Salt stalactite


Photograph by Alan Rice.

Photography contest, Honorable Mention.

Salt stalactite
Salt stalactite hanging from a piece of equipment at the Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah, USA. The stalactite is about 10 cm long.



Today being Valentine’s Day and all that, I thought I would link to an article, Chocolate is a Valentine’s best friend, by Carol O’Meara of the Colorado State University Extension Service. The article was printed in today’s Boulder Daily Camera.

As an official and, if I may say so, unrepentant chocoholic, I was somewhat surprised by Ms. O’Meara’s statement that the average per-capita consumption of chocolate in the United States is 5.5 kg/y. If I ate one of these

And it is good for you too!

every day for 1 y, that would come to somewhat over 3 kg. I do not eat one every day (though I get some chocolate from other sources, such as Matt’s Orgasmic Brownies), and I cannot imagine eating perhaps twice as much as I do now. Still, I do not know who Sandra J. Dykes was, but I have to agree with her: Love, Shmove. I’d rather have chocolate.

Darwin Day


NCSE reminds us (by way of Facebook) that today is Darwin Day.


Ken Ham disinvited from speaking at university


Carla Hinton, writing in The Oklahoman, informs us,

The University of Central Oklahoma Student Association rescinded its invitation to a well-known Christian apologist to speak on campus following pressure from an LGBTQ group.

Wednesday, Stockton Duvall, UCO's student body president, said student government leaders, in partnership with a student group called Valid World Views, had asked Ken Ham to visit the campus on March 5 to share his perspectives about the science behind Darwinian ideas. ...

Duvall, a junior business management major, said members of a group affiliated with the Women's Research Center/BGLTQ+ Student Center at UCO opposed Ham's visit because of his view that marriage is between one man and one woman.

Charles Johnson, the vice president of communications, said that the administration “may advise, but does not direct, the activities of [The University of Central Oklahoma Student Association].” He added, somewhat mysteriously,

This experience reinforces our resolve to make our campus a welcoming environment for the civil expression of diverse thought.

Ms. Hinton has provided a full statement by President Don Betz here.

Mr. Ham will be allowed to speak at the Fairview Baptist Church in Edmond, Oklahoma, on March 5. He is obviously furious and attacks what he calls a “hotbed of anti-Christian activity … in tax funded universities.” I would not go as far as to say that Mr. Ham’s disinvitation is necessarily anti-Christian activity (it had to do with his contemptible views on marriage equality), and I do not think that removing nativity scenes from the public square compares with allowing corporations to deny their employees health care based on religious objections, but I am afraid that Mr. Ham has a point. He should have been allowed to speak, and those who disagreed with him should be allowed to demonstrate against his unfavorable views or to ask pointed questions after his talk.

I have nothing but scorn for Mr. Ham’s views on science or religion, but I think we do ourselves no good by refusing to listen to views that we consider wrong or reprehensible. The University is supposed to be a place of free speech, of trading ideas. Listen to someone you disagree with, and you might learn something, or you might strengthen your arguments against that person. Though I might draw the line at someone spewing racist or even fascist excrescences, and I think that Mr. Ham is wrong about almost everything, I think that the invitation should not have been withdrawn.