Friday, October 30, 2009

ASA-SSSA-CSSA Annual Meeting

It's that time of year again. Time to get ready to attend the American Society of Agronomy meeting which this year will be held in nice, warm, sunny ... Pittsburgh. I didn't attend the meeting last year, which was held in conjunction with the Geological Society of America in Houston, so I figured I'd catch up with collaborators and friends at this years meeting. I've also been tapped to judge some student oral and poster presentations, which isn't so bad as I've been really trying to increase my visibility within the society lately anyways. Even though I doubt I'll get an answer in the affirmative I'll ask the following question anyways ... anyone else going to ASA?

As for me, I've already got at least one activity planned ... drinking at Church Brew Works. The Cherry Quadzilla sounds interesting.

Peer-to-Peer Networking Software

You would think that Congress' IT department has a way of ensuring that PtP software wouldn't work. Guess not.
The committee's review of investigations became available on file-sharing networks because of a junior staff member's use of the software while working from home, Lofgren and Bonner said in a statement issued Thursday night. The staffer was fired, a congressional aide said.

The committee "is taking all appropriate steps to deal with this issue," they said, noting that neither the committee nor the House's information systems were breached in any way.

"Peer-to-peer" technology has previously caused inadvertent breaches of sensitive financial, defense-related and personal data from government and commercial networks, and it is prohibited on House networks.
I am assuming the reason for having the files accessible from a PtP network was so they could be transferred from offices in the House, to this employees home. I guess they never heard of staying late at work, or (probably equally as forbidden, but easier to get away with, and somewhat safer) putting everything on a USB drive and taking it home that way.

Not surprised this person lost their job ... and they should have.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

If you find me out of pocket ...

... I'm in England booking my death.
We are really pleased to be able to offer you some new Registration services.

You can now make your appointment to register a birth or a death using our online booking system, or by calling (01243) 642122.
h/t: The New Scientist

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Nautical Disaster

by: The Tragically Hip

I had this dream where I relished
The fray and the screaming that filled my head all day
It was as though I'd been spit here, settled in, into the pocket,
Of a lighthouse on some rocky socket,
Off the coast of France, Dear.

One afternoon, four thousand men died in the water here,
Five hundred more were thrashing madly as parasites might in your blood.
Now I was in lifeboat designed for ten, and ten and only,
Anything that systematic would get you hated.
It's not a deal, nor a test, nor a love of something fated.
The selection was quick, the crew was picked in order,
And those left in the water were kicked off our pant leg,
And we headed for home.

Then the dream ends when the phone rings,
You're doing alright, he said it's out there,
Most days and nights, when only a fool would complain.
Anyway "Susan" if you like our conversations as faint a sound in my memory,
As those fingernails scratching on my hull.

Never thought this song would mirror aspects of my life, but that's what you get sometimes.


And completely heartbreaking.

What are you looking at in that picture? You're looking at the remains of a baby albatross, which starved because it was fed plastic which its parents had picked up from the ocean thinking it was food. From the site:
These photographs of albatross chicks were made just a few weeks ago on Midway Atoll, a tiny stretch of sand and coral near the middle of the North Pacific. The nesting babies are fed bellies-full of plastic by their parents, who soar out over the vast polluted ocean collecting what looks to them like food to bring back to their young. On this diet of human trash, every year tens of thousands of albatross chicks die on Midway from starvation, toxicity, and choking.
Pathetic. We are starving these birds through our own actions, and we'll wind up being the poorer for it. If things like this don't make you think long and hard about how we treat this planet ... I don't know what's wrong with you.

h/t: bioephemera

ETA: CBC News article on an upcoming manuscript documenting this tragedy.

ETA: A Scientific American article on the story. This one comes complete with a video of albatross chick necroscopies. And this article does (weakly) pay homage to Samuel Taylor Coleridge's epic poem.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Currently ...

WiiWare title

Listening To
You know what to do, you know what I did
Since you know everything just clue me in
I am such a wreck, I am such a mess
I know what I know, why don't you fill in the rest

I will bring you down, I will make it bad
While you're feelin' proud, why don't you help me

I'm spinning 'round, I will make you ill
Since I'm so broken down, why don't you fix me

Such a shame that I wouldn't know by now
Your revelations
Let me in I don't want to live without
Your revelations

SciBlog NFL challenge - Week Seven

Won a three-way tiebreaker to keep the trophy again this week.

Ohhh, shiny.

Monday, October 26, 2009

I guess Jesus Christ is ...

... a Penn State fan?
"At first glance, you don't necessarily think that's what it looks like, but when you look at it more, it does look like a cross," Berns told "That's the reason I didn't purchase it."
Eh? So it doesn't look like a cross when you actually look at it, but it does look like a cross when you look at it thinking it might be a cross?

Give me a break. It's a stupid school spirit t-shirt!

To be honest, at first I thought the article might be about someone being offended at the "White Out" comment and thinking it was causing some racial issues ... I looked at the shirt and didn't even think "cross" until I clicked on the link and started reading (and yes, that means I didn't read the caption underneath the image on the FOXNews front page, and I didn't get the "Crossing the Line" pun either).

Come on people, find something to really find offense over.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

I hate the Phillies ...

... and this certainly doesn't make me think any better of them. Obviously, their fans are idiots. The last few seconds make the video a total laugh riot.

H/T: Bugs and Cranks.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Drop Off

by: The Tragically Hip

There’s no swimming past the drop-off,
or feeling sorry for ourselves.
Ya don’t go swimming past the drop-off,
or else.

Personal stakes will get raised and get raised til your story gets compelling.
If you lacked the sense or were willfully dense is forever in the telling.
The surface is green and the dark interweaves in a lonely iridescence,
It’s terribly deep and the cold is complete and it only lacks your presence and nothing else ...

... nothing else ...

... no one else.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Last Recluse

by: The Tragically Hip

You rode out of view
As far as I knew it was you
Who broke my heart from the start
Made me work and work so hard
To get where I am
To where I'd let you do it all again

Who are you? Who are you?
What do I do without you?

Who are you The Last Recluse?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

It's only after Oklahoma drops three games ...

... in it's first six that they get some media lovin. Of course, I'm not going to complain, and it's an interesting point. However Oklahoma should have won all three of those games, and if we did, we'd be right there for the BCS Championship. Problem is, our offensive line stinks and is undisciplined. If they could keep their blocking assignments and their composure, Bradford would have two functional arms and OU would most likely be 6-0.

Interesting little ...

... article over at the New Scientist. Six diseases you never knew you could catch. Where I work, we're looking at something which could potentially be #7 on that list.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Week Six Is Mine!

After my tie-breaking win of Week 1, followed by four decent but lackluster runs in the pool, I thoroughly dominated this week in the SciBlogs Football Challenge. Nine wins peeps! This week pulls me within two correct picks of the overall league lead as well. Of course, Prof-like Substance marred my celebration with the talk of flying junk, but I'll take the win regardless.

Once again, the trophy is mine bitches.

Monday, October 19, 2009

If You See Her, Say Hello

by: Bob Dylan

If you see her, say hello, she might be in tangier
She left here last early spring, is livin' there, I hear
Say for me that I'm all right though things get kind of slow
She might think that I've forgotten her, don't tell her it isn't so.

We had a falling-out, like lovers often will
And to think of how she left that night, it still brings me a chill
And though our separation, it pierced me to the heart
She still lives inside of me, we've never been apart.

If you get close to her, kiss her once for me
I always have respected her for busting out and gettin' free
Oh, whatever makes her happy, I won't stand in the way
Though the bitter taste still lingers on from the night I tried to make her stay.

I see a lot of people as I make the rounds
And I hear her name here and there as I go from town to town
And I've never gotten used to it, I've just learned to turn it off
Either I'm too sensitive or else I'm gettin' soft.

Sundown, yellow moon, I replay the past
I know every scene by heart, they all went by so fast
If she's passin' back this way, I'm not that hard to find
Tell her she can look me up if she's got the time.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I'm sorry but ...

... anyone who runs a business dedicated to investigating the "mysteries of science and physic phenomenon." does not make them science-buffs. It makes them loopy.

So loopy that one of their children is believed dead because a tin-foil balloon (oh, there's some irony for you in that if you want to dig deep enough) he was supposedly seen crawling into, crash lands about fifty miles away.

Ten to one this was all a publicity stunt.
Although Richard Heene said he had no specialized training, they had a computer tracking system in their car and a special motorcycle. Mayumi Heene, often called "ninja" by the family, was in charge of equipment and drove the storm-mobile. She also filmed storms while her husband rode his motorcycle into the storm to launch rockets to measure magnetic forces.

You know what ...

... I really like reading review articles. I don't like writing them though.

The last remaining loose strands of my graduate school ...

... days have been tied. Received word recently that a manuscript I was co-first-author (is there really such a thing?) on has been accepted. It was the last major aspect of my dissertation, and it involved some slick bioinformatics work and some even slicker expression assays that added a good chunk (if I do say so myself) to the existing knowledge about the regulon I was studying. This work was to form the bulk of my final manuscript, but got held up by various issues. By then I was knee deep into my post-doc and the demands of writing those papers superseded IMO any obligation I had to work on my graduate school manuscripts. It led to a semi-scoop on part of the system (which meant I didn't get to name the gene we identified a function for), even though I eventually got that published on its own anyways. This was supposed to be the grand finale, but was handed over to another person in the lab for additional work and stood that way for awhile. Almost five years after I walked out the door of graduate school, it's been published.

In a way it is pretty liberating. Thank goodness it's now over!

Bashing the Republicans ...

... may still be a favorite pastime, but it doesn't seem to be selling these days.Picture taken a couple of days ago at my local B&N. Yes, that is a hardcover book selling for $3.99.

Boomer Sooner!

Boomer Sooner
Beat Texas!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Requiescat In Pace, Lou

Captain Lou Albano, dead at age 76.

If you are considering ...

... adopting a pet, strongly consider one with a black coat. They get overlooked all too often.
"I would say at least 80 percent of our dog kennel is black 98 percent of the time," says Katherine Christenson of Georgia’s Atlanta Humane Society. "People always take the blond dogs first; it’s horrible."
The two dogs I actively rescued (one through a site, the other through the pound), have dark coats. They're wonderful puppies.

You'd really like to think that ...

... educators are smart. Obviously not the case in Troy, NY. An Eagle Scout was suspended for 4 weeks of class because he had a 2 inch pocket knife locked in his car. Yes, a 2 INCH. POCKET. KNIFE. Yes, IN. HIS. CAR.


Way to try to ruin this kids life before it's really begun.
[The] U.S. Military Academy says the missed school days could pose a big problem when it reviews his application.
Hopefully not!

Currently ...

Listening To

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The shart that could've ended the world ...

... radioactive rabbit poop. Fortunately it's all been cleaned up, so no end of the world scenarios will arise from these bowel movements.

If you are an anti-vaxxer ...

... your stupidity can lead to further instances like this poor girl. Infection with H1N1, complications, pneumonia, further complications. And then I read this ...
About a third of U.S. parents oppose the H1N1 vaccine, despite government efforts to encourage it, according to an Associated Press-GfK released last week.
You're GOT to be kidding me. These are the lives of your children you're gambling with folks!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Real concerns: Like rain.

Will world end in 2012? Article discussing the belief that the Mayan calendar predicts the end of the world at the end of 2012.
The inscription describes something that is supposed to occur in 2012 involving Bolon Yokte, a mysterious Mayan god associated with both war and creation.
But here is the money quote (bold emphasis mine):
"If I went to some Mayan-speaking communities and asked people what is going to happen in 2012, they wouldn't have any idea," said Jose Huchim, a Yucatan Mayan archaeologist. "That the world is going to end? They wouldn't believe you. We have real concerns these days, like rain."
Damn skippy. This is what I can't understand about the "end of days" folks. If I recall correctly, and I most certainly do (so don't tell me I don't), Jesus said (in Matthew 24:36, RSV): "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only." I don't know how much clearer that can be. No one knows, and frankly no one should care! Yes, live your life as if you may not have a tomorrow ... because you might not. It's solid advice. But live it not out of fear of some impending doom, live it because it's worth enjoying it! You get one life, make the most of it!

Friday, October 09, 2009

Binge Drinking

I remember the situation pretty well. School had not even been in session for a week. It was my freshman year, I had been on campus for two weeks. I had arrived a week early for Cross Country walk-on tryouts. Having made the cut, I was invited to a pre-season party being thrown by some of the upper classmen. Usually the XC and T&F teams would throw a big party before the season started, declare a "dry season" for the team, and then throw another huge party at the end of the season. This was the big one before everything started in earnest.

I didn't drink in high school. None of my friends did, so I didn't either. Never really gave it much thought, but here, in college ... I was an adult, so it was fine. Nevermind that I had ZERO tolerance, and had no idea how much I could be effected by even a little alcohol. I had met new people, they were cool, the booze was flowing ... so I was drinking. Playing quarters with an o-lineman from the football team was my first mistake, doesn't matter if I was technically winning or not. After about an hour of that, I moved onto another drinking game. It was fun, people were laughing ... good times really. That is until on a bet I had to drink an entire pitcher of beer. I did it, but promptly filled it back up with vomit. That was it ... I was escorted outside of the house, placed against the fence and spent ... what people would tell me the following day ... several hours throwing up all over myself. Eventually they placed me in a chair on the front lawn, where people walked by and laughed at the sight.

I woke up hours later inside the house, on the couch with someone standing guard over me ... to see if I wouldn't die in the night. Some of them were worried about not being able to compete because they would likely all get expelled. When it looked like the worst had passed, and I was going to live ... they kicked me out of the house and made me take the bus home to the dorms. Yes, I was still covered in vomit. Hours later, they were at my door informing me that today was Sunday and it was time for our usual 2 hour run. I managed to survive it ... sort of. Every 15 minutes they'd stop for water. I'd take a sip, throw it all up, and off we'd go run some more. This pattern went on at least another 8 times.

I "earned" a lot of respect from them that day. Not shirking my responsibilities and taking it all like a man and finishing the run, even though I probably had barely escaped with my life the evening prior. People thought that was cool. They said I had a brass set of cahones. Now I realize it was just sheer stupidity. I can tell you however that, from that point forward (all throughout college) I couldn't even SMELL beer without getting nauseous. Nowadays I can tolerate a drink now and again, but I can't drink more than one usually without my stomach going sour on me. It's probably a small price to pay for my life.

So why mention this at all? Because I wish that a program like this had been in place when I was an undergrad.
While studies report that more than 80 percent of college students drink alcohol, the latest statistics reveal that nearly half indulge in binge-drinking, generally defined as downing five or more drinks in about two hours for men and four or more drinks for women.
Those numbers are woefully high, and down right scary. Hopefully such programs will cut down on those numbers and make college a safer and more enjoyable experience for everyone.

For reals?

Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize.
"This is probably an encouragement for him to act. Let's see if he perseveres. Let's give him time to act," Walesa said.
Translation: We want the US out of Afghanistan and Iraq, so hopefully this Peace Prize serves as peer-pressure to achieve that aim.

Is that a bit too cynical? That this prize would be used as a political tool?

ETA: Fixed link, hope people liked seeing the bluetooth adapter I'm getting for my Blackberry!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Question for those ...

... who watched the Yankees/Twins game last night. How many times did they show Kate Hudson?

Currently ...

Listening To
A bit of a depressing album by The Antlers, but one of the best I've heard all year. You've really got to listen to it from Prologue to Epilogue. The title of the album -- Hospice -- pretty much tells you what you're in for.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Supersize me!

An extra ring located around Saturn.
The bulk of the ring material starts about 3.7 million miles from the planet and extends outward about another 7.4 million miles.
So this new ring is obviously extremely far away from the planet, but I assume still within its gravitational field. Nothing from Phil Plait of Bad Astronomy yet, but I'll check back to see if he blogs about this soon.

Here is the NASA press release of the discovery made by the Spitzer Space Telescope.

Conceptualized view of Saturns New Ring

This ring is definitely within the gravitational field of Saturn. The Saturnian moon Phoebe is as distant from Saturn as this ring.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Whew! We're safe!

It's nice to know that, if we're ever faced with the threat of stationary jeeps* ... we have a weapon to combat them. The funniest part of the whole story is comment #2: Why was the jeep in the air in the first place? I about pee'd myself upon reading that.

*The article is headlined: Laser weapon blasts jeep from the air which leaves a fair amount of confusion as to what exactly was going on. It's a blog though, so we'll cut them some slack in the editing department, I suppose.

It is finished ...

... they've convened, discussed my merits, and come to a conclusion.

My career as a scientist is ... not over. I've gotten tenure!

Yay me! Tonight, I celebrate. Sushi! Beer! More Beer!

One word ....

As for aluminum cans, recycling just one saves enough energy to run your TV for 2½ hours.

The big day is upon me ...

... my tenure review is currently going on. I don't know when I'll find out, but I'll find out today!

Monday, October 05, 2009

Water, water everywhere ...

Scientific American article on water and why it's so important for life.

To all you knuckle crackers ... you can sleep easier tonight. Knuckle cracking does not lead to arthritis. So why would I bother to blog about this today? For one simple reason. After a 50 year, single participant study, results have demonstrated that habitual knuckle cracking does not lead to arthritis. This research has advanced the field so much that it was given a 2009 Ig Nobel award. The original research (see citation below) was published in 1998. A link directly to the Letter to the Editor of the journal Arthritis and Rheumatism can be found here (PDF, 2 pages).
Donald Unger, an allergist in Thousand Oaks, California, earned the medicine prize for addressing another timeless question: does cracking knuckles really cause arthritis, as his mother warned him it would? As a child, he naturally thought his mother omniscient, but as a teenager he learned about science and started questioning received wisdom of this kind.

To resolve the issue Unger embarked on a long-term controlled experiment, and began cracking the knuckles on his left hand twice a day, but not those on his right (Arthritis and Rheumatism, vol 41, p 949). He has done so for more than 60 years, and never suffered arthritis in either hand. "Mother, you were wrong," he says, looking heavenwards. What he now wants to know is: "Was it really necessary for me to eat my broccoli?"
In the reported "study" the following was observed:
For 50 years, the author cracked the knuckles of his left hand at least twice a day, leaving those on the right as a control. Thus, the knuckles on the left were cracked at least 36,500 times, while those on the right cracked rarely and spontaneously. At the end of the 50 years, the hands were compared for the presence of arthritis.

There was no arthritis in either hand, and no apparent differences between the two hands.
Therefore, rest assured knuckle crackers (of whom I am one), your habit is not detrimental.

Unger DL (1998). Does knuckle cracking lead to arthritis of the fingers? Arthritis and rheumatism, 41 (5), 949-50 PMID: 9588755

Thursday, October 01, 2009

National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Another reason to hate France ...

... as if we needed one.
“On the other hand, there’s emotion, and we can understand the emotion stirred up by this belated arrest, more than 30 years after the events, and the method of the arrest,” he said.
If Roman Polanski had not fled from justice, this arrest would never have had to happen, nor would it have been belated.


I'm sure French women everywhere are happy their country has their back.