Los Links 8/19

I’ve spent the better part of a week traveling, seeing incredible things, and fighting hotel wi-fi. Now Aunty Flow’s here, I’m virtually comatose, and the cat wants all the cuddles she missed. That’s why your links are late. They still contain some damned awesome stuff, so as long as you’re not engaged in a week o’ mad travel, check ‘em out.

Science

Open Mind: Learning from Bastardi’s Mistakes.

Outside the Interzone: The Imperative of Questions.

Updates from the Paleontology Lab: George Washington, canals, and geology.

Science Daily: Unusual Fault Pattern Surfaces in Earthquake Study.

Tetrapod Zoology: Prediction confirmed: plesiosaurs were viviparous.

Psi-Vid: A few notes about SCIENTISTS for those attending ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’…

Galactic Interactions: In Which I Compare the Slashdot Commentariat to the 17th-Century Catholic Church.

The Upturned Microscope: Lab Tour 2.

Los Angeles Times: Dear Parents: Why vaccines are vital.

Deep-Sea News: Scaring the $#!& Out of Lampreys.

The Economist: Silence is Golden.

APS Observer: The Psychology and Power of False Confessions.

Georneys: Geology Word of the Week: K is for Krakatau.

Anthropology in Practice: Scent of a Woman.

Geotripper: Vagabonding across the 39th Parallel: Mono Lake, the Barren, Worthless Wasteland.

Scientific American: Biologist Spending Way Too Much Time Thinking about Discovery He Made on Jon Stewart’s Body.

Speaking of Research: Project Nim – The Untold Story.

Eruptions: Volcanic or not volcanic: The “steaming hills” of Santa Barbara are not volcanic.

Superbug: How a US Court Case Explains Problems Eradicating Polio.

Science Sushi: In the immortal words of Tom Petty: “I won’t back down”.

Science-Based Medicine: Oh yeah? Thalidomide! Where’s your science now? and Homeopathic Thuggery.

The Loom: Fatal Attraction: Sex, Death, Parasites, and Cats.

Cocktail Party Physics: Crosstown Traffic.

Dinosaur Tracking: Dinosaurs for Experts, or for Everyone?

White Coat Underground: Dear Patient.

The Scicurious Brain: City Living and your Mental Health: Is city living driving you crazy?

Mountain Beltway: Hiking to the Burgess Shale and Swift Dam.

Atheism and Religion

Guardian: Christian teen camps are wicked, innit.

Furious Purpose: On theology.

Friendly Atheist: No, *This* Is How We Get More Black People Involved in the Atheist Movement.

Mother Jones: Horror Stories From Tough-Love Teen Homes.

Writing

Slate: Bloggers, Not Parasites.

A Brain Scientist’s Take on Writing: Yes, Reading About Edward Cullen Will Make You Sparkle.

EurekAlert: Women’s quest for romance conflicts with scientific pursuits, study finds.

The Intern: too many agents, not enough gin: the truth about multiple offer situations.

The Passive Voice: PG is Hanging Out His Shingle.

Writer Beware Blogs: Taking Famous Names in Vain.

WriteOnCon: I DON’T CARE THAT HE’S HOT: Building Believable Romance.

Patricial C. Wrede: Depth.

Women’s Issues

Butterflies and Wheels: This has always been our battles.

(A)Theologies: Does Atheism Have a Misogyny Problem?

Dr. Jen Gunther: Cosmo’s sex position of the day proves they know nothing about good sex or women.

Politics

TPM: Anti-Gay Marriage State Rep. Accused Of Offering Young Male Money ‘For A Really Good Time’.

The Digital Cuttlefish: Hinkle, Hinkle…

Center for American Progress: What You Need When You’re Poor.

Mike the Mad Biologist: So Is Standard & Poor’s Still Rating Cows?

Firedoglake: The Enlightenment in the US Faces Slow Demise.

Pandagon: The illusion of control.

New York Times: Stop Coddling the Super-Rich.

Stupid Evil Bastard: There’s finally a group that’s hated more than Atheists: The Tea Party.

ThinkProgress: Texas Climate Scientist Katharine Hayhoe Responds To Rick Perry.

Balloon Juice: You Know Who Else Was a Socialist? Andrew Carnegie, That’s Who!

The Daily Beast: A Christian Plot for Domination?

New York Times: The Texas Unmiracle.

Society and Culture

Boston.com: A sober lesson that seems to stick.

Plugged In: Rail-to-Trail Revitalization.

Badass of the Week: Rukhsana Kauser.

KGW.com: $1M Columbia Gorge house replaced with trail.

Colorlines: Arizona Border Fence Causes Flood and Self-Destructs—as Predicted.

ABC: Berlin Wall Turns 50 — and Some Want to Rebuild It, Barbed Wire and All.

Gobbledygook: Personal names around the world.

Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub: History and economics of energy use and conservation – a more accurate version.

io9: Real-world policy experts weigh in on rebuilding a post-Voldemort society and When did magic become elitist?

Gas 2.0: Thorium-Powered Car Could Drive a Million Miles Before Refueling.

Decrepit Old Fool: Nothing to Undo.

Courthouse News Service: School District Blocks Gay-Friendly Websites But Not Gay-Bashing Sites, Groups Claim.

Techdirt: Police Say They Can Detain Photographers If Their Photographs Have ‘No Apparent Esthetic Value’.

Gawker: Bridal Shop Refuses to Sell a Lesbian a Wedding Gown.

DrugMonkey: Pseudonymous blogging at Science Blogs is over.

Roadtrippin’

Out of pre-loaded posts for ye. Also out of energy. But here’s a few outtakes to tide ye over ’til I can coherently write something about our adventures. Which may not be for several days – I expect to be comatose upon arriving home.

Additionally, I’m not certain the cat will allow me to live after abandoning her for so long.

Mah first experience with Mt. Mazama ash:



Near Crescent Cutoff on Hwy. 58. The stuff’s full of little pieces of pumice. Little, that is, until you consider how far they were hurled by the mountain, which was probably 20-30 miles away as the crow flies. Pumice shouldn’t fly that far. The fact that it did should tell you something that’ll keep you awake at night.

And Mt. Mazama its own self.



There was an in-joke at the bookstore I worked at. We had an inordinate number of customers come in and describe what they were looking for thusly: “I need this book, I don’t remember the title or the author or what it’s about, but it’s this big and it’s blue.” That’s about what it’s like looking down on Crater Lake for the first time. For just a moment, you forget the context of what you’re looking at. All you can think is, “Holy shit, it’s this big and it’s blue!” I have to go to Home Depot when I get back and get those little paint sample cards, so I can match up the color of the lake. It’s so blue that I’ve seen cobalt blue paint that didn’t look quite so intense. The color shifts with every change in light and perspective, but it never stops being an overwhelming, brilliant blue.

And, finally, moi at Fort Rock:



Here’s what you need to know about it, and what we’ll go in to in more detail later on: this is a bloody volcano that erupted under a Pleistocene lake. Under the lake. That’s why it’s hollow.

If that isn’t weird geology, there’s no such thing as weird geology.

Tomorrow, it’s off to Newberry and McKenzie Pass, and then back to Corvallis. If I’m lucky, we’ll make it home to Seattle that night, because as incredible as all the geology’s been, I miss mah kitteh. And I’ll need about ten years to sort through all the photos.

You’re in for treats, my darlings. Stay tuned…

GeoKitteh Contemplates Hand Samples

All of my lovely rocks from our El Norte adventure are still on a towel in the living room, awaiting their final home. This is normally where teh kitteh’s paper and cardboard are. I thought she might be angry, but she found Mommy washing rocks to be fascinating. Then she decided they’d been placed there for her own entertainment.



Looks like a queen with her court, doesn’t she just?

She’s been busy inspecting the bounty.



And then she thinks about them for a moment.



If she makes some sort of profound discovery no one’s ever made before with your basic subduction zone rocks, I hope she learns English and shares her wisdom.

The Bee’s Knees and Other Stories

My relationship with insects has fundamentally changed since I acquired a camera with excellent macro abilities. Creepy-crawlies just creeped me out. I had an intellectual understanding that critters had important functions in food chains and other sorts o’ things, but as for admiring them… yeah, not so much.

There was a time when I’d look on a crane fly with disgust rather than pleasure. But then I bought this camera, and turned it on an insect because it was a convenient thing to test the macro function on, and suddenly, the unregarded arthropods and suchlike were revealed as gorgeous lifeforms deserving of admiration.



There’s your common crane fly. It came to live with us briefly this summer, flying in through the door my cat insists stay open. It landed on the wall above the stove, and sat there with its transparent wings all iridescent in the light. Yes, it’s a turf pest, and lawn owners everywhere probably aren’t fond of them. But they cause no harm to humans (other than messing up their pristine lawns) and they’re actually quite lovely.

Even lowly flies become rather more attractive prospects when you’ve got the proper camera and they’ve chosen the right background:



I’ve caught myself looking at them closely, admiring their little bodies with their various colors and their odd hairs. I look into their eyes and marvel at the compound complexities. Mind you, I whip out the Windex of Doom when too many of them sneak into the house and take up positions on my bathroom mirror, but I don’t mind one or two zipping about the place. I’d better not. My cat doesn’t understand the concept of closing the door, and insects don’t understand the concept of indoors mine-outside yours.

According to Savage Chickens, there’s an excellent way to deal with both arachnophobia and spiders in the house. I’ll have to try it. Not arachnophobic, anymore, but it would still be nice if the poor little beggars wouldn’t come in here just to starve to death, or meet my Great Northern Tissue of Doom if they insist on living somewhere like my bed.

Before I got this camera, I would’ve watched from a vaguely interested distance whilst the millipede I’d disturbed dug its way back into the ground. As the lighting conditions were teh suck, I decided to place this one on a more contrasty background before letting it go its merry way:



It started out curled up, but quickly uncurled and got to exploring, with tiny little feet tickling my palm. And it didn’t feel creepy or gross – it felt adorable. I let it walk off my hand and find its happy place again. For a moment, there, I forgot all about the soil I was investigating, and just enjoyed an unexpected encounter with one of the denizens of said soil.

But what’s really changed is my relationship with bees.

I used to be terrified of bees (despite not having an allergy that would justify said terror). I used to flee from every bee, certain the little bastards wanted nothing more than to sting me. Then I got this camera. Suddenly, my fear of bees completely vanished. I adore them now. If they’re occupied with noms, I can get up quite close, and they don’t mind me a bit. They’re not out to get me, they’re just making a living. As long as I don’t trap them or threaten their hive, they seem perfectly content to let me snap away while they get on with the living. But I shall put my beautiful bees below the fold, because I know some of you aren’t so admiring, and often for good reason.


Here is a rather preoccupied bee from Madrona Park:



Look at all the pollen on her little legs! I believe those are pollen baskets, which I didn’t even know about until just now, when I went to discover whether I should refer to this beauty as he or she. Clearly, I have got a lot to learn about bees.

But how bloody adorable is that? She’s just hanging there, arranging her pollen, gathering more, busy as a – well, y’know, bee.

We saw some utterly lovely bees up on Cougar Mountain. The thistles are in bloom, covered in pollen, and a few enterprising bees were out getting covered in the stuff.



There are several nice things about thistles. They’re tall, which means one doesn’t have to bend down for a shot. They’re rich sources of prime bee food, which means the bees tend to stick with one flower long enough for a third-rate camera jockey such as myself to get her shit together for a decent shot. And they’re purple. I like purple. I like how the purple makes such a lovely contrast to the nice tawny golds and velvet blacks of the bees.

This little fellow spent so much time on this thistle, and was so intent on it, that I was able to get in quite close and get some great photo-ops.



She’d get her head right down in there, her little pollen-coated tush sticking out in the air, and dig deep for the good stuff. Then she’d bounce back up and choose another bit.



I love that shot, because it shows off her wings so well. Bees are incredible little fliers. Two hundred and thirty flaps per second, people. Those tiny little gossamer wings are lifting and propelling a fairly large body. It’s hard to believe something so short and desperately thin can propel those plump little bodies through the air so efficiently, but they manage it beautifully.



There’s a nice shot, contrasting the sleek and shiny wings with the fuzzy body. They’re so furry! That fur makes an excellent trap for pollen, and the thistles seem to have evolved to take as much advantage as the bees do, because every petal is dusted in pollen.



She’s practically swimming in those petals, diving down, paddling round. She was fascinating to watch.

My relationship with wee little living things is certainly different now. There’s a beauty in these tiny, so often unregarded animals that overcomes the ick factor. Mind you, I haven’t quite reached the level of comfort wherein I can associate with wasps or allow a bee to wander on me rather than the nearby flora. And I do try not to get in their way whilst I’m setting after them with ye olde camera. There are boundaries. But I find them remarkable, now, rather than bothersome, and when I stop to smell the roses, I’ve always got an eye out for an interesting insect that may be nearby.

Hook ‘em While They’re Young

I need to hang around more young children. Most non-geologically inclined adults look upon my hand samples as a personal quirk, one of those odd things about Dana that’s of a piece with her LOTR decor in the bedroom, and not quite as interesting as that. They like the pretty samples with the nice crystals and a lot of sparkles, but they lose interest by the time I whip out the mudstone.

But kids, now, they’re a different matter entirely.

Old friends of mine have just moved to the Northwest, and they came by for a visit with their grandkids in tow. Once the two boys had finished exhausting themselves on the playground outside, they came in and started staring at the rocks. They said what all the adults do: “Wow, you’ve got a lot of rocks.” That’s true. I have so many rocks now it turns me pale when I contemplate moving.

I thought I shouldn’t bore them, but I whipped out a few samples anyway, and started talking about how they were formed. I didn’t shy away from words like “subduction zone” and “metamorphose.” I gave them the hand lens and set them loose. And we ended up going through very nearly every rock in the house, even the little brown boring ones.

By the end of it, I’d enlisted the elder brother to pack samples out of the field, and he was talking about the need to start a collection of his own. The youngest begged two pieces of magnetized hematite off me. Then, when I walked them to the car, the elder picked up a pebble, asked me if it was granite (it was) and pocketed it with evident delight.

I’ve never had a more rapt audience, with more questions and understanding. They didn’t blink at the hard words (probably helped that I’d throw in a simple definition whenever those words came up). They soaked the knowledge in without glazing over after ten minutes. And it was one of the greatest times I’ve ever had. There’s nothing quite like giving kids the tools to understand a little more of the world around them.

It’s a good thing their grandparents love this stuff, too, and won’t mind that their charges are now going to be a bit rock-obsessed on hikes. Extra bonus: they’ll tire themselves out more hauling all those extra pounds. This is not a small consideration when you’ve got two energetic kids to contend with. Anything that works off that energy is a boon for adults.

So, we’ve got a pair of kids who will now be able to identify granite, gneiss and schist in the field, who’ll have a good chance at spotting turbidites, and know something of how a subduction zone works. They’re already good with their volcanics and limestones, having been exposed to quite a lot of those before they moved up here. They make me wish I knew more, because it doesn’t seem like there’s any end to their curiosity.

That’s the beautiful thing about kids. They’re starving. They want to know everything, they’re curious and adventurous, and all it takes is putting examples in their hands and talking to them about science to make them excited about it. Also, having grandparents with a “Got Science?” bumpersticker helps. We’re hooking them on science young, and even if they don’t go on to become scientists, they’ll have an appreciation for it that follows them throughout their lives. They’ll understand their world to a degree that many people never do.

Dumbing down science, or keeping it away from kids for religious reasons, is a travesty. So is the way we so often teach it, out of a book, with too little opportunity to get their hands on it. And don’t get me started on “chemical-free” chemistry sets.

So here’s what I’ve learned from that brief foray into informal teaching: kids are interested in the dull-looking stuff just as much as shiny, because they haven’t told themselves there’s nothing interesting about the dull-looking stuff. You can lob big words and concepts at them, and they’ll catch them well enough, probably better than many adults. Then you turn them loose to use what they’ve just learned. Well, that and leave them to watch X-Men while the adults finally have that conversation they haven’t been able to enjoy IRL for far too many years.

And I love this stuff. I’ve never wanted kids of my own, and still don’t, but I’m going to have to borrow some more friends’ kids more often. Showing them things about the world they’ve never seen is great good fun, and will hopefully help them get through the endless dull school days wherein it seems the only point is to quench the thirst for knowledge.

Geological Words that Sound Vaguely Naughty: Nuée Ardente

I’m sorry, I really am, but a nuée ardente isn’t some amazingly sensual French dance along the same lines of the tango. If it’s any comfort, though, it is hot. Really hot. Like, almost 2,000 degrees F.

The thing about French is it makes everything sound beautiful and elegant. Like this: nuée ardente. Glowing cloud. Doesn’t that sound lovely? We like glowing clouds. They’re pretty. And it almost sounds like some metaphor for a sexual delight, along the lines of le petite mort, which is such wonderful euphemism for an orgasm. Just remember, though, the French are the same people who can call you a shithead and make it sound sophisticated. So when they speak of glowing clouds, you might want to suspect they’re not talking about something altogether pleasant.

It’s really not.

Mount Pelée’s nuée ardente

I found this out as a tender young age, whilst reading a book entitled Ripley’s Believe it or Not: Great Disasters. This is the perfect book for children. It’s got blood and gore and destruction aplenty. And it had an essay on the 1902 eruption of Mount Pelée, in which the term nuée ardente was used. I remember the accompanying illustration was of Louis-Auguste Cyparis staring out at the flattened city of Saint-Pierre from the bars of his prison cell. Who says crime doesn’t pay? Saved his life, because if he hadn’t been in that protected space, he would’ve been fried. As it was, he merely got baked.

So what was this nuée ardente that sounds so lovely, and yet is so deadly? The modern scientific term for it is pyroclastic flow. That’s good Greek, that, very evocative: fire broken in pieces. The “fire” is superheated gasses, which can attain temperatures of nearly 2,000 degrees F. The “broken in pieces” are chunks of pumice and rocks (sometimes even boulders), combined with ash. Mix it all up, and you have a recipe for painful death if you’re in its path, and pure horrifying awesome if you’re not. This is one of the most dramatic, dangerous things a volcano does.

View of Ridge at Spirit Lake. Note baldness. Photo by Moi.

I remember watching a television program on volcanoes back in the 90s, in which they showed the eruption of Mount Pinatubo. There were farmers in a field, and this pyroclastic flow came rushing down the mountain with its roiling, boiling gray clouds of doom, and the poor buggers were trying to run away. I’m sorry, but unless you run for a ridge or try to get into some protected spot like, oh, say, an underground dungeon, you’re out of luck: those flows travel at speeds of around 60-150 miles per hour. Some sources claim they can go even faster, but that’s irrelevant when you’re considering whether you can outrun one. And even if you somehow manage to see the thing coming and get to the other side of a ridge before it reaches you, you may still be royally screwed. If it’s a pyroclastic surge rather than flow, it might see the ridge as more of an inconvenience than a barrier. You’re really better off staying out of range of any possible pyroclastic anythings to begin with.

Pyroclastic Flow at Night, Soufrière Hills. See link for more.

Here we see the reason why the French went with the term “glowing cloud” rather than “fire broken in pieces.” This is a pyroclastic flow at night. It looks rather like a cloud that glows. Hell of an amazing light show, for those who can watch from a safe distance. Geology can be beautiful and terrible all at once. The Earth is so remarkably powerful, and few things illustrate that power so well as a pyroclastic flow.

They make for some amazing rocks, too, but we’ll wait to discuss those until I have some drool-worthy photos from the field. For now, just savor the term nuée ardente for a bit, and maybe work up a suitably gorgeous yet dangerous-looking dance to go with it.

Tip o’ the shot glass to Elli Goeke, who mentioned that lovely phrase and got me thinking about it.

Los Links 8/12

It’s been a rather bizarre week, and I was left with far too much reading undone. Got a few nice things for ye, at least, enough to keep you good and unproductive on a Monday. Enjoy!

London Riots

Mind Hacks: Riot psychology and When explaining becomes a sin.

The Atlantic Wire: It’s a Pattern: London Rioters Are Leaving Bookstores Untouched.

Science

Glacial Till: Space science roundup and Aluminium, Alzheimer’s and Cranks.

County Fair: A Fox News Science Lesson.

Not Exactly Rocket Science: Need to feed could have driven single cells to evolve into colonies.

Myrmecos: The Bee Dance Language Explained (At Last!).

Scientific American: It’s about Time: Animals remember past events in their lives.

The Thoughtful Animal: Guest Post! It’s About Time: Delving Into Animals’ Memories.

PhysOrg.com: Deep recycling in the Earth faster than thought.

MIT News: New drug could cure nearly any viral infection.

Neurotic Physiology: Another reason those Antidepressants might not be working: taken Aspirin lately?

White Coat Underground: Spider!

Outside the Interzone: Volcanic Ramblings.

Science-Based Medicine: The Scam Scam.

In the Pipeline: In Which We Learn Lots About Wine Swirling.

KGW.com: Undersea fiber optic lines to track OR quakes.

Not Exactly Rocket Science: Pregnant plesiosaur with giant foetus hints at caring parents.

Scientific American: “Alternative Evolution” of Dinosaurs Foresaw Contemporary Paleo Finds [Slide Show].

Capital Weather Gang: Dramatic videos: Glacier calving in Alaska, ice shelf in Antarctica.

Compound Eye: Organic Honey Is A Sweet Illusion.

Scientific American: Genetically Engineered Crops—What, How and Why.

Degrees of Freedom: Fox Commentator Distorts Physics.

Writing

Rachelle Gardner: Questionable Practices by Literary Agents.

Nail Your Novel: Self-publish or small publishing house? How to decide.

Write to Publish: Discoverability…picking the right title.

Aetiology: It’s not a freaking spider bite.

Atheism and Religion

Pandagon: Diversity, skepticism, and atheism.

California Catholic Daily: “I will not recant”.

Women’s Issues

Butterflies and Wheels: Crazy American bitches.

Cackleofradness: The elevator incident(s).

Feministing: What Argument Against The Renewed ERA Could Feminists Face?

Politics

Whiskey Fire: SpongeBob HitlerPants.

Mother Jones: What the New York Times Got Wrong About Gay Nazis.

Think Progress: Prayer Rally Dwarfed By Texans Who Flock To Nearby Convention Center, Desperate For Free School Supplies.

Tent of Abraham: The “Liberal Media” Would Never Have Let Andrew Cuomo Get Away With This.

Slacktivist: The greatest degeneration.

Guardian: Michele Bachmann’s Iowa circus.

The New Yorker: Leap of Faith.

Annals of Emergency Medicine: A Bitter Pill: Poison Control Centers Face Deep Budget Cuts.

NYT: Rick Perry’s Unanswered Prayers.

Society and Culture

Fast Company: Kill The Myth: Incandescent Bulbs Are Not Banned.

Mother Jones: Sustainable Food Doesn’t Have To Be Elitist: Pigs Edition.

Slate: Overdone.

Almost Diamonds: God’s Design for Discrimination.

Past Imperfect: If There’s a Man Among Ye: The Tale of Pirate Queens Anne Bonny and Mary Read.

XKCD: Password Strength.

Hatewatch: Last ‘Pink Triangle’ Dies, Gay-Bashers Alive and Well.

Salon: How America turned poverty into a crime.

Social Media Collective: “If you don’t like it, don’t use it. It’s that simple.” ORLY?

Blaming the Victims (Yet Again)

This sickens me so much I’m at a loss for words:

Fifteen year-old Larry King (no relation to the CNN interviewer) was shot twice in the back of the head by his classmate Brandon McInerney while sitting in school in Oxnard, California. Now that McInerney is on trial, the boy’s legal team and the school administration are using the tried and true “he was asking for it” defense. This is totally disgusting.

According to a story in the L.A. Times today, “McInerney’s defense attorneys… acknowledge that the boy pulled the trigger but say that he was pushed to the breaking point by King’s taunts.” Yes, it’s the tried and true “gay panic defense” that preys on juries’ homophobia to get confessed killers cleared for murdering gay people. It was even used against Matthew Shepard, when one of his killers said he was driven to kill the gay college student because he hit on him.

It only gets worse from there.

I know that defense attorneys have very few avenues they can take with an obviously guilty client. But this tactic is beyond reprehensible. What they’re basically trying to argue is that, should you suffer an unwanted advance, it is perfectly right and fine to shoot a person in the head. You should be able to murder a human being and walk free just because you were briefly inconvenienced and made to feel a bit icky.

I don’t imagine they’d be arguing that women have that blanket right to murder men who come on to them. But, y’know, gays. Ew. Of course it’s all right for a straight guy to shoot a transsexual or a gay dude, because that’s a threat to manhood. Kinda like when your wife sleeps with some other dude. It’s okay to shoot ‘em in the heat of passion – why not be able to shoot queers, too?

One can only hope that the jury is not so morally bereft as to buy this argument. But we need to have a conversation, a very long and unflinching conversation, about the kind of society in which arguments of this sort can even be entertained. We’re supposedly a first-world nation, and yet there are not insubstantial numbers of people who don’t see much wrong with demonizing and victimizing gays, lesbians, and transsexuals. When a little girl gets raped, an entire town rallies round the rapists, because, y’know, she wore makeup and was obviously asking for it. How dare those sorts of people lure nice, upstanding young men into performing savage acts?

Some folks, otherwise decent, may claim that the defense attorneys are only doing their job. Sure, they have to blame the victim – how else can they defend their client? I don’t know the answer to that. I know this, though: that sort of tactic is devastating to victims, survivors, and the culture at large. There’s probably nothing we can do to prevent defense attorneys from using such tactics, but that doesn’t mean we have to accept them. We can speak out against them. We can tell our society that murdering a person because they made the mistake of flirting with a homophobic sociopath, that raping a girl because she wore makeup in the presence of men, is not justifiable. There are certain things you just do not do in a civilized society. There are some actions that cannot be excused on the grounds that the victim wasn’t a perfect, straight, chaste person.

This dehumanizing bullshit may be a tactic defense attorneys feel comfortable using, but society at large never should. Victims have shouldered too much of the blame. Time to pass that blame to those who have earned it: the victimizers.

SF Book Bonanza – Getcher Meme On!

NPR has released its Top 100 SF books list. Some damned good stuff on here! Also some things I tried to read and decided after a few pages were not worth continuing *coughswordofshananacough*. I felt the overwhelming need to go through and put the one’s I’ve read in bold. It’s a meme sorta thing – wanna do the same? Grab the list off NPR and go! Bung a link in the comments so we can all peruse.

1. The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, by J.R.R. Tolkien
2. The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
3. Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card
4. The Dune Chronicles, by Frank Herbert
5. A Song Of Ice And Fire Series, by George R. R. Martin
6. 1984, by George Orwell
7. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
8. The Foundation Trilogy, by Isaac Asimov
9. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
10. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman
11. The Princess Bride, by William Goldman
12. The Wheel Of Time Series, by Robert Jordan
13. Animal Farm, by George Orwell
14. Neuromancer, by William Gibson
15. Watchmen, by Alan Moore
16. I, Robot, by Isaac Asimov
17. Stranger In A Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein
18. The Kingkiller Chronicles, by Patrick Rothfuss
19. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
20. Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
21. Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, by Philip K. Dick
22. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
23. The Dark Tower Series, by Stephen King
24. 2001: A Space Odyssey, by Arthur C. Clarke
25. The Stand, by Stephen King
26. Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson
27. The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury
28. Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
29. The Sandman Series, by Neil Gaiman
30. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
31. Starship Troopers, by Robert Heinlein
32. Watership Down, by Richard Adams
33. Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffrey
34. The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, by Robert Heinlein
35. A Canticle For Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller
36. The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells
37. 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, by Jules Verne
38. Flowers For Algernon, by Daniel Keys
39. The War Of The Worlds, by H.G. Wells
40. The Chronicles Of Amber, by Roger Zelazny
41. The Belgariad, by David Eddings
42. The Mists Of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley
43. The Mistborn Series, by Brandon Sanderson
44. Ringworld, by Larry Niven
45. The Left Hand Of Darkness, by Ursula K. LeGuin
46. The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. Tolkien
47. The Once And Future King, by T.H. White
48. Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman
49. Childhood’s End, by Arthur C. Clarke
50. Contact, by Carl Sagan
51. The Hyperion Cantos, by Dan Simmons
52. Stardust, by Neil Gaiman
53. Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson
54. World War Z, by Max Brooks
55. The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle
56. The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman
57. Small Gods, by Terry Pratchett
58. The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant, The Unbeliever, by Stephen R. Donaldson
59. The Vorkosigan Saga, by Lois McMaster Bujold
60. Going Postal, by Terry Pratchett
61. The Mote In God’s Eye, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
62. The Sword Of Truth, by Terry Goodkind
63. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy
64. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke
65. I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson
66. The Riftwar Saga, by Raymond E. Feist
67. The Shannara Trilogy, by Terry Brooks
68. The Conan The Barbarian Series, by R.E. Howard
69. The Farseer Trilogy, by Robin Hobb
70. The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger
71. The Way Of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson
72. A Journey To The Center Of The Earth, by Jules Verne
73. The Legend Of Drizzt Series, by R.A. Salvatore
74. Old Man’s War, by John Scalzi
75. The Diamond Age, by Neil Stephenson
76. Rendezvous With Rama, by Arthur C. Clarke
77. The Kushiel’s Legacy Series, by Jacqueline Carey
78. The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. LeGuin
79. Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury
80. Wicked, by Gregory Maguire
81. The Malazan Book Of The Fallen Series, by Steven Erikson
82. The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde
83. The Culture Series, by Iain M. Banks
84. The Crystal Cave, by Mary Stewart
85. Anathem, by Neal Stephenson
86. The Codex Alera Series, by Jim Butcher
87. The Book Of The New Sun, by Gene Wolfe
88. The Thrawn Trilogy, by Timothy Zahn
89. The Outlander Series, by Diana Gabaldan
90. The Elric Saga, by Michael Moorcock
91. The Illustrated Man, by Ray Bradbury
92. Sunshine, by Robin McKinley
93. A Fire Upon The Deep, by Vernor Vinge
94. The Caves Of Steel, by Isaac Asimov
95. The Mars Trilogy, by Kim Stanley Robinson
96. Lucifer’s Hammer, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
97. Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis
98. Perdido Street Station, by China Mieville
99. The Xanth Series, by Piers Anthony
100. The Space Trilogy, by C.S. Lewis

This they whittled down from a list of 237 finalists. As some of my favorite books are on that Finalist list, but didn’t make the magic 100, I shall include them here:

Anansi Boys, by Neil Gaiman
The Baroque Cycle, by Neal Stephenson
Bridge Of Birds, by Barry Hughart
The Coldfire Trilogy, by C.S. Friedman
The Eyes Of The Dragon, by Stephen King
The Incarnations Of Immortality Series, by Piers Anthony
Memory And Dream, by Charles de Lint
The Sarantine Mosaic Series, by Guy Gavriel Kay
Song for the Basilisk, by Patricia McKillip
Tigana , by Guy Gavriel Kay
To Say Nothing Of The Dog, by Connie Willis
Wild Seed, by Octavia Butler

Some of those books really deserve more recognition than they got. But then, I’m pretty partial.