Friday, December 19, 2008

Here is your belief

So apparently even if I don't know, the Belief-O-MaticTM knows what faith I am or should consider (Just click the above link to go there).

I took this silly quiz to find out what religion I really am and - wow - secular humanist! (which is basically atheism but they say adds humanity's ability to improve the human condition). But I could also be a liberal quaker though (83%) - what the hell is that all about maybe I should look them up LOL .

Actually kidding aside - this quiz is recommended by Edger who thinks it is actually quite accurate and may be worth a few minutes of your time to see what it says

Here are my top ten and bottom few results:
1. Secular Humanism (100%)
2. Unitarian Universalism (96%)
3. Liberal Quakers (83%)
4. Neo-Pagan (72%)
5. Nontheist (72%)
6. Theravada Buddhism (72%)
7. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (69%)
8. New Age (63%)
9. Taoism (55%)
10. Mahayana Buddhism (52%)
20. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (23%)
21. Seventh Day Adventist (19%)
22. Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (18%)
23. Eastern Orthodox (16%)
24. Islam (16%)
25. Orthodox Judaism (16%)
26. Roman Catholic (16%)
27. Jehovah's Witness (10%)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Men who spend more have more partners

I found this interesting and thought I would share. There was a study conducted and published in Evolutionary Psychology on money spent vs # of sexual partners and what do you know: men who spent more had more and there was no correlation for money women spent vs # of partners. "The degree of financial consumption was directly related to future mating intentions and past mating success, even when accounting for age, years of education completed, and marital status" but did not correlate with women and their expenditure etc.This makes sense when you just think of something as basic as women getting free drinks in a bar from guys they are not interested in - guys gotta spend $$ and women never have to do that.

So all that talk by women that they don't care about money makes you wonder why men who spend more, and many even go into debt to show off material wealth, have had and will have more partners - many women obviously act differently than what they claim!
Here is the link to the study in Evolutionary Psychology Male Financial Consumption is Associated with Higher Mating Intentions and Mating Success

Great Gift Idea

Alright so I was driving in to school today and listening to CBC radio where they interviewed this 8 year old Alec Greven, the author of How to talk to Girls. This kid is incredibly well spoken, polite, funny and smart. His two main points are "get over it" because 98% of the "pretty girls" (i.e., superficial) will dump you anyway so don't let it ruin your life and "comb your hair and don't wear sweats" which is of course sound advice for anyone trying to impress.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Gay Marriage

Alright, so I was watching the Daily Show couple nights ago and Mike Huckabee was the guest. After watching that interview I definitely have some things to say and ask everyone. I am sick and tired of hearing about the "traditional" definition or the "5000 years of tradition of marriage" or especially the fact that "70% or 80% or whatever percentage of the nation want to deny marriage to same sex couple - all of these claims are pure crap!.

First one is the traditional definition which goes hand in hand with the 5000 year old tradition: in today's society marriage is not about the traditional definition of marriage. The 5000 year old tradition included the fact that women were the property of men. Adultery was a crime only if it was with a married woman because the woman was property and the man would be stealing another man's property, as well as they should both be put to death (Deuteronomy 22:22; we don't seem to carry on this sort of tradition now do we?). Which brings us to the fact that when the government decided to start issuing the license (I think the first was around 1923) the whole tradition argument became moot! It was no longer a religious act but a state act, and even when still done in the church we are not trying to force churches to do anything in their ceremony that they don't want to: this is about the legal state agreement. Religions should have made a better argument to keep "marriage" in only the religious context back then and make the legal agreement separate (many religious people tried to argue that it was bigamy or heretical or whatever to be married in the church and in the state etc but no-one makes those arguments anymore). And if they are serious about the traditional "marriage" they should be arguing to stop all of the drive-thru and/or elvis impersonating marriages, as well as plain legal ceremonies at the courthouse - all of which go against the so-called "traditional marriage".

The idea that marriage is about having kids and supporting the next generation means nothing - way too many couples are married and have no intention of having kids. There are lots of biblical definitions of marriage that no one is arguing for now like brothers having to marry widowed sister-in-laws (Gen 38:6-10; Deut 25:5-10), death to non-virginal brides (Deut 22:13-21), or my favorite that marriage will not impede a man's right to take concubines in addition to his wife (II Sam 5:13; I Kings 11:3; II Chron 11:21). And don't do the whole old testament vs new because the new does not refute these AND proponents always say - thousands of years old tradition which goes to the old testament; you never hear the "1200 - 2000 year old tradition because we don't really know when all of the new testament was written arguments now do you?). And what about the traditions of other religions for thousands of years - would they get same billing just because of their long standing tradition?

When the government started issuing licenses which included tax deductions, the right to walk into a hospital and ask the doctor what is wrong with your partner (and not be told family only), the right to share health benefits, the ability to retain these rights when you travel to other states or countries etc. (link for US people), automatically being the next of kin when your loved one dies and not having to add legal battles to your time of sorrow, and so many more rights taken for granted by straight couples ...........which are all instantly obtained by saying "I DO" for any jack-ass man/woman couple regardless.

The percentage of people who don't want gay marriage and therefore "majority rules" is another horrible argument. Majority does rule for most issues unless it involves discrimination or violates basic human rights, which is why we have the bill of rights and is why women can now vote, minorities have rights, and interracial couples can marry: all of these were things that the "majority" of the country did not want at one time and these rights were not a result of changing the majority opinion/mindset but rather legally deciding that everyone deserved these rights regardless of the majority opinion.

This brings us to another argument which is that many people accept rights for minorities, women, interracial etc., but are still against gay rights because people think this is some sort of "choice". Jon Stewart made a great comment to Huckabee on this issue - "when did you decide to NOT be gay?". No one decides this and in fact religion has been shown to be way more of a CHOICE and look at the protection, special treatment and outright bend-over-backwards treatment they get!

There is so much scientific data on homosexuality in animals and differences physiologically, anatomically, and genetically between heterosexuals and homosexuals, as well as several studies showing homosexuality in males may be related to highly fertile mothers or that have shown how individuals related to homosexuals have better reproductive success.

Final note - there is a reason why majority rules is not always the final answer - mobs do stupid things and we as a society have already realized this and established specific protections (constitution and bill of rights come to mind); we just seem to forget this each time something new comes up and babble on about tradition, always this way or the bible says so - and all of these arguments have been shown many times throughout history to be bad premises. So ask yourself if you have made these same arguments in your head and why? What would you rally say to someone lose to you who was gay and asked you why you don't let them have the same rights? How would you justify it to this person you care so much about and consider a friend or loved one? (assuming at least that you are not among the ignorant homophobic hate group - for those of you the discussion would be very different).

Ok one more side note, I read a blog of someone (can't remember where) who whenever anyone said this is my husband or wife etc. they would use boyfriend or girlfriend or partner when referring to the other person's partner and when corrected about them being a wife/husband they would respond "my religion/faith doesn't recognize your marriage" which I think may be extreme but I LIKE IT and plan on using that some day for sure! How would that make you feel if other people questioned your commitment and love for your partner as well as its validity?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Review of Expelled

Roger Ebert (non-scientist) has an excellent review here of Stein's Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed movie that provides a un-biased review. I just pasted a little from the beginning which i think makes a great point:

"Ben Stein, you hosted a TV show on which you gave away money. Imagine that I have created a special edition of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" just for you. Ben, you've answered all the earlier questions correctly, and now you're up for the $1 million prize. It involves an explanation for the evolution of life on this planet. You have already exercised your option to throw away two of the wrong answers. Now you are faced with two choices: (A) Darwin's Theory of Evolution, or (B) Intelligent Design.

Because this is a special edition of the program, you can use a Hotline to telephone every scientist on Earth who has an opinion on this question. You discover that 99.975 of them agree on the answer (A). A million bucks hangs in the balance. The clock is ticking. You could use the money. Which do you choose? You, a firm believer in the Constitution, are not intimidated and exercise your freedom of speech. You choose (B).

Squaaawk!!! The klaxon horn sounds. You have lost. Outraged, you file suit against the program, charging it is biased and has denied a hearing for your belief. Your suit argues that the "correct" answer was chosen because of a prejudice against the theory of Intelligent Design, despite the fact that .025 of one percent of all scientists support it. You call for (B) to be discussed in schools as an alternative theory to (A)."

It just gets better! I especially like "The more you know about evolution, or simple logic, the more you are likely to be appalled by the film. No one with an ability for critical thinking could watch more than three minutes without becoming aware of its tactics"

and then of course there is "This film is cheerfully ignorant, manipulative, slanted, cherry-picks quotations, draws unwarranted conclusions, makes outrageous juxtapositions (Soviet marching troops representing opponents of ID), pussy-foots around religion (not a single identified believer among the ID people - like the Catholics, Jews, Protestants, Mormons, Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists, for example), segues between quotes that are not about the same thing, tells bald-faced lies, and makes a completely baseless association between freedom of speech and freedom to teach religion in a university class that is not about religion." (italics from another section of the review)

Additionally - for anyone interested in sharing with others, there is a subtitle program that you can load on to your computer that goes with the movie and explains the quote mining, misinterpretations, fabrications and outright lies in the movie with actual data and true facts including the real story behind every one of the so-called scientists that lose their jobs (which they don't and what does happen is not because of what/why they claim in the movie) or whatever (programs are located here). I highly recommend it for anyone actually watching this movie.

Eharmony update

So Eharmony founder Dr. Warren is still getting flack for the gay dating issue, but this time from conservative christians like this woman:

From: Jan
Sent: Thursday, November 20, 2008 5:34 PM
To: [Dr. Neil Clark Warren, founder,]
Subject: unbelievable

Dear Mr. Warren:

I was absolutely shocked that you would cave into the homosexual agenda, by offering date-matching for homosexuals on your “Christian” dating website. They have their own dating websites which I understand to be extremely X-rated.

I have several single and widowed friends who use your website. I will be sending an e-mail to them about your caving into EVIL and that they should not use your website — ever again.

Extremely disappointed,

Crystal Lake, IL

She obviously doesn't realize the courts basically ordered him to and that the site will be different website location separate from eharmony, nor does she know the difference between random hook up sites (which LOTS of heterosexuals use as well) and authentic dating sites for long term commitment seeking people..."gay people are evil".... I bet she doesn't know or has met one gay person....ever. Ignorance - gotta love it!

Prop 8 the musical

Funny clip.

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

The end is a little wrong though - many people don't actually vote in their own best $$ interests but it's worth watching.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A litle quiz for you

Found this over at Stranger Fruit and thought you might enjoy.

"According to the Intercollegiate Studies Institute "Americans fail a basic test on their history and institutions" with an average score of 49% (college educators apparently score 55%, and office-holders 44%)."

I scored 28 out of 33 correctly — 84.85 % but feel like I failed - John M. Lynch at Stranger Fruit scored one better and attributed his score to not being a product of the American school system so I don't have any excuses; guess I'm just crappy at US gov quizzes HAA.

What did you score?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Eharmony forced to accept same-sex couples searches

I just had top share - a lawsuit was filed against Eharmony because they don't allow same sex couples in the system - they aren't very friendly to atheists either , even some of my friends have said that answering not interested in the "religious community" question can get you declined. So, it is sort of a win against the completely religious based background from the founder to discriminate (although he says it is because he doesn't know anything about gay and lesbian relations ships - I guess if your gay and like to take risks, love cats, the outdoors, romantic walks, cooking, hate dishonesty etc.... the computer program would need to adjust for you sexuality to find compatible personalities, which I think is a load of it).

But they still won't put it on the actual Eharmony site - they are gonna make a new one. Nice of them.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Parasites are great

I found these over at Greg Laden's Blog and had to share:

horse hair worm!!!!

Snails, Birds and Worms - gotta love m

Friday, November 14, 2008

Catholic Preists Declares voting for O'bama a mortal sin

This is pathetic and I hope that the church admonishes him publicly. A Catholic priest in South Carolina has decided that the democratic act of casting a vote is, in some cases, a mortal sin!
Voting for a pro-abortion politician should be a basis for denying such people communion is pathetic. Mortal sin???voting is up there with actual beheading of another human being for example - come on people - at least someone in my family should comment on this!!! I will post if I hear anything from the church on this officially.

UPDATE 11/18: apparently he has now said church teaching doesn't allow him to refuse holy communion to anyone based on political choices, but that he'll continue to deliver the church's strong teaching on the "intrinsic and grave evil of abortion" as a hidden form of murder.

Bird Mourning?

I originally read this over at Living the Scientific Life by GrrlScientist but it is a very good commentary on some amazing pictures of two swallows. One was fatally injured but the mate remained at its side and tried to help the fallen bird. My favorite line from GrrlScientist is "I am not one to anthropomorphize animals since I am completely unconvinced that most people are capable of experiencing deep or complex emotions" (bold mine). It makes you wonder about animal emotions and what they experience. They probably don't anticipate death but does that mean their pain is less? The picture series is definitely worth looking at it as is the blogger comments below th pics.

First snapshot of multi-planet solar system

I saw this story yesterday and thought it was really cool so I figured I would share it here. For the first time astronomers have an actual snapshot of a multi-planet solar system using infrared and it comes from the Gemini Observatory. If you click on the title of this blog - it will take you to the article and the picture.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Well for anyone out there, not much news on the homefront to report; been busy filling out grant applications begging for money for the last few weeks and am now filling out permit applications for next year (to work with birds in Canada). It has been chilly off and one here getting down to freezing but this week has been a little warmer and it hasn't been anywhere near as cold as it was when I forst visited. When the wind blows though that wind chill factor packs a punch and that wind sometimes feels like it's straight "off the pole". Haven't had anyone actually comment or send me an email regarding ANY of these posts so I don't think anyone reads this, which means I am just talking to myself but that's ok I talk to myself all the time so why should this be different... I have a few articles and science stuff I am planning on writing about soon and maybe I will actually gt a comment or two...we'll see. Back to work.

Prop 8

This is worth watching and I hope everyone will at least take 7 minutes out of your day to watch, listen and think about why you voted the way you did

Friday, November 7, 2008

I am a celebrity!!!

It's official, moving to Canada was good for my popularity and my place in history! To think, I worked on so many projects that were politically important, regarded endangered species, involved significant habitat restoration, multiple FEMA disasters etc. all of which involved public opinion and numerous local and state agencies and NO ONE ever asked me for an interview. Low and behold all it took was moving to Canada before one of the most important and historical presidential elections for someone to ask me for my opinion! Check it out if you are bored here at the Lethbridge Herald.

Also stay tuned - I had another interview with the same person for a more detailed profile piece and will let you know.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Palin again - (sorry) but this needs to be said

So I know I have bashed on Palin and I have tried not to recently (she is doing it for me on her own!) but here is something I cannot ignore (see video below) and felt I needed to rant and share information that I know many won't know or look up. Palin suggests that fruit fly research is wasted "earmarked money". Pharyngula provides a great summary of fruit fly research and how instrumental fruit flies are for all sorts of research including autism which is incredibly ignorant of her not to know that without such research we cannot find cures for diseases like autism, which she and McCain have committed us to doing; fruit fly research has actually aided us already in understanding a genetic component or predisposition towards autism ( Truly imbecilic! (and yes the actual project she is referring to is for fruit flies on California olive plants but that doesn't mean we don't find out lots of new information that is transferable to humans and advances scientific knowledge - we have lots of research on significant cash crops (especially for California crops) and this type of research is extremely beneficial for humans. It would have made a hell of a lot more sense to rip on spending lots of government money to help (mostly conservative) farmers but you know thats not gonna happen.

To Quote Pharynglua "Yes, scientists work on fruit flies. Some of the most powerful tools in genetics and molecular biology are available in fruit flies....we can use these other organisms to probe the fundamental mechanisms that underlie core processes in the formation of the nervous system — precisely the phenomena Palin claims are so important." But my personal favorite of his is "In this next election, we've got to choose between the 21st century rationalism and Dark Age inanity. It ought to be an easy choice."

McCain and Palin have no idea how science works, how funding is used and what is actually required to accomplish goals that they so easily throw out as just assuming we will accomplish is enough to make it happen (like clean energy, energy independence, cure autsim, just to name a few); yet they constantly spout off numbers of money wasted on science and people believe them!

For more on this see (thanks to Tree of Life):

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

She gets to VOTE!!! Disturbing

I know a few people have re-posted this but I figured I would share anyway...this is why I hate fundamentalists with no clue about how to actually solve real issues - god will provide!!!

Academic Salaries

This is a little depressing to read in the morning over at Evolving Thoughts about academic salaries; just a quick little graph so check it out.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Chicmpanzee Stone Age?

This is a good link I found the other day over at Not Exactly Rocket Science about a journal article on some stone tools found in a floodplain in the lowland rainforest of the Tai National Park. They found flaked stones indicating tool making that wasn't by humans but rather the ancestors of modern chimpanzees - which I think is really cool. Basically the tools were used for breaking nuts but it means that chimpanzees have been doing that for a long time and is one more note that tool making and use is not just a HUMAN trait.

On a second note - there is a good article here about chimpanzees using spears that they make to hunt bush babies in trees, which is interesting as well and shows even more tool use and planning by our closest relative.

Well - I am back to grant!

Atheist vs Agnostic

Some have asked what the difference is between an agnostic and an atheist and seem to think that agnostic is nicer because you don't know but that really is a misleading term.
Huxley himself describes agnostic as:

Agnosticism, in fact, is not a creed, but a method, the essence of which lies in the rigorous application of a single principle. That principle is of great antiquity; it is as old as Socrates; as old as the writer who said, 'Try all things, hold fast by that which is good'; it is the foundation of the Reformation, which simply illustrated the axiom that every man should be able to give a reason for the faith that is in him, it is the great principle of Descartes; it is the fundamental axiom of modern science. Positively the principle may be expressed: In matters of the intellect, follow your reason as far as it will take you, without regard to any other consideration. And negatively: In matters of the intellect, do not pretend that conclusions are certain which are not demonstrated or demonstrable. That I take to be the agnostic faith, which if a man keep whole and undefiled, he shall not be ashamed to look the universe in the face, whatever the future may have in store for him.

This in fact can be used for religious issues/matters of belief but is really a process that we all use for most everything in our daily life which is to follow our reason - we do that when we buy a car, a house, choose our doctor, elect to have surgery etc.... So in essence most of us are agnostic. Now in terms of faith some of us may not use reason or if we do, may find evidence based on reason to support faith or belief (I don't really see how but you might) but the process is the same - only the conclusion is different which is why the term is not really appropriate for one who does not have faith or does not believe. You either believe in a god or don't - doesn't really matter if you think there can or cannot ever be evidence etc.... As is common with most agnostic declares, one says I am not an atheist but I don't believe in god or one cannot know if there is a god; all of which means the same thing as saying I am not a theist - which of course means you are an atheist. - this comic sums it up much better and David Eller does a much more thorough job discussing this issue in Natural Atheism - although he spends a lot of time on reason and formulation of arguments which is a slow reading but worth it.

the Projector, Bears and Joe the Plumber

FYI for those interested in McCain's comment on "the $3M overhead projector" which was actually for a planetarium and not for a teacher/classroom, this letter (click on the above link) is an open letter to McCain about his lack of knowledge about science which is evident by his absurd statement, as well as his previous statement about the $3M for bear genetics which he called pork barrel - which was wrong on multiple accounts; 1) it was $4.8M not $3M; 2) we are required to conserve threatened and endangered species; this money is for Montana Grizzly Bears which are....threatened. Or in the words of the Montana Fish and Wildlife & Parks -

"This is not pork barrel at all," says Richard Mace, a research biologist with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP). "We have a federal law called the Endangered Species Act and [under this law] the federal government is supposed to help identify and conserve threatened species."

; 3) they are using DNA fingerprinting which is one of th few ways to estimate population size - tracking them all with radio collars would cost a HELL of A LOT more....and finally - this type of money goes for research and can that be a pork barrel project like a new bridge top nowhere - which Pallin tried to get to replace the ferry which connects Ketchikan, Alaska, to the Gravina Island's 50 residents, and the Ketchikan International Airport.

You gotta love it when Politicians gt to just blrut things out knowing that people will accept it as true and never look it up....well a few look it up but the rest ignore the few

Here is a link to information on actual Planetarium Projectors.

OH and we can't forget anout Joe the Plumber can we - Joe doesn't actually have a plan to buy the business any time in the near future (he was thinking about it - talking to his boss about years later) and wouldn't have seen a tax increase if he did (Thanks to Mike at The Questionable Authority for the info)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Red states are leaving!!!

Came into the lab to do a little work on some grant applications but had to share a blog about an email from the blue states to the red states that is definitely worth a read; the blue states are leaving and starting a new country which is what the red states want anyway isn't it??? Thanks to GrrlScientist for sharing.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Yeah yeah politics again - what else right now

Well I could bore you with what looking at lots of GCATTAGCATAGACCAG sequences is like but figured this was more inflammatory.

Alright, so I can understand why some of my more conservative friends and family MIGHT like McCain because a year ago or so I didn't think he was that horrible (although I still didn't like him much - but he was better than most of the other republicans in the primaries). BUT, I cannot understand why anyone would not be absolutely mortified to have Palin in the White House. This interview has a couple key points that I have fundamental issues with, especially: Palin trying to ban books in Alaska and threatening to fire the librarian who disobeyed: believing we are in the "End of Times" (why would she ever worry about social security or the environment for example if the end is so near): declaring the war in Iraq is god's mission (her words - see the video): outright saying that her job of putting a pipeline in through Alaska was god's will (her words - see the video): and appointing an elder from her church to state rep who has been primarily trying to get intelligent design into school science classrooms (this has been tried and failed because intelligent design is creationism but they keep trying to put it into science class - although Palin has specifically stated she wants creationism taught alongside evolution in science class as well so she is consistent - and don't even get me started on teach the controversy - there is no controversy when 97% of the experts in relevant fields agree and the only ones that don't are at religious institutions and if you're interested go here or here for a brief summary on evolution and arguments): the Palin appointed state rep also wants to make late term abortions a felony (I don't like late term abortions unless there is a real risk to the mother but Palin is against them even in cases of rape or incest which means the bill probably won't address that either). This is not just someone's opinion but actual footage of her saying some of these things ( I noted which ones). Additionally, Palin refuses to b interviewed concerning whether she believes in legislating based on the bible and/or what she thinks is the will of god - her autobiography spends a few pages on this but she won't explain it....the answer is.......

How can anyone want a person in the white house as leader, who will think everything he/she does is the will of allah, sorry buhda, sorry Aten, sorry Baha'is, sorry Vishnu - sorry god? You have to ask yourself whether it matters to you which one of those I use to finish that sentence and if you answer differently for each, that should at least give you something to think about - why should everyone have to obey the will of your god and how does she (Palin) get the special news feeds on god's will! Is there a godnet in Alaska we don't know about? Maybe that was the pipeline she was referring to.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Still around

Just wanted to say hi and let you know I am still here. Looking forward to watching the debate tonight and will be posting a few blogs this week. Take a look at my shared items, there are a few articles worth reading. I particularly liked the Buckley resignation.

Friday, September 26, 2008

A reporter actually doing her job

I found this over at ERV blog , disussing Campbell Brown's interview of Tucker Bounds (McCain Spokesman). Campbell asked what foreign policy experience Palin has since the McCain campaign has made foreign policy experience and the ability to take over as "commander in chief" as a major campaign issue (regarding Obama) and he can't give one example of Palin's experience. This is great and I wish reporters would do their job more often. McCain canceled his appearence on Larry King as a result because Campbell was "too aggressive."

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Obama gets 61 Nobel Laureate votes!!!

Think seriously about this please.....61 Nobel Laureates have endorsed Obama publicly and issued a letter to the American people (link here). Some really smart people trying to let the general public know that our government has been failing in the sciences lately.

From the letter:
"During the administration of George W. Bush, vital parts of our country’s scientific enterprise have been damaged by stagnant or declining federal support. The government’s scientific advisory process has been distorted by political considerations. As a result, our once dominant position in the scientific world has been shaken and our prosperity has been placed at risk."

The only way to change this, is to stop the conservative, right-wing, religious-oriented control over science, technology and research by a guy who can't use email and a woman who thinks dinosaurs and people walked the earth together.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Creationist's loop-hole for science classes in Minnesota

In a nutshell, Minnesota has decided to change their science standards so that middle and high school students during introductory science classes will be expected "to balance in their introduction to basic science, the idea that cells are what scientists say they are and the idea that cell theory may be wrong" or other such issues as comparing the basic structure of an atom, general principles of plate tectonics, or even the germ theory of disease (quoted from Greg Laden, see his blog here).

I would like to elaborate on just one of these for those of you that aren't completely familiar with these issues: Germ Theory (and yes it is a Theory just like gravity or evolution - Theory doesn't a mean wild guess, a hunch, or a random hypothesis, etc., and for a better discussion see here). For those of you that don't know, the germ theory is basically the idea that microorganisms (bacterium and viruses etc.) make us sick which was considerably controversial when originally proposed. Under these standards, junior high and high school students would be required to compare the idea of microorganisms making us sick or the basic structure of the atom to........what exactly? Other theories (such as sin makes us sick maybe, or evil spirits?) and discuss the merits and contradictory evidence and/or supporting evidence? Do we really expect students to grasp the idea of Atomic Theory, or that the basic structure of the atom isn't "really" correct and as a result discuss what the discovery of Quantum mechanics, energy levels, quantum leaps, and alternating spectral lines has done to "alter" the basic planetary model of the atom?

BUT when it comes to evolution, the general public who think they understand the issues have no problem stating that students should discuss the issues thoroughly before accepting them, even though most of the general public do not understand the basic principles of evolution any better than physics, or germ theory, or plate tectonics. Think about it, how many people really have a clue what genetic drift, mutation, recombination, independent assortment, gene flow, natural selection or even "what exactly is a species" (which is a very complicated issue actually): who can explain or even define these terms correctly? Yet, because there is a book (actually several versions) which is made of a collection of papers that are themselves copies of original writings that SOME people after 2000 years (have now interpreted these writings) have decided these papers provide the only true understanding of life on earth, origins, species, as well as time lines etc. and therefore our children should question (which assumes they have the ability and skill) such popular, well respected and most importantly well supported Theories of science.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I so underachieved as a kid

I just thought this was really cool: A 12 year old may have invented a new type of solar panel (nanotube part actually). "If he is right, solar panels with his 3D cells would yield nine times more sunlight and absorb 10% more energy from the sun - evn when it's cloudy".

He gets a $25,000 scholarship from it (as well as much more eventually if it works). What the hell was I doing at 12, oh yeah playing with star wars figures ( NO ERIC they are NOT DOLLS!!!!)

Bush is too concerned about endangered species for Palin's taste

So I received one of my regular update emails from the Center for Biological Diversity and thought this tidbit was worth sharing, which is about our potential new VP (possible president because, let's face it, there is at least about a 1 in 5 chance McCain dies in the next 4 years). The bold text is the kicker if you realize that W has listed fewer new endangered species than both his father and Reagan combined!!!! and has done as much as he can to weaken the endangered species act as possible. Additionally, Palin lied about and suppressed state scientific reviews concerning the polar bear issue, and denies global warming.

"The second annual Rubber Dodo Award goes to... Sarah Palin. The Center for Biological Diversity honored her with the 2008 award for her valiant efforts to protect her state's oil industry -- sacrificing the well-being of our earth, our climate, the polar bear, and numerous other warming-threatened species in the process. Starting in 2006, Palin worked hard to block the government from protecting the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act -- and when the bear was declared "threatened" anyway, she sued, joined shortly thereafter by her oil-industry friends. According to the Center's executive director Kierán Suckling, Palin's lawsuit will put her in the history books as perhaps the only person ever to have accused the Bush administration of excessive use of the Endangered Species Act.

The Center's Rubber Dodo Award is reserved every year for the person in public or private service whom we feel has done the most to contribute to endangered species' extinction. Last year, we gave the award to Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne."

Also stated in the report is that she is a "global warming denier" and that "her position on global warming is so extreme, she makes Dick Cheney look like an Al Gore devotee." In a report from her fellow residents she stated that regarding the end of days, she believes Jesus will return in her lifetime (makes me really want her to be planning for the country's and future generations' long term issues) and that the world is 7000 years old because she has seen dinosaur fossils and human footrprints together. Remember she had a science teacher as a father!!!

ADDED 9/24/08 - And for those of you interested - here is a good link for facts about Palin that you may not know yet

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Been a while

Well, long time no talk: can't believe the last time I wrote was in July and I feel bad so I will try and be regular now that I am back at school!

Speaking of which, I am back in Lethbridge and trying to settle in to my new place. I had a brief trip to California (much too brief due to moving for almost 2 weeks) of hanging out with as many of you as possible and of course spending as much time as I could with Jenn, my GF and yes I ignored some very sage advice from Brian (glad I did though) and fell for a girl right before I moved out of the country, but that's just the way it goes: like Tensen always says "cuz he asked her out" which in this case is definitely true.

My dad and I then began a long arduous journey up to Chico to grab my stuff out of storage, seeing both Red, Brian, and the Stuarts (Kristiaan thanks again for dinner) which ended up taking an extra 2 days from what I planned (also hitting the dump and goodwill stores to get rid of some stuff, but staying one night over at Gold Country Casino Hotel where their deluxe room which was only $10 more than the regular midweek was FANTASTIC andalmost made it worth it but I lost $40), we then headed north through Alturas to Goose Lake. The rest stop off of hwy 299 was my favorite rest stop yet with a nice breeze and surrounded by pine tress. We luckily got a room in Oregon >>>>> due to a large number of hang gliders in the area for some reason; must have been a conference or something.

We got up, had some breakfast and started our way towards Twin Falls Idaho. The scenery between Oregon and Idaho is pretty but we had a couple hills as well as in the Alturas part and with the temperature in the 90's with a heavy trailer my Xterra was having some heat issues that we had to watch. We missed looking for the Sawtooth Mtn's (I think the link for Idaho is theonly view we ended up getting of them) though but it was hazy and I assume we couldn't see them on the first day anyway. We stayed in Twin Falls.

Our next destination was West Jellystone where originally we planned to just drive right on through the Park but it takes a hell of a lot longer to get places with a trailer on your tail, so we aletered plan and decided to stay the night and go through the park in the early morning. Besides, you have a better chance of seeing wildlife early in the morning. We briefly saw a moose in a wetland on the side of HWY o\just outside of West Yellowstone which was the only one we saw during the whole trip (don't even think of complaining Pop - I asked if you wanted to turn around!!!!) . We got into town and walked around a bit because my dad thought we should go to this one particular restaurant (but I have a general rule not to go anywhere that has no cars nearby , other customers etc., or in general appears to have no customers which is usually a very good indication of a bad restaurant but...). The place wasn't open yet and after looking for other places that met my Dad's high expectations we ended up right back where we started right when they opened and we gave it a try. The place was called the Oregon Short Line and they had a refurbished train car museum, as well as lots of train memorabilia which dad loved. Our waiter was great, the food was great, and the creme brulee was fantastic. But I still think my rule is agood way to go!!!

We then headed into Yellowstone early in the morning but that will be the next post!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Religions in a nutshell

I found this poster over at and love it. Thought I would share because that is who I am - a sharing person.

The Religions

Taoism: Shit Happens
Hinduism: This shit has happened before
Confucianism: Confucius say, "Shit happens"
Buddhism: It is only an illusion that shit happens
Zen: What is the sound of shit happening?
Islam: If shit happens, it is the will of Allah
Jehovah's Witnesses: Knock, Knock, "Shit happens"
Atheism: There is no such thing as shit
Agnosticism: Maybe shit happens, and maybe not
Protestantism: Shit won't happen if I work harder
Catholicism: If shit happens, I deserve it
Judaism: Why does shit always happen to me?
Televangelism: Send money or shit will happen
Rastafarian: Smoke that shit

Friday, July 11, 2008

July 10

Well, I just wanted to say hi to everyone and give a status update. I just spent my first week in Lethbridge; pretty, had some neat thunderstorms, rained a bit, sunny most of the time and I found a place to live which is always good. I will be heading to Montana tomorrow for a few weeks and plan on seeing Glacier N.P. and Yellowstone N.P. which I am looking forward to. I posted a bunch of pictures from Alaska and hope you enjoy them (I already got one comment that all my shots are of scenery which I guess is a bad thing so I will try and get some "action" shots this time - haa). I am hoping to head down to California in mid August, visit people, and pick up my stuff in storage on the way back; have to get rid of some of it though since my place is a little smaller here so Kristiaan I hope I can use your yard to sell some. That is it for now and when I actually get back to Lethbridge and get settled I plan on writing much better posts, and some actual informative ones, for the few people reading this.

Monday, June 30, 2008

new pics

Just wanted to let people know there are some new pics from Fairbanks (starting at this one and there is a new folder for the drive from Fairbanks to Anchorage) that I just uploaded. Will write more later.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

peeing in the woods

So I am sitting here in an internet cafe in Anchorage and remembering a conversation that I had with my fellow researchers a few weeks ago in Revelstoke BC. For obvious reasons that will become apparent, I was contemplating about peeing in the woods and bears and related my personal insights to Theresa, Heather and Chris. I was curious if they ever thought about having a bear appear while "engaged" in the woods. Personally, I have this, shall we say minor, fear about having a bear appear when I am in a somewhat vulnerable position (although not as vulnerable as it could be...). My fear is not so much about being attacked per se, but rather the effect of such an encounter. In other words, my fear is more of the fact that because the bear would appear at the precise moment that he/she does, the net effect would be that as I turned away or backed up etc., there would be a high probability that I would pee on my own clothing and as such it would look like I was scared by the bear so bad that I pee'd myself which would not be an accurate statement; this would really be a coincidence based on timing rather than cause by extreme fear!!! But, I doubt that most (my friends especially Brian, Chris, Westy and Kristiaan, and Ev) would laugh at me and accuse of being extremely scared by the bear. This is a recurring thought I certain times of course.... and it worries me a little. I guess I just hope the bear has better timing and is considerate of my desire to be thought of as an "outdoors"kinda guy and doesn't ruin my chances!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

anyone out there!

So I haven't seen any comments and have no emails so I was just wondering if ANYONE reads this thing? Just wondering and I will keep on writing either way - HAAAA

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Well - it has been a while but I want everyone to know I am still alive!!! Spent 2 weeks in Revelstoke BC sick the entire time trapping birds and am now in Anchorage. I have seen 2 black bears and 4 moose so far, one of the moose was a cow with her calf walking through the campground which was great but of course I didn't have my camera. After being sick for a long time and when I started a fever for the second time, I finally went to the hospital and am now feeling better; so I will be taking many more pictures soon. There are a two posted here and more at picasa: will post more soon! I should also be updating this soon again so keep checking.


Monday, May 5, 2008

Sailing #2

Well, I am back from sailing with Rusty et al., again and have some new pictures that are posted here and am now getting ready to head north to Canada for my field work.

The sailing trip was fantastic and no major issues this time. I flew down to Panama on April 7 and then took a small commuter flight on the 8th to Bocas del Toro where the guys were. Bocas del Toro is a great little town where lots of backpackers hang out while traveling through central america, and ereyone said they loved Bocas and I would too: I was there about 48 hours!!

We headed out of Bocas and started north across the Caribbean heading to a small island east of Nicuragua called Cayo Albequerque. The island is beautiful and actually composed of two small islands (about 300 yards wide) that are an atoll, with the reef extending miles out. There is a small contingent of Columbian military (island is part of Columbia) and the soldiers spend a month or two on the island and then transfer out to other islands. There was some weather heading our way and we planned on laying up at the island for a couple days which turned into about 9 I think. At some point with the food running a little low, and we had many discussions about the stages of starvation (we had food just 4 guys eat a lot and we were running out of the main stuff we wanted to eat, and were a little low on rice and beans but Jessey - the killer - kept us pretty well stocked on fish). During the stages conversations at some point Jessy asked "What stage of starvation do you drink your piss" which we though was pretty much the funniest thing we heard in a while and we decided it was about Stage 3.....which we never reached thankfully - HAA.

more of this troy to follow - check back

Monday, March 24, 2008

been moving

It has been a while since I wrote anything because I have been busy moving out of my place in Alameda, driving all the junk, and I do mean junk, up to my storage unit in Chico. I finally got all of it out and I am now down at my dad's in so Cal. I will be posting some more as soon as I get some projects done here. I will also be heading to Panama on the 7th of April, so look for some new postings with pictures!!!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Sailing 2: Ensenada to Hautulco

Again - this is from an email that I sent to everyone which I have posted pretty much as it was:

Where to start......First, I want to say sorry for the long email but I haven´t sent anything since the hand incident (it is doing fine by the way) and feel free to skim through this if long emails cause you significant amounts of pain: I feel that way often. Also, I may be off on the dates a little but hey thats the way it goes and the events are all real or based reality, mine that is.

We (Rusty, myself and one of Rusty´s best friends John M. who was the man!) left Ensenada around 3 in the afternoon on the 24 of April for what should have been a 4 day trip to Cabo San Lucas and sailed out of the bay with beautiful skies and a nice wind, sailing south for approximately 8 hours. (I actually didn't write this in the email but when we went to fill up with diesel, we didn't know the caps for water and fuel got switched when the deck was in short, through a closed vent tube, we somehow dumped 40 gallons of diesel onto Rusty's clothes which smelled FOR A LONG TIME).

We drank a toast to the trip and looked forward to the next few days. After my shift at the wheel, I went below for some rest while John took the wheel. Somewhere around 11pm I think, I awake to an incredibly loud bang that sounded like we had hit something and jarred the whole boat, followed by sounds of John and Rusty yelling about and moving around. Apparently the winds had changed and caused us to accidentally jibe due to changes in wind direction (basically, the boom for the main sail which was on one side of the boat tried to swing all of the way over to the opposite side and if it were not for the jibe preventer which is basically a pulley and some rope, the boom would have taken out the rigging (metal wires) holding up the mast. As it was, the event only put a 4 foot crack in the boom which we didn't find out for another couple of days when we finally got out of what the weather people for mariners called the evil front but we didn't know this at the time. For the next 48plus hours we were slammed with 40knot winds, 40plus gusts and up to 18 ft seas, which caused us to lose out steering after around 40 hours (we had a manual emergency control) which we used to limp into a small fishing village off Isla Cedras. However, the port isn't really open to sailboats and we had to call the US Coast Guard and have them call the port to get permission. The marina navy came out armed with M16´s which was a sight but were extremely friendly and guided us into the harbor where we fixed our steering and a few other things while we got some serious rest. We were somewhat popular in the town, one guy came up and offered us soap, I think and manicures from his wife (He thought Rusty might have his wife on board I think), a group of middle school boys in uniform came out to say hi in a 12 foot panga, and we were not sure if they were gonna board us or what, but eventually they just smiled and wanted some candy which we readily gave. We got a full night of sleep and we were on our way to Cabo.

We motored along for about 8 more hours (I think this was around Thursday the 27th) where we hit some more wind and swells but was what we had expected from our Master´s Weather report (this is the service all of the sailing racers etc use) so everything was okay for a day or so but then we started having problems with the voltage in our batteries. I will spare all of you the details of this part of the trip but basically, due to some design flaws in the electrical system and maybe user error one battery became over-charged and was off-gassing hydrogen gas, one battery was dead (the one powering our radar and gps systems) and 4 golf cart batteries were left sitting there fully charged and not being used (we didnt know this till after we got to Cabo). I spent the last 40 hours coming in to Cabo watching the battery systems and switching think around to get as much power as possible while still not causing a fire or blowing up the boat. Needless to say, Rusty was a bit weary, as we all were when we pulled in to Cabo around 11 in the morning on the first of May, I think. John M raced off the boat to catch his plane back to Atlanta, and Rusty went to the boat yard to get an electrician. Eventually, we got everything fixed (a couple new 150lb batteries which we had to install - they were heavy) and the electrician re-wired the system: and left us with a nice wiring diagram.

Kristiaan showed up on Thursday the 3rd and we were off across the sea of cortez to Puerto Vallarta. This time the trip was great and beautiful as we started feeling like we were in the tropics which technically I think we were after crossing the Tropic of Cancer. Rusty made it to a wedding for his wife´s best friend in Puerto Vallarta by at least an hour. The wedding was in the town of Conchas Chinas Beach (right next to Puerto Vallarta) at a place called Casa Tres Vidas - which I highly recommend if anyone is thinking of heading to Puerto Vallarta.

Rusty decided to get some general maintenance performed on the diesel engine (injectors serviced, oil change etc) which was easier to do at the marina then at sea so we hung out for an extra week during which time Rusty took a trip back to Florida and Cori came down to visit for a few days.

Another friend of Rusty´s showed up in Vallarta, Reb, and while we were waiting for the mechanic to be available we headed about 6 miles away to an anchorage in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle for 3 days. Now my favorite dish so far in Mexico, is roasted chicken with tortillas which we eat any time we find a new place and we have probably tried about 12 places so far. In my opinion, the best so far has been at the little beach in La Cruz where a young girl and her grandpa had a little stand on the beach with spice-rubbed chicken BBQ´d over some fresh mesquite with some great roasted pepper salsa in a mason jar; all of which was washed down with a fresh pineapple fruit that was mashed up with oranges,papaya, limes, and picante sauce which was served back in the pineapple....mmmmm.

Eventually we took off on the the 10th of May from Puerto Vallarta heading south where we stayed one night at Bahia Tenacatita which was beautiful, and then motored down to Zihuatanejo, arriving on wednesday the 16th. We went fishing and had our fresh catch cooked for us on a little beach which was great, did a bunch of laundry and then kicked Reb off (back to Florida) and Rusty and I headed down to Huatulco on around the 18th .

Sailing 1:Ensenada

This is the original email that I sent to everyone from Mexico at the beginning of the sailing adventure in March 2007. For those that don't know, my buddy Rusty wanted to sail his boat from Ensenada (originally in Long Beach) down to Central America, through the canal and home to Florida, all the while, surf a lot and generally have fun. Sailing 1 and 2 are about the original section from Ensenada to El Salvador (February - June 2007). I pasted the email directly and reading it brings back so many memories; hope you enjoy.

!Hola Amigos!

Wanted to say hi to all and let you know what is going on down in has been muy bueno and the fish tacos are killer. Kristiaan came down for 4 days and we all hung out and worked on Rusty's boat....and drank a lot of cervesa, which has been a hell of a lot of fun except for the fact that my left hand has been out of commission since about 1 hour after entering Mexico. Apparently I dont know the difference between a door and a window in Mexico even though it is the same goddamn AMPM station: you would think telling them apart would be easy and not very different from those in Los Estados Unidos but you'd be wrong. This whole incident may have been caught on a security camera by the way, so if ya find it on youtube let me know - just look for gringo, PEMEX AM/PM in Rosarita and window - maybe stupido as well.

To make a long story short, it looked like a door with aisles, people looking like they were walking right at me from the inside etc....trash can on the side of the door (which I used to throw something in), and a clear path right into the store.....except for the 1 inch thick piece of melted silica which by the way I broke with my cabesa, after which the humongous, razor-sharp pieces of death fell onto my left hand opening a one inch wide, 3.5 inch gash on my thumb as well as opening an approximate 1.5 square inch flap on my palm which doesn't sound like a lot but trust me it was enough.......all of which took 22 external stitches and 3 internal (had to stop the bleeders) when all was said and done. And, not really exaggerating at all, I lost about a half a pint at the store and another half or more at the hospital before they sewed me up: I sat there bleeding on this little table for about 45 minutes and went thru at least a mile of gauze.

All of this was very exciting for Rusty and Kristiaan since Rusty saw my hand leaking like a sieve all over the concrete and I was off in an ambulance to the hospital, which they were following at high speed through Rosarita at about 9 pm Friday. The hospital room was very clean and everyone was awesome but about 5 different people came over and split open my hand to look and gawk, as well as laugh whenever I tried to explain what happened in bad spanish..lots of stupido, cabesa, accidente, yada yada yada. And then someone would look at me, point and they would all laugh - so damned embarrassed. Honestly tho, it was one of my better emergency room experiences.

Funny note - people in mexico are obsessed with their cell phones even more than the states (which is hard to believe) - the doctor even answered his about 5 times while he was sewing my hand back up and the 2 guys helping him kept walking away to chat on their phones/ was hilarious and none of the conversations sounded serious or about work. As for the señoritas/señoras, they just kept walking by and smiling and then laughing..a lot of laughing...a little too much at times actually, but overall it was kinda funny. So, after our little stop, we proceeded to dinner in Rosarita and continued on down to Ensenada.

That's about it. Rusty and I are doing some more work on the sailboat after Kristiaan's departure (the guy was a machine working on the electrical system for 3 days - the electrical was working before but Kristiaan installed some great stuff and cleaned up the a lot of the existing wires etc...) and the invitation is still out to everyone to come on down either to Ensenada (the food is great, cheap and the marina is fantastic with hot showers/facilities and within walking distance of the whole downtown area) or at any time on the trip. The boat is great - lots room for guests, beautiful varnished teak all over the deck, and we even have a couple spare sleeping bags and room for more people.

Audios Amigos

Best thing to do to get noticed for Science Articles: Say "Darwin Was Wrong"

Just a note on how manipulative the media can be, even science writers. I just saw this article and find it amazing that the title says Darwin was wrong about domestic chickens (which he stated over 100 years ago), but if you read the article it states " even though most of the genes in domesticated fowls come from the red junglefowl, at least one other species must have contributed.... it is most likely the case that the grey junglefowl was crossed with an early form of the domesticated chicken". So the domestic chicken came from the red jungle fowl, and was later crossed with the grey junglefowl but Darwin was wrong!!! at least it gets your article noticed I guess.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

First Blog: What and Why

Well, I am currently quitting my job as a biologist for an environmental consulting firm in Oakland Ca (have been a professional biologist for over 7 years now) and heading back to grad school to get my PhD in evolution and behavior at the University of Lethbridge, in Alberta. This blog is primarily a way to let my family and friends see what I am doing and a chance to write about some of the trips and adventures I have been on recently (sailing to El Salvador but walking into a plate-glass window first and my next trip to Panama, field work in Canada, Alaska, and Montana this upcoming summer); more on those later.

I would also like to write about some of the projects and hobbies that I have like trying to be a home improvement guru (and failing but it's always on other people's houses so by the time I get my own I will have it down), flyfishing (John Gierach as well as my buddy C2 are my fishing heroes - if my buddy Chris ever decides to write it down, he will sound a lot like JG which is meant as a real compliment or is he more like AK? I don't know).

As I am heading back into academia which I've really missed over the last 6 years, this blog will also be about science, particularly biology, evolution, behavior, genetics and ecology but I have no illusion that I can write as well as some of my favorite blogs such as EvolutionBlog, Pharyngula, Of Two Minds, Stranger Fruit, Greg Laden's or any number of good blogs at Science Blogs. Regarding some of these "popular" science blogs, some people complain that the big blogs are ruining the small blogs, or in it for the ad $$, yada yada yada.... but the people that write these bloggers are writing good blogs and I wanna read them which is the point, I think. And, I learn a lot from reading their posts as well as the comments by people such as Stacy S., Nigel D., Glen Davidson, David Stanton, XYZ, Windy, Pseudonym, Kevin, and AnnaBanana just to name a few), or TalkOrigins and Panda's Thumb (I will be writing more about these later); therefore I hope that their influence eventually shows up in here and I am glad they are around!

There are a few other topics that are important to me and I will discuss at times such as environmental issues (i.e., organic food/farming, global warming, a little about environmental policy once in a while), evolution and science education related issues (i.e., the fact that creationism and intelligent design are NOT science), atheism/theism, hockey (and how great this sport really is - how I can't believe that NSACAR gets more TV coverage), backpacking, cycling (the Tour of California was great - Brian where are those pics?), and the fact that Jaws is one of the best movies of all time (at least in the top 3) - that's some bad hat Harry!