Los Links 6/3


You know, this would’ve been on time, if Blogger had published yesterday like I told it to.  Ah, well, on with the show.

Monday was Memorial Day, of course, and a lot of people wrote some incredibly excellent things round it.  Here, in their own words:

Almost Diamonds: Fallen Warriors.  “People have died every time our country has been persuaded to recognize the right of another group to be considered full human beings.” Wherein people who didn’t fight on actual battlefields but fought and died for our freedoms nonetheless get a look in. 

Decrepit Old Fool: Memorial Day 2011.  “War is crazy; it is crazy-making. It drains reason out of what passes for civilization. The stories matter. They let us know about courage, who have never been there. And yes, many wars should not ever have happened. The stories punch holes in the fantasy that it’s all some kind of glorious video game. If we’re going to do this to human beings, let’s be damn, damn sure there’s a real reason.”

Stupid Evil Bastard: Thoughts on Memorial Day 2011.  “I’ve heard enough to know that it’s a whole lot of not fun covered in a thick layer of fuck this shit. I know enough to know that war is something that should be a last resort when all other options have been exhausted. I know enough to realize that it has impacts far beyond the battlefield that affect people individually, and nations collectively, long after the guns have gone silent.”  Yes.

Slobber and Spittle: Memorial Day 2011.  “America’s saddest acre won’t be closing anytime soon.”  And there will be more fallen soldiers to remember next Memorial Day.

It seems appropriate to post a link to this paper (pdf): The Psychological Cost of War: Military Combat and Mental Health.  It’s bloody expensive, both in dollars and human terms.

This week, the person voted Most In Need of a Good Sharp Smack appears to be Sen. Tom Coburn, whose ignorance of science knows no bounds.  He hated on the National Science Foundation.  Well, we can give as good as we get.

NeuroTribes: Why the GOP Hates the National Science Foundation.  “The truth is, the current incarnation of the GOP, frozen in its pose of perpetually indignant outrage, doesn’t want additional perspective, more data and nuance, and — Heaven forbid — dissenting voices.”  Damn you, reality, and your liberal bias!

The Tightrope: Attacks on science and Coburn’s ignorance.  Amazing how much ignorance can be revealed in a short post, but then again, Coburn’s a motherlode. 

Take it to the Bridge: Transformative Science.  Which is precisely what Coburn doesn’t understand even a tiny little bit.

NeuroDojo: What the Coburn report has in common with arsenic life.  When we expect science to produce nothing but bright, shiny breakthroughs, things like Coburn and the arsenic life debacle happen.  Neither one is good for science.

Respectful Insolence: Need to pander to your base? Attack funny-sounding science funded by the NSF!  Orac utterly destroys Coburn’s attack on the NSF.  The ground Coburn stands upon is scorched.  He is finished.

Science

Slate: The Discovery of Arsenic-Based Twitter.  The story of #arseniclife, and what it means for science.

Neuroself: Jonah Lehrer is Not a Neuroscientist.  Really not.  So don’t get worked into too much of a lather over that “wisdom of crowds” article in the WSJ.

John Hawks Weblog: No echoing the echo chamber here. No, seriously, forget those “intertubz are maeking u stoopid” articles.

The Guardian: How to spot a psychopath.  A long but fascinating read – psychopaths are intriguing.

Guardian: Children don’t need Brain Gym to spot nonsense.  But they do get censored for pointing out utter bullshit.

BoingBoing: Tornadoes, climate change, and real scientific literacy.  This post does a phenomenal job of tying together several important concepts.  Read it.

Uncovered Earth: It May Usually Rain, But It’s Not As Wet As You Think.  This is the one post you need for comprehending Pacific Northwest Weather.  Also, Sunday Science Photos, May 22 – 28.

Glacial Till: Meteorite Monday: The OSIRIS-REx Mission.  Pure awesome!

The Atlantic: Endeavour’s Final Mission.  These photographs made me gasp and grin and think, “ZOMG humans did this! We are teh awesome!”  Absolutely, utterly beautiful.

Skepticblog: Litigation gone wild! A geologist’s take on the Italian seismology manslaughter case.  The clearest take I’ve read yet on the rabid stupidity that is putting scientists on trial for not predicting the unpredictable. 

Neurotic Physiology: SCIENCE 101: Cranial Nerve V, the Trigeminal.  Science gone Bollywood!  Brilliant!

NPR: Science Deniers: Hand Over Your Cellphones!  We so totally should make them do this.  Might make people who don’t know jack shit about science but like to piss on it anyway think twice if they’d lose their iPhone in the process.

Laelaps: Stressed Lemurs and Grass-Eating Humans.  Amazing what we can learn from teeth – like our cousins had more in common with horses than we thought.  Also, at Dinosaur Tracking: Dinosaur Diamond: Moab’s Potash Road

Respectful Insolence: The bride of the son of the revenge of cell phones and cancer rises from the grave…again.  No, your cell phone won’t kill you.  Relax and keep talking.

Pharyngula: Is your cell phone cooking your brain?  For the last time: NO IT’S REALLY NOT. Seriously. 

Scientific American: An Epidemic of False Claims.  We need to change the funding and incentives, or science will continue to suffer.

Clastic Detritus: Surprising, Important — or Weird and Fun.  Blogs can step up for science when editors fail.

The Gleaming Retort: Great Moments in Science Writing: The Alpha Cavewoman Fiasco.  Write a stupid article butchering science, get pwnd by a master.  That’s all I’m sayin’.

Highly Allochthonous: Simulating river processes…ooh shiny, stream table!  ZOMG I want one of these! Amazing way to show how water and geology mix.

Eruptions: Carbon dioxide as a volcanic hazard at the Dieng Plateau (and beyond).  It’s not just lava, lahars, and big booms that make volcanoes dangerous.

Women’s Issues

New York Times: Badminton’s New Dress Code Is Being Criticized as Sexist.  Because it is.  When they start sexualizing the menfolk, then I might give them the benefit of the doubt.

Salon: Abortion saved my life.  If religious shits want to force women to view sonograms, they should be forced to read stories like these.

Good Media: Why White Men Should Refuse to Be on Panels of All White Men.  Step up to the plate, pasty boyz.

The Guardian: The incredible shrinking presence of women SF writers.  Wherein we learn that books written by women get short shrift in “best of” polls.  Quelle surprise.  Take especial note of this comment.

Biodork: Remembering Dr. Tiller.  It infuriates me that doctors trying to do a good service for women get targeted by religious fucktards who love to proclaim themselves “pro-life” while killing human beings.

Aetiology: You’re also too pretty for math.  How our culture tells little girls they shouldn’t do nerdy boy things like study math and science.

Inner Workings of My Mind: I’ve Gone and Done It Now: What It’s Like Without the Muslim Headscarf.  An inside look you should really have a look at.

Atheism and Religion

Why Evolution is True: Evidence against New Atheism: Exhibit B?  In which Chris Mooney is given yet another righteous spanking, and a study is studied.

Choice in Dying:  Through the Looking-Glass.  In which a vicar on a train is taken to task for being a lousy source of comfort to a grieving woman.  Also,  It’s all of a piece …

Sam Harris: Morality Without “Free Will”.  Yes, indeed, there is such a thing.  Religious people, take especial note – especially if you’re tempted to go on about how people can’t be good without God.

Metamagician and the Hellfire Club: D’Souza on callousness and compassion, atheism and morality.  Spoiler: D’Souza gets it completely wrong.

EvolutionBlog: Ye Olde “Atheism is a Religion” Canard.  Jason Rosenhouse puts a stake through its heart.  Again.

Writing

The Passive Voice: Publishers and Agents are Trying to Figure Out How to Skin Their Own Authors.  Possibly even flay them alive.  However, while they flay, you can pwn: How to Read a Book Contract – For Avoidance of DoubtBooyah!

The Atlantic: Why Are Spy Researchers Building a ‘Metaphor Program’?  And why did I stick it under ‘writing’?  Because it’ll make you think about metaphors in a whole new way.

A Brain Scientist’s Take on Writing: Do Flashbacks Make Your Butt Look Big? (aka, Baby Got Backstory…)  All writers who have ever/are now/will ever struggle with how much backstory to put in the story need to read this post.  In other words, all writers need to read this post.

Dean Wesley Smith: Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing: Killing a Career.  It’s not as easy as you think.

Literary Abominations: Principles of Contracts: Everybody Knows Peggy Lee (or should).  Because if you don’t, you just might find yourself signing away the rights to every format your creative work could end up in ever.

The Chronicle: The Nature of E.B. White.  Bet you didn’t know there was a lot of science behind Charlotte’s Web.  But there was.  No matter how fluffy your fantasy, it could benefit from knowing about how the real world works.

Writer Beware: Contract Red Flag: Net Profit Royalty Clauses.  Be very sure you understand just how the publisher intends to calculate your royalties before you sign, or you could end up with pennies.  Literally.

A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing: Ebooks and Self-Publishing Part 3 – Yet Another Dialog Between Authors Barry Eisler and Joe Konrath.  All I can say is, Amazon must be making publishers afraid.  Very afraid.  And if they’re not terrified already, they should be.  Authors, meanwhile, may scream for joy.

NeuroTribes: Practical Tips on Writing a Book from 23 Brilliant Authors. Some of the best writing advice you’ll get, from people who made it happen.  Like a smorgasbord, there’s lots to pick and choose from.

Politics

Speakeasy Science: Jessica Alba and the Chemistry Thing.  Celebrities, science, and the pathetic fact we have to sell common sense with sexy but badly informed people.

Bad Astronomy: Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA): on climate change, makes wrong even wronger.  Lest you thought it was only Coburn being a raging dumbass this week.  And why giving Rohrabacher the benefit of the doubt on possibly being taken out of context doesn’t make him any less of a mega-moron.

Liberal Values: Doctors Moving Left For Many More Reasons Than The New York Times Reports.  Cuz Dems are better for business, and some people are smart enough to realize when tax cuts taketh away more than they giveth.  Among other reasons.  Heh.

Society and Culture

Outside the Interzone: We Had Been Told This Mighty Ocean-Liner Even God Himself Could Not Sink.  A fantastic post on sinking ships, hubris, and why it’s important not to think too much of ourselves.

Mike the Mad Biologist: Do Pro-Education ‘Reform’ Progressives Actually Know Any Teachers?  If they did, they probably wouldn’t be spouting such utterly stupid shit about them.

Washington Monthly: The consequences of education cuts.  Parents are now paying for things that should be part of the educational package.  Schools can’t afford fucking paper towels and soap.  When will we have to admit we haven’t got a public education system anymore?  And when will we demand it be restored?