Entries from blogs tagged with “Technology”
On Friday, Nov. 9th, Drake University played a basketball game at 4:30 P.M. (ET) against California-San Diego. The game was played at California-San Diego. Drake won, 81-63. One of the Drake players, Bill Eaddy, played for one minute. He had no free throw or field goal attempts. You can find all the box scores for that game online.Sometime ago, I don't know exactly when, the city of Lawrence built a roundabout at the intersection of 19th St. and Barker Avenue. I strongly suspect the construction involved a number of workers and took several weeks,, maybe more. I would also guess that it cost over a hundred thousand dollars. With some effort, I'm sure I could find out more about this project.I can find minutes from a city commission meeting in 2000 where the the roundabout was mentioned. I can also find information about the city budget process. The city budget for 2007 is available online. I don't see the 19th & Barker roundabout mentioned so it must have been built before then.To be honest, I don't really care that much about when the roundabout was built. I would be interested to see how much it cost.Am I the only one who thinks it ironic that detailed information about a basketball game is so readily available, yet informtaion about our local government and the millions ($67 million if I read the budget correctly) it spends is so much more difficult to obtain?I do commend the city commission in making the budget available online. The school board should follow suit.Show me the money, where it goes, and that it is used effectively, or don't ask me for more. We are each responsible for overseeing the actions and decisions of those we elect. Those elected officials should make it as easy as possible for us to do that.Even if the city and school district each needed to add a person who's only responsibility is to make the budget and financial information available to us, I think it would be money well spent.
Stories My Grandmother Told Me premieres at the American Heartland Theater in Kansas City this month. The review wasn't very favorable, but reading about the play brought back childhood memories of time spent with my grandparents. I loved visiting my grandparents. When Grandma came to pick me up, I knew that she would keep me for several weeks. She would only allow one granddaughter at a time to stay with her so I knew that I would be the sole focus of attention while I was there. Every visit, she cut my hair and took me shopping for new clothes. I hated the hair cut. It looked like she put a bowl on my head and cut off any hair that stuck out and my bangs were ridiculously short. I could hardly wait until they grew back in. I would pull on them constantly trying to get them to grow. My sister said that I was lucky. Grandma gave her "permanents" when she was a little girl. My grandparents lived on a farm in Holden, MO. My grandfather farmed, raised cattle and kept horses. He and my grandmother rode horses in parades and horse shows. Gramps was 6'4" tall and Grandma was 5'1". They made quite a pair! Being a bit plump and on the short side, my grandmother had a hard time reaching the stirrup to lift herself into the saddle. She had a very gentle horse named Dan that she trained to "stretch out" so that he was low enough for her to be able to get into the saddle. Dan was the only horse my grandparents would allow me to ride by myself. Often during my visits, Gramps would have a new buggy for me to try out. He'd attach it to one of the horses and lead the animal around while I rode in the seat, grinning from ear to ear, having the time of my life. Gramps would also take me for a ride on the tractor and let me steer, only to pretend that I was losing control and we were headed for the pond. I would squeal and Grandma would yell at him to stop that before somebody got hurt. It was all in good fun though.My grandparents were also antique dealers. The house and the barns were full of antiques. They called their shop Granny's Antiques. They took me with them when they traveled to auctions. These trips started before dawn, at 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning. This was long before the life-saving benefits of seat belts were known and I would stretch out in the cab of the pick-up truck with my head in one lap and my feet in the other. Grandma was partial to fancy glassware but Gramps loved to restore furniture. Some people think that refinishing and restoring devalues antique furniture. I disagree. The way that Gramps stripped off the years of dirt and old varnish to reveal the beautiful wood underneath was like magic. He would sand until it was smooth, apply stain and then varnish. He also taught himself how to cane chairs. I marveled at his endless patience as he caned chair seats. That is painstaking work! When I was about five years old, I was outside with Gramps. He was working on a piece of furniture and watching me watch a hummingbird. The hummingbird was about a foot away. I was sure that I could reach out and grab it. Gramps read my mind. In his orneriness he encouraged me. "Go ahead, try to catch it," he said. I so wanted to hold that hummingbird, but I was hesitant. Knowing that I wouldn't be able to catch it, he egged me on. Ultimately, I didn't reach for it. I could tell from his chuckle and the glint in his eye that Gramps was just having fun with me.I miss my grandparents. I am grateful to have known them and for the memories they created and lessons they taught me. I am a better person because of their love and guidance.These are just a few of the fond memories I have of my grandparents.What fond memories do you have of your grandparents?
The Fox channel had its debut showing of "The Moment of Truth" Weds. evening following American Idol.
The show works something like this: pick a contestant and ask them fifty personal questions behind the scenes to get to know them and their vices and flaws.
Next, hook them up to a lie detector test in front of an audience, their spouse, their friends, and even their employer. Then comes the fun part as the contestant is asked the first six questions, which answered truthfully puts 10,000 dollars in their pocket.
It isn't as easy as it sounds, however, because some of the questions are down right demented! Some random questions from last night's show were
:"Are you addicted to gambling?"
"Are you currently a member of the hair club for men?"
"As a personal trainer, have you touched a female client more than was required of you?"
"Have you used the internet to flirt with other women?"
"Have you stolen a peek at another man's privates during a shower?"
"Have you had a sexual fantasy during mass?"
"Have you gone through a co-workers belongings without their knowledge?"
"Have you delayed having children because you don't think your spouse is your lifelong partner?"
The friends/spouse/employers have one out - they can push a large button that is centered between them (one time only) if they do not want to hear the person answer the question that was asked. The problem with that is it will be replaced with another question and the other question just might be worse then the first.
After the initial six questions, that can earn the contestant 10,000 if answered correctly, the next five questions, if answered truthfully, can get the contestant up to the 25,000 dollar mark. The higher you go, the harder and more revealing the question. Answer all 21 questions truthfully and you have $500,000 in your pocket. You may not have a job to go back to, your wife, husband, and friends have probably abandoned you, but you decide how important money really is in your life.
This show is destined to be a hit - audiences love to see people squirm in the hot seat, see their lives (and their friends and families lives) destroyed right in front of them - and the contestant most probably will end up leaving with nothing.
This reminded me of the games we played as teenagers: truth or dare and twenty questions.
Would you risk it all and tell the truth for $500,000?
Let's face it, there aren't that many young actors in film these days that are genuinely good at their craft. So, it hurts to lose one of them.The 70's had DeNiro, Pacino, Nicholson... but what about our generation's leading men? Sure, there are some interesting guys out there like Jake Gyllenhaal and Tobey Maguire, but they're a little soft. Can you really imagine either of them carrying a film like "Five Easy Pieces?"Heath Ledger was more than just a pretty face. The depth and subtlety he displayed in "Brokeback Mountain" was powerful stuff. His emotion was not felt just in dialogue but in his strong silence as well. I think he could have had one of those careers like Johnny Depp; balancing roles between thoughtful dramas and blockbusters while leaving a trail of memorable characters in his wake. Was it the Joker role that did it to him? The drugs? Depression? Who's to say? It's just another senseless death in an industry that could use more true talent like his. Guess we'll just have to give that "Five Easy Pieces" remake to Ryan Gosling.
Dear Honest Answer,Where have you been lately? Don't you know it's election year and I'd like to see more of you? Okay, I understand why you've been a bit reclusive. When you come out of hiding, you tend to get criticized. But really, aren't you being a bit thin skinned?Sure, I saw the presidential debate in Las Vegas when the democratic candidates were asked what their greatest weaknesses were. And, yes, it was because of you that Senator Obama was criticized when he said he wasn't good with paperwork, as if that somehow made him an ineffective leader. But that doesn't mean you're not wanted. I would have liked you to stick around for the other two candidates' replies, no matter how amusing the responses were without you. I have to wonder what the point of asking questions is if we don't want you to be there. In college, I went on a job interview at a bookstore and was asked if I saw myself having a career as a bookseller. Of course I knew it was in my best interest to say yes, but then you came around, Honest Answer. Needless to say, I didn't get the job. (Okay, so the moment didn't have the same poignancy as when Martin Donovan turned down the television repair job in the Hal Hartley film "Truth," but at least I walked out of there with some self respect). Certainly, there are ways to spin answers to questions without having to lie. Obama could have said that he cared too much or I could have waxed poetic about my love of literature being an integral part of my longterm ambitions. But ultimately, what's the point?If we are going to send you an invitation, Honest Answer, we should welcome you to the party. Sure, you can be a little hard to deal with at times, but without you we wouldn't know what to believe.
I started this with the idea of mentioning the production of "Mere Mortals" by the the E.M.U. Theatre, a fund-raiser to support the EMU and Ecumenical Christian Ministries. Before I go farther, I hope you consider supporting both the EMU and the ECM.And the title "We Don't Have to Like it" is NOT about the production. It's about other things. But if you just want to support the EMU and ECM, you can stop right here, go to the link, find out when and where it is, and just go.Anyway, if you're still with me.....as I did a little searching so that I could write something without appearing as clueless as I actually am, I found a few things. One of them was the link in the first paragraph.......and that got me to thinking....and that usually means trouble.I've heard a lot of the same stuff you've heard about the Oread Inn development and I realize that I don't really know that much about it. Or the neighborhood. Or the economic benefits to Lawrence. Or maybe a whole lot more...Even if I did know more, I don't believe everything I read or hear.There are, however, a couple of things I do know. I've been through that area and I sort of know what it's like. I just kind of like it. From what I can tell the E.C.M. does more good than harm. Maybe a lot more... But it seems to me to be a benefit to the community.The other thing I know is I just don't like the idea of an eight story building there. Even if it is a modern, attractive building. Especially if it's a hotel that will probably cost more than I'll ever be willing to spend to stay there. No, I just don't like it. And I don't think I "have" to like it. And I don't think I need to know any more about it to not like it.If someone were to tell me that I don't know enough, that it will help care for sick and hungry children, then I would admit that I'm wrong and I don't know enough.But I don't think that is the case. So I think I know enough. And I am not for it. And it will take someone with a lot of important reasons for me to change my mind.Now...I don't really like to be "against" things, my personal philosophy is to be "for" things. So I could say that I'm "for" the E.C.M. or "for" preserving that community. But, in this case, I have to be honest with myself and just admit that I'm against the Oread Inn development.Oh, I realize it will probably be built. And it may even end up getting the land where the E.C.M is now. Twenty years from now it may well be a landmark of our community.Maybe I won't even mind it so much then, if I'm around.But I don't like it now. And I don't have to, and the reasons I have are good enough. I hear you asking, "What's the point of all this?" I know you are, because that's what my wife asked me.It's not that I'm against the Oread Inn (although I am).It is that we can't understand everything. Even I can't and my mom says I'm the smartest guy in the world. So I'm suggesting that we do the best we can and that we try to be fair and unbiased while trying not to oversimplify things.In the end, though, I don't want to feel bad because I can't understand everything about everything. I don't think you should either.And even though I have limitations, my opinion is still important. It might even be valid. But regardless, it is still all right to express it.
Here is this week's first picture. It might be anywhere (in Lawrence). It might be anything. Guess if you think you know it.No hints this time, in a day or so I'll add an ever so slightly larger image.
OK, here is a slightly bigger picture.
Obviously the first small image wasn't hard enough. Here is a still larger one.
Come on. I know you can't wait. Here is an even larger portion of the picture. Only one more to go.
And the complete picture, of Hobbs field:
The other day there was a report that scientists have been able to simulate the development of snowflakes with a relatively simple computer model based on our understanding of the physics of water. The report noted that the model works but that scientists still don't understand why it works so well. So notice, the underlying principles are understood pretty well- but the model suggests that at some higher level of snowflake organization there are interactions going on that we still don't understand.
Now what does this have to do with abortion and cloning? It suggests that if we are going to talk about these issues related to human existence we need to think carefully about reasoning behind our positions. For instance, on the abortion issue, and the same thing applies to human cloning, we hear phrases such as "Life begins at conception". Sounds nice but conception simply is the formation of a zygote from the egg and sperm. Of course the egg and sperm are cells and alive themselves and yet we don't worry too much about the fate of millions of unfertilized eggs and all those unlucky sperm that don't find an egg.
Oh then but I mean "Human life begins at conception". But here is a little thought experiment. Consider a cow. Is a cow zygote a cow? If you think a human zygote is a human then perhaps a cow zygote is a cow. Ask your self does that make sense? I haven't tried this but I think that most people upon thinking about it would agree with me that a cow zygote is not a cow, anymore than a water molecule is a snowflake. "Snow flakiness" is really a set of emergent properties that arise because of the way that water molecules interact given conditions conducive to snow flake formation.
I think you see where I am going. If a cow zygote is not a cow then "cowness" must emerge from the genetic, developmental and environmental influences on the developing embryo. There is no mystical essence of cow. Since humans are animals-as I tell my students special animals but still animals- what Daniel Dennett calls a euprimate- then a human zygote is not a human being. "Humanness" emerges just as "cowness" does. There is no mystical essence of human.
Now conduct the converse experiment. Start with a new born baby. Is the baby human in the sense of a person having rights? Sure, at least some basic rights. Does a woman have a right to kill it? I think most of us my self included would agree-not under most circumstances. Suppose the baby is one week from full term...here you get some disagreement but I suspect just about everyone would agree this is not something that ought to be done lightly. It offends our sense of person hood.
But here we see the germ of the obvious conflict-what about medical necessity to save the life of the mother? A fetus though is not an embryo-so that slogan "abortion stops a beating heart" is only true some of the time. But the closer and closer we get to full term the more the fetus becomes invested in our minds with "humanness".
Calling a zygote a cow does not make sense at all-calling a cow fetus a cow (OK a calf) doesn't make sense either, but I think lots of us start to get a bit uncomfortable even about cow fetuses. "Do they suffer?" "Could it survive?" We at least begin to have empathy toward it. We can clearly see the future cow in the cow fetus. And we do for humans, hence the proposals to make women going for late term abortions see sonograms. And hence the appeal to empathy embedded in the partial truth of the beating heart slogan.
Well what about cloning to produce embryonic stem cells for therapy or research? Consider the following. Is harvesting an early stage embryo from a mother to get embryonic stem cells wrong? Is harvesting an early stage embryo fertilized and cultured in a "test tube" wrong? How about, as was just allegedly done, removing a human skin cell nucleus, placing it in a zygote which has had its nucleus removed, treating and culturing the resulting cell, letting it divide into a little ball of embryonic cells and harvesting stem cells- does that really strike you with the same sense of wrongness- or wrong at all?
Or how about this which by the way has been done, I believe in mice- a cell from the body is coaxed into dividing into a little ball of cells that behave like embryonic cells. Let's take one more scenario, we take a cell from the body treat it to effectively deprogram it to form a stem cell useful for therapy. By the way in all these cases from the third one on we are technically dealing with cloning! But we are not making a human being, and I think even abortion absolutists would have a hard time finding much wrong with the last scenario even though it conflicts with the idea that abortion is wrong because it kills a potential human.
However, we as a species love to draw lines. That's what Roe v. Wade tried to do with abortion. It put that line where abortions are allowable at the point when a fetus (which by the way is not the same thing as an embryo) is viable and of course that line is a moving target as technology improves. Roe v. Wade was also dealing with another line-the line at which a person's right to make their own reproductive decisions conflicts with society's stake in the developing fetus. From my perspective Roe v. Wade was not as Cal Thomas claims "a reflection of our decadence and deviancy" but an attempt to find a balance between these two conflicting lines and an attempt to resolve a conflict heightened by changes in reproductive technology such as the pill.
Maybe we do want as a society to draw the abortion line at conception. But many of the arguments are based merely on slogans-"right to life" "woman's right to choose". Perhaps we will get further if we scrap these extremes and the name calling and the absolutism that goes along with them and think about how we as persons emerge from zygotes and realize that people of good faith might draw their lines in different places. Likewise with cloning, we need to consider the conflicts involved and realize that people of good faith can disagree just as they can about where to draw the lines about abortion.
A couple of reports hold bad news for some of us with high cholesterol. According to the New York Times, Zetia a cholesterol lowering drug that acts on cholesterol from food may not be effective. Zetia is probably best known as one of two cholesterol lowering medicines in Vytorin. The other cholesterol medicine in Vytorin , the statin Zocor is believed to be both relative safe and effective.What is interesting is that Merck and Shering-Plough, the companies that make these drugs repeatedly missed deadlines in reporting these these clinical trial results, meanwhile heavily marketing Vytorin. This trial, a small scale clinical trial involving 720 patients, was designed to see if the combination of Zocor and Zetia would have an enhanced cholesterol lowering effect and reduce the build up of plaques in arterial walls that lead to heart attacks.Zetia did lower cholesterol but unexpectedly increased plaque formation, raising concerns about its safety. Merck and Shering-Plough are conducting longer term clinical studies to examine of Zetia on the rate of heart attacks. The hope of the drug companies of course is that Zetia will be shown to lower the risk of heart attacks. But the the small scale clinical results related must have drug company executives sweating.Also, Merck and Shering-Plough are being investigated by the House Energy and Commerce Committee as to reasoning for the company's suspicious delay in reporting the clinical results.The finding that Zetia lowered cholesterol but seemed to increase the rate of plaque formation has led a few scientists to wonder if the link between cholesterol levels, specifically Low Density Lipoprotein or LDL, and heart disease is as simple as we currently believe. This concern is discussed in a second Times article here. This link is so well accepted that the FDA typically approves LDL lowering drugs if they are safe and lower LDL levels in the absence of completed long term clinical trials, on the drug's effectiveness at actually reducing heart attacks.Meanwhile large scale clinical trials on the experimental cholesterol lowering drug, torcetrapib, produced by Pfizer, were halted when scientists found that while the drug raised high density lipoproteins (HDL) and lowered LDL levels, contrary to expectations the drug increased the rate of heart attacks. This was bad news for Pfizer which desperately needs a new drug to replace Lipitor which is due to loose patent protection in 2010. Possibly, Pfizer went right away to long term clinical trials to save time. If so it probably was a wise decision in retrospect.Clearly lowering LDL levels and overall cholesterol level is a good thing, but there is a lot we don't understand about the details connecting cholesterol levels to build up of plaques and heart disease. Personally, I am on a statin (a generic of Zocor) and see no reason to stop taking it-it does lower LDL levels, unlike the pizza I just ate.These results do call into question again the way in which drugs are tested. The current system creates a clear conflict of interest between the ethical responsibilities of clinicians and scientists involved in drug testing and the high economic stakes for the drug companies. So how should we test drugs, and what should the role of drug companies be in drug testing? Can government's ability to oversee drug testing be enhanced? If so who will pay?
Do computers make you more productive, or do you spend so much time struggling that sometimes you wonder if they are worth the trouble?Do you have a questions about computers or the internet and how they work? Post your questions and I'll try to answer some in future posts.
The film "Charlie Wilson's War" has all the wit of the West Wing but instead of some vague international crisis, the subject here is America's involvement in Afghanistan during the Cold War. And the answers are much more complex than an hour of prime time would allow. Granted, it was the first movie I'd seen in an actual theatre in months (when you have a 3 and a 1 year old, babysitting can be hard to come by), but I loved this movie. You get to see Tom Hanks actually having fun with his performance rather than just vying for an Oscar, Phillip Seymour Hoffman is at his smarmy cynical best and Julia Roberts uses a safety pin to brush her eyelashes. What can be better than that?Well, actually, it's the questions that the film raises that really stayed with me. Namely, what exactly is the responsibility of the United States in world affairs? Should we get involved in the conflicts between other countries for either humanitarian reasons or to stop a perceived threat? Or should we keep to our own turf and use our money to assist in domestic issues like homelessness and poverty?When I hear Ron Paul debate about foreign policy, it makes a lot of sense. He talks about the ridiculousness of borrowing from Peter to give weapons to Paul. And oftentimes, as happened in Afghanistan, people rise up against the superpower that trained them and this leads to terrorism on our soil. I compare this to my own life and wonder if it's realistic to live in a bubble. Like the country, I too am facing a deficit (sure in my case, it's due to student loans and film production, but you get the idea). And yes, it's hard sometimes to justify giving money to others when my own family is in need. But still, I do it. Even if I don't have money to spare, it is hard to not think of those who are worse off than myself. But, to keep things in perspective, I donate just a modest amount, while we gave Afghanistan one billion dollars: and now there's Al-Qaida to deal with.Like I said, difficult questions. See the movie. Think about it. Maybe you will have some answers.
Where is it? What is it?This is visible from one of the main streets of town (as defined by me).Each day or so I'll add a larger image or hint.http://worldonline.media.clients.elli...:
1. Not on the west side of town.
2. Slightly larger image
http://worldonline.media.clients.elli... the answer is:
East Heights Early Childhood and Family Center (formerly East Heights Elementary)
A month or so ago, I happened to notice
the highway construction for the new 59 highway the path for utility lines south of Lawrence. Recently, I drove around the area east of "old" 59 between N650 and N1100 Rd. Based on my travels, I did this ROUGH map of what the path into town appears to be. Note that this map only shows the highway starting from N600/650 Rd (1.5 miles east of Zarco south of town).Well, it appears this is actually the path for utility lines into town. Well, it was fun creating the map and taking the pictures. I recently posted on the subject of making mistakes and tolerance. In light of that, this is an interesting turn of events.
View Larger Map
The blue balloon is near where E1450 connects to N600/650. This following image shows the road north (towards Lawrence).
The yellow balloon marks where the highway crosses N800 Rd. The image below looks north towards town.http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2008/Jan/12/DSC_0685a.JPGThe red balloon identifies where the highway crosses N1000 Rd (Wells Overlook Rd). The next image looks north.http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2008/Jan/12/DSC_0691b.JPGAnd finally, this image looks the other way, back south across Wells Overlook Rd.http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2008/Jan/12/DSC_0694a.JPG
The road continues on past N1100 Rd, but sorry, no pictures yet.
In the last few days, past copies of The Ron Paul Newsletter revealed ethnically biased political rants and the Clintons made comments that many find disrespectful toward African Americans. But do these incidents represent real evidence of racial bigotry, or are they trumped up allegations intended to sway voters as the focus turns on the South Carolina primary?Personally, I think it's pretty hard to let Ron Paul off the hook for the racial biases in his newsletter. He denies writing the inflammatory passages in question, but is it believable that he had no knowledge of their contents? Some of the statements about whites fearing blacks were so extreme I have a hard time believing he did not get a reaction from the readers. The only way a readership would not react to comments like these would be if they were in agreement with these sentiments. Then, you have to wonder, who are his readers?The Clintons have been under fire for Bill's use of the term "fairy tale" in regards to Barack Obama, and Hillary's statement that "Dr. King's dream began to be realized when President Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It took a president to get it done." In Bill's defense, when you look at the context of the "fairy tale" analogy, it seems clear he meant it to refer to Obama's stance on the war, not his rise up to becoming presidential candidate.Now, Hillary's statement, on the other hand, can't be dismissed so easily. Overshadowing MLK's heroic actions by giving the credit to Johnson seems pretty condescending. Isn't she basically saying the black man had the dream, but it took the white man to get it done? And perhaps even more disturbing than Hillary's remarks are the comments made by Clinton supporter, NY Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, that you just can't "shuck and jive" your way through a press conference. So, they made some insensitive comments, does that mean they're racists? Who knows. I just think it is only fair to expect the future president of our country to have an intrinsic respect for the cultures and ethnicities he or she is representing. Maybe someday the word "race" in an election will only refer to the competitive nature of democracy and ethnic biases won't be an inevitable part of presidential discourse.
There is a wonderful article in the NY Times science section reporting on some work by Todd Palmer, an ecologist at the University of Florida. Dr. Palmer's work is good illustration of how very different groups of organisms can be connected in very subtle and counter intuitive ways. Dr. Palmer studies the role of certain species of aggressive ants which in part protect Acacia trees from large herbivores including elephants. Acacia trees are one of the dominant types of trees in many parts of Africa so this is a very important study.Dr. Palmer and his associates tested the hypothesis that the trees would grow better long term in the absence of elephants and other large herbivores. For 10 years they followed the fate of Acacias in control plots and experimental plots which excluded the herbivores.They found something quite unexpected. Over time, in the absence of the elephants, the Acacias produced less sap for the ants, and other species of insects, harmful to the Acacias, invaded the trees. The net result was that over time the Acacias actually did worse when there were no elephants to feed on them.Given the threat that large mammals in Africa are under, this study should remind us of the complex and subtle interdependencies that have evolved in natural systems. Removing certain keystone species such from an ecosystem can have, what Palmer terms, a cascading effect on the rest of the ecosystem.The other thing is that when we focus on conserving a single species, say in a zoo or greenhouse, we lose the context in which the species evolved. This diminishes our understanding of that species and the sorts of adaptations it evolved to its original environment. For instance many orchids produce lots of extra sap. In some orchids, the sap is actually secreted from the leaves. I have tasted the sap produced by some of my orchids and it is very sweet. If you grow certain species of orchid at home the leaves get sticky an often will get a fungus. So why the sap?At least part of the answer again, is perhaps to attract certain species of aggressive ants for protection. So what might the implication be? Consider that orchid species. We take that species out the community in which it evolved, grow it in a green house. Over a number of generations it becomes just another domesticated species. A pretty flower perhaps but one that has lost its context, like an artifact in a museum.By the way, there is a Kansas connection to this story since much of the now classic work on ant - Acacia interactions was done by Dr. Dan Janzen who taught at KU from 1965-68.
One WordI don't know Kelly Tilghman except that she is a sports broadcaster and she is friends with Tiger Woods.During coverage last week, she inadvertently used the word "lynch" when jokingly suggesting that the only way other players could beat him was by removing him from the competition. It was unfortunate, and she apologized to the audience and to Tiger. Tiger released a statement that he understood that there was no ill intent.But that was not enough. Al Sharpton has called for her dismissal. The Golf Channel, who initially supported her, has suspended her for two weeks and her future is unclear.People make mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes are careless and intolerable. Sometimes the consequences are serious and we should do something about it. That is the case here.The mistake, however, is being made by those who are looking for publicity at the expense of others. Racism still exists in this country, but this episode is not really about that problem.The problem is that there are some who spread fear to increase their own power and influence. The fear that they spread makes me concerned that I might say something that people construe differently than I'd intended. It happened to her. It could happen to me and, no matter what your color or religion, it might even happen to you. That is the fear that I am left with. And to be honest, the thought that speaking out against this will cause me to be labeled a racist leaves me just a touch nervous.There are a lot of words that bring back memories of troubled times. One single word can have tremendous consequences.Sometimes, when people make mistakes, we should consider one word as our response:Tolerance.
According to a study cited in Science Daily, roughly 45% of internists responding to a survey about the use of placebos said that they had given placebos to their patients at least on occasion. Placebos are sometimes used to determine if the symptoms exhibited by a patient are in the mind or physical and controlling for the placebo effect is an important design issue in drug tests.The therapeutic use of placebos is controversial and given the notion of informed consent in medicine, perhaps unethical. But there is no doubt that the placebo effect is real and perhaps behind why many alternative therapies of dubious scientific standing such as "energy work" or homeopathy appear to work.Many of the physicians put a more benign spin on placebos. The physicians often defined placebos as being interventions "not expected to work" through any sort of known mechanism. Personally I would not want my physician to give me a placebo and strangely enough for the very reason that I believe in the mind body connection that alternative therapists often times misuse to justify their treatments. For instance, I got dragged to a workshop on "energy work" and "auras" last year and as you might guess I had to bite my tongue repeatedly to maintain some level of politeness at the drivel the speaker was feeding us. And yet the exercises did work. When asked to feel the boundaries of someone else's energy field, indeed I could feel SOMETHING.Of course the hard headed side of my was designing little experiments that could test whether or not there was any objective reality to this feeling. After all I ought to be able to measure some sort of energy and manipulate it experimentally. My suspicion is that what I felt was due to the power of suggestibility.I also do Yoga and when the instructor tells me to visualize my chakras, I know that chakras don't have any serious anatomical basis. I don't really have a third eye for instance- unless it is the imagination. I am suspending belief and harnessing that suspension to bring about physiological changes.Physician's use of placebos may well be justified in spite of the notion of informed consent. But wouldn't it be better if people could learn to harness their own powers of suggestion rather than be tricked into it either by well meaning physicians or by snake oil sellers of alternative therapies?
Sure it's a generalization, but I am just looking for a reason behind Obama's loss in New Hampshire. Technically, it was not that much of a loss if you look at the number of delegates, but after the polls put Obama around 12 points in the lead, I think Hillary's victory took everyone by surprise. Looking into the demographics of who voted for which candidates shows some interesting dynamics. More than half of the registered voters in New Hampshire are over 50, so that puts Clinton's win in perspective. She does particularly well with the over 62 folks, while Obama scored 61% of the voters between 18-24. So for the Obama campaign to remain competitive, at this point they should either focus on getting the young people to "rock the vote" or try to woo the older demographic (or heck, why not do both- aren't they putting Wii's in retirement homes these days?).The good news is that enthusiasm is spreading out there for this election and more people than ever are turning out to vote. Both Obama and Republican candidate Ron Paul have strong online support to reach the youth, but the question is, will that be enough?
Today's Lawrence Journal World carried a report of a California study the says that autism is not related to mercury exposure from childhood vaccines. This study from my way of thinking is pretty convincing especially in light of independent studies that come to the same conclusion.For a number of years, some scientists and advocacy groups have been concerned that a mercury containing compound called thimerosal might be the cause of an increase in autism and perhaps other neurological disorders. What I found interesting in the Journal World's report was this comment by Geraldine Dawson from a group called Autism Speaks which advocates for autism research:"The bulk of the evidence thus far suggests that mercury is not involved, but I think parents still have many questions ... I think until parents are satisfied, we need to continue to examine the question."Now granted parents are generally the prime advocates for their children, as well they should be, but in terms of research Dawson's comments leads to a big question. Given the limits on research dollars, should we keep chasing after a hypothesized association between vaccines containing thimerosal and autism which the available epidemiological evidence says is weak at best given current vaccine protocols?How many parents do we have to satisfy? All of them? Some people will simply persist in not believing any amount of scientific research. Now don't get me wrong-mercury in the environment is an important issue and the effects of mercury on health are clear-but why should autism researchers be distracted because a few parents choose to discredit the science?Related Links:EPA mercury fact sheetCDC Mercury and Vaccine Fact SheetMercury Exposure and Child Development OutcomesMercury and Autism: A damaging delusionWhat parents should know about Thimersol and Vaccines