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What we're talking about Sunday, January 22, 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 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…

Physical Science

“It was a strange lightness, a drifting feeling. Zero gravity. I understood that everything that once seemed solid and immovable might just float away.” -Lisa Unger If you want to experience zero gravity, all you need to do is go to space, turn your rocket off and feel that weightless sensation, right? Except, from up…

“It’s so easy to become a grumbler, someone who condemns and carps at everything on principle and sees an ulterior motive behind it.” -Eric Metaxas If we find out that we truly are alone in the Universe, whether there’s no other life, intelligent life, or spacefaring life, there’s no doubt that makes us special. But…

“There are now dozens of hockey sticks and the all come to the same basic conclusion. The recent warming does appear to be unprecedented as far bas as we can go. But even if we didn’t have that evidence, we would still know that humans are warming the planet, changing the climate and that represents…

Environment

I was going to write something much harsher than this; but then I chanced upon “ignorant armies” and hence was reminded of Dover Beach and it was so gloriously beautiful again that I can’t bring myself to be unkind, at least for a while. So instead I’ll just quietly point out that the vast slew…

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.

As we all kinda knew in advance, 2016 turns out to be a record warm year. If you read UKMO you get Provisional full-year figures for global average near-surface temperatures confirm that last year, 2016, was one of the warmest two years on record, nominally exceeding the record temperature of 2015 but that’s because they…

Humanities

I just wrote a long drinking song in Swedish for the Stockholm Tolkien Society’s 5 x 9th anniversary. The first line translates to “Thranduil in Mirkwood imports beverages”. Like most archaeologists I use Academia.edu to share my work, but I have a somnolent placeholder account on ResearchGate as well. They keep pestering me to engage…

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.

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…

Education

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…

Politics

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…

The West Wing Version: Josh, Toby, Leo, and Donna are in Leo’s office. They have just gotten word that a major auto manufacturer plans to build a plant in Mexico, and will likely close a corresponding plant in Michigan. Josh is pacing, Leo is behind his desk, Donna is standing near the door, and Toby…

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.

Medicine

In a (very) few short hours, Donald Trump will take the oath of office and become the 45th President of the United States. I realize that I don’t normally blog about politics, at least other than that related to medicine, but I make no bones about it. I’m dreading 12 Noon ET on January 20,…

So I was distracted yesterday from what I had intended to write about by an irresistible target provided me courtesy of Toby Cosgrove, MD, CEO of The Cleveland Clinic, who bemoaned all those nasty pro-science advocates who had had the temerity to link the antivaccine rant by the director of the Clinic’s Wellness Institute to…

I’ve been pretty hard on The Cleveland Clinic over the years, but justifiably so. After all, The Cleveland Clinic is one of the leading centers of quackademic medicine in the US; i.e., an academic medical center that studies and uses quackery as though it were legitimate medicine. Of course, this is a problem that is…

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

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…

The Makeblock mBot Add-on Pack-Six-legged Robot V1.1 is an add on for the Makeblock DIY mBot 1.1 Kit (Bluetooth Version) – STEM Education – Arduino – Scratch 2.0 – Programmable Robot Kit for Kids to Learn Coding & Robotics – Pink or any of its variants. The makeblock robot is an arduino technology robot. It…

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.