You want to post pictures?

I got an offer to see a picture of a scorpion yesterday, which is neat, but we don’t allow pictures in comments because we want to be kind to readers’ bandwidth and because there are trolls who would abuse it. But then I thought…hey, you know that Freethoughtblogs has a Discord server? That would be a perfect place for that sort of thing. I even created a #photos channel within it, awaiting your submissions.

I suppose I could create a spider-free channel if people demand it. But why wouldn’t everyone want to see spider photos? (Don’t bother answering, I know.)

It’s going to be a spider kind of day

This morning I have to go into the lab and do upkeep on the spider colony and then I come back, put a big diet Coke by my side, and settle down to this schedule.

It’s time for the grindy part of the meeting! See that “contributed talks” bit? That’s 5 hours of 15 minute talks, one after the other, with occasional breaks during which, in a normal meeting, you’d mill around and talk to other people, but here in Virtual World I’ll just get up and stretch and walk in circles in my little office, I guess. They have concurrent tracks, so I can’t possibly see all the talks and have to miss half of them, so I think I’ll have to focus on the evo devo stuff, and then behavior, and then ecology & diversity. It’ll be a grueling session, but I’m looking forward to it.

Then we do it all again tomorrow.

Then again on Wednesday morning.

There are conveniences about online meetings, but I’m still hoping to go to the in-person meeting next year at UC Davis.

We still have to address Kent Hovind’s nonsense? Why?

Aron Ra has a new YouTube series on “Supposed Lies in the Textbooks” which addresses some of the many ridiculous claims by Kent Hovind about what is taught in the science classroom. For a guy who claims to have been trained as an educator and to have taught grade school science, ol’ Kent sure has some stupid misconceptions. For instance, Aron slaps down this remarkable claim from Hovind about molecular homology:

The bones develop from different genes in different organisms. Evolutionists cannot explain this and seldom discuss it.

But that’s not at all true! For instance, the evil cat and I used the same, or homologous, genes to develop the hands I use to type with, and the clawed paws she uses to slash me with. All of the diverse limbs illustrated above use a similar set of genes to build their bony cores, modulated by the same Hox genes to establish the pattern, with subtle variation in the regulation of their morphogenetic properties. It’s simply a lie that limb bones develop from different genes in different organisms, which is why biologists don’t discuss it.

Yet there are still people who treat Hovind as a reliable source — I know of several local churches here in West Central Minnesota who are happy to show kids those videos. I guess that’s why some of us are still trapped in the endless morass of having to explain that a liar lies.

I’m preggers!

As you can see from my desktop — my real desktop, not the virtual one on my computer screen.

Don’t be distracted by my dirty keyboard (I’ve had it for about 15 years). What’s important is that cube with the rainbow reflection on it, which contains a Parasteatoda mama and her egg sac. I’ve got it front and center so I can keep a constant eye on it — I want to catch the babies the instant they emerge, and I’ve got my camera at the ready right next to me.

Here’s my gender reveal party: it’s going to be a boy! And a boy! And a girl! And another boy, and a girl, and a girl, girl, boy, girl, boy, boy, girl, girl, girl, boy, girl, boy, boy, girl…etc. I won’t need any fireworks because when that thing pops there will be a cloud of baby spiders all ballooning outwards, and if I opened it at the wrong time I could fill my office with spiders drifting everywhere. That would be delightful, but instead I’ll be trying to capture them all individually and put them in vials to provide more troops for my spider army.

I’m hoping they don’t emerge until after Wednesday, because I’m deep into this conference for a while. From past experience, though, babies are always picking the most inconvenient time…

Why was Chauvin sentenced to 22 years?

I found an informative thread on Twitter that explains how the judge arrived at that number. It was a reasonable sentence at the high end of the allowed sentencing guidelines. The judge was not generous.

To summarize, there is a precedent of prior court decisions with establish an allowed range of sentencing, and if a judge were to step way outside the bounds of that range, they’d be providing grounds for overturning their decision. So the judge’s hands are tied to a certain degree.

That doesn’t mean the guidelines are free of bias, however. For example, one factor they’re supposed to take into account is your prior convictions — you’re guilty of lots of crimes in the past, so therefore you’re justified in increasing the allowed range of punishments. If you’re a first offender, the judge has to bump the range down.

Derek Chauvin had zero prior convictions.

Where that is unfair and biased is that we’ve had this idiotic “war” on drugs going on for decades which is unfairly applied by the police, which means that if you’re a black person, you’re much more likely to stack up a record of offenses which will then automatically be used to increase the severity of sentencing against you. Being a white cop means you get to start with a clean slate, making it easier to skate when you do commit a serious crime. “Repeat offender” laws seem superficially just, but are also ways to selectively target oppressed minorities.

Waking up to Florida Man!

Ah, the benefits of being hated. My phone beeped at me this morning to let me know I’ve got an Important Text Message incoming. Here it is:

Huh? Who dis? I was curious about what I had done to annoy this stranger, so I looked him up on Facebook. He is a 37 year old who owns a construction company in Orlando, Florida, and he’s an anti-masker, anti-vaccine, COVID denying, BLM opponent who supported Trump, so that didn’t help — I think there’s zero common ground there.

Suggestion to all you anonymous critics: do try to be a little bit specific. I can’t possibly correct my repulsive behavior, or even feel a little bit chagrined, if you don’t declare what’s bothering you, beyond my simple existence. As it is, it just looks like you might have had a bad day, and instead of feeling hurt by the pettiness, I’m more like to feel sorry for you.

In case anyone is plotting to disrupt my sleep with a flood of late night hate texts, don’t bother. I’ve got them disabled until my wake-up time, so I hardly need an alarm — the phone lights up and makes a little chime and I can look over on the nightstand and see the pile of abusive messages. It’s an incentive to get up and face the day. Which is always unremittingly hostile in stupid, trivial ways.

It’s been a pretty good day

I’ve just been tuned into the American Arachnology Society meeting all day, and boy is my brain tired. It’s a good tired, though.

Then Mary gave me a belated Father’s Day gift: a Laowa 60mm f/2.8 ultra-macro lens. She shouldn’t have. I’ve only had a few minutes free to play with it, but it’s sweet: amazingly clear and sharp, but definitely not your casual macro lens, since it has no autofocus, no electronic aperture control, no image stabilization, just a hunk of very nice glass.

Now I have a little time to go on a walk and try it out. It’s a hot day, the spiders have been gamboling in my office, there’s a good chance I’ll find my octo-friends outside. Also, AAS is running a bioblitz, so I’ll have to get some specimens for that.

Oh, and DEREK CHAUVIN WAS SENTENCED TO 22.5 YEARS IN PRISON. That’s a relief, now I don’t have to riot and set Morris on fire tonight.

Ugh. Can we just throw him in jail and forget about him now?

It’s still too much Trump. There’s a slow dribble of information about just how repulsive he was as president, and I only want to hear it in the context of court transcripts during his treason trial.

The top US general repeatedly pushed back on then-President Donald Trump’s argument that the military should intervene violently in order to quell the civil unrest that erupted around the country last year. Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley often found he was the lone voice of opposition to those demands during heated Oval Office discussions, according to excerpts of a new book, obtained by CNN, from Wall Street Journal reporter Michael Bender.

Titled “Frankly, We Did Win This Election: The Inside Story of How Trump Lost,” the book reveals new details about how Trump’s language became increasingly violent during Oval Office meetings as protests in Seattle and Portland began to receive attention from cable new outlets. The President would highlight videos that showed law enforcement getting physical with protesters and tell his administration he wanted to see more of that behavior, the excerpts show.

That’s how you’re supposed to handle these people, Trump told his top law enforcement and military officials, according to Bender. Crack their skulls!
Trump also told his team that he wanted the military to go in and beat the f–k out of the civil rights protesters, Bender writes.

Just shoot them, Trump said on multiple occasions inside the Oval Office, according to the excerpts.
When Milley and then-Attorney General William Barr would push back, Trump toned it down, but only slightly, Bender adds.

The only time I want to hear about these assholes is when they’re getting punished, like Giuliani losing his right to practice law in New York. It is extremely frustrating to read about Trump using his power to push for murder on the streets, and yet nothing is ever done.

Proper decorum when spotting a spider during an arachnology meeting

There’s a major added benefit to attending a virtual conference. I’ll be spending the next 5 days ‘attending’ the American Arachnological Society meeting, which really means sitting in my home office listening to voices over my headphones with images of data about spiders on my computer screen, and the advantage is that I can be distracted without disrupting the event. Last night I was tuned into Maydianne Andrade’s excellent talk about widows and sex variation, and this critter was scampering over the windowsill.

[Sorry, you know the drill: the photo is on Instagram or Patreon]

So I got up, grabbed a collecting vial, scooped it up, and snapped a couple of photos right in the middle of her talk. There were about 180 arachnologists listening to it online; imagine if they each spotted a spider during a meeting, and felt no restraint about indulging their passion right then and there. Chaos! The entire audience would be on their hands & knees, or climbing the walls!

It would be great!

Maybe not as productive information-wise, though.

Also, there was a tiny theridiid spinning a web on my microphone stand. I got it, too, but it’s so small I think I’ll need to bring it into the lab to look at it with the microscope.