Squid attack!



If anyone is interested in writing a Lovecraftian horror novel and getting all the details just right, I recommend this paper by Kier and Leeuwen. They used a high-speed camera to capture exactly how a squid, Loligo pealei, strikes and seizes its prey. Isn’t it beautiful?

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Off to the big city again

I’m heading in to Minneapolis for my morning at Camp Quest tomorrow—comments awaiting authorization may be held up for a while, so don’t panic.

I may just pop in to the Minneapolis Drinking Liberally event tonight—we’ll find out who actually reads the blog by who is surprised. There’s also a Morris Drinking Liberally tonight that I’ll have to miss, unfortunately.

Flap those gills and fly!


I am going mildly nuts right now—somehow, I managed to arrange things so multiple deadlines hit me on one day: tomorrow. I’ve got a new lecture to polish up for our introductory biology course, a small grant proposal due, and of course, tomorrow evening is our second Café Scientifique. Let’s not forget that I also have a neurobiology lecture to give this afternoon, and I owe them a stack of grading which is not finished yet. I’m really looking forward to Wednesday.

Anyway, so my new lecture for our introductory biology course is on…creationism, yuck. What I’m planning to do is to describe some of the most common creationist arguments and then give a biologist’s rebuttal. Creationism is really a waste of our class time, but using it to explain some general concepts that any informed biologist should understand (and that the creationists, including Mike Behe, are astonishingly clueless about) will make it a little more productive, I hope. We’ll find out tomorrow.

One of the common creationist claims I plan to shoot down is the whole idea of “irreducible complexity” as an obstacle to evolution. I was going to bring up two ideas that invalidate it: the principle of scaffolding (which I discussed here), and exaptation, in which features evolved for some other purpose than the one that they play in an organism we observe today. I was looking for a good example, and then John Wilkins fortuitously sent me a paper that filled the bill (we evilutionists, you know, are sneakily sending each other data behind the scenes to help in our assault on ignorance. We’re devious that way.)

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Inanity squared

Yikes—it’s like some kind of horror movie: Inhofe meets Robertson.

Look, Pat, I don’t have to tell you about reading the Scriptures, but one of mine that I’ve always enjoyed is Romans 1, 22 and 23. You quit worshipping God and start worshipping the creation — the creeping things, the four-legged beasts, the birds and all that. That’s their god. That’s what they worship.

I’m not a big fan of the Bible, and every time I do dig into it, I find myself disgusted—and this is no exception. I had to look up Romans.

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Rapture Insanity Watch

I keep waiting for the padded ambulance to roll up and men in white coats to leap out, shoot these bozos with a trank gun, wrap them up in a straight jacket, and go howling off to the nearest sanitarium, but no…instead, they get invitations to appear on cable news and babble about the apocalypse. And it’s not just the airhead news media…

…Rosenberg is just one of several conservative media figures who have identified and expounded upon the purported signs of the Apocalypse to be found in the Israel-Hezbollah conflict. During his appearance on Live From…, Rosenberg claimed that he had been invited to the White House, Capitol Hill, and the CIA to discuss the Rapture and the Middle East, and noted—several times—that the apocalyptic events described in his novels keep coming true.

What’s really frightening is that these people don’t exhibit an ounce of critical thinking, and these ridiculous attitudes are endemic in the people who run our country. I’m waiting for some smart, pragmatic, sensible guy in government or the press to stand up and truncate that famous quote: “You have done enough. Have you no sense?”

(via Atrios)

Defenders of Kansas

Forgive me, but I find it hard to take Casey Luskin seriously. He’s a mouthpiece for the Discovery Institute who always reminds me of a voluble squirrel: he chatters away frenetically, but the brain behind his words is tiny and ill-prepared to cope with any substance. I always feel this urge to throw some peanuts at his feet to distract him. Anyway, his latest frenetic missive is a collection of angry chitterings, protesting that ID isn’t about the supernatural at all (it’s just about undermining naturalism…hasn’t he read Philip Johnson yet?), and no, they aren’t trying to sow doubt and confusion by mangling the science standards in Kansas. Meanwhile, John Rennie is more like a sleek, swift Doberman who gives the squirrel a quick shake, a chomp, and the nuisance vanishes with a squeak. For now. Anticipate Luskin’s further shrill whining to continue from within the belly of the beast.

Hey, and if you want to hear more about the distortions of science in the Kansas standards revisions, Jack Krebs has been barnstorming the state, and there’s lots of material to expose the Discovery Institute fraudulent campaign there.