Notes for Philcon “Recent Science Headlines” panel
Links for various topics I prepared for the panel
- Phase down (not phase out) of fossil fuels including coal – thanks, Australia (and China and India).
- Developing countries say they need fossil fuels to help their people
- Sinking countries (e. g. the Marshall Islands) point out that this policy can cause their entire nations to cease to be
- Creation of a carbon market (nations can reduce emissions more than their quota and sell the “credit” to another country)
- Poor countries continue to be promised funding that nobody actually supplies (except Scotland)
Mostly promises, little action. See you in Egypt next year.
Climate Change Causes Disasters
Booster shots – we’ve all heard about ‘em.
Treatments coming online!
Spinal Cord Repair!
Astronauts hide in shelters as thousands of debris particles are generated. Russia inexplicably accuses the West of “hypocrisy”.
Example: Boeing/Blue Origin team up for “Orbital Reef”
China, too: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiangong_space_station
Toliman searches for extraterrestrial habitable planets
The Washington Post embarrasses itself
I just dashed off an angry letter to the Post about their recent article, UFOs exist and everyone needs to adjust to that fact. I reproduce my text below.
The above article is apparently a fairly subtle joke that has taken in the Post’s editorial team. Surely you wouldn’t post something so afactual and nonsensical without a disclaimer in a serious “Perspective” demi-editorial? Surely you should at least have had an article by a person competent in some sort of science? I find it hard to believe you were taken in.
On the off-chance you took that … set of words … seriously (I’m eliding my more strident description), may I suggest you consult Professor Massimo Pigliucci (CUNY), or Professor Steven Novella (Yale Med), or someone from the CSI (Center for Skeptical Inquiry)? Massimo in particular as a philosopher and scientist could point out both the factual incorrectness of some of the assertions, and the logical fallacy blatantly present in the phrase, “… but even those skeptics could not completely rule out the possibility that extraterrestrial activity was involved.”
I await your retraction.
The article is a hot mess of nonsense. I’m embarrassed for every newspaper editor, just because their colleagues published this waste of photons.
(Image courtesy Wikipedia user D J Shin)
Bees are not aliens–When real news is not weird enough
This is apparently my day to rag on Chuck Shepherd.
In today’s News of the Weird, Chuck writes, “An ovipositor is the organ that inserts or receives an egg (especially from parasites like bees — and that thing in “Alien”).”
Bees are not parasites! They lay their eggs in various structures they make, whether hives, holes in the ground, or holes drilled in wood.
OK, there are a very few bees that are nest parasites, but even they lay their eggs in holes in the ground, not in other organisms as Chuck implies.
(Receives? I’m not familiar with any usage of the term “ovipositor” for an organ that receives eggs.)
I’m pretty sure he was thinking of the various wasps that paralyze a living organism, then lay eggs on/in it, or the wasps that use the ovipositor to insert their eggs into plants, but bees and wasps can’t just be confused like that!
I like Chuck’s column, please don’t take this as a recommendation to avoid. He just knows (apparently) not very much about entomology.
Grocery Shopping With Obby
I’ve been reading The Devil’s Panties for years now. I’ve always enjoyed its slice-of-life humor. Since creator Jennie Breeden married Obby, there have been occasional position-taking strips. Obbie is listed as co-writer these days, maybe he’s more of an advocate. This one is very much to the point:
I had the pleasure of meeting Jennie at Dragon Con in 2014. (Obby was away from their table when I went by.) Take a look at their comic, I think you’ll like it–and it will never, ever insult your intelligence or tell you to eat Free Range Kale.
Jimmy Kimmel gets the remarkably-uncoveted “Media Gets It Right” award for his take on vaccination.
Media Getting It Right: Anger at Antivaxxers
There are lots of blogs and columns that take bad science coverage to task. I want to provide balance, so I’m starting a new subcategory here: good science journalism. I think those who put forth the effort and spend the time to get things right deserve some recognition.
Anyone who cares about the truth of things on the Internet knows about Snopes, the site that documents and analyzes urban legends. Today I read an article on Snopes about a mother’s fury at how antivaxxers, with their lies, laziness and lack of a conscience have now very possibly exposed her son Griffin to deadly risk of measles, an almost-totally-preventable disease.
I’m with Jennifer Hibben-White:
If you have chosen to not vaccinate yourself or your child, I blame you.
I blame you.
You have stood on the shoulders of our collective protection for too long. From that high height, we have given you the PRIVILEGE of our protection, for free. And in return, you gave me this week. A week from hell. Wherein I don’t know if my BABY will develop something that has DEATH as a potential outcome.
I appreciate Hibben-White’s reasoned and powerful rage, and I appreciate Barbara and David Mikkelson’s help in spreading the message.