Daily Archives: June 30, 2009

Canadian Dinosaur Find: New Species?

The best of last June

ResearchBlogging.orgThe first dinosaur bones (that we know of) to have been discovered in British Columbia, Canada, are now being reported. These are bones found in 1971, eventually making their way to the Royal British Columbia Museum, and now being reported by V.M. Arbour and M.C. Graves. The bones were initially found by Kenny Flyborg Larsen, a geologist prospecting for thorium. He was drawn to these bones because the bones themselves are radioactive, and his instruments led him to them.

(This is an update on this, as Arbour kindly sent me a copy of the original paper.)
Continue reading Canadian Dinosaur Find: New Species?

Help Al Franken One More Time!!!!

I just got an email from my close personal friend, Al Franken. Here’s part of it (I cut out the personal smushy stuff):

I’ve said it before, and I want to say it again: THANK YOU.

We just received word that the Minnesota State Supreme Court has ruled on Norm Coleman’s appeal. I wanted to let you know right away, the court upheld our victory in a 5-0 decision.

Paul Wellstone said that successful organizing is based on the recognition that people get organized because they, too, have a vision. He also said that politics only has to do with trying to do right by people.

Throughout this campaign we’ve shared a vision of a new direction for our country. We know what we want – an economy that works for everyone, universal health care, and to create new jobs through renewable energy investment. As Senator-elect, I intend to take our shared vision of progress to Washington and try to do right by every single Minnesotan.

That’s the good news. Now, the bad news. Even though this process has reached its conclusion, we still very much need contributions to our recount fund.

It’s taken immense amounts of work by scores of dedicated legal professionals and campaign staff to preserve the win we achieved together. The financial resources required to continually defend our victory in court over the past seven and a half months were enormous.

Come on, just five bucks even. CLICK HERE

FDA: Limits on Acetaminophen

Acetaminophen dose recommendations will be lowered significantly by the FDA, and some products will be pulled off the market, because of concerns over liver damage. If you look up “Tylenol” on Wikipedia as I write this, you see the following:




Despite years of educational campaigns and other federal actions, acetaminophen remains the leading cause of liver failure in the U.S., according to the FDA.

Panelists cited FDA data indicating 60 percent of acetaminophen-related deaths are related to prescription products. Acetaminophen is also found in popular over-the-counter medications like Tylenol and Excedrin.

“We’re here because there are inadvertent overdoses with this drug that are fatal and this is the one opportunity we have to do something that will have a big impact,” said Dr. Judith Kramer of Duke University Medical Center.

Franken Wins Court Battle, Unclear if Pawlenty will Sign


The Minnesota Supreme Court has rejected a legal challenge by Norm Coleman, thereby leaving the vote count determined by an election contest judicial panel placing Franken in the lead standing.

The basis of the Coleman legal challenge is was essentially that all abentee votes shoudl be counted no matter what, because they are, after all, votes.

The reason that is bad election procedure and bad law is that absentee voting is subject to serious abuses, and thus demands a certain amount of procedural control. This has been established previously. The absentee ballots that were not counted in this contest were all in violation of standing procedural rules. Coleman wanted those rules ignored so that the votes could be counted, Franken simply asked that the law be followed.

The court decided in favor of Franken.

…because strict compliance with the statutory requirements for absentee voting is, and always has been required, there is no basis on which voters could have reasonably believed that anything less than strict compliance would suffice…

This, by the way, is one of the reasons that I never vote absentee. You should not either.

Now, the question remains: Will Governor Tim Pawlenty, Republican presidential hopeful, certify the election? The Minnesota State Supreme Court did not specifically order Pawlenty to do so, so there is a chance he won’t.

Pawlenty made these statements during an interview on CNN last Sunday:

I’m not going to defy an order of the Minnesota Supreme Court. That would be a dereliction of my duty … I’m going to follow the direction of the court … I also expect them to give guidance and direction as to the certificate of election. I’m prepared to sign it as soon as they give the green light.

Well, as far as I know, the court did NOT give Pawlenty a “green light” or “guidance and direction.” It seems to me that he spoke on Sunday in such a way as to leave open the possibility of not signing the election certificate.

The court said, specifically, “Al Franken received the highest number of votes legally cast and is entitled … to receive the certificate of election as United States Senator from the State of Minnesota.” That is clear, but it is not direction. It is guidance, but it is not a “green light.” And keep in mind that Tim Pawlenty is as smarmy and slimy and slippery as they come ’round these parts.

Of course, Coleman could just concede. But no one expects that. The only person smarmier than Pawlenty ’round these parts is Norm Coleman.

We wait. With baited breath.

WCCO reported the story here.

Star tribune reported the story here.

What is the meaning of life?

Science steps in and looks at the processes of nature and shows us how to tease apart the secrets of their workings, slowly and carefully and with missteps along the way. The missteps are readily acknowledged and re-examined. The successes are retested to make sure they closely approximate (within a high confidence interval) the truth. Then they are once again examined as new questions arise that cast doubt on the answers.

… Mike Haubrich on Quiche Moraine

The Science of Lion Prides


Although the paper addresses Tanzanian lions, this is a photograph of a Namibian lion
Starting some years ago, we began to hear about revisions of the standard models of lion behavioral biology coming out of Craig Packer’s research in the Serengeti. One of the most startling findings, first shown (if memory serves) as part of a dynamic optimization model and subsequently backed up with a lot of additional information, is the idea that lions do not benefit by living in a group with respect to hunting. They live in groups despite the fact that this sociality decreases hunting effectiveness. This is a classic case of “but wait, I can see it with my own eyes!” vs. data.

ResearchBlogging.orgSome of the most recent work done by Packer’s team has just been highlighted in a pretty nice write up by Mattt Walker in the BBC, representing a paper just coming out. The most interesting finding: Male lions kill (or attempt to kill) females from neighboring prides in order that their own pride obtains numerical superiority in pursuit of territorial competition.
Continue reading The Science of Lion Prides

The Future of Science Journalism

Nature has a special … special thingie … on science journalism. It appears to be more or less open access so even you, a virtual nobody from the perspective of the pirate publishing companies, can actually see it. There are commentaries and articles on blogs and twitter, on the future of science journalism, and so on.

To mark the 6th World Conference of Science Journalists from 30 June-2 July 2009 in London, Nature is shining a spotlight on the profession in changing times. Science journalism faces an uncertain future. But to what extent should scientists help — or care?

Looks pretty interesting. It is here.

I didn’t say it. And when I said it I shouldnta said it.

And I’m still sayin’ it, and I’m going to continue to deny I’m sayin’ it, and I’m going to keep sayin’ it, and Joe the Plumber, the liberals, I was trapped, they gotta do their job and vet the liberal views in congress, and that’s that’s what I was getting at….

Apparently, the following video from last October was just released by the Star Tribune:

From the Dump Bachmann web site