Category Archives: Science

It seems Creationists are rude

http://l1.yimg.com/bt/api/res/1.2/iIwuez.guuKNsCCqED1GPw--/YXBwaWQ9eW5ld3M7cT04NTt3PTM2MA--/http://media.zenfs.com/en/blogs/thelookout/IMG_1377.jpgSo it’s cleaning day: the vacuum sits there staring at me, cleaning fluids wait on the counter, rags out too, probably wondering what this is all about. And on C-Span is a ‘debate’ at the Creation Museum between Ken Ham, founder (for Creationism) and Bill Nye, the ‘Science Guy’. Great stuff focusing on Genesis, the Ark and the age of the earth (and evolution of course).

On go the headphones to ease the task at hand.

The debate is conducted by standard rules. The two are allowed 30 minutes to make their respective cases and are then allowed periods for rebuttal.

Ham went first (he presents an utterly bizarre case, but the man is very good on the podium) and after he concluded his remarks, the entire audience gave a nice round of applause. The entire audience.

Then Nye spoke (he’s not as polished as Ham was). And when he concluded, half of the audience applauded. Those who did not applause sat resolutely still – with grim faces.

Whatever the composition of the audience, half of them didn’t learn their manners from Mama.

Enthralling

greyUse a piece of paper to split these faces vertically, so you view them one side at a time.

For some of us it seems, at least physically, genes really are destiny. More here.

New quote

From Albert Einstein – hat tip to blogfriend jonolan:

When you sit with a nice girl for two hours, you think it’s only a minute. But when you sit on a hot stove for a minute, you think it’s two hours. That’s relativity.

No surprise here . . .

Granted there was major competing news over the last few days, but I’ll go out on a limb and say this chart would look exactly the same in a slow news week.

1172_472887582786122_21677922_n

Billions and billions . . .

Carl_Sagan_Planetary_Society. . . of stars. I can still hear the late Carl Sagan saying that on his iconic TV program Cosmos,  so I got a little thrill when I saw this story from Phoenix:

An atheist state lawmaker tasked with delivering the opening prayer for this afternoon’s session of the House of Representatives asked that people not bow their heads.

Democratic Representative Juan Mendez, of Tempe, instead spoke about his “secular humanist tradition” and even quoted author Carl Sagan.

Mendez said:

“I would like to ask that you not bow your heads. I would like to ask that you take a moment to look around the room at all of the men and women here, in this moment, sharing together this extraordinary experience of being alive and of dedicating ourselves to working toward improving the lives of the people in our state.”

. . . “Carl Sagan once wrote, ‘For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love.’”

 

 

Frackin’ good! (and better than fracking)

sunflowers2When I see this, I hear a page turning:

Walmart has been adding solar to scores of stores across the country . . . as it plans to become 100 percent renewably powered. . .  The company has aggressively been building out solar on its stores and other buildings.  It’s also been boosting its purchase of renewable energy both directly and indirectly. And it is doing so across the world.

“Walmart has 280 renewable energy projects in operation or under development, and continues to test solar, fuel cells, microwind, offsite wind projects, green power purchases and more,” the company said.

The best medical disclaimer evah!

Send the children from the room before you read this!

I notice that the pharmaceutical industry has invented itself a new medical condition called ‘low T’ for which they – remarkably - have cures at hand. And for sale.

Something else they have is sublime confidence – confidence that their target customer will not be deterred. Confidence that even this disclaimer (for Axiron, a topical testosterone) won’t stop the rush to the pharmacy:

Signs of puberty that are not expected (for example, pubic hair) have happened in young children who were accidentally exposed to testosterone through skin to skin contact with men using topical testosterone products like AXIRON. Women and children should avoid contact with the unwashed or unclothed area where AXIRON has been applied. If a woman or child makes contact with the application area, the contact area on the woman or child should be washed well with soap and water right away.

Stop using AXIRON and call your healthcare provider right away if you see any signs and symptoms in a child or a woman that may have occurred through accidental exposure to AXIRON. Signs and symptoms in children may include enlarged penis or clitoris; early development of pubic hair; increased erections or sex drive; aggressive behavior. Signs and symptoms in women may include changes in body hair and a large increase in acne.

Women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant should avoid contact with the area of skin where AXIRON has been applied.

Other risks:

  • Possible increased risk of prostate cancer.
  •  In large doses AXIRON may lower your sperm count.
  • Swelling of your ankles, feet, or body.
  • Enlarged or painful breasts.
  • Problems breathing while you sleep (sleep apnea).
  • Blood clots in the legs. This can include pain, swelling or redness of your legs.

The most common adverse events include: headache, diarrhea, vomiting, and increase in blood level of Prostate Specific Antigen. Other side effects include more erections than are normal for you or erections that last a long time.

And the most amazing of all the side effect warnings is this one:

AXIRON is flammable until dry. Let AXIRON dry before smoking or going near an open flame.

How can this even be legal?

No matter: it’s required to say ‘but on the other hand’

But equivalency is essential – we must report both ‘sides’ say our media stars!!! From here:

climate pie chart

And thus does Steve Doocy lead the nation

The climate deniers have had a triumphant run over the last 20 years. Their campaign, financed mostly by the fossil fuel industry, has succeeded in changing American’s attitudes and beliefs. (They had a little help from their friends.)

A recent paper from the Union of Concerned Scientists analyzes how FOX News Channel and the opinion pages of the WSJ reference climate science. The entire thing is here.

 . . . . examined six months of Fox News Channel content and one year of representations in the Wall Street Journal opinion section based on keyword searches for the terms “climate change” and “global warming.” Our team examined transcripts and articles to determine whether these media outlets mentioned climate science, action on climate change (personal action or government policies), both, or neither.

There are charts and specifics a-plenty

Over a recent six-month period, 93 percent of Fox News Channel’s representations of climate science were misleading (37 out of 40 instances). Similarly, over the past year, 81 percent of the representations of climate science in the Wall Street Journal’s opinion section were misleading (39 out of 48 instances).

. . .  the misleading citations include broad dismissals of human-caused climate change, disparaging comments about individual scientists, rejections of climate science as a body of knowledge, and cherry picking of data. . . .  much of this coverage denigrated climate science by either promoting distrust in scientists and scientific institutions or placing acceptance of climate change in an ideological, rather than fact-based, context

 

We luvz science! Science iz fun!!!

Paul Ryan, when asked about jailing women for having an abortion, said “If it’s illegal, it’s illegal.”

To put these fools in office, millions of my fellow Americans voted for them. And they write laws.

You know what’s not HUGE? Donald Trump. You know what is HUGE? This.

This is not a suggestion. This will happen. Full story here.

The Obama administration announced strict new fuel-efficiency vehicle standards Tuesday, requiring the U.S. auto fleet to average 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, an uncontroversial move that, unlike other administration energy policies, was endorsed by industry and environmentalists alike.

[will] expand on existing standards requiring American-made cars and light trucks to average 34.5 mpg by 2016. They will significantly cut U.S. oil consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by the time they are fully implemented, according to EPA.

At least they didn’t claim God told them

UPDATE: The GOP wants this guy out, fast. From Karl Rove to Sean Hannity . . . Ann Coulter to The Weekly Standard and National Review – all demanding Aiken withdraw from the race. He says he won’t. I give him 24 hours.

ORIGINAL POST: At least Rep. Todd Aiken isn’t alone. It seems there’s a history to the rape doesn’t cause pregnancy meme, here.

Pennsylvania state Rep. Stephen Freind (R) was an ardent abortion opponent. . . He also looks to be the first legislator to make the argument that rape prevents pregnancy, arguing in the late 1980s that the odds of a pregnancy resulting from rape were “one in millions and millions and millions.”

Try saying that with the Friends, Michelle. Dare ya’!

NOTE: Rape results in pregnancy 4.8% of the time, which corresponds with plain old sex.

His explanation? The trauma of rape causes women to “secrete a certain secretion which has the tendency to kill sperm.” Reproductive health experts immediately denounced those remarks. One told the Philadelphia Inquirer, ”Boy, if I could find out what that [secretion] was, I’d use it as a contraceptive.”

It’s not inconceivable that this could cost the GOP a Senate seat. Even Michelle Malkin is disgusted. She does the partisan dance around it of course – don’t we all – but closes with this:

The question for Republicans in Missouri is whether sticking by self-inflicted-wounded Akin is more important than securing a U.S. Senate majority.

They’ve nominated this guy for the United States Senate

He is expected – or had been expected – to win the Senate race in Missouri over incumbent Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill.

So, Congressman, would you allow abortion in the case of rape?

“…First of all, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something. You know I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.”

There, that’s better.

Promoted from the comments – thanks AFrankAngle. Here’s how it would look  with CNN scrubbed out.

Godspeed Curiosity. Godspeed.

Happens tomorrow morning at 1:30am.

Even Sharia law might be a bit more enlightened.

Last month, the Texas leg banned ‘critical thinking’ from the public school curriculum. Now, via Andrew Sullivan, there’s this - weep and be ashamed.

Apparently wanting to steer clear of fancy highbrow academic stuff like research or informed assessments, North Carolina has banned using recent science to guide policy making. House Bill 819, which passed today after the governor let the deadline to stop it slip, restricts all sea-level predictions used for policy-making to be based on “historical data,” effectively sending science back to 1900. The law will prevent policy-makers from using a recent study by the state’s Coastal Resources Commission (CRC) which predicted the sea level will rise by 39 inches in the next century. Developers were upset about the prediction that might cause reluctance to invest in the area.[Source]

One problem solved: It’s okay to be Takei. But what does one say in Virginia now that ‘climate change’ is banned?

Voyager: I am fierce proud my tax dollars helped this happen!

Voyager at Jupiter

Voyager I, launched 35 years ago, is now approaching the edge of our Solar System and will soon head out toward the other star systems that make up our galaxy, what we have fondly called the Milky Way. And it’s still transmitting data and adding to our store of knowledge like nothing else ever launched. (I’d say that its success strengthens the case for unmanned missions.)

There’s a link-rich story, plus videos and graphics at Talking Point Memo today.

We should all be proud, but also a bit sad that this is what we used to do.

NASA’s JPL has a site that follows the progress of [both] Voyagers in real time. It’s here.

Climate miscellaney, and saying it isn’t a problem always solves the problem. Right?

Here in my region we’re heading into a third year of serious drought. Last year’s rainfall was 16 inches below normal. Scary, but not as scary as the fact that in just the first three months of this year, we’re already seven inches behind.

Via a trackback to Whatever Works, I discovered Greenfrye‘s blog (here).  It’s a frackin’ good resource for climate information with lots of handy links and includes a “Climate Denial Crock of the Week” feature, an amusing (at first) but ultimately maddening read that also features dozens of delicious videos. (He’s frequently wonky, but there’s plenty there for we mere mortals.)

A few minutes later, I came across this story at the famous lefty rag Scientific American:

LONDON (Reuters) – The world is close to reaching tipping points that will make it irreversibly hotter, making this decade critical in efforts to contain global warming, scientists warned on Monday.

A recent panel (lost link, sorry) of environmentalists said that Al Gore’s movie hurt because it energized the deniers and recast global warming as a political issue instead of a scientific human issue. That rings true; Gore’s traditional opponents – like those chicken hawks who mocked his Vietnam service by saying he wasn’t, you know, in battle carrying a gun so it didn’t count. At least not like it counted sitting on the sidelines taking pot shots at those who did go into battle and came home wiser and with less enthusiasm for sending their younger brothers off to become the next batch of dead soldiers – piled on.

This planet of ours has a problem, but not to worry -  I’ll close my eyes, click my heels, and make it all go away. Easy.

You didn’t know about this because it only happened everywhere else on Planet Earth, just not here in USA! USA! USA!

We look pathetic enough with our insane refusal to address the horrific costs and poor outcomes of our health care system. We look worse yet when we are 5% of the world’s population and use 25% of its energy and when we incarcerate more people per capita (by a huge factor) in the US than any other free nation on earth while hundreds of thousands have died on our streets and still do while we deny that we long ago lost the poorly conceived War on Drugs. And we can pretend that angry eyes aren’t turned our way from South of our border as entire regions become war zones fighting the drug cartels who kill and maim to bring our drugs to us.

The world may sit back and actuallyl enjoy it when our time comes to face the awful truths but meanwhile, I invite them to go ahead – go ahead and just make fun of us for this bit of silliness and greed. We’ve been asking for it.

Earth Hour was observed yesterday across Planet Earth (except, well, you know, here). The story is at Scientific American:

Sheer joy lifts my black heart

Oh this young fella didn’t leave his brain at the door, no sirreee!

A columnist at Town Hall dot com reviews the new book by Sen. James Inhofe, The Greatest Hoax. Inhofe’s not fooled by all that climate science crap, and young David, who reviews Inhofe’s masterwork, is so aboard. He agrees with most every word and remarkably adds this:

An international carbon tax program is one of the most hideous ideas forged in the minds of men.  Since all known life forms are carbon-based, it is a proposal to control all life. 

He also tells us that there are 408, four-hundred-and-eight-fer-elvis’-sakefootnotes!!!! And as we all know, footnotes!!!! mean it’s all real. I’ve seen this conflation before with conservative books . . . apparently if there are footnotes!!!! that means it’s absolutely to be treated as a scholarly work. I think a great deal was made on FOX News about how Ann Coulter”s last book had 80, eighty-fer-elvis’-sake,  footnotes!!!! (I think half were ibid’s.)

(I have a small book, much treasured, published 22 years ago, called The Next One Hundred Years by Jonathan Weiner. It’s all about that climate science and global warming stuff. It’s barely 200 pages and yet has 54 solid pages of notes and sources. That apparently makes it the bible. )

The chart is from here. Nice site – you might want to visit.

You gets whay you pays for. And climate skeptics pay.

Mouthpieces are a dime a dozen. But they do get busy and quite obedient when the pay is really good. Like $8.6 million. From a single donor. Ever hear of the Heartland Institute? They are a right-wing think tank whose mission is to “cast doubt on climate science”. They’ve been around for a while, doing the dirty, making the world safe for fossil fuels, the ‘free market’ and the extraction industries. But a rash of newly leaked memos and reports – in a world of curtains to hide behind, that’s how we get our information now - gives us a glimpse of what’s behind that curtain . Who funds Heartland?

Most eyes will probably fall first on the “Anonymous Donor” who, the documents show, personally funded Heartland’s “climate change projects” to the tune of $8,602,267 between 2007 and 2011. The largest donation came in 2008 when “he” donated $3.3m – the same year that Heartland began its annual climate change conferences which have attracted just about every prominent climate sceptic since. This mystery donor has apparently pledged a further $1m for “climate change projects” during 2012.

That’s ‘personally funded’. A man. One person. Until now information about their funding had been sparse. The story in The Guardian doesn’t name anyone, but they hint rather nakedly that the wampun comes from  one of those famous American Libertarian brothers, whose ’causes’ usually align well with the growth of their personal wealth. (To be polite, Koch Industries makes some proper token public donations.

Click the chart for a clearer version.

From Greenpeace - IRS data

Of course, they get a little help from their friends.

Many of the Republican Senate candidates are signatories of the Koch Industries’ Americans For Prosperity No Climate Tax pledge and the FreedomWorks Contract From America.

Heartland is also committed to creating an alternate science curriculum in K-12 classrooms – which would be cool, eh? Combined with the ‘creationism’ curriculum, we could produce an entire generation scientifically illiterate.  (Now that’s the way for a world power to stay on top!)

So, we have an anonymous millionaire donor – whose agenda and/or vested interest we know not – funding an effort to discredit the teaching of climate science in schools? How can that ever be justified or considered democratic, let alone judged to be in the pupils’ best interests?

But the dropping of jaws doesn’t end there. Next up, we learn that Heartland paid a team of writers $388,000 in 2011 to write a series of reports “to undermine the official United Nation’s IPCC reports”. Not critique, challenge, or analyse the IPCC’s reports, but “to undermine” them. The agenda and pre-ordained outcome is clear and there for all to see.

The leaked documents are here.

Climate zones, they are a’ changin’. I think it’s Al Gore’s fault

For a long time, the US Department of Agriculture has designated different planting ‘zones’ throughout the country as a guide for growers. Their ratings are based on ‘extreme minimum temperature’. Garden books and seed packets usually say in what zone a plant can flourish and in what zones it can’t. But it’s the agricultural industry itself, the largest consumer of such data, that must pay the closest attention to these ratings to assure successful crop yields.

So with this change, the USDA now joins the Pentagon and NASA in acknowledging that global warming is real and must be part of all strategic planning. (I don’t mention any international science organizations or UN agencies because our conservative brethren know them all to be anti-American.)

My area of SW Florida has always been 9(b) – but now it’s officially a 10(a) zone. The temperature variation is not large (we go from a 5 to 10 degree variation to a 10-15 degree variation), but the USDA sees it as permanent.

. . . entire states, such as Ohio, Nebraska and Texas, are now in warmer zones . . . it reflects the new reality.

They’ve moved 18 key cities from Fairbanks to Honolulu into warmer zones.

It’s great that the Federal government is catching up with what the plants themselves have known for years now, that the globe is warming” . . .  said [a] Stanford University biologist.

This is unlikely to be the last time they will have to adjust the zones. What’s most shocking to me is the speed of the temperature change – the data they used was collected from 1976-2005. That’s stunning.

(Also, here in zone 10a, we’ve been in drought for four of the last ten years. )

I’m sure FOX News can straighten them out

They don’t listen to Rush Limbaugh, so NASA actually thinks the globe is warming just like those other delusional environmentalist whackos at The Pentagon. They even say so in this article at their website.

Just look at this lying timelapse video they created - Global Warming: 1880-2011. Disgraceful.

Also . . .

Today is the Winter Solstice, so let us have a moment of solidarity with our early brethren across the history of humankind. In pre-history, this day was full of mystery and magic, a reminder of the unknown. There was fear in that, so they banished the darkness with light - beginning a tradition of a season of celebration and light, one we observe still.

Evolution?

It’s happening.

Wish I’d been in Michigan Monday night

They had a rare treat in some areas of the upper mid-west the other night – the aurora borealis came to visit. Lucky Michigan. Lots more pix here.

Aurora Borealis - Slide 6

I like this place

Teh busy is easing up at last. Friday oldie is forthcoming (it’s Thursday, isn’t it. Yikes. Again.)

Meanwhile, a ‘like’ on my last post just led me to Psilomelane. Stop by for some fascinating miscellany. It’s fun. I especially liked this:

He’s not giving up.

Ever.

Anti-choice Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) just filed an anti-choice amendment to a bill related to agriculture, transportation, housing, and other programs. The DeMint amendment could bar discussion of abortion over the Internet and through videoconferencing, even if a woman’s health is at risk and if this kind of communication with her doctor is her best option to receive care.

Under this amendment, women would need a separate, segregated Internet just for talking about abortion care with their doctors.