Travelin’ man

My life isn’t easing up just yet as we wend our way to the imminent end of the term. I’m going to be flitting about over the next few days.

I’m chauffeuring #1 son to a job interview in Minneapolis today, and then returning him home to St Cloud again sometime this evening. I’m planning to be in St Cloud in time for a painful event: Kent Hovind is speaking there.

Date : April 28, 2006
Time : 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Title: Dr. Kent Hovind (Dr. Dino) — Creation v. Evolu.
Description: Dr. Kent Hovind or the more popularly known Dr. Dino, is one of the most requested speakers on the Creation and Evolution topic in churches and Universities all over the world. Dr. Hovind served as an educator for many years teaching Biology, Anatomy, Physical Science, Mathematics, Earth Science, and many other sciences. Dr. Hovind has debated the Creation and Evolution controversy over 100 times all over the world, in many large Universities, and on thousands of radio talk shows. Come and hear what Dr. Dino says on all sorts of scientific topics as well as taking questions from the audience. Again Dr. Hovind will be at Ritsche Auditorium @ 7pm on Friday, April 28.

Truth be told, I’m hoping something keeps me pleasantly occupied in the Twin Cities so I miss it.

Saturday is a day of rest. Actually, it’ll be a day of grading and lecture preparation, but at least I get to spend it at home.

On Sunday, 30 April, I’m traveling to the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point to give a talk in their Evolution Sunday lecture series. Look for me in Collins Classroom Center, Room 101, at 6:00 that evening.

Monday, I’ll be driving back home. My students are very sad that I’ll miss a day of lecture in my physiology course, but there’s no way I can be back in time for an 8AM class. They’ll get to sleep in, I’ll be on the road, slugging back coffee.

Tuesday is Drinking Liberally at the 331 Club in Minneapolis. You don’t want to miss this one: in addition to the usual suspects, like the Power Liberal and the Wege and many others, Jerome Armstrong and Markos Zúniga will be there, which is impressive enough…but also Bitch, Ph.D. will be dropping by. It’s like an evening of blogging royalty.

Wednesday I’ll be exhausted, but back to normal. I’ll be wrapping up the last few classes of the semester and giving a couple of final exams the week after. Sometime shortly after that I’ll be making another trip to Wisconsin, this time to Madison, to pick up #2 Son and his mountain of stuff and returning him to lovely Morris for his summer break.

I’ve got a few other summer travels planned, like a talk in Vegas and another in Minneapolis in July, but they’re too exhausting to contemplate right now.

Naked anaspids

This strange fish is Euphanerops longaevus, which is one of two species of 370 million year old jawless fishes (the other is Endeiolepis aneri, and the paper suggests that they may actually represent differently preserved members of the same species). These are soft-bodied animals that are usually poorly preserved, and are of interest because they seem to have some properties in common with both the lampreys and the gnathostomes, or jawed fishes. Their exact position in the vertebrate family tree is problematic, and the experts go back and forth on it; sometimes they are grouped with the lampreys, sometimes as cousins more closely related to the gnathostomes.

Euphanerops longaevus, preserved as an imprint. Scale bar, 10 mm.

[Read more…]


Paul Nelson has been twittering about ORFans for some time now—he seems to precede his talks by threatening to make us evolutionists tremble in our boots by bringing them up, but he never seems to follow through. Ian Musgrave got tired of waiting for him to give us a coherent creationist argument about them, and has gone ahead and cut him off at the knees by explaining the place of ORFans in evolution.

In case you’re baffled by the jargon, “ORF” is an Open Reading Frame, or a stretch of DNA bracketed by a start and stop codon; it’s a kind of bare minimum criterion for recognizing an actual gene within a DNA sequence. An ORFan is an orphan ORF sequence, or one that doesn’t have a known function or affinity to other known genes. It is not surprising that genes exist that do not have an easily recognized homology with other genes—novel genes have to arise sometime, and we do not have a complete understanding of all sequences of all organisms.

The short answer is that Nelson is deluded, and ORFans do not conflict with evolution at all…but read Ian’s post for all the details.