Anything worth talking about, is worth blogging about

Posts tagged ‘Science’

Link farm and a random thought

In no particular order:

The ultimate in data storage. Scientists have found a way to store digital information in DNA. The storage method is sophisticated enough that all information currently in hard drives could fit into the palm of your hand.


Quote of the day (emphasis added):

“What always interests me about defenders of creationism is how they clearly don’t think of children as people in their own right, but instead property that you use to enact your ideological obsessions.”

I personally would edit that quote to include the entirety of the rotten parental rights movement. Those people really do see their own kids as enemies and who’ll do anything to prevent those children from thinking for themselves and not being a projection or perfect reflection of the parents. Libby Anne at Love, Joy, Feminism has emphasized this point multiple times.


Solar power is well on its way to becoming cheaper than coal. It might reach that point before the end of the decade. This is important, as it would eliminate much of the point of burning coal, which is important for climate change mitigation. (It’s still better to start today, however).


I fully agree with these suggestions on how to write a better fantasy story. (Via all these people).


Did you know that (supposedly) the committee of the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women supposedly “Told Libya to re-interpret the Koran in the light of CEDAW”? To rational people, this is an excellent reason to support the CEDAW. But, Echidne found out, wingnuts actually use this as a justifiation for opposing the CEDAW. To their credit, at least they’re honest.


Two of the comments on a post on Brute Reason have won awards. You just have to see them.

And yes, I did manage to read and finish what is visible of the first comment. It starts repeating itself part way through Can’t it be all new woo?

This post has been edited since publication.

Advertisements

Perhaps it’s time to start the alternative

The Arbourist has a post about a small company that has a proposal to create liquid fuels out of water and carbon dioxide from the air. While the proposal looks promising, since, as far as I can tell, it takes more energy to create the liquid fuel than is released by burning that fuel, and that any carbon extracted from the atmosphere while creating the fuel will ultimately be re–emitted when that fuel is used, I have difficulty seeing how much of a difference this particular technology would make. (See also my comments at the Arbourist’s post). However, if new evidence or technology emerges that allows this technology to make more of a difference, I will certainly change my mind about it.

And The Arbourist’s post got me thinking. Since there has been much resistance to making more than a token effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, perhaps it is time to put geoengineering on the table. That might potentially be the best hope for avoiding disaster. While I am not actively suggesting we start geoengineering, I am suggesting we put it on the table. This is important considering our collective failure to make much effort towards mitigation of global warming and climate change.

Geoengineering is not science fiction. Several of the proposals have analogues that happen naturally. And it is not decades away. As far as I can tell, the following proposals are pretty much shovel ready, and we could start tomorrow if there was a serious effort, and with no significant research yet to be done or technology to be developed:

  • Atmospheric sulphur aerosols
  • Grassland restoration
  • Cool roofs
  • Enhanced weathering

These proposals each have a number of advantages and disadvantages (discussed after the jump):

(more…)

Child of the random stuff

In no particular order:

Tomorrow is more like today than you think

I came across this post at Dispatches from the Culture wars. It got me thinking, and eventually my mind thought about previous predictions of what the 2010’s would be like. This led me to realize that the past is more like the present than you think. Indeed, if you predicted that the world thirty years from now would be exactly like today, you probably wouldn’t do too badly.

To illustrate, let’s pretend that some futurologist, Ima P. Rofet, writing (to use round year numbers) that the year 2010 will be exactly like 1980. Let’s see what predictions our prognosticator would have been correct on (not an exhaustive list):

  • Politics and international relations:
    • There will be two major political parties in the United States, the Democratic and the Republican. There will be other parties, but only these two will have a realistic chance of taking power.
    • Russia will be governed as an authoritarian state.
    • Nuclear weapons will never have been used in warfare since Nagasaki.
    • The conflict in the Middle East will have been unresolved.
    • There will be no peace treaty in Korea.
    • There will have been no female president of the United States.
    • Oil will give the Middle East disproportionate influence on world affairs.
    • Terrorism will influence some countries foreign policy.
    • The United Nations will not be a world government.
  • Culture and society
    • Television, movies, and recorded music will be popular forms of entertainment.
    • Classical music will be important in music education and most people will be exposed to it in movie and television soundtracks, but it will only retain niche popularity.
    • Most people in the western world will live in cities and suburbs.
    • An appreciable number of people will have used marijuana, even if it is nominally illegal.
    • Most people will travel by car or airplane and, in densely–populated cities, train or other public transport.
    • Many people will live in poverty and lack adequate access to food, water, and medicine.
    • Many women will still be oppressed and be second–class citizens, even if they nominally have equal rights with men. (more…)

Spouse of the random stuff

In no particular order:

  • Melissa on how the experience of Canadian versus American prenatal care helped change her views on universal health care.
  • No surprise here. Some religious groups are attacking Melinda Gates’ campaign to raise awareness of contraception in the developing world. They call it a “blatant attack on morality.” As opposed to, you know, something really immoral, like oppressing women by denying birth control to them.
  • A Guttmacher Institute report indicates that this year will likely have as many new restrictions on abortion as the previous year, and possibly more (via). However, there is also good news; for example, fewer states are attempting to cut funding for family planning services.
  • Four ways the internet could go down.
  • The American (heteronormative patriarchial) Family Association has announced a boycott of Google due to the latter’s LGBT rights campaign, Legalize Love (via). It will “test the meat of our convictions.” Then they’d better have really tough convictions, as they’re running out of companies that aren’t anti–LGBT.
  • Canada has a new non–profit organization and advocacy group, Bad Science Watch, that will promote evidence–based policies and provide information to protect consumers from junk science (via). Let’s hope they’re successful.
  • (Added in an update) What government does for you.

Return of the random stuff

In no particular order:

  • Just like in Russia, several bishops of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church have been exposed as being agents for the communist regime.
  • The Women’s ice hockey tournament at the Youth Olympic Games is over. Considering that only two of the five competing teams were even in the top division, it was obvious from the beginning that it would be a Swedish coronation.
  • You can’t make this up. Frothy mixture’s fundraising site is called “Conservatives Unite Moneybomb“. Here’s a hint: check out what the first letters of those words spell.
    • And as was mentioned in a comment at Political Irony, if you look at the white words, they spell something else too.
  • SOPA and PIPA are pretty much dead (for the time being and hopefully forever). Good riddance to them.
  • And yet more evidence of what a despicable, horrible person Rick Santorum is.
  • The Obama administration has maintained its mandate that health insurance cover contraception.
  • How the religious right wrong causes abortions. Of course, this is not really that much of a surprise.
  • More on the GOP’s increasingly anti–science stand.
  • Missing fossils collected by Charles Darwin have been rediscovered in London.

More random stuff

In no particular order:

  • Leon Panetta, the American Secretary of Defense, has signed a certification to formally end Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (via).
    • And bigots, the sky hasn’t fallen.
  • More proof that correlation does not equal causation, or why emptying your spam folder is good for the economy (via).
  • Someone Rick Perry respects is strongly urging him not to run for president.
    • Too bad Michele Bachman, Herman Cain, and Rick Santorum didn’t get the message.
  • There were terrorist attacks in Norway, and several people have been killed. My condolences.
  • This is so sad. “Half of US Social Program Recipients Believe They ‘Have Not Used A Government Social Program’“. The ignorance, I can see it.
  • Team Japan won the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Congratulations to them. A major morale booster after their devastating earthquake.
    • As my own team did not play like CONCACAF champs, I’ll admit to cheering for the US.
    • The game was also the most tweeted event in history.
  • Update: Negative aspects of and problems with gender stereotypes.

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: