Even though I'm far from home, on vacation at the Comic Con, I still can't let this recent article pass go without passing it along to readers. Essentially, a bloc of conservatives on the State Board of Education in Texas are getting ready to water down the science curriculum in order to satisfy their personal beliefs. As usual, the main target is evolution and litigation is in the works. Those of you who haven't been following what's going on Texas will find this article a helpful summary of recent events.


This was from Thursday morning: the trolley, registration, freebies, hitting the Exhibit floor (it's overwhelming at first!).

I like the guy who is shocked that we came from Fresno, which is really absurd in one sense: there were plenty of people from other countries, after all. No, I think the real shock was that people from Fresno would be so 'cosmopolitan' that they would have a keen interest in comics!



Wow. I'm at the San Diego Comic-Con with two of my colleagues from Bullard and I'm having a kaleidoscope of experiences, no thanks to the local Cheesecake Factory, whose shepherd's pie should not be served to sheep.

Here's an example of the whirligig, serendipitous nature of the exhibit floor. The dinosaur illustrations of Charles R. Knight had a huge though largely unappreciated effect on the popular culture as well as in those who studied natural history. I picked up a new edition of Knight's Autobiography of an Arist from Jim Ottaviani (much more on him later), and discovered that William Stout (a fantasy and natural history illustrator by trade, and the author of the above book's context-setting biographical introduction) was also at the show, as was the book's illustrator. Happily, these folk all signed. Now, if I can just get two Ray's (Bradbury and Harryhausen) to put their John Hancock's next to their forewords, I'll really have something.

Anyway, here's a video showing the casual way someone like Stout can demonstrate their craft: the illustrator is customizing my just-purchased copy of 'The New Dinosaurs' with a free-hand sketch of Archeopteryx. Totally cool.



This is what's left of my former room N-43 at the moment. The old concrete risers have been removed, and they've begun plumbing. That's good. The microscope cabinet, which was to have been removed and stored in trailer T-6, is nowhere to be found. That's bad, because I labeled it to be stored and when it wasn't moved right away, put in calls to the supervisor to make sure this was taken care of.
I've got my fingers crossed, hoping they stored that cabinet someplace else and that it will eventually show up. It will be difficult to replace if not!



Well, this is probably going to hurt someone's feelings, so I apologize in advance.

Right-wing WND columnist and oft-frequented blogger Vox Day (VD) has a book available on-line called 'The Irrational Atheist' in which he takes some of the most visible atheist writings of the last few years (Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, etc.) to task for what he feels are their unsupportable arguments, errors in fact, etc.

Me? I read Vox's book partially, and I got bored with the snarky, self-indulgent prose. As I told Vox privately in email, he's got some good arguments in there, but he could've benefited from a good editor. That's just not VD's style, apparently, and it's not my style to regard such as this (a milder example) as suitable discourse:

"Richard Dawkins is wrong. Daniel Dennett is wrong. Christopher Hitchens is drunk, and he's wrong. Michel Onfray is French, and he's wrong. Sam Harris is so superlatively wrong that it will require the development of esoteric mathematics operating simultaneously in multiple dimensions to fully comprehend the order of magnitude of his wrongness."

I happen to think that these gentlemen don't get everything right, as well, but I don't see what is gained by exploiting their personal lives for a one-liner within the text. As the saying goes, it doesn't edify me. Your mileage may vary, though, and if you want to wade through all that, the link to VD's dartboard is given above.

Now, my understanding is some atheists, including VD's targets, have run away from VD's criticisms, fostering charges of cowardice. Ha! Color me unimpressed: if I was a public intellectual of the first rank, I wouldn't fence with an academic outsider like VD, either: it's a 'no-win' situation for them.

But happily for those who like debate, there are others, like Kelly of the Rational Response Squad, who have attempted to engage the book.

However those things turn out, if you can stomach it, you can follow along at the links given above. I'm not really all that interested in the substance of that debate, but I am a bit troubled over some posts by Norm Doering, who I have encountered more than once at PZ's place and elsewhere in the Innertubes. In the past, I've felt that Doering had some pretty trenchant and penetrating comments, and I always made sure to read what he had to say when I came across it. I am therefore disturbed to see name-calling and misplaced charges of lying. I went to Norm's site and left a comment. I remarked that I had enjoyed his posts previously, explained why I thought he was in error with respect to VD's book, and encouraged him to rethink his approach.

Since that time, the original post on Norm's site that VD took exception to has disappeared, without explanation.

So has this post, the one I left a comment on.

As if they never happened. Well, that disappoints me. This is not what I would've expected from the Norm Doering I've read previously, and I hope this is an aberration. Not only is Norm missing an opportunity to set things right, he's giving the cranks on VD's side more ammunition.




One of the offspring is enrolled in culinary school. The early returns are good!