Monday, August 31, 2009

Heading down the homestretch ...

... my tenure packet is due to reviewers on the 7th. That means that, since the 7th is a holiday, I really need to get it turned in by the 4th. That is the same day I have an invited presentation to a state agency. So, I'm going to be super busy again. I'll probably resume full-fledged blogging next week.

The only thing I have left to say is: Boomer Sooner!

I fully expect a total thrashing of BYU at the hands of Oklahoma this weekend.

Latest addition to the lab ...

... to be viewed while singing Stevie Wonder's Isn't She Lovely.

Isn't she lovely.
Isn't she wonderful.
Isn't she precious.

The newest addition to the lab*. A Roche LightCycler 480 Real Time PCR system (PDF, 6 pages). We're currently waiting for the electricians to install a new line (and IT to get her computer connected to our intranet) so we can fire this beauty up, but once we do ... bye bye BioRad iCycler iQ RT-PCR system. Ok, we're not getting rid of it, but we are going to use it much less frequently.

Eventually, my hope is to get a robotic liquid-handling system to do DNA preps and setup RT-PCR reactions to feed the 480. When I get those items procured, then I can buy the 384 well plate heat block** and upgrade the 480 to quadruple our output for a single run.

*The picture isn't of our machine. I lifted this picture off the web. But we do have one which looks just like it, and it's beautiful.

**The 96 and 384 well blocks are interchangeable.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Soon, you can call me ...

... Uncle Tommy. My sister is dilated one centimeter and the kidlet is pointed downwards. I'm in the pool for the 22nd of September, but she may not go that long. In the meantime, a couple of days ago, this arrived:It's as soft as can be, super plush, and the lady at the swanky toy shop I got it from said all her customers love them. It's from BestEver. Exciting times!

PS: The kidlet is going to be spoiled rotten, and Uncle Tommy will surely be to blame (at least mostly).

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

You've got to give it to FOXNews ...

... at least they can come up with some good puns.

Title of Story: New Park Offers X-Rated Views of NYC Hotel Guests

Closing Line of Article: The hotel won an award from the Municipal Arts Society of New York for best new building erected last year.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Any health care reform ...

... should answer this question.
Isn't it a shame that after all this time and with skills honed by decades of experience, many of us can no longer afford to work as a physician?
... and address this issue ...
Good luck recruiting primary care specialists when we are projected to be short 39,000 by 2020, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. And nearly half of all doctors surveyed by the Physicians' Foundation have said that over the next three years they plan to reduce the number of patients they see or stop practicing entirely.
What do the Dems have planned to address this?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Manuscript Update

I really should be working on my tenure case right now, but ... it's numbed my mind past the point of functioning at this point. So, since I said I would, here is my manuscript update and some thoughts on the process. So, I'm batting .500 (1 for 2) in my current spate of first author manuscript submissions.

1. Manuscript One: Sent it off to Applied and Environmental Microbiology only to get reviews telling me it was "too applied". Was told that it "... read like an engineer wrote it". Too applied? Written like an engineer? WTF? Well listen folks, when I write about an applied microbiological process, what do you expect? The system is actually used in an engineered management setting. It was a novel/interesting study because under similar situations experienced by other systems under these conditions (and we checked several), ours performed between 200% and 800% more efficiently. There was not a single previously published study which outperformed our system. That didn't seem to make much of a difference. Oh well. But, hey ... aside from a 100+ day wait through the peer process when we directed it towards another journal it wound up being accepted by said journal which has a higher impact factor than AEM. Win for me.

Take home message: Just because a particular set of reviewers doesn't like your paper doesn't mean your paper isn't worthy of publication. When you get back a review, sit down, check over those reviews and if they're a load of bullturd, make the revisions you do need, reformat it, and send it back out. Try to get that process done within a couple of weeks. There is no use, if you do not plan on making major revisions, to let it sit on your desk for much longer. All it will do is delay the time it takes to get it accepted elsewhere. If you get a similar review the next time, then you should reconsider your science, but if your science is sound, don't give up on the paper.

2. Manuscript Two: Sent it to my new favorite journal (Soil Science Society of America Journal). It received a quick turn-around, and I was able to watch the entire process online. Not only that, but the journal strives to make the peer review process double-blind. Within reason, all identifying information is stripped from the manuscript. Obviously, if you cite yourself a lot, figuring out who sent in the manuscript is not a problem, but overt naming of the manuscript submitter is taken out of the paper. I like this style of review. Unfortunately, the paper was not accepted (was told when I resubmit, I should submit it as a new manuscript since it would really amount to a new work). However, the three reviewers sent back to me the most detailed and helpful review I've ever received. In total, they spent about eight pages combined detailing my experimental methods and the interpretations of my data and told me what they agreed with, and what they disagreed with. When they disagreed, they spent considerable time telling me why. In essence, they left me with a blueprint of what they would accept for publication. The things they disagreed with really didn't come as too much of a surprise for me, and the bonus is that the things they did suggest, we've already done (and figured we'd use in another publication). So, now all I need to do is switch around the data in the two manuscripts and send it back off.

I'm not sure if they figured I was new to this field and wanted to walk me through their world, or if this is standard for the journal. I figure I'll find that out with my next submission. However I was stunned by the level of detail put into a review for what amounted to a rejected manuscript.

Take home message: Appreciate criticisms of your manuscript. While this may seem to contradict the first take home message, I think we can all tell the difference between a simply negative review and valid criticism. If the reviewer spends no time detailing why they disagree with your premise, but simply tells you to take it elsewhere, the peer review system has failed. That's not a review. It's passing the buck. So when you do get thorough reviews, appreciate them, take them to heart, let them allow you to grow as a scientific investigator.

Before these two manuscripts, I had never had a manuscript rejected before. Perhaps I was just lucky, but it was bound to happen eventually. Fortunately I learned valuable lessons with these two manuscripts. I do not delude myself into thinking that my pooh doesn't stink. In case #2 I definitely can see the areas where I stretched, and the reviewers didn't buy it. They figured the data I was presenting would be good for different analyses, just not the one I was trying to answer with that particular manuscript. I can buy that, and I'll do (have done) the work and get them back out as quickly as I can. The point for me is that I use this as a moment of growth. I could have gotten pissy and sent out #2 to a lower-tier journal and probably have gotten it in, but I saw this situation as different than situation #1. It also reinforces that I need to be thorough, helpful, and honest when doing my own peer-reviews. That is how the system succeeds and works as intended.

Biggest Wii-related Time Sinks

Listed in order (greatest to least*)

1. LEGO Batman (Wii)
2. LEGO Star Wars (Wii)
3. Monster Lab (Wii)
4. My Aquarium (WiiWare)
5. Link's Crossbow Training (Wii)

*Least is a relative term. It's still a time sink, and is still keeping me away from the things I should be doing. Though I did manage to pull myself away this weekend and spend forever mowing my lawn with my newly purchased reel mower.

Job Announcement

Received this from the people who develop Greengenes. If you're just beginning a career in bioinformatics, this sounds like a good place to start.
Hello Greengenes pro!

I'm including you in this job announcement since you have used multiple tools on the Greengenes 16S rRNA analysis web site. I'm guessing you are likely aware that Greengenes is both a DNA database and a web service and we've been funded to grow in both areas. If you know a recent Bachelors-level graduate with solid programming skills whose looking for an entry level full-time position, please forward them this link to the job description:

Thanks for considering this opportunity and for all your helpful suggestions over the years.
Please note, this is listed as a "term" position. According to the position description, you'll be hired for one year. Your term position may be extended after that or converted into a career position depending on your performance and future funding.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Guess who?

We need a new government for a new century, humble enough not to try to solve all our problems for us, but strong enough to give us the tools to solve our problems for ourselves.

Monday, August 17, 2009

I'm telling you right now ...

... if there is a work stoppage in the NFL in 2011, I'll permanently take my interest/support/fandom/money elsewhere. My team (the Jets) are not good enough for me to even feign interest after they tell me to go kiss my rear end because they're going to hold out for more money. Most of them already make more money in one year than I make in an entire lifetime. I'm supposed to support them for their greedy grab to make more?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Once again I ask ...

... is the major problem people have with the health care reform the "government option"? If so, can't the people writing the bill just say "To hell with it, we'll yank that part of the bill"? Is it so integral to the reform that the reform is worthless without it?

If this is the extent of the problem, then it seems to me rather easy to fix it. Part of me thinks that if this was the only major issue, it would have been fixed already, but then I remember who works in Washington DC on these issues and I begin to think that maybe it is that simple after all.

Addendum: Recently I blogged about the state of Massachusetts and their "universal health care". It seems that not everyone is pleased with that system either. The author of the OP-ED thinks we should head in the opposite direction of what I suggested and expand Medicare to cover all US citizens. Of course, if I read it correctly, the author implies that this would be the end of insurance companies:
A modest, progressive tax would replace what people currently pay out of pocket. This program would pay for itself by eliminating the wasteful administrative costs and profits of private insurance companies, and save $8 billion to $10 billion in Massachusetts alone.
Without profits, these companies cease to exist. How many times has the United States of America intentionally undercut a business (seemingly contra-capitalism) to install such massive programs? I can imagine it having happened before, but I can't think of any offhand ... at least at the magnitude we're now potentially talking.

Menaquinone 6 (MK-6)

Anyone know where to buy this damn thing? I can't believe that I cannot find a single chemical and/or pharmaceutical company that produces this quinone for sale for research purposes. Sigma sells MK-4 (it's Vitamin K2), but what about MK-6? Nada. Grrrr!

Thursday, August 13, 2009


ResearchBlogging.orgCame across this article in the New Scientist. It's a lovely piece of modern day molecular biology doing some forensic work to rediscover a species that was thought to have died out a couple of hundred years ago. The bird in question is the Tasman Booby (Sula tasmani).

It has been speculated that this bird has been extinct since around 1790, though evidence has suggested that these birds might still be around. From my reading of the papers, it appears that the call for extinction of the Tasman Booby was based on the examination of fossil material. However the authors believe that the previous study was instead looking at fossil remains of S. dactylatra, the Masked Booby, that were in the upper size range of that species.

The authors first performed morphometric data. Their results were presented as follows:
Contrary to van Tets et al. (1988), our comparison of new skeletal material revealed a size overlap between modern and fossil specimens for all standard humerus measurements.
Such an overlap was not seen by van Tets et al. (see Table 1 reproduced below).So how does that happen? The authors of this manuscript state that van Tets et al. in their studies made a bit of a faux pas. Seems that they "failed to acknowledge" the fact that all the fossil specimens in their study were female, and the modern specimens in their study were male. Like a number of birds, the Booby presents with what is known as reversed sexual size dimorphism. In other words, the females are larger than the males. Whoops.

Anywhoo ... Steeves et al. complement the morphometric data with genetic data by performing mitochondrial DNA sequencing. Phylogenetic analysis of these sequences revealed that mitochondrial DNA extracted from three of the six fossil specimens (nothing was recoved from the remaining fossils) were identical to an existing species of Booby, Sula dactylatra fullagari. Based on this, they proposed that all North Tasman Sea boobies should be known as Sula dactylatra tasmani. With this Steeves et al. have extracted the Tasman Booby from the Book of the Dead!

Steeves, T., Holdaway, R., Hale, M., McLay, E., McAllan, I., Christian, M., Hauber, M., & Bunce, M. (2009). Merging ancient and modern DNA: extinct seabird taxon rediscovered in the North Tasman Sea Biology Letters DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2009.0478

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A very reasonable argument ...

... made by Rob Knop (blogger at Galactic Interactions) to creationist Christians. Here is the most important point, if you ask me, as to why creationists should not feel threatened about these arguments: Jesus himself taught in parables. IOW, if Jesus himself didn't teach using a strictly literal style, why would he (as God the Father) give us a series of books (Scripture) limited in such a strictly literal fashion?

I told Rob I'd give him some link-love, and we're definitely both on the same side of this issue, so here it is. He has several good posts, IMNSHO, on the subject. They're worth a read.

Northeastern USA Ecosystems Under Attack

By the White-Nose Fungus. It is decimating bat populations in the Northeastern United States.
First observed in Howe Caverns near Albany, N.Y., in early 2006, white nose syndrome has spread north to New Hampshire and Vermont and south to Virginia. At least a million bats in six species have already perished, and death rates at infected hibernacula range between 90 and 100 percent.
Ninety to one hundred percent.

However, it's not just the bats which suffer, the rest of the ecosystem suffers as well:
... because bats are essential to the control of nocturnal flying insects, the outbreak could upset local ecologies, weaken the health of forests and even affect crop yields.
So how much money have we set aside to combat this fungus and syndrome? A total of 1.1 million dollars. A paltry sum of money to fight something of this magnitude.
This past May, 25 U.S. Senators and Representatives signed a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar urging emergency funding for agencies with the expertise to “determine a cause and develop solutions to this crisis.”
It's been requested that at least $17 million be set aside for immediate research efforts. Write your congressional representatives and ask them to support research to combat this disease.

You know that antibacterial soap you use?

It's winding up in the environment.
Triclosan, an antibacterial chemical found in everyday bathroom and kitchen products, is accumulating in dolphins at concentrations known to disrupt the growth and development of other animals.
Whatever happened to good, old fashioned soap? Ivory Soap folks. Ivory Soap.

So how does it work (in disrupting development)?
Triclosan is strikingly similar to thyroid hormone, so it might bind to hormone receptors, said Helbing, author of the frog study. Because frog and mammal endocrine systems are similar, triclosan can potentially “affect how hormones work in ways that aren’t intended” in dolphins, and maybe even humans, she said. Altering thyroid function in humans and animals might cause abnormal brain development and other developmental defects.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

LEGO Update

So I'm over 80% of the way finished with LEGO Star Wars. It's taken me over 50 hours, and now that I've gotten all the low hanging fruit, I'm stuck trying to finish up all the timed challenges and getting those last little minikit bits in all the hard to reach places.

Which is probably why my attention has shifted more towards my latest Wii game ... LEGO Batman! It too is a cool game. Not as in-depth at the Star Wars game is, but the overall game play remains the same, making it a fun game, especially if you enjoyed Star Wars. When I played my PS2 regularly, I loved the RPG style games, though the really good ones, like the Baldur's Gate (I and II) and the Champions of Norath, were hard to come by. So when you chanced upon them, you played them all. The LEGO games are sort of like that.

Enaging in risky behavior ...

... and by that I mean eating unsafe foods. Here are some excerpts:
Should I drink milk after its use-by date? What about eggs?

Drinking milk a day or two after its use-by date shouldn't be an issue. But if you notice changes in flavor, consistency, smell -- don't take any chances, Nelken said.

For eggs, the USDA recommends using within three to five weeks of the date of purchase. The "sell-by" date will usually expire by then, but the eggs are safe to use.

Eggs and milk should be stored in the coldest areas of the refrigerator, not on the door, since it's four to five degrees warmer there.
That's good to know. Have you looked at the price of eggs lately?
Should I drink the water after the expiration date has passed on the bottle?

"What happens with water is absolutely nothing," Beattie said. Water is safe to drink even past its expiration date (as long as there's no leakage in the bottle), but the water may taste different.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, bottled water is considered to have an indefinite safety shelf life if it is produced and stored properly. While the federal agency does not require an expiration date for bottled water, many manufacturers elect to put expiration dates.

"What happens is that people feel more comfortable with bottled water with a code date," Beattie said. "There is no safety factor beyond that. Manufacturers feel that quality of water may deteriorate or become more neutral."
People actually buy water still? Haven't people learned that when they are buying bottled water, they're probably buying someone else's tap water?

Get a water filter unit for your faucet and a nice BPA-free water bottle.

If you have a couple of hours to spare tonight ...

... you might want to take in the Perseid Meteor Shower.
The Moon is least troublesome during the early evening hours of August 11th. Around 9 to 11 p.m. local time (your local time), both Perseus and the Moon will be hanging low in the north. This low profile reduces lunar glare while positioning the shower's radiant for a nice display of Earthgrazers.
It's one of the best times of the year to view meteor showers.

A good read ...

... on agriculture and what most of us take for granted, can be found here.
Farming has always been messy and painful, and bloody and dirty. It still is. This is something the critics of industrial farming never seem to understand.
h/t Mike at the Big Stick.

Science Literacy

Recently there has been quite a bit of talk about science literacy. As most of us know, Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum, of The Intersection, have recently written a book entitled Unscientific America where they discuss this phenomenon. Two questions immediately spring to mind. The first, what is science literacy, was discussed over at More Grumbine Science not too long ago in two blog posts here and here. The second question then (in two parts) is as follows: 1) who is responsible for science literacy; and 2) how do we effectively increase science literacy?

Over at More Grumbine Science I left the following comment:
1. What is scientific literacy? Taken from the National Academy of Sciences: Scientific literacy means that a person can ask, find, or determine answers to questions derived from curiosity about everyday experiences. It means that a person has the ability to describe, explain, and predict natural phenomena. Scientific literacy entails being able to read with understanding articles about science in the popular press and to engage in social conversation about the validity of the conclusions. Scientific literacy implies that a person can identify scientific issues underlying national and local decisions and express positions that are scientifically and technologically informed. A literate citizen should be able to evaluate the quality of scientific information on the basis of its source and the methods used to generate it. Scientific literacy also implies the capacity to pose and evaluate arguments based on evidence and to apply conclusions from such arguments appropriately. (National Science Education Standards, page 22)

Given this definition, I believe that scientific literacy means that the individual is able to apply critical thinking skills to issues with a scientific bent. I believe that this means that we really need to get away from the rote memorization system of teaching, which IMO crushes critical thinking skills at an early age. People grow up thinking the correct answers are always going to be provided to them. Then when issues get politicized, they're sitting ducks.

2. How important is it for modern society to be scientifically literate?

Extremely important. This country was founded upon the ideas of people who could think for themselves. Just look at the countries that suppress critical thinking. I'd hardly call them "modern societies". There is a lot of blame to go around, and journalism (not science) should take the bulk of the blame. All the major networks, all the major newspapers and magazines ... all put their own political spin on everything. Where have the days gone where people give us the facts, and we make up our own minds?
However, I think that perhaps I'm in error when I say that the bulk of the blame should be journalism. Rather, I think the bulk of the blame probably resides with our educational system. I said as much in my response to #1 where I said, we really need to get away from the rote memorization system of teaching, which IMO crushes critical thinking skills at an early age.

Which brings me to my point for the day (other than the one at the top of my head). As I'm putting together my peer case, I'm going over the past presentations, interactions, etc that I have performed in the last few years of my career and I recalled an interaction I had with Dr. George Gopen (who I have made mention of a handful of times on the blogosphere). Yes, the Professor of Rhetoric at Duke University indeed has his own webpage.

At any rate, I recalled a discussion he presented about communication. I'm going to quote his paper Why So Many Bright Students and So Many Dull Papers?: Peer-Responded Journals as a Partial Solution to the Problem of the Fake Audience (PDF, 27 pages).
When a professional in any field writes, that person tends to be an expert. The expert writes so that those who do not know something may come to know it. Readers in the professional world read in order to find out what someone better or differently informed has to say. We have a technical term for this rhetorical relationship: We call it communication.

I would argue that it is fantasy to believe that students writing assigned papers for teachers are primarily engaged in the rhetorical act of communication. They do not think, having been two days at the library, that they have become the “experts” in this field and will now produce an essay in order to fill full the empty vial of teacher with the milk of human knowledge. Their belief takes them too far in the opposite direction: They tend to think that teacher knows 100% of what can be known about this subject. There is no perceived need for “communication”; instead, the rhetorical task at hand here is the duller, narrower, more burdensome one of “demonstration.” Students must demonstrate to teacher that they control a modest amount of that which teacher knows expertly.
Emphasis mine. Communication versus demonstration. Which one more effectively leads the student towards a better understanding of the subject material? I would contend that clearly, it's communication. Communication in the sense that the students need to understand the material, and vigorously defend it. I remember in college having to partake in debates, and defending some issues/points of view that I did not agree with. Those are the ones I remember most clearly, and those are the ones I took the most pride in (considering I successfully defended a position I would never personally hold). Are our children challenged in such a way in our educational system? If Hollywood is our judge, then the answer is obviously NO. If it were, movies such as The Dead Poets Society would not have been as popular as they are. Instead, rote memorization rules the day. Students and teachers need to meet quotas, and critical thinking does not fill quotas.

More on this later, but feel free to add your comments.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

A small way to go green ...

... use a reel mower. If you think about it, if you have (or are considering) a gas push mower, or even a electric (charge or plug-in) push mower, getting a reel mower uses the same exact amount of effort to get around your yard. The benefit? No use of fossil fuels (directly or indirectly) to power it.

I'm buying the one linked to above in a couple of weeks.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

My first real attempt ...

... at arboriculture.
Texas Everbearing (Brown Turkey) Fig Tree

When I was on Ocracoke, I came across tons of figs. Several different varieties are grown all over the island; most of which are on private land. I never had eaten figs before ... at least figs which were not dehydrated. However once I tried them I was smitten.

Since I bought my house, I've toyed with the idea of having some sort of fruit trees on the property. However it seems to me (at least) that your standard fruit trees (apple and peach for example) are very labor intensive. I even considered a lemon tree, but what am I going to do with an overabundance of lemons?

At any rate, wanting to do something slightly out of the ordinary, I decided I'd try my hand at growing fig trees. I don't know anyone else who does it, and it seems like it might be fun. Well, I was at the local farmers market and I stopped in at one of the nurseries and they had the Brown Turkey variety of fig tree there. It's described as follows:
Texas Everbearing (Brown Turkey). Texas Everbearing is a medium-sized fig adapted to central and east Texas. It is the most common variety in central Texas. The tree is vigorous, very large and productive. The early crop ripens in May; the main crop ripens in late June and continues to ripen into August. The fruit has a short, plump stem and moderately closed eye which reduces fruit souring on the tree. The fruit is nearly seedless and has a mild sweet flavor. Early crop fruit is very large, sometimes 2 inches in diameter.
So, I bought one (pictured above). I'll probably transplant it sometime this week and maybe by next year I'll have a sizeable crop.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Currently ...


They raise them stupid ...

... down at Tortilla Tech. In an age of high unemployment and a withering economy, you'd think 10th pick money would satisfy a whole lot of people. It'd probably satisfy everyone in the US except for Michael Crabtree. Grow up, punk. Besides, you played in a system offense. When you get into the NFL you'll suck. You should take the money while you can.


So I managed to use the GPS device. And overall it worked fairly well (I'll review it later, when I have some time). I ran into some problems with it, but once I got it all ironed out, geotagging my pictures took all of about 15 minutes when I got home. Here is the map (had to screen capture this) of our vacation. It doesn't look like it, but that's ~180 total pictures.The last picture should have made it crystal clear as to where we were, but if people have not figured it out by now, we stayed on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. About 90% of our time was spent on Ocracoke Island.

I'm back ...

... and I don't know if anyone ever guessed (or even tried) to figure out where I went on vacation. Here is the last hint:... yeah, it' a crummy picture, and out of focus. But if you can't tell what it is, you're probably blind and have other, more important things on your mind, than trying to read the writing on a beer mug. Overall, the vacation went well. Very, very relaxing. Now, it's back to the daily grind.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

So ...

... if everything is going according to plan, I'll have a nice little map with my geotagged pictures on it by the end of my vacation. I didn't follow the advice of Epicanis at The Big Room (to get a Garmin) and wound up getting a Merax Photo Finder GPS instead. Here is to hoping it doesn't stink.

Any advice on software (after I've downloaded the GPS log) to use would be nice. I don't think Photoshop Elements is going to work.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

National Parks

Mike at the Big Stick blogs about a new upcoming PBS series on National Parks directed by Ken Burns. PBS' website for the series can be found here. The series will debut at the end of September. If there is ever a case to be made for conservation, this is one of them.

h/t The Big Stick.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Sapien's Cain to Neanderthal's Abel?

NOTE: Still out on vacay, but leaving some timed posts behind so people (all two of you) who stop on by have something to read.

It's being hypothesized that Shanidar 3, the skeleton of a Neanderthal, was felled by a weapon fabricated by a Homo sapien. An article on MSNBC can be found here.
"What we've got is a rib injury, with any number of scenarios that could explain it," said study researcher Steven Churchill, an associate professor of evolutionary anthropology at Duke University in North Carolina. "We're not suggesting there was a blitzkrieg, with modern humans marching across the land and executing the Neandertals [a.k.a. Neanderthals]. I want to say that loud and clear."

But he added, "We think the best explanation for this injury is a projectile weapon, and given who had those and who didn't, that implies at least one act of inter-species aggression."
So who did have those weapons? Homo sapiens, as you could have guessed by the title to this blog entry.
As for the spear, since modern humans had developed projectile hunting weapons and Neanderthals hadn't, the researchers deduced the probable suspect — a modern human.
So, we were killers from the very get-go it seems. It also appears that the Neanderthal population in Europe was extremely small, averaging about 3,500 females. So competition with Homo sapiens would have been extremely difficult. Then again, perhaps they were not forced out/killed off, but instead just mingled into the dominant Homo sapien population. There, their genetic material was incorporated and diluted out over time.

h/t: The History Blog

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Greg LeMond - Twirp

NOTE: I'm out on vacation but have prepared some small blog entries to keep people coming back!

Greg LeMond has become the proverbial boil on the buttocks of cycling. Not able to leave well enough alone, he's all but flat out accused Alberto Contador of doping.
"The charge to Alberto Contador is to prove that he is physically capable of achieving this prowess without falling back to the use of performance enhancing products. Because of the recent history of our sport, doubt is rigorous. It should lead us to question extraordinary performances. That is why the sceptic I have become wants to ask Alberto Contador to convince us."
You know Mr. LeMond, you used to be a well-respected figure. Now you look like an old, jealous, washed-up, has been. Get a life. First you dogged Armstrong, now Contador. Granted, I'm not a Contador fan by a long shot ... I was pulling for Armstrong. But sheesh, this is over the top. Get a life Greg.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

We Are The Same

NOTE: I'm actually on vacation, but I'm going to give people something to read anyways while I am away (as if there are a lot of people who read this blog?).

A few days ago I noticed that the Tragically Hip, only the greatest band ever, are commencing their United States Tour. They're actually coming within driving distance to me several times, so I figured it was high time that I purchased their new album. Was pretty miffed that the company that they were doing their online pre-ordering sales with was charging a crazy amount to ship the CD. Well, the CD has arrived and it's pretty damn good.

Don't know how many people in the US (at least outside of the northern parts of the country) have ever heard of the Hip. In my current neck of the woods, it doesn't seem like a whole lot. However when you go to college in Buffalo, like I did, you hear about them a lot. Anyways, if you haven't heard (of) them, I'd heartily recommend that you check them out. They give a really good concert, and they're a pretty cerebral band. Their lyrics have always been deep and meaningful, and this album is no different.

We Are The Same
has received a number of positive reviews. A couple can be found here, and here. It isn't their best album, that is IMNSHO reserved for Music At Work, but it's solid fare.

Anyways, just a blog entry to plug one of my favorite bands. Like I said ... check them out.