Hey, Geos! Ask Me What Time It Is!

You know the answer, you do. It’s always beer-thirty:

The featured comments are hysterical. But if you need more than this video and the persuasive point that empty beer cans make a great field seismograph, allow me to provide you all the justification you need:

So there you have it. Beer is important, people. Geologists have had it right all along. And if anyone argues that point, and says this television program was too filled with hyperbole and shaky logic and outrageous extrapolation to take seriously, give them another beer. They’ll soon come round.


Hey, Geos! Ask Me What Time It Is!

Los Links 12/23, Part I

You know, I meant to use the holiday to catch up on stuff. The best laid plans oft gang aft agley, as Burns put it.  But Los Links you expect, and Los Links you shall have, even though I’m going to have to break it into parts. Between family, friends, Castle, and the Muse – who showed up after a few weeks’ absence bubbling over with ideas – I’ve not had time to compile them all.

I think this’ll do for a start.

Continue reading “Los Links 12/23, Part I”

Los Links 12/23, Part I

Geoblogosphere Conglomerate II

Another hodge-podge of geologic goodness for your pleasure.

Brian Romans gets to walk by this enormous geologic map of China at work. I’m surrounded by corkboards filled with sad little corporate slogans. I must admit some jealousy.

Geological map of Asia on the wall in Braun Hall

Cartography can be beautiful, especially when it’s that fabulous swirl of color and texture that reveals the geology of a place.

Geology has a wonderful motto, too, courtesy of Volcanoclast:

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/volcanoclast/status/146325266447347713″]

This summer, I’ll be shouting that every time I bring the hammer down on an outcrop. I suspect it will be fun.

And, for those of us pining for the days when El Hierro was trying to become the new Surtsey, a fabulous video from its glory days via Pablo J. Gonzalez:

Nobody has to ask why geology makes me so damned happy, right?

Geoblogosphere Conglomerate II

A Sandatlas Christmas

This is one of the most genius things I’ve ever seen, and I’m very pleased Siim allowed me to repost his gorgeous Christmas card here:

White snow is quartz sand from Florida. Stars are forams (Baculogypsina) from Japan. The snowman is made of forams as well (Sorites from Cyprus). His eyes are amphibole grains (from Spain). There are some sea urchin spines (Baleares Islands) and bryozoans (The Caribbean) as snow-covered bushes. Red lights are almandine garnet crystals (California). The whole scene is about 15 mm in width.

I’m usually pretty bah humbug about Christmas kitsch, but when someone creates a snowman out of sand grains, I squee. This is a geology geek’s holiday delight. I especially love the garnet crystals along the sides – I’m a sucker for all things garnet – but stars made of forams? Those are brilliant.

Sandatlas quickly became one of my favorite blogs. This is just one of the many reasons why. I’ve linked it quite a bit in Los Links, but if you somehow missed it, go remedy that. Consider it my Christmas present. And as a bonus gift, visit Michael Welland’s wonderful Through the Sandglass as well.

Sand seems so small, so inconsequential, but these two blogs reveal the worlds contained in those tiny grains. William Blake was so very right. The next time you’re by the water, pick up a handful of worlds and allow yourselves to dream deep.

Enjoy your holidays, my darlings.

A Sandatlas Christmas

Saturday Song: Christmas Eve Sarajevo

Trans-Siberian Orchestra is one of my favorites. I love metal, I love classical, I love the fusion of the two, and I love the fact someone managed to make Christmas music that doesn’t suck.

Of course, I had no idea they existed. I first became acquainted through Savatage’s Dead Winter Dead album, on which this song appears. A friend said, “Hey, you know that’s actually a Trans-Siberian Orchestra song, right?” And I said, “Who, wha?” and he gave me that look that said pity the poor TSO-deprived fool and introduced me.

And I was amazed that there was Christmas music I could play without wanting to vomit.

Being an SF writer, I’m quite fond of “Wizards in Winter,” as well:


I love the fact we live in an age where people can program Christmas lights to play along to heavy metal and win prizes for it.

There. Now you’ve got all that insipid Christmas crap washed out of your brain. You can sleep to a more satisfying soundtrack, and if you’ve been a very naughty geologist indeed, maybe Santa will have been so kind as to put some nice coal in your stocking.

Saturday Song: Christmas Eve Sarajevo

Pathological Accommodationism

Sigh. Another day, another dumbass bashing the Gnus:

It’s accommodationism day in the neighborhood…I guess it’s a Christmas thing. Baby Jesus is born, Tim Minchin got his (requested) song dropped from a tv show, Julian tries to square a circle, and to make it all complete, Chris Stedman writes yet another “mean atheists are doing it wrong and I am doing it right” article for the Huffington Post. I had been ignoring Stedman for months, but he does make it difficult.

Chris Stedman has a distressing habit of mistaking outspoken criticism for cruelty, it seems. And a terrible blind spot.

However: effective criticism of religious dogmatism accounts for the diverse spectrum of religious expression. It is balanced, it is rooted in compassion, and it responds to what people actually believe and practice, not just the most extreme forms of religious thought.

Um, Chris? Those “extreme forms of religious thought” are wildly fucking popular amongst religious believers. We’re not talking a tiny minority. We’re talking about enough people to make the Middle East a hell on earth for women. Is it an inconsequential minority of believers who murder gays and people accused of witchcraft in Africa? What about the bible-believing Christians in this country who have enough political power now to launch a full-out assault on women’s reproductive rights? I could go on. I shouldn’t have to.

And for as much as you whine about people who don’t understand what you’ve supposedly actually said, you show a remarkable lack of reading comprehension yourself.

What Stedman cites as objectionable are (except for Stefanelli’s, which is in the middle of a post that cites relevant passages from the Koran, making it rather bizarre that Stedman would level that particular criticism at it) offhand remarks in blog posts about things like threatening the lives of cartoonists who have depicted Mohammed or condoning forced child marriage and rape. The actions being condemned are, in fact, spurred by specific beliefs with their basis in the Koran, even if the bloggers don’t stop to cite chapter and verse.


Stedman has read the blog posts he cites, right? He knows that people are dying, that others are in hiding or pretending to be someone they’re not so they don’t die, that children are being mutilated and raped, that they’re being groomed for martyrdom instead of educated and employed–and that the authority conferred by Islam plays a huge part in making these intractable problems? He knows that most if not all of those things, plus a few special others, happen in places where Christianity or Judaism or Hinduism plays the role of the heavy instead?

Ophelia and Stephanie paddled the man thoroughly (I thought I’d noticed the Smack-o-Matic missing from my wall earlier), and I haven’t got much to add. It’s just that Stedman and his ilk have a remarkable habit of ignoring reality in favor of their own kumbaya fantasy. It annoys.

Yes, there are liberal believers out there. There are lots of religious folks who are moderate. And we can even work together, without compromising our principles, when the situation calls for it. Religious folk who don’t want creationism taught in schools, or the frothing fundies to have control over every uterus in the land, won’t back down from the good fight just because they find themselves shoulder-to-shoulder with those icky Gnus.

Moderate religious believers are even smart. Much smarter than Stedman gives them credit for. Most of the moderates I know accept that we Gnu atheists are going to say things they dislike intensely about their beliefs. They also know what we’re aiming at when we launch a broadside. Those quotes that gave Stedman the vapors are understood as being targeted at a particular, unfortunately large, subset of religious belief that troubles them, too. And aside from a few fainting violets, they don’t seem to need coddling. They don’t require us to pause during every post excoriating the latest fundamentalist outrage, pat them on the head, and say, “But not you, pookie-kins. I know you’d never throw acid in a schoolgirl’s face just because she’s getting an education and you think your god disapproves.”

They get that we have a different view of religion. They understand that atheists are going to criticize religious belief – all religious belief, not just the super-nasty stuff. But they also understand that we see them as human beings, and while we may think their religious beliefs are silly, we quite like them as people. And it’s a two-way street. Believers think we’re pretty silly for not believing. Fair enough.

Chris Stedman, for all his “outreach,” can’t seem to credit believers with having a functioning brain and the ability to handle a vigorous critique. How is infantalizing them supposed to help us all get along?

Pathological Accommodationism

Geoblogosphere Conglomerate I

Right. It’s the holidays, you’re likely all busy doing holiday stuff, and even if you’re trying to avoid all that, you’ve still got plenty of Los Links you haven’t caught up on. And I’ve got a file full of geologic odds and ends I’ve collected from Twitter and other sources that I’ve meant to do something with. Since it’s all kind of jumbled together and cemented by the common theme of geology, we’ll call it conglomerate, then, shall we?

Via Brian Romans, my favorite metamorphic facies diagram ever. Pay especial attention to the upper left category.

Metamorphic Facies Diagram

For those with a time-lapse addiction, check out Finding Oregon on Bad Astronomy. I swear to you, we will turn Phil Plait into a geologist someday. All right, maybe an astrogeologist, but it’ll still count.

From Lockwood, a fun practical joke. Keep this in mind if you’re subjected to relations you must distract before they launch into yet another long-winded description of some embarrassing personal problem:

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/lockwooddewitt/status/142682463402065920″]

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/lockwooddewitt/status/142682979049803776″]

Scientists make the best magicians, really.

Here’s a little something beautiful Callan Bentley found:

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/callanbentley/status/142679090393137152″]

And, finally, ammunition just in case someone questions the wisdom of having a geologist in the family.


Geoblogosphere Conglomerate I

The Joye of Ancient Literature

Literati observing me as a youngster might have despaired. I had no real interest in musty old tomes. For a long time, my tastes ran to mysteries and Westerns. Then I became addicted to fantasy and science fiction. I still adore all that stuff, and I believe some of the best fiction ever written is genre. Michael Hann and his ilk would faint at the idea. These, mind you, are the very same people who wouldn’t be ashamed to see clutching Homer in public – a patina of age, apparently, puts a suitable shine on monsters, demigods and other tropes of fantasy.

The poor buggers will need a fainting couch when I tell them it’s a Western writer who helped get me hooked on ancient literature. But it’s true. Louis L’Amour wrote The Walking Drum, which brought some very old texts to vivid life. I’ve sung that book’s praises more than once, and I’ll sing them again: it was one of the best books I’ve ever read.

While the Michael Hanns of the world clutch their Trollope and Proust, I’ll turn to my fantasists, thanks ever so much. Guy Gavriel Kay. Susanna Clarke. That’s all I’m saying. Oh, and these folks, too, among about a billion others. I’ll put the best SF authors in a ring with your literary greats any day, and I know who I’m putting my cold hard cash on.

So yes, I loves me my modern SF, and quite a lot of genre (excepting most romance, although there was that one book by Catherine Coulter that I picked up and read because the blurb contained this aside: “What is a marten, you ask? A marten is a sable; a sable is a weasel. What is a weasel, you ask. See marten.” And I figured anything that snarky couldn’t be half bad, and it actually wasn’t). But there are times when I love to immerse myself in ancient literature.

Continue reading “The Joye of Ancient Literature”

The Joye of Ancient Literature

Layover Geology: Discovery Park

I believe Andrew Alden may have started a new meme:

If you travel enough, one day you’ll be laid over in some airport city for a day. What if it were here? Sure you could party with local friends, but you could also take those friends with you on a field trip!

He’s soliciting suggestions for layover geology. I have just the thing: Discovery Park. Fantastic examples of coastal landforms and glacial sediments, gorgeous location, and conveniently located on bus lines that will zip you from the airport to the lovely landscape and back again.

On a clear day, you’ll have a view of the Olympic Mountains, Mt. Rainier, and Puget Sound. On a not-so-clear day, you’ve still got the bluffs. There’s a lighthouse and beachcombing opportunities for those in your party who may not be as enthralled by geology as you are. Birders can get their jollies. You might even run in to a baby seal.

Baby seal and lighthouse, Discovery Park
Baby seal and lighthouse, Discovery Park

The trails are pretty simple to navigate, and they have a delightful little interpretive center.

It’s absolutely perfect if you find yourself stuck in Seattle for a day, and if you’re overnighting, it’s close enough to downtown for some fun down at Pike’s Place Market and other local city delights. You can have it all.

For a detailed description of the geological goodness, see my old post Do Ya Think I’m Bluffing, Punk? Well, Do Ya? And watch this space – it may take me a while to write ’em up, but I’ve got plenty o’ places one can visit in an afternoon when stuck at SeaTac.

Thank you, Andrew, for such a marvelous meme!

Bluffs and Sound, Discovery Park
Bluffs and Sound, Discovery Park
Layover Geology: Discovery Park

Dana's Dojo: So You Wanna Be a Pseudonym

Today in the Dojo: To ‘nym or not to ‘nym, and how to make it work.


Yes, I’m plucking the low-hanging fruit from the Pitch 2.0 tree, but this is actually a rather important topic. We’ve already established that a ‘nym’s not a problem, per se. Jason Black was kind enough to drop by and confirm my suspicion: that it’s about identity, not the name on your photo I.D. So far, so good.

Now, let’s explore the topic in further detail. Those of you who are veteran ‘nyms can probably skip lightly over this one and get on with the holiday traditions like trying to avoid stores and hiding from the more vexing relatives. Those of you who aren’t yet established ‘nyms and wondering whether and how you should be come so, stick around.

Continue reading “Dana's Dojo: So You Wanna Be a Pseudonym”

Dana's Dojo: So You Wanna Be a Pseudonym