CFI Caribbean Cruise – Nov 11-21 2009

CFI Cruise
Nov 11

We arrive in FL, and have dinner with a friend I have not seen for 41 years.  We then set off the next day on a cruise, a CFI Travel Club adventure in the Caribbean.

Nov 12

We board ship in Ft. Lauderdale – my first impression, walking into an atrium area, is that the decor in the Carnival “Miracle”  is gaudy.  Shall we say 1890’s bawdy house revival?

Depart  with a private cocktail party.   Met old friends such as Toni Van Pelt & new – Paul Kurtz.
At supper, we sat with Lawrence Krauss, who shared with me that he was going to use some information I had sent him in an email for one or two articles in Scientific American.

Nov 13

Paul Kurtz – publisher of Promethus Books, discusses the publishing industry: old and new.
Patricia Schroeder on books – what is the future.
In the evening, we had a group photo, and then a formal dinner.  We sat with Pat and her husband at supper, and learned a lot!

Nov. 14

Ruth Frazier spoke on her experiences consulting work in Afghanistan, Tanzania, and with Native Americans and the progress as women learn to read and learn to lead.
Toni Van Pelt on ‘charitable choice’, ‘faith based initiatives’, and the religious freedom restoration act.  Well done, and I took good notes.
Emily Kingsley – a writer for 39 of the 40 years of Sesame Street – presented the history, philosophy and impact of the show: a fabulous experience.
Ken Frazier – editor of the Skeptical Inquirer – presented “Reading, Magazines, the New Media, and the New Skepticism: what’s going on?”  (It’s always refreshing to hear a senior citizen who is not stuck in the past!
Derek Araujo presented “The Establishment clause in Exile: Church and State in the 21st Century”, which was the best Church/State presentation I have yet heard.

Nov. 15

Sharon and I went to a natural habitat rain forest in Costa Rica.  Back on board, I receive a phone call that a friend of 42 years has died. (See my post on Anne Marie at

Nov. 16

We went on the Panama Canal.  In Costa Rica, we saw the results of evolution; on the Canal, of intelligent design.

Nov 17

Toni Van Pelt spoke on the CFI office of Public Policy’s legislative efforts, including CARD (Coalition Against Religious Discrimination), STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), our Credidibility project (global warming), science as an aspect in international diplomacy.  Civic days in 2010 are April 24-7.

Paul Kurtz on the turbulent Universe: controversy is essential in science.  Our (secular) philosophy  of the world includes:  naturalism ; individualization; order; and chance.  We don’t believe, we test hypothesis.  Turbulence is ubiquitious.

Ruth Frazier spoke on using the Socratic method to teach critical thinking and change lives: a very informative and educational presentation, reinforced with a real life example.

Lawrence Krauss on Science vs. Politics: while science should form the basis of a sound public policy, but it has not and does not.  While we emerging in eight dark years of attacks on science and science integrity in D.C., we are not yet out of the pits.  Science works by demonstrating what is wrong, and it does not appear on the political pages.  Scientific issues should be the basis of many important political issues in the next ten years.

Nov 18

Sharon and I went to Mayan Ruins in Belize, where civilization fell victim to Spanish Catholicism.

Nov 19

We got an update from Toni Van Pelt on legislative matters.

Pat Schroeder talked to us about publishing and politics.  Edited and published books versus the freeforall on the Internet: the differences. School textbooks in Texas and elsewhere.

Ken Frazier also spoke on publishing vs writing.

Derek Araujo on CFI at the UN.  Anti-blasphemy laws, etc.  How can religions be true when many are mutually exclusive

Lawrence Krauss spoke on the impact of the latest cosmological data, which show our universe expanding at an increasing rate.  The anthropic principle is an example that what we take from the data depends on our values.  The geometry of space time is flat, which allows for zero total energy, which means it could have come from Nothing…

Nov 20 we left the ship, drove to Palm Beach to have lunch with a financial planner, and on to Orange City, where we took a 90 plus year old couple (friends of Sharon’s late Mom) to dinner.

On the 21st, we flew back.

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