What we're talking about Friday, February 24, 2017

Pro-Science Gets Organized

Inevitably, with the announcement of The March for Science on Earth Day, April 22nd of this year, come the inevitable naysayers decrying the politicization of science. Astroturf groups such as ACSH (diversity excludes white dudes and scientists from industry!), have of course decried the effort as a liberal conspiracy, but I was sad to see…

I’ve been thinking a lot about this the last week or so, with media appearances already out there and more to come. The list of links I’ve amassed is quite impressive, a significant number to add to the post highlighting Sarah Boon’s advice. But that was a week or so ago, which seems like an…

Rosa Parks wasn’t just some kid who decided to defy white authority and relinquish her seat on the bus. For one thing, she was a bit older than a kid. For another, she carried out this defiant act as part of a larger strategy to cause necessary and urgent change in the rules of society.…

The March for Science is scheduled to take place April 22, 2017 in DC . Hashtag #ScienceMarch Twitter account here. Web site here, though not much there yet, this was JUST announced seconds ago. Please note that they are accepting donations. Click through to the donations page to give a donation! Alternate logo here: To…

Outrage at Donald Trump has coalesced around several political loci, including women's rights, immigration, environmentalism, and scientific endeavor at large. As Trump threatens to roll back regulations and de-fund universities, Mark Hoofnagle points out that science has always been political, increasingly so in an age when politicians control huge sums of money devoted to basic research. Despite major discoveries funded by taxpayer dollars, Mark says scientists have failed "to explain the benefits of basic science to the public and to our representatives in government, and failed to defend our colleagues from misrepresentation of their work for cheap political gain."

Meanwhile, as a veteran of the Canadian "war on science," John Dupuis suggests how pro-science Americans can join the fray: "Don’t bring a test tube to a Bunsen burner fight. Mobilize, protest, form partnerships, wrote op-eds and blog posts and books and articles, speak about science at every public event you get a chance, run for office." Greg Laden demands that we do our homework, writing "organized activism produces results, having a plan matters." One plan worth making is to join the March for Science on April 22nd in Washington D.C.

Channel Surfing

Life Science

Biologist and author Bill Schutt has a new book out: Cannibalism: A perfectly natural history. He and I talked about cannibalism on Ikonokast: Click here to check it out! It is was a fun interview, and Bill’s book is excellent. See also: You Come From Cannibals Among Cannibals Cannibal, Native, Indigenous On Cannibalism and Jameson…

Fin whales have big mouths, really big mouths. When your meals consist of tiny krill, it is understandable why you would evolve the ability to stretch your mouth super-wide. With each meal comes a lot of water, which expands a pouch in the bottom of their mouths. As the pouch expands, all of the tissues in the pouch expand…

As I was looking through the scientific literature the other day, I came across an article published in 1973, “The Evolutionary Advantages of Being Stupid.” With a title like that, how could I not read it? In this article Dr. Eugene D. Robin discussed how larger and more complex brains are associated with greater intelligence, which…

Physical Science

“When Benjamin Franklin inveted the lightning rod, the clergy, both in England and America, with enthusiastic support of George III, condemned it as an impious attempt to defeat the will of God.” -Bertrand Russell You’ll often hear charges that science has become too politicized, but it’s the other way around. Science is our best way…

As more and more exoplanets (at first) and earth-like exoplanets (eventually) have been discovered, the way thy are described to us has become increasingly sophisticated. Below are embeds of diverse video descriptions that have been very quickly developed and distributed given the freshness of this latest scientific discovery. Note that the practice of very clearly…

“It isn’t only the beauty of the night sky that thrills me. It’s the sense I have that some of those points of light are the home stars of beings not so different from us, daily cares and all. who look across space with wonder, just as we do.” -Frank Drake What is it that…

Environment

Which one are you for? I’ll take either. At first I didn’t want Ellison to leave MN05, but if he does, and he should if he is DNC chair, we have some excellent replacements lined up, and since MN05 is the most left leaning congressional district in the country, we don’t have to worry about…

Via Media Matters of America. Very interesting segment. Santer talks about what is is like to be a rogue scientist in a Donald Trump administration. The words referred to here the twelve words, were part of the 1995 Second Assessment report of the IPCC. That report is regularly updated, and forms the scientific and policy…

Today’s lesson is from Is Decoupling GDP Growth from Environmental Impact Possible? (h/t mt), by James D. Ward , Paul C. Sutton, Adrian D. Werner, Robert Costanza, Steve H. Mohr, Craig T. Simmons; October 14, 2016 http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0164733. And here is their abstract. The argument that human society can decouple economic growth—defined as growth in Gross…

Humanities

Navy shipbuilders get lucrative contracts despite worker safety violations; Baltimore airport executive cited in worker retaliation case; thousands of California workers have potentially harmful blood lead levels; and immigrant workers lose their jobs after joining national protests.

Fin whales have big mouths, really big mouths. When your meals consist of tiny krill, it is understandable why you would evolve the ability to stretch your mouth super-wide. With each meal comes a lot of water, which expands a pouch in the bottom of their mouths. As the pouch expands, all of the tissues in the pouch expand…

From gaps in airline safety and railcars filled with toxics, to the respiratory hazard of food flavorings and an asbestos disaster in Libby, Montana, Andrew Schneider made his mark on public health. The investigative journalist and two time Pulitzer Prize winner died on February 17 at age 74.

Education

Fin whales have big mouths, really big mouths. When your meals consist of tiny krill, it is understandable why you would evolve the ability to stretch your mouth super-wide. With each meal comes a lot of water, which expands a pouch in the bottom of their mouths. As the pouch expands, all of the tissues in the pouch expand…

Pitcher plants are a known enemy of insects, but perhaps beneficial for people suffering from celiac disease. Chemist Dr. David Schriemer at the University of Calgary was studying the pitcher plant Nepenthes x ventrata (shown above) in his search for an enzyme similar to pepsin for use in his experiments. Pitcher plants secrete digestive fluids with a pH similar…

As I was looking through the scientific literature the other day, I came across an article published in 1973, “The Evolutionary Advantages of Being Stupid.” With a title like that, how could I not read it? In this article Dr. Eugene D. Robin discussed how larger and more complex brains are associated with greater intelligence, which…

Politics

Navy shipbuilders get lucrative contracts despite worker safety violations; Baltimore airport executive cited in worker retaliation case; thousands of California workers have potentially harmful blood lead levels; and immigrant workers lose their jobs after joining national protests.

Going from Flynn to McMaster feels like going from Beetle Bailey to Jack Ryan. But I don’t know much about him. He is, importantly, full of degrees and the author of Dereliction of Duty: Johnson, McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies That Led to Vietnam, based on his PhD thesis. How do…

Animal farm: A Fairy Story “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” A farm is taken over by its overworked, mistreated animals. With flaming idealism and stirring slogans, they set out to create a paradise of progress, justice, and equality. Thus the stage is set for one of the most…

Medicine

Mike Adams the “Health Ranger” runs NaturalNews.com, arguably the wretchedest of wretched hives of scum and quackery on the web. Yesterday, Google delisted it. You’ll forgive me if I indulge in a bit of schadenfreude, given Adams’ long history of promoting quackery, gloating over the deaths of celebrities with cancer who used conventional treatment, and character assassination directed at science advocates, including yours truly.

Vaccine mandates for school used to be about as nonpartisan an issue as we had in the US. There was broad bipartisan support for policies to assure that children are vaccinated before they attend school, and it was a policy that worked for decades. Unfortunately, increasing politicization of vaccine policy threatens to destroy that consensus and undermine public health.

Fin whales have big mouths, really big mouths. When your meals consist of tiny krill, it is understandable why you would evolve the ability to stretch your mouth super-wide. With each meal comes a lot of water, which expands a pouch in the bottom of their mouths. As the pouch expands, all of the tissues in the pouch expand…

Brain & Behavior

As I was looking through the scientific literature the other day, I came across an article published in 1973, “The Evolutionary Advantages of Being Stupid.” With a title like that, how could I not read it? In this article Dr. Eugene D. Robin discussed how larger and more complex brains are associated with greater intelligence, which…

Happy Valentine’s Day! Inotocin is the insect form of the so-called “love” hormone oxytocin. Oxytocin, as you may know, is responsible for inducing labor in pregnant women. A recent study published in Scientific Reports describes the work of a team of researchers that created a synthetic version of inotocin which could bind to both oxytocin and vasopressin receptors in human tissues.…

The story begins in 1999 when Leonie, a zebra shark (aka a leopard shark in Australia), was captured from the wild. In 2006 she was transferred to Reef HQ Aquarium in Queensland, Australia where she met her mate. By 2008, she had started laying eggs and the pair had multiple litters of offspring through sexual reproduction. After her…

Technology

Drones are so early 20th century: That doesn’t actually look too hard to make. The only tricky part is how to attach it to the monkey.

Your objective is to learn Python programming. Everybody has to learn Python. You are looking for a book that will make that easier for you. One possibility, one that I’ll recommend for most people in this situation, is Python Crash Course: A Hands-On, Project-Based Introduction to Programming. To cut to the chase, there are two…

Last October I reviewed Scratch Programming Playground, by Al Sweigart. You will recall that Scratch is a programming language that uses drag and drop elements to construct a program. Individual objecgts, including “sprites” that can move around on the screen, as well as static graphic elements, sounds, etc. get their own code, and this code…

Information Science

US president Donald Trump’s Executive Order 13769, Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States, is a terrible idea for many different reasons and has been widely condemned. Banning people due to their refugee status, religion or national origin has no place in a civilized society. while it has been overturned in…

Why music ownership matters Forgetting What I’ve Heard: Why I Miss Buying Music Henry Rollins: Will I Be Able to Finish Listening to All My Records Before I Die? Beyond Jazz’s Boys Club The Forgotten Architects of Jazz — And the New York Women Bringing Them Back Beyond the boys club: Striving for diversity and…

Paper burns at 451 degrees Fahrenheit. So does civilization. Fahrenheit 451 Ray Bradbury’s internationally acclaimed novel Fahrenheit 451 is a masterwork of twentieth-century literature set in a bleak, dystopian future. Guy Montag is a fireman. In his world, where television rules and literature is on the brink of extinction, firemen start fires rather than put…

Jobs

Navy shipbuilders get lucrative contracts despite worker safety violations; Baltimore airport executive cited in worker retaliation case; thousands of California workers have potentially harmful blood lead levels; and immigrant workers lose their jobs after joining national protests.

Fewer economic opportunities may be exposing black and Hispanic workers to an increased risk of workplace injury, according to a new study.

Obama-era labor veterans worry about the future of worker protections; a draft Trump executive order would allow employers to discriminate based on their religious beliefs; coal miner rulings offer a look at the legal philosophy of Trump’s Supreme Court nominee; and Iowa Republicans move to gut union rights.