Cryptopod: Banded Ant

I’ve always liked ants. We had a whole civilization of little black ants with tiny anthills in Flagstaff. We used to draw subdivisions and roads around the heaps. The red ants weren’t quite so fun, considering how bad they hurt when they stung, but they were still fascinating to watch. The only ones we ran from were the army ants. That was a whole other level of hurt.

Ants up here in the Pacific Northwest, west of the Cascades, seem like a very mellow bunch. They’re also fairly large in comparison to the Arizona ones. This fat fellow was lounging around Juanita Bay a few Junes ago, and was kind enough to pause for a photo op.

Cryptopod I

Cryptopod I

I wonder what their colonies look like in our damp soils, or if they just live in dead trees. I know nothing about them.


Cryptopod II

Cryptopod II

They’re not as dramatic as some other insects, but they’re still quite lovely. I mean, look at the shiny bands and little hairs on this one’s rear. Look at the amber-hued legs, and the coal black head and thorax or whatever that middle bit is. It’s understated, but lovely.


Cryptopod III

Cryptopod III

And against the silver-gray wood of the boardwalk rail, with the wetlands in the background, it’s a perfect bit of nature.

Cryptopod IV

Cryptopod IV

This is very Zen, this moment, with the ant looking like it’s meditating on the wetland. It also gives me an XKCD feel. I’m not sure why. Just something in the way it’s standing there.

Remarkable little critters. I hope one of you knows which species this is, so we can discover its story.

New at Rosetta Stones: When Trees Become Stratigraphy

Our final installment of trees is complete! Huzzah! No more trees – we’re on to rocks next, baby, yeah!

No thanks to my old modem, which died a horrible death tonight. But the Comcast representative I got hold of was super-sharp, and he got the problem diagnosed and my old modem reactivated in a jiffy. A technician will be out Friday with my brand-new combo modem and router, so yay! I can’t keep using the old modem, the cat barfed on it once and I don’t know how long it will survive. But happily for blogging, it should survive just long enough. Give it and the Comcast tech a hearty thanks, because without them, we would’ve been sans-Cataclysm today.

Scorched needles under a layer of blast deposit. Image courtesy USGS.

Scorched needles under a layer of blast deposit. Image courtesy USGS.

Brand-New Blogger, Y’all

You may have noticed the list of blogs got one longer. We were lucky enough to snag Kaveh Mousavi, and his blog On the Margin of Error is absolutely fascinating. You know an atheist in Iran has got stories to tell. He’s got insights only a person living under a theocracy can have. Head on over, say howdy, and help me encourage him to post lots.

On the Margin of Error blog header.

Adventures in ACE V: Senseless About St. Helens

We have arrived at the section of Science PACE 1086 wherein someone who knows bugger-all about rocks will proceed to explain rock types. There is so much wrong we’ll have to split it into groups, and even then, I’m not sure the posts will be short enough to prevent acute creationist crap poisoning. I do know I just spent the better part of five hours dealing with just the errors in the opening paragraphs.

I recommend padding all hard spaces within a 12-block radius before we begin.

Mr. Wheeler, the ocean floor driller, is the narrator. It is apparent the instant he opens his mouth that the writer is not competent to write from the POV of a supposed expert, even a creationist one. “Igneous rock,” he pontificates, “is formed by heat.”


Actually. [Read more…]

Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education IIb-2: In Which We Reclaim Earth Science for God’s Glory

Remember how awful the first half of this ES4 introductory chapter was? It gets worse. Find something to clench while screaming, “Dana, you did this to me!”

I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. But this is what kids in Christianist schools and homeschools are getting taught.

We’ve reached 1B, “A Christian Approach to Earth Science,” and I believe it is a measure of the trauma caused by the previous section that I am hopeful that a section with a title such as this will contain some actual science, even if by accident. But the beginning is not encouraging, as it states it’s not what we look at, but how we look at it, that’s important. Ken Ham said it best when he said [Read more…]

Intimations of Summer Past: A Photo Essay for Those Brought Low by the Winter

Some of you have expressed a certain dissatisfaction with the temperature of the Northern Hemisphere lately. And I’m blue, too, I’ll admit: the weather forecast is rain, rain, more rain, rain plus snow, clouds, and rain. I’m stuck indoors with Christianist textbooks, some of which take ages to debunk, considering nearly every sentence is a lie. And B’s off to see the folks this week, so there’s a long stretch without the person who listens to me howl about fundies, joins me in some righteous outrage, and gives me the you’ll-get-through-it hug. Ugh.

Let’s have some sunshine, shall we? I’m going to do up a photo each from last summer’s adventures. And perhaps we’ll remember that the warm breezes will blow again, and the sun will shine again, and all this gloom will melt away for a while. [Read more…]

An Offensive Strategy for Dealing With Creationist Attacks on Science

I’ve been doing quite a lot of reading about the failures of creationist geology. Many people have come before me, tearing this nonsense down bit-by-bit. It’s an extraordinary amount of work, and leaves Flood geology scrambling for ever more bizarre ways to overcome the laws of science.

But maybe we don’t do quite enough. We defend science, we present the reality, we knock down bits of their structure, but there may be an easier way to deal with the creationists and Intelligent Design proponents attempting to force their nonsense into science class, and hanging round the fringes of our professional meetings hoping some credibility will rub off on them. I quite like Donald Wise’s proposals: [Read more…]

Fundamentals of Fungi: Red Caps (Plus a Rhapsody on the Universe)

After a week full of creationist crap, it’s time to relax with some lovely shrooms. These delights were happily growing in the new landscaping at work last fall. Here’s a lovely young button pushing up through the red leaf litter:

Mystery Fungi I

Mystery Fungi I

I don’t know whose genius idea it was to plant deciduous bushes in place of the grass – it looks rather stark in winter – but at least it’s given these shrooms a place to thrive. [Read more…]

Adventures in ACE IV: When Creationists Drill the Ocean

I’m assured by Jonny that Science PACE 1086 is something special in the bizarreness department. I can see this is true by all the crosses on the cover. The impression given is that they’re so threatened by the implications of a man standing on the moon that they have to spray the scene with god symbols, sort of like a dog dehydrating itself in order to advise other dogs that this is definitely its territory. So there!

The Table of Contents doesn’t give much away. We’re going to learn about “The Foundations of the World,” which seem to be the basics of geology: the crust-mantle-core stuff, rock types, and topography. One wonders how they’re going to spray god everywhere. I’m confident they’ll find a way.

We’re also going to learn to be dependable, and our verse is I Timothy 6:20: [Read more…]