Josh Duggar Molested Children, Then Made a Career Claiming Gays Dangerous to Children

It’s not shocking that the Duggar family’s bright, smiling Good Christian™ Image hid some terrible things. It was obvious to anyone who knows anything about the Christian patriarchy movement that all those shiny happy faces concealed some pretty harsh truths. I figured the wheels would come off eventually, but I didn’t anticipate Josh Duggar being outed as a child molester. Needless to say: content note for child sexual abuse. [Read more…]

Mystery Flora/Cryptopod Doubleheader: Beetles’ Favorite Fuzzy Flower

I love Silver Lake. It is full of marshy wetland goodness. I wish I knew it in all seasons, but even though I don’t, I can already tell you that one of my favorite months is May. That’s when the yellow iris burst out all over the place, and the yellow water lilies are also blooming, and then there are other, tiny, fuzzy white flowers that look like stars.

Image shows a sprig of white flowers growing up from the water, together with sedges and broadleaf marsh plants.

Mystery Flora I

They’re really good at reflecting sunlight, too, which makes them difficult for my camera to deal with. But we did our best. [Read more…]

Dispatches from Women’s World

B and I are sitting side-by-side. We are in different worlds.

Image shows a red planet, a blue moon, and a binary star system.

Binary Star, Nebula, and Planet with Moons courtesy Matt Hendrick via Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

B’s wishing he’d known women actually like sex back in his raging hormone days. Society had told him that girls just aren’t in to doing the wild thing, and he’d believed that, so he missed a lot of opportunities. He’s not the sort of man who’d ask a woman to do something she didn’t like. It’s why we’re together.

We’re watching UFC fights. B wishes the cage girls were curvier – these are famine years for men attracted to women who jiggle more in the bum than boobs. He’s hoping for an audience shot of Benson Henderson’s wife, because she’s a hottie. I’m busy watching various nearly-naked men in exquisite physical condition grapple and writhe. Some of the wrestling moves look like they could easily be modified for incredible bedroom encounters. And if Benson Henderson and I were unattached and he was interested, I’d love to test that theory with him. But as much as I’m assessing the fighters for potential happy fun sexytimes, I’m also aware that every one of them could turn horrifically violent in a heartbeat, and their strength, speed, and skill mean I wouldn’t stand a chance. So as much as I enjoy admiring the bodies and consider their performance potential, I’m also trying to read their character, aware that misjudging it could get me raped, killed, or both.

How many men consider calmly the chance that a potential sexual encounter will turn violent? [Read more…]

Maddow’s Mount St. Helens Metaphor for the Iraq War

A lot of you pointed me toward Rachel Maddow’s segment wherein she compares the aftermath of the May 18, 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens with the aftermath of the Iraq War. Even if you hate politics and are sick to death of all mention of the war, watch the beginning. She did a marvelous job narrating the eruption. I tend to avoid talking heads on teevee, but Maddow is an artist as well as a kick-ass-take-names-and-pwn-them-all pundit, so she’s more than a bit of all right.

I love the way she begins the piece:

It started as a magnitude 5.1 earthquake, and a large earthquake is almost never a good thing. But when it happens one mile beneath a huge, active volcano, it can be the start of something that feels a little bit like the end of the world.

And really, it did. All of us who watched that ash cloud consume the sky and swallow the day, whether in person or on our television screens, felt that. There are few things more ominous than an eruption cloud.

Now, some of you speculated that she was getting her facts from my posts, but I can assure you she didn’t. [Read more…]

How a Cult Programs You to Stay in the Trap: Escape Chapter 1 (Part Two)

In our last installment of Escape by Carolyn Jessop, we got a taste of the depression, despair, and abuse Carolyn lived with in her FLDS community. Today, we’ll see how her childhood conditioned her to fear the outside world, and accept her lot as an abused wife pumping out endless babies in a loveless plural marriage.

Colorado City, AZ and Hildale, UT are communities where children literally run screaming away from strangers. It isn’t because of stranger-danger or regular, if exaggerated, fears. Carolyn tells us she and the other kids [Read more…]

It’s the 35th Anniversary of the Big Ba-Boom: Mount St. Helens and the May 18th Eruption

Thirty-five years ago, mini-me watched in awe as Mount St. Helens blew up on our television. A short time later, our neighbors came back with samples of ash and awed stories of the disaster zone. Vulcanologists had gotten an unprecedented opportunity to study a volcano’s eruption cycle from awakening to paroxysmal eruption, but lost some of their own in the process. Many people perished in the eruption, but without dedicated geologists informing everyone of the hazards and insisting on exclusion zones, it could have been so many more. And the many survivors’ tales are utterly gripping.

For thirty-five years, we’ve used Mount St. Helens as a laboratory. It’s taught us endless lessons on how volcanoes erupt, what those eruptions do to the countryside, and how the environment recovers afterward. We’ve learned a lot about the warning signs of impending eruptions. We’ve learned how to recognize debris avalanche and lateral blast deposits. And we’ve marveled at the beauty of a wounded young mountain building itself back up from the inside.

On this day, remember the geologists who gave their lives while studying this volcano.

On this day, remember those who didn’t make it back home from the mountain.

And on this day, thank scientists for effective volcano monitoring.

For those who want to read further about Mount St. Helens and her cataclysmic eruption, you can follow my series here. [Read more…]

The Little Lost Umbrella

Once upon a time, there was a natty black umbrella. It was born in a factory with thousands of others much like it, assembled by sweatshop workers who were desperate to feed their families. Practical hands packaged it, stuffed it in a box with dozens of its siblings, and then it went on a long ride in trucks and ships and possibly on railways until it reached a department store. It lived in the shelves for a while, where children used it as a sword. It felt this gave it character. It loved its swash-buckling days.

It watched a few of its siblings be sold. Their places were taken by close cousins. They all speculated after store closing, wondering what sort of hands they would end up in, and what the rain and wet were they were made to protect people from. [Read more…]

Greetings from Bothell: A Fraught Final Day, but the Waterfalls are Lovely!

Despite everything (well, a few things) conspiring against us, we are home safe from our trip. Alas, Ape Cave and other attractions on the south side of Mount St. Helens were not to be. The weather worsened to the point where the clouds were tickling the tops of even the lower hills, which meant we’d be in rain and fog the whole way if we attempted to make it up the mountain. So we headed for the Columbia River Gorge, which B has never seen. That’s a place that can be done in foul weather. It’s still pretty, see?

Image looks over the Columbia River and its enormous gorge. The Vista House, a round building, is visible atop a jutting tower of basalt in the near distance. The sky is heavy with clouds, which are cutting off the tops of the higher hills.

The Columbia River Gorge from the Portland State Women’s Forum Scenic Viewpoint aka Chanticleer Point.

Fun fact: that building you see there, the one like a little dot atop that tall basalt point, would’ve been underwater during the Missoula Floods. Wowza.

Even on a rainy off-season Saturday, the place was packed. It seemed like everyone in the Pacific Northwest was visiting. I did manage to catch a shot of the Vista House on Crown Point without a bunch of people, because they were all either inside or on the other side of the balcony for a few seconds.

Image shows a hexagonal building with two tiers. Narrow stained glass windows nearly as tall as each storey make it impossible to see the nine trillion people inside.

Vista House

This is the first time I’ve ever been to Crown Point when that building was open, so B and I zipped inside, took the stairs, and enjoyed the view from the balcony. I’ll show you it in a future post. It’s pretty similar to the previous view, only Vista House isn’t in it.

We couldn’t stop at Latourell Falls because there were no parking spaces left, but we got one at Wahkeena Falls, which I’ve never actually visited. You can ogle them from the viewpoint below, and then, if you wish, hike up a little ways and view the upper tier. We wished, so we did, and here I am with them.

Image shows me standing beside a basalt cliff on the right, with the falls falling to the left.

Moi at Wahkeena Falls.

You can actually hike the short distance to Multnomah Falls from there, and B and I planned to, but he slipped on slippery rocks just after this picture was taken, and went down hard. Fortunately, nothing’s broken, and all he got were a few scrapes, bruises, and a lot of mud, but it was enough to nix any more hiking for the day. We went to Multnomah Falls so he could clean up at their facilities, and then we did take a quick look at the falls, which are spectacular.

Image shows the two tall, thin tiers of Multnomah Falls plunging over basalt. There's a stone arch bridge between the tiers.

Multnomah Falls.

There were far too many people in the way to get a good shot, though. You can see the tops of their heads if you look at the bottom.

We headed up onto the bridge, as B was recovered enough for a little light walking. I was able to get a challenge picture for you! Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to find the umbrella in this photo:

Image shows the terrace below Upper Multnomah Falls, and the creek wending its way along. To the right, the sheer cliffs of basalt rise, topped with lush greenery. To the left is a screen of trees, and the walkways filled with people. A sad, lost umbrella is somewhere in this picture...

A little lost umbrella is somewhere in this photo.

I’ll show you it tomorrow, as long as I’m not comatose. So tired…

We got a few more from the bridge, then headed home. We almost didn’t make it, because near Chehalis, some asshole in a very loud car decided she wanted to be in our lane, where we were, going 70 miles an hour on the freeway. She came out of nowhere, accelerating hard, and nearly took the front off my car. I had to brake hard to give her enough room, and for a few seconds, it looked like we were all going into the jersey barriers. We’re lucky the cars crowded around us didn’t hit or get hit by either of us. She sped off, not even having glanced our way, and then zipped over into the slow lanes after a mile or so and dawdled. I have no idea why she was in such a hurry for that short distance, and why I was invisible to her, but since we now had a chance to safely catch her up and get a license plate, we followed her when she exited. B snapped this picture, which I now share for public shaming purposes. If you live in southwestern Washington and know who this car belongs to, please inform her that she almost caused a multi-car wreck with possible fatalities, and she may wish to take a defensive driving course.

Image shows a dark blue Lincoln of some sort with dual exaust and a spoiler. WA license #ATN6376.

The asshole who nearly wrecked us.

We didn’t call the police only because she didn’t seem to be driving drunk. Perhaps her friend had alerted her to her near-massacre, because she drove quite sensibly afterward. Still.

So that was more excitement than we wanted out of today, and not at all the good kind. But the rest of the trip went smoothly, and we have a ton of excellent material for you. The kitties at both houses are alive, well, and thrilled to see us. Misha actually ate nearly all of the treats and dry food I put out and seems to have gained a few ounces, so I’m very happy with that. She howled and howled until I gave her some tuna, and is now curled up beside me, being totes adorbs. She will help me get pictures organized and stuff written up. We’ve got the 35th anniversary of the May 18th eruption on Monday, so I need to get you guys something nice for the occasion. In the meantime, if you’re looking for the series to date, here ’tis. A reader tells me the links at SciAm are completely borked, so please read it here whilst that gets resolved.

I am now going to go relax with my kitty. Have a wonderful rest of your weekend, my darlings!

Hapless Dudes Try Labor, Literally Tap Out

I think I may be a bad person for loving this so much. But I have my reasons!

I’ve never given birth, but I’ve experienced pain verging on it. When your menstrual cramps are worse than kidney stones, and your doctor tells you that women who’ve had both babies and kidney stones said the stone were worse than labor, you can be relatively assured you’ve survived something approximating the most painful experience uterus-bearing people typically face. I’m willing to bet that there’s worse things, like maybe being on fire, but childbirth is generally considered to be pretty awful. Yet our culture tells women it’s beautiful, and wonderful, and they shouldn’t ask for pain relief because that will somehow cheapen the experience or something.

You know what, fuck that. [Read more…]