Daily Archives: August 10, 2010

I voted. And other matters.

Today was primary day in Minnesota. Amanda and I are wearing our “I voted” stickers. We wore them to the grocery store. We were the only ones there wearing them. Of course, there were a lot of mullets, and I ain’t talking fish, which is like voting with your hair. And, the sound of the country western karaoke rises like the call of the loon above the sound of hail and thunder. Voting with noise. But we voted with a sharpie. The sharpie is mightier than the mullet, though just barely.

Speaking of politics, go visit Uncle Ted is Dead for one of the more moving tributes to Senator Ted Stevens, who died last night in a plane crash in Alaska. Good bye, Teddy.

Aggregate Proteins and Brain Aging: Interesting new findings

ResearchBlogging.orgNeurodegenerative diseases (i.e. Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s) often involves the formation of aggregates of proteins in a patients’ brain, correlated with the process of degeneration. Some of these proteins are unique to the specific disease and others are commonly found in healthy individuals but also occur intertwined with the disease-linked types. Until now, these “common proteins” were thought to be an effect of sampling the tissues and were ignored as background. A new paper out today in PLoS Biology suggests, however, that these protein aggregates may be linked to aging. The main reason to think this is that they are found more widely (in a phyologenetic sense) than previously expected … having been isolated in Caenorhabditis elegans, the laboratory classic roundworm model. And, in C. elegans, they seem to be linked to aging.
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Centre for Islamic Medicine: We beat the genie, not the girl

When I met the Chechen president in the capital’s football stadium last summer, he told me: “Women are so much more interesting when they are covered up.”

Officials nearby smiled awkwardly as Kadyrov boasted that Chechen men can take “second, third and fourth wives” and that polygamy, illegal in Russia, was the best way to revive his war-ravaged republic.

According to some estimates, one in five Chechen marriages begins when a girl is snatched off the street and forced into a car by her future groom and his accomplices. The internet is full of videos of these “bride stealings” set to romantic music.

And, of course, when the girls suffer “breakdowns” while in their arranged marriage, they can go to the Centre and get exorcised.
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Ted Stevens Dead in Plane Crash

The former Senator from Alaska was one of five killed in the crash of a small plane on which were nine people. Former NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe is among those who may or may not have. NPR is reporting this.

Earlier in his career, Stevens was an AGW denialist, but later got on board and began to support legislation to curb human impacts on climate. Then, later, he became a “The glacier is coming anyway” denialist, but mostly slipped into incoherent babbling when it came to climate change.

The crash apparently happened yesterday, and for some time today reports as to whether or not Stevens was killed in the crash were conflicting.

Continue reading Ted Stevens Dead in Plane Crash

I’m Lovin’ It

Apropos a discussion on Jaf‘s facebook page regarding the efficacy of leaving one’s car window open while driving on the lake-ice (to escape in the event the ice breaks), I decided I needed one of these Emergency Hammers, just in case. Little did I realize that this versatile tool can also be used to order Chicken MgNuggets at McDonalds, even during the Breakfast Menu Blackout Period:

Hat Tip: Andrew

Keep an eye on the prey: You’ll find the predator

In Robert Gardner’s documentary film Dead Birds, the men of a highland New Guinea village guard the perimeter of the territory, watchful for men of the neighboring group who may be intent on sneaking into the gardens to capture and kill an unwitting child or woman in order to avenge a prior death. But they don’t see the men sneaking through the dense riparian forest. They don’t even look for them. Rather, they see the birds fly from their preferred habitat where they are foraging or resting, startled into the open by … something. The birds belie the predator.
Continue reading Keep an eye on the prey: You’ll find the predator

Plant Taxonomists, Statisticians, Reform Jews give Thumbs Up to Evolution.

The chorus of support for the teaching of evolution continues, with three statements from the American Society of Plant Taxonomists, the American Statistical Association, and the Union for Reform Judaism.

In its statement, the American Society of Plant Taxonomists endorses “the use of evolution in the scholarship of its members and supports teaching this theory in schools, colleges and universities,” adding, “As educators, we believe that evolution is an essential component of science education. In the absence of an evolutionary context, our understanding of the origin and complexity of the earth’s biodiversity and our ability to realize critical advances in medicine and agriculture would not be possible. Acknowledging our obligations as scientists and educators, we join the many other scientific societies that have endorsed the role of evolution as a unifying principle both in scientific scholarship and science curricula at all educational levels.”

The American Statistical Association, according to its statement, “takes no position on whether intelligent design is right or wrong. Nevertheless, it is clear that intelligent design is not a scientific theory subject to empirical testing, and thus has no place in science education.” It therefore resolved, “Intelligent design should not be taught as part of any science curriculum,” adding, “Further, the Association urges its members to continue to support vigorously those principles of inquiry and verification that characterize sound scientific practice.” (The statement was published in Amstat News, the monthly membership magazine of the ASA, in 2006, and seems not to be presently available on the ASA’s website.)

And the Union for Reform Judaism, noting that “the overwhelming majority of the scientific community, which supports theories that are testable by experiment or observation, oppose treating [‘intelligent design’], which is neither, as scientific theory. A 1999 report by the National Academy of Sciences states, ‘Creationism, intelligent design, and other claims of supernatural intervention in the origin of life or of species are not science because they are not testable by the methods of science,” resolved to “[o]ppose government efforts and policies that seek to redefine science or the scientific method to incorporate religious, theological or other theories, including “intelligent design” and creationism, that are neither testable by experiment nor observation.”

Also of interest, although not addressing biological evolution, is a statement by the Affiliation of Christian Geologists on the physical age of the earth and universe, reading (PDF), in part, “… the scientific evidence clearly favors a vast age for the earth and the universe. Current scientific calculations indicate that the universe began about 13 billion years ago and the earth about 4.6 billion years ago. These conclusions are based on cumulative evidence and are refined with each new study. … Although Scripture contains essential information on origins that gives meaning and perspective, technical details of the method and timing of creation are not major concerns of the Biblical text, and many orthodox theologians do not see a conflict between the Bible and an old creation.”

Get the details, and the book “Voices for Evolution” here at the NCSE.