Astronaut Alan Bean to moon hoax nutter: “Get the f*ck out!”

By misrepresenting himself as a legitimate “documentary” filmmaker, Bart Sibrel (famously punched by Buzz Aldrin) invaded Alan’s home in 2004 and took advantage of the astronaut’s down-home gentility. At first the questions were innocuous; this clip picks up when the agenda became clear. Even as Sibrel’s nasty craziness became increasingly obnoxious, Alan generously humored him. But the easygoing gentleman had his limits, and he showed this creep the door with the most gracious of f-yous.

RIP Capt. Alan Bean, 1932-2018, an American hero. We thank you.

 

Eyes that see behind, a bill like an elephant’s trunk, a magical twilight dance: the weird Woodcock

Eyes that see behind, a bill like an elephant’s trunk, a magical twilight dance: the weird Woodcock

Don’t tell me Porgs are the Star Wars version of puffins.  Puffins don’t have huge eyes and camo brown colors.  Clearly Porgs were inspired by woodcocks.

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“Puffin?  You’re kidding, right?”

In February and March I’m often out tramping in the twilight, where meadows meet woods, in hopes of witnessing what Aldo Leopold called the Sky Dance of the American woodcock.

Here in Virginia’s Blue Ridge, by mid-February these Porg-shaped, foot-tall, nowhere-near-a-shore shorebirds are already excitedly deep in spring courtship.

Painting by C. Ford Riley.

In late winter’s milder, tranquil evenings, about twenty minutes after sunset, the woodcock hen strolls to the edge of her woods to judge the males’ seductive song and dance, performed just beyond in an open field.  Her bizarrely huge dark eyes. set near the top of her head. give her an incredible 360-degree view, allowing her to hunt earthworms on the dark forest floor while watching for predators behind.  Equally bizarre is her extraordinary long bill, more elephant’s trunk than bird’s bill, whose tip she flexes to grasp her prey. Continue reading

Chandler Robbins, A Legend Who Persuaded a Generation to Love Birds, Wild Places and Science, Has Passed

By Bo Gardiner
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A well-loved copy of Robbins’ Birds of North America, 1966 (aka “Golden Guide”)

Thousands, maybe millions, this week will recall this gorgeous book with profound affection and tears in their eyes.  I can attest, as I seem to be having a bit of trouble myself writing this.

Chandler S. Robbins, co-author of the classic Birds of North America (1966), more widely known to birders simply as “The Golden Guide,” died yesterday, March 20 — a legend of ornithology and citizen science.

Let me tell you about this man and his work, even if you know nothing of birds.

For me, the tears are less about sadness -– 99 years is a marvelous run — than of gratitude for the incredible and lasting joy this book brought into my life.

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Instead of Feeling ‘Blessed’ and ‘Praying for Haiti,’ Please Stop Voting to Make Their Storms Worse

Instead of Feeling ‘Blessed’ and ‘Praying for Haiti,’ Please Stop Voting to Make Their Storms Worse

The BBC reports that Hurricane Matthew has killed over 900 people; nearly wiped out whole towns; left tens of thousands of families homeless; destroyed crops, livestock and food supplies;  contaminated the drinking water; and released sewage that’s spreading disease.  The U.N. says “Haiti is facing the largest humanitarian event witnessed since the earthquake six years ago.”

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[A scene in Haiti following Hurricane Matthew, photo via the U.N.]

While the U.N. and other nations help Haiti rebuild, some missionaries have gone to take some supplies and most likely the opportunity to evangelize victims, like Franklin Graham’s Christian mission Samaritan’s Purse.  The charity is asking the public for donations and “prayers in Jesus’ name.”

But part of their work, at least for its CEO, Rev. Graham, is to ensure the situation only worsens for Haiti.  He must like the hurricane-relief business, since he’s also America’s leading Christian crusader for Donald Trump, going to all fifty states to get out the vote for him in his Decision America tour.  Trump, who says climate change is a hoax concocted by the Chinese, will almost certainly increase our CO2 emissions and threaten global climate treaties if elected.  Graham himself calls climate change treaty efforts “godless,” “frightening,” and leading toward “moral depravity:”

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Talking political pseudoscience on MSNBC

Bo Gardiner

This morning I was a guest on MSNBC’s AM Joy show with Joy-Ann Reid, discussing the disappointingly nonprogressive, anti-science beliefs of the Green Party and its candidate Dr. Jill Stein, with their potential for harm to public health and the environment.  Full video here.

Wonder if she was surprised to hear me bring up tigers and orangutans.

Jill Stein to WaPo on Vaccines: She’s Just Asking Questions

By Bo Gardiner

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Dr. Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate for President, finally received her big chance yesterday to straighten out the growing concern about her position on vaccines.

With people like me unfairly maligning her, as her supporters have been pouring in here and to The Friendly Atheist to tell me, she had the opportunity to unequivocally reassure us and the American public that vaccines were safe and that she strongly encouraged their use.

The Washington Post began with a softball question to begin their interview: do vaccines cause autism?  Here was the doctor’s reassuring reply:

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