An evolutionary biologist and geneticist at the University of California, Irvine, he speaks often at universities, in churches, for social groups and elsewhere, usually in defense of the theory of evolution and against the arguments of creationism and its ideological cousin, intelligent design.Usually he preaches to the converted. But not always. …

Read the rest at: Roving Defender of Evolution …

Hans Reiser, who developed the Reiser File System, was convicted yesterday of First Degree Murder. He was accused of killing his wife, who’s body was never recovered.The Reiser Filesystem is thought to be one of the best journaling file systems available for Linux computers. However, since Reiser’s incarceration under suspicion of murder, the usual maintenance and development of the file system that may have otherwise occurred has not happened, so relatively few people have deployed it and major distributions tend to shun it as a default. Continue reading

The Florida House yesterday voted to require teachers to criticize evolution when teaching the subject in Florida public schools. The house version of the bill will now, most likely, travel back to the Senate (where a similar bill, was recently passed). Governor Charlie Crist is not talking about whether or not he will sign the bill.

“What this bill does is tell the teacher, go ahead and teach the theory of evolution and make sure your students have a complete view of that theory and they know that it is only a theory, it is not gospel law,” said Rep. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla. “There’s no proof that any species has transitioned from one thing to another.”

You can read about it here, and add your comments to the news web site.

Maybe you have an ad blocker. There are reasons, though, to NOT use an ad blocker. One reason might be that they don’t work for you, for some reason. Another is that you use Windoze, and every now and then you have to totally wipe your hard drive and reinstall your system and all your software, and you get tired of re-configuring every stupid thing every time this happens and have fallen into the pattern of living with the defaults. Or, maybe, like me, none of those things are issues because you use Linux, but you still don’t blotto out the ads because as a responsible blogger you feel that you kind of need to see the ads. They are part of the landscape you work in. How can you effectively complain about something that you can’t see? So you live with the ads because you need to see what is showing up on your own blog, and because you don’t want to dampen your peripheral vision.For me, one thing this means is that if a page has really annoying behavior (usually, but not always, as part of the ads) I’ll avoid linking to it. If it has something I might want to blog about, but that is not too important, I just skip it. I try to not point my readers to sites that make noise when you open them, for instance. If I blocked the ads, I could not know to avoid certaiin sites.Still, there are these ads that are really annoying because they flash a lot. Like this ad here: Continue reading

i-bc4f9890e7ab4aeab604660e4845ff10-food_chain.jpgFood webs — the network of trophic (eating) interaction among the many species sharing a habitat or biome — is a much studied aspect of ecology. Food web and other similar phenomena such as dispersal syndromes are epiphenomena of evolution, resulting from the negotiation of competitive and cooperative interactions among many individuals. Indeed, the food web is the gross-level movement of energy within the ebb and flow of entropy and life-based energy capture. This flow of energy is fundamental to all life systems.ResearchBlogging.orgThe delicacy or vulnerability of a particular habitat … the potential susceptibility or resistance to perturbation … may depend on the details of this network of interactions. If everything ultimately depends on a basal food type that goes extinct, for example, there could be big trouble.So, just as understanding any aspect of life requires that we examine historically ancient, no longer extant systems, we need to understand ancient food webs. But, a valid study of food webs requires a certain level of detail that is often absent from the data available for ancient systems.Moments ago, a study of Cambrian food webs came out in PLoS Biology. Continue reading


Canadian panel: Climate change is threat to polar bears from
(AP) — A scientific committee that advises Canada’s government on endangered species said Friday that climate change is a threat to the survival of the polar bear, but the species does not face extinction.

Narwhals more at risk to Arctic warming than polar bears from
(AP) — The polar bear has become an icon of global warming vulnerability, but a new study found an Arctic mammal that may be even more at risk to climate change: the narwhal.

Continue reading

… and why.The Page 3.14 readers poll asks this question, with a selected number of choices. The choices given in the poll are interesting, but I think one could add quite a few more. In part, this would depend on why one thinks a certain film is compelling.Is a film compelling because it engages people in an interest in or love of science that goes beyond the film itself? Because it raises deep or at least interesting questions about science, or about other aspects of the world but from a scientific perspective?I think Jurassic Park had the influence of making people interested in science, and it raised some interesting questions. GATTICA is not only a very well made film, but it fairly starkly addresses important ethical areas, even if doing so in what one hopes is a somewhat unrealistic setting.Well, comment here with your choice and/or go over to 3.14 and vote! If we get enough interesting commentary, I’ll submit this post to the next Carnival of Cinema!

This is described in UDreamOfJanie:Ronda R. Storms is a Florida sate senator (Republican) who has spearheaded efforts against Planned Parenthood, against her local LGBTA community, and so on, is now linked to the Discovery Institute in regards to her latest project, the Florida “Academic Freedom” bill.In regards to Academic Freedom, Storms …

…took the age-old ethical high-road known as ‘Lying for Jesus’. She insists that this bill is about the freedom to inquire about all `scientific information relevant to the full range of scientific views regarding biological and chemical evolution in connection with teaching any prescribed curriculum regarding chemical or biological evolution.’ When asked if this is just a backdoor for sneaking in ‘Intelligent Design’, she wouldn’t answer the question.

And by this, I mean really, really big…This was sent to me by my colleague Christian Reinboth in Germany. This video was created by Mike (Metafis), a retired PC support guy, who has also been kind enough to comment below.

…. It shows a massive zoom (315 times) into the famous Mandelbrot set. The astonishing thing is this (and I am quoting the filmmakers): You would need a monitor 2^316 times the size of a normal one to view the whole of the first frame by the time you get to the last frame. That’s approx 2^176 times the size of the known universe.

Here it is: Continue reading

Dr. Ernest Madu runs the Heart Institute of the Caribbean in Kingston, Jamaica, where he proves that — with careful design, smart technical choices, and a true desire to serve — it’s possible to offer world-class healthcare in the developing world. Listen for some eye-opening statistics on heart disease, which is as ruthless a killer in poorer nations as in richer ones.

Continue reading

My friend Matt says that when he gets up in the morning, the first thing he does is to reach his hands skyward, extend to first and second fingers on each hand, and produce two synchronized rapid curling motions with these fingers.In so doing, everything else he does that day is “in quotes.”Have you ever noticed how often quotations are used incorrectly, and don’t you “find” this totally “annoying?”The main problem, of course, is that people “think” quotes are for “emphasis” … when they are really for the exact opposite. Something that you put in quotes (that is not a, well, an actual quote) is something that you don’t really believe. So, the following is correct:

Intelligent design is a “theory” about evolution. Well, not really.

An incorrect use of quotes would be as in the following hypothetical sign in front of a resturant:

Come on in and try our “delicious” “food”

So, well, go have some “fun” at “The “Blog” of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks