Monday, May 05, 2008


Frantically working on a book proposal, but still surfing. Here are a few links for fun and annoyance...

I am with the Codger on this one: can't fault a tame bear for acting like a bear. More fatalistic societies don't:

"When an elephant kills its mahout in Sri Lanka and India, new mahouts clamor to take over. I co-advised a masters student who studied the macho phenomenon among Sri Lankan mahouts, and she found that 34% of mahouts said they would prefer a killer elephant to a non-killer. Why? Because they would gain status among their peers, and because the elephants' owners would be less likely to interfere with their work."

Julie Zickefoose visits the Fuertes paintings at Cornell. if you ever get a chance, go. Especially good on raptors of course.

WEIRD stuff on pigeon navigation (and by extension migration.) We knew they could detect magnetic fields: now they can see them?

And please run "Quantum Zeno effect" by me again...

"This is a known quantum effect, an utterly scientific version of "a watched pot never boils" - the more you observe such a statistical quantum process, the slower it gets, because each time you check you redefine the particle as absolutely being where it is. It's like driving the family car, but every time a kid asks "Are we there yet?" you get teleported back to where you started."

This NYT piece by Natalie Angier discusses our human tendency to make heroes and villains out of animals in nature. While some controls may be needed to re- balance situations that we have affected, I always have a soft spot for starlings, pigeons, crows, gulls and other "weeds".

Gary Nabhan has a new book coming on local and endangered food plants and animals. It is on my list!

Could Alzheimer's be a form of Diabetes?

Food and Big Nanny: the politics of raw milk (HT Bittman.) Sure there are dangers, but.. pasteurizing and, now, putting bugs back in because we need them? Hmmmm. Good quote:

"But grass-eating cows have become so rare that, to California health officials, they seemed unnatural. The norms of industrial dairying had become so deeply ingrained that a regulator could jump to the conclusion that all milk is dirty until pasteurized."

"Horrible Creeping Statism" as Peculiar says: apparently MANY states(twenty including NM) allow you to be asked for your papers on the street-- and the Supreme Court agrees! HT hb of Monadology, in our comments.

And finally, Andrew Stuttaford joins the chorus against Ben Stein's anti- science movie and silly- ass interviews, quoting Jacob Bronowski in The Ascent of Man:

"It’s said that science will dehumanize people and turn them into numbers. That’s false, tragically false. Look for yourself. This is the concentration camp and crematorium at Auschwitz. This is where people were turned into numbers. Into this pond were flushed the ashes of some four million people. And that was not done by gas. It was done by arrogance, it was done by dogma, it was done by ignorance. When people believe that they have absolute knowledge, with no test in reality, this is how they behave. This is what men do when they aspire to the knowledge of gods. Science is a very human form of knowledge. We are always at the brink of the known; we always feel forward for what is to be hoped. Every judgment in science stands on the edge of error and is personal. Science is a tribute to what we can know although we are fallible. In the end, the words were said by Oliver Cromwell: “I beseech you in the bowels of Christ: Think it possible you may be mistaken.”


Anonymous said...

Quantum Pigeons. Very cool.

What if the human brain is quantum, too? What would that explain? Sanity, insanity, consciousness?


Chas S. Clifton said...

When is Cabela's going to have cryptochrome goggles?

Ted said...

Why is it that anyone who dares question Darwin's racist dogma is "anti-science"?
REAL science is about questioning alleged "authority" and continuing to search for answers, not excuses.
Remember the same atheists that laud torture as "science" were "experimenting" without anestesia on those folks they were shoving in the gas chambers and ovens at Auschwitz, and how is it that we've forgotten that most of the millions murdered by their own governments in the last century were the victims of states who denied the existence of a Deity?
BTW, those Auschwitz victims were theists, also.

Steve Bodio said...

I do not consider Darwin particularly racist for the context of his time, and Wallace was extremely ANTI- racist, well ahead of his time. Nor do I consider religion and evolution to be in conflict (Theodore Dobzhansky, one of the makers of the modern synthesis in evolution, was a devout Eastern Orthodox Christian.) The POPE believes in evolution!

The Nazis perverted science, as did Lysenko-- an anti Darwinian and Stalinist-- in the Soviet Union. He was responsible both for individuals' persecution and famines.

Ben Stein, in a radio interview, said that SCIENCE, not just evolution, leads to the gas chamber, and repeated it. I call 'em as I see 'em.

Mike Spies said...

On a lighter note, I was amused by the bit on California cows and the issue of cows eating grass. Pretty unnatural, I guess...

I was reminded of the California cheese commercials showing "happy cows" in fields of green grass. We only have green grass for a few weeks of the year, then it succumbs to the sun and the long rainless Summer. The grass has mostly browned off now, but if you grew up here in the country, that golden grass is beautiful, however unnatural.

Dog Training Maryland said...

Hi Steve,

Blog post in the LA Times today says Peregrines in CA have the highest concentration of flame retardant chemicals of any living animals. The story claims it is from feeding on pigeons that scavenge on the city streets.

Steve Bodio said...

Dog training-- Annie Hocker sent this too-- may blog soon. Thanks!