blueollie

Make me stop! :)

Workout notes Nothing yet; maybe a couple of miles plus some yoga/stretching.
I’ll be doing next to zero training from M-F other than walk 2-3 miles, stretch, rest. That is driving me crazy.

Oh sure, I’ll be washing my hands a whole bunch; not that anyone else is getting paranoid about getting sick.

So, I’ll do some blogging, pay bills, put up clothes and then do some research.

Back to blogging: I got to catch up a bit on my blog reading. There is much here.

Political Humor (more politics later)

I about died laughing. HRC supporters shouldn’t watch this. :)

Liberals Must Die: takes it to the Democrats!

Notice that every type of person who is going to Hell is also the type that vote for Democrats ALL THE TIME?!?!

Liars,.. thieves,.. money grubbers (lovers), homosexuals….all Democrats? :)

Ok, being a liar and a thief is bad, being homosexual isn’t. :)

Science and Technology

Obesity research: hormones plus exercise might help people keep off excess weight.

Once heralded as a promising obesity treatment, the hormone leptin lost its fat-fighting luster when scientists discovered overweight patients were resistant to its effects. But pairing leptin with just a minor amount of exercise seems to revive the hormone’s ability to fight fat again, University of Florida researchers recently discovered.

The combination of leptin and a modest dose of wheel running prevented obese rats on a belt-busting, high-fat diet from gaining weight, even though neither tactic worked alone, say UF researchers, writing in the journal Diabetes. [...]

To test this, the researchers decided to pair leptin with exercise, comparing the effects on both normal-weight and obese rats kept on high-fat diets, which simulate the type of fast-food-filled fare many Americans eat.

The rats were further separated into three groups to test three approaches. One group received leptin, another group got an exercise wheel and the third group got both leptin and a wheel. In the normal-weight rats, leptin and exercise both worked to prevent weight gain. The normal-weight rats ran significantly more than their bulkier peers, logging in about two and a half miles a day on their wheels, and kept off weight proportionally to how much they ran. The rats were allowed to run as much as they chose.

In the obese rats, which ran six to eight times less, neither running nor leptin alone kept the weight from accruing. Giving the rats leptin actually caused them to gain more weight than eating a high-fat diet alone, the study shows.

“This is a startling finding. Leptin is expected to reduce body weight, not promote weight and fat gain,” Scarpace said.[...]

How about a car that takes up less than 5 dollars to fill up and that emits zero emissions?

Monday, March 24th 2008, 7:54 PM
New Paltz, N.Y., has long been known as a bastion of progressive thinking, living and being, man. So it’s no surprise the town is headquarters for a company planning to produce the world’s first air-powered automobile for the U.S. by 2010. The France-based Zero Pollution Motors says it’s manufacturing 10,000 vehicles in its first year and expects to sell them for about $17,800. The cars will have 75 horsepower — that’s a little less than the SmartForTwo — will seat six and will produce zero emissions.

“Electricity powers an onboard compressor to compress air to 4,500 pounds per square inch into a pressure tank contained in the vehicle,” ZPM communications director Kevin Haydon told the Daily News from New Paltz. “This can be done in a garage overnight and it will take 1-2 hours. The compressed air is then used to power the engine.”

Their car will travel about 1,000 miles at up to 96 mph on one fill-up.

I’ll bet that the oil companies are bracing to fight this guy. :)

Cosmology

Why does time run forward? That is, one can travel in any spatial direction, but it appears that we move in one time direction whether we want to or not; we can’t “stand still” nor “move backwards”. Why?

What shape does the universe have? Is it more like a 3-dimensional sphere or is something like a 3-d torus?

(for those who don’t know topology: a 2-d torus is something like the “skin” of a donut, or the “skin” of an innertube.)

Evolution
Read about a frog-salamander transitional fossil.

Read about how mathematic recursion helps scientists help a better DNA molecule.

Building faultless objects from faulty components may seem like alchemy. Yet scientists from the Weizmann Institute’s Computer Science and Applied Mathematics, and Biological Chemistry Departments have achieved just that, using a mathematical concept called recursion. ‘We all use recursion, intuitively, to compose and comprehend sentences like ‘the dog that chases the cat that bit the mouse that ate the cheese that the man dropped is black,’’ says Prof. Ehud Shapiro.

Recursion allows long DNA molecules to be composed hierarchically from smaller building blocks. But synthetic DNA building blocks have random errors within their sequence, as do the resulting molecules. Correcting these errors is necessary for the molecules to be useful. Even though the synthetic molecules are error prone, some of them are likely to have long stretches that do not contain any faults. These stretches of faultless DNA can be identified, extracted, and reused in another round of recursive construction. Starting from longer and more accurate building blocks in this round increases the chances of producing a flawless long DNA molecule. The team, led by doctoral students Gregory Linshiz and Tuval Ben-Yehezkel under the supervision of Shapiro, found in their experiments that two rounds of recursive construction were enough to produce a flawless target DNA molecule. If need be, however, the error correction procedure could be repeated until the desired molecule is formed.

Lizards: when transported to a new environment, they evolve dramatically.

AMHERST – In 1971, five pairs of Italian wall lizards were transplanted by biologists from their home island of Pod Kopiste, in the South Adriatic Sea, to the neighboring but subtly different island of Pod Mrcaru, where none lived, as an experiment in evolution.

How, if at all, would these creatures change?

Largely insect eaters, the half-foot long reptiles would find themselves on an island where insects were in short supply but plants were not.

Because of political upheaval in the region – the Adriatic Sea borders Croatia – it was not until 2004 that Duncan J. Irschick, a professor of biology at the University of Massachusetts here, and a team of international biologists could return to find out what had happened to the lizards.

“As a scientist, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Historical circumstances prevented people from going back to the island for a very long time. So when we first went out there in 2004, we didn’t know what we would find. We chartered a boat out to the island, and it was amazing. It was swarming with lizards,” he said.

Pod Mrcaru, just off the west coast of Croatia, is a “tiny rock in the middle of the water,” Irschick said.

“You could walk from one end to the other in five minutes. It has a Mediterranean climate – hot and very dry. It’s mainly rock with little shrubby plants sticking up out here and there. It looks very inhospitable,” he said.

They found on that visit and subsequent trips in 2005 and 2006 that the wall lizards had changed dramatically in the intervening decades. Results of their study were published March 25 in the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.”

Two of the most striking changes were the increase in head size and the change in head shape.

“Individuals on Pod Mrcaru have heads that are longer, wider and taller than those on Pod Kopiste, which translates into a big increase in bite force,” Irschick said.

“Because plants are tough and fibrous, high bite forces allow the lizards to crop smaller pieces from plants, which can help them break down the indigestible cell walls,” he said. [...]

To confirm that the lizards were descendants of the 10 individuals introduced to the island, the researchers conducted a DNA analysis and found they were genetically identical to the original ones.

Non-Human Animals: how smart are they? How do they “learn”?

To see that they indeed learn, check this out.

So how different are we? That is, what is the difference between a “human” and an “animal”? Actually, this is difficult to quantify, if one wants something more than a “species” separation. People have tried to set up “culture, mind reading, tool use, morality, emotions and personality.” Guess what? There are non-human creatures who exhibit at least one of these things.

Religion/Atheism

A “do not pray for me” list? :) (yes, this is humor).

Ok, what good is religion, in evolutionary terms? Some people used computer models to formulate a conjecture:

To determine if it was possible for religion to emerge as an adaptation, Dow wrote a simple computer program that focuses on the evolutionary benefits people receive from their interactions with one another.

“What people are adapting to is other people,” he says.
Religious attraction

To simplify matters, Dow picked a defining trait of religion: the desire to proclaim religious information to others, such as a belief in the afterlife. He assumed that this trait was genetic.

The model assumes, in other words, that a small number of people have a genetic predisposition to communicate unverifiable information to others. They passed on that trait to their children, but they also interacted with people who didn’t spread unreal information.

The model looks at the reproductive success of the two sorts of people – those who pass on real information, and those who pass on unreal information.

Under most scenarios, “believers in the unreal” went extinct. But when Dow included the assumption that non-believers would be attracted to religious people because of some clear, but arbitrary, signal, religion flourished.

“Somehow the communicators of unreal information are attracting others to communicate real information to them,” Dow says, speculating that perhaps the non-believers are touched by the faith of the religious.
Ancient needs

Richard Sosis, an evolutionary anthropologist at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, US, says the model adds a new dimension to the debate over how religion could have evolved, which has previously relied on verbal arguments and speculation. But “these are baby steps”, he cautions.

Is old-fashioned atheism (a more open version) making a comeback? A new atheist book was written by a mathematician.

What has this to do with John A. Paulos’s recent book Irreligion? It is well known, of course, that some our most eminent presidents—Jefferson, Lincoln, Madison—spurned orthodoxy in religious matters, even to the point of—to use Paulos’s convenient title—irreligion. This, of course, is sufficiently embarrassing to our fundamentalist ayatollahs that they have been furiously rewriting history, chiseling away at the facts with all the fury of the restored priests of Amun hacking off Nefertiti’s heretical nose. What interested me more, however, was the question of whether disdain for religion was purely the province of politicians who where gifted intellectuals as well, or whether it was at one point so widespread and socially acceptable that even routine mediocrities, hacks, and tub-thumpers could espouse such views without being banished from public life and high office.

Politics Today’s leaders: do American voters seek out mediocrity?

Obama
Obama and his relationship to his now-ex church: Do those who slam him for his past church really understand the relationship between a person and his religious community?

Personally, I wonder why the press gives wingnut churches a pass while slamming this one.

Obama and affirmative action: He may be the best candidate to make the necessary adjustments. I agree that it can be improved, but probably not done away with just yet; inequities of opportunity still exist.

Ironically, when it comes to academics, even the The Bell Curve authors (Herrnstein and Murray) think that modest affirmative action (say, to within .5 of a standard deviation) is ok. Read pages 475-476.

Republicans: livid over Scott McClellan’s book. I do wonder why the Republicans are more upset over McClellan “coming clean” than they were over Bush’s misleading us into war and the Republicans lying about it.

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June 2, 2008 - Posted by | creationism, education, hillary clinton, humor, mathematics, morons, obama, politics/social, ranting, religion, republicans, science

4 Comments »

  1. Let’s see, that sign you show lists “Hypocrites” among Hell’s Most Wanted. I’m a Christian. I’m sure there’s a rule written somewhere that says, “All Christians are hypocrites, no exception.” Ergo, I’m going to Hell.
    Why the heck did I become one?

    Comment by angelbearoh | June 2, 2008 | Reply

  2. Understand that “Liberals Must Die” is a huge, huge snark blog. Check out how they spell “moron” at the top. That is from the famous “get a brain, Morans” sign that some wingnut held up. :)

    Comment by ollie | June 2, 2008 | Reply

  3. did you notice it says sports fans? does it count if I play but don’t watch? seriously.

    Comment by augustonfire | June 3, 2008 | Reply

  4. Sports Fans? I guess that Notre Dame and BYU students are in big trouble. :)

    Come to think of it, even Liberty U (Falwell’s old school) has sports teams.

    Comment by blueollie | June 3, 2008 | Reply


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