Rachel Carson in history — great post at Pop History Dig

February 22, 2012

It’s a long post, but it’s got great images and graphics, solid citations, and very few errors — go read Jack Doyle’s profile of Carson, featuring a solid and thorough discussion of the controversy over DDT.

Español: Fachada Rocsen-Rachel Carson

Statute honoring Rachel Carson at the Rocsen Museum, in Nono, Cordoba, Argentina

Jack Doyle, “Power in the Pen, Silent Spring: 1962,”
PopHistoryDig.com
, Feburary 21, 2012.

Doyle is a good writer and his site is a great idea with wonderful execution, The Pop History Dig.

Short of Linda Lear’s biography of Carson, Doyle’s piece presents the facts squarely, with no axes grinding.  (Steve Milloy, Rutledge Taylor, The Competitive Enterprise Institute, Roger Bate, Richard Tren, the astroturf group Africa Fighting Malaria, Anthony Watts, Jay Ambrose and Christopher Monckton, and other purveyors of anti-Carson and anti-science vitriol will not like Doyle’s piece and will claim it to be biased.)


Climate change deniers in high dudgeon as leaked memos reveal their deceptions

February 21, 2012

Previously:  John Mashey finished another epic analysis of the climate denialist world showing clear wrong-doing and potential violations of federal tax law on the part of denialists.  But as it was going to press, someone hacked the executive board of the anti-science Heartland Institute, and dropped the notes exposing the group as a propaganda bunch working hard against science into a couple of blogs.

Contrary to the stonewalling of the denialists, when scientists figured out who might have had access to the documents, the fellow confessed and resigned from several positions (honor on the science side, but not on the denialist side, once again).

News takes two or three years to penetrate to Rick Santorum, however, and he continued his soulless presidential campaign through the weekend claiming, contrary to the facts, that global warming is not happening.

Funny how he accuses those he opposes of doing the things his side does, isn’t it?

Anthony Watts, the leader of the anti-science mau-mauing breathlessly covered the resignation of Peter Gleick, the conscience-striken whistle-blower, but tended to ignore the evidence Gleick revealed.  So much for talking about real science.

(Watts also makes much of the California Institute of Science changing its exhibit on climate change after three years, as if when museums change exhibits, it means the science behind the old exhibit is no longer valid.  Is it just me, or is Watts really stretching to find the propaganda angle since his own data let him down, and demonstrated that warming, and the “hockey stick,” are real problems?)

Here are a few places you should visit to get the news and the facts:

This post likely will be updated.  Watch.  (Already updated to fix my error above about Seitz and SEPP.)


No cookies for this misogynist/misanthrope

February 21, 2012

Conservatives get crazier every day:  In Indiana, a state representative urges colleagues to vote against a resolution honoring Girl Scouts of America, for imaginary reasons.

A state legislator has sent a letter to fellow Republican members of the Indiana House saying he will not support a resolution celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts because he believes it is a “radicalized organization” that supports abortion and promotes homosexuality.

In a letter obtained by The Journal Gazette of Fort Wayne on Monday, Rep. Bob Morris of Fort Wayne said he did some research on the Internet and found allegations that the Girl Scouts are a tactical arm of Planned Parenthood, allow transgender females to join and encourage sex.

“After talking to some well-informed constituents, I did a small amount of web-based research, and what I found is disturbing,” Morris wrote in his letter, which also accused the group of promoting “homosexual lifestyles.”

Morris sent the letter to House Republicans on Saturday.

Ashley Sharp, spokeswoman for the Girl Scouts of Northern Indiana-Michiana, said Monday a statement on the group’s website states that it leaves sex and reproduction questions to parents. The group accepts transgender youth on a case-by-case basis.

Morris is the only House member to refuse to sign a resolution honoring the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts that lawmakers approved last week. He told the Journal Gazette that others would join him in opposing the resolution but later recanted that statement in an interview with The Associated Press.

That old “some research on the Internet” as a source.

It’s scary people can be so delusional without resorting to psychotropic drugs. Is this guy smoking the same stuff Rick Santorum and Rick Perry smoke?

More, and Related Articles:


Automaton from “Hugo,” alive and well and living in Philadelphia

February 20, 2012

You saw and loved Scorsese’s “Hugo.”  You rushed home and Googled “Georges Melies,” and you rediscovered a thrilling character from history You wondered:  Surely the automaton was wholly fictional, right?  No one could really make something like that!

Oh, but they did.  The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia has one restoredCBS Sunday Morning reported it:

(And then CBS disabled embedding — you’ll have to go watch at YouTube.  Sorry.)

Here, watch this longer piece demonstrating the device:

Steampunkers everywhere are suddenly filled with hope.

But, should we be surprised that mere mechanical devices can do such seemingly wonderous stuff?  Remember the “bird pistols” that were auctioned a few months ago?  And what about all those mechanized clocks in towns and cities across Europe? See the clock tower in Poznan, Poland, for example:

At Mid day everyday, 2 mechanical goats bang their heads together and a guy plays a trumpet.

Amazing stuff was possible, without electronics.  2D animation on film is fantastic.  3d animation of a real object?  It appears just short of miraculous, and then only because we know something about how it was done.  Arthur C. Clarke’s famous Third Law screams to be noted here:  “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”  But of course, no one is making such automata today.  Maybe they are miracles, no?  Bugs Bunny sang, “Carrots are sublime/You get a dozen for dime/It’s magic!”

Magic of and on film, one of the great themes of the movie “Hugo.”

Updated:  More sources (courtesy of Zemanta): 


Get your Texas Drought Survival Package from Texas Parks & Wildlife

February 20, 2012

We’ve had serious rain in Dallas, but most of the state still resides well in the thrall of drought.  Plus, the rains in Dallas have been unseasonal, which suggests the drought is not done with Dallas yet, either.

Texas Parks & Wildlife has words of advice:

More information from TPWD:

The drought has taken a toll on everything from wildlife to water bills. To help Texans cope, Texas Parks and Wildlife is offering a Drought Survival Kit http://www.texasthestateofwater.org/


Presidents Day 2012: Fly your flag today

February 20, 2012

Presidents Day is February 20, 2012 — fly your U.S. flag today.

National Park Service photo, Lincoln Memorial through flags at Washington Monument

The Lincoln Memorial, seen through flags posted at the Washington Monument, Washington, D.C.; National Park Service Photo via About.com

Oddly enough, some controversy arises from time to time over how to honor President Washington and President Lincoln, and other presidents.  Sometimes the controversy simmers over how to honor great Americans — if Lincoln deserves a day, why not FDR?  Why not Jefferson? — and sometimes the controversy covers more mundane ground — should the federal government give workers a day off?  Should it be on a Monday or Friday to create a three-day weekend to boost tourism?  About.com explains the history of the controversy:

Presidents’ Day is intended (for some) to honor all the American presidents, but most significantly George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. According to the Gregorian or “New Style” calendar that is most commonly used today, George Washington was born on February 22, 1732. But according to the Julian or “Old Style” calendar that was used in England until 1752, his birth date was February 11th. Back in the 1790s, Americans were split – some celebrated his birthday on February 11th and some on February 22nd.

When Abraham Lincoln became president and helped reshape our country, it was believed he, too, should have a special day of recognition. Tricky thing was that Lincoln’s birthday fell on February 12th. Prior to 1968, having two presidential birthdays so close together didn’t seem to bother anyone. February 22nd was observed as a federal public holiday to honor the birthday of George Washington and February 12th was observed as a public holiday to honor Abraham Lincoln’s birthday.

In 1968, things changed when the 90th Congress was determined to create a uniform system of federal Monday holidays. They voted to shift three existing holidays (including Washington’s Birthday) to Mondays. The law took effect in 1971, and as a result, Washington’s Birthday holiday was changed to the third Monday in February. But not all Americans were happy with the new law. There was some concern that Washington’s identity would be lost since the third Monday in February would never fall on his actual birthday. There was also an attempt to rename the public holiday “Presidents’ Day”, but the idea didn’t go anywhere since some believed not all presidents deserved a special recognition.

Even though Congress had created a uniform federal holiday law, there was not a uniform holiday title agreement among the individual states. Some states, like California, Idaho, Tennessee and Texas chose not to retain the federal holiday title and renamed their state holiday “President’s Day.” From that point forward, the term “Presidents’ Day” became a marketing phenomenon, as advertisers sought to capitalize on the opportunity for three-day or week-long sales.

In 1999, bills were introduced in both the U.S. House (HR-1363) and Senate (S-978) to specify that the legal public holiday once referred to as Washington’s Birthday be “officially” called by that name once again. Both bills died in committees.

Today, President’s Day is well accepted and celebrated. Some communities still observe the original holidays of Washington and Lincoln, and many parks actually stage reenactments and pageants in their honor. The National Park Service also features a number of historic sites and memorials to honor the lives of these two presidents, as well as other important leaders.

Fly your flag, read some history, enjoy the day.

More, Resources, and Related Articles:

English: Air Force One, the typical air transp...

President's airplane, Air Force 1, flying over Mount Rushmore National Monument, in South Dakota - Image via Wikipedia


Grand Old Tinfoil Hat Party — really?

February 19, 2012

According to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, 23.9% of American adults are Catholics.  That translates to 68.5 million Americans, approximately

The GOP race seems to have come down to a Mormon and two Catholics.

How can it be that they got the two craziest Catholics in America to run for the GOP nomination? Surely they do not represent the best we could find among Catholics.

Did you see Rick Santorum yesterday, or today on Face the Nation?  What makes him feel free to be that ill-informed and crazy?  (No, the federal government does not run education in America.)

If we still made tinfoil hats in America, the economy would be booming, from either Santorum’s camp or Gingrich’s camp.

Update:  Video from CBS is now available.  Bask in the insanity:

More, Resources, and Related Articles from Zemanta:


%d bloggers like this: