Schenk Forest and Orchards

As I contemplate the New Year, I’ve been thinking about manmade semi-wild places and what they mean to me. I’m about to teach a class called Religion and the Environment. I’ve watched with interest the debates this year about protecting wild places. And while I love the wild places, lately I’ve been thinking about the sort-of wild places: parks, orchards, and places the canal on which I take my daily jog. Continue reading Schenk Forest and Orchards

My Abstract for the Evolution: the Experince Conference

Evolution: the Experience is an upcoming confrence held in Melbourne, Australia in February 2009: Here is a discription.

Her left brain is nuked and she glimpses something of her spirit

I have described my own loss of mental functioning (here) and have explored the deep physicality of our brain/mind interface in this blog. In a recent book, My Stroke of Insight, Jill Bolte Taylor writes about a brain hemorrhage in which she loses the left side of her brain due to a massive stroke. Continue reading Her left brain is nuked and she glimpses something of her spirit

‘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

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