The Texas Education Agency’s director of science cirriculum is resigning. Check this out:

In documents obtained Wednesday through the Texas Public Information Act, agency officials said they recommended firing Comer for repeated acts of misconduct and insubordination. But Comer said she thinks political concerns about the teaching of creationism in schools were behind what she describes as a forced resignation.Agency officials declined to comment, saying it was a personnel issue.[source]

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There are still climate change deniers out there, and if you are one, I’d like to take a moment to annoy you with the following story:

Nearly 300 cases of chikungunya fever, a virus that previously has been common only in Africa and Asia, were reported in Italy – where only isolated cases of the disease had been seen in the past.”We were quite surprised,” said Stefania Salmaso, director of Italy’s Center for Epidemiology at the National Health Institute. “Nobody was expecting that such an unusual event was going to happen.”While the outbreak was largely the result of stronger trade and travel ties, some experts believe it is a sign of how global warming is creating new breeding grounds for diseases long confined to subtropical climates.Officials at the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said the particularly mild winter in Italy allowed mosquitoes to start breeding earlier than usual, giving the insect population a boost.”This outbreak is most important as a warning signal,” said Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum, a climate change expert at the World Health Organization. “Climate change affects the breeding of every mosquito on earth.”More mosquitoes will mean more disease. With warmer temperatures in the future, Europe and North America might be hit by outbreaks of diseases usually confined to southern continents.

Get your details here.

Blogging on Peer-Reviewed ResearchThe origin and early history of Native American people has always been an issue of debate and contention. There has never been a moment when all, or even most, interested parties agreed on anything close to a single story. New research published in the Open-Access journal PLoS Genetics tends to support a very traditional (among archaeologists) view of a single relatively simple migration from Siberia across the New World, more or less from north to south. Continue reading

…rapid judgments of competence based solely on the facial appearance of candidates predicted the outcomes of gubernatorial elections, the most important elections in the United States next to the presidential elections. In all experiments, participants were presented with the faces of the winner and the runner-up and asked to decide who is more competent. …Predictions were as accurate after a 100-ms exposure to the faces …as exposure after 250 ms and unlimited time exposure …. Asking participants to deliberate and make a good judgment dramatically increased the response times and reduced the predictive accuracy of judgments … competence judgments collected before the elections in 2006 predicted 68.6% of the gubernatorial races and 72.4% of the Senate races … These effects were independent of the incumbency status of the candidates. The findings suggest that …

Well, who really cares what these scientists think. I don’t care. Do you care, Jesse????i-252036600dff5b27a4530b3bf455bc52-ventura_boa.jpg Continue reading

It may be nothing more than slinging shit, but when you run out of shit:

Wild gorillas have been seen using “weapons” for the first time, giving a new insight into how early man learned to use sticks and stones for fighting and hunting millions of years ago.Researchers observed gorillas in the Cross River area of Cameroon throwing sticks, clumps of earth and stones at human “invaders”.It is the first time that the largest of the great apes has been seen to use tools in an aggressive way.


Asked if he would ever nominate a Muslim for his cabinet, he replied:

“…based on the numbers of American Muslims [as a percentage] in our population, I cannot see that a cabinet position would be justified. But of course, I would imagine that Muslims could serve at lower levels of my administration.”

In a way, I agree. When it comes to Mormons, anyway. This country is just not ready for a minority (Mormon) president.[source]

RAIDs (Redundant Arrays of Inexpensive [sic] Disks) are considered pretty handy for a number of things. This is an example of productive and practical use of a RAID. Granted, this project does not have the archaic grandeur of a Floppy Disk RAID, but then again, the capacity and performance of this system are utterly superior to those of a Floppy Disk RAID. The following is meant as an instruction sheet of how to build a rock-hard USB stick RAID system and simultaneously transform from an ordinary nerd to a SUPER LINUX GURU.

Get your sticks together and go here.

Ohio State University geologists and their colleagues have uncovered evidence of when Earth may have first supported an oxygen-rich atmosphere similar to the one we breathe today.The study suggests that upheavals in the earth’s crust initiated a kind of reverse-greenhouse effect 500 million years ago that cooled the world’s oceans, spawned giant plankton blooms, and sent a burst of oxygen into the atmosphere.

read the press release.

Lincoln may have had rare genetic disease

Lincoln may have had rare genetic disease from
A California doctor who studies rare ailments said Abraham Lincoln was probably dying of cancer from a rare genetic syndrome at the time he was assassinated.[]

Scientist says Hittites began bioterrorism

Scientist says Hittites began bioterrorism from
Italian researcher Siro Trevisanato says he believes the ancient Hittite empire was the first to use biological warfare.[]

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Genes determine basic behavior, like the behavior associated with being a predator. Or avoiding being eaten by a predator. This we know to be true because millions, zillions, of years of evolution must have shaped genes … especially in mammals with with their whopping big brains and all … to have genetically coded behaviors. Continue reading

i-00ea261917e6c34222a759d07c3f74f7-black_rhino.jpgDiceros bicornis. Africa has two species of rhinoceros, the “black” and the “white” rhino. Experts disagree on the origin of the two names, and there has been an effort to change these colloquial terms to something else. This is because the “black” rhino is dangerous and shifty, and the “white” rhino is cute and well behaved. Therefore, there are racial undertones, although the origin of the names does not reflect this.The Black rhino is not black. As with all rhinos, it is mud-colored or dust-colored because it likes to roll around in the mud/dust.They are ecologically vastly different though their ranges typically overlap considerably. The black rhino, these days known as the “bush” rhino is a browser, meaning that it eats … bush … bushes … browser. This particular rhino was rescued by the Walker family of South Africa … I believe its mother was the victim of poaching … and hand reared. For this reason, it became a docile member of the family and what would be called today an “ambassador rhino,” greeting guests at the Lapalala wilderness preserve, where it could be hand fed and patted on the head and so forth.This photo is a few years old. Last time I was there, in July 2007, this rhino was gone. He had reached maturity, found his genetic roots, busted out of the enclosure and destroyed several of the guest’s cars in the parking lot.He was rounded up and re-penned, but the South African animal police guys insisted that it be put down, so he is no longer with us.

But not a lot worse. Just as we are hearing that the current hurricane season, just winding down, was not as bad as it could have been, we also have this:

More than four times the number of natural disasters are occurring now than did two decades ago, British charity Oxfam said in a study that largely blamed global warming.


We are told that “the Million Book Project has exceeded its goal of digitizing one million books by 2007. ” Well, I can think of a million books that I’d never want to look at, and I can think of a million books that I would give up my life to preserve. Or your life, at least.Which million does the Million Book Project address? And how? And why? Continue reading