Cool Links

Yelp, a local business review site, has released an updated API which increases the number of data calls to 25,000 per day, a big switch from an earlier 100 cap. 

And it's free. Why the change of heart? They have been burned in the past, notably by Google, which used Yelp review content without attributing it. but they seem to no longer be afraid a competitor will scrape its data and grow larger. 
New York environmental activists, including those employed by the state of New York, said Indian Point nuclear power plant should close for 42 days this summer to protect fish.

Since New York is already concerned about brownouts and blackouts, closing a reliable source of clean energy is one of the stranger environmental plans this year. 

Nuclear plants recycle water, of course, and environmentalists are worried fish will die in warm water. Engineers proposed putting up screens to keep fish away but that made too much sense for the Department of Environmental Conservation, which thinks overpaying for fracking-derived energy from neighboring Pennsylvania at high spot market prices is better for its citizens when they run out of electricity.
Germany has said it will double power output from renewable electricity by 2035. It's a noble goal but for industry it has been a bit of a headache.

Because solar and wind are sporadic, there are a lot of drops and surges in electricity and to moderate that the German government has to pay power companies to add or cut electricity within seconds to keep the power system stable. Businesses do not want their computers all shutting off while people are working.

55 million years ago when the Earth was in a near-runaway climate state, dangerously overheated by greenhouse gases, the Arctic Ocean was a large lake connected to the greater oceans by the Turgay Sea.

Then 50 million years ago, the channel was blocked and that body of water suffered from a lack of exchange with outside waters and became a hot lake. But its waters were also then loaded with excess nutrients and that became the perfect habitat for a small-leaved fern called Azolla

Vani Hari. The Food Babe hates science 
so you don't have to. Credit: Food Babe LLC

Vani Hari, the self-styled Food Babe and chief science expert at Food Babe LLC, has become a celebrity with mainstream media TV because she is thin and pretty and says things with a lot of earnest belief. Sometimes she is more kooky than others, like when she insisted she never uses a microwave oven because no one ever thought to test them and they 'create severe health issues'.

Millions of years ago, the rivers flowing westward across northern Brazil reversed course and began to flow toward the Atlantic. Thus the mighty Amazon was born.

Some have suggested that the about-face was triggered by gradual changes in the flow of hot, viscous rock deep beneath the South American continent. But new computer models hint that the U-turn resulted from more familiar geological processes taking place at Earth’s surface—in particular, the persistent erosion, movement, and deposition of sediment wearing away from the growing Andes.
Last week on the Scientific American blog network, Ashutosh Jogalekar wrote a piece called "Richard Feynman, sexism and changing perceptions of a scientific icon," in which he noted the great communicator could be kind of a jerk about women in his personal life. 

Jogalekarwas surprised at the casual sexism of someone who has basically been beatified in the world of science communication, where a whole cultural industry has been built up around quoting him and gushing over him.
AstraZeneca has probably the best antibiotic pipeline in the industry.  It's also a business they no longer want to be in.

Their departure would follow on the heels of Pfizer exiting that segment, leaving GlaxoSmithKline and Merck. 

Why? Well, pharmaceuticals in general in crisis. I have likened it to the US steel industry in the 1970s. Critics think if they are still making money, it must be okay and they can hammer on them indefinitely. But that isn't how business works. If government-controlled academia has to take over pharmaceutical development, we are doomed. 

Dr. Bruce Ames, one of the early heroes of the environmental movement and creator of the Ames Test, which showed how to use in vitro testing to determine if chemicals could cause DNA damage and thus cancer (sparing a lot of animals), went on to rank all kinds of chemicals in order of risk.

Thus, he was an early voice of sanity in the post-DDT world, where activists tried to convince people there is such a thing as chemical-free. His testing led to evidence-based decision-making about risks and the environment and The Scientist did a recent article on him. 
Nothing is stranger than watching environmental journalists rationalize why they are flying off to yet another conference on climate change. They have to weigh it carefully, they say, and agonize over it, but eventually they determine the 'relationships' are worth the emissions damage they cause.

Then they will munch on catered food and write articles insisting business people should not fly so much. It's 'Why it's right for Sting's wife Trudie Styler to take helicopters 80 miles to visit organic farms' rationalization that Big Green tends to do when it suits them. 
Being a gigantic political donor to Democrats can only take you so far when it comes to the FDA, even if Democrats control it at the moment. And being a darling of science media and having a Silicon Valley pedigree has its limits as well.

An FDA director recently hammered $100-million-in-venture-capital home DNA company 23andMe just a few weeks after co-founder Anne Wojcicki and "other billionaire Silicon Valley wives" - that is the verbage of Ariana Eunjung Cha at the Washington Post, not me - went on a charm offensive in Washington, D.C.
The government set out to fix health care a few years ago - and what everyone feared about government making things worse has come to pass. They made it impossible for anyone except the government and entrenched businesses to exist.

That means some of the brightest minds in the world won't bother to try and help.

At his yearly CEO summit, venture capitalist Vinod Khosla spoke with Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page and touched on what Google might do in health care, since that is a hot topic.
How important is journalistic balance in 2014? The days when people believed journalism is impartial are long gone.

But some issues are rather settled and BBC journalists are being sent on courses to train them to stop inviting so many cranks onto to air ‘marginal views’ as balance. The BBC Trust was criticized in 2012 for giving too much air-time to critics who oppose non-contentious issues in science, and this was due to an ‘over-rigid application of editorial guidelines on impartiality’ which sought to give the ‘other side’ of the argument, even if that viewpoint was widely dismissed.
Viruses, pesticides, beekeeping practices, pollination service and varroa mites all contribute to managed commercial honeybee colony health. 
Gilles-Eric Séralini, famous anti-science zealot, managed to pay a billion-dollar corporation to publish his previously retracted paper showing bloated rats with giant tumors supposedly caused by GMOs or Roundup or whatever anti-science hippies are demonizing this week (answer - neonics, supposedly killing bees, and everything else, which supposedly causes autism).
Numerous times in the last few years, scientists have concluded that the Keystone XL project was not creating environment harm, despite the claims of environmentalists.  In the affected area, there are already 20,000 miles of pipeline so adding a few hundred more is not putting the ecology in peril.

Yet the president has consistently blocked approval, choosing environmentalists over union members. Why, since both vote Democrat? The president has long been convinced that if he can penalize existing companies, and subsidize the kind he prefers, the new ones will win. Blocking Keystone XL and demanding new regulations from the EPA has been part of that effort.
Gilles-Eric Séralini, who had already been known as an anti-GMO/anti-pesticide zealot (GMOs Are A Pesticide Sponge And Other Weird Tales Of Gilles-Eric Seralini), shot to worldwide fame among the anti-science crowd when he published a paper showing bloated rats with giant tumors

All due to GMOs, he said.
When someone has a religious belief that want taught that is in defiance of science, they often say they do not want to replace science with their religion, they want to 'teach the controversy' about what science does not know and how belief can fill the gaps.

I am talking about food worship, of course, and the naturalistic fallacy that insists food was superior 20 years ago, or 40 years ago. Basically, whatever age someone is in order to be sentimental about what they ate. 

One of those people must have taken over the reins at Costco, because an article issues forth with:
For decades, farmers have tinkered with plant biology in a quest for better crops. At first, they bred plants together to enhance some traits...
Can people be addicted to the sun? Perhaps, at least they may get an opiate effect from it. 

A study found that UV exposure leads to elevated blood levels of β-endorphin in mice and causes systemic analgesia - mice who had a lot of UV exposure were less sensitive to touch and temperature and walked with erect tails. Signs that the endorphins were producing opioidlike effects.

The researchers then injected the mice with a drug that blocks opioid receptors and found that after a dose of the drug, sensitivity and tails immediately went back to normal. They even underwent withdrawal symptoms.

Four former EPA administrators testified before the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety that more climate change action needs to be taken now.

Obviously, substantial action has been taken, it just hasn't been by the government. CO2 emissions from energy are back at early 1990s levels, which means so is overall CO2. Coal, the biggest polluter that America was forced to rely on when the Clinton administration banned nuclear energy in 1994, now has early 1980s levels of emissions.