Sex and guns!

In the discussion about the Minnesota GOP platform, this comment from Molly made me think about what it would be like if Republicans were consistent in their attitudes towards sex and guns.

If Republicans taught gun safety like they do sex education, they would:

  • allow everyone to own a gun (even more, they’d require it: gunlessness is an abomination), but they’d insist that kids could never, ever take them out of their holster, sheath or gun rack
  • it would be illegal to expose your weapon or even talk about it
  • exposing a gun on TV would outrage viewers, who would deluge the network with complaining phone calls
  • blanks, trigger locks, and even safeties would be forbidden
  • there would be accidental discharges every night in every teenager’s home, but no one would ever talk about it
  • it would be a shameful sin to go off by yourself and practice shooting at targets
  • the only acceptable use would be to kill something, although it would be OK to miss if you were sincerely trying to kill something
  • most hunters would be desperately hoping to miss every time they went hunting, and would try to contrive situations in which they could fire their guns without actually hitting anything

It seems like a useful analogy to me. If it’s common sense gun ownership to know how to clean and maintain the thing, to practice sensible gun safety rules, and to treat it as a responsibility that demands knowledge and care and good understanding of its operation, why not expect the same of people who own a penis or vagina? There’s nothing about knowing how something works that is antithetical to the idea that one should refrain from using it for its intended purpose, whether that is killing something or getting it pregnant, and in fact, we know that understanding in detail how something works is the best way to prevent it from going off inadvertently.

As it is, they’re in a situation where they are tacitly favoring accidental, unplanned accidents over the possibility that kids will intentionally practice safe operation of their equipment.

Carnivalia, and an open thread

A few carnival announcements:

The next Tangled Bank will be held next Wednesday at The Inoculated Mind (yes, it’s back up!). Send your submissions to karl AT inoculatedmind DOT com with “Tangled Bank Submission” in the subject line, or send it to me or

As always, carnival barking threads are also open threads—talk about what you will.

Mollusc vs. Annelid

We had some rain overnight, and this morning the sidewalk on my way to work was swarming with earthworms and slugs. The slugs here in Minnesota are tiny little pathetic things, unlike the lovely behemoths I grew up with in Washington state, but they’re still cool to see. Anyway, Afarensis led me to this short photoessay about what happens when a hungry slug meets a worm. I am not surprised at all: I’ve seen a few cannibalistic slug feeding frenzies in my time. They’re like the slo-mo sharks of the damp undergrowth.

Yet another timeline

The true history of the world is told in the movies, so obviously what we need is a compilation of movie events to see what was really going on. It’s a work in progress, so there are a few gaps—the period between 1 zillion BC and 65,000,000 BC is a bit sparse on information—but more recent events are better covered. For instance, the year of my birth was quite busy:

1957 New Zealand – Lionel Pritchard and his girlfriend Paquita battle a horde of zombies (Braindead)
Camp Crystal Lake, New Jersey – Jason Voorhees drowns (Friday the 13th)
Michael Myers born (Hallowe’en)
Lana Turner meets Johnny Stompanato (L.A. Confidential, 1997)
The Iron Giant
October Sky

Zombies, supernatural mass murderers, and giant robots…oh, yeah, I remember that. The late 1950s were rife with alien invasions and mutant monsters, too. Lana Turner is a little out of place, until you realize it’s also the year my wife was born.

(via Eclecticism)

Evolving spots


Here’s what seems to be a relatively simple problem in evolution. Within the Drosophila genus (and in diverse insects in general), species have evolved patterned spots on their wings, which seem to be important in species-specific courtship. Gompel et al. have been exploring in depth one particular problem, illustrated below: how did a spot-free ancestral fly species acquire that distinctive dark patch near the front tip of the wing in Drosophila biarmipes? Their answer involves dissecting the molecular regulators of pattern in the fly wing, doing comparative sequence analyses and identifying the specific stretches of DNA involved in turning on the pigment pattern, and testing their models experimentally by expressing novel gene constructs in different species of flies.

[Read more…]

Good ol’ MnGOP

You really must take a look at the Republican Party of Minnesota Permanent Platform. It’s full of interesting goodies.

There are 19 items in the section on civil rights: ten of them are various permutations of “NO ABORTION!”; two are against gun control; one is to protect people from being forced to join labor unions; one promotes the public display of the Ten Commandments; and one is a commendable condemnation of torture and slavery, but with an annoying qualifier.

Condemning religious, political and ethnic persecution in any country, specifically the
oppression, slave labor, torture and murder of religious believers.

I guess oppression, slave labor, torture and murder of the godless warrants only a “meh.”

There’s also the usual insistence that marriage is between a man and a woman only, there shouldn’t even be civil unions or any legal equivalent between same-sex couples, and a new one to me: they want a “Covenant Marriage” option…as if fundamentalists weren’t more prone to divorce than many of us others.

Here’s the one that really gets me, though.

Protecting educators from disciplinary action for including discussion of creation science, adopting science standards that acknowledge the scientific controversies pertaining to the theory of evolution.

There isn’t anything in there about improving science education, or even an acknowledgment of the importance of science; just this lame stance excusing bad teachers for peddling nonsense in the classroom. It’s official. It’s in the state party platform. Minnesota Republicans are creationists.