Of Pandas and PeopleLast  Friday was the eighth anniversary of “Kitzmas,” the December, 20, 2005 ruling in the Kitzmiller v. Dover case involving “intelligent design” creationism. Unless you’ve just stepped off the Beagle from your epic eight-year round-the-world expedition, you know that this ruling was an unequivocal victory for science.

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About eleven miles past the launch point to the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon, boats just beginning their voyage down the turbulent, vermillion river often pull over to the left bank to examine a bedroom-sized slab of pale sandstone. This block of the Coconino Sandstone long ago detached from vertiginous cliffs high above, skidding to an off-kilter stop on layers of maroon shale. Rafters unaccustomed to walking on a swaying boat gingerly find their sea legs as they wend their way around bulky, unfamiliar gear.

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The second funniest thing that happened to me this week was discovering a package from the Heartland Institute in my faculty mailbox. Most well-adjusted people wouldn't find this amusing, but I was already well-familiar with Heartland's recent climate denialist mailing to teachers, and had even blogged about its strange alternative reality.

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The Heartland Institute recently conducted a mass mailing to K-12 and college teachers promoting its new “Climate Change Reconsidered” report. Heartland encouraged teachers to read the summary of the report and “use that work to inform your thinking—and your students—on this important issue.” What is this exactly?

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The recent federal government shutdown involved not only furloughing federal employees but also restricting access to our national parks. From Yosemite to Yellowstone, from Bryce Canyon to the Bright Angel Trail, countless people were turned away from what, for some, could have been a once in a lifetime experience. At the Lee’s Ferry launch site, where Grand Canyon river trips begin, rafters who endured a decade-long waiting list were prevented from launching on their appointed day.

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