Random Thoughts

How deep is science writing these days? Pretty darn deep.

Way back when Science 2.0 started there were not a lot of great science writers. There were well-known ones, but not great ones. Journalism was in flux and mainstream media didn't respect it much, and scientists respected science journalism even less than media corporations did. The best writers just didn't go into science journalism. One of the reasons that a pillar of the Science 2.0 mission was revamping science 'communication' was because the public had stopped respecting journalists and scientists felt like they got a lot of things wrong. If science journalism couldn't win Pulitzer Prizes, at least it could be accurate and that meant making scientists the journalists.

ZOOLOGISTS ANNOUNCED THE discovery of a tiny, super-cute new primate which can kill a human by licking its elbow. I am not making this up. 

The new species of loris found in the Philippines has a poison gland at its elbow, says the American Journal of Primatology. If the creature feels threatened, it attempts to grabs a slurp of poison before biting the attacker.

American science media is constantly going on about evolution and climate change deniers - sometimes even inventing assaults on evolution that don't exist - but when it comes to quasi-religious beliefs about energy and medical science, we get a whole slew of rationalizations about how people just don't trust corporations, or they have ethical issues or whatever.

And then there's food. The intellectual food obfuscation in order to avoid discussing the obvious demographic that embrace food pseudoscience is truly dizzying. American Shamanism is alive and well and its temples are in a Whole Foods store.
Burned Plan

Burned Plan

Jun 10 2014 | 2 comment(s)

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves….” Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Act 1, scene 2.
Our fire problem has been a long time in the making. It did not happen overnight. We will not fix it overnight, perhaps we never will.

 Library of Congress. Coeur d'Alene National Forest, Idaho. Photo taken between 1909 and 1920. Photo Credit: Library of Congress.
The World Cup is fast approaching and with it come no end to projections, estimations and forecasts about who is going to do what. 

Using a Bayes analysis, once you reach the semifinal you have a 50 percent chance of being correct - just like flipping a coin. But can it work before then? Yes, is you do enough simulations.  But before you fire up your copy of Championship Manager and try to play 100 times, there is an easier solution.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett has announced that the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is accepting applications for projects related to  abandoned mine drainage projects .

You'll have to be a non-profit or a government agency to get government money - the groups most likely to be able to do something on budget are prohibited from applying to get a grant from taxpayers.
American Council on Science and Health is an advocacy group consisting of hundreds of scientists, doctors and policy experts devoted to science outreach. They've been around since the 1970s, when the core of their original group, including Nobel Laureate Norman Borlaug, the "father of the Green Revolution", wondered why there were no science groups that offset the wonks promoting fear and doubt about researchers.

Since then, they have gone where the data takes them. Co-founder Dr. Elizabeth Whelan has been attacked by both food fetishists and Big Tobacco for promoting inconvenient truths about science. Bipartisan disdain means they are probably right where they need to be.
MH370 - Why Search Teams Ignored Georesonance

As soon as I read about the claims that Georesonance identified an aircraft wreck at the bottom of the Bay of Bengal my bogusness meter went off the scale.  A whois search shows the company is registered to a small private residence.   The company claims to have identified an underwater object using multispectral images.

Quoted words below are from the Georesonance Pty. Ltd. press release posted by Air Traffic Management.net.

Nonsense on stilts
The 35th international chess tournament in Mogliano Veneto this year did not feature strong grandmasters or international masters, but a pack of 24 local players of average strength around 2150. Still, it was a very hard-fought competition, with almost no game ending as a draw before all winning attempts had been tried.

I scored a rather disappointing 2 points out of 5, losing two games -one of them undeservedly, for a performance rating is 2030, a bit less than what I believe is my current playing strength. Below I report my only win, against Enrico Danieli, an elo 2070 player.

Danieli-Dorigo, Mogliano 2014
1.d4 d5 2.Nc3 Bf5 3.e4?!
Debris Find - Likely Came From A Caravan

Yet another mystery object turns out to be unrelated to missing flight MH370.

FAIRFAX Media has received photos of the debris found near Augusta which investigators have since confirmed is not linked to the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370.

Mat Franklin and his son discovered the debris on Easter Monday four kilometres from Augusta.  

Augusta-Margaret River Mail