Unidentified Flying Dinosaur: Bunches of Beautiful Birbs

You’re in for a treat, my darlings! Ken Gibson has given us the keys to his birding kingdom, and I have selected several delights for your identifying pleasure. I’ve linked each photo to the maclargehuge original for ye.

First up, a birb that’s just screaming for a caption: [Read more…]

Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education XIX: Wherein We Learn Christianists Make Lousy Sci-Fi Writers

Buckle in, kiddos. Earth Science 4th Edition’s unit on geology is roughly the size of the entirety of Science of the Physical Creation. And you know it’s going to be a rough ride, because it starts with a blurb from Andrew Snelling. Yes, Dr. Andrew “I’m Happy to do Conventional Geology with Billions of Years and No Goddidit so I Can Get Published in Legitimate Journals, Then Use Those Creds to Shit All Over Geology” Snelling. Yes, Dr. Andrew “Lying About Radiometric Dating for Jesus” Snelling. When you quote a lying fraud right up front as a legit scientist, I tend to suspect that the rest of what you’ve got may not, in fact, be legitimate science.

Let’s find out.

[Read more…]

Brilliant Fall Colors at Icicle Gorge – Come Enjoy!

It’s fall! I hate this season. Yeah, I know, everybody else seems to love it, but I get all maudlin about the dying year. I hate the days getting shorter, the return of endless rain, all the deciduous trees and plants becoming skeletons, the endless pumpkin nonsense… yeah, killjoy, I know. I didn’t even like it in Arizona, when it basically meant the Peaks would be dusted with snow and it would finally drop below blast furnace temps in Phoenix. I’m just not a fall person.

But I do like the brilliant colors of the turning leaves. And I bloody adore Halloween. So there’s that.

Anyway. I’m trying to take advantage of every rare good day we get, and B and I lucked out tremendously. We hadn’t had a chance to actually go out and do anything since his new job started, but this time, he happened to have a day off on one of our few remaining spectacular days, and I was also free, so we hopped in the car and headed over the Cascades to Leavenworth. Just outside of Leavenworth, Icicle Creek plunges through a spectacular gorge cut into the Chiwaukum Schist. There’s a lovely loop trail that winds around and into the gorge, crosses two bridges, and presents a lot of interesting variety along the way. You get creek views, mountain views, forests, bogs, and all sorts of things! There’s even maclargehuge Ponderosa pines, which makes this former Flagstaff, AZ girl happy. [Read more…]

Mystery Geology Revealed!

As promised, I have the answer to our mystery geology.

RQ got the spot right: it’s Hohllay!

Image shows a large sandstone cave from inside. At the right, there is an arched opening looking out toward a jumbled pile of boulders and some trees. At the center and left, there is a large oval opening, with a narrow pillar down the middle. The ceiling overhead is marked with scrapes and grooves, and has many rounded hollows.

Hohllay (“hollow rock”) in Berdorf, Luxembourg. © Dietmar Rabich, rabich.de, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons.

Alas, twasn’t Chthulu or water that hollowed the cave and left the marks. The whole thing was made by humans: [Read more…]

Some Mystery Geology for Your Saturday!

I’ll have photos with fantastic fall colors and really delicious folds in garnet mica schist for ye soon…ish. In the meantime, here’s a bit of a photo I’ve had saved up to show ye! I’m going to present anonymous crops of it first, because I want to give you a chance to see if you can puzzle out what it is. Because it’s a fairly famous landmark, I’m only going to say it’s sandstone, it’s in a European country, and the photo these bits are from is on Wikimedia Commons, available under a Creative Commons license. Why not the whole picture? Because that would give it away instantly! I mean, all you’d have to do is Google it (don’t Google it, that takes all the fun out of the game).

Now: can you tell me what made the cave, and the marks in the ceiling? [Read more…]

Unidentified Flying Dinosaur/Mystery Flora/Cryptopod Triple-Header: Latvian Loverlies!

Back from drooling over some lovely Latvian geology? Just about got your chin dry? Well, bust out a fresh napkin, my darlings, because I have some really fine flora, cryptopods, and a UFD from RQ’s beautiful Baltic nation! She has some really excellent photographic skills. I’ve been smiling over these ever since I got them, and there’s some more that are even cuter!

First up: our UFD, posing with a young child. [Read more…]

New at Rosetta Stones: Scrumptious Latvian Geology!

Our own RQ sent me a treasure trove of delicious photos from Latvia. Did you know Latvia has geology? And that’s it’s gorgeous and interesting even though it’s not volcanic? Fantastic! I cannot tell you how refreshing it is to do something not-volcano. I mean, yeah, obviously, I adore volcanoes, but I never intended to be an igneous-only geoblogger.

So go enjoy some utterly awesome sedimentary outcrops and glacially-sculpted landscapes! And to compliment our theme, we shall have a Latvian triple-header for our mysteries this week! Stay tuned…

Fantastic Fun Photo Op with Our Own Jason and Mount Rainier!

Freethought Blogs’ own Jason Thibeault happened to be in Seattle for Geek Girl Con, and while I didn’t make it to the con, I did get a couple hours with him at the end, before he had to catch his flight. Yay! And it wasn’t pouring rain. Extra yay! And Mount Rainier looked awesome despite the clouds. Super yay! Jason even managed to photograph it with my old machine from the car, which was quite a feat, considering it’s an unfamiliar camera, the lighting contrast was teh suck, and we were going 60mph.

Image shows Mount Rainier looming over I-5, with a freeway sign in front of it. Light gray clouds are piled up around and atop it.

Mount Rainier from I-5. Photo by Jason Thibeault.

I love showing off our local mountain.

If you pull yourself up the full-size version, you’ll note that the cloud at its summit hasn’t developed much. Save that tidbit for later.

I took Jason to our local Herfy’s down in Burien, which is a great place to go if you need to be near the airport, want quick food, but want it to be delicious. I am happy to report that this was a total success. And it was so awesome to finally be able to meet Jason in the flesh. I’ve been following his blog for a long, long time, and I have huge respect for him. I love his writing and his humor and his ability to document tough situations and cut through the crap. Meeting him was a little like meeting a rock star, and hearing him compliment my blog was kind of like realizing, “Oh, hey, shit, yeah, I guess I’m sort of a rock star… mebbe?” and it was also enormous good fun to be able to talk about All the Things. Well, all we could fit in two hours, anyway.

I am now determined to make it to Minnesota if he and his family can’t make it out here. Or we could always do both. I have so much great Seattle stuff I want to show them! And we didn’t get to do Pike Place Chowder, which ZOMG, everyone needs to have Pike Place Chowder at least once in a lifetime.

We got back to the airport rather earlier than we needed to, so we hung about in the cell phone waiting lot enjoying the Not Raining and the views. Views from a cell phone waiting lot at an airport, you ask? Oh, my darlings, yes. Look at this!

Image shows Mount Rainier from the parking lot. The image has the light rail in the foreground, with the lines partially blocking the view, but the mountain is still looming tall and huge. Lenticular clouds are beginning to develop at the summit. A gum tree is getting its fall red in the right foreground, and there's a red-orange tree at the bottom center.

Mount Rainier with some fall color!

And yes, that’s exactly why I’m here. See, I’ve been getting all homesick over Arizona lately, because people keep posting lovely photos from it on Facebook. But then I see this, and I’m like, “Naw, I’m home.” Oh, I want to go back to Arizona again, but only to visit. And maybe if we’re all very lucky, a bunch of us including Jason’s family will form a social justice artists’ commune and go around traveling to gorgeous places and drooling over the scenery and the food. Because, people, I know the places in Arizona that will make your tastebuds weep in gratitude, and the views that will make your eyes weep for the beauty.

(You can apply to the commune in the comments.)

We took a selfie, because of course we had to, and if you look over my shoulder, you’ll see Mount Rainier posing with us.

Image shows me posing with Jason, who is far taller than I am. He's wearing a ball cap and has a most excellent salt-n-pepper goatee.

Lessee… got one o’ my favorite bloggers on my left, favorite mountain on my right… yeah, life’s excellent!

And then, right before we left, the sunset light was hitting Mount Rainier just so, and those lenticular clouds were developing nicely, so of course I took another shot.

Image shows Mount Rainier from the same vantage point as before. The slanted light has sharpened her features, and the lenticular clouds are much more well-developed.

Mount Rainier with her cap on.

Then I took Jason to departures, saw him on his way, and drove home to a very cold kitty who made me take a nap in a blankie cave with her. Perfect day!

I cannot wait for next time.

STEM’s Harassment Problem Goes Well Beyond Field Work

I first published this on Scientific American about a year ago. In light of the news about famous exoplanet astronomer and professor Geoff Marcy sexually harassing undergrad students, it seems it’s time to publish it again.

It’s past time we stop giving offenders a mild scolding. Institutions can no longer let this shit slide. Consequences must be serious for the offenders no matter how famous or well-regarded they are. Victims must be believed and supported. Those attempting to solve this issue must be given the means and institutional support they need to do so. Our STEM spaces should be a hostile environment for harassers, not their targets.

And if that means a good, even great, scientist can no longer do his work because he (or, more rarely, she) harassed or assaulted someone and is punished? Fantastic! Because right now, great scientists aren’t able to do science at all due to the harassers’ behavior. Let’s clear out the bad actors so the others can get on with advancing science. We really don’t need the bad apples as much as we think we do.


D.N. Lee has a post up at her Scientific American blog that needs to be read right now. Here’s a pull quote, but read the entire thing. Now. No excuses.

I know the SAFE research focused on field research experiences – mostly abroad, away from home institution – but many women are getting harassed out of science before field research opportunities become available to them. You don’t have to go far away to experience this pain, and too many divert their research interests to lab spaces to avoid it. You don’t need a New York Times Op-Ed or Huffington Post published piece to hear these stories. Just listen to your students/academic advisees, especially the ones who may suddenly stop coming/going to class or students who refuse to go to office hours to see certain instructors or those that flake out on attending after hours social events or if you notice several students en masse avoid a certain instructor or adviser or section of a class/lab offering. These scholarly environments that indeed do exist, that the royal we have not proactively and deliberately made safe — this is not fair to them or science, either. I wager we are losing some great minds.

The SAFE study was the very first of its kind to document and comment on abuse within field research sciences. When news of this research first hit I remember many critics claiming it wasn’t comprehensive enough, more detailed questions should have been asked, *exact* details of unwanted encounters should have been parsed. Like any ‘first of its kind study’ those comprehensive details are not included. Moreover, I say demanding this amount of detail from subjects is unethical and unnecessary. I have a problem with how easily and quickly fellow scientists can be to harm human subjects because of ‘for the good of science notion’. No, what more detail do you need? I’m mad that we needed data in the first place in order to have a conversation about doing something. If you or our institutions demand this much research, detail and investment before half-way committing to doing something to establishing safe places and spaces for people, then it means they aren’t really, really interested in creating these safe places/spaces. It shouldn’t matter how often or intense the abuse is or when a ‘not who we expected’ victim speaks up that people in power finally create safe places and spaces. Period.

That second paragraph should be horribly familiar to those of us who have been combating sexual assault and harassment in skeptic and atheist circles. That second paragraph needs to be thrust under the noses of every single person in any community who has been hand-waving away reports of problems. And the ones who continue to hand-wave are the ones we’ll know we need to cull from our spaces.

Image shows a tuxedo cat with its paws crossed and a serious look on its face. Caption says, "This is unacceptable."

I have no tolerance left. I’m tired of waiting for people to clue in. Either you recognize there’s a problem with the way women and minorities are treated, or you don’t. If you recognize the problem, help us fix it. If you don’t, get out of our way.

And go read D.N. Lee’s piece until it finally sinks in: you should be doing something to end this right now. You should have started doing it long ago.

No more silence.


A previous version of this post appeared at En Tequila Es Verdad.

Mystery Flora + Cryptopod Double-Header!

The Gray is here for a (hopefully) limited time, so the kitties and I have taken the opportunity to be magnificently lazy while the sun don’t shine. Well, they get to be lazy 24/7; I’ve actually been getting some work done in between cuddles. But even authors need fresh air, so Boo and I went down to the back yard.

S has pretty much always installed some new plant whenever I go. He’s like the plant whisperer (and if you’ve got a garden that needs a loving, expert touch, I’ll send you his info). I’ll have to get you all pictures of the really extravagant one with over two dozen huge blooms before it’s cut back for the winter, but for now, I got some newbies down by the creek. [Read more…]