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Entries from blogs tagged with “Technology”

So Much to See #8 (2/17/2008)

Previous:SMTS #7
Next:SMTS #9

This week, for reasons known only to me, the sequence of images will be different. Instead of an image which gradually expands, I'll be post small sections from different parts of the picture. I normally add one new image each day, but this time I will post additional snippets of the picture more often, probably twice a day.If you are the first person who correctly identifies the place or object, I'll send you a message to let you know you're correct. Everyone else will just have to keep looking.Cody is currently the undisputed master of this game. Take him down!This week's first image:

http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2008/Feb/17/DSC_0769a.JPG

Here is a different part of the picture:
http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2008/Feb/18/DSC_0769b.JPG

I said I would add images more frequently, here is another:
http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2008/Feb/18/DSC_0769c_.JPG

And another piece:
http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2008/Feb/19/DSC_0769d.JPGAnd another:
http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2008/Feb/19/DSC_0769e.JPG

The blue baloon marks the location of this week's location:

View Larger MapHere is the picture of the train at Buford M. Watson Park:

http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2008/Feb/19/DSC_0769.JPG

Click on the picture to see a larger image:

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Gecko protection racket?

One of the cool things about the biological world is the endless variety of subtle relationships that have evolved between very different kinds of organisms. For instance, this link from the BBC documents an interesting relationship between certain geckos and honeydew producing insects called tree hoppers. The hoppers vibrate that abdomen as a signal to the gecko that a drop of honeydew is available and the lizard laps up the drop. Some geckos also appear to actively beg for the sweet drop. The gecko gets extra calories but how the insect benefits is really not clear. Could this be a gecko protection racket? Maybe the meek looking Geico gecko has a darker side.I was also surprised to learn that some geckos lap nectar from flowers, so maybe it is a short leap from that to lapping honeydew from treehoppers. Be that as it may, these sorts of coevolutionary relationships show an important aspect of the biodiversity crisis-the modern mass extinction event we face as a civilization. For not only are irreplaceable species being lost, but the rich web of evolutionary relationships that characterize life is being destroyed.By the way, this and other interesting stories about "cold blooded" animals are featured in a BBC documentary Life in Cold Blood. Presumably this program will eventually make its way here.

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Space Station and Shuttle Visible Tonight

The Space Station, with the Space Shuttle still be docked, will pass overhead this evening. Look to the northwest about 6:48 PM (the article says 6:28, but that is incorrect). Although it should be even brighter than usual, it will be visible for only 3-4 minutes as it passes over and goes below the eastern horizon. Even if there are a few clouds, it should not be hard to locate.

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Google Street View: Cool? Scary? Both?

Yesterday I noticed that Google Maps, a tool I use frequently, had a new button at the top of the map. The button "Street View" was something I'd heard about a few months ago.Clicking the button, I saw most of the roads in Lawrence become highlighted in blue. As I zoomed in closer, a little virtual man appeared on the map. Clicking on him caused a picture to appear above his head. The picture was a view of the city street where he was "standing". With my mouse, I was able to pan the picture around and get a 360 degree view from that location.Then I used my mouse to drag him to near where I live. From within the picture, you can not only pan, but, by clicking on the arrows superimposed on the picture, move up and down the street.Soon I had navigated to my street and then to where my house is. I panned around to the right and there was my car sitting in the driveway!Before I go farther I should say that these picture were clearly taken in summer, probably last summer. THEY ARE NOT REAL TIME IMAGES. Google has sent a vehicle around to take these pictures. It has a camera with a 360 degree view on top. Some of you have seen it, as I'll describe later. It may have been a van, or a car with a spherical camera mounted above the roof.Speaking of people who have seen it, I noticed that the blue lines (which shows those streets which have been mapped with images) extended up north of Lawrence in to Jefferson county, where my Aunt lives.I found their road and as I "approached" (virtually that is) their house I first saw my one of my cousins driving his ATV down the road, past the camera vehicle. As I approached the house, my other cousin was clearly visible on a riding lawnmower, mowing his mother's grass.Cool? Absolutely. A little scary? Maybe. One thing I'm sure of, this is only the beginning. It will only get better... or maybe worse, depending upon your perspective.The Journal World's Christine Metz also had an article on Street View" which has more information.For those of you who follow my So Much to See blog postings, here is another hint for the lastest image. It uses Google Street View to let you search the area where this week's landmark is located. Navigate around a bit and you will see the subject of this weeks picture.BTW. I've been working with the LHS Robotics Club and hope to soon have some pictures and information as they prepare for this year's US First robot competition.

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Science Debate 2008: Now will they come…

It is official! Science Debate 2008 has just invited the presidential candidates to a debate on science policy. The debate is scheduled for April 18 at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. Of course just because the candidates are invited to the debate doesn't mean they are going to show up. See the Science Debate 2008 website for more updates.From the Science Debate Press Release:"Most of the major policy challenges the next president will face, from climate chance to jobs and economic competitiveness to healthcare to the health of the oceans, center on science and technology. Where is the next transistor economy going to come from? Is there going to be action to address climate change? Do we need a Marshall plan for science in America? What about peak oil? Why are our school children falling behind other countries in math and science, and what should be done about it?"Stay tuned...

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Roy Scheider: Not Just The Guy From “Jaws”

At the age of 75, film actor Roy Scheider passed away this weekend due to complications from cancer. Sure, he was most well known from his role opposite a certain shark known for terrorizing Amity Island, but he also appeared in dozens of memorable films that may not be blockbuster material, but are definitely worth checking out.The first one that comes to my mind is a lesser known William Friedkin film from 1977 called "Sorcerer." A remake of the French film "Le Salaire de la Peur" (The Wages of Fear), "Sorcerer" tells the tale of a couple of truckers in South America who are commissioned to drive shipments of nitroglycerin through some pretty rocky terrain. Both a character study and a thriller, the film allows Scheider to deliver an intense performance of a man risking his life for a chance at freedom.Other highlights from his career include a fun 70's cop drama called "The Seven-Ups," the Bob Fosse inspired "All That Jazz," a supporting role in "Klute," and let's not forget that role he had in the adaptation of William Burrough's "Naked Lunch."So, if you find yourself with a free moment, take a look at Roy Scheider's filmography on imdb. After you weed through a few missteps like "Daybreak" and "The Punisher," you just might find yourself with some decent Netflix rentals for this weekend. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001702/If you have any other Roy Scheider recommendations, feel free to post them here.

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So Much to See #7 (2/10/2008)

Previous:SMTS #6
Next:SMTS #8

Where is it? What is it?Here is this week's image, and I'm even including a hint. The small patches of white? That is snow.Does that help? <grin>

http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2008/Feb/10/DSC_0786a.JPG

2nd image:
http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2008/Feb/11/DSC_0786b.JPG

Image #3:
http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2008/Feb/12/DSC_0786c.JPG

Image #4:
http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2008/Feb/13/DSC_0786d.JPG

The final image of the gazebo at Centennial Park:
http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2008/Feb/14/DSC_0786.JPG

Here is a map, the Centennial gazebo is marked by the blue baloon:

View Larger Map

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When you wish upon a star…

http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2008/Feb/10/images.jpgWikipedia is such a wonderful resource that I often find myself browsing it for hours on end. I will see something on television, or think of something to look up and just get lost in it's neverending pages of articles.I've only been to Walt Disney World twice in my life. The first time I was only three years old; the second time my parents took me and my sister while I was in middle school. When you search for Disney World on Wikipedia, you can find the history and all sorts of cool secrets about the parks.But, I found myself entranced with a page that details a long list of strange and unusual incidents that have taken place at the parks over the years.Take eighteen year old Deborah Gail Stone, who was crushed to death between a revolving wall and a staionary platform on the America Sings attraction at Disneyland in California.Or nineteen year old Thomas Cleveland who was struck and killed by the monorail which dragged him 40 feet down the track after he had tried to sneak into the park by climbing onto the monorail track.Or poor Bogden Delaurot, who drowned while trying to swim across the Rivers of America in Disneyland. He and his brother had hid on the island past closing time, but didn't quite make it across the river when they decided to leave the park.And then there's the unfortunate story of Javier Cruz who, dressed as Pluto, was run over by the Beauty and the Beast parade float at the Magic Kingdom in Florida.I could go on. . .But, here's the Wikipedia page. Read some for yourself: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incident...

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MIKE HUCKABEE, THE FALSE CONSERVATIVE:

THE REAL MIKE HUCKABEE: House Bill 1525 by Rep. Joyce Elliott, D-Little Rock, was approved by the House but eventually failed in the Senate. Huckabee reiterated Wednesday that he believes every child, regardless of their parent's immigration status, should have an opportunity to receive an education in the U.S.MORE ABOUT MR. HUCKABEE:http://www.arkansasnews.com/archive/2005/06/30/News/323746.html http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/11/25/AR2007112501547_pf.htmlhttp://www.huckabeefacts.org/ http://www.worldmag.com/articles/12679 http://cofcc.org/?p=1018http://www.chequer-board.net/story/2007/12/21/155136/04 http://www.dailycampus.com/home/index.cfm?event=displayArticleComments&ustory_id=0d52d1b9-1ae0-4e3b-8353-7d653899bac6&refsource=collegeheadlineshttp://www.powerlineblog.com/archives2/2007/12/019190.php http://www.talk2action.org/story/2008/1/4/144236/0317 http://www.firesociety.com/forum/thread/20933/Huckabee-calls-for-end-of-Anchor-Babies/The media has successfully fragmented the Republican vote and pumped their favorite (NOT OURS) RINO (Republican In Name Only) McCain. It's a win win for the Liberal Socialists who are in the process of hijacking the Republican Party AND the country.JOHN MCCAIN, THE DEMOCTRATS FAVORITE CHOICEHere are links to articles that really expose John McCain for who he is:http://www.alipac.us/article2920.htmlhttp://media.citizensunited.org/Surprisingly.htm. It's a killer for McCain.There is still time to give Romney enough of a push to keep the race competitive. The power of the internet is incredible. Please make use of it! Email ANY and EVERYONE you know who will be voting on Tuesday and let them know just how disastrous it would be to vote for McCain. Educate them as to why and turn them on to Mitt Romney.I've met him on several occasions and was at the MA Rep. convention when we nominated him for Governor there. Tell them to get on the Romney bandwagon and help the guy out at: http://www.mittromney.com.Besides emails, you can make phone calls AND write/submit letters to editors online and at major metropolitan newspapers http://www.newslink.org/news.html around the country.HELP STOP RINO JOHN MCCAIN AND HIS SECRET PARTNER, HUCKABEE!!A vote for RINO (Republican In Name Only) John McCain is a vote for the following:ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION: he wrote the bill granting amnesty to illegal immigrants (co-sponsored by Ted Kennedy).SOCIAL SECURITY: he voted to give your social security money to illegal immigrants.TAXES: he voted against the Bush tax cuts multiple times (he has since flip-flopped and has campaigned as a lifelong tax-cutter).RHETORIC: he routinely engages in Democratic class warfare against big companies in America, particularly the "evil" drug companies who research cures to debilitating diseases for a profit.ECONOMY: as recently as December 2007 he admitted "he does not know the economy very well" and needed to get better at it.1ST AMENDMENT: he wrote the McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill that was declared to be an unconstitutional infringement of the 1st Amendment (co-sponsored by ultra-liberal Democrat Russ Feingold).2ND AMENDMENT: he was called the "worst 2nd amendment candidate" by the president of the NRA.ENERGY TAX: wrote a bill (co-sponsored by his buddy Lieberman) imposing a massive tax on energy which, according to the Department of Energy, would drastically raise the price of gasoline and put 300,000 Americans out of work.GLOBAL WARMING: supports radical global warming legislation which involved him voting with every Democrat; think only America is responsible to take action, not other superpowers.JUDGES: he joined forces with Democrats (Gang of 14) to block the Senate Republican's attempt to confirm conservative, strict constructionist judges; also said Alito was too conservative for his liking.WAR ON TERROR: fought with Hillary Clinton to demand that terrorists be given a full AMERICAN trial.

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Shuttle Launch Today

Launch today is scheduled for 1:45PM CST today. You can watch it in HD on channel 220, or on NASA TV.Launches now are just a small note in the news now, but if you've had a chance to see a shuttle launch, it is not something you will forget. NASA has not done a good job relating how amazing a task it is. Unfortunately, few will get to stand outside Launch Control, hear the final count over the loudspeaker, hear the loud whir of the main engines when they start and watch it rise from the billowing clouds of smoke.I can tell you for a fact that it is cool. Even these days few things can match it. From 3 1/2 miles away (as close as anyone is allowed) it is loud. Sometimes you'll hear car alarms go off from the low frequency vibrations. 10 miles is as close as most of the public can get, but even at that distance it is impressive.So if you have a few minutes today around 1:45, you might take the time to watch. Seven people are going to do something pretty amazing.And here is one more NASA site of interest, it is a real-time 3-D display of the satellites orbiting the earth. Unfortunately, it doesn't include the Shuttle and Space station, but it does show a new, fascinating perspective of our planet.

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Is prevention worth it?

A study in PLOS Medicine challenges the notion that preventing obesity and smoking reduces over all health costs. The authors modeled life time health care costs under a number of scenarios and their results suggest that preventing obesity and smoking actually increases life time health care costs. The two factors contributing to this counter intuitive result are increased life span resulting from prevention and the shift from acute diseases associated with smoking and obesity to chronic diseases that are more expensive over the person's life time.Don't reach for that cigarette or stop that exercising though. The authors note that their study does not address other sorts of economic and social costs. For instance the indirect costs associated with smoking and obesity could easily exceed the direct medical costs.Also they assume that treatment costs are constant for medical problems regardless of whether or not a person is obese or smokes. For example, the authors observe that treating back problems might be more expensive if a person is obese. You can read the study for yourself athttp://medicine.plosjournals.org/perlserv/?request=get-document&doi=10.1371/journal.pmed.0050029

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My First Caucus

I will always associate my interest in this year's election with bitterly cold weather. The Obama rally in Kansas City came along with biting wind and last night's caucus ended in freezing rain. But still, something inside me said I should brave the cold and trade in the precious independent status I've held for so many years. So last night, I became a registered Democrat. Ralph Nader would be very disappointed in me. Quite honestly, it wasn't the party that drew me in but the candidate. There is something about Barack Obama's message that makes me want to give the guy a chance to stir up the pot out there in Washington. Apparently, a lot of people in the state of Kansas felt the same way. (Except my three year old, of course, who made sure everyone around him know that he "is for John McCain").The turn out was overwhelming. I don't think I've ever supported a popular candidate before, so it was fun to be with the majority. Although, I do think we had the best seats in the house.We sat on the edge of the Obamicans and adjacent to some friendly Edwards supporters. A few rows up were the enthusiastic Kucinich fans and a pair of even more boisterous college kids with a handwritten Mike Gravel sign. And let me tell you, young children do not see much difference in these divisions. So, while we were waiting for the rest of the voters to assemble, my restless toddler took me on a tour of all of the factions in our vicinity.The Kucinich group pimped their message of "Kucinich today, Obama in November" with great style. A Washburn student spoke eloquently about wanting one delegate to send a message to the country about needing a progressive voice in the Democratic party. And it worked. This small group tripled in size when it came time for the second vote. But, alas, even this wasn't enough for a delegate and they dispersed mostly to the Obama camp. Maybe 30 minutes later, we all dispersed back into the cold. A few cups of hot chocolate later, I saw the Kansas caucus results tallied on CNN. It is hard to put into words just how rewarding it felt to be one of the numbers reported. I would tell you I might have teared up, but I am afraid of a Hillary Clinton backlash so I'll leave that to your imagination. All in all, the caucus was a cool expierience, but next year, I am hoping for a primary. Either that or find some Republican friends to babysit.That was my caucus experience. How was yours?

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I like pie

My youngest son, Michael, has a fascination with pie. A few years ago when he was six or seven, my husband let him write the digital signature for paying with credit at our local lumberyard. Instead of writing his name, he scrawled "I like pie." So that was the signature on the printed bill! Michael is the baby of the family. He is ten years younger than his oldest brother and seven years younger than son number two. He is a freckled redhead with warm brown eyes that twinkle with mischief and merriment. He's smart and he loves a good joke. We have all laughed at his antics since he was just a baby, which has only encouraged him. At 11, he is still funny. His teachers even tell me how much they appreciate his sense of humor.The other day Michael asked his dad how to change his log in password on the computer. His dad told him how to make the change. Today, when my husband tried to log in to the computer, his password wouldn't work. When he clicked the help button, the hint for the password was "food." So he entered "pie." Apparently, Michael changed all of our log in passwords to his favorite food!

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Computer Use for the Very Young

The first thing my 3 year old said when he woke up this morning was, "can I get on the computer?" He wasn't interested in pancakes or trains or puppy dog tails but an electronic contraption with a plug to the outside world. Granted, I just recently signed him up for a trial period an educational website designed for preschoolers, but this level of enthusiasm was a bit disturbing. Having two little boys in the house, I have mentally prepared myself for the day when I'll have a couple of teenagers upstairs glued to a gaming system. But I never thought it would start so soon. Perhaps it is a result of my gender, but I've never quite understood how guys can spend so many hours of their lives on computer games. Okay, so maybe it was kind of fun watching my brother do Mike Tyson's Punch Out on the old Nintendo, but other than that, this phenomenon has escaped me. It just seems like a lot of wasted time.My son is remarkably computer savvy. He can drag and drop better than my mother can and navigates his bookmarks with surprising ease. And sure, I have been strict about setting time limits and only allowing him to do educational programs, but I still wonder if this is a good thing. Yes, he's gaining some technical skills and practicing his letters and numbers, but I can easily see how this could become a crutch. There aren't too many activities my son is content to do on his own, but his computer is one of them. And as a mom trying to juggle creative ambitions, it sure would be easy to let him be on there for a little more time as I finish up some projects, right? But today was a beautiful day. So, I turned off the computer and took the kids to the park. So, yeah, the Play Station days will catch up to us someday, but for now I have two little kids to cherish and play with: unplugged.

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Meditation on Mexican Coke

http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2008/Feb/04/2004-11-09coke.jpgIn Lawrence, there are a few places where you can still buy a glass bottle of Coca-Cola. You could go to the Mexican store next to the Payday Loan on 23rd street. Or you could go to Checkers and visit the ethnic food aisle. In both instances, a real glass bottle of Coca-Cola is yours for the asking, and a small price of about two bucks. Why pay twice the price for a Coke in a glass bottle? Well, it's all in the sweetener. Supposedly, the Mexican version contains only pure cane sugar as its sweetener. Our American version? High fructose corn syrup, of course. In other words, take a drink of a cold, crisp cane sugar sweetened Mexican Coca-Cola and you'll quickly realize: this is what Coke is supposed to taste like. No chemical aftertaste; no syrupy coating on your tongue, just pure unadulterated carbonated sugar water (with Coke's magical formula mixed in).Although, Coca-Cola's Atlanta Corporate response is that the Mexican Coke has "no perceptible taste difference," you and I know it tastes better. And if you haven't tried it, I'm telling you-- you're in for a treat. I hear you can even purchase cases of the stuff at Costco now, for a premium.Dr. Pepper fan? You're in luck, too. The Dublin Dr. Pepper plant in Texas has been producing the original cane sugar recipe for over a hundred years. And you can still purchase it at their store, or online. I don't know. I think the Mexican version of Coke has a much cleaner, crisp taste than the soda we're used to. Sure, it may be hell on your teeth, but what sweet treat worth anything isn't? Okay, well, I'm off to Checkers to stock up on my supply. (Yes, I've become a Mexican Coke junkie.)

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So Much to See #6 (2/3/2008)

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Fossils and Faith

"Resurrected Life" is a quite interesting article but there are just some things about it that really bother me as a scientist and as a religious person. For instance, Mr. Detrich thinks that non believers have nothing to live for. Personally I don't believe it is in my ken to say whether or not someone else has anything to live for based on their beliefs. Granted I don't know what is going on in the depths of atheist Richard Dawkins' psyche, but he certainly seems to think his life has a point.Second of all I am bothered by this statement about nonbelievers:"They might just accidentally come to the conclusion that life would be better if they believed in a super being, in a creator, rather than life would be better if your actions didn't matter."This is a kinder gentler version of Pascal's wager which basically says you should believe because the reward is eternal bliss and the penalty eternal damnation. I have never been impressed by this wager in it's original form and I am even less impressed with Mr. Detrich's kinder gentler version. Also, does Mr. Detrich's kinder gentler version extend to devotees of, say, Krishna or for that matter any sort of belief in a supreme being?Next, I wonder why is the notion of God "creating" incompatible with scientific explanations of how life came to be and evolved? Mr. Detrich seems to at least accept the geological time scale. Well, if that scale is valid then why could not God's actions to bring change be seen from our end as being-well - evolution? Finally what am I to make of the concluding statement in the article where he says it is "better to be on the side of good than on the side of bad." Well what about that? Is some one automatically good because they believe in a higher power and some one automatically bad because they don't? Or is some one automatically bad because they believe that evolution happens? Does Mr. Detrich still think we are "evilutionists" as he writes in his "musings"?http://www.spearofjesus.com/musings.html

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Evolution Weekend!

Tonight I was doing some searching about transitional fossils and got side tracked by an interesting site called the Clergy Letter Project founded by Michael Zimmerman from Butler University. This project's purpose, according to its web site , is " to demonstrate that religion and science can be compatible and to elevate the quality of the debate of this issue."The Clergy Letter Project has organized a nationwide effort related to this called "Evolution Weekend" which is next weekend February 8-10, Charles Darwin's birthday of course being February 12th. The project's site has a list of participating congregations, and resources including scientists and resources including sermon pod casts related to religion and science. One Lawrence Congregation, Plymouth Congregational is listed as participating, but I hope that other congregations are having discussions about science and religion. What about yours? If yes, what are the discussions about? Can such discussion really be fruitful or are science and religion contradictory?

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My Experience at the Obama Rally

I'd never been to a political rally before, but something about this election year made me think it just might be time for me to take an interest. So, when I heard Senator Obama was going to be in Kansas City, I rounded up the necessary babysitting and registered online for a ticket. Easy, huh? Well, not exactly. The rally was supposed to start at 5:45 and doors opened at 3:45. I got there at 4 o'clock and entered a packed foyer for the Municipal Auditorium. It was a sizeable crowd, but I figured once we could spread out in the auditorium it wouldn't be too bad. I should have known better. About 20 minutes later, a distant voice informed the crowd that we would be filing in from one side of the room, so now was the time to form a line. Now was the time? How can you form a line in a room that was packed with people?By some stroke of luck, I just happened to be on the side of the room that was entering. And this Obama crowd was a pretty tame and civil bunch. No one pushed or shoved their way toward the opening we were filtering out of. Hey, I was almost crushed at a Bauhaus concert once, so this was a piece of cake, right?Again, not exactly. Unbeknownst to anyone in the crowded room above, the small opening we were filtering out of did not signify the end. It was the only the beginning. What awaited us was a labyrinth of horrors designed to torture Obama supporters and undecideds alike for the next hour and a half of our lives. We were ushered through a long line in a parking lot only to discover that this line did not lead to a destination but was a loop that would come full circle. The looks of horror on people's faces and the "oh my god's" were only amusing when you were on the returning side of this circle.After 45 minutes of this rat experiment maze, we were thrilled to be back inside the building. Then we discovered there was yet another loop to go through! At this point, I began to wonder what had happened to me in the last eight years of my life. Waiting for Peter Murphy was one thing, but doing all this to see a senator of Illinois- what was wrong with me?http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2008/Jan/30/marloobama.jpgEventually, we I made it to the auditorium just before Governor Sebelius and Senator Claire McCaskill from Missouri took the stage, looking like the Obamettes. Sebelius was much more animated than she was the night before. Jon Stewart would have been proud. And Obama? He was a great speaker, and I soon forgot about the waiting. (I wonder if you could say the same thing after waiting for Mitt Romney). But I may have been paying too much attention to election coverage because a lot of Obama's talking points were familiar to me. I was not swept away in quite the same way I was when listening to his Jefferson Jackson speech on the radio. http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2008/Jan/30/obama2.jpgPeople really responded to his idea of getting rid of income tax on seniors making under $50,000 a year. And his comments about including pre-existing conditions in health care coverage got the crowd riled up after his personal story about his mother.The part that I found most memorable was when he spoke about the Kennedy endorsement. He said it was not so much a passing the torch from the Kennedys to him, but from their generation to the next generation. This sentiment really resonated with me as I was amazed to see how much of the crowd here tonight was made up of young people. My generation has grown up in the shadow of the 60's. We contrast that time of conviction and passion with the malaise that we feel about our current state of affairs. We are rather cynical about our government, but have yet to have our spirit awakened to do anything about it. Tonight, Obama called for us to end this cynicism and look for a new hope (he's talking Star Wars here: he must speak to us, right?)I have a new respect for the people you see on CNN at these political gatherings. So, sure my feet hurt and yes, I witnessed an an asthma attack and a near fainting in which Obama himself had to intervene to get the woman a chair. But, ultimately, I think it was worth it to make the headlines personal and take an active part in something rather than just watching it on television. A Bauhaus concert it wasn't. But a piece of history? Maybe. http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2008/Jan/30/obama_pic.jpg

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Spreading Junk Science

Based on the comments, the article "Soaring to new heights" in today's Journal World has provided yet another opportunity for some people to peddle misinformation about DDT. Perhaps rather than cite Fox News or the "Junk Science Web Site", these people ought to look more closely at the scientific literature on DDT and its effect on bird populations. Here for instance, is a review that classes DDE, a metabolite of DDT, as an endocrine disruptor. http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1874172Meanwhile, a major 1995 study concluded that environmental pollutants appear to be the most important factor relating to productivity of eagle populations:http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1519271.For birds of prey the connection between DDT/DDE and reproductive failure seems pretty strong to me.Of course biology is rarely neat, and there are certainly studies that do not show a link between DDT and it's metabolites and changes in bird populations. For instance, a very recent filed study that shows that a population of herons is thriving in spite of exposure to PCB's and DDE's.http://www.news.uiuc.edu/NEWS/08/0116herons.htmlAnd consider this study which concluded that DDT, more precisely DDE, probably was not involved in the decline of California condors.http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1046/j.1474-919X.2003.00132.xIndeed this study concludes that lead shot was probably the main factor in the decline of condors. The fact of the matter is, that bird species seem to vary widely in their response to DDT and its metabolites and other factors are important in the fate of many bird populations.So what are we to do in terms of policy about DDT? Perhaps the best answer we have on this issue, is this 1989 conclusion from the International Programme on Chemical Safety (IPCS)http://www.inchem.org/documents/ehc/ehc/ehc83.htm#SectionNumber:6.2"One of the most widely studied effects of DDT is eggshell thinningin birds, particularly in predatory species. The metabolite DDE, notDDT, has been shown to be responsible for this effect. Other effectson reproduction and survival of birds have been demonstrated. Largepopulation declines in birds of prey can be, at least partially,attributed to DDT. ...""Because of their lack of degradation, their resulting widespreadpersistence in the environment, their high acute toxicity to organismsat the base of food chains, and their high potential forbioaccumulation, DDT and its metabolites should be regarded as a majorhazard to the environment. DDT should not be used when an alternativeinsecticide is available."There may be some reason to consider DDT's limited use in malaria control as discussed here:http://pubs.acs.org/cen/government/84/8430gov1.html. However, the IPCS conclusions about DDT are still sound sound today. Indeed those interested in the controversy about the role of DDT in controlling Malaria should also see this article from the Washington Post.http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/06/04/AR2005060400130.htmlIn this article, entomologist May Berenbaum argues that DDT may have a limited role in managing malaria if mosquito populations can be monitored to assess the evolution of resistant strains but that we need to cut out the "overblown hype" about DDT. Perhaps this also applies to other aspects of the complex effects of man made chemicals on our environment.

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