Flat Earth: An Astonishingly Good Book About a Very Bad Idea

When I’m reading creationist textbooks, one thing I’m grateful for is that they’re not written by flat-earthers. One wonders why they’re not: after all, a literal reading of the Bible points very much to the idea that the earth is, indeed, a plane rather than a sphere. But some ideas are so difficult to sustain in the face of plain scientific evidence that even people who, in all seriousness, claim that every living thing on Earth descends from the inmates of a single wooden boat which survived  a violent global flood, can’t bring themselves to believe it. Really, did anyone post-Renaissance ever seriously believe that nonsense? [Read more…]

Baker in Winter

I’ve got a treat for ye! You’ll have to look close, though, because the bloody trees everywhere:

Image shows Mount Baker just barely visible through the branches of bare-branched deciduous trees.

Mount Baker from Lord Hill.

There are several places at Lord Hill Regional Park marked as scenic views. And they probably were, back when the park was first created. However, it’s the Pacific Northwest, and trees love to grow very quickly. In summer, this isn’t a viewpoint at all. In winter, if you’re lucky, and find just the right position, and squint a little, you’ll see Baker peeking through the bare winter branches.

Image is similar to the above, cropped to show the mountain better.

Moar Mount Baker

There are places you can go on Lord Hill where you get magnificent views, but we didn’t make it there this time. We were tuckered by the time we reached this. But there’s plenty of winter left, and there will be sunny days with bare branches, and possibly less fog. The Skykomish River valley was still full of it even in the late afternoon, and my portion of Bothell pretty much remained socked-in. The Sammamish River valley here loves to fog up, and refuses to unfog. We’d actually planned to go to Discovery Park, but a webcam in the area assured me we were out of luck there, too. But Lord Hill’s high enough to pop above the fog, so there we went, and at least we got to see a bit of Baker.

I love Lord Hill. It’s a knob of basalt, and basalt is rather rare in this part of the Puget Sound lowland. I drool over it. I also noticed quarries I hadn’t seen before, but unfortunately, one was rather densely coated in plant life, and the other was not situated in a way that my camera would deal with well in low light conditions, so no photos of those. Sometime this summer, though, B and I will do the transect across the park from the riverside quarry, and see lots of sights, and show them to you properly.

And sometime soonish, we’ll make it back to Discovery Park. I’ve heard the view of the Olympics from there right now is mega-fantastic with all the snow on them. And perhaps we’ll even see a UFD or two.

Suggestions for Rosetta Stones Topics?

I’ve put up a post outlining a bit of what I’ve got planned for Rosetta Stones this year, and I’ve opened the floor to suggestions. Leave your wants in the comments! The more topics, the merrier. Also, if you have any subjects you’d like me to tackle for ye here at the cantina, let me know. We can do whatever we want here, so don’t feel constrained in subject matter. Suggest away!

Picture of me pointing to contact between basalt and sedimentary rock. Caption says, "2015's gonna be amazeballs"

Adventures in ACE X: Misinformed About Metamorphic

There comes a point when, during the perusal of an ACE science PACE, the brain bluescreens. The system shuts down for self-protection. It’s usually at about the point where you’ve encountered the umpteenth wrong thing in as many sentences, and you begin wondering how any adult can be so bloody fucking ignorant. You suddenly realize that more than one bloody fucking ignorant adult was involved in writing this pablum. And you begin to consider that some of the children being subjected to this shit will never recover, but will someday regurgitate this shit with updated pictures and errors, then expect a whole new generation of kids to lap up their intellectual vomit. This is about the point where the brain crashes.

It’s hard to get through without multiple system failures, is what I’m saying. [Read more…]

Anybody Got Studies on Water Emissions from Volcanoes?

As I’m slowly working my way through these awful Christianist textbooks, I keep running across claims that volcanoes emit lotsa water. They’re very excited about volcanoes and water. When it comes to their BS about volcanoes creating a lot of the Flood water, I think the outrageous heat and acid issues dispose of that nonsense without needing to go in to just how much water is freed from erupting magma.

But there’s another bit I want to deal directly with, and that’s the claim that a lot of the water in a crater lake is from magma. My Google-fu has failed me in this case, and so I turn to you, my geos, for halp: Does anyone have a study that shows proportions of magmatic versus meteoric water in crater lakes? That would be most helpful!

Image shows me leaning against a log fence with Crater Lake in the background.

Moi at Crater Lake. “Creationists Keep Out!”

Drooling Now. Could Someone Please Bring Me a Napkin?

Lithified Detritus, long-time commenter and friend at ETEV, responded to ye olde beach rocks post by sending in beach rocks that, quite frankly, left me burbling incoherently. You know that feeling you get when you see something so awesome all you can do is make vaguely syllable-shaped noises and then attempt to breathe? Yeah, that’s what happened. Covet. Covet these rocks.

Anyway. Rocks and their story, by our own Lithified Detritus. Images and words belong to him. The puddles of saliva are mostly mine. [Read more…]

Cryptopod: Definitely A Romantic

Our lovely mystery flowers of yesterday were chosen as the location for a liaison by two very energetic insects.

Image shows our fabulous flowers with some very tiny black insects on them.

Cryptopod I

You had to get up close to see what they were doing, as they were tiny. If there are any people in the audience who don’t like kids to know how baby arthropods are made, you’ll want to usher them from the room now. [Read more…]

Mystery Flora: Starry Lavender-Blue Delights

Sometimes, rest areas are fruitful avenues of exploration. Take this little rest stop along the I5 near Douglas, Oregon. Lockwood and I stopped there during our May 2013 trip, and I’m pretty sure we didn’t expect to spend so much time out in the weeds. But what wonderful weeds they were! There was a little forest meadowy area filled with delights. These were among the most spectacular: [Read more…]

Bodacious Botany: A Biological Nova

Lockwood and I see some pretty amazing plants on our geological journeys. Take this bright yellow beauty we found at Coquille Point in Bandon, Oregon:

Image shows a plant that slightly resembles an ornamental lettuce. It's bright yellow int he center. The leaves closest to the center are yellow-green, gradually becoming more green the further from the center they are.

Mystery botany I

That’s like a botanical nova on the ground! It was hugging the scarp along the hillside.

Image shows the same plant from a distance. It's hugging a cliff of unconsolidated sediments behind it.

Mystery botany II

Oh, yes, I see you eyeballing all that geology there. Never fear, we shall be exploring it in earnest someday! Meanwhile, revert your eyes to the plant in question. It insists.

Image shows the center of another plant. It has tiny yellow flowers closely-packed. A few stamens are extending from them.

Mystery botany III

You can see how the wee flowers of the inflorescence start out rather subdued, but they appear to bust out in a kind of botanical riot as they age.

Image shows the center of the plant. There is a riot of spiky yellow flowers.

Mystery botany IV

Or perhaps they shed all those bits and reduce back to the flowers. I’m not sure. All I know is that a plant that looks a bit like a silly ornamental lettuce at first glance repays close inspection.

Image shows a smaller, younger-looking version of the same plant.

Mystery Botany V

And it’s surrounded by some pretty hardy stuff. This is an Oregon Coast headland, which is subjected to a lot of strong wind and lashing rain. There aren’t a lot of trees growing here. I suspect it’s because of the geology, but we’ll find that out when I finally write up the location. Someday. I promise it will happen!

Meanwhile, let’s zoom out and take one last look at our splodey yellow friend.

Image is a zoomed-out version of the plant above, showing it surrounded by other hardy headland plants.

Mystery botany VI

Oh, nature. Even your modest little lovelies are somehow epic.

Mount St. Helens Calendar Prints – and Moar! – Now on Sale!

It being close to 2015 and all, I got to thinking about calendars. Perhaps, I realized, folks might actually want one. Maybe they need one for the fridge, or their desk, or similar. Maybe they’d like an inexpensive one to hang upon their wall. So I dug round some sites, and discovered that Cafe Press makes a quite lovely 11 x 17 inch print calendar, all nice and glossy and colorful, for cheap! I designed you one, and here ’tis: [Read more…]