BMEWS
 
Sarah Palin is allowed first dibs on Alaskan wolfpack kills.

calendar   Wednesday - December 03, 2008

Damn Hippies Sneak In Everywhere

Researchers find oldest-ever stash of marijuana

Researchers say they have located the world’s oldest stash of marijuana, in a tomb in a remote part of China.

The cache of cannabis is about 2,700 years old and was clearly “cultivated for psychoactive purposes,” rather than as fibre for clothing or as food, says a research paper in the Journal of Experimental Botany.

The 789 grams of dried cannabis was buried alongside a light-haired, blue-eyed Caucasian man, likely a shaman of the Gushi culture, near Turpan in northwestern China.

Further digging may reveal his No Nukes tye-died shirt, and perhaps the VW bus he rode in on.

Remnants of cannabis have been found in ancient Egypt and other sites, and the substance has been referred to by authors such as the Greek historian Herodotus.

The plague of the lotus-eaters has been with us an awfully long time

But the tomb stash is the oldest so far that could be thoroughly tested for its properties.

The 18 researchers, most of them based in China, subjected the cannabis to a battery of tests,

Preliminary results were “tastes kinda harsh, dude”, “nice rush”, and “hey, can we order out some American? I’m hungry!”

The marijuana was found to have a relatively high content of THC, the main active ingredient in cannabis, but the sample was too old to determine a precise percentage.

Researchers also could not determine whether the cannabis was smoked or ingested, as there were no pipes or other clues in the tomb of the shaman, who was about 45 years old.

The large cache was contained in a leather basket and in a wooden bowl, and was likely meant to be used by the shaman in the afterlife.

789 grams? Barely 3/4 of a K? I guess this stoner was a believer in reincarnation; that much weed wouldn’t last more than a couple months at most.

The region of China where the tomb is located, Xinjiang, is considered an original source of many cannabis strains worldwide.

Then why isn’t it called cannibis chinensis instead of cannibis sativa?

2700 years old ... dating back to 700 BC. Wow. That was during the Bhong Dynasty, right?


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 12/03/2008 at 05:35 PM   
Filed Under: • Fun-StuffHistory •  
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Economics

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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 12/03/2008 at 05:22 PM   
Filed Under: • Economics •  
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E-Day In Detroit

More bad news for the auto industry. As the Big Three execs take their little hybrid cars to DC to beg for money, auto sales plummet around the world. Saab will close their whole factory for a month, with Volvo probably to follow. BMW and VW are also cutting back production. And just to twist the knife in a bit harder, to help enjoy the schadenfruede as much as possible, Time Magazine online runs a nasty little piece on the “50 Worst Cars of All Time”, written by

Dan Neil, Pulitzer Prize-winning automotive critic and syndicated columnist for the Los Angeles Times

which tells you just about everything you need to know before even following the link. Several of the vehicles written about made the list because he didn’t like the way they looked, even though he had to admit that they were well made, sold well, and did the job they were supposed to do. Many of the rest of them made the list because they were years ahead of their time in design and technology. What else would you expect from some car hating hippy? An appreciation of forward looking design and risk taking? Hell no.



E-Day: Ford Edsel is 50 years old today

signs and portents folks, signs and portents



My little Saturn is 12 years old now, with over 186,000 miles on it. Sure, it’s getting to be tired looking, and it has that old car rank smell inside, but it runs just fine, and I’m not even thinking of buying another car right now. I’m sorry the car makers are in such a bind, but I don’t have much sympathy for them. The market has demanded higher and higher automotive metrics for the past decade or so, and that may be a big factor in this situation. Cars are much better made than ever, they don’t break down, they don’t wear out, they don’t rust, they get so much more power from a given size engine than ever before, they’re all much safer than ever before, etc. Plus consumers have much better access to much more information, so the odds of picking a lemon are also lower. So now that we’re entering into a deep recession/depression, most people are realizing that they don’t need a new car. At all. And now that the gas crunch is over, and fuel selling for nearly the same price it was at 6 years ago, even the lower mpg vehicles are once again affordable to run. As much as I’d love to have a new Matrix or Maxima, I can do without it. Spending tens of thousands of dollars just for the sake of “newness” seems a bit silly right now.

However, if you are in the market for a new car, this is just about the greatest time ever to buy one! Combine a bad economy and flagging auto sales with the standard December car buying slump and the large inventory of year-end stock on hand, and you can probably cut a deal for 30% off sticker price. Maybe even more for the more expensive models. So get out there and shop, be a prick, and make a disgustingly low offer; you might just have it taken!


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 12/03/2008 at 03:49 PM   
Filed Under: • Economics •  
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Happy sky

Just for fun ... one of those meaningless solar alignments. Jupiter, Venus, and the moon combine to sort of make a happy face in the night sky.

What’s happening tonight is called a conjunction. This is a term used in positional astronomy which means two (or more) celestial bodies appear near one another in the sky. Sometimes the event is also called an appulse.

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No matter what you call it, what you’ll see tonight is a worldwide happening and will look hauntingly like a “happy face” painted on the early evening sky. Don’t miss it!

Ok, so it actually happened two days ago, but maybe there is a bit of it left. Take a look at the sky in the early evening and check. APOD also covered it:

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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 12/03/2008 at 03:36 PM   
Filed Under: • Fun-Stuff •  
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Light bulbs as dim as the politicians who force them on us.

My favorite hobby horse. Energy efficient light bulbs. 
Some months ago I posted a photo of a cupboard here at the house, devoted solely to the storing of 100w light bulbs and a few 60w.

Like many others over here in the socialist paradise, where soon the horse might be re-introduced as the better means of transportation, I have been hoarding 100w bulbs.  The light bulb of old, the bulb that gives what it was intended to give, will be no more as they are being phased out.  On the last three trips to the market for weekly groceries, the bin that used to hold 100w bulbs has been empty.  I think we will have to start making trips further afield to buy them, using more gas of course and enlarging our carbon footprint.  All in a good cause of course. 

The old really efficient light bulb isn’t exactly being outlawed. Yet.  But more and more stores just won’t be refilling their stock.  Someone told me something very similar is happening in the USA.  Please ... say it ain’t so!  Are we going the same way as the Fraken weenies over here?  Geez, I can’t believe .....
oh hell. Wait a minute.  Yeah, I can believe the same will happen in the US.  Mostly because not enough folks will fight the madness of the green weenies.

I don’t seriously believe anyone has fallen down stairs due to the dim lights of the green bulb. Heck, night lights aren’t bright either.  But I really hate the idea of this stuff being forced on us.  I have yet to meet an energy efficient light bulb that I liked.

It is good to know that I’m not the Lone Ranger on the topic, as letters to the editor of the Telegraph over the last few days seem to echo my sentiments.
And I’m not the only one hoarding 100w bulbs either. 

A BIT OF LIGHT BULB IN YOUR TUNA SANDWICH
By,Christopher Howse

Christopher Howse writes leaders and features and reviews for The Daily Telegraph, which he joined in 1996 as obituaries editor. His Saturday column, Sacred Mysteries, is on religion. He lives in Westminster.

Telegraph readers from all over the country complain that they are tumbling down the stairs because energy-saving light bulbs on the landing do not come on in time when they pop to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

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It is quite true that the new bulbs are as dim as the politicians who force them upon us. I found myself in the Midland Hotel earlier this year and, because the bulbs were of the new kind, no light in my room was bright enough to read by. I ended up taking the shade off the bedside lamp and, to catch its glow, balancing it on a rather vulgar metallic box of paper handkerchiefs provided by the thoughtful management. I still had to hold the book up towards the light as if I was trying to read by a full moon.

As one of our readers mentioned in a letter to the Editor, you have to use more of the new bulbs in order to produce enough light, which rather defeats the object.

Proper incandescent bulbs are shortly to be banned in a Europe-wide bureaucratic drive, purportedly on ecological grounds. Yet the dull new bulbs contain mercury, a deadly poison that builds up in the food chain once it reaches waters that flow into the sea. Soon our tuna sandwiches will be thick with mercury, blackening our teeth and turning us as mad as hatters.

The mercury hazard means, to the health and safety police, that if one breaks a new dim bulb, it is necessary to open doors and windows and don protective clothing.

You must not throw the new bulbs away in the dustbin when they fail, as they soon do, but take them to a hazardous waste tip.

So the ideal Christmas present this year is a cache of good old lightbulbs. Mind where you store them or the rust will get at the metal end. One day they’ll be as valuable as 1945 Margaux.

BULBS


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Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 12/03/2008 at 09:03 AM   
Filed Under: • EditorialsEnvironmentEUro-peonsUK •  
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Was Barack Obama more Rightwing than he let on?

I’m posting this because it raised a point I hadn’t given thought to and find it of interest.  But I don’t think he’s right wing.  Some of the comments from readers are more interesting then the article.

Was Barack Obama more Rightwing than he let on?
By, Janet Daley
The Telegraph

As well as appointing Hillary Clinton (whose stand on US foreign policy is almost identical to that of John McCain) as his Secretary of State, and retaining the services of George Bush’s Secretary of Defence, Robert Gates, Barack
Barack Obama has made some major shifts to the Right in his rhetoric
on the position of America in the world. He now sounds as resolutely determined to defend the principle of American global intervention in the name of freedom and national security as most Republicans could have wished. So the question is: has he always felt this way?

Was his Left-liberal stance during the presidential campaign which seemed to be consistent with his opposition to the Iraq war and to the military surge which succeeded it, just a ruse to seduce a new generation of dissident voters? Or has he changed his tone in response to the security briefings he will have received as a consequence of being elected? (The possibility that events in India have something to do with this change can be dismissed: the decisions to appoint Clinton and Gates were widely known before the Mumbai atrocity.)

On his economic team too, Mr Obama has made some surprisingly conservative choices (including the man who ran the Federal Reserve under Ronald Reagan), so what exactly has happened to “change we can believe in”?

Mr Obama may yet prove to be another example of that great Anglo-American political phenomenon: the leader who talks Left but acts Right. Bill Clinton and Tony Blair were the most successful exponents of this formula: so long as you use the morally attractive vocabulary of the Left ("fairness", “equality”, “opportunity"), you can get away with reforming welfare (Clinton) and promoting free enterprise (Blair). Fair enough.

But isn’t it about time the genuine parties of the Right exposed this subterfuge? If it is Rightwing policies that really do deliver fairness, equality and opportunity, shouldn’t it be those who have always believed in them who reap the electoral benefit?

DALEY


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Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 12/03/2008 at 08:44 AM   
Filed Under: • Politics •  
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LETS HEAR IT FOR HILLARY, SEC.O.S.

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Just HAD to post this today ... interesting read no matter what side of the fence you’re on.  My very I confess to all uneducated guess is she won’t last in that position.  While I might not approve of the pres.-elect and did not vote for him, it can’t be honestly said that he’s stupid.  I wonder, being cynical as I am, if maybe just maybe he approved her with the idea that she would fail at it.  Can not stand her either but again, she isn’t dumb .

This is gonna get very interesting after January. 

I haven’t seen this article in American press so I am assuming it’s for this market. 


Hillary Clinton is a brilliant choice for US Secretary of State

By Anne Applebaum
Last Updated: 12:01am GMT 03/12/2008

When news first leaked that Hillary Clinton was Barack Obama’s top candidate for Secretary of State, I had the same reaction as just about everyone else: has he gone mad? To put Hillary in charge of American foreign policy seemed not merely an error, but also clear evidence that Obama’s reputation for good judgment, sober decision-making and impenetrable cool had been much overrated.

For reasons personal, political and practical, Hillary seemed absolutely the wrong choice: this is not a woman known for her diplomatic skills or any special ability to make peace.

She does have, on the other hand, an almost unique ability to provoke irrational hatred in the breasts of total strangers. Dramatic tension rises when she walks into the room. Fantastic stories trail in her wake. Some of these stories she merely inspires, others she invents - such as the ones which came up during the primary campaign, about how she “brought peace to Northern Ireland” or “arriving in Bosnia in a hail bullets”.

Hillary doesn’t exactly have a track record of loyalty to the new president-elect either. On the contrary, for most of the past year Hillary was not just Obama’s most serious Democratic rival, but she was also his most vicious opponent.

Most of the nastiest attacks on Obama in this past year were launched not by John McCain’s Republicans, but by Hillary’s Democrats. That Obama lacked experience; that he had a secret, fanatically radical past; that, being from Hawaii, he might not be “really” American; that being black, he would have trouble winning “white” states in the presidential election: all of those notions originated with Hillary or her surrogates. Sometimes, they started with her husband, Bill.

Bill Clinton was, and still is, a problem. As a former president, he has made a career out of giving extremely lucrative speeches, which he makes at meetings of all kinds of organisations in all kinds of countries.

That means, however, that he has taken money from all kinds of people with all kinds of agendas. Even if he stops taking this money tomorrow - and he has more or less promised that he will - the potential for conflicts of interest are immense. There are a lot of people out there who think they are going to be able to get to Hillary through Bill. There are also a lot of people who will think that, when Bill talks, he is speaking on behalf of the President of the United States of America.

This problem is exacerbated by the fact that Hillary herself doesn’t have nearly as strong a foreign policy record as her husband. As First Lady, she focused on domestic issues - health care, children’s rights. As Senator, she did work on some military issues and took a few important stands - among other things, supporting the invasion of Iraq, for example, though she doesn’t like to talk about that now.

Other than that, no one knows much about her views, whether of Iraq, of Afghanistan, of Europe, or of Russia. Do they match those of her husband?

More important, do they match those of Obama, whatever those may be? And if not, will she - once his severest critic - be able to toe the line? In the American political system, the Secretary of State functions as a spokesman for the President abroad. But when Hillary talks, many will wonder if she is speaking on behalf of President Obama, or on behalf of herself, her husband, and the present and future interests of Clinton Inc.

HERE’S MORE ON THE SUBJECT


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Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 12/03/2008 at 07:53 AM   
Filed Under: • EditorialsGovernmentHildabeastPolitics •  
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calendar   Tuesday - December 02, 2008

Muslim prayer rooms should be opened in Catholic schools, say church leaders.  Huh? Say what?

Tempted to say so what. Not my church.  I have a feeling that it isn’t the church of many Catholics anymore either.
Can not say that and believe it however.  It’s bothersome on a level I’m not sure I understand.  Actually, it seems really crazy. It’s like one more backward bending appeasement to a group that will be happy to see you dead. 

According to another newspaper this morning, these plans include also making prayer rooms available for Hindus and Jews as well.
Nice to see the church has so much money to throw around in these financially hard times. 

Muslim prayer rooms should be opened in Catholic schools, say church leaders

By Simon Caldwell
Last updated at 11:44 AM on 02nd December 2008

Muslim prayer rooms should be opened in every Roman Catholic school, Church leaders have said.

The Catholic bishops of England and Wales also want special toilet facilities in schools to be adapted for Islamic cleaning rituals.

Their demands will shock both Catholic parents and the Government because they go way beyond the legal requirements on catering for the rights and needs of religious minorities.

But the bishops are keen to answer critics who say religious schools sow division - and to show that they are leading the way in building bridges between people of different faiths.

The bishops acknowledge in a new document proposing the measures that 30 per cent of pupils attending Catholic schools hold a non-Christian faith.

“If practicable, a room (or rooms) might be made available for the use of pupils and staff from other faiths for prayer,” the bishops said in the document, Catholic Schools, Children of Other Faiths and Community Cohesion.

“Existing toilet facilities might be adapted to accommodate individual ritual cleansing which is sometimes part of religious lifestyle and worship,” they said.

“If such space is not available on a permanent or regular basis, extra efforts might be made to address such need for major religious festivals.”

The Islamic cleansing ritual, called “Wudhu”, is carried out by Muslims before they pray.

Islam teaches that Muslims are unfit for prayer if they have not performed Wudhu after breaking wind or using the toilet.

Wudhu involves washing the face, hands, arms and feet three times each, gargling the mouth three times and washing the neck and inside the nose and ears. Some Muslims also wash their private parts.


Catholic schools would need to install bidets, foot spas and hoses to facilitate such extensive cleansing rituals, Muslims say.

The document has been published by the Catholic Education Service, an agency of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

But it has been personally approved by Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Birmingham and the favourite to succeed Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor next year as the leader of the country’s 4.3 million Catholics.

It will inevitably lead to accusations that the Catholic Church is ready to cave in to the Government’s agenda and some Catholics have questioned the wisdom of the policies as well as the cost.

Daphne McLeod, a former Catholic head teacher from south London, said it would be “terribly expensive” for the country’s 2,300 Catholic primary and secondary schools to provide ritual cleansing facilities.

She said: “If Muslim parents choose a Catholic school then they accept that it is going to be a Catholic school and there will not be facilities for ritual cleansing and prayer rooms.

“They do their ritual cleansing before they go to a mosque, but they are not going to a mosque.

“I don’t think the bishops should go looking for problems. Where will it stop?”

(wanna guess?)

But Majid Khatme, a Muslim who sent his children to a London Catholic school, said he was delighted by the gesture.

“It is very kind of the bishops if they give this facility for Muslims to pray,” he said.

“I would love to send a letter of thanks to the bishops, really. If they do this all Muslims in Britain will be thankful to the Catholic Church to have facilities to pray. It is very, very encouraging.”

Archbishop Nichols, the chairman of the bishops’ Department for Education and Formation, said in his foreword to the document that inter-faith dialogue has become increasingly important to the Church “as the presence of other faith communities grows and becomes more evident in our society”.

He said that the publication was being “offered to our schools in the hope that the good work already being done in them for children and young people of other faiths can be further strengthened and so that the lives of all our pupils, students and staff can be enriched”.

The document also urges head teachers to “keep under review” all policies which touched on other religions, including school uniform, dietary needs and the time-tabling of events.

Laura McCann, spokeswoman for the Catholic Education Service, said it would be a matter for the governing body of each school to decide whether to adopt the recommendations.

“It would depend on the resources that they have and also other factors such as the numbers of non-Catholic pupils attending the school,” she said.


CATHOLICS


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Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 12/02/2008 at 08:27 AM   
Filed Under: • InsanityStoopid-PeopleUK •  
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You could have told me

I just discovered Jeremy Clarkson. No, not sneaking into my window, writing car reviews over at the Times in the UK. Wonderful. If you like that kind of thing.

When Toyota decided to start making upmarket cars 20 years ago, it realised, rather brilliantly, that the Toyota badge wouldn’t cut much mustard and came up with the Lexus brand instead. Well, you may not realise that Nissan did exactly the same thing for the American market, creating the Infiniti.

There was, however, one big difference between the two philosophies. Toyota decided that a Lexus should be built to a standard unparalleled in the world and that the cars should drive and feel better than any Mercedes. Nissan, on the other hand, just wrote Infiniti on the back of a Datsun. In crayon. Hoping the Americans would be fooled. Which they were.

Like fancying Jordan, you can’t really own up to wanting a Focus ST. But it has obvious attractions: it’s very quick and very cheap. To drive, it takes the already good Focus and goes eight steps further up the ladder. You’d be amazed how chuckable it is. It doesn’t have quite the cachet of a Golf, though, and it’s named after a sanitary towel.

Frankly, there aren’t that many other boxes to tick. You get, as standard, multi-adjustable suspension that allows you to make the ride uncomfortable, you get climate control, you get a million bouncy castles that boing out of the dash if you hit a tree and you get a brilliant central command system that can be hooked up to your iPod. The only option I’d bother with is the smoker package. It’s only £15, and choosing it would irritate the sanctimonious bastard who decided not to fit ashtrays as standard. If they offered a chlamydia pack, they couldn’t sound more holier-than-thou.

Drawbacks? Well, the Scirocco is 97mm lower than the Golf, a point that becomes blindingly obvious every time you try to get inside. You really do have to pull your head into your ribcage if you don’t want to bang it on the roof. To get in the back, it’s best to cut yourself in half.

Once in a great while they allow him out of his cage to write about other things, like Health & Safety, or Political Correctness

A question. It’s addressed to all the equal opportunity, human rights, diet carbon, back room, bleeding heart liberals who advise the government: “I am English. Why is that a good thing?” I bet they don’t have an answer. And until they can come up with one, chances are we’ll never win at football again.

The Met Office, spurred on by the chance for a bit of bossiness, agrees that we should stay at home whenever it’s windy, and possibly move to the cellar with some soup until the all-clear is sounded

As I drove down the M20 into Kent last Monday, I noticed that most of the speed cameras had been burnt out by vandals. This is disgusting. It is ridiculous, criminal and stupid that the person who savaged these life-saving devices should target the M20… and then stop. Why did you not keep right on going? I can think of six cameras on my way home that would be immeasurably improved with a spot of petrol and a match.
...
There are many rules for the elderly in the [Highway Code]. I have one too. And here it is. Get a bloody move on!





Sure, over here we’ve got Dave Barry, and online we all have Mike Adams. But Clarkson is a bona fide contender. 


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 12/02/2008 at 12:04 AM   
Filed Under: • Humor •  
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calendar   Monday - December 01, 2008

I think Steamboat has traveled to the other side of the Looking Glass

I’m happy to report that Steamboat McGoo’s Aardvarks and Asshats blog is coming back to life, with a whole new collection of bright and shiny teeth.

Sure, he says he spent the summer building a giant garage on his property. He’s even provided pictures. But I suspect faux-tography. I think Steamy has traveled to the dark side of old Alice’s looking glass, and has been creating some of the stories where hard science bumps uglies with the truly absurd, often involving democrats. How else can you explain this then? Not even cosmic string theory can explain Hillary as Secretary of State, and this one is far beyond that. So far beyond it, that not even Science Daily, where all tautologies are true for an absolute value of true, ran this one. Not even Pravda, the ultimate bastion of integrity for those folks who ride a bus so short it only has one seat, usually held together with duct tape. So that leaves just one suspect. You. Know. Who.



Scientists Dance Own Dissertations in YouTube Sensation

Will So You Think You Can PHD? be a new reality show, soon to compete with Dancing With The Nerds? If this latest craze gains any more popularity it soon will be!

Thirty-six different videos on YouTube prove that wrong, as researchers translate their doctoral dissertations into interpretive dances, both solo and ensemble.

Four women in black cavort to ‘80s new-wave dance tunes to explain the evolution of smell in mammals.

Three MIT grad students boogie to Curtis Mayfield’s “Move On Up” to represent nitrous oxide contribution to global warming.

Two lobsters gyrate with hula hoops to the Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations” as a passing seal senses their movements with his whiskers.

imageIt’s all part of the second “Dance Your PhD” contest organized by John Bohannon, the “Gonzo Scientist” columnist at the esteemed research journal Science. [note: NOT Science Daily. Not even Science Monthly. Science. Period.]

In early October, he threw down a challenge to researchers in all fields in three categories—grad student, post-doctoral and professorial.

Each dance had to feature the author of the dissertation in a main role, and each clip had to be uploaded to YouTube by the deadline.

By 11 p.m. EST on Nov. 16, three dozen entries had come in, though it must be noted that at least five were filmed in the same room during an academic retreat at Harvard’s forest-research facility in rural Massachusetts that weekend.

Female researchers seem to have an affinity for Latin and swing dancing, while two different guys who’d studied at Berkeley chose hip-hop to explain polymerizing proteins and increasing rates of climate change respectively.

A panel of nine judges--the three winners of the first “Dance Your Ph.D.” contest, three scientists from Harvard University, and three artistic directors of the dance company Pilobolus--scored the dances on their ability to bridge the art and science worlds. Today, Science announces the winners of the 2009 AAAS Science Dance Contest in four categories: Graduate Students, Postdocs, Professors, and Popular Choice.

The winners? Endocrinologist Sue Lynn Lau of the University of Sydney, Australia, topped the grad-student category with a light-hearted ensemble examination of, as her dissertation title put it, “The Role of Vitamin D in Beta-Cell Function.”

The winner of the Popular Choice category was ... Markita Landry. Landry used a tango to convey her thesis, “Single Molecule Measurements of Protelomerase TelK-DNA Complexes.” Now, if that subject doesn’t make you get out your dancing shoes, nothing will!

You can find all the entrants here. My personal favorite is “Precipitation Initiation in Warm Clouds”, not only because it makes sense, but because I can actually pronounce the title. And because watching a 14 person tango is oddly enjoyable.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 12/01/2008 at 10:40 PM   
Filed Under: • Miscellaneous •  
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It’s a Miracle!! ACLU sides with gun owners!!!

Delaware cops violating federal law, using gun database for wrong reasons




The Delaware State Police have been conducting secret background checks of some gun owners since 2001, a process known as “superchecks” that may violate federal law.  The checks have resulted in confiscation of weapons, some for legitimate reasons, but have subjected many citizens to a search of mental health records that in most cases police would be unable to access.

In Delaware, when someone attempts to purchase a pistol or rifle, he or she must first sign a consent form authorizing a criminal and mental health check by the state Firearms Transaction Approval Program.  These background checks are initiated when a gun dealer calls the firearms unit seeking approval to sell a weapon.

Employees of FTAP conduct about 10,000 background checks a year using computers that link to criminal and court databases and a mental health database maintained by the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services.

Through a request made under the state Freedom of Information Act, The News Journal obtained the results of nearly 4,000 background checks conducted by FTAP from 1998 to 2008 in which gun purchases were denied by state police. The state must destroy records of approved gun purchases within 60 days under a law designed to prevent agencies from compiling lists of gun owners.

he FTAP program was created by lawmakers, and funded by taxpayers, to aid licensed gun dealers, but The News Journal found that more than 10 percent of background checks denied by FTAP were requested by state troopers, not by gun dealers attempting to authorize a legal sale.

None of their superchecks involved gun sales and none of the people checked by state police had signed a written consent form. But all the superchecks, state police said, were gun-related.  Because FTAP checks of legal gun ownership are destroyed, it’s impossible to tell from the data how many superchecks state police routinely conduct. A DHSS spokesman said his agency does not keep a record of the number of times FTAP employees have accessed the state’s mental health database.

“Basically, it’s up to the trooper’s discretion,” said State Police Capt. Galen M. Purcell, director of the State Bureau of Identification. “If they pull someone over and if there are firearms in the car, or they want to make sure they’re not prohibited, they may call the FTAP.”

OK, I get it. It’s “gun related” because the state cop (we call them “Staties” here in NJ) wants to see if somebody is prohibited from owning a gun. Uh huh. So guns don’t have to even be present, all you need is a nosy flatfoot.

Purcell described the superchecks as “one-stop shopping.”

“They hit all appropriate databases; criminal history, Department of Motor Vehicles, and it’s also linked to DHSS,” he said.

Drewry Fennell, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Delaware, said that in the context of federal law, someone’s mental health history is surrounded by “robust protections.”

“There’s a clear directive that they’re not supposed to be used for general law enforcement purposes,” Fennell said. “There are a couple of exceptions in the regulations, but there is no exception to support a general law enforcement query.”

Wow, this must have turned the ACLU inside out. They HAD to choose to support either gun owners or the police on this one. Antacids for everyone!

Ron Honberg is national director of policy and legal affairs for the National Association of Mental Illness, the country’s largest advocacy organization for people with mental illness.

Superchecks, Honberg said, are “excessive and unnecessary.”

“It sounds like a potential abuse of authority,” he said. “It creates a jeopardy that this type of information could be used for all sorts of purposes.”

State politicians have moved into Emergency CYA mode:

When the firearms unit was created, the debate in the House was “strictly about purchases, not enforcement,” said House Minority Leader Richard C. Cathcart, R-Middletown. “It seems to me this violates—at a minimum—the intent of the legislation.”

Cathcart, who received an “A+” rating from the NRA before his recent re-election, said the supercheck process needs a quick statutorial fix.

“Obviously, there is a right to bear arms, but the way this is being applied, basically they’re saying it’s a privilege, and they have a right to take away that privilege from people,” Cathcart said. “I have a huge problem with this.”

House Majority Leader Peter C. Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach, a retired state police captain who received an “F” grade from the NRA, doesn’t understand why troopers need to check gun owners through the firearms unit.

“That’s wrong,” he said. “I don’t understand that process because a trooper or a police officer has access to a computer with the same capability as the firearms unit.”

The article goes on, mentioning the case of the 81 year old granny denied the right to buy a gun because she was old, and female. It also shows how some of the reasons for denial were rather sketchy. You can read the whole thing here.

I’d like to be able to blame this Police State kind of behavior on a general reaction to terrorism, but that isn’t really the case. This program, an perhaps this behavior, has been in place since the early 90s, nearly a decade before the Patriot Act or anything like that. No, this is just Jack Booted Thuggery, another example of unchecked power leading to unchecked abuses. And by coincidence in a Democrat controlled state. And if you think it’s any better now that the police have become some kind of paramilitary organization across the country, SWAT teams and machine guns all over the place, with instant access to all sorts of data right from their patrol cars or Blackberrys, then guess again. This is just the smallest peek behind the curtain. “reasonable suspicion” and “suspected intent” now translate into “because I could” and there ain’t a damn thing you can do about it. Prove you aren’t a loony to be allowed to exercise your 2A rights, then have any and every cop in the country looking at your mental health records whenever they feel like it. HIPPA be damned ... and you can’t prove they aren’t accessing your regular health records either. Or your income tax records. Or any government records of any kind. Or you credit card bills. What the hell, talk to Joe the Plumber about that government snooping. In the false hope of security we’ve created a digital monster; you don’t even have the illusion of privacy any more. Stories like this just point to the very edges of the reality as far as I’m concerned. If your data was protected and honored, you’d see thousands of government employees getting fired for snooping, all the time. And that is not happening.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 12/01/2008 at 09:53 PM   
Filed Under: • Guns and Gun ControlJack Booted Thugs •  
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No Bleeding Hearts In Bollywood



Bollywood Reacts: Strike Terrorism With An Iron Hand



Ain’t that a funny thing? Terrorists attack India and their movie industry DOESN’T run around blaming India. Or it’s leaders! I guess they haven’t learned how to be true Hollywood Stars yet. Good!

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“This is an open war against humanity.”, Dr. Shilpa Shetty, actress




Wake up and strike terrorism with an iron hand, say Bollywood’s stars shocked by the brazen terror attack that targeted Mumbai’s poshest areas. From Hema Malini, who worries about her daughters, to Bipasha Basu, who narrowly missed the Vile Parle blast, this terror strike has shaken them all.

[reactions from various Bollywood stars ...]
Hema Malini: I think the Mumbai police rose to the occasion. It is very sad that we lost some brave officers. Hats off to the army for rescuing people. It’s really sad that Mumbai has become so unsafe.
...
Bipasha Basu: It’s shocking and scary. We’re going through a very disturbing and inhuman phase.
...
Shilpa Shetty: I had an early morning shoot Thursday so I went to sleep early. I had no clue about what happened in my city until someone called from London to ask if I was alright. That’s when I switched on the TV and quickly made calls to friends who live in town.

It makes me sad and angry that Mumbai residents are soft targets for such attacks. It’s an unsettling feeling, especially since we seem not equipped to deal with it. This is an open war against humanity.
...
Iqbal Khan: Mujahideen is such a sure and strong word. I’m sure they don’t even know the meaning.




As the Indian government tries to get to the bottom of the Mumbai horror, the people are getting angry. Pissing off ONE POINT THREE BILLION Hindus is not a smart idea. How many million Gurhkas do you think they have? I think the Pakis are gonna have a problem.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 12/01/2008 at 01:33 PM   
Filed Under: • War On Terror •  
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Here’s Hope!



image

So, if he leaves the rest of the horse behind, does that make him just a Trojan?





It’s actually above freezing today, so I’m off to do some work. Blog later if time allows.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 12/01/2008 at 11:14 AM   
Filed Under: • HumorPolitics •  
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Twitter - I didn’t Get it

People kept urging me to try Twitter, but I never saw the attraction.

For those who aren’t familiar with it, Twitter is basically a messaging service that allows you to send a quick note to your “followers” (people who are interested in what you are doing).  You dash off a note, and anyone who is interested gets it.  They can receive a text message on their phone, or on the Twitter website, or on a number of third-party tools.

I’ve started using it a little bit to keep in touch with some family members.  I’m finding it much more convenient than text messaging (the little keys don’t work that well with my ham hands).  There are also a number of conservative bloggers that have accounts that I now follow.  I can get quick updates on stories faster than checking the RSS feeds.

I use a tool called Twhirl, which allows me to “follow” a number of Twitters as well as make “tweets” easily.

If you want to try it out, you can follow me here.  Let me know what you think.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 12/01/2008 at 11:57 AM   
Filed Under: • Science-Technology •  
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Oh, and here's some kind of visitor flag counter thingy. Hey, all the cool blogs have one, so I should too. The Visitors Online thingy up at the top doesn't count anything, but it looks neat. It had better, since I paid actual money for it.
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