I’m feeling warmer already

Read Kim Stanley Robinson’s account of a little trek across Antarctica in 1910. They were just going out to collect penguin eggs, a quick trip of 35 days.

The warmest temperatures topped out at minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit. Only their intense exertions kept them from freezing in their tracks, but even so it’s hard to understand how they avoided frostbite in their hands, feet and faces. Somehow they carried on. Cherry-Garrard wrote that he was acutely aware of the absurdity of their efforts, but he did not mention that to the others. He was the youngster, at 25, and Wilson and Bowers, 38 and 28, were like older brothers to him. Whatever they did he was going to do.

For three days a storm forced them to wait in their tent; after that, they worked all day for a gain of about a mile and a half. Every morning it took them four hours to break camp. They began with a meal of biscuits and hot pemmican stew, eaten while lying in their reindeer-hide sleeping bags. Getting into their frozen outer clothing was like muscling into armor. When they were dressed, it was out into the icy darkness to take down their Scott tent, a four-sided canvas pyramid with a broad skirt that could be well-anchored in the snow. When all their gear was piled on the two sledges, they started the day’s haul. Bowers was the strongest of them and said he never got cold feet. Wilson monitored his own feet and often asked Cherry-Garrard how his were doing; when he thought they were getting close to frostbite, he called a halt, and as quickly as possible they put the tent up, got their night gear into it and made a hot dinner of pemmican stew. Then they tried to get some sleep before they became too cold to remain in their bags.

Nineteen days of this reduced Cherry-Garrard to a state of benumbed indifference. “I did not really care,” he wrote, “if only I could die without much pain.”

Wait until you get to the part where their tent blows away.

They huddled in their drafty shelter. Wilson and Bowers decided the wind was about Force 11, which means “violent storm” on the Beaufort scale, with wind speeds of 56 to 63 miles an hour. There was no chance of going outside. They could only lie there listening to the blast and watching their roof balloon off the sledge and then slam back down on it. “It was blowing as though the world was having a fit of hysterics,” Cherry-Garrard wrote. “The earth was torn in pieces: the indescribable fury and roar of it all cannot be imagined.”

It was their tent that gave way first, blown off into the darkness. This was shocking evidence of the wind’s power, because Scott tents, with their heavy canvas and broad skirts, are extremely stable. The same design and materials are used in Antarctica today, and have withstood winds of up to 145 miles an hour. I’m not aware of any other report of a Scott tent blowing away. But theirs was gone—the only shelter they had for their trek back home. And their canvas roof continued to bulge up and slam down. As the hours passed all the stones and ice slabs they had placed on it were shaken off. Then with a great boom the thick canvas tore to shreds. Blocks of the wall fell on them, and the ribbons of canvas still caught between stones snapped like gunshots. They had no protection now but their sleeping bags and the rock ring.

All right already, I’ll stop whining about my 10 minutes outside this morning now. Turnin’ the heat up.
Putting on warm slippers. Maybe some hot cocoa.

I guess we need to start looking for those Precambrian rabbits

Bodie Hodge, one of the dimmer bulbs flickering at Answers in Genesis, has an argument against the existence of transitional fossils. Basically, transitional fossils can’t exist, even if you show them to him, because the dates are all wrong. And he has a list of geological eras to prove it!

You see, our dates are all wrong. Everything we claim occurred between the beginning of the Cambrian (about 540 million years ago) and the beginning of the Pliocene (about 5 million years ago) actually occurred in a single Flood year which took place about 4400 years ago. Keep that in mind: everything listed as “Flood” took place in a brief period of 40 days and nights of rain, followed by about a year when the waters subsided and before Noah could beach his boat on Mt Ararat.

So when evolutionists say they found a transitional form between an ape and a human in Pliocene rock, creationists hardly flinch. Evolutionists are looking at the rock strata and the age of the earth incorrectly because humans were around long before that rock was ever laid down! Furthermore, humans existed when the Cambrian rock was laid down during the Flood. To go one more step, mankind had dominated the earth for over 1,600 years before the Cambrian rock was laid down!

When someone says that they found a transitional form between a dinosaur and a bird in the Paleocene, again, creationists hardly think twice. Both specimens died the same year in the same Flood and are not related. This is why finding feathers in the rock layers “before the dinosaurs” is not a problem for creationists. Nor is it a problem when we find theropod dinosaurs (which supposedly evolved into birds in the evolutionary story) that had eaten birds in lower Cretaceous rock.

Unfortunately, no traces of the organisms he claims had to have existed in the Precambrian — which includes all contemporary forms as well as a few others, like dragons — have ever been found, and the complex faunal assemblages that have been found in the “Flood” layers are surprisingly well-ordered by strata, with no significant mixing.

And yet this cataclysmic single year of the Flood was so energetically intense that essentially all of the geology we observe was laid down practically instantaneously in a geological eyeblink: tens of thousands of meters of sediments were generated, whole mountain ranges erupted upwards, great canyons were gouged out of the landscape, whole oceans surged into existence and then drained away, all life on earth was eradicated — and a single family of Bronze Age goat farmers rode out this spectacular, world-shaking catastrophe in a boat made of gopher wood and pitch, along with their livestock.

None of this is a problem for creationists, because they can just invent a story in contradiction to all of the known facts and use that to prop up their other story that is in contradiction to all known facts.

All over a stupid video game

BoingBoing has a good summary of yesterday’s lethal swatting incident. It’s a messy and really stupid story, so I’ll give my even more abbreviated summary:

Party 1 (going by some dumbass pseudonym) gets into a dumbass argument about a video game with Party 2 (another dumbass pseudonym). Party 1 dares Party 2 to swat him, and sends him an address of another, innocent party. Party 2 then asks Party 3 (dumbass pseudonym, you get the drill) to phone in a kidnapping/murder story to the police, because he has a history of pulling dumbass stunts like that. Cops roll up to innocent house, innocent, unarmed man answers, dumbass cop murders him on the spot.

Parties 1, 2, and 3 are all accomplices in murder, and deserve lots of jail time. Trigger happy cop is an incompetent who must at least be fired, but also deserves jail time, as does the entire police force that fosters this kind of hyper-violent form of ‘peace-keeping’.

Actual predictions: Party 3 is such a flagrant ass that he’s going to get a long sentence. Parties 1 and 2 will get slapped, but probably not as much as they deserve. Trigger-happy cop will get a paid vacation and the respect and honor of his fellow thugs. Players of violent video games will continue to be dumbasses, and violent video game publishers will make more profits selling games to dumbasses. And the world will continue to spin about its axis.

Innocent man will still be dead.

Weed Nazis?

There are Nazis in Eugene, Oregon! I guess this shouldn’t be a surprise: Eugene is a very white city, Oregon has an intensely racist history, and the University of Oregon has had some, errm, incidents in its past, but it’s also extraordinarily liberal/progressive, so it’s disappointing to see it in the news now for its few noisy neo-Nazis, some of whom are profiting from the marijuana trade — Weed Nazis are now a thing.

That stubborn legacy of bigotry persists in Eugene, where city officials this year have recorded nearly 60 hate crimes, up from 44 last year. Officials said vandalism and graffiti made up 20 percent of the hate crimes reported between January and October.

Statewide, hate crimes were up 60 percent in 2016 from the previous year, representing one of the largest increases of any state, according to an analysis of federal data by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.

In 2016, Eugene had more hate crimes than any other place in Oregon, said Brian Levin, director of the center.

I’m sure no one is surprised that Nazis are feeling empowered nowadays — they’ve installed a few in the White House. It’s also sad, though, that my old neighborhood is featured in the story.

The city’s Whiteaker neighborhood, a vibrant arts and entertainment district, attracted a rash of Nazi-inspired graffiti in February. Residents and business owners also awoke during that time to find the area leafleted with recruitment fliers that proclaimed, “Diversity is a code word for white genocide.”

Yikes. We lived with our two little boys, one just an infant, on Clark street, and I remember it as a quiet residential neighborhood with flower gardens, a nice view of Skinner’s Butte, and a short walk to the Willamette River — I’d take my oldest on little red wagon rides across the footbridge to the movie theater. And now it’s got Nazis. That’s just not right.

At least Eugene also has a vibrant and active antifa presence, which helps.

Slogging through the sludge-pit of YouTube

I’ve been experimenting with making YouTube videos (I’ll put up another one this weekend!), in part because it’s a fun challenge, but also because I’m constantly horrified by how atheism is represented in that medium. I expect creationists to be nattering dinglebats, but when atheists come along and be raging assholes, it’s always disappointing. In the last few days, an unpleasant example has shown up in the comments to this video.

SwolllenGoat: why do you disable ratings like some creotard?

I ignored him for a bit — that “tard” construction is a pretty good indicator that he wasn’t worth engaging — but I’ll tell you why.

Ratings systems are evil. Old timers may recall I mentioned them as an option on blog comments some time back, and most of you were horrified at the idea. All it does is foster tribalism, and then the stupid little stars become a tool for factions to anonymously snipe at one another.

I’ve seen it on YouTube. The ratings on YouTube videos are often useless — they’re only used for virtue signaling by one group or another. When we did some FtB videos a while back, it was obvious, since we’d have these hour-long videos, and within minutes of putting them up, the anti-SJW kiddie campers were clicking madly to downrate them. So I don’t use them.

I didn’t feel like explaining that to this guy, so I gave him a short answer.

PZ Myers: Because of people like you.

You know he wasn’t going to be satisfied.

SwolllenGoat: what kind of person am i?

I ignored him.

I did look at his YouTube page, though, and the “related channels” for this guy include Atheism-Is-Unstoppable:

Devon Tracey, or Atheism-is-Unstoppable (channel name) is a moderately popular YouTube atheist. Most of his content consists of Anti-SJW/Regressive screeds common amongst YouTube atheists. Occasionally this manifests itself in extreme rhetoric, which can sometimes be argued to be mildly racist, and is occasionally too much even for TheAmazingAtheist. He is also notorious for blocking people who disagree with him and for doxxing a couple of those he didn’t like. Due to these antics, many YouTube atheists, even those who share his general views, have denounced him.

And Bearing:

Bearing, or Patrick Connolly, is an Australian anti-feminist who, after failing as a musician, actually thought it would be a good idea to quit his dayjob as a real estate agent in order to focus on his next scam on how to get money without working: a shit YouTube ‘career’. Which basically, in traditional Aussie fashion, consists of nothing more than calling people cunts while producing the anti-sjw community’s equivalent of low-effort clickbait.

Hard pass. Case in point why YouTube atheists have such a shitty reputation.

But he was persistent.

SwolllenGoat: C’mon PZ

What ‘kind of person am I?

Why so butthurt when I pointed out you’ve disabled ratings just like one of those sad creationist dipshits?

Maybe you should block me next?

Shut down the comments entirely?

You know whats funny?

Answers in Fucking Genesis does not disable ratings,and they are flat out retarded

YOU do disable em

How things change…………….

That a clear demonstration of exactly the kind of person I want to just fuck off. So I thanked him for being so obvious.

PZ Myers: Thank you for answering your own question so effectively.

Now the fun begins. He starts raging at me. Note: he posted this while thinking I had blocked him. I don’t quite understand why he’d bother if he thought he was blocked, or how he reconciled the fact that all of his comments appeared on the video with his martyr complex, but he did go scurrying off to use an alternative login to get past his imaginary ban.

SwolllenGoat’s AudioBook Archive: Bwaaaahaaaaahaaaa

You sad little man

You blocked me for daring to ask a question

C’mon PZ

Tell us

What ‘kind of person am I?

Why so butthurt when I pointed out you’ve disabled ratings just like one of those sad creationist dipshits?

Maybe you should shut down the comments entirely?

You know whats funny?

Answers in Fucking Genesis does not disable ratings,and they are flat out retarded

YOU do disable em

How things change…………….

He typed it twice in two accounts, to be sure!

SwolllenGoat: Im sure that made some sort of sense to you,inside yer head,before you typed it

Rest assured it makes no actual sense,eh?

So,come on,what kind of person am I?

The question asking kind?

The atheist kind?

The liberal kind?

You have ratings disabled like some garden variety creotard because of atheist liberals who ask questions?

I remember the good old days of YT…………back when we atheist types would mock creotards because they disabled ratings and closed comments sections,or blocked users and whatnot

LOOK at yourself PZ

You are them

How sad

I don’t know. I might end up disabling comments if this is the kind of irrational atheist dork who’s going to show up and posture like an ass. I’ll keep ’em open for at least the next few videos, though.

It’s unfortunate that these gomers are unable to LOOK at themselves.

Never go back and read the books you liked as a youngster

I have fond memories of reading James Michener’s The Source as a teenager — in case you are unacquainted with that author, his schtick was to pick a geographical place and then write a long episodic novel covering its fictional history over thousands of years. The Source is about a mound in Israel, so he writes a chapter about a family at the dawn of agriculture growing wheat there, a small town and their Ba’als, a crusader castle, a group of soldiers in the Arab-Israeli War, you get the idea. It’s a series of vignettes in the long history of this region.

I had a cheap copy of this book I hadn’t read in decades, and just started skimming the beginning. The framing device in this novel is the story of the archaeological excavation at the site led by a man named Cullinane, digging up artifacts that are then used as the centerpiece of each story. And that is the problem. It’s unreadable. It was published in 1965, and it shows.

The first sign of trouble is the characters, who fit awkward stereotypes of The American, The Israeli, The Palestinian. The members of a kibbutz are helping with the labor of the site, and the story spends way too much time talking about how beautiful and scantily-clad the young women are. An Israeli woman named Vered Bar-El is a Ph.D. with substantial credentials as Israel’s “top expert in dating pottery”, but the story starts going in a strange direction. Cullinane is day-dreaming about marrying this petite, pretty girl with flashing eyes working at his side — she has given him no signals anywhere in the story that she’s at all interested in him romantically. In fact, we learn that she’s engaged to another scholar working there…a fellow that Cullinane tries to convince himself is not right for her. And then, suddenly, with no real reciprocal development between the characters,

And then one night in mid-July as he inspected the dig in moonlight he was alerted by someone moving along the northern edge of the plateau, and he suspected it might be a worker out to steal a Crusader relic; but it was Vered Bar-El, and he ran to her with a kind of release and caught her in his arms, kissing her with a vigor that astonished both of them. Slowly she pushed him away, holding on to the lapels of his field jacket and looking up at him with her dark, saucy eyes.

WTF? And this is treated as perfectly ordinary behavior in the field? She, a scholar with a fiance, is not at all shocked at this unprofessional behavior by her team leader? Michener was apparently incapable of imagining this scene from a woman’s perspective.

It makes me sad. I read this book in my teens and it went right over my head, and I just thought archaeology sounded neat and fun and interesting. I wonder how a teenaged girl would have felt about the discipline if they read that — dig leaders get to fantasize about the women working with them, and abruptly give them vigorous kisses.

Now I’m also wondering how common this casual dismissal of women was in the popular literature that might have influenced people’s choice of careers.