An honest endorsement from Bernie Sanders in 1996

I like this guy’s forthright response — no weasel words here! Sanders endorsed Bill Clinton in 1996, only it’s more of a “Pox on both your houses, except Bill is slightly less poxier” statement.

Yet, without enthusiasm, I’ve decided to support Bill Clinton for president. Perhaps “support” is too strong a word. I’m planning no press conferences to push his candidacy, and will do no campaigning for him. I will vote for him, and make that public. Why? I think that many people do not perceive how truly dangerous the political situation in this country is today. If Bob Dole were to be elected president and Gingrich and the Republicans were to maintain control of Congress, we would see a legislative agenda unlike any in the modern history of this country. There would be an unparalleled war against working people and the poor, and political decisions would be made that could very well be irreversible.

It’s not so much for Clinton as a comment on how awful the Republican party was 20 years ago…and it’s gotten worse. We’ve been settling for not-quite-as-evil-as-Republicans for a long time.

That’s not us!

This satirical piece in IHE totally misses my university. Totally! Look at all the differences.

We are a predominantly white, elitist and ableist liberal arts institution located on stolen Native American land in a small but beautiful rural area in Wokeland, N.Y. [We’re in Trump Country, MN! Everything up to that point was accurate.] The campus is surrounded by hazelnut trees, peach orchards, [Nope! Corn and soybeans.] German bakeries, French cuisine [We wish.] and statues of tall white cisgender wealthy men (several of whom were slaveholders) [Wrong again. No fancy statues anywhere.] whose ill-gotten monies have helped uphold our elitism [No monies, ill-gotten or otherwise. We’re a state college. We get by on scraps from a penny-pinching legislature] . We will be hiring a dynamic faculty for a tenure-track position in Liberal Studies.

We are legally required to say we are open to diversity, so we encourage people of color to apply [We do! We always do] so we can ultimately hire a white cisgender male candidate [It’s funny how often that happens] who (coincidentally!) had the same Ph.D. adviser as our department chair [That doesn’t happen here, but oddly, we do tend to favor candidates with a history of living in Minnesota, because they’ll “fit in”, which means our demographics don’t shift much] . We are especially interested in candidates willing to participate in various activities related to our collegewide symposium on “What is all this fuss about race, gender and white privilege?” generously funded by benevolent right-wing billionaires with no interest in politics. [We’re exempt again, but only because the right-wing billionaires haven’t noticed us]

Also, I should have noted that we’re hiring a tenure track ecologist, not a Liberal Studies professor. But don’t worry! We mean well!

Another of the fruits of the Enlightenment was time travel, I guess

James Lindsay, embarrassingly regressive acolyte of the equally embarrassing Boghossian, decided to explain to the waiting hordes of alt-right dopes how the Spaniards conquered the Americas in the 16th century using the Liberalism and Science of the 18th century Enlightenment. They used the vast powers conferred upon them by Humean philosophy, apparently.

Gosh. I thought Spain used the advantages of gunpowder and horses to murder and enslave populations that were decimated by exotic diseases that Europeans had unthinkingly seeded on the continents, which in itself doesn’t sound like an exactly “enlightened” act. But hey, you know if a different set of Europeans two centuries later invented some useful rationalizations for racism and colonialism (along with some genuinely good principles), and that makes it all A-OK to ahistorical pseudoscholars almost three centuries after that, it must have been a good thing.

I am amused by the idea that fanatical religious conquistadors who thought the native peoples’ autonomy should be disrespected by swords and spears and muskets in their quest for gold and silver were liberals driven by more accurate information about the world. There’s a reason James Lindsay would never make it in academia. He’s even more grossly incompetent than the rest of us.

Thunberg Derangement Syndrome

How sad to see my fellow old white men melting down over Greta Thunberg. They seem to be offended about the fact that she is chastising us for inaction, and worse, contributing to the ongoing problem. Learn to take criticism better, people!

Every day I seem to discover yet another old guy exposing the rot in their brain. The latest victim: Dan Simmons. That’s disappointing, since I read his book, The Terror, and enjoyed it, and heard that he’d written other good books that were on my list of future explorations. But now, no, I’ve scratched him off the list, I won’t bother — there are so many good authors and good books out there that I don’t need to patronize some weird ranty science denialist.

Not only is he petty and sneering at a young girl, he’s a climate change denialist. I looked at some of the other stuff he’s put online, and he’s also a bit of a gun nut and political reactionary, but it’s the scoffing at the science that kills his reputation for me. You know, if you’re going to spit on someone whose message on the climate is “listen to the scientists”, I’m not going to listen to you.

Greta Thunberg certainly has been an excellent crank detector.

Spider pigmentation is engrossing

I’ve been wrestlin’ spiderlings all day, although they’re getting big enough that they’re showing sexual characteristics, like enlarged palps in the males, so maybe they’re more like spider-teens. They’re about three weeks old — I showed you the newly emerged S. triangulosa a while back. I’m currently raising three species (maybe four) of Theridiidae, P. tepidariorum, S. triangulosa, and S. borealis, and I’m seeing that some of the patterns emerge fairly early and in predictable ways.

This is P. tepidariorum, the most common of these spiders, and the one I’m raising for experimental studies in the lab. Some of its obvious characteristics are the mottled abdomen — although it’s still specifically patterned, as you might see from the clear left/right symmetry — and the dark banding around the limb joints. Less obviously from the photo, one other feature is that they build 3-dimensional webs that take full advantage of the space they’re in. When I open up the container, they’re hanging suspended in the middle of the space.
[Read more…]

Make friends with #spiders today!

Yes! This video speaks the truth!

Today is my free day, and I’m looking forward to just hanging out in the lab with the spiders all day long today. I’ve got some tedium to take care of — bottle-washing — but I also have my S. triangulosa babies to examine for changing pigment patterns, and a lot of P. tepidariorum babies I have to upgrade to new containers, and a lot of egg sacs to harvest, and, sadly, a few adults who have died that I’ll clean out and replace with new stock. A busy day of spidering ahead!

Also, one faculty meeting and probably a few students with questions stopping by, so it’s not all spiders.

Burn them to the ground

The whistleblower’s letter is now available to be read online. I’m hoping this becomes a historic document and isn’t just swept under the rug, as the Republicans and president would like.

The president is corruption personified. Trump must be destroyed, utterly and without pity. He’s a tumor who must be cut out and action taken so another such malignancy cannot arise.

Trump needs to be destroyed, and the way to do that is to attack him relentlessly, and in particular to mock him, since mockery — especially in regard to his most evident failings and vulnerabilities — is the thing a malignant narcissist can least stand. (The Republican party must also be destroyed, but one thing at a time).

We can do two things at a time. The way to destroy the Republican party is to end gerrymandering and voter suppression and all the anti-democratic chicanery they do, and to root out and shame the racism that fuels the “Grand Old Party”.

Have you noticed who is leading us on the environment? And who is opposing action?

These are the true stories we tell our children.

Are you surprised, then, that it’s the kids who are rising up and fighting back? I’m not. I’m impressed that so many young people, especially young girls, are the heroes leading the way.

Far more depressing, and predictable, is that there are older men who are harassing and threatening the activists. My generation, my gender. My population seems to have been enriched in ignorant assholes.

In a sign that the threats, online and in person, are ramping up against the activists, Jamie mentioned how Zero Hour had a problem with a stalker that resulted in the group hiring armed security for a youth training summit in Miami in July.

The main threat, Mebane clarified, was made against a celebrity supporter, but there was concern about the danger extending to the young activists. “That was the first time a serious threat was made,” Mebane said.

In another case of escalating safety concerns, Haven, who has been striking on the steps of the Colorado State Capitol building in Denver, has had recent intimidating encounters. One man passed by her going up the stairs only to come back down, go up to her, and tell her that her striking was “stupid.” Another man wearing a MAGA hat kept taking pictures of her from across the street. Haven’s mom had been chaperoning on her strikes, but after the recent incidents, her dad will start accompanying her too.

I appreciate it when they self-advertise with the MAGA hats, but I’d be even more appreciative if they’d crawl away in shame at what they’ve become.

How do you feed a baby without rubber nipples?

These odd little pots tell a story about a revolution in human biology that occurred over 5000 years ago.

They turn out to have been milk bottles for feeding infants. That’s a reasonable inference about function from shape, but now also it’s been determined by isolating lipids still adhering to the inner surface, showing that they contained goat or cow milk. These came from cultures that had domesticated milk-giving animals, and they were using them to supplement feeding their children. Probably the adults as well, since this would have been a time when lactose tolerance was evolving.

Another effect of this change in diet: the pots were extracted from children’s graves. With new nutritional sources came exposure to new pathogens. There is evidence that these pots were heated, cooking some of the lipids into the ceramic, which makes me wonder if there wasn’t also some accidental pasteurization going on…although it’s also likely they would have just squirted fresh warm milk straight from the teat into these pots.


(No, she isn’t living on a diet of Dr Pepper, she’s just playing with an empty can under parental supervision.)