Pioneering Women in the Geosciences: Introduction

When asked for early geologists, all of us can rattle off names. Some of us may remember Nicolas Steno, the father of stratigraphy. We certainly mention James Hutton (father of deep time) and Charles Lyell (father of modern geology). Some of us would even throw Charles Darwin’s name in there for his work on volcanic islands and coral reefs.

Geology has many fathers, and we know them well. But few of us can name its mothers. Mothers who sacrificed far more than most of the men did – many women could only succeed in the geosciences if they remained unmarried and childless (and some organizations, like the British Geological Survey, made that a formal requirement). They fought discrimination and doubt. They worked hard for a fraction of the recognition their male colleagues got. Despite all the decks stacked against them, they made important contributions to our knowledge of the world. Forgetting the women who left us geoscience legacies is intolerable. We need to remember. [Read more…]

Mystery Flora: Minty-Leaved Pretties

Here are some more lovelies from that same Oregon trip that brought you the starry lavender delights and the lovebugs.

Image shows a tall stem bearing clusters of pinkish-purple flowers and bright green leaves that look a bit like spearmint. It's climbing against a mossy rock.

Mystery Flora I

I have a feeling I could spend the rest of my life just shuffling around Washington and Oregon, and never run out of new sets of flowers. I won’t run low on geology to eyeball, either. Between these things and sporking Christianist textbooks, I should be able to keep these pages well fed.

Another photo of the flowers, showing a cluster surrounded by the leaves. The leaves are in clusters of three.

Mystery Flora II

Speaking of sporkings, my leisure reading is Mouse’s snark at the Left Behind kids series. I have no idea why I like to send myself to sleep by reading about some of the world’s worst books, but I’ve got an idle idea I may get some geology out of them. A tradition started in the comments at Slactivist of renaming Nicolae Carpathia. Since his last name was taken from mountains, people would call him Nicky Rockies and things of that nature. Mouse has carried on that tradition, only she uses some rather obscure-to-Americans mountains and ranges. I’m half-tempted to go back through and blog them. What do you say? Would you like a series introducing you to some mountains of the world?

Image is a wide view showing the flower stems growing against the large rock.

Mystery Flora III

Because the kids’ books are short, Mouse has gotten further along than Fred has with the main series, so we’re already on Wormwood here. I about choked the night I read about it, because according to LaHaye, Wormwood is a big ol’ comet made of – wait for it – rotting wood. Yep. Rotten outspace wood ball, that’s Wormwood, according to those who don’t actually read the Bible literally but think they do, and sometimes take things literally in really odd ways.

It’s a good thing I haven’t done any drugs lately, because that would’ve made me sure I’d done something permanent and terrible to my brain.

Image is a close up of one of the flower clusters, showing full blooms and buds all packed together.

Mystery Flora IV

I suppose that’s why I read this stuff when I could be reading something better: I don’t have to pay close attention, so it’s great for going to sleep with, but at the same time, there are these delightful absurdities that are howlingly funny – until you realize there are people in the world who believe this is an actual thing that is going to happen in the very near future. Ow, my brain.

Speaking of ow, I took a thorough look at that Coulee conspiracy book Trebuchet bought for us, and had to put it down and go do something else. It’s terrible. I’m not sure if it’s going to end up being funny-terrible or terrible-awful when we’re done. It saddens me that there are people who actually think this way, and are earnest about it, and put their thoughts so-called on paper in an effort to make other people believe them. Being so bloody paranoid and narrow-minded can’t make for a very satisfying intellectual life. It’s sad to come across such stunted minds.

Ah, well. Forget that for now. We’ll face it soon enough. For now, flowers.

Image shows a few clusters of the flowers against the rock. A bit of sunshine has emboldened their colors.

Mystery Flora V

That’s much better.

Fundamentals of Fungi: Discovery

Yes, I know you will probably tell me that most of this is lichen, not fungi, but I kinda lump them in the same general category. Otherwise, you’d end up with a series titled, “Likin’ the Lichen,” and then you would want to smack me, which would be uncomfortable for us all.

I think you’ve identified these lovely specimens before, or at least something similar to them, but these look just different enough that I’m not sure if they’re the blue-gray beauties in their prime or something altogether different.

Image shows a moss-covered log with charcoal gray growths with scalloped edges.

Mystery fungi I

There will be real fungi later, too!

[Read more…]

Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education VII: Awash in Creationist Nonsense

Take your seasickness prevention pills and weigh anchor, my darlings. We are embarking on a long voyage, and I’m afraid it won’t be the lovely salt sea, but an ocean of creationist bilge we be sailin’. BJU has got a lot to say about oceanography. A good portion of it is utter bunkum. And there’s three bloody chapters of this shite.

Image shows a cat in a cardboard pirate ship. Caption says, "I comes to plunder yer living room."

The wrong starts out strong with Dr. Emil Silvestru, a creationist speleologist from Romania. He started his career as a secular scientist, then jumped into Christianity with both feet and became a young earth creationist. The quality of his “reasoning” can be assessed by the following explanation: [Read more…]

Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education VI: Oceans O’ Creationism

After a long interlude with ACE, we’re now ready to jump in the deep end of our other creationist textbooks. Make sure you’ve got your scuba gear!

Science of the Physical Creation’s on about the oceans now. They begin their section on oceanography with Psalm 104: 24-25, because it has got the word “sea” in it, and sez God made it, therefore “God did it” is Science Fact. I suspect they’re doing this because there are only so many ways to work God into a discussion of seawater. [Read more…]

Why It’s Important to Keep Combating Creationism

I showed you a few things yesterday that make a case for fighting creationism. But it’s more than just shoddy science education we’ve got to worry about: creationism is far more than just the idea that god-did-it and Jesus rode a velociraptor. I don’t need to babble at you, though. ACE school survivor Jonny Scaramanga is here to tell you what other odious ideas creationism supports, and why it’s a damned good idea to oppose it. (Feminists take note, please. This stuff has direct relevance to the issues we face.)

Image shows a woman looking omniously at the camera. Caption says, "Be afraid. Be very afraid."

[Read more…]

We’re in Deep, Deep Trouble Indeed

DonDueed left a comment on our latest ACE atrocity post that reflects thoughts I had when I first started our Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education series:

There’s a question that’s been gnawing at me since you started this series. Just how widespread is this Christian home schooling cult?

If it’s a tiny fraction of the population, I’d say it’s not worthy of all the attention and effort on your (and our) part. But if there are significant numbers of kids being fed this atrocious crap, we’re in deep, deep trouble.

Good points! So let’s talk a bit about homeschooling first, then I’ll hit everyone with the map that will make you choke. [Read more…]

Bodacious Botany: Vaguely Tropical

Back where I grew up, “evergreens” were generally conifers. We didn’t seem to have many plants that would remain alive and vibrant during the winter unless they had needles for leaves. Even nearly a decade later, I’m still occasionally surprised by how much stuff west of the Cascades stays happily green when it’s cold.

I don’t think I’ve seen these bushes at Discovery Park before, but that’s probably because the grass in these meadows gets quite tall and swallows nearly everything. This is not a problem in winter. Wild grass is one of the few things that takes the season off. These plants seem quite happy about it. [Read more…]

Adventures in ACE XII: Wibbly about Water

I know, two ACE posts in a row. And our Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education installment is a whole day early! Don’t you all feel like lucky duckies?

It’s about time we finish with the risible ACE PACE 1086, and the subject matter segues nicely into the chapters on oceans we have coming up in our other “science” textbooks. Besides, after last week’s installment, I’m sure you’re all on the edge of your seats wondering if the Loyaltons are about to go splat against a mountain. So let us continue our flyover with them, and see where we end up. [Read more…]