Tuesday, April 14, 2015

How To Not Get Raped?

So, I've seen this video posted on Facebook a couple of times now.  Anna, the girl in the video, rehashes an old argument that I'm sure we've all heard before.  She does it in a clever way, and I agree with some of what she says, but as a man, a husband, and a father of a both sons and a daughter, I think that I can offer a slightly different perspective.

Anna argues that we should stop teaching women that they are responsible for whether or not they get raped. Instead, we need to teach men and boys that, "rape is never an option."  While it's true that it's not a woman's "fault" if she gets raped, it doesn't follow that we shouldn't teach women to protect themselves against sexual predators.  And, while it is true that we should continue to teach boys and men not to sexually assault women, it doesn't follow that the world is going to be devoid of rapists any time in the near future... if ever.

Here's the thing: most men aren't rapists.  Most boys are taught that violence against women in any form is never okay.  I seriously doubt that most of the 'son, don't hit girls' talks terminate with the caveat, "... unless you're about to have sex with her... because it makes it a lot easier if she's incapacitated."

Sadly, we all know that there are men who teach their sons that violence against women is okay, both by their words and by their actions.  There are also men who ignore the proper attitudes towards women that they've been taught both by their parents and by society.  There are always going to be those outliers - and those are the people that I want  my wife and children to protect themselves from.

We live in a world where people do bad things.  I'm sorry, but it's true - and it will probably always be true.  It's just the way it is.  We can't determine what other people are going to do, but we can do some things that might prevent other people from doing bad things to us.  If we have stuff in our houses or our cars that we don't want to get stolen, we can lock our doors.  Of course, locking your doors isn't going to prevent all thefts, any more than not going to the apartments of a men you barely know isn't going to prevent all rapes - but locking your doors is going to make it less likely that you will get robbed, just like keeping yourself away from risky situations will decrease the likelihood that you will be sexually assaulted.

So this is my perspective as a man, as a husband, and as a father: I know that there are people in this world who do terrible things to girls and women.  The fact is, it makes my blood boil and I wish there was a way to round them all up, put them in a rocket, and launch them into the Sun.  Unfortunately that isn't an option.  We can, and should, continue to teach our boys not to assault women.  I was taught not to hurt girls and women, and I am teaching my boys the same.  But I'm also going to teach my daughter some things that will help her to protect herself from predators.  I'm also going to teach her to lock her doors, in case you're interested.  So, while I appreciate the frustration that Anna and other women feel, and it may be inconvenient at times, I don't feel any shame in encouraging women to employ some common sense measures that can help prevent rape. I'm not saying that a woman is to blame in any way if she is sexually assaulted.  I can't speak for all men, but I think when we say things like, "don't walk (or bike) alone at night," "please don't go to parties with people you don't know," "maybe you should carry some mace," "here is some nail polish that will help you detect date rape drugs," what we are really saying is, "we love you," "we don't want you to get hurt," "here are some ways you can protect yourself."

Sunday, July 29, 2012


Fruit flies flitting along the frothy foliage of an autumn afternoon;
The sugary scent of decedent, decaying doldrums drives them on.

Absent are the sharp, clean edges of organization,
“A place for everything…” like grubs and beetles nestling in the loam.

And anthills cover dragon’s faces;
Their ribs and backs drifting down and South.
Always South.

South to where the fruit trees lie,
Humming, crawling things alive,
Where nothing straightens ‘cept to bend,
Ensconced in river journey’s end.

I wrote this in response to a post by my brother-in-law.  I haven't posted anything in a while, so I thought that maybe posting this would help me to get the ball rolling again.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

How did I forget?

The family and I are moving to Lafayette, Louisiana so I can attend graduate school.  I've been going through some of my things, trying to decide what to keep and what to throw away.  I finally decided to tackle the dreaded storage closet that I haven't been threw in a while.  I honestly thought that there would be a ton of stuff in there that I could get rid of... not so.  I've decided on a handful of rocks that I can live without, but the total weight of them makes it seem hardly worth leaving them behind (don't worry, I'm leaving them behind).

Anyway, while I was going through the rocks in my storage closet I came upon these gems.  I didn't even remember that I had them.  I collected them in an undisclosed location while out with some anonymous close friends of mine.  Here are the rocks:

These are different views of two slabs that I collected.  Now I'm remembering some specimens I left in the rock prep lab... I was supposed to be dropping some weight for the trip!!!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Soft Sediment Deformation and Landslides

These are some more pictures from my trip to Boulder:
The parabolic feature to the right of the blue beam in this picture is an example of soft sediment deformation.  To be more specific it is a load structure or a load cast.  A load cast forms when a relatively dense material overlies and deforms softer, underlying sediments.  Think of setting a bowling ball on a mattress or walking on wet sand at the beach.  Speaking of wet sand, the thing that is particularly awesome about the soft sediment deformation in this picture is that it is attributed to a sauropod (long-necked dinosaur).  There are several of these load casts all in a row.

Another sauropod footprint.

Yet another sauropod footprint.

 When bedding is disturbed by biologic processes (plants or animals) it is called bioturbation.  Have you ever been to the beach and seen little critters burrowing through the sand?  Well, they used to do the exact same thing millions of years ago.  This is a picture of a burrowed mudstone.  This is a particularly awesome example of bioturbation.

More bioturbation.

This is a rippled sandstone.  If you were to view these ripples in cross-section, they would appear symmetrical.  Symmetrical ripples indicate that there is a flow of water in both directions.  Can you think of where these ripples might have formed?

Okay, this is a style of soft sediment deformation that I'm not even going to explain.  Don't tell me if you don't think that this is unbelievably awesome.  I don't want to know.

Today one of the geology professors invited me to go with her Environmental Geology class to see an active landslide in Wyoming... I couldn't possibly say no. While I was there I chatted with a civil engineer responsible for fixing the road that the landslide had taken out.  For some reason he wasn't nearly as happy about the landslide as I was.  I can't for the life of me imagine why.  Here are some pictures:
Here you can see where the slide has come across the road and into the river.  I think they've been cleaning it up for over a week now.  They've been working on it from both sides.

The slide entered the river and has caused the river to alter its course slightly.  The rapids are new as well as the cut bank.

This is a panorama of the slide from the head scarp (top) to the toe (bottom).  The slide has stopped moving, but it is still dewatering.  You can see that there is a lot of discharge from the springs in this picture.  Water adds weight and lubrication and since it isn't very compressible, it pushes rocks apart, which decreases friction; all important factors in the formation of landslides.  It's been a wet year.

This is a better view of the springs and the head scarp.

Who is that old guy?  Seriously, people mistake me for a professor a lot these days.  Perhaps I should lose the mustache.

This is a view of the slide from the top.

Another picture from the top.

Sometimes we geologists call scratches in rocks striations - sometimes we call them slickenlines.  I'm not sure how to classify the scratches in this clay, but they formed as the slide was moving.  Awesome!

This is another recent slide about a mile or two from the one that took out the road.  This slide is not only awesome for it's sear awesomeness, but it is also awesome because it didn't inconvenience anyone by taking out a road or some other structure.

This is the outlet at the Palisade Dam in Idaho.  It appears that the floodgates are wide open.  I think that they are trying to keep the reservoir low in anticipation of the snow melt.  Yeah.. it will be June in about a week and there is still a lot of snow in the mountains.  On a lighter note, look at the pelicans!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Because I Haven't Posted in a While

As some of you know, I, along with some of my classmates, participated in the Imperial Barrel Award (IBA) competition in Boulder, CO a couple of months back. We didn't officially place, but we were mentioned honorably at the awards ceremony. After the awards ceremony, while everyone else went to a bar to get drunk, we decided to take in some of the local geology. Here are some pictures from the trip:

This is one of the Flatiron outcrops of the Fountain Formation (290-296 million years old).  This sandstone represents river and alluvial fan deposits of sediments that were shed from the Ancestral Rocky Mountains.  This particular outcrop is located at the Red Rocks Amphitheater outside of Boulder.

Here is another view of the same outcrop.
This is a cut-and-fill structure in the Fountain formation.  You can see how the bedding planes are discontinuous across the diagonal line at the center of the picture.  The interpretation is that a stream channel cut through previously deposited material and more material was deposited in its place.  This particular outcrop is interpreted as an alluvial fan deposit.

This is the same cut-and-fill structure with my hand for scale.
My hand is on the Great Unconformity: 300 million year old sedimentary rocks on the left and 1.7 billion year old metamorphic rocks on the right for a grand total of roughly 1.5 billion years of missing geologic history... Awesome!
I have more photos from this trip, but I'll post them later.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Some Field Work Pictures

Here are some pictures from my latest stint out in the field.  I really enjoyed myself and I got to put my new camera to good use.  I hope that you enjoy the photos.
Straddling the Continental Divide.

Forest and Patrick looking for fossils.
Geologists in their native environment.
A wannabe tagging along with some serious scientists.

This butterfly landed on my glove when I had stopped to collect a bryozoan.
We ditched our bags for a bit to go eat some lunch on top of one of the peaks.  I returned to find this spider having lunch on my pack.
Forest and Patrick lost in contemplation... or talking about Lord of the Rings.  I can't remember which.
A beautiful slab covered in crinoids.
A close up of a the slab.
I think that this is a pendular crinoid (but don't quote me on that) which have arms that are oriented down instead of up like most crinoids.
I think that I must have blacked out after taking this picture, because I don't remember making it back to camp.  I do remember the distinct flavor of chili con carne in my mouth the next morning though and I had an inexplicable urge to do back hand springs.  I can't really figure it out

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Fun With Environmentalists

I don't normally post comments on news stories, but when I read this story this morning, I just couldn't resist. Here is my comment:

"So, the solution to the consumption of fossil fuels is that we all trade in our cars for bicycles? Wow, that's the most brilliant thing I've ever heard! While we're at it, let's discontinue the use of airplanes and boats. But wait! How can we justify using rubber for our bicycle tires? It's made out of oil too. And shoes, we'd better get rid of them, or start making the soles and various other parts of the shoe out of something else. And we should probably get rid our our computers, because the plastics used to construct a great deal of their components are derived from oil.

The list just keeps piling up! I propose that instead of trading cars for bicycles, we either A: devolve as a species back to a point where we are no longer able to create and use technology or B: discontinue our existence as a living species, because it is clear to me (as I'm sure it is to you) that after 4.6 billion years of fighting and struggling to stay alive, the last few hundred years of human advancement is just too much for our fragile, sickly little planet to take. In fact, I'm surprised that earth didn't stop turning and become a cold, dead rock the second our first hominid ancestor took its initial wavering, bipedal step.

Please people, please! Discontinue the use of any sort of technology, but especially stop using oil! It may be the only way to prevent the eradication of all forms of life from this delicate orb that we call earth."

This is coming from a guy who rides his bike almost every day. I honestly agree that more people ought to ride their bikes when feasible, but that doesn't negate the necessity of the automobile in the modern world and, until we can find an economical alternative (which I'm routing for as much as the next guy) I'm afraid that means that we are going to be dependent on fossil fuels for a while longer.