Random musings on whatever subject strikes my fancy, published every other day.

Tag: nature

Facepalm #56,751,331

From today’s NY Times headlines email:


“Science is like a compass. It can tell us where north is, but it can’t tell us if we want to go north. That’s where our morality comes in.”

NATHANIEL P. HITT, a fisheries biologist, on religion’s role in addressing climate change.

How many ways does a biologist manage to get THIS wrong?  I am going to point to just two.

  1. Climate change is nothing but a question of the continued survival of the human species – as well as a few thousand other species we’ll likely take down with us.  Do you need an appeal to extra-scientific concepts of morality for this?  Do you think there’s a difficult philosophical debate here?  Hmmm… should we choose a course that allows our species to continue to exist longer than two or three more generations? 
  2. If that question is your struggle how do you possibly think religion will help with it?  Name one moral question religion has ever gotten right.  Slavery?  Nope.  Treating women as if they were human?  Nope.   But a Pope gets on the bandwagon thirty years too late and everyone swoons.  
That’s not dealing with the question.  That’s abdicating it to “the mystery of the universe.”  To me the greatest mystery of the universe is this:  Year after year, these fuzz-brained faith-based lunatics, who obviously don’t give a damn about evidence as a way to answer important questions, get awarded science degrees.  How do they continue to fake it long enough to pull that off?

And if you think I am being harsh on Hitt and the quote might be taken out of context, the full article is much, much worse.  It’s as if a NY Times editor said, You know what this major USA newspaper really needs?  An article sucking up to Christianity!  Yeah, baby!  That’s courage!  Oh, Pulitzer committee….

Letchworth Ice Fountain

We headed out early Saturday morning before the temperature was able to move off the overnight low.

-23° C

We arrived at Letchworth State park, and stopped on the grounds of a hotel called the Glen Iris Inn. (Google Maps link).   As we parked there, we saw this sign:

In other words, don’t be an idiot
What’s not to climb?  This is not to climb.

That is a 35-foot (11M) fountain of ice.  I estimated its height based on the photo of me in front of it, below.

I have also seen it referred to as a volcano, which is an apt comparison.  Think about how a volcano forms: molten rock coming up and solidifying into a conical formation centered around the source.  That’s exactly what is happening here, only with water in the role of lava.

Zoomed in on the top, you can see the water flow is continuing.  The formation will continue to grow.

Here is the obligatory shot of me standing by it for scale.

photo by Jill Frier

For scale, and to get a decent estimate of the height.  Not at all touristy.

We didn’t stay there long.  By the time we got there, the sun had been up about an hour and the temperature had risen to a balmy -6° F (-21° C).  It doesn’t take long, in that temperature, to realize you need to be going somewhere else in your nice warm car.

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