Tuesday, November 24, 2009

On the Origin of Species 150th Anniversay.

For the 150th anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species, the British Council presented a talk by E.O. Wilson. The talk is just under a half hour, but I've been so busy lately I had to split it up into a few different viewings. I think it is definitely worth your time if you have an interest in this subject or scientist.

Wilson is a huge inspiration of mine, as I'm sure he is to many an aspiring naturalist. If you haven't read any of his work, I suggest you go pick something up now. You're in for a treat.
Besides being considered the father of sociobiology, he is instrumental in the modern conservation movement, a leading figure in the theory of island biogeography (I believe he is credited with coming up with the theory itself), and the winner of a great many awards from the National Medal of Science to the Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction (actually, two).

Many years ago I wrote to him after reading his autobiography Naturalist. I was surprised when, several weeks later, I received an envelope back in the mail addressed from E.O. Wilson. I was even more shocked when I opened the envelope to find a letter from the great scientist himself, the response giving evidence that he had actually read my letter and taken the time to respond himself.

Things have been hectic lately. Everything from a pointless debate with creationists over at Florida Citizens for Science to trying to figure out school and the kidney transplant issues. Now with heading down South for the holiday and trying to squeeze in my museum volunteering before Wednesday afternoon, I wanted to post this before I found myself completely unable to tear away from life. The last couple of days I have come to a clearer idea of what is and isn't fruitful. As PZ wrote, it is basically pointless to debate with creationists, and after nearly two hundred responses to one particular post with no evidence that we were even speaking the same language, I realized the only thing all the time and energy I put into the "debate" accomplished was to push aside all the other areas I need to focus on in my life at the moment.

In all honesty, I'm sure after the Thanksgiving holiday is over, and we're back in town next week for the daily grind, I probably won't be able to resist dropping back by and engaging in the pointless arguing again. But for now, I'm rather proud of myself that I've resisted the temptation to basically go and do nothing but spin my wheels. I'm one who has generally acted as if I enthusiastically support pyrrhic victories my entire life, but am gradually trying to teach myself that some of these causes are lost---such as an attempt to debate with a great many creationists---and I am merely expending time and energy that could be spent more wisely elsewhere.

Anyway, I hope you all have a safe and enjoyable holiday, whatever you are doing and whoever you may find yourself doing it with. Happy Thanksgiving, and see you all in December!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Get me a cup o' this joe!

Thanks to Bad Astronomy for this little bit of outstanding!

Flu Shot

I was able to get my seasonal flu vaccine the other day. The day I received my shot, they got a shipment of swine flu vaccine in. I'm hoping that they won't run out by the time I go back for my nephrology appointment in early December.

I'm still a bit torn about getting the vaccine. Not because of all the crazy bullshit that the anti-vaxers are spewing forth, but because there is some evidence that immunosuppressed patients cannot be assumed to mount a vaccine response. This does not mean you get vaccinated and something awful happens, but rather, you get vaccinated and the outcome may be as if you did not receive the vaccine. I cannoot stress that may part enough. At the moment, the CDC is still recommending transplant recipients (among others) receive the flu shot--not the intranasal, as this is a live attenuated virus.

Despite my initial concerns that I might be taking a vaccine from someone who could most definitely benefit from it, I ultimately decided I would get the vaccine. I will follow the science as it becomes available, to find out if the transplant population benefits from the practice.

And until then, I'll be getting my flu shots.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Free Concert!

The Gainesville Community Band and Buchholz High School Band will be performing today at the Phillips Center here in Gainesville. For those of you in the area, you ought to come check it out. The concert is free and open to the public, and the Phillips Center is a nice venue for those of you who might not have had an opportunity to check it out. It's located on UF campus, on Hull Road which is right off of SW 34th Street.

Hope to see you all there!

Friday, November 6, 2009


I meant to post on this awhile back, but I'm extraordinarily undisciplined. Anyway.

I went through my blog and deleted over a hundred past posts. I tried to make a simple cut off based simply on time. If the post occurred prior to September of this year, I threw it out. There were a few entries that I think would have fit with what I want this to move toward in an overall manner, but it seemed easier and would require less determination as to what was or was not a hanging chad in terms of content to just make a relatively fresh start.

So for the very few who have come here consistently, sorry if I took out something you liked, and for anyone else, I hope to make this a bit less haphazard and slightly more focused.

Friday, October 16, 2009


There are some beautiful photos up at Edge.org for those who might be interested. Here, here, here and here are some of the better examples.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Defense= I do not discriminate when it comes to acting illegally, therefore it's okay. Huh?

I had read a news story earlier about a NYC official who campaigned with photos of his family. What made this newsworthy, apparently, was the fact that he and his wife are an interracial couple with mixed race children. Now, it would be foolish to pretend that we have moved beyond this being an issue, hence, the news story. But the fact that my generation views this differently than my parents generation, who viewed it differently than my grandparents generation, and lets hope my children will view it with more liberalism than my generation, surely means the society at large is moving slowly away from the previous bigotry. More importantly, the Supreme Court, in 1967, ruled against the state of Virginia, striking down the law against miscegenation as unconstitutional.

So I was a bit surprised to read about this government official, who has denied a marriage license to an interracial couple, specifically stating that his reason for doing so is that they are interracial. The defense offered by this official is that he treats everyone the same, whether black or white. What he fails to understand is his actions are illegal. He cannot plead that he treats everyone illegally, and therefore it's okay. The key point being the illegality of his action, not that he does not discriminate in his stupidity.

It will be interesting to see what happens.

Monday, October 12, 2009

U2 in Tampa

We went to the U2 concert on Friday in Tampa. [Insert superlatives here] awesome. My sister asked me how I thought it compared to the 2005 Vertigo tour, and, I must admit, not quite as good. I think there are several reasons for this, the most obvious being I personally like the album How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb better than No Line on the Horizon. The Vertigo tour was also my first U2 concert. There were some personal circumstances around then that intensified the experience as well, but regardless, I still enjoyed this concert. I like the concept of this 360 degree event, and as usual, the band doesn't just get up on stage and go through the motions. They play a wide range of songs from their 30+ year career and they play these songs with heart and energy. If you happen to be a U2 fan, I would enthusiastically recommend attending at least one concert if at all possible.

I'm not one to be amazed when someone tells me they aren't a fan as there is no accounting for personal taste. I'm not a big fan of Jazz. I like the rare song or two, have been to see a few Jazz musicians and enjoyed the shows, but just can't get into listening to it on my own except in rare instances. I acknowledge it has had a great influence, it just doesn't appeal much to me personally.

Anyway, that last bit was kind of apropos nothing. Here's a video of one their old songs they performed.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

They Might Be Giants new album!

My wife just ordered the cd/dvd combo Here Comes Science from They Might Be Giants for my birthday. There's a cool video on the amazon page for anyone who wants to check out the title song first song, Science Is Real. Billed for kids but I'm pretty excited as well.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Loose ends

My wife had to go back up North for the week, to see family and attend a benefit of her childhood friend's father who was diagnosed with aggressive pancreatic cancer. Not exactly a fun filled trip but hopefully cathartic.

So I'm kicking it at home with the dog bachelor style, which basically just means I'm not getting much sleep, there's little structure to my days and nights, and I keep putting off mowing the lawn even though I know it needs to be done fairly soon.

I need to go to bed and wake up with a new attitude.