Guess what I now own?

The first two issues of The Atheist comic:The covers are cool enough, but the story is kind of neat:

When your fears are beyond belief you need a hero beyond believing. Antoine Sharpe is a scalpel on two legs – skeptical, brilliant, ruthless. A special agent with a shadowy department of the U.S. government, Sharpe applies his unconventional intellect to any paranormal threats that arise. His mission: Debunk or destroy. When countless teenagers show signs of otherworldly possession, Sharpe and his partner must not only find the truth, but stop the apparent plague from destroying civilization itself. How far will Sharpe go to save humanity? Farther than you can imagine! This trade paperback collects the hard-to-find, critically acclaimed mini-series, featuring the complete first story-arc of comic superstar Phil Hester’s enigmatic, intellectual government agent.

Woooo skeptical super heroes!

Unfortunately it’s an old comic and there are only two additional issues. I kind of want to get my hands on them. At the very least they’d make some badass artwork for my new apartment.

Thanks, Ryan, for the great gift!

How does religiosity correlate with writing proficiency?

I love OkTrends. If I owned a dating site, I too would view it as hundreds of thousands of data points ready to be analyzed in amusing ways. In their newest article, they looked at the correlation between religiosity and writing proficiency, as measured by the Coleman-Liau Index.Hm, interesting indeed. Or as they quipped, “Is there a Comic Sans version of the Bible?”

But even more interesting is when you break it down by how serious users report their belief to be:

“Note that for each of the faith-based belief systems I’ve listed, the people who are the least serious about them write at the highest level. On the other hand, the people who are most serious about not having faith (i.e. the “very serious” agnostics and atheists) score higher than any religious groups.”

And those not serious Buddhists? Totally non-theists who just want something more fancy and enlightened to call themselves. Who doesn’t know one of those types of college Buddhists?

Now, let’s remember that correlation does not imply causation. Poor writing skills don’t necessarily make you religious (poor reading skills, maybe). Religiosity doesn’t necessarily make you a poor writer (unless you worship the LOLCat Bible). If I had to propose a hypothesis, it’s likely intelligence is one of the determining factors for both religiosity and writing ability.

Of course, this is the blog from a dating site, not a peer reviewed scientific study, so take it with a grain of salt. Still interesting, though.

Biology tattoos

I personally wouldn’t get a tattoo, but I can appreciate a good one – especially if they’re nerdy. Here are some of the best biology themed tattoos (most from here):

The tree of life:Darwin’s finches:Muscle anatomy:DNA:Archeopteryx:E. coli:Fig wasps:Homunculus:This is post 40 of 49 of Blogathon. Pledge a donation to the Secular Student Alliance here.

TAM8 is almost here!

In less than 24 hours I’ll be sitting in Las Vegas with a hoard of skeptics and heathens! Needless to say, I’m super excited for TAM8. I haven’t been sleeping well the last two nights because I keep thinking of all the awesome things that are about to go down.

Some things I’m specifically looking forward to:

  • Richard Dawkiiiiinnnns! Sorry, but as an atheist and an evolutionary biologist, I totally fangirl over Dawkins. If I get a photo with him I’ll be so happy.
  • But in general, meeting people! Especially my readers and all the random celebrities that’ll be there. Right now I’m giddy, but I’m sure once I’m there and Adam Savage is standing 10 feet from me I’ll be peeing my pants. Oh, and a friend has requested that I grope at least one celebrity. I think the likelihood of this actually happening is contingent upon how many drinks I have during the socials. And that is contingent upon how many drinks people buy me, since I am still a cheap college student, haha.
  • The workshops on Feminism and Sex. Of course I had to sign up for those!
  • The Skepchick Bordello party. Though I pretty much don’t have a costume. Sorry, being from Indiana does not automatically mean I can easily dress up like a cowgirl.
  • Rooming with Hemant and Jamie. It’s like a big godless slumber party! Just imagine, we can paint each others’ nails and play Never Have I Ever all night. Except I hate nail polish and I always lose at that game since I can never think of something I haven’t done.

But don’t worry, I’m not just going to abandon you guys. Again, I have some posts set up for the days I’ll be gone. Don’t expect any posts from TAM while I’m there, though. Wifi in the conference room is $25 an hour, and $12 a night for our hotel room, soooo…uh, yeah, no internet for me (I don’t have an iPhone either). But I will be tweeting like crazy, so keep checking my twitter page.

And for those of you who are also going…say hello! I’ll admit I get a little social anxiety when I’m in big crowds, and I’m more comfortable with people approaching me than me approaching people. So if you don’t say hi, I’m probably going to go lurk in a corner and stare at various celebrities in total fear. Except for if I’ve had a couple of drinks in me – so expect my anxiety to be obliterated at all the social functions.

Oh, yeah, and I’m speaking on Sunday. Bright and early at 8:45am on Skepticism, Humor, and Going Viral: What We Can Learn from Boobquake. Considering the Skepchick Bordello party is the night before and rides back don’t start until 1am…yeah, I’m doomed. If anyone comes despite their horrible hangover and sleep deprivation, I’ll greatly appreciate it!

Now, I still have to go pack up my entire apartment since I’m moving back to my parents’ house the day after I get back…and my lab is having a going away dinner for me tonight. Busy busy!

Evolution 2010 recap

This was my second year going to Evolution 2010, the join meeting of the Society for the Study of Evolution (SSE), the Society of Systematic Biologists (SSB), and the American Society of Naturalists (ASN). Last year I went as part of the Undergraduate Diversity program (which funded my way!) and had a blast.

This year was just as good. My talk was on the first day of the conference, which was awesome. I only had to spend that morning fretting, and I got to enjoy the rest of the conference stress-free (unlike most of my labmates). My presentation went alright – Prof said I did a good job, but I think I could have been a little smoother. I was surprised that I still had a good number of people in attendance, even though I was speaking at the same exact time as the end of the USA World Cup match. Yes, annoying vuvuzela sounds filled the conference hall.

As for the talks themselves, I went to a lot of interesting ones. Well, the first day started off a little shaky, but the conference improved once I started going to research talks. One of the bad things about the conference was that there were just so many talks – 12 concurrent sessions to choose from! You never know what talk is going to be good, so I know I missed some great ones just by choosing poorly.

The downside of going as a post-bach (I’m in undergrad/grad student limbo!) is that most of the stuff is still way over my head. Almost all of the talks are given by professors, post-docs, or nearly finished graduate students, so no matter how much of a nerdy brainiac I am, I was still way out of my league. So, sorry, no talk re-caps for you. Though Wired did cover one talk that I thought was super cool (and actually understood!), so check it out: Lizard Camouflage Confuses Males About Gender. Pssssssshhhh, Wired covered that but not my copulatory plug talk?

Some amusing things about the conference:

  • I met Jerry Coyne! I was nervous to approach him since he was one of the most famous people there – not just for his blog (which I love) or his book (which my dad loved), but for kind of being the leading authority on speciation. He was super nice to talk to, so my nerves were unfounded. We talked for a good amount of time, mostly ranting about religious accommodationism and evolution. It surprised my lab, though. Or as my professor said, “Even I’d be nervous to talk to him.”
  • There was a Christian Homeschooling Conference going on at the same time in the convention center. There was much loling by the evolutionary biologists. I think at least four different talks I saw made a joke about this is one way.
  • Speaking of jokes, at least two presentations had penis jokes in them. We are so mature.
  • So many nerdy t-shirts! One day I wore the same exact nerdy shirt as someone else, and we kept running into each other and giving each other shirt-props. Also, one day I was wearing my “You say Tomato, I say Lycopersicon esculentum” shirt and I actually ran into someone who studies tomatoes, who informed me that that was not the current accepted binomial nomenclature for tomatoes. Which I knew, but I just found it amusing that this was one of the few places where that could happen.
  • All of the receptions had free “unlimited” (it said limit 2, but no one checked) beer and wine. However, you had to pay 3 dollars for water or pop. I think the conference understood it’s grad student audience very well.

Some amusing things about goofing off in Portland:

  • I went to my first sushi-go-round. I had never heard of these things (mainly because I’m not a huge fan of sushi). Basically they put different small servings of sushi on a conveyor belt, and you snatch the ones you want to eat as they go by. It was pretty good, and that says a lot coming from me!
  • Voodoo Donuts is fucking amazing. It’s a good thing I’m not living in Portland, or I would surely gain 300 pounds. Seriously, I’m going to have to make a trip from Seattle just to get another Old Dirty Bastard. Chocolate, peanut butter, and oreos on a donut? For less than two dollars? Hell yes. All the donuts I tried were delicious, not to mention that all had hilariously inappropriate name. We took our professor there the second night and tried to convince him to get the Cock and Balls. Thankfully he was amused and didn’t fire us all (yet). Also, I was severely tempted to get a The Magic is In The Hole shirt or panties, but I was too cheap.
  • Right next to Voodoo Donuts was a creepy little hentai movie theater. I had to explain what hentai was to my labmates and professor.

Me: It’s anime porn.
Labmate: …Why would you watch that instead of the real thing?
Me: Because you’re not constrained by the bounds of reality.

And then the discussion went to tentacles. I mean, how could you not when discussing hentai? I’m just said I didn’t think to trick my lab into actually going into the theater before they knew what it was.

  • Omg Powell’s bookstore. It was so huge that I seriously got lost. They had a whole aisle devoted to evolution/genetics and a whole column to atheism. I was so overwhelmed I ended up not buying anything!
  • I met a couple of my blog readers, which is always fun. Hi guys! Oh, and Jaki was awesome enough to give me a graphic adaptation of the Origin of Species, which is awesome and made my lab jealous.

I’m sure I’m forgetting some craziness, but that’s all I can remember right now. It was a lot of fun, and hopefully I can go back to Evolution and Portland in the future.

Geeky quickfire!

Questions from

Which Ninja turtle do you prefer?

Donatello, of course! How could the scientist not be my favorite? I’d always choose him in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turles video game for NES. I still remember how accomplished my friend and I felt if we made it to the skateboard level (we were in 1st grade, cut us some slack).

And just to prove my TMNT/art geekiness, I own this shirt:
So I hear we shall see Harry Potter nude in the next movie…could be wrong. The perv in me so wants to tho ;D

Hm, I’m torn. On one hand, I was never a fan of Harry in the books. He annoyed the living crap out of me. Pretty much all of his characteristics were the antithesis of traits I look for in a guy, so I never understood the Harry fangirling. On the other hand, I’m always for gratuitous male nudity, especially within my geeky fandoms. That and I like Daniel Radcliffe – he seems intelligent, witty, and humble. You know, traits that actually are attractive to me.

Now if someone invents a time machine and we get a Younger Alan Rickman nude scene, then I’ll join you in flailing.


I’ll show you something even better:Ah, the bad decisions we made at age 17. As a funny side note, we had no idea who that person in the Pikachu suit was.

Twitter affects brain chemistry the same as love

Why is Twitter so addictive and appealing? It seems the answer may be more scientific than one would have guessed. An experiment by an industrious blogger has found that sending a tweet increases oxytocin and decreases stress hormone levels in the brain. This is similar to the reaction a person has when being in love.

I would love to see this investigated on a larger scale. Is this guy an anomoly, or is this a common experience for tweeters? How does reading other tweets affect us? Are the effects magnified when someone replies to us? Are the thousands of tweets I’ve sent in the last year considered drug abuse?

Hop to it, NIH! Fund this essential research.

Female scientists: They’re super effective!

Exciting breaking news, everybody! This is a monumental step for female scientists everywhere. I just found out that we have the first female professor in a scientific field long dominated by men. I’d like to introduce Professor Araragi…the new Pokemon Professor!

Yes, I’m excited for Pokemon Black & White to be released. Don’t judge me for hanging on to a piece of my childhood – the games are addictive and fun! I did geek out about the Professor being a woman, though. Hey, when popular culture starts recognizing that scientists can be female – especially an attractive female instead of a frumpy stereotype – that’s a step in the right direction.

Mario Marathon 3 is approaching!

From their website:

Mario Marathon is an annual fan run fundraiser for Child’s Play Charity. Child’s Play provides toys, games and books to patients of children’s hospitals worldwide.

The multi day internet event, broadcast live online, attracts an audience from around the world to watch as the team plays through twenty five years of Super Mario Brothers video games.

Now in its third year, the event has attracted over 300,000 viewers, and raised nearly $45,000 for Child’s Play.

This is a fantastic, fun way to raise money for charity. Plus, they’re based in Lafayette, IN! I actually met one of the players when they came out to our Boobquake rally to show their support. Check out their site to donate, and make sure to tune in on the 25th!