Daily Archives: November 4, 2012

David Coppedge was not fired because he is a creationist.

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory at NASA fired him for performance reasons.

Ars Technica’s John Timmer has the story:

Coppedge had worked on the Cassini mission to Saturn, starting as a contractor in 1996, and later becoming a full-time employee. But one of the projects he pursued on his own time was the promotion of intelligent design, the notion that the Universe and, most prominently, life itself, is too orderly to have come about without a designer. (Like many others in that movement, Coppedge is a self-identified evangelical Christian.)\

In 2009, he apparently got a bit aggressive about promoting these ideas at work, leading one employee to complain. … he had also aggressively promoted his opinion on California’s gay marriage ban, and had attempted to get JPL’s holiday party renamed to “Christmas party.” …. Coppedge was warned about his behavior at work, but he felt it was an infringement of his religious freedom, so he sued … part of a set of cutbacks on the Cassini staff, he was fired.

From another source:

JPL attorney Cameron Fox, however, contended Coppedge was a stubborn and disconnected employee who decided not to heed warnings to get additional training, even when it became clear the Cassini mission would be downsized and computer specialist positions eliminated.

Birds of Central Asia (Princeton Field Guide)

Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan … they all have birds, it turns out. Until now there has never been a field guid to the birds of this regino. Raffael Aye, Manuel Schweizer, and Tobias Roth have written one, and it is called, fittingly, Birds of Central Asia: Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan.

It covers 618 species using 143 plates with multiple birds on a plate, set up in classic Peterson Field Guide format with the range maps right with the bird descriptions across from the illustrations. The illustrations are drawings showing key features. There is a brief but informative overview of habitats to help make sense of the range maps and some helpful information on organizations linked to Central Asian birds and birding, but overall the front matter (and back matter) is minimal. I think that was a good choice given how many birds needed to be crammed into this one book.

To me, the Central Asian bird fauna looks lot like the Central North American bird fauna but with about double or triple the diversity and most of the names are different! The area covered is rather large, running from the Sapsian Sean to China (west to east) and the southern border of Russia to Pakistan and India (to the south). If you are going to the region, this is a good choice among the many …. oh no, wait, there is only one field guid. Let me rephrase: If you are going to the region, you will find this field guid to be useful and the fact that it has no competitors has not diminished its quality. It is a great field guide.