31 August, 2010

When Bad Writing Is Good

Brian Switek pointed us at a site today that actually managed to make me laugh despite a certain monthly recurrent condition that makes me hate life, my uterus and everything.  That's no small feat.  Anyone who reads or writes will appreciate How to Write Badly Well.  Only a great writer can write so badly so perfectly.

For example:
It was four o’clock in the afternoon and Derek was facilitating his process environment. He validated his competency, taking care not to leverage his parameters to an un-optimal degree, then took ownership of the resultant paradigm.

Dr Henry Billingsworth was a Nobel Prize-winning theoretical physicist and all-round renaissance man. In the course of his long career, he had held sub-atomic particles in the palm of his hand, excavated lava from the centre of the Earth and invented a whole new mathematical function which supplemented the old-fashioned plus, minus, multiply and divide to create a unheard-of fifth way of doing sums. At present, he was absorbed in his new experiment – observing evolution in fruit flies.

Penny stared down at the police interview table.
‘I’m embarrassed and quite scared,’ she said. The policeman nodded.
‘I’m aware of that,’ he said. ‘However, I’m not above using your fragile emotional state to get the information I need. You see, despite sympathising with you and, to be entirely honest, being quite attracted to you, I am very good at my job.’
Of course, after reading several entries on the site, I'm having flashbacks to several pieces of ostensible literature written in our college creative writing class, and I'm not sure if the resultant sweating is a symptom of impending nervous breakdown or just regular ol' hot flashes.  It's an enduring mystery we shall solve next week.
In the meantime, go enjoy some of the best bad writing on offer.

Bone-Chilling Thoughts

PalMD's post on Facism and the New Right is a definite must-read.  Here's a taste:

Cult of tradition

Americans certainly have a love of tradition, a uniting national identity.  We have our own liturgy in our founding documents.  But this is not cult-like.  Eco describes a traditionalism that is false, in a sense, in that it combined mutually incompatible traditions, creating from them a unifying identity.  Believing in the Bill of Rights, while simultaneously calling for the repeal of the 14th Amendment; believing in the Constitutional protection of religion but denying the secular origins of this principle, and creating a false mythology of the Founders as Believers—these create a false, new American tradition.
Read the rest.

30 August, 2010

Loving Bad Universe from Literally the Second It Starts

I've pseudo-liveblogged my reaction to the premiere episode of Bad Universe.   I didn't watch it live, alas.  Meant to, but I fell asleep this evening (and dreamed I was running away from glaciers - don't ask me why), then woke up too late for the main event.  Besides, the new downstairs neighbors sounded like they were torturing and killing an elephant downstairs.  It turns out they were just preparing for a night on the town, which apparently requires pachyderm sacrifice.  Go figure.  I let them get done with that so's they wouldn't impact (ha!) my viewing pleasure.

And here, raw and unvarnished, my thoughts on the program:

When a science show starts out, "The experiments in this program are conducted by trained professionals.  Do not attempt any of these tests at home," you know there's gonna be mayhem.

"Smells like mass extinction."  HA HA HA HA HA!

License plates, I get, but did they seriously have to pixelate the manufacturer's logo on the truck?  What, did Chevy not pay them for the privilege?  Mark this as the first time I've been curious enough to pause a program so I could google an SUV.

I love they're mixing explosions with the Inverse Square Law - and the Bikini Gage.

The look on Phil's face when that first explosion went off was priceless.  And any show that includes the words, "Let's go do field geology!" immediately makes it to the top of my viewing list.

(Long interval of eating pizza whilst immersed in show.  Do not take lack of commentary for apathy.)

Want a scale-model dry ice comet!

Does Phil really have a warning sign that says "Big Scary Laser"?  Want that, too!

Do not want the show to end.

Um.  The graphic of of Apophis?  Fucking terrifying.

Poor big granite ball.  Ouchies!  But its sacrifice was not in vain - that was motherfucking awesome.

Less than 19 years to save the world.  Good thing Bad Universe is on now!  This has been much more terrifying (by virtue of being accurate) than most ZOMG the world's gonna end! teevee shows.  It might spur some actual action.

More than happy with this show.  If Discovery doesn't make it a regular feature, I'm calling for a mob.  Sharpen your pitchforks and oil your torches just in case.

Kudos, Phil!

Things That Made Me Go, "HOLY FUCKING SHIT!"


Literally knocked the breath from my body, that did, and then just when I'd got it back, lost it again because Lockwood's advice on how to get to Mars (but not Venus!) was so funny.  Then some more wonder.  Then - well, go read the whole post.  You'll see.

Tomes 2010: A Mere Quartet

I've been reading a lot lately, I promise, but it's just that I've been dipping into many books at once, sampling here and there, and so I haven't got as many completely read as usual.  I'm on the verge of finishing a few more, so I figured I'd best get these out there before we ended up with a monster book dump.

Geology Underfoot in Illinois

This book actually depressed me horribly, but that's not a strike against it.  Everything about the Midwest (Chicago excepted) depresses me horribly.  I was born a Hoosier, but I just can't live there.  This book reinforced that: the author talks about relief of 120 feet as if it's amazing

That's just a wee bit pathetic.

However, that doesn't mean that Illinois doesn't have interesting geology, and this book points out quite a lot of it, including places I'd be happy to see.  There's plenty o' continental glacial landforms to peruse, some utterly delicious rock formations created by inland seas, and I've got to see Bell Smith Springs before I die.  That's old-home stuff - I cut my teeth on sandstone landforms. 

This book made me feel marginally better about the Midwest.  Perhaps my visit to my dear old mother won't be unmitigated hell after all....

The Street-Smart Naturalist: Field Notes From Seattle

You know what, it's hard to praise this book enough.  I loved and respected Seattle before I read it.  I understood, loved and respected Seattle afterward.  And now I know "it rains a mere 11 percent of the time."

After reading this book, I have a better relationship with the neighborhood crows.  I don't mind goose shit as much.  I know where to go downtown for a good round of geology as revealed in the buildings.  I'm planning a field trip for next summer to follow the glacial erratics.  I've got a handle on the invasive vs. native species.  And I'm more conversant with our local fault.  Few books can immerse you in the natural world contained within your city; fewer can do it with David's silken-smooth prose.  If you want to know Seattle, buy this book.  Carry it with you when you come visit.  And then open yourself to the natural wonders you might be able to find right in your very own city.

Natural Grace: The Charm, Wonder, & Lessons of Pacific Northwest Animals and Plants

I bought this at B&N along with The Street-Smart Naturalist, figuring they made a perfect pair, and do they!  I'm normally not that interested in babblings about plants and animals that look like nothing more than groovy granola musings on how majestic the natural world is, maaan, but this book had one particular selling point: its opening line.  Observe:

"You animal, you."

I fell in immediate love, and unlike most romances, this one survived its first young blush.  I read it as a follow-up to The Street-Smart Naturalist, and it proved the perfect compliment.  It expands the scope to the whole of the Northwest, taking us all the way from the most taken-for-granted animals round here (learned a lot about jellyfish and deer, f'rinstance), through dirt (which deserves more respect), up through geology, the tides, and killer whales. 

After reading these two books, I'll never see the Northwest in the same way again.  Especially not now that I can tell the difference between various trees.  They compliment each other with their knowledge, wisdom and humor.  Both are elegantly written, but not pretentious, and worth every instant I spent with them.

Beyond the Moon: A Conversational, Common Sense Guide to Understanding the Tides

The tides are a mystery to me.  They go in, they go out, I look at a tide table to understand when and where and how much.  I knew the moon and, to a lesser degree, the sun had something to do with it.  Suspected geography might as well.  Didn't know jack diddly about how this stuff actually worked.

Well, thanks to this book, I know a bit more now.  I can kinda sorta explain why there's only one high tide in the Gulf of Mexico, and why the Bay of Fundy has 50ft tides whereas many places only have 3-6ft.  I know the factors taken into account when making tide tables, how different bits interact, and why the Pacific Coast tides are so damned weird.  My city even makes a special guest appearance! 

This is a book written by a (former) amateur for amateurs - James McCully isn't a scientist, but he practically became one in writing this book.  And he gets definite kudos for this paragraph I marked out:
When people say, "Ignorance is bliss," they mean the ignorance that is oblivious to the problem.  There is another kind of ignorance.  Once you become aware that you are ignorant, it is anything but blissful.
True, dat!

There are a few things in the writing style that grate, but overall, this is a good introduction to how tides work, and you'll be less ignorant for having read it, which is a different kind of bliss.

And that's it.  That's all I've got - for now.

29 August, 2010


Excuse the shouting there, but it's so nice to know that we here in the States can call a spade a spade without considering how much our bank account converts to in pounds sterling (although I guess it's Euros now, innit?):
American authors, journalists, and bloggers can breathe a sigh of relief: with broad bipartisan support, a short time ago President Obama signed a bill into law that makes sure that the awful and regressive libel laws in the UK cannot be enforced here in the United States.
Huzzah!  Now all we have to deal with are the ridiculous SLAPPs from butt-hurt woomeisters.  Which is a breeze compared to defending against a libel charge in Britain.

I have only one thing to say to the dumbshits who hoped Britain's noxious laws would save them from good ol' American dickishness:


DBAD: The Return

Poor Phil.  His Don't Be A Dick stuff's still getting panned.  Our own George W. took it apart:

I like Phil Plait a lot, but he’s recently been on a thing about “Not Being A Dick” and his recent video is supposed to be a clarification of that position.  

This reminds me of the scene in nearly every cop show where they take a fuzzy picture and apply enhancement software to it, and see a reflection of the killer’s face on a chrome-plated lugnut.  There’s only so much you can clarify a position that is fuzzy to begin with.
The rest of that post is well worth your time.

Les at Stupid Evil Bastard ripped a great gaping hole in the central premise of Phil's argument:
Phil says all that does is make people defensive and resort to knee-jerk rationalizations and that is often true, I’m certainly guilty of it, but that doesn’t mean they won’t stop to consider the accusation of idiocy later when they have cooled down and are no longer in the midst of the argument. Not everyone will, but people who are anything like I am probably will and prompting that self-reflection can be the beginning of change.
I have much long and bitter experience in determining the truth of that.  

So, we've determined that a) quite often we're hitting the target we intend, not the one he thinks we aimed at and b) when we turn double-barreled dickishness on someone with the intent of converting them, specifically, it can get the job done.  And I've not yet seen anyone argue that we must be all dick all the time.  There's a time and a place for some hand-holding, sweet words o' persuasion, and some gentle urging along.  That doesn't leave DBAD in great shape.

Look, the sentiment was nice, and it'd be great if we lived in a world where dickishness was unnecessary, but there's a reason for the carrot-and-stick proverbs.  Sometimes, all of us need a good sharp thump with a really big stick (or dick, ha ha) in order to snap out of our stupidity.

I just hope Bad Universe fares better than DBAD.  And, Phil?  I still love you, man.  How could I not, with posts like these?

28 August, 2010

Things That Caught My Attention

I actually had time to catch up on a little reading today.  Even updated me blogroll to include some of the geology blogs I've gotten addicted to recently.  I'm a little distracted just now with terminal PMS and Rocko's Modern Life, so now's a good time to share some finds.

Brian Romans at Clastic Detritus made me drool with this Friday Field Foto.

More drooling: Dan McShane shares Notes from the Metaline Formation.  Old, pretty rocks; lovely water. Mmm!

And Callan Bentley's guest blogger Filip Goc is responsible for some severe water damage to mah domicile - drooling turned to a gusher when I saw this post on the rocks of Glacier National Park.  Bonus drool: tension gash (which is a lot prettier than it looks). 

Lockwood found a box of crayons I dearly wish I'd had as a kid - oh, hell, I'd like them now.

I know most of you have seen this by now, but for those who haven't: Chris Rowan's excellent exploration of what lies beneath Yellowstone.

Courtesy of Ron's Geology Picks, a fascinating new look at plate tectonics.

In non-geo news, Orac explains what happens to herd immunity when the herd refuses vaccination, and lays the smackdown on bogus vaccine ingredient calculators.

For the one of you who doesn't read Pharyngula, PZ explains the importance of being a dick.

And Cujo's right when he says it's time for our better selves to show up - which has nothing to do with DBAD and everything to do with the horrific suffering in Pakistan.

We like to end with sunsets whenever possible, and thanks to Suzanne, we've got a beaut.  Go feast your eyes.

I know I'm missing some stuff.  However, my brain has been fried by hot flashes, and it's time to crawl into bed with me oceanography textbook (yes, I read textbooks for pleasure).  Let me know what I've missed!

Dumbfuckery du Jour

And the horsemen of hypocrisy keep on ridin'.  Short story: NJ's Education Commissioner, Bret Schundler, managed a cock-up of astounding proportions, thus losing New Jersey a shitload of education funding.  Gov. Chris Christie threw a screaming fit, claiming the Obama administration's bureaucracy was to blame (it manifestly wasn't). 

We'll stop right there for a sec.  Christie, who is a Con fucktard, was howling over not getting big guvmint largesse.  Yes, a Con wanted federal money.  Yes, the same Con who swore up and down he wouldn't take federal money if it had strings attached (and one can't imagine this chunk o' change came without strings) threw a fit over not getting federal money.  But that's not the hypocrisy that caught my attention at first.  This is:

Christie, now having been caught misleading the entire state about what transpired, got rid of his education commissioner today.

And then there's the interesting part.
[Schundler] said he was asked to resign, but he requested to be fired instead so he could collect unemployment insurance.
"I have a mortgage to pay and a daughter about to start college," he said.
So, to summarize, Schundler, a far-right Republican, screwed up and cost New Jersey $400 million in education grants. But his top concern, upon being shown the door, is qualifying for unemployment benefits -- which his far-right brethren don't think should exist.
My goodness, how attitudes change when the unemployment check's in the other wallet.

Bonus Dumbfuckery: Mississippi hasn't got the memo about our post-racial society.  And the AFA's attempting to install frothing fundie judges to get rid of those horrible gay-lovin' libruls in Iowa, which makes this a good time to point out how psychotic they are.  A sample:

And freaks like these scream I should be proud to be an American.  Not when they're around, I'm not.  If we, by some horrid turn of fate, find ourselves in the same room with the AFA, I'm Canadian, eh?

27 August, 2010

Scientists to Dolphins: "Now, Blow!"

Betcha never knew there was a scientific career for you getting dolphins to blow their noses.  Brian Switek has the gooey details.

Outtakes at Last Vol. 2: Fog, Sun, Fog

Day Two: Wake up hideously early, realize intrepid companion isn't going to be awake for hours.  No intertoobz due to wi-fi on the fritz in machine.  What else to do but head out for Hurricane Ridge Road to snap photos of all those lovely road cuts we didn't get a chance to linger at the day before?

Port Angeles didn't look promising.  Total gray from horizon to horizon and freezing fucking cold.  But the nice thing about mountains is that sometimes you can rise above all that, and you get to stand in the nice warm sunshine with an ocean o' fog at your feet:

Bit o' a delicate blush o' sunrise, as well.

More below the fold, of course.

26 August, 2010

Outtakes At Last Vol. 1: Hurricane Ridge or Bust

Yeah, yeah, I know the trip was over a week ago.  Yeah, it took me this long to pull out the bits I've decided you can't live without.  I'm one of those horribly disorganized people whose time management skills are not the envy of all.  More like a laughingstock.  Besides, I've been busy pre-writing stuff so you won't be deprived during the winter fiction-writing season.

But I finally got bits sorted.  Images lovely or otherwise below the fold.

Phil's Not Faring Too Well

I love Phil Plait.  I respect Phil Plait.  I follow him on Twitter, shall soon be following him on teevee, and enjoy him immensely.  But even the people I love best occasionally do things that earn them a gentle savaging from their peers.  And it seems that his Don't Be A Dick shenanigans (hereafter referred to as D-BAD) earned him said savaging.

Ophelia Benson, Richard Dawkins, PZ Myers, Jerry Coyne, and now even Peter Lipson (one of the least-dickish people I've ever read) have taken some not-so-subtle swipes, when not unloading with both barrels.  I'm sure there's plenty I've missed.  It doesn't matter anyway, because the whole thing makes me tired.  This "we must be nicey-nice to the poor delicate believers!" bullshit is threatening to condemn me to a life of early dentures.

Just a few thoughts that have been going about in my head during this whole D-BAD drama, and then I am hopefully done:

1.  If you run with the skeptics, your sacred oxen are at risk of getting gored.  If you faint at the sight of blood, better not run.

2.  There is no safety in numbers.  Just because several million people believe a delusion doesn't make it true.

3.  Niceness and respect have their place, but all too often, it enables the very woo and uncritical thinking skeptics are supposed to be against.

4.  Enable one woo, and you've just thrown the doors open wide with a big welcome sign for all the others.

And, most importantly to me personally:

5.  Those "dicks" were the people who snapped me out of woo-tainted thinking to begin with.  All of the happy-joy-joy nice warm fuzzy people kept me thinking for years that some pretty inane shit was legit, because hey, they didn't seem to mind.  And I'm not a very unique human being at all, so I highly doubt I'm an anomalous data point.  Without the dicks, I'd still be susceptible to pseudoscience and magical thinking.  Sometimes, what a person really needs is a good, sharp slap by an enormous dick to snap them out of it.

Oh, dear.  I suspect that last bit came out wrong, or led to mental images that have you reaching for the brain bleach.  Sorry 'bout that.

Anyway.  What I'm saying is, dickishness has a place and a purpose.  Religious sentiment should not and must not get a safe little reservation all walled off from skepticism.  (That goes triple for you, Quinn O'Neil, oh ye of the most bloody stupid argument I've read all week.)

Religious freedom is a Constitutional right in this country, and we dicks respect that.  But respect for a person's freedom to believe in irrational bullshit does not translate into treating irrational bullshit with kid gloves, nor should it, and as for those who aren't tough enough to take it - I've got a couple of religious friends you should consult, because they might be able to advise you how to take it on the chin and keep grinning anyway.  They don't burst into tears and run away blubbering whenever I say something not nice about their faith. 

You know what all that crying tells me?  That the weepy religious believers running with the skeptical crowd aren't sure their faith is legit.  They're doubting.  Why else do they need everyone to tiptoe around them?  And how do I know this?  Because I did the same sniveling when my faith started crumbling on its own faulty foundations. And everyone who didn't do their utmost to reinforce those foundations, or at least refrain from breathing on them, seemed like they were personally attacking me.  Guess what?  They weren't.  They were going after silly superstition.  If you think your superstition isn't silly, then shore up your own damned foundations, grow a pair, and deal with the dicks.

And don't tell me that a few unkind words about your favorite form of woo is enough to sour you on the whole skeptical movement.  That's just petty and ridiculous.  Besides, there are plenty of accomodationists out there happy to wrap you in their loving embrace.  Not all of us have to.  Not all of us should.

Life is full of slings, arrows, and dicks.  You deal, or you don't.  And if that sounds harsh, well, it is.  It seems that despite some anatomical disadvantages, I am an enormous fucking dick. 

Doesn't mean I don't love you, though, irrationality and all. 

25 August, 2010

The Pleasures of Knowing

I've taken a brief break from geology to sort through photos of flowers.  Yes, you're going to get hit with Northwest flora sometime this winter.  Probably more than one post, actually, because I've got a lot of photos of flowers.

Aside from giving me a warm, flowery feeling, these pictures have reminded me just how far from nature we get sometimes.  It just didn't occur to me that some of the stuff we see sold in the flower stalls at Pike Place Market is actually local, and started its career wild.  I mean, lilies and iris grow wild up here.  This, I can tell you, is astonishing for someone from Arizona.  Never even considered that these things originated in the wild, but now I think on it, they must have done.  Even the most artificial of our offerings at the local florist started somewhere wild, however long ago.

So, I now know that the pretty purple irises and the brilliant yellow lilies I stumble across whilst adventuring aren't escapees from some bugger's flower garden.  Soon, I shall know far more - and when I'm out on a walk, I'll not only be able to identify various flowers, but understand why they're there and what they do.  They'll help me understand the geology I'm looking at - some plants only prefer certain soils, some can only grow in disturbed ground, some have rocky relationships.  Instead of just exclaiming "Ooo, pretty flower!" I'll know right down to the scientific name what I'm cooing over.  And so shall you, should you read me upcoming missive and visit the Northwest.

This has brought me in a roundabout fashion to the pleasures of knowing.  Those who claim ignorance is bliss don't know a damned thing.

Dumbfuckery du Jour

Memo to Gov. McDonnell and idiot friends thereof:  Taking $2.5 billion from the feds to balance your state budget does not make you a brilliant balancer:
The Wall Street Journal editorial board has an item today heralding Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell's (R) $400 million budget surplus. According to the WSJ, it "proves" the efficacy of the Republican approach, and reminds federal policymakers to "employ the Virginia strategy."

In his ridiculous economic speech today, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) also singled out Bob McDonnell for praise, noting how impressive it was to see the Virginia Republican "balance his state's budget ... without raising taxes."

McDonnell himself has started patting himself on the back. Last week, he stopped by the Fox Business Network to boast about the greatness of his "conservative, fiscal, practical approach" to budgeting. McDonnell added his way is a model for reducing the "dependence of people on government." Fox Business described it as "an amazing story."

So amazing, in fact, that it deserves a closer look. Indeed, there's a key detail about Virginia's surplus that Republican leaders and their media outlets hope you'll overlook.
Gov. Bob McDonnell decries rising federal spending, but a handout from Washington is helping him balance Virginia's cash-strapped budget, a fiscal think tank says.

If not for $2.5 billion from President Barack Obama's economic-stimulus program, the state's shortfall would have swelled from more than $4 billion to nearly $5.5 billion, according to the Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis.

Republicans consider this "an amazing story." That's not the adjective I'd use.
Oh, it's certainly the adjective I'd use.  It's amazing to me that Cons can be this bloody stupid, ungrateful, and blatant in their lying.

And here's something else amazing: Faux News and the lengths they'll go to in order to whip their dumbshit viewers into a frenzy:
My one wish out of all of this is that everyone who watches Fox News for news becomes aware that their second most invested shareholder is Arab and, yeah even I gotta admit, looks like a South Park Cartoon Terrorist. And Fox and Friends just got caught calling this co-owner of their parent company, Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a "funder of radical madrassahs."
One wonders how Prince Alwaleed bin Talal will feel about his money going to an organization that subsequently smears him as a terrorist (though they were careful not to mention said "funder of radical madrassahs" by name because, y'know, the average Faux News viewer can be trusted not to be able to add 1 and 1).

Bing's rant on this is epic.

24 August, 2010

Wither Geology? National Parks Edition

I don't know if the rest of you have noticed, but the vast majority of parks seem to all but ignore geology.  You find little informational signs dotted everywhere talking about flora, fauna, settlement, discovery, etc.  But just a few pathetic mentions, if any, of the geology behind the spectacular scenery.  Unless, of course, you're at a volcano, where there's a smidgen more.

Why can't more states be like Wyoming, where (mostly accurate) roadsigns point up the fascinating geology even if it doesn't explode?  (Were these the roadsigns you'd mentioned, my dear Lyle?  After seeing the pictures and reading your description, I am so totally going to Wyoming!)

Olympic National Park was pretty biocentric, but there were dibs and dabs of geology here and there.  In the Hurricane Ridge Visitor's Center, they actually condescended to have a small display:

I guess it's a small consolation that I couldn't fit it into one shot, but still.  And in the whole gift shop, no books on geology.  Plenty on plants, animals, and people, but not the whole reason for the scenery.  Pathetic.  I guess if it doesn't explode, they figure people aren't interested.

PZ Is Ailing

Our Cephalopod Overlord got the kind of phone call from his doctor's office that no one wants to get, the one that says, "Get to the hospital, like, NOW, and if your university has a time machine, we suggest you use it to get there sooner."  Now he's wearing the latest in hospital fashion and waiting to see if they slice-and-dice or merely poke a few holes in him in the ay-em.

I'd be a bit more worried about him if my grandfather's ticker hadn't outlasted his mental faculties, and this in an age when cardiac medicine was a bit more primitive than today.  There's an excellent chance PZ will still be one of the Horsemen when I've become a doddering old fool.  Still, one worries a little.  Okay, a lot.

And wonders what should be sent in lieu of flowers, because flora just seems wrong somehow. And I doubt they'd let a bouquet of sea anemones in the door.  So, balloons!

And something warm to cuddle up to in those drafty hospital corridors:

Best o' medical science to ye, PZ!

Dumbfuckery du Jour

Way to go, fucktards:
For nearly eight years, the right had a simple mantra when it came to defending the Bush/Cheney White House against criticism from the left: liberals were emboldening terrorists. If there was another large-scale attack, it'd be our fault.

It's hard to overstate how common this was. The left was constantly reminded that al Qaeda had access to modern communications, and could monitor American media. If Democrats, liberals, and other Bush detractors made us appear divided in a time of crisis, and sent a signal to the world that the Commander in Chief lacked Americans' support, we'd look weak and invite terrorism. Progressives in America, the argument went, were -- deliberately or not -- helping our enemies.

In the summer of 2010, it's interesting to see just how much has changed.
Islamic radicals are seizing on protests against a planned Islamic community center near Manhattan's Ground Zero and anti-Muslim rhetoric elsewhere as a propaganda opportunity and are stepping up anti-U.S. chatter and threats on their websites.
One jihadist site vowed to conduct suicide bombings in Florida to avenge a threatened Koran burning, while others predicted an increase in terrorist recruits as a result of such actions. [...]
A U.S. official on Sunday said the administration was taking the upswing in anti-U.S. chatter seriously. "Terrorists like al-Qaeda and its violent allies are motivated already to try to attack the United States, but when it comes to propaganda, extremists are pure opportunists. They'll use whatever they can," the official said.
And the right is giving them all kinds of fodder to work with, isn't it?

"We are handing al Qaeda a propaganda coup, an absolute propaganda coup," with the Islamic-center controversy, said Evan Kohlmann, an independent terrorism consultant at Flashpoint Partners who monitors jihadist websites.
So, you hystiCon fuckwits, I do not ever again want to hear how anyone on the left is emboldening terrorists or letting the terrorists win.  I do not want to hear a single peep cross your lips about respecting the President of the United States no matter what kind of jackass you all managed to get elected.  I want you to remember that the instant a President took office with a D rather than an R after his name, you all forgot your "patriotic" rhetoric and practically started writing al Qaeda's recruitment pamphlets for them. 

I expected no less of all of you, considering you stood by and cheered for eight years while Bush the Younger and his sidekick Darth Cheney shat regularly upon the Constitution.  You've practically made xenophobia into a religion.  But the last remaining hope I have is that somewhere in the pea-sized rotted smear of gray matter that can only be referred to as a brain due to its location within your skulls, you realize that what little authority you had to babble about "freedom" and tell the left to STFU lest the terrorists win has perished like a snowflake in a blast furnace.

Of course, I'll be expecting your usual hypocrisy.

23 August, 2010

Things I Found in the Twitterverse

I woke up to a slew of interesting links on Twitter this - um, well, afternoon.  Look, I work nights, all right?  The crack o' noon is my version of other peoples' 6 ay-em.  I once had to explain this to a scheduling manager at a former job who didn't understand why we night folk screamed whenever she scheduled us for an early morning shift due to "business needs."  I'm not sure she quite got it, but the requests to drag ourselves in at what amounted to 3 in the morning for us dropped off precipitously afterward.

Anyway.  On to the fun and interesting bits.

Via Ron Schott, we've got a fascinating NYT article on idiocy in our national parks.  Let me just go over a few things that came to mind as I was reading this:

1.  Parents who put their kids on wild animals in order to get a cute vacation shot should not have bred in the first place.  Now, those parents may be thinking, "But it's an herbivore!  What harm can it do?"  Take it from someone who grew up with horses: lots.  Being kicked, stomped, head-butted, bitten, thrown from, and rolled on by something that weighs over 2,000 pounds is no joke.

2.  People who use their little emergency beacon to summon search and rescue helicopters because their water tastes salty deserve to be charged for the cost of the rescue flight.  People who do it three fucking times in less than 48 hours deserve to be left out in the wilderness permanently. 

3.  Yes, you may want to get a good angle for your photograph.  Yes, backing up to get everyone in the shot seems like a good idea.  No, you shouldn't do it when standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon. 

4.  If you're one of those people who will ignore the signs regarding scalding hot water at Yellowstone and decide to take a dip in a geyser anyway, please be sure to cook your reproductive organs thoroughly, preferably before breeding, and do not ever adopt.  Thank you.


Let's move on to happier subjects, shall we?  Also via Ron, I discovered the Arizona State Geologist's blog, in which I discovered that we still have a week to ensure Kartchner Caverns gets some much-deserved largess from Coke.  Go here to cast your votes!  Bonus - you can vote as many times as you like.  Now, Arizona's leadership is hideously stupid at the moment, but a national treasure like Kartchner shouldn't have to suffer for it.

Here's some incentive:

I've been there, and no photograph I've found is a patch on the real thing, but it's incredibly beautiful, supremely fragile, and wholly worth preserving.

I also learned a geologist has been appointed as deputy supervisor of the Coconino National Forest.  Considering how much geology there is in the Coconino National Forest, this strikes me as a very wise idea.

Speaking of much geology, Silver Fox has more delicious pictures up from her Oregon trip here, here and here.  I have three items on my agenda now: visit the Petersen Rock Garden, the Dee-Wright Observatory, and get adopted by Silver Fox.

If that proves impossible, I'll settle for being adopted by Erik Klemetti, who also visits some of the most beautiful geology on earth - in this case, Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons, plus a few others

Look, I'm proud to be an engineer's daughter, but the field trips aren't half as lovely!  Sorry, Dad.

And, practically in my backyard, Brian Romans of Clastic Detritus has found an undersea volcano going boom, complete with live feed!  Living in the Ring of Fire has its compensations.  Oh, yes it does!

Dumbfuckery du Jour

When you become a Con, you apparently get a little license that allows you to be an outrageous hypocrite.  Case in point:
I'm embarrassed to admit, I didn't see this line of attack coming. It just seemed too ridiculous, even for Republicans, but I'm reminded why low expectations are rarely low enough with these folks.
For the second straight year, the first family has landed on this island of quaint seaside towns, second homes and working farms for a late-summer getaway.
But this year, more so than last, political opponents are trying to hang a question over the visit: Does President Obama deserve a vacation?
The Republican National Committee has taken to calling Obama "the Clark Griswold president," a mocking reference to the Chevy Chase character in National Lampoon's "Vacation" movies. With unemployment claims climbing again, the GOP was hoping its criticism would have a certain national resonance. And maybe it will.
I haven't the foggiest idea whether the public will actually hold a 10-day break against the president, but this even being a subject of discussion is bizarre.


Before 2000, the president with the most vacation time in the modern era was Reagan. Bush not only beat Reagan's record, he did so with 17 months to spare. Spanning his two terms, Bush spent 487 days at Camp David, and 490 days at a ranch in Crawford. That's a total of 977 days -- about a third of his overall presidency.

And Republicans are going after Obama's down time? Seriously?
This is taking IOKIYAR to absurd extremes.  These dumbshits are more like a comedy sketch than a political party.  In point o' fact, there are plenty of comedians who are better at politics than they are - Sen. Al Franken, for example.  There are comedians who deserve to be taken far more seriously than our Cons - Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert spring to mind.  Why we don't laugh these fucktards out of our political discourse is an impenetrable mystery to me.

Until we do laugh them off the stage, they'll strangle the political discourse like kudzu.  There are conservatives who have brains and occasionally use them, whom one can disagree with but only after giving serious consideration to their points.  The Cons up on the national stage right now are not those conservatives.  And our discourse, not to mention our nation, suffers for it.

They're not even useful idiots, unless you're a corporation looking for handouts, or a rich bastard looking to rake in cash from the pockets of the poor.  They have no fucking credibility on any subject whatsoever.  Can our pathetic political media please start admitting that and taking some time to call them out for their hypocrisy, inanity, and general dumbfuckery rather than just regurgitating their pointless talking points?

Yeah, I know the answer.  Doesn't mean I'll stop asking.

And a memo to the idiots using the idiots for fun and obscene profit: fire's useful, too - until it gets out of control and burns your neighborhood down.  Keep that in mind.

22 August, 2010

Ogods, Decisions - Geologists in the Audience, Halp!

It's that time again - got me bonus, must stimulate the economy.  I already have me music picked out, but ye olde book list is gargantuan.  So what do I do?  Make it bigger!

Need moar geology.  So all you geologists and geology-enthusiasts in the audience, this is your chance to influence the composition of my science shelves.  What shall I get?  What tomes on geology can I not do without?

And if you know of good books on the geology of the Mediterranean, now is the time to mention them.  For some reason, those are hard to track down on Amazon.

Non-geologist?  No problem!  Put in your recommendations for books you think I should own.  I'm not looking exclusively for geology, thee knows.

Extra bonus points to the readers who puzzle out this picture.

Plastic is for Grocery Bags

Our own George W. has a thought-provoking post up pitting paper against plastic - in books.  Now seems like as good a time as any to take a stand I'll possibly end up backing away from someday.

My stepmother, who recently sold me out for one o' them new-fangled handheld-computers-that-can-sometimes-make-phone-calls contraptions, has also been extolling the virtues of her Kindle.  I think she's trying to drag me kicking and screaming into the electronics age.  I've dug in my heels.  Yes, I swore I would never ever download music, and didn't so much break that vow as blow it to smithereens.  But books are a different matter.  It's going to take a hell of a lot of persuasion to wean me off of good old-fashioned dead-tree books.

I have my reasons.  For one thing, when I purchase a book, I like it to stay purchased.  There's no guarantee of that on a Kindle.

You can't dog-ear pages on an e-book reader.  And no, electronically bookmarking bits isn't the same.

You can't tell which bits you've read over and over by letting a book fall open on a reader.

Unless you've got the money for dozens of Kindles, you can't sit in the middle of a pile of books while doing research.

Kindles don't insulate your walls.

It's harder for visitors to browse your shelves when your library's on a Kindle.

Books are all one size on a reader, rather than a variety of shapes and sizes.

You can't trade in your used books.

If the power goes out and your batteries are low, you can still read a paper book by candlelight.

And there are plenty of other reasons, all coming down to the fact that I like having actual, physical, individual, substantive texts around me.

Now, there are things that work better electronically.  George is right: technical manuals and encyclopedias are perfect candidates for electronic media.  So are things like phone books, reference books, anything that depends on being up-to-the-minute and is obsolete nearly as soon as you get a copy.  Since I got plugged into the magic of the intertoobz, haven't needed those books of facts, atlases, or other things like that.  This leaves me more cold hard cash for the kind of books that keep for years, that deserve a life of their own and an individual place on my shelves. 

Paper, please!

21 August, 2010

A Poem for Hitch

This is lovely, and says so many things so very, very well.  Go.  Read.

Tip o' the shot glass to Neil Gaiman.

Scenes From the Cat-Servant Life

I had ambition today.  I promise, I did.  Aaalll sorts of things planned.  Wasn't gonna be like the cat, doing nothing but lazing round in sunbeams:

Yeah, well.  Long day o' work later, Rocko on me teevee, cat on me arm...

And yes, it's really damned hard to snap photos of the cat with only one arm free.  I asked her to move, and this is all the movement I got:

My cat is my inspiration... to crawl into bed with a good book, stretch out my toeses, and be all the lazy I can be.

Substantive content tomorrow, my darlings.  Promise.  Unless the cat suggests otherwise...

Dumbfuckery du Jour

Typos in this post are solely the responsibility of my cat, who has decided that my arm is the best bed in the house.  I suppose it's better than being ignored.

And it's certainly better than being as ignorant as Jon Kyl:
David Broder's column yesterday covered familiar ground -- the Washington Post columnist is still disappointed with both parties -- but there was one point in particular that stood out. (thanks to N.B. for the tip)

The Post reported earlier this week that, as Senate Republicans delay consideration of a new strategic arms treaty with Russia, the previous framework has lapsed. As a result, "for the first time in 15 years, U.S. officials have lost their ability to inspect Russian long-range nuclear bases." Broder notes the political context.
The inspections were guaranteed by the old START agreement, which expired in December. The successor treaty was negotiated in April, but the Senate has not taken it up because several Republican senators have raised questions about its possible effect on plans to modernize the U.S. nuclear fleet.
Republican Richard Lugar, probably the Senate's leading authority on nuclear disarmament, told reporter Mary Beth Sheridan that the delay "is very serious and impacts our national security."
But Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona, the deputy Republican leader and one of the main voices challenging the urgency of action, told Sheridan he had assumed the inspections were continuing. What a price to pay for ignorance.
Indeed, Republicans holding up the new nuclear treaty have largely ignored the lapsed nuclear checks. Kyl, who's helped lead the way in obstructing progress, was asked about the inspection cutoff. "I thought we were just going to continue doing business as usual" as the replacement treaty was debated, he said.

It's a reminder that GOP obstructionism is not only abusive of institutional and national interests, it's also often based on Republican ignorance about issues of global importance.
There are a great many reasons why I'm glad to have left Arizona.  The fact that my former state has a Senator this fucking ignorant is in the top 10.  Apparently, his momma never told him that when he assumes, he makes an ass out of himself and everyone who voted for him.  Oh, and incidentally, puts the entire fucking nation at risk.

This is how America ends: not with a bang, but with a "Dur, I dint know dat!"

20 August, 2010

Some Preliminary Geological Findings

There's rain in our forecast for the weekend, which means I can probably forgo further adventures in favor of catching up on some of my geology homework.  I mean, we haven't even gotten to hug Oregon geology yet, not to mention all the other stuff in the queue.  And there's outtakes from this trip to select and share.

Let's get a bit of a jump on things, then, shall we?  We'll combine a few outtakes with a desultory bit of geology, beginning with moi standing on the rim of a cirque:

There's also a baby cirque (or possibly a landslide scar) just over my left shoulder, there, and Hurricane Hill right beyond.  I love the West!  Where else in America would an elevation of 5,757 feet be considered a hill

So anyway, no shit, there we were, standing right on the lip of a cirque.  It was too big to get all in one shot until we were well along the trail up to Hurricane Hill later on.  Here it is:

Glacier's long-gone, but snow still persists late into the year in one tiny portion of the cirque.  Cool off the climate by a few degrees, and a glacier might grow there again, deepening and widening the cirque, and carving Hurricane Ridge into ever-sharper relief.  For those who are curious, the Cirque Rim Trail runs right long the top by the snow patch, there.

Along the trail, you can get an excellent look at very slightly metamorphosed turbidites:

If you think these rocks look like they've had a rough life, you are so right.  They started out as submarine avalanches.  Then, after they'd settled down from that excitement, they got stuffed 10-15 miles down into the subduction zone along the North American plate, folded, spindled, mutilated, and then spat onto the edge of the continent before being hoisted aloft, where they were promptly (geologically speaking) attacked by glaciers.  And they didn't even get the compensation prize of becoming fully metamorphic after all that trauma. They still look pretty much like plain ol' sandstone and shale.  But give them the dignity of calling them semi-schist and argillite.  They deserve some acknowledgment of all they've been through.

Time now to get off the hill (hee, hill) and descend to nearer sea level, whereupon one can stand knee-deep in Lake Crescent, which was carved by the Cordilleran Ice Sheet:

Now, the fact that this is an Ice Age-created lake that is 624 feet deep, blue as can be, and has scenery that might put one in mind of fjords is awesome enough, but you don't have to take my word that it's a glacially-carved lake.  You can just look at the evidence at your feet:

Water has done a bit of smoothing, and wave action has created potholes, but you can see the enormous parallel scratches.  Here's a better look:

Those gouges were so straight, the resistant, saw-toothed strata so regular, that at first I thought it was the remnant of an old boat ramp or some such human-created artifact.  It looks fake at first glance.  I really wasn't prepared for the immensity and power of what an ice sheet as opposed to a valley glacier can do.  It took close inspection, and noting that the strata disappeared under the bank, but eventually I realized that yes, that really is the result of a ginormous sheet of ice planing everything down to the bedrock, and then grinding the bedrock itself down.  Amazing things, ice sheets.

Late that afternoon, we made it down the coast to Ruby Beach, where you can see additional evidence of what water, this time in liquid form, can carve:

And yes, rumors of a sunny day at the beach were greatly exaggerated by the National Weather Service.  Bloody north Pacific storm systems.  But the cold, misty gloom didn't prevent us from enjoying the lovely sea stacks, which here are easily accessible even when the tide's coming in.  You all got plenty of exposure to sea stacks when we were kicking around Ecola State Park a while back, but these are special - they're not basalt, but sandstone.  Here's a good closeup of it that would've been even better if I hadn't managed to change the camera to the lowest quality picture setting by accident and without noticing:

See?  Sandstone!  I found that fairly awesome.  Did a double-take when I realized I wasn't looking at basalt.  Even more exciting: I have finally touched undisputed graywacke

Yes, I get excited over rather odd things.

Abbey Island, on the other hand, is composed mostly of mixed volcanic breccia and sedimentary rock, cooked into a hard whole by heat and pressure, with a healthy coating of sand and gravel on top:

We're talking about a rather dramatic change in rock types in a matter of a few hundred feet.  This is definitely an interesting suite o' rocks, and I shall enjoy delving deeper into their history for ye olde upcoming in-depth post on ye geology of Olympic National Park.  Which I shall have to you sometime in winter, after we've caught up with Oregon and Eastern Washington.

And everybody raise a glass to my long-suffering intrepid companion, who braved mosquitoes and freezing cold without a jacket in order to act as my personal photographer.  Then he did all the driving on the way back, without complaining, even when the CD player crapped out and I dozed off.  There should be a medal of valor for all that, not to mention endurance medals for all of you who've waited so patiently for me to get around to posting something of substance.

Sound Science-Writing Advice

Ed Yong started this origin-of-science-writers extravaganza by asking science writers to tell him all about how they came to be science writers, and while they were at it, give some advice to those who would emulate them.  I haven't had time to read the whole thread - he got a lot of responses - but you don't have to read far to get great advice.  Why, here in Comment #2, we've got Mark Henderson dishing up the wisdom, complete with killer parting line:

A few things I’ve learnt…

You don’t have to be trained in science to write about it. A scientific training teaches a lot about a little: if you’re a PhD particle physicist, are you really much better off writing about molecular biology than a history or English graduate? Journalists are often (although not always) generalists. Knowing what it’s like to be a lay person can be helpful when you’re communicating with lay people. And you can pick up an awful lot of knowledge as you go along — even becoming fairly specialist in some areas. I’ve recently written a book about genetics. Ian Sample’s just written a book about particle physics. Neither of us has a scientific background in the field.

But you do have to understand how science works. You need to grasp the importance of evidence, replication, falsification and so on. If you get that, you’re half way there. You need to be able to at least begin to tell the difference between rigorous work and unfounded assertions.

Talk to everyone you can. A journalist in any field is only as good as his or her sources. The answer is always a phone call away — if you don’t know, you can usually find someone who does. And try to remember what they say — don’t just file knowledge under a particular story, store it to build up your own.

Learn from your mistakes. We all make them — it’s how you respond that matters. If someone complains that a story you’ve written is inaccurate, and they know a lot about the subject, hear them out. They might be right, and you might have an opportunity to avoid the same mistake in future. They might be wrong — but you’ll have been forced to think about your work, and will try harder to make it more robust next time.

If you don’t know what to think, find out what Prince Charles thinks. Then disagree with him.
I shall take all of that advice.  Especially that last.

Dumbfuckery du Jour

Well, the results are in, and Washington State shall be choosing between Sen. Patty Murray and Dino Rossi this fall.  So now's probably a good time to mention just what a math-challenged fucktard Dino Rossi is:
Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) has embraced the Obama administration’s proposal to allow the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest two percent of Americans to expire, while renewing those for the lower- and middle-class. Rossi, though, wants to extend all of the cuts, saying that allowing those for the rich to expire is a “class warfare program”:
Rossi argued that 2 1/2 million people in Washington benefit from the 2001 Bush tax cuts, the extension of which will be a major issue in Congress this fall. Rossi described as “this class warfare program” the Obama administration’s plan to extend the cuts enjoyed by middle-income taxpayers, while repealing tax cuts for high-income households.
There are about 6.7 million people in Washington state, so for Rossi’s number to be accurate, he’s either claiming that Obama and Murray want to raise taxes on people that they don’t, or he is claiming that more than one-third of the state’s population is making more than $200,000 per year. 
I'm sure you know what the answer is, but for just how wrong Dino Rossi is about Washingtonian wealth, click through to the link above for the number.  Now we just have to decide whether Dino is stupid, lying, or a stupid fucking liar.

Speaking of other stupid fucking liars for Senate, let's have some vintage Sharron Angle:

For anyone familiar with the mantra of fundamentalist Christians, what I'm about to share will not surprise you. What might surprise you, though, is how doggedly Sharron Angle pursued the question of a high school football team wearing black jerseys for one homecoming game.

Back in 1992, Sharron Angle waged her very first public campaign -- against black football jerseys. After the local favorites had been defeated by an upstart team of newbies from a neighboring county in 1991, the coach came up with this for the following year:
Springing ahead, Jones came up with an innovative idea to fire up his charges for their 1992 homecoming game against Laughlin. Utilizing the “darkest day” theme, he suggested the Muckers could wear black jerseys to remember the previous year’s debacle.
All politics is local, and nothing ratchets up the heat faster than high school sports, schools, and religious zealots. There were two factions opposing the coach's idea. Those who objected to any color but school colors on the field, and Sharron Angle's group, who objected on these grounds:
Also opposing the black jerseys was another group including Angle, a member, if not its leader.
They argued against our charges wearing black on religious grounds.
I cannot quote scripture as they did to justify their point but the gist of their argument was that black as a color was thoroughly evil, invoking the supernatural and especially the devil my take from dictionary definitions and not from scripture .
Angle's weird and extreme position comes from the theology of light and dark articulated throughout the Bible. It's based on a literal reading of Scriptural passages invoking metaphorical applications of light and dark, culminating in Jesus' proclamation that he is the "light of the world". 

Yes, that's just the kind of reasoning the Senate needs.  She reminds me of the dumbshits in my community who pitched a fit over our high school basketball team, charmingly named the Sand Devils.  Y'see, Arizona's team is the Sun Devils, cuz it's the Valley of the Sun, and so we called our team the Sand Devils, cuz we lived in a place where, when the wind blew, you could step outside nekkid for a quick and vigorous exfoliation.  It was cute and clever and led to endless angst from the Bible-thumping crowd, who freaked out over the name of the team (ZOMG devils!!1!11!!!) and the mascot (a cute, fat little cherub-devil sort o' thing).  Our mascot/logo had to be encased in a whirlwind because the fundies freaked when it was redesigned to show the whole devil.  Somehow, a devil in a dust devil didn't excite their fury quite so much as a non-dust-deviled devil.  Go fucking figure.

We used to laugh our arses off at their rabid batshit insanity, and I guarantee you we'd not for an instant have taken one of them seriously as a prospect for Senate.  When folks freak this badly over the ball team, you know they're a little too god-delusioned to serve in a public capacity without going off on ridiculous crusades.  What's sad is that Sharron Angle actually makes our frothing fundie mascot-haters look reasonable in contrast.  At least they weren't freaking out over a mere color.

Keeping with the theme of religious inanity, someone hasn't been paying attention to the "render unto Caesar" part of their Bible:
The ironically named Dove World Church — whose pastor, Terry Jones, has written a book called “Islam Is Of The Devil,” which is also emblazoned on a sign outside the institution — is planning to host “International Burn A Quran Day” on September 11. But the radical church ran into a new roadblock yesterday as Gainesville city officials “denied a burn permit” for the church for the event, effectively telling them doing so would be illegal. The church, undeterred, sent out an e-mail to supporters promising to hold the burning event anyway:
Gainesville officials denied a burn permit for a church that plans to burn copies of the Quran on the ninth anniversary of the September 11 attacks. The Gainesville church, the Dove World Outreach Center, has a history of inflammatory comments and campaigns against Islam and remained defiant despite the burn permit denial.
In an e-mail sent out Wednesday, the church said, “City of Gainesville denies burn permit – BUT WE WILL STILL BURN KORANS.”
This, of course, will make it necessary for them to fleece the flock for the cost of the fines.  Now, I'm all for the burning of books - when there's a living author who stands to make a profit off of other people's dumbfuckery, and we're talking mass-produced items rather than one-of-a-kind manuscripts.  But in this case, the copyright's run out, the original author has been dead for well over a thousand years, and all they're doing is wasting paper while they prove what dickheads they are.  It's a pointless excercise - we already know they're stupid fucking jackasses.  A demonstration in this case is overkill.

Maybe they should listen to Ted Olson, a conservative who, in some cases, isn't a jackass at all.  But I've the sad feeling they'd burn him, too.

19 August, 2010

Fortune Favors Those Who Haul Their Asses Up a Mountain at Six in the Morning

I'm still recovering from the trip, still playing catch-up, and had to work Wednesday, which means eight hours of chaos.  Haven't had time to sift through the 1000+ photos to find you the really good bits, and you know the geology's gonna be a while.  That's okay.  We have a long winter ahead.

In the meantime, I'll throw out another teaser.  This one's from Tuesday morning, when I got up insanely early and ducked out on my still-sleeping intrepid companion.  I drove up Hurricane Ridge Road to photograph all the strata I hadn't had time to catch the day before.  I wasn't expecting wildlife, and figured if I did see some, it would be at an inconvenient moment with no handy turn-outs.

How wrong I was:

Yes, that is a doe and her fawn, hanging out in plain view, right where I could park the car and photograph them. 

I can tell you that this trip was totally worth the sleep deprivation.  I can also tell you that I have done my part to ensure the birds on top of Hurricane Hill end up fat and happy.  No, I didn't feed them - directly.  But, thanks to the fact we forgot the bug repellent in the car, and did not realize this glaring omission until we were over a mile away from it, I did feed quite a few mosquitoes, who in turn will end up in some bird's belly.  This being-at-one-with-nature stuff is an itchy proposition, especially when you're unable to swat nature away because you're photographing other bits of it.

Now if you'll excuse me, I must go apply more anti-itch creme and try to get a bit more sleep.

It's an Airdate!

Bad Universe airs Sunday, August 29th, 10pm on the Discovery Channel!  Phil Plait's gonna be on my teevee!  I may actually have to watch this one live.

Another peek at the sneak peek is warranted here: