Wednesday, September 21, 2005

ENV: The Tangled Bank #37

After a couple weeks in the school cafeteria, so to speak, delighting in cardboard-textured academic pizza, the fizz of student potential soda and, for dessert, creamy white celebrity yogurt (is that a fungus growing on my bacterial culture?), i thought it would be appropriate if The Tangled Bank took on the form of what i really crave – that see-through candy vending machine, the one with 40 different snacks, none of which i should i eat, but almost all of which i can’t resist after a week of “school food” for the brain. So here are each of the biweekly sweet-tooth inflaming “best-of” posts from the world of science-blogging as a delectable selection from the Vending Machine of Blogtopia (thanks skippy!).

Disclaimer: One of the pleasures of hosting a blog carnival is the exposure to different realms of the scientific world and different approaches to the concept of what science is all about. In today’s gamut are some items that only tangentially address science – they fritter around the edges so to speak, perhaps only mentioning science as a way to gain entry. Others contain screeds on what may be kindly referred to as science in sheep’s clothing (on second thought, maybe that should be sheep in science's clothing . . .). Some are science completely entangled with education (perhaps the very signature of The Tangled Bank). Since some of these things are not part of the scientific world i inhabit i felt it was not my place to be a censor. Of course, even the very most astute and expert of the submitters deserves no less than a critical eye. But i see my place here merely as the conduit. So dear skeptics, i present you this carnival, #37 of The Tangled Bank, and leave it you to visit the many wonderful, textured, sweet, sour, comatic, sublime and fruity posts delivered here and to comment on their spaces if you find enlightenment or desultation there.

P.s. Don’t you just love the way scientists can make up words any time they please . . .

And P.s.s. Those who read me often will note that i have a wicked sense of humor – fair warning, it may or may not be employed here, without prejudice (like whenever i feel like it). We’re into the humor of the everyday culture . . .

P.s.s.s. The next edition of this fine collection will be hosted by Living the Scientific Life on October 5th. Be sure to send submissions by October 4th to PZ Myers at The Tangled Bank or to GirlScientist.

Thanks to PZ Myers for the opportunity and to all the fine submitters for your posts.

All my best,
tony g

The Tangled Bank #37

As much fun as it is to go to the movies with PZ Myers, it’s just as entertaining to read all the comments on his posts. Arguments over whether it’s more fun to blow up Danio embryos or zap Daphnia with undiluted caffeine! Yeah baby! With one commenter comparing PZ’s movies to The Passion of the Christ you can’t miss. Check ‘em out at Defending the Honor of Biology at Pharyngula. We give it two thumbs up!

David Ng takes the job requirements for a department position to its practical conclusion, noting that -- even though not officially posted -- a “candidate must be, in no uncertain terms, hot” and “must exhibit no more than two degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon”. If you think you’ve got that covered you better check out the rest of the requirements at Sciencegeek where A University Job Posting (or Becoming A Professor Is Hard These Days) is a must pre-application read. (P.s. we appreciate humor more than McSweeney’s does).

Josh Rosenau at Thoughts from Kansas wonders if Supply and Demand is actually fueling price increases in the oil industry, or if , as memos from Mobil, Texaco and Chevron might show, there was some collusion involved. Not that he wants to suggest there was anything illegal or anything . . .

Tsk, tsk. The President openly advocates for the teaching of a counter philosophy to Evolution, yet, on his watch, the Federal Drug Administration forces medications off the shelf due to the effects of . . . Evolution. The Questionable Authority is on to the details. Mass adminstration of an antibacterial agent for poultry is successful at what it’s intended to do, yet can create a resistant strain of a different bacteria. The flock of chickens or turkeys is safe, but could be infected by an agent harmful to humans. Read Applications of Evolution 2 - Bayer Withdraws Cipro to find out the science that led to the determination, how the companies that produce the meds reacted, and what it means for the meat-eaters of blogtopia.

Speaking of chickens, Mike at 10,000 Birds gets serious in taking on another Media Panic, namely the inappropriately named Bird Flu, in Call it Poultry Flu. Arguing that the disease is caused by poultry squeezed into tight unsanitary conditions, and providing the evidence that not a single tested migratory bird has been found to harbor it, he reasons that the public furor needs to be squelched before it results in the loss of scads of uninfected birds. Check out Mike’s case for calling Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (Type A H5N1) by what it is -- Poultry Flu.

Andrew, blogging via Universal Acid, takes the silver sword to two Media Myths in one post titled Three Parents? Respectable papers screaming “Embryo With Three Parents” have made taking a serious look at cell-technique remedies for mothers with mitochondrial disease difficult, since too many sidewalk readers and legislators rarely get past the roaring headlines. Andrew makes the case here for sanity. And then pokes the The Daily Telegraph for telegraphing the hint of eugenics in a program that saves, not kills.

Jennifer Furman Orth goes to an Invasive Plant Summit and realizes she is in the wrong place . . . (kind of invasive, huh?) . . . hears about plant posters at the subway station . . . will it be art or will it be science managing plants . . . gets down with organizational chart PowerPoint presentations. What? . . . Jenn goes to seminars at Early Morning IPANE – Day 1 over on Invasive Species Weblog and you’ll have to go there yourself for the full benefit of the laughs. And check the links to the reports.

Daniel, the blogger known as A Concerned Scientist, dissects the six findings of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment in Biodiversity Loss and Humanity. Can you say “Greed.” Daniel plugs sustainability and changes to human lifestyles. I’m singing in his choir.

Mark Larios at A Study of Nothingness looks at the lunacy of prescribing evolution to the past. Check out his take on the media interpretation of brain evolution studies in This Just In: Humans Still Evolving.

Hsien-Hsien Lei at Genetics and Public Health Blog confesses to oversimplification – but the good kind. Find out which is which and the process by which journalists produce the other kind in Dumbing Down Science. And then follow some of Hsien-Hsien’s other links to find the best of the good of the simplified.

Austin Cline at About Agnosticism/Atheism wonders why Intelligent Design types aren’t clamoring for the teaching of both sides of the Holocaust debate. In Skepticism of the Holocaust, Skepticism of Evolution, that takes off from a reading of the book Doctors from Hell by Vivien Spitz, Cline tells of a Denver teacher who loses her position as Language Arts head by calling the Holocaust the Holohoax. She then cries Loss of Academic Freedom. Framing that debate the same way as IDers frame teaching the debate creates an unseemly parallel. Cline looks for answers in this post. Except for this one: What does any of this have to do with Language Arts?

At Respectful Insolence Orac Knows something about this debate himself, and couches the argument from a different angle. He also knows cranks. He points out that the very detail IDists require as immutable evidence of Evolution is the very detail they themselves resist – and more significantly, that by somehow refuting Evolution the end result is a proof of ID. Not. (Myself, i’m awaiting the anointing of the noodly appendage). Orac also knows that Holocaust deniers profit by the same illusion – an absence of even a minute detail would somehow negate the “big picture” even when the remaining evidence is overwhelming. The details are there actually, and they’re at What Makes a Crank a Crank?

Steve Pavlina at Personal Development for Smart People writes from personal experience in his review of The China Study by T. Colin Campbell. The stress Steve (and the book) places is on eating whole plant unprocessed foods. His idea that you can eat unrestricted calories and lead a sedentary lifestyle and still lose weight fits perfectly into my latter year plans. The diet proffered in the book is similar to the one that returned Morgan Spurlock to health after his Supersize Me documentary. I’m hoping you don’t have to eat at McDonald’s for a year to qualify for the benefits. If nothing else, Dave’s point about the differences between junk-vegan and healthy-vegan diets could make a difference in some folks’ application of the lessons learned here.

Here’s where Agar’s premise begins as related by Justin in Agar, Embryology and Evolution at Panexperientialism: “Thus, for Agar, the organism consists of a multitude of feeling subjects each acting for their own ends and with varying degrees of control over their environment.” From there we head into the concept that these "subjects," acting according to their own needs, and perhaps whims, culminate in the coordinated actions of the organism itself based on the conscious sum efforts of the parts. Perhaps that itch i get from time to time is sperm cells looking for victims. P.s. I have been unable to divest myself of the image of Wasp Rockers singing “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” but you’ll have to read for yourself to find out why.

The hair-challenged Temnospondyl amphibians are the critter-du-jour this week at The Hairy Museum of Natural History. Matt Celeskey posts from the Paleozoic as he searches out the life history of these lowslung mouthbreathers that refused to disavow their piscine heritage, yet aspired to reptilian niches. It’s all illustrated at Dispatch from the Permocarboniferous – Temnospondyls. I want so badly to add a subtitle there, something noirish, something 50s, but i’d probably run afoul of some thought police brigade.

And in the obligatory shallow post of the week, and the last post for this edition of The Tangled Bank, i find a common moth at my blacklight and take note of the cheerleader routine performed entirely with its butt. Experts assure me this is normal. Check it out at Observations at milkriverblog.

See you next round . . .

This blog carnival is listed at The Truth Laid Bear Über Carnival

and at Blog Carnival Archive

and at Recent Carnivals at The Conservative Cat

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Welcome to all of our friends visiting from: The Tangled Bank, Pharyngula, The Panda’s Thumb, B and B, Respectful Insolence, Science & Politics, The Questionable Authority, The Hairy Museum of Natural History, The Modulator, 10,000 Birds, Living the Scientific Life, A Concerned Scientist, Genetics and Public Health Blog, The Truth Laid Bear, Blog Carnivals, The Conservative Cat, Herewiss13's Friends, Clicked, Thoughts from Kansas, Instapundit, Keats' Telescope, Bloglines, memeorandum, The Corpus Callosum, Arborblogs, A D.C. Birding Blog, Invasive Species Weblog, Paige's Page, and anyblog else i haven’t picked up on yet . . . sorry i planned, but haven't had time, to link all thesse fine referrers, but all are linked in my blogroll to the left if you'd like to take a stroll . . .

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