7 Quick Takes (4/27/12)

— 1 —

Yesterday, I wrote a post about what I do here at Unequally Yoked to minimize trolling and facilitate productive debate between believers and atheists.  But, as much as I’d like to give sole credit for defusing tensions to frequent math geekery, I’m really grateful to the commenters for almost always good behavior.  So the theme for this week’s Takes is just Things that are Objectively Awesome.

— 2 —

And I’m leading off with one of the most awesome things I’ve seen in some time.  Mary Queen of Scots once stitched a hammerhead shark into her embroidery.  I may be in love.


— 3 —

Last weekend, I went up to NYC with my family and saw a totally delightful show called Peter and the Starcatcher which is set before the events of Peter Pan.  (I read the book it was based on, and I don’t recommend it in that form).  In the sneak peek below, you can get a sense of the spare, inventive set and the zany humor:

Black Stache (Captain Hook before he had a hook) had all the best lines.  Amongst them:

“You need to connect, Peter.  No man is an archipelago”

“You’ve single-handedly rendered me single handed.  Well, you may think my ship has sailed, but I have an armada of options at my former fingertips”

— 4 —

Black Stache is my second-favorite villainous singing pirate.  First prize belongs to Tim Curry’s Long John Silver in Muppet Treasure Island.



— 5 —

Meanwhile, in the not villainous but still musical and definitely awesome genre, Bill Nye the Science Guy singing and dancing to his own theme song (as played by a band named Bill Nye and the Science Guys).

— 6 —

And speaking of science awesomeness, I was really delighted by Rep Jim Cooper’s new push to highlight how national funding for basic science saves lives.  Via Ezra Klein:

On Wednesday afternoon, Cooper rose to the defense of taxpayer-funded research into dog urine, guinea pig eardrums and, yes, the reproductive habits of the parasitic flies known as screwworms–all federally supported studies that have inspired major scientific breakthroughs. Together with two House Republicans and a coalition of major science associations, Cooper has created the first annual Golden Goose Awards to honor federally funded research “whose work may once have been viewed as unusual, odd, or obscure, but has produced important discoveries benefiting society in significant ways.”

Federally-funded research of dog urine ultimately gave scientists and understanding of the effect of hormones on the human kidney, which in turn has been helpful for diabetes patients. A study called “Acoustic Trauma in the Guinea Pig” resulted in treatment of early hearing loss in infants. And that randy screwworm study? It helped researchers control the population of a deadly parasite that targets cattle–costing the government $250,000 but ultimately saving the cattle industry more than $20 billion, according to Cooper’s office.

— 7 —

So thanks again for being productively aggressive everyone!  And stay on good behavior so I don’t have to summon up one of these.

Apparently titled: The Archangel Barachiel with Harquebus

(Explanation of armed angels and one more example via TYWKIWDBI)



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  • Shiver my timbers, shiver my soul …

  • #6 Great scientific discoveries always seem to come about accidentally or from seemingly unrelated research. Penicillin was an accident and Rogaine was originally meant for some kind of sleeping disorder.

    • SAk7

      And where would the modern world be without that slip up by 3m what now be your Post-It? (and I don’t know why I be slippin’ into pirate speak.)

    • leahlibresco

      Those tend to be the stories we most like to tell, but plenty of others are just sheer dogged hard work (viz. Paul Ehrlich’s magic bullet)

  • One of the guys in the Bill Nye tribute band is an old high school friend of mine.

    • leahlibresco

      Please tell him from me that he rocks.

  • Too bad I can’t see the videos… but that embroidery is awesome.

  • Cous

    I read the book “Peter and the Starcatchers” first, and thoroughly enjoyed it, but was kind of turned off by the previews I saw of the play…maybe the play’s good if you don’t think of it as trying to capture the book (half of it’s Dave Barry, after all).

    Bill Nye! Probably the only kids TV theme song besides his that can instantly improve my mood is The Magic School Bus.

    • leahlibresco

      I was frustrated by how often characters left people to die and then walked away, even though they had tried this about twice already on that specific person and it hadn’t worked. The lack of menace plus the resurrections made the stakes too low for me.

      • Patrick

        Really? Magic School Bus has gotten dark.

        • Cous

          I haven’t watched a new MSB episode in approximately 7 years (every time I go home, they appear to be showing only re-runs), so that may very well be true. What kind of “darker” stuff are they doing these days?

          • leahlibresco

            I think Patrick was making fun of me for not making my antecedent clear. I was complaining about the lack of strategic murder in Peter and the Starcatchers, not Magic School Bus.

          • Cous

            hahaha I see. There was that time when Arnold almost died on Pluto…

  • Spambot3049

    I respect efforts for federal funding of odd-sounding or obscure research topics. The marketplace is too often interested in the quick buck, so private funding may not always be sufficient, even if the potential payoff is good. It’s just that Congressional interest in providing the funds is sometime proportionate to whose district the work is being done in. So, I do also support increased scrutiny on projects where the benefits are not obvious.

  • Joe

    Thank you, Leah for producing probably the best blog on the web!!! Were else can I go to both learn about scientific stuff and religion?!!!

  • New here. Came by way of this discussion about good/bad debates. Seems to be a pleasant blog. I especially like the embroidery pic. Should be fun if you can find old hammerhead shark stitching on a blog.