jebbypal: (Default)
Proving Republicans only care about national security if terrorists are invovled.

So here's the sitch: there's an animal infectious disease lab located on Plum Island - isolated from the mainland and any other livestock by water on all sides, accessible only by ferry or helicopter. For some insane, unknown reason, the Bush administration thinks it would be helpful to move this laboratory to the mainland. So much so, there's already a list of finalist states -- Kansas, Mississippi, Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas (San Antonio to be specific). Hmmmm, all those states have a lot of Republican representation. And most of the representatives are trying to say that this plan is perfectly safe. (ETA - Hmm, wonder what effect a hurricane or tornado would have on research in those locals as well.)

Except, wait, wait for it ---- THERE HAVE BEEN ACCIDENTS ON PLUM ISLAND. The only thing that prevented catastrophe of a nationwide foot and mouth disease was the isolation of the island. Many of the diseases studied there can be carried by wildlife.

But you know, putting the lab in the middle of some of the country's most productive ranches won't cause any problems at all. Nope, not one whit.

Now might be a good time for me to figure out how to go vegetarian even with my allergy issues. This isn't a done deal, but the farm bill with the provision is being voted on -- try to talk some sense into your representatives, k?
jebbypal: (Default)
Mississippi wants to divert 600 million in grants for housing program to port expansion project. I hope someone gets elected out over this idea..

Military buildup in Guam for the next six years.

Kucinich abandons White House bid

Fed's rate cut has sparked a mortgage refinancing boom -- I hope people learned their lessons about balloon payments and all that.

A final without Federer or Nadal? Suddenly, the tennis world has just opened up again. (of course, I'm still in mourning for the Agassi/Sampras era).

Liver transplant patient changes blood types after transplant. I'm a little puzzled that the doctors are so confused here (well, sort of - I know med schools in America teach crap immunology, so maybe that's universal). FYI, during fetal development, the liver actually contains all the stem cells in the body - these eventually migrate to the bone marrow; however, even later, small populations of fetal stem cells can be found in the liver. So liver transplant into a patient w/ low WBC would allow the donor stem cells to proliferate and lead to this sort of result.

Different attitudes to adolescent sexuality in the US and the Netherlands

No one likes Mitt. Of course, the more disturbing part of this piece is contemplating a McCain/Huckabee ticket. *shudders* I amend my past promise -- If Huckabee is anywhere in the White House, I'm immigrating somewhere else.
jebbypal: (Default)
Female cheetahs are big fat adulterers according to cnn

Whoever wrote the article needs to be reminded that anthropomorphism is BAD journalism.
For female cheetahs in the Serengeti, the call of the wild is just too hard to resist as new research shows nearly half of their litters are made up of cubs with different fathers.

And while the serial infidelities of the females does ensure a broader genetic mix to help the survival of the endangered species, it comes at a cost, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) said on Wednesday.

Ditto for Sarah Durant, leader of the Serengeti Cheetah Project...except in that case BAD SCIENCE.
"This is good news for conservation as the genetic diversity of future generations of cheetah will be preserved by their duplicitous behavior."
Emphasis mine.

mona pretty much sums up my visceral response to this article when I couldn't get on here to complain and sent her the article )
jebbypal: (Default)
So I saw this on Daily Kos and followed the links through -- I'd never heard of Guerrilla News Network and I don't know how trusty it is, but the idea is interesting. If anyone else has info, feel free to join the conversation.

Organic Bees surviving the bee blight?

original story: organic bees smaller and hardier
jebbypal: (Default)
Okay, this is like the coolest thing I've read in a science magazine in a long time! Taken from the highlight section of the current issue of Science:

Ice, the Mantle, and Canadian Gravity Lows

Terrestrial gravity above a point on Earth can vary with changes in theamount or density of underlying mass. In northern Canada, a largedepression of the continental craton has created a region ofanomalously low gravity. This topographic low may be the remnants ofthe depression made by the Laurentide Ice Sheet, in the case ofincomplete rebound of the crust (glacial isostatic adjustment, or GIA)after the melting of the ice sheet at the end of the Last GlacialMaximum, or the result of active downwelling of the mantle. Tamisiea et al. (p. 881)examine 4 years of data from the Gravity Recovery and ClimateExperiment (GRACE) satellites and conclude that GIA has contributed 40to 50% of the gravity anomaly over the area. They also infer that theLaurentide Ice Sheet had two large domes during the Last GlacialMaximum, rather than only one as some studies have suggested.
jebbypal: (Default)
It's not just the honeybees that are dying

Honeybees are not the only pollinators whose numbers are dropping.Other animals that do this essential job -- non-honeybees, wasps,flies, beetles, birds and bats -- have decreasing populations as well.

This is the first article that indicates that fungal and bacterial loads may be to blame for the colony collapses (the huge mite infection had been blamed in past years). One thing I haven't seen addressed is how long this disorder has been occuring (it only really peaked into the national media a couple of years ago) and whether that can be traced to temperature fluctuations, new technology, or some such. Although, perhaps it has been occuring much longer than anyone realizes on a lower level as I'm not sure exactly what prompted the great africanized bee craze of the 80s off the top of my head. This is very reminiscent of the great DDT disaster of the 60s and 70s for eagles and other predatory birds. However, the agricultural implications for pollinated crops -- including fruits, corn, and nuts -- is much larger. Not to mention the effects up the food chain of things that depend on flies and other insects for food.

One of the keys here is that for insects, we only understand the biology of parasites and infections in one: the drosophila fly. Honeybees and their like are much longer lived that the fruit fly and so one would hope they have a more robust immune system. ( Fruit flies depend mostly on antimicrobial peptides to combat infection long enough for them to reproduce, rather than actually eradicating the infection. )
jebbypal: (Default)
Hard to believe she once contemplated being an engineer.

Basically, some special or news report on global warming (I think it was probably the 60 minutes one from this weekend, but she couldn't remember specifically and I only knew about it from B) has FINALLY convinced her that global warming is occuring and is in all likelihood fueled somewhat by man.

This is pretty major as I've fought with her over this for years. She was very big on the "oh, it's just normal variation" position.

However, the painful part is she still wants to know why no one is researching whether or not the space program has affected the climate. And no, I don't mean in the form of carbon emissions. I mean in the form of liftoff affecting the tilt or orbit of the earth.

*face palm*

I remember from way back in my childhood my mom blaming the space shuttle launches for everything from hurricanes to earthquakes to whatever. Now she's convinced it's responsible for global warming.

*waves hands*

I figured some of you science types should get a laugh out of that. And to think, my physics professors used to wonder at why I'd approach every problem half backwards.
jebbypal: (Default)
Are you a roofer, dock worker, firefighter, or pro athlete in California? Then you probably can't get health insurance and the exclusion is legal under state law.

MLK Day will see appeal for redress signed by active duty military published. One can only hope that Bush will listen to those that are actually carrying out his "plans".

New Iraq Plan: 1 billion for jobs and Kurds to quell Baghdad violence. Hmm, hope we've gotten rid of all the contractor corruption.

Amniotic stem cells. Much is being made about the fact that these should be free of the ethical quandries of embryonic stem cells. Personally, I'm not convinced --- maybe it's because I don't like the idea of certain individuals deciding that as a female, all I'm good for is an incubator of cells -- embryonic or amniotic.

Biologist believes Viking Space Probes killed Martians.

Who knows why, but a Brit stole a urinal.

53 years later, the US Postal Service delivers.
jebbypal: (mccoy)
So, I stumbled upon this blog that I thought a lot of you would find very interesting: Tundra Medicine Dreams. It's written by a physicians assistant that works in rural Alaska. Lots of tidbits about life in alaska, native customs, and dog sledding. Very fascinating.

Surfing through it and then some of the blogs it links to has rekindled my interest in possibly starting up the rheumatology/medical info blog that I was thinking about a few months back. Probably definitely won't do anything until AFTER January 31, methinks. Just a bad idea to get distracted. Maybe start putting together a few posts to hang out on my harddrive, but that's it.

But it's also made me remember that I do like reading and writing about medicine and science in general. I'm definitely a tad out of practice in my writing for laypeople, mostly because I'm so unenamored with my own research that I can't be bothered to put the effort into explaining it hardly. I still don't think med schools in the cards though because I don't want that much debt that would never get paid off and really think I'd end up fucking up the politics royally. There's a lot of the inside the hospital "policies" that the layperson never really knows about that disgusts me, moreso because they're all about the protection of the people that work there rather than concerned about the welfare of the patient.

But that's neither here nor there. Sadly, I know I probably lack the skills to do anything to work for most of the nonprofits from when I went looking for available jobs a few months ago -- they all want people with megadatabasing/programming skills or those with proven fundraising/organization skills. The freelance science writing gig is still on the table, but man, the risk between getting established and all. I don't know.

Anyway, time to stuff this all back in a box and get myself to work for my experiments, no?
jebbypal: (Default)
California farmers just can't catch a break from E coli

Interestingly, contamination of food products with E coli can be directly linked to overuse of antibiotics in cattle, chickens and pigs, but especially cattle. Antibiotics (as well as feeding cattle corn feed exclusively, but that's another rant) upset the natural intestinal flora of cattle, though it does cause them to gain more weight faster. However, the increased bacterial load, especially of E coli, gets passed on to the environment in their feces which then contaminate runoff water sources as well as "natural" fertilizers.

The only good thing is that so far, few of these outbreaks are from any sort of antibiotic resistant strain.
jebbypal: (Default)
Mermaid tears may be polluting the ocean's food chains

I love how we always have to wait for a problem to be proven multiple times before we do anything. I know I'm definitely going to think twice before using plastic bags from now on.

*pets the poor Earth*
jebbypal: (mccoy)
Warming waters causing decrease in ocean's phytoplankton

Honestly, if you have any biology bent whatsoever, I heartily suggest you take a course in phycology (the study of algae) if your college offers it --- I find them highly interesting and they are very ecologically relevant.

For example, the algae in the gulf of mexico is estimated to absorb more CO2 than all the rainforests in South America. Increased nitrogen and carbon runoff from overfertilization of farm land as well as animal wastes (ie chicken and pig farms) disrupts the algal balance where most major rivers run into the ocean causing red tides --- which of course causes the fish during these times to be potentially harmful to humans. The neurotoxins can also negatively affect other consumers of fish like seals and birds.

The impact of warming waters on coral reef health is well documented. The implications that most other algal species are being negatively affected by warming water is also terrifying. It is possible that as artic waters warm, algae may migrate to those areas, but the larger question would be whether or not artic waters that consistently get cold water runoff from icebergs and glaciers would warm enough to harbor the large variety and amounts of algae found in the tropics. Worse, if it does happen, we would likely see worldwide disruption of natural balance within most oceanic foodchains ---- northern fish species who are not adapted to consume the phytoplankton of the tropics dying out as they compete with migration of tropic fish species -- again, I'm not convinced that temperatures would be changed enough to facilitate this. Plus, if you've ever watched the changing algae on your local pond or creek (the annual spring green sludge giving way to clearer waters), you'll know that algae are incredibly dependent on temperature due to temperatures effects on the oxygen content of water and the diffraction pattern of light traveling through water.

Okay, that's probably enough science for one day. I'm going to go stare at some pretty pictures of diatoms now.
jebbypal: (Default)
It's not just New Orleans, folks.

Poison Water in Appalachia

They've been trying to get bids to lay water lines for over two years, but every time, the bids have been deemed "over". As a result, residents are limited to the random 12-24 gallons delived weekly for their drinking and cooking. It's not enough to bathe, so they have to use the water despite the fact that water contaminated with heavy metals causes rashes.

Where's superfund? The EPA? You can't tell me that the levels in their water supply are safe (even with the "new" definition of safe given by Bush-ists).
jebbypal: (Default)

Lest anyone besides the GI fellow in the lab doubt me that acetominophen can have anti-coagulant effects.
jebbypal: (bb phone)
Grammar in Whale song

Really interesting article -- how long till this ends up on Numbers? Heh.

About the only thing I had issue with was the conclusion that the average amount of information carried by each song was about constant regardless of length....The amount of information expressed, however, can't compare to humanspeech. Whale songs generate less than one bit of information persecond, while people convey about 10 bits of information per wordspoken.

That seems like a hugely human-centric statement. If the researchers admit that we have no clue what the songs are about or anyway to actually translate them, how do we know that they convey less information? Granted, I'm sure their mathematical analysis means something, but still --- it's a black box. Statements like that are why it's a revelation when someone discovers that elephants actually have emotions and can do art and stuff. It's trying to force human communication into something special when we can't understand their communication.

More interesting to my mind would be efforts to decode whale songs much like has been done to understand dolphin sounds. I think that exercises like that would set us up to someday be able to do similar things with alien life, if it exists.

Still, interesting, even if I want to go and smack the reporter for being arrogant.


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