OK then, now for a summary of the final day (my apologies that this is a day late but you'll see why as you read!)
The day's programme started with another German talk, in German, about Germany and those who were non German speakers were informed that it was probably not worth their while sitting in. That was no problem with me as I went to the bar a had coffee with Thunderf00t (those who do not know who he is may click here http://www.youtube.com/user/thunderf00t?ob=4&feature=results_main, and we chatted about science.
The next talk was the one I had been waiting for all weekend. Leo Igwe talking about Atheism and Humanism in Africa. He gave an empassioned speech about human rights abuses in Africa all done in the name of religion, and pleaded that everyone support thier local groups and especially support AAI who had given him much assistance. He stated that those that have supernatural and superstious beliefs were the ones who were the problem, and that he had been beaten and arrested for speaking out about the child witchunts that have taken place. AsI have mentioned before this is the first time Leo has been able to speak at an AAI conference despite being invited (and accepting the invites) on several occasions due to visa issues! He was a terriffic and empassined speaker and someone I hope to see more regularly on the circuit when he is not fighting the "good fight" in Africa.
The next speaker, Valentin Abgottspon was slated to deliver his speech in German, but as the non-speakers were rising to go he said that he would deliver his talk in English. This was a great move as he told the story of how he was sacked without notice from his job as a schoolteacher for refusing to put up a crucifix in his classroom and refused to indoctrinate children in his class in his school in a conservarice canton of Switzerland (despite the fact that the Swiss Fedaral court had ruled that these crosses were unconstitutional). Rather than giving up and going away, he is currently fighting this and refuses to go away which has led to him being labelled an "extremeist"! (just to note he now has another teaching job in another school in the same district!
Rebecca Wastson then gave a talk on the "Religious Right's War on Women" explaining how the bills and laws being proposed and enacted by the religious right on abortion, contraception and womne's health is not a pro-life position, but actually pro-death and that these issues are not about health but a biblically inspired drive to controll women's bodies! (and did you know that 3 out of the 5 top positions in the Religious Right Organisation "Concerned Women of American" are men?). She also pointed out the problem of sexism within the atheist/scpetical community which although perpertrated by a small minority is still continuing and that some of this minority have written to conference organisers asking them not to include her on the programme and effectively blacklist her, kudos to the organisers for not bowing to this demand!
The last speaker was Carsten Frerk who gave a talk on the fact that the Christin Church (all of its incarnations and denominations) is one the most successful buisness model in history with an annual tunover of 2 Trillion Euros! Where does this money goes? But bearing in mind that they have several branches in every town and village in the West and many more across the rest of the globe it's probably not suprising. Also to note this was originally slated to be in German but thanks to the stirling efforts of Steve Duggan from Atheist Ireland who speaks German in translating the 11 page speech overnight, we were able to hear the whole thing!
The conference ended with thank yous from Rene Hartmann and a playoff buy Dan Barker to the tune of "Always look on the bright side of life", several of us who were sticking around decided to go into town to the Cologne Wine Festival! So Steve Duggan, Micheal Nugent, Jane Donnelly, Rebecca Watson, Taslima Nasrin and I hit the town. Several wines and beers later (yeah we mixed!) we were sitting by the Rhein watching Taslima draw pictures of the group on Rebecca's iPad, I think we have a convert!
When we were walking back to the hotel at abour midnight we encountered, moored up next to the Chocolate Museum...Noah's Ark...I kid you not someone had moored a scale "replica" of Noah's Ark wich contained an exhibition. I planned to visit the next day but a 20 Euro entry fee to laugh at this bullshit was a little on the expensive side! Altough I must say the large oragutang that was sitting in one of the windows look like he would be more at home in the Library of the Unseen University in Ankh-Morpork (look it up!).
All in all it has been another superb conference with, as usual, better personal access to the speakers that the larger American ones, which balanced out the slight disappointment of not being able to understand some of the talks.
As for where next year's will take place...watch this space!