Taking some time off

I’m taking some family time over the next two weeks. Expect occasional posts if interesting things happen, but no morning news roundups.

Yeah, I know. I’ve been busy.

Busy launching this other site. Come visit me there.

NSA telephone metadata collection ruled illegal

Yesterday the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the government’s broad collection program of telephone metadata — involving both international and domestic calls — is illegal. The opinion is lengthy and tackles several issues, and is worth picking apart a bit.

Continue reading ‘NSA telephone metadata collection ruled illegal’

Still no link between autism and MMR

A new study was just published looking at whether there is a connection between the MMR vaccine and autism.

Continue reading ‘Still no link between autism and MMR’

Myopia: more environmental, less genetic

The science magazine/journal Nature has an interesting article this week on myopia, aka near-sightedness. Myopia is on the rise among children worldwide, and is reaching epidemic levels in some Asian regions: in 1955, 10-20% of the Chinese population was short-sighted, and today up to 90% of teenagers and young adults are. This has led to an increase in research as to what is driving it.  Many efforts have shown there is a genetic component to it, and nearly 100 different genetic markers have been found that correlate with myopia. But that can’t be the whole story; evolution doesn’t move fast enough to account for the rapid ascent of myopia rates. There must be an environmental factor, and a strong one at that.

Continue reading ‘Myopia: more environmental, less genetic’

Why influenza spreads in the winter

Here’s an interesting press release about some work being done at Virginia Tech on understanding why “flu season” is in the winter.

Continue reading ‘Why influenza spreads in the winter’

Oil Spills Used to Save Lives at Sea

Here is a pointer to a great article with a maritime history lesson:  sea captains used to intentionally create small oil spills around their ships during rough weather in order to calm the seas. And it worked.

Continue reading ‘Oil Spills Used to Save Lives at Sea’

Sometimes Nature Isn’t Intuitive

wolf

gray wolf

A new study released by Washington State University shows a very unintuitive result: killing gray wolves increases the likelihood of livestock killings the following year.  The explanation makes sense, once you hear it.

Continue reading ‘Sometimes Nature Isn’t Intuitive’

Ending the Elephant Program at Woodland Park Zoo

Today the Woodland Park Zoo announced, with great sadness, that it would be phasing out its elephant exhibit and transferring its two Asian elephants, Chai and Bamboo, to another AZA-accredited facility. Their reasoning is clear yet nuanced. Let’s take a moment to walk through it. Continue reading ‘Ending the Elephant Program at Woodland Park Zoo’

Same-sex Marriage Laws Just Got Interesting Again

Today the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling supporting four states’ ban on marriage for same-sex couples.  And with that, it is virtually assured that the Supreme Court will finally take up the issue. Continue reading ‘Same-sex Marriage Laws Just Got Interesting Again’

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