Nine lies about climate change

March 30, 2008

Pay attention. Take notes. But be sure you read it.  By a guy handled “Taavi,” at a LiveJournal site.

Pat Frank: When is your paper due out?

A public pain in the rear, and how to talk about it

March 30, 2008

Trying to keep the blog high school internet filter-friendly: Bob Sutton has a book about a rule of business he proposes: The No [pains in the rear] Rule. “No jerks allowed,” as the Nepali Times euphemistically put it.

How do you market a book with a mildly profane title? And how do you do it when the title is so apt, so perfect, that nothing else would work? Even the New York Times is struggling with this problem, since the book made the best-seller lists. And how do you do it when the normally-soporific FCC has started to complain about on-air profanity?

Will I get into trouble if I tell you the book is titled, The No Asshole Rule? Sutton wonders:

I appreciate the credit they are giving the book for raising awareness. But I am highly amused and slightly annoyed by The Times‘ persistent refusal to write the name of the book. When the book appeared on the best-seller list, they called it The No A******* Rule. My publisher had good fun goading them with the advertisement below The Times motto is “All the news Fit to Print,” but I guess that they still find the title offensive. I am accustomed to such silliness, as my essay over at Huffington reports — see part 1 and part 2. But I do wonder why, of all the major newspapers and magazines in the world, The Times continues to be most resistant to printing the title, or even a hint of it. This is the same publication that published many unsavory details from the Elliot Spitzer, Larry Craig, and especially, Bill Clinton sex scandals. I also think it is pretty difficult for them to argue that they are violating generally accepted standards in the print media. Many newspapers do continue to call it something like The No Ahole Rule, but the name has been spelled out in respectable publications including the Wall Street Journal, Seattle Times, Fortune (including in a recent article giving kudos to Baird for having a no asshole rule), to BusinessWeek, Harvard Business Review, McKinsey Quarterly, and even Stanford Reports — the rather staid in-house publication at my own university. And major European newspapers like The Observer in England, La Monde in France, and Corriere Dela Sera in Rome printed the title (or related translations) with no fuss at all.

He’s right, of course. Students won’t blanche at hearing the word — they use worse, and would improve their language to come back to such a gentle profanity.

Guess who made the “No A—— Rule mention” rule.

The book’s subtitle is “Building a civilized workplace, and surviving one that isn’t.”

Sutton has a great idea. The book deserves to be read, and followed.

Teachers, have you ever worked in a school where this rule would not have improved the climate?

Debunking the Nigerian scam, with grace and compassion

March 30, 2008

This person should be a diplomat; when I am a fool, I hope someone will puncture my balloon with as much wit, grace and caring.

Oh, yeah — it’s another story about librarians, wouldn’t you know?

DDT and other poisons in the Great Lakes: Alma Conference update

March 30, 2008

Earlier this month, just before the conference at Alma College, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released a draft report on toxic wastes found in the Great Lakes and other surrounding waters. Was it the pending conference that kicked the thing loose?

See the report at CDC’s site, here.

The Center for Public Integrity snagged a copy of the study earlier, and published it at their website. Some of us infer the hurdles for the report to be more the administration’s War on Science. But supression of a report is a lot easier if there are no copies circulating on the internet.

CDC had sat on the report for most of a year. After this interview of Chris Derosa, the report’s author appeared on CNN, and before the Alma Conference on DDT, CDC got a sudden change of heart and released the report.

Too few news reports came out of the conference. Let’s hope the proceedings will be available soon.

Logo from the CPI project on Great Lakes health

Logo from the Center for Public Interest project on Great Lakes area health, used at the release of the suppressed health report.

Dick Hussein Cheney. John Hussein McCain.

March 30, 2008

The Dallas Morning News bloggers reported from the Senate District 16 Democratic Convention (held yesterday):

Funniest thing I’ve seen all day:  Obama supporters wearing name tags co-opting Barack Obama’s middle name.

Things like:
“Bob Hussein Smith.”
“Janet Hussein Finklestein.”

Good Times.

Karen Brooks, at Moody Coliseum at Southern Methodist University, the site of the convention.

As blog reports go, the newspaper’s reporters got some snark, but the blog reports are remarkably bare of information.  The stories this morning are a bit better, but missing much.

My reports in a bit — if I can figure out how to download the Pentax photos to this computer.

Clinton’s challenges at our district (Royce West’s Senate District 23) picked up 22 delegates for Clinton.  That’s about 1% of those still standing after 9 hours of credentials wrangling.

Not worth it in District 23.  The Obama people spent the day converting a few Clinton delegates, but mostly making hard plans to dominate the state convention.  It became an 8-hour planning session for Democrats to win Texas, sure, but mainly for Obama to beat Clinton.   This was not from the Obama campaign, mind you, but spontaneous work by mostly first-time delegates.

My recollection is that four years ago we had about 600 people at this convention, and 400 two years ago.  More than 5,000 this year.  An increase of roughly 10 times in participation.

Is John Cornyn scared yet?

DDE-shortened lactation link

March 30, 2008

DDT does break down once released into the wild, and can do so rather quickly, DDT advocates love to point out. It’s part of the sleight-of-hand necessary to argue for DDT. Yes, DDT breaks down, but the first step is a breakdown to the more resilient and consequently more damaging substance known as DDE.

DDE mimics endocrine hormones in the wild and has been implicated in gender ambiguity in alligators, fish and amphibians. These animals feature underdeveloped male sex organs, are often hermaphroditic, and sometimes unable to breed. Endocrine mimics — not always DDE — are implicated in swelling the breasts of male mammals (humans are mammals, by the way), and shrinking testes in animals of all kinds.

Some studies suggest that something causes women’s ability to produce milk to nurse infants is significantly curtailed. A few studies suggest DDE is the culprit.

From a lawyer’s blog, I learned of a study in Mexico that showed no significant discernible link between DDE and the length of lactation (milk production). Something else appears to be injuring these women and their babies.

They conclude that the data from this relatively large study in a highly exposed area of Mexico did not support the hypothesis that exposure to DDE shortens length of lactation, and thus the association seen in women who previously breast-fed was likely attributed to a noncausal mechanism. Nonetheless, the authors note that DDT may have other potential adverse effects which are in need of study.

The blog post is written by Thomas H. Clarke, Jr., J.D., M.S., Chair of the Ropers Majeski Kohn & Bentley Environmental Practice Group.  The blog, Ear to the Ground, is new this month so far as I can tell — in this case it’s useful because it has a workable link to the full text of the article in Environmental Health Perspectives (in case you are, as I am, too lazy to get your own free subscription).

How will the DDT advocates spin this one? Look for pronouncements that DDT “absolutely has no effect on human lactation.” And look out for them — that’s not what this study says at all.

85 years old, counting the last days

March 30, 2008

I’m talking about Yankee Stadium, of course.

Great behind-the-scences, usually-not-seen tour in still photos and narration,from the New York Times, here.

In New York this summer? You rather owe it to your grandchildren to go see the stadium, don’t you?  Note this is the last year for Shea Stadium, too — better plan an extra day on that trip to the home office in Manhattan.

Confession:  I’ve never been inside the stadium.  Once, on a road trip to New York City, visiting a friend, Mark Wade, we parked in the shadow of the stadium.  Oops — somebody didn’t lock one door.  Two days in the City, parked in a tough neighborhood, with a door wide open, nothing happened to the car.  There’s some magic in that ballpark.

Yankee Stadium, from high above home plate

Yankee Stadium from high in back of home plate; photo from MLB Road


What is it about librarians?

March 28, 2008

Long ago a wizened sage told me to stick with the tellers of stories and the keepers of the lore — honor the librarians in any organization, he told me, and good fortune, warm breezes and good beer would be mine forever.

He didn’t exaggerate much. Librarians, in my experience, often occupy the last island of sanity in a crazed organization. If nothing else, they can point you to the really good stuff.

So I occasionally peruse a librarian’s blog here and there. I notice a trend.

“Marian, Madame Librarian” is not the image these librarians want.* In their minds, perhaps in their lives — who knows? — they lead racier lives. Evidence? Check out the names of the blogs on the blog roll of the librarian who blogs under the masthead @ the library (warning: I’ve not checked these for at-work safety):

What is it about librarians?

Ad for New York City's Library Bar
No, they are not real librarians — that’s an ad for a New York bar, the Library Bar. Maybe the owners of the bar know something?

Update, March 30: More librarian blog names to ponder, from the sidebar of Tiny Little Librarian:

And, don’t overlook Fifteen Iguana.


*    I love this kind of stuff:  Marian Paroo, the librarian in Meredith Willson’s “The Music Man,” appears to have been inspired by a woman from Provo, Utah, Marian SeeleyWillson met Seeley during World War II, when she was a medical records librarian. Seeley is her married name.  Her husband, Frank Seeley, was the Provo native.  Seeley was a relatively common name in Utah County when I lived there; we had two Seeley families living in Pleasant Grove, Utah — brothers, one a teacher.  They’re all related, somewhere.  [Cheryl and Michelle Seeley, where are you now?]

Understanding trouble in Tibet

March 27, 2008

Tibet a “powderkeg?” How could that be?

Potala Palace, by Galen Rowell circa 1981

Photo of Potala Palace by the late Galen Rowell, circa 1981; for Rowell’s famous photo of the Palace and Rainbow, click here. Read Sweeney’s post, note the difference between the two photos here.

Julia Sweeney discusses her trip there nine years ago. You’ll see things more clearly.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Pharyngula, again, and he tips to Stranger Fruit. Myers is about a lot more than just biology, and so are most other blogs by biologists.

Chinese MIG in front of Potala Palace, Lhasa, parked on the former reflecting pool
Photo: Chinese MIG on display in front of Potala Palace, one of Tibetans’ most sacred landmarks. From

Don’t look at the moonwalking bear

March 27, 2008

If I had a perception problem or a new optical illusion for every class day in psychology, we’d start every day happy.

This is a great ad. It gently pokes your pride in your ability to see what’s going on — from a bicycle safety campaign in Britain urging motorists to look out for bicyclists:

Don’t look now: Businesses ask Uganda to block DDT spraying

March 27, 2008

News comes out of Kampala that the delay in implementing the use of DDT in a Rachel Carson-approved program of integrated pest management — for indoor residual spraying only — faces strong opposition.

From environmentalists? No, you’ll recall that Environmental Defense, the group that led the fight for a ban on broadcast use of DDT in the U.S. has been pressuring the Bush administration and others to use DDT appropriately for years.

The opposition comes from Uganda businesses.

“Zero tolerance on DDT spraying is the feeling of the private sector. Even at the East African Community DDT is a condemned chemical. Government should look for other alternatives,” Mr David Lule, the managing director of Hortexa, a horticultural exporting association to the EU [European Union], said.

Don’t look for corrections or apologies from the pro-poison lobbyists yet. Junk “scientist” Steven Milloy, the “Competitive Enterprise Institute” (which claims to represent businesses) and others have yet to correct any of the many errors they’ve made in their slash-and-burn campaign for poisoning Africa. Why would they change now?

Read the rest of this entry »

March 27, 1912: Cherry trees for Washington, D.C.

March 27, 2008

From the Library of Congress:

Potomac Blossoms

Japanese cherry blossoms
View of Washington Monument, Cherry Blossoms and Tidal Basin
Theodor Horydczak, photographer, circa 1920-1950.
Washington as It Was, 1923-1959

On March 27, 1912, First Lady Helen Herron Taft and the Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese ambassador, planted two Yoshino cherry trees on the northern bank of the Potomac River Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C. The event celebrated the Japanese government’s gift of 3,000 trees to the United States. Trees were planted along the Potomac Tidal Basin near the site of the future Jefferson Memorial, in East Potomac Park, and on the White House grounds.

The text of First Lady Taft’s letter, along with the story of the cherry trees, is available from the National Park Service’s official Cherry Blossom Festival Web site. From the opening screen, scroll down to the paragraph beginning, “The history of the cherry trees.”

A lot more, with good links, at the Library of Congress “Today in History” site.

Carnival of historic proportions

March 27, 2008

Lent’s over, Easter’s done — time to carnival once again.

Very good stuff in several different carnivals on history and other subjects we like to peruse and ponder while soaking in Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub.

The passings of those who saw history, commemorated at the 12th Carnival of Military History, at Thoughts on Military History:

Next we have a series of posts commemorating the deaths of veterans who have recently passed away. First, at UKNIWM we have a post about the passing away of the last Scottish veteran of the Spanish Civil War. Second, again at UKNIWM, we have a post on the death of the last French veteran of the First World War. Finally, we have a post at Rantings of a Civil War Historian about the anniversary of the death of Sir Henry Shrapnel, the inventor of the shrapnel artillery shell. [Link on Shrapnel not working]

There’s a whole lesson plan in that paragraph, all of it important and fascinating, and none of it important in your state’s history standards, probably.

A Hot Cup of Joe, appropriately, hosts the Four Stone Hearth #37, the carnival of archaeology — in a strangely futuristic Pulp Science Fiction fashion. Go see the thing just for the pulp sci-fi images, if you must — but as usual there are great gems there. This week our youngest son expressed some exasperation at the short shrift given Angkor Wat in high school texts, which led to a discussion about cultures and histories generally not part of the U.S. canon. Four Stone Hearth features a post at Wanna Be An Anthropologist that digs through Angkor Wat in some depth. I love timely posts.

These things lead off into all sorts of rabbit trails. Wanna Be An Anthropologist also has this post on “Mogollon Snowbirds,” a wry title twist on a very good, deep post on archaeology and anthropology study in the Mogollon Rim area of Arizona. No bit conclusion, but sources you can use, and a great look at what real scientists really do.

We’re all back from spring break in our household, but still appreciative of the Teachers Gone Wild edition of the Carnival of Education (#165), at Bellringers.

New school in Toronto, Kohn Schnier Architects New elementary school in Toronto, Ontario; architecture by Kohn Schnier Architects.

One feature on the Education Carnival midway was this post, “Luddite Lite,” at Teacher in a Strange Land. It’s sharp little spur under my seat, about actually using technology to promote learning for the students, rather than as a crutch for the teacher. But in that blog’s archives, right next door to that post, is this evocative post from a 30-year, in-the-trenches veteran teacher, to my old boss at Education, Checker Finn — a response to one of his posts (which we’ve commented on before). What makes education work? Are you delivering it? Check out both posts.

Oops. Gotta scoot. Lesson plans to tweak.

Ben Stein busted for Godwin’s law violation

March 26, 2008

Godwin’s law predicts, reductio ad Hitlerum explains.

Image from Stein's

And Vox Day explains it doesn’t mean what Ben Stein thinks it means. Day and Stein ought to get together to coordinate — of course, as Twain noted, if they’d just stick to the facts, they wouldn’t need to coordinate at all.

Lacking any significant response from the movie’s creators or fan, scientists and skeptics have turned to debating who gets to kick the turkey while it’s down.

Movies to make your high school history teacher cry

March 24, 2008

Via Popehat, Yahoo!’s list of the Ten Most Historically Inaccurate MoviesPopehat notes that Mel Gibson is a big player in three of the ten.

There are a lot more to add to the list, I think — pick your favorite Zorro movie, for example.  Or think of the fog at the airport in “Casablanca.”  Especially if one starts picking historical nits in pictures that don’t pretend to portray historical events, the list grows quickly.   Has anyone vetted the years of the song in the soundtrack for “Forrest Gump?”

This list at hangs 11 inaccurate films.  It’s snarkier and much more profane, probably not safe for work or school.  There is a lot of overlap.

Which movies have been left off the lists, other than all of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre movies

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