Okay, Okay, Jeez, I’ll Get You a Feeder!

For the second time this summer, a little gray hummingbird has hovered meaningfully in the corner of my porch where a feeder could be hung quite handily, looked at me for a minute, and then zipped away. I am apparently being told in no uncertain terms that a hummingbird feeder is desired. I live to serve not only cats, but hummingbirds! Just think of the photos I could get for you, my darlings!

But I refuse to hang a feeder in ignorance. Advice and recommendations from those of you who know about this stuff would be awesome. The birds, the cat and I all thank you!

Image shows a gray and green hummingbird in flight against a pale gray background.

This isn’t my hummingbird. That little bugger never hovers when I have a camera ready. This is a female Anna’s hummingbird which vaguely resembles it. Photo by Matthew Field. (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The Cataclysm: “Stripped from the Proximal Forest”

A rather extensive forest became part of a directed blast deposit: that’s the summary. One moment, you’re a green and pleasant home for much of the local wildlife; the next, you’ve been rudely ripped apart and incorporated within a bunch of rock and ash by a volcano having a bad turn. So it goes.

When Rick Waitt traced the fate of Mount St. Helens’s magnificent forests, he found they’d had quite the adventure (aside from being knocked flat, bruised, battered, buried, and burnt). [Read more…]

That My Chair. Also, That My Chair.

I’m knee-deep in creationist textbooks. It takes bloody forever to get through a chapter because I have to constantly stop and look shit up. And I just found a copy of A Beka’s latest mangling of Earth science, so I’ll soon have more work to do. I’ll start posting the results in September for your entertainment/outrage, but for the moment, all I can give you is cat photos.

Misha has a very large porch, and lots of places on it. She has her pillow [Read more…]

Yes, There’s a New Theme. No, It’s Not Perfect Yet

Things look different today, yes. Thank our tech guy that nothing seems to have gone missing, and that the thing actually functions.

For those of you who like the see the most recent posts on the themes that interest you most, this new design should work wonderfully.

Yes, it could function better. Yes, you can tell us what you love, and hate, what works for you and what’s horribly broken, and what improvements you’d like to see. Here’s the link to report tech issues. Use it to report all your wants and needs. You can report them to me, but I may be too busy howling my lungs out over the fact I can’t simply click a button on the main page to see our blogs neatly listed with their most recent posts to hear you. So I’d suggest rather than leaving a comment here and hoping I’ll remember to pass it along, you use the tech support link.

I’m going to go back to demanding a more versatile front page now. Among other things…

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 more…]

“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.

Squirrel!

You’ve not seen anything in life until you’ve seen a squirrel dragging a hunk of bread nearly half its size up a tree.

Image shows a squirrel perched in a tree with an enormous hunk of bread

Okay, I may be exaggerating the size of the bread a bit, but still, it was at least the size of a softball. And that squirrel wasn’t letting go for anything.

I love wild critters, and the way some of them have adapted to urban life. I love the mallards along the stream behind the ballfields who shamelessly demand food, and the crows who remember neighborly acts and never forget (although they may, eventually, forgive) a slight. I adore the adorable things they do. And I admire their moxie.

I imagine most of you have got stories. Do share!

What “Religious Freedom” Looks Like

So-called “religious freedom” bills are springing up like maggots on corpses. Some of you may wonder what such freedom looks like. Zinnia can tell you: she knows just what that freedom looks like to a trans person.

Before this, I actually didn’t have a regular physician, largely because I just didn’t want to deal with doctors. It’s not due to some arbitrary aversion – it’s because receiving appropriate and sensitive healthcare when you’re trans, even healthcare completely unrelated to transitioning, is a minefield.

Trans people have often found that when they seek care for any sort of illness, their doctors advise them to discontinue HRT regardless of whether their current health problem has any connection to this. Some of us don’t even get that far – one of my friends was unable to receive any medical attention for her asthma simply because her doctor refused to treat trans people at all [emphasis added].

This issue is more than anecdotal: in a national survey of over 6,000 trans people, 19% reported they had been denied service by a healthcare provider due to being trans. 28% had been harassed in a medical setting because they’re trans. And 28% also reported that because of disrespect and discrimination from providers, they delayed or avoided treatment when they were ill.

That may not be wise, but when cis people go to a clinic for a flu or a broken toe, they generally don’t have to worry about being turned away just because of who they are. We do, so seeking care can be a difficult thing to contemplate. When going to a new and unfamiliar doctor, we never know what kind of ignorance or hostility we’re going to face. It’s an alarming unknown.

Think about that, the next time you blithely make an appointment, never once worrying that your doctor will refuse to treat you because you’re gay or a trans person or someone who makes their shitty little god angry.

Think about that the next time you see people legislating hate.

Image shows Morpheus from the Matrix. Caption reads, "What if I told you bigots are using freedom of religion to hide their bigotry in this issue."

 

Hey, Christianist Textbook Fans! Wanna Do Something Fun?

The FtBCon2 Panel on Religion and Homeschooling will be going on at 2pm Pacific – if you hate-to-love and/or love-to-hate our Christianist texts, you should come hang out! Just click that big red banner at the very top of the page to get there.

You can also use it to see the other awesome stuff going on today and tomorrow. I’d be all over everything if I didn’t have deadlines. You’ll have to rub some salt in my wounds by telling me what I’m missing.

***

Well, that was information-packed and a bit terrifying if you’ve not encountered the extremism in the fundamentalist Christian homeschool movement. Did you miss it? Not to worry! There’s a video:

For those, like me, who almost never watch videos, I’ll have a synopsis up a bit later.