LOLrhino: Hoverocerous

High-tech-armor cats and hovercats are bad enough… you wouldn’t want to meet this in a dark alley!

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Ålesund landslide and fire

On March 26, part of a cliff in Ålesund, Norway, broke loose and slid, demolishing the lower two floors of an apartment building and pushing part of the building into the street. A 3-ton propane tank caught fire and had to burn itself out before rescue workers could go in. Five people were missing.

Geologists said as much as 7,300 tons of stone — some of it in huge slabs — slid down a steep hillside near downtown Ålesund in the early hours of Wednesday. The rocks slammed into the back of the six-story building, causing the lower floors to collapse as the whole structure was jolted up to 23 feet forward.

It seems that geologists had warned that there was a fault in the rock that could let go, but planners and builders assumed it wouldn’t happen soon—like Canadian Prime Minister Harper assuring everyone that we didn’t need a backup power supply for one of our nuclear cooling systems because he guaranteed there wouldn’t be an earthquake in the next three months.

Aalesund, Norway, landslide

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Pharyngula’s Friday cephalopod: Octopus abaculus

As someone mentioned, today’s Friday Cephalopod has a rather fractal appearance.

Octopus abaculus (Norman, 1997)

Octopus abaculus is found only in the Phillippine Islands. It was formally described and named in 1997 by M.D. Norman and M.J. Sweeney 1:

The shallow-water octopuses of the Philippines are diagnosed on the basis of material collected in a series of expeditions by the Smithsonian Institution to the region between 1978 and 1990. Twenty species of shallow-water octopuses are recognised, 18 in the genus Octopus, and one species each in the genera Hapalochlaena and Cistopus. Three new species are described from Philippine waters: Octopus abaculus, O. nocturnus and O. pumilus. Octopuses reported in the earlier work of G. L. Voss on the cephalopod fauna of the Philippines are reviewed and identifications updated. A diagnostic key and illustrations are provided along with information on taxonomy, distribution, aspects of life history and importance in fisheries.

Here’s some information about benthic octopuses (PDF), written by M.D. Norman, from a FAO species identfication guide2.

Octopus abaculus, cephalopod, information

You can see its classification at Zipcode Zoo or the Animal Diversity Web.

  1. Norman, M.D. and M.J. Sweeney. The shallow-water octopuses (Cephalopoda: Octopodidae) of the Philippines, Invertebrate Taxonomy, 11 (1), 89-140. Full text doi:10.1071/IT95026.
  2. Carpenter, Kent E and Volker H. Niem. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fishery: The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific, Volume 2: Cephalopods, crustaceans, holothurians and sharks. ISSN 1020-6868.

Expelled movie review by the New York Times

Expelled exposedThey don’t like it.

Jeannette Catsoulis of the New York Times recognizes that the movie Expelled is a mish-mash of faulty logic, undefined terms, and guilt by association.

One of the sleaziest documentaries to arrive in a very long time, “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed” is a conspiracy-theory rant masquerading as investigative inquiry.

Positing the theory of intelligent design as a valid scientific hypothesis, the film frames the refusal of “big science” to agree as nothing less than an assault on free speech. … (the film relies extensively on the post hoc, ergo propter hoc fallacy — after this, therefore because of this)…

Blithely ignoring the vital distinction between social and scientific Darwinism, the film links evolution theory to fascism (as well as abortion, euthanasia and eugenics), shamelessly invoking the Holocaust….

Every few minutes familiar — and ideologically unrelated — images interrupt the talking heads…. This is not argument, it’s circus, a distraction from the film’s contempt for precision and intellectual rigor.

Catsoulis goes on to point out that at least one of the so-called victims of persecution misrepresented his case. The other cases are similar. Blaming evolution for Hitler is like blaming gravity for skiing accidents. Not to mention that the “persecution” of ID scientists never happened.

Quoting T. H. Huxley

T.H. Huxley, caricatureThomas Henry Huxley (1825 – 1895) was struck by the logic of Origin of Species. He became a fierce, articulate defender of the nasent theory of evolution and came to be called “Darwin’s bulldog.”

  • Sit down before fact as a little child, be prepared to give up every preconceived notion… or you shall learn nothing.
  • Science is nothing but trained and organized common sense, differing from the latter only as a veteran may differ from a raw recruit: and its methods differ from those of common sense only as far as the guardsman’s cut and thrust differ from the manner in which a savage wields his club.
  • God give me strength to face a fact though it slay me.
  • Science … warns me to be careful how I adopt a view which jumps with my preconceptions, and to require stronger evidence for such belief than for one to which I was previously hostile. My business is to teach my aspirations to conform themselves to fact, not to try and make facts harmonize with my aspirations.
  • The great tragedy of Science – the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact.
  • It is not who is right, but what is right, that is of importance.
  • [To Darwin:] I finished your book yesterday… & I do most heartily thank you for the great store of new views you have given me… As for your doctrines I am prepared to go to the Stake if requisite… I trust you will not allow yourself to be in any way disgusted or annoyed by the considerable abuse & misrepresentation which unless I greatly mistake is in store for you… — you must recollect that some of your friends at any rate are endowed with an amount of combativeness which… may stand you in good stead – I am sharpening up my claws and beak in readiness.
  • It is an error to imagine that evolution signifies a constant tendency to increased perfection. That process undoubtedly involves a constant remodelling of the organism in adaptation to new conditions; but it depends on the nature of those conditions whether the directions of the modifications effected shall be upward or downward.
  • The great end of life is not knowledge but action.
  • Thoughtfulness for others, generosity, modesty, and self-respect are the qualities which make a real gentleman or lady.
  • Perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not; it is the first lesson that ought to be learned; and however early a man’s training begins, it is probably the last lesson that he learns thoroughly.
  • The deepest sin against the human mind is to believe things without evidence.
  • Science commits suicide when it adopts a creed.
  • Every great advance in natural knowledge has involved the absolute rejection of authority.
  • Only a scientific people can survive in a scientific future.

Expelled movie review by The Guardian

Adam Rutherford, columnist for the Guardian Unlimited

Adam Rutherford reviews the new movie, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. His conclusion: “By resorting to deceit, the makers… have done themselves no favours.” Read Adam’s review.

Expelled first entered our consciousness when it emerged that vocal critics of creationism, including Richard Dawkins and the brilliantly caustic science blogger P Z Myers, had been conned into giving interviews last year. They had been booked to appear in a film about the intersection of science and religion, not creationist propaganda. From the word go, the film-makers demonstrated their dishonesty….

The trailer and reviews – including one by Dawkins, who slipped into a screening undetected – P Z Myers, who had invited him, was booted out of the queue by security – indicate that Expelled suggests the holocaust was a direct result of Darwinian thought…. As with all creationist arguments, it is specious and simplistic. Whether Darwinian thought influenced Hitler is unclear, but here’s one pretty solid reason why this claim is plain daft: murderous persecution of the Jews predates the theory of evolution by a couple of millennia…..
It now seems unlikely that a theory will ever emerge which could completely replace Darwin’s theory of evolution. But should that happen, scientists would be committed to investigating it fully. Intelligent design is emphatically not that theory, as it has systematically failed to stand up to any scrutiny. But, like a turd in the u-bend, it just won’t go away.

You tell ’em, Adam!

For more movie reviews, visit Expelled Exposed.

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