Tomes 2011: All Science All the Time Edition

Oh, dear. I think I just heard the sound of bookshelves screaming in anticipation. Poor overloaded darlings. They’ll just have to toughen up and take it, or rely on e-readers to lighten their load. We’ve got some excellent books on tap this edition.

Source

The Stuff of Thought

There are two things Steven Pinker always combines that I adore: the science of the mind, and language. This book delivers both in copious amounts. A few myths are dispelled, quite a few more insights given, and there’s an entire chapter on metaphor that should have any self-respecting writer screaming for joy.

The chapter on names shall greatly interest those following the Nymwars Saga.

And it’s all delivered in the gorgeous, clear, playful prose Steven’s known for. There’s absolutely nothing not to love in this book that I could find.

It’s meant to be third in a trilogy: the first two were The Language Instinct and Words and Rules. But if you haven’t read the other two, no worries. This one stands comfortably alone. That’s not to say you shouldn’t read all three, especially The Language Instinct, which is fantastic.

Source

Crater Lake: Gem of the Cascades

This is a reasonably comprehensive and utterly enthralling book on Crater Lake. I’ve read a lot about Mount Mazama and the eruption that created Crater Lake, but this book contained a lot of things those other sources didn’t. It covers everything from its discovery to its future. The color illustrations are delicious, the geologic information clearly presented and easy to understand without being melodramatic or simplified beyond toleration, and the little info boxes and explanatory diagrams add to rather than distract from the whole. I dipped into it during our Oregon trip, meaning to skim a bit. I finished it before we’d left for home. It’s that easy to read, but I didn’t finish it feeling like I’d been spoon-fed: my brain felt pleasantly full of completely intriguing information. And it certainly made visiting Crater Lake more interesting.

I really can’t recommend this one highly enough. And, bonus, the 3rd edition is practically up-to-the-minute.

Source is moi.

Where Terranes Collide

Okay, so I had to snap a photo of it to get a cover image, and it’s rather hard to find, but if you have any interest whatsoever in the North American Cordillera, then the effort to acquire this book shall be rewarded. It was written by C.J. Yorath, who worked for the Geological Survey of Canada for a great many years. The man knows his stuff. He knows it so damned well that even if you are a grammar guru, you will be able to forgive the occasional typos.

There were a lot of ups and downs in this book – up one set of mountains and down another, from the Rockies to the coast. He takes you on a field trip through the chaos of a subduction zone, and it’s one hell of a ride. Then, he introduces you to the people behind the data. I love the paeans to the geologists he’s known and worked with. And I love the inside look at the way geology happens – arguments over data, banging on rocks, the rough stuff that the public doesn’t get to see before beautifully polished results are printed. This felt like being an insider. And now I’m going to have to go hunt down his other books…

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Musicophilia

I dearly love Oliver Sacks. I dearly love music. I dearly loved Oliver Sacks talking about music. This book is a total treat. If you’ve ever read any of Oliver’s work before, you know his prose is like really good chocolate and that the subjects he explores are fascinating. This exploration of music and the brain caused me some difficulties, because I had things I was supposed to do and didn’t do them. Went to lie abed and read.

There are so many incredible stories in here: of how music affects people who are so damaged it seems nothing can reach them, of how music affects us, the weird things and the wonderful things music can do. I have to admit that it scared the crap out of me at times: when you’re reading Oliver Sacks, you realize just how many things can go drastically wrong with a human brain. But it also delighted me right down to my toes. If you have any love of neuroscience, music, or stories about human beings doing remarkable things, you’ll delight in this book, too.

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Road Guide to Mount St. Helens

I’m not actually going to say much of anything about this book. It’s not because it’s bad – far from it. It’s a wonderful, handy little guide suitable for slipping into a pocket or purse as you explore Mount St. Helens. Pick up a copy at the visitor’s center at Silver Lake on your way up.

But I won’t tell you all about it, because you can go read it for yourself, right now. Just click the link above. The authors were kind enough to put in online, for free.

So go on, then. Go have a read. Just this once, your wallet and your bookshelves will both be sighing with relief, and you’ll still get to enjoy a good book.

Prelude to a Catastrophe: Silver Lake

Let’s have a road trip, shall we? Yes, I do know we were in the middle of Oregon, getting ready to shove our noses against some particularly delicious road cuts, but this is a virtual car – we can skip states in the blink of an eye.

So hop in. We’re on our way to Mount St. Helens today. The skies are very nearly clear – by Washington state standards, anyway. Warm sun mingles with a cool breeze that snickers about autumn’s imminent arrival. You’ve got your nose plastered to the car window as we drive up Spirit Lake Memorial Highway from Castle Rock. All you’re seeing at this point are low hills and a flat bit of valley, plastered with green stuff. Biology is a perennial problem for geologists round here. You can barely see the hills for the trees. And you can’t even tell we’re driving along the shore of a lake. But here it is: visible in satellite views, anyway.


View Larger Map

We turn off at the Mount St. Helens Visitor’s Center. Lovely building, quite a lot of nice displays, and a nice nature trail along Silver Lake.

And you’re just burning for your first glimpse of Mount St. Helens her own self, but the clouds aren’t cooperating. That’s quite all right, because I want you to focus on the lake for a bit. Maybe it’ll help if I tell you Mount St. Helens created it.

Silver Lake, looking east.

This isn’t the best place to be if you don’t like (geologically) frequent lahars. The Toutle River, which has its origins on the north and west flanks of St. Helens, passes by just a bit north of here. It has a distressing habit of frequently channeling lahars. Some of them happen when Mt. St. Helens has a bit of an eruptive episode. Others happen when debris dams holding back bodies of water like Spirit Lake fail. Next thing you know, there’s quite a lot of rock-filled mud sloshing round the place. Happens all the time.

Now you’re looking for deposits from the 1980 eruption, aren’t you? Don’t bother. Even if the riotous vegetation wasn’t hiding all the lovely geology, you wouldn’t see much. 1980, for all it left a mark on us, didn’t really touch Silver Lake. Those lahars kept themselves to the river channel, and only left deposits about two meters thick. A mere six feet. Nothing a river can’t clear out in thirty years.

Not that it didn’t get interesting. Here’s a nice USGS photo of a house on the riverbank near Tower Road, not far from here, that shows how much damage was caused even thirty miles from the volcano:

USGS Photograph taken on July 16, 1980, by Lyn Topinka.

See how the paint got stripped and the windows busted out on the first floor? And the poor tree trunks are a bit scoured. Roads didn’t fare well, either – State Route 504 wasn’t exactly drivable two miles upstream of the Coal Bank Bridge.

USGS Photograph taken July 5, 1980, by Robert Schuster.

Certainly no shoulder now, is there?

I’m showing you these images to impress upon you the power of a lahar, and as a prelude to telling you this: the one that created Silver Lake was a hell of a lot bigger.

The lake’s only 2,500 years old. One day, around the same time Greece was starting to really come into its own and the Buddha was holding up flowers and waiting for one man to smile, Mount St. Helens had an episode. It’s called the Pine Creek eruptive period. Oh, baby, she blew. Pyroclastic flows everywhere, and four lahars. We’re especially interested in PC1, the lahar that created the placid little lake we’re viewing.

Silver Lake, looking west.

Mount St. Helens has a habit of unleashing debris flows that dam up lakes. She’d dammed Spirit Lake (or possibly an ancestor thereof), but hadn’t done a thorough job of it. The debris dam failed repeatedly. The first massive outburst scooped up all the lovely loose alluvial and volcanic deposits it encountered and mixed them up in a nice, thick lahar that went thundering down the Toutle River. PC1, as it’s known, was historic, the largest ever to travel down the river. Above Coalbank Rapids, it discharged at 200,000-300,000 meters per second. To put that in some perspective, imagine the middle bit of the Amazon racing down the Toutle River valley at flood stage. Now imagine it isn’t merely water, but a slurry of rocky mud. That’s huge. Far larger than those paltry little lahars we witnessed during the May 1980 eruption.

And when it reached Coalbank Rapids, it found itself facing the same problem as a stadium crowd stampeding out the exit at a sold-out concert: a constricted egress. All that mud had nowhere to go but up-valley. It spread out, burying the landscape under thick sediment and rock, and a little tributary creek named Outlet Creek discovered it suddenly didn’t have an outlet anymore.

It wasn’t strong enough to cut through that enormous quantity of debris, so it ponded behind the lahar. Silver Lake is, in fact, a lahar-margin lake, and a rather large example of the breed. It’s over fifteen square kilometers. But before you get too impressed, keep in mind it’s only about 5 meters (16ft) deep at its deepest. Some measurements have it shallower. If you stand there waiting for a catastrophic flood as the lahar dam fails here, you’re going to be desperately bored. They actually had to install a weir and a drainage channel in 1971 because it got backed up in stormy weather.

Silver Lake shore, looking east

So, as you look east hoping for a glimpse of St. Helens, keep in mind you’re looking toward the spot where a ginormous lahar wreaked havoc a geologic moment ago. Go diving – okay, probably more like wading – in the east bit of the lake, and you can find that old lahar under all the detritus. Down here at the western end, where the lahar didn’t reach, it’s mostly clay, silt and sand, with a bit of peat. I swear this lake’s aspiring to become a coal field someday.

The little basin it fills is surrounded by mid-to-late Eocene volcanics, lots of basalts and basaltic andesite. This area’s seen a lot of volcanism as continents collided. Kick around this quadrangle (pdf), and you’ll even find our old friends the Columbia River Basalts, along with the birth of the Cascades and plenty of deposits from Mount St. Helens her own self.

And there she is, the grand old girl, just barely peeking out from the clouds at last:

Mount St. Helens from Silver Lake

We’ll kick round here a bit longer, among the birds and dragonflies and peaceful marshy lake life, before we get back in the car and head up the road to see firsthand just what a lahar does to your nice new house.

References: 


Scott, K.M., 1989, Magnitude and frequency of lahars and lahar-runnout flows in the Toutle-Cowlitz River system: U. S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1447-B (pdf).

Epic Excitement: Reading Quad Map Documentation

I’m not being facetious. I spent a good portion of Sunday reading the pamphlet for the Geologic Map of the Silver Lake Quadrangle, Cowlitz County, Washington (pdf). And I was enthralled.

There’s high excitement in that data. There’s a whole history contained in it, over forty million years of oceans, deltas, volcanic eruptions, flood basalts, floods, lahars – enough stuff to keep a disaster buff busy for days. Yes, at a glance, it’s couched in dry scientific language. There are words in there I had to look up: I had no idea what they meant, my Greek and Latin are still too poor to puzzle out meanings from roots, and even several years of intensive reading in geology hasn’t exposed me to all of the terms. I discovered paludal. I love paludal. Now I know it comes from the Latin word palus, which means “marsh,” and so means “sediments that accumulated in a marsh environment.” I still think lacustrine and fluvial are prettier words, just as lakes and streams are often prettier than marshes, but who cares if it isn’t the kind of word that sparkles as it rolls off the tongue? Think of the Scrabble games you could win!

And I came across an old friend: hyaloclastite. Check this out:

The massive to well-bedded, poorly sorted, mafic tuffs typically consist of angular, commonly scoriaceous basalt clasts cemented by abundant zeolites and yellowish clays. Most of the tuffs are thought to be hyaloclastites generated by phreatomagmatic eruptions.

And I squeed, because I remembered: I’ve even seen a hyaloclastite. Saw it with Lockwood on Mary’s Peak, didn’t I? Even got the picture, complete with zeolite, to show ye:

Those white bits are zeolites. The whole mass is probably quite similar to what you’d find in the Silver Lake quadrangle. Hyaloclastites form when lava hits water. Yes, I know, you normally think pillows, and those are what happen when the lava doesn’t esplode. But let me refer you to another mouthful of a word: phreatomagmatic. In this case, instead of forming nice pillows, the lava hit the water and basically shattered due to sudden cooling. They’re talking about tuffs, as well. Tuff is a rock formed from volcanic ash. So, if I’ve understood me geology correctly, I don’t even have to read on to the next paragraph to understand what happened: lava encountered a shallow-water environment, either due to an underwater eruption or a lava flow into the water source, and that sudden quenching caused it to shatter rather spectacularly.

And now we consult the experts:

In some localities the clastic beds appear to grade upward into massive basaltic andesite flows, suggesting that the phreatomagmatic eruptions were triggered when subaerially erupted lavas flowed over water-saturated sands, probably near or at the late Eocene shoreline.

Now we’re cooking with geology! (Incidentally, you can cook with geology: you will need a chicken, banana leaves, a shovel and gloves, some seasonings, and 2000° F fresh Lava.)

The whole pamphlet is filled with such things (sans recipes). We learn about ancient shorelines, meet up with our old friends the Columbia River Basalts, witness the birth of Mount St. Helens, and discover that this is a horrible quadrangle to site your house in if you don’t want it bulldozed by a lahar. Reading this pamphlet was like parking the TARDIS and watching 40 million years of subduction zone antics unfold: when you began, you had a nice oceanfront view. Then came the eruptions, and the marshes, and continents colliding, and flood basalts, and the incredible violence of the Cascades’ birth. I got so wrapped up in it that when it came time to stop and call my best friend, I became upset.

Who would have known reading the documentation for a geologic map could be so damned fun?

But that’s geology. It’s a very accessible science. Learn a little of the lingo, get a general understanding of how things work by reading excellent pop sci books and palling around with geologists, combine that with Google searches for unfamiliar terms, and you can enjoy the source material. You don’t need years of college education. You don’t need calculus. You’ll run the risk of coming away with a burning desire to go traipse around the countryside and take a petrology class, yes, but you can understand this stuff. You’re not reading a science paper so much as a story, one that begins in the middle of things and is still going on right at this moment. And did I mention, explosions!

If you can’t get excited by all that, I have very little hope for you.

Bonus delight, here’s what I saw when I Googled “hyaloclastite”:

That’s our Lockwood, that is! I’m not sure when Google started doing this, or how it works, but that’s actually pretty awesome.

Dojo Summer Sessions: Steven Pinker Makes Me Feel Better

He shall probably do the same for you.

I fell in love with Steven quite by accident. I was at Bookmans, the most delicious used bookstore I’ve ever been in this side of Powell’s, and I was combing the Buddhism section for some Zen goodness. Behind me stood books on writing, so I turned round for a look. You never know but you might find something of use. And there, fortuitously out of place, was this book called The Language Instinct.

Admittedly, I’m a bit of a sucker for neuroscience, philology, and psychology. This book was all of it. So I clutched it to my bosom and sashayed up to the register to negotiate its release to my custody. Read it. Adored it. Started reading more of his books, and I have to tell you this: few non-fiction authors have made me think as hard or deliciously as Steven Pinker. And I’ve read a lot of non-fiction authors that made me think hard and deliciously.


The Language Instinct is a book I’d recommend to any aspiring author, especially those who are trying to invent languages of their own. But it’s two other books we’re quoting from today. First, we have this delight from The Blank Slate:

“Paradoxically, in today’s intellectual climate novelists may have a clearer mandate than scientists to speak the truth about human nature.”

I’ve always avowed that fiction is a means for telling truths that are difficult to administer otherwise. It’s sad that scientists aren’t as well-regarded as they should be, and shat upon by the fuckwits in Congress far too often. Working to change that, in fact. But until their mandate is secure, I’m more than happy to speak the truth about human nature. Well, some truths, anyway – there is no the truth, no one single truth about human nature. It’s not only a fun and important thing to do, it makes me feel a little useful.

But it’s this second passage, from How the Mind Works, that I wish you to pay closest attention to:

“Geniuses are wonks.  The typical genius pays dues for at least ten years before contributing anything of lasting value.  (Mozart composed symphonies at eight, but they weren’t very good; his first masterwork came in the twelfth year of his career.)  During the apprenticeship, geniuses immerse themselves in their genre.  They absorb tens of thousands of problems and solutions, so no challenge is completely new and they can draw on a vast repertoire of motifs and strategies.  They keep an eye on the competition and a finger to the wind, and are either discriminating or lucky in their choice of problems.  (The unlucky ones, however talented, aren’t remembered as geniuses.)  They are mindful of the esteem of others and of their place in history.  (They physicist Richard Feynman wrote two books describing how brilliant, irreverent, and admired he was and called one of them What Do You Care What Other People Think?)  They work day and night, and leave us with many works of subgenius.  (Wallace spent the end of his career trying to communicate with the dead.)  Their interludes away from a problem are helpful not because it ferments in the unconscious but because they are exhausted and need the rest (and possibly so they can forget blind alleys).  They do not repress a problem but engage in ‘creative worrying,’ and the epiphany is not a masterstroke but a tweaking of an earlier attempt.  They revise endlessly, gradually closing in on their ideal.”

This passage should tell you three things:

It is okay if it takes years for you to develop into the kind of writer that other people believe must have been born with a supreme magical talent, so good are your works. You’re not abnormal or useless or not cut out for writing because you can’t write a masterwork on the first go.

Being a genius is bloody hard work, and it’s not right for everybody.

You’re going to have to work your arse off, did I mention?

Reading that passage in that book assuaged many of my doubts. I’d thought there was something wrong with me. Turns out not. And that’s what I wish you to take away from this: there’s nothing wrong with you, just because you’re not finished becoming a genius yet and you obsess over things. Turns out you’re just doing what geniuses do.

Now, get on with becoming a genius and telling the truth about human nature, perhaps whilst creating your own language, why don’t you?

Los Links 9/23

Lots of amazing stuff this week, my darlings. You’ll notice quite a few things highlighted in bold, and I do hope you read all those, but don’t stop there! There’s so much win in this week’s selections that I could’ve bolded nearly all of them.

DADT

The New Civil Rights Movement: DADT: Gay 88-Year Old WWII Vet Speaks On Repeal Of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

New York Times: Marines Hit the Ground Running in Seeking Recruits at Gay Center.

AP: Navy officer, partner wed in Vt. as ban ends.

Troy Davis

White Coat Underground: Emergency ethics post.

Observations: Eyes (and Minds) Deceive: Witness Unreliability Casts Doubt on Death Penalty Rulings.

Slate: A Killer Issue.

Bad Astronomy: The night the lights went out in Georgia.

Geotripper: The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia…and Texas Too.

Science

Oregon Live: Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition celebrates 40 years as coastal watchdog.

Lifehacker: Forget the Standing Desk; You Just Need to Move Regularly.

Discovery News: Dinosaur Feathers Found in Amber: Photos.

National Geographic: The Beautiful Teenage Brain.

Mountain Beltway: Giant City State Park, Illinois.

Clastic Detritus: Listening to Rivers.

Bad Astronomy: Invaders from Vesta! and The Milky Way from the top of the world.

Not Exactly Rocket Science: Computer gamers solve problem in AIDS research that puzzled scientists for years.

Uncovered Earth: Sometimes You Just Can’t Reach the Top.

Science Cheerleader: “I was skeptical about the Science Cheerleaders.”

Earthly Musings: My 10-Day Rafting Trip Through Grand Canyon – 2011.

NYT Scientist at Work: Northern Lights on the Midnight Watch.

Atomic-O-Licious: An Open Letter of Apology to my Organic Chemistry Students.

Scientific American: Lessons from Sherlock Holmes: Don’t Tangle Two Lines of Thought and Lessons from Sherlock Holmes: Breadth of knowledge is essential.

Wired Science: Q&A: The Unappreciated Benefits of Dyslexia.

Bad Archaeology: I remember why I’ve never wanted satellite television.

Oscillator: Allergy Recapitulates Phylogeny.

The Guardian: Another view on the new Feist album Metals.

Not Necessarily Geology: Pillow Basalt, Bencorragh.

Rapid Uplift: Geological Framework Of the Sikkim Earthquake.

Glacial Till: Meteorite Monday: So you think you’ve found a meteorite.

Science-Based Medicine: Scientific American Mind Is Not So Scientific.

Southern Fried Science: In sexual selection and thermoregulation, bigger is better, at least for fiddler crabs.

Boundary Vision: Students don’t lose their ability to think scientifically.

JPL: Aquarius Yields NASA’s First Global Map of Ocean Salinity.

A Blog Around the Clock: The Mighty Ant-Lion.

Speakeasy Science: Dr. Oz and the Arsenic Thing.

Grist: Oceans kept the last decade from being even hotter.

Dinosaur Tracking: Cretaceous Utah’s New, Switchblade-Clawed Predator.

The Scientist: Plant RNAs Found in Mammals.

Degrees of Freedom: Archimedes and Euclid? Like String Theory versus Freshman Calculus.

Surprising Science: Biologist Rob Dunn: Why I Like Science.

Scientific American: Urban Geology: Artists Investigate Where Cities and Natural Cycles Intersect.

Scientific American: It’s Not That Easy Being Green, but Many Would Like to Be.

The Scicurious Brain: One injection makes you older…

Volcan01010: Farmyard Geomorphology.

Respectful Insolence: Reiki: You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you can get what you need.

Highly Allochthonous: Scenic Saturday: Pinnacle in the Piedmont.

Observations: Hackers Use Open Hardware to Solve Environmental Problems.

Evergreen Public Schools: Evergreen Public Schools Names new school Henrietta lacks Health and BioScience High School.

Terra Sigillata: Kitchen Chemistry: Rose Jelly. Sweet!

History of Geology: Large Igneous Provinces and Mass Extinctions.

Geotripper: You Betcha, it’s Breccia: Some Otherworldly Pictures.

Writing

The Creative Penn: Trunk Novels Are An Endangered Species.

The Buttry Diary: ‘He said, she said’ stories fail to seek the truth and report it.

Terrible Minds: Writers Hear that All-Too-Familiar Refrain: ‘Get a Real Job’.

Mitali’s Fire Escape: How To Write Fiction Without The “Right” Ethnic Credentials.

Write to Publish: Branding #3…product vs. author brand.

Take As Directed: Trine Tsouderos on This Week in Virology: When do you fact-check article content with sources?

Password Incorrect: Ebook Specific Cover Design: #2 – Size and Resolution.

Digital Book World: Best Practices For Amazon Ebook Sales.

Atheism and Religion

This Week in Christian Nationalism: A New Ending for an Old Spam Email.

Think Atheist: My Testimony (my journey to atheism).

Unscientific Malaysia: Why atheists must not be silent.

I Heart Chaos: Christian fourth grade textbook, tries to explain electricity but just gives up.

Why Evolution is True: The ugly, vicious, fanatical side of atheism.

BBC: Al-Shabab radio gives weapons prize to Somali children.

Butterflies and Wheels: Don’t think, just live.

ABC Religion and Ethics: Is the Australian Christian Lobby dominionist?

Shouts & Murmurs: God’s Blog.

Women’s Issues

Another Feminist Blog: Boundaries.

Firedoglake: Sluts Are Asking the Right Question about Rape.

Almost Diamonds: “Consent Is Hard” and MRA Says, “Yep, We’re Domestic Abusers”.

Strange Ink: Let’s talk about sex.

Man Boobz: Violence against women? Blame it on feminism, says W. F. Price.

Downlo: A Useful Rape Analogy.

BBC: ‘My cousin wanted me for a passport’.

Madison Magazine: Why Doesn’t She Just Leave?

Butterflies and Wheels: We wanted to do a bruised-up Barbie shoot.

The F Word: On Tom Martin’s campaign to sue LSE.

MSN CA: Is this the most annoying thing a man can do to a woman?

Biodork: Fighting Kindness with Kindness.

Camels with Hammers: Be Careful About Loving Women Too Much Lest Other Guys Think You’re Gay.

Politics

Spocko’s Brain: No Brains. No Heart. The Tea Party/CNN debate.

Firedoglake: Woman Who Watched Her Brother Die From Lack of Insurance Delivers Powerful Rebuttal to GOP.

Balloon Juice: The Modern Inquisition, Starring David Brooks in the Role of Phlogiston Man.

Think Progress: Texas GOP Rep On Cuts To Family Planning: ‘Of Course This Is A War On Birth Control’.

Decrepit Old Fool: “You get what you pay for” – third in a series of things we used to say.

MoveOn.org: The Elizabeth Warren Quote Every American Needs To See.

White Coat Underground: Death cult.

Salon: A real Wall Street takeover threat.

Duluth News Tribune: Sam Cook: Big, bad government sure helped during fire.

War is a Crime: Welcome to Boston, Mr. Rumsfeld. You Are Under Arrest.

Dispatches From the Culture Wars: On the Internet, Everyone is a Criminal.

Society and Culture

The Telegraph: Animal rights group PETA to launch pornography website.

Gawker: The Wall Street Journal Wonders: Should We Let Blacks Marry Whites?

Dangerous Minds: Another heartbreaking gay teen suicide.

New York Times: Autistic and Seeking a Place in an Adult World.

Charlotte Observer: Same-sex marriage ballot skips words.

Pam’s House Blend: Will the Catholic Church declare war on Obama over gay equality?

On Top Magazine: North Carolina’s James Forrester Tells Lesbian Mom To Move To New York.

Have a Heart of Fire, Have a Heart of Gold: On understanding.

Nymwars

Almost Diamonds: Pseudonymous Service.

And, finally, two of the sweetest compliments I’ve ever had:

Watershed Hydrogeology Blog: About the best compliment I could get (or, why blogging is worthwhile).

Clastic Detritus: What Rocks: The Week’s Best In the Geoblogosphere.

Los Links 9/23

Lots of amazing stuff this week, my darlings. You’ll notice quite a few things highlighted in bold, and I do hope you read all those, but don’t stop there! There’s so much win in this week’s selections that I could’ve bolded nearly all of them.

DADT

The New Civil Rights Movement: DADT: Gay 88-Year Old WWII Vet Speaks On Repeal Of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

New York Times: Marines Hit the Ground Running in Seeking Recruits at Gay Center.

AP: Navy officer, partner wed in Vt. as ban ends.

Troy Davis

White Coat Underground: Emergency ethics post.

Observations: Eyes (and Minds) Deceive: Witness Unreliability Casts Doubt on Death Penalty Rulings.

Slate: A Killer Issue.

Bad Astronomy: The night the lights went out in Georgia.

Geotripper: The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia…and Texas Too.

Science

Oregon Live: Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition celebrates 40 years as coastal watchdog.

Lifehacker: Forget the Standing Desk; You Just Need to Move Regularly.

Discovery News: Dinosaur Feathers Found in Amber: Photos.

National Geographic: The Beautiful Teenage Brain.

Mountain Beltway: Giant City State Park, Illinois.

Clastic Detritus: Listening to Rivers.

Bad Astronomy: Invaders from Vesta! and The Milky Way from the top of the world.

Not Exactly Rocket Science: Computer gamers solve problem in AIDS research that puzzled scientists for years.

Uncovered Earth: Sometimes You Just Can’t Reach the Top.

Science Cheerleader: “I was skeptical about the Science Cheerleaders.”

Earthly Musings: My 10-Day Rafting Trip Through Grand Canyon – 2011.

NYT Scientist at Work: Northern Lights on the Midnight Watch.

Atomic-O-Licious: An Open Letter of Apology to my Organic Chemistry Students.

Scientific American: Lessons from Sherlock Holmes: Don’t Tangle Two Lines of Thought and Lessons from Sherlock Holmes: Breadth of knowledge is essential.

Wired Science: Q&A: The Unappreciated Benefits of Dyslexia.

Bad Archaeology: I remember why I’ve never wanted satellite television.

Oscillator: Allergy Recapitulates Phylogeny.

The Guardian: Another view on the new Feist album Metals.

Not Necessarily Geology: Pillow Basalt, Bencorragh.

Rapid Uplift: Geological Framework Of the Sikkim Earthquake.

Glacial Till: Meteorite Monday: So you think you’ve found a meteorite.

Science-Based Medicine: Scientific American Mind Is Not So Scientific.

Southern Fried Science: In sexual selection and thermoregulation, bigger is better, at least for fiddler crabs.

Boundary Vision: Students don’t lose their ability to think scientifically.

JPL: Aquarius Yields NASA’s First Global Map of Ocean Salinity.

A Blog Around the Clock: The Mighty Ant-Lion.

Speakeasy Science: Dr. Oz and the Arsenic Thing.

Grist: Oceans kept the last decade from being even hotter.

Dinosaur Tracking: Cretaceous Utah’s New, Switchblade-Clawed Predator.

The Scientist: Plant RNAs Found in Mammals.

Degrees of Freedom: Archimedes and Euclid? Like String Theory versus Freshman Calculus.

Surprising Science: Biologist Rob Dunn: Why I Like Science.

Scientific American: Urban Geology: Artists Investigate Where Cities and Natural Cycles Intersect.

Scientific American: It’s Not That Easy Being Green, but Many Would Like to Be.

The Scicurious Brain: One injection makes you older…

Volcan01010: Farmyard Geomorphology.

Respectful Insolence: Reiki: You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you can get what you need.

Highly Allochthonous: Scenic Saturday: Pinnacle in the Piedmont.

Observations: Hackers Use Open Hardware to Solve Environmental Problems.

Evergreen Public Schools: Evergreen Public Schools Names new school Henrietta lacks Health and BioScience High School.

Terra Sigillata: Kitchen Chemistry: Rose Jelly. Sweet!

History of Geology: Large Igneous Provinces and Mass Extinctions.

Geotripper: You Betcha
, it’s Breccia: Some Otherworldly Pictures
.

Writing

The Creative Penn: Trunk Novels Are An Endangered Species.

The Buttry Diary: ‘He said, she said’ stories fail to seek the truth and report it.

Terrible Minds: Writers Hear that All-Too-Familiar Refrain: ‘Get a Real Job’.

Mitali’s Fire Escape: How To Write Fiction Without The “Right” Ethnic Credentials.

Write to Publish: Branding #3…product vs. author brand.

Take As Directed: Trine Tsouderos on This Week in Virology: When do you fact-check article content with sources?

Password Incorrect: Ebook Specific Cover Design: #2 – Size and Resolution.

Digital Book World: Best Practices For Amazon Ebook Sales.

Atheism and Religion

This Week in Christian Nationalism: A New Ending for an Old Spam Email.

Think Atheist: My Testimony (my journey to atheism).

Unscientific Malaysia: Why atheists must not be silent.

I Heart Chaos: Christian fourth grade textbook, tries to explain electricity but just gives up.

Why Evolution is True: The ugly, vicious, fanatical side of atheism.

BBC: Al-Shabab radio gives weapons prize to Somali children.

Butterflies and Wheels: Don’t think, just live.

ABC Religion and Ethics: Is the Australian Christian Lobby dominionist?

Shouts & Murmurs: God’s Blog.

Women’s Issues

Another Feminist Blog: Boundaries.

Firedoglake: Sluts Are Asking the Right Question about Rape.

Almost Diamonds: “Consent Is Hard” and MRA Says, “Yep, We’re Domestic Abusers”.

Strange Ink: Let’s talk about sex.

Man Boobz: Violence against women? Blame it on feminism, says W. F. Price.

Downlo: A Useful Rape Analogy.

BBC: ‘My cousin wanted me for a passport’.

Madison Magazine: Why Doesn’t She Just Leave?

Butterflies and Wheels: We wanted to do a bruised-up Barbie shoot.

The F Word: On Tom Martin’s campaign to sue LSE.

MSN CA: Is this the most annoying thing a man can do to a woman?

Biodork: Fighting Kindness with Kindness.

Camels with Hammers: Be Careful About Loving Women Too Much Lest Other Guys Think You’re Gay.

Politics

Spocko’s Brain: No Brains. No Heart. The Tea Party/CNN debate.

Firedoglake: Woman Who Watched Her Brother Die From Lack of Insurance Delivers Powerful Rebuttal to GOP.

Balloon Juice: The Modern Inquisition, Starring David Brooks in the Role of Phlogiston Man.

Think Progress: Texas GOP Rep On Cuts To Family Planning: ‘Of Course This Is A War On Birth Control’.

Decrepit Old Fool: “You get what you pay for” – third in a series of things we used to say.

MoveOn.org: The Elizabeth Warren Quote Every American Needs To See.

White Coat Underground: Death cult.

Salon: A real Wall Street takeover threat.

Duluth News Tribune: Sam Cook: Big, bad government sure helped during fire.

War is a Crime: Welcome to Boston, Mr. Rumsfeld. You Are Under Arrest.

Dispatches From the Culture Wars: On the Internet, Everyone is a Criminal.

Society and Culture

The Telegraph: Animal rights group PETA to launch pornography website.

Gawker: The Wall Street Journal Wonders: Should We Let Blacks Marry Whites?

Dangerous Minds: Another heartbreaking gay teen suicide.

New York Times: Autistic and Seeking a Place in an Adult World.

Charlotte Observer: Same-sex marriage ballot skips words.

Pam’s House Blend: Will the Catholic Church declare war on Obama over gay equality?

On Top Magazine: North Carolina’s James Forrester Tells Lesbian Mom To Move To New York.

Have a Heart of Fire, Have a Heart of Gold: On understanding.

Nymwars

Almost Diamonds: Pseudonymous Service.

And, finally, two of the sweetest compliments I’ve ever had:

Watershed Hydrogeology Blog: About the best compliment I could get (or, why blogging is worthwhile).

Clastic Detritus: What Rocks: The Week’s Best In the Geoblogosphere.

Banned Books Week Meme

It’s that time o’ the year again, that joyous and irreverent turning up our ink-stained noses at the fools who think banning books is a good idea. Time for a meme, wouldn’t you say?

I got this handy list of the most frequently-challenged books 2000-2009 from the American Library Association’s website. I’ve highlighted the ones I’ve read in bold. Feel free to do the same, my darlings – and do treat yourself to some delicious literary contraband this week.

1. Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling
2. Alice series, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
3. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
4. And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
5. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
6. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
7. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
8. His Dark Materials (series), by Philip Pullman
9. ttyl; ttfn; l8r g8r (series), by Myracle, Lauren
10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
11. Fallen Angels, by Walter Dean Myers
12. It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris
13. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
14. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
15. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
16. Forever, by Judy Blume
17. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
18. Go Ask Alice, by Anonymous
19. Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
20. King and King, by Linda de Haan
21. To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
22. Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily von Ziegesar
23. The Giver, by Lois Lowry
24. In the Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak
25. Killing Mr. Griffen, by Lois Duncan
26. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
27. My Brother Sam Is Dead, by James Lincoln Collier
28. Bridge To Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson
29. The Face on the Milk Carton, by Caroline B. Cooney
30. We All Fall Down, by Robert Cormier
31. What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones
32. Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
33. Snow Falling on Cedars, by David Guterson
34. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler
35. Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging, by Louise Rennison
36. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
37. It’s So Amazing, by Robie Harris
38. Arming America, by Michael Bellasiles
39. Kaffir Boy, by Mark Mathabane
40. Life is Funny, by E.R. Frank
41. Whale Talk, by Chris Crutcher
42. The Fighting Ground, by Avi
43. Blubber, by Judy Blume
44. Athletic Shorts, by Chris Crutcher
45. Crazy Lady, by Jane Leslie Conly
46. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
47. The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby, by George Beard
48. Rainbow Boys, by Alex Sanchez
49. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey
50. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
51. Daughters of Eve, by Lois Duncan
52. The Great Gilly Hopkins, by Katherine Paterson
53. You Hear Me?, by Betsy Franco
54. The Facts Speak for Themselves, by Brock Cole
55. Summer of My German Soldier, by Bette Green
56. When Dad Killed Mom, by Julius Lester
57. Blood and Chocolate, by Annette Curtis Klause
58. Fat Kid Rules the World, by K.L. Going
59. Olive’s Ocean, by Kevin Henkes
60. Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson
61. Draw Me A Star, by Eric Carle
62. The Stupids (series), by Harry Allard
63. The Terrorist, by Caroline B. Cooney
64. Mick Harte Was Here, by Barbara Park
65. The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien
66. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred Taylor
67. A Time to Kill, by John Grisham
68. Always Running, by Luis Rodriguez
69. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
70. Harris and Me, by Gary Paulsen
71. Junie B. Jones (series), by Barbara Park
72. Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison
73. What’s Happening to My Body Book, by Lynda Madaras
74. The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold
75. Anastasia (series), by Lois Lowry
76. A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving
77. Crazy: A Novel, by Benjamin Lebert
78. The Joy of Gay Sex, by Dr. Charles Silverstein
79. The Upstairs Room, by Johanna Reiss
80. A Day No Pigs Would Die, by Robert Newton Peck
81. Black Boy, by Richard Wright
82. Deal With It!, by Esther Drill
83. Detour for Emmy, by Marilyn Reynolds
84. So Far From the Bamboo Grove, by Yoko Watkins
85. Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes, by Chris Crutcher
86. Cut, by Patricia McCormick
87. Tiger Eyes, by Judy Blume
88. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
89. Friday Night Lights, by H.G. Bissenger
90. A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L’Engle
91. Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George
92. The Boy Who Lost His Face, by Louis Sachar
93. Bumps in the Night, by Harry Allard
94. Goosebumps (series), by R.L. Stine
95. Shade’s Children, by Garth Nix
96. Grendel, by John Gardner
97. The House of the Spirits, by Isabel Allende
98. I Saw Esau, by Iona Opte
99. Are You There, God?  It’s Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume
100. America: A Novel, by E.R. Frank

That’s a pathetic showing, I admit. time to get readin’.

Banned Books Week Meme

It’s that time o’ the year again, that joyous and irreverent turning up our ink-stained noses at the fools who think banning books is a good idea. Time for a meme, wouldn’t you say?

I got this handy list of the most frequently-challenged books 2000-2009 from the American Library Association’s website. I’ve highlighted the ones I’ve read in bold. Feel free to do the same, my darlings – and do treat yourself to some delicious literary contraband this week.

1. Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling
2. Alice series, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
3. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
4. And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
5. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
6. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
7. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
8. His Dark Materials (series), by Philip Pullman
9. ttyl; ttfn; l8r g8r (series), by Myracle, Lauren
10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
11. Fallen Angels, by Walter Dean Myers
12. It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris
13. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
14. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
15. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
16. Forever, by Judy Blume
17. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
18. Go Ask Alice, by Anonymous
19. Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
20. King and King, by Linda de Haan
21. To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
22. Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily von Ziegesar
23. The Giver, by Lois Lowry
24. In the Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak
25. Killing Mr. Griffen, by Lois Duncan
26. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
27. My Brother Sam Is Dead, by James Lincoln Collier
28. Bridge To Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson
29. The Face on the Milk Carton, by Caroline B. Cooney
30. We All Fall Down, by Robert Cormier
31. What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones
32. Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
33. Snow Falling on Cedars, by David Guterson
34. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler
35. Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging, by Louise Rennison
36. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
37. It’s So Amazing, by Robie Harris
38. Arming America, by Michael Bellasiles
39. Kaffir Boy, by Mark Mathabane
40. Life is Funny, by E.R. Frank
41. Whale Talk, by Chris Crutcher
42. The Fighting Ground, by Avi
43. Blubber, by Judy Blume
44. Athletic Shorts, by Chris Crutcher
45. Crazy Lady, by Jane Leslie Conly
46. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
47. The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby, by George Beard
48. Rainbow Boys, by Alex Sanchez
49. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey
50. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
51. Daughters of Eve, by Lois Duncan
52. The Great Gilly Hopkins, by Katherine Paterson
53. You Hear Me?, by Betsy Franco
54. The Facts Speak for Themselves, by Brock Cole
55. Summer of My German Soldier, by Bette Green
56. When Dad Killed Mom, by Julius Lester
57. Blood and Chocolate, by Annette Curtis Klause
58. Fat Kid Rules the World, by K.L. Going
59. Olive’s Ocean, by Kevin Henkes
60. Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson
61. Draw Me A Star, by Eric Carle
62. The Stupids (series), by Harry Allard
63. The Terrorist, by Caroline B. Cooney
64. Mick Harte Was Here, by Barbara Park
65. The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien
66. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred Taylor
67. A Time to Kill, by John Grisham
68. Always Running, by Luis Rodriguez
69. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
70. Harris and Me, by Gary Paulsen
71. Junie B. Jones (series), by Barbara Park
72. Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison
73. What’s Happening to My Body Book, by Lynda Madaras
74. The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold
75. Anastasia (series), by Lois Lowry
76. A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving
77. Crazy: A Novel, by Benjamin Lebert
78. The Joy of Gay Sex, by Dr. Charles Silverstein
79. The Upstairs Room, by Johanna Reiss
80. A Day No Pigs Would Die, by Robert Newton Peck
81. Black Boy, by Richard Wright
82. Deal With It!, by Esther Drill
83. Detour for Emmy, by Marilyn Reynolds
84. So Far From the Bamboo Grove, by Yoko Watkins
85. Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes, by Chris Crutcher
86. Cut, by Patricia McCormick
87. Tiger Eyes, by Judy Blume
88. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
89. Friday Night Lights, by H.G. Bissenger
90. A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L’Engle
91. Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George
92. The Boy Who Lost His Face, by Louis Sachar
93. Bumps in the Night, by Harry Allard
94. Goosebumps (series), by R.L. Stine
95. Shade’s Children, by Garth Nix
96. Grendel, by John Gardner
97. The House of the Spirits, by Isabel Allende
98. I Saw Esau, by Iona Opte
99. Are You There, God?  It’s Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume
100. America: A Novel, by E.R. Frank

That’s a pathetic showing, I admit. time to get readin’.

Cryptozoology and Cute Fuzzy Critters

No, this isn’t about the cat. This time. Although she’s pretty crypto – I never can figure out why she goes from cuddly to homicidal with no warning, and she is cute and fuzzy. Even when she is trying to tear you limb-from-limb.

We stopped at the North Fork Survivors Gift Shop at the Buried A-Frame on our way to Mount St. Helens. This is practically a requirement. First off, A-frame house buried by a lahar – tell me that doesn’t attract every geologist on the planet. Secondly, Bigfoot statues.



And, this being the Pacific Northwest, Bigfoot’s gotta have an espresso.



Coffee and an apparent salmon – looks like he’s set.

I have a particular fondness for Bigfoot. When I was a kid, I dreamt I was home alone, and people were trying to break in. Then came a rather loud pounding at the door. When I looked through the window, a big hairy face greeted my terrified eyes. Sasquatch! ZOMG. I let it in so it wouldn’t break down the door. It kindly led me over to our enormous oak dining table, turned it on its side, sheltered me behind that makeshift barricade, and proceeded to scare the living daylights out of our erstwhile burglars. After that dream, I kinda hoped my parents would leave me home alone for an evening so Bigfoot would show up.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled reality.

The gift shop is great – you can get lots of loot for cheap. I walked away with a set of five spectacular posters of the volcano for $5. You can’t beat that. They also had a cube of ash collected from various distances, showing nicely how finer particles travel further, and lots of Mount St. Helens Emerald jewelry for cheap. They’ve got a ton more stuff, too, all of it fun and some informative. They’ve got actual geological signs, too. This little spot has all you can ask for: kitsch to keep the non-geologist occupied while you get on with the geology.

You can get down to the Toutle River from here. And that’s where we found some utterly adorable caterpillars.



These, as far as I can tell, are Lophocampa maculata. The orange one on the left is a late instar, and the one on the right an early instar.



I could, of course, be completely wrong about the species, but I defend my assessment of their adorableness. They’re rather lovely.



Steamforged and I spent quite a bit of time snapping photos of them. Perfect lighting, perfect subjects, delightful.

On the way back, I nearly stepped on this gentleman:



I have utterly no idea what species he is, and he’s not as colorful, but still wonderful, what with all that hair. Loves me some hairy caterpillars!