Los Links 9/23

Lots of amazing stuff this week, my darlings. You’ll notice quite a few things highlighted in bold, and I do hope you read all those, but don’t stop there! There’s so much win in this week’s selections that I could’ve bolded nearly all of them.

DADT

The New Civil Rights Movement: DADT: Gay 88-Year Old WWII Vet Speaks On Repeal Of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

New York Times: Marines Hit the Ground Running in Seeking Recruits at Gay Center.

AP: Navy officer, partner wed in Vt. as ban ends.

Troy Davis

White Coat Underground: Emergency ethics post.

Observations: Eyes (and Minds) Deceive: Witness Unreliability Casts Doubt on Death Penalty Rulings.

Slate: A Killer Issue.

Bad Astronomy: The night the lights went out in Georgia.

Geotripper: The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia…and Texas Too.

Science

Oregon Live: Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition celebrates 40 years as coastal watchdog.

Lifehacker: Forget the Standing Desk; You Just Need to Move Regularly.

Discovery News: Dinosaur Feathers Found in Amber: Photos.

National Geographic: The Beautiful Teenage Brain.

Mountain Beltway: Giant City State Park, Illinois.

Clastic Detritus: Listening to Rivers.

Bad Astronomy: Invaders from Vesta! and The Milky Way from the top of the world.

Not Exactly Rocket Science: Computer gamers solve problem in AIDS research that puzzled scientists for years.

Uncovered Earth: Sometimes You Just Can’t Reach the Top.

Science Cheerleader: “I was skeptical about the Science Cheerleaders.”

Earthly Musings: My 10-Day Rafting Trip Through Grand Canyon – 2011.

NYT Scientist at Work: Northern Lights on the Midnight Watch.

Atomic-O-Licious: An Open Letter of Apology to my Organic Chemistry Students.

Scientific American: Lessons from Sherlock Holmes: Don’t Tangle Two Lines of Thought and Lessons from Sherlock Holmes: Breadth of knowledge is essential.

Wired Science: Q&A: The Unappreciated Benefits of Dyslexia.

Bad Archaeology: I remember why I’ve never wanted satellite television.

Oscillator: Allergy Recapitulates Phylogeny.

The Guardian: Another view on the new Feist album Metals.

Not Necessarily Geology: Pillow Basalt, Bencorragh.

Rapid Uplift: Geological Framework Of the Sikkim Earthquake.

Glacial Till: Meteorite Monday: So you think you’ve found a meteorite.

Science-Based Medicine: Scientific American Mind Is Not So Scientific.

Southern Fried Science: In sexual selection and thermoregulation, bigger is better, at least for fiddler crabs.

Boundary Vision: Students don’t lose their ability to think scientifically.

JPL: Aquarius Yields NASA’s First Global Map of Ocean Salinity.

A Blog Around the Clock: The Mighty Ant-Lion.

Speakeasy Science: Dr. Oz and the Arsenic Thing.

Grist: Oceans kept the last decade from being even hotter.

Dinosaur Tracking: Cretaceous Utah’s New, Switchblade-Clawed Predator.

The Scientist: Plant RNAs Found in Mammals.

Degrees of Freedom: Archimedes and Euclid? Like String Theory versus Freshman Calculus.

Surprising Science: Biologist Rob Dunn: Why I Like Science.

Scientific American: Urban Geology: Artists Investigate Where Cities and Natural Cycles Intersect.

Scientific American: It’s Not That Easy Being Green, but Many Would Like to Be.

The Scicurious Brain: One injection makes you older…

Volcan01010: Farmyard Geomorphology.

Respectful Insolence: Reiki: You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you can get what you need.

Highly Allochthonous: Scenic Saturday: Pinnacle in the Piedmont.

Observations: Hackers Use Open Hardware to Solve Environmental Problems.

Evergreen Public Schools: Evergreen Public Schools Names new school Henrietta lacks Health and BioScience High School.

Terra Sigillata: Kitchen Chemistry: Rose Jelly. Sweet!

History of Geology: Large Igneous Provinces and Mass Extinctions.

Geotripper: You Betcha
, it’s Breccia: Some Otherworldly Pictures
.

Writing

The Creative Penn: Trunk Novels Are An Endangered Species.

The Buttry Diary: ‘He said, she said’ stories fail to seek the truth and report it.

Terrible Minds: Writers Hear that All-Too-Familiar Refrain: ‘Get a Real Job’.

Mitali’s Fire Escape: How To Write Fiction Without The “Right” Ethnic Credentials.

Write to Publish: Branding #3…product vs. author brand.

Take As Directed: Trine Tsouderos on This Week in Virology: When do you fact-check article content with sources?

Password Incorrect: Ebook Specific Cover Design: #2 – Size and Resolution.

Digital Book World: Best Practices For Amazon Ebook Sales.

Atheism and Religion

This Week in Christian Nationalism: A New Ending for an Old Spam Email.

Think Atheist: My Testimony (my journey to atheism).

Unscientific Malaysia: Why atheists must not be silent.

I Heart Chaos: Christian fourth grade textbook, tries to explain electricity but just gives up.

Why Evolution is True: The ugly, vicious, fanatical side of atheism.

BBC: Al-Shabab radio gives weapons prize to Somali children.

Butterflies and Wheels: Don’t think, just live.

ABC Religion and Ethics: Is the Australian Christian Lobby dominionist?

Shouts & Murmurs: God’s Blog.

Women’s Issues

Another Feminist Blog: Boundaries.

Firedoglake: Sluts Are Asking the Right Question about Rape.

Almost Diamonds: “Consent Is Hard” and MRA Says, “Yep, We’re Domestic Abusers”.

Strange Ink: Let’s talk about sex.

Man Boobz: Violence against women? Blame it on feminism, says W. F. Price.

Downlo: A Useful Rape Analogy.

BBC: ‘My cousin wanted me for a passport’.

Madison Magazine: Why Doesn’t She Just Leave?

Butterflies and Wheels: We wanted to do a bruised-up Barbie shoot.

The F Word: On Tom Martin’s campaign to sue LSE.

MSN CA: Is this the most annoying thing a man can do to a woman?

Biodork: Fighting Kindness with Kindness.

Camels with Hammers: Be Careful About Loving Women Too Much Lest Other Guys Think You’re Gay.

Politics

Spocko’s Brain: No Brains. No Heart. The Tea Party/CNN debate.

Firedoglake: Woman Who Watched Her Brother Die From Lack of Insurance Delivers Powerful Rebuttal to GOP.

Balloon Juice: The Modern Inquisition, Starring David Brooks in the Role of Phlogiston Man.

Think Progress: Texas GOP Rep On Cuts To Family Planning: ‘Of Course This Is A War On Birth Control’.

Decrepit Old Fool: “You get what you pay for” – third in a series of things we used to say.

MoveOn.org: The Elizabeth Warren Quote Every American Needs To See.

White Coat Underground: Death cult.

Salon: A real Wall Street takeover threat.

Duluth News Tribune: Sam Cook: Big, bad government sure helped during fire.

War is a Crime: Welcome to Boston, Mr. Rumsfeld. You Are Under Arrest.

Dispatches From the Culture Wars: On the Internet, Everyone is a Criminal.

Society and Culture

The Telegraph: Animal rights group PETA to launch pornography website.

Gawker: The Wall Street Journal Wonders: Should We Let Blacks Marry Whites?

Dangerous Minds: Another heartbreaking gay teen suicide.

New York Times: Autistic and Seeking a Place in an Adult World.

Charlotte Observer: Same-sex marriage ballot skips words.

Pam’s House Blend: Will the Catholic Church declare war on Obama over gay equality?

On Top Magazine: North Carolina’s James Forrester Tells Lesbian Mom To Move To New York.

Have a Heart of Fire, Have a Heart of Gold: On understanding.

Nymwars

Almost Diamonds: Pseudonymous Service.

And, finally, two of the sweetest compliments I’ve ever had:

Watershed Hydrogeology Blog: About the best compliment I could get (or, why blogging is worthwhile).

Clastic Detritus: What Rocks: The Week’s Best In the Geoblogosphere.

Banned Books Week Meme

It’s that time o’ the year again, that joyous and irreverent turning up our ink-stained noses at the fools who think banning books is a good idea. Time for a meme, wouldn’t you say?

I got this handy list of the most frequently-challenged books 2000-2009 from the American Library Association’s website. I’ve highlighted the ones I’ve read in bold. Feel free to do the same, my darlings – and do treat yourself to some delicious literary contraband this week.

1. Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling
2. Alice series, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
3. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
4. And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
5. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
6. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
7. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
8. His Dark Materials (series), by Philip Pullman
9. ttyl; ttfn; l8r g8r (series), by Myracle, Lauren
10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
11. Fallen Angels, by Walter Dean Myers
12. It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris
13. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
14. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
15. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
16. Forever, by Judy Blume
17. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
18. Go Ask Alice, by Anonymous
19. Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
20. King and King, by Linda de Haan
21. To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
22. Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily von Ziegesar
23. The Giver, by Lois Lowry
24. In the Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak
25. Killing Mr. Griffen, by Lois Duncan
26. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
27. My Brother Sam Is Dead, by James Lincoln Collier
28. Bridge To Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson
29. The Face on the Milk Carton, by Caroline B. Cooney
30. We All Fall Down, by Robert Cormier
31. What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones
32. Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
33. Snow Falling on Cedars, by David Guterson
34. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler
35. Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging, by Louise Rennison
36. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
37. It’s So Amazing, by Robie Harris
38. Arming America, by Michael Bellasiles
39. Kaffir Boy, by Mark Mathabane
40. Life is Funny, by E.R. Frank
41. Whale Talk, by Chris Crutcher
42. The Fighting Ground, by Avi
43. Blubber, by Judy Blume
44. Athletic Shorts, by Chris Crutcher
45. Crazy Lady, by Jane Leslie Conly
46. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
47. The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby, by George Beard
48. Rainbow Boys, by Alex Sanchez
49. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey
50. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
51. Daughters of Eve, by Lois Duncan
52. The Great Gilly Hopkins, by Katherine Paterson
53. You Hear Me?, by Betsy Franco
54. The Facts Speak for Themselves, by Brock Cole
55. Summer of My German Soldier, by Bette Green
56. When Dad Killed Mom, by Julius Lester
57. Blood and Chocolate, by Annette Curtis Klause
58. Fat Kid Rules the World, by K.L. Going
59. Olive’s Ocean, by Kevin Henkes
60. Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson
61. Draw Me A Star, by Eric Carle
62. The Stupids (series), by Harry Allard
63. The Terrorist, by Caroline B. Cooney
64. Mick Harte Was Here, by Barbara Park
65. The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien
66. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred Taylor
67. A Time to Kill, by John Grisham
68. Always Running, by Luis Rodriguez
69. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
70. Harris and Me, by Gary Paulsen
71. Junie B. Jones (series), by Barbara Park
72. Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison
73. What’s Happening to My Body Book, by Lynda Madaras
74. The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold
75. Anastasia (series), by Lois Lowry
76. A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving
77. Crazy: A Novel, by Benjamin Lebert
78. The Joy of Gay Sex, by Dr. Charles Silverstein
79. The Upstairs Room, by Johanna Reiss
80. A Day No Pigs Would Die, by Robert Newton Peck
81. Black Boy, by Richard Wright
82. Deal With It!, by Esther Drill
83. Detour for Emmy, by Marilyn Reynolds
84. So Far From the Bamboo Grove, by Yoko Watkins
85. Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes, by Chris Crutcher
86. Cut, by Patricia McCormick
87. Tiger Eyes, by Judy Blume
88. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
89. Friday Night Lights, by H.G. Bissenger
90. A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L’Engle
91. Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George
92. The Boy Who Lost His Face, by Louis Sachar
93. Bumps in the Night, by Harry Allard
94. Goosebumps (series), by R.L. Stine
95. Shade’s Children, by Garth Nix
96. Grendel, by John Gardner
97. The House of the Spirits, by Isabel Allende
98. I Saw Esau, by Iona Opte
99. Are You There, God?  It’s Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume
100. America: A Novel, by E.R. Frank

That’s a pathetic showing, I admit. time to get readin’.

Cryptozoology and Cute Fuzzy Critters

No, this isn’t about the cat. This time. Although she’s pretty crypto – I never can figure out why she goes from cuddly to homicidal with no warning, and she is cute and fuzzy. Even when she is trying to tear you limb-from-limb.

We stopped at the North Fork Survivors Gift Shop at the Buried A-Frame on our way to Mount St. Helens. This is practically a requirement. First off, A-frame house buried by a lahar – tell me that doesn’t attract every geologist on the planet. Secondly, Bigfoot statues.



And, this being the Pacific Northwest, Bigfoot’s gotta have an espresso.



Coffee and an apparent salmon – looks like he’s set.

I have a particular fondness for Bigfoot. When I was a kid, I dreamt I was home alone, and people were trying to break in. Then came a rather loud pounding at the door. When I looked through the window, a big hairy face greeted my terrified eyes. Sasquatch! ZOMG. I let it in so it wouldn’t break down the door. It kindly led me over to our enormous oak dining table, turned it on its side, sheltered me behind that makeshift barricade, and proceeded to scare the living daylights out of our erstwhile burglars. After that dream, I kinda hoped my parents would leave me home alone for an evening so Bigfoot would show up.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled reality.

The gift shop is great – you can get lots of loot for cheap. I walked away with a set of five spectacular posters of the volcano for $5. You can’t beat that. They also had a cube of ash collected from various distances, showing nicely how finer particles travel further, and lots of Mount St. Helens Emerald jewelry for cheap. They’ve got a ton more stuff, too, all of it fun and some informative. They’ve got actual geological signs, too. This little spot has all you can ask for: kitsch to keep the non-geologist occupied while you get on with the geology.

You can get down to the Toutle River from here. And that’s where we found some utterly adorable caterpillars.



These, as far as I can tell, are Lophocampa maculata. The orange one on the left is a late instar, and the one on the right an early instar.



I could, of course, be completely wrong about the species, but I defend my assessment of their adorableness. They’re rather lovely.



Steamforged and I spent quite a bit of time snapping photos of them. Perfect lighting, perfect subjects, delightful.

On the way back, I nearly stepped on this gentleman:



I have utterly no idea what species he is, and he’s not as colorful, but still wonderful, what with all that hair. Loves me some hairy caterpillars!

We Need to Stop Executing Peoplel

Last night, the state of Georgia executed a man who was very likely innocent. Like PZ, I don’t care whether he was guilty or innocent. I care that my country is one of the few countries in the world that executes people.

From Wikipedia

I used to be a strong death penalty supporter. Some crimes, I thought, could only be adequately punished by death. I didn’t ever believe it acted as a general deterrent, but as former FBI agent John Douglas said in Mindhunter, it surely acts as a specific deterrent: that particular person will never commit a crime again. When you’re talking about serial killers, that seems like an admirable thing.

But we kill too many innocent people. We come close to killing far more, before luck and persistence and the existence of DNA evidence, uncovered by tireless investigators, come to the rescue. Those are the lucky ones. Those are the ones who aren’t denied the chance to prove their innocence. How many other people have gone to their deaths because no DNA evidence existed, or if it did was never found, or if found, never allowed to be presented? We don’t know. And it’s unbearable that we don’t know.

So what about those cases in which evidence of guilt is undeniable? Where we definitely have the right person, and the crimes they committed are horrific?

I still don’t support the death penalty. Not even for them. Oh, I may want them to die, and die horribly; that visceral emotional reaction, that righteous outrage, is certainly there. But a civilized society should restrain itself. All we gain is another dead person, another traumatized family, proof that we aren’t able to rise above bronze age ideas of justice. We engage in violence to punish violence, and make our civilization just that much more violent.

Life in prison, no parole, is enough to keep society safe.

We spend an insane amount of money on killing people. That money would be far better spent on improving the conditions that lead people to violence in the first place. A society that takes care of its vulnerable members has less to fear from them, and so much to gain.

Troy Davis should be the last person to be put to death in this country. We’re the last country in North America to execute people. It’s time we joined Canada and Mexico in recognizing what justice truly is.

Dragonfly in Action

I meant to post something really nice and substantial tonight, but my darling Aunty Flow is being wretchedly evil this month. We’ll have to make do with a dragonfly instead. But whatta dragonfly! I shot this at Silver Lake, where a lovely visitor’s center and a nice walk on a nature trail built along and on the lake make for a good introduction to Mount St. Helens.

Dragonflies swooped round us, too active to easily photograph, but I got a fantastic action shot of one of the little buggers.



This is why I love my camera: that little dragonfly was several feet away in a riot of vegetation, and it still managed to capture him. Check out the crop:



Not bad for a little point-and-shoot, eh?

I love this shot, because it shows the weird contortions of a dragonfly’s body as it gets ready to launch. They’re such interesting little critters. Someday, I plan to park myself along Silver Lake for an hour or two and catch more of these guys – in addition to the blues, there were some delicious reds I didn’t get a chance to shoot, although Steamforged got a few and might be kind enough to put them up for us soon.

My Volcano Phobia is Officially Pining for the Fjords

We would have ended the summer adventuring season with a bang if Mount St. Helens had been so kind as to erupt.

I used to have a bit of a volcano phobia. I’d have nightmares of majestic mountains suddenly exploding, threatening me with pyroclastic flows and hot red lava. I remember those dreams: tense, terrified sequences that sometimes began with the first jets of steam and ash from an unexpected eruption, sometimes picking up in mid-drama as I tried to gather cat and loved ones and flee. There was a dream where I lived in my childhood home again: the Peaks were putting on a spectacular show outside the sliding glass doors, lava bombs and ash falling all round, hot bits of volcanic ejecta setting off massive forest fires. Lava flows once chased me all the way from Flagstaff to Phoenix, melting the car’s tires and cutting off escape routes. I’d wake up exhausted, heart pounding, eyeballing the nearest mountain for the slightest sign of unrest. I’d run through evacuation plans in my mind and check the news (at the time, rumor had it the ground around Flagstaff was rising by an inch a year, and I believed there was a magma chamber filling up below the mountains). I’d watch teevee shows about eruptions and consider that the oldest volcanics nearby were less than 1,000 years old. The volcanoes were sleeping, not dead, and I was ready: if they so much as twitched, I’d be outta there like a shot.

I never ever in my entire life wanted to see a volcano erupt live. Not even the tame little Hawaiian ones. Nossir. I’d take my eruptions on teevee from a safe distance of several hundred miles, thanks ever so much.

So what did I do? Moved to a subduction zone, where things regularly go boom. My stepmother laughed at me. But as I told her, they monitor these things intensively, and the moment one of them woke, I’d be on her doorstep with cat and suitcase in hand.

I never would have gone to Mount Saint Helens the first time if I’d known she was, actually, erupting. And I would have fled if I’d realized the pretty wisps of steam emerging from the dome weren’t merely residual heat, but active dome-building. The parking lot was filled with scorch marks from hot rocks falling from the sky. And I was damned glad we’d brought the fast car – if it looked to be an eruption, we’d be so outta there.

And we got home after a hell of an experience, and I looked some things up, and realized I’d stared into the heart of an erupting volcano, one that had violent tendencies, and nothing bad had happened.

Still, I’d run, wouldn’t I? If I saw her start to blow, I’d surely scream and run away.

Then I started studying geology.

And then I went back.

And found myself disappointed St. Helens is sleeping.

The scorch marks in the parking lot are faded now. The dome isn’t steaming. The seismometers on her slopes are quiet. And I wished she’d wake up. I wished she was busy dome-building again. I wished I could stand on the viewing platform at Johnston Ridge and watch her put on a show. Not a big one, mind, but just a little something for the kids. Cujo and Steamforged had never seen her in person before. I had the new camera. C’mon, girl, just a little plume for your old buddy Dana. I wrote you a get-well card when you blew apart in ’80, remember?

No such luck. But it doesn’t matter if she’s erupting or not – she’s still spectacular. The blast zone is still a virtual moonscape, despite all the wildflowers and alders. You just don’t get to see bald slopes and deep, wild erosion in western Washington. There’s nothing like a VEI-5 eruption to clear away all that pesky biology.

We took the long climb from the parking lot to Johnston Ridge Observatory. At first, the ridge hides the mountain. She peeks at you, gradually comes into view, and you almost don’t notice because you’re goggling at the downed trees and nearly-naked slopes of the blast zone.



Note the biology starting to get all uppity. I think we need another VEI-5 to teach it a lesson. Yes, it’s pretty; yes, that’s how western Washington’s supposed to be, but damn it, it’s beginning to block the geology views.

And yes, that’s a bit of the crater rim rising above the bushes. Stick with me. A few more feet of climbing, and you’ll see views.

Reach the top, stand on the shoulder of the ridge, and gaze into the amphitheater left by the 1980 eruption. After you’ve managed to unstick your awestruck feet, walk toward the Observatory. There’s another rise, and nestled at the base of that rise, facing the mountain, a monument.



The names of the dead are chiseled in black against the gray stone. Mount St. Helens killed, because we didn’t understand her. We didn’t know quite what to expect of her, or where the safe places were, or took risks for science, or adventure. Harry Truman stayed in his cabin with his cats, too old and too stubborn to flee his beloved mountain.

David A. Johnston died on this ridge. He had time for one last radio transmission: “Vancouver! Vancouver! This is it!” I don’t know how much time he had to realize he wasn’t getting out. Two miles to the north, also directly in the path of the blast, ham radio operator Jerry Martin knew what was coming: he’d just seen David Johnston die. “Gentlemen, the uh, camper and the car sitting over to the south of me is covered,” he said in his last transmission. “It’s gonna get me, too. I can’t get out of here.”

You can hear David’s last words, in a film at the Observatory named for him. And after the movie, the screen goes up, the curtain rises, and there she is.



 Stand there for a moment of silence, then go on.

Inside the Observatory, they have some pretty outstanding displays. They’ve got a huge scale model that lights up, illustrating various phases of the eruption as a narrator speaks.



This one, I think, was showing the pyroclastic flows.



And some of the lahars:



I have a terrible feeling lots of folks have walked away thinking St. Helens spewed rivers of molten lava, but oh well. I wasn’t paying that much attention to it, aside from ooing at the sparkles. No, there was another thing there that demanded attention: a display that you could put your hands on to “feel” earthquakes and other seismic events, with a screen showing you what the seismometers had picked up (running elk, helicopter landing, rock breaking, landslide, various earthquakes) and the thing would shake and shake. This, I have to tell you, could keep a person occupied for hours. Wish I had thought to take a picture, but I was too busy playing with it.

Outside in the Plaza, there’s one of those USGS markers I love so much:



We stayed for the ranger talk, which I’ll be writing up, and then headed out. One last look back:



And then on down to a viewpoint overlooking Castle Lake, where the late evening light and several enthralled people compliment the mountain perfectly.



And with that, the summer adventuring season is well and truly at an end. Good thing, too. I’ve got so much geology to write up I’ll probably still haven’t have gotten it all by the time next summer rolls round.

Ending it here, with the mountain that introduced me to the splendid power of volcanic eruptions at the tender age of 5, seems fitting. Mount St. Helens has been part of my consciousness for nearly the entire span of my memory. She was the most spectacular event of my childhood. She’s become a part of me, she and the people who were caught up in that day of catastrophic destruction.

She’ll likely put on another eruptive display before I die, and unlike me, she won’t grow old. She’ll constantly be tearing herself down and building herself back up, long after we are gone. There’s something very nearly timeless in that, although she’s not eternal. She’s a moment in geological time. But what a moment she is!

Dojo Summer Sessions: Writing Inspirations, Good Advice

I’m busy writing a short story that decided it couldn’t wait and trying to pre-load meaty posts for this long winter writing season. So I shall foist you off on other, wiser people who had quite good things to say to writers such as ourselves. This is a small collection of quotes I’ve gathered over some years and meant to turn into a Dojo article someday. They need no help from me: they can stand alone.

“You ask yourself the following question: To what questions in life have I not yet found a satisfactory answer?”

-Holly Lisle, “Finding Your Themes

“An American editor worries his hair gray to see that no typographical mistakes appear on the page of his magazine.  The Chinese editor is wiser than that.  He wants to leave his readers the supreme satisfaction of discovering a few typographical mistakes for themselves.”

-Lin Yutang, The Importance of Living

“There is a curious thing that one feels sometimes.  When you are considering a subject, suddenly a whole train of reasoning comes before you like a flash of light.  You see it all, yet it takes you perhaps two hours to put on paper all that has occurred to your mind in an instant.  Every part of the subject, the bearings of all its parts upon each other, and all the consequences are there before you.”

            -Lord Wellington, quoted in John Keegan’s The Mask of Command

“A writer of fiction, a professional liar, is paradoxically obsessed with what is true….. the unit of truth, at least for a fiction writer, is the human animal, belonging to the species Homo sapiens, unchanged for at least 100,000 years.

“Fiction, in its groping way, is drawn to those moments of discomfort when society asks more than its individual members can, or wish to, provide.  Ordinary people experiencing friction on the page is what warms our hands and hearts as we write.”

            -John Updike, quoted in Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate

If at least one of those didn’t make your Muse sit up and take notice, then I despair of your Muse.

Los Links 9/16

All right, people. Stop writing awesome stuff I feel compelled to read. Actually, don’t stop, but do allow me to throw my hands up in despair. I need another me who does nothing but read cool shit on the interwebz and can download the results directly into my brain.

Anyway. There’s this one post I have to put right up here, because it’s about the Cascadia Subduction Zone and it’s utterly terrifying, enthralling, and some of the best writing I’ve yet seen.

Outside: Totally Psyched for the Full-Rip Nine.

And now, on with the rest of teh awesome.

Science

Anthropology in Practice: Pieces of the Human Evolutionary Puzzle: Who Was Australopithecus sediba?

Context and Variation: Menstruation is just blood and tissue you ended up not using.

Andrew Alden: Dietary Minerals and Real Minerals.

Obsidian Wings: A brook, run, creek, branch, or stream runs through it.

Glacial Till: The Molalla River, Oregon.

Scientific American: Wire Up Your Sense of Smell: How the Internet Is Changing the World of Perfumery.

Arya M. Sharma, MD: Should We Outsource Obesity Treatment To Weight Watchers?

Atomic-o-licious: The Smell of it.

Guardian: The versatility of science graduates should be celebrated not criticised.

Georneys: Geology Word of the Week: O is for Ooid.

Uncovered Earth: Sunday Science Photos, September 4 – 10.

Glacial Till: Meteorite Monday: The Hayabusa mission to Itokawa.

Denison Geoblog: Flint Ridge, Ohio.

Scientific American: Nile Crocodile Found to Comprise Two Different Species.

Butterflies and Science: Butterflies and Social Science.

The Atlantic: The Dark Side of the Placebo Effect: When Intense Belief Kills.

Clastic Detritus: Seafloor Sunday #89: Photo From the Deepest Part of the Ocean.

American Rivers: The importance of small streams.

Galileo’s Pendulum: A Planet With Two Suns.

The SciencePunk Blog: Five iconic science images, and why they’re wrong. (This solar system scale model is a bit more realistic.)

Scientific American: How to Improve Your Life with Story Editing.

Highly Allochthonous: One recipe for flooding: Take a tropical cyclone and add steep topography.

Scientific American: Lessons from Sherlock Holmes: The Situation Is in the Mindset of the Observer and Lessons from Sherlock Holmes: The Power of Public Opinion.

My Modern Met: Town Squeezed Between Giant Boulders.

Metageologist: What you ought to know about metamorphism.

Cosmic Variance: Trusting Experts.

The Conversation: Diamond planets, climate change and the scientific method.

Scientific American: Peace of Mind: Near-Death Experiences Now Found to Have Scientific Explanations.

Decrepit Old Fool: The alien menace.

Geotripper: Vagabonding across the 39th Parallel: A Canyon Along The Colorado River? Really?

Earth Literally: Dynamic Topography: What’s in a name?

Strange Maps: 531 – A Rio Runs Through It: Naming the American Stream.

Anthropology in Practice: On My Shelf: Geologic City (A Review).

Matt Kutcha: Mineral Cleavage Test.

Mountain Beltway: A dismaying course, part II: evolution  and Clinker.

Skepchick: Guest Post: Birdchick – Are sea eagles coming after your children?

Not Necessarily Geology: Folded Lakes Marble.

The Last Word on Nothing: Guest Post: Part of Me Forever.

Outside the Interzone: Volcanic Ramblings Part 3: Salt Creek Falls.

Writing

Pub Rants: In The Author’s Shoes.

LitReactor: Interesting new tool for writers, might be worth subscribing to.

The Coffee-Stained Writer: Fiction Friday: getting into your characters’ heads.

Nieman Storyboard: Story, interrupted: why we need new approaches to digital narrative.

Bob Mayer’s Blog: Marketing and Indie Authors: Our Successful Release of The Jefferson Allegiance.

The Book Deal: What authors can learn from the bestseller lists.

The Passive Voice: Is There Anything That Can Take the Pain Out of Ebook Formatting?

A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing: Guest Post from Bella Andre (aka Lucy Kevin) (aka Bella Riley).

A Brain Scientist’s Take on Writing: From St. Martins, to Self Publishing, to Amazon: Q&A With Barry Eisler.

Write It Forward: The real gatekeepers in publishing now? Authors.

Terrible Minds: Twenty-Sided Troubadours: Why Writers Should Play Roleplaying Games.

Genreville: Authors Say Agents Try to “Straighten” Gay Characters in YA.

Atheism and Religion

***Dave Does the Blog: Man Does Not Live By Bread Alone … but he doesn’t live long without it, either.

Lousy Canuck: Why don’t atheists just shut up and stay home? (a repost) and What is an ad hominem? What isn’t?

Oregon Live: Another faith-healing death of a child puts Oregon City parents on trial.

Camels With Hammers: A Living Illustration of the Problem With Trying To Love The Gay Person But Hate Her Gayness and How Religious Bullying Makes Atheists So Angry: One New Atheist’s Story.

On Humanity, Naturally: Concerns About the Religious Right Are Not Overblown.

Women’s Issues

White Coat Underground: A trick question.

Jezebel: County Attorney Accused Of Making Rape Jokes, Ignoring Child Porn.

Emily L. Hauser – In My Head: “Like a girl” – yes, again.

The Guardian: As the Topman T-shirts show, misogyny is now so commonplace it’s mundane.

The Guardian: Let’s get this straight. Gender studies isn’t about ‘women good, men bad’.

Slate: The Girl Scouts’ Allegedly Radical Feminist Lesbian Agenda.

The Daily Beast: Women: The Invisible Poor.

Science Sushi: Observations: Why do women cry? Obviously, it’s so they don’t get laid.

Ynet News: Cadets dismissed over woman’s song.

National Postdoctoral Association: A Postdoc’s Guide to Pregnancy and Maternity Leave.

ABC News: Forever 21′s ‘Allergic to Algebra’ Shirt Draws Criticism.

Almost Diamonds: And Then You Wait.

Gamasutra: Gamazon: ‘Feminist Whore’ Powers Activate.

Politics

ThinkProgress: GOP Legislator: Homosexuality Is ‘More Dangerous’ Than Terrorist Attacks Because We Have To Deal With It Every Day.

Paul Krugman: Setting Their Hair on Fire.

Wisconsin Gazette: GOP memo instructs DMV workers not to tell voters that photo IDs are free.

Thoughts from Kansas: Why science questions matter for candidates.

Media Matters: Murdoch’s U.S. Hacking Woes Grow.

Washington Post: Bachmann’s wrongheaded attack on HPV vaccinations.

White Coat Underground: Ignorance, beatified.

Almost Diamonds: Emily for Elizabeth.

***Dave Does the Blog: Lying Talking Points for the 2012 Election (Collect the Whole Set!).

Newser: Debate Crowd Cheers Letting Uninsured Die.

The Dish: Republicanism As Religion.

Politco: GOP grumbles about jobs plan.

Grits for Breakfast: From the off-topic irony department: Fire Follies.

Nymwars

Bioephemera: Pseudonymity: Five Reasons the New Scienceblogs/NG Policy is Misguided.

Society and Culture

Decrepit Old Fool: Dan Savage at Illinois State University.

Stories from the Heartland: Some real Shock and Awe: Racially profiled and cuffed in Detroit.

Jay Rosen’s Press Think: We Have No Idea Who’s Right: Criticizing “he said, she said” journalism at NPR.

Def Shepherd: Why A Heterosexual, Married, North Carolinian Father Of Three Cares About LGBT Equality.

Pam’s House Blend: Bible-beating Kentucky lawmaker wants to pass a bill to protect anti-gay bullies.

Mike the Mad Biologist: “Why the HELL Didn’t He KEEP HER IN THE HOSPITAL?” and Why Low-Income Parents Rationally Choose Failing Schools.

Foreign Policy: Got Cheap Milk?

The Mary Sue: How To Have An Awesome Wedding: Do it With Dinosaurs.

The Washington Examiner: You have a right to record the police.

Danger Room: How to Beat Terrorism: Refuse to Be Terrorized.

HamdenRice: Most of you have no idea what Martin Luther King actually did.

I Love the Smell of a Scam Crashing and Burning In the Morning

The Internet Age has been kind to scammers, who have used the toobz to find all sorts of hapless victims. But worms can turn. A little bit of Google-fu can turn you from potential victim to fraudbuster.

Case in point: Sai posted this awesome hunt for a fraudster on Google+. This shit’s like potato chips for me – I’m not satisfied after one little bite, I’ve gotta have the whole bag. So I clicked the link over to Popehat, and found myself vastly entertained for a half-hour. Upshot: if you receive an invoice from UST Development, US Telecom, or similar, research before you assume you owe. They’re a big ol’ scummy scam.

More importantly, however, this series of posts shows you how you can protect yourself by not assuming an invoice means someone in your company actually ordered a service just because there’s a slightly-odd invoice landing on your desk, and by doing a few Google searches to check things out. Don’t have a company? Doesn’t mean you won’t get scammed. Research anyone attempting to part you from your cash, or offering you unexpected money, or asking you weird questions.

I actually love this stuff. I think it goes back to the days when I used to watch all the cheesy 80s PI shows, and had a brief desire to become a private investigator. I gave up that dream early on, but still lap up true crime stories. One of my favorites was The Cuckoo’s Egg, which almost had me in college learning all I could of computers and networks just for the sheer joy of tracking cybercriminals, before I decided I should just focus on my writing instead. I’ve read Kevin Mitnick’s The Art of Deception, which opened my eyes to social engineering and has served me in good stead in my current job.

That book also helped me impress the pants off our fraud department.

Not long after I joined my current company, they threw a big job fair, where I got to meet really real FBI agents for the first time (they were super-nice and for some silly reason encouraged me to join the Bureau despite my lack of any useful degree, or indeed, any degree whatsoever. They have civilian positions, they said). And there was this booth, all tarted up with balloons and things, prize bags, clipboards, and a nice gentleman foisting a clipboard on me and saying all I had to do was fill out a survey to win.

I don’t remember what the banner said – something innocuous. They had a few books displayed. One of them was The Art of Deception.

“Sure,” I said, and took the clipboard. I looked at the questions. Mind you, I was already suspicious – with that book sitting there and these folks not saying what company or department within our own company they represented, I figured they were up to something. A glance down the list of questions confirmed it. Mother’s maiden name? Name of your first pet? Favorite color? And others, salted with a few questions that might distract you from what they were actually asking.

I laughed, handed back the clipboard without a single pen mark on the “survey,” and said, “No thanks.”

“Why not?” the squeaky-clean gentleman who’d handed me the survey asked.

“Because these questions are designed to get my passwords.”

He broke into a great big gleaming grin, and said, “You’re the only person who’s gotten that.” Which I found super-sad, considering all the classic signs of a fraud were there, combined with that bloody book. I’d thought it was blindingly obvious what was up.

The proprietors of the booth were from our fraud department, and I’ve still got the calculator in the shape of a cell phone they awarded me for being able to spot the bleedin’ obvious. If they’re ever hiring again over there, I might give it a go. There’s nothing I love better in my current job than getting a whiff o’ fraud, doing a bit of account research to confirm my suspicion, and then sending them a referral so they can do a proper investigation. That kind of thing leaves me glowing for days.

Wait, there was a moral to this story. It’s not just “look at me, I am awesome.” It’s this: scammers are clever, but you are more clever. You’ve got instincts you can hone. Pay attention to what people are taking from you when they’re offering you something for free. Are they asking the sorts of questions that often come up on those security questions thingies for password resets? Are they playing on your emotions, whether fear or compassion, a little too heavily in order to get you to give them money or answers? Is a bit of your brain screaming, “Hey, something’s not right!”?

If so, take the time to do some research, even if they’re all up in your face howling that you’ll miss the opportunity of a lifetime or kiddies will die if you don’t donate right now or threaten to set the law on you for not paying what they swear you owe them even though you can’t remember ever doing business with them. Decline to answer invasive questions. Use Google. Listen to that part of your brain that says, “This doesn’t pass the smell test,” but can’t quite articulate why.

And if some dude claims he needs you to send him money so he can send you a bunch of money from Nigeria, just say no. Unless, of course, you want to have a little fun fucking with the fucktards. In which case, go mad.

Caturday Sunbeams

And I’m spent. Also very, very behind in this week’s blog reading, so if you lot want a nice, fat Los Links come Monday, I’m going to have to pawn you off with a little light (ah-ha-ha) entertainment.

The sun has forsaken us now, but last week, Seattle attempted to apologize for not giving us an actual summer. Lovely 80+ degree days with wonderfully cool nights, my favorite. I usually don’t open the curtains in the bedroom, because keeping the place a dark cave prevents it from getting warm, but over the last several sunny days, I took to letting the sunshine is for the poor kitteh, who wasn’t getting enough quality porch time.

This met with some approval.



About the second or third day (I know, consecutive sunny days in Seattle, unheard of!), she figured out the routine. She appeared at the window before I’d even gone to it and stood there, little nose poked out and eyes half-closed, awaiting that magical moment when Mommy would let Mr. Sunbeam in. And this continued to be her routine most days thereafter. I wish I’d had the camera handy, but the one time I did, she broke her streak. On purpose, I’m sure.

But she did allow me to catch this moment of bliss:



Doesn’t she just look smugly self-satisfied? You’d think she was responsible for the fine weather.

You may be wondering about the blue thingy. That’s her hair tie. She won’t play with cat toys, but for some reason, adores chasing hair ties. She’ll even play fetch with them sometimes. And when she’s not chewing on Mommy, she likes chewing on them:



Funniest moment ever was when she started dry-coughing due to a developing hairball, but wouldn’t let the hair tie go, so it was dangling from a tooth as she wheezed. She’s ridiculously cute sometimes. I try to explain this to friends who wonder why I’ve kept an animal with homicidal tendencies. They just do not understand the power of her Massive Cute.

During the day, her sunbeam would move, but she’d sleep through it. So when I was home, I’d go back to the bedroom every hour or so and drag her a few inches over. I probably shouldn’t have done – this just taught her she didn’t have to do a damned thing for herself. No matter. Once the sunbeams had well and truly moved on, she’d amble out through the living room and onto the porch for a nice lie-down in the sunshine with her favorite rocks. So she did get exercise. Of a sort.

I’m looking forward to the winter writing season, but I’ll miss these times.