Monday, September 26, 2011

The Boy Scouts - NOT private, totally bigoted

A fantastic video by Dan Rezler about why the Boy Scouts of America is NOT a private organization that has the right to discriminate against homosexuals, atheists or agnostics:

And please note that the Girl Scouts of the USA does NOT have these same discriminatory policies; people who are homosexuals, atheists or agnostics can be members, can be troop leaders, etc. Totally different organization!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Recommend: John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

A while back, my husband and I took a two week motorcycle trip and, near the end of it, we found ourselves at the incredible John Day Fossil Beds National Monument in Eastern Oregon. The monument designation protects one of the longest and most continuous records of evolutionary change and biotic relationships in North America. It's internationally-known for its well-preserved layers of fossil plants and mammals that lived in this region between the late Eocene Epoch, about 44 million years ago (long after the dinosaurs), and the late Miocene Epoch, about 7 million years ago. The site has produced such a huge amount of fossils, all preserved in perfect layers that show exactly when they lived, that paleontologists from all over the world use the finds at the monument to date their own finds from these periods elsewhere.

If you go, don't miss the film that's shown in the visitor's center; it's relatively short and it explains, in really easy-to-understand language, why this site is important, and what the climate of the land mass that is now called John Day Fossil Beds was like during various periods in the Earth's history (and how it lead to the development of the animals and plants from those times - and, ultimately, their demise).

It's a great place to truly understand the wonder of evolution and the natural, real world. In fact, it does such a good job that I asked one of the staff members if anyone ever tries to dispute the facts with claims that the Earth is only 6000 to 8000 years old (depends on which fundamentalist you are talking to as to how old they think the Earth is), that none of the animals that the fossil records prove existed really did exist, etc. She said, indeed, every so often, they do show up, but that they go after much more well-known targets, like the Grand Canyon - and even have alternative descriptions posted at that site regarding how it came to be, disputing the scientific facts and asserting their literal interpretation of their creation myth as true.

I do enjoy reading indigenous creation myths when visiting a site - they are lovely stories that say so much about what humans value, about hopes and fears. But such are NOT fact, and should never be portrayed as such. I'm bothered by the bullying religious groups do to get their creation myth portrayed on the same level as scientific fact at national parks and monuments. Let's NOT let this happen at John Day Fossil Beds!