Staring tomorrow morning, if you are in the Twin Cities, there is Lynn Fellman’s talk at the Hennepin County Library downtown.

Lynn Fellman creates art that combines genetic data with creative imagery. Fellman will discuss basic genetic concepts, how art can uniquely express science concepts, and why many of us may find Neanderthal genetics in our DNA. Q&A session will follow.

Click here for more details on Lynn’s talk.

Then, on Sunday Morning, listen to Richard Fortey on ATT:

“Living fossil” is a term that might well have been calculated to drive evolutionary biologists insane. Evolution has stopped for no organism on Earth–except those that have gone extinct. However, some plants and animals have proved resilient enough that they still live on our planet in roughly the same forms they wore millions of years ago.

Richard Fortey is a distinguished writer and a BBC presenter. He is also a palaeontologist who is fascinated by the idea of seeing ancient history in our modern world. His latest book, Horseshoe Crabs and Velvet Worms: The Story of the Animals and Plants That Time Has Left Behind (in the UK, Survivors: The Animals and Plants That Time Has Left Behind) details and communicates that fascination, as does the BBC series Survivors: Nature’s Indestructible Creatures, which Fortey presented.

Click here for more details on Fortey’s talk.

One of my favorite people to talk to is Debbie Goddard, and she’s going to be on a call-in radio show later in the day on Sunday. Debbie will be talking about the Freethought Movement:

Debbie Goddard is the campus outreach coordinator at the Center for Inquiry Transnational in Amherst, NY. She is also the director of African Americans for Humanism, a program of the Council for Secular Humanism. Before working for CFI, she participated in local freethought groups in the greater Philadelphia region and helped organize and support campus groups internationally as a student volunteer. She has also been involved with progressive issues and LGBT activism.

Debbie’s first experience with organized freethought was in 2000, when she traveled to Amherst, New York, for a Center for Inquiry Student Leadership Conference. Inspired by the experience, she began attending freethought, humanist, atheist, and skeptic group meetings in the greater Philadelphia region, including in New York City, New Jersey, and central Pennsylvania. She also started a CFI-affiliated campus group at her college.

Click here for more info on Debbie’s radio chat.

Then, believe it or not, later that evening there is going to be a very interesting edition of Skeptically Speaking with Desiree Schell:

#162 The Science of Belief

This week, we’re talking about the perspective of science on the mechanisms of belief. We’re joined by science writer Jesse Bering, to discuss his book The Belief Instinct: The Psychology of Souls, Destiny, and the Meaning of Life. And on the podcast, we’ll dive into the neurology of religious faith with Dr. Andrew Newberg, author of How God Changes Your Brain.

We record live with Jesse Bering on Sunday, April 29 at 6 pm MT. The podcast will be available to download at 9 pm MT on Friday, May 4.

Click here for details on this episode of Skeptically Speaking

That’s a pretty darn interesting weekend coming up!

The US Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has ruled that transgender workers are a protected class.

In what some are calling a landmark decision, the EEOC has ruled that Title VII protects transgender workers from on-the-job discrimination. In part, the order states that “intentional discrimination against a transgender individual because that person is transgender is, by definition, ‘based on … sex’ and such discrimination … violates” the law.


This protection is backed by solid case law. EEOC rulings generally require propping by court cases, but this is fully expected since the courts have already done so. In fact, one might ask, “why did the EEOC not do this before?”

The attention of the Two Little Cousins and Huxley the Baby was easily diverted to the back of the house while Cousin Randy slipped out the front door into the cold dark night wearing the red suit and fake beard, carrying a bag of toys and a strap of sleigh bells. Suddenly, Cousin Chris exclaimed that she heard ringing sounds, and this made everyone stop talking and listen, theatrically. Sure enough, there was the sound of bells from somewhere outside! The two little cousins had a good idea what this meant; Huxley the Baby did not. Then, Grandpa exclaimed that he thought an animal had passed by the side window … a deer, maybe. No, said Grandma, a reindeer! Then there was a thud on the side of the house, and moments later a loud knock on the front door, which promptly flew open, letting in a cold draft, a few flurries of snow, and a large man with red cheeks and a gleam in his eye. …

Read more

On behalf of Yamileth Coreas-Leiva. Melody Hensley has organized a request for donations to help Yamileth out:

On Tuesday, April 24, 2012, a dear member of the freethought community and the Center for Inquiry-DC, Yamileth Coreas-Leiva, lost three family members in a carbon monoxide poisoning. Please consider donating what you can to help Yamileth with the cost of her family’s funerals and other expenses she may incur. Yamileth is the single mother of one and the financial cost will be great.

Click here to pitch in.

The local news report:

A supermarket bakery employee, her husband and three others were found dead inside a suburban Washington home Tuesday of suspected carbon monoxide poisoning, rattling a close-knit community of immigrant churchgoers who wept, hugged and comforted each other outside.
Fire officials blamed the deaths on a broken exhaust pipe that pumped carbon monoxide back into the home.
Two of the dead were discovered by a relative who went to the home Tuesday morning, concerned for his family’s welfare. The other three were found soon after by firefighters who measured levels of carbon monoxide so high as to lead to death within mere hours, said Mark Brady, a spokesman for the Prince George’s County fire department. A dog also was removed from the home on oxygen support.

I asked you to parody the GOP response to President Obama’s “Slow Jam” of the news, as part of the GOP-Spin game here on The X Blog. And you laughed! I know, I didn’t see or year you laugh, but I know you were laughing!

Well, it turns out that the GOP was rather put off by the thing, according to Media Matters, and brought to my attention by Steve Benen at the Maddowblog.

Fox News has responded to President Obama’s appearance on NBC’s Late Night with Jimmy Fallon by suggesting that Obama is somehow denigrating the office of the presidency. For instance, today on Fox & Friends, co-host Gretchen Carlson said that it’s “nutso” for Obama to go on “these comedy shows” because it “lowers the status of the office.”

So, George Bush on Deal or No Deal and Richard Nixon on Laugh-In were OK, but Obama on Jimmy Fallon was wrong.

Can someone please ‘splain this to me????

Former CIA Deputy Director Jose Rodriguez, now an executive with National Interest Security Company. He is a felon, but he appears to have something on the DOJ so he will not be prosecuted.

“I cannot tell you how disgusted my former colleagues and I felt to hear ourselves labeled ‘torturers’ by the president of the United States,” when all we really did was to strap people to a board and pour water into their noses and mouths to they felt the sensation of drowning, for several hours a day every day for months, and stuff.

That is the sentiment of Jose Rodriguez’s new book, Hard Measures: How Aggressive CIA Actions After 9/11 Saved American Lives. Continue reading

I’m trying out a new feature on The X Blog. I give you a news story and you provide the Republican Spin for the story.

In today’s story, some Pabst Blue Ribbon swigging hipster spilled frozen yogurt on the President of the United States. From the Washington Post:

During an unscheduled stop at a restaurant and bar here late Tuesday, President Obama ordered a pizza, shook hands, posed for pictures, bought some t-shirts — and got some yogurt spilled on his pants by an enthusiastic fan. … On his way to a speech to about 10,000 people at the University of Colorado, the president wiped his pants clean with a towel, made a quip about the Secret Service and said to the woman responsible for the spill: “Getting yogurt on the president, you’ve got a story to tell.”

Go …

Keynote talk by multimedia artist Lynn Fellman for Minneapolis DNA Days

Do you know why some people are 1 to 4% Neandertal? Lynn Fellman explains how your Uncle Ned and maybe you have an “Inner Neander” during her art and science talk on April 28th. The presentation is one of many talks at Twin City libraries to celebrate National DNA Days.


“Your Inner Neandertal” is a 30 minute presentation showing how art can uniquely express science concepts and why some of us may find a little “Neander” in our genes. With examples from “At the Crossroads” video and DNA Portrait traveling show, Fellman explains how some genes may be a surprising and generous gift from our ancient and now extinct cousins.

Saturday, April 28th at 11 am
Minneapolis Downtown Hennepin Library
This keynote talk for Minneapolis DNA Days is free and open to the public. Please register (go here).
For more information, parking and directions (go here).

More DNA Days events at area libraries will cover topics like genetic testing and screening, capturing family health history and tools for collecting the information.

Illuminating Human Gene Stories through art, design and narrative
Lynn Fellman multimedia artist

You know about the Minneapolis Spoon if for no other reason than you read Biodork who uses it as a symbol in her blog’s motif. Last night someone gratified the spoon with the word Kony:

And now, the Kitty Kats …

(Sorry, I was going to put the second video in this blog post but something about the first video made embedding any second video impossible. Thank you for the upgrade WordPress and WCCO!)

One of the Watergate Plumbers has died. This was Charles W. Colson. He was 80. Colson was one of the main architects of the “dirty tricks” carried out by the Republican White House under Nixon. Considering that his main accomplishment was to ruin Democracy in America and cause a unprecedented level of distrust in the government by Americans (a distrust which continues to this day) he didn’t spend much time in prison. Also, he is famous for his Jailhouse Conversion, becoming an Evangelical Christian in order to distract people from considering his appalling behavior.

He received the Templeton Prize, worth about a million bucks, in 1993. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how it works around here, apparently.

This week, we’re joined by Robert FitzPatrick, founder of Pyramid Scheme Alert, and co-author of False Profits: Seeking Financial and Spiritual Deliverance in Multi-Level Marketing and Pyramid Schemes. He’ll discuss the promises and pitfalls of schemes, and how to tell legitimate direct selling from multi-level marketing scams. And on the podcast, we’ll speak to Paul Piff, researcher at the Institute of Personality and Social Research at the University of California, Berkeley, about his research on the relationship between social class and unethical behavior.

We record live with Robert FitzPatrick on Sunday, April 22 at 6 pm MT. The podcast will be available to download at 9 pm MT on Friday, April 27.

Details and links here!

If you have questions you’d like John to address, put them in the comments and do my best to get to them!

John Hawks is one of the nation’s leading palaeoanthropologists, and has lately been working with ancient DNA, recent and earlier Human Evolution, and an interesting project that is a sort of casting call for extinct humans and their relatives.

Most of you know John from his famous Internet site called “John Hawks Weblog: Paleoanthropology, Genetics and Evolution.” John is an associate professor of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, which is one of the better known and respected for this sort of research.

Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you know that there are many interesting and exciting things going on in human origins research these days, and on Sunday Morning, on Atheist Talk Radio, John and I will cover as many of them as we can. Were the Clovis people Solutreans? How many hominids were there in recent prehistory? And, what do both ancient and modern DNA studies tell us about the Neanderthal side of the human family?

Listen to AM 950 KTNF on Sunday at 9 a.m. Central to hear Atheists Talk, produced by Minnesota Atheists. Stream live online. Call in to the studio: 952-946-6205, or send an e-mail to during the live show.