The great ballroom was packed with people waiting for the arrival of Richard Dawkins and Bill Maher. Their appearance would signal that the culminating event of the first day of the 2009 AAI convention was about to begin and the air was electric with anticipation. Most of the crowd had been there for hours, first enjoying cocktails at a reception and, later, watching a live, streaming video of Real Time with Bill Maher where Dawkins was appearing as a guest. Then, while everyone waited for them to make the short drive from the TV studio to the convention center (both were in Burbank), entertainment was provided by Brian Dalton, better known as Mr. Deity, whose humorous skits on YouTube have a worldwide following.
...the show was interrupted for a couple minutes by cheers and applause as they made their way to their table. Bill Maher was accompanied by a beautiful young woman -or so several people told me. I was seated too far away to tell (a dissenting opinion came from a female atheist I spoke with. "Beautiful? Hmpf!" she said. "Only if you like collagen-injected lips and silicon-injected boobs!" I mention her assertions only in the interest of completeness. As a critical thinker, I cannot vouch for a hypothesis that I'm unable to personally test... darn it!).

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