Santorum flip-flop

Well, this isn’t a big surprise: Rick Santorum is writing a foreword to a bookthis book, Darwin’s Nemesis, a volume that praises Philip Johnson, father of the Intelligent Design movement. Santorum has a very confused history with ID: he was the author of the Santorum amendment, an attempt to couple ID to the No Child Left Behind bill. It was stripped from the bill, but that has never stopped the creationists from claiming it was a legally binding requirement.

The really funny thing is that the day after the Dover decision came down, Santorum backed down fast. And now he’s endorsing a pro-ID book?

Repeat after me: FLIP-FLOP.

(via Atrios)

Short takes

Never mind me, I’m running around with classes and meetings today…here are a few quick links.

Spider Kama Sutra



I’ve been savoring this lovely used book I picked up a little while ago, The Book of Spiders and Scorpions by Rod Preston-Mafham, and am appreciating more than the fact that it is full of beautiful photography of spiders and lots of general information on arachnid behavior and physiology; it’s also true that spiders are awfully sexy beasts. They are playful and romantic and kinky and enthusiastic and ferocious and savage and exotic, and really know how to have a good time. I thought I’d share a few of the pretty pictures and details of the arachnid sex life with the readers of Pharyngula—so if you’re mature enough to handle it, exuberant enough to enjoy reading about interesting animals doing fun things, and aren’t too squicked out at the idea of closeups of spider genitalia, read on.

[Read more…]

Bush lied

And it’s caught on tape. He was briefed the day before Katrina hit, heard Brown say this was “the big one”, that it was a bigger threat than Hurricane Andrew was, that there was great risk of loss of life, and that the topping of the levees was of great concern, and then would say with a straight face several days later that he didn’t think anyone anticipated the breech of the levees. He assured everyone that they were fully prepared to deal with the disaster.


That’s our president: a useless, worthless lump who declaims platitudes in response to dire warnings, does nothing, and lies about it afterwards.

(via Neurotopia)

Powerline spouts the party line. It was overtopping, not breaching! It’s the usual fine-grained parsing to avoid the real issue: callous neglect and incompetence and CYA evasiveness by our duly elected Republican leadership. Soon they’ll be arguing that it depends on what the meaning of “is” is.

I’m ignoring this one right now

Some things are just too stupid for words, but lots of people are emailing me about this fool’s plan.

A Las Vegas masonry contractor wants to amend the state constitution to require various inane ideas about evolution be taught to kids.

He wants to enshrine his ignorance in the Nevada constitution.

And he’s a democrat. Gaaaaa. Can we all just point, laugh, and turn our backs on this guy from now on?

Confronting Hovind and Martin

Here are a couple of accounts of encounters with creationists that are amusing to read.

  • Jobe Martin. Jobe Martin is, well, a radically insane classic young earth creationist, whose favorite arguments are all ancient chestnuts, like the receding moon and the woodpecker’s tongue and other such tripe. And he was invited to speak by an IDEA club? That kills the notion that IDEA has anything to do with science, I think. I’ve got one of Martin’s books (my son Alaric gave it to me: I think he was trying to kill me to get his inheritance early, but it didn’t work), and it’s positively ludicrous.
  • Kent Hovind. I put up that request for good questions, and gnosos carried through. Hovind cut the mic on him, so despite losing his cool a bit, he must have been effective to some degree—he also got lots of questions from other attendees afterwards.

Elsewhere next week

If you live near Austin, on 9 March there will be A Debate on the History of Life on Earth with Sahotra Sarkar and Paul Nelson. I scowl disapprovingly on the debate format: it means half the time is going to be wasted with some creationist babbling on stage. The topic, “Can the history of life on Earth be explained by purely natural processes?”, doesn’t sound particularly promising, and simply invites the creationist to say “no”, although he won’t have any evidence to support that conclusion. Go to hear Sarkar, though, which should be interesting.

New Yorkers can attend the Bridges symposium at NYU on 4 March. This is what I like: more young scientists presenting their work, with none of the creationist wibbly-wobbly nonsense in sight. Douglas J. Futuyma is the keynote speaker.