I was part of a movement of "dinosaur moms" when I lived in Maryland (Astrodon Johnstoni is the Maryland state dinosaur.) Which is nothing more than this -- dinosaur moms delight in the half-feral nature of the beasties they parent, even as they whisper Shakespeare and Kierkegaard in their ears at night.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Being an immigration lawyer, I work all day with people for whom absolutely everything is alien, and so it is no surprise that they do not suffer from (don't have the luxury of)the insecurity (complacency) that I see so often in the native-born. They are some opinionated (decisive) folks.

I'm not going to say that this is always good news. Life in the US is super super complicated and expert advice is often necessary, else my job wouldn't exist. But I have a healthy respect for the Shoot-first-ask-questions-later school of decision-making, especially when compared to the decision-making paralysis that I often hear from my neighbors.

I especially loathe when somebody armed with a handful of soundbites and statistics can just shut up a whole room of smart people. This just slays me. Americans are supposed to be so feisty, so revolutionary, and we are so easily intimidated by even the intimation of authority.

It makes me glad that, as a lawyer, sometimes I get to counter authority with authority. I have a friend who is clergy and we have the same speak-softly-carry-a-big-stick orientation toward our respective titles. I won't strike first, but I will whip out the law degree if provoked.

When I was at college I studied under (crushed on) a wunderkind bioethicist whose one-word name Magnus could not help but command attention. It seemed then that he was always off picking fights with creationist school boards, which is how I got started thiking about these things. Well, that and I think every public policy type secretly wishes she'd gone into lab science.

Creationists, sick of looking like know-nothing yahoos, are organized now. They are often armed with zingers -- questions that take the discussion out of the shallow waters of don't you think monkeys kinda do look like us straight into the depths that give even the practicing biologists pause. Most people are so ill-educated on the matter that they will bare their neck to the alpha dog who whips out a couple of these.

One that used to absolutely shut my mouth is that for evolution to happen there would have to be a change not just in the quality of DNA but the quantity. I have to admit that my primitive monkey brain had no answer to that objection.

But now that there are science blogs in the world, there can be such glories as this accessible explanation of how chromosome numbers can change. Oh brave new blogosphere, that has
PZ Myers in't.

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