Republican Congressman treats gun control like unparalleled breech of rights. I say, c’mon.

A bit of Anthropology today. There’s been a lot of debate about terror lists and gun control in the wake of the Orlando shootings. Many assert that if you are on that list, you should be forbidden from purchasing a firearm, which seems pretty logical. On the other side of the coin, there are a small percentage of people that end up on the list by mistake and gun lobbyists are arguing that to deprive individuals on the terror list from buying weapons would inevitably deny a small amount of law abiding citizens the right to bear arms. Trey Gowdy, a Republican representative from South Carolina, took aim at this fact in a recent debate in the House. He challenged another to name any other amendments (or constitutional law) where individuals were unduly denied a right and had to appeal for that incorrectly assigned prejudice to be overturned.

Here’s the clip:

Mr. Gowdy, I know you mean currently, but if you please:

Blacks were denied the freedom to be free, then vote, then integrate, then earn equal pay, a chance at a decent education and a fair shake by law enforcement because all black people were on an ‘incapable-of-educated-thought list’.

Women were denied the freedom to vote, hold most jobs, own property and keep their wages because all women were on a ‘having-a-vagina-is-incompatible-with-sustained-rational-behavior list’.

Homosexuals were denied the freedom to marry and adopt children because all homosexuals were on a ‘morally-reprehensible list’.

Transgenders are denied the freedom to use bathrooms for the sex with which they identify because all transgenders are on a ‘pedophiles list’.

Unless you think those laws were appropriate at the time.

I think America has a pretty decorated history of mistakenly adding people to exclusionary lists that don’t really jive with a constitution built around freedom from oppression. So before you sound off too loudly about a tiny fraction of people on a terrorist list in that self-righteous southern drawl, remember the other times this country unduly ‘chilled’ individuals to protect the interests of citizens and country.

Fighting against undue exclusion of individuals is always a great cause and I’m a huge advocate for it. But if you’re willing to chance a gun finding its way into a terrorist’s hand to protect all of the good people that should have the right to bear arms, then you should be willing to chance a pedophile finding their way into a restroom to protect all of the good people that should have the right to gender-identify.

Hypocrisy is a shitty trait.

What To Do On Your Forced Day Off


Photo: Reeve Jolliffe (Flickr).

Do you remember the NYC blackout of 2003? The subways were crippled and people set off on hours-long walks to get home over bridges and on any buses they could get a grip of. Yeah, well I was there for it. Right in the shit. And if that weren’t enough, I was just as crippled as those subway lines; my feet bandaged from recent toe surgery. It wasn’t for the weak-minded. And can you believe I stuck around and did it all over again when Hurricane Sandy descended on the city and blew out the power grid in lower Manhattan like so many birthday candles?

But never mind the darkness in the streets. It’s the blackness that creeps over your mind when the 4C centrifuge you’re spinning that precious DNA in seizes up like your AK 47 in the middle of an offensive charge that will induce real panic. So what really happens when the lights go out in the midst of mind-blowing scientific discovery, forcing you to abandon your work? Find out here in my article published at Scizzle Blog.

I Discuss Science Art in a Science Discussion


Art has been a large part of science for hundreds of years; before imaging technologies, any scientific observations had to be drawn by hand in order to preserve the information for future research. This necessity spurned some of the most intricate and beautiful collections of naturalist art we have.

The tradition of Scientific Art (SciArt) persists today, however, with the advent of modern digital imaging techniques, it’s now more the work of artists interested in science than the other way around. This is interesting given the fact that it usually brings a level of interpretation with it, as most artists don’t have a PhD-level understanding of scientific principals and they are usually using science as part of a larger idea.

An exhibit called ‘Common Descent’, on display at Central Booking in NYC looks at the interpretation of science by artists; specifically evolution. In a recent panel discussion about the exhibit, I got the chance to sit down with another evolutionary biologist, Giacomo Mancini, as well as two artists featured in the exhibit, C Bangs and Lynn Sures. We discussed our work and the intersection of science and art and took questions from the audience concerning evolution in the modern age.

The panel moderator, Yasmin Tayag and myself wrote an article chronically the event for the Scientific American guest blog. By all means, head over and check it out, and check out the exhibit if you get a chance; it’s on until June 8th.

Star Wars: Science Fiction meets Science Fact


Image Credit: Stefan, Flickr

In celebration of the recently minted Star Wars holiday, May the 4th (be with you), the blogging team at the Scizzle Blog put together some themed science lessons. Being part of that team, I have penned two posts that will surely catapult your brain into space. The first, co-written with Chris Spencer, looks at possible evolutionary histories for some of the most notable characters of the franchise. Entitled The Evolution of the Cutest Creatures in Star Wars, you can check that out here.

My second postClones in Space, I Have Placed (can’t you just hear Yoda saying that?), features my debut infographic effort. Displaying the history of cloning technology using Star Wars characters, ships and worlds as a backdrop, it is the perfect visual springboard for titillating conversation on your next date. I’ve even included cloning basics 101 and given you a peak into the future when scientists plan to resurrect extinct species.

Click on through already – I’ve made science fun…

I am becoming omnipresent…


To my dedicated readers: you can now read even more of my exhilarating stories and insightful thoughts on science at Scizzle, a new blog dedicated to what is sizzling in science. My first post investigates the five W’s of synthetic chromosomes and to be sure, you should be in the know. So click clack, Jack.

Interview: Dr. Joseph Parker talks beetles

I recently had the chance to sit down for a talk with a great friend of mine, Dr. Joseph Parker. He’s a classically trained Drosophila geneticist and self-taught field entomologist, which are really just fancy names for insect guru. In this interview, Dr. Parker and I discuss his most recent publication, Jubogaster towai, a new Neotropical genus and species of Trogastrini (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae: Pselaphinae) exhibiting myrmecophily and extreme body enlargementwhere he classifies a new species of beetle. This beetle is especially interesting because it can mimic ants and lives amongst them, which is no small feat. What’s even better is that the ants end up taking care of all of the beetles needs…well, just watch the video.

There are three flavors of the interview; a highly edited video (3:00) for those of you into brevity that just want the facts about this new species, a slightly longer video (6:30) with some tidbits on Joe’s crowd funding efforts and the full, 22 minute interview in audio form where Joe gives us the little details and I give him a little shit, plus we discuss the sexual dangers of walking into a large ant colony. If you have the time, it’s well worth it.

3 Minute Version:

6:30 Minute Version:

Dr. Joseph Parker Full Interview:

Right click here to download the audio

After watching the video while editing it I’ve realized my interview style is REALLY un-animated. Jesus! I apologize and promise to work on that. Also, I think Joe’s cat is a bit of a myrmecophile itself, or at least it managed to slink around fairly unnoticed while we were shooting this. I’ll try to enforce a ‘no pets on set’ rule from here on out.