Thursday, March 29, 2012

a foram's tale

elections belong to the people

“Elections belong to the people. It is their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.” Abraham Lincoln

mark neumann

"If I was elected God for a day," former Rep. Mark Neumann of Wisconsin told the New York Times, "homosexuality wouldn't be permitted."
He's also said he wouldn't hire a gay or lesbian person for a job because "that would mean they're promoting their agenda. The gay and lesbian lifestyle [is] unacceptable."
And now, Neumann is running for U.S. Senate, hoping to vote on the workplace rights, marriages, and families of people like you and me.
Neumann's opponent is none other than Rep. Tammy Baldwin, the champion on hate crimes legislation, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), federal employee partner benefits and so much more. If she wins she'll make history as the first openly gay senator.


first weekend of the cherry blossom festival :)


Tuesday, March 27, 2012


douglas and savin

del13C vs del15N

yann tiersen

mississippi river over time

radiation dose chart

radioactivity levels in foods

Every food has some small amount of radioactivity in it. The common radionuclides in food are potassium 40 (40K), radium 226 (226Ra) and uranium 238 (238U) and the associated progeny. Here is a table of some of the common foods and their levels of 40K and 226Ra.
Natural Radioactivity in Food
Brazil Nuts5,6001,000-7,000
White Potatoes3,4001-2.5
Red Meat3,0000.5
Lima Bean
Drinking water---0-0.17

Saturday, March 24, 2012

i wish i could go to the reason rally today.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

10 Reasons The Rest Of The World Thinks The U.S. Is Nuts

This week the Georgia State Legislature debated a bill in the House that would make it necessary for some women to carry stillborn or dying fetuses until they 'naturally' go into labor. In arguing for this bill Representative Terry England described his empathy for pregnant cows and pigs in the same situation.
I have a question for Terry England, Sam Brownback, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry and too many others: I have three daughters, two of them twins. If one of my twins had been stillborn would you have made me carry her to term, thereby endangering both the other twin and me? Or, would you have insisted that the state order a mandatory fetal extraction of the living twin fetus from my womb so that I could continue to carry the stillborn one to term and possibly die myself? My family is curious and since you believe my uterus is your public property, I am, too.
Mr. England, unlike the calves and pigs for which you expressed so much empathy, I am not a beast of burden. I am a woman and I have these human rights:
The right to life.
The right to privacy.
The right to freedom.
The right to bodily integrity.
The right to decide when and how I reproduce.
Mr. England, you and your friends do not get to trade these rights, while "dog and hog hunting," in return for a young man's chickens.
My human rights outweigh any you or the state corruptly and cynically seek to assign to a mass of dividing cells that will eventually turn into a 'natural' person. Personhood-for-zygote based bills and related legislation, like Georgia's and hundreds of others, bills and laws that criminalize pregnancy and abortion and penalize women for being women, violate my human rights.
Just because you cannot get pregnant does not mean I cannot think clearly, ethically, morally, rationally about my body, human life or the consequences of my actions. Just because you cannot get pregnant does not mean that I do not have rights when I am pregnant. I have responsibility but am powerless. You have power but are irresponsible with my rights.
By not trusting me, you force me to trust you. And YOU are not trustworthy.
I gestate humans, you do not. I know how it feels to be pregnant. You do not. I know what happens to a fetus in a womb. You do not. I have carried three fetuses to term. You have not. What I experience when I am pregnant is not empathy. It is permeability. The fetus is me. And the state is you, apparently. But, no matter what you say or do I have fundamental human rights. What makes you think that you, who cannot have this fully human experience, can tell me anything about gestation or how I experience it? Especially when you compare my existence and experience to that of brutish animals.
The rest of the civilized world thinks this country has lost its mind. It's no wonder. Look at this list of frenzied misogyny:
1. Making women carry still-born fetuses to full term because cows and pigs do. This week, Mr England, you supported a bill, the net effect of which, taken tandem with other restrictions, will result in doctors and women being unable to make private, medically-based, critical care decisions and some women being effectively forced to carry their dead or dying fetuses. Women are different from farm animals, Mr. England, and this bill, requiring a woman to carry a dead or dying fetus is inhumane and unethical. By forcing a woman to do this, you are violating her right not to be subjected to inhuman treatment and tortured. And, yes, involuntarily carrying a dead fetus to term, although not torture to you or to a pig, is torture for a woman. It is also a violation of her bodily integrity and a threat to her life and as such violates her right to life.
2. Consigning women to death to save a fetus. Abortions save women's lives. "Let women die" bills are happening all over the country. There is no simple or pretty way to put this. Every day, all over the world, women die because they do not have access to safe abortions. Yet, here we are, returning to the dark ages of maternal sacrifice. Do really have to type this sentence: this is a violation of women's fundamental right to life.
3. Criminalizing pregnancy and miscarriages and arresting, imprisoning and charging women who miscarry with murder, like Rennie Gibbs in Mississippi or at least 40 other similar cases in Alabama or like Bei Bei Shuai, a woman who is now imprisoned, is charged with murder after trying to commit suicide while pregnant. Pregnant women are becoming a special class subject to "special" laws that infringe on their fundamental rights.
4. Forcing women to undergo involuntary vaginal penetration (otherwise called rape) with a condom-covered, six- to eight-inch ultrasound probe. Pennsylvania is currently considering that option along with 11 other states. Trans-vaginal ultrasounds undertaken without a woman's consent are rape according to the legal definition of the word. This violates a woman's bodily integrity and also constitutes torture when used, as states are suggesting, as a form of control and oppression. Women have the right not to be raped by the state.
5. Disabling women or sacrificing their lives by either withholding medical treatment or forcing women to undergo involuntary medical procedures. We impose an unequal obligation on women to sacrifice their bodily integrity for another. For example, as in Tysiac v. Poland, in which a mother of two, became blind after her doctor refused to perform an abortion that she wanted that would have halted the course of a degenerative eye disease. If my newborn baby is in need of a kidney and you have a spare matching one, can I enact legislation that says the state can take yours and give it to her? No. We do not force people to donate their organs to benefit others, even those who have already been born. One of the most fundamental of all human rights is that humans be treated equally before the law. Denying a woman this right is a violation of her equal right to this protection.
6. Giving zygotes "personhood" rights while systematically stripping women of their fundamental rights. There is too much to say about the danger of personhood ideas creeping into health policy to do it here. But, consider what happens to a woman whose womb is not considered the "best" environment for a gestating fetus in a world of personhood-for-zygote legislation: who decides the best environment -- the state, her insurance company, her employer, her rapist who decides he really, really wants to be a father? Anyone but a woman.
7. Inhibiting, humiliating and punishing women for their choices to have an abortion for any reason by levying taxes specifically on abortion, including abortions sought by rape victims to end their involuntary insemination, imposing restrictive requirements like 24 hour wait periods and empowering doctors to lie to female patients about their fetuses in order to avoid prosecution. In Arizona, Kansas, Texas, Virginia, Colorado, Arkansas and other states around the country bills that make women "pay" for their choices are abounding.
8. Allowing employers to delve into women's private lives and only pay for insurance when they agree, for religious reasons, with how she choses to use birth control. In Arizona, which introduced such a bill this week, this means covering payment for birth control as a benefit only when a woman has proven that she will not use it to control her own reproduction (ie. as birth control). As much as I am worried about women and families in Arizona though, I am more worried about those in Alabama. You see, as recently revealed in a public policy poll in Alabama, conservative, evangelicals who support "personhood" related "pro-life" legislation and are fighting for their "religious liberty" -- 21 percent think interracial marriage should be illegal. So, what if they decide that an employee involved in an interracial marriage should not, by divine mandate, reproduce? Do they switch and provide birth control for this employee? Do they make contraception a necessary term of employment for people in interracial marriages? This violates a woman's right to privacy. My womb is one million times more private than your bedrooms, gentlemen.
9. Sacrificing women's overall health and the well-being of their families in order to stop them from exercising their fundamental human right to control their own bodies and reproduction. Texas just did that when it turned down $35million dollars in federal funds thereby ensuring that 300,000 low-income and uninsured Texas women will have no or greatly-reduced access to basic preventive and reproductive health care.
10. Depriving women of their ability to earn a living and support themselves and their families. Bills, like this one in Arizona, allow employers to fire women for using contraception. Women like these are being fired for not.
You presume to consign my daughters and yours to function as reproductive animals.
This is about sex and property, not life and morality. Sex because when women have sex and want to control their reproduction that threatens powerful social structures that rely on patriarchal access to and control over women as reproductive engines. Which brings us to property: control of reproduction was vital when the agricultural revolution took place and we, as a species, stopped meandering around plains in search of food. Reproduction and control of it ensured that a man could possess and consolidate wealth-building and food-producing land and then make sure it wasn't disaggregated by passing it on to one son he knew was his -- largely by claiming a woman and her gestation capability as property, too.
This is not about freedom of religion. If it were, we would, for example, allow Christian Scientists to refuse to pay for coverage of life-saving blood transfusions for employees. Religious freedom means I get to chose whether or not to be religious and if so, how. It does not mean that I get to impose my religion on others. Paying for insurance is part of the way we compensate employees, even when they use their insurance in ways we don't agree with and are in contravention of our own personal beliefs. I think that it is stupid, dangerous and immoral to chain smoke, especially around children whose lungs it irreparably harms. But, I still have to pay for an employee to have access to lung scans, nicotine patches and oxygen tanks. I do not get to say that my religious beliefs, which include keeping bodies as healthy as possible, make it possible for me to withhold payment of this employee's insurance. Guaranteed coverage of contraception and reproductive health care has overwhelming benefits for society, including reducing unwanted pregnancies and abortions. By inserting your religious beliefs so egregiously into government legislation and my life, you are imposing your religious beliefs on me. You don't like mandated insurance coverage for basic reproductive health humans with two X chromosomes? I don't like being bred by state compulsion like Mr. England's farm animals. I have a MORAL OBJECTION to being treated like an animal and not a human. You do not have to use contraception, you do not have to use birth control. But, that does not mean you have any right to tell me that I cannot if I chose. That is my right.
Property, control, sex, reproduction, morality, defining what is human. Sounds a lot like issues surrounding slavery 170 years ago. It is no surprise that of the 16 states that never repealed their anti-miscegenation laws, but rather had them overturned by the Supreme Court in 1967 more than half have introduced personhood bills. Like anti-miscegentation laws, anti-choice laws and bills that humiliate women, that treat them like beasts, that violate their bodily autonomy, are based on ignorance, entitlement and arrogance. These laws are not about "personhood" but "humanity." That women of color are massively, disproportionately affected by these assaults on their bodies and rights should also come as no surprise - their rights and their bodies have always been the most vulnerable assault.
This is about keeping women's wombs public and in other people's control -- the exact opposite of private and in their own control.
And, yes, I do know how complicated the ethics, bioethics and legal arguments related to these decisions are. You, apparently, do not. If you were truly concerned with sustaining life and improving its quality or in protecting innocent children, you would begin by having compassion and empathy for living, born people that require and deserve your attention. You feed them, educate them, lift them from poverty and misery. You do not compound these problems as you are with twisted interpretations of divine will. Only after that do you have the moral legitimacy to entertain the notion of talking to me about my uterus and what I do with it. By then, fully functional artificial wombs should be available and you can implant your own, since you are so fond of animal analogies, as was completed with this male mouse. What you are doing is disgraceful, hypocritical and morally corrupt.
And, no, I am not crazy. I am angry.
Mr. Santorum, Mr. England and Mr. Brownback and Mr. Perry you should consider not clinging so dangerously and perversely to the Agrarian Revolution ideas. Birth control and safe abortions are life-saving technologies. These archaic bills and laws, wasteful of time, money and lives, obscure an enduring and unchangeable truth: safe and effective family planning is the transformative social justice accomplishment of the 20th century. They will not go away. This is a revolution, too.
In a 1851 speech in which she argued for equal rights for women, Sojourner Truth said the following: "The poor men seems to be all in confusion, and don't know what to do. Why children, if you have woman's rights, give it to her and you will feel better. You will have your own rights, and they won't be so much trouble."
Do you, Terry England, Sam Brownback, Rick Santorum and friends even know who Sojourner Truth is?

Sexually Rejected Flies Turn to Booze

Offer a male fruit fly a choice between food soaked in alcohol and its nonalcoholic equivalent, and his decision will depend on whether he's mated recently or been rejected by a female. Flies that have been given the cold shoulder are more likely to go for the booze, researchers have found. It's the first discovery, in fruit flies, of a social interaction that influences future behavior.
"This is an amazing link," says neurogeneticist Troy Zars of the University of Missouri, Columbia, who was not involved in the study. Understanding the brain pathways responsible, he says, could help explain more broadly how rewarding behavior is reflected in the brain, and how the brain mediates complex behaviors.
Scientists already knew that when fruit flies drink alcohol, reward pathways in their brains are activated, making it a "pleasurable" experience. They also knew that social interactions are among the most rewarding experiences. So researchers led by neuroscientist Galit Shohat-Ophir, who conducted the work at the University of California, San Francisco, but who has now moved to the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Janelia Farm Research Campus in Ashburn, Virginia, wanted to see whether the two types of rewards were connected in the brain. "This was just a wild experiment to do," she says. "We didn't expect to see such dramatic results."
The scientists put 24 male fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) in one of two situations. Half the males were placed in vials in groups of four, each group with 20 female flies that were ready to mate, allowing the males to mate with multiple females. The other half of the males were put alone in vials, each with one female that had already mated, making her reject any courtship advances. After 4 days of repeated mating or rejection, the male flies were moved to new containers, with capillaries containing food mash—some with alcohol and others without—that they could eat. Each fly could chose which capillary to drink from, and the researchers measured the amount that was consumed.
The researchers expected all of the flies to prefer alcohol, but that's not what they found. "You see that the mated males actually have an aversion to the alcohol-containing food," Shohat-Ophir says. "And the rejected males have a high preference to that food with alcohol." On average, the rejected males drank four times more alcohol than the mated ones, her team reports online today in Science.
Shohat-Ophir and colleagues suspected that a chemical in the brain called neuropeptide F (NPF) might play a role in the link, as it's been previously discovered to mediate alcohol preference. So they measured the levels of NPF in the flies' brains after mating or after rejection by a female. The rejected males, they found, had half the amount of NPF in their brains. If the researchers lowered the levels of the NPF receptors in the brain, males that had mated acted like those that were rejected, drinking more ethanol-containing solution. And in the reverse experiment, if the team activated the NPF cells in the brain, rejected male flies no longer preferred the alcohol-laden food.
Shohat-Ophir says the take-home message is that experiences are translated into a molecular signature through levels of NPF. In turn, those NPF levels drive behavior—either drinking or not drinking—that will restore the reward system to normal levels.
"They showed that NPF is necessary to mediate this link between sex and alcohol, and also that NPF is sufficient for the association," Zars says. "That's two strong arguments that this is a real connection and not mediated in some other way."
But there are still questions, Zars says, about how the connection works at a molecular level. How does the reward of a sexual experience control NPF levels? How do NPF levels control alcohol consumption?
In addition, there is a protein in mammals, including humans, that is similar to NPF, called neuropeptide Y (NPY). Studies have shown that people with depression and post-traumatic stress syndrome have lower levels of NPY. Moreover, lower NPY levels have been linked to alcohol and drug consumption in rats, and certain gene variants of NPY found to be more common in human alcoholics. But whether NPY can be mediated by social experiences has yet to be studied. "Our results certainly don't translate directly from flies to humans," Shohat-Ophir says, "but it does bring up questions and suggest future studies."

steven howards

The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Wednesday in a case involving the arrest of a Colorado man who was thrown in jail after telling Vice President Cheney in 2006 that the Bush Administration's policies in Iraq were "disgusting."
Environmental consultant Steven Howards is suing the Secret Service agents who arrested him, contending that the arrest violated his First Amendment rights because it was nothing more than retaliation for the views he expressed to the vice president. The case pits the need for protecting public officials against the rights of citizens to express their views to the people elected to represent them.
What makes this case doubly fascinating is the fact that even the Secret Service agents involved in the arrest do not agree on what happened. The agents who actually saw the encounter testified they saw no threatening action.
In contrast, the agent who made the arrest, Virgil Reichle, accused the others of covering up, and some of Reichle's fellow agents have testified that he asked them to change their reports to match his. All have acknowledged that if any of these accusations is true, it would amount to a crime under federal law.
Most of what happened that day in 2006 is no longer in dispute. Steven Howards had just dropped off his eight-year-old son at a piano lesson in Beaver Creek, Colo., when he saw Vice President Cheney standing in the open shopping area near the ski lift, shaking hands and talking to people.
"I walked up to him and told him that I thought his policies in Iraq were disgusting, and I walked away, and then I left and picked up my child at piano camp," says Howards.
About ten minutes later, Howards was back in the area, but had become separated from his son. The agents, who didn't know Howards had lost track of his son, said they saw him looking anxious.
Agent Reichle of the Denver office went over to Howards and asked if he would answer a few questions about his conversation with Cheney. Howards said no and told Reichle that if he didn't want people accosting Cheney, he should "keep Cheney out of public places."
"The Secret Service agent got furious," Howards says, adding that he quickly found himself handcuffed "with my hands behind my back and I was being charged with felony assault of the vice president."
Though Howards initially told Reichle he had not touched the vice president, after reflecting on the encounter, he later conceded that he was wrong. He says he patted the vice president on the shoulder, meaning no harm. The Secret Service has since variously described Howards as having patted Cheney with an open palm, or hit him on the shoulder with an open palm.
"If there would have been some threat to the vice president, I would have been down in the pavement when the interaction occurred, not arrested ten minutes later," says an incredulous Howards.
In any event, Howards was taken to the Eagle County jail in handcuffs and held there until his wife bailed him out. A week later the local district attorney dropped the charges, but Howards wasn't dropping the matter.
"The more I thought about it, the madder I got. My picture was in the paper. I was depicted as a criminal, my name was tarnished," Howards says. "The issue is that this is retaliation for what I said to the vice president. It wasn't based upon any threat or any other impropriety."
So Howards sued the Secret Service agents, contending he was engaged in his constitutionally protected right to express himself to an elected official. The Denver-based federal appeals court ruled that the agents had sufficient grounds for taking Howards into custody, but the court also ruled that there was sufficient evidence to allow Howards to continue with his claim of retaliatory arrest.
Indeed, in depositions taken in 2007, the Secret Service agents directly contradicted each other. Reichle, the agent who made the arrest, did not himself witness Howard's encounter with Vice President Cheney. He testified that agents assigned to the vice president had told him that Howards made "unsolicited physical contact that was perceived in an aggressive and threatening nature."
But two other agents who actually witnessed the encounter between Howards and Cheney, did not support Reichle's account of threatening behavior, and they said Reichle had asked them to change their reports to comport with Reichle's version of events. Reichle has since been transferred to Guam.
Reichle, in his deposition, said he believed his fellow agents changed their story to avoid inconveniencing the vice president with a court case. "You would think if it was some sort of misunderstanding, somebody would have tapped me on the shoulder and said: 'Whoa, whoa, whoa, [Virgil], slow down. What you think happened isn't what happened,'" Reichle testified. "At no point did that happen."
But Daniel McLaughlin, one of the agents who did witness the encounter, said he did see Howards touch the vice president, but that there was no threatening or aggressive behavior. He testified that Reichle, in order to justify the arrest, had called him hours after the incident because he wanted McLaughlin to say there had been an assault. But McLaughlin refused to change his original report.
"Did you believe that Agent Reichle was telling you in essence, 'I want you to commit the crime of making false statements in an officially filed Secret Service document?'" asked David Lane, the lawyer for Howards.
"When he made the phone call, that's what I — I interpreted it as, that was unethical," McLaughlin responded. Pressed further, he conceded that the Reichle's request was more than unethical. Was it illegal? "Yes sir," replied McLaughlin.
McLaughin's account of the incident was supported by another agent on the scene, Adam Daniels, who said there had been contact, but no assault. A third agent, Dan Doyle, who was Richle's office-mate, sided with Reichle, and a fifth agent said he was not close enough to see.
Nationwide, the courts are divided on whether law enforcement officers can be sued for retaliatory arrest if there arguably were grounds for the arrest in the first place, the grounds here being that Howards said initially said he didn't touch the vice president, when in fact, the agents agreed he did touch him.
In this case, the agents, backed by the Obama administration, are contending that in cases involving protection of the president and vice president in particular, law enforcement officers must make split-second decisions — and that their protective actions would be chilled if they could be sued for making the wrong call. They want immunity from lawsuits.
Howards counters that the essence of American democracy is the ability of its citizens to express their opinions to elected officials, and that if police officers cannot be held accountable for retaliatory arrests, the rights of citizens will be greatly inhibited.

1700 mile pipeline

Quoting "a White House official," CNN and USA Today are reporting that in a speech tomorrow President Obama will push for fast-tracking the construction of the southern portion of the Keystone XL pipeline.
USA Today reports:
"While the State Department blocked permitting of the entire project earlier this year, the White House late last month expressed support of TransCanada's plan to move forward with building the southern segment from Cushing, Okla., to the Gulf of Mexico.
"While visiting Cushing on Thursday as part of a trip to promote his energy policy, Obama will reiterate the administration stance that expediting construction of the southern segment will help relieve a 'bottleneck of oil' and bring domestic resources to market, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the president has yet to speak on the matter."
Back in February, TransCanada said it would begin work on the Oklahoma-to-Texas portion of the proposed 1,700 mile pipeline. TransCanada said that portion could be complete in mid to late 2013.
CNN reports that Obama's support of the pipeline will result in opposition from environmentalists, but it could also help blunt criticism from Republicans that the president isn't doing enough to relieve Americans from high gas prices.
What's clear is that Obama's announcement won't be met with cheers from oil executives. The heads of four big energy companies — Continental Resources, Chesapeake Energy, Devon Energy and Sandridge Energy — said as much in an an open letter to the president published in The Oklahoman.
Their message to the president: Approve the entire XL pipeline, now. They write:
"Approval of the entire Keystone XL pipeline should happen now — not after the election. Yes, we are pleased TransCanada decided to build a critical section of the project from Cushing to the Gulf Coast. We note that this section doesn't require State Department approval. However, America's greatest benefit will come when we can transport oil from our best energy partner, Canada, and oil-rich North Dakotaand Montana."

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


why would you want to live somewhere SO COLD?!

dance dance

plastic into oil

Only 7 percent of plastic waste in the United States is recycled each year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. A startup company in Niagara Falls says it can increase that amount and reduce the country's dependence on foreign oil at the same time.
It all starts with a machine known as the Plastic-Eating Monster. Thousands of pounds of shredded milk jugs, water bottles and grocery bags tumble into a large tank, where they're melted together and vaporized. This waste comes from landfills and dumps from all over the United States.
"Basically, they've been mining their piles for us and sending them here," says John Bordynuik, who heads his namesake company, JBI Inc. He invented a process that converts plastic into oil by rearranging its hydrocarbon chains.
Vying For Mainstream Acceptance
According to tests by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, JBI's patented technology is efficient, with close to 90 percent of plastics coming out as fuel. Bordynuik says that makes the case for this kind of recycling to go mainstream.
"When there have been attempts in the past to make fuel from plastic, it's been low-quality, low-flashpoint, kind of sludgy," he says. "In this case here, we're making a very highly refined, consistent product that's within specifications of any standardized fuel."
JBI executive Bob Molodynia points to a spout at the other end of the plastic-eating machine, where a thin, brown liquid drips out.
"You could tap this right now and this is ready to go," he says. "That's a No. 6 fuel. That's what a lot of [companies] like U.S. Steel use, a lot of major companies — that's what they pay the big bucks for, right there."
Each barrel of oil costs about $10 to produce. JBI can sell it for around $100 through a national distributor. The young company is already producing a few thousand gallons of oil a day. It has signed lucrative deals to set up operations next to companies with large volumes of plastic waste.
But in its rush to grow, JBI has been accused by the Securities and Exchange Commission of overvaluing some of its assets in order to raise more funds.
The Stigma Of An 'Alternative Fuel' Label
And Bordynuik says it has been hard to find acceptance from potential oil buyers because JBI's product has been dubbed a "green fuel."
"We don't make a synthetic 'other' product that has problems," he says. "We make an in-spec fuel like everyone else. If anything, the word 'alternative' has a stigma attached to it, more so because of prior attempts."
If JBI has its way, plastics will become a significant source of domestic fuel that reduces the U.S. dependence on foreign oil. But just how "green" is JBI's recycling, when it produces a fossil fuel that pollutes just like any other?
"To enter themselves into this industry, I think that they've all bought into the idea of producing a fuel," says Carson Maxted of Resource Recycling, the plastic recycling industry's trade journal.
Maxted says he's not sure whether converting plastic to oil can be considered recycling, or even environmentally friendly. But he says JBI's methods can co-exist, and even complement, current recycling practices.
"They're getting value from something that would otherwise go to the landfill," he says, "because the plastics most of them are looking for, the plastics that are not easily recycled, they're of low quality or mixed-plastic types, or they're dirty — things that wouldn't be accepted into a recycler."
And because there's no lack of waste-plastic supply, and no lack of demand for oil, Maxted says the technology has the potential to transform both industries.

Monday, March 19, 2012

classes and classifications of coal

Coal is commonly classified according to rank and sulfur content.  Rank is based on percentage of carbon (C) in coal and its heat when combusted.

coal reserves

coal for energy

Total U.S. Energy Consumption in 2006 (National Academy of Science)
Energy Sources Used to Generate Electricity in the U.S. (2006)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

drowning the shamrock

Drowning the Shamrock

"Hail glorious Saint Patrick dear saint of our isle
On us thy poor children look down with a smile —"
But I'm not singing hymns and I'm not saying prayers
No, I'm gritting my teeth as I walk down the stairs
And into the street with these louts fiercely drinking
And screeching and lurching, and here's what I'm thinking —
They're using a stereotype, a narrow example,
A fraction, not even a marketing sample
To imitate Ireland, from which they don't come!
So unless that's just stupid, unless it's plain dumb,
All these kids from New Jersey and the five boroughs
And hundreds of cities, all drowning their sorrows,
With bottles and glasses and heads getting broken
(Believe me, just ask the mayor of Hoboken)
All that mindlessness, shouting and getting plain stocious —
That isn't Irish, that's simply atrocious.
I've another word too for it, this one's more stinging
I call it "racism." See, just 'cause you're singing
Some drunken old ballad on Saint Patrick's Day
Does that make you Irish? Oh, no — no way.
Nor does a tee-shirt that asks you to kiss them —
If they never come back I surely won't miss them
Or their beer cans and badges and wild maudlin bawling
And hammered and out of it, bodies all sprawling.
They're not of Joyce or of Yeats, Wilde, or Shaw.
How many Nobel Laureates does Dublin have? Four!
Think of this as you wince through Saint Patrick's guano —
Not every Italian is Tony Soprano.

Beautiful Compounds

Beautiful Compounds

Some common chemicals, illustrated.

Friday, March 16, 2012


boys with their pants down

the road we've traveled

beginning of the syrian uprising

Last February, a group of young people were arrested for spray-painting graffiti on the walls of their school in the southern Syrian city of Daraa. They were beaten and interrogated. A year ago this Sunday, people went out to protest those arrests. And so began the Syrian uprising — an uprising that in some parts of Syria has turned into an armed insurgency and seen government troops respond with untold brutality. In all, thousands of people have died, with no clear end in sight.
In some ways, it doesn't even matter if the story is true. It's the story that many Syrians believe, and it's the story that started the revolution. We'll tell you what we know: It was February of last year. Two Arab dictators had already stepped down; other Arab countries were erupting in protest.
A group of Syrians spray-painted the tell-tale phrase of the Arab Spring on the wall of a school: "The people want the fall of the regime." But they added a line, says Nabeel al-Rashidat, who lived next-door to the school: "It's your turn, doctor."
It was a reference to Syrian President Bashar Assad, who trained as an ophthalmologist. And it got Rashidat and at least 20 others arrested.
Rashidat has since escaped from Syria to Jordan.
Going through the list of those detained that day, he dispels the rumor that the detainees were mostly children.
Meeting With Teen
Up until now, it's been nearly impossible to verify the creation myth of the Syrian uprising. Syria rarely allows Western reporters into the country. Only two of the original detainees have managed to make it out of Syria. We're told most of the others were eventually released but went into hiding.
The second one who made it out is a teenager whose name we can't mention.
We met him at an overcrowded apartment building that houses Syrians who come to Jordan illegally. It's heavily guarded by Jordanian police, security and intelligence. We were only allowed to talk for a few minutes. He confirms that he was one of those who first spray-painted the graffiti. They call him the "child of freedom." But at 19 years old, he has the face of a 40-year-old, and his body is hunched and emaciated. He has scars around his neck.
He later tells us by phone that he was detained for months. He says he was hanged by his wrists for a day at a time, beaten and tortured. His speech is hard for our interpreter to understand. He says it was altered by the electric shocks.
Damascus Protest
By the time he first went to jail, back in February 2011, young Syrian activists were already online, trying to organize some kind of uprising like those in Tunisia and Egypt. They eventually chose March 15 as their start date. Dozens of people turned out for demonstrations in Syria's capital, Damascus.
Protesters shouted one simple word: "Freedom." Many of them were later arrested. In the end, little came of the March 15 protests. The next day, back in Daraa, relatives of the detained graffiti writers like the 19-year-old we met went to the head of the security forces.
"Forget your children," they say he told them. "Just make more children. And if you don't know how to make more, I'll send someone to show you."
Ibrahim Abazid heard the story from his relatives. He says at first they didn't know what to do. The next day was a Friday.
"We went to the mosque and it happened just like this," Abazid says. "Nobody — nobody planned it."
A few guys started shouting "Allahu akbar" — "God is great" — then everybody joined in. Next thing they knew, they met up with a group of protesters from another mosque and started marching toward the governor's house. Officials told them to go home. Then the shooting started.
"What's happened? Blood, shouting, crying," Abazid recalls. "It's the first time it's happened in Syria. This is the first time for me, [to] see the live shooting."
Two people who were shot in the chest fell to the ground. Abazid and his friends took them away in cars. A third person who was shot that day later died.
Nationwide Movement
Soon, in cities and towns around the country, thousands of Syrians were taking to the streets, chanting in solidarity with the protesters who died and detainees who'd come to be known as the "children of Daraa." Even though most of them weren't actually children, it was enough to spark a revolution.
The Syrian government sent envoys to Daraa to pay compensation for the protesters who'd been killed. Residents met the envoys to demand the release of the detainees plus a list of reforms for Daraa and for all of Syria. Abazid and the protesters waited at the mosque for the results of the meeting, but security forces surrounded them.
"It's starting the shooting," Abazid said.
At first he thought they were just shooting in the air.
"But after five minutes, that moment we know they are coming to kill us," Abazid says, "because they are shooting direct to our chest."
Dozens more were killed. A few weeks later, the Syrian army laid siege to Daraa for nearly a month, killing hundreds of people, cutting electricity, depriving residents of food, shelling homes and mosques and posting snipers on buildings. All the while, the regime promised to reform.
The word "Daraa" became a rallying cry at protests that swelled around the country. Then, by last summer, some protesters began arming themselves, and soldiers began defecting and joining the protesters. The government struck back with even more brutal force.
In recent weeks, government troops have all but crushed the armed uprising in the central city of Homs and the northern city of Idlib. Hundreds of civilians have died.
Still, the protesters, those young men and activists who first rose up in Daraa, Damascus and all over Syria, have vowed to continue with their fight, even if it takes years. As one protester told NPR, the first time he shouted the word "freedom," one year ago, was the first time he touched his dignity. Now, he says, there's no going back.

reporting is in the details

$4 gas

obama commenting on limbaugh

"I don’t know what’s in Rush Limbaugh’s heart so I’m not going to comment on the sincerity of his apology. What I can comment on is the fact that all decent folks can agree that the remarks that were made don’t have any place in the public discourse. And, you know, the reason I called Ms. Fluke is because I thought about Malia and Sasha. And one of the things I want them to do as they get older is to engage in issues they care about - even ones I may not agree with them on. I want them to be able to speak their mind in a civil and thoughtful way. And I don’t want them attacked or called horrible names because they’re being good citizens. And I wanted Sandra to know that I thought her parents should be proud of her."
— President Obama, commenting on the Rush Limbaugh controversy in today’s press conference. (via dcdecoder) (via forsheiswhatiam)

Thursday, March 15, 2012


Jealousy is an emotion and typically refers to the negative thoughts and feelings of insecurity, fear, and anxiety over an anticipated loss of something that the person values, particularly in reference to a human connection. Jealousy often consists of a combination of presenting emotions such as anger, resentment, inadequacy, helplessness and disgust. It is not to be confused with envy.
Jealousy is a familiar experience in human relationships. It has been observed in infants five months and older. Some claim that jealousy is seen in every culture; however, others claim jealousy is a culture-specific phenomenon.
Jealousy is often reinforced as a series of particularly strong emotions and constructed as a universal human experience; it has been a theme of many artistic works that seek to privilege monogamous discourses. Psychologists have proposed several models of the processes underlying jealousy and have identified factors that result in jealousy. Sociologists have demonstrated that cultural beliefs and values play an important role in determining what triggers jealousy and what constitutes socially acceptable expressions of jealousy. Biologists have identified factors that may unconsciously influence the expression of jealousy. Artists have explored the theme of jealousy in photographs, paintings, movies, songs, plays, poems, and books. Theologians have offered religious views of jealousy based on the scriptures of their respective faiths.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

fatty foods lower sperm count

Men who eat a lot of fatty foods have lower quality sperm than men who avoid them, a new study found.
Saturated fat, the stuff in meat and dairy foods, was associated with lower sperm counts. The men eating the most saturated fat had 35 percent fewer sperm than men eating the least.
On the bright side, the men who ate more omega-3 fats — the kind found in fish and some plants — had slightly more sperm that were correctly formed than their brethren who ate less.
The results, though preliminary, suggest there's something men can do to boost the odds their sperm are up to their evolutionary task: eat better.
  "Men really have very few things that they can modify with regards to fertility," says Jill Attaman, an assistant professor at Dartmouth Medical School, and a fertility specialist at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire. She was the lead author on the study, which was just published in Human Reproduction.
Scientists have only recently started looking at how lifestyle factors like diet and exercise affect men's fertility. Known risks including smoking, heavy use of alcohol and recreational drugs, and heat on the testicles.
This study doesn't say if the men's diet caused the decline in sperm count. It just says they may be connected.
The 99 men in this study were all clients at fertility clinics. They filled out a questionnaire listing what they ate.
Male infertility is common. It affects 10 to 15 percent of couples. When a couple has difficulty conceiving a child, about one-third of the time the problem is with the man, and one-third of the time it's with the woman.
Almost three-quarters of the men in the Dartmouth study were overweight or obese. Attaman says she doesn't know what role that plays in their fertility, but the number's similar to men in the general population. And previous studies have found that being obese can hurt male fertility.

Sunday, March 11, 2012


Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is a name used by several states in the United States of America for the agency charged with proposing and enforcing environmental law. The equivalent federal agency is called the Environmental Protection Agency.

octopus mating

real reasons to take LSD

You might be tempted to chuckle about some Norwegian researchers peering back at experiments done during the '60s and '70s with LSD as a treatment for alcoholism.
But don't.
Their rigorous analysis, combining data from six different studies, concludes that one dose of the hallucinogenic drug might just help.
The past studies randomly assigned patients to get a strong dose of LSD or something else (another drug, such as amphetamine, a low dose of LSD or nothing special). And the results provide evidence for a beneficial effect on abstinence from alcohol.
For what it's worth, the analysis, just published online by the Journal of Psychopharmacology, was funded by the Research Council of Norway, not exactly a fringe outfit.
These mash-ups of previously published studies can be done well or badly, so I talked with Matthew W Johnson, a psychologist at Johns Hopkins. He said this so-called meta-analysis helped quantify the effect and give more heft to work that had suggested LSD could work.

The Hopkins group that Johnson is part of has been investigating the use of psilocybin, the hallucinogen in "magic mushrooms," for smoking cessation and to help terminal cancer patients cope with their illness. They've also taken a look at Salvinorin A, a hallucinogen in salvia, too.
Why would hallucinogens be suited for these kinds of treatments? Johnson said people taking the drugs in the studies he's helped with report that it is "one of the most meaningful experiences — or the most meaningful — in their life."
Some says the "trip" changes the direction of their lives and can trigger a redefinition of how they see themselves. That could be as profound as, "I'm now a nondrinker, or whatever the adciction may be," he said.
Of course, the LSD experiments analyzed in the latest report involved about 500 people. And the drug can cause very disturbing problems for some people who take it — especially at high doses. Larger, more careful studies would be required to assess the approach.
As it is, Johnson said various tests of hallucinogens as treatments suggest that the right surroundings and support are important during a therapeutic trip. "There have been plenty of people who have been alcoholics who have taken LSD, and it has done nothing for their alcoholism," Johnson said.

gorilla genome

The gorilla genome sequence was published in Nature last week. Here's the abstract:

Gorillas are humans' closest living relatives after chimpanzees, and are of comparable importance for the study of human origins and evolution. Here we present the assembly and analysis of a genome sequence for the western lowland gorilla, and compare the whole genomes of all extant great ape genera. We propose a synthesis of genetic and fossil evidence consistent with placing the human-chimpanzee and human-chimpanzee-gorilla speciation events at approximately 6 and 10 million years ago. In 30% of the genome, gorilla is closer to human or chimpanzee than the latter are to each other; this is rarer around coding genes, indicating pervasive selection throughout great ape evolution, and has functional consequences in gene expression. A comparison of protein coding genes reveals approximately 500 genes showing accelerated evolution on each of the gorilla, human and chimpanzee lineages, and evidence for parallel acceleration, particularly of genes involved in hearing. We also compare the western and eastern gorilla species, estimating an average sequence divergence time 1.75 million years ago, but with evidence for more recent genetic exchange and a population bottleneck in the eastern species. The use of the genome sequence in these and future analyses will promote a deeper understanding of great ape biology and evolution.

Saturday, March 10, 2012


"[T]oo many whites are getting away with drug use. Too many whites are getting away with drug sales. Too many whites are getting away with trafficking in this stuff. The answer to this disparity is not to start letting people out of jail because we're not putting others in jail who are breaking the law. The answer is to go out and find the ones who are getting away with it, convict them and send them up the river, too."- October 5, 1995
In 2006, Limbaugh was arrested for prescription drug fraud (oxycodone and hydrocodone) and had to attend 18 months of rehabilitation. HYPOCRITE. 
Before his addiction became known, Limbaugh had condemned illegal drug use on his television program, stating that "Drug use, some might say, is destroying this country. And we have laws against selling drugs, pushing drugs, using drugs, importing drugs. ... And so if people are violating the law by doing drugs, they ought to be accused and they ought to be convicted and they ought to be sent up."

In his first New York Times best seller, Limbaugh describes himself as conservative, and is critical of broadcasters in many media outlets for claiming to be objective. He has criticized political centrists, independents, and moderate conservatives, claiming they are responsible for Democrat Barack Obama's victory over Republican John McCain in the 2008 U.S. Presidential Election and inviting them to leave the Republican party. He calls for the adoption of core conservative philosophies in order to ensure the survival of the Republican party.[37][38][39]
Limbaugh is critical of environmentalism and climate science.[40] He has disputed claims of anthropogenic global warming, and the relationship between CFCs and depletion of the ozone layer, saying the scientific evidence does not support them.[41] Limbaugh has argued against thescientific opinion on climate change saying the alleged scientific consensus "is just a bunch of scientists organized around a political proposition. You can't have consensus in science ... they think consensus is the way to sell it because, 'Oh, but all these wonderful people agree.'"[42]Limbaugh has used the term "environmentalist wacko" when referring to left-leaning environmental advocates.[43] As a rhetorical device, he has also used the term to refer to more mainstream climate scientists and other environmental scientists and advocates with whom he disagrees.[44]
Limbaugh is critical of feminism, saying that "Feminism was established so as to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream of society."[45] He also popularized the term "feminazi", referring to about two dozen feminists "to whom the most important thing in life is ensuring that as many abortions as possible occur."[46] He credited his friend Tom Hazlett, a professor of law and economics at George Mason University, with coining the term.[47]
Limbaugh supports capital punishment, saying "the only thing cruel about the death penalty is last-minute stays."[41]
Limbaugh has asserted that African-Americans, in contrast with other minority groups, are "left behind" socially because they have been systematically trained from a young age to hate America through a widespread movement headed by figures such as Jeremiah WrightWilliam Ayers, and Barack and Michelle Obama.[50]
James Rainey of the Los Angeles Times quoted Limbaugh as saying after the 2008 election of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States that the Democrats will "take your 401(k), put it in the Social Security Trust Fund."[51]

Some groups and individuals have criticized Limbaugh's accuracy. The July/August 1994 issue of Extra!, a publication of the progressive groupFairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), alleges 50 different inaccuracies and distortions in Limbaugh's commentary.[61][62] Others have since joined FAIR in questioning Limbaugh's facts. Al Franken, a former comedian and current Democratic Senator of Minnesota, wrote a satirical book (Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations) in which he accused Limbaugh of distorting facts to serve his own political biases.[63]
Limbaugh has been criticized for inaccuracies by the Environmental Defense Fund. A defense fund report authored by Princeton Universityendowed geoscience professor Michael Oppenheimer and professor of biology David Wilcove lists 14 significant scientific facts that, the authors allege, Limbaugh misrepresented in his book The Way Things Ought to Be.[64] The authors conclude that "Rush Limbaugh ... allows his political bias to distort the truth about a whole range of important scientific issues."
In October 2006, Michael J. Fox, who suffers from Parkinson's disease, was featured in a political TV ad in which he advocated funding for stem cell research. In response to the ad, Limbaugh said the following: "He is exaggerating the effects of the disease. He's moving all around and shaking and it's purely an act. ... This is really shameless of Michael J. Fox. Either he didn't take his medication or he's acting."[116] Major media outlets criticized Limbaugh for his characterization of Fox's symptoms,[116] while Fox himself remained largely silent, responding simply, "I'm kind of lucky right now. It's ironic, given some of the things that have been said in the last couple days, that my pills are working really well."[117]
OWe need to shut down this Gitmo prison? Well, don't shut it down - we just need to start an advertising campaign. We need to call it, 'Gitmo, the Muslim resort.' Any resort that treated people like this would have ads all over the New York Times trying to get people to come down and visit for some R&R, for some rest and relaxation.n March 19, 2007, Limbaugh referred to a Los Angeles Times editorial by David Ehrenstein claiming that Barack Obama was filling the role of the "magic negro", and that this explained his appeal to voters.[118] Limbaugh then later played a song by Paul Shanklin entitled "Barack the Magic Negro,"[119] sung to the tune of "Puff the Magic Dragon".[120]
On February 29, 2012, Limbaugh commented on Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke, who had testified before the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee in support of mandated health coverage for contraceptives. On his radio show, Limbaugh described Fluke as a "slut", "prostitute" and "round-heeled", while questioning whether her parents were proud of her for supporting the government's ruling that religiously affiliated institutions should provide health insurance plans that include contraception.[147][148][149][150] Already facing criticism, he repeated his claims the following day and further suggested that Fluke, "and the rest of you feminazis," make a sex tape in exchange for contraceptive funding, along with offering to buy the women of Georgetown University "as much aspirin to put between their knees as they want."[151] The comments caused a continuing controversy for Limbaugh forming a public backlash, organized by social media, that pressured companies to stop advertising on his show. On March 3, 2012 Limbaugh reiterated his claims against Fluke and insurance coverage of contraception[152] before later apologizing, saying, "I chose the wrong words in my analogy ... I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke"[153], in response to criticism from across the political spectrum including the president.[148][154][155][156][157][158][159][160] On March 5, Limbaugh responded to the reaction he'd received stating: "I acted too much like the leftists who despise me. I descended to their level, using names and exaggerations. It's what we've come to expect from them, but it's way beneath me."[161]
“Look, let me put it to you this way: the NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons. There, I said it.”
“The NAACP should have riot rehearsal. They should get a liquor store and practice robberies.”
[To an African American female caller]: “Take that bone out of your nose and call me back.”
 “We need segregated buses… This is Obama’s America.”
"Militant feminists are pro-choice because it's their ultimate avenue of power over men. And believe me, to them it is a question of power. It is their attempt to impose their will on the rest of society, particularly on men."
"The worst of all of this is the lie that condoms really protect against AIDS. The condom failure rate can be as high as 20 percent. Would you get on a plane — or put your children on a plane — if one of five passengers would be killed on the flight? Well, the statistic holds for condoms, folks."
"There are more acres of forest land in America today than when Columbus discovered the continent in 1492."
"Do you know we have more acreage of forest land in the United States today than we did at the time the Constitution was written?"
"We need to shut down this Gitmo prison? Well, don't shut it down - we just need to start an advertising campaign. We need to call it, 'Gitmo, the Muslim resort.' Any resort that treated people like this would have ads all over the New York Times trying to get people to come down and visit for some R&R, for some rest and relaxation."
"You know, this is all BS, as far as I'm concerned. Cross species evolution, I don't think anybody's ever proven that. They're going out of their way now to establish evolution as a mechanism for creation, which, of course, you can't do."
"Black unemployment is terrible. The black frame of mind is terrible, they're depressed, they're down — Obama's not doing anything for 'em. How is that hoax and change workin' for ya? They're all livid. I mean, they thought there were gonna be an exact 180-degree economic reversal and it's done nothing but get bad for everybody, but they're especially upset about it because they look at him as one of them, and now they feel abandoned. And I'm sure Tiger Woods' choice of females not helping 'em out with their attitudes there either."
"And I'm not going to apologize for it, I'm just quoting Emanuel. It's in the news. I think the news is that he's out there calling Obama's number one supporters effing retards. So now there's going to be a meeting. There's going to be a retard summit at the White House, much like the beer summit between Obama and Gates and that cop in Cambridge."
"From this day forward, somebody propose it, liberals should not be allowed to buy guns. It's just that simple. Liberals should have their speech controlled and not be allowed to buy guns. I mean if we want to get serious about this, if we want to face this head on, we’re gonna have to openly admit, liberals should not be allowed to buy guns, nor should they be allowed to use computer keyboards or typewriters, word processors or e-mails, and they should have their speech controlled. If we did those three or four things, I can’t tell you what a sane, calm, civil, fun-loving society we would have. Take guns out of the possession, out of the hands of liberals, take their typewriters and their keyboards away from ‘em, don’t let ‘em anywhere near a gun, and control their speech. You would wipe out 90% of the crime, 85 to 95% of the hate, and a hundred percent of the lies from society."