Environment News

This summer may see first ice-free North Pole from PhysOrg.com
(AP) — There’s a 50-50 chance that the North Pole will be ice-free this summer, which would be a first in recorded history, a leading ice scientist says.
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Climate change causing significant shift in the species composition of coastal fish communities from PhysOrg.com
A detailed analysis of data from nearly 50 years of weekly fish-trawl surveys in Narragansett Bay and adjacent Rhode Island Sound has revealed a long-term shift in species composition, which scientists attribute primarily to the effects of global warming.
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I never believed it was tomatoes

I am not entirely sure that the FDA has actually identified a tomato with Salmonella on it. The tomato hypothesis was based on recall data, which is notoriously iffy. Not totally useless, but iffy.The FDA, gutted by years of uncaring neglect by evil Republicans, today finds itself incapable of addressing the food safety issue, it would seem. Over 800 cases of food poisoning since April 10th is apparently considered a bit high. And there seems to be no reasonable explanation or anything close to an explanation as tomatoes become increasingly innocent looking. Continue reading

Delay of childbirth and cesarean section: There may be a link.

A study just out in PLoS Medicine suggests that an increasing trend of delaying childbirth is associated wiht a rising rate of the use of cesarean delivery. The explanation appears to be impared uterine function.From the editor’s summary:

Though it was not studied here, the researchers hypothesize that impaired uterine contractility may be a consequence of prolonged stimulation of the uterus by estrogen and progesterone, resulting from a prolonged interval between menarche and first birth. Further research is needed to understand the determinants and management of dysfunctional labor in older women to help design strategies for reducing population cesarean delivery rates without adversely affecting maternal and infant outcomes.

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Stoned Nation: International study of drug use places US in the lead.

A study released today in PLoS Medicine compares alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drug use across seventeen different countries participating in the World Health Organization World Mental Health Survey Initiative.Alcohol seems to be widely used in the studied countries, tobacco less so but fairly evenly used. Major variation was found with marijuana and cocaine use, with the US and New Zealand at the top of the list for pot, and the US as a significant outlier with cocaine use, to the extent that if cocaine was not used in the US, it seems unlikely that it would even be a major part of a study such as this one. Continue reading

Those Zany Fundamentalists!

This is cute….

A number of right-wing website, such as that of the AFA(American Family Association) have been using auto-correction filters to automatically change words of various articles they post from various news organizations, such as the AP. For example, “the Democratic Party” becomes “the Democrat Party”.

But they got theirs. As they always will. Check it out: Continue reading

US Government Says No to Solar

I find it hard to believe that the government has ignored the need for solar energy to the extent that it seems surprised that anyone wants to build new solar plants. From the New York Times:

Faced with a surge in the number of proposed solar power plants, the federal government has placed a moratorium on new solar projects on public land until it studies their environmental impact, which is expected to take about two years.The Bureau of Land Management says an extensive environmental study is needed to determine how large solar plants might affect millions of acres it oversees in six Western states — Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah.But the decision to freeze new solar proposals temporarily, reached late last month, has caused widespread concern in the alternative-energy industry, as fledgling solar companies must wait to see if they can realize their hopes of harnessing power from swaths of sun-baked public land, just as the demand for viable alternative energy is accelerating.

Sb Rocks! Sb is da blawg!!!

Seed media group has just issued the following press relese:SCIENCEBLOGS ACHIEVES RECORD GROWTH

NEW YORK (July 1) – ScienceBlogs (www.scienceblogs.com), the web’s largest science community, announced today that traffic for the first six months of 2008 increased by more than 60% over the same period last year, with total visits through June 30 reaching approximately 14 million, an all-time high. “We are extremely happy with the sustained monthly growth of our network, and the increasing vitality of our community,” said Sarah Glasser, Vice President, Marketing for Seed Media Group, the parent company of ScienceBlogs. “ScienceBlogs has become a must-read destination site for the intellectually curious from around the world and we are continuously working to make it more useful and interactive for our readers.”So far, ScienceBlogs has generated over 107 million page views since its launch in 2006 and drawn over 41 million visits to the site. ScienceBlogs publishes 70% of the best-selling blogs in the science category on Amazon’s Kindle and is one of the top 25 best-selling blogs overall, together with sites like Huffington Post, Daily Kos and Boing Boing. Since January 2008, ScienceBlogs has recruited A Good Poop, Bioephemera, Drug Monkey, ERV, Green Gabbro, Not Exactly Rocket Science, and See Jane Compute to join its network of bloggers. As of June 30, ScienceBlogs publishes 70 blogs in English on its main site, scienceblogs.com, and 28 blogs in German on its sister site, scienceblogs.de, a partnership with Hubert Burda Media.

The Water Wars an’Woes: Bottled vs. Tap?

Do you drink bottled water or tap water? Water from a cooler (which is a big giant bottle) or from a filter built into a refrigerator or sink? Or do you Britta?(Yes, let me be the first to verb that noun …. )Increasingly we see resistance to bottled water. The Britta ads (one hour in a meeting, forever in a landfill) … even if they are inaccurate, as most bottles are probably recycled … may have an effect. I have seen, heard of, and even experienced the admonishment of anti-bottle activists (though I quickly add: I almost never drink bottled water. But I do occasionally. But probably, the bottle you see me drinking out of contains water I just put in there to refill it.)Anyhow, there is a sea change in the air. Continue reading

Keep an eye on Carl Zimmer AND Phil Plait…

Both have gone dark. Both are making announcements today at 5:00 EST. This could be big. A BloggoBlockbuster of some kind in the making.Maybe they have been having a secret affair all along and are moving to CA to get married!?!?!?Maybe they are starting their own blog, what with Phil being cosmic and Carl being more life sciencey, they could cover EVERYTHING.Maybe they’re coming out with a new Theory of Everything!!!Who knows?One thing I do know: I know where I’m going to be a five o-clock Eastern Standard Time today…… looking at The Loom and Bad Astronomy. (Hat tip on Phil’s announcement from TUIBG … Maybe Mike will have more observations later)UPDATE: What if this is linked to the Large Hadron Collider going on line?!?!?!?!?

Technology News and Stuff

Microsoft to stop selling Windows XP on Monday from PhysOrg.com
(AP) — Microsoft Corp. is scheduled to stop selling its Windows XP operating system to retailers and major computer makers Monday, despite protests from a slice of PC users who don’t want to be forced into using XP’s successor, Vista.
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Synchronize directories with Komparator and KDiff3

f you work some of the time on your laptop and some of the time on your desktop box, making sure that your work is updated on both machines is a must. Many tools can help you accomplish this, from command-line tools such as scp and rsync to generic graphical applications like Konqueror or Krusader, to more specific tools like Unison. Komparator and KDiff3, a couple of KDE applications with interesting features, may offer better ways of syncing your work.Komparator can search and synchronize any two directories. It uses KIO slaves, which lets you compare not only standard directories, but also protocol-based pseudofolders such as smb:// (Samba folders), ssh:// and ftp:// (remote directories via SSH and FTP), and fonts:// (local fonts). Its latest version is 0.8, dated from October 2007, and it’s available under the GPLv2. ..KDiff3 provides more functions than Komparator, but not all are relevant to synchronization. Working with directories, KDiff3 goes further than Komparator — it can compare as many as three directories at the same time (instead of two), simulate the merge operations, do the synchronization in a more “hands-off” way, and even produce backups. More importantly, it can also help you compare specific files (think source files, if you’re a programmer) by highlighting their differences, then merging them. In KDiff3, a merge need not be simply one file overwriting another. If you’ve ever modified a file on one machine and then carelessly made another change to a copy of the file on a different machine, common merging procedures would opt for one of the files, making you lose the changes on the other one. With KDiff3, you could get to keep both changes.

I’m not vouching for either of these as I have not tried them for this purpose, but it looks worthy of consideration.See Also:Keyboard Shortcuts in OpenOffice.org

Steven Gould Coopted Into Teleological Demonstration of Evolution!!!!!

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Proto Stephen Jay Gould
OMFSM you are not going to believe this. Over at the University of Chicago, someone is making a terrible fool of themselves. It is hard to say if this is Shankar Vedantam, the Washing Post Staff Writer, or Patterson Clark of the Washington Post or someone else.The title of the piece is “And the evolutionary beat goes on…”The piece contains a flash multimedia item that shows the face of a lemur evolving, through a series of other primates, into the face of Stpehen Jay Gould, White Anglo Male. Is there a moment in which he resembles an African person? Maybe. You be the judge. It doesn’t matter, really, the whole thing is so totally wrong that it is astounding.This is the caption of the morphing animation:
A morphing demonstration of human evolution shows the transformation from a small lemur, up the evolutionary ladder into a human: seen here as legendary evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould.

Up. The evolutionary. Ladder. Continue reading

Gedit With It.

I find myself using a basic text editor more and more often. Even the relatively well behaved openoffice.or Writer had a tendency to do stuff I don’t necessarily want to do with a simple text file, and certainly, something like Word is the work of Satan.For instance, have you ever noticed strange goofy characters that are not supposed to be there in the title of the posts on this blog or elsewhere? That comes from using a text editor. What looks like “Hello World” in both a text editor and a word processor may not really be the same thing, when copied and pasted. Character encodings and all.Anyway, text editors are important, and they are not just for coders. In fact, bloggers need an excellent text editor, as do many normal people.Here is an overview of Linux text editors. I’ll make just a few comments.As the review says, vi (or Vim or Elvis … variants of vi) is installed on virtually every *nix computer. Therefore, if you are a system administrator, you will find …. wait, wait, if you are a system administrator you do not need to learn anything from me about text editors. Move along. northing to see here.OK, the review also discusses Gedit and Kate. I’ve written recently about Gedit, HERE, in what I think is my most under appreciated post … lots of work, good stuff, funny jokes, nobody read it. Go read that to find out more about Gedit. And spornography. And other stuff. Continue reading

Darwin’s Bulldog

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On this day in 1895, T. H. Huxley died at the age of 70. Huxley was known as “Darwin’s Bulldog” because of his defense of Darwin’s important work in evolution. He debated Samuel Wilberforce in 1860, and people have been debating creationists since.Huxley invented the term “agnostic” and described himself as one.

Calling All Evolution Loving Rational People

Our local paper, the Star Tribune is re-printing a New York Times story on the Philidelphia “Year of Evolution” …. Which is just fine. But the story has a comment section and it would sure be nice to have a few more pro-evolution comments on it. Please consider contributing to it, here.Hope you get a chance to do it and that the Strib does not make it too difficult.