Monthly Archives: May 2008

The AFA Boycott Of Ford: Christian Antigay Group Caves, Claims Victory

The Mississippi Based anti-gay hate group “American Family Association” was founded (under a different name) by the well known anti-Semite Reverend Donald Wildmon to battle pornographic television shows such as “Three’s Company” and “Dallas.” About two years ago, the AFA initiated a boycott against Ford Motor Company to attempt to force Ford to change certain practices. The following Crimes Against the Family were cited by the Christian based conservative Republican wingnut AFA: Continue reading The AFA Boycott Of Ford: Christian Antigay Group Caves, Claims Victory

The Young Birder’s Guide: A Bird Book for the Middle Schooler


Bill Thompson’s Young Birder’s Guide
The Young Birder’s Guide to Birds of Eastern North America (Peterson Field Guides) is a book that I highly recommend for kids around seven to 14 years of age. (The publishers suggest a narrower age range but I respectfully disagree.)This is a new offering written by Bill Thompson III and published by the same people who give us the Peterson Field Guide to the Birds and many other fine titles. The book includes excellent illustrations by Julie Zickefoose.

A birder since childhood, Thompson says he would have loved a book like this one when he was just getting interested in birds. Now a father of two, he spent many hours over a two-year period with his now eleven-year-old daughter’s class getting their advice on what to include in the book.Bill Thompson III is the editor of Bird Watcher’s Digest, a bimonthly magazine with 70,000 subscribers and the author of Identify Yourself: The 50 Most Common Birding Identification Challenges. He lives with his wife, author and illustrator Julie Zickefoose and their two children on eighty birdy acres in Ohio.

Continue reading The Young Birder’s Guide: A Bird Book for the Middle Schooler

Words with consequences


Mark Madden
ESPN shock jock jock Mark Madden made the following remarks on his radio show the other day:

I’m very disappointed to hear that Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts is near death because of a brain tumor. I always hoped Senator Kennedy would live long enough to be assassinated.

… and thus, got his own ugly ass fired. [source]i-686b618d11459f5ae01080ab43a586b6-sharon_stone.jpg

Sharon Stone
Sharon Stone, famous actress, made some remarks too. She

suggested last week that the devastating May 12 earthquake in China could have been the result of bad karma over the government’s treatment of Tibet…”I’m not happy about the way the Chinese are treating the Tibetans because I don’t think anyone should be unkind to anyone else,” Stone said Thursday during a Cannes Film Festival red-carpet interview with Hong Kong’s Cable Entertainment News. “And then this earthquake and all this stuff happened, and then I thought, is that karma? When you’re not nice that the bad things happen to you?”[source]

This caused Christian Dior to drop Stone from its Chinese ads. Sharon, who is a close personal friend*, says that is deeply sorry.Here’s a video of Stone discussing this: Continue reading Words with consequences

“US government gene guru to resign”


Photograph of Francis S. Collins
Just passing along the details from Associated Press:

WASHINGTON (AP) — The government is losing its gene guru: Dr. Francis Collins, who helped lead the breakthrough unraveling of the human genetic code — and found common ground between the belief in God and science — is resigning.Collins, arguably the nation’s most influential geneticist, announced Wednesday that he will leave the National Institutes of Health this summer, to write a book and explore other opportunities.The folksy geneticist helped translate the complexities of DNA into everyday vernacular. Collins led the Human Genome Project that, along with a competing private company, mapped the genetic code — or “the book of human life,” as he famously called it…..

Read the rest here.Here is part of an email from Collins: Continue reading “US government gene guru to resign”

Ghostly Ring Found in Outer Space

This just in from NASA:

This image shows a ghostly ring extending seven light-years across around the corpse of a massive star. The collapsed star, called a magnetar, is located at the exact center of this image. NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope imaged the mysterious ring around magnetar SGR 1900+14 in infrared light. The magnetar itself is not visible in this image, as it has not been detected at infrared wavelengths (it has been seen in X-ray light).

i-7750d488cdd2afe095c26d0df04c0e37-231303main_magnetar-516.jpgPersonally, I think what we’ve got here is one of these: Continue reading Ghostly Ring Found in Outer Space

The Earth Is Being Eaten By Bacteria!

… But don’t panic. Apparently, this is normal.It turns out that bacteria living at the bottom of the sea are far more abundant and diverse than scientists had previously thought. These bacteria appear to be consuming the planet’s oceanic crust. This raises several interesting questions regarding the interaction and co evolution of life on Earth and the Earth itself.[UPDATED] Continue reading The Earth Is Being Eaten By Bacteria!

Early Exposure To Lead May Be a Factor in Adulthood Criminal Arrest Rates


What causes some individuals to be more violent than others? Obviously, being male is a risk factor for violence and more broadly for criminal behavior. The behavior of one’s parents or other adult caretakers, as one is growing up, has been implicated in some studies as well. Poverty is an indirect factor as it can be associated with more direct risk factors.A new study in PLoS looks specifically at one of several possible environmental factors linked to arrest patterns in general and arrest for violent crimes in particular: Exposure to lead. Continue reading Early Exposure To Lead May Be a Factor in Adulthood Criminal Arrest Rates

Reconsidering the Reconstruction of the Pterosaur


A very large Azhdarchid shown with a human for scale.
Azhdarchids were pterosaurs (flying reptile-like creatures) of the Cretaceous. These included some gigantic critters with up to a 10 meter wing span, but also some little ones (2.5 meters or so). Most reconstructions of these flying animals have them skim-feeding across the surface of bodies of water, grabbing near-surface animals with their beaks.A new paper in PLoS criticizes this view suggesting that there is very little evidence in support of it, and offers an interesting alternative interpretation of Azhdarchid morphology.From the abstract of the paper:

Azhdarchids lack the many cranial specialisations exhibited by extant skim-feeding birds, most notably the laterally compressed lower jaw and shock absorbing apparatus required for this feeding style. … Taphonomic data indicates that azhdarchids predominately inhabited inland settings … We argue that azhdarchids were stork- or ground hornbill-like generalists, foraging in diverse environments for small animals and carrion. Proficient terrestrial abilities and a relatively inflexible neck are in agreement with this interpretation.

Continue reading Reconsidering the Reconstruction of the Pterosaur