Saturday, October 25, 2008

Palin again - (sorry) but this needs to be said

So I know I have bashed on Palin and I have tried not to recently (she is doing it for me on her own!) but here is something I cannot ignore (see video below) and felt I needed to rant and share information that I know many won't know or look up. Palin suggests that fruit fly research is wasted "earmarked money". Pharyngula provides a great summary of fruit fly research and how instrumental fruit flies are for all sorts of research including autism which is incredibly ignorant of her not to know that without such research we cannot find cures for diseases like autism, which she and McCain have committed us to doing; fruit fly research has actually aided us already in understanding a genetic component or predisposition towards autism ( Truly imbecilic! (and yes the actual project she is referring to is for fruit flies on California olive plants but that doesn't mean we don't find out lots of new information that is transferable to humans and advances scientific knowledge - we have lots of research on significant cash crops (especially for California crops) and this type of research is extremely beneficial for humans. It would have made a hell of a lot more sense to rip on spending lots of government money to help (mostly conservative) farmers but you know thats not gonna happen.

To Quote Pharynglua "Yes, scientists work on fruit flies. Some of the most powerful tools in genetics and molecular biology are available in fruit flies....we can use these other organisms to probe the fundamental mechanisms that underlie core processes in the formation of the nervous system — precisely the phenomena Palin claims are so important." But my personal favorite of his is "In this next election, we've got to choose between the 21st century rationalism and Dark Age inanity. It ought to be an easy choice."

McCain and Palin have no idea how science works, how funding is used and what is actually required to accomplish goals that they so easily throw out as just assuming we will accomplish is enough to make it happen (like clean energy, energy independence, cure autsim, just to name a few); yet they constantly spout off numbers of money wasted on science and people believe them!

For more on this see (thanks to Tree of Life):

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

She gets to VOTE!!! Disturbing

I know a few people have re-posted this but I figured I would share anyway...this is why I hate fundamentalists with no clue about how to actually solve real issues - god will provide!!!

Academic Salaries

This is a little depressing to read in the morning over at Evolving Thoughts about academic salaries; just a quick little graph so check it out.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Chicmpanzee Stone Age?

This is a good link I found the other day over at Not Exactly Rocket Science about a journal article on some stone tools found in a floodplain in the lowland rainforest of the Tai National Park. They found flaked stones indicating tool making that wasn't by humans but rather the ancestors of modern chimpanzees - which I think is really cool. Basically the tools were used for breaking nuts but it means that chimpanzees have been doing that for a long time and is one more note that tool making and use is not just a HUMAN trait.

On a second note - there is a good article here about chimpanzees using spears that they make to hunt bush babies in trees, which is interesting as well and shows even more tool use and planning by our closest relative.

Well - I am back to grant!

Atheist vs Agnostic

Some have asked what the difference is between an agnostic and an atheist and seem to think that agnostic is nicer because you don't know but that really is a misleading term.
Huxley himself describes agnostic as:

Agnosticism, in fact, is not a creed, but a method, the essence of which lies in the rigorous application of a single principle. That principle is of great antiquity; it is as old as Socrates; as old as the writer who said, 'Try all things, hold fast by that which is good'; it is the foundation of the Reformation, which simply illustrated the axiom that every man should be able to give a reason for the faith that is in him, it is the great principle of Descartes; it is the fundamental axiom of modern science. Positively the principle may be expressed: In matters of the intellect, follow your reason as far as it will take you, without regard to any other consideration. And negatively: In matters of the intellect, do not pretend that conclusions are certain which are not demonstrated or demonstrable. That I take to be the agnostic faith, which if a man keep whole and undefiled, he shall not be ashamed to look the universe in the face, whatever the future may have in store for him.

This in fact can be used for religious issues/matters of belief but is really a process that we all use for most everything in our daily life which is to follow our reason - we do that when we buy a car, a house, choose our doctor, elect to have surgery etc.... So in essence most of us are agnostic. Now in terms of faith some of us may not use reason or if we do, may find evidence based on reason to support faith or belief (I don't really see how but you might) but the process is the same - only the conclusion is different which is why the term is not really appropriate for one who does not have faith or does not believe. You either believe in a god or don't - doesn't really matter if you think there can or cannot ever be evidence etc.... As is common with most agnostic declares, one says I am not an atheist but I don't believe in god or one cannot know if there is a god; all of which means the same thing as saying I am not a theist - which of course means you are an atheist. - this comic sums it up much better and David Eller does a much more thorough job discussing this issue in Natural Atheism - although he spends a lot of time on reason and formulation of arguments which is a slow reading but worth it.

the Projector, Bears and Joe the Plumber

FYI for those interested in McCain's comment on "the $3M overhead projector" which was actually for a planetarium and not for a teacher/classroom, this letter (click on the above link) is an open letter to McCain about his lack of knowledge about science which is evident by his absurd statement, as well as his previous statement about the $3M for bear genetics which he called pork barrel - which was wrong on multiple accounts; 1) it was $4.8M not $3M; 2) we are required to conserve threatened and endangered species; this money is for Montana Grizzly Bears which are....threatened. Or in the words of the Montana Fish and Wildlife & Parks -

"This is not pork barrel at all," says Richard Mace, a research biologist with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP). "We have a federal law called the Endangered Species Act and [under this law] the federal government is supposed to help identify and conserve threatened species."

; 3) they are using DNA fingerprinting which is one of th few ways to estimate population size - tracking them all with radio collars would cost a HELL of A LOT more....and finally - this type of money goes for research and can that be a pork barrel project like a new bridge top nowhere - which Pallin tried to get to replace the ferry which connects Ketchikan, Alaska, to the Gravina Island's 50 residents, and the Ketchikan International Airport.

You gotta love it when Politicians gt to just blrut things out knowing that people will accept it as true and never look it up....well a few look it up but the rest ignore the few

Here is a link to information on actual Planetarium Projectors.

OH and we can't forget anout Joe the Plumber can we - Joe doesn't actually have a plan to buy the business any time in the near future (he was thinking about it - talking to his boss about years later) and wouldn't have seen a tax increase if he did (Thanks to Mike at The Questionable Authority for the info)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Red states are leaving!!!

Came into the lab to do a little work on some grant applications but had to share a blog about an email from the blue states to the red states that is definitely worth a read; the blue states are leaving and starting a new country which is what the red states want anyway isn't it??? Thanks to GrrlScientist for sharing.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Yeah yeah politics again - what else right now

Well I could bore you with what looking at lots of GCATTAGCATAGACCAG sequences is like but figured this was more inflammatory.

Alright, so I can understand why some of my more conservative friends and family MIGHT like McCain because a year ago or so I didn't think he was that horrible (although I still didn't like him much - but he was better than most of the other republicans in the primaries). BUT, I cannot understand why anyone would not be absolutely mortified to have Palin in the White House. This interview has a couple key points that I have fundamental issues with, especially: Palin trying to ban books in Alaska and threatening to fire the librarian who disobeyed: believing we are in the "End of Times" (why would she ever worry about social security or the environment for example if the end is so near): declaring the war in Iraq is god's mission (her words - see the video): outright saying that her job of putting a pipeline in through Alaska was god's will (her words - see the video): and appointing an elder from her church to state rep who has been primarily trying to get intelligent design into school science classrooms (this has been tried and failed because intelligent design is creationism but they keep trying to put it into science class - although Palin has specifically stated she wants creationism taught alongside evolution in science class as well so she is consistent - and don't even get me started on teach the controversy - there is no controversy when 97% of the experts in relevant fields agree and the only ones that don't are at religious institutions and if you're interested go here or here for a brief summary on evolution and arguments): the Palin appointed state rep also wants to make late term abortions a felony (I don't like late term abortions unless there is a real risk to the mother but Palin is against them even in cases of rape or incest which means the bill probably won't address that either). This is not just someone's opinion but actual footage of her saying some of these things ( I noted which ones). Additionally, Palin refuses to b interviewed concerning whether she believes in legislating based on the bible and/or what she thinks is the will of god - her autobiography spends a few pages on this but she won't explain it....the answer is.......

How can anyone want a person in the white house as leader, who will think everything he/she does is the will of allah, sorry buhda, sorry Aten, sorry Baha'is, sorry Vishnu - sorry god? You have to ask yourself whether it matters to you which one of those I use to finish that sentence and if you answer differently for each, that should at least give you something to think about - why should everyone have to obey the will of your god and how does she (Palin) get the special news feeds on god's will! Is there a godnet in Alaska we don't know about? Maybe that was the pipeline she was referring to.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Still around

Just wanted to say hi and let you know I am still here. Looking forward to watching the debate tonight and will be posting a few blogs this week. Take a look at my shared items, there are a few articles worth reading. I particularly liked the Buckley resignation.