Daily Archives: September 12, 2012

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NASA’s Earth Now Android App

One of the top iPhone education apps in the iTunes store is now available for Android. The free NASA “Earth Now” Android app immerses cyber explorers in dazzling visualizations of near-real-time global climate data from NASA’s fleet of Earth science satellites, bringing a world of ever-changing climate data to users’ fingertips. Available HERE.

TruthMarket by Rick Hayes-Roth on Point of Inquiry

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a way to make American politics just a little more rational, just a little more evidence based?

Wouldn’t it be even nicer if there was a website, or an app, that helped that process along?

Maybe, just maybe, a promising innovation called TruthMarket can help with the problem.

Details HERE.

Mitt Romney has proven his worth as a leader

And he’s not worth much.

Romney went to England and insulted the Queen.
He went to the Holy Land and insulted everybody there.
He went to Poland and insulted the Poles.


Over the last several hours, a YouTube video with clips from an anti-Muslim film reached the general awareness of islamisists in Libya and Egypt, who carried out some very intense protests that in Libya escalated to the murder of four US Embassy officials including the Ambassador to that country. In case you didn’t know, this is what is called an International Incident, and it is right up there with some of the most intense such incidents. Hopefully this will be handled and the violence will not continue and we’ll get past this, but this is also the sort of thing that could end up in another 444 Days in Iran or a modified and very unpretty Arab Fall to follow the recent rather rough Arab Spring times (which Romney referred to as a three year long process in a recent mispeak… that was all this year, Mitt).

When an International Incident, especially one in which Americans are killed overseas doing their duty, and especially when one of those murdered is a highly placed official (you can’t get more highly placed in an overseas post than “Ambassador,” of course) others who are involved in the national conversation, such as those running for election in an election season, begin with the following response: They STFU. First, you shut up, then you watch, listen, and learn, then you make a statement that unequivocally backs the US and the President and all that. This is an International Incident, not a scuff up over domestic policy or taxation or some other such thing. When a candidate for President fails to STFU (followed by words of unity and support) and instead does what Mitt Romney did, things can get worse instead of better.

You all probably know what Romney did; he turned the incident into an opportunity for a partisan attack on Obama. This is nearly, if not perfectly, unprecedented. No one has ever done this before. No one has ever done any of these things Mitt Romney has done before, during his overseas visits or in blathering about policy in reaction to this International Incident that he willfully misunderstands and uses for his own political gain.

I know this may be hard to believe, but I wonder…is it possible that when it comes to foreign policy and foreign relations, Mitt Romney is worse than George Bush Jr.? At least, people liked to have a beer with George, which I know, does not help a lot in interaction with Muslim governments or leaders, but still…

Romney is not a joke. He’s a foreign policy disaster.

Have a look at this essay for a similar perspective.

Only in America Do Haters Hate Like They Hate

Katherine Bagley of InsideClimate News has an interesting commentary on the idea that only in America do climate scientists face organized harassment.

She notes:

The harassment faced by U.S.-based climate scientists has been well documented in the media—but not the harassment of scientists in Europe, Canada or the rest of the world.

That’s because there hasn’t been much to report.

While outspoken scientists of human-caused climate change in the United States endure torrents of freedom of information requests, hate mail and even death threats from skeptics, their counterparts abroad have been free to do their work without fear.

That may well be so, but it is interesting to note that much of this harassment seems to come from Britain.

She goes on to note that one compelling theory as to why this happens is the lack of strong leadership vis-a-vis science and science policy in the US compared to the UK and various European countries. Here article is very much worth a look.

Two other factors may relate, IMHO: 1) Americans are jerks and 2) This:

While we’ve had our share of anomalous warm in the US, we are not the hardest hit region. Well, we may be catching up now, but there have been many times in the last several years when other regions are much warmer. This is one of the things that annoys me (annoys me = makes me livid) about Americans who claim that there is no effect of global warming, or even those who agree that global warming is real and important but dumbly ask “well, what will be the consequences?” Go look at other regions of the world suffering anomalous dry periods. To so so don’t fetishize the most anomalous numbers… moderately anomalous warm periods over regions with 200-600 mm of rain a year turn potentially usable land into unusable land. In places like the Horn of Africa and the Sahel, modest warming over a series of years kills tens or even hundreds of thousands of people. A few dry weeks at the wrong time in the Sudan or Ethiopia kills the seeds, in the Upper Plains in the US we irrigate that problem away. Big difference.

Do you hate or like Cilantro? Turns out, it's genetic. Science Teachers Take Note!

A number of lines of evidence have converged on the apparent fact that how you feel about Cilantro is a relatively simple genetic system. That Cilantro hatred is inherited genetically and not culturally has long been suspected, but now it is becoming clear enough that this could be a new module in the Science Classroom where kids are forced to taste it and record their level of disgust. It’s all written up here, in Nature.

In hopes of identifying the genetic basis for these traits, researchers led by Nicholas Eriksson at the consumer genetics firm 23andMe, based in Mountain View, California, asked customers whether coriander tasted like soap and whether or not they liked the herb. The researchers identified two common genetic variants linked to people’s “soap” perceptions. A follow-up study in a separate sub-set of customers confirmed the associations.

The strongest-linked variant lies within a cluster of olfactory-receptor genes, which influence sense of smell. One of those genes, OR6A2, encodes a receptor that is highly sensitive to aldehyde chemicals, which contribute to the flavour of coriander. This makes OR6A2 “a compelling candidate gene for the detection of the odours that give it its divisive flavour”, the researchers write.

Go to the source to get all the info. See also the I Hate Cilantro site.

Personally, I simultaneously think it tastes like soap and I like it.

Should the kid have an iPad or one of the alternatives?

I love the iPad, but it is not really suitable for young kids, because it requires an adult perspective on life to operate it correctly. For example, for a two year old, there is nothing more fun than figuring out how to make all the little icons dance, and once you do that, there is nothing more fun than making them disappear one by one by clicking on the little X’s. The iPad would benefit greatly with a kiosk mode.

So, as Christmas comes and no matter what your culture or belief system you being to search for presents to give the little ones, you should know that there is a growing list of alternative tablets designed just for the little ones. They seem to all be about 7 inches of screen, have about 1 gig of RAM and various size hard drives, wireless, variable numbers of cameras from zero to one on each side. All of them seem to have bumpers and other self preservation devices. Some have extra durable screens that may perform less well than the iPad. Most have only moderate (but probably good enough) resolution. All or most are or probably will be under $200. They all seem to have wireless.

The brand new not yet available Tabeo Tablet for Kids will be available only from Toys R Us, possibly only from within the store itself. I suppose that is a way to get people into Toys R Us instead of Target or Walmarts for the other toy shopping. I twill run $150 and will have, supposedly, thousands of apps. It runs Android, but I’m not sure what restrictions exist on its operating system. Expect some, if there are such restrictions on purchasing it.

The Kurio Kids Tablet with Android 4.0 has a 7 inch screen (not sure how that is measured) and 4 gb of memory. It has a safety bumper, runs Android, and a microphone. There are front and rear facing cameras.

The Fuhu NABI NABI2-NV7A is another 7 incher, with bumpers, an 8 gig hard drive, but so far seems to have no camera (a future model may). This also runs Android. Among the various choices, this device has relatively high resolution (but this is not an iPad!).

The Android-running Archos Arnova Child Pad is also 7 inches, does not seem to have a hard drive, and has so far gotten mixed reviews.

The Android-running 7 inch NABI FUHUNABI-A has less RAM than the other choices, is getting mixed reviews, and seems a bit pricy.

I’m not going to mention the MEEP because it seems to have a choking hazard warning with it. Unnecessary. Bad.

Finally, the Lexibook Juniors tblet has gotten some god reviews and having come out months ago, has a lot of time to work out the bugs. It seems to come with a number of accessories such as a stylus and keyboard (I think these are purchased separately) Some details here.

In some, perhaps all, cases the Android system is modified to make it more kid friendly, but this may result in bumping the Android Market off the system because of Googley Rules that would apply.

If any one has any experience with any of these, please share!

Republicans Behaving…well, like Republicans.

Paul Ryan Is A Hypocrite!

I’ll bet you didn’t know that, right? Think Progress reports: Paul Ryan Supported Green Auto Loans Before Launching A Political Attack On The Program:

Last month, Ryan was called out for securing more than $25 million in stimulus funds for clean energy programs in 2009 — even while publicly calling the program a “wasteful spending spree.”

And now more documents show that Ryan sought federal funds for advanced auto manufacturing projects in 2008.

There’s more.

Mitt Romney to Gay People: “I didn’t know you had families”. You must read this reminiscence.

Minnesota Republican Congressman Chip Cravaac and his Goons

…he uses the police to clear liberal constituents out of his offices and uses the police to keep liberals far, far away from him when they find out about his private events.

But now, Cravaack is using Republican goons to manhandle, threaten and eject liberals who paid to attend his private…

Read about it here.

Apparently, Michel Bachmann has failed to show up for work. Check it out.

What fate awaits Joseph Bukombe in Uganda?

Uganda is not a good place to be deported to if it is known that you are Gay. From SDGLN

Bukombe was released just in time for Christmas from his two-year imprisonment at the Otay Mesa Federal Detention Facility and still faces deportation to his home country of Uganda, where his life could be put in danger. He has the next couple of months to work on a case for asylum, which would allow him to remain in the United States legally.

Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research embraces open access

Some interesting news from the Open Access front:

The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) today announced the membership agreement with BioMed Central and SpringerOpen. Publication costs for research articles published by researchers funded by NWO for articles published no later than 2008, who chose to publish via BioMed Central will now automatically be covered (up to the maximum as defined by the NWO Incentive Fund Open Access Publications)

Bev Acreman BioMed Central’s Commercial Director said, “We are delighted that the NWO has taken this significant step to broaden Open Access activity in the Netherlands and look forward to working closely with them to maximise the open access research published by Dutch authors.”

Under the terms of the arrangement, NWO, will centrally cover all of the article processing charge (APC) for Dutch researchers who wish to publish via BioMed Central in any BioMed Central, Chemistry Central or SpringerOpen peer-reviewed open access journal.

This is in line with NWO’s ‘Open Access Incentive Fund’, designed to encourage its researchers to publish open access articles and books as well as conference sessions and journals. The new agreement is an important step for the Dutch research community in making its research widely visible and to help the NWO to use its open access fund as efficiently as possible.

That’s from a press release from BioMed Central