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Posts from — December 2010

Science In The News

PZ Myers has a story the Blackawton Primary School bee study that has been published in Biology Letters of the British Royal Society, a peer reviewed journal. The study was conducted by a group of 8-10 year-olds studying the ability of bees to solve problems and remember. It also tests the color sight of bees and spatial awareness.

While not earth-shaking, this is real science and covers an unknown area in biology, not a gimmick.

The BBC tells us that Scientists produce ‘world’s smallest Christmas card’. That’s not exactly true as nantotechnologists at the University of Glasgow have etched a 200 X 200 micrometer of glass with an image that says “Season’s Greetings”, not “Happy Christmas”. so you can’t technically call it a Christmas card even though it features a Christmas tree, which also has nothing to do with Christmas.

Perhaps they can use the technology to produce a “sympathy” card for DonoWho when he complains about it. or a violin so we can show how much we care.

December 23, 2010   Comments Off on Science In The News

Happy Festivus

Yes, today is the celebration of the very untraditional Festivus.

If you celebrate I hope all of your grievances were aired and the airing did not involve the Festivus pole being used in an inappropriate fashion.

December 23, 2010   2 Comments

Another Faulty GPS Map

funny pictures

Always update to the latest version before setting out on long trips, or you might have to stop and ask for directions.

December 22, 2010   2 Comments

When Will They Ever Learn?

“Civilization, in fact, grows more maudlin and hysterical; especially under democracy it tends to degenerate into a mere combat of crazes; the whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary. Wars are no longer waged by the will of superior men, capable of judging dispassionately and intelligently the causes behind them and the effects flowing out of them. The are now begun by first throwing a mob into a panic; they are ended only when it has spent its ferine fury.”

An abridged version of that quote appears in the header of It’s My Country, Too, Riggsveda’s current home on the web.

It is from H.L. Mencken’s book, In Defense of Women, that was written in 1918. That it is as true today, as when Mencken wrote it, is another proof of one of the best known quotes: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” That was written by George Santayana in Volume I, Reason in Common Sense from the larger work, The Life of Reason, published beginning in 1905.

When we started on the road to the war in Iraq, a number of younger people complained that some of us were trying to fight the Vietnam War again, missing the point that we did not want to fight the “Vietnam War” again, because it was not a fun time. We remembered the past, and did not want to repeat it.

Barack Obama is someone who “cannot remember the past”, especially as it relates to FDR and Ronald Reagan. He has obviously made no effort to educate himself on what actually happened and is reacting based on lies about history. When you don’t know why one of the benchmarks for a Presidency is the first 100 days because of what FDR accomplished in his first 100 days, you really are not very well informed about the office of President of the United States.

It is unfortunate for President Obama that historians have little interest in the opinions of his fan club, and will assign credit for success and responsibility for failure based on actual performance.

December 22, 2010   2 Comments

Assange Talks

You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to speak to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you. Do you understand these rights as they have been read to you?

That is the standard US “Miranda warning” that anyone who has been in law enforcement for any length of time can recite in their sleep. Someone should explain the concept to Julian Assange so he will understand why his attorneys should be attempting to shut him up. The guy is a gold mine for prosecutors, and he needs to understand that this stuff is available for use in all of the legal proceedings he is facing.

Kryten left this link in comments from the Melbourne Herald Sun: WikiLeaks boss Julian Assange turns on everyone. It is coverage of an interview Assange gave to The Times in which he complains about the Guardian leaking the police reports from Sweden.

The ABC carried the Agence France Presse report of a BBC interview: Women in a ‘tizzy’ over STD, says Assange

“I don’t need to go back to Sweden. The law says I… have certain rights, and these rights mean that I do not need to speak to random prosecutors around the world who simply want to have a chat, and won’t do it in any other standard way.”

I hate to break to Mr. Assange, but prosecutors rarely make house calls, and getting hauled into their office is the “standard way” this is done.

Here’s the BBC Assange interview transcript with Today “programme presenter” John Humphrys.

Mr. Assange is talking his way into a conviction, as well as really ticking off women.

December 21, 2010   13 Comments

The Holiday Spirit

I noticed that in addition to all of the astronomy that is going on [I forgot to mention the meteor shower] in 1620 a group of illegal aliens [no one got permission from the local people to come ashore] known as the Pilgrims stepped ashore at Plymouth Rock. This event is used by many to justify claims about the US being “a Christian nation”.

Well, they weren’t stupid, so they set about building shelters and continued their work right through December 25th without pausing. You see they believed that Christmas was nothing more than a disguised pagan celebration. In order to combat any possible outbreak of spontaneous singing of Christmas carols they imposed a 5 shilling fine on anyone doing anything in celebration of this “secular excuse for excess”. Five shillings may not seem like much today, but it was a quarter of a pound of silver and all of Manhattan was purchased for 10 pounds of silver at about the same time.

After the Revolution Christmas was considered an “English holiday” and did not become a US holiday until 1870. The Puritans aren’t the only Christian sect that does not celebrate Christmas, but to be aware of that people would have to meet people who were different than they are, and Americans are very adverse to doing that.

December 21, 2010   3 Comments

Happy Solstice

snowflakeAt 5:38 PM CST the winter solstice occurs marking the longest night of the year. If everyone has been good, the days start getting longer tomorrow. Locally, the sun will rise at 6:38AM and set at 4:49PM for a total of 10 hours and 10 minutes of daylight, but tomorrow will be a whole 2 seconds longer.

This year there’s a total eclipse of the moon, known in some places as a “blood moon” to add to the celebration.

This also marks HogWatch, so don’t forget to put out the turnips.

December 21, 2010   3 Comments

Never Mind

Emily Litella needed a lab coat and stethoscope for this one – milk fat is good for you.

The CBC reports – Dairy fat may cut Type 2 diabetes risk: study

The researchers found people with higher levels of trans-palmitoleic acid also tended to show:

  • Slightly less fat on their bodies.
  • Higher “good” cholesterol levels and lower overall cholesterol levels.
  • Lower levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation.
  • Evidence of lower levels of insulin resistance.

Insulin resistance occurs when the body produces too little of the hormone insulin and fails to effectively regulate the metabolism of fats, proteins and sugars. The condition can lead to Type 2 diabetes.

The study was published in the December issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

“Who could have predicted” that, as mammals, human beings might actually derive some benefits from milk? Trans-palmitoleic acid is a component of milk fat that is not found in other transfats.

I note that this is from a long-term study and there isn’t so much as an ice cream shop among the sources of funding.

December 20, 2010   26 Comments

A Warning

EBW notes at Wampum that a reputable source is warning people about going to ‘wikileaks.info’. That is not an authorized WikiLeaks mirror site, and it would appear to he hosted by a large Russian phishing trawler. The host has been associated with malware, spam, and phishing operations for some time and is a dangerous place to even visit with your “shield up”.

EBW also mentions that he will be filing a complaint with the proper authorities about the conduct of the registrar of “wikileaks.org” in dropping the site without a court order. That is a violation of the ICANN rules for registrars.

For those who don’t know, you have to file a payment of nearly $190K with your application to become a registrar for a TLD, and provide proof of capabilities to handle the job. These are not shoe-string operations, and they should certainly be expected to deal with DDoS attacks.

December 20, 2010   6 Comments

Get A Grip

For anyone who is interested this is what happened in the Assange case, as near as I have been able to determine. [Note: I’m dealing with the procedure, not the events of the crimes.]

This started as two separate and distinct crimes being reported to two separate sets of police officers, and handled by two separate prosecutors. The prosecutors came to different conclusions of what to charge for the very simple reason that they were dealing with different facts.

As two separate cases one case is easier to prove than the other, but treated separately a lot of things would become “she said – he said” in a prosecutor’s mind. If a prosecutor thinks s/he has a solid case, they will often use the maximum possible charge in expectation of a reduction as part of any plea bargain. In any case, you charge what the evidence says you can prove in court.

Sweden apparently has regional or national oversight of prosecutions, and that’s where things changed. The senior prosecutor discovered something the local prosecutors didn’t know, that there were two cases with a single suspect. This makes a big difference in what you can prove, because it lends more credibility to victims and establishes a pattern of conduct for the suspect. That’s why the charges changed – what could be proved changed.

The current extradition proceedings are over another matter. Assange failed to appear at a hearing on the charges. The judge issued a bench warrant for his arrest, and that is why he is being extradited. He can go to jail on that charge alone, even if the Swedish government decides not to prosecute on the other crimes. He is charged as a fugitive from justice, flight to avoid prosecution, or something similar in the arrest warrant, not for sex crimes.

Assange’s British lawyer is spreading a lot of smoke on the sex crime charges, but he isn’t involved in that case, and Assange’s Swedish lawyer has all the information that is available. The British lawyer’s concern is the reality that Assange missed a hearing. He can’t disprove the charge, so he’s making a lot of noise in the media.

As the old lawyers say: “If you have the facts on your side, pound the facts. If you have the law on your side, pound the law. If you have neither on your side, pound the table.” There is a lot of table abuse in Britain.

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December 19, 2010   6 Comments

Blog Around

Still busy with “Real Life” but I have some drive-by things that interested me.

The UK is getting buried again under about 10 inches of snow. Some people are not to be trusted with snow.

Suzie at Echidne’s place has found a Guardian article that details a lot of the Swedish Assange case. I don’t expect this will change minds, but I now have confirmed most of what I gleaned from my meager ability to read Swedish.

Via Ellroon a neat Google tool if you have an interest in words. They have a data base of the all of the words in the books they have scanned, and you can trace the use of words over time. If I get some time I might trace spelling changes, like catalogue to catalog, to see when it occurred.

Noz has an interesting note on the DADT repeal. All that happened was the legislation that backed the DoD policy is being voided, but the policy remains. Without legislation that actually bans the policy, the next President can re-instate it by executive order, because Obama has to void it by executive order. A victory, but not the total victory that some assume.

Even intelligent people have blind spots as demonstrated by this excerpt from a Krugman post: “… you have even a liberal Democratic president believing that Social Security only covered widows and orphans at first, that Medicare started small, and that the Clinton-era productivity boom began under Reagan.”

The last liberal Democratic President died in 1973, his name was Lyndon Baines Johnson. Jimmy Carter was left of center, and Bill Clinton was in the center. Barack Obama is decidedly to the right of center and says these things because he believes them wholeheartedly.

December 18, 2010   20 Comments

Friday Cat Blogging

Night Shift

Friday Cat Blogging

Nom nom nom…

[Editor: This is a Tonto-patterned feral that only shows up at night to eat. The distinctive markings show that this is a “family” member, but she doesn’t hang out with the others.

Friday Ark

December 17, 2010   7 Comments

December 17, 1903

“Boldly going

Wright Flyer

where no man has gone before.”

The Wright Brothers make the first powered flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina

December 17, 2010   9 Comments

Government Censorship?

The US government is not censoring WikiLeaks by banning access to the information or telling employees not to access it, it is enforcing the law.

Just because something is published doesn’t de-classify it, and it is illegal to receive or transfer classified documents unless you are authorized to do so. If a government employee, especially someone with a clearance, accesses the WikiLeaks documents they are breaking the law.

I realize this is rather pointless, but there are a lot of pointless laws on the books, almost everything labeled as a “victimless crime” for a start, but they are the law, and government employees are expected to obey the laws, [unlike Congresscritters who have a habit of exempting themselves from a lot of laws, and ignoring a lot of others].

They have to maintain the fiction that that this stuff is secret if they have any hope of a legal case against WikiLeaks or Assange.

December 16, 2010   5 Comments