Who’s Interested in Some Geogallivanting?

Summer adventuring season is almost upon us! Lockwood and I will be doing an epic trip to the Josephine Ophiolite next week, and hopefully later this summer we’ll make it to the John Day Fossil Beds. I had a coworker prodding me about those the other day. You know, I love it when folks get all up in my face asking about things I’m woefully ignorant about, because then I’m all like, “Right! Field trip!” or get heavily involved in research, and I adore that.

You know what else I love? Proving to people they’re smarter than they think. Also, showing them things that make their eyes pop wide. [Read more…]

A Personal Post from Karen

I have a cousin by marriage — we’ll call her Mary for the sake of this post, not her real name.  She has lots of health issues, though the most dire one is bipolar disorder.  It keeps her from holding down any sort of job.  She’s married to a guy who has troubles of his own, and is often on disability.  Family members say he’s amazingly lazy; I only met him once, at their wedding, so I can’t say.   But they definitely have trouble making the rent AND eating.

I suggested she put up a web page (another relative, who runs a small ISP, will host one for free), explain the situation, and put up a Paypal donate button.  I, and I suspect many of her friends, would be glad to sign up for small Paypal subscriptions.  I got no response.  Perhaps she’s having a “down” episode.

I want to help Mary help herself, but I don’t know how.  She does fantastic things when she’s “up”,  and struggles mightily when she’s “down”.  She does take meds, but they don’t seem to help much.

So I ask you, readers of this fine blog, for suggestions.

Thanks, Karen

Superheroes and the Law

Okay, all you geeks, here’s a little something a damned good friend at work turned me on to:

Law and the Multiverse. Read it. Love it. Image filched from their blog for promotional purposes.

Law and the Multiverse. Read it. Love it. Image filched from their blog for promotional purposes.

Seriously. Law and comic book worlds. Law as it pertains to superheroes, supervillains  and other comic denizens. This is awesome. I’m a huge advocate of using stories and story worlds to teach other things. I learned a lot of my science and developed a burning passion for it partly through people who wrote books discussing the science of Star Trek. I learned to appreciate philosophy by reading essays by philosophers exploring the philosophy of Middle Earth and Batman. So why not learn a little law by reading what lawyers have to say about how laws would work in comic book universes?

Click the banner if you’re with me on that.

This is bloody brilliant, and I hope they turn it in to a book.

Geologists are Punny

Geologic language is very conducive to puns. It’s inevitable: you get two geologists together in the same room, they’re gonna let loose with some geo puns. It’s as certain as gabbro being called “black granite” by purveyors of quality countertops.

And we can keep it up past the point of reason. But we’re very gneiss about it.

geo puns

Blue: I like rocks! I am a nerd!

Black: likes this

Purple: Geology rocks.

Green: Don’t take it for granite.

Green: Shale I continue?

Purple: Of quartz.

Green: Igneous is bliss.

Blue: Wow! I love this convo! Thanks for being so gneiss.

Green: It was sedimentary, my dear Blue.

Orange: You’re definitely one of the boulder people I know!

Yellow: Groaning!!!!! lol

Red: Don’t let erosion wear you down!

Cyan: Oh Blue, if you weren’t such a dol-i-mite make more fun of you!

Purple: I gravel at your feet, master of puns.

That is made of epic win. There’s some in there I hadn’t even heard! I’d better start rocking it, or someone might bring the hammer down.

(Thank you, I’ll be here all week…)

Enough Cute to Make a Spartan Cry

No, I’m not going to show you what “this” is. I’m going to make you go look. It’s got to do with cats, ducklings, a shark, and a Roomba. You’re totally going to go look now, right? Swallow what you’re drinking first.

Right? That was hysterically cute. I shall now make it worse by bombarding you with more cute courtesy of the Daily Squee, I Can Has Cheezburger, and my own sick twisted sense of humor..

[Read more…]

Nonsense Handily Diagrammed in a Variety of Languages

This is one of those things that every skeptic should have handy at all times. Happily, there are t-shirts (use the drop-down for a variety of styles, including women’s. Yay different styles and colors!).

Anyway, here’s the diagram:

Shamelessly filched from the Reason Stick.

Shamelessly filched from the Reason Stick.


 Visit the link, and you’ll find one in Croatian, one in Italian, one in Spanish, and another that includes conspiracy theories. I bloody love this thing! I’ve gone ahead and ordered one on a snazzy shirt. I’ll post a picture of me strutting round in it when I get it. Should I wear it to one of the local fundie churches and bring my Skeptic’s Annotated Bible? Or would that be too obvious?

New at Rosetta Stones: The Founding Mother of Modern Geology You Probably Don’t Know

We’ve got our next Pioneering Woman in the Geosciences up: Mary Horner Lyell. Yes, married to that Lyell. Some of you may not have known she was a fine scientist in her own right. It was hard finding information on her, but I did manage to draw together enough for a sketch, and I think you’ll like her quite as much as I do. Go introduce yourselves.

It’s Good to be a Skeptic

All of this is true:

what skeptics have

Aside from that wonder of birth stuff. Sorry, but I find it more icky than inspiring. What I do think is wonderful is that the squalling bundle of raw need that rips its way out of a woman kinda like something from Aliens ends up becoming a small mobile science question generator. I love it when kids reach that age where everything is wonderful and they want to know why. I love it when a few of them never lose touch with that child within them.

This is why things like creationism and “intelligent design” make me so angry. They destroy that sense of wonder. They hollow it out, and fill the void with bullshit. They destroy that child asking why. That, I cannot forgive them for.

Let the world fill with skeptics. Let wonder never cease. Let us never hear a “Because” without asking “Because why?”

Mélange et Trois: A Trip across Subduction Zone Madness

Few places on Earth are so full of geological mayhem as a subduction zone. Life in the interior of a continent in no way prepares you for the chaos you’ll encounter when seafloor dives under continent. Where I grew up on the Colorado Plateau, the geology’s like a lovely layer cake: nice horizontal slabs of schist and sandstone and sediments from ancient seas stacked neatly one after the other, with a volcano on top. Washington state is also like a layer cake: one that had a tiramisu jammed in with it, and some mystery dessert stuffed into the last empty space on the table, and then the whole table got caught in an argument between a steamroller and a bulldozer, leaving a jumbled mass only just barely recognizable as bakery products – with a volcano on top.

USGS geologists describe the rocks in the Chilliwack Terrane as “Highly folded and commonly upside down.” That’s one of the better behaved bits, mind. Some of the rocks in the Northern Cascades are so messed up that geologists can only describe them as a mélange – a mixture.

It’s madness. And in less than a hundred miles, I’ll show you some of the wildest crustal contortions you ever did see. We’ll go from a beach that has got deep ocean floor stuck atop it to a place 2,000 feet up where plutons of contentedly crystallizing magma endured the twice-baked potato experience. On our way, we’ll cross something on the order of eight different terranes, bits of crust that belonged elsewhere before they found themselves emigrating to America.

Ready for a wild ride? [Read more…]