Carnivalia and an open thread

Well, I’m facing the consequences of my little fall yesterday — all day and night yesterday I could feel every little muscle in my back slowly knotting up in protest at the unkind treatment they have received. On top of that, I really have to finish my Seed column today (And I will! I am determined! It Shall Be Done!), and I have to spend some time working with the humane society this afternoon, which means I am tired, cranky, and under pressure … so go read these carnivals for a while, or talk about something else. I’m either going to stew for a while and explode in an ornery rant about something, or I’m going to soothe myself with some cool science (I’ve been reading up on an interesting phylum I knew nothing about before, and I’m also itching to write that up), or maybe both. Until I erupt again, entertain yourself with these:

The Tangled Bank

Also the Tangled Bank is coming to Tangled Up in Blue Guy on Wednesday, 19 March. Send those links in to me or soon!


  1. 800guy says

    Hello all, I’ve got a bit of a problem here @ the local library in my home town not too far from PZ. The local library files their non fiction books according to the dewey decimal system & their fiction books alphabetically by author, which is all fine & good. However, they have a section labeled “inspirational”, filled with left behind series, books that in a B&N would be labeled “religious fiction” (redundant). There are no labels in the fiction section for any other types of books, for example mystery, thriller, etc. What do you think would be the best way to get the local librarian to drop her editorializing with her labeling. Or am I making a mountain out of a molehill. Oh, & one of the magazines on display is “Answers” from our good friends @ AIG.

  2. raven says

    Fundie with a knife alert. Ever wonder who stole your Darwin fish? Sent to me by a friend who lives in a small town on the WC.

    Suspicious activity: 9:11 a.m., A man with a knife was spotted in the parking lot of an office supply business. The witness was sitting in a car in the parking lot when she saw a man get out of his car, walk over to another car and raise a large knife in the air. When the man realized he was being watched, he returned to his vehicle and drove away.

    Police stopped the man as he was leaving. The man said he was driving by when he noticed a “Jesus fish” with “Darwin” written in the center of it on the back of a parked vehicle. The man said he considered this to be a demonic symbol and intended to pull it off of the car with the knife but decided to leave when he was spotted by the witness. Police warned the man about his behavior and took no further action.

    This town is nowhere near a fundie stronghold, quite the opposite. These people are sick in the head.

    It is almost worth it to park a car with a prominent Darwin fish somewhere, stake it out with a video camera, cameras, and a cell phone and call the cops when a fundie terrorist goes for your symbol.

  3. says

    Living in Minnesota predisposes people to falling. Gotta move south. Of course, with all the snow and ice we’ve had in MI, not much better here. I saw about 20 slip and falls in two days a couple of weeks ago, one of them me.

  4. SEF says

    Does anyone know where to find a transcript of one of Ken Ham’s talks? I’m trying to help organise a game of creationist bingo, for his visit to Liverpool University (UK) on 31st March, and it would help to know what his personal favourite falsehoods are in order to divide them out fairly between the cards. The TalkOrigins list of creationist claims is good for general random creationists but a more tailored (and even ordered!) approach would be better for a specific and rapid-fire rote creationist such as Ken Ham.

    NB Creationist Bingo is where members of the audience compete to complete their cards, each of which holds a selection of predictable creationist falsehoods, by spotting them turning up as a given creationist speaks. The original version allowed for random creationists to turn up on a message board – and players were not permitted to deliberately try to lead the nutters towards any of their pre-allocated predictable falsehoods. The creationists had to blurt them out entirely unknowingly and spontaneously for it to count.

  5. ennui says

    800guy ~ maybe you could reprint some of these and insert them in the rapture panic books. Or you could just talk to the librarian.

  6. 800guy says

    I’ve had a few conversations with the librarian and she has made it clear (without actually saying so) that I am talking to a wall & won’t get much action from her. She is the one in charge of the library and I’m sure IS aware of the situation because she created it. So that’s why I’ve posted here thinking maybe a librarian here could help me resolve this situation in the best manner. This is a small town & I don’t want to make too many waves just straighten it out a little.

  7. says

    (Server’s gonna crash. Two links to Tangled Up in Blue Guy in one post!)

    Minion alert! PZ has been accused of censorship! Larry Moran at Sandwalk hit 500,000 reads and jokingly suggested that since that is what Pharyngula gets in a month, someone should figure out a way to shut Pharyngula down so that the traffic gets more evenly distributed.

    A guy named “Sanders” compared PZ to O’Reilly:

    PZ is one of those guys who like to always appear like they know everything and always knows what is right. You know…assholes. Something like a Bill O’Reilly for atheism. Plenty of personality and full of crap, too.

    I defended Master, of course out of fear of reprisal for not defending Master, and in his response “Sanders” accused PZ of censorship.

    There are some subtle differnces between sandwalk and pharyngula.
    Specially, censorship. I think sandwalk projects a certainty that arguments will satnd for themselves. Censorhip is not only uncool: it is insecure.

    Are the minions about to let this stand?

  8. S. Fisher says

    New phylum you knew nothing about? Kinorynchs?, Gastrotrichs? Or perhaps you’re referring to Xenoturbella? Come on Sally….suck it up and get back to work…we depend on you.

  9. Sven DiMilo says

    Mike Haubrich (#8):
    You’ll find “Sanders” in PZ’s Dungeon, filed under “Alexander Vargas.” He’s a dick who understands evolution better than everybody else combined (his clue: nobody else agrees with him), is incapable of listening to reason, and has zero social skills. He also starts foaming at the mouth when Dawkins is mentioned. Oh, and he has never learned to use the “preview” button, which makes his rants seem charmingly illiterate (though he’s not stupid). Pay him no mind.

  10. says

    The phylum is…none of the above! I’ll try to post about it tomorrow. Trust me, these little critters are pretty darned cool.

  11. says


    The guy who runs Rapture Ready is trying to organize a sort of post-mortem PR stunt. He’s calling on well wishers who are likely to die in the coming months to petition God in person to increase his readership. Here’s the money quote:

    Internet usage by the elderly is somewhat lower than that of the general population, but it still means that hundreds of you people who are reading this right now will not be here the same time next year.

    For you folks who become part of the mortality figures in the coming days, I commission you with the same task: When you meet the King of Kings, please ask Him to pour His grace and guidance on this web ministry.

  12. raven says

    The local library files their non fiction books according to the dewey decimal system & their fiction books alphabetically by author, which is all fine & good.

    You are probably fighting a losing battle. Fundies have god on their side and you don’t.

    Instead ask her to order Dawkins and a few other atheist books. Also the latest evolution books, Prothero’s fossil book and Your Inner Fish, Shubin and so on. Most public libraries allow patrons to request books for shelving and most are on line these days.

    Then again, small towns in the midwest are so narrow minded that your social life will head towards zero if they get the feeling that you are one of “those people”. You know, driving a volvo, drinking lattes, and reading the New York Times.

    If nothing else, she will get the idea that not everyone in that town is a fundie moron.

    Our public library had Harun Ayha’s Atlas of Cretinism shelved with the evolution books instead of fiction or propaganda or something. I though to say something but it wasn’t really worth the hassle. Then it disappeared. Someone must have told them.

  13. eyesoars says

    My sympathies. I fell on my back several weeks ago, and it was about a week before I could sleep more than five hours — staying still too long would knot all my trunk muscles up. Lots of stretching, walking, and ibuprofen.

    In my case, I hit square in the middle of the back, and it was minutes before I could (hoarsely) talk again. I’d never appreciated before that having the wind knocked out of one is simply having one’s trunk muscles spasm — the muscles to exhale are simply a lot stronger than those to inhale.

    #11: I think it’s spelled ‘tardigrade.


  14. 800guy says

    I have asked for Dennett’s “Breaking the spell, Religion as a Natural Phenomenon”, was told no one would want to read it & she “didn’t she how it would be possible to explain religion in that manner”. I wanted to scream at her “That’s why you should read it.” I also asked for Dawkin’s “The God Delusion” & was told it was “controversial” & therefore not allowed. That’s what I meant by my “talking to a wall comment”.

  15. says

    @ #19

    If you have the funds, buy the books and donate them. Most small libraries will be happy to accept donations.

  16. raven says


    That’s what I meant by my “talking to a wall comment”.

    My symphathies. That isn’t a wall. You are dealing with a religious extremist who would probably like to stone you to death or burn you at the stake, as soon as Huckleberry abolishes the constitution and replaces it with the bible.

    This, of course, is the exact opposite of what a librarian or library should be.

    Our library has all of those and lots more, including Alvados books.

    Try to get Dawkins, Alvados, Dennets, and Hitchens books on interlibrary loans and see what happens. She might faint.

    See what happens if you try to request evolution and cosmology books, Gould, Conway-Morris, Clack, Shubin, dinosaur books, Prothero etc.. These are straight science books, both popularizations and popular.

    If that doesn’t work, at least you know your town is controlled by fundie bigots and when Huckleberry gets elected,…..

  17. raven says

    If you have the funds, buy the books and donate them. Most small libraries will be happy to accept donations.

    They vary quite a bit. A lot of people try to donate paperbacks, light fiction, and various ephemera. Plus there are always cranks and crackpots who try to donate the complete annotated Velikovsky or theosophy or perpetual motion machine monthly (Infinite Energy mag.) and so on. Our library cheerfully takes anything with the understanding that they will pick and choose and then hold a book sale a few times a year and use the money to buy what they really want.

    With the 800guy, it is worth a try just to see how ruffled the librarians feathers will get. My guess is she will refuse it.

  18. says

    Interlibrary loan sounds like the way to go if you actually want to read them. Especially if you can order them online and track their arrival. I think I’d give up on the “Inspirational” section – your librarian probably just thinks she’s putting things where her average user can find them easily.

    And if you can request books online, how about a lot of science books for pupils and students doing their homework assignments?

  19. Cassidy says

    Maybe one of you Pharyngulites can help me help me out…my grandfather is a retired MD who went through med school just when they were figuring out that whole “structure of DNA” thing. He isn’t so much behind the times because he kept up fine with the computer and imaging revolutions since he was a radiologist. However, he had little to no use for the molecular side of things.

    Now, however, he has copious amounts of free time and would like to catch up on the past 50 years of molecular biology. My question: can anyone recommend a good beginner’s text in biochemistry? We went over a few things on recombinant DNA from my genetics lab manual when I last saw him, but he needs to start with the basic structure of the molecule.

  20. raven says

    I just checked my public library online catalogue. They have 8 copies of Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion. Seven of those copies are checked out.

    Something tells me the west coast is a lot different from rural Minnesota. How many people are in that town anyway and is the population going up or down?

    Some of my relatives live in the upper midwest. Where they live, the population peaked 40 years ago and has been going down slowly ever since. Some of the really small towns in the area are all but ghost towns these days.

  21. says

    My blog has a creationist commenter, Ronald Cole, who is trying to falsify evolution with the usual rhetorical tricks. I found an article that he wrote, and it really needs some comments: Worldview Sound Off, Ron Cote bio. From there there’s his one article. He misquotes the statement that evolution is the foundation of biology and then holds it against evolution that his engineering work didn’t require an evolution loyalty oath.

  22. Sven DiMilo says

    Cassidy, the standard biochemistry texts are by Lehninger (now Nelson and Cox) and Stryer (now Berg et al.), but any college-level introductory biology text (Campbell, Sadava et al., Freeman) does an excellent job with the material of interest, in more depth than you might predict from the “introductory” rubric.

  23. SEF says

    For an allegedly “mathematical proof” (both words being suspect) it starts off being physics – bad physics!

    1. He needs his “usuable” typo to be a new word because he’s somewhat abusing the real one. The idea that some energy is always “lost” (rendered unusable to us rather than destroyed) is only an overall statistical effect. It doesn’t apply to all individual transactions.

    2. His second paragraph contains the non-sequitur of god (who, depending on definition, could still be part of a closed system and doesn’t necessarily get to change his “usuable” rule). Furthermore, it’s not even a given that the rule will be applicable across a whole universe. Though we could decide to assume that it is (and flag that as an explicit assumption for the “proof”). Otherwise we can postulate there being occasions in which energy becomes more available, eg quantum events such as particle-pair creation.

    3. In paragraph three he’s wrong about “Science theory”. Some versions of a universe had it always being there. Other versions very much had a beginning (Big Bang sound familiar to anyone?) and thus t (as it applies to our universe) is not infinite now at all – rather there’s even a moderately firm date for it! These errors lead him to his next one – of making false claims over what he’s eliminated. Though, once we get to considering M-branes, “closed” is a relative term anyway.

    4. His “math doesn’t work”, but that’s because he’s fed false data into it and played fast and loose with it. He’s also cheating horrendously on word definitions here. There could be an energy input mechanism which lacked any of the intelligent or intentional characteristics normally attributed to god. Eg the sun generates energy so let’s call that a god even though it doesn’t intend to be one. His “that I could think of” is another give-away that this is a “proof” based on personal ignorance and incredulity – a theistic standard.

    5. The same cheat of calling an external force a god even if it has no intent. He has very low standards for his god if he’ll include branes accidentally bumping together as something worthy of worship etc. In reality, he wouldn’t. He’s just being dishonest throughout. Nothing unusual in a theist though. More the norm.

  24. SEF says

    Is no-one able (or willing) to help me with narrowing down the creationist claims to just the ones of which Ken Ham is particularly fond? I know he’s YEC, which eliminates a few items (although he might try to argue falsely against OEC ones anyway) but not many. Has no-one here recently been to a Ken Ham event (in particular, one where he had free-rein in monologuing his spiel rather than being constrained a bit by responding to an interviewer etc)?

  25. Nemo says

    You know you’re spending too much time on Pharyngula when you see PZ Myers in a dream.

  26. says

    I just got the most entertaining missive from the Expelled folks yet.

    By Jack Cashill
    Executive Editor of Ingram’s Magazine
    A rousing SRO preview on Tuesday of the new Ben Stein documentary, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, brought a Kansas City audience to its feet.

    And with good cause. Stein’s often funny, always engaging frontal assault on the oppressive neo-Darwinist establishment is arguably the smartest and most sophisticated documentary ever produced on the right side of the cultural divide, on any subject, ever.

    As such, Expelled represents still another blow to the progressive orthodoxy of government-issued science in its winter of discontent.

    The winter started early when in November two separate labs, one in Wisconsin, one in Japan, announced the breakthrough discovery that adult skin cells can be reprogrammed to mimic embryonic stem cells.

    Just two years earlier, the elfin journalist Chris Mooney had likened adult stem cell research to creationism and assured the readers of his best seller, The Republican War on Science, that this “dogma” had been “resoundingly rejected by researchers actually working in the field.”

    As the winter rolled on, and as all four major global temperature tracking outlets showed a precipitous drop in annual global temperature, and as snow fell in Baghdad for the first time in recorded history, only Al Gore remained in meltdown.

    Meanwhile, on a seemingly daily basis, the neo-Luddites from the Earth Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Front have been putting a distinctly left wing face on the “war on science,” in this case a real war on real scientists.

    And into this breach, armed with his trademark tennies and bemused grin, marches Ben Stein, America’s only economist/ presidential speechwriter turned comic actor. The producers at Premise Media could not have recruited a better on-screen presence.

    Although the role Stein plays has been compared to the one Michael Moore plays in his film, the Stein persona is conspicuously brighter and more benign.

    Nor do Stein and his producers resort to the kind of editing that make Moore movies something other than documentaries.

    In Bowling For Columbine , for instance, Moore cobbles together five different parts of NRA honcho Charlton Heston’s Denver speech a week after Columbine.

    Moore then inserts into the mix a “cold, dead hands” remark from a speech Heston gave a year later. In the process Moore turn Heston’s conciliatory Denver address into a provocative call to arms.

    This isn’t film making. This is fraud.

    Stein resorts to no such tricks. He gives certain interview subjects all the time and all the rope they need to hang themselves, unedited.

    One highlight among many is Stein’s one-on-one interview with Richard Dawkins, the dashing Brit who has made a small fortune as the world’s most visible neo-Darwinist.

    To his credit, and to the utter discomfort of the public education establishment, Dawkins does not shy from discussing the atheistic implications of Darwinism.

    Indeed, Dawkin’s anti-deity call to arms, The God Delusion, has sold more than a million copies worldwide. Where Dawkins wanders into a black hole of his own making is in his discussion of the origins of life on earth.

    To Stein’s astonishment, Dawkins concedes that life might indeed have a designer but that designer almost assuredly was a more highly evolved being from another planet, not “God.”

    Stein does not respond. He does not need to. For the past hour of the film, the audience has met one scientist after another whose academic careers have been derailed for daring to suggest the possibility of intelligent design.

    If only they had thought to put the designer on another planet!

    The choice of Stein as narrator is inspired for another reason. That reason becomes most apparent when he and two “creationist” allies, mathematician David Berlinski and nuclear physicist Gerald Schroeder, visit a remnant of the Berlin Wall, the central metaphor of the film.

    At the wall, the three discuss the value of freedom, the central idea of the film, and the need for the same in science. The audience has already met Berlinski, an amusingly sophisticated American living in Paris.

    The audience has seen less of Schroeder, but he is wearing a yarmulke. All three are Jewish.

    Indeed, it would be hard to imagine any three individuals on the planet who less resemble the Inherit the Wind stereotype that Darwinists have been scaring soccer moms with for the last half century.

    Expelled opens nationwide on April 18th. The neo-Darwinists and their allies in the major media will do their best to kill it.

    Co-producer Mark Mathis tells me that two network news producers have already chosen not to cover the film because it was “biased,” unlike, say, the much-covered Fahrenheit 911.

    The producers have contracted with the same firm that marketed Mel Gibson’s The Passion to get the word out. They will use much the same strategy.

    Central to this strategy is the creation of a powerful buzz and a strong enough opening weekend to catch Hollywood’s attention and hold it.

    Put April 18 on your calendars. Bring the kids. You won’t be disappointed.

    So Baghdad has not experienced snow in recorded history? I suppose that’s true as long as one doesn’t regard written language, the printing press, gramophones, newsreels, etc. as a form of recorded history. There are elderly people living in Baghdad who remember the last time it snowed in Baghdad. Several decades ago, perhaps, but not several millenia.

  27. Bayesian Bouffant, FCD says

    Greg Cootsona, a pastor who pretends to know something about philosophy, writes that the existence of goodness presents some sort of rational challenge to atheists. He got this printed in the Chico Enterprise-Record, and is also duplicated on his blog, Cootsona: Reflections on Culture, Life, and Faith.
    As you can imagine, he received a largely negative response in comments, and follows up on his blog by whining that atheists need to “engage in a higher degree of intellectual rigor.” Meanwhile, he refuses even to define the “good” that he thinks is a problem for atheists.

  28. says

    I thought this was an interesting review of Expelled, since this person sympathetic with their position was still not very impressed, and would have liked to have viewed it with a less prejudiced (not his word) crowd:

    I saw an advance screening of the movie “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed” last night. It’s a film put together by intellectual heavyweight/gameshow host, Ben Stein. Seriously, this guy is brilliant, and hilarious. Generally speaking, the film attempts to challenge the academic elitist establishment for attacking our freedom. Specifically, the film sets out to debunk Darwin’s theory of evolution, and exposes certain scientists who have been blacklisted for even talking about the concept of Intelligent Design. The movie was compelling, but I couldn’t always keep my finger on why it was. Was it because of the clever humor dropped in at just the right moments (usually in the form of old movie, or instructional film footage)? Yes. Was it because there really seems to be a problem with certain scientists being fired from their jobs for expressing even the possibility of A. I.? Yes, but personally, I can’t really relate to that, since I don’t feel like my own freedom is under attack. Was it because Stein took us to Germany to tour a hospital and concentration camp where thousands of people were murdered because they didn’t fit Hitler’s idea of the perfect race (proportedly a Darwinian construct taken to insane lengths). Yes, even though it felt a bit heavy-handed and emotionally manipulative, as in addition to Hitler’s horrors, Stein showed how Darwinism leads to athiesm, abortion and euthanasia.Do I think people should see this film? Yes, without question, since it is a great launching pad for discussion about the topics of evolution and creationism. Still, it felt very much like a Michael Moore doc (or truthfully, any documentary) where the intentions are to stir up emotion and present facts that lead to a certain, predisposed conclusion. Personally, I’d love to see it again with a group of people who are less apt to be friendly to Stein’s anti-Darwinian stance.

    Huh, really, this doesn’t feel like Nazi Germany to him? Any chance that’s because it’s actually nothing like that?

    More important than getting some less biased viewers in there (which may happen in at least some of the remaining advance screenings), it would be more instructive to hear the rantings of the proponents of other pseudosciences who make similar claims about “Big Science.” Your average homeopathist, necromancer, or Edgar Cayce fan would say much the same things, and for the same reason, because science cannot include evidence-free belief in “spiritual” forces causing observed phenomena.

    Glen D

  29. says

    “If you believe in evolution then there is no free will.” Ben Stein

    There you go, if you don’t like the implications of science, the government should step in and redefine science to fit your prejudices.

    My God we’re intolerant bastards for not welcoming their attempts to control science to fit their religion.

    Glen D

  30. says

    “If you believe in evolution then there is no free will.” Ben Stein

    Or IOW, just follow where the evidence leads, provided, that is, that the evidence has been straitjacketed and forced to serve your religious world view.

    Force is freedom, tyranny truth. And how dare anyone call those cherished beliefs “unscientific”?

    Glen D

  31. says

    Btw, just who controls “New World Encyclopedia”? I saw at Uncommon Descent that the odious Jon Wells wrote an article on ID for them, and found the mark of religious prejudice in their introduction page:

    New World Encyclopedia will have the same ease of use as Wikipedia, but will differ based on an editorial policy that includes a more rigorous article selection process, editorial review process, and its wholesome values orientation.

    Integrates facts with values.

    Ick, “wholesome values.” Gee, we wouldn’t want actual facts without “wholesome values” manipulating them (as usual, honesty is not among their “wholesome values”).

    Well, I’m actually less interested in who is putting it out, than in simply raising the fact that there’s another “encyclopedia” trying to twist truth to its own purposes, and rather than waving the red flag like the name “Conservapeida” does, it sounds innocuous at first glance.

    Glen D