January footwear

January 14, 2011 • 11:50 am

This morning I got a nasty comment (now in the trash) from a Jesus-lover, chewing me out for criticizing Francis Collins, for being a lousy teacher, and for putting boots and cats on this website.  That prompted this post.

A snowy day is not necessarily the best day to wear these boots, but I step gingerly, avoiding puddles and salt strewn on the sidewalk.  These are full alligator boots by J. B. Hill of El Paso.

The skins on the shafts are cleverly pieced to make the scales on the back look like the side seam normally present on a boot:

Oh, and here’s the cat: a Japanese cat dyed to resemble a pig:

34 thoughts on “January footwear

  1. Jerry, you must have a small fortune (or maybe a large one) nvested in boots. I happen to have some idea of what this type of footware costs, and you’ve posted some awesome boots over the past months. It must feel funny to meet with colleagues and know that your footwear cost more than their suits (that is, if you have any colleagues that wear suits).

    1. As I mentioned once, I buy nearly all my boots on eBay at prices substantially below market price. For this pair, which was almost new, I probably paid less than 15% of J.B. Hill’s list prices.

  2. I didn’t know we were supposed to bring pictures of boots! Mine are black, knee high and have straps and buckles. Like I might leave work tonight and take over the world.

    Yours are good, too.

  3. Hi Jerry,

    I am a Jesus-lover, but I don’t mind the boots, and I thoroughly enjoy the cats (especially the lol cats)! I have looked at the picture of your new coffee mug at least a few times in the last couple days, and every time I laugh and laugh.

    I just finished your book a few weeks ago, and thought it was great. I found the evidence you presented very convincing. One area I still have trouble with is fathoming how natural selection could form complex systems, and the human brain.

    The section you had on natural selection forming eyes was quite good, and it helped the general goal of the book along adequately to be sure. However, if I wanted to get more information on this sub-topic specifically, where could I look?

    Thanks for writing the book, it really helped me to understand evolution a lot better and presented the evidence in a clear manner that even I could understand.

    1. On natural selection: I’d recommend two, in this order, and both by Richard Dawkins: The Blind Watchmaker and Climbing Mount Improbable.

    2. I’ve found that most people who get hung up on natural selection for other than religious reasons have a hard time comprehending the immensity of nature.

      Not only has life been evolving for billions of years, but each species has thousands-to-trillions of individuals, each of whom is a piece of the puzzle. If you have a breeding population of a million individuals and each individual has a half-dozen offspring every year, that’s an unbelievable amount of permutation going on. (No, not every child survives to reproduce — and that’s the engine that drives evolution!)

      The other common stumbling block is that evolution has no goal whatsoever. Evolution is almost a tautology: what survives is that which survives. Those that survive are more likely to have children that survive, and those children are more likely to resemble their parents than any other individual.

      The giraffe is a good example. Giraffes didn’t try to make their necks longer. No intelligence was guiding giraffes to make their necks longer. Rather, a long time ago, the great-great…grandparents of today’s giraffes had horse-length necks; we know this from the fossil record. Even today, some horses have longer and shorter necks than others. The giraffe ancestors with longer necks had more grandchildren than those with shorter necks. Those grandchildren had the same variation in neck length, but they started with longer necks to begin with. Again, the ones with longer necks had more great-great-grandchildren. Repeat with enough generations with enough individuals, and you get a modern giraffe.

      Another popular misconception is “irreducible complexity.” A brick arch is irreducibly complex and the best example of why the concept is a red herring. A species might start by building something that later turns out to be useful as a scaffolding for something else, and sometime later it might no longer need the original scaffolding. The famous bacterial flagellum is a classic example.

      Lastly, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that modern microbes are simple or unevolved. They’ve gone through far more evolution than primates for the simple fact that there’re far more of them and their generation time is measured in minutes. The technical term a modern bacterium would use for its billions-of-years-ago ancestors is, “lunch.”



      1. I agree. I daresay that your average run-of-the-mill academic evolutionary biologist (like me) doesn’t appreciate the immensity of time involved on a day to day basis. Sometimes I just sit back and review a few “scale analogies” (if a year is a millimeter, then a short jog is a million years, a short drive a few tens of millions of years, etc.) and it never fails to blow my mind.

        1. Human minds are so…linear. I *know* the answer to the problem about the grains of rice on the chessboard, but danged if I’m not still gobsmacked every time I sit down and work out the answer!

          (Great boots!)

    1. Never mind the alligators; they can mostly look after themselves, especially if flushed down a toilet (I apologize. That was probably wrong.)

      But who would do that to a poor, defenseless cat?

  4. Of all the boots I’ve seen on this site, these are by far the nicest. They are … awesome.
    (The kitty … not so much)

  5. Nice boots.
    Jerry, I know you travel a lot (even have been to my country The Netherlands, not too long ago).
    I hope you realize that by bringing (wearing!) those boots (involving skin of ‘exotic’ animals, like gator, rattler, ostrich, etc)) to certain countries (like The Netherlands!), you run the risk of having them confiscated when you go through customs .. with a stiff penalty “to boot”.

    1. err… just checked: maybe it’s not THAT big of a problem: the ‘ban’ is on products that involve animals that are on the ‘protected animals’ list.
      a. That’s the DUTCH list!
      b. And you’re still advised to bring proper documentation though, since customs agents probably can’t tell the difference between the hide of protected crocodiles from Malaysia and gators from a gator farm in the Everglades. And they’ll put the burden of proof on you.

  6. The skin on the side of the boot that mimics the seam is not from the alligator’s back, but from its tail. The lower part of the “seam”, where its double, are from the scales on the dorsal part of the tail called the double-crested caudals. The crests converge to form the single-crested caudals, which are the upper part of the “seam”. In the alligator, the double-crested caudals are on the base of the tail (behind the sacrum, extending posteriorly, and the double crested caudals are the more distal part of the tail.

  7. Other than the fact that I happen to like reptiles (yeah, weird, don’t need to be told that), those are some sweet boots.
    Has the aforementioned god-soaked nitwit even witnessed your teaching? I’d wager a good beer that they haven’t, but I’d likely never have the opportunity to pay up…

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