Monday, December 28, 2009

Earths Mightiest Superheroes Vs Global Warming!

Actually, it's how the Earth's Mightiest heroes would deal with the impending doom that is Galactus, but you get the idea. Click thru to read full size.

Matt Bors comics
Part 2
Part 3
[Hat Tip 2 Comics AllianceDread Tomato Addiction blog signature

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Holiday Message from DTA



Wee Fish



A Mare








Hint: It helps if you sing it.

"Wee fish ewe a mare egrets moose panda hippo gnu deer" 

[All photos Animals Pictures Archive]   Dread Tomato Addiction blog signature

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Dipping my toes into the turbid waters of AGW

This is an appeal to my readers and fellow bloggers for some advice. I've already pitched this to two prominent bloggers I occasionally correspond with, but I don't have direct contact with everyone I'd like to poll via email or Facebook, so this is my open call for responses. I would like your opinions, in a Science blogger/Dear Abby sort of way, and anyone else that is likely to read this is welcome to chip in too.

A friend has asked me to participate in a blog/project to conduct an open source attempt to replicate some climate modeling results. This is likely to be an amateur effort at best, but the stated intention is to educate about what really goes into climate modeling. Now I believe my friend to be a reasonable sort of skeptic, but it turns out he has some connections with people like Steve McIntyre and Eric Raymond. This gives me some concern, and I am leery of getting involved in anything that even gives the appearance of supporting the AGW deniers.

Oh yeah, AGW = Anthropogenic Global Warming, if you didn't know already.

I would appreciate your opinions on whether I should become involved, or stay the hell away from it.

Some other information relevant to my participation:

  1.  I have a good mathematics and statistics background, and did some relevant modeling of physical processes (hydrology) in grad school, but have no background in climate science.
  2. I really haven't been following the AGW debate past some casual reading, but not being caught up in the old arguments might be a good thing.
  3. I believe the scientific reports and news that AGW is real. I do have a some of skeptical thoughts about the extent of climate change the models predict, but even a small change is a valid cause for serious concern. I am concerned.
  4. I think this might actually be a valid and useful educational effort, and I'm pretty sure I could make some good contributions.
  5. I need another blog to write for like I need another hole in my head. ;-)

One friend already commented to me ...

"Not to discourage you from having fun, but there are a plethora of people stepping into the debate without sufficient preparation."

Another, who is self-described as very conservative, encourages me to go for it.

[Images Wikipedia, downloaded 12/12/2009] 

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Friday, December 11, 2009

Monday, December 7, 2009

Why Not an Open Market for Organ Transplantation?

I was having a conversation with a friend about organ transplantation. The conversation actually followed the post I link to, so this is a bit out-of-sequence. To paraphrase his question, he asks why there is not an open market for people to sell their own organs as they wish?

My short answer is, it is not ethical. Organ transplantation is a difficult decision all around, for the patient, and the doctor, and the donor (at least a live donor). There is great potential to do harm even when the intentions are good. Doctors are pretty serious about "do no harm", and for good reasons. I'm no expert ethicist, but since HIPAA anyone who works with confidential medical information goes through some basic ethics training. I've collected a few articles and a video that describe this in more detail, and also what happens when the intentions maybe be less than pure.

Sanjay Nagral
No other field of medicine has raised so many ethical, moral, legal and social issues as has organ transplantation. Many more areas for ethical debate are likely to emerge.
At present the very term transplant is likely to conjure up an image of shady and dangerous dealings in India. If we wish to improve upon the current situation, the first step is total transparency on the part of the medical profession and open, public, debate on this and related issues. Medical professionals must set ethical guidelines and take action against violators. Representatives of the common people must be included on the committees that will oversee these operations.
We must restore organ transplantation to where it really belongs - not as an example of all that is unethical and commercial but as a modern medical advance permitting one human being to make the gift of life to another.

Here are three article which discuss some of the ethical issues involved with human organ transplantation.

The Ethics of Organ Donation by Living Donors

Ethics of Organ Transplants (Why this is listed under agnosticism and atheism I do not know).

Ethics of organ transplantation, an except of which is quoted above.

Finally, here is an example of everything that transplantation should not be: A negotiable commodity available to wealthy criminals.

The rules for organ transplantation are restrictive because they need to be. I do understand the appeal of the "open market" option that my friend likes, but it opens the door to many evils as well.
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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Monkeying around with language

ScienceNOW has a short summary of research on monkey calls.

An Introduction to Monkey Grammar?: "Primates produce new alarm calls in a way that might resemble human language [Read more]"

Hardly a surprise though, even some humans demonstrate this ability.

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Thursday, December 3, 2009

How big is it?

 Check out this online magnifying glass (use the slider!).
Some cells are visible to the unaided eye
The smallest objects that the unaided human eye can see are about 0.1 mm long. That means that under the right conditions, you might be able to see an ameoba proteus, a human egg, and a paramecium without using magnification. A magnifying glass can help you to see them more clearly, but they will still look tiny.

[Hat tip 2 Andrew Gelman at Applied Statistics]   Dread Tomato Addiction blog signature

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Things that make you go "Hmmm": drug deaths

[From Information is Beautiful]

Visualising the Guardian Datablog:

I’m doing a regular weekly visualisation for the excellent Guardian Datablog, the front-end for an amazing library of statistics and data, lovingly hand-gathered by The Guardian.

My first post is about Deadly Drugs.

 IiB presents this chart:

Check out the article on The Guardian blog for detail and data. You want both right?

I'll second that.