Eideard

Fundamentalists’ greatest fear – species discovered where the females have penises

leave a comment »

Female insects with “penises” have been discovered in Brazil – the first example of an animal with sex-reversed genitalia, scientists say.

Neotrogla females insert the erectile organs into males’ vagina-like openings…The elaborate structure, dubbed a “gynosome”, is used to suck out sperm and nutritious seminal fluids…Copulation lasts an impressive 40-70 hours, the researchers report…

“Although sex-role reversal has been identified in several different animals, Neotrogla is the only example in which the intromittent organ is also reversed,” said lead author Kazunori Yoshizawa from Hokkaido University in Japan.

The female is always on top during copulation – which lasts up to 70 hours…The gender-bending insects were found in a cave in eastern Brazil and represent four distinct species in the Neotrogla genus.

Once inside a male, the membranous part of the female gynosome inflates. It has numerous spines which anchor the two insects together.

When the researchers attempted to pull a male and female apart, the male’s abdomen was ripped from the thorax without breaking the genital coupling…

Who would have expected the AntiChrist to appear as a flying insect? :)

About these ads

Written by Ed Campbell

April 19, 2014 at 8:00 am

FDA proposed E-Cigarette regulation leaked to industry first

leave a comment »

After years of FDA foot-dragging amid calls for action on electronic cigarettes, an industry group nearly stole the agency’s thunder with an apparently leaked copy of an impending draft regulation.

The Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association (TVECA) put up a picture of the scanned document on its website Friday, indicating it was the “Deeming Tobacco Products to be Subject to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, as Amended by the Family Smoking Prevention and Control Act; Regulations on the Sale and Distribution of Tobacco Products and Required Warning Statements for Tobacco Products.”

However, the e-cigarette advocacy group said it decided not to go ahead with plans to release the document following informal discussions with the agency on Friday.

“[W]e all decided that [it would be] in the best interest of the regulatory process, as well as the industry and the public, not to post the document on Tuesday,” TVECA explained in a brief note on its website…

The title of the document shown by TVECA appeared to fit expectations that the FDA’s move will be to bring e-cigarettes under largely the same regulatory scheme as other tobacco products, which would involve blocking sales to minors and restricting marketing.

The agency has had e-cigarettes on its agenda for years, but finally sent a draft proposed rule to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) last fall; action was further delayed by the partial government shutdown.

The document was still with the OMB as of last month. Whether the copy obtained by TVECA indicates an impending release for public comment wasn’t clear.

Anyone surprised? Anyone expect documents which might affect corporate profits and the health of Americans to be leaked to scientists or public interest advocates? Our government is working harder than ever to squash the possibility of another Edward Snowden popping up, say, in the FDA or USDA.

Written by Ed Campbell

April 19, 2014 at 2:00 am

Red Moon, Green Beam — Apache Point Observatory

leave a comment »

red moon, green beam
Click to enlarge

This is not a scene from a sci-fi special effects movie. The green beam of light and red lunar disk are real enough, captured in the early morning hours of April 15. Of course, the reddened lunar disk is easy to explain as the image was taken during this week’s total lunar eclipse.

Immersed in shadow, the eclipsed Moon reflects the dimmed reddened light of all the sunsets and sunrises filtering around the edges of planet Earth, seen in silhouette from a lunar perspective. But the green beam of light really is a laser. Shot from the 3.5-meter telescope at Apache Point Observatory in southern New Mexico, the beam’s path is revealed as Earth’s atmosphere scatters some of the intense laser light.

The laser’s target is the Apollo 15 retroreflector, left on the Moon by the astronauts in 1971. By determining the light travel time delay of the returning laser pulse, the experimental team from UC San Diego is able to measure the Earth-Moon distance to millimeter precision and provide a test of General Relativity, Einstein’s theory of gravity.

Image Credit & Copyright: Dan Long (Apache Point Observatory) – Courtesy: Tom Murphy (UC San Diego)

Thanks, Ursarodinia

Written by Ed Campbell

April 18, 2014 at 8:00 pm

Hawaii coppers fail at exemption allowing sex with prostitutes

with one comment

Hawaii lawmakers in both chambers agree that legal permission for police to have sex with prostitutes should end.
House and senate members are still negotiating on the version of House Bill 1926 they will send to the governor. But they concur that the crime bill should revoke a peculiar exemption that permits police in Hawaii, in the course of their duties, to have sex with prostitutes.

The bill began in the house and was amended as it passed out of that chamber’s judicial committee. At the time, Honolulu police told lawmakers that vice-officers needed the exemption in law to prevent pimps and prostitutes from knowing the limits of police methods.

The Associated Press wrote about the successful police lobbying against removing the sex exemption after the bill passed the house. When the senate judiciary committee took up the bill, lawmakers revised it again to reflect the backlash against the exemption, with many expressing strong convictions that police should not have the legal ability to bed prostitutes.

Honolulu police, while assuring the public that their internal policies prevent such abuse, dropped their opposition to removing the exemption.

Nice try, guys. You realize you’ve probably set an example for Congress to try the same stunt.

Written by Ed Campbell

April 18, 2014 at 2:00 pm

US Special Forces struggle with record rate of suicides

with one comment


Click to enlarge – “Have to trust someone to be betrayed. I never did.”

Suicides among U.S. special operations forces, including elite Navy SEALs and Army Rangers, are at record levels, a U.S. military official said on Thursday, citing the effects of more than a decade of “hard combat.”

The number of special operations forces committing suicide has held at record highs for the past two years, said Admiral William McRaven, who leads the Special Operations Command…

It may take a year or more, he said, to assess the effects of sustained combat on special operations units, whose missions range from strikes on militants such as the 2011 SEAL raid that killed al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden to assisting in humanitarian disasters.

He did not provide data on the suicide rate, which the U.S. military has been battling to lower. In 2012, for example, more active duty servicemen and servicewomen across the U.S. armed forces died by suicide – an estimated 350 – than died in combat, a U.S. defense official said.

That trend appears to have held in 2013 although preliminary data is showing a slight improvement, with 284 suicides among active duty forces in the year to December 15, the official added…

Kim Ruocco, who assists the survivors of military members who commit suicide, said members of the closely knit special operations community often fear that disclosing their symptoms will end their careers.

Additionally, the shrinking size of the U.S. armed forces has put additional pressure on soldiers, whose sense of community and self-identity is often closely tied to their military service, said Ruocco, director of suicide prevention programs for the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, an advocacy group for military families.

It’s my guess that disclosing fear, suicidal tendencies, any questions of survival will absolutely be interpreted as weakness and inability to make “the mission” more important than life itself. Very few military units have ever developed an understanding of human emotions beyond convincing troops that killing folks is more important than anything else.

Written by Ed Campbell

April 18, 2014 at 8:00 am

Congressional free subscriptions to HUSTLER continues

leave a comment »


Flynt often makes million-dollar offers for proof of gay or straight sex with members of Congress

The publisher of Hustler says they will continue to send the monthly porn magazine to every member of Congress.

“Moses freed the Jews, Lincoln freed the slaves, and I just wanted to free all the neurotics,” said publisher Larry Flynt.

Flynt has been sending the monthly issue of the magazine to every member of Congress for 30 years. Several members have tried to stop the mailings but have failed. Now their offices just learn how to deal with it.

Some members warn interns and tell them to throw it out, and some staffers use it as a monthly joke on unsuspecting coworkers.

Flynt says the mailing falls under his right to free speech and they will be sent every month like always in an attempt to loosen up the nation’s lawmakers.

Aside from his “unique” sense of humor and decorum, Flynt has spent more than a few buck$ defending free speech. Not that everyone in Congress will acknowledge that.

Written by Ed Campbell

April 18, 2014 at 2:00 am

ESA’s shiny new Sentinel-1A satellite returns first Earth photos

with one comment


Click to enlarge – Image of a transect across the northern section of the Antarctic Peninsula

ESA’s Sentinel-1A satellite has returned its first images of Earth from space in its second week of achieving orbit. The satellite, having been launched on Apr. 3. has only recently undergone a complicated maneuver to extend its 10 meter solar wings and 12 meter radar imaging array.

There are due to be six constellations of two Sentinel satellites designed to image the Earth, in part to observe climate change as a part of the Copernicus program. The satellite is not yet positioned in its operational orbit, nor is it fully calibrated to supply true data to the mission. However, the images taken on Apr. 12 are a truly stunning example of the observational capabilities of the cutting-edge satellite…

Over the next three months, the satellite will run through its commissioning phase, during which it will achieve operational orbit and be calibrated to begin what will be the most ambitious and largest Earth observation mission ever undertaken.

Lovely work. And much more knowledge to be gained about our planet.

Written by Ed Campbell

April 17, 2014 at 8:00 pm

The US is an oligarchy — not a democracy

with 3 comments

Citizen-United-Corp-Lobbyist

Oligarchy is a form of government in which power is vested in a dominant class and a small group exercises control over the general population.

A new study from Princeton and Northwestern Universities concluded that the U.S. government represents not the interests of the majority of citizens but those of the rich and powerful.

“Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens” analyzed extensive data, comparing nearly 1,800 U.S. policies enacted between 1981 and 2002 with the expressed preferences of average and affluent Americans as well as special interest groups.

The resulting data empirically verifies that U.S. policies are determined by the economic elite…

What do our findings say about democracy in America? They certainly constitute troubling news for advocates of “populistic” democracy, who want governments to respond primarily or exclusively to the policy preferences of their citizens.

In the United States, our findings indicate, the majority does not rule — at least not in the causal sense of actually determining policy outcomes. When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organized interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the U.S. political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favor policy change, they generally do not get it.

The report consoles that “Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association” but goes on to warn that “we believe that if policymaking is dominated by powerful business organizations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened.”

“You think you’re so clever and classless and free -
“but you’re still fucking peasants as far as I can see!” — John Lennon, 1970

You can read the whole study over here.

Written by Ed Campbell

April 17, 2014 at 2:00 pm

National Popular Vote bill now has 61% of the 270 electoral votes needed to activate

leave a comment »


Click to enlarge

Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the National Popular Vote bill on April 15, making New York the 11th state to enact the law.

On March 25, the Republican-controlled New York Senate passed the bill by a 57–4 margin, and the Democratic–controlled Assembly passed the bill 100–32…

The National Popular Vote bill has now been enacted into law by 11 states possessing 165 electoral votes (61% of the 270 electoral votes needed to activate the bill)…

The National Popular Vote bill has been introduced in every state where it has not yet been enacted. One of the most important things you can do to support the National Popular Vote bill is to write your state legislators and statewide elected officials asking them to support the National Popular Vote bill. You can quickly and easily send an e-mail to your state legislators by going to http://www.NationalPopularVote.com/write. Our system will provide several suggested letters, which you can edit.

The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The shortcomings of the current system of electing the President stem from state winner-take-all statutes…Because of these state winner-take-all statutes, presidential candidates have no reason to pay attention to the issues of concern to voters in states where the statewide outcome is a foregone conclusion. In 2012, four out of five states were ignored…Two-thirds of the general-election campaign events (176 of 253) were in just 4 states (Ohio, Florida, Virginia, and Iowa)…

State winner-take-all statutes have allowed candidates to win the Presidency without winning the most popular votes nationwide in four of our 57 presidential elections—1 in 14 times. A shift of 59,393 votes in Ohio in 2004 would have elected John Kerry despite President Bush’s nationwide lead of over 3,000,000 votes. A shift of 214,393 votes in 2012 would have elected Mitt Romney despite President Obama’s nationwide lead of almost 5,000,000 votes.

Like gerrymandering, both of the TweedleDeeDeumb parties always figure they can use corrupt systems to their own benefit when they’re in power. I hope, I feel that the average American would rather be guaranteed that each of our votes counts the same as anyone else’s vote.

Need more details? RTFA and/or go to http://www.NationalPopularVote.com.

Written by Ed Campbell

April 17, 2014 at 8:00 am

Research OK — doesn’t say anything about Reefer Madness!

with one comment

Correlation does not equal causation, and a single exam cannot show a trend over time. Basic stuff, right?

But judging by coverage of a study just out in the Journal of Neuroscience, these are apparently foreign concepts for many folks in the media.

In the study, researchers at Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital and Northwestern University in Chicago performed MRI brain scans on 20 young adult “casual” marijuana users and 20 age- and sex-matched nonusers. They found that, in the users, gray matter densities in the nucleus accumbens were higher than in controls, and the right amygdala and left nucleus accumbens were shaped differently.

Interesting, but remember that these findings only reflected differences between the marijuana users and controls at a single point in time. The researchers did not, could not, demonstrate that the differences resulted from marijuana smoking or even that the “abnormalities” relative to controls reflected changes from some earlier state.

You wouldn’t know that from the media coverage.

RTFA for a small sampling of almost universal crap

…Note that the study did not identify any cognitive or behavioral abnormalities in the cannabis users versus controls — it was strictly an MRI study.

That, however, didn’t stop senior author Hans Breiter, MD, of Northwestern from opining in the SfN press release that the study “raises a strong challenge to the idea that casual marijuana use isn’t associated with bad consequences.”

Um, no, it doesn’t — not without before-and-after MRI scans showing brain structure changes in users that differ from nonusers and documentation of functional impairments associated with those changes.

Further studies may – or may not – indicate one or another cause-and-effect relationship. That kind of study must be constructed differently than this one. And hopefully the press release and editors who get the email won’t be in a hurry to construe the study as something it isn’t.

Written by Ed Campbell

April 17, 2014 at 2:00 am

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,801 other followers