Swatting mosquitos teaches them to avoid you

❝ In a paper published Jan. 25 in Current Biology, University of Washington researchers report that mosquitoes can in fact learn to associate a particular odor with an unpleasant mechanical shock akin to being swatted. As a result, they’ll avoid that scent the next time.

“Once mosquitoes learned odors in an aversive manner, those odors caused aversive responses on the same order as responses to DEET, which is one of the most effective mosquito repellents,” said senior author Jeff Riffell, a UW professor of biology. “Moreover, mosquitoes remember the trained odors for days…”

❝ “By understanding how mosquitoes are making decisions on whom to bite, and how learning influences those behaviors, we can better understand the genes and neuronal bases of the behaviors,” said Riffell. “This could lead to more effective tools for mosquito control.”

I can think of other relevant settings for the same process. Bigger animals. 🙂

NJ worst in the US for racist jailtime. Ban book about it from prisons.

New Jersey bans book about racist NJ policies

❝ “At least two New Jersey state prisons have banned inmates from reading a highly praised book that links racial discrimination and mass incarceration.”

❝ “Michelle Alexander’s 2012 book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness is off limits to inmates as a matter of policy at New Jersey State Prison in Trenton and Southern State Correctional Facility in Delmont, according to documents provided in response to a public records request from the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU chapter plans to send a letter to state corrections officials on Monday demanding access to the book for inmates in the state, which the group said has the worst U.S. black-white incarceration disparity.

“The New Jim Crow chronicles how people of color are shut out of society by mass incarceration,” the letter states. “That the very prisoners who experience the worst racial disparity in incarceration in the country should be prohibited from reading a book whose precise purpose is to examine and educate about that disparity adds insult to injury.”

People who make racist rules always claim they aren’t racists. Conservatives and chickenshit moderates call that progress.

Fighting back and winning is progress.

In China, Slower Growth Is Acceptable to Tackle Debt, Smog

Click to enlargeChinatopix

China can achieve a goal of doubling the size of its economy by 2020 even if annual expansion slows to 6.3 percent, according to a senior Communist Party official, signaling a greater willingness to tackle debt and pollution at the expense of growth…

In its blueprint for 2016 to 2020, China set a minimum annual growth target of 6.5 percent for the five-year period to achieve the goal of doubling gross domestic product from 2010 levels…Over the weekend, Yang Weimin, an official from the Communist Party committee overseeing economic policy, said annualized growth of 6.3 percent in 2018-2020 would do.

Based on current economic performance, the 2020 target won’t be a “huge barrier,”…China is seen growing 6.8 percent this year and 6.5 percent in 2018, according to economist estimates compiled by Bloomberg…

Yang’s remark is “a heads up on how the new thought will be implemented,” said Zhu Ning, deputy director of the National Institute of Financial Research at Tsinghua University in Beijing.

There have been times when the United States was governed and advised by technocrats, economists and, yes, even politicians who understood the value of adjusting the course of government to benefit most of the people. Not just the moneybags who could afford to belong to the Fake President’s country club.

No One Is Taking On Pot Legalization

❝ Why don’t more politicians attempt to make marijuana legalization a national issue?

Harry Enten over at FiveThirtyEight looked at the polling last week and wondered about it. And the numbers are impressive. As he reports, almost two-thirds of Americans backed legalization in one recent poll, and while Democrats are somewhat more likely to favor it, the gap between the parties is unusually small for a policy question. Enten suspects that a big reason no politician has taken it up as a national issue is that they just haven’t caught up with the rapidly moving shift in public opinion.

❝ That’s possible. But I can think of some other reasons.

RTFA to check out what Jonathan Bernstein thinks are the reasons.

Poisonally, I think chickenshit politicians have chickenshit reasons to rationalize away most progressive action. Followed closely by cowardly reasons they use to rationalize away most action that might jeopardize re-election in the slightest.

The drug industry’s triumph over the DEA – with the help of Congress

❝ In the midst of the worst drug epidemic in American history, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s ability to keep addictive opioids off U.S. streets was derailed — that according to Joe Rannazzisi, one of the most important whistleblowers ever interviewed by 60 Minutes. Rannazzisi ran the DEA’s Office of Diversion Control, the division that regulates and investigates the pharmaceutical industry. Now in a joint investigation by 60 Minutes and The Washington Post, Rannazzisi tells the inside story of how, he says, the opioid crisis was allowed to spread — aided by Congress, lobbyists, and a drug distribution industry that shipped, almost unchecked, hundreds of millions of pills to rogue pharmacies and pain clinics providing the rocket fuel for a crisis that, over the last two decades, has claimed 200,000 lives…

❝ JOE RANNAZZISI: This is an industry that allowed millions and millions of drugs to go into bad pharmacies and doctors’ offices, that distributed them out to people who had no legitimate need for those drugs.

BILL WHITAKER: Who are these distributors?

JOE RANNAZZISI: The three largest distributors are Cardinal Health, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen. They control probably 85 or 90 percent of the drugs going downstream.

RTFA. All of it. If you’re cynical as I am about our Congress-critters and how most of them are bought-and-sold, none of this will be a surprise.

Still, read the article. You will be better equipped to lambaste your friendly neighborhood politicians about their incompetence in the face of this epidemic.

Louisiana’s coastal subsidence already counts as a “worst case scenario”

Click to enlargeKaren Apricot

❝ It’s common knowledge that the coast of Louisiana is quietly sinking into the balmy Gulf waters. But new research suggests we may have been underestimating how quickly it’s happening.

A new paper, published…in the Geological Society of America’s bulletin GSA Today, includes an updated map of the Louisiana coastline and the rate at which it’s sinking into the sea, a process scientists call “subsidence,” which occurs in addition to the climate change-caused process of sea-level rise. The new map suggests that, on average, the Louisiana coast is sinking at a rate of about 9 millimeters, or just over a third of an inch, per year — a faster rate than previous studies have suggested…

❝ Scientists have long known that Louisiana is sinking. Subsidence is believed to be a natural process, which has likely been occurring in the region for thousands of years. But scientists believe the process has been enhanced by a variety of human activities in the Mississippi Delta over the past century, including oil and gas extraction, as well as the building of levees and other actions affecting the flow of the Mississippi River, which carries mud and sediment down toward the Gulf and helped build up the delta in the first place.

The combination of subsidence and sea-level rise along the Gulf shore has made coastal Louisiana increasingly vulnerable to erosion in recent years. Last year, residents of the region’s rapidly sinking Isle de Jean Charles received a $48 million grant from the federal government to be used for relocation, giving them the grim title of the nation’s first “climate refugees.” And in the future, as sea levels continue to rise, the problem is only expected to worsen along the Louisiana shore…

❝ And for now, the big picture suggests that coastal Louisiana is still sinking, and perhaps more quickly than some experts believed. Coupled with the continued invasion of the rising seas, the area remains one of the most vulnerable parts of the country. And while policymakers have already expressed deep concern about the region’s future — the state legislature recently approved a $50 billion plan for the protection and restoration of the coastline — experts note that there’s still need for more research on exactly how quickly the shoreline is slipping away.

Joshua Kent, an expert in geoinformatics at Louisiana State University, told The Washington Post by email that the new paper reiterates the need for increased monitoring along the coast. “Accurate and consistent monitoring will help reduce the uncertainties and improve strategies for sustaining this important landscape,” he said.

Or you could forget about science and technology and work at ripping as much profit as possible in the shortest conceivable time, take the money and run. Think anyone with their hands in the pants of the oil and gas industries will roll over and squeak? Think anyone in Congress funding their campaign on the American Petroleum Institute dole will grow a backbone overnight?