Sunday, October 29, 2006

stalking the wily fossil

Turns out that hidden away in the northeast corner of Washington State is a chunk of a former lake. A former ancient lake. 50 million years ago ancient. And with some tectonic plate rearrangement, continents running into each other, and so on, the lakebed got pushed up and out where it could be viewed by some descendents of the scampering mammals that were just figuring things out about then. Plus, if you give the locals some paper with pictures and writing on it, they let you dig there and even take some of the fossils home with you. So natually, I had to go.

First, you have to get there. These mountains are a recent addition. The Cascade range did not exist when the lake did.

The Stonerose Fossil Center is located just on the outskirts of Republic, Wa. It's an old mining and logging town, small and isolated, so sometimes businesses combine services not usually seen together.

Here's a view of the fossil strata with a bit of bustling downtown Republic in the corner.

The lakebed compressed over the millenia to a nice, fine-grained shale that is easy to split in layers like a cake. The trick to fossil-hunting is to chisel out a good-sized hunk of rock from the side of the cliff, then taking your hammer and chisel and very, very carefully tapping it until it decides to flake open. And if you are lucky, you will find something interesting pressed in between the flakes of stone. Mostly you find nothing. Now and then you get generic lakebottom crud, or the ever-present worm tracks (I noted, with suspicion, that while wormtracks were everywhere nobody ever found a fossilized worm. Theories vary, mine is there was only one worm that lived for a long, long time.)

My fossils are below (you are allowed to keep 3 per day of digging, as long as they aren't of scientific signifigance). I was given the signal honor of having one of my fossils confiscated for further research. They promised to send me the results once they figure out what it is.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Quagmire of France

(Shamelessly lifted from the fascinating Gateway Pundit)

Now isn't this interesting? Looks like you are more likely to get hurt being a French policeman than by being one of the evil puppy-kicking oppressors of the noble Iraqi insurgents (who only kill Iraqi kids because they care.) Yes, yes, all you eager moonbats in the back waving your hands in the air and making OO! OO! noises like a tribe of howler monkeys -- yes, I know none of the gendarmes has been killed. Yet. But don't you think it is interesting that police, in their own country, allegedly dealing with their own people with similar customs and language and so-on, are more likely to be hurt than US soldiers who admittedly invaded a country so completely different from their own? Gee. Maybe the inhabitants of the banlieus hate "their own" police more than the Iraqis hate American soldiers. Maybe those poor police get sent into a combat situation with no armor, no rational rules of engagement, and no backup or air cover. Somebody is certainly hurting a lot of them. And the French government is allowing this to happen. I'm glad we take better care of our soldiers in war than the French do their police in time of peace, but this is ridiculous.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Happy Friday the 13th!

And greetings from my favorite black cat, Ronin. Don't be fooled by the cute pose, it is a Lure and a Delusion.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Well isn't that interesting

A few more details have emerged from the situation mentioned in my previous post. The as-yet unnamed gentleman with the gun appears to have been quite correct in his assessment of his assailant as dangerous and unbalanced. Seems that's also the assessment of the Washington State Department of Corrections and Seattle Mental Health. The guy was officially a Dangerous Mentally Ill Offender. How judgemental. After all, he only went to jail because he assaulted his own mother and then set the daycare center she ran on fire. That had seven kids in it at the time. Fortunately nobody was hurt, but good golly magolly do you need a bleeping crystal ball to tell you the guy was going to hurt someone eventually?

And according to the article, there are 69 other dangerous lunatics like him still out there in King County alone. That we know of. How reassuring.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Seattle Times finds victim it doesn't like

Now this, dear readers, is going to cause liberal heartburn. As of last report, it appears a man was violently attacked for no reason, and he had the gall to defend himself. Rather permanently. He had a gun, a concealed carry permit, definitely had reason to think he was in physical danger, and he shot his attacker. If you read the Seattle Times article you can feel the angst reverberating. My bet is this little snippet took a lot of rewrite and editorial meeting energy, and they still aren't happy with it. I mean, they actually had to concede it might be a case of justifiable homicide. Still, there is work to be done before Mr. Jonathan Martin, Seattle Times Staff Reporter, can truly be considered impartial. My suggestions below:

- "a fight between two men" implies the gun owner was participating in some way. Change to "attack"

-"the confessed shooter was allowed to walk out of a police station". Gee, I sense some judgemental thinking going on there. How about, "Police, convinced the man had broken absolutely no laws, had no reason to extend their hospitality beyond the usual report-filing time, curiously failing to take the opportunity to prove the existence of the oft-touted eeeeeevil Republican police state, damn their black hearts." Ok, maybe that was a big judgemental too. Sigh. "Given the circumstances--an unprovoked violent assault, a valid concealed-carry permit for the legal gun--no charges were filed." Howzat?

-(I particularly admire this one) "It looked to me like he shot him in self-defense," said Linda Vu, who was across the street from the shooting, handing out fliers for political activist Lyndon LaRouche. "It's kind of crazy." Get it? Crazy? LaRouche? Because only deranged LaRouche supporters would think it was shooting in self-defense. I mean, balding lunch-eating guys who don't even take the time to open a dialogue with someone who is punching, kicking, and threatening to kill them are just contributing to the cycle of violence. Right? Editorial suggestion, remove the phrase about handing out LaRouche fliers. Or talk to someone else there who isn't connected to a documented nutcase. Westlake Plaza at that hour on a Saturday would be full of people, several of whom probably aren't drugged-out homeless people.

-"The shooting stunned Jim and Edith Welsh, tourists from Australia" Introduces the meme of gun-toting Americans behaving badly in front of foreign guests. Too bad the intrepid reporter didn't bother to ask them why they were stunned by the shooting. Was it perhaps that they weren't expecting homicidal maniacs to attack random strangers, necessitating a shooting? Given that they are Aussies, were they stunned that the man didn't use a larger caliber weapon? Were they heading back to their hotel to pick up their own carry pieces, which they had thoughtlessly left behind? Research, people! Get the facts!

Note to deranged individuals in Seattle: Guess who else has a concealed carry permit?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

...but War is interested in you.

The death toll is now at 5 from the shooting at the Amish school in Pennsylvania. I lived for six years in the heart of Amish country while going to grad school. When I took the back roads I learned to watch out for "Amish rush hour", Sunday afternoon when meeting was over. I suppose you could call them religious fundamentalists but they show the world how to do it nicely. I never detected any hostility to me, very fond of machines and technology. I received many cheerful waves from small children in the backs of those buggies. I quickly learned that stopping at the little stands selling *really* home-made bread and pies was a Good Idea.

It's true the killer was a local. Who knows for sure why he picked that school to act out the sickness in his head. I can't help but wonder, though, if he knew--that no-one would fight back, or know how to fight. That there would be no telephone to call for help. (Those who escaped had to run to a neighboring farm to call 911). The impulses to pacifism may be noble, but the painful result is a belief in non-violence must be shared to work. The killer didn't share it, and five innocent, peaceful girls are dead. Let me be clear: I do not blame the Amish in any way. It just points out my contention that belief counts for nothing if in conflict with reality. They were not interested in War, but War was interested in them.