New at Rosetta Stones: We Have Successfully Delivered a Bouncing Baby Cinder Cone

The second (and for now, last) installment of the birth of Parícutin is now up at Rosetta Stones. I’d like to say something profound and deep about it, but it was an eventful delivery, and I’m tuckered. I shall rely upon you, my darlings, to say the appropriate words in comments if the spirit moves you. “Holy fucking shit, Batman!” is also acceptable. It’s not every day a volcano is born in a cornfield, after all.

If anyone knows the fancy code for enlarging the font size in captions, I’ll go back and do that. I’ve not been able to figure it out, and I know some in the audience would like to stop squinting, so hopefully one of you knows the secret.

 

Taken from the northeast. Parlcutin Volcano. Michoacan, Mexico. February 21, 1943. (Photo by S. Ceja) Published as plate 17-A in U. S. Geological Survey. Bulletin 965-D. 1956. Image and caption courtesy USGS.

The new cone, about 30 meters high, appears above the treetops. Taken from the northeast. Parlcutin Volcano. Michoacan, Mexico. February 21, 1943. (Photo by S. Ceja) Published as plate 17-A in U. S. Geological Survey. Bulletin 965-D. 1956. Image and caption courtesy USGS.

Mystery Flora: Pretentions of Grapeness

Let’s do something seasonal, shall we? These flowers that seem to want to be grapes were blooming at Juanita Bay middle of last February. You’re probably going to tell me they’re some sort of horrid invasive thingy.

Mystery Flower I

Mystery Flower I

Just bizarre, aren’t they? Leaves look a bit like holly, sorta-kinda, and then you get these tight tentacles of odd green flowers, which for all I know aren’t proper flowers at all, because sometimes leaves or bracts evolve to imitate flowers, but aren’t, and this is one of the reasons why biology bothers me. It does odd things. [Read more…]

Damn Sensible Advice

My stepmother posted this in her timeline, and it seems quite apropos.

Sage advice. Image courtesy Shut the Front Door.

Sage advice. Image courtesy Shut the Front Door.

Damn skippy I’m not. Never have been – I don’t have this diplomatic tendency to run about trying to make everyone all harmonize together. I don’t mind patiently talking to someone whose point of view differs from mine, as long as they aren’t actively malevolent or pushing my rage buttons. It’s nice to sometimes persuade people to change their minds, or to change my own when the situation warrants it. Even if we have to agree to leave a subject alone because we’re too many worlds apart, that’s okay – as long as they’re not calling someone else’s humanity or bodily autonomy into question.

But the haters? Yeah, fuck ‘em. There are some people swimming in the deep end of the cesspool, and I’m sorry, but I haven’t got the stomach to try fishing them out. Getting splashed with their sewage feels disgusting and the smell’s hard to wash out. The only time I want to talk to a hater is just when they’re considering that they might, just possibly, have been engaging in reprehensible behavior, and would like to ask my advice on how to clean up. (My advice, if anyone in the audience has just climbed out of a cesspit: hose the worst of it off yourself, apologize sincerely to those you’ve splashed filth all over, and then continue scrubbing. All will be well, though it might take more time and effort than you expected.)

This from now on will be my response to those who want me to make nice with the champion assbags: “I’m not the Jerk Whisperer.” Go elsewhere if you’re wanting someone to crawl up and lick the hands of haters. I’m too busy for lost causes.

Answering an Aspiring Author: What I Loved

A friend o’ mine is about to embark upon a program of self-loathing and torture a bit of sci fi writing. He turned to me for advice. A few questions have been asked, and I figured answering in public may perhaps be useful in case anyone else in the cantina plans to embark upon the same soul-destroying madness career.

"This artist concept illustrates how a massive collision of objects perhaps as large as the planet Pluto smashed together to create the dust ring around the nearby star Vega." Alternatively, it describes the brain of a speculative fiction writer. Image and part of the caption courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech.

“This artist concept illustrates how a massive collision of objects perhaps as large as the planet Pluto smashed together to create the dust ring around the nearby star Vega.” Alternatively, it describes the brain of a speculative fiction writer mid-novel. Image and part of the caption courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech.

One of the questions was this: “What kind of stuff do you like to write?”

Well, I wouldn’t go so far as to say like. Love is a safe word. It’s the right word for the kind of tempestuous, tumultuous relationship a writer has with their fiction. Like is too mild, too constant a word for this passion we share, this rollercoaster of high and low and in between emotion. So. What do I love to write? [Read more…]

Being Visible

Agents of change make status quo folks rather squirmy. Folks who were previously absent or invisible either join up or speak up, and next thing you know, colored people want to drink out of lily-white fountains, and red people want their land back and treaties honored, and homosexuals want to get married, and women want to be treated as more than sex objects…. It’s hard. It’s very hard for those who’d been used to the Way Things Were. There the world was, ticking over nicely in their estimation, and suddenly a horde of uppity upstarts are there harshing their mellow. [Read more…]

Sunday Song: Under Ice

Dunno about where you’re at, but Seattle’s pushing spring already. We never did get a proper winter. Still, there are days when the wind blows sharp and cold, and one is reminded that spring ain’t properly here yet. Which is good, because I have six billion winter songs and about a trillion pretty pictures of frost and ice to show you. We’d best get to it before the end o’ winter, then, eh?

I find this Kate Bush song interesting: slightly harsh, yet beautiful, rather like winter itself can be.

Speaking of under ice, there was that one stretch of very cold days we had where everything ended up under ice crystals.  The leaves, particularly. I love seeing leaves dusted with white crystals. [Read more…]

Friday Freethought: “The Dubious Blessings of Christianity”

Sunday is the Day of Solidarity for Black Non-Believers, which you can find out more about at their Facebook page and on this guest post at Greta’s. And Naima Washington reminds us that the atheist movement at large is still doing a terrible job at diversity. It’s not just women who get shut out.

Image filched from Greta Christina's Blog.

Image filched from Greta Christina’s Blog.

It bothers me that movement atheism is still so damned oblivious, not to mention often actively hostile, to so many people. There are more faces that aren’t older white male than there used to be, and that’s good, but there’s still a dreadful monotony. I’m as guilty of that as anyone. My reading has been rather pale. I’m working to rectify that. This is what I can do: seek out freethinkers of color, shut up, and read. Very much like with women.

Time to look, time to listen. I like to go back to the past for our Friday Freethought, not the least because the past is public domain, but because the past informs the present. It’s harder to find works from freethinkers of centuries past who weren’t white and male, but it can be done, and their voices should never be lost. They spoke to issues we still struggle with now. They can teach us things we desperately need to learn. [Read more…]

Unidentified Flying Dinosaur: Nest Medley

You know something about winter I never gave a shit about before I met you lot? Leaves off trees. Used to hate that. Depressing little bare skeletal things scratching at the sky, dead season, awful. Then you came round with your bird-identifying ways, and turns out you like nests, and so now I have a reason to go skipping down the street with a camera and my head craned back. I prefer to do it on non-drippy days, which rather limits my ability to shoot nests. But with our recent wee break in the weather, I got you lots and lots of nests to be going on with. [Read more…]