what do turtles, sea slugs, religion, and TED all have in common?

…absolutely nothing, actually, except that they’re all mentioned in this post. I’m feeling lazy very busy this week, so instead of writing a long and boring diatribe about clowns, ROIs, or personality measures, I’ll just link to a few interesting pieces elsewhere:

Razib of Gene Expression has an interesting post on the rapid secularization of America, and the relation of religious affiliation to political party identification. You wouldn’t know it from the increasing political clout of the religious right, but Americans are substantially more likely to report having no religious affiliation today than they were 20 years ago. I mean a lot more likely. In Vermont, over a third of the population now reports having no religion. Here’s an idea, Vermont: want to generate more tourism? I present your new slogan: Vermont, America’s Europe.

Sea slugs are awesome. If you doubt this, consider Exhibit A: a sea slug found off the East Coast that lives off photosynthesis:

The slugs look just like a leaf, green and about three centimetres long, and are found off the east coast of North America from Nova Scotia to Florida.

They acquire the ability to photosynthesize by eating algae and incorporating the plants’ tiny chlorophyll-containing structures, called chloroplasts, into their own cells.

You can’t make this stuff up! It’s a slug! That eats algae! And then turns into  leaf!

I’m a big fan of TED, and there’s a great interview with its curator, Chris Anderson, conducted by reddit. Reddit interviews are usually pretty good (see, e.g., Barney Frank and Christopher Hitchens); who knew the internet had the makings of a great journalist?!?

Ok, now for the turtles. According to PalMD, they cause salmonella. So much so that the CDC banned the sale of turtles under 4 inches in length in 1975. Apparently children just loved to smooch those cute little turtles. And the turtles, being evil, loved to give children a cute little case of salmonella. Result: ban small turtles and prevent 200,000 infections. Next up: frog-banning and salami-banning! Both are currently also suspected of causing salmonella outbreaks. Is there any species those bacteria can’t corrupt?

sea slug or leaf?