Such Civil War Is In My Love and Hate

(This is soooo last minute, so for those breathlessly awaiting another Dojo post, you shall be disappointed until tomorrow.  Forgot all about November ending so soon, didn’t I?  Had to get in my Accretionary Wedge post under deadline, and that means the Dojo gets the boot.  I’m sure you shall all survive.)

Shakespeare fans may note the shout-out to Sonnet XXXV there in the title.  That’s because our lovely hostess Ann has asked, “What Geological features about the area you call ‘home’ do you love? and what do you not like?”  Simple answers to simple questions: love the variety, hate all the damned biology in the way.  Well, I only hate the biology when I’m trying to look at geology and when it’s giving my asthma fits – apart from that, I actually love it quite a lot.

That’s the simple answer.  But nothing’s ever simple, is it?

We’ll discuss Washington State as a whole, though I live very nearly in Seattle.  And I’ll tell you what I love: I love living on a subduction zone.  I love the mountains thrown up by it, and the exotic terranes stuck on any-old-how.  I love the fact I can drive a half-hour from home, and see an old volcanic island floating in a sea of grass:

Mount Si, Snapped by my Intrepid Companion

In the West, we’ve the ocean, with mountains crammed up and jammed up by the North American Plate busily overriding the Juan de Fuca Plate.  We’ve the Sound, dropped low by earthquakes and carved out by Pleistocene glaciers.  We’ve the Cascades, walling us off from the east.  And they’re the reason I’m here: when I visited in 2000, saw Seattle nestled between the Olympics and the Cascades, those snow-capped peaks holding a city in the hollow of their cupped hands, I knew I’d come home.  So what if it took another seven years before I managed to actually move here?

And of course, one of the first books I bought in preparation for the move up was Roadside Geology of Washington. I didn’t think I was moving up for the geology, actually – I’d come because it was where I set my books, and rationalized making the move by listing things like nice city, research purposes, all that rot.  But when it comes down to it, geology brought me here and geology entices me to stay.

I have two things against this state: so much of its interesting geology is completely covered in biology, at least west of the Cascades.  What’s not buried under plants, trees, brambles, ground cover, and other forms of life is usually lost under a deep cover of glacial till, so as far as seeing some of the features we know must be there, forget about it.  Still, things peek out here and there.

Mount Rainier Peeking Through Clouds and All the Damned Biology

The other thing I have against Washington state is that so much of it is terribly young and overwhelmingly volcanic.  Sometimes, I miss the limestones and sandstones of Arizona.  But then I get the opportunity to see what happens to flood basalts that have had the mother of all floods scour them, and I feel much better about matters:

Dry Falls

No one can look at that and say it’s not awesome, and then credibly claim to be moved by natural wonders.  That, my friends, used to be a sea of basalt; millions of years later, Glacial Lake Missoula broke through its ice dam and unleashed the mother of all floods, turning this segment of basalt into a waterfall that dwarfs Niagara – all in the course of a few hours, and for just a few days.  The marks of that flood cover an enormous area of eastern Washington.  You can find traces of it under the Pacific Ocean.  Arizona may be able to lay claim to about 2 billion years of geological history on display, but it ain’t got glacial floods and flood basalts like this.

It doesn’t have mountains like this.

Tarn Near Sunset, Hurricane Hill, Olympic Mountains

This is a complex state with young but fabulously complicated geology.  When it comes right down to it, what I love is far greater than what I don’t.  Even when the rain keeps me off the rocks, encourages more bloody biology, and makes some of the local geology go slip-sliding into the sea.

Such civil war is in my love and hate
That I an accessory needs must be
To that sweet thief which sourly robs from me.

Why Talking to Idiots Gets You Nowhere

Finally finished this paper that’s been in my tabs for days: “Irreducible Incoherence and Intelligent Design: A Look into the Conceptual Toolbox of a Pseudoscience.”  Stumbled across it playing on The Panda’s Thumb, and while it took me forever to read because I’ve had the attention span of a spastic on caffeine pills lately, I got quite a lot out of it.  Namely: if one goes about disproving IDiotic blathering about how evolutionary theory can’t explain X, they’d better not be doing it in order to convert the cretins.  May as well spend your time trying to convince me that curling is an exciting and dramatic sport to watch – you’d have better luck making a conversion.  Mind you – I find nearly every sport in the universe dead boring.

No, the only time the IDiots become useful IDiots is when they inspire evolutionary biologists to figure things out and demolish IDiotic arguments from the foundations up – not because any amount of evidence will make these dumbshits realize they’re wrong (none will), but because of the ricochets.  Knocking down an IDiot’s argument is a fantastic way to teach ordinary folk like me about biology.  It makes it more interesting, what with the controversy and the smart people vs. the Dumbskis sorta thing.  It’s also a good idea to have a refutation ready so that innocent bystanders don’t get snookered. 

Besides, it’s fun.  Especially when the poor howling IDiots snivel and have to rush out to move their goalposts.

Anyway.  There’s my thoughts.  It’s an entertaining paper, too, so you lot may enjoy reading it yourselves.  Which you should go do now, because I’m off to watch another Harry Potter film.

Night Off

It happens.  Busy watching Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, wasn’t I?  Hadn’t pre-loaded enough posts, had I?  So here we are.

If it makes you feel any better, I spent time in between calls at work today researching up a storm for our next installment of Seward Park Geology.  Got so much information that my brain very nearly melted away.  So I’ll have that up for you soon, and then there’s a little something special Suzanne sent over that I’ll present to you, and the Dojo, and – well, let’s just say we shall have a very busy week.

I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving.

And, incidentally, for the fans: feel free to share the story of how you became obsessed with Harry Potter here.  I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours.  😉

One of the Most Beautiful Things I Have Ever Seen

Courtesy of Jessica Ball at Magma Cum Laude:

That’s right – it’s under a waterfall! The flame is sheltered just enough that it doesn’t go out very often (although it’s always a good idea to bring a lighter along if you’re going to visit). Gas wells in this area are generally drilled into the Medina Group (a collection of sandsones and shales, which you can see exposed in the base of Niagara Falls to the north), but the seep itself is in the Hanover Shale, which apparently also has a bit of gas in it.

There’s much more to that post, including some more lovely photographs, so do make sure you go.  And, incidentally, who wants to take a road trip with me?

Imaginary Death Panels vs. The Real Deal

I’ve been trying for several days now to figure out how to capture my outrage in words, but it’s impossible to do it.  Let’s just say that if I ever get a chance to do it, I will gladly punch Arizona’s political overlords in the face.

The same pieces of shit who have no problem going on and on about imaginary death panels in order to defeat health care reform also have no problem with creating death panels of their own (h/t):

The only political effort to implement death panels since Obama got his health reform bill passed has been in the state of Arizona. There the Republican-controlled legislature with the approval of GOP Governor Jan “there are headless bodies turning up all over our desert” Brewer has told 98 people waiting for transplants that they must die.
Those 98, who are either poor or uninsurable by private insurance due to pre-existing conditions, need bone marrow, lung, heart, and other forms of transplants. They were told by the state’s Medicaid program—Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, or AHCCCS—that they qualified for coverage. But, this October 1, AHCCCS said it could not in fact pay for their transplants. Facing a billion-dollar-plus budget deficit, the Arizona legislature cut out all state funding for transplantation retroactively!
This means that people who were told they had a chance at life had the rug pulled out from under them without any warning. The Republican legislature not only acted as a death panel; it chose to balance the budget on the backs of the poorest and most desperate of Arizonians by welshing on a promise.
Just to be clear, the legislature and governor did not say there would be no more transplant funding going forward. They said they are telling those to whom coverage has already been promised to drop dead.

I hope Arizonans have the decency to realize just what kind of murderous assclowns they’ve elected, and remedy that the next time they go to the ballot box.  Otherwise, my old home state will gain a deserved reputation as the worst place in America to live.  Jan Brewer & Co. seem intent on proving that when it comes to treading on the poor and immigrants, nobody stomps harder than they do.  Once suspects she and her cronies rather enjoy the sound of bones breaking under their boots.

This, America, is what it looks like when the modern Cons get their way.  This is what they think this country should be.  If it doesn’t horrify you, then there is no trace of morality or decency left in your shriveled little soul.

Thinking of Thanks and Thankful for Thinking

I’m about to dive head-first into a marathon of Harry Potter movies, after a nice leisurely bath.  I guarantee you, I’m thankful for both of those things.  Some may think I’m crazy for being thankful for Harry Potter, o’ course, but that’s their loss.  Quidditch rules!

This is a day of giving thanks.  First and foremost, I’m thankful to you, my darlings.  This blog has brought me great friends and readers, forced me to expand my interests and oftentimes question my assumptions, and all of you have had a huge part in that.  You bloggers, you commenters, you outstanding human beings – you give me hope for this crazy ol’ world.  So, thank you for being here, being you, and being awesome!

Thanks to science, and scientists, and people curious enough to invent science and keep becoming scientists.  Without science, a great many of us likely wouldn’t have been born at all.  Of those who were, a great many would’ve died young.  Science has given us food, medicine, and incredible technology.  And it’s given us a far greater understanding of the world, which makes the world a damned sight more interesting.

Thanks to writers, who suffer for our enjoyment.  Putting words on a page is far more difficult than it sounds.  Thank you for pushing through the pain, creating wonderful new worlds and putting new spins on old words, for having not just the imagination, but the skill and determination, to weave tales that keep us enthralled, entertained, and help us realize things about our universe and our humanity that we never would’ve thought of otherwise.  Thank you, crafters of both fiction and non-fiction, for the words you’ve smithed!

Thanks to family, friends, and those occasional strangers who are there to share the adventure.

Thanks to all of those who, in a variety of ways, make life livable.

Just, simply, thanks.

Oh, and pass the platter!