As in, I'm all in favor of having one. When does it start?

If I sound bitter, it's because I haven't had much of a vacation yet:

  • I was busy helping my wife sell our home, and now I'm getting ready to move (before August 8th)
  • I've spent three days digging in ditches, helping the family develop a 20-acre subdivision out in Sanger. The first picture, taken at 5:20, sets the scene for the development, tentatively named 'Cortland Heights.' There are 7 parcels, with about 1,400 feet of trenches to be filled with sand, leveled, then fitted with 4-inch PVC conduit to carry power. Each 20-foot piece of conduit costs $22.40, and the budget is tight. Hence the 'work crew' consists of myself and these three boys. Don't they look like they are having a grand time? Keep in mind that I got there before they did , they'd leave after lunch and I would soldier on each day:

I like the way my wife brings them nourishment, but stays in her (air-conditioned) gas-guzzler while bossing the lot of us. On the last day, she nearly provoked a revolt with an ill-considered remark at the expense of the guy running the shovel. Poor sensitive Parrish!

In other tasks:

  • I'm bringing the message to our congregation on July 20th

But now, the good news: I'm getting a real vacation next week. I and a couple of nerdy colleagues from work are going to San Diego, for this. Should be tremendous, and hopefully help me recharge my batteries.


Fascinating! Former major league baseball player Doug Glanville finds connections between baseball and evolution in this article from the New York Times.

I always knew Glanville was a smart player, but....sheesh!

(Hat tip to the mathematician Jason Rosenhouse)



A while back, I had a spirited exchange with Vox Day, WND columnist and author of the popular Vox Populi blog.

Vox is an interesting character: an expatriate who lives in Italy, highly-educated and very opinionated. Most importantly, he tries to be fair, as in this recent post about the supposed eclipse of neo-Darwinism wherein he alludes to our past exchange.

First, a few clarifications for new readers: Vox refers to ND/TENS, which is his gloss for 'Neo-Darwinism/Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection.' The shorthand 'TENS' is actually of my own coinage from our previous exchange. Vox does not deny the present dominance and short-hand utility of TENS, but is highly skeptical of its future as a scientific theory because of what he feels are its predictive limitations. I've argued that while TENS does not make the sort of advanced detailed predictions one might expect from (say) Newtonian mechanics, it does provide an explanatory framework in which to make sense of many observations, and (more happily) a ready source of falsifiable hypotheses about the origin of these observations.

It should be noted that Vox's arguments are short on the sort of data that impress working biologists, but they are long on 'information + intelligence + pattern recognition.' But the question is, what if your intelligent attempts to recognize patterns are based on faulty information?

In this most recent post, Vox uses a copy of a New Scientist article which (frankly) sensationalizes some interesting findings in epigenetics to the point of distortion. But what can you expect? New Scientist is not peer-reviewed, and the author (Emma Young) is an Australian journalist with no science credentials who also writes juvenile sci-fi. I've got nothing against the latter, having fond memories of Heinlein's juveniles, but really this is a case of someone not knowing enough about the field looking to juice up a finding for a non-specialist audience.

And this is not an isolated case! Darwin's the biggest target there is within biology, and this is just the latest in a series of seemingly-annual pieces in the popular press that invoke some sort of 'revolution' that will somehow rewrite or overturn evolutionary biology. For example, consider PZ's response to the thunderous hype of Susan Mazur.

The fact is that the alternative inheritance mechanisms hinted at in Young's article (and they are far from being universally demonstrated) require a continuity of environmental circumstances from each generation to the next in order to be heritable---and what is that continuity of circumstances, if not natural selection? This is more of a conceptual problem for August Weissman than for Charles Darwin, who would've doubtless been quite excited, even pleased with these observations. In fact, if S.J. Gould were alive, he would probably be pretty quick to point out that these new observations would have fit in well with the pluralist nature of Darwin's thought, as he understood it.

Now, Vox, if you don't get the allusion to Weissman or Gould's pluralism immediately, let me humbly suggest that you need to drink more deeply of the Pierian spring which is evolutionary biology before presenting findings out-of-context on your blog. Next time, I'll explain why I disagree with Vox about the usefulness and appropriateness of terms like 'Neo-Darwinism.' I wouldn't be surprised if he didn't respond, so check out Vox's blog.



I actually made this and posted this a few months back, but it's so quirky to see one's self trying to master a one-sided conversation that I've decided to put it on the blog.....especially since I am apparently in the running for some kind of public office. I want people to know that I am not usually this elliptical in speech, in fact I'm much more passionate and direct, but this was an experiment:

Also, the real me would probably have a baseball glove in one hand and a beer in the other.



If elected, I will ask that the ballots be counted.



That's an acronym for 'Animated Lost in Space'. Yes, there was an animated version of the schlocky TV sci-fi program developed by Hanna-Barbera. Yes, it's just about what you would expect: even schlockier! Here's the first segment (all seven are available via YouTube):

Still, fun to watch with the trim-downed cast of characters and the stock music that Hanna-Barbera used with many of its low-budget Saturday morning cartoons over the years. I'm getting ready to go with a couple of teacher colleagues to the San Diego Comic-Con, the biggest such gathering nationally, so I thought I'd post something apropos.



...by Wendee Holtcamp.

How many people can work Forrest Gump and Harry Potter into a look at the ecology of the Gulf of Mexico? Wendee can!


I've written at length about how I feel about Barry Bonds before, here and here. Basically, I'm not a Bonds basher. I think he was the greatest hitter of my generation, and I think he deserves to be in Cooperstown. But I also think that the highly-competitive Bonds camp sought a competitive advantage through means that may or may not have been legal, but which are almost certainly unethical, and I can also distinguish between Bonds the player (who is without peer) and Bonds, a complex and flawed human being.

Here's another example of the latter.
Barry and his agent are seemingly baffled that a guy who was in last year's All-Star Game, who hit 28 HR and led the world in on-base percentage, should still be without a job nearly 12 months later. In effect, one wonders, 'why is the Bonds market so poor?' or, in his agent's words, 'bleak' ?

Well, Barry, it's really very simple. Let me explain it for you and your agent, Jeff Borris . . . .

It's because a lot of people just don't like you. This has always been true, but it's more true today than three years ago, even in the Bay area. You've reached the point in your career where that weighs more heavily in people's minds than in what you could do to help their team win. The choices that you've made over the years and the costs associated with them have come home to roost.

You're a proud man, so I know you'll take this in stride. Some day, if you come clean, really humbly acknowledge where things should've been done differently, you may find more acceptance. But right now, you're the most skilled unemployed baseball player in the world.


A few days after I posted this, some nimrod blogger wanna-be baseball 'insider' spread a rumor that the Yankees were about to acquire a certain left-handed slugger . . . which turned out to be Richie Sexson.

Without a doubt, that will be just what the Bronx Bombers needed, a guy released by the Mariners!