Poll time!

Do you think a class focusing on the Bible should be taught in public school? This is from a Virginia school that is trying to implement a Bible studies class — and if you’ve got some idea that maybe it’s an intellectual course which discusses the social and literary contributions of an important book in Western culture, it’s plugged as “the first step to get God back in your public school”.

I’m not the only weirdo on my block

In case you too have an obsessive fascination with our home on the prairie, Morris, Minnesota, there is another blog based in my neighborhood, and the latest talk is about all the construction going on. College Avenue, the street running in front of my house, is being ripped up and reconstructed, a process that’s supposed to go on for a few months. Anyway, there’s a strange fabric fence that’s been put up between us and the university, which the precocious young man living near us has decided is a Physicist Fence, to protect us from wandering physicists, presumably drawn by the sound of heavy machinery.

If it really is a physicist fence, though, I’m tempted to go out and cut a couple of slits in it, just to see what would happen.

Darwin moves!


There is a famous statue of a seated Charles Darwin in a strange place in the Natural History Museum in London — it’s tucked into a basement cafeteria. I visited it while I was there, and more unfortunately, Ben Stein posed with it in his awful movie.

It’s been moved!

Now it’s in a much more prominent place on a landing on a central stair, where you can’t miss it if you visit the museum. As you should.

Email problems

I’m having some difficulties with my lab server, difficulties that I can’t sort out right now since I’m going to be leaving town for a week and a half. Unfortunately, this is also the server that handles mail coming in to my pharyngula.org and tangledbank.net addresses — so if you’ve sent stuff to me there in the last few days, it is now hiding somewhere in dev/null, I think. Resend it to pzmyers@gmail.com if it’s important! And especially, if you sent submissions for the Tangled Bank to host@tangledbank.net, that email is temporarily dead, so try again to my gmail address.

Sorry about all that. Skatje’s weblog is also inaccessible right now, so I might be able to convince her to go in and straighten it all out while I’m away, but otherwise it’s going to have to wait until mid-June.

Captivating creationists

James Gurney (yes, that James Gurney) has an interesting approach to visiting proselytizers: he sits them down and draws them. It’s useful in that it disarms them and opens them up to discussion, but of course, it doesn’t get around to actually challenging their beliefs, and it also requires a degree of talent that 99% of the rest of us lack. Still, it’s a wonderful tactic. Except, maybe, it will draw in more Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses hoping for a portrait.

Gurney has more to his blog, too, and it’s a rewarding browse. The man is seriously obsessed with his art, and you’ve got to respect a person with talent and hard-earned expertise.

A pleasant, smiling apologist is still lying to you

John urges all to read a “lovely, lyrical and wistful piece” on religion. So I did.

Sorry, John, it’s the same old noise.

The essay by Peter Bebergal has some good points: it’s premise is to deplore biblical literalism because it’s bad theology that is trying to ape science, and it cripples the imagination. That part I can agree with entirely. Biblical literalism is a slavishly stupid way to enshrine an absolutist authority — a false authority — as a source of information beyond question. So I am sympathetic to about half of its message.

[Read more…]

Big squid caught in Australia

The Aussies love to brag about their exotic fauna, so I probably shouldn’t inflate their egos further, but they’ve done it again: they’ve netted another ginormous squid. This one is about 6 meters long, and 230 kg.


They always look so flabby and pathetic when they’re shown flopped down dead on a boat’s deck, don’t they? It’s like having human funeral viewings where they soak the body in a lake somewhere for a week — it’s neither pretty nor representative.