Sunday, October 31, 2010

Now for a little politics

Fear mongering...yeah that's what I want to rant about at this moment.

I'm sick of all this fear mongering. Apparently what we're doing is keeping terrorism alive and well. We've altered our constitution, we have neighbors spying on neighbors. Federal agencies are kidnapping US citizens and extraditing them to other countries to be tortured and interrogated, not to mention that the USA redefined torture so that it's completely legal.

So this is the USA.

Not the one that I fought for and wore the uniform of.

There are "Terror Tips" signs on the side of the freeways, Report Suspicious Activity signs and the FBI "caught" another "terrorist" just recently. Ridiculous. Abso-fucking-lutely ridiculous.

"War is peace. Less is more. Freedom is Slavery." -George Orwell.

That's where we are now. Not where we should be. But it's where we are.

I don't condone revolution. What I do hope for is that everyone of you that vote will vote for a legislator that promises to uphold the US Constitution as it was written, not as it was rewritten.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Bathynomus Giganteus: Terrifying Sea Beast Hauled Up

Link to source:

By Jeremy A. Kaplan (

A submarine exploring the ocean's depths recently returned with an unexpected visitor: a crablike critter called Bathynomus giganteus (commonly known as giant isopod) that has left many readers startled and horrified.

This giant isopod (a crustacean related to shrimps and crabs) represents one of about nine species of large isopods in the genus Bathynomus. They are thought to be abundant in cold, deep waters of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
Photo of Bathynomus giganteus courtesy of NOAA Vents Program

In a posting to social bookmarking site Reddit, a deep-sea technician detailed finding the Bathynomus giganteus, asking the site's readers to help identify what exactly the bizarre-looking creature was.

The post reads, "I work for a Sub-sea Survey Company, recently this beast came up attached to one of our ROVs. It measures a wee bit over 2.5 feet head to tail, and we expect it latched onto the ROV at roughly 8,500 feet depth.

"Unfortunately, the e-mail that these pictures were attached to came from a contractor, and the ship he was operating from (and therefore location) is unknown, so I can't tell you what part of the Earth this beast was living."

The pictures reveal Bathynomus giganteus to be a giant isopod, a large crustacean that dwells in deep Atlantic and Pacific waters. This particular creature is a deep-sea scavenger that feeds on dead whales, fish and squid.

The underside of a male giant isopod.
Photo courtesy of NOAA/OER.

Scientists have long remarked on the massive scale of Bathynomus giganteus.

C.R. McClain, writing about Bathynomus giganteus on ScienceBlogs, explained one theory for the size, that "deep-sea gigantism, for all crustaceans, is a consequence of larger cells sizes obtained under cold temperatures," citing a research paper from 1996.

He also speculated that "in crustaceans, bathymetric gigantism may also in part reflect decreases in temperature leading to longer lifespans and thus larger sizes in indeterminate growers."

Bathynomus Giganteus Post Inspires Curiosity, Horror

Responses to the original post ranged from the curious to the horrified.

One reader notes the connection between Bathynomus giganteus and a more familiar household pest: "The giant isopod is related to the "woodlouse"--turns out this is the common bug that I grew up calling a "roly poly"
or pillbug. Neat!"

Others were more disgusted with Bathynomus giganteus. "I remember watching some documentary (Blue Planet maybe?) with a time lapse of these things swarming a whale carcass. it was horrifying," writes one

Another reader saw nothing but dinner in the flesh of Bathynomus giganteus, writing "It could be because I really like seafood, but those isopods look tasty. Land bugs = ew! Sea bugs = mm mmm good."

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tea party anyone?

Tea Party luring US into adventures in irrationality
12 October 2010 by Chris Mooney
Magazine issue 2781. Subscribe and save
For similar stories, visit the Comment and Analysis Topic Guide

Compared with what may be in store for the US, George W. Bush's administration looks positively friendly to science, says Chris Mooney

THE Tea Party isn't nearly as entertaining as it ought to be. It is still unclear whether this particular brand of patriotic extremism is a passing fad or something more. Come the US mid-term elections on 2 November, those of us who care about science and rationality may not be laughing.

On the surface, the movement seems impelled by the economic pain Americans are feeling. But look more closely and it's hard to miss what historian Richard Hofstadter called the "paranoid style" in US politics, marked by "exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy". An essential strand of that is anti-intellectualism and disdain for science.

Nearly every Senate candidate with Tea Party backing rejects the established reality of human-caused global warming, usually with gusto. "I absolutely do not believe in the science of man-caused climate change. It's not proved by any stretch of the imagination," Wisconsin candidate Ron Johnson has said. "I think it's far more likely that it's just sunspot activity, or something just in the geological aeons of time."

The most notorious Tea Party candidate, Delaware's Christine O'Donnell, rejects evolution and opposes stem cell research and, more creatively, chimera research - which with typical cluelessness she thinks means growing human brains in mice.

There is great uncertainty over just how influential the Tea Party will be. It may actually damage the Republicans; the unelectable O'Donnell, for example, beat an eminently electable moderate to win her Senate nomination. Alternatively, the momentum and sense of outrage that it has generated may swing the mid-term elections decisively in the Republicans' favour.

If that happens, there are serious implications for the Obama administration's attempt to forge a reason-based and science-driven presidency. The president has pledged to "restore science to its rightful place" in government, and minus the greatest prize of all - comprehensive climate and energy legislation - he has largely succeeded. The administration is staffed with distinguished scientific leaders and advisers, and Obama himself embodies austere rationality and deliberativeness, almost to a fault.

Now, though, the Democrats face the prospect of losing significant ground in the mid-terms, thanks to the Tea Party and general Republican mobilisation. If that happens, many aspects of the administration's agenda - particularly on climate change - will face stiffer resistance. I'm not looking forward to a Republican-controlled House of Representatives holding hearings on "climategate".

What the Tea Party ultimately shows is that you can have, simultaneously, a scientific Washington and an unscientific America. And it suggests the nation's adventures with irrationality did not end with George W. Bush.

If anything, Bush was genteel and moderate in comparison with the Tea Party. As a defender of science and reason, it feels odd to say it, but when surveying the Tea Party, I almost miss him.

Chris Mooney is co-author of Unscientific America: How scientific illiteracy threatens our future (Basic)