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What we're talking about Friday, July 29, 2016

#BlackLivesMatter

These are two of my sons, Judah and Zion. Adorable, no? Yeah, I think so too. And they are so sweet. Zion loves animals, he wants to know everything about them. And anything that begins with the letter Z ‘My yetter!” Judah is one of the sweetest natured kids on the earth – if someone…

Police had cornered a murder suspect. There were negotiations and there was exchange of gunfire. Normally this stand off would have been maintained as long as possible. The way these things end, usually, is that the suspect gives up, the suspect kills themselves, there is what the police would call a “fair” exchange of gunfire*…

Addressing violence requires looking upstream at social determinants of health, including racism and economic inequality. It’s the uncomfortable task we continue to avoid.

Gun violence takes many forms in the United States, stemming from hot tempers as well as cold ideologies. But some gun violence comes from the very people sworn to protect American citizens, as the police killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile demonstrated (yet again) this month. In the aftermath of these killings of black men, a black man at a protest against police brutality in Dallas killed five white police officers in a self-styled act of vengeance. The Dallas police, instead of trying to arrest the suspect, sent a robot with a armful of plastic explosive to blow the alleged sniper to smithereens. Not one of these killings was justified under the law; and all were influenced by race. On Casaubon's Book, Sharon Astyk worries how her adopted children will be perceived in ten years, when they become teenagers "and move from beautiful to frightening to many white people." Greg Laden wonders "how many different police departments have bombs designed to kill suspects ready to go" and says violence against police tends to make police more violent themselves. And on The Pump Handle, Celeste Monforton argues that gun violence should be considered a public health problem, noting that 7,100 gun-related deaths have occurred so far in the U.S. in 2016.

Channel Surfing

Life Science

He had several, because all the cool scientists like cephalopods, and they’re still bottled up and preserved in museums. No word on the status of Darwin’s pet cat.

Watching carefully, I noticed that two other activities added to the commotion: sloughing of skin and defecation. Like other whales, sperm whales shed skin on a regular basis. This may be a mechanism to reduce the risk of infection and to rid the animals of external parasites. As the whales rubbed against one another, the…

Physical Science

“Energy is liberated matter, matter is energy waiting to happen.” –Bill Bryson When it comes to the Universe, you might think that energy really is only limited by rarity: get enough particles accelerated by enough supermassive, super-energetic sources, and it’s only a matter of time (and flux) before you get one that reaches any arbitrary energy…

“Another very good test some readers may want to look up… is the Casimir effect, where forces between metal plates in empty space are modified by the presence of virtual particles.” -Gordon Kane If you ask what the zero-point energy of space itself is, you can sum up all of the quantum fluctuations you can…

“Human beings are strong because we have the ability to change ourselves.” Saitama, One Punch Man The idea of stopping a meteor headed towards our planet with nothing but a superpowered human being sounds like a physical impossibility. But if you had a powerful enough, strong enough, fast enough human, it could be done, so long…

Environment

It has been rather quiet around here recently. That’s due to a combinations of Summer, Work and Rowing. The latter has culminated in the annual festival called “Cambridge town bumps” and the answer is up three, which is a decent result in the first division. Not quite blades, because we stuffed up Thursday, but who…

Dallas and Houston have city ordinances in place to reduce the risk of violence perpetrated against convenience store clerks. NIOSH researchers found that few establishments comply with the law.

Scientists have been wondering why Asian Alycaeidae snails have a snorkel that was seemingly functionless. While other snails that live on land have a similar tube with an opening that allows them to breathe while inside the shell, the end of the breathing tube (i.e. snorkel) on the Asian snails appeared to be sealed. A new study published…

Humanities

Every year in the U.S., more than 32,000 people die due to gun-related violence, suicide and accidents. That number includes the deaths of seven children and teens every day. So it’s not surprising that health care providers — those who witness the tragic results of gun violence — are often vocal proponents of gun safety reform. But when it comes to the intimate patient-provider relationship, do people want to discuss gun safety with their doctors?

Our second week at Skällvik Castle proved a continued small-finds bonanza, and we also documented some pretty interesting stratigraphy. More of everything in Building IV. In addition to more coins of Magnus Eriksson, dice and stoneware drinking vessels, we also found a lot of points for crossbow bolts. It’s starting to look like the castle…

Recent pieces address racism, stress, and mortality; an interview with CDC Director Tom Frieden on Zika; why mocking environmental justice in Cleveland is especially inappropriate; and more.

Education

Scientists have been wondering why Asian Alycaeidae snails have a snorkel that was seemingly functionless. While other snails that live on land have a similar tube with an opening that allows them to breathe while inside the shell, the end of the breathing tube (i.e. snorkel) on the Asian snails appeared to be sealed. A new study published…

Ducklings are rather well-known for their ability to imprint on someone (usually their mother) or something shortly after hatching. Researchers at the University of Oxford were interested in understanding more about learning and memory in ducklings. Specifically, they wanted to know if a duckling simply remembered what they saw or if they were capable of more complex cognition…

Manga is the Japanese sounding but not used so much in Japan term for a form of cartooning art that has its roots from before World War II but that emerged in its common form during the post war Occupation period. Early used in political cartooning, Manga style drawing is now used for a wide…

Politics

Every year in the U.S., more than 32,000 people die due to gun-related violence, suicide and accidents. That number includes the deaths of seven children and teens every day. So it’s not surprising that health care providers — those who witness the tragic results of gun violence — are often vocal proponents of gun safety reform. But when it comes to the intimate patient-provider relationship, do people want to discuss gun safety with their doctors?

An in-depth look at the troubling experiences of women in the trucking industry; a group of Teamsters are stopped by police for leafleting in Georgia; new National Labor Relations Board ruling a win for temp workers; and researchers reveal a big gender wage gap among physicians in academic medicine.

In a Special Communication published in JAMA, President Obama assesses the Affordable Care Act’s progress and recommends additional steps for elected officials to take to improve US healthcare.

Medicine

After writing about the failure of state medical boards to discipline physicians who practice quackery and an apparent notable exception in Tennessee just yesterday, my attention was brought back to California and the topic of SB 277, the law enacted last year that, as of July 1 this year, eliminated non-medical exemptions to school vaccine…

Many are the times that I’ve discussed the issue of quack doctors. I’m not just referring to naturopaths, whose abbreviation ND stands to me for “not a doctor.” In fact, I’m referring to actual, real physicians, doctors with an “MD” or “DO” after their names, doctors who have graduated from reputable medical schools, completed residencies…

I’ve frequently referred to “integrative medicine” as the “integration” of quackery with conventional, science-based medicine for the very good reason that that’s what it really is. However, advocates of medicine not based in science are nothing if not masters of marketing, which is how, over the course of three decades or so, “alternative medicine” morphed…

Brain & Behavior

“In order to save the dying heliocentric theory from the conclusive geocentric experiments performed by Michelson, Morley, Gale, Sagnac, Kantor and others, establishment master-mind Albert Einstein created his Special Theory of Relativity which in one philosophical swoop banished the absolute aether/firmament from scientific study and replaced it with a form of relativism which allowed for…

Ducklings are rather well-known for their ability to imprint on someone (usually their mother) or something shortly after hatching. Researchers at the University of Oxford were interested in understanding more about learning and memory in ducklings. Specifically, they wanted to know if a duckling simply remembered what they saw or if they were capable of more complex cognition…

Researchers at Stanford University have accomplished what was once considered impossible. They have partially restored vision in blind. Check out this Youtube video to see how they did it

Technology

Huxley and I like to make Arduino projects. If you know what that means, your geek cred is good. If not, I’ll explain briefly. Arduino is an Italian based project that produces circuit boards that are controllers. A controller is a small highly specialized computer thingie that can be programmed to have various inputs and…

Not yet. As you know, JK Rowling is the author of the famous Harry Potter series of books (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, etc.), and more recently, of a series of really excellent crime novels (if you’ve not read them, you need to: The Cuckoo’s Calling, The Silkworm, and Career of Evil, with a…

Manga is the Japanese sounding but not used so much in Japan term for a form of cartooning art that has its roots from before World War II but that emerged in its common form during the post war Occupation period. Early used in political cartooning, Manga style drawing is now used for a wide…

Information Science

How climate change may be fueling Canada’s fire season Environmentalists, automakers applaud Ontario’s $8.3B climate change plan Views from people on the frontlines of climate change How B.C.’s Climate Plan is Being Co-opted by Big Oil Once a climate doubter, Tory leadership contender Maxime Bernier now plans to consult scientists Climate change initiatives a $7-trillion…

Our democracy is much stronger when watchdogs have access to agency records to expose mismanagement, ineptitude, and abuse of power. Kudos to advocates and lawmakers who persisted in making improvements to FOIA.

Television and movie producers currently have a good deal in Great Britain, not in small part due to stability in various markets and some funding. For example, Game of Thrones, an HBO production, is filmed in Norther Ireland with funding from the European Regional Development fund. Both the stability and some of the funding for…

Jobs

The fatal work-related injuries that killed Kevin Purpura, 39, could have been prevented had Woda Construction Inc. and Sandow Development followed worker safety regulations.

This week’s snapshot of just one work-related fatality in the US. This one occurred on Friday, July 16, in Fernandina Beach, FL.

Dallas and Houston have city ordinances in place to reduce the risk of violence perpetrated against convenience store clerks. NIOSH researchers found that few establishments comply with the law.