Archive for science

Talk To The Trees And They Now Will Listen To You

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Rain Forest

In 1951 a Broadway musical called Paint Your Wagon with book and lyrics by Alan J. Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe hit the boards. Then, in 1969 it became a successful film with popular songs like "They Call the Wind Mariah" and "Wanderin' Star."

But there was also another tune which Clint Eastwood sang in the movie version: "I Talk To The Trees."

I talk to the trees
But they don't listen to me
I talk to the stars
But they never hear me

Now there's a way to talk to the trees and they WILL listen to you.

According to HuffPo: 

Did you know that Americans throw away 150 million cellphones every year? Well now there's a new way to put some of those old phones to use. A startup called the Rainforest Connection plans to turn old, unwanted Android phones into sophisticated listening devices that can help prevent illegal logging and poaching.

Waste not, want not. So don't just toss away those old phones when you get a new one. Do something good for the environment. Help prevent the destruction of the rain forest. A simple recycling or your old cell can help save the rain forest which in turn helps save our environment.

The phones will not only help protect trees and endangered species, they will also have a direct effect on the planet. Rainforest Connection says each of their deployed phones will save 300 hectares of forest. This will provide a CO2 benefit the equivalent of removing 3,000 cars from the road for a year.

That's so little effort to do so much good. Maybe next time you talk to the trees, they WILL listen to you. Or at least there will still be trees to talk to.

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The Book Booth: More June Edition

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Harry Potter

The Book Booth is a weekly feature at The Political Carnival, relating news, notes, and reflections from the world of books and publishing. SeattleDan, along with his wife, SeattleTammy, are operators of both an on-line bookstore, as well a brick and mortar in small town Washington State. Both have been in the book business since shortly after the Creation, or close to 6000 years now.

June has busted out all over and here in our little town, SeattleTammy and I are enjoying that golden orb that occasionally hangs in the sky. Did you know that it actually produces a warm feeling on the skin? We tend to forget.

We begin this week with What If? Lucian had this link earlier in the week here at the Carnival, but I thought it was well worth repeating. What if Harry Potter was an Ayn Rand acolyte? It isn't a pretty picture...

Speaking of things Potter, J.K. Rowling's new mystery, The Silkworm, (writing as Robert Galbraith) is due out on June 19th. USA Today had this preview.

For those of us still searching for the Great Summer Read, Conde Nast's The Traveler asked some of their favorite writers, including David Sedaris, Laura Lippman and Jennifer Weiner, what they were recommending. Here are the answers. Great Summer Reads

For younger readers, Kate DiCamillo suggested these titles at NPR. And her latest novel, Flora and Ulysses, was a great, short read, reports SeattleTammy. Summer Reads for Younger People

I have many friends who are working their way through Thomas Piketty's Capital in the 21st Century, an important work on income inequality. The Right has been, of course, highly critical of the work. Piketty himself isn't putting up with those critics and has issued a 4400 word rebuttal. BusinessInsider has the story here.

Lest you thought that BusinessInsider only dealt with, well, business issues, rest assured that they cover other important topics. Including SCIENCE! Ever wonder why both old and new books have distinctive odors? Here are the answers.

Some of those old books were advertised with lovely illustrations, back in the day. Flavorwire featured some book ads from 19th century France. Who wouldn't want to read these books after seeing these? Old Book Ads

One thing that 19th century France didn't have was social media. We live in that particular golden age. The Twittersphere is out there, but who to follow? The Guardian thinks these writers are great at the 140 character messaging and you just might enjoy their tweets. Writers on Twitter You Should Follow.

Finally, a couple of book related articles from HuffPo. At home, we use all sorts of things as bookmarks. Matchbook covers. Slips of paper. Envelopes. Mostly anything except real bookmarks. Now if we had some of these... Real Bookmarks

If you are reading this, chances are real good that you are one. Yep, you. Your're a book nerd. Beth Bartlett has listed the symptoms. I'll bet you fit the profile. Book Nerd Symptoms

I hope your weekend is sunny, delightful and inspiring. Go grab a good book and let us know what you're reading!

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GOP Are Not Climate Control Scientists, But Play One On TV

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Climate Change

When I have a medical problem, I seek out a doctor.

When I have a plumbing problem, I seek out a plumber.

When I have a tax problem, I seek out an accountant.

Crazy, no? So when the world has a scientific problem -- global warming and climate change -- who do we seek out? Scientists?

Hell no. Those lab coat wearing geeks never agree on anything. They're still too hung up on totally unproven theories of things like gravity,  radiation is bad for us, and that whopper of whoppers, we're a product of evolution, not creationism.  The answers lie not in our stars (sorry Nancy and Ronald Reagan) but in faith-based ideologues who can be trusted. Seers. Prophets. Clairvoyants. We need to seek the truth from our elected officials -- GOP congressmen and GOP senators. If anyone understands ancient history, it's those who still live in it.

According to their right-wing, conservative agenda and their political party planks, we know that even God comes to them for guidance, and not the other way around. These climate guys in the GOP (sorry ladies, you're really only tokens under their tent) aren't like those crazy whacked out communist Democratic liberal egg-heads. Republicans don't waste their time with evidence, facts or even scientific theory. The GOP just plain knows. And when you know something comes from the GOP, that trumps every other form of evidence. Period.

So, grab your bible and your gun, sit down and listen to the real pros. Here's the true geniuses and guardians of our future, all in one video, assuring us we can relax. We're not in any danger. Nothing needs to be done. Phhhw. Damn, those scientists had me scared there for a minute:

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Overnight: Climate Change Denial Song ("Believe It Or Not") - Lauren Mayer

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LaurenMayerGlobalWarningw330h244

Lauren Mayer is a singer/songwriter/pianist who writes comedy songs about everything from Supreme Court decisions to the Kardashians. She proudly supports leftist causes including equal pay, reproductive choice, fair minimum wage, addressing climate change, and marriage equality.

From YT:

"Science doesn't care whether we believe it, but the planet (and our kids and grandkids) will!"

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As Guns Get Smart NRA Gets Dumb

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smart gun

Ordinarily you'd think that the second amendment (right to bear arms) zealots would be pushing for guns to be sold. Arm everybody, everywhere, anytime. That's an NRA-type thinking. You just can't have enough guns.

So what's making hundreds of gun owners in Maryland send death threats to a gun store owner who wants to sell new guns? And what's got the NRA up in arms over prohibiting the sale of certain weapons? It's something referred to as "smart guns."

Who'd ever think of guns being described as smart? They're killing devices. But here's what's causing the bruhaha.

First, here's a look into the technology:

Now, here's a little factual coverage of the latest NRA and gun zealotry activities of late as reported by the Washington Post:

A Rockville gun store owner who said he would sell the nation’s first smart gun — even after a California gun store removed the weapon from its shelves to placate angry gun-rights activists — backed down late Thursday night after enduring a day of protests and death threats.

Andy Raymond, the co-owner of Engage Armament, a store known for its custom assault rifles, had said earlier this week that offering the Armatix iP1 handgun was a “really tough decision” after what happened to the Oak Tree Gun Club near Los Angeles. Oak Tree was lambasted by gun owners and National Rifle Association members who fear the new technology will be mandated and will encroach on Second Amendment rights.

The way I read it is gun zealots don't want certain guns sold because with knowledge of this technology being readily available, the second amendment nuts might be forced to retro-fit their guns or the weapons will become illegal. But California and Maryland are just the beginning. Gun safety is a major concern for the NRA. Fear of common sense legislation is their biggest enemy. If only the registered owner of a gun could use it, think of how the black market on guns, or kids picking up their parents gun and killing a sibling or pulling of a Sandy Hook or Columbine might be curtailed. The NRA wouldn't want that now, would they?

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Golden Showers Rain Down In Oregon GOP Party Race

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MannekinPisw259h222

When you gotta go, you gotta go -- pee, that is.

All candidates running for office, even the super wealthy ones, look for campaign contributions. That's just a given. But usually what they want from you is money. Not so with one candidate, Art Robinson. He wants you to send him your pee. Yes, your urine. I guess he wants to piss you off.

Art Robinson is the head of Oregon’s Republican Party. Pretty big job. He's also a congressional candidate (he's run twice, lost twice). But he's taking time from his third try going to Washington to solicit people’s urine for a scientific experiment. And not just Oregonian liquid waste. He wants volunteers from anywhere in the U.S. He's not particular where his contributions come from nor how large these are. I wonder if this is all part of the Citizens United ruling prohibiting limits on campaign contributions. 

Here's a look at how Rachel Maddow sees the situation:

In case you think this unorthodox candidate is a certifiable nut case, consider this: he's got followers. He's the Republicans choice in Oregon to seek a seat in the House. And how can you question this man's credentials? He's at the forefront of science. Among his discoveries is the secret information that AIDS was actually a government conspiracy. And one of his theorems is that radiation is a good thing. So good he's proposed it be put into water and sprinkled over the entire population.

And who said the GOP is anti-education? Anti-science. Global warming deniers?

So, take up Art Robinson on his quest to get you to do your share for man or womankind. Next time you have to relieve yourself, don't waste it. If it's brown, flush it down. But if it's yellow, send it to Art Robinson, currently in Oregon but ready to travel to Washington D.C., through your contributions.

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Senators Trying To Practice Medicine Without A License

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senators

Here is part of the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) mission statement from their website:

FDA is responsible for protecting the public health by assuring the safety, efficacy and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, medical devices, our nation's food supply, cosmetics, and products that emit radiation.

Who makes up the FDA? Scientists, doctors and experts in related fields.

Who does NOT make up the FDA? Corporate sponsors, Big Pharma, groups or organizations which benefit from rulings AND elected officials.

The last one is why this post exists. It seems there are some in Congress who feel they, despite lack of any scientific facts, research or background education and training in medicine, know more about pharmacology than the experts do. Being elected for office requires no educational background and we've certainly seen way too much proof of that. So why should they be telling the FDA what's safe and what isn't? When they're sworn in, do they get a diploma from Dufus U. School of Medicine?

Dunderheads like Todd Akin, Steve King and others just don't get it. Now we can add a few more names to this list of non-doctors telling licensed medical practitioners what medications they can and cannot be prescribing.

This, from The Hill:

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) plans to introduce legislation in the coming days that would push back against the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for approving a controversial prescription drug, his office confirmed Wednesday.

Manchin is working with several other senators on a bill that would target the FDA's approval process, after the agency gave the green light in October to Zohydro, which critics say is a highly-addictive and easily-abused painkiller.

Those several other senators include the Madam's boy,  David Vitter (R-Louisiana) and the ever increasingly neurotic Charles Schumer (D-New York). Each of them sent letters to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius this month, demanding she step in and force the FDA to reverse its decision. She has jurisdiction over the agency.

What is this horrible drug that needs to be halted before it can be sold?  Zohydro. It's the first FDA-approved drug that uses pure hydrocodone to treat chronic pain. In lay terms, is amped up Vicodin. One tab of Zohydro would take the place of six to ten Vicodin. So, instead of two pills every two to four hours, you'd take one pill once or twice a day. It's cheaper, its more effective and would aid people in chronic pain. It's been tested, researched and successfully made it through the numerous, stringent studies involved with any new medication.

How is that so awful? According the the Manchin gang, it could lead to abuse and overdosing. Well, Senators, so can Vicodin and other pain meds. According to GEN (Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology), the most abused medication today is Oxycontin. Hydrocodone is only number 17. So maybe you should be looking into the 16 medications that are abused in greater numbers than Vicodin. They include Xanax, Ativan and Valium.

Oh, that's right, those are the pills you might already be using to deal with the anxiety and pressures of your new responsibilities as resident doctors in the Senate chambers.

Let's not always look at the worst case scenario. There will always be people who abuse medications. Let's not punish those who are really in need because of a small percentage of abusers. It's doctors who should be the ones either prescribing a drug or withholding it from a patient. But the choice should be left to experts, not politicians. They have trouble walking and chewing gum. Maybe they should stick to improving those skills. Then they can work their way up to walking and talking while making sense.

That's wishful thinking, I know. Maybe there's a pill for that.

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