Field of Science

Your Inner Fish

I just picked up a copy of Neil Shubin's new book and I'm really excited to read it. Shubin and his colleagues discovered the "transitional" fish fossil Tiktaalik. The LA Times reviewed the book earlier this week and Carl Zimmer reviews it in today's Nature (subscription).

There is a short excerpt available at the University of Chicago Magazine.

Stephen Colbert interviewed Shubin recently on the Colbert Report. Here it is for easy access:

Pharyngula already has an active discussion going on the topic...

Wired: Huckabee Denies Evolution

Wired Science has a good article on Mike Huckabee's denial of evolution. They feature the video that I have also placed here. This is a good opportunity to point folks to a great piece from Leonard Steinhorn and Charles Steinhorn where they consider "belief" in evolution: "Is the Theory of Evolution Really a Matter of Faith?".

Tom Vilsack: Talking to Americans

In all fairness, Gov. Vilsack got hit too. These are so funny. We really enjoyed them when we were "Americans" living in Canada.

Iowa Boy Goes to the Caucus

Last night I caucused for Joe Biden. Up until the last day, I was trying to choose between Joe and Bill Richardson. On the day before, I went to see both John Edwards and Joe Biden. Edwards was good (and a bit angry!) but Joe really sold me.

Biden's speech in Coralville was the best I had heard this year. He's really a smart, articulate guy. He's also a seriously-credentialed Democrat. And even though I don't agree with him on all the issues, I decided that he deserved a chance and my support. I truly thought he'd pull a decent fourth place that would launch him into the next contests. But that wasn't going to happen. At the end, only the big three (Obama, Edwards, Clinton) were left standing.

At 6:30 pm I arrived at Coralville #6 with my wife, Debbie, who was supporting Obama. The line was literally out of the door of our local elementary school. There was clearly something happening. After a few minutes in line, I got interviewed by the Press-Citizen (our local paper). I said that I'm supporting Biden since he is ready to be President tomorrow (admittedly, parroting his speech from the day before) AND that he can clearly beat the Republicans. Curiously, neither of these are reasons why I supported Kucinich in 2004, but I really don't want to see a repeat of the Kerry-2004 debacle...

In the end, 763 people showed up to caucus as Democrats in our fairly well-to-do upper middle class (and very white) precinct! This was almost twice the turnout of 2004. The results of our caucus were summarized by the Press-Citizen. But here's the inside view from my perspective.

First of all, the Clinton group was largely older people (50+), with a high fraction of women. Interestingly, they had a huge spread of food that was tempting me since I had not eaten... The massive Obama group was quite young, but included many middle-aged (35-50) people and some older. The Edwards group was largely middle-aged to older. The big three ruled Coralville #6.

Biden and Richardson were about equal in support and were largely comprised by middle-aged to slightly older people. At 42, I was among the younger of the Biden group. Dodd's group apparently shared a similar demographic to Biden's (no surprise).

The initial vote for viability indicated that the Big Three were all OK, but that neither Biden, Richardson, nor Dodd were viable. However, if these three could join up, we could generate a viable group (together, we had more than the required 15%). I was happy with this possibility since I was torn between Richardson and Biden until the end anyway. So I encouraged our Biden precinct captain to negotiate with the Richardson camp. The idea was to field an "uncommitted" delegate that would represent whichever of the three candidates were still standing by the time of the county convention. But the precinct captain for Richardson wanted to stick with him, so most of the Biden supporters left for the big three.

There was just not enough time (30 minutes) to convince most of the 129 (57+53+19) people that "uncommitted" was a viable option that would yield a delegate. Too bad. As it turned out, both Biden and Dodd dropped out last night, but we we couldn't know that... At one point, the Edwards captain was trying to get all of the Biden supporters to join in, including offering a possible county delegate slot in exchange. But there wasn't enough time...

Literally at the last minute in the second round of voting, I cast my lot with John Edwards. I still think that he is best Democrat of the Big Three. I had already decided that I he would be my #2. I'm glad that he got second place in Iowa. I hope that it will give him legs for the rest of the month. He's the real deal for populist Democrats. His message needs some more positives, but he's the only one telling it like it is for working people. I hope that this message will resonate.

I'm also really pleased for Barack Obama. Iowa showed its true colors last night even though we are not very racially diverse. I really think that most Iowans are color-blind and this result consistent with that assertion. I remain a bit uneasy about Obama as the nominee, especially against the Republican Nasties, but I'm optimistic for his chances.

The 2008 political banquet is now out of Iowa's hands. I hope that we set the table well..