June 21, 2008

How to Waste $1.4 Billion in a Matter of Seconds

You're looking for the action around 1:20

B2 Stealth Bomber Crashes - Watch more free videos

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Bacteria Make Art

These stunning images are not actually photographs, they're what the creator calls Bacteriograms. Using some of the same techniques microbiologists use to grow bacteria in laboratories, Erno-Erik Raitanen collected bacteria from his own body and allowed the little bugs to grow on film negatives. After a few days he would take the bacteria off of the film and create pictures from the film. The resulting images trace the chemical history of the bacterial colonies and are pretty amazing. This is a very innovative idea and the results turned out fantastic.

to the full presentation.

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June 20, 2008

If I Have a Daughter She Will Never Leave the House!

A Massachusetts school is dealing with an abnormally large amount of teen pregnancies this year because 17 girls (all under the age of 18) decided to make a pregnancy pact and raise all of their children together. One of them was so desperate that she found a 24-year old homeless man to inseminate her! This is absolutely ridiculous and makes me wonder what kind of sense these girls have, obviously not looking into the long term. Hopefully this doesn't become the new teenage fad.

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June 19, 2008

Steny Hoyer Sucks

Or that seems to be the consensus of Left Blogistan after news of the latest example of Democratic Decrepency. Evidently, Hoyer has been auditioning for the part of "Handmaiden to Dick Cheney" in the upcoming reality show, BushCo Goes to Hell. He has apparently crafted a masterpeice of capitulation for the Constitution and our civil liberties in the newest FISA "compromise." Apparently, We the American People are "compromising" our right to challenge our government in courts and hold both the government and civilian lawbreakers accountable, and the Telecoms and the Bush Cabal are compromising...their prefered flavor of jell-o served in teh Capital Hill Cafe or something.

Hoyer, House Majority Leader, has created a bill which would not hold the Telecoms or the Administration to the law as it relates to their illegal wiretaps of innocent Americans. Instead, it would require a federal court to dismiss any lawsuit against those companies, so long as Bush claimed that what he was asking of them was legal, regardless of whether the action was itself, oh, say legal or not. Via Glenn Greenwald:

The provision granting amnesty to lawbreaking telecoms, Title VIII, has the exact Orwellian title it should have: "Protection of Persons Assisting the Government." Section 802(a) provides:
[A] civil action may not lie or be maintained in a Federal or State court against any person for providing assistance to an element of the intelligence community, and shall be properly dismissed, if the Attorney General certifies to the district court of the United States in which such action is pending that . . . (4) the assistance alleged to have been provided . . . was --
(A) in connection with intelligence activity involving communications that was (i) authorized by the President during the period beginning on September 11, 2001, and ending on January 17, 2007 and (ii) designed to prevent or detect a terrorist attack, or activities in preparation of a terrorist attack, against the United States" and

(B) the subject of a written request or directive . . . indicating that the activity was (i) authorized by the President; and (ii) determined to be lawful.

So all the Attorney General has to do is recite those magic words -- the President requested this eavesdropping and did it in order to save us from the Terrorists -- and the minute he utters those words, the courts are required to dismiss the lawsuits against the telecoms, no matter how illegal their behavior was.
Evidently, that whole "rule of law" thing is a pretty thing to say during campaigns and public speeches, but for Hoyer and the Bush Gang, it doesn't really apply in reality.

The real kick in the balls here is that Hoyer claims that it is the Democrats who are pushing this bill through. Yes, I hear the crickets too. Who else, besides the Telecoms who broke the law and the Administration Officials who broke it with them, has been asking for this immunity? Mcjoan
from DailyKos said it best.
Here's the thing, he's the majority leader and the majority of his caucus is opposed to amnesty. Nancy Pelosi is supposedly opposed to amnesty. Harry Reid is opposed to it, as is Dick Durbin. Barack Obama is opposed to it. And supposedly, so is Hoyer himself. So who is clamoring so hard from the Democratic party for amnesty? Not a one, so far.
Seems like Hoyer might have some explaining to do, like how this knife appeared in our backs...

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Please Stay Away From Science!

So I really am tired of dealing with the evolution and vaccine denialists, but the climate change denialists have taken it to a whole new level. Here's an example of someone claiming that greenhouse gases can't cause global warming.

Kate McMillan has officially given up on reality. Here's my favorite line of the whole piece:

Moreover, the actual trapping of heat cannot raise an object's temperature in the first place. It only slows down heat loss.
Really, Kate? Here's a little experiment for you. Car, rolled-up windows, sunny day, then get back to me on how heat transfer works. Holy mother of Jesus that woman is an imbecile, but guess who else is willing to swallow the same utter bunkum? You guessed right, the fundie republicans.

Now for everyone out there that hasn't been schooled in physics or chemistry I'll go into the basics of greenhouse gases and why this argument, that trapping heat can't raise an object's temperature, is completely false (and another example of people who don't understand science using it as a justification for their beliefs).

First we'll talk about what a greenhouse gas is. Water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, and ozone are the major players in the greenhouse effect, with the above being listed by their relative abundance and importance. There are many other gases considered greenhouse gases, including: nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, chlorofluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride, but they are not major players. The mechanism of their effect is very simple. As the sun is very hot it emits very short wavelength energy that has enough energy to pass directly through the atmosphere. When the energy waves hit the Earth some of it is absorbed and warms the surface while most of it is reflected back out to the atmosphere. As the Earth's surface is much cooler than the sun's, it radiates energy at much longer wavelengths, peaking in the infrared at about 10 micrometers. The atmosphere (read: greenhouse gases) absorbs these longer wavelengths much more efficiently than the shorter wavelengths from the sun. The absorption of this energy warms the atmosphere as does the transfer of latent and sensible heat from the surface of the Earth. Greenhouse gases also emit longwave radiation both upward to space and downward to the surface. The downward part of the emitted radiation from the atmosphere is the "greenhouse effect." The major atmospheric components (nitrogen, N2 and oxygen, O2) are not greenhouse gases because homonuclear diatomic molecules (a molecule made of only two atoms of the same chemical element) neither absorb or emit infrared radiation.

So now that we've had a very very short primer on greenhouse gases (you could write books about their properties and actions) let's look at Kate's arguments again to see what science has to say about it.

Kate uses the example of a coffee thermos for this comparison. "Neither does coffee in a thermos get hotter because its heat is trapped. It just retains its temperature for a longer time. Otherwise...the thermos would self-ignite."

You're right Kate, heat can only be transferred from a hotter object to a cooler one, and being trapped in a container will cause the heat transfer to happen slower. But you've missed one big part of the problem, the coffee is warmed to a certain temperature and then no net heat or energy is transferred to it, unfortunately we can't get the sun to warm up the planet and then stick it in a thermos to keep the temperature the same, the sun is always adding new heat.

Correcting Kate's example, if you took the thermos and placed it over a burner (a constant energy source) your coffee would heat up and yes, eventually self-ignite. But if you took the top off of the lid (ie. removed the greenhouse gases), the coffee could radiate more of its heat energy back out into the air and maintain a cooler temperature for longer.

This is just another example of why science should be left to the professionals, you wouldn't trust someone who learned how to pull teeth from a youtube video to be your dentist and you shouldn't allow those with little understanding and training in the sciences to be the guiding voice on the subject. This is all getting a little ridiculous, and its unfortunate that so many experts have to spend their time debunking a bunch of stupid theories and outright falsehoods instead of working on gathering more information.

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June 18, 2008

Stick a Pin In It

So as I suspected a few weeks ago here, the right has started the mudslinging. And like I predicted, the main theme in their attacks on Obama are that...wait, get ready for it...HE'S BLACK! OMFG!!! Run to the hills, apparently this Obama guy is black!! We're all doomed!!!

That pretty little button comes from my home state of Texas, where a vendor is selling them at the Republican convention. How can you call such blatant racists your constituents? Maybe these guys can team up with the Obama monkey guys and start their own biggoted, knuckle dragging party.

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Child Taken Away Because "Psychic" Said She Was Abused

Colleen Leduc has struggled to maintain a job to support her autistic 11-year-old daughter. The single mother has done everything she can to provide for her daughter, but couldn't afford the intensive behavioral intervention (IBI) she needed, forcing her to send her daughter to a public school.

Things seemed to be going well until May 30, when Colleen received a frantic phone call from the school urging her to come to the school. When the frightened mother went to the school's campus she was shocked to hear the principal, vice-principal and her daughter's teacher had received allegations that Victoria (her daughter) had been the victim of sexual abuse, and the Children's Aid Society (CAS) had been notified.

The real shock though came when the school officials explained how they had received these allegations. Leduc was incredulous as they poured out their story.
"The teacher looked at me and said: 'We have to tell you something. The educational assistant who works with Victoria went to see a psychic last night, and the psychic asked the educational assistant at that particular time if she works with a little girl by the name of "V." And she said, 'yes, I do.' And she said, 'well, you need to know that that child is being sexually abused by a man between the ages of 23 and 26.'"

Victoria, who is non-verbal, had been exhibiting sexualized behavior in class, actions which are known to be typical of autistic behavior. That led authorities to suspect she had a bladder infection that may have somehow been related to the 'attack.'

School officials invoked a parent's worst nightmare, especially that of a child who can't express herself, of being sexually violated. For them to bring it up with the mother must have been a horrific experience for her, imagine the rage and fear that is brought up by a talk like that. For them to do so on the basis of 'psychic' information is completely irresponsible and as we'll see, something that should have been avoided.

CAS came to Colleen's house to investigate the case (they have to with any report) and found the allegations of sexual misconduct were absurd. Leduc was labeled a "diligent" mother doing the best should could for her child under difficult circumstances, they closed the file and left, calling the report "ridiculous." Sue Dale, of the Simcoe County CAS said "it is highly unusual, I will admit, to have a case called in based upon what a psychic might say."

And how was it that CAS dismissed the case so easily when the school officials were convinced of wrongdoing? Well, as the school had previously lost Victoria on multiple occasions Colleen went to the extreme to protect her daughter, outfitting her with a GPS unit, and also a unit that provided audio records of everything that was going on around her. From these tapes it was easy to prove that nothing untoward had happened to Victoria.

And what does the school's Superintendent have to say about all this? "I don't have the information yet, but when we proceed with our own investigation we'll know more about that."

And although this episode is over, Colleen's struggle to provide Victoria with the care she needs pushes on. As a result of needing to stay home with her daughter Leduc is now unable to work, has no place to send her child for the rest of the year, and isn't sure where she'll go when school starts in September.

She is seeking compensation from the school in the form of the IBI therapy that Victoria (and other autistic kids at the school) needs, but the school has refused. When asked whether her entire support system had been yanked away, Colleen answered succintly and simply, "yep."

And you don't need to be a psychic to know what that answer means.


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John McCain: Straight (bullshit) Talker

I love this video, via jedreport.com. That cocky, condescending, "I don't quite know where I am" smirk on his face reminds me of another Republican jackass.

America, please do not be duped by another rethuglican lying his ass off to win an election, saying whatever is politically expedient to appease whoever the audience of the moment may be.

This is your "Straight Talker" America, vote wisely.

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June 17, 2008

Campaign Update

Delayed post from StifledMind's Junior Senior Political Correspondent Alex K

On the anniversary of D-Day, we are at a momentous time in this country. I think we can all feel it, when you turn on the TV, read a newspaper, or talk with people there's a sense of excitement. We now have an official presumptive nominee, a nominee with great oratory skills and a huge base of young motivated citizens. The other presumptive nominee is amazing as well. He's got the oratory ability of a 10th grader (watching that speech was brutal). He's packing them in by the 10's with old vets hopped up on pepto bismol and cialis. Vets looking to the promises of the past, and not the opportunities of the future.

The last year has been a whirlwind for all the candidates McCain has come back from near death early in the season to capture the nomination from a flip flopper and social liberal republican. A very difficult season to say the least. Barack has dealt with the inexperience card, the unpatriotic card, the bad preacher card, the slumlord ties, and the fact he's still a minority in a racially divided nation. I would say that Barack has repeatedly got up from the mat to show he has the mettle to lead the nation. He has broken ground in fund raising, energized the general public, and with ad visors mapped a winning campaign strategy overcoming insurmountable odds. If he runs the country the way he runs the campaign the American people should be in great shape.

Both sides of the political spectrum, i believe see this and are mentally preparing. The conservatively leaning right are bashing their own candidate. The base seem to be taking slow steps to recede in the shadows. The blogosphere are making Obama administration jabs, and what the future holds rants. The other side is having meetings to set campaign agenda allegedly and trying to unify the party.

Anyways, I firmly believe that Ronald Reagan would be spinning in his grave if he knew how much McCain is trying to stake a claim as an heir to his political legacy. Especially after being inseparable with the Bush White House.

Here's a speech truly worthy taking the time to watch.

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The Bug That Killed Exxon

Revolutionary stuff here via C&L. Evidently Silicone Valley has developed a strain of bacteria that might put the OPEC/Houston Cartel out of business. Evidently this little critter consumes organic agricultural waste, such as straw or wood chips, and excretes freakin' CRUDE OIL.

This "Oil 2.0," as developing company LS9's senior director Gregg Pal calls it, is completely interchangeable with today's fossil fuels, which means that switching to this type of fuel would require minimal, if any, infrastructure adjustments. You could pump it into your regular gas tank from regular ol' gas pumps.

The bast part? Oil 2.0 is carbon-negative! That means that the carbon emissions from burning this fuel are actually less than the carbon the bacteria absorb in creating it, if I understand correctly.

Obviously, there are some challenges to be faced in making this product market-ready. Production of Oil 2.0 requires some pretty large vats and would necessitate some square-footage intensive plants, but the cost is fairly reasonable. The bacteria can be developed in a matter of weeks for around $20,000, and when we are staring down the barrel (rimshot!) of $140 barrels of oil, a few grand seems very worthwhile.

Bam, Oil Crisis solved.

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