Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Diary July 31, 2019

This past winter and spring I spent a good deal of time dissecting Jim Steele’s malicious game of deliberate deception in his Pacifica Tribune’s “What’s Natural?’ column and it was taking its toll.

On the one hand, I like the work of studying others’ writings - investigating and searching out new information, double checking my own assertions and recollections, learning, relearning and taking the time to examine, recognize and expose the ‘mechanics of deception’ in action.  In that way it’s my classroom and a positive exercise.

On the other hand, it’s profoundly depressing coming face to face with these real life intellectual zombies that never ever seem to change.  They pompously cry for debate, yet try having a serious constructive dialogue with them.  First comes the attitudes of superiority, then the dismissal, then avoidance, then insults and derision, then they run and hide, but never an adult discussion.  

And no one seems to care much!  Free pass for all.  So they get away with it, over and over like a spreading pathogen, and no one seems capable of doing anything about it.

Ask questions, make challenges, explain the simple and well understood science of Earth’s climate.  Write and rewrite, present evidence, teach, reason, strive till you're blue.  Yet not a word is heard, not a lesson is absorbed.   Absolutely nothing gets incorporated into their understanding.  Utter hopelessness.

Contrarian arguments today are exactly the same as they were ten, twenty and more years ago.  It’s like the immortal words of Homer Simpson: “No Marge, I didn’t learn a thing.”

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

David-Attenborough communicator extraordinaire - Life on Earth, Living Planet

I have one more to add to this collect before moving on to some essays I wrote these past months.
In the 1980s my curiosity was increasing faster than my scattered understanding was adding up.  Then came David Attenborough with his two master pieces.  In 1979 Life on Earth, followed by the equally excellent The Living Planet in 1984.
Attenborough’s Life on Earth series was a godsend of sorts and I watched them repeatedly during the ‘80s and '90s with the book as a study guide as I listened to him weave together the various strands of our scientific understanding of evolution with actual living species who were "witnesses" to those ancient divergences back in deep time.
It made Evolution tangible and personal.  That was joined by The Living Planet which drove home my realization that “Mother Earth” was a pretty apt description considering our Earth’s folds within folds of cumulative harmonic complexity flowing down the cascade of time.

Attenborough conveyed his understanding with such enthusiasm and love for creation that I couldn’t help but get swept along, particularly since it so perfectly resonated with my own driving desire to grasp Evolution.

Musing on the outpouring of information in these videos I was inspired to pull out some continuous feed computer paper and graph out the 4.6 billion year old timeline - one million years equaling one millimeter.  Luckily at the time I had an unused space where I had two banquet tables lined up, since it took a couple weeks to complete in my spare time.  I filled it with PostIt notes marking key events.  Trying to get a feel for the time spans involved.
Here I’ve embedded the 2010 “First Life” videos.  Below the fold I share descriptions of Attenborough’s “Life On Earth” and “Living Planet” episodes, along with a list of his writings and some other interesting bits of information.
David Attenborough’s First Life -- ARRIVAL -- BBC Documentary.
On YouTube courtesy of Philip D. Kreps
David Attenborough’s First Life -- CONQUEST -- BBC Documentary.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Ben Burger, Rocks of Utah - geology videos - What a scientist sounds like.

Benjamin Burger announcing his The Rocks of Utah Series

I’d love to be more excited about Ben Burger, he's doing YouTube geology videos for an area near and dear to me - The Colorado Basin in Utah.  But, I’m the Professor Zentner type, I’m looking for serious substance, I want to be wow’ed by the amount of facts being presented and woven together with other understanding we have.  

I dream of someone wanting to Tell The Story of the Colorado Plateau - (Ron Blakey & Wayne Ranney have already developed a powerful template, amazing things could be done with it).  But it’s a big commitment. 

It takes the sort of commitment Nick made to his beloved Washington state, along with his public speaking chops.  

I don’t know of any other examples for any other region of our country.  If there are, please do share links.

While Professor Burger has his excellent moments, there’s too much filler for my tastes.  Too many selfies, too much travelog, not enough maps or schematics or coherent scientific story being told.  I’m always left with a list of questions begging to be asked left unanswered.  

That’s just me.  At least Professor Burger deserves credit, he's stepped up to do something that’s far more difficult than it looks from the outside, and he does speak to people and he has fans, and I keep going back him - decide for yourself.

Beyond that -  I keep dreaming of some sharp, up and coming, self-possessed young professor to take the challenge by the horns and better explain the dynamic story behind how our landscape got to look the way it does.  And why it's about so much more than simply beautiful scenery.  I'd counsel starting by first watching Nick Zentner and figuring out for yourself what it is he does so well, then run with it.  

Below the fold is a linked index to Professor Burger's "Rocks of Utah" (23) along with his ongoing lectures (90+) on aspects of Vertebrate Paleontology.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

James Sadd, Earth Revealed - video geology course - What a scientist sounds like.

This one goes way back, but its a sentimental favorite and the fundamental geologic information it teaches remains pretty much as accurate today as it was the summer this came out and when, by happenstance, I was able to watch the series 3, and some episodes 4 times.  
It was a wonderful primer for starting my journey towards seriously understanding the amazing Four Corners geology.  Even now watching a few, I still think Professor Sadd presentation is first class and I still like that intro tune.
James Sadd - Occidental College - Earth Revealed

Earth Revealed: Introductory Geology, originally titled Earth Revealed, is a 26-part video instructional series covering the processes and properties of the physical Earth, with particular attention given to the scientific theories underlying geological principles. 
The telecourse was produced by Intelecom and the Southern California Consortium, was funded by the Annenberg/CPB Project, and first aired on PBS in 1992 with the title Earth Revealed
All 26 episodes are hosted by Dr. James L. Sadd, professor of environmental science at Occidental College in Los Angeles, California.


Earth Revealed, by Dr. James Sadd

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Nick Zentner's Geology Video Collection - Washington state - What a scientist sounds like.

This is what a scientist sounds like!

Whereas Wayne Ranney’s audience tends to be people partaking in geological classes and tours, he acts as the perfect host in trying to validate everyones right to their personally held beliefs, while gently reminding them that geology does not traffic in belief systems but rather observation and data.  See, he understands that he might have only this one precious moment to fill them with a sense of awe about the transformational nature of geologic thought.  So, the learning is slipped in tactfully and danced around when necessary.

In contrast to that, the impression I get from having watched most all of Professor Nick Zentner’s many videos is that if you attend one of Zentner’s classes or lectures you’d better take it seriously and pay attention if you want to keep up, oh, turn off that phone!

He displays total command of his topic and the audience.  On rare occasions we see him use his velvet hammer against some audience offender, it's incisive, and he doesn't miss a beat as he continues his talk.  A beautiful thing to watch.  I’d love to take a class devoted to studying Nick Zentner’s presentation style and structure.  He makes it look so easy, as he conveys so much.    

My one lament is that he’s in Washington state.  I’m longing for someone like him to start giving recorded talks and short videos of the Colorado Plateau area.   At least, I’ve traveled through Washington occasionally, so I can relate to his lessons and the landscapes from personal memory. 

To be clear, Nick is a fun guy. I hope so, since I can’t resist introducing him with this:

Geology Video Blooper - Columnar Basalt - Nick Zentner
Tom Foster ( and Nick Zentner (Central Washington University)


Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Wayne Ranney's Geology Video Collection - Colorado Plateau Evolution - What a scientist sounds like.

This is what a scientist sounds like!

Many years ago my daughter gave me a book, “Ancient Landscapes of the Colorado Plateau” because she knew I liked geology.  What I found was an epiphany.  You see I’ve lived in the southwestern corner of Colorado since 1979 and it seemed like the more I got to know the San Juan Mountains and the Canyon Lands of the Colorado Plateau, and the more I read the geologic info available to the general public, the more overwhelmed and confused I felt.  Bits and pieces made sense, but there was no overarching clarity.  How did it fit together and unfold over time.  My head would spin trying to sort it out.  
Then came Ancient Landscapes, with it’s maps that look like satellite images, sequenced to reveal time unfolding and the landscape evolving.  Its concise internally consistent narrative colored in details.  By the time I was finished with it, the first time, it felt like my satchel full of fascinating but frustrating facts had been woven into a beautiful clarifying tapestry I'll never be able to describe the way they do.  Which is why you should see this for yourself.
Of course, as it goes with epiphanies, time happens, experiences are digested, and we realize whole new realms, along with a new set of questions.  The curiosity never ends, it’s a wonderful life and it’s not the destination, it’s the journey.  Enjoy.

Ancient Landscapes of the Colorado Plateau with Wayne Ranney  

Geologist Wayne Ranney describes the history of the Colorado Plateau. With illustrations and excerpts from the book he Co-authored, Wayne Ranney explains live on the plateau over the last 500 million years. Presented by Grand Canyon Trust; the University of Utah Environmental Humanities Graduate Program, supported by The Nature Conservancy, SUWA,  Pax Natura Foundation.  (April 13, 2010)

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Robert Holmes aka 1000Frolly PhD. Conman is, as Conman does.

An update for those who are curious, Dr. Robert Holmes aka 1000Frolly, the character who jumped into the middle of my breakfast pounding his chest with all cap threats a couple weeks back, has slithered away back into the night.  

Refusing to let me know, the case number, name of alleged court or date of his supposed filling, or even what his alleged suit against one Bob Trenwith is about.  Nor what the heck it has to do with me.  

Seems to me if a normal person were to have actually filed a suit and then threaten others with it, they would be willing to share the particulars.  Or at least explain why one is being contacted and threatened.  Seems only decent.  Not to mention civil and legal.

But, instead of simple civil adult information, Dr Frolly Holmes followed up with an email sporting the official Federation University Australia letterhead, with its oaths of confidentiality, etc, etc,  along with a lot of condescending avoidance of my questions and the issues - So typical, these people always feel more comfortable keeping it within their own fantasy projections, rather than reality and the issues at hand.