July 16, 2014

2:55 AM | Does Your Drug Policy Refer to “illegal drugs”? It May Need To Be Changed
Availability of legal, recreational pot in Washington state is a big change. What hasn’t changed is employers’ ability to test their employees for marijuana use. Even so, employers should check their drug policies in light of the new pot law. Drug testing that includes marijuana is still legal for Washington employers. The new weed law [...]
2:37 AM | Production vs. Safety: Sugar Plant Removed Safety Device 13 Days before Temp Worker’s Death
This story was done in collaboration with Univision. Inside the sugar plant in Fairless Hills, Pa., nobody could find Janio Salinas, a 50-year-old temp worker from just over the New Jersey border. Throughout the morning, Salinas and a handful of other workers had been bagging mounds of sugar for a company that supplies the makers of Snapple [...]
1:19 AM | But We’ve Always Done it This Way: Top Ten List
What does that really mean? Perhaps you just asked a question at a committee meeting. The room went silent and at least one person pointedly explained to you that “We’ve always done it this way”. The rest of the group either chimed in or nodded their heads in arrogant approval. Some might even have glanced at [...]
12:56 AM | No Escape: Dangers of Confined Spaces
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July 15, 2014

11:38 PM | Bosnia and Herzegovina gets yet another ethnic science academy: a (second) Croatian one
Academies of science and arts have a long history of being intertwined with political and religious issues, and this is perhaps nowhere as evident as in the troubled Balkans - the meeting place of Catholic, Orthodox and Muslim faiths, where many ethnicities lay claim to the land. I wrote about some of the issues surrounding science academies as proxies to nation-state building in Science a couple of years ago, when new Roma and Bosniak (Muslim) academies were being set up.... Read more
3:19 PM | DOD official defends EELV block buy, endorses launch competition
While the Senate gears up for a joint hearing Wednesday on space access, some members of the House Armed Services Committee used a July 10 hearing on Defense Department acquisitions issues to grill a top Pentagon official on the topic of the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) “We don’t seem to be as encouraging of [...]
12:30 PM | "Bounded rationality": the Grigori Rasputin of explanations for public perceptions of climate change risk
Another excerpt from Climate Science Communication and the Measurement Problem.  4.  Is identity-protective cognition irrational? The idea that “disbelief” in global warming is attributable to low “science literacy” is not the only explanation for public conflict over climate change that fails to survive an encounter with actual evidence. The same is true for the proposition that such controversy is a consequence of “bounded rationality.” Indeed, […]
8:36 AM | Keeping Cochrane reviews up-to-date
The Cochrane Collaboration is an organisation that conducts systematic reviews of healthcare interventions.  The idea is that they are updated periodically (every 2 years) so that they provide the best evidence on what works and what doesn’t. After 21 years of existence, the Cochrane Library now holds over 6000 reviews by some 20,000 volunteer authors. more

July 14, 2014

12:24 PM | Plagiarism is plagiarism
In a Nature article, Praveen Chaddah argues that textual plagiarism entails that the offending paper only carry a correction and not be retracted because that makes the useful ideas and results in the paper unavailable. On the face of it, this is an argument that draws a distinction between the writing of a paper and the production of its technical…Read more Plagiarism is plagiarism

July 13, 2014

8:28 PM | Conference report – SAPC 2014
For those who were unable to make it to Edinburgh for the 43rd annual conference of the Society of Academic Primary Care (9th – 11th July), here is my round-up of highs, lows, and (most importantly) the best and worst céilidh dancers at the conference dinner… As ever with national conferences, SAPC 2014 offered a more

July 11, 2014

6:05 PM | Denial in Miami and Other Threatened Arreas
The Guardian has an article on sea level rise with a focus on the reality-defying real estate boom in Miami and coastal Florida. It is striking but not surprising. Because of decisions made in a stable climate, the presence of denial in threatened areas is economically rational. [more]

July 10, 2014

10:52 PM | Legislation seeks to promote use of asteroid resources
A bill introduced Thursday by two members of the House Science Committee seeks to promote commercial asteroid ventures, including securing property rights for resources extracted from asteroids by American companies. The American Space Technology for Exploring Resource Opportunities in Deep Space (ASTEROIDS) Act of 2014, HR 5063, was introduced Thursday by Reps. Bill Posey (R-FL) [...]
5:24 PM | Billow clouds, shocked streams & shedding eddies
I flew from Bangalore to Delhi on Tuesday. The flight was early in the day, at 6, and so I had the wonderful opportunity to watch a sunrise from above a sea of clouds. One very beautiful sight was the presence of…Read more ›
1:57 PM | NASA CFO’s Energy Department nomination withdrawn
The White House has withdrawn the nomination of NASA’s current chief financial officer (CFO) to a position at the Energy Department. In a press release Wednesday, The White House said it was withdrawing Beth Robinson’s nomination to be Under Secretary of Energy, nearly a year after first announcing the nomination. No reason was given [...]
12:38 PM | Plagiarism is plagiarism
In a Nature article, Praveen Chaddah argues that textual plagiarism entails that the offending paper only carry a correction and not be retracted because that makes the useful ideas and results in the paper unavailable. On the face of it, this is an argument that draws a distinction between the writing of a paper and the production of… Continue reading Plagiarism is plagiarism
2:30 AM | Billow clouds, shocked streams & shedding eddies
I flew from Bangalore to Delhi on Tuesday. The flight was early in the day, at 6, and so I had the wonderful opportunity to watch a sunrise from above a sea of clouds. One very beautiful sight was the presence of uniquely shaped ones, styled like the waves in Hokusai’s The Great Wave off Kanagawa. I recalled having… Continue reading Billow clouds, shocked streams & shedding eddies

July 09, 2014

8:50 PM | Senate committees planning joint hearing on launch issues
A rare joint hearing of subcommittees of the Senate Armed Services Committee and Senate Commerce Committee will examine American reliance on a Russian-manufactured rocket engine and other space access issues next week. The hearing, by Armed Services’ strategic forces subcommittee and Commerce’s space subcommittee, is scheduled for Wednesday, July 16, at 9:30 am. The Commerce [...]
2:20 PM | ULA joins call for dismissal of SpaceX suit
United Launch Alliance (ULA) has formally joined the Air Force’s call for the Court of Federal Claims to dismiss SpaceX’s protest of the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) block buy contract. As first reported by Space News yesterday, ULA, in its role as “defendant-intervenor” in SpaceX’s suit against the Air Force, filed a motion to [...]
3:07 AM | Professor avoids prison in death of student due to lab fire
A deal with prosecutors will keep a university professor out of prison in connection with the death of a student who wasn’t wearing proper protection while handling hazardous chemicals in a lab. Under the agreement that has been approved by a judge, UCLA chemistry professor Patrick Harran has agreed to: acknowledge he was responsible for safety [...]
2:48 AM | Workers’ comp for jumping jacks injury? Why court said ‘yep’
A prison sergeant injured himself doing jumping jacks at home. He argued it was part of his regular program to stay in good physical shape for his job. The sergeant got workers’ comp because legal precedent involving other law enforcement officers was on his side. Daniel Young worked for the Butte County, CA, Sheriff’s Department. [...]
1:43 AM | America’s Safest Companies in 2014
1. Alcoa Inc. Headquarters: Pittsburgh CEO: Klaus Kleinfeld (pictured) Business: Primary metals Revenue: $23 Billion (2013) Employees: 60,000 Safety: Total recordable incident rate of 0.98 (2013) Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images 2. Chief Industries Inc. Headquarters: Grand Island, Neb. Employees: 2,000 Business: Construction and manufacturing 3. ConocoPhillips Co. Headquarters: Houston CEO: Ryan Lance Employees: 18,400 Business: Oil and gas Revenue: $58.2 billion […]
12:09 AM | Key Remarks of President Nixon at the OSHA Signing Ceremony 1970
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July 08, 2014

2:05 PM | Independent qualifies for ballot against Mo Brooks
An engineer working on NASA’s Space Launch System program will appear on the ballot as an independent in November’s general election against Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL). In a Facebook post yesterday, Mark Bray said the Alabama secretary of state certified the petitions his campaign submitted to appear on the ballot in the November general election [...]
12:52 AM | Too Dumb To Live: Meet The Pre-Darwin Award Contenders
I actually caught this phenomenon a couple of days ago (and was twitted on Twitter for being so late to the party), but the phenomenon of “Coal Rolling” is now an object of wonder and bemusement at a number of the usual suspects. For those of you who have managed to enjoy life, liberty and […]

July 07, 2014

10:32 PM | Serbian journal lands in hot water after challenge on 24 hour peer review that cost 1785 euros
This story began as a report of a one-off case of potential predatory practice last month, and has escalated to an official call to disband an entire international editorial board, and an accusation against the editor of mass-scale nepotism and other publishing misconduct, reports Retraction Watch blog. The journal, Archives of Biological Sciences (ABS) is the official publication of the Serbian Biological Society, co-published by ten organisations in Serbia and Bosnia. It was […]
4:38 PM | My New Favorite Judge
Would be Bush 41 appointee Richard Kopf*, a member of the Federal District Court bench for in Nebraska. Why? Because of this: In the Hobby Lobby cases, five male Justices of the Supreme Court, who are all members of the Catholic faith and who each were appointed by a President who hailed from the Republican […]
2:13 PM | Five theses on climate science communication (lecture summary & slides)
The following is the outline of a lecture that I gave at the truly amazing Royal Canadian Institute for the Advancement of Science on June 25, 2014 (slides here). The audience comprised a large group of people united by their curiosity and love of science but otherwise as diverse as the pluralistic democracy in which they live; it was an honor to be able to engage them in conversation. My paper Climate science communication and the measurement problem elaborates on the themes and presents […]
10:51 AM | Motion charts in R
Formatting a motion chart in Google Visualization is as hellish as it’s surprising how simple R makes it. One more reason to learn this underrated language. To create this motion chart, I downloaded the data from here (as CSV) and keyed in the following lines in RStudio: emissions <- read.csv("--path to file--/emissions.csv", header=T) install.packages("googleVis") library("googleVis)… Continue reading Motion charts in R
2:33 AM | Science Quiz – July 7, 2014
Every week, I create a science quiz for The Hindu newspaper’s In School product. It consists of 10 questions and only developments from the week preceding its day of publication (Monday). The answers are at the end. The _______ region of southwest China is some 4.5 km above sea-level. At this altitude, the air is rarefied and makes breathing difficult for humans.… Continue reading Science Quiz – July 7, 2014
2:14 AM | But Volcanoes
Andy Lacis provides an interesting framework for a response to the common But volcanoes: The several hundred million tons of CO2 that volcanic eruptions may be injecting into the atmosphere is indeed a large number – probably more than what the entire fleet of trucks in the UK could handle. [more]
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