The entomology meeting: 
The 25th annual meeting, of the International Congress of Entomology happened this week, ending yesterday.  They were kind enough to give me a chance to speak, just fifteen minutes.  I had understood that there would be a five minute question session, but it turns out that would have come out of the fifteen.

I can’t complain.  The talk was duly advertised.  My lecture was accepted and posted so that it came up when expected.  There were people in attendance.  They had at one point offered to make me a moderator, but since this would be my first formal lecture, I thought that was biting off a bit too much.

Now as a burnt out old country doctor, I have attended – as you might well imagine – any number of radiology conventions, most commonly the Radiology Society of North America.  I think some years it has been the biggest conference on anything held anywhere in the world; certainly, considering the cost of imaging equipment, there is usually more expense on the part of the vendors that at other conferences.  The numbers are enormous and almost all the attendees are trainees from thousands of miles away.  In all the long decades I cannot think of but one radiologist I met there and chatted with. 

Entomologists, by contrast, are very sociable.  I had in my mind a picture of a lanky young man bounding across the planes or jungles of some exotic country brandishing a butterfly net.  Well they certainly looked more fit than radiologists.  On a lark, one day I went wearing kaki shorts, low boots, high socks, a bush jacket, my father’s old sun hat styled like a pith helmet and carrying a butterfly net.  I had not seen a net the whole time, but as I entered the convention center a man between young and middle age sporting a salt-and-pepper beard and carrying a small net came past.  My, but he look tough.  He glared at me; maybe he envied my long white beard.  During the course of the day I think I got about ten glares for every grin; for me that’s doing pretty good.

On the last day I wore a formal shirt and tie, a top hat and a cape made from cloth on which my genetics poster had been printed.  No glares this time.  Nobody even glanced my direction.  They could tell from their peripheral vision there could not be anything there they were going to want to acknowledge.  Gee.  I’ve got a cloak of invisibility.

My talk was an unmitigated disaster.  I needed a good hour.  In fifteen minutes I could make the key points but not give proper emphasis.  If you want to see the lecture, the account of the genetics society meeting has most of it.

The designated moderator was the most hostile person I met all week.  He had brought along a buddy for moral support and prevailed on an agreeable man from Africa to do the formalities.  I had cards and copies of a computer program the dominant guy agreed to distribute, but in the event simply gave them back to me at the end of the talk.  Beside the three moderators evidently there to keep me under control there were about three people waiting to give their own talks and I think four others way in the back.  I could just about swear a couple of them were making out, having found a secluded space.  The next morning there were two talks canceled when the speaker did not show up.  I found the organizer and offered to fill in any open space.  She smiled and thanked me, but did no such thing.  

But there were three of four speakers I managed to collar after their talks and who seemed to have the brains to understand the paper and the clout to spread the word.  So I emailed them copies of the talk and gave them copies of the computer program.  (I’m most old fashioned; nowadays it ought to be an ap.) 

I doubt anything will come of it, but you know?, I tried.

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