Kansas, please stop screwing up

I like Kansas and Kansans—I’ve got a copy of Oceans of Kansas(amzn/b&n/abe/pwll) on the coffee table at home, I think the paleontological history of the region is wonderful and represents a great opportunity for the residents to learn. And then there’s this news: a major meteorite find, and what do people in the area do? They declare a meteorite festival! How cool and science-friendly is that?

Well, unfortunately…

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Minnesota and Texas have something in common

Lindsay makes a factual error: Minnesota does not have a state fossil. We had a bill introduced almost 20 years ago to make Castoroides ohioensis, a 6-foot long, 250 pound giant beaver, our state fossil…but some people objected to the fact that it’s named after Ohio, and I suspect there might have been some concern about the beaver jokes.

We do have a list of potential nominees. I’m rooting for Endoceras proteiforme, myself—a giant nautiloid would be perfect!

Coulter, plagiarist

Normally, I’d get indignant at plagiarism and any student who tries it with me is likely to get axed on the spot. In Ann Coulter’s case, though, while not disagreeing with the assessment, ripping off “33 word passages” and such just doesn’t get me worked up. That she literally transcribed scattered chunks of her book is nothing compared to the wholesale intellectual dishonesty of the work. Why get upset that she lifted a sentence, when whole chapters are exercises in numb-skulled vacuity?

I flunk students out of a course when they plagiarize. When they do things on a level of stupidity similar to Coulter’s book, I take them aside and recommend that maybe they need to switch majors. Actually, that’s not fair; I’ve never had a student as horrible as Coulter. In that kind of case, I’d probably gently suggest that not everyone needs a college degree, and maybe there’s a world of satisfaction out there away from the life of the mind.

The internet is a series of tubes

This is helpful. Senator Ted Stevens explains how the internet works.

And again, the internet is not something you just dump something on. It’s not a truck.

It’s a series of tubes.

And if you don’t understand those tubes can be filled and if they are filled, when you put your message in, it gets in line and its going to be delayed by anyone that puts into that tube enormous amounts of material, enormous amounts of material.

Stay with this idea, please, because it is how I’m going to get rich. My plan is to install peristaltic pumps on fiber optic cables, and working on the same principle as a tube of toothpaste, it will squeeze data through. Now as you know, it’s far easier to squeeze the toothpaste out when the tube is full; when it’s nearly empty, you have to work at it, and you have to roll the tube up from the bottom, and no one else in the family ever does it, so I’m the one who’s always stuck with trying to scrape the last little film of toothpaste out…and, dang it, what was my point again? Oh, yeah, it works better with a full tube. So this is why we need more stuff dumped on the net, and why you need to buy my special SqueezyNet™ Internet Accelerator.

Next week, I’ll tell you all about my secret for getting even faster internet performance: keep your hard disk nearly empty, creating what I call a Data Vacuum™, so it helps suck your data in over the internet cable.

The man has chutzpah

Dembski babbles on in his own little world, unaware of how ridiculous his strange contortions look. He has a paper out that compares Evolution as Alchemy, attempting to argue that the incompletely described history of life on earth means that evolution is as phony as an antiquated mystical philosophy about chemistry. In his usual turgid style, Dembski struggles to tell us what his gripe with alchemy and evolution is.

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The Nine Defining Characteristics of the Christian Conservative

Wingnuttia, O Wingnuttia. There are so many lunacies uttered in that fabled land that one cannot possibly keep up with them all, so it’s useful when one of them distills it all down and gives us a condensed list of the properties of a True Conservative. We have such a useful list, written by Rob Hood in the Conservative Voice. He is a very silly man, but that online rag has him up there on the front page with Robert Novak and…and…well, a lot of ranting nobodies. This is a distinguished host in Wingnuttia, though!

As a matter of fact if you like Ann Coulter and want to make some liberals’ blood pressure to rise, all you have to do is tell them nine key things that conservatives and Christians believe and they will lose their mind:

Ready? We’re going to lose our minds!

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A note to readers

I get lots of email from people—it’s not just creationists and wingnuts calling me nasty names, but also people on my side who just want to express their appreciation, or people passing along tips and links to interesting stories. I rarely reply. It’s nothing personal, it’s just that if I wrote back to everyone who was sending me stuff, I’d have to do nothing but write email replies all day long. I also can’t possibly post it all, either, unless you want to see 50 short articles a day consisting of nothing but a link (I have been tempted, I confess.)

So let me just say now, thanks! Keep it coming! I don’t mind that kind of email at all, even if the volume is sometimes a bit much.

One other thing: if you send me something, I’m happy to give all the credit you want. One thing that sometimes stops me from using a piece is that I don’t know exactly what the person submitting it would want me to do with attribution. This is a brutally godless, liberal blog, and I know that sometimes people are reluctant to have their name associated with those kinds of sentiments. It’s helpful if you say something like “please keep me anonymous!” or “refer to me as Jane” or “refer to me as Jane Smith of Tacoma, WA, and I have a blog at some-name.blogspot.com.” If you pass me something juicy, I am overjoyed to plug your website, so please don’t be shy. Besides, once you become a blogospheric bigshot, I’ll appreciate it when you link back to me once in a while.