Saturday, November 26, 2011

Sam Brownback Sucks

That's Kansas governor, former presidential candidate, and creationist nutbag Sam Brownback. He's demanding that a Kansas high school student apologize for saying mean things about him on her twitter account. If you ever needed evidence that someone actually did suck, this would be it.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

An Autumn Quote for Biology Nerds

"Yesterday evening as it was getting dark, I walked the path past a large sugar maple tree that had shed its leaves. It was drizzling very lightly, and I could hear the tiny patter of small raindrops. But as I passed the maple, I smelled that peculiar smell of autumn—just a quick whiff. I stopped to catch more scent and my mind flashed back to 43 years ago as I saw myself following my father on a dark evening. It was cool and damp then, and the leaves undoubtedly had given off that same aroma…At first it seemed that something had been lost, never to return. The thought touched me with a tinge of sadness, at the same time that the scent touched me with happiness. Yet, thoughts create feelings, and I then had another thought that made me feel better. The maple tree behind me is 99 percent dead. Its only living tissue is a thin layer of cambium just underneath the bark. Each year the cells of the cambium divide, and those that align themselves toward the inside of the tree die and become wood, its support. The autumn scent had given me access to the deepest growth rings of my life, which served a vital function—support for new experiences and new growth."

Bernd Heinrich—A Year in the Maine Woods

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Prophetic Words

Alfred Russel Wallace, on the beauty of wildlife in exotic locales:
"It seems sad that on the one hand such exquisite creatures should live out their lives and exhibit their charms only in these wild inhospitable regions...while on the other hand, should civilized man ever reach these distant lands, and bring moral, intellectual, and physical light into the recesses of these virgin forests, we may be sure he will disturb the nicely-balanced relations of organic and inorganic nature as to cause the disappearance, and finally the extinction, of these very beings whose wonderful structure and beauty he alone is fitted to appreciate and enjoy. This consideration must surely tell us that all living things were not made for man. Many of them have no relation to him. The cycle of their existence has gone on independently of his, and is disturbed or broken by every advance in man's intellectual development; and their happiness and enjoyments, their loves and hates, their struggles for existence, their vigourous life and early death, would seem to be immediately related to their own well-being and perpetuation alone, limited only by the equal well-being and perpetuation of the numberless other organisms with which each is more or less intimately connected."
Wallace is quoted in Iain McCalman's excellent Darwin's Armada.