Saturday, March 28, 2009

Reason vs Faith - Fideism

A quote from the good Martin Luther. What is the reason the church members put up that sign?

If It Sounds Liberal......Check RedState

Ok, I admit that I'm not into following symbolic gestures such as "Earth Hour". But the loonies at RedState figure anything liberal must be socialism, communism, fascism or some sort of ism that they deem is not, I don't know.....patriotism? The RedStaters prove once again that they are more than willing to demonstrate against things that are in their own best interests.

DDT - The Good and the Bad

Yes, another rant on DDT. You can read my other rants here, here, here and here. What brings on the latest rant you ask? It's the debut of "A Sense of Wonder", a film about Rachel Carson, at North Country Community College in celebration of National Women's History Month.

There is some disagreement about how much responsibility Rachel Carson deserves for the drastic reduction in the use of DDT to control malaria worldwide. Carson was not opposed to using DDT to control disease. However, the reduction in the use of DDT to control disease, especially malaria, has been attributed to her book "Silent Spring".

"Silent Spring" also led to the formation of the Environmental Defense Fund an organization I generally support. Unfortunately, on the issue of the use of DDT to control malaria, I'm of the opinion that the EDF provides some vary slanted information concerning the effects of DDT in humans (although they do somewhat support the use of DDT for indoor spraying in malaria control).

Concerning a relationship between cancer and DDT the EDF writes:
Most of what we know about DDT's toxicity to humans (as with many chemicals) is derived from laboratory-animal studies, which have demonstrated that DDT is likely to cause cancers and other health problems.
EDF makes it sound like this relationship has been scientifically proven. According to the Malaria Foundation International which cites an article published in Lancet, it has not. Exotoxnet, a consortium of Cornell University, Michigan State University, Oregon State University and the University of California at Davis says
Thus it appears that DDT may have the potential to cause genotoxic effects in humans, but does not appear to be strongly mutagenic
and, concerning cancer,
no significant associations were seen between DDT exposure and disease
EDF also claims:
To attribute the resurgence in malaria to a failure to use one specific pesticide is not only misleading, it's incorrect.
There is evidence and opinion that says otherwise, this article published in PLOS for instance or this article published in Science News.

Fortunately, the WHO is promoting the indoor use of DDT to prevent malaria. You can learn much more about how DDT prevent malaria by going here.

Friday, March 27, 2009

GOP Budget - the Alternate Plan with No Numbers

You can see the GOP budget without numbers here (pdf). Good thing Colbert and Jon Stewart are on vacation this week.

Uihlein Potato Research Station, Lake Placid, NY

Unfortunately, the website of this Cornell University research station is "under construction". You can find a little bit about this certified seed potato farm here. Luckly, I was able to get a tour of this facility in the interest of higher education (mine).

But check out these pictures:

The research station is located on Bear Cub Road in Lake Placid, NY. The fields are located behind the John Brown farm and the ski jumps.

The laboratory building, built in 1977, is in the background. Please paint the soles of your shoes before you enter past the gate.

The potato fields look very fertile and have the best views of the high peaks.
They plant 35-40 acres of seed potatoes every year.

Growing certified seed potatoes begins with replicating plants in test tubes with an agar growth media. Each plant is cut into several little stems containing germinal tissue which will replicate another potato plant.

Plants need to be checked for the presence of virus and bacterial infections.

Eventually, racks and racks full of plants are growing under lights

Plants are eventually replanted into the green house where the actual seed tubers are produced.

Different varieties of seed potatoes are stored in a cool building until Spring planting.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

New Car

Finally decided that the 1997 Honda CR-V was ready for retirement. Traded it in today for a 2009 CR-V in black. So far so good. Also got a great deal. Auto dealerships have got to be hurting if Honda is selling cars below invoice. That's not to say that the dealer didn't make something off the deal, but in all my years of buying Hondas I've always paid the MSRP.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

AIG Bonuses - The Other Side of the Story

I'm pretty much staying clear of the economic crisis because I probably understand it less than anyone (I'm almost certain I got less than a C in economics in college). I do understand that it is complex and probably no one really understands how everything came together to cause our current economic mess. I am sure that there are a lot more people than just AIG execs that hold responsibility. The American people themselves hold a good deal of the responsibility for refusing to personally save any money.

A resignation letter from an AIG executive has been published in the NYT. It is worth reading if only to hear from the other side of the AIG bonus "scandal".

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Breaking Ice

Crossing Lake Champlain at Plattsburgh can often times involve breaking some ice.

Here we are very slowly pushing through about an inch or inch and a half of ice. The ferry engines are really reving when this is occuring.

The ice breaking happened the return trip from VT to NY. The channel was completely open on the way over to VT.

Something You Always Wanted to Know

How do bats end up hanging from their feet? Check out this two-point landing video to see for yourself.