Friday Random Ten: Taking it easy edition

For some reason, this has been a draining week, and I’m just slumped in my easy chair with the iTunes entertaining me…so let’s toss up a Friday Random Ten.

Blade Of Grass Asylum Street Spankers
Prayers for Rain The Cure
Skåne Hedningarna
Whip It Devo
My Generation Patti Smith
Hallelujah Leonard Cohen
Logon Rock Witch Alarm Will Sound
Show me forgiveness Bjork
Stripper Lords Of Acid
Dr.Sayus Simpsons

Tomorrow is another day in the office, whipping up this talk for Cafe Scientifique, and I think I’ve got a science post or two fermenting up in my cranium.

Hey, school board members: remember this about Holt, Rinehart, and Winston

What’s wrong with this statement?

“We’re very pleased,” said Rick Blake, spokesman in Chicago for Holt, Rinehart and Winston. “Science is a very strong area for Holt.”

Since it is in response to Holt’s decision to water down biology textbooks in Florida, it’s wrong.

I’m sorry, Mr Blake, but science is not a strong area for Holt. You wouldn’t be listening to the Discovery Institute if it were.

(via Red State Rabble)

A novel situation

This is remarkable: I actually have all of my grading done, and even have Monday and Wednesday’s lecture all ready to go. I’m. All. Caught. Up. I think this means the Apocalypse will be coming along shortly.

I don’t quite have all my responsibilities out of the way yet, though. Next week is time for Cafe Scientifique Morris, and I’m the guy giving the talk this time. If you’re somewhere in Western Minnesota or Eastern Repressive State of South Dakota, come on down to the Stevens County Historical Museum (116 W 6th Street) in Morris around 6ish. The Morris Area Arts Boosters will be selling tasty baked goods and coffee, so show up for good food even if you don’t want to hear me trying to convince the community that Evolution Is A Good Thing.

And then, of course, I’ve got assignments due and exams to give on Thursday and Friday, so the crushing burden will resume soon thereafter.

What controversy?

Creationists have been chanting, “Teach the controversy” at us for some time, to which most biologists simply look puzzled and ask “What controversy?” There is no ongoing debate about the ideas peddled by the Discovery Institute within the scientific community, because, well, there have been no data presented to suggest that it would be a worthwhile and productive discussion.

That’s what I say, but I’m just one peon in the academic complex. But now Bob Camp has done a comprehensive survey to assess whether there actually is a controversy. He wrote to the department heads of a number of biology departments, and asked this simple yes/no question:

Q: Regarding the issue of “Intelligent Design theory” vs. current biological consensus on the mechanisms of evolution – is there a difference of professional opinion within your department that you feel could be accurately described as a scientific controversy?

97% said no. Only one said yes, and that was from a theological medical university.

That’s a handy piece of information. When we’re told to “teach the controversy” in the future, one good answer is to reply that there is no controversy to teach.

Jurassic beaver

Say hello to Castorocauda lutrasimilis, a primitive mammalioform from the middle Jurassic—164 million years ago. Despite its great age, it has evidence of fur and guard hairs still preserved in the fossil, and was rather large for its time. It’s estimated to have weighed about 500g (about a pound) and was over 400mm (over a foot) long in life, and as you can see from the reconstruction, shows signs of being aquatic. In size and lifestyle, it probably resembled the modern platypus.


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