Monthly Archives: March 2008

Its Seal Hunting Season Again!

i-967423dc2d7b1fed36b696b03f10ef52-seal_1.JPGCanada, land of the holier than thou. Hey, some of my best friends are Canadians, but really, most Canadians look down on Americans for being all the bad things that we truly are. So fine, we deserve it. But if you are a non-Canadian of any nationality, the next time a Canadian condescends to you, mention the one-million-seal a year quote that the Canadian government allows in their annual seal hunt.

Top Three Seal Hunt MythsHere are the top three myths told by Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) about the commercial seal hunt:Myth #1: The seal hunt is humane.All available evidence, including veterinary reports and independent observations, indicates that each year tens of thousands of seal pups die in an unacceptably cruel manner inconsistent with contemporary animal welfare standards.Year after year, observers report abuses such as the hooking and dragging of live seals across the ice, seals clubbed or shot and left to suffer on the ice, and seals skinned while conscious. And while all recent veterinary reports recommend reducing the suffering of seals, their recommendations have not been fully implemented. There is no doubt that Canada’s commercial seal hunt continues to result in considerable and unacceptable suffering.

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Gloves, Mittens, Socks, Quarks and Alternative Universes. It all makes so much sense…


Jennifer Gooch’s mission was to create a simple Web site where people could go to find their lost gloves. Even if no happy reunions ever took place, she was just content to spread a little goodwill.But just a month since went live, the Carnegie Mellon University art student is busier than ever. She’s reunited four gloves with their owners, is working on similar sites for cities around the globe, and is planning a book to showcase her found gloves.

Continue reading Gloves, Mittens, Socks, Quarks and Alternative Universes. It all makes so much sense…

Boreal and South American Birds

i-218e473f6c30fde98e1b38a4f3d892ff-Canadian_warbler.jpgFall, a very sunny, very breezy day on the lake, Amanda and I sitting in the cabin minding our own business.Suddenly, …thwack…… well, it was a sort of tiny miniature thwack, but a thwack nonetheless. Peering outside through the window, we could see the the last death throws of a tiny greenish bird that had run into the window. The lighting conditions must have been just right for this bird to think that it could fly through the cabin, because this was an odd and unusual event. (We later made further adjustments to the window to see to it that this did not happen again, of course.)But ex morbido cum ergo identeo, or words to that effect … we were at least able to get a really good look at this tiny warbler, it being dead and all. And it turned out to be one of those rare Canadian tundra species that is only seen in Minnesota for a few minutes while it is whizzing past on its way to Ecuador or even beyond Ecuador. Continue reading Boreal and South American Birds

Power Line Safety for Hungary’s Hawks

i-fcb71851b4c1f9ba779a9e84947bf042-powerlinehawk.jpgPower lines kill raptors. Tens of thousands of raptors a year die on power lines. But there are ways to avoid this.

On 26 February, the Hungarian Ornithological and Nature Conservation Society (MME; BirdLife in Hungary) signed an agreement with the Ministry of Environment and Water (MEW), and all relevant electric companies in Hungary, to provide a long-term solution for bird-electrocutions. The signing parties promised to transform power lines in Hungary, and to make them more ‘bird-friendly’ by 2020.Since the 1980s, electrocutions and collisions with electric power lines have caused the death of thousands of protected birds in Hungary and other European countries. The real extent of the problem, and the approximate number of affected birds, were not clear until MME started to systematically gather data on electrocuted birds in 2004.To date, five national surveys of power lines have been completed by 150 volunteers and national park employees. They covered all important bird habitats in Hungary.In total, 2,183 carcasses of electrocuted birds were found underneath 19,216 electric poles. Based on these findings, MME estimated that at least 30,000 birds (especially Raptors and Corvids) are killed annually.”Electrocution is one of the most Significant causes of death for several globally threatened raptor species, such as Eastern Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca, Saker Falcon Falco cherrug and Red-footed Falcon Falco vespertinus” said Márton Horváth (MME).Another serious problem concerning electric power lines is birds colliding with the wires. These incidents affect mainly large migratory species such as cranes and geese, as well as the Vulnerable Great Bustard Otis tarda.

… read the rest here.

The Nematode Vulva and the Nature of Evolution

Blogging on Peer-Reviewed ResearchThe question is basic: Is evolutionary change largely random or is it more often shaped by selective forces? The former is linked to what is called Neutral Theory, and it has a lot of support, to the extent that it most likely true. The latter is part of what is sometimes known as the Adaptationist Program, and it is certainly correct. New research on the Development of the Nematode Vulva is sure to cloud the issue even further.. Continue reading The Nematode Vulva and the Nature of Evolution

Minnesotans: In case you were wondering where Mark is these days:


The University of California Board of Regents today (March 27) voted unanimously to appoint Mark G. Yudof, current head of the University of Texas system and a recognized leader in American higher education, the 19th president of the University of California.The appointment was made during a special meeting of the board following a search committee’s recommendation last week. Yudof will succeed Robert C. Dynes, who last August announced his intention to step down by June 2008 after nearly five years in the position.Yudof’s appointment will become effective this summer, with the exact date to be determined.”I am deeply honored by this appointment,” said Yudof. “The University of California stands as a model for the world, creating tomorrow’s leaders and innovators and helping to solve many of society’s most pressing problems. I can think of no greater personal privilege than to have the opportunity to lead this remarkable institution.”Yudof, 63, has served as chancellor of the UT system since 2002. He heads one of the largest university systems in the country with 15 campuses, 194,000 students and an annual operating budget of $10.7 billion. Yudof previously was president of the University of Minnesota and a longtime faculty member, dean and provost at the University of Texas at Austin.

Gene Genie #24


Welcome to Gene Genie #24: with a heavy emphasis on Personal Genetics

The previous Gene Genie was hosted at DNAdirect Talk and it is still fresh, so go have a look if you have not already. The next Gene Genie will be hosted at My Biotech Life. By the way, the Gene Genie logo was created by Ricardo at My Biotech Life — see the other award winning artwork here.

If you wish to submit a post for the next Gene Genie, you may use the handy-dandy submission form.

And, now, on with the show:

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