the Creation Museum the day it opened, which got me a small role in "Expelled," as a protester (although it was edited to look like a protest of the Discovery Institute). I will see you on Friday, my fellow biologist and cast member!

By Michelle Entomology (not verified) on 11 Mar 2009 #permalink

Ashland, Oregon on 22-24 April = Yeah!

Everyone always complains that I'm not coming to their locale. Well, the problem is that 1) I'm not Santa Claus, and can't be everywhere at once, and 2) nobody in your neighborhood has invited me! I'm cheap, you know, it's not like I demand Ben Stein level honoraria or anything.

Is there a place where I can look up your schedule? I live in MI and would love to come around if I knew where it was you were going to be, exactly.

By Archaneus (not verified) on 11 Mar 2009 #permalink

Looked in your "my calendar" link to try to find details for your San Diego visit.. it appears to be blank. (I am lax in keeping mine up to date, too). Shame on you us.

Keep us posted. Don't want to miss it.

By AmericanGodless (not verified) on 11 Mar 2009 #permalink

Woo hoo! San Diego! A place I might actually be able to get to!

I'm currently studying Anthropology at UIUC... I'll see you there, PZ!!
We can all have a chuckle at the DI together.

By crucifinch (not verified) on 11 Mar 2009 #permalink

The Papa Del's on campus will be slow, but at least the Illini will be out of town at the Big Ten tournament. What about the Papa Del's down in southwest Champaign?

If nothing else, order ahead and take it somewhere else.

Dangit! I keep finding new reasons to wish I still lived back in C-U. Sorry I won't be able to see you at my old school. I'll second Clay's recommendation of Papa Del's. Bring your appetite, and be prepared to wait for a bit -- pizza that good is worth it.


By Roadtripper (not verified) on 11 Mar 2009 #permalink

Only a week earlier and you would've been present for the biggest party of the year @ U of I: 'unofficial'. Tis' sad. It would've been fun to go on a bar crawl.

Looking forward to some free thought. The Atheist Agnostics & Free Thinkers (AAF) here on campus are doing a wonderful job bringing in bright minds. Dan Barker was here in November and just days ago they hosted a 'round table' of sorts with the Campus Crusade for Christ.

Both of those I attended, and at both I had a great time.

Thanks AAF of UofI, and Thanks PZ for stopping by.


By theareohbee (not verified) on 11 Mar 2009 #permalink

OK where are the specs on the Michigan visit?

By Faithful Reader (not verified) on 11 Mar 2009 #permalink

I can't find any info about the talk on the likely UIUC websites (bio department calendars, AAF, etc).. Anyone have a link?

Yah yah, what are the whens and wheres for Michigan?

Omgosh heresy! It's the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Oh ya, I'm from Urbana originally. Can you tell.? ;)

Of course, the APVMA symposium is at UIUC next weekend, so I'll miss it by a week.

I'm a local physician embarrassed by a colleague who spews anti evolution dreck in the local right wing paper (news-gazette). Maybe I'll invite him to come and have a listen!
BTW, Papa Del's on Green will be crowded, loud, and a long wait for pizza. Well worth it!
It's pops for pizza!

I second the recommendation of Papa Del's, though I no longer live there. Don't worry about being held up at the airport - there's not much there to provide a delay. The drive to campus could take a good 15 minutes though

Where/when in Michigan will you be? After missing out on Dawkins tickets, I don't want to miss another interesting speaker.

Ah, the politics of school naming.

If the same rule had applied in Minnesota, that school would be called University of Minnesota - St. Paul Minneapolis.

By Free Lunch (not verified) on 11 Mar 2009 #permalink

Pharyngulistas in the NYC area might be interested in a conference being held over the next 3 days at Hofstra U. on Long Island called "Darwin's Reach." Plenary speakers include Frans De Waal, Niles Eldredge, and Judge Jones, plus lots of panel sessions on everything from evolutionary ecology to education to religion to literary studies, all with a focus on Darwin's influence on modern culture. Schedule here.

By Sven DiMilo (not verified) on 11 Mar 2009 #permalink

Perhaps we could go to The Blind Pig instead and order delivery from Papa Del's. That way we can have the best selection of beer in town while we wait for the best pizza in town. Oh, and the talk sounds interesting, too.

I'll definitely be there. Looking forward to it. We should go to Murphy's afterward.

I'm a Champaign denizen and a graduate of the UIUC. About Papa del's: de gustibus non est disputandum. Jupiter's tastes very good to me (I fear I may be starting a thick-vs-thin debate here). I'm cheap, so I usually take one home from Papa Murphy's and bake it myself.

There are many places in town with good beer on tap if that's what you like. The Black Dog smoke and ale house on Broadway in Urbana might be worth a visit if you like smoked mammal flesh. It got a good review in the Champaign Taste blog.

The Blind Pig is great for beer, but a bit noisy for conversation. AAF is sponsoring this, I believe, (I'm a townie) and they seem to like going to Dos Reales after their events. Best Mexican restaurant in town, but I'm not sure how appropriate for major liquid refreshments. Not sure what they've got planned.

Ashland? What about Portland?!?! I would pay good money to hear you abuse the DI, and buy you a fine micro-brew afterward.

While you are there, make sure you try some Caldera:


Half of my department is ITT.

Aw, man. I live in Illinois, too...too bad I can't make the 4-5 hour trip for you--I've got to be back here for Science Olympiad the next day :D

You'll be about a two minute walk from my dorm, but I'm conflicted. How much of your talk is going to be about science and how much about atheism?



By recovering catholic (not verified) on 11 Mar 2009 #permalink

Michelle Entomology @#27:
you are such a dork! (i only say that because she's in my lab!)

i second blind pig! it's a little far from campus but by the time the talk gets done, close bars are pretty slimy and will be filled with drunken undergrads (also, did i mention that they are all slimy). tho pappa dels does have some big tables in the back (it'll also be crowded on a fri tho...)
can't wait to meet PZ in person...w00t.

By ihateaphids (not verified) on 11 Mar 2009 #permalink

Re: #55 and 56..

For those who don't know, there's a residence (run by a catholic church) that's right near the auditorium. My assumption is that Brandon lives there, and the conflict comes from theism.

But assumptions can be wrong.

The conflict is that I always enjoy meeting famous people, but I have better things to do with my Friday night than hear about how I'm implicitly endorsing Osama bin Laden.

PZ is not solely an atheist. He is a scientist who is fed up with religion encroaching into our field. Anyone who is interested in science should be willing to remove religion from science. Thus if you are a fan of science, and the complete removal of religious beliefs from science, then you should attend.

By ihateaphids (not verified) on 11 Mar 2009 #permalink

If that's the case, Brandon, I suggest you skip.

By ihateaphids (not verified) on 11 Mar 2009 #permalink

Definitely go with the Blind Pig. Most of the Bio grad students relocate there after PEEC Happy Hour anyways. Great beer, and it is absolutely not as loud as they're making it out to be. Claim the booth area and you're set.

I'd totally swing by, but I'm going to be out of town for the weekend.

Yes!! When and where in Michigan? Your calendar has nothing but spring break listed.

Ashland, huh? Where will you be? I'd love to take the train down to hear you speak. Also, if you're planning to be in the Seattle area any time in the next year, that would be better -- much cheaper for me to get there, since I live there. :)

Oh oh, PZ. I mentioned this to a buddy who goes to UIUC, and you will apparently be competing for time with the Engineering Open House, starring Grant Imahara from Mythbusters:


You'd better bring the entire Cthulhu army to fight off their evil robot army!

(Nah, I only mention it not to draw attention from your talk, but in case you wanted to see that while you're in town, too.)

By Discombobulated (not verified) on 11 Mar 2009 #permalink

UIUC '78 here. I haven't been back to Chambana in ages. Does Deluxe Billiards still have a line out the door on Fridays for fish sandwiches? Probably they'll be all gone by the time PZ gets there.
Oh, for Papa Del's. Out here on the left coast you can't get pizza like that.
Grant Imahara would be pretty cool to listen to, but I'd pass up him and PZ to see Kari Byron in the flesh.

Well, I guess Kari's off the tour circuit for a while; she's pregnant.

Thanks for coming to visit us, PZ. I'll be there!

By Ryan Cunningham (not verified) on 11 Mar 2009 #permalink

PZ's talk in Illinois being video'ed, hopefully? I could use some IDiot bashing for the weekend!

aw damn! I'm up north (or south of MN) here at NIU.....I won't be able to make it down.

Hope you can make it to the northern part of our quaint (sometimes goofy) state :-D

By Johnb300m (not verified) on 12 Mar 2009 #permalink


The Blind Pig is awesome, but I don't think they have food. Granted, I'm all for a beer supper, but most others aren't. I'd recommend Crane Alley in Urbana. Good beer and good food. Their Ruben (sp?) is the best I've ever had.

Funny, but after the talk I have a b-day party to attend where I'll be the only atheist present.

I humbly recommend Radio Maria for a Founder Breakfast Stout, either before or after your talk. O)r if they have anything from the Flossmoor Brewery, I recommend that. Not that you will, but if you're rolling through Gibson City, stop at the Bayern Stube for a fine German tap. Say hello to Gunther.

I wish I was free this weekend. I'd make the trip.

By Martin Gorski (not verified) on 12 Mar 2009 #permalink

I'd recommend Crane Alley in Urbana.

Good call.

"if you're rolling through Gibson City, stop at the Bayern Stube for a fine German tap"
---I believe it's the Bayern Stube owner's son who opened up the Bistro next to Crane Alley in Urbana. He offers a variety of schnitzels and other German goodies one or two nights a week that are wonderful. His selection of beer isn't bad for such a small place. It's a hard place to talk though when they have entertainment, though the entertainment is quite good. I saw a story teller there last weekend. I don't know what they have going this Friday.

The only beer I think that the Bayern Stube gets that no one else does is the original Octoberfest. It's an amazing beer and worth the special trip in the fall. I think I can get all the rest here in town.

I guess our guest won't have to worry about not enough food or beer to entertain him. :-) :-)

crane alley is good, but PACKED for tables on Fri, unless you reserve ahead of time

pig has no food

radio might be cool...but expensive

there's always murphey's??? ugh.

By ihateaphids (not verified) on 12 Mar 2009 #permalink

So, because I know no one from my sorority reads this blog, I can post that I totally just faked a family death to get out of initiation for the freshmen so I can go to this. Of course, I wouldn't have had to if you had replied my email about coming to DePauw, PZ. Now I have to drive two hours both ways just to see you.

It's all right, though. I'm only a sophomore. You have two more years to come visit us here in Greencastle, Indiana.

"So, because I know no one from my sorority reads this blog, I can post that I totally just faked a family death to get out of initiation for the freshmen so I can go to this."

Or Vanessa, you could have used a psuedy..., a pseudy..., pseudi..., a false name, just like me.

What, you thought Cosmic was my real first name!

You try going through life called Herbert Teapot!!!

By CosmicTeapot (not verified) on 13 Mar 2009 #permalink


Believe me, you won't recognize the campus if you haven't been here in 30 years! The Deluxe and Treno's are just two of the casualties...

By recovering catholic (not verified) on 13 Mar 2009 #permalink

Thanks for the informative and entertaining talk, PZ! I feel like I finally /get/ the embryonic hourglass--what it is and where it comes from. It has always been a hazy subject until now. Your students should count themselves lucky to have such an eloquent orator!

Have a safe trip back home!

Excellent presentation, PZ. The Q&A was also very informative, and the one creationist-like question you got was surprisingly mild - "Where do mutations come from?" I suppose if we were located a little more south, there may have been more opposition.

In other words, fantastic talk, but I wish there were more fireworks :( I mean, when James Randi came, we got a lecture about the Bible for Pete's sake!

By crucifinch (not verified) on 13 Mar 2009 #permalink

I agree! Excellent talk. Enjoyed meeting you as well! Sorry you had to experience Murphy's on a Fri evening. the campus town bars are so skeezy, but all the nice ones are located far away so that the undergrads don't migrate there. Oh well.

also, crucifinch, the fellow that asked that mutation question was not a creationist...he certainly had some...uh... interesting ideas, but not about creation! he just didn't phrase the ? to ask what he meant to. He was actually interested in how things like the Cambrian explosion happen (e.g. is it due to an increase in mutation rates or something else?).

By ihateaphids (not verified) on 13 Mar 2009 #permalink

Having attended, I was not disappointed. (Not that I expected to be.) An excellent talk, lucid and to the point. Well worth the drive from Springfield.