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Jul 25 2014

Nerp. Still Not Deep Enough

Let us reassess whether atheism should be divided or not. Lemme see… Would I want to be on the same side as The Amazing Atheist, f’r instance? Ha ha ha ha no.

My, that was easy. Someone that despicable clearly has no place on my side of the Deep Rift™. I don’t fancy wading hip-deep in festering hatred just to get a larf at creationism. Why, all I need for that is to read their very own textbooks.

But what about his addled supporters? Should I, perhaps, build a small rope bridge between us?

No, I don’t think I shall tolerate hanging with the same side that thinks violent misogynists are no big so long as they deride creationists in a manner they find pleasing.

I shall be assidiously avoiding all association with those who think it’s better to defend an asshole than find and promote the non-assholes who do the same work. I am not so desperate for allies that I need to accept such grotty specimens.

No, the side that embraces people who find it sporting good fun to deliberately trigger rape victims, threaten to rape people with a fist, and hate on teenage girls because society frowns on them salivating on same, can stay far, far away from my side. They, to me, are what the Westboro Baptist Church is to my liberal Christian friends.

Image shows a statue of David Livingstone shading his eyes. Caption says, "No, I'm afraid I can still see them. Do keep widening."I think we can do nicely without that sort, thanks. In point of fact, I think we must.

Jul 25 2014

Danger Zone! The New Madrid Seismic Zone

(A reprise from Rosetta Stones, especially for Robert B., as this answers part of the question posed: “But what’s up with South Carolina and the Mississippi/Ohio River confluence?”)

 

Malachite asked an excellent question I’m actually well-placed to address without further research. Yay!

New curiosity: what the heck is that danger zone where Missouri meets Tennessee?

Heh. Pretty startling, innit?

Image shows a map of the US with hazard zones picked out in yellow and red. There's a bullseye just right of Texas. It hits corners of Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, Missouri, and Illinois.

USGS National Seismogenic Hazard Map. Image courtesy USGS.

That great big target painted on Middle America, my friends, is the New Madrid Seismic Zone. In 1811, it broke in a big way, so big it caused the Mississippi River to run backwards for a bit. Lots of interesting things happened that weren’t quite so interesting to the people who lived through it. More terrifying. And since then, people have watched that fault with a wary stare. It still kicks from time to time, letting us know the earth isn’t as stable as we’d like. But some studies suggest that those may just be aftershocks, long after the main event, and nothing much to worry about. I wrote that up here, a long time ago when I was a young, fresh science blogger.

The thing about New Madrid is this: it was so dramatic, so unexpected, that we’ve approached it with an overabundance of caution ever since. And until further studies confirm it’s no longer a threat, I personally think we’d be wise to continue to treat it as a potential, even if not probable, problem. And this is an excellent place to study intercontinental earthquakes, which are odd and intriguing, so let the science continue!

Here are some additional links should you wish to investigate further.

Nature: Seth Stein: The quake killer.

Nature: Long aftershock sequences within continents and implications for earthquake hazard assessment (pdf).

Highly Allochthonous: Earthquakes within plates: we don’t know when, and we may not know where.

+/- Science:  An Abbreviated Numerical History of the Great New Madrid Earthquakes.

Geologic diagram of the Reelfoot Rift. Image courtesy USGS.

Geologic diagram of the Reelfoot Rift. Image courtesy USGS.

 

Jul 24 2014

On The Necessity of Geology

There is an urgent need for talking and teaching geology.

Many people don’t know it. They think geology is rocks, but if they’re not rock aficionados, it’s nothing to do with them. So our K-12 schools inadequately teach the earth sciences (pdf). People don’t learn about geology, and they grow up to move to hazardous areas without being aware of the risks. They grow into politicians who feel it’s smart to sneer at volcano monitoring. They become people who don’t understand what geologists can and cannot do, and imprison scientists who couldn’t predict the unpredictable.

L'Aquila, Abruzzo, Italy. A goverment's office disrupted by the 2009 earthquake. Image and caption courtesy The Wiz83 via Wikimedia Commons.

L’Aquila, Abruzzo, Italy. A goverment’s office disrupted by the 2009 earthquake. Image and caption courtesy The Wiz83 via Wikimedia Commons.

So we need to talk geology, anywhere and everywhere we can. Read the rest of this entry »

Jul 23 2014

Cryptopod: Lavender Eyes (With Bonus UFD!)

Let’s break out of the North American rut, shall we? Here’s a gorgeous moth from Latvia, sent by our own RQ: Read the rest of this entry »

Jul 23 2014

Oh, Dear, the Rifts Aren’t Yet Deep Enough

Sigh. Yet another cycle of asshole atheists throwing feces at those of us who care about doing more than merely shitting on religion. We’ve got the so-called Amazing Atheist stirring up the masses to send ridiculous missives saying, in effect, Atheism Is All So Shut Up and Stop Dividing the Community By Requiring Basic Human Decency!!! And we’ve got Jaclyn Glenn putting up Very Concerned Comments and Videos about how divided we fall and feminists are icky and feminists are sooo divisive… my gosh, color me convinced. Mm-hmmm.

Or, you know. Not.

Image shows a black and white kitten lying in bottom half of an egg carton. Other half is spikey. caption says, Other side wazn't so comferbul."I don’t write about this stuff all that often, partly because I give myself a headache rolling my eyes and then wander off to do something more interesting, like scrub the cat’s water dish, but mostly because other people on this side of the Deep Rift™ do a bonza job of putting this drivel in perspective. A small selection: Read the rest of this entry »

Jul 22 2014

Stachys Standing Proud

One of these days, I’ll get round to making a little e-book of the flowers ya’ll have identified, so I can look it up and say, definitively, “That’s the flower my readers identified as X” rather than, “Oh, hey, there’s one of the flowers my readers told me the name of, I think, only I can’t remember it off the top of my head, but they know what it is I swear!” Either that, or I will have to become fabulously rich so that I can take a gaggle of you with me all over the world, and have you identify things, and then we’ll post the pictures and idents via satellite phone or something, real-time. We could make up special t-shirts and everything. And we would also support various social-justice causes with our treks, and offset our carbon footprints, and all sorts of responsible things. All while subverting creationist drivel with fun facts. Sound good? Let’s do it! Now I just have to figure out how to become rich…

While I’m working on that, have some fun gazing upon one of the flowers you’ve successfully identified in the past: Stachys cooleyae, or Cooley’s hedge nettle. Read the rest of this entry »

Jul 21 2014

“A Simple Answer”

What Avi said about the “Why don’t X produce Y” questions that clueless privileged people ask about the horribly disadvantaged. This is in context of Israel’s current enthusiastic killing of Palestinians, but with minor modifications, it applies to just about every sort of people who have a hard time producing the kinds of artists and intellectuals and so forth that we so admire:

I remember Dawkins and other atheists asking question once. Why does Israel produce so many people who are smart and productive while Palestinians do not.

And to that I have a simple answer.

There are no mathematics lessons in a fox hole.

Why is it that people who live in societies and bits of societies where they are largely (or completely) not forced to divert all of their physical and intellectual resources to mere survival so surprised that people not similarly advantaged can’t produce what the advantaged can produce? It’s like some jackass growing a garden in rich, rockless loam marveling that their neighbor can’t grow prize-winning zucchini on a cracked concrete slab.

That’s just the sad coda to a tragic post about a horrific situation. Read the whole thing. And then consider a donation to Médecins Sans Frontières. Facing inhumanity with humanity seems the only thing to do…

Kelly, MSF anesthetist, in the intensive care unit of the burns service of Shifa hospital where two brothers, 8 and 4 years old, are hospitalized after being severely burned when a missile fell on their house. Image/caption credit: Samantha Maurin/MSF

Kelly, MSF anesthetist, in the intensive care unit of the burns service of Shifa hospital where two brothers, 8 and 4 years old, are hospitalized after being severely burned when a missile fell on their house. Image/caption credit: Samantha Maurin/MSF

And yes, I know the United States not only supports Israel so that it can bomb children on beaches, but does quite a lot of bombing children on its own. And no, I don’t approve when we do it, either.

Jul 21 2014

New at Rosetta Stones: Moar Illinois Geology!

Clearing the backlog of reader-submitted awesomeness continues apace with some lovely shots of Jackson Falls, taken by our own Heliconia, who would’ve also gotten us images of Garden of the Gods if her camera battery hadn’t given her a fine fuck-you just then. Camera batteries are assholes that way. And you can never find the size you need when you’re traveling. Or, if you do, you end up paying a fortune – just ask Cujo about that sometime, if you want to hear a St. Bernard howl. Still. Despite setbacks, Heliconia didn’t forget us, and got us some lovely images of what the Pounds Standstone gets up to when it isn’t forming ginormous shrooms. Do go enjoy!

I’ll probably be in later today with more things, unless cleaning and organizing the house into a proper workspace becomes a time-swallowing uber-Thing, in which case, you may not hear anything substantial from me again until at least Thursday. Good thing there’s a maclargehuge backlog of reader submissions including many intriguing cryptopods, some bonza fungi, botany from around the world, and beautiful mystery flora to keep us all occupied, then, eh?

Jul 20 2014

Mystery Flora: Bitey McBiterson

The trouble with trees (and every other living thing) is that some of them have had to evolve defenses. Some of them are obvious about it, practically shrieking, “I’ll cut/puncture/poison/stickify you! STAY AWAY FROM MEEEE!!!!” Some are subtle and devious jerks, drawing you in by seeming all tame and pretty, then giving you a stealthy stab.

Such is this beauty, which attacked our own RowanVT, and whom she has dubbed Bitey McBiterson, which is the best name for a bush ever:

Image shows a verdant green bush with yellow flowers. It's very fluffy.

Bitey McBiterson I

You’ll have to ask RowanVT where this was. All I know is that it was June, and she was camping…. somewhere. Somewhere that had many interesting and beautiful things, which she sent to us, and one evil bushy tree, which was actually quite pretty. Read the rest of this entry »

Jul 19 2014

Sea Stack Pining for the Sea

One of the first roadside zomg-look-at-the-scenery pullouts at the northern end of Cape Disappointment State Park happens to overlook a wonderful example of what happens when sediment fills in the sea round a sea stack. Can you spot it?

Image is looking out to sea. In the foreground are trees, some snags, and a knob of rock. Beyond it is a flat area covered with vegetation and a strip of sandy beach beyond.

Lonely Sea Stack is Lonely

This is the result when a nice, hard stack of basalt (in this case the Eocene Crescent Formation basalt) ends up in a sea of sediment instead of a sea of saltwater. Poor thing is now stuck inland. The only time it’ll be a stack again is either during a tsunami or if sea level rises.

Image shows a closer view of the top of the former sea stack, which has grown a mantle of moss, grass, and possibly a tree.

Let’s Call it Broody.

There’s probably some technical term for these things. I thought it was “knocker,” but that seems to only refer to knobs of rock within a melange. And my brief attempt to wrestle an answer out of Google was non-successful. Who here knows what they’re technically called?

If there is no technical term, I call dibs on calling them “broodies,” just in case that catches on.

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