Friday, February 27, 2009

To Your Scattered Bodies Go

Phillip Jose Farmer Scattered Bodies GoOne of my favorite authors when I was growing up was Phillip Jose Farmer. I just learned that he passed away two days ago. Featured here are the covers of some of his books, most in the versions I owned and read, and read, and read. Maybe the saddest part of growing up is losing touch with some of the things that made growing up interesting, and Farmer's books were quite good at that. His books had a prominent place on my bedroom shelf for many years.

Good Luck, Mr Farmer. I'm pretty sure the Ethicals will pick you out for special treatment. Don't forget your grail!

January 26, 1918 - February 25, 2009. R.I.P

[Hat Tip 2 IO9] Dread Tomato Addiction blog signature

Phillip Jose Farmer Greatheart Silver

Phillip Jose Farmer World of Tiers

Phillip Jose Farmer Venus on the Half Shell

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Prehistoric Sex prehistoric sex jawed fishSomething had to do it first, so why not the jawed fish? prehistoric sex jawed fishVideo at prehistoric sex jawed fishCareful!
Prehistoric Naughtiness Ahead!!

--- UPDATE ---

PZ Myers has this to say ...
The media is getting another science story wrong. I keep seeing this discovery of an array of fossil placoderms as revealing the origins of sex, and that's not right. Sex is much, much older, and arose in single-celled organisms. Come on, plants reproduce sexually. A fish is so far removed from the time of origin of sexual reproduction that it can't tell us much about its origins.

Let's get it right. These fossils tells us about the origin of fu…uh, errm, mating in vertebrates.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Rodriguez File, Revisited

Improbable Research Rodriguez FileI find myself short of time and ideas tonight, so I shall regale you with past exploits.

I encountered The Rodriguez File one day at Improbable Research, where I was intrigued by the question ...

"I would like to explore the statistical chances of getting such a line".

The straight line being the arrangement of words to the right such that 5 or 6 spaces line up to form a line.

Improbable Research Rodriguez FileSo I took a stab at the problem, and Kees (duck researcher extraordinaire) choose to post it for the world to see:
The Rodriguez File (part 2)

However, I was not satidfied with that effort, and made a second attempt, which appears here:
The Rodriguez File (part 3).

Improbable Research Rodriguez FileThen someone asked the question a different way, and I had yet another go at it:
The Rodriguez File (part 4).

It's good to be a statistician. We get to consider all kinds of strange and interesting questions.
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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Seven Old Ladies

Believe it or not, I've been looking for this song for years:
I must have first heard it at a Boy Scout jamboree (circa 1976), and it has been rattling around my head (with incomplete lyrics) ever since. It's possible that I actually heard Oscar Brand perform it too, but at the time I didn't pay much attention.

I found this, of all places, at Improbable Research. Maybe Marc A. sings this song when he thinks no one can hear him too. ;-) Dread Tomato Addiction blog signature

Monday, February 16, 2009

Friday, February 13, 2009

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Anne Marie's Chemistry Blog


The 'Do Not Microwave' List

This is serious stuff, and some of it quite hazardous, so no laughing allowed.

No ... really ... you might bust a rib. Dread Tomato Addiction blog signature

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Judgement Day

Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial, is the title of a NOVA episode first aired on PBS back in November, 2007. The topic is the 2005 "Intelligent Design Trial" --- Kitzmiller vs. Dover Area School District --- and despite my interest in this subject I've somehow managed to not see this program for two years. It's on as now as I write, but you can watch it any time you like with Quicktime Video at the program site. Doh! Why didn't I think of this sooner?
[All images from the PBS site]

Ken Miller: I think that faith and reason are both gifts from God. And if God is real, then faith and reason should complement each other rather than be in conflict. Science is the child of reason. Reason has given us the ability to establish the scientific method to investigate the world around us, and to show that the world and the universe in which we live are far vaster and far more complex, and I think far more wonderful, than anyone could have imagined 1,000 or 2,000 years ago.
Now, I'm a scientist and I have faith in God. But that doesn't make faith a scientific proposition. Faith and reason are both necessary to the religious person for a proper understanding of the world in which we live, and there is ultimately no necessary contradiction between reason and faith.

design proponentsists


NOVA PBS Judgment DayDecision of the Court: The citizens of the Dover area were poorly served by the members of the Board who voted for the ID Policy. It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID Policy.

NOVA PBS Judgment DayHolding: Teaching intelligent design in public school biology classes violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States (and Article I, Section 3 of the Pennsylvania State Constitution) because intelligent design is not science and "cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents."

NOVA PBS Judgment Day
An Irreducibly Intelligent program.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Regarding Chocolate and Intentions

The story of Chocolate and Intentions was highlighted in this months Mini-AIR [from Improbable Research] which I am including here:

2009-02-09 RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT: Thought-Laced Chocolate

This month's specially selected study describes an attempt to blend intention into chocolate, and to then measure the effect upon individuals who consume the hybrid. The paper is: "Effects of Intentionally Enhanced Chocolate on Mood," Dean Radin, Gail Hayssen and James Walsh, Explore, vol. 3, no. 5, September 2007, pp. 485-492. (Thanks to investigator Mary Beckman for bringing this to our attention.)

The authors, at the Institute of Noetic Sciences in Petaluma, California and at Hawaiian Vintage Chocolate in Honolulu, Hawaii, explain: "A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled experiment investigated whether chocolate exposed to "good intentions" would enhance mood more than unexposed chocolate....

Each person consumed a half ounce of dark chocolate twice a day at prescribed times. Three groups blindly received chocolate that had been intentionally treated by three different techniques. The intention in each case was that people who ate the chocolate would experience an enhanced sense of energy, vigor, and well-being. The fourth group blindly received untreated chocolate as a placebo control.... "

Conclusion: The mood-elevating properties of chocolate can be enhanced with intention."

A copy is online at

Chocolates FDA PhotodiscThe story continues at Improbable Research, where Poul Robinson offered this follow up:

Picking up where this left off, I thought I might add to the critique:

One of the main conclusions, analysis #3, presents a one-sided p-value of 0.04. One-sided p-values are definitely not the standard in medical research, and this p-value should be doubled (~0.08 two-sided), and this interaction considered to be non-significant.

Analysis #5 does not seem to depend of a one-tailed p-value. However, I note that the confidence interval widths for the control group at day 5 is roughly 10 in both figures 4 and 7, despite there being fewer subjects for the “chocolate sensitive subset”. This is not impossible, as the subjects who contributed most to the variance might also have been those who consume the most chocolate, but it is curious.

Hershey's Kiss chocolateAlso, the pattern of mood disturbance scores for the control group between days 3 and 7 exhibits a distingctive “peaked” shape, somewhat reminiscent of a Hershey’s Kiss. [Image]

Valentine about.chemistryLegal Disclaimer: The staff at DTA would like to remind you that chocolate, like tomatoes, can be very hazardous, and should only be consumed by properly equipped and supervised professionals. We cannot be help responsible for the possible effects of chocolate, which include but are not limited to, romantic relationships, happiness, and eventual death.

Happy Valentine’s Day from Dread Tomato Addiction (just a little early). Dread Tomato Addiction blog signature

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The first thing we do is kill all the lawyers

Ben Goldacre [Bad Science] has a bit of a problem ...

LBC have instructed their lawyers to contact me.

Two days ago I posted about a broadcast in which their presenter Jeni Barnett exemplified some of the most irresponsible, ill-informed, and ignorant anti-vaccination campaigning that I have ever heard on the public airwaves. This is important because it can cost lives, and you can read about the media’s MMR hoax here.

... and now the lawyers are indeed swarming. Perhaps Ben cannot post the entire 45 minute clip, but crafty individual that he is, realized that posting smaller sections of it would be fair use. Now if only there were hundreds (or thousands) of other people out there who might post those bits of video and transcript. Oh wait, this is the internet, how silly of me! Many have responded, and the story is spreading far and wide. Pay a visit to Bad Science and help spread the story further still.

[Update] Since this post continues to get lots of traffic a clarification is in order. The title of this post is a slight misquote of Shakespeare:
"The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers". 
(Henry VI, Act IV, Scene II)
Fortunately the lawyer in my family is also enthusiastic about Shakespeare, therefore I suspect he get's the joke.

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Performance Disenhancement

Sean Carman comments on Michael Phelps' recent activities.
[From The Huffington Post] Dread Tomato Addiction blog signature

Friday, February 6, 2009

Zombies!! RUN!!!!

Actually, given the number of drivers I encounter on my commute that behave as if their brains have been eaten, this sort of warning is probably a good idea. [Hat Tip to Mike the Yeti] Dread Tomato Addiction blog signature

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Martians Abduct Spirit Rover

Spirit Rover Alien cow[From 80Beats] The Spirit rover suffered a bit of memory lapse, clearly the results of martian interference.

[Artists interpretation of Martian aliens and Spirit Rover from] Dread Tomato Addiction blog signature