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What we're talking about Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Trump Preps for War on Vaccines

Because taking health insurance away from millions of Americans isn’t bad enough, President-elect Trump has reportedly asked an outspoken critic of vaccines — a man who supported the thoroughly debunked notion that vaccines are linked to autism — to lead a commission on vaccine safety.

This week hasn’t been a particularly good week for science. It started out on Monday with news of the social media storm from over the weekend over a blatantly antivaccine screed published the Friday before by the director of The Cleveland Clinic Wellness Clinic. Then, towards the middle of the week, we learned that our…

Or “LOve!” Or “Scooped!” One word peer review! A game you can play at home! Sad! Love! Changes! Scooped! Redo! Copied! Not! Even! Wrong! Cite! Me! One word peer review is going to be Huuuuugggggggeeeeee! Trump To Require Reviewers To End All Reviews With the Word “Sad!” Washington DC – President-Elect Mr. Donald Trump has…

In the latest of a series of appointments that are poised to contravene scientific and medical consensus, President-Elect Donald Trump met with anti-vaccine advocate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. for the purpose of forming a commission on "vaccine safety." On The Pump Handle, Kim Krisberg says "Kennedy is a lawyer — not a scientist, doctor, child health expert or public health practitioner" yet Trump wants to charge him with "reviewing the safety of one of the greatest life-saving tools of the 20th century." Like Kennedy, Trump says that vaccines can cause autism, and as Orac notes on Respectful Insolence, "compared to the flip-flops Trump has pulled off regarding beliefs in a variety of areas, Trump’s views on vaccines and autism have been remarkably consistent." Meanwhile, on Confessions of a Science Librarian, John Dupuis picks up on an article that jokes Trump "will require all reviewers for all journals and grant agencies to end all reviews with the word 'Sad!'" and may even "Make Astrophysics Great Again." John says "One word peer review is going to be Huuuuugggggggeeeeee!"

Channel Surfing

Life Science

The stomach and small intestine of many species moves rhythmically during fasting, something called the rhythmic ‘migrating motor complex’, or MMC. The MMC has 3 phases: no contraction, intermittent small contractions followed by regular large contractions. These contractions are thought to help clean the GI tract by moving along debris and bacteria as well as preparing our guts for the…

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…

Physical Science

“Work gives you meaning and purpose and life is empty without it.” -Stephen Hawking Throw a book into a black hole, and the information must somehow wind up inside. Same goes for a star, a planet, or even a single proton: that information must be maintained. But allow enough time to pass, and quantum theory…

“Men of genius are often dull and inert in society; as the blazing meteor, when it descends to earth, is only a stone.” -Henry W. Longfellow When you look at the meteors striking Earth today, as well as over the past 466 million years, you find something surprising: they don’t line up with the population…

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something.” -Neil Gaiman Here we are, at the…

Environment

Can I afford the water that comes out of my tap? It’s not a question that Americans typically ask themselves. However, a new study finds that in the next few years, many more of us might be asking that very question as we open our utility bills and realize that we’re merely accustomed to affordable water — we don’t have a guaranteed right to it.

From ClimateTruth.org, in response to Trump gag orders on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA): “President Trump and his administration have ignored scientific reality, and now they’re trying to hide it. “Merely five days into Donald Trump’s presidency, the administration is silencing the agencies tasked with protecting our…

The science is clear: Human caused global warming is happening and is serious. Building and expanding infrastructure to make it easier to burn fossil fuels is a very bad idea. The Keystone XL pipeline and the Dakota Access pipeline were two such projects, and in recent years, the environmental community, politicians, and others managed to…

Humanities

It is a good idea to occassionally experience history. This helps us understand ourselves, and our possible futures, better. Much of this is done through reading excellent texts. For example, I’m currently reading Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin. Goodwin’s objective is to contextualize Lincoln by looking at…

Can I afford the water that comes out of my tap? It’s not a question that Americans typically ask themselves. However, a new study finds that in the next few years, many more of us might be asking that very question as we open our utility bills and realize that we’re merely accustomed to affordable water — we don’t have a guaranteed right to it.

Fornvännen 2016:2 is now on-line on Open Access. Ola George reports on a Migration Period chamber grave excavated at Björkå in Överlännäs parish, Ångermanland. Peter Persson surveys chamber graves in all of Västernorrland county. Ny Björn Gustafsson on radiocarbon-dated beeswax and metalworking on Viking Period Gotland. Gunnar Andersson et al. on a recent addition to…

Education

The stomach and small intestine of many species moves rhythmically during fasting, something called the rhythmic ‘migrating motor complex’, or MMC. The MMC has 3 phases: no contraction, intermittent small contractions followed by regular large contractions. These contractions are thought to help clean the GI tract by moving along debris and bacteria as well as preparing our guts for the…

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…

Liver failure or congenital defects can lead to a build-up of ammonia in the brain of mammals resulting in life-threatening swelling, convulsions and comas. For goldfish (Carassius auratus), environmental exposure to ammonia causes reversible swelling of the brain. In a new study published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, researchers wanted…

Politics

It is generally felt that Trump’s claims of voter fraud, especially, apparently, by illegal aliens — Or some kind of alien, not sure — could be a prelude, or excuse for some kind of widespread voter suppression campaign. In any event, these repeated claims were once thought of as an odd and embarassing bit of…

Can I afford the water that comes out of my tap? It’s not a question that Americans typically ask themselves. However, a new study finds that in the next few years, many more of us might be asking that very question as we open our utility bills and realize that we’re merely accustomed to affordable water — we don’t have a guaranteed right to it.

I’ve been puzzling over the rationale for some recent events… Exxon has a large contract to develop oil and natural gas resources in the Russia. This can only go forward if sanctions on Russia are lifted, which seems likely to happen in the near future. But, there is too much oil and capacity to surge…

Medicine

Can I afford the water that comes out of my tap? It’s not a question that Americans typically ask themselves. However, a new study finds that in the next few years, many more of us might be asking that very question as we open our utility bills and realize that we’re merely accustomed to affordable water — we don’t have a guaranteed right to it.

Fake news has become an enormous problem. Here, Orac takes a look at a rather fascinating tidbit of fake news aimed at the antivaccine movement. Did the FBI really raid the CDC with the “CDC whistleblower” showing them what to find? Of course not. But a story like this is nearly irresistible to true believers that vaccines cause autism.

The stomach and small intestine of many species moves rhythmically during fasting, something called the rhythmic ‘migrating motor complex’, or MMC. The MMC has 3 phases: no contraction, intermittent small contractions followed by regular large contractions. These contractions are thought to help clean the GI tract by moving along debris and bacteria as well as preparing our guts for the…

Brain & Behavior

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…

Liver failure or congenital defects can lead to a build-up of ammonia in the brain of mammals resulting in life-threatening swelling, convulsions and comas. For goldfish (Carassius auratus), environmental exposure to ammonia causes reversible swelling of the brain. In a new study published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, researchers wanted…

Orcas are one of only three species of mammals that go through menopause, including humans of course. A new study published in Current Biology may have discovered why this happens in killer whales. Examination of 43 years worth of data collected by the Center for Whale Research and Fisheries and Oceans Canada, revealed a remarkable finding…

Technology

I’m not sure this has happened before, and most people are unaware, so I thought a quick note was in order. If you were previously following the President of the United States on Twitter, when it was Barack Obama, you followed @POTUS. Twitter has created an account called @POTUS44, which is for President Obama. You…

My current phone, a Google Nexus made by Motorola, is still working fine. I’m much more worried about Amanda’s Samsung, which is a nightmare. The storage on that phone is used up by Samsung proprietary gunk that can’t be removed, and she can’t insert a microSD card because the phone will not operate as an…

Ah yes, I remember it well. “Hammurabi, Hammurabi, I beg to report to you, In Year 1, 0 people have starved. 101 people came to the city The population is now 124 We harvested 4.5 bushels per acre We planted 998 acres of wheat But rats at 300 bushels of wheat You now have a…

Information Science

While I’m working on a major update to my Documenting the Donald Trump War on Science: Pre-Inauguration Edition and preparing for the first of the post-inauguration posts, I thought I’d whet everyone’s appetite with a post celebrating all the various efforts to save environmental, climate and various kinds of scientific and other data from potential…

This is not a time to be distracted, to turn away from politics, to eschew activism. In fact, if you are an American Citizen, you have to look back at your life and recognize that you screwed up, in two ways. First, whatever time you spent agitating and activating and acting out, turns out, was…

As you all have no doubt noticed over the years, I love highlighting the best science books every year via the various end of year lists that newspapers, web sites, etc. publish. I’ve done it so far in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013,2014 and 2015. And here we are in 2016! As in previous…

Jobs

A survey of 300 garment workers in Los Angeles provides insight on the unsafe and unhealthy conditions they experience while they meet consumer demand for trendy fast-casual clothes.

The New York Times interviews current, former workers at restaurants run by Trump’s labor secretary nominee; Kentucky lawmakers move to weaken unions; Maryland county votes to raise the minimum wage to $15; and Houston’s new police chief calls for better mental health services for police officers.

A just published book – Refinery Town: Big Oil, Big Money and the Remaking of an America City – describes how a decade of local organizing and year-round campaigning has resulted in impressive local victories in a Black, white and Asian town dominated by Chevron corporation.  Richmond, California, has set an example and registered successes by local left wing campaigners that contain important and hopeful lessons about uniting allies and successfully defending health, safety and democratic rights.