Monthly Archives: December 2008

A Targeted Linux Site — LinuxSlate.com

During my recent trip, I was able to meet up with “Crossbow” from LinuxSlate.com. LinuxSlate is his site to give reviews and commentary on Linux as used for mobile and embedded systems. As stated on the sidebar, the site originated as a means to distribute Linux device drivers for the screens in Fujitsu pen-based PCs. Since then, though, “Crossbow” has been giving capsule and extended reviews of various products that either use Linux out of the box or may have Linux installed, plus commentary on market penetration of Linux in the mobile and embedded systems market. For example, there is an extended review of the Motorola Motozine ZN5 cell phone, and a mini-review from October of Target’s stripped-down version of the Asus Eee 900 portable mini-PC at a impulse buy price of $299. It’s a site worth checking out.

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Out with the Old

Old school creationist and antievolutionist Kent Hovind and his wife, Jo, were convicted of tax evasion, violation of laws against structuring withdrawals to evade reporting, and obstructing investigation of those crimes.

They appealed the convictions, their sentencing, the amount of restitution ordered, and the substitution of property for assets that would otherwise have been seized for the restitution.

The appeals court has ruled: “The convictions and sentences of the Hovinds are AFFIRMED.”

The decision of the appeals court is revealing as it step by step rebuts the lame arguments Kent and Jo Hovind offer as their reasons that various things should be set aside. It seems obvious that the Hovinds — and their legal representatives — were just as ignorant of the laws they sought to criticize as Kent Hovind has been of the science he sought to criticize. The complete cognitive disconnect that underlies the bizarre interpretation the Hovinds cast on the relevant structuring law is an example, where the Hovinds asserted that they could not be found guilty of structuring withdrawals because the government never showed them withdrawing more than $10,000 at a time, when the structuring law exists to provide a means to prosecute people who purposely withdraw less than the $10,000 figure where reporting is automatic. One might have thought that the persistent miscomprehension Kent Hovind showed concerning evolutionary science might have been compartmentalized, and that he might have been competent in reasoning about other topics, but the appeal shows that there are other deficits in his ability to think about unrelated topics, or at least that he retained people with such deficits and was unable to correct them when they put together his appeal.

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Why the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District Case Mattered

We recently passed the third anniversary of the decision in the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District case (this past Dec. 20th). Something to keep in mind is that what is at issue isn’t science at all, but rather the pushing of a narrow sectarian religious view via the public schools. Our founding fathers knew of the history of the wars and other turmoil caused by entangling religion and government in Europe, and didn’t care to have that as an inheritance for the new nation here.

The experience of the plaintiffs in Dover, Pennsylvania demonstrates that our founding fathers were absolutely right to reject having the government pass along doctrinal religious issues in what it did. The following are quotes taken from various of the plaintiffs describing what, exactly, caused them harm as a result of the Dover Area School Board implementing their “intelligent design” creationism policy.

Now people stare. They know you’re a Plaintiff or they know in this particular case that I’m a candidate opposing the school board, and you can’t sit there and not worry about who’s looking at you or what’s going to happen, you know. You’ll go out and regularly be called inappropriate things centering around the concept of atheist.

They don’t know me. They don’t know that I’m the co-director of the children’s choir at church or that I run the music halfway at the second service, or that, you know, my wife and I run Vacation Bible School. Yet they have no problem going around calling me an atheist because my particular religious viewpoint doesn’t agree with that of the school board, which is a public entity not a religious one.

Q. We just need you to tell us. The question was, how does that cause you harm, and you started to complain how this causes harm. If you could complete your answer?

A. Professionally covered. Personally, you know, going out, we have issues with people, where they’re not very pleased to see us around and are not hesitating to let you know that. And it’s not very polite. It goes beyond atheist to adding other words onto it that I don’t care to repeat.

So there is a lot of issues and a lot of different ways in which it hurts me, not to mention now my daughter is in the biology course, and there are students in the class that want to know, well, what if you do come from monkeys? What’s going on with this? Well, you know that evolution doesn’t make sense. Why are your parents doing this?

So it has filtered down to the kids, and it’s affecting my children directly. And that’s a problem. And if the school board didn’t pass the policy, it never would have occurred. Prior to their policy change, I never once had a student in class criticize another student for believing evolution, even when we were teaching it. It didn’t happen.

And, you know, I’ve been — there have been letters written about the Plaintiffs. We’ve been called atheists, which we’re not. I don’t think that matters to the Court, but we’re not. We’re said to be intolerant of other views.

Well, what am I supposed to tolerate? A small encroachment on my First Amendment rights? Well, I’m not going to. I think this is clear what these people have done. And it outrages me.

Q. Now, I’d like to know if you can tell us whether you feel that you’ve been harmed by the actions of the Dover area school district board of directors.

A. Absolutely. I feel that they have brought a religious idea into the classroom, and I object to that. I do not think that this is good science. There seems to be no controversy within the scientific community, and I would think the biggest thing for me as a parent, my 14-year-old daughter had to make the choice whether to stay in the classroom and listen to the statement, be confused, not be able to ask any questions, hear any answer, or she had to be singled out, go out of the classroom and face the possible ridicule of her friends and classmates.

We can expect more of the same wherever the religious antievolution ensemble of arguments are pushed in public schools, whether under the “intelligent design” label or the more trendy “strengths and weaknesses”, “academic freedom”, or “critical analysis” labels. It’s still highly divisive narrow sectarian religious content being injected into public schools, and it isn’t the fault of those who don’t happen to agree with that particular doctrinal view that this will continue to be an issue.

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Texas: Ken Mercer Confirms “Weaknesses” are Old-School Religious Antievolution Arguments

Texas State Board of Education Member Ken Mercer has an op-ed piece in the San Antonio Express-News. You may recall Mercer from his advocacy of various “weaknesses” taken from the religious antievolution ensemble of arguments at a hearing on November 19th. The opinion piece by Mercer simply confirms that Mercer doesn’t have a grasp of the topic and relies on the religious antievolution literature as his source for commentary on the field of evolutionary science.

Continue reading

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Morally Corrosive Antievolution: Another Case

Over at Uncommon Descent, a post by Mario Lopez takes note of a publication in Nature that mentions “mousetrap”. Lopez quotes from Nature, but drops in this bit of text as item 4:

4. “Darwinian scenarios, either for building mousetraps or biochemical systems, are very easy to believe if we aren’t willing or able to scrutinize the smallest details, or to ask for experimental evidence. They invite us to admire the intelligence of natural selection. But the intelligence we are admiring is our own.”

But that bit wasn’t part of the Nature publication. It was, instead, an unattributed quote from a Michael Behe online essay.

“Occam’s Aftershave” at AtBC discovered and documented this one.

Update: Someone at UD has edited the original post. The numeric designation on the paragraph is now gone, and a clause prepends the Behe quote:

This is made relevant by Behe’s observation that “Darwinian scenarios, either for building mousetraps or biochemical systems, are very easy to believe if we aren’t willing or able to scrutinize the smallest details, or to ask for experimental evidence. They invite us to admire the intelligence of natural selection. But the intelligence we are admiring is our own.”

There’s still nothing as yet that would tell the reader that the final paragraph did not grace the pages of Nature. Apparently, the editor has also drunk deeply of morally corrosive antievolution.

Further update: Lopez has generically apologized in a comment to the thread, but still fails to distinguish his addition from the quoted text from Brosh’s piece in Nature.

My apologies to everyone. Thank you, AussieID, for pointing to the source of that last quote. The original blogger on this is found here:

http://pos-darwinista.blogspot.com/

–Mario

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Keeping Up Appearances

I updated the theme using the WordPress 2.x capable version of “Shaded Grey”. There are some features that aren’t yet working, like the drop-down styling of things in the sidebar. But I’ve gotten back the content of the sidebar items that went missing for a while, and that’s a happy thing.

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The Christmas Wish List

The holiday season is upon us. Something we do each year is come up with a list of cool things (toys) we’d like for Christmas, or needful things (socks and underwear). There’s the small stuff that we’re likely to get some of, and bigger-ticket items that we can dream about. And, of course, season’s greetings make us feel good and fit anyone’s budget. So think of the following as the not-quite-grown-up version of a long letter to Santa.

For everyone who thinks, with justification, that even with the recession on there are needier people around, please consider helping out Amnesty International… the donation link is in the right sidebar here. If you would like to encourage me to do the sort of stuff I do to help out science education, contributions to my PayPal donate button, also on the right, will help me worry less about getting the money to cover the costs of Internet service, web hosting, and, when it gets right down to it, rent, gas, and groceries. If you like the idea of seeing a specific wish-list, either with the thought that you might drop something on Diane or I, or get an idea for a significant other or family member, read on.

Small stuff

A recurring need we have is for digital storage of various sorts.

SD or Micro SD cards, 1 GB or larger. We’ve got cell phones, PDAs, digital cameras, and MP3 players that can always use more memory.
2GB w/USB reader, $6.15
(2) 2GB w/SD adapter, $7.99

SD/MMC to Compact Flash adapter, Amazon.com, $18.16. Some of the digital gear uses Compact Flash, and this adapter will work for the Nikon and the Axim PDA. Most gear seems to be headed toward use of smaller media, like the SD, though, so if we get SD media and adapters, we should be set for future uses of the media.

The bane of my childhood Christmas mornings was getting socks… it just seemed wrong that socks might take up space under the Christmas tree that could have been something cool. Well, having something warm on the feet now seems cool. I basically do black Gold Toe Fluffy when possible for dress occasions, and white sport or winter socks otherwise, sized to fit men’s size 13. I’ll spare y’all my underwear choices.

Dog toys… both Ritka and Beka are far harder on toys than Farli ever was. Tug toys, squeak toys, balls, etc., they are all good. The more play time they can manage between them, the better.

Six Toughtek 9000 Booties XS (extra small) for Ritka, 2 1/4″ across the widest part, 5″ tall. Ritka has the usual four legs for a dog, but booties are notorious for getting lost, so six seems like a good initial set. They are $2.50 each.

Medium stuff

Diane would like some sweater vests, women’s medium size. These come in handy for a warmer experience lecturing while keeping that professional look.

Speaking of the PDA, a software accessory would help make my Axim PDA pretty complete. It’s ClearVue Suite, a package that permits creation, editing, and presentation of PowerPoint files. And it’s $30. When I got the PDA, the base didn’t actually charge it, so I got a cable that allows for power, USB, and VGA out connections. Adding the ClearVue software would give me a small system for portable presentations.

This year has been rough on keyboards. The fact that our budget has kept our purchases of computer gear to a minimum means that our newest keyboard is now about five years old. Diane’s has stiff keys, an incipient sign of a problem. Something to would be really useful to keep down the number of keyboards we need would be a KVM (keyboard-video-mouse) switcher. Our living room has four desktops in it, so a KVM would help.

A Kibble Nibble food dispenser for Beka, about $20.00.

A Masterpiece Component Bed for our 300 Vari-Kennel crate, about $73.

A ChaseIt toy system. We’re thinking that this should make a good toy for Rusty and Shelby, especially after hunting season closes next March. It’s $22.50.

Bigger stuff

Again with the digital media…
Western Digital 1 terabyte SATA hard disk, $99.99. This would plug into our server and increase room for the photos and media files.

Bigger hard disks for our laptops would always be welcome. Newegg has decent prices on 250 GB ($80) laptop drives in ATA-6 format.

We recently put together a system to feed video from the hawk’s mews inside, so we can have a look inside pretty much whenever we want to. We managed to get the camera and wireless transmitter and receiver pretty cheaply, going for a used wireless system and a new but inexpensive camera designed as a vehicle back-up camera with a very wide-angle lens. The next step would be to equip a machine with some sort of video capture card so that we can periodically push an image to the server and be able to monitor the hawks wherever we can get an Internet connection. While there are some cheap video cards out there, we’re thinking that being able to use the card for a media center would be good, too. B&H Photo has the Hauppage PVR 350 card used for $100. This is a card known to work under Windows and also with the Linux MythTV system.

Garmin Astro 220 Receiver and DC30 GPS Dog Collar, about $600.00. This would help keep track of Ritka where cover might prevent us from seeing her, especially when she goes on point.

A Deben Long Range Terrier Finder for Beka, about $330. Between the two, the GPS system for Ritka is probably the higher priority.

It’s an unfortunate fact that telemetry gear doesn’t last forever. We could use another 30-day version of the RT Plus transmitter or two to make sure we can keep track of the hawks in the field.

A 4×6″ photo printer could come in handy for dog events and being able to print right at the site. It looks like this Epson PictureMate Dash PM260 Compact Photo Inkjet Printer fits the bill.

On the audio side of things, I’m still interested in the M-Audio Microtrack II digital audio recorder. The price has come down, but it’s still about $240.

Venturing further into FantasyLand, I think that I’ll be drooling over the idea of having a Nikon D3 or Nikon D3x for a long time, but maybe a Nikon SB-900 or Nikon SB-800 flash might show up before Nikon announces their D5 camera. I’ve got good glass from 12mm with the Sigma 12-24mm lens and out to 200mm with the Nikkor 70-200mm VR lens, but having a longer lens on hand would be a good thing.

And the best holiday news I can think of would be if somebody would buy the 190 acres or so seen here for me. I spent a chunk of my time growing up wandering around that land and the set of small lakes on it. It’s in Lakeland, Florida, in the Combee area, and is zoned “industrial”. It lies south of Main Street and west of Reynolds Road there, extending over half the distance to Combee Road to the west. There’s a golf course and housing to the south and southeast, and various businesses to the west and north of the property. It is an area of reclaimed phosphate mining land, and has bloomed into a bunch of central Florida style meadow land. I don’t know of anybody prepared to drop several million on me, though. I’d like to see it sold to someone who would appreciate it at the least, even if I don’t get to wander there in the future.

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Something Different for the Evening… Football

We don’t watch much football. Diane doesn’t like it much, and I’m not so much of a fan that I’d relocate to another part of the house to tune in. But this evening we turned on the game between the #1 Alabama Crimson Tide and the #2 University of Florida Gators. And I enjoyed it. The Gators and the Tide played a fairly close game until late, when UF pulled ahead and with the help of an interception made sure it stayed that way.

Both Diane and I did our undergraduate work at UF, and we both were residents of the East Hall dorm there. That was a contributing factor to football not being higher on our list of fun things, since East Hall was relatively close to the stadium. Come Friday nights in the fall, the loudspeakers would be on until late, since the local high schools played there then. Come various Saturdays, one could not really go anywhere, since any available parking space would be immediately seized and probably not relinquished until well after the end of the game. Another factor would have been the fact that the team wasn’t doing so well during the time we attended UF. This was in the closing years of Doug Dickey’s head coach tenure, and we often would have to say that the team had managed to snatch defeat from the very jaws of victory.

It is an entirely different experience to see the Gators as a extraordinarily capable and coordinated team, ready to show that prowess against the best other athletes in the country. There was a point later in the game this past evening where the Gators were on third down and further from the goal line than expected due to a penalty call. The commentators were going on about how the game would be changed by the Gators not getting a touchdown and having to go for a field goal, when Tim Tebow completed a pass to a receiver in the end zone. That was a refreshing change for someone who suffered through a lot of late-game downturns in fortune for the Gators.

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Vindication

I’ve been saying that there were problems in William Dembski’s “explanatory filter” for a long, long time. I published a book review of The Design Inference back in 1999 that included the following:

According to Dembski, because humans identify human agency using the explanatory filter, the explanatory filter encapsulates our general method for detecting agency. Because TDI is equivalent to the explanatory filter, the conclusion of design in TDI is equivalent to concluding agency. Dembski specifies a triad of criteria — actualization-exclusion-specification — as sufficient for establishing that an intelligent agent has been at work, and finds that design as he uses it is congruent with these criteria.

However, Dembski’s triad of criteria for recognition of intelligent agents is also satisfied quite adequately by natural selection. “Actualization” occurs as heritable variation arises. “Exclusion” results as some heritable variations lead to differential reproductive success. “Specification” occurs as environmental conditions specify which variations are preferred. By my reading, biologists can embrace a conclusion of design for an event of biological origin and still attribute that event to the agency of natural selection.

John Wilkins and I took up criticism of Dembski’s “explanatory filter” in our 2001 peer-reviewed paper, The advantages of theft over toil: the design inference and arguing from ignorance, finding that Dembski’s supposedly fixed and mutually exclusive categories didn’t work so well when one took care in examining how he proposed to place instances in those categories.

Did Dr. Dembski thank me or us for getting that right? No, don’t be silly. But get it right we did, and there is an admission that the “explanatory filter” doesn’t work from William Dembski.

(1) I’ve pretty much dispensed with the EF. It suggests that chance, necessity, and design are mutually exclusive. They are not. Straight CSI is clearer as a criterion for design detection.

I don’t know that “straight CSI” offers any improvement; after all, CSI was what the “explanatory filter/design inference” was supposed to identify. But I guess when it comes to Dembski recognizing faults in his work, we will have to be satisfied with baby steps.

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Isn’t that Precious?

Ray Comfort expounds on the evolution of sex:

Sexual reproduction would never have begun to evolve, and would never have continued to evolve to become as sophisticated as it is today in many plants and animals, unless it offered a significant evolutionary advantage. As to what this advantage might be, however, is still the subject of continuing debate in the scientific community. Theories about the evolution of sex have proven to be very difficult to test experimentally, and so the answer is still very much open to speculation” (www.evolutionary-philosophy.net/sex.html).

In other words, they have no idea why pre-humans stopped splitting in half and started having sex, or why male and female exist throughout creation.

Uh, Ray, you didn’t comprehend the comment, and your response is so completely nonsensical that you are providing the atheist community with plenty of new ammunition to claim that Christianity must only be believed by complete ignoramuses. In other words, you have done more here to damage the body of Christ than any of your atheist detractors could possibly accomplish.

Here’s a mini-lesson in the evolution of sexual reproduction based on what we observe in living organisms. Start with organisms that reproduce asexually, such as bacteria. That would be the “splitting in half” bit, where a copy of the genetic material is made before the split, and each half gets a copy. Some bacteria today can also exchange genetic information with each other in a process called conjugation. With eukaryotic single-celled organisms and some multi-celled organisms, one sees a variety of forms of reproduction. There are organisms that reproduce asexually at some points in their life cycle, and produce gametes for sexual reproduction in other parts of the life cycle. Gametes join to form a new organism, completing sexual reproduction. The production of gametes in some organisms involves a situation called isogamy, meaning everybody produces gametes of about the same size. This seems clearly to be the earlier situation. The specialized or derived form of sexual reproduction has organisms with two strategies for gamete production: produce lots of small gametes (males) or produce a smaller number of larger gametes (females). This is seen in lots of invertebrate lineages. Vertebrates are chordates, and all of the chordates can reproduce sexually with unequal-sized gametes. Tunicates, an invertebrate taxon within Chordata, also still may reproduce asexually, too. Fish reproduce sexually, with some species being hermaphrodites, and others may have alternation of gender in individuals through its life history. In reptiles, gender is fixed throughout life (AFAIK), though some species of lizards manage to reproduce parthenogenetically. In mammals, sexual reproduction is exclusively by exchange of gametes between males and females. That includes primates… which is what humans are.

So, evolutionary science does not and never has asserted that male and female humans reproduced asexually. Humans inherited their method of reproduction from previously existing primates, who already were using exchange of gametes between males and females. Nor is it true that “male and female exist throughout creation”, because we know of sexually reproducing species that are nonetheless not split into male and female forms.

St. Augustine criticized Ray Comfort… about sixteen centuries before Ray Comfort was born:

Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he hold to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods and on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion. [1 Timothy 1.7]

Listen to Augustine, Ray; learn what you presume to criticize.

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Duke Researchers Find Large Amoeba that Moves

A Duke University press release notes the discovery of a large (1 inch diameter) marine amoeba that moves slowly and leaves distinctive tracks behind.

The distinctive trail that the Gromias leave is identical to mud tracks found in the fossil record, which throws a big wrench into one long-standing argument in biology. The fossil tracks pre-date the so-called “Cambrian explosion” 530 million years ago, which was a blossoming of multicellular life and complex body plans from what had previously just been simple, blobby life forms. Many paleontologists and evolutionary biologists have argued that such a trail couldn’t possibly have been made by a simple organism, meaning complex body plans were around before the Cambrian explosion. But the Gromia show that simple blobs can indeed move and make tracks in the light, silty bottom.

We’re confident that drawing attention to these bizarre mega-protists will provide a powerful new spin to the debate,” said biologist Mikhail Matz of the University of Texas at Austin, who is first author on the paper in Current Biology. Matz worked out the genetics of the new creature and found it’s a giant amoeba closely related to similar blobs found in the Gulf of Oman, near Antarctica, off Guam, and in the Mediterranean. None of them are known to move.

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Bush Suffers Poisoner To Live — And Pardons Him, To Boot

Jim Rutenberg in the New York Times treats this story of a Missouri farmer receiving a rare Presidential pardon as just one of those “human interest” features. So, what was the fellow pardoned of?

Mr. Collier’s crime was unlikely and, he said in an interview, unintended. While hunting, he began noticing the reappearance of wild turkeys, decades after they were believed to have died away. But he feared that a pack of coyotes in the area would not give them a chance to breed. “I got it in my head that if we got rid of the coyotes, the turkeys would get off to a better start,” Mr. Collier said. So he laid a trap of ground beef laced with the pesticide Furadan, which, under federal law, may not be used as animal poison.

Seven coyotes died after eating the beef. But several other animals fed on their carcasses and died as well, including the bald eagles.

The dead eagles were found by a passerby who alerted the federal authorities who, in turn, identified the poison that killed them and tracked its purchase to Mr. Collier. He pleaded guilty to two counts of violating the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, and to the misdemeanor charge of illegal use of a pesticide.

With no prior criminal history, he was sentenced to two years of probation and was ordered to pay a $10,000 fine.

As a convicted felon, Mr. Collier would have to give up his collection of hunting guns, a blow to his lifestyle. “We kind of got a hunting heritage in this family,” he said. “It’s what we do.”

It seems to me that the miscarriage of justice in this case lies in the granting of the pardon to an unworthy recipient, not in the original charge and conviction of an indiscrimant poisoner. What did the victims go through? This description gives an idea…

The poison works more like nerve-gas by paralysing the nervous system resulting in twitching, trembling, paralysed breathing, convulsions and, if the dose is enough, death. It gets into the body through swallowing, inhaling or touching. Furadan is responsible for the consequential death of millions of birds in the US. Birds which consumed dead grasshoppers and other insects (eliminated using Furadan on croplands) and those which ingested the chemical directly died en masse. in 1989 for instance, 1,985 ducks, 97% of northern pintails and 3% of green-winged teal were found dead in Colusa, California in an area where Furadan had been used.

Or this page, giving the symptoms for recognizing when a human has been poisoned. Other mammals would have much the same symptoms.

The carbamate insecticide group contains carbaryl insecticides, such as Sevin, that have low mammalian toxicities, and aldicarb and carbofuran, such as Temik and Furadan, that have a high mammalian toxicity.

Early symptoms of carbamate poisoning include weakness, dizziness, and sweating. Headache, salivation, vomiting, and diarrhea are also common. Later symptoms include constricted pupils, lack of coordination, and slurred speech. As with organophosphates, tightness in the chest and coughing may precede lung failure or fluid entering the lungs.

The symptoms of a carbamate insecticide poisoning appear more quickly, are more easily reversed, and persist for a shorter time than do the symptoms of an organophosphate poisoning. Its fast action makes it imperative for a person to seek immediate medical treatment at the first sign of a poisoning. While the amount of carbamate or organophosphate required to produce symptoms may be the same, a greater amount of carbamate active ingredient is usually required to threaten the victim’s life. Importantly, blood tests do not easily identify carbamate in the body, so taking the label or MSDS to the hospital can be especially critical. The antidote for carbamate poisoning is atropine, which may have to be given in large doses.

Did Mr. Collier do anything to keep pet dogs and cats away from the poisoned meat? The story doesn’t say, nor does it relate exactly what other animals succumbed to the poison.

Why is the New York Times reading more like the local rag in its reporting? Are they going soft? Rutenberg spent precious column-inches on the history of the presidential pardon, and more on the particulars of Collier’s request going through the system. There is no sign that Rutenberg contacted any wildlife authority in writing his story. There’s no indication that Rutenberg did any research on effects of casual attempts at poisoning wildlife, residence times of Furadan, incidental risk to water supplies, or any of a number of things that could have — or should have — featured prominently in any such story.

The pardon is of a piece with Bush Administration policies concerning wildlife, a blatant disregard for any restrictions at all on human exploitation or destruction of wildlife. It’s not all that surprising that the “stingy” Bush happened to dole out a pardon for a good ol’ boy.

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