Humanities

Crystalline silica, hydrofluoric acid and formaldehyde. Those are just three of the dozens of air toxic chemicals that oil companies have used thousands of times in southern California in just the past year.

The U.S. Supreme Court deals a blow to union fair-share fees; Massachusetts raises minimum wage to $11 an hour; and Texas lawmakers scoff at the idea of better safeguards in the wake of the West fertilizer blast.

The Mumbling Philosopher

The physics vs. philosophy slow-motion blogfight continues, the latest major contribution being Sean Carroll’s “Physicists Should Stop Saying silly Things About Philosophy. I’ve been mostly trying to stay out of this, but when I read through the comments at Sean’s post to see if anybody offered any specific examples of problems that could’ve been avoided…

Ideally, everyone should be tested for HIV. In reality, however, only about half of U.S. adults have ever been tested for HIV and about half of the 50,000 new infections that happen every year in the U.S. are transmitted by people who are unaware of their HIV status. Such statistics recently led a group of researchers to ask if there’s a more efficient way to go about curbing the HIV epidemic.

When a widely used chemical is identified as an environmental health hazard and targeted for phase-out and elimination, among the most challenging questions for those involved with making such a chemical are: What to use instead? and Will the replacement be safe? The US Environmental Protection Agency’s report identifying alternatives to the flame retardant hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) illustrates how difficult those questions can be to answer.

As previously noted, I’m going to the Wordlcon in London this August, and as such will be voting on this year’s Hugo Awards. The publishers provided a packet with at least bits of all the fiction nominees, so I’ve been reading through them at bedtime, and over the weekend finished all the regular nominees– I…

“I call myself the Amusement Park. That’s because I’m funny and scary at the same time.” -Terry Crews There’s something to be said for the power of unique talents, or for combining a set of rare skills in a unique way. This weekend, have a listen to Murder By Death‘s interesting song, You Are the Last…

Building safe ways for children to bike and walk to school is more than just a way of encouraging kids to go outside and get active. According to a new study, it’s also an investment that reaps millions of dollars in societal gains. In other words, smart walking and biking infrastructures for kids make good economic sense.

Read Science! on Dog Physics

As noted earlier, I was a guest on the Read Science! hangout on G+ earlier today. If you weren’t able to watch it live, the video is available at that link, and I’ll embed it here: There were some feedback problems with the audio for a little while– annoyingly, it only got bad once the…

Rhett and I haven’t done Uncertain Dots for a couple of weeks due to scheduling issues, but that doesn’t mean I’m neglecting the multimedia side of things. In fact, I’ll be doing a hangout today, as a guest on the Read Science! hangout hosted by Joanne Manaster and Jeff Shaumeyer. The event page is here.…