Saturday, September 27, 2008
Friday, September 26, 2008
Hundreds of new reef creatures discovered off the coast of Australia.
Conservatives have stronger startle reflexes.
Booze drinking mammals (non human)
I will be out of the country while the Nobel Prizes are awarded so you are on your own for Nobel Prize blogging.
I'll offer my predictions on the Nobel Prize in Medicine. I will go with three west coast scientists as one of the possible winners:
1) Elizabeth Blackburn, UCSF, for her work with Telomerase
2) Harry Noller, UCSC, for his work on the ribosome
3) Randy Schekman, UCB, for his work on the secretory pathway
Anyone else have any predictions? If Harry wins I will be disappointed to miss that massive party that will surely break out, but I will still keep my fingers crossed for him.
Photo by Flickr user ereneta used under a Creative Commons License.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Well at least she believes in Dinosaurs. Too bad she thinks that they walked the earth the same time as modern humans, since the earth is only 7000 years old and all.
We need a leader who at a minimum understands the VERY BASICS of scientific reasoning.
Photo of T-Rex fossil from UC Berkeley by Flickr user lobotomy42 used under a Creative Commons License
Via Michael Tomansky
Some good news out of a study of Montana's Grizzly Bear population.
The majestic grizzly bear, once king of the Western wilderness but threatened with extinction for a third of a century, has roared back in Montana.Maybe McCain should be happy that this study was performed, as it may allow for the easing of some protections for the Montana grizzly. As long as numbers continue to improve or stay stable and protections not eased too much then this sounds like a win for all parties involved.
The finding, from a $4.8 million, five-year study of grizzly bear DNA criticized by Republican presidential candidate John McCain as pork barrel spending, could help ease restrictions on oil and gas drilling, logging and other development.
Researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey announced Tuesday that there are approximately 765 bears in northwestern Montana. That's the largest population of grizzly bears documented there in more than 30 years, and a sign that the species could be at long last rebounding.
The first-ever scientific census shattered earlier estimates that said there were at least 250-350 bears roaming the area. More recent data placed the minimum population at around 563 bears.
"There has never been any baseline information on population size," said Katherine Kendall, the lead researcher, who said the results speak for themselves. "There has been huge investments of time and money to recover (the grizzly bear) but they don't know whether their actions have been successful."
McCain, in stump speeches and in an advertisement earlier this year, erroneously said the study cost $3 million, adding "I don't know if it was a paternity issue or criminal, but it was a waste of money."
The study was backed by Montana ranchers, farmers and Republican leaders as a step toward taking the species off the endangered species list. Since 1975, the bear has been threatened in the lower 48 states, a status that bars hunting and restricts any kind of development that could diminish the bear's population.
Photo by Flickr user grizzbass used under a Creative Commons License
This artist has some awesome wildlife shots so go check out his photostream
Friday, September 12, 2008
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Just wanted to take a moment to remember those lost on Sept. 11, 2001. We lost a member of our EBV extended family, a NYFD fireman, that day in the World Trade Center. To those who lost a loved one, our thoughts are with you a little stronger today.
Photo by Flickr user bitchcakesny used under a Creative Commons License
Apparently the Michigan GOP thinks that home ownership is necessary to vote. I was pretty sure we got rid of that rule sometime in the late 19th Century, but these guys think not.
Why are they scared of you voting?
Photo by Flickr user nshepard used under a Creative Commons License
The chairman of the Republican Party in Macomb County Michigan, a key swing county in a key swing state, is planning to use a list of foreclosed homes to block people from voting in the upcoming election as part of the state GOP’s effort to challenge some voters on Election Day.
“We will have a list of foreclosed homes and will make sure people aren’t voting from those addresses,” party chairman James Carabelli told Michigan Messenger in a telephone interview earlier this week. He said the local party wanted to make sure that proper electoral procedures were followed.
We are going to try and do a little fund raising for the Obama campaign because we feel very strongly that his pro-environment, pro-science stance is much more in line with the Herping Community than John McCain and Sarah Palin.
Help us reach our first goal of 25 herping donors. $10, $20 whatever you can spare, it all helps. Remember that a majority of Obama's money has come from small-money donors like you and I.
From the East Bay Vivarium ActBlue page:
If you are unfamiliar with ActBlue, here are answers to some FAQ
Do you believe in science, protecting the environment for us to go herping in, leaving a better world for our children, cleaner energy, and honor? We want a President who shares our values and is more like us, do you? If so, join us in supporting Barack Obama for President of the United States.
We believe candidates with strong, sound stances deserve our support, and this is a race where your dollars can make the difference. Please make a contribution to this critical cause.
Neither the East Bay Vivarium nor ActBlue take a portion of your political donation, aside from ActBlue's standard credit card processing fee.
Not only was this tactic disturbing but it may have been illegal under the Violence Against Women Act, which was written by Joe Biden, who is the real women's rights activist in this campaign.
While some of their complaints have already been aired, Knowles broke new ground while answering a reporter's question on whether Wasilla forced rape victims to pay for their own forensic tests when Palin was mayor.
True, Knowles said.
Eight years ago, complaints about charging rape victims for medical exams in Wasilla prompted the Alaska Legislature to pass a bill -- signed into law by Knowles -- that banned the practice statewide.
"There was one town in Alaska that was charging victims for this, and that was Wasilla," Knowles said
A May 23, 2000, article in Wasilla's newspaper, The Frontiersman, noted that Alaska State Troopers and most municipal police agencies regularly pay for such exams, which cost between $300 and $1,200 apiece.
"(But) the Wasilla police department does charge the victims of sexual assault for the tests," the newspaper reported.
It also quoted Wasilla Police Chief Charlie Fannon objecting to the law. Fannon was appointed to his position by Palin after her dismissal of the previous police chief. He said it would cost Wasilla $5,000 to $14,000 a year if the city had to foot the bill for rape exams.
"In the past we've charged the cost of exams to the victims' insurance company when possible," Fannon told the newspaper. "I just don't want to see any more burden put on the taxpayer."
Original reporting on this subject back in 2000 by the Alaska Frontiersman here.
As a Federally funded research scientist I obviously value funding for research. News of some of Sarah Palin's earmark requests last year, had me slightly confused.
Palin's office requested $2 million in federal monies to study crab mating habits; $494,900 for the recreational halibut harvest and $3.2 million for seal genetics research.Now, there is certainly a hypocrisy problem here between McCain and Palin's views on wildlife research, but that was not what struck me as odd. Palin does not believe in evolution or really even in science for that matter, so what is the deal with these earmarks. Do we give her credit for funding scientific study (regardless of the appropriatness of the dollar amount)? Of is there something fishy going on?
Those requests for the study of wildlife genetics and mating habits seems pretty antithetical to the long-standig views of Palin's running mate, John McCain.
"We're not going to spend $3 million of your tax dollars to study the DNA of bears in Montana," McCain said earlier this year, referring to a request from Montana for federal money to study the endangered grizzly bear. "I don't know if it was a paternity issue or criminal, but it was a waste of money."
Turns out there may be something fishy going on. As in the fishing industry in Alaska which Gov. Palin has close ties to (although to be fair I would guess that everyone in Alaska has ties to the fishing industry).
As a related matter, most of Palin's 'science' earmarks requested for last year are actually sops to the fishing industry in her state to which she is closely tied.More information in this regard would be nice. Citation Josh?
Also the discussion going on at TPM over the appropriateness of funding science research through earmarks rather than peer-review is a very interesting one. I think there are very few cases where earmarks are an appropriate way to fund science research, but research through Dept. of Fish and Wildlife that funds their research through a larger budget rather than something like the NSF or the NIH may be one.
Too soon to tell what is going on here, but just wanted to point out that $3M for seal DNA testing is not necessiarly a "pork-barrell" project. This is no Bridge to Nowhere.
UPDATE: Oh my. I thought the bear DNA comment was from years ago. This video shows it being just a few days ago with Sarah Palin at McCain's side when he said it.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
"At what point did our crazy Hollywood types develop more sense than the entire Republican party? Damon is right- this is like a bad Hollywood movie, and that is how they are marketing her."
My favorite part below because it does pertain to the attack on science and education:
"I really want to know if she thinks dinosaurs were here 4000 years ago. That's an important ... I want to know that ... I really do. Because she is going to have the nuclear codes. You know. I wanna know if she thinks dinosaurs were here 4000 years ago or if she banned books or tried to ban books I mean ... you know ... We can't we can't have that."
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
After 20 long months the tree-sitters have finally come down.
Four tree-sitters climbed down from an 80-foot-tall redwood tree near Memorial Stadium this afternoon, bringing a peaceful ending to a nearly 2-year-long standoff that attracted national attention.Photo by Flickr user meganpru used under a Creative Commons License
The conclusion of their aerial protest, a defiant stand on a campus known for radicalism, came after UC Berkeley officials agreed to create a committee that will oversee future campus development, a protest spokesman said.
UC officials declined to comment on the reported deal, saying they will talk later this afternoon about how the protest was resolved.
Before climbing down from a wooden crow's nest attached to the top of the tree, one of the protesters, nicknamed Huck, pumped his fist and shouted, "We love you," to cheering supporters below.
Police arrested each of the protesters when they climbed out of the tree top. The tree-sitters' deal with the university did not include amnesty from criminal charges, said their spokesman, Erik Eisenberg.
Via wired.com another Artic ice-shelf has broken off.
Another huge chunk of Canadian ice has broken from the its island anchor and is now adrift in the Arctic ocean.
This time it was the Markham Ice Shelf, previously located along the northern coast of Ellesmere Island, which was an important habitat for ice-loving microbial life.
"There are so many major changes, it almost boggles the mind when you look at how fast this region is changing," said Derek Mueller, who studies the ice shelves at Trent University in Ontario, Canada. "We're entering into a new reality if this keeps continuing."
At 19-square miles, about the size of Manhattan, the Markham ice chunk sounds big, but it's a relative piker in the scheme of ice shelf calvings. In 2005, a 25-square mile ice shelf took off into the Arctic. And just earlier this year, the Antarctic Wilkins Ice Shelf lost a 160 square-mile chunk of ice.
Monday, September 08, 2008
The fourth White Shark at the Monterey Bay Aquarium has been released after only 11 days on exhibit. I was going to go see her next week ... oh well saw the other three.
From an e-mail from the MBA ...
After 11 days on exhibit, the young white shark brought to the Aquarium last month was tagged and released to the wild on September 7 in offshore waters in the Santa Barbara Channel.Interesting that she was released in the Santa Barbara Channel rather than the Monterey Bay like the previous sharks. Maybe has to do with the time of year she was released? Anyone know?
While she was swimming well in the million-gallon Outer Bay exhibit, the shark fed only once during her stay and the Aquarium’s animal care staff decided it was best to return her to the ocean.
"These decisions are always governed by our concern for the health and well-being of these animals under our care," said Jon Hoech, director of husbandry for the Aquarium. "On Saturday, it became clear that it was time to release her."
Photo by Flickr user and friend of the store baltus15 used under a Creative Commons License
The mortgage crisis is an important issue. A basic understanding of what got us into this mess and the potential solution would be nice.
Photo by Flickr user respres used under a Creative Commons License
Gov. Sarah Palin made her first potentially major gaffe during her time on the national scene while discussing the developments of the perilous housing market this past weekend.
Speaking before voters in Colorado Springs, the Republican vice presidential nominee claimed that lending giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had "gotten too big and too expensive to the taxpayers." The companies, as McClatchy reported, "aren't taxpayer funded but operate as private companies. The takeover may result in a taxpayer bailout during reorganization."
Economists and analysts pounced on the misstatement, saying it demonstrated a lack of understanding about one of the key economic issues likely to face the next administration.
"You would like to think that someone who is going to be vice president and conceivable president would know what Fannie and Freddie do," said Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. "These are huge institutions and they are absolutely central to our country's mortgage debt. To not have a clue what they do doesn't speak well for her, I'd say."
A story out of another swing state, this time Ohio, of possible voter caging, of 600,000 registered voters. (For a definition of caging see this wikipedia article)
Unbeknownst to the would-be recipients, the same mailer - just 60 days before the election - has the potential to determine their eligibility to vote, challenged not by election officials but by partisan opposition.
A similar mailer in March netted nondeliverable mail from almost 600,000 registered voters in just five Ohio counties who could now have their ballots thrown out for voting under the wrong address.
The National Voter Registration Act prohibits any state from purging names from the voting rolls within 90 days of an election.
The law doesn't, however, preclude mass partisan challenges on or shortly before Election Day - known as voter caging - based on the same returned envelopes from state-sponsored mailers like the ones in Ohio and others going out across the country.
Ask yourself, "Why don't they want me to vote?" and then go fight back.
Photo by Flickr user nshepard used under a Creative Commons License
Know your rights and if you aren't sure go research them and don't be bullied into staying home on election night. Now to very disturbing voter suppression.
A story out of Virginia, a potential swing state, or false warnings going out to college students warning them that they will lose their financial aid, and that their parents will no longer be able to claim them for tax purposes if they register to vote in their college town.
Last week, Virginia’s Montgomery County, home to Virginia Tech, issued a press release regarding proper protocol for college students registering to vote. In interviews with Inside Higher Ed Tuesday, it was described by turns as “unsubstantiated,” “chilling,” and (more generously) as not “incredibly encouraging or friendly.”
Photo by Flickr user nshepard used under a Creative Commons License
Sunday, September 07, 2008
Global Warming denier, Sen Inhofe thinks that Sen. Obama is unfit for president because he does not love his country enough. He said the following when trying to explain why he was certain the GOP was going to win the Presidential election.
Do you really want to have a guy as commander in chief of this country when you can question whether or not he really loveshis country?" he asked. "That's the big question.''
After he was asked for an explanation on why voters should question Obama's love for his country, Inhofe issued a written statement on Friday to clarify his earlier comments.
"Let me be clear,'' he said.
"I am not questioning Sen. Obama's patriotism, but you have to question why at times he seems so obviously opposed to public displays of patriotism and national pride, like wearing an American flag lapel pin.''
Inhofe said Americans can show pride in their country in different ways but suggested all should be straightforward.
Just want to point out that Sen. Inofe must not love his country enough because that is a US Senate lapel pin he is wearing in both of these official photgraphs, not the American Flag. Shame on you Sen. Inhofe.
More bigfoot for you. This time a fossilized footprint found in Tennessee.
Harold Jackson is an amateur archaeologist who enjoys collecting arrowheads and other Native American artifacts. But the most extraordinary find of his life came on his property near the Caney Fork River.For months he stepped on a rock near his house that caught his eye. Finally, he brought the unusual rock home and cleaned it up. After all of the mud was removed, a remarkable discovery was revealed.
I don't know anything about archaeology or anything, but if you look at it, it's a footprint. No animal footprint looks like that. Now, if it's a Native American, an Indian, then he was a big Indian," said Jackson. "(The print) is about 11 inches wide and about 15 inches long."Jackson said the fossilized print clearly shows the heel and all five toes.
Have to say that this seems very possible. Why not a recently extinct North American Ape? It could explain a lot of the folklore.
Photo by Flickr user Rakka used under a Creative Commons License.
Saturday, September 06, 2008
Friday, September 05, 2008
Residents of the development got their first look Aug. 27 when the feline squatters -- at least two adults and three kittens -- lolled atop a wall outside the Spanish-style house.With real estate values plummeting and foreclosed homes sitting empty, a family of bobcats apparently decided the time was right to pounce.
So last week, they slipped out of the parched foothills of Lake Elsinore and into a spacious, vacant home in well-groomed Tuscany Hills.
Someone called 911, reporting mountain lions. Four police cruisers showed up and officers ordered everyone inside. But soon they were out snapping photos along with the neighbors.
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
Over at the Geckophile forums there is a photo contest for the 2009 calendar. I threw a photo in there last minute when I put off taking some new photos. Not my best but maybe it will make the calendar anyways. If you are so inclined to vote for me #30 (photo above) or any of the other great photos head on over. There are some really awesome shots (my favorite is #32) Registration as a forum member is required. You can only vote once and can vote for up to 13 photos (the number that will grace the calendar).