I loathe guns

Do you have your guns locked up? Do you only bring them out when you have a very specific purpose, like target shooting at a range or hunting? Do you own fewer than a handful? Then you might be OK. I might look at you suspiciously, but I won’t actively despise you, like I do the obsessed gun-fondlers.

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When did insects evolve?

Just consult the chart.

Dated phylogenetic tree of insect relationships. The tree was inferred through a maximum-likelihood analysis of 413,459 amino acid sites divided into 479 metapartitions. Branch lengths were optimized and node ages estimated from 1,050,000 trees sampled from trees separately generated for 105 partitions that included all taxa. All nodes up to orders are labeled with numbers (gray circles). Colored circles indicate bootstrap support (left key). The time line at the bottom of the tree relates the geological origin of insect clades to major geological and biological events. CONDYLO, Condylognatha; PAL, Palaeoptera.

Dated phylogenetic tree of insect relationships. The tree was inferred through a maximum-likelihood analysis of 413,459 amino acid sites divided into 479 metapartitions. Branch lengths were optimized and node ages estimated from 1,050,000 trees sampled from trees separately generated for 105 partitions that included all taxa. All nodes up to orders are labeled with numbers (gray circles). Colored circles indicate bootstrap support (left key). The time line at the bottom of the tree relates the geological origin of insect clades to major geological and biological events. CONDYLO, Condylognatha; PAL, Palaeoptera.

Be sure to click on the image to see it at a better resolution!

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You really want me to suffer through an anti-vax conference? How sweet.

Boy, a lot of people have offered to pay the admission fee for me to attend that anti-vax conference at UMTC (you people must really, really hate me), and I actually checked my calendar to see if I’m available that day…and sad to say, I’m not. That’s the same weekend as FtBCon, which means my first alternative, to send a proxy from FtB there, is also out.

If you’re still interested in supporting sending a skeptical delegate to this meeting, though, let me know in the comments. I might be able to dig up a knowledgeable, critically-minded individual in the Twin Cities area who’d go and write up the story.

Another thought: the Twin Cities is a seething hotbed of Skepchicks — maybe we should pass this mission on to them?

Glenn Reynolds has always been a hack

But he can be a useful hack. In his recent column in which he sneered at feminists, he distilled down the entirety of his complaint to a single paragraph. This is the part where he described ALL THE TERRIBLE THINGS feminists had done to Matt Taylor. ALL OF THEM.

The Atlantic’s Rose Eveleth tweeted, "No no women are toooootally welcome in our community, just ask the dude in this shirt." Astrophysicist Katie Mack commented: "I don’t care what scientists wear. But a shirt featuring women in lingerie isn’t appropriate for a broadcast if you care about women in STEM." And from there, the online feminist lynch mob took off until Taylor was forced to deliver a tearful apology on camera.

Oh My Gourd, the feminists lynched him? Dragged him out to a nearby tree and hanged him until he was dead?

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Quackery in my back yard!

Oh, great. Orac just has to tell me that the University of Minnesota is going to host an anti-vaccine conference on 24 January.

First, let me say this, though: they get to do that. Presumably they’ve rented out (or possibly obtained student or faculty sponsorship) Cowles Auditorium at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, and just about anyone can do that. They may be fraggin’ morons, but they’re part of the public, and it’s a public university.

Still, this is painfully stupid and a disservice to the public trust. It’s a conference in which a train of pseudo-experts will lie, lie, lie in order to sell books — in fact, I suspect it’s a bit of a con to peddle their books, since the $99 admission fee includes dumping a pile of crap, the garbage these guys have written, in your lap. That $99 is also one reason I won’t be attending, much as I’d like to document the dishonesty; of course, another reason I won’t be going is that I doubt this gang of propagandists will be entertaining, much less informative.

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The Young Turks sound a bit like Old Codgers

Ana Kasparian of the Young Turks weighed in on That Evil Shirt, and she got everything wrong: she ranted about feminist extremists, and how you’d have to be really weak to give up on science because of one shirt — it was an embarrassing exhibition of non sequiturs. I was disgusted, and would have let it go, but a youtube commenter (!) named florzinnha3 did an excellent job answering it, so I thought I’d just steal her comment and post it here.

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One week until Skepticon!

It’s the seventh Skepticon, happening next week in Springfield, Missouri. I’ll be there, speaking at the ungodly hour of 9pm on Saturday night — it’s got to be like Nerd Hell, where all you’ve got to do on Saturday night is sit and listen to some old greybeard drone on. But the rest of the con will be fresher and sweeter, so you should go!

Also, right up until the last minute, they’re always looking for donations. It’s a free conference, you know, but only to the attendees…somebody has to pay the bills somewhere.