What do the godless do on Easter?

Well, Skatje’s going to Minicon next weekend—sending her off to hang out with intelligent nerds and geeks and people like Charles deLint and Lois McMaster Bujold and the Nielsen Haydens and Jane Yolen is probably the most responsible thing a parent can do. If any of my readers are also going, make sure she doesn’t just go hide in her room and knit or chat on the computer. She needs to get out and socialize! Make friends! Watch Dr Who! Something!

Unfortunately, although I’ll be providing the shuttle service to get her to and from the con, I’m going to be swamped with work for the next few weeks and just can’t afford to take the weekend off. I’ll probably get a day pass and hang out on Friday evening for a while, though, before Skatje shoos me away. Next year, though, I’m going to plan my calendar a little better and see the whole thing.

So my daughter gets to go to Minicon and she probably won’t even get me a lousy t-shirt.

Those disreputable evo-deviants and their bigotry against the single-celled

I must disagree with Larry Moran, who accuses the field of evo-devo of animal chauvinism — not that it isn’t more or less true that we do tend to focus on metazoans, but I disagree with an implication that this is a bad thing or that it is a barrier to respectability. Larry says we need to cover the other four kingdoms of life in greater breadth, which I agree is a fine idea. I would like to have a complete description of the genome of every species on earth, a thorough catalog of every epistatic interaction between those genes during development, a hundred labs working on each species, and a massive collection of papers for each one documenting every step and every protein and every variation in their development. I would like it tomorrow.

I think we all agree that that would be impractical. The question is how we will focus our research to maximize our use of limited resources, and get us useful answers that will lead us in productive directions. Larry is advocating maximizing our phyletic breadth by following organisms representative of the greatest amount of diversity. He is proposing this in opposition to the proposal from Jenner and Wills, who suggest a different strategy — and I find myself agreeing more with Jenner and Wills than with Moran.

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Today’s excessive religious hysteria

A gay rights group called Soulforce had a sit-in (it warms my heart to hear the traditions of the 1960s have not completely died) in the offices of Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and typical homophobe. One of our local bible scholars, Reuben David, an assistant professor of Communication Arts at North Central University, took it upon himself to criticize these militant gay rights activists; I’m really impressed with his perspective:

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Steve Cooper of Tooting, Professional Goddess

“There’s something enchanting under his sari!”

What is this, silly religion day? I just got sent a link to this marvelous story of a young unemployed British fellow who became a goddess in India — he is now the incarnation of Bahucharaji, the patron of Indian eunuchs, and he goes around blessing people and curing their infertility. Apparently, Bahucharaji was an Indian princess who castrated her husband because he wasn’t interested in sex, and for that she was deified. Thank Lakshmi and Urvasi my wife is an unbeliever!

They call him Prema, for short. It means “Divine Love.” Hey, what a coincidence, that’s what “PZ” means, too!

Hindu pilgrims have no doubts about his powers. When we asked Bhanu Barot why she was so keen to receive Prema’s blessing, she said, simply: “Because she is a goddess.”

Another woman, Rekha, said she had travelled for days to be blessed by Steve. She added: “My sister-in-law came here and she got pregnant immediately. I am hoping the same will happen for me after receiving the blessing of the goddess.”

It must be <cough> magic.

Life isn’t all curry and rice beer, or exotic Indian beauties asking for assistance in getting pregnant. There’s also the professional jealousy.

A eunuch called Sudha said: “He is a fake. I checked and he still has a penis.

He is a male so can’t be a goddess. He shouldn’t give blessings.”

Ooooh, the little bitch.