Adventures in Creationist Earth Science Education IVb: Wherein I Forecast a Crisis of Faith

After the desert of Science of the Physical Creation, I’m hoping Earth Science Fourth Edition doesn’t let me down. When I read Christianist textbooks, I expect them to incorporate a bit more God into the instruction, but it seems like no one wants to admit that they think God controls the weather. Sad.

And the beginning of ES4′s chapter on Weather is positively crunchy. It’s all about wind as an alternative to fossil fuels. The authors insist we come up with better, cleaner solutions to humanity’s energy needs. Even the cross-box doesn’t gabble about God – it just wants us to consider the benefits and drawbacks of wind power. That’s… positively sensible.

Oy.

It doesn’t get any godlier as temperature, pressure, and wind are discussed. They even tell us why wind is named for where it’s blowing from rather than the direction it’s going: it’s because weather vanes point in to rather than away from the wind.

Image shows a cat standing on a scratching post, staring intently at something off-camera, with its tail held nearly horizontal. Caption says, "Weather vane kitteh smells tuna from the west."

That would make the wind a westerly, even though it’s headed east.

Thanks to ES4, something formerly nonsensical will now be a breeze to remember. Hur hur hur… sorry.

The chart showing us how to determine wind chill is also a nice touch. Very useful.

A sensible explanation of air pressure, winds, and prevailing wind directions ensues. Alas, they repeat the myth of the horse latitudes. Does no one check their etymology?!

In discussing local winds, they forgot to mention the warming powers of a chinook, but that’s small taters. I just remember it from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s The Long Winter. Kinda sticks in your mind after it seems like the world will remain frozen forever, and then this lovely wind appears and you hear dripping from the eaves and yay! everybody won’t starve to death in a snow-covered wasteland.

Speaking of wastelands, it sure does feel like we’re in a godless desert. But at last, in the Life Connection section on Winds and Migration, we get a little God!

The ability of many kinds of animals to migrate long distances and around seemingly impassible barriers are truly amazing. We don’t know if animals had to migrate when they were first created [Migration? In Eden? Srsly?! -ed], but if not, God certainly designed in them the ability to develop this essential skill.

Wait wait wait wait wait. So you’re saying here that God either a) created these critters as migratory animals or b) had ‘em programmed for it. Now, option A seems bloody stupid – where the fuck would they be migrating to in the Garden of bloody Eden? Hmmm? And why? No seasons, right? Always lovely? So that means option B. But B means God was setting up his creation to fall. Wot a rat bastard.

You know what? I bloody love that above-quoted paragraph. After pages and pages of basic weather, it sticks out like a burning bush, and I hope it cracks at least a few kids over the noggin with a meaningful knuckle and shouts, “Wakey wakey! Your entire fucking religion makes no damn sense!” It’s this kind of thing that can cause the hairline fracture that eventually causes the whole edifice of faith to shatter.

The god-talk ceases during the bits on humidity, clouds, and precipitation. There’s a wee bit o’ religion in the text box on acid rain, where the author says how we need to reduce pollution to get rid of acid rain:

For those sources under our control, we are obligated to reduce these emissions in order to exercise good and wise dominion in the world (Gen 1:28).

Yes, indeedy. Could you give your fellow Christianists at A Beka a ring and ‘splain this to them? That would be lovely. The jerkwads think they can run around polluting willy-nilly because God promised never to destroy the earth again (until he destroys it again, of course), so they could do with a stern “good and wise dominion” lecture. The environment thanks you.

Image shows a cat on a roof with its back legs extended, toes spread. Caption reads, "Solar collectors activated"

Seriously loving their environmentalism. I just wish their obligation extended to recognizing the actual age of the earth and stuff. Oh, and treating their fellow humans better would be lovely. But I haz a hope. If the idea that the environment is something we should take care of got through, perhaps it’s just a matter of time before the next generation of BJU kids are on about hippie Jesus and cry happy tears at gay weddings.

And, kudos where due, they get the difference between sublimation and deposition right.

Overall, not a bad chapter. A little light de-godding, and it would be fabulous for any secular school, even one with a great big social conscience. Flipping through the next chapter on Storms and Weather Prediction, it seems to be similar. I mean, they even go so far as to admit we may see more maritime Arctic air masses form as the Arctic ice cap melts.

They’ve also got what SPC hasn’t got: a discussion of orographic precipitation and rain shadows, a subject near and dear to the Pacific Northwest’s heart. They also talk about convergence, which is nice. Living in a convergence zone, I can tell you it has a hell of an impact on weather.

Thunder storms, ice storms, and snow storms are very well-described. And – brace yourselves – one of the photos shows a pair of black hands holding the hailstones that shattered a windshield. They actualy acknowledge that people of color exist! This is quite huge for a university that only began admitting some black people in 1975.

The section on tornadoes is lively and informative, with excellent pictures illustrating their power, and the Enhanced Fujita-Pearson Scale is shown and explained. A text box advises kids not to try being storm-chasers themselves, which is very sensible advice. Hurricanes bring on an excess of exclamation points, but aside from that, well done – especially explaining why the same type of storm has different names in different regions (“This policy became standard after studies indicated Asian people didn’t heed warnings of storms with unfamiliar Western names.”). They accept “culturally appropriate” without a quibble. Dominion doesn’t seem to extend to forcing the entire world to revolve around western naming conventions, then. Whether this is because of an acceptance of diversity of the soft bigotry of low expectations, I’m not sure.

They fall at the fence in their little text box about Hurricanes and Global Warming. Well, stumble. They try to play up the whole “we haven’t seen definitive evidence of a link yet” thing and downplay the fact that our climate models are saying but we’re definitely fucked later in the 21st century – the only question is how fucked? Current consensus hovers somewhere around fairly and very, with a possibility of very-very. But since ES4 wants to decrease emissions anyway, I’m content to let them work themselves gradually up to accepting anthropogenic global warming as reality. They’re getting there, and doing some of the right things along the way.

We don’t get god-smacked until the end of the hurricane section. Even then, it’s not “God sends hurricanes to punish us for Gay Pride parades,” but simply saying that “we have a duty both to God and to our neighbors, to understand severe weather so we can prevent loss of life and minimize damage where possible.” They emphasize not sacrificing life for property. It’s wrapped in godly language, but the sentiment is fully in line with humanist goals.

Their Facets of Meteorology box gives advice on staying safe in storms. They give many practical tips. They don’t advise you to pray. The only time they mention God is in the Life Connection bit about animals impacted by hurricanes, and there, they aren’t spewing nonsense about God specifically creating special senses or any of that rot. They’re saying animals suffer in natural disasters, too, and good stewards care for them like God commanded. These are good things to encourage people to do.

The info on weather maps is good and includes how meteorologists can use GIS for predicting weather and how it helps government officials plan their emergency response to major storms. That was very neat.

Now we learn how we can “Serve God as a research meteorologist.” Don’t get excited. God isn’t mentioned once outside of the title. It’s all about what research meteorologists do and how many different ways their research is useful, and what you need to study to become one. Le sigh. I expected more, ES4!

And the book even shows you can be a meteorologist if you’re black. What’s next, showing lady scientists?

(I snark, but I’m pleased. Very pleased. I love it when we’ve progressed so far even BJU’s trotting to catch up. I’m happy to see at least some influential fundies incorporating good ideas like equality and reducing pollution into their worldview. Perhaps someday they’ll catch all the way up.)

They end the chapter with a flourish of God’s commands and dominion and stuff, but it seems here like a formality. Meteorology seems one of those branches of science even creationists can’t fuck up too badly. I love watching the BJU folks get excited over the technology and encouraging kids to learn more. That passion may lead a few of them to delve deeper and discover actual science, which is so much better than most of the crap they get fed. Even if not, at least creationist kids who pursue a career in meteorology have a chance to make a useful contribution to the world. Shame some of them will use their weatherperson cred to prop up ridiculous bullshit in other scientific disciplines.

But if they read their review questions thoroughly, and really think about #10, we may find more of them losing their faith than we might expect:

Why does God permit destructive storms, especially those that result in huge losses of life?

A dangerous question, that, but one they must confront. I encourage them to consider it carefully.

The image shows a Roman mosaic of a skeleton lying on the ground. The caption contains a quote from Epicurus: “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?”

Realizing this set me free of the fear of God. Once that bond was loosened, the others unraveled.

 

This Never Happens

I had B over Friday night to cook up stuff for a work potluck, and we watched some animated Tick afterward. Misha’s usual thing is to come sit in my lap for a bit, which she did. She’d been in a good mood all day, so we decided to do an experiment: after she’d had enough, I gave B the chair and took the sofa. She refuses to sit on the sofa with me, so I wondered if she’d settle for someone else. Keep in mind, she’s not sat with another person since her daddy moved out back when she was about two or three. She bloody hates people. But she doesn’t hate B quite as much as she does others.

So after a bit, when she’d had a wander and wanted some warm, she returned to the living room, and saw B where she expected me. She stared at him for a bit. He put a hand down, and she fought with it, doing her yowl-hiss routine, but you could tell she was playing because she’d go just out of reach and then stop, waiting for him to lean down and grab her tail so she could swat him again. Then she did a circuit of the house, came back, eyeballed his lap uncertainly for a bit, while we patted his legs and did the “Come on up” routine that usually gets her to make up her mind when she’s considering cuddles with mommy.

I thought we’d need a few more sessions with him sitting in the chair before she’d go for it, but she jumped up and settled in, sweet and content as anything. First time in nearly two decades she’s played lap cat with anyone else.

Misha's lying in B's lap, eyes slitted nearly shut, happy as can be.

Sleepy eyes.

She stayed up there for almost half an hour, until I booped her nose. She comes unglued when other people touch her, but usually lets me touch the fuzzy part of her nose and give her a rub between the eyes. She generally finds it relaxing. Not, however, when she’s on other laps. She jolted awake, hissed, jumped down, and promptly shunned me.

Misha's under a chair in the living room, lying with her back to me and her tail flicking.

Shun the unbeliever! Shuuunnn!!!!

When she’s down on that bit of tissue, she’s generally facing one of us, or the teevee. She never lays down like this, with her face resolutely planted in the bookshelves. So I know she was pissed. Some treats soon set her little world right. She’s on her pillow in bed with me now, content as can be.

I wonder if she’ll stay this happy if we get a hedgehog? For some reason, hedgehogs came up during training. We watched this video:

And we looked at about a million adorable hedgehog photos, and by the end of the night, the entire team had decided we needed a team hedgehog. It would have to come home with one of us on the weekends. I bring one of those home, I’m probably dead. Misha loves being an only child, and lets me know in no uncertain terms that this happy state of affairs is not to change. On the other hand, she may view the thing as a mobile hairbrush and be just fine with it.

I guess we’ll see, if the team goes through with it.

Misha also did us the courtesy of posing adorably with the hand lens that George Wiman just sent me.

Image shows Misha lying on the letter that accompanied the hand lens. The lens is at her feet.

Misha approves of our new hand lens. Thank you, George!

I bloody love this hand lens, and plan to put it to vigorous and excellent use this summer. Thanks, George!

And, bonus Kirby with a Harry Potter hat. He’s so adorable.

Kirby is sitting on the ledge, with the Harry Potter hat in front of him, its point nearly touching his nose.

I think he dreams of being a wizard.

Right. Just wanted to mark this moment in history. I still cannot believe that my homicidal felid has decided another human being is worthy of being used as a kitty warmer. Perhaps she’s had a mini-stroke…

Oh, Christianist Lab Manual. You Make Me Snicker.

I’m about to bugger off for the weekend – I’m behind on about nine trillion fronts, and every time I try to catch up, life shoves another pile of Overwhelm™ atop me. So I gotta take some time to chill and also read the bajillion (okay, 12) papers I downloaded pertaining to the Oso Mudslide. The cat is also going through her spring uptick in energy, and considering she’s twenty years old, it’s something I’ll put everything else on hold to enjoy.

Everything except the BJU Earth Science 4th Edition Lab Manual.

I thought I might be disappointed by the thing, but the moment I got it and flipped to a random page, and saw “Explain why the Haber-Bosch Process is an example of humans following God’s command in Genesis 1:28,” I knew it would be all I’d hoped it would be.

Then I decided to look at exercise 5a, “Where Do Those Dates Come From?” Had to be sure I was getting your money’s worth (and thank you for that cash, my darlings – it’s allowed me to acquire us yet more fascinating yet horrifying creationist crap). Boy, am I. Because

After completing this lab, you will be able to:

✓construct a chronology using Bible dating information.

✓connect your chronology to a historical date to find the age of the earth.

That, my loves, is the Christianist version of a science lab exercise.

Some of the labs are straightforward and look like quite a bit of fun, like creating a barometer and such. Those things are so bland they didn’t even bother to throw goddidit into some of the exercises. But don’t worry. You’ll get plenty of biblical nonsense when we do labs for stuff like radiometric dating. You can hardly wait, amirite?

Image is a demotivational poster showing a flat earth perched on four pillars, with the rest of the solar system revolving around it. Caption reads, "Biblical Literalism: Getting science wrong for over 2,800 years!"

A Beka’s lab manuals are awaiting me in our apartment office. I may have to break my intended radio silence in order to give you some sneak peeks at those, too.

Alrighty. Must away. I’ll have some great stuff for ye soon!

You’re Bloody Amazing, Is What You Are!

So yesterday, a post went up asking for contributions for a legal fund to help Karen Stollznow fight Ben Radford’s asshole lawsuit. I’d had my fingers crossed for a long time, hoping this day would come. Had cash ready and everything. Good thing I was watching for it, because I barely got me contribution in before you amazing people pushed it over the $30,000 goal. In six hours.

Image is a kitten with its paw raised as if inviting a high five. The caption says, "High 5!!!"

And now the thing’s up to nearly $40k, and I’m thinking Ben Radford is going to end up dangling from his ankles while Karen’s lawyers shake him for spare change.

Because of you, a woman who’s already suffered at the hands of an asshole will not have to settle with his asshole of a lawyer to avoid complete ruin. Our legal system is a fucking mess, so I can’t predict she’ll win, but it’s my fervent hope that Radford lives the rest of his life in crippling debt, loved only by the handful of terrible people who like to call themselves skeptics but are really raging fuckwads who live to harm others, and perhaps a dog, although I’m not sure a dog’s famous impulse for affection is quite so strong as that.

I’ll be donating this month’s filthy lucre from this very blog. If Karen doesn’t need it, the people who advocate for sexual assault victims certainly could use it, and all her excess is going to that good cause. I had an advocate with me whilst navigating the legal system in an attempt to make my rapist pay, and I can tell you that she made all the difference in the world. I’m happy to see funds go toward that cause. I hope sincerely that the entire amount can make it there, on account of Radford having to pay any and all legal fees, plus a hefty settlement.

Even if it doesn’t, even if it takes all we can give and more to fight this thing, it’s still worth it. It’s time to send a message to harassers who love to use lawsuits to shut their victims up that it ain’t gonna work no more. Too many of us in this community have had it. And our pockets are jingling with just enough spare change to hire an excellent lawyer and give ‘em the old what-for. This nonsense must stop.

I’ve always known that our side of the divide is filled with the best people. The response to Karen’s fundraiser absolutely proves that. Those of you who donated, those of you who can’t but are cheering from the sidelines, those of you who are taking a stand for real justice: you are what makes this the best place to be.

Image shows a My Little Pony looking at the viewer on top, and winking on the bottom. Captions read, "Who's awesome? You're awesome!"

If you’ve got the funds to spare, throw a little extra change Karen’s way. It’ll help make it clear that we’ve drawn a very firm line, and those who choose to cross it had best be prepared for pain.

Those who don’t know what all this is about can find out at our own Lousy Canuck’s excellent timeline.

Mystery Flora: Flowers Near Sunset

It’s that time o’ year when November, December, January, February and March showers have brought nearly-April flowers. And occasionally, it even stops raining long enough to go out and enjoy them. B and I had an opportunity for a nice walk near sunset, when the rich sunlight sneaked in below the cloud cover, and I could bring the camera out without fear of water damage.

You may have already identified some of these. It’s getting to where I can’t keep all the idents in my head – I’ll have to start an online book of some sort where we can organize everything. Oh, and if you lot want to send me flowers, you know I’m never going to refuse them! You can send your beautiful flowers, mystery or known, to dhunterauthor at gmail, if you wish to perhaps someday see them featured right here on this blog.

Mystery Flowers I

Mystery Flowers I

These fantastic white flowers grow on short, thin little trees all over the place. They seem quite popular, and one can see why. They burst out just when the first timid green leaves are appearing, and while they’re winter-colored, you know they mean winter is a memory, and all soon will be warmth and sunshine.

Mystery Flowers II

Mystery Flowers II

I almost feel like I’m walking in to a wedding when I see them. It certainly seems like they’re decorating the place for a celebration.

Just beyond them are some shrubberies, and these are bursting out in all sorts of sunshine color, and smell vaguely nice.

Mystery Flowers III

Mystery Flowers III

You see how green that grass is? That’s how it is round here, all winter long. Barely any of it gets brown. So much different than our grass in Arizona, where it spent winter dead and brown, then had a brief sprint toward being green in spring, before getting burnt brown in the summertime, followed by maybe a week or so of green shoots in the fall before going dormant for winter again. Stuff’s aggressively green here. Even when we have a week or so of freezing temperatures, it’s too stubborn to do more than get a little tan round the edges.

Mystery Flowers IV

Mystery Flowers IV

There we go. If we crouch down and stare up through the shrubbery and squint just right, we can pretend that there’s brilliant lovely sunshine in those relentless storm clouds.

Mystery Flowers V

Mystery Flowers V

And another up through the shrubbery, because I like that. The sky makes a fine canvas.

So here’s one I know you’ve identified in the past, and someday I’ll find where. It’s that weird rhodie with the tiny bell-shaped clusters of flowers. There’s one growing by the sidewalk, vigorous as you please.

Strange rhodie. This is a cluster of drooping white bell-shaped flowers, with a bit of sidewalk and storm clouds in the background.

Strange rhodie

I love the fact that clever people can cleverly cross-breed and selectively breed and whatever else it is they do to fiddle with plant genes until you end up with wonderful mutants with perfect rhodie leaves and flowers that seem to belong to something else entirely.

Weird rhodie with a view of the leaves.

Weird rhodie with a view of the leaves.

I also took a few more of the lovely magnolia, which is blooming vigorously, all but a few buds blown.

Our wonderoo pink magnolia. Image shows a bud beginning to unfurl.

Our wonderoo pink magnolia.

Here’s another opening bud, with a neat bit of flower sort of cut off to the left.

More wonderoo pink magnolia.

More wonderoo pink magnolia.

I’ll have to go back and have a closer look. Didn’t notice that spiky bit there until I was looking at the pictures. B and I try to keep moving at a good clip so as to engage in actual exercise on our walks.

Then, after admiring all the flowers, we went back to my place and watched a bunch of mixed martial arts dudes battle it out. Believe it or not, enormous bouquets of flowers were involved. And I mean enormous even in relation to tall, thick heavyweights. And I got to see Ken Shamrock for the first time. I’d heard of him, of course, but he was well before my MMA-watching time. I knew he’d been one hell of a fighter and ran a great gym, but I didn’t know that back in 2001, he looked like Christian Bale in profile and Wolverine when viewed from the front. I geeked out for a minute.

And yes, MMA is a brutal sport, but I’ve rarely seen so many men hug each other so much. There’s a certain closeness between men who beat each other up for a living that’s wonderful to see. And when the winner not only hugs his opponent, but takes him to the center of the ring to show him off to the crowd and get him some of the applause, I love that. I love seeing these very macho masculine men showing that it’s okay to like flowers and hugging guys and even dyeing your hair crazy colors. I hope that there are some boys watching and realizing they can have their masculinity and their flowers, too.

Not to mention, the kids watching now are seeing women in MMA, and so are learning that it ain’t just guys who can kick ass. It’s progress. It comes in fits and starts, we sometimes end up stumbling backward a bit, but we’re slowly working toward a world in which men and women can both aspire to what they want to be, without being told they can’t because of their gender, where men are more than their muscle and women are more than their curves. Now if only I could convince Dana White to parade some ring guys up there with the ring girls. I’d surely love to see a scantily-clad young hunka handsome strut around holding the big sign announcing the round. Perhaps it will happen in my lifetime.

That world is gonna be an awesome world once we’ve made it.

New at Rosetta Stones: Links to the Geology Behind the Oso Mudslide Disaster

I’m still researching for a post on the slide that destroyed Oso, Washington and killed so many of its residents. In the meantime, I’ve collected links from the experts, who are doing an excellent job exploring the geology behind the catastrophe. I hope a lot of future town planners and other sorts who determine where and what to build are in the audience, and click, and think.

Aerial photo of Oso debris flow. There used to be a town down there. Image shows lumpy debris blocking the river. Courtesy Gov. Jay Inslee via Flickr. (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Aerial photo of Oso debris flow. There used to be a town down there. Courtesy Gov. Jay Inslee via Flickr. (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education IVa: Wherein We Enjoy Nearly-Godless Weather

Have I told you lately that A Beka’s graphics are a touch tacky? They are. At the start of the “Earth’s Weather” chapter, there’s a grainy picture of a hurricane from space, and across the bottom are three photos that rather clash. There’s an iceberg inside a snowflake shape, a wispy waterfall surrounded by verdant green inside a raindrop shape, and something like a very red-orange Monument Valley inside a sunburst shape. This is the kind of stuff people with stunted imaginations do when they get their hands on a graphic design program.

At least they didn’t have Jesus up there making all that weather stuff happen. Small mercies, amirite?

Aside from a questionable definition of climate (which implies the climate of a place doesn’t change), the first bits aren’t bad. At least there’s no god-talk. We have to wait until they’ve finished with evaporation before we get any of that. Then we learn how “God designed our bodies” to use evaporation to keep ourselves at the right temperature. What, you didn’t think evilution did that, did you?

They make a rather silly mistake with sublimation. When something sublimates, it goes directly from solid to gas or vapor with no liquid in-between. Dry ice does that, which is why we get the awesome smoke effect. But A Beka thinks frost is formed by water vapor sublimating. They go on and on about sublimation when what’s really happening is the opposite – deposition. Rather annoying mistake, that, but at least they get condensation nuclei right, and god doesn’t show up, so yay-ish. Until they babble about water vapor sublimating into ice crystals. Blah.

Picture shows a bulldog in a bathtub with its front paws on the edge, looking sidewise at  the camera. Caption reads, "If I melt dry ice, can I take a bath without getting wet?"

Cloud types and smog are dealt with without recourse to the supernatural. We’re treated to a perfectly reasonable explanation of air masses. So far, so secular.

When we get to fronts, the authors paint a rousing word-picture of battling air masses. They mention that the term “front” was inspired by WWI: what better word for where air masses clash than one that means the “‘battle line’ along which armies fight.” Fascinating, really, and that led me to spelunk the internet to discover if it’s true. ‘Tis. This is one reason I’ve actually been enjoying my Christianist textbook reading: I learn bits of trivia. You’ve gotta fact-check ‘em, but Christianists are very good at trivia. This seems to be what they do in place of actual science.

I’ll be honest – this section on fronts was great: factual, easy to understand, and rousing. You can’t help but feel the energy as air masses collide like gigantic armies. There are bits of these books, like this one, I’d like to lift and install in secular textbooks.

Alas, our good, clean, secular fun can’t last more than a few pages in SPC. You can almost see the authors going, “Oh, fiddlesticks, we forgot God!” and then trying to make up for the oversight. As they describe where precipitation comes from, they’re keen to inform us that “This movement of water from the sea into the air and then back to the sea, called the water cycle, is the mechanism that God designed to water those portions of the earth located far from the oceans.”

Orly? Did he design it before or after the Flood?

Image shows a kitten with its paws clasped. Caption says, "Dear god, please let it rain cheezburgers."

They follow up with a Bible box for Eccl. 1:7, because it mentions rivers. It amuses me that they shore up their Christianist cred by quoting the most atheistic book in the Bible.

The god-talk takes a back seat during the subsequent discussion of how different types of precipitation form. But when they start talking hail, they have to bring god on for an encore. Cuz, y’know, “God used hail against the enemies of Israel (Joshua 10:11) and predicts that He will do so once more in the future (Rev. 16:21).” That sits plonk in the middle of the info box on the dangers of hail, rather like your sainted aunt at an orgy: out of place, disconcerting, and swiftly avoided.

This next issue probably isn’t caused by being a creationist, although creationism leads to greater ignorance. Still. You’d think they could avoid a numbskull error like saying a storm with a lot of snow is a blizzard – blizzards are defined by winds, not the amount of snowfall. You don’t even need snow to fall at all in a blizzard. We’ll chalk that gaffe up to SPC being from Florida.

I’m very upset that the whole section on thunderstorms never once mentioned Thor, Indra, or Raijin. Teach the controversy, damn it! And how do we go through a whole section on tornadoes and hurricanes without mentioning they happen because god’s punishing people for not hating gays enough? What kinda “Christian Perspective” is this? Sheesh.

Image shows the enormous statue of Jesus in Rio getting struck by lightning. Caption says, "Christ: 0 Thor: 1"

After being bludgeoned with rapid-fire facts about how weather is measured and mapped, we’re finally allowed to apply our brains to a weather map. It’s all rote, though: you don’t really have to think to answer. Just like God wants it.

After a brief bit on forecasting, with some dubious do-it-yourself advice, we end abruptly, sans-god. Not even a verse-inna-box. Damn it, A Beka, you promised me a Christian perspective! You’re not even trying anymore.

I guess the weather really is a safe subject for the godly and godless to natter on about. Bored now.

I Wish I’d Had These Words

Back when my best friend and I had our final falling-out over his utter lack of concern about the lives of young women, I wish I’d had this post to send him. It might have gotten through. He might have understood why I was raging.

When you express opposition to abortion on demand, your words mean that you view all of this as perfectly fine: My death. Their deaths. Their poverty. Their children’s poverty. You would condemn real people to death, to a life of misery and suffering. And for what? For this:

Image shows an embryo. Image courtesy UNSW Embryology, via Iris Vander Pluym.

Image courtesy UNSW Embryology, via Iris Vander Pluym.

OH WAIT, I’m sorry. I got mixed up. That’s ^ a mouse embryo up there, not a human embryo. Sure looks a lot like that human embryo, though. And yet, nothing like a mouse. Weird.

Read the whole thing, and bookmark it, and send it on to that person in your life who either cares more about little globs than they do actual women, or those who are so indifferent to women that their health and safety doesn’t matter as much as voting the way their church wants them to vote.

Magnolia liliiflora, Anyone? Plus, New Luna!

I’m taking a short blog break this weekend, but you know I wouldn’t leave you without a little beauty. For instance, here is a lovely view of the Cascades, still winter-clad.

Cascades from somewhere near Gold Bar, WA. Image shows several of the jagged Cascades peaks covered in snow.

Cascades from somewhere near Gold Bar, WA.

Spring is arriving, which means early flowers brightening up the place. Here we have some delightful Magnolia liliiflora getting ready to burst out in its full glory.

Magnolia liliiflora buds. Image shows a lot of large, pink buds against the slender branches.

Magnolia liliiflora buds.

They’re especially gorgeous near-sunset, on a stormy day, during a sunbreak:

Blown Magnolia liliiflora flower. Image shows the opened flower against blue sky and white clouds.

Blown Magnolia liliiflora flower.

Here’s a nice close-up of one of the buds. They’re huge!

Magnolia liliiflora bud. It's a large, pink bud with a cedar branch and storm clouds in the background.

Magnolia liliiflora bud.

And opening buds, and blue skies, and enchantment.

Half-blown Magnolia liliiflora buds.

Half-blown Magnolia liliiflora buds.

Here is a really lovely picture of a branch full o’ flowers shaking hands with the sky.

Magnolia liliiflora buds getting ready to open. A single branch against bright-blue sky and a few whispy white clouds.

Magnolia liliiflora buds getting ready to open.

You’re the ones who identified these, long ago, when all I could call them was las princesas. You never let me down!

Our little Luna’s almost a cat now. Mind you, she’s mostly fluff, but it looks like she’ll be bigger than her big brother by the end of her growing up.

Kirby and Luna on their cat castle. A few months ago, that little platform looked gigantic under her - now it's barely big enough for a comfy nap.

Kirby and Luna on their cat castle. A few months ago, that little platform looked gigantic under her – now it’s barely big enough for a comfy nap.

She loves play-times with her brother and her daddies.

Luna and Kirby playing chase-the-ball. Luna's on top of a box, Kirby on the floor beside her, both watching avidly as the ball spins in the track.

Luna and Kirby playing chase-the-ball.

They’ve been mostly hanging round the house while it pours rain, but they’ve had a few sunshiny days where the can lounge on the deck. Soon, we’ll all be outside exploring the yard together. It’ll be Luna’s first full spring.

But winter isn’t done with us yet. Jack Frost had his way with my car the other night.

Frost patterns on me car hood. They look like huge sweeping ostrich plumes. Beautiful!

Frost patterns on me car hood.

Have a lovely weekend, my darlings! Next week, we’ll continue on with our Christianist textbooks, and see what the creationists have been up to lately. I know, so much to look forward to. Best go do something super-fun so you can endure the anticipation!

A Thought Experiment for the Philosophy Dudebros

Hey, let’s do some philosophy for any more philosophy dudebros who might show up wanting to talk abortion rights. I LOVE philosophy!

All right, dude. Ready for a thought experiment? You’re always totally down with one, I’m sure, cuz you’re a philosophy dude. You’ve signed up to be an organ donor, right? Right? If not, exit the conversation now and never ever even consider you have anything to say about what women should do with unwanted pregnancies. If you’re not willing to let your dead body save other lives, you don’t even get to hypothetically consider what I should do with my alive and aware one.

Okay, organ donor wanna-debate-abortion philosophy dudebro. You’ve been in an accident. You were riding your bike, you forgot your helmet, swerved to avoid hitting a dog and ended up going ass over ankles over the handlebars on to the pavement. Cracked your head wide open. Now, you got flown to the best trauma hospital in the world, and they’ve put you back together again. You’re never going to contribute much to society, though, because your brain is so damaged that your cognitive function is greatly reduced and you’re never going to be able to live without 24-7 care again.

Hey, what’s this on your license? Is that an Organ Donor YES that I see?

Image shows part of an Organ Donation form with the box for "Donate all my organs and tissue" checked.

Organ donor form. Image courtesy Magnus D on Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

Sweet! Look, philosophy dudebro: there’s so many lives you can save! Sure, you can still feel pain, and being stuck in the hospital rather than a residential facility makes you really upset, and you’re aware of just how bad the quality of your life is when you can’t control what’s done to your body, but you don’t matter as much as all those people you can help, do you? After all, you’ve got two functioning kidneys – why shouldn’t we take one to save the life of a person who, with a working kidney, will go on to be a productive member of society? Right? I mean, you’ve got two, you don’t need the other one. Except if your remaining kidney fails, you’re shit out of luck, and if you develop kidney stones in that one remaining kidney, you might have complications, and there’s the fact that the surgery is hella painful and can lead to the potential for infection, complications and death, but you wouldn’t mind being forced to donate part of yourself to save another life even with those risks, would you? After all, you once marked yes on a donor registration form. Look, if you survive the removal of your kidney, and you don’t have anything bad happen to your other one, the long-term risks are minimal. That other person has as much right to live as you do. Hey, maybe even more, since they don’t need residential care. So that’s a good argument for forcing you to donate your kidney, right?

You know what, I don’t see why we can’t do it right now. Sure, you have a fully-functional brain, and your own hopes and wishes and dreams, and you don’t like to suffer, but you’re a match for this person whose kidneys have failed. It’ll only take you about four weeks to recover from the surgery. Isn’t it more ethical to save a life than keep both your kidneys? Shouldn’t society be able to choose for you whether to save a life or not? And if you’ve said you’ll be an organ donor after death, why wouldn’t you want to be one now?

I mean, it’s not like you’ll have to go through nine months of having something feeding off of you. It’s not like you’re risking all these complications, or these complications, or maybe these really bad ones, or these permanent changes to your body (not to mention lotsa complications). Compared to that, kidney donation’s a breeze!

Image is a stylized representation of a person giving blood.

Blood donation pictogram courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Oh, and while we’re at it, let’s have some blood out of you. It’s totally safe – your risk of complication is virtually nil. Sure, you may faint. Sure, you may despise needles and panic every time. Sure, there could be bruising and bleeding and scarring and nerve damage and stuff, but surely it’s worth it to save lots of people. Right? We can come take your blood any time we need to, and you won’t mind a bit, because life is so darn precious. I mean, wow, your blood might save that poor pregnant lady who’s bleeding to death while trying to deliver that child you forced her to have. How cool would that be?

You know what, let’s go whole hog here. You can totally donate some bone marrow, and it’ll barely hurt a bit! Barely any risk! Sure, you may suffer complications from anesthesia, but what’s a teeny-tiny little risk of death compared to saving a life, huh? I mean, you’ll be at far less risk of dying than pregnant women are! So there should be no problemo, right, philosophy dudebro?

I’m sure it’s totally fine to perform all of the above procedures on you, whether you consent or not, because greater good and life is precious and all that jazz – not to mention, you consented to be an organ donor once, and you risked your life on your bike once, and that means you’ve totally consented to the consequences we decide to impose on you. Surely, you don’t think you matter more than other people. What if the person you save is the next Elvis? Or the next Einstein? Or a fetus? Yeah, buddy! You know we can’t risk potentially losing any of those potential awesome people just because you have some silly notion about bodily autonomy, so hop up on that operating table and let’s get crack-a-lackin. Hey, you might be saving the person who grows up to cure cancer! Betcha that’ll make all the pain and fear and complications you suffer feel like nothing.

What’s that? You won’t let me cut on you? How very selfish of you. Ah, well, as you know, it’s your body and we can’t force you do use it to keep other people alive without your permission, now, can we?

So why is it you have such a hard time understanding women and trans men are people, just like you?

Image shows a thoughtful velociraptor with the caption "You mean to tell me... that women are people too?"

Yep.