Monthly Archives: April 2006

Nesting Red-Tailed Hawks Cherished in Texas

Hey, there’s good news in the Dallas Morning News: Hospital won’t evict family of hawks Mesquite: Baylor’s got a new maternity wing 06:20 AM CDT on Thursday, April 27, 2006 By GRETEL C. KOVACH / The Dallas Morning News Baylor Health Care System has gone to new heights to care for expectant mothers – specifically… Read More »

DFW, Here I Am

I flew Continental Airlines from Oakland to Dallas/FortWorth yesterday. Things went uneventfully, except perhaps for the spill somebody at the food court at Houston Intercontinental made that reached the bottom of my backpack before someone pointed out that it was getting wet. And so Marc and Chris picked me up from the airport and got… Read More »

USDA and Better Golfing By Shooting Hawks

Remember the red-shouldered hawks gunned down in Florida to clear the way to and from the nineteenth hole for golfers? I sent email feedback to both USDA and the US F&WS, as I know several of you also did. I don’t know about any of the rest of you, but I just received an email… Read More »

Goodies in Nature

From the latest Nature email announcement: Evolution: Spot on (and off) The repeated appearance and loss of a spot on the wings of fruitflies during their evolution is caused by mutations in one gene. This finding provides an unprecedented window on the genetics of convergent evolution. Gregory A. Wray A Cretaceous terrestrial snake with… Read More »

Transforming a Data Layout

Diane posed me a problem. She had a large spreadsheet filled with data items in three columns, like so: LekID Year Number Well 2001 1 Well 2002 2 Well 2003 3 Mill 2001 4 Mill 2002 5 Mill 2003 6 Plain 2001 7 Plain 2002 8 Plain 2003 9 But what she wanted was a… Read More »

PT and Nature Immunology

There’s an article in the latest Nature Immunology by three of my Panda’s Thumb colleagues: Nature Immunology 7, 433 – 435 (2006) doi:10.1038/ni0506-433 Immunology in the spotlight at the Dover ‘Intelligent Design’ trial Andrea Bottaro, Matt A Inlay & Nicholas J Matzke They lay out the role that immunology research had in the trial testimony… Read More »

I’m Tall, and My Heart Beats Oddly

I’m six foot three inches tall. In 2002 and 2003, I had two instances of idiopathic atrial fibrillation. That last just means that the contractions of the atrial chambers of my heart got out of sync with the rest, and “idiopathic” means that they couldn’t figure out why that happened. The first time was during… Read More »

The Cost of What’s for Dinner

Earlier this evening, I went to the grocery store and picked up some things. Then I came home and found out that most of my grocery basket was just plain wrong for the planet. You know, except for the bread, salad, fruit, and bell pepper I bought, pretty much everything else had something to do… Read More »

Neurons and a Little Light Microscopy

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute are using a new technique in light microscopy to image individual synaptic vesicles of a neuron. Ordinary light microscopy doesn’t have the resolution to pick out individual vesicles, but what they call STED microscopy can do so. Fig.1: [Stimulated Emission Depletion] STED microscopy: The excitation light beam (EXC beam,… Read More »

Chinese “White Dolphin” Conservation

A BBC news report says that China has established a reserve area on its southern coast for the endangered white dolphin, Sousa Chinensis. Pollution is thought to be a major factor in current decline of the population. The plight of the white dolphin was one of the projects Stephen Leatherwood was working on when he… Read More »

WIDF Paperback Selling Well

Matt Young passed on word that Rutgers University Press has sold the first paperback printing of Why Intelligent Design Fails: A Scientific Critique of the New Creationism in just two months and has ordered a second batch from the printer.

archy and mehitabel

I have a book, Archy and Mehitabel, by Don Marquis, that is a bit of cultural literacy. In Marquis’s columns for the New York Sun, “archy” was a cockroach imbued with the soul of a free verse poet who typed out messages to Marquis by a laborious process of climbing to the top of Marquis’s… Read More »

The Mammoths of Paris

I got an email asking me about my opinion of the field of cryptozoology. The following is the gist of my reply: I haven’t gotten familiar with what gets published in cryptozoology, so it would be difficult — or inappropriate — for me to pronounce any sort of “authoritative” judgement on it. That said, I… Read More »

Rusty and the Lure

Last evening, I took Rusty out in the backyard to do some lure-flying. The lure is a leather form vaguely shaped like a bird that is tethered to a leather-wrapped weight. The falconer swings the lure and — if all goes well — the falcon or hawk comes and tries to bind to the lure.… Read More »

Other Science News

Oregon State University researchers report that DNA nucleic acid bases enter a “dark state” on exposure to ultraviolet radiation, wherein they are less stable. This can lead to mutations. They also demonstrate that this effect largely is mitigated by the presence of water. They conclude that the presence of water was necessary to the origin… Read More »

New Tire Life Cycle Proposed

Penn State University has received a grant for a demonstration project to turn automobile tires into road-building materials. They plan to bale tires from the Starr Tire Pile into blocks a few feet long on a side, then use the blocks to improve dirt roads that contribute to sediment pollution via runoff. Drainage structures can… Read More »

California Salmon Fishing To Be Restricted

An AP article relates that regulators in California have voted to restrict the salmon fishing season along 700 miles of coastline to help preserve the Klamath River salmon population. As usual, commercial fishermen as protesting, trying to convince regulators that exploitation should continue as usual. Here’s a caption to an accompanying photo: Bill Waterhouse joins… Read More »

Newspaper Articles and Transcripts

Usually, you just have to take what a newspaper decides to print and reach a decision about the content with no other source of information. Mike Dunford of the Questionable Authority has a post comparing and contrasting the 2 April Seguin Gazette-Enterprise article on a speech given by Eric Pianka against a transcript of the… Read More »

Idiocy With Guns

OK, I’m just about speechless. Look at this. Bird experts and enthusiasts reacted with surprise and anger Thursday when they learned that two nesting hawks at an exclusive golf resort in Orange County were shot down by federal agents. The red-shouldered hawks were killed Wednesday morning near the clubhouse of the Villas of Grand Cypress… Read More »

Take an Evolutionary Biology Test!

Over on Dispatches from the Culture Wars, there is a discussion of having people submit answers to a test on evolutionary biology before accepting any claim to authority on the topic. One of the commenters points out a test that is online from an evolutionary biology college course. Allen MacNeill, who teaches evolutionary biology himself,… Read More »