Unidentified Flying Dinosaur: Little Red-headed Bird

You lot have ruined me. We went to Brown Point Lighthouse over the weekend. And what did I do most of the time? Spent it chasing birds. Also, cursing birds. I rather wish birds were rocks. Then they’d sit still. But then, you ornithology buffs probably wouldn’t have so much fun identifying them.

And I wouldn’t have quite as much fun presenting a triumph. Observe: a bird that is slightly more interesting than Little Brown Birds!

Mystery Bird I

It’s a little red-headed bird! How awesome is that! And it actually stayed on the log long enough for me to take four whole pictures of it.

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Sunday Song: Love Changes Everything

All right, I admit it: I’m a sucker for a good love story and a show tune. If that destroys my metal cred, so be it.

So here’s a love story I’ve been following for a few weeks. It’s made me laugh and cry and glow. It’s made me determined to ensure that my transgender fellow humans get to enjoy full and happy lives free of discrimination and prejudice. And it’s made me marvel at the beauty people are capable of. This love thing actually works sometimes.

So, of course, what else could the Sunday Song be but this?

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This Actually Is a Review of Victor Stenger’s New Book

Right. So. I promised a review of Victor Stenger’s God and the Folly of Faith: The Incompatibility of Science and Religion. Here it is.

God and the Folly of Faith. Cover Art credit Prometheus Books.

I kid. Although Mano Singham’s review is actually very good and straight-up and I recommend it. I’ll be playing the funny to his straight, as it were. Also, I’ll be focusing more on readers’ questions than on a regular old review.

I just want to start with a few words from the Doctor:

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Mystery Flora: Gnarled and Resplendent

There are two trees in Heritage Park, gnomic, somewhat fey. They give the impression of incredible age, although I’m sure they’re not so very old. There’s just something about thick, twisted trunks and dense flowers that make one think of ancient forests in Faerie. Or at least one does if they’ve read the entire fairy tale series edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, and Neil Gaiman, and Susanna Clarke, and other masters of fantasy.

Mystery Trees I

If fantasy was never your passion, on the other hand, they’re still lovely trees with intriguing twisty trunks.

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A Book for Believers

Image Credit Kenneth W. Daniels

Thank you for the excellent responses to my post sounding out the idea of a book for believers. With such a great many excellent suggestions, I got fired up and ready to go. I made a little list of points, and then figured I’d best see what’s out there already, so I fired up the Fire. I’ve downloaded and read a ton of samples from various books on atheism. Many of my fellow FreethoughtBloggers were authors or contributors. This has convinced me of two things: 1) I am in distinguished company, and 2) I had probably better get off me arse and write a book on atheism. So it’s in the works.

Even though I think I found the book.

Why I Believed: Reflections of a Former Missionary seems perfectly suited for handing to those believers in your life who can’t handle The God Delusion and other atheist classics. Ken was the real deal. He was a child of missionaries. He was conservative evangelical. He became a missionary himself. He went to Africa in order to bring the word of God to tribes that didn’t have a written language yet, and hadn’t heard the supposed good news. Then doubt came crashing in. He followed the evidence, read the Bible closely, read all the apologetics he could get his hands on, considered what various freethinkers had to say, and in the end, became an atheist.

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This Isn’t A Review of Victor Stenger’s New Book

God and the Folly of Faith. Cover Art credit Prometheus Books.

I’d actually like to do that book justice. I’ve read it. I’m still digesting it. I can tell you my foremost thought whilst reading it: “Damnit, Victor, I’m a geologist, not a physicist!” It’s been a long time since I’ve read up on physics. The middle chapters, in which he drills down pretty deeply into physics, put my brain through the kind of workout that still leaves you wobbly days later.

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Right. Let’s See How Good My Geology-Fu Is

I’ve struck up a bit of an online friendship on G+ with someone who made an off-hand comment about one of the geology posts I shared. It was the one about 10 Reasons Geologists Are Weird. When a person reshares your reshare, and their profile photo shows them standing by some particularly yummy geology, wonderful things can happen. Like, being shown some delights and asked to identify them.

Case in point:

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Unidentified Flying Dinosaur: Surfers

Usually, when one sees waterbirds paddling round placidly up here, they’re ducks. There’s nothing much mysterious about ducks except for their genitals. I can’t look at a mallard anymore without thinking about feathery little rapists. Thanks, Ed Yong. Thanks so much.

Back in the days when ducks were just a semi-domestic feature of the local ponds, and I lived in a complex with a lovely little pond with a fountain in the middle, I used to enjoy watching them float around. And I noticed that in the wintertime, they were joined by some apparent cousins. Little black and white things, they were, which seemed a bit out of place amidst the locals. I figured they were migratory something-or-others, and always liked having the bit of variety.

I never suspected they surfed.


Lake Washington was being whipped up into whitecaps by the wind, big swells and so forth, and this wee delight was just bobbing like a cork. Looked very much in its element. Which, I suppose, it was.

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