Effect Measure

Archives for August, 2008

Oil on troubled waters

There’s a lot of concern about the environmental effects of drilling for oil off the US coast, but I don’t buy it. Yes, I know it won’t produce any meaningful amount of oil, ever, and no oil at all for years. But that’s a technicality. Politically it’s a compelling idea and even though it won’t…

Yesterday was the 12th 22nd anniversary of an environmental catastrophe in Cameroon. On August 21, 1986 Lake Nyos in that West African country belched a huge load of carbon dioxide and suffocated 1700 people as they slept. Like its monoxygenated cousin carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide is “a colorless, odorless gas that can kill you in…

Science and the anthrax case: not enough

Not many scientists were convinced the FBI had a solid science case against accused anthrax attacker Dr. Bruce Ivins. So the FBI held a telephone conference call between journalists and their scientific back-up to answer outstanding questions. Some questions were answered by promising the science would be submitted for peer review to the scientific literature…

Everyone seems to agree about one thing concerning Vice President Cheney’s senior aide, F. Chase Hutto III. He never met an environmental regulation he didn’t just hate and oppose on principle. According to the Washington Post he has been instrumental in keeping our air and water dirtier than it needs to be. Just another day…

News reports that nonagenarians had robust antibodies against the 1918 flu strain were intriguing on several levels but I wasn’t sure how many doors were still open to these being antibodies that developed in the years after 1918. After all, the 1918 subtype was H1N1 which circulated freely until the 1950s when it was displaced…

Hurricanes: fewer but fiercer?

Tropical Storm Fay is bearing down on Cuba and the Florida Keys as I write this and is on the cusp of hurricane strength winds. A new study from the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science just published in Geophysical Research Letters looks again at the contentious issue of whether a…

Lice go to the head of the class

A recent letter on the worldwide prevalence of head lice in CDC’s journal Emerging Infectious Diseases made me nostalgic for the good old days when our two kids were in daycare (they are both adults with children of their own in daycare now). In particular, I got to thinking about the days when I was…

Freethinker Sunday Sermonette: debaptism

There are some things that cannot be undone. You can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube. You can’t put the genie back in the bottle. You can’t flush the Holy Spirit once you have been Baptized. No, wait! Belief in God symbolically evaporated when more than a hundred atheists were “de-baptized” with a blow…

One of the effects of high gas prices is to encourage people to use bicycles. This also includes the police, where some jurisdictions are taking cops out of cruisers and putting them on foot or on bikes. Bike police (and bicycle messengers, people who use their bikes in crowded urban areas to endanger pedestrians), spend…

Basics: the death certificate

A couple of days ago we discussed the murky questions surrounding the death of accused anthrax attacker Dr. Bruce Ivins. At the center of stipulating the cause and manner of death were the procedures for filling out the state of Maryland’s death certificate by the medical examiner. Determining and recording the cause of death is…