Another test of FLickr

French Creek by Ian Sane
French Creek, a photo by Ian Sane on Flickr.

I am going directly from FLickr to WordPress with this test.

Denying evolution by denying evolution

NewImageby jonrawlinson

Also, the sharks are smarter than Eric Hovind
[Via Freethought Blogs]

The news a few weeks ago was that hybrid sharks had been found off the coast of Australia. They looked like tropical Australian black-tip sharks, but genetic testing revealed that they’d hybridized with the common black-tip, which has a wider range; these hybrid black-tips were similarly extending their range and living in colder waters.

This is an excellent example of evolution: it’s a population shifting its range, correlated with an observation of novel genetic attributes. This is exactly the kind of gradual transition that we’d expect to be compatible with evolutionary theory.

Unless you’re a creationist, of course. Or an idiot. But I repeat myself.

I wonder if they ever considered that when you stand back and look at them, they are all sharks. That means they are the same kind of animal. That is not evolution taking place; there is no changing from one kind of animal into another kind of animal happening here. We started with a shark and now we have a shark. That is not evolution!


Yes. define evolution as something that is not evolution. That is how creationists role.

When I read the story, my first thoughts were how the hybrids reacted to changing conditions, did the hybrids exhibit a greater ability to deal with the new environments and, if so, how much better was it than either parent alone.

To a creationist, the story leads to denialism and no further questions.

Scientists knew this over 400 years ago. Johannes Kepler, when describing the first nova seen in the West in the Middle Ages, stated:

Priusquam autem ad creationem, hoc est ad finem omnis disputationis, veniamus: tentanda omnia existimo.
However, before we come to [special] creation, which puts an end to all discussion: I think we should try everything else.

Even then, scientists realized that  special denialism stopped discussions and prohibited understanding of the world around us.

Turning an iPhone into a clinical spectrophotometer and more

photonicby jurvetson

Cradle attachment turns Apple’s iPhone into handheld biosensor
[Via AppleInsider]

Demonstrating again the versatility of the device, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed a cradle and app that turns Apple’s iPhone into a powerful biosensor in the vein of Star Trek’s fabled tricorders.


Here is the video demonstrating doing a spectral analysis of two samples. Pretty amazing.

And getting to set up for actual medical examination of things like vitamin A deficiency.

Their technology uses photonic crystals o detect all sorts of molecules. This material, which they can deposit directly on a slide, affects specific wavelengths of light – whether they are reflected or transmitted. It provides a useful waveguide for examining what happens when different wavelengths of light hit a biological substance on the slide.

Essentially, the wavelengths reflected change after a molecule binds. They have used this to detect very small amounts of DNA. They have also used it in a screening approach for cancer cell therapies.

They can prime the device allowing them to look for a specific molecule, such as a protein or DNA. And they say that the $200 in parts is as accurate as a $50,000 spectrophotometer.

In a recent paper, the researchers describe how they used the system to detect the presence of an antibody in a concentration dependent way.

And they have more ideas on the way.

Printing solar cells – 10 meters a minute

sunby Rhys Asplundh

CTRL+P: Printing Australia’s largest solar cells |
[Via  CSIRO]

The printer has allowed researchers from the Victorian Organic Solar Cell Consortium (VICOSC) – a collaboration between CSIRO, The University of Melbourne, Monash University and industry partners – to print organic photovoltaic cells the size of an A3 sheet of paper. According to CSIRO materials scientist Dr Scott Watkins, printing cells on such a large scale opens up a huge range of possibilities for pilot applications.


Being able to cheaply print out  solar power cells could change things once again. 

This technology could allow solar cells to be placed in all sorts of locations not found today. And these cells can be designed to efficiently capture certain wavelengths that standard solar panels cannot. 

Such additive manufacturing will change many things.

Posted in General. 1 Comment »

The comic shows what needs to change

The Oatmeal Tried to Watch ‘Game of Thrones’ and This Is What Happened
[Via Daring Fireball]

Infuriatingly spot-on.


The comic explains the piracy that really hurts companies – the people who want to buy the product but can’t.

Pirates that simply coopy without thinking about paying are nevert going to be dislodged. But a large number of people using these sites want the product – they just can not get to it legally.

As Apple showed with iTunes, make it easy and legal and people will pay.

Putting people in jail is not the right approach.

Google Reader becomes less useful

Farewell Google Reader – We’ll Miss You – Forbes
[Via Forbes]

Word on the street is Google Reader’s social functions, its funky community of shares and comments, and the archives of these interactions, will all be flushed down the memory hole tomorrow.

I check my Reader every day and it’s always a minute or two before I realize that these people I’m following, these comment threads I’ve become accustomed to, these excellent finds – will all be gone.


Google messed with Search, to its detriment in my opinion. It is messing with its Maps, now charging perhaps $10,000 for a license to put tMaps on a website.

And Now Google Reader is messed around with. I think Google’s focus on social sharing to compete with Facebook will harm it. It is competing head to head with way too many companies – Apple with regard to mobile devices, Facebook for Social sites, Microsoft on Search.

Can gmail be far behind?

I just do not believe it will be able to keep its eyes on the prize in so many different areas. We can see this in the problems each area has. Google is starting to fall into the same sort of trap others have of trying to be all things to everyone in all the cutting edge areas.

I simply do not trust Google like I used to. They are becoming more and more interested in doing things for their own purposes rather than making my life better. They are focussing on copying others, becoming the second to market in areas rather than the best.

Soon you might have to have a Facebook account to access content on the Internet

Can You Sign Up for Spotify Without Facebook?
[Via Daring Fireball]

Not any more.


Does anyone think this is a good trend? In order to listen to music or watch a movie or read a magazine, you’ll have to have a Facebook account?

Not what I envisioned free meant.

There is a reason it is called Labor Day

This day isn’t for the rich guys. It isn’t for the pretty guys.

It is for the working guys.

“Will you be a gun thug or will you be a man?”

or a more modern version:

or from across the ocean:

or  this one sung by the son of our greatest folk writer/singer singing his Dad’s greatest song, accompanied by another great folksinger, accompanied by his son. I also believe Arlo’s family also accompanies him:


The release of methane causes extinction events

fireby Dave Hogg

Did Methane Cause the Mass Extinction That Made Way for the Dinosaurs? [Via 80beats]

What’s the News: Two hundred million years ago, half of the Earth’s species vanished in the blink of a geological eye, clearing the way for rise of the dinosaurs in the Jurassic. The cause of that mass extinction, a new study suggests, may have been gigatons of methane released from the sea floor after a slight rise in the earth’s temperature, triggering much greater warming. And if that sounds familiar, it’s because scientists are worried the same thing will happen today.
What’s the Context:

The primary theory as to what went wrong at the end of the Triassic period, when this extinction took place, holds that tons of carbon dioxide released during the breakup of the supercontinent Pangaea ratcheted up global temperatures to deadly levels over the course of several hundreds of thousands of years. But these researchers’ work seems to indicate that the change took place even more quickly than that. In a previous study looking at limestone, which is the remains of ancient sea creatures, this team found that it disappeared from the geological record quite suddenly—a mere 20,000 years after the extinction event began.


The researchers found a spike of carbon dioxide followed by a massive release of methane right at the boundary of the extinction event. They found warming effects in plant growth at the time and an enahnced hydrological cycle – all symptoms of global warming.

Huge amounts of methane – which is a stronger greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide – are found under the ocean’s surface under the forzen permafrost of the Northern reagions.. The structures that hold them in place break down with warming, resulting in catastrophic release of the methane into the atmosphere.

There have already been reports describing how much methane is being relased in Siberia due to warming. Now we are getting a better idea of just what can happen when all that methane is released, as what apparently happened at the Permian-Triassic extinction– the greatest extinction eent ever; 96% of all marine species gone; 70% of all terrestrial species gone; 5-6 million years before any sort of recovery and 30 million until complete recovery.

A tipping point with ocen acidification could cripple ocean ecosystems but the release of methane in such large amounts would decimate everything.

We may have very little time to solve these problems before they are on a path that can not be altered.

Cherrypicking and noise; some more tools of the denialist

hot temperaturesby Olgierd Pstrykotwórca

Trend and Noise
[Via Open Mind]

A commenter recently linked to a post by Steve Goddard claiming that “GISS Shows No Warming Over The Last Decade.” Goddard shows this graph: and thinks that establishes his claim. So I asked the reader, Suppose I characterize the global … Continue reading


Quote mining is one tool and here is the other – cherrypicking of data.

Let’s pose a thought experiment. Suppose there is something that is increasing every year at a set rate – say 1. But there is inherent noise in the data of ± 2. How many years will it take to see the trend above the noise? Well, one or two would not be enough for the tend to overwhelm the yearly noise.

That is what is answered in this post. Invariably, denialists actually chose a time period that is simply too short to separate signal from noise, so they can pretend that there is really no signal.

So, when someone picks an arbitrary date, be a little skeptical, particularly when they are trying to deny the consensus of most other researchers.

In this post, he shows that in a statistical sense, the temperatures of the last decade do not fall below the longterm trend. They fall within the expected error range based on the inherent noise of global temperatures.The fluctuation in yearly temperatures simply hides the trend, as would be expected over such a short period of time.

Looking at 30 years and the trend is obvious above the noise.

Acidification of the oceans should be a much larger concern

coralby USFWS Pacific

Ocean acidification: How much is too much? [Via Hot Topic]


Over at Skeptical Science we (Doug Mackie, Christina McGraw, and Keith Hunter) have started a long series (18 parts) about ocean acidification (Introduction , 1, 2). We all deride blog science. Blog science is what happens when people try to get a complex message across in 800 words or less. Real science takes time to explain. There is too much et voila in writing about climate change in general and ocean acidification in particular. Denialists have not touched ocean acidification because they don’t understand it. The chemistry is very subtle and even posts on normally reliable blogs like Skeptical Science have made errors.[More]


Much of the carbon dioxide we have added to the atmosphere has entered the oceans. Just as dissolving carbon dioxide to soft drinks lowers their pH, making them more acidic than without the carbon dioxide, so does the pH of the oceans become lower. But, many of the biological processes used by ocean animals to create their structural elements – the shells that act like bones – have pretty definite pH requirements. As the oceans become more acidic, it becomes harder to produce the calcareous shells needed to survive. At some point, it becomes impossible to produce appropriate structures and the animals die. This has been seen in fossil sediments and seen in the lab. It has also been examined in the wild, in the waters surrounding natural carbon dioxide seeps that lower local pH levels tremendously. Low pH levels than normal result in decimation of the ecosystem. Instead of rich coral reefs, there was only slime and sea grass. We may very well get to see the real time result in the general oceans if we keep releasing increasing amounts of carbon dioxide.

Eating local food not so simple

cattleby Red Junasun

Local Food or Less Meat? Data Tells The Real Story [Via]

In recent years, one part of the food business has rivaled organics as the hot growth area: “local” food (defined vaguely as coming from the same state or from less than 100 miles away, for example). It’s a market segment that has just about doubled in sales and number of outlets over the last decade. The world’s biggest food buyer, Wal-Mart, jumped on the bandwagon last fall and announced that it would double the amount of local food it sells (to 9 percent of all its food sales). The idea of buying locally is not new, and farmers’ markets have been big for years. It’s become almost gospel that the food on our plates has traveled about 1500 miles to get to us.


So it would seem logical that the best way to shrink your food-related carbon footprint associated would be to buy from near by. But it turns out that this assumption is wrong.

Thankfully, a couple scientists took a harder look at the data and published an analysis in the Journal of Environmental Science and Technology. The abstract for this article is a prime example of clear writing and good lifecycle analysis — which don’t usually go together — so check it out. But here’s the essence:

  • Food is transported a long way, going about 1,000 miles in delivery and over 4,000 miles across the supply chain.
  • But 83% of the average U.S. household’s carbon footprint for food comes from growing and producing it. Transportation is only 11%.
  • Different foods have vastly different greenhouse gas (GHG) intensity, with meat requiring far more energy to produce, and red meat being particularly egregious, requiring 150% more energy than even chicken.

So the journal article adds this up to an obvious conclusion: if you want to reduce your food’s carbon footprint, eat less meat. In short, “Shifting less than one day per week’s worth of calories from red meat and dairy products to chicken, fish, eggs, or a vegetable-based diet achieves more GHG reduction than buying all locally sourced food.”


A very interesting examination that demonstrates the complexity of our food supply. The huge overall GHG emissions from beef outweigh how local the food is. Relatively simple changes in diet can have even greater effects than getting the beef locally.

Simplifying the complex process of producing and transporting food to our tables can sometimes make things worse. This paper provides a small peek at solving a difficult problem.

Cutting spending will not create the jobs we need

unemployedby Alex E. Proimos

2011 Private Employment is 2% Below 2001 Levels
[Via The Big Picture]

From the Liscio Report, via Alan Abelson, May Employment data shows that a limp recovery is growing limper.

“As our friends and astute data scanners at the Liscio Report, Philippa Dunne and Doug Henwood, observe, disappointments were scattered throughout the report, And while they don’t think May is “an overture to a double dip,” it does plainly reflect accelerating erosion on the job front . . .

More than a little shocking to Philippa and Doug (and to us as well) is that private employment today is 2% below where it stood 10 years ago and, as they’ve noted before, job loss over a 10-year period is unprecedented since the advent of something resembling reliable tallies began in 1890. So far, they point out somewhat grimly, “we’ve regained just 1.8 million jobs lost in the Great Recession and its aftermath, or about one in five.”


We have been cutting taxes and government spending for well over a decade yet we have fewer people employed today than in 2011. All that has happened is that the richest americans became richer while the rest of us became poorer.

This is unprecedented in American history. One would think that the policies followed over most of this decade would be shown to simply be ineffective for creating jobs.

Why in the world would we think that continuing along this path would solve our current problems? The tax rates and spending of the 90s gave us our best economy and actually produced Federal budgets that could have lowered our debt. We had surpluses.

The tax cuts in the next decade have produced the worse employment record in American history. When will we see a shift back to what worked in the 90s?

Probably never again. From the Barron’s article:

Moreover, there seems no immediate cure in sight for the truly sick housing market, and attempts by Washington to administer one, as its efforts to date have painfully demonstrated, are an odds-on bet to make it even sicker. Nor, obviously, is the poisonous political atmosphere in Washington conducive to sensible fiscal and monetary policy.

On the contrary, the mood in the capital seems to favor following Europe’s lead in pushing austerity at all costs to revive an already-floundering economy. And just as it won’t work in the Old World, it won’t work here, either.

Nice, succinct overview of our current housing problem and perhaps how to fix it

Creating productive jobs the way out of Great Recession
[Via The Seattle Times]

The most arresting piece of the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller index report last week was that house prices have fallen further than during the Great Depression, when they took 19 years to recover their losses.



Owning a home, and the vast industry that engendered, was once the American Dream. It supported the last and largest manufacturing industry in the US, something that could not be outsourced to other lands.

Now that industry is broken and may never come back. We need to shift our entire way of thinking to overcome this. Current estimates by many are that it could take up to a generation to accomplish this relying purely on market forces.

The Great Depression was overcome by relying on more than just market forces. There is a role for government to speed up the transition, for helping our society to hold together during the transition so we do not tear ourselves apart – as so many leaders seem bent on doing.

That is what we should be talking about.

But we are not having that conversation. Instead it is about how the wealthy – many of whom are responsible for the mess we are in – to become wealthier. Some dream of an Apocalypse and are working to make it happen.

Earthquake, tsunami and now a typhoon?

Japan plant ‘unready’ for typhoon
[Via BBC News | Science/Nature | World Edition]

The crippled Fukushima nuclear plant is not fully prepared for the heavy rain and winds of a typhoon bearing down on Japan, the plant’s operator admits.


First Category 5 storm of the year. Luckily it has weakened over the last day and is now just a tropical depression as it hits Japan.

Having a lot of rain and wind right now would not be helpful at all. ANd these people do not need even more stress worrying about storms. BUt it looks likely they may have to deal with that this summer.

Posted in General. 1 Comment »

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