Monthly Archives: May 2009

A Letter from Eleanor Smeal, regarding George Tiller

A true hero for women’s rights and lives was murdered today. Dr. George Tiller, who endured countless threats, an assassination attempt, bombings and assaults on his clinic, and many legal challenges by anti-abortion extremists was murdered in his church by such an extremist today.

I am greatly saddened by his death and by the loss of a friend to me and countless women, but I am also outraged that this could have happened again. I and the Feminist Majority Foundation had the privilege of knowing and working with Dr. Tiller over the last two decades. He was a courageous, unassuming, and soft-spoken man who cared deeply about his patients and about women’s rights and lives. He knew his life was in danger, but continued to provide vitally needed healthcare services to women when few others would.

Dr. Tiller expected no accolades – he was doing what he knew was right and medically needed. However, he deeply appreciated the gratitude he received from his patients and pro-choice supporters nationwide. I am glad so many of us had the opportunity to thank him — He deserved it.

Many of you have heard from us before about Dr. Tiller and his dedicated and courageous staff. Many of you have responded to our appeals and have sent kind messages of support to him and his clinic staff.

I know you want to send his family and clinic health workers your sympathy and gratitude for his work. We will facilitate this my forwarding your messages.

Ellie Smeal

Suspect in George Tiller’s Murder Apprehended

George Tiller was a physician who performed late term abortions. Apparently, this bothered someone enough that he was gunned down earlier today in church.

A 51 year old white male has been apprehended in connection with this murder.

There are some details here.

This is what the right wing does when it does not get its way.

UPDATE: I like PZ’s suggestion of heading over to Feministe’s site to check out the pro-choice charities.

UPDATE: Suspect drove a car with this on the back of it.

UPDATE: Suspect may have had “Operation Rescue” ties. That does not surpize me.

The Evolutionary Dynamics of the Lion Panthera leo Revealed by Host and Viral Population Genomics



Cute baby lions. When they grow up, they will want to eat you.
I’ll never forget the first wild lion I ever saw. It was a pitch black night, on the savanna in the Western Rift Valley. I had climbed on top of the hood of the Land Rover, engine off, but headlights on. My plan was to search the horizon for lights indicating the presence of the research camp I was trying to find. Once I was on the hood, I was about to tell my colleague, still in the vehicle, to cut the headlights so I could see better. That’s when she walked into view.
Continue reading The Evolutionary Dynamics of the Lion Panthera leo Revealed by Host and Viral Population Genomics

LHC may run overtime this year. If and when they get it working.

Sometime this fall or early winter, they are going to turn the Large Hadron Collider back on. It may run for several minutes or hours and then break down again. In fact, expect that. This is a huge machine the like of which have never before been seen. Why would we expect it to work without several startups?

Absurdly, the LHC press office and others have been conversing about what is going to happen next without much (or any) mention of the likelihood of a repeat performance of last year’s breakdown (though presumably with a different technological problem). When it comes to physics, De Nile is a big ol’ river in Europe.

But none of that is the point, actually. The point is that the LHC will run through the winter, instead of shutting down to save money given high energy costs in Europe during the winter, if it gets going. This will be paid for out of their standard budget, as they have not been paying the energy costs for normal operation over the last several months. Details here.

And this just in: A film from the LHC, featuring Chief Engineer Clark Griswold, showing what it will be like when the LHC turns on later this year:

Google Chromium browser for Linux is now Alpha

… and Ars has a look at it.

The latest alpha build of Chromium provides basic browsing functionality and a few of Chrome’s other features. I was able to load pages, open new tabs and windows, use the browser’s full-page zoom, download files, view and manage history, and run the Incognito privacy mode.

The rest of the features were only partially implemented. It is possible to reorder tabs in each window, but you can’t snap out a tab yet or move tabs between windows. Bookmarking basically works, but with several limitations. Clicking on the bookmark star icon doesn’t pop out the bookmark editing bubble. The bookmark manager is also not implemented yet. Users can, however, toggle the visibility of the bookmark bar and edit its contents.

Remember: With baboons, Alpha is good. With software, Alpha is not. This sounds better than the hacked up version I last tried, but it is not there yet. But perhaps it is just arond the corner.

ars technica review is here

The eBiosphere Real-Time Citizen Science Challenge!

May 31 – June 3, 2009

What’s this all about?

Every species has a geographic distribution, and these are changing rapidly due to climate change and other factors. In fact, the environment is changing faster than professional scientists can monitor it, and the only way to understand this response is to recruit amateurs to make and report observations. “Citizen science” has a long history in biology, but, in many ways, it is now crucial to both science and conservation.

We are trying to demonstrate the concept of a “global human sensor net” as part of the eBiosphere informatics challenge. Wildlife observations will come in from around the world, and we will mine them for species of interest (invasive, threatened, etc.) as well as anomalies (e.g. species out of their known range.) Whenever it makes sense, we will drill down on observations to see what relevant related data (e.g. genomic, behavioral, etc.) already exists in our knowledge base. Updates will be flashed on large displays in the conference center over the 3 days of the meeting.

Read the rest here

Would you like some tea with your climate change?

One of the authors of Ice Ages: Solving the Mystery (John) himself, Shackleton himself, and Emiliani himself were ushered into the building past the graduate students, the guards, and the members of the public who wandered the halls of the museum blissfully unaware that the powerhouses of paleoclimate research were brushing past them. They were Glynn Isaac’s guests (and friends and colleagues) and were meeting with Glynn in preparation for an impromptu public conference that would be held the next day in the Geology Lecture Hall downstairs. These were the people who had put the climatic theory of Milutin Milankovic together with the sea core data and nailed down, once and for all, the cause of the basic mode and tempo of Earth climate for the last two or three million years, and at some level, certainly, for all time.

It turns out that the orbital geometry of the Earth in relation the Sun is the most consistent single factor in determining whether or not we experience an ice age. You can find more details here.

So there they were, now sequestered, in Glynn Isaac’s office. The dons of climate change research. I was Glynn’s student, but I had only been his student for a few hours. Suddenly, Glynn, a decidedly energetic person of modest stature and elven appearance, appeared in the lab, caught my eye, and said in his thick Undifferentiated British Colonial Accent (always delivered with a big smile) “Greg! Make us tea, would you?” and turned on his heel and headed back to the private meeting.

Tea. … Tea?

How does that work?

This was the mid 1980s. I was to spend the next several years more often than not in Africa, and when in the US, more often than not in the company of an Australian, a Canadian, a Brit, an Israeli or a South African. In other words, tea would become part of my life, by and by. I would become expert at making it, and drinking it was to become a habit that I would relish. But in the mid 1980s …

Tea? That stuff in bags? What?

As I stood there, starting to sweat, a woman whom I barely knew but who was to become a good friend, and in fact, in about five seconds was to earn my unending love and devotion for an act she was about to commit, an Australian woman named Nikki, came barreling out of her nearby office, and took my arm as she passed to drag me across the room to the Lab kitchen, muttering “You Americans. Follow me and pay close attention. I’m only going to show you this once, but you’ll probably get it.”

So Nikki Stern taught me how to make tea using … a tea pot and tea and stuff (no bags). In less than 10 minutes we had a tray with tea cups, tea, sugar, milk, hot water, the whole nine yards. We threw on a box of bisquits (cookies to you ignorant Americans) and I carried it down the hall to Glynn’s office, knocked him up, and delivered the goods.

“You know how to make tea?” Glynn noted, quizzically.

“I do now, thanks to Nikki,” I replied.

“Lucky you!” said Glynn, as I backed clumsily out of the room, returning to the hallway.

There are two reasons I bring this up. First, today is Milutin Milankovic’s birthday, as I am reminded by Coturnix (see this blog post for very interesting details). Second …. well, actually, I was just thinking of having a spot of tea. Care to join me?

(Oh, for those of you who know Nikki, you WILL enjoy listening to this podcast!!!!)and here’s Nikki’s faculty page.