The Rapture Index just went up a point…

…because Pam Spaulding at Pandagon had a kind word to say about James Lileks. Not his Bleat or Screed blog, fortunately, or for his regular column in the Strib which I find tediously twee, but for his masterful book, Interior Desecrations. You have to have lived through the 1970s to be able to understand how tacky things got for a while there—someday I’m going to have to dig up that old photo of myself in a polyester paisley print shirt and bell bottoms just to put the younger generation of readers here into shock.

While I’m in a “what were they thinking?” mood, I’ll mention one shock we had in this otherwise nice 1950s era house we own. The upstairs is carpeted bright red…no, scarlet, a flaming crimson color, which was discombobulating enough. In addition, though, one of the upstairs bedrooms was wallpapered in bright ♣ green shamrocks ♣ .

It was one of the selling points, actually. I figured if we ever had trouble making the mortgage payments, I already had the decor to open a bordello for leprechauns.

‘Ware the Minneapolis police, fellow weirdos

The Minneapolis police are getting a little too serious—they’ve started arresting zombies (those are some really good mugshots.) I think the fact that there was a zombie dance party at the mall might have tipped them off that there isn’t a real threat here.

The reason they were arrested is ridiculous.

Harteau also said police were on high alert because they’d gotten a bulletin about men who wear clown makeup while attacking and robbing people in other states.

What’s the matter with law enforcement nowadays? They can’t even tell clowns from zombies. Here’s a hint:

i-367d9d62c3d6cc3db5fc4f2bfee5c364-zombie.jpg

i-166fbcf29107e22e45c8d3026ba1fa1d-clown.jpg

What are they going to do when the mad scientists invade Minneapolis next week—run around and start locking up dentists and undertakers?

Shameless self-promotion

As Shelley says, if we aim to make this place the place for the biggest conversation about science, we can’t be shy. Scienceblogs has cracked the Technorati Top 100, and we’re aiming higher, so it would be nice to get more links to that page. Pharyngula isn’t on the Top 100, but I figure all the squid pics will eventually allow me to destroy Cute Overload (oh, wait, nooooo…that’s another link contributing to the dominion of cute furry immature felines!).

Technorati also keeps a list of the Top 100 Favorited Blogs, so you can help us out there, too, by adding Pharyngula to your Technorati Favorites or
adding Scienceblogs to your Technorati Favorites, if you happen to have a technorati account.

As a special bonus, I’ll be programming my undead cyborg squid-human hybrids to avoid eating the brains of anyone with Pharyngula in their technorati favorites.

Browne on Darwin and friends

This is an excellent short article by Janet Browne (the Janet Browne who wrote the best biography of Darwin I’ve read, Voyaging(amzn/b&n/abe/pwll) and The Power of Place(amzn/b&n/abe/pwll), both well worth reading) that discusses the reception of the theory of evolution by his contemporaries, and acknowledges the invaluable assistance of Huxley, Hooker, Gray, and Lyell. One important point is that opposition to his ideas was not driven by the crude Biblical literalism that we encounter so much today, but a more general conflict with a more enlightened religion that found no place for a personal god in a world where life was the product of rather callous and impersonal forces, and of course, with a religion that was a force for controlling people’s minds.

Scholars nowadays agree that The Descent of Man offered a far-reaching naturalistic account of human evolution but did not change many minds. The people who already accepted evolution continued to believe. Those who did not continued to disbelieve. Few readers wished to shrink the gap between mankind and animals quite so dramatically, however. If these ideas were accepted, wrote the Edinburgh Review, the constitution of society would be destroyed.

A lot of people seem to want to argue that it’s just fundamentalism that’s a problem—but that’s only one narrow aspect of the problem that’s common in the US. It was not a major issue in 19th century Britain.

(via Thoughts in a Haystack)