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Belated Creature Feature: Interview with the Esteemed Herr Doktor

[ 10 ] October 25, 2014 |

You may know LGM commenter herr doktor bimler as the the quick-witted smarty-pants who makes you look at weird stuff, but I know herr doktor bimler as a quick-witted smarty-pants who makes me look at weird stuff and also is a fancy-schmancy school doctor. I’ll let him take it from here:

I am a lowly Ph.D. Massey University pays me a pittance as a Research
Affiliate, i.e. to publish enough papers to burnish their reputation. The
Teutonic styling is so that if anyone in a comment thread complains about
my pompous pedantry, I can point to the “Herr Doktor” and tell them “What
the fuck do you expect??”

Lately most of those papers have been about perceptual psychology and
colour vision, but my research area is anything I want it to be. I am
happy to pretend to be knowledgeable about multiple topics.

Long story short, he is super-smart and knows a lot of stuff about a lot of things. So I decided to ask him about dinosaur things.

But first he demurs a bit…

 Bear in mind, [I] only [have] a layman’s knowledge of dinos. I read Tetrapod
Zoology and remember stuff (I never could work out why people *forget*
stuff; it only means that you have to learn it again in the future).

Now let’s get to the fun stuff.

> 1.) The Dreadnoughtus was recently discovered and is now thought to be the
> biggest dinosaur that existed. What are your thoughts? Do we know for sure
> it was bigger than Agentinosaurus? (I couldn’t find any charts comparing
> it to Argentinosaurus)

Here’s a chart for you:

(from Paleoking). The existing bones of Dreadnoughtus are *smaller* than
other known dinosaurs (including Agentinosaurus), but the individuals
weren’t fully grown, so the size of a full-grown Dreadnoughtus remains
fair game for speculation.Our Dark Lord (Darren Naish at Tetrapod Zoology) has not weighed in yet so
I dare not venture an opinion, for fear of the scorpion pits if I guess
> 2.) Paleontologist Jack Horner thinks that Dracorex, Stygimoloc and
> Pachycephalosaurus may have been the same dinosaur during different stages
> of its life. There have been similar theories regarding Triceratops and
> Torosaurus. Do you think there’s any validity to either theory?

> 3.) What is your favorite dinosaur and why?

I’m going to say the Azhdarchidae, (a) because think how many points that
would score in a Scrabble game, and (b) so you can complain that
pterosaurs aren’t dinosaurs.
> 4.) Do you think that Therizinosaurus used it claws to root out insects to
> eat? If he did, would he still be considered a plant-eater?
 Clearly Therizinosaurus used its scary reaver claws for doing jazz-hands.
Don’t you want to see a whole troupe of Therizinosauri in a dance revue?
One more thing: herr doktor would like me to point you to my last post, where I claimed that the Pentaceratops on display at the Sam Noble museum had the biggest skull ever found. It turns that, though it is labeled “Pentaceratops”, it is, in fact, a Titanoceratops.

Andrew Sullivan: Team GamerGate

[ 223 ] October 24, 2014 |

Does this surprise anyone? It didn’t surprise me in the least.

Thai Braised Chicken

[ 17 ] October 23, 2014 |

Last night I needed to use up some chicken thighs and legs I had thawed. I was tired of the same crap I usually make and was really crazing some Asian flavors…so I came up with this:

Thai Braised Chicken

  • 6-8 pieces dark meat, bone-in chicken (Skin chicken if you are averse to having a fattier, richer sauce. Skin will not get crackly crisp, but will not be soggy gross, either.)
  • 2 bell peppers, sliced thinly
  • 1 onion, sliced thinly
  • I can coconut milk
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 heaping tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1-2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste (Adjust for your heat tolerance; I use a heaping 1 1/2)
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. yellow Indian curry powder
  • lime wedges and chopped cilantro, for serving
  • hot, cooked rice
  1. Preheat oven to 325.
  2. In a bowl combine coconut milk, sugar, fish sauce, curry mixes, and lime juice
  3. In a large dutch oven, heat some oil ’til almost smoking. Salt and pepper chicken pieces, brown them, then remove them from the pan and set aside.
  4. Season (lightly!) the veggies then sauté them in the oil/fat for a minute or two.
  5. Pour in the coconut milk/curry sauce, stirring to mix everything.
  6. Nestle the chicken pieces in the sauce (taking care to keep skin above braising liquid) and put the (lid-off!) dutch oven in the oven. Braise for 1 1/2 – 2 hours, until chicken is almost falling off the bone and veggies are tender.
  7. Serve over rice with lime wedges (a squeeze of lime here is wonderful) and chopped cilantro.

Also, check out these sweet dance moves. 


Can You Beat Aimai?

[ 55 ] October 21, 2014 |

Do you remember my “one pot, one skillet” post awhile back? Well, a lot of you shared some of your favorite one-pot meals. I read through just about the entire thread, and there were LOTS of delicious offerings, but one dish really stood out (to me) and that was Aimai’s Jamie Oliver roasted chicken recipe. It was truly one-pot cooking, with an ease, a hint of sophistication, a depth of flavor, and a built-in sauce that you simply do not often find, even in beloved one-pot recipes.

I’ve made Jamie’s Aimai’s recipe probably close to to ten times since she shared it, varying ingredients (only very slightly) and cooking methods. It’s never turned out poorly. In fact, each time it’s been somewhere between “this is great” to “my tastebuds are climaxing.” The bones of this recipe are that solid.

Take one 4 lb chicken
10 garlic cloves
Handful of fresh sage
1 cinnamon stick
1 dried red pepper (or two)
Peel of one lemon
Juice of one lemon
1 cup milk
1/2 cup or 1 cup of dry white wine
Onions–Sliced in quarters longitudinally so the shape will be preserved.
Celery–sliced in long batons about 2 inches
sometimes parsnips–same size as the carrots

Salt and pepper the chicken all over. Brown it in butter or olive oil. Drain pan but save any sticky bits. Then put the vegetables and all the other ingredients in a roasting pan or a dutch oven and put the chicken down on top, nested in the liquid, and cook until the top is browned and golden, chicken is done, and the base vegetables are cooked. The milk and the lemon will “break” and make a classic sauce. For extra killer deprssion repair you can add some cream at the last minute to the sauce and you get an unbelievably rich sauce for pouring over potatoes or rice or dipping bread.


My challenge for you is this: Can you top Aimai’s recipe?

Also…marinated cheese? Yes.

#GamerGate: a Primer by Sly

[ 169 ] October 18, 2014 |

Hope LGM frequenter, Sly doesn’t mind being a front-pager tonight. I just want everyone to see his great summation of GamerGate:

Here’s a basic but somewhat detailed summation:

      • Most people who have been on-line long enough get to know about the various self-identifications that form the loose confederation of Organized On-Line Misogyny: Your Red Pillers, your Slymepitters, your MRAs, your Incels, your PUAs, your MGTOWers, etc. Though they differ in the details of their reason for being women-haters, they are unified to the extent that they (a) hate women and (b) use the Internet to talk to and organize with other women-haters. Feminists know them well. Veterans of the Skeptic-Misogyny conflicts got to learn over the past few years how they can’t stand women who have the temerity to bring their lady-brains into what they, the misogynists, assume to be de facto male spaces.

        Anyway, #GamerGate is essentially a repeat of what happened within the Skeptic/New Atheism movement. A subculture that was predominantly male and thus saturated with all the notions of masculinity that men are socialized to accept as natural, whether they are unhealthy or not, is becoming less predominantly male. The men who cling to those notions of masculinity, especially the toxic varieties, see that they are losing cultural capital among their peers. They feel marginalized, and those within the confederation of On-Line Misogynists find a new fora for their overtly toxic anti-feminism. Reactionary movement ensues to “take back” the subculture from the people who are ruining it. Many bystanders who have no idea whats going on get swept up as cannon fodder in a conflict they know nothing about and useful idiots for a ideology that they’d otherwise reject.

        It is in this context that Zoe Quinn’s ex-boyfriend posted his missive in which he alleged that Quinn traded sex for good press. The misogynists seized upon it, pointing out yet another instance of how women ruin everything. Doxxing/Harrassment/Threats ensued. When the allegation turned out to be bunk, the Doxxing/Harrassment/Threats had to be justified somehow, so more doxxing was done to find something to rationalize the initial breech. Quinn doxxed another charity (also false). Quinn slept with her boss for a promotion (also false). Quinn made up the doxxing/harassment/threats (plainly false). The conspiracy theories were rampant, and the campaign took on a new title when actor and wingnut jerkoff Adam Baldwin was the first to tweet one of the original conspiracy videos under the hashtag “GamerGate.”

        Various attempts were made to shield the harassers and conspiracy mongers from allegations of sexism, like organized donations to the charity that Quinn didn’t dox, the manufacturing of a “chillgirl” gamer mascot who, like, totally doesn’t need feminism because it’s not like it was 100 years ago – GAWD WHY DONT YOU JUST LET ME PLAY GAMES, setting up sockpuppet twitter accounts claiming to be women and minorities using the hashtag #NotYourShield, etc. All of this was deliberately organized as a means of public relations.

        Those of us who saw how utterly stupid and noxious this was started voicing our disgust. Leigh Alexander, a writer and Editor-At-Large for Gamasutra, published an article titled “‘Gamers’ don’t have to be your audience. ‘Gamers’ are over” in which she said that the changing face and mentality of the gamer identity is a welcome thing, because people who believe that they have a license to exclude others from the identity by any means necessary – up to and including waging campaigns of harassment – are a bunch of rabid jackals in the midst of a death rattle. Other on-line publications put out similar articles. This is ultimately what blew everything up, because if there’s one thing that reactionaries cannot stand is when you stop criticizing what they love and start criticizing them directly. They forgot about Zoe Quinn (GamerGaters now refer to her as “Literally Who #1,” or “LitWhoW1,” while Sarkeesian is “LitWho2″), and switched their harassment campaign to those critical on-line publications.

        Otherwise neutral parties were swept up into the “movement” as its Useful Idiots, misunderstanding the “‘Gamers’ are Over” message as an assault on anyone who plays videogames. These people likely now constitute a majority of GamerGaters, and is why so many GamerGaters claim they don’t support doxxing and harassment. To be fair they’re being honest, but they exist solely as a shield for the misogynists to voice and act upon their misogyny.

        And so, at the present moment, GamerGate, as a collective identity, is composed of two groups preoccupied with the following causes:

        Group #1: Scouring any tint of cultural leftism from gaming.

        Group #2: Disavowing Group #1.

        Group #1 survives by trading complicated conspiracy theories done up as 30-minute YouTube vidoes or 120000×80000 pixel MS-Paint images, linking articles from anti-feminist writers at Forbes and Breitbart to one another, and totally crushing on anti-feminist women like Christina Hoff Sommers (because, as everyone knows, you can’t be a misogynist if you’re a woman or agree with a woman who spouts anti-feminist gibberish). That, and trading cartoon kiddie porn and creepshots on 8chan.

        Group #2 survives by shouting “NOT ALL GAMERS ARE LIKE THAT!” without realizing that no one is talking to them.

Live-Tweet Q&A with bspencer

[ 126 ] October 17, 2014 |

Hey guys, I finally got to wrap up my latest piece:

Will You to Life

Once in a blue moon someone will ask me a question about my art. I  enjoy getting these questions, but I always feel like they get lost in the hustle and bustle of blogging and life. So I don’t get to give them the time and attention I’d like to give them. How can I solve this problem? Well, by answering questions in 140 characters or less, of course. So this evening at 9:00 Eastern time, I’m going to have live Q&A session on twitter. (You can also ask me questions about my art or my process here in the comments.) Actually, ask me anything. Almost.

Here are the sort of questions you can ask me:

What is with your obsession with taffeta and hair that defies the laws of physics? Are you some kind of weirdo?

Is it true that some of the finest digital artists of our time cry themselves to sleep knowing they’ll never achieve the level of greatness you’ve achieved? (Yes. Glad we got that out of the way.)

Here are the sorts of the questions you should not ask me:

Why do you suck so much? (Answer will not fit 140-character format.)

Is it true that Zoe Quinn travelled back in time in a time machine (THAT A MAN BUILT) and instead of killing Hitler she decided to ruin video games in the future?

Anyway, there it is. I expect this will go very poorly, in that no one will actually bother asking me any questions, but I’m going to have a drink in my hand and dragons fucking cars tabbed, so I’m going to have a great night either way. I hope I see ya’ll later this evening.

Is that Five Horns on Your Face or Do You Just Have the Biggest Skull Ever Discovered?: Friday Creature Feature

[ 34 ] October 17, 2014 |

If you’re ever in Oklahoma I urge you to visit the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History. It’s not a huge museum, but it’s a whole lot of fun. The star of the show is the Hall of Ancient Life. Look what I found there:

But it gets better. See, when you get to the Cretaceous period, there’s a Pentaceratops on display. What’s so special about this enormous ceratopsian? Oh, nothing…just the fact that it happens to have the LARGEST SKULL EVER DISCOVERED EVER THAT’S RIGHT THE LARGEST. OF ALL TIME.

I stood mere feet from the skull, and it was at precisely that point that I discovered that pictures of fossils and artists’ renderings of prehistoric life simply do not convey to you how massive and otherworldly these ancient creatures were. The Penty was AMAZING, awe-inspiring. And, perhaps because I was so awed and amazed or perhaps because I’m a big, dumb idiothead, I did not snap a photo. But anyway, here’s someone else’s photo. Set peepers on THIS!:

All hail King Penty.


UPDATE: I have been alerted to the fact that the giant skull belongs to a Titanoceratops, not a Penty. My apologies for not being up on the latest developments freakishly-large-skull-discovery. 

#GamerGate: Opinions Differ

[ 55 ] October 12, 2014 |

Yes, more #GamerGate.

And, for balance, one of the best things written on the subject to date.
Pay close attention to the stuff the author says about de-politicizing game reviews. Yes, this, a million times THIS.

Sorry, Loomis, but Halloween Is Mine

[ 14 ] October 12, 2014 |

Apologies to my co-blogger, who is probably attending to his actual life now…but I must direct everybody’s attention to these horrifying historical Halloween (say that 5 times fast!) photos RIGHT. NOW.

DISCLAIMER: bspencer is not responsible for any nightmares that result from looking at photos.

#GamerGate Is Still Going On

[ 67 ] October 11, 2014 |

And because it’s still going on (along with its attendant doxxing, rape and death threats), many women have come forward to talk about the harassment they face as game developers/gamers/feminists/skeptics/atheists.

Friday Creature Feature: Sorry for These Creatures

[ 21 ] October 10, 2014 |

Tonight we’re checking with Greta Christina. No, she’s not the creature. It’s the dudes who said the disgusting things to her that are tonight’s creature feature. I know–gross. But, you know what? The news isn’t all bad. She’s got a really positive post up too. And I wanted to add an Amen to it. See, this isn’t the first time I’ve read this post, or this iteration of this sort of post. I’ve read blog entries from other feminists who’ve said they’ve gotten similar feedback. I’ve read comments from newly-minted feminists who’ve said “thank you for opening my eyes.” And there’s this:  I’ve learned a lot from being online, from reading liberal and feminist blogs. I’ve examined my own privilege. Hell, I’ve become aware of the concept of privilege. I’ve learned not to make jerky transphobic jokes. (Shame on former me.) I’ve also given up the word “retard,” even though I never used it with actual mentally disabled people in mind. (Doesn’t matter; I shouldn’t have been using the word–period.)

I’ve learned a crapload about the challenges women, people of color, LBGT and poor people face. It’s been depressing and fulfilling at the same time. Why fulfilling? Because I feel like I’ve “met” an awful lot of people who give a shit, give a shit about everybody: men and women and people of color, gay and trans people. And a lot of these people who care? They’re white dudes. Some of them pretty privileged white dudes. So, in the end, I feel like we’re all in this together…and we’re all still learning. It makes me feel hopeful. For once.

Toxic Tokenism

[ 154 ] October 9, 2014 |

If you accuse a woman who’s also a misogynist that she enjoys the attention and validation she gets from male misogynists, you’re bound to be accused of misogyny yourself. It’s a cute trick, but here’s why it doesn’t work: so long as there are oppressed groups there are going to be members of those groups who work to appeal to the dominant group. (These dominant groups always seem to made up primarily of straight, white men–it’s weird how that works.) Anyhow, toxic tokenism is certainly not something that only conservative women engage in. People of color and LBGT folks also dabble. Why? It’s the allure of being extraordinary! Let me illustrate…

Snowflake the Very Special Head of Cauliflower: Hey, cauliflower-hating humans, I know you hate cauliflower. I totally get it. We’re all white and cauliflowery gross. I know. I hate us too.

Anti-Cauliflowerites: Yeah, totally. Most of you are pretty gross and stupid and taste like poop.

Snowflake the Very Special Head of Cauliflower: Oh, I absolutely agree. But I’m not like those other heads of cauliflower–I’m special, I’m different. See, I know you’re right about us being gross. And I’m not always going on about how you should slather us in oil and roast us in the oven until we’re golden and sweet-nutty-tasting…maybe toss us with a little parmesan cheese…Hold on. I got distracted. Anyway, yes, we suck.

Anti-Cauliflowerites: You know what? You’re pretty cool. You’re one of the good ones. I wish all the cauliflower could be like you.

Snowflake the Very Special Head of Cauliflower: *long, sad sigh* Me too. [Inner monologue: NOT REALLY! NOT REALLY! NOT REALLY!]

The spirit of Snowflake the Very Special Head of Cauliflower can be seen inhabiting the bodies of lots of toxic tokens:

Sarah Palin: “You’re not like those other women–you’re not an ugly feminist and you’re procreating like a champ! We give you an 8 on the Duggar Scale!”

Ben Carson: “You’re not like those other Blacks. I’m pretty sure you’ve never heard a rap song in your life. Also, we know nothing about you but want you to be president.”

Log Cabin Republicans: “Sure, we hate you, but last time we checked your ripply muscled arms–toned from your last mutual masturbation party–are just as good at pulling the voting lever as they are for all the hot, disgusting, titillating…hold on. We got distracted. Anyway, we’re totally down with your voting for us. But no traditional marriage for you!”

To which all the misogynist women and self-loathing people of color and gays say “Make me your token!” Because the allure of being special, of being different, of being extraordinary is JUST. THAT. STRONG for some very weak people.

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