How to Determine if You’ve Been Bitten by the Geology Bug

Several years ago, during a movie-watching phase, I put up a pair of posts at the old ETEV describing the symptoms of someone bitten by the geology bug. They never made it over here, so I’ve decided to repost them, with some added visuals. If you recognize yourself in these vignettes, you may be assured you’ve been bitten, too.

Fortunately, it’s not (usually) fatal, and leads to a lifetime of healthy fascination with a gorgeous science. It can also lead to vigorous outdoor exercise, which I’m told is often good for you. Huzzah!

How You Know You’re a Geologist at Heart

When you’re watching a movie, and during one of those beautiful scene-setting shots with the house perched on the sea cliffs, you catch your breath and whisper, “Ye gods, look at that tilted strata! I could live there just for that!” And then you drool over the way erosion has exposed the bedding planes.

Any geologist who’s seen The Shipping News probably knows precisely which shot I’m talking about.


Image shows Julianne Moore and Kevin Spacey flying kites. There are some lovely old rocks around them and a seastack.

Screenshot from The Shipping News showing some moar geology.

Geology Strikes Again

Okay, so you know how in Sleepless in Seattle, they roll the opening credits over a relief map of the USA? Yeah. And no shit, there I was, thinking of the vagaries of plate tectonics. ‘Twas the angle on the map, y’see. It showed with amazing clarity just how flat the Midwest is (where it’s tectonically relatively quiet), how low the mountains in the East are (passive margin), and how mountainous the West is (active boundary, whole lotta squishing going on).

I’m sure I’ll start thinking of the actual movie here soon…

Relief map of the USA from The National Atlas, via Wikimedia Commons.

Relief map of the USA from The National Atlas, via Wikimedia Commons.


New at Rosetta Stones: Why You Need a Geologist with Your Holiday Road Trip

Plus outtakes!

Geologists are a great addition to any road trip, especially long boring ones during the holiday season. But they’re great to have along any time! Go see why!

And do please enjoy these roadcut photos that didn’t quite make the cut, but are awesome cuts nonetheless.

Image shows me walking along the road in front of a pile of pink and yellow rock.

Moi in front of the Toroweap Formation, Oak Creek Canyon, Arizona. Photo by Cujo359.

Image shows a wall of granite, with granite weathered into rounded shapes on top.

Prescott, Arizona’s Granite Dells. Bloody awesome place to hike, lemme tell ya. Photo by Cujo359.

Image shows a gray cliff with white streaks through it.

Roadcut through orthogneiss with pegmatite dikes near Diablo Lake.

Image shows a shoulder of pale gray volcanic rock and a rainbow.

A rainbow and roadcut at Mount Rainier.

How Holy Schist is Created

Something so divine as Holy Schist isn’t created in a single day. It’s a lengthy process that can take months, and is filled with a lot of mystical wotsit and sacred somethingorother. I shall now initiate you into the mysteries!

First, over two hundred million years in the past, volcanic islands must erupt, and their rocks erode into submarine sediment fans. Over the next several million years, the sediments become sandstones and shales. Give them about 100 million years to run into the nearest major continent, another several dozen million years for some pretty intense contact and regional metamorphism to take place, and then another few million years for the mountains above them to erode away and new mountains rise, lifting them up from deep in the earth and exposing them to the elements.

Now that’s all done, you must take a heroic journey across tall and dangerous mountains, alongside a raging river, and then up a creek into the icy gorge, where you will find unhallowed garnet mica schist.

Image shows a whitewater creek carving a narrow gorge in schist.

Icicle Gorge

Collect some of the loose bits the creek has so thoughtfully eroded out for you. Return to your temple. Eventually get ordained into the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Image shows me standing in front of bookshelves, wearing a pirate hat and outfit, holding a framed ordination certificate.

Moi holding my ordination certificate.

Before you perform the blessing, there must be the ceremonial pissing off of the homicidal felid. Your first mate can perform this task.

Image shows B in a black pirate shirt and hat, kneeling on the floor and patting Misha carefully on the head as they rest from doing battle.

B risking life and limb so the kitty can get her desired fight.

After the cat goddess is sated, gather your schist in the Consecrated Colander.

Image shows a green colander on a white countertop, filled with schist.

The gathered schist in the sacred container.

Now, you must start the pastaral pot boiling, and prepared to add the numinous noodles. We are, of course, using angel hair.

Image shows a steaming pot on the stove, and I'm holding a sheaf of pasta, about to drop it in.

Moi adding pasta to the pot.

And, of course, a dash of the sacred sea salt.

Image shows me grinding a bit of sea salt into the pot.

You must have the sacred sea salt.

Wave the schist gently through the sanctifying steam.

Image shows me waving the colander over the pot.

Be very careful not to get scalded.

The drip a bit of the unworldly water on it.

Image shows me letting water drip from the slotted spoon onto the schist.

Only a drop or two, mind. You don’t need much.

Et voila, the schist is blessed. It is now Holy Schist! R’amen.

Image shows a piece of garnet schist in a small jewel box, with a Holy Schist label on the lid.

The holiest of holy schist.

There are still some beautiful specimens available. Grab yours before they’re gone! Crossing the mountains in winter time is right out, I’m afraid, so if you miss out on this batch, you’ll have to wait til summer. Bummer!

Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education IV-E: Wherein there is a Climate of Jeer

The Christianist authors of ES4, after achieving a crescendo of kookiness, manage to dial it back down to nearly normal as they explain Short-Term Climate Change. They explain things like ENSO and La Niña in terms befitting a science text. But you can see them slipping when they devote a section to volcanism. All that ash! It cools the world!

Um. Actually. Ash is just a part of what causes cooling due to volcanic eruptions. But BJU writers can’t be bothered with little things like sulfur dioxide. They also claim forest fires and “large regional dust storms” can cool the climate like volcanoes. Forest fires in Northern latitudes may cool it a bit, but not because of ash – it’s because all those lovely dark green conifers are gone, which means snow’s free to reflect the sun’s heat, and it’s not like that’s going to reverse the upward trend in warming. If an area hasn’t got snow, even that bit of cooling is unlikely. And, of course, burning trees releases bunches o’ carbon, which ultimately leads to more warming. As for dust storms, sure, those dust clouds can reduce temps – but that’s neglecting the winds that, in some regions, bring warm air right back in. And if increased dust starts landing on snow, you get an increase in solar radiation absorption, and you’ve warmed stuff right up again.

In other words, they’ve neglected to mention a few things. All that, and we hadn’t even got to the rat-fucking part of their program. But now we’re on to Long-Term Climate Change. Place your bets now on how much they’ll distort the science.

Image is a demotivational poster showing Giles from Buffy, dressed in a sombrero and serape. Caption says, "BETTING. Make sure the bet is worth losing, otherwise you may have to dress like this for the next 30 days."

They begin by calling the abrupt warming we’ve experienced thus far as “a quick but slight increase in worldwide temperature.” A mere smidge over half a degree, Kids, in 50 whole years. And no, we’re not going to say what degree (it’s Celsius. That’s .9°F.) And we’re going to make it sound like NBD while the Earth broils. Whee!

They show the hockey stick graph, because the can’t avoid it, but the caption assures us that “its accuracy is questioned by many scientists.” Because in Creationist math, 3% vs. 97% is “many.” Also, too, didja notice temps have only “increased by about half a degree in the past 50 years”? Pay no mind to that screaming rise since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution!

They go on to explore natural causes of climate change, which gives them problems, because long-term changes caused by things like orbital variations and axial tilt fluctuations are measured in times longer than they think Earth has existed. They handwave the 10s to 100s of thousands of years away with the “secular scientists believe” incantation. Yep, it’s all according to old-earth geologists, and secular scientists, and anyway it’s nothing to do w/ global warming cuz that’s too short, and anyway, we’ve only been collecting data for two centuries, and SQUIRREL!

And then it’s right off the rails again:

A Recovering Earth

The earth has experienced drastic changes that have affected its climate. Young-earth scientists agree that when God flooded the earth to complete judgement on man’s sin, the upheaval triggered a series of climate changes. The warm oceans and cloudy skies that were likely remaining after the Flood plunged Earth into the Ice Age. The Bible is silent about this geologic period of time. But the ice sheets, glaciers, and icebergs remaining today, as well as the geologic evidence of glacial erosion, give testimony to this stage of Earth’s history. And the warming trend we see may be a sign of a world still recovering from the Flood’s effects.

How this belongs in a science text book I don’t even… I mean, this is like reading one of those science-of-some-fictional-world pieces, only without a decent plot or, actually, any science. None of that shit about warm oceans and clouds appears in actual causes suspected by genuine scientists. You’ll hear them talk about declining levels of greenhouse gasses (and, hellooo – water vapor is a greenhouse gas!), the positions of continents, changes in ocean currents, uplift of large areas, Milankovitch cycles, sun cycles… I don’t think there’s one mainstream scientist who puts it down to clouds and hot water. Criminy, can these people not hear themselves?

Next, we’re in to “possible human causes,” where we’re assured for the third time that warming’s only been half a degree in the last 50 years of the 20th century, and there are even some scientists who “question the actual amount of warming, if any.” They do have to admit that even that half-degree (if any), “is a significant jump compared to the previous 1000 years.” I think they may want to have a look at Proverbs 4:24.

The twisting and turning to avoid looking like supreme dipshits while still being in denial over the reality of AGW continues. Scientists think we can increase atmospheric CO2 by doing things that release CO2 and prevent it being taken up by those forests we keep burning down. B-b-but just cuz CO2 seems (their word) to be increasing, and just because we release a crap-ton of CO2, don’t mean those things are in any way related to global warming, no siree! It might be natural (pro-tip: we considered that. It’s not), and anyway, it might not be bad (pro-tip: it’s bad), and this cartoon says that we’ll get eaten by a leopard if we stop making campfires!

Image shows the two ES4 scientists standing in a night-time forest. There are campfires in the background, and a leopard lurking in the tree beside the secular scientist. The secular scientist is saying, "Humans need to stop burning wood to keep this environment pristine." The creation scientist is saying, "Look... they need to cook... it's gonna get cold, and, uh, we may want to get a little closer to those fires!"

Cartoon on page 518. Look, kids! You’ll get eaten by a leopard if you aren’t a creationist!

My fuck, these people are pathetic.

And they are dishonest shits when it comes to graphs.

Image shows a pie chart saying Sources of Greenhouse Gasses. Natural Sources is marked as 4.72%, Human Activities as 0.28%, and Water Vapor as 95%. Caption says, "This pie chart shows the actual contribution humans make to greenhouse gasses. By itself, this graph doesn't tell the whole story about global warming, but it is one factor to keep in mind."

Yeah, that chart doesn’t quite tell the whole story…

Then they whine about it being so haaard to model climate. Yes. Yes, it is. That’s why the things predicted by our models, like the melting of the polar ice and the collapse of ice shelves, are happening much sooner than expected. So when they say

Concerns about catastrophic global warming, melting glaciers, devastating sea-level rise, loss of wildlife, and increased heat deaths are fanned by the worst-case environmentalist views with little scientific evidence to support them.

They’re completely ignoring the fact that reality has already gotten worse than our worst-case. The scientific evidence, the actual empirical bloody facts, the people starving and dying and drowning, the catastrophic loss of polar ice beyond what our best models predicted, mean nothing. Because we can’t build a super computer that can model the burning down to the last molecule of wood, they think we shouldn’t douse the flames. “Think of the water bill!” they cry as the fire races from the kitchen to the living room. “If we call the fire department right now, we’ll go over our cell phone minutes! We can’t possibly until we’re sure the house is burning down.”

They have a fucking text box about how great global warming may be, without sparing a single thought for the massive suffering that will occur as the rest of the previously arable land becomes useless for agriculture. “Melting glaciers and ice caps can bring water to areas that need it.” they say. No. The melting ice caps will not water the Southwest, or the Sahara, or any other region drying out to the point where people will start killing each other for a drop of water. My own fair city depends on meltwater for its needs – when those glaciers finish melting, we’re going to be rather fucked. And we’re getting off easy. What next, do the chickenhawks expect us to annex Canada?

They try to use DDT as a cautionary tale (many people thought protecting bird eggs was more important than saving human lives, is their interpretation). And they scaremonger shamelessly while stuffing straw at a furious rate:

With global warming, scientists and governments are considering a number of really drastic actions… For starters, radical environmentalists believe that there are too many people, and that fact is a major part of the climate change problem. They would like to see the world’s human population reduced to much less than a third of its present size. How would they go about doing that? At the same time, they want modern societies to return to the level of technology that existed before the Industrial Revolution to reduce greenhouse gas production.

Who the fuck are these “radical environmentalists”? Point to a single damned one that has any appreciable influence on public policy. These ass clowns are worse than MRAs. And after that remarkable bit of They’re gonna kill you all and bring you back to the Dark Ages alarmism, they call people who think a modest carbon tax is a fine idea “greedy” and “fallen.” And yes, Virginia, they do roll with the “global warming as a tool to… increase government control over our lives” conspiracy theory.

And after all that well-poisoning, they have the gall to say they’re not denying global warming. Nope, not them. They’re reesonable.

But at this point in time, we really don’t have enough evidence to decide if global warming is really happening, whether humans cause it or not, and whether the earth’s systems can control the change.

But hey, while they’re busy counseling us to sit on our hands, they say it’s totes okay with God to maybe pick up some trash or “explore alternative energies.” Like, no doubt, “clean” coal.

The dingleberry atop this shit sundae is the “Life Connection” that says we can’t possibly draw any conclusions about the status of polar bears because it’s soo haard to track them, and anyway, while the population of eight subspecies of polar bears are declining, “one actually has a growing population!” Then they titter at those silly evolutionists:

They say the history of the polar bear is one of adaptation to cold climates. But if they adapted to the cold, shouldn’t they be able to adapt to warmer climates? Shouldn’t they be able to adjust their behavior to function more like a grizzly bear?

Gosh, aren’t we silly? Those bears just have to decide to evolve to keep up is all!

Image is a demotivational poster showing a polar bear on a knob of ice, surrounded by sea. Caption says, "GLOBAL WARMING. Seriously, I hate you guys. Seriously."

These assholes disgust me. Their smug pride in their own ignorance and their enormous ego in thinking they know better than literally everyone else in the world is beyond belief. And they’re willing to let that population of humans they’re so proud of suffer and die because they can’t be asked to stop bloody pumping carbon everywhere. They shadowbox with caricatures and declare themselves Floyd Mayweather.

And they think they should have dominion over the earth.

If that doesn’t scare the shit out of you, nothing ever will.

Dana’s Super-Awesome Mount St. Helens Field Trip Guide VI: Patty’s Place at 19 Mile House

That’s it, you think as you pile your weary bones into the car and leave Johnston Ridge. The End. Fini. As you reverse your course through the blast zone, watching that remarkable She-Hulk of a volcano with its gaping wound recede in your rearview mirror, as the volcanic desert is once again hidden by thick stands of trees, you feel a species of sorrow. That was a remarkable day. There will never be another quite like it.

Hold your nostalgia. It ain’t over yet.

There’s an encore. An extremely delicious one.

Patty's Place at 19 Mile House. Image courtesy Patty's Place.

Patty’s Place at 19 Mile House. Image courtesy Patty’s Place.

About one short year after Mount St. Helens’s paroxysmal eruption in 1980, two couples opened a restaurant. Jan and Roy Finkas and Milt and Susan Wheeler’s 19 Mile House remained a popular food stop on Spirit Lake Highway for over two decades. It closed in 2008, but not for long. Patty and Sam Gardener, with the urging and help of the Finkas, Wheelers, plus some former employees, reopened it as Patty’s Place at 19 Mile House on May 1st, 2010 – just in time for St. Helens’s 30th anniversary. And business has been booming [further gratuitous volcanic pun redacted] ever since.

Oh, people. This place…

All right. Imagine yourself now, tired, dusty, thirsty and hungry after a super-long day of geoadventuring. And here, in the lazy last light of a Pacific Northwest summer evening, in the heart of a lush river valley, is this long country house with a big sign proclaiming rest and refreshment within. There’s a crumpled truck with a story in front, too, but it can be safely ignored in favor of foodstuffs for now. Just wend your way through the lovely arbors full of roses, perhaps pausing a moment to inhale deeply of their rich fragrance (barring allergies).

Arbor of roses at Patty's Place.

Arbor of roses at Patty’s Place.

Now, if you’ve timed matters just so, you’ll have arrived after the dinner rush, but comfortably before closing. However. Don’t expect the place to be empty. It won’t be, and you’re about to find out why.

If you can, and if the weather is amenable, get a table on the back patio, overlooking the North Fork Toutle River. Geology isn’t over! You can do this bit sitting comfortably. Before diving into dinner, have a glance at the river.

View of the North Fork Toutle River from the back patio at Patty's Place.

View of the North Fork Toutle River from the back patio at Patty’s Place.

Lovely, isn’t that? We’ll imagine it as a mud-filled torrent of destruction in a mo. You’ve got dinner to deal with. I’d recommend getting a jump on things and loosening your belt in advance. Now, dive into the menu. As you peruse the offerings, the following must be taken into consideration:

1. Every damn thing on the menu is delicious, so don’t expect me to guide you here.

2. If you’re on a diet, fuggedaboutit. Unless your dietary restrictions are due to health or moral reasons, they are null for this evening. Besides, you just burned about nine trillion calories. So, unless you’re vegan, revel in the fact that everything here is real and fresh: real cream, real butter, real roast meat, real hand-crafted patties, real fresh veggies and fruit – much of it locally sourced.

3. Do you love comfort food? Prepare to be comforted.

4. But above all else, remember: you MUST save room for the cobbler. Or at least order some to go.

Cobbler. Cobbler. Oh, my heck, the cobbler. Listen: you’ll know when I’ve just tucked in to my first spoonful. I order it to go, warm it a bit, and add just a scoop of panna gelato. You’ll hear a kind of hybrid scream-groan of sheer ecstasy. Just the rich, sweet-but-not-overly-so, succulent fruit paying compliments to that beautiful variation upon the theme of cobbler that is the sugar-crusted sweet biscuit square floating atop that berry bliss… as my teeth crunch softly on that sugar and sink into the fruit-and-gelato heaven below, I understand what gastronomic bliss is and why our species pays homage to cooks like Patty.

Oh, honey.

All right. Now you can turn your attention to the river below.

Detail of bank, North Fork Toutle River

Detail of bank, North Fork Toutle River

See the volcanic ash in its bars? The boulders in its banks? You can see it’s cut its way through layer upon layer of lahar, the most recent being from Mount St. Helens’s recent spasms. This river valley has been inundated by more than one mudflow. Speaking of which, now you can (possibly) move again, let’s go out front to have a close gander at one passenger upon such a flow.

(Feel free to pause at the remarkably reasonably-priced giftshop on the way out. Pick up some lovely emerald obsidianite – what geologist wouldn’t love a gemstone made from the ash of the 1980 eruption?)

Don’t bother looking for boulders. We’re after a truck.

Damaged Weyerhauser truck in front of Patty's.

Damaged Weyerhauser truck in front of Patty’s.

Patty kindly answered my queries, and informed me it’s “an old fire truck from Weyerhauser’s Camp Baker that was washed down the river in the mudflow during the 1980 eruption.” Pause and consider that: this not-at-all-small piece of logging equipment found itself picked up by a churning river of mud, hot rock, and steaming water, and churned down the valley in a mass of boulders, logs, other equipment, and who knows what else, bashed against bridges, and finally landed here, miles away, when the flow lost its force. That’s hella amazing power.

Feel free to inspect it, and report back on your findings as to the effects of the eruption upon this vehicle.

Patty’s Place is seasonal, so be sure to time your visit between the first weekend in May and late fall, when the snows close the mountain again.


Special thanks to Patty Gardener for her help with this post.

Previous: Dana’s Super-Awesome Mount St. Helens Field Trip Guide V: Johnston Ridge


For further information on the May 18th, 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens, do feel free to peruse the Prelude to a Catastrophe series should you have missed it.

Originally published at Rosetta Stones.


Burns, Scott (2011): Field Guide to Mt. St. Helens north. Portland State University.

Decker, Barbara and Robert (2002): Road Guide to Mount St. Helens (Updated Edition). Double Decker Press.

Doukas, Michael P. (1990): Road Guide to Volcanic Deposits of Mount St. Helens and Vicinity, Washington. USGS Bulletin 1859.

Pringle, Patrick T. (2002): Roadside Geology of Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument and Vicinity. Washington DNR Information Circular 88.

Help Me Decide Upon a New Computing Machine

I have decided that, even if the maclargehuge HP laptop could be resurrected, it’s time I got a desktop anyway. A laptop can’t give me the computing power I need going forward in mah bidness. I need something that can handle streaming movies or music whilst also running Photoshop or Corel. I need something that doesn’t mind me having twelve gajillion tabs open while all that’s going on. And the computer repair dude I chatted up at Staples told me that if I want a Windows 7 machine, I’d better act now, because they soon won’t be an option. I do I DO want my Windows 7. I bloody hate Windows 8 with a burning and enduring passion, but I loves my Windows 71.

I’ve been an HP person for decades, but I hear their quality sharply declined in the last few years, so I’m open to other options. I’m looking for a durable machine with an HDMI port, Windows 7, enough processing power to multitask smoothly, at least 1tb of storage, and wi-fi connectivity. I’m trying to keep it under $500, since I’m far from made of money right now.

So far, it’s looking like Lenovo is going to be my best bet with those specs. What do you think? Good brand? If so, should I go with this beauty, this beauty, or a different beauty? Is there another brand I should be investigating? Bestow upon me your wisdom!

And thank you for always being awesome in the helping Dana with electronics department, my darlings. This blog wouldn’t survive without all of you.

Image shows a kitten sitting inside a desktop tower. Caption says, "1 Megacat processor."

1. Yes, more than I would love a Mac. Don’t even talk to me about Mac. People, I was there on the front lines when the very first iPhone launched. I endured selling the fucking things, then doing tech support for them, from the original through the iPhone 5s – 8 of the fucking things. Until our call center specialized, I got to see how they matched up against other companies and operating systems. I had to listen to the fanbois blame everything except Apple for ever single problem. I had to listen to them blame our network for issues even when a Samsung in the same damned room was working perfectly. This has instilled a deep, burning, abiding hatred for all things Apple, and that’s even before we get to the fact that none of the software I have will run on their OS, and the fact they’re insanely overpriced. I’m so sorry if you like them. But fuck Apple. Forever.

Some Queer Ally You Are, Jesus

Alex Gabriel makes a convincing case against Jesus as an LGBTQ ally, and for keeping supportive spaces secular. Here is a lengthy excerpt: there’s far more at the link, and you should definitely read the whole thing, so that you can be prepared to reply to all of those folks who blabber about how wonderful it is to have gay-friendly Jesus all up in everybody’s business.

It’s hard not to note the case for Jesus as a queer ally requires an absurd degree of generosity, applying uniquely low standards of allyship.

  • It is absurdly generous to call someone a queer ally whose name we only know because they spurred a movement that overwhelmingly harmed us for thousands of years.
  • It is absurdly generous to call someone a queer ally because they never said a word about us, particularly to a violently homophobic audience.
  • It is absurdly generous to call someone a queer ally for preaching nonspecific love and kindness. That never stopped anyone, let alone preachers, persecuting us.

I don’t just bash this theology for fun. Its claims are so preposterous it seems strategically contrived, less a good-faith belief than a desperate pragmatic attempt to reconcile queerness and Christianity. Who could be taken in by such bad arguments apart from willfully?

There was a time believing in a god who loved me got me through the night – I’ve no desire to take any queer person a private belief they need to get by, nor am I cavalier about it, but private belief and public theology are different things, the latter always having been a political choice. The list of encounters atop this post should illustrate that queer religiosity is a less and less private thing. I worry about its effects.

My fear is that my community’s response to religious persecution is increasingly to try and prove itself godly, ignoring that religious respectability is a double-edged sword – and that as a result, a steady religionisation of queer spaces is afoot.

I worry they’re becoming places liberal clergy come to deliver sermons, where believers explain God’s love to others even when not invited to; where God and Jesus in particular feature heavily in activists’ rhetoric, where we’re exhorted to pray and told what our creator meant for us.

It worries me when meetings are moved so as not to clash with church, LGBT groups advertise services in their newsletters, giving out religious flyers at their own meetings, and reservations about this are called ‘hate’, declared a form of bigotry as real as queerphobia. It worries me that when I hear queer theology’s contentions reeled off, it’s usually to deny and dismiss realities of Christian homophobia, both current and historical.

Religious voices being broadcast throughout my community may not declare me an abomination, but this doesn’t put my mind at ease. Religionised environments, even superficially ‘progressive’ ones, are themselves marginalising and exclusionary for many: not everyone can join the circle and sing kumbayah.

Sure, it’s awesome that some Christians have decided to reinterpret their faith and make it a lot less hateful and evil. I’m glad that some Christians are actively working to make their religion less harmful. But that doesn’t mean they need to drag that religion out of their churches and into every single gathering. Alex is right. It’s exclusionary and it’s wrong.

It’s also not so kind as religious folk think. You know, I do get it. When I was briefly Christian, I wanted everybody to know the great news. I wanted to share my religion with everyone, because Jesus was so great and I was convinced people needed him. Fortunately, that impulse to vomit my faith all over everyone’s shoes didn’t last more than a few weeks, and I was able to refrain from regurgitating in most environments. I realized that God doesn’t need to be brought up in every context. There are times, and there are places. Mixed gatherings of people uniting around purposes not related to discussing religious philosophy ain’t them. Put a sock in it.

And sweet, progressive, wanna-be-ally Christians? This is what you need to do when one of your fellow but less enlightened Christians does something stupid or horrible to LGBTQ people:

If you’re a Christian and you want to be an ally, here is what you can say:

‘I’m sorry my religion inspires behaviour like this so often. Victimising LGBT people is totally contrary to my own interpretation, which I hope becomes more influential.’

That’s it. Don’t make excuses for your fellow believers. Don’t pretend they’re not really-real Christians. Don’t puff out your chest and proclaim How Very Different and Enlightened you are. Don’t deny that for the past several thousand years, it’s your very own holy books that have been used to justify heinous treatment. Just apologize, and clean your own damned house of faith. Preach to the homophobic believers, not your non-Christian queer friends.

Keeping non-religious gatherings secular and safe is in the best interests of everyone.

Now, if you’re a progressive Christian, go tell a fundie what Jesus really hated.

Image is a painting of Jesus face-palming. Caption says, "OMFG you guys, I said I hated FIGS."

New at Dana Hunter’s Gneiss Schist! Guaranteed Garnets! Cards On Sale!

B and I found some beautiful garnets when we were breaking up some chunks of garnet mica schist. I’ve chosen out the best of the best, and they’re up on Etsy for ye. These are perfect little gifts for anyone who loves rocks, puns, garnets, shiny glittery things, or is a Capricorn or Aquarius. No, I’m serious about that last one. Garnet is the January birthstone.

Image is a macro of a small piece of garnet mica schist with tiny, red-orange garnets speckling it.

Lovely little garnets! In Holy Schist!

Look! They’ll make the perfect stocking stuffers.

Image shows a white velvet stocking with a red top hanging against a green background. An open box with a piece of garnet schist is on its toe.

Here’s a little tableau for Christmas.

Yes, I made a mini-stocking for display purposes. This is why I keep scraps around the house. I still haven’t got a sewing machine, but once I do, I’ll be happy to make ya’ll some lovely custom stockings of your own for next year. Or other things.

Returning our focus to this year: there’s plenty of lovely garnet schist for ye, and of course there’s our Gnaughty and Gneiss rock sample cards.

Image shows one of the Gnaughty and Gneiss cards with the stocking.

Okay, so the stocking’s too small to fit the cards, but you get the point – great stocking stuffer!

If you need to mail them to other folk, now’s the time to order. Act now and all that!

Speaking of acting now, Zazzle’s having a second Cyber Monday sale, which means you can get Gnaughty or Gneiss greeting cards at 50% off. Use the code CYBERTAKETWO when you check out.

Image is a photo of a lump of coal and a piece of gneiss. They've been filtered as a watercolor. Caption says, "Gnaughty or gneiss."

Card Interior.

Even if you’re not planning on getting any of these incredibly awesome products yourselves, you can enjoy these lovely pictures. And please do share this post around! The more folks get to see the punny possibilities for gifting, the merrier this holiday season could be.

Dear Fellow White People: Could We Maybe Stop Letting Cops Get Away With Murder?

I haven’t said anything about Mike Brown and Eric Garner because I’ve been too angry to talk about it. And a lot of other FtBers have said or linked to the needful things. I hope you’ve read them, and shared them.

There’s nothing for me to say that hasn’t been said by someone else, probably better, but staying silent isn’t an option. Especially not when so many of my fellow white people are just fine with two grand juries deciding not to indict cops who murder black men. You can get them to indict a ham sandwich, but not a pig who’s killed a person of color. And you can get white people to scream about injustice if they get treated impolitely by a traffic cop, but apparently summary execution for the crime of existing while black is fine by them. They’re happy to dig up any petty excuse to justify murder, then. Dude was big and scary. He broke a minor law once. He shouldn’t have resisted the officer who was intent on killing him.

And I don’t have the precise words to capture the loathing I feel for the smug little shitstains who piously claim they’re not racist while cheering on the murder of black folk, or spout the ten thousand racist excuses that make them feel it’s an unfortunate necessity.

I wish I had the power to transfer all of the parent’s grief into their skulls. I wish I could make them experience a lifetime of systemic racism, make them go through the experience of having to coach their kids on how not to get shot by the police, have them live in fear every day that this will be the day their phone rings with the news that the police have decided to execute their son. I don’t often wish unbearable suffering on people these days, but if I had the power, I’d make the apologists endure it. It may be the only thing that will shake them out of their complacency. It may be the only way to open the eyes of the willfully blind. Force them to walk all those miles in all those shoes, condense a lifetime into a day, let them feel what it’s like to know that their child got shot down like an animal, and no one gives a shit, because black lives don’t matter to the people with power. I think that if they felt their child ripped away from them, and then watched the justice system let their child’s murderer go free without even the fig leaf of a trial, I think if they had to bear the burden of that unfathomable injustice for just a day, they would collapse under it.

And then, possibly, this might change.

If you’re one of those white folk who’ve been turning away, clucking their tongues, excusing the way black people are gunned down for offenses that wouldn’t even get a white person a stern talking to, even finding excuses for cops murdering black people who are doing nothing wrong at all, stop. Pause a moment, and search what semblance of a conscience you’ve got, and ask yourself if you’d be this willing to look the other way if it was white suburban kids getting executed on the streets without a word, much less a trial, for doing things like jaywalking or selling untaxed cigarettes. Really think about that, because you know the answer’s no. You’re just not going to be willing to admit it at first.

Search yourself for that shred of decency necessary for maintaining a civilized society. Realize that we can’t let cop after cop get away with murder, and call ourselves good.

And then add your voice to the others crying for justice.

Image shows a woman in a trench coat holding two signs saying "Black Lives Matter" and "Black Skin is NOT a Weapon."

Image courtesy Johnny Silvercloud
via Flickr. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Most Unexpected Beauty

Do you love dendritic patterns? Of course you do – who doesn’t? Do you love thin film interference? You probably do, unless you’ve had to deal with a large oil slick or similar. Everybody loves a good rainbow. Let’s combine the two, shall we?

Image shows an oil spot in a parking lot. It looks a bit like a rainbow rising sun with dendrites instead of rays.

The most lovely leak.

B and I saw that lovely little rainbow burst when we were getting gyros. It looks like the parking lot is trying to dress up in psychedelic patterns.

A closeup of our lovely little burst.

A closeup of our lovely little burst.

I wish I had something deep and insightful to say, but it’s been a Week, and I’m only able to mumble things like pretty and wow. I’m off to rejuvenate my cranium with lotsa food, mindless busywork, and probably Christianist textbooks. Can you believe I miss those things? I do. It’s pretty sad.

Talk to me, people. The world’s been full of ugly lately, and I believe we could use some beauty. Share some beautiful things. Pictures, stories, music, random acts of extraordinary humanity, anything you like. Let’s refresh ourselves, drink deep and renew our strength, so that we can keep fighting to make the world better.