WooHoo A New PPM Record for CO2

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says in March, the global monthly average for carbon dioxide hit 400.83 parts per million. That is the first month in modern records that the entire globe broke 400 ppm, reaching levels that haven’t been seen in about 2 million years.

“It’s both disturbing and daunting,” said NOAA chief greenhouse gas scientist Pieter Tans. “Daunting from the standpoint on how hard it is to slow this down.”

And somewhat disturbing is that the political party that legislates stuff (like funding for NOAA) completely and utterly denies this basic scientific fact.

In fact, they go beyond denying this fact, and call anyone who *does* delusional. They do this over and over and over again, with the backing of many of the richest people on the planet (who make money off selling the stuff causing the rise in CO2).

So that’s where we are at…a place no human civilization has ever been.

And rising.

The great thing about this is that the GOP, which controls funding for these agencies, in planning to gut it in order to not get any more reports like this one.

Extracting Audio from Pictures

Three years ago, a survey team identified a staggering 569,148 time-based media objects on the Bloomington campus of Indiana University—that’s over half a million sound recordings, video recordings, and reels of film. The earliest items documented in the survey report date back to 1893.

However, that report doesn’t mention what might be considered IU Bloomington’s oldest time-based media of all. That’s not because we didn’t do a thorough job. Rather, it’s because the items in question don’t look or behave much like the media we were surveying—discs, reels, cylinders, cassettes, and so forth. Instead, they’re pictures in books. And pictures in books seem well outside the scope of the Media Preservation Initiative.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t play them back—and some of them are pretty exciting.

via Extracting Audio from Pictures | media preservation.

Access and preservation of historical media objects looks to make “history” a more applied profession.

See also…this article on restoring the color of Greek statues.

What Happens When Fear and Paranoia Drive Your Political Ideology

Republican fear factor – Salon.com http://www.salon.com/2012/05/03/republican_fear_factor_salpart/

The White House has been usurped by a Kenyan socialist named Barry Soetero,who hatched an elaborate plot to pass himself off as a citizen of the United States –a plot the media refuse to even investigate. This president doesn’t just claim the right to assassinate suspected terrorists who are beyond the reach of law enforcement –he may be planning on rounding up his ideological opponents and putting them into concentration camps if he is reelected. He may have murdered a blogger who was critical of his administration, but authorities refuse to investigate. At the very least, he is plotting on disarming the American public after the election, in accordance with a secret deal cut with the UN and possibly with the assistance of foreign troops.

There is more and more science being done on brain chemistry and political stances. Read the article I just linked for sources. As it’s science they won’t like, conservatives will feel a strong urge to dismiss it out of hand or claim those doing the science or mentioning it are part of the conspiracy…which means it can be dismissed out of hand. See how hard it is to return to reality from that mindset? So do we, conservatives….so do we.

Scared and Disgusted: Science probes the mechansim behind modern conservative ‘thinking’

That’s gross! Study uncovers physiological nature of disgust in politics http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111025122617.htm

In a new study, political scientists closely measured people’s physiological reactions as they looked at a series of pleasant and unpleasant images. Participants who identified themselves as conservative — and, in particular, those who said they were against gay marriage –had strong physiological reactions when shown the gross pictures. The study, the latest to examine the connection between political differences and humans’ built-in physiological traits, was co-authored by University of Nebraska-Lincoln political science professors Kevin Smith and John Hibbing and appears this month in the online journal PLoS ONE, published by the Public Library of Science

This correlates with previous studies that illustrate a bond between a hyperactive amygdala and certain political leanings.

EDIT: Amygdala not hypothalamus.

P’shaw, scientists, what do they know…

Scientists Reveal How Hummingbirds Sing with Their Tail Feathers [VIDEO] – International Business Times http://newyork.ibtimes.com/articles/211694/20110910/hummingbird-sing-feather-flutter-sound-male.htm

During its courtship ritual, a male hummingbird would climb into the air 5 to 40 meters and dive-bomb down past a female. At the lowest point of his dive, the male would swiftly spread and close his tail feathers, making the fluttering sound. Clark and colleagues collected feathers from 14 species of bee hummingbirds, and examined their sound-producing ability using a Scanning Laser Doppler Vibrometer, an instrument that is used to measure the vibrations of a surface. When the winds were as fast as the hummingbirds’ dive speed, the feathers vibrated rhythmically, producing a shriek. More than individual feather, multiple feathers placed side by side amplify the sound, produced a louder noise by interacting with one another. The fluttering of one feather cause a neighboring feather to flutter, just like how the vibrations of one tuning fork may cause another nearby tuning fork to similarly vibrate, said the scientists. The volume of the flutter also increases when the flying speed becomes faster.

Yes, they get their name mainly from their method of trying to hook up.   I’m told making impressively loud noises in front of human females is also considered a sign of high futility.

So the question remains, which came first the humming bird, or the bellowing beast? (Science is fun like that with the infinite recursive questions and all)

Bringing an Asteroid back to Earth

Here’s the sciency goodness…

Just in case you thought the re-entry of the Japanese Hayabusa spacecraft couldn’t get any better, NASA has just released an aerial video of the speeding sample return capsule followed by the break-up of the rest of the probe as the whole lot tumbled through the Earth’s atmosphere.

And, of course, the YouTube moment…

And just to be thorough…the sciency badness.  When your experiment has to deal with the Sun exploding in ways it never has before, right before trying to catch up to an asteroid and land on it (using ion engines no less), to get *any* results is a feat of super-human intelligence and ingenuity.  Oh, and if space-zombies start showing up in your neighborhood, this is a likely culprit.

In 2003, Hayabusa was launched from Uchinoura Launch Center, Kagoshima, Kyushu, Japan. Hayabusa means “peregrine falcon” in Japanese.

Using its ion engines, the space probe gave chase to Itokawa, an asteroid measuring 500 meters in length.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before the first problem struck the probe; it was hit by one of those annoying solar flares. But this wasn’t an average solar flare, it was the biggest solar flare in recorded history! If you ever wanted a space mission to get off to a bad start, this would be it.

The probe sustained damage to its solar panels, which reduced the spacecraft’s power-producing efficiency. As Hayabusa’s means of getting around space was by using ion engines, the reduction in power delivered by the solar array meant the thrust of the engines suffered, causing a delay in Hayabusa reaching Itokawa.

Despite this early set-back, the probe reached Itokawa in 2005 and took some stunning imagery of the space rock. It was obvious from the photographs that the asteroid was formed of smaller chunks of rock held together by a mutual gravity (known as a “rubble pile”). These observations revealed that Itokawa has a surprisingly low density.

This is when things started to go even worse for the solar flare-battered probe. There was an attempt to get a closer look at the asteroid, but in doing so, the spacecraft overheated and switched into “safe mode” when accidentally making contact with the sun-baked side of Itokawa.

After regaining control, JAXA scientists made an attempt to grab samples of the asteroid to bring back to Earth. Unfortunately, that didn’t go smoothly either. The sampling device intended to kick pieces of asteroid from the surface into a collector didn’t work as it was supposed to. However, there is hope that some disturbed particles of asteroid dust made it on board during these maneuvers.

After a delayed limp back to Earth (the mission was supposed to return in 2007), Hayabusa is finally on its final straight, aimed right at the Australian outback.

Shortly before Sunday’s re-entry, the return capsule — hopefully containing the invaluable particles of asteroid dust — will separate from the main spacecraft, leaving the majority of the probe to burn up high in the atmosphere.

And that’s what we saw there, the spaceprobe burning up (and killing the zeno-bacteria zombie pod, hopefully) and the capsule heading down.  I’ve heard the chute deployed, and they should have the results in hand before too long.  Good stuff, chaps.  Err,…senseis?

UPDATE:  This post has a lot more info regarding some of the difficulties with the science.

Clearing off the desktop…

…sometimes I fall behind.  So to catch up, I just dump a lot of stuff with short commentary and reboot the browsers so my computer can think again.

Here goes…

First up is an acknowledgement of the change to Arizona law.  This took away the worst of it, but I’d expect the rest to be bad enough to fall on its own.

Here’s some of the local reaction to the immigration law.  The march took place before the changes.

Some Fox revisionism.  Seriously, WTF.

The smoke monster gets lose in the gulf.

They caught some guy who doesn’t know how to make a good bomb.

Who did what now?  You don’t say.

Federal money is only *sometimes* evil.  How very Hindu of you

No need for that extra $130 for a 3G iPad.  $99 3G iPhone works fine.

Some speculation by a sci-fi guy about Jobs hatred of flash.

More on the immigration law change in Arizona.

Tattle tales!  How silly.   I say let people strip in the name on art, like that.  This’ll get tossed.

The global warming witchhunt continues in VA via the Cooch.

A good Street Fighter movie? Unpossible.  Possible…

It’s like a cliche now.

The Tea Party takes the Republicans to a new dimension, and beyond.

The alternate question about who “introduced” nukes to the Middle East.

Wonderful reading about the longest living organism(s).

A high-fructose corn syrup researcher answers his critics


“Dr. Hoebel points out that previous research has firmly established that if you give rats access to a 10% table sugar “drink” in addition to their normal feed, they do not gain additional fat. In other words, their bodies are able to metabolize the extra calories without creating more weight. This previous research is referenced in the study–but was apparently overlooked by critics”

Critics do the darnedest things.

Medicine and Faith Collide and the Children Suffer

[original is over here, click on this link to micro-pay me]

I wanted to link to a couple stories today about how faith and medicine have been colliding a bit in the news lately, and what you can do about it (or in this case, what *not* to do about it).

In the first case we have is probably the biggest story in this arena in some time, the Daniel Houser story.

For those that somehow missed it, here’s a general recap of the latest chapter (from the link above).

In a statement published by the Columbia Daily Tribune, Hoffmann stated that the mother and son returned to New Ulm, Minnesota, by a charter flight at 3 a.m. Monday where Daniel was immediately given a medical exam. His condition was not released.

Hoffmann said the arrest warrants issued for the mother after she left the state with her son last Tuesday were to be lifted. At that time, Daniel Hauser was ordered to appear before a judge and is expected to receive court-ordered chemotherapy treatments.

Legal custody of Daniel has been taken by the court, said Jennifer Keller, an attorney representing the family, according to CNN. Daniel has been put in his mother’s care and there were no plans to remove him “as long as she was cooperative with the court,” said Keller.

Keller told CNN that she met Sunday with Hauser and her son in Irvine, California, and that Colleen Hauser was prepared to accept the court’s decision.

“My understanding is that Colleen intends to abide by whatever order the court makes and that she wants to put her best case forward for her son to have a chance at alternative treatment,” Keller told CNN. “But if the court overrules that, she will abide by the orders of the court.”

So it looks like that one case has been resolved.  What really brought this general topic to my attention was not just this one story, but more statistical evidence in the form of a study that makes Jenny McCarthy and her crusade against immunization look pretty much exactly like the freak-out Mom in the Houser case (albeit not involving the magnitude of the Big C).

And yes, for those that don’t know, it’s *that* Jenny McCarthy, who somewhere between doing the Playboy thing, the MTv things and the party like a rock-star thing, earned some degrees in science and stuff.

I’m all for Mom’s trying to protect their kids, but let’s be reasonable, shall we?   Here’s the science..

Children of parents who refuse to have their children vaccinated against whooping cough are 23 times more likely to develop the disease than children who get the shots, according to a new study. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says whooping cough now infects more 5,000 children a year.

“One of the misperceptions among parents is that the pertussis vaccine doesn’t work and that their children are at low risk for infection, and our study showed that both were not true,” Glanz said.

Glanz and his colleagues based that estimate on a case control study that compared children whose parents had refused vaccination to children who received vaccinations. The findings were published in the June issue of Pediatrics. 

So doing this refusal thing made it TWENTY-THREE times more likely.  I bolded that one because it is a huge number.  Really, a pretty massive finding.  And this is the kind of research that is *really* dangerous to do.
Think about it for a second.  There is a deadly disease out there that kills children.  A lot of them.  It’s everywhere.  There is a medicine that works for the disease.   So widely available it is free.  Finding someone to expose their kids to that risk is not easy, but thanks to misinformation on the level of Ms. McCarthy’s, there are now enough people in the “control” group of exposed individuals, that we can really see how dangerous the diseases are, and how effective our modern treatments.
Yes, it would be completely unethical science to do this kind of research in a lab (give half a vaccine, give the other half…water…then expose them all to a deadly disease), but thanks, and I use that word somewhat sarcastically, to mis and dis-info, we can see how effective vaccination can be.
The same thing will be true as well if more people stop doing the MMR as well.  
Please, think of the children.  Don’t experiment on them.

How To Lock Up the Geeks

A Whole Lotta Nothing: How to get my nerd vote
How to get my nerd vote

I’ve been thinking lately about a dream candidate for my nerd habits, my nerdy business, and the way I live my nerdy life. Regardless of party affiliation, if you’re running for an office from as small as city council all the way up to president, if you hit on any/all of these things, you just might get my vote.

This was put together by mathaughey who runs Meta Filter and is a generally known geek dog (for the dyslexics).

It’s a simple and straightforward list, I’m all for it.  Particularly this one.

  1. Broadband Everywhere. I want crazy South Korea/Japan style broadband I’ve heard about for years: 100Mbps (upload and download) fiber connections for less than $50/month with unlimited bandwidth and the ability to run your own servers. I know the US is a big spread out country and it makes this stuff somewhat difficult/costly, but it’s an ambitious goal with a ton of payoff. We don’t have manufacturing jobs in the US anymore: we don’t make things, we don’t build things, we don’t sew things here, but we do have lots of ideas and inventions.The economy of the future in the US is going to be intertwined with the internet and if every man, woman, and child in America has all the internet access they could ever need and could quickly program, build, and deploy their own stuff on their own mega-fast lines, we’d have a million and one programmers and designers and crafters and more contributing to a new vibrant future economy. If fiber everywhere is too much, at least get 3G coverage in more places.
  2. Universal Healthcare. Everyone I know that freelances or works a day job and wishes they could quit and follow their dreams of launching a company complains about the lack of healthcare. Whenever I used to talk about freelancing at tech conferences, the first question was always about healthcare coverage. I’ve heard that in places like Berlin where you don’t have to worry about where your healthcare is coming from or how much it costs, up to 35% of working age adults are freelancers. It may sound crazy and anti-capitalist to consider healthcare for all, but if we flipped a switch tomorrow and everyone had health coverage I swear a million small businesses would launch overnight. I know lots of people that keep a job just to get healthcare that are wasting their creative talents because they had a cancer scare or were born with a defect or otherwise are deemed uninsurable on their own.
  3. No federal taxes on internet purchases. It’s worked out well for over a decade, let’s just stick with not charging tax on online shopping.
  4. Renew a commitment to Education. Yes, we already spend a lot on education, but it’s nothing compared to what we spend on defense. There are loads of possibilities to reform education at all levels with the goals being well-informed kids that love learning in a safe environment and can grow up to attend any college they want to (hopefully cheap or free of charge).
  5. Renew a commitment to Science. Bring back NASA and let’s really fly to The Moon and Mars again. Don’t let local school boards dictate that it’s ok to prevent teaching proper biology (yes, the scientific method and evolution) to students. The US spent the last hundred years being at the forefront of science only to begin abandoning it as we passed into the 21st century. Engineers and scientists will continue to lead innovation in America and it seems silly in this day and age that we even have to defend the basic tenets of science from constant attack.
  6. Real changes to transportation. Increase MPG requirements for all carmakers selling vehicles in the US. Engineers love a design challenge and making a Chevy Suburban get 25mpg may seem impossible today but I’m confident a design team could develop one quickly if given the proper resources. We flew to the freakin’ moon 40 years ago on the computing power of today’s $5 solar calculators — we can make cars burn fuel more efficiently.Regarding alternate fuels, stay away from net-zero energy fuels like Hydrogen and corn-based Ethanol (for now, keep researching them though) and instead focus on what works today using existing technology. Biodiesel could work in many cities and in many cars today given the proper tax incentives to car owners and fuel station owners. Keep researching other fuels (switchgrass ethanol sure would be nice) but it feels like we’re ignoring the low-hanging fruit that is biodiesel.

    Decrease foreign oil use by giving tax incentives to people that work at home, to people that ride a bicycle or walk to work, and to those using public transportation. Want to move to be closer to work? Get rid of capital gains taxes on homes sold less than two years after you take up residence if you can cut your commute in half or more.

  7. Allow early voting by mail. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love the way Oregon works with regards to voting in all elections. You get voter information packets about 4-6 weeks before an election, then your ballot arrives about 2-3 weeks before the deadline. You can vote at your leisure, using wikipedia, google, and anything else you need to research your vote as you cast your vote.
  8. Revamp Copyright/IP law. Using the internet means you are making a perfect digital copy of everything you ever read, see, and hear, and it doesn’t always jibe with existing copyright law. There is lots to say about this, but I wish we were a little more Lessig and a little less Disney when it comes to this realm.
  9. Fund the patent office so it can do a better job. Software patents almost universally suck and stifle innovation.
  10. Open government. Open source voting machines, xml data for every vote on every bill by every legislator. Public Domain dumps of every photograph, recording, film, and publication commissioned by the government in an easy to retrieve place.

And by “one”, I meant one “list.”

Pretty much nothing there at all I disagree with, and some of these I’m quite passionate about.

As a matter for fact, if there was going to be a geek political party, and I think there should be, this would serve as a good basic platform.

I hereby nominate Matt Haughey to draft a basic party platform.

Seconded.  Done.

Good work, Matt.