What we can learn from a witch’s blessing on a compost pile

Starhawk’s book, Earth Path, offers the following blessing on a compost pile. (There really is something very magical and trusting about even thinking of offering a blessing on a compost pile):

The current financial crisis as a symptom of our relationship with whales

I hope the strange and personal aspects of the following won’t put anyone off too much. It’s a little more serious than I usually am on this blog. Apologies up front.

In the early eighties as a BYU student I had ear-marked part of my paycheck to help save the whales. Since then, ‘save the whales’ as become so hackneyed that even unswerving environmentalists smile at the kitschy phrase. But at the time I really was concerned with protecting these great creatures (and still am actually). It was being reported in the news at the time that the great blue whale and many other species of marine mammals were on the verge of extinction and urgent action was needed. However, at the same time that I became aware of the whales’ crisis, a movement called Food for Poland had just been launched at BYU by one of my heroes, Eugene England, to alleviate Regan’s suspension of aid to the bedraggled satellite of the Soviet Empire. Continue reading The current financial crisis as a symptom of our relationship with whales

‘Why my shoes are mad at me’ or ‘Can a person ever really get along with the number nine?’

J. Robinson (Nature 454 p.1054)

picture from: J. Robinson (Nature 454 p.1054)


In a recent issue of Nature is a fascinating article about a tug-of-war between male derived genes and female derived genes, which may play out in cognitive disorders like autism. Evo-devo is a relatively new science that explores not only how evolution plays out in terms of our DNA expressing genes, but how genes interact in embryonic development, under environmental conditions, and in warring it out with each other for supremacy. Continue reading ‘Why my shoes are mad at me’ or ‘Can a person ever really get along with the number nine?’

The Shrew in my Brain: Snakes and the Evolved Body—Part II

Hopefully, you are now convinced by the evidence in Part I, that I am not afraid of snakes. The point being, not that I am fearless and brave, but this: I am jogging along the banks of the Danube, I turn into Danau Park with it’s green grasses, large old trees, strolling couples, and a smell and feel of wild things (even though it is quite tame). It’s a beautiful day, the sun is shining. I am tired. I am glad to be almost done with a long (for me) run. Suddenly, and without any premonition that this was about to happen, I find my knees at eyelevel. Continue reading The Shrew in my Brain: Snakes and the Evolved Body—Part II

Some are born afraid of snakes, and others have snake-fear thrust upon them: Part I

While spiders used to terrify me, I’ve never been afraid of snakes. Lots of things are. Especially mammals and birds. Especially mammals and birds eaten by snakes. And especially mammals and birds that snakes can bite with lethally poisonous fangs. Nothing sets a troop of monkeys howling like a snake slithering through their midst. Chimps despise the beasts and become agitated and upset when they find one hanging around the encampment and they will let everyone in the forest know that this dust-eating beast is not welcome. Apparently, even chimps raised without ever having seen a snake will become alarmed when one is introduced for the first time. I don’t know about elephants. Continue reading Some are born afraid of snakes, and others have snake-fear thrust upon them: Part I

What will we be known for?

Of my forth-grade playground I have one memory. It is an act of unkindness and my response. I had three friends. I don’t remember their names. Two were Mormons and the third was a Catholic. On that day, I found my Catholic friend crying between two buildings, sitting on the gravel with his head buried in his hands. Continue reading What will we be known for?

95% of Gay Dolphins Agree: Card is Right About Homosexuality’s Unnaturalness

Orson Scott Card as done it again and written another masterwork in which he tries to evaluate the science of homosexuality! I hardly ever agree with him when he writes about science (although I must admit I’ve always been a closet fan of his science fiction) but as he writes about the unnaturalness of homosexuality it struck a resonate cord. Now, of course, I don’t really know as much about the science of homosexuality as OSC does, well human homosexuality anyway, but that is not my concern. Since I’m a biologist, I am concerned with another unnatural form of male homosexual behavior. I’m speaking of gay dolphins. Continue reading 95% of Gay Dolphins Agree: Card is Right About Homosexuality’s Unnaturalness

Where did the Heavenly Demographics post go?

When I was a young man I used to have a reoccurring dream. I was in a dark and dank cellar. I could not make out anything but the wet stone walls and a stairway into the light at the far end of the cellar. However, between me and the way out were dense thickets of spiderwebs. I was surrounded by this tangle and there was no way to get to the door. As a child nothing terrified me more than the sticky secretions of spiders. If one accidently touched me I was freaked out for days. Even the fake ones hung out on Halloween unnerved me. Continue reading Where did the Heavenly Demographics post go?