October 2006 Archives

New Style


I’ve been toying for a new layout for a couple of months. I’ve decided that the time has come to apply it. This blog will have issues until everything is complete.

Papers, Papers

I submited a small application note to Bioinformatics today. It goes along with a paper that is begin reviewed right now in BMC Bioinformatics.

The War on Science

Last Saturday Tiffany and I went to our first book signing at Quail Ridge Books and Music. Chris Mooney gave a presentation on The Republican War on Science.

Afterwards, Chris, Tiffany, Bora, Prof. Steve Steve, and I went to a local bar and grill and talked for a couple hours. Prof. Steve Steve easily drunk Chris under the table and celebrated by standing on his head. Much fun was had by all.

We’ll have pictures as soon as they are developed and scanned.

How Less Uncommon!

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I put “Steve Steve” into the name database and this is the result.

LogoThere are:
people with the name
Steve Steve
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

But how many are credentialed pandas?

Google Maps: The Two Niles

Last time I gave you a photo of Inga Falls. Today I bring you a satellite photo of Khartoum, Sudan where the Blue Nile and the White Nile meet to form the Nile.

I like this photo because it cleary show why one is the “Blue” Nile and the other is the “White” Nile.

Ken Miller at NCSU

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I have three tickets to Ken Miller’s Rabb Lecture at NCSU. I’m going to use one and I got the other two to see if anyone else wanted to join me. Let me know if you are interested.

How Uncommon!


I beat PZ. My name is very uncommon.

LogoThere is:
person with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Of course, I know of another “Reed Cartwright”. He plays hockey in Wisconsin and we are friends on Myspace.

Uncle Reed

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I am now a step-uncle. My step-sister delivered the first baby in the family early Saturday morning. It is a healthy boy.

I’m six hours away, but Tiffany went to see him today.

All Caps

I remember when Tiffany and I first read Kent Hovind’s view of social security:

When the united States Government went bankrupt in the 1930’s the “rich men” of the world… created [a trust account] for each PERSON… This ‘straw man’ has the same letters as your name but in all capital letters (ie. KENT HOVIND the STRAW MAN instead of Kent Hovind a real person created by God). It was created by the government so it belongs to them and the government has the authority to create laws, require permits and licenses, and do anything they desire to their straw man. Look at any driver’s license, marriage license, social security card, or any government issued permit or license. The ‘name’ will be in all capital letters. This is not you, it is your straw man.

This isn’t crazy; it isn’t stupid; it’s krazy-stoopid. We still joke about it when the mood strikes us.

Anyway, Hovind is on trial (again) for avoiding taxes and his fear of capital letters has come up again.

Popp testified that Hovind warned employees not to accept mail addressed to “KENT HOVIND.” He said Hovind told the workers the government created a corporation in his “all-caps name.” Hovind said if he accepted the mail, he would be accepting the responsibilities associated with that corporation, Popp testified.

Haha, someone is going to jail for a while.

New Layout Part Two

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I’ve made some more changes to my new layout. Let me know what you think.

Sofa and Table


I finally got around to taking pictures and putting them up on my blog. So here are our new couch and coffee table.




Holy Crap!

My jaw dropped to the floor when I read this Reuters story: Casino magnate pokes hole in $139 million Picasso deal.

Wynn had just finalized a $139 million sale to another collector of his painting, called “Le Reve” (The Dream), when he poked a hole in the artwork while showing it to friends at his Las Vegas office a couple of weeks ago. …

“At that moment, his elbow crashed backward right through the canvas. There was a terrible noise,” Ephron wrote, noting that Wynn has retinitis pigmentosa, an eye disease that damages peripheral vision.

“Smack in the middle … was a black hole the size of a silver dollar. ‘Oh s**t,’ he said. ‘Look what I’ve done. Thank goodness it was me.’ “

Google Maps: Inga Falls


I’ve been using Google Maps recently to look at satellite photos of natural features. Here is an interesting one: Inga Falls (google maps) on the Congo River in Africa.


The Congo River drops some 315 feet in nine miles. Because the falls and other rapids are near the mouth of the Congo, the river cannot be navigated from the sea. Goods must be transported from the sea around the falls by rail to Kinshasa or Brazzaville (google maps) before they can travel by boat up the Congo River.

Inga falls is also the site of a huge hydroelectric power complex that, if ever finished, could provide electricity to the entire continent of Africa. You can see it on the photo above.

Intelligent Design is a Joke

On tonight’s Robot Chicken, during a sketch called “Lil Hitler”, an elementary school teacher can be seen writing “intelligent design” on the blackboard. However, the joke doesn’t go beyond that.

Fun with Lists


Over at Uncommon Descent, Dembski’s blog for cranks and quacks, Salvador Cordova is promoting a list of creationists compiled by Jerry Bergman. I always find it amusing that people like Cordova and Bergman think that a bunch of people, who have never worked in or near the field of evolutionary biology, have opinions that matter.

But nevertheless, I have a link to a list that creationists, like those in the UD crew, spend their days pretending doesn’t exist.

The Big Bibliography of Evolution, which contains “more than 12,000 references to papers in evolutionary biology, population genetics and ecological genetics”. And that is only part of the large body of scientific research produced in recent centuries that pertains to evolution.

Compare that to the Discovery Institute, which has a hard time finding any published papers to back their pseudoscience, despite throwing millions of dollars at it.

Dave’s Not Here Man

It looks like we’re going to need a lot more cheetos to fight the war on terror.

Canadian troops fighting Taliban militants in Afghanistan have stumbled across an unexpected and potent enemy – almost impenetrable forests of marijuana plants 10 feet tall.

So what do you do when faced with a forest of marijuana? You burn it down.

“A couple of brown plants on the edges of some of those [forests] did catch on fire. But a section of soldiers that was downwind from that had some ill effects and decided that was probably not the right course of action,” Hiller said dryly.

One soldier told him later: “Sir, three years ago before I joined the army, I never thought I’d say ‘That damn marijuana’.”

This story reminds me of a scene in the (bad) movie “Infested”, when Carelton’s—I mean, Alfonso Ribeiro’s—chracter gets stuck in a burning forest of weed.

Stoopid French


It looks like the French are creating an international controversy because they are making it illegal to say that the Turks didn’t commit genocide against the Armenians. You could go to jail for a year for voicing an opinion that the French politicians don’t agree with. It’s anti-liberty laws like this that make me want to stay in America, where we have First Amendment protections.

Harry Beaver, Ob-Gyn


A friend from the DC area told me a story a few years ago about a doctor’s sign in DC. The name on the sign was Harry Beaver, and he was an Ob-Gyn. (Wouldn’t you have known it.)

I told the story today to some friends, and they figured it was an urban legend. So I did some googling and found the doctor’s website and this post on Dave Barry’s Blog. Harry Beaver’s daughters even show up in the comments.

I like this comment from “Sarah”.

I can vouch that Harry C. Beaver was indeed a practicing ob-gyn. He delivered me, at Letterman Army Hospital in the Presidio (San Francisco) in 1968, and his name is on my birth certificate. I have it framed; how could I resist? My father (who was also an Army doc at the time, and around the same age, early/mid-thirties) swears that Doc Beaver had no idea his name was funny, but I attribute that to my father’s naivete.

The best part of the birth cert, though, is his military rank. Private Harry Beaver would have been funny enough, but Army doctors start out as officers. To my eternal delight, I was brought into this world by…

Major Harry Beaver.

Governor Schweitzer

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I’ve really liked Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer for a while now. He seems to get it. What first endeared him to me was his position on logging: (paraphrasing) “don’t cut down the forests, we need them for deer season.” Pragmatic positions like that are just what the Democrats could use in the next election to appeal to rural voters. You are not going to see that from Hillary Clinton, who I personally think would make a horrible presidental candidate.

John Pieret finds another reason for me to like Governor Schweitzer: opposition to pseudoscience.

Schweitzer said he needs support from a state Legislature that will help move Montana’s agenda forward, “not people who think the Earth is 4,000 years old.”

You, Montanans, are so lucky.


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I got an email today from the NCSU library.

Dr. Cartwright,

We will order Flock of Dodos and it will be held for you. Thanks for your request.

Woohoo! As soon as I get ahold of it, I’m having a screening.

Fire, Fire, Everywhere

I know some schools like to set couches on fire after a big win, but who knew that NC State like to set whole towns on fire. …

There is a hazmat fire going on in Apex, NC, about 10 miles from where I live. We’re fine in Raleigh, but half of Apex has been evacuated.

Tiffany has been fielding calls from her family all day worried about us.

New Layout


For the last couple of months, I’ve been slowly tinkering with a new layout for the site. I now have a sample up of the work in progress. You can view it at http://dererumnatura.us/nindex.html.

Let me know what you think.

Flock of Dodos

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The film Flock of Dodos: The Evolution-Intelligent Design Circus (http://flockofdodos.com/) now has a distributor, Documentary Educational Resources. Institutions, like libraries and universities, can now buy a copy for $345. It includes the public performance rights that educational institutions need.

I suggest that if you get enough people together, you can buy a copy, watch it, and then donate it to your local library.

Check with your library first to make sure that they will accept the DVDs. Libraries can’t accept home consumer DVDs because libraries need to purchase public performance rights, which home DVDs don’t have.—Too bad for all those evangelicals that bought The Passion to donate to public schools.—However, this DVD comes with the public performance rights; although, they may not transfer.

To all triangle-area bloggers: let’s try to get one or more of the local libraries to get a copy so we can have a screening. I’ve already sent a request to NCSU, but more could help.

Brian Rohrbough is an idiot. He got up on CBS news tonight and blamed school violence on evolution:

This country is in a moral free-fall. For over two generations, the public school system has taught in a moral vacuum, expelling God from the school and from the government, replacing him with evolution, where the strong kill the weak, without moral consequences and life has no inherent value.

Only a crazy man, divorced from reality can say such things.

The public school system is not a moral vacuum. Teachers, administrators, and students all have their own morals which they freely share with their peers. God is still well in schools, and will be as long as religious people are in public schools. Only a person who does not spend enough time working with their children’s public school, would think that school is a God free zone. Between bible clubs, fellowships, and prayer circles students have a wide range of opportunities to be pious in school. And that is only in schools that behave constitutionally. If the rate of reported violations of the establishment clause is any guide, a large proportion of public schools have no trouble forcing religion on pupils.

Because of the bible-thumping politics of idiots like Brian Rohrbough, very few schools actually teach evolution in the US. Even when evolution is in state standards, teachers and administrators often find ways to ignore it. Some do it because they actively oppose evolution, others because they don’t want to lose their jobs. For the most part, the public school system teaches in an evolution vacuum. Its like teaching chemistry without atomic theory, but schools do it because that is the way thugs like Brian Rohrbough want it.

Evolution is not about the strong killing the weak. It is about the fertile out breeding the infertile. A seventeen year-old in a murder/suicide is not going to get lucky at the senior prom, despite what Weekend at Bernie’s says. In that sense, I would argue that evolution gives a wonderful value to life: children and grandchildren.

Pundits love to complain about evolutionary theory being godless and lacking morals, but they never seem to have issues with the godlessness of atomic theory. The explanation for the diversity of life no more devalues life than the explanation for the diversity of chemical reactions.

Science explains the world; it doesn’t provide a guide for living your life.—Parents do that.

But I guess if you are the type of parent who expects biology class to be the moral guide to your children, then you are too stupid to realize who is actually to blame for them being so screwed up.


Apache was sucking up too much memory, so I’ve changed my web server software to lighttpd, which is giving me better response times and taking up less memory. It also is better at doing FastCGI.

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