Open thread

Tangled Bank #62—Travel Bingo edition is online and full of great sciencing writing.  I’m also impressed that the host of this round developed individual graphics (icons) for each entry.

Go take a look at these photos of a Bengal kitten.  Not only is the little girl absolutely beautiful, but she can pose like a professional!  [via Meg at Cute Overload]

The Nazi Pope says preachin’ is more impotent important than giving aid during emergencies, and he promptly added “Western societies are losing their souls to scientific rationality…”  Now, let’s be clear: he’s up in arms because religions are losing control of society as science and rationality step in to the void.  Don’t you hate it when the truth kicks your mythology’s ass?  As for stating it’s more important to spread lies and deceit than it is to help our fellow humans in times of need, well, I’ll just let that one stand on its own merits.

A new and beautiful bird species has been discovered in India, and it’s the first such discovery there in 50 years.

You get what you deserve!  A free-diving fisherman in Florida speared a protected species of fish, after which the fish wrapped the line around the man’s wrist and promptly wedged itself in a coral crevice.  That, in turn, “effectively [pinned] the man to the bottom of the ocean” where he drowned.  C’est la vie.

This is a very interesting discussion of the legal implications of taking photographs and publishing them (the two practices are deemed separate under the law, so keep that in mind).  It’s compelling, especially in this day when snapping a photo of something as innocuous as a bridge can lead to some very unpleasant interactions with law enforcement and intelligence officials.  The crux of the story: the law is on your side, not theirs.

And so it begins with ABC.  In response to the viciously dishonest “Path to 9/11” mockumentary recently aired on the embattled network, American Airlines is now considering pulling all advertising from the network in addition to legal action.  Why?  The program contradicted the 9/11 Commission Report by showing it was American who let Atta on the plane even while viewing warnings about him and the need to subject him to further scrutiny.  Unfortunately, that incident is true, but it was US Airways and not American Airlines, and it also happened at a completely different airport than what was shown in the film.  I suspect this is just the beginning of ABC/Disney’s trouble.  If the show airs in Britain (as is expected on BBC), Berger, Albright, American Airlines, Clinton, and many others will have strong legal recourse against the network (British laws in such cases strongly favor the plaintiff and put the burden on the defendant to prove they did not knowingly publish defamatory untruths; because the network was well aware of the falsehoods weeks before airing the program, it will be impossible for them to prove they mistakenly aired the lies).  In addition, pulling advertising revenue (American says that’s a substantial amount of money) and legal action right here in the US will both be easy as well.  The show also aired in the Netherlands and undoubtedly will air elsewhere, so the Mouse is going to get its ass kicked around the globe.  At this point, I’m turning my back to everything Disney and ABC, and that includes our local affiliate, WFAA, because they aired the program even after a majority of people complained that it was deceitful and a violation of the memory of 2,996 dead Americans (not to mention all those who have died since that fateful day).  But, at least we know Mickey Mouse has a new boss: Karl Rove.

NASA has a great article on recent studies on the relationship between lightning and ice in the atmosphere.  They found on a global scale that the amount of ice in any one cloud has more than a 90% correlation to the amount of lightning that cloud will produce.  When studying individual storms, the correlation rose as high as 100%.  Check it out for the fascinating results from this multiyear study.

Do you wonder how your federal tax dollars are being spent?  Well, no one can give you a complete answer, but now everyone can tell you this: In the last seven years, funding for biomedical science has fallen dramatically (by more than half for new grants and by almost half for renewal grants).  That’s a lot of medical research that’s no longer being done because the government is underfunding scientists.  Take a look at the chart to see some frightening information.  For instance, the decline has been steady for seven years — as long as the Republicans have been in control of Congress.  The decline became a plummet in 2001 — the year Bush took office.  There are other contributing factors, of course, but the seriousness of the problem can not be stressed enough: our tax money is being diverted and medical research is suffering tremendously because of it.

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