Sweet White Cliffs: Chalk Stories

I remember being pretty shocked as a kid when I found out there were entire cliffs made out of the same sort of stuff our teachers used to write on the blackboard. Oh, yes, I’m that old. We actually mostly had greenboards, but it was chalk all the way. I’d get thoroughly excited when I was allowed to clean the erasers. The smell and dryness of the dust whispers learning to me. I still love the click-tap-scrape of chalk on a chalkboard – it’s one of my favorite, most soothing sounds. Until, of course, you get that hard bit in there and it goes screech, which is really terrible. [Read more…]

A Volcano Changes Everything

We focus a lot here on geology (this being a geology blog and all). But the thing I love about science is how you can start with one and end up visiting most of the rest as you explore. For instance: take the Mount St. Helens eruption. It’s a hell of a geology story, one which isn’t nearly finished – but that dramatic geologic moment caused a cascade of other events that have scientists of all stripes sitting up and taking notice. [Read more…]

AdoraSquirrel!

Mah feets get itchy when the weather’s nice, so I took a lone walk to North Creek on a warm spring afternoon. The ducks there have gotten rather insistent about feeding. They pull awful guilt-trips if I show up empty-handed, as you’ll see in a future post. I try not to feed them too often, but I did take along a bit of food that day, so as to pay my respects and stop disappointing the poor little buggers.

This time, the ducks weren’t the only ones begging. We had two crows show up instantly, although they were too wary to actually partake of the feast.

Image shows two crows, both looking over their shoulders to the right, perched on a branch.

Interested crows.

And there was the most adorable squirrel in the universe. [Read more…]

Reveal that Metazoan! Adorable Snail Onna Tree Edition

We’ve had a very mild winter, even verging on ridiculously warm at times. Even the gray days haven’t been horribly cold, so B and I would sometimes wander about even if it was gloomy. Thus, this January baby snail on a paper birch I shall now show you.

Image shows a very small snail woking its way down a paper birch trunk. It's on a white bit of bark, headed for a buff-colored freshly-peeled part.

Awww! It’s so little!

I had to stop and take twelve million photos, of course, because it was totes adorbs.

[Read more…]

Moar Voting for Really Terrible Bible Story Illustrations!

You good people did me a solid and helped me select the most fucked-up painting suitable for my forthcoming book, Really Terrible Bible Studies. Thankees! Franchescini won, but it was a close-run thing, and some of you almost tempted me with your alternate selections. What, have you been talking to snakes in gardens or something?!

I need your help once again. I have found three excellent candidates for the really terrible Jacob family values. Which should I go with? [Read more…]

God’s Old Earth Curriculum Chapter 3: In Which Minerals and God Aren’t Mixed

We’ve seen quite a lot of Christianist nonsense lately. I’m here to tell you, it’s about to get worse than you ever expected. We’ll be seeing the young earth creationist idea of a “research” paper next, and I’m afraid ya’ll are going to rupture yourselves laughing. It’s too much concentrated derp following the inanity that is ACE. So let’s cleanse our palates with a visit to the Old Earth section of our Christian educational explorations! Turn to Chapter Three with me, and we’ll see what’s in store.

I can hardly believe my eyes. Every chapter thus far has begun with a blurb about God. Here, that perfect record is broken. The pattern, it is unraveled. My psychic abilities, they do not exist. How could this be?

Image is a demotivational poster of a gray kitten with round blue eyes and one paw resting on its mouth, looking perplexed. Caption says, "You perplex me. I like it."

[Read more…]

Really Terrible Bible Stories Excerpt: The Jacob Family Sexploits

XVI

The Jacob Family Sexploits

(Genesis 29 & 30)

These chapters are absolutely X-rated.

Jacob, having been sent away to his Uncle Laban in order to find a wife and avoid being justifiably homicided by his brother, arrives at his destination, where he immediately begins to make a know-it-all nuisance of himself. While he’s busy telling professional shepherds how to herd sheep, his cousin Rachel arrives with another flock. It’s lust-at-first-sight for him. He proves his manly-manliness by rolling away the stone covering the well, waters the sheep, and then grabs Rachel and kisses her without so much as an “excuse me!” He then bursts into tears and tells her they’re cousins, as one does after manhandling a nubile young stranger (Gen. 29:1-12). [Read more…]

“The Future of Our Planet is in Peril in Part Because of Those Who Deny Its Past.”

You know, creationists wouldn’t bother me a bit if they were like UFO chasers, or Bigfoot hunters, or any of a number of other (mostly) harmless groups with odd beliefs. I wouldn’t bother debunking their bloody stupid textbooks if they were a small bunch of powerless doofuses running around babbling about a really old book, and talking nonsense. They wouldn’t trouble me. But they’re brainwashing hundreds of thousands of kids. They’ve got political power, and have an entire party dancing to their reality-denying tune. They’re useful idiots for the Koch brothers and corporations who would prefer to pollute without all those pesky regulations. And it’s not just an anti-evolution, delusions about the age of the earth problem. These folks are happy to let the planet burn to death, because they’re certain it’s all according to their asshole god’s plan: [Read more…]

Vintage Verdad: “Ancient Poetry: Drink Deep the Wine Dark Sea”

(A repost with modifications for World Poetry Day.)

Studying poetry in school felt like slow, merciless death. Those few weeks spent perusing the most insipid pap imaginable every year, tearing down the lines into rhyme, meter and all of the other technical detail, destroyed its power. I came away with the understanding that people in the ancient world were stuffy, insufferable boors. Why the fuck did people make such a fuss about this stuff? What was so great about it?

We were given tap water in safe spoonfuls, when there was a whole briny ocean out there to drink. We were restricted to a European reservation, with no idea that a whole world existed beyond our placid borders. Poetry had no meaning. It whispered in those dull rooms, while outside it shouted. And I never knew.

Caught the occasional glimpse, here and there. ee cummings and his brilliant Buffalo Bill. Ben Jonson’s superb The Noble Nature. Shakespeare’s dramatic and powerful Sonnet XXXV. Emily Dickenson’s deceptively simple I Took My Power in My Hand. But there were just a smattering. A taste of salt on my lips.

Then I discovered the wine dark sea, and set sail through the ancient world. [Read more…]