OK, the fact that Don Surber is #2 is not too way off mark (surely in the top 100, if not exactly #2). Scienceblogs.com is in the 98th spot and should be way higher, I think.
But what is Instapudding doing in the Top Spot? If you want disinformation, sure. Likewise for Michelle Malkin, Captains Quarters and Powerline.
And how useful it is to read a dead blog - this one you are at right now, my old blog ranked #3? I abandoned it in June 2006. I occasionally use it for testing stuff or for Google-bombing ;-) If you want to read a really useful blog, go check my current blog, not this one!
How useful it is to rank blogs according to the 2006 data anyway - that is eons ago in Internet time?
This must have been some fuzzy math. I hope the blogosphere responds with a big laugh.
Just published about an hour ago (if it was in hardcopy, it would still be hot off the presses). And it is a wonderful paper! Australian crocs can and will travel much longer distances than was previously thought and their homing instinct is strong and navigational capacity excellent, even in a case where a large obstacle (Cape York Peninsula) needed to be navigated around:
Crocodiles are widely distributed and can usually be found in remote areas, however very little is known about their movements on a larger scale. In this study, Read and colleagues (including the late Steve Irwin) use satellite tracking to report the movements of three large male crocodiles, which were relocated up to 411km from their capture sites in Northern Australia. The results show that each crocodile returned to its original capture site within days, indicating that homing abilities are present amongst crocodiles.
Can you imagine anyone doing this work without Steve Irwin? Who else would be able to grab a big croc, attach a satellite tracker, load it and unload it some hundreds of miles away, then follow their movements on the computer screen? Would you dare ask your grad students to do that?
Earlier studies have indicated that a gene called FOXP2, possibly involved in brain development, is extremely conserved in vertebrates, except for two notable mutations in humans. This finding suggested that this gene may in some way be involved in the evolution of language, and was thus dubbed by the popular press "the language gene". See, for instance, this and this for some recent research on the geographic variation of this gene (and related genes) and its relation to types of languages humans use (e.g., tonal vs. non-tonal). Furthermore, a mutation in this gene in humans results in inability to form grammatically correct sentences.
This week, a new study shows that this gene is highly diverse in one group of mammals - the bats:
A new study, undertaken by a joint of team of British and Chinese scientists, has found that this gene shows unparalleled variation in echolocating bats. The results, appearing in a study published in the online, open-access journal PLoS ONE on September 19, report that FOXP2 sequence differences among bat lineages correspond well to contrasting forms of echolocation.
As Anne-Marie notes, this puts a monkey-wrench in the idea that FOXP2 is exclusively involved in language, but may be involved in vocalizations in general:
Said gene might have a new function (sensorimotor) besides the one originally attributed to it (verbal language).
Jonah Lehrer notes that the same mutation that in humans eliminates ability to use or comprehend correct grammar is also found in songbirds and the gene is expressed at high levels during the periods of intense song-learning. The story is obviously getting very interesting - does this gene have something to do with vocalizations? Or with communication? Or something totally third?
Help make NIH-funded research findings freely available to everyone!
Back in July, the House of Representatives passed a bill that requires all the NIH-funded research to be made freely available to the public within at most 12 months subsequent to publication.
The equivalent bill has passed the Senate Appropriations Committee earlier this summer and will be up for vote in the Senate very soon! In advance of this important vote, The Alliance for Taxpayer Access has issued a Call for action:
As the Senate considers Appropriations measures for the 2008 fiscal year this fall, please take a moment to remind your Senators of your strong support for public access to publicly funded research and - specifically - ensuring the success of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Public Access Policy by making deposit mandatory for researchers.
Earlier this summer, the House of Representatives passed legislation with language that directs the NIH to make this change (http://www.taxpayeraccess.org/media/release07-0720.html). The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a similar measure (http://www.taxpayeraccess.org/media/release07-0628.html). Now, as the Appropriations process moves forward, it is critically important that our Senators are reminded of the breadth and depth of support for enhanced public access to the results of NIH-funded research. Please take a moment to weigh in with your Senator now.
Read the rest for talking points and the contact information of your Senators, then do your part and contact them! And spread the word - by e-mail, posting on your blog or website, on forums and mailing lists. Let's get this bill passed this month and thus ensure that taxpayer-funded research is freely available to its funders - the taxpayers.
This needs to be done no later than Friday, September 28, 2007, when the bill is slated to appear in the Senate.
If you will be here on Friday, January 18th and want to join us for dinner, add you name to this list.
If you are on Facebook, join the Conference Event and invite your friends. We will appreciate it if you could spread the word in whichever medium you are most comfortable - word of mouth, e-mail, online social networks, or your own blogs.
I know September 1st is a holiday, but opening the registration today will save our server as thousands of interested participants will spread themselves over a few days instead of all logging on at the same time ;-) This way, those of you who are perpetually online and get your information on blogs (and Facebook, etc.) will be able to get the first dibs, while the advertising for others will start on September 4th.
The wiki is ready for you to explore. The conference program is building up nicely - we secured some spectacular speakers and session leaders and are in negotiations with some others. Feel free to edit the bottom of that wiki page with your own ideas. Suggest a session and offer to lead it.
Of course, as the conference promises to be much bigger than last year (due to the media coverage after the first one - see this page for blog and media coverage) we need to cover the increased expenses (and provide food, swag, etc.), so if you and your organization are willing to be sponsors, please let us know.
And, we are planning to have the second Science Blogging Anthology released in time for the conference, so submit the best science posts written by you or by your favorite bloggers for our consideration.
All the questions are related to science (and yes, it was not easy to cut down the number of questions and the length of each question - there is so much to ask) and they should be of interest to the readers of this blog: science education, global warming, energy, food production, space exploration and pandemic preparedness are some of the topics covered in the interview.
As I am not a journalist or an analyst who needs to preserve an appearance of 'balance', I have always been unabashedly open about my support for John Edwards, first in 1998 when he ran for the Senate (that was the first election I could vote in after becoming a US citizen), then in 2003/04 when he ran for President (and subsequently Vice-President), and finally now, as he is running for President again.
Feel free to search my main blog (or my old blog) for his name and see what I have written in his support before.
I have not been in the past, nor am I now, officially connected to the campaign (though I walk my dog in front of the Headquarters every day and say Hi to staffers I recognize), but I am a big fan. And hey, we are neighbors - a few months after I moved from Raleigh to Chapel Hill, John and Elizabeth did the same.
As I'll be running to work (my brand new job) in a few minutes, I will not be able to hang around and moderate comments. I hope you all stay civil and on topic - I know it is politics and trolls will come out of the woodwork, but ignore them and I will clean up the thread when I come back online tonight.
If you are interested in more details of Edwards' policy proposals related to science, technology, medicine and environment, check them out directly on the John Edwards campaign website and search the Issues and Press Releases.
Our beta-version wiki is up - check out the homepage and the first, rough outlines of the program (feel free to edit the page and add your idea at the bottom or in the comments). At this point we are trying to get more sponsors so if you and your organization/company/magazine is interested, let us know soon.
You may be aware that there is a huge discussion about framing science going on in the blogosphere. It has gotten out of hand. But, for those who want to dig in, or want to analyze the posts and comments (that is a lot of data!), here is the comprehensive list of links (excluded are links to Creationists' sites). Most of the posts also have long and interesting comment threads as well, worth reading through:
First, the source metarial, i.e., the stuff that appeared in non-blog media, and some background resources (which, if everyone have read them, would have reduced some of the misunderstandings):
There are literally thousands of blog posts about Edwards' that have been posted over the past couple of days. I have posted a linkfest linking to the best first responses on Thursday night and the best analysis of the media as well the most informative posts about cancer tonight.
This is a crosspost to effect a Googlebomb, correcting an injustice against a fellow feminist blogger. Jill Filipovic, who blogs at Feministe and Ms. JD, is a NYU law student who has been the subject of cyber-obsession on a discussion board allegedly populated by law students. The discussions regarding Jill Filipovic (and many other female law students) are sexist and sexual in nature, rating the women’s physical attractiveness and fantasising about sexual contact, both consensual and non-consensual. Neither Jill Filipovic or any other of these women contributed, or gave their permission to be discussed, to the discussion board in question.
Jill Filipovic’s name and class routines etc have been regularly posted to this board, and at least one of the pseudonymous board-members claims to be Jill Filipovic’s classmate. Photos that Jill Filipovic posted (with full rights reserved) to an interent photo-storing and sharing site have also been posted to the sleazy discussion board without her permission. This is a horrendous invasion of Jill Filipovic’s privacy, a violation of copyright law, and calls the ethics and character of the alleged law-students participating in these discussions on the discussion board into question.
A major side-effect of an already nasty situation is that the sexist, objectifying cyber-obsession threads come up on the first page of internet search results on Jill Filipovic’s name. To an inexperienced user of the internet, it may even look as if Jill Filipovic and other female law students chose to compete in these Hot or Not rating competitions, instead of having their pictures posted without permission.
This post is an attempt to balance those internet results to point to the significant writings of Jill Filipovic instead, using the Googlebomb tactic and also linking this post to social networking sites (eg. del.ici.ous, Stumbleupon). Please feel free to copy any or all of what I’ve written here to your own blog in order to help change the top-ranked search engine results for Jill Filipovic. If you don’t have your own blog then please at least link to one of Jill’s post[s] listed below at your preferred social networking site and give it the tag “Filipovic” (as well as any others you think appropriate).
ANNOUNCEMENT: Get ready for the NEXT year's Science Blogging Anthology and Conference
2008 Science Blogging Conference
Not to be bragging, but the '07 Science Blogging Conference was a great success, and most attendees voiced their approval of Chapel Hill as a permanent venue for the event, so Anton and I are starting early in planning for the next one.
There are rumors of a mid-summer equivalent event to be held on the West Coast (Seattle or somewhere there) which would be great - more the merrier - but we will also try to find some way to help a few West-Coasters make their way to North Carolina in winter as well.
We pored over all of your feedback forms and read all the blog posts about the conference in order to identify the strengths and weaknesses and make the next meeting much better.
We are already in talks with sponsors (and potential new sponsors) about the next year. Many have promised greater involvement for the second meeting than they did for the first, which will allow us to have a bigger conference - and that is what most of you asked for.
While several attendees suggested we expand the conference to two days, we are not sure it is feasible yet. Instead, we will make a bigger, richer program for that one day. This should include sessions targeted at new or non-bloggers (e.g,. scientists, teachers), sessions for old science bloggers who want details on fancy technical stuff or questions about copyright, as well as sessions designed to bring the two groups together.
We definitely need a bigger space so we can accomodate more sessions as well as have more space for people to just sit and chat in the hallways between the sessions - always the most important part of a conference. Thus, we will likely have to move away from the UNC campus. That also means that we will be too far away from Franklin Street to go to local eateries for dinner. Instead, we can have the program last a little longer into the afternoon and have the dinner catered (a banquet!) on the site, which will also ensure that we do not all have to break up into little groups but can all stay together (going to town for drinks afterwards will still be possible).
We will announce the exact date shortly. We are trying to avoid conflicts with other popular science, tech, blogging, skeptical and science-fiction conferences, so the date is likely to fall somewhere in-between the SICB Annual Meeting (January 2-6, 2008 in San Antonio, TX) and the AAAS Annual Meeting (February 14-18, 2008 in Boston, MA). As soon as we set the date, we will start contacting potential speakers and session leaders and I'll keep you updated from time to time on this blog.
The Open Laboratory 2007
You may all remember the fast and frenzied way the first anthology was assembled - from the initial idea to sales in a little over three weeks! The Open Laboratory - The Best Writing on Science Blogs 2006 is selling quite nicely (for an online-only book with no marketing) up on Lulu.com. After the annual retreat and some initial glitches, the complimentary copies are, I hear, now travelling to their destinations to all the authors included in the anthology. Also, the book should start getting marketed and will show up in independent bookstores pretty soon, and on online booksellers (e.g., amazon) in a few weeks.
So, we are getting ready to start thinking about the next edition. And, having ten months instead of three weeks, we do not need to rush. This way, we can do a much better job. Oh, when I say "we", it is not a Royal We - I really will not do it alone this year. Reed Cartwright and I will do it together. And we enjoy the experience, we may do it again and again and again.
To make it easier for everyone, we have put together an automated Open Laboratory Submission Form. Use this form to nominate a blog post for The Open Laboratory: The Best Writing on Science Blogs 2007. You can nominate as many entries as you wish, written by you or others. Each needs to be originally published as a blog post between 12-20-06 and 12-20-07 to be elligible.
Reed and I will place one or the other of these two cute buttons in the sidebars of a variety of blogs (e.g., on Panda's Thumb, De Rerum Natura, A Blog Around The Clock, BlogTogether, perhapsmy oldblogs as they still get some traffic, and whoever else wants to spread the word - feel free to steal the button and use it):[Update: You can pick up the code for these buttons here as well as for the buttons declaring that you aready ARE in the 2006 book]:
Clicking on the button will take you to the submission form. Reed and I will get e-mail notification every time there is a new entry and we will read them all and jot down some 'notes to self'. Since we have ten months to do this, we will not need a jury of 12 bloggers to help us read all the entries, but do not be surprised if we ask you to vet/factcheck/peer-review a post that is in your domain of expertise (and not ours) later in the year.
So, go back to December 20th, 2006 and start looking through your archives as well as archives of your favourite science bloggers and look for real gems - the outstanding posts. Many have been written recently for the "Science Only Week", or for the "Basic Terms and Concepts" collection.
Try to look for posts that cover as many areas of science blogging as posssible: mathematics, astronomy, cosmology, physics, chemistry, earth science, atmospheric/climate science, marine science, biochemistry, genetics, molecular/cellular/developmental biology, anatomy/physiology, behavior, ecology, paleontology, evolution, psychology, anthropology, archaeology, and/or history of science, philosophy of science, sociology of science, science ethics and rhetorics, science communication and education, the business of science, the Life in Academia (from undergraduate, graduate, postdoc, faculty or administrative perspective), politics of science, science and pseudoscience, science and religion, etc.
Also, try to think of different post formats: essays, personal stories, poems, polemics, fiskings, textbook-style prose, etc. For now, let's assume that color images cannot make it into the book (I'll let you know if that changes) and certainly copyrighted (by others) material is a No-No. Posts that are too heavily reliant on multiple links are difficult to turn into hardcopy as well. Otherwise, write and submit stuff and hopefully one of your posts will make it into the Best 50 Science Posts of 2007 and get published!
Welcome to the 105th edition of the Tar Heel Tavern, coming back home after a looong time. I've been sick all week, thus in no strength to do a very creative tavern this time around, but I got a few nominations and added a couple of "Editor's Choices", so here we go:
Laura of Moomin Light reports on the local school's effort to learn about the Greensboro sit-ins. I know all about it because my daughter was in that classroom and told me all about it in the afternoon.
I am also hosting The Tarheel Tavern this weekend, the premiere carnival of North Carolina bloggers. My theme is “Paying Tribute.” Since we are close to President’s Day, and nobody I know actually honors our presidents on the day, I suggest we honor a person in our lives or history who really does deserve an extra bit of love and respect from us, via our blogs. NC bloggers can submit a post to me by Saturday night at kivi AT writingfornonprofits.com.
Now, Melissa McEwen published her take on the whole affair in Guardian: My life as a rightwing target. Check the comments and tell me that the Rightwingers are not delusional, dangerous psychopaths. And they are in the White House right now. (Oh, and if anyone thinks that Amanda and Melissa were wimps for quitting, you should read this)
I think that Donohue has jump-started their careers. And what they will do, now that they have more prominent soap boxes, is reveal to everyone how the Rightwing sliming machine works, how it is financed, and how it can be counteracted.
What Donohue has done successfully is make the story of Amanda and Melissa be framed as Bloggers vs. Edwards. And it pains me to see how many on the Left bit that bait (and hook and sinker). It is a multi-faceted story about the Rightwing sliming machine and how it works. It is also a story about the way the Party Establishment (both Left and Right) resists the democratization of the political process (it is the old-Millennium, dinosaur, computer-illiterate campaign managers who, I guess, wanted to get rid of the bloggers in the first place until Edwards stepped in and said No). It is also a story about the way Media resents the citizen journalism and the many-to-many conversation of the new media unrestrained by the he-said-she-said tropes. It is a story about the Beltway protecting their turf against the "rubes."
If this is the future, we are now in the middle of the war between the powers of the Old-Way-Of-Doing-Things that tends to protect the old power sturucture, and the New Way that gives the little man a say and overturns the old power structure.
Check out this Salon editorial as an example of this turf-protection. It is all about silencing the people. As I stated before, the netroots ARE the grassroots. It is the same people who knock on doors and donate money. Except, this time around, they do not just take orders and write checks, they have the means to talk back and tell the campaigns what to do (or to shove it). Of course the campaign managers used to the old way of thinking are afraid of the new world.
I hate the subtitle - what do they mean by "even Edwards" when everyone (including the techies with no political axe to grind) agrees he is the leader on the use of Internet and netroots: his website is by far the best, he announced to the bloggers first, then by video on YouTube, then by Video and post on his own website, and only the next day announced to the MSM dinosaurs down in New Orleans. He hired and (stood by in spite of calls for their heads) two of the most outspoken and popular feminist bloggers. He is prominently present and active on all social networking sites, not just MySpace, YouTube, Flickr, Del.icio.us and Facebook, but also the second-tier places, like Gather.
There are 199 Groups on Facebook for Edwards. The two biggest ones have 2,126 members and 1,849 members respectively - the rest are smaller, mainly due to being geographically restricted. Barack Obama has more than 500 groups, with the biggest one having 5,002 members and the others being small, local chapters. So, even including the overlap (people joining more than one group), there is not such a huge advantage for Obama on Facebook as the Media likes to point out. Edwards is right behind.
And he is the first candidate on Second Life. Yes, on Second Life! If you have no idea what that is, or if you want to know what techies and politicos think, follow the links here, here, here, here, here, here and here.
Also, note that in fundraising, Hillary Clinton is expected to raise $100 million from the Beltway power-mongers and Holywood, Obama somewhat less, from the same sources, while Edwards is expected to raise about $50 million mostly from small online donations. He is killing all other candidates together in such donations through ActBlue ($860,861.35, compare that to Richardson's two separate funds at $284,916.57 and $10,154.85 and Obama's $16,885.56).
Oh, and if you do not believe Edwards stood by his bloggers and does not understand the netroots, I hope you watched the Situation Room earlier today (there should be a YouTube clip of it here soon). Listen to his defense of the bloggers and phrases like: "I stood by them," "new brave world with the net and the blogosphere," "a powerful world which will have a huge effect," "grassroots politics at it's best," etc. Here is the clip:
And finally, let's look again at the posts for which Amanda got so much flak from Donohue and his ogre minions. They are about Plan B. Here are Part I and Part II.
She is not the only blogger explaining Plan B and why the opposition to it by wingnuts (including but not only Catholics) is bad politics and bad public health. For instance, Ema of Well-Timed Period blog wrote at least two posts on it here and here. PZ Myers of Pharyngula wrote about it here, here and here. DarkSyde of DailyKos wrote about it here and Bitch, PhD wrote about it many times, most recently here.
Is there any difference between these posts? They all get the facts about Plan B right. They all demonstrate that the opposition to it is hypocritical and based on mysogyny. And they are all written in typically blogospheric colorful language. Yes, those who deserved to be insulted got insulted. Now, tell me. If any campaign hired any of these bloggers to work on the technical and esthetic parts of their campaign blogs, don't you think Donohuse and his basement monsters would not come out against them? Of course they would - their goal never was to destroy the careers of Amanda Marcotte and Meilissa McEwen. Their goal is to undermine a Democrat - any Democrat - running for President because their job (for which Donohue is paid $300,000) is to go on TV and lie for Republicans. It has nothing to do with these two bloggers, it has to do with silencing the voices of the people who are actually telling the truth as it is, as opposed to The Truth as the conservatives want "to create" for themselves.M
Under attack, Pandagon has been down all day. But you can see here (and re-posted here) what scum of the Earth resides on the political Right in this country. This is a good time to read this again. And please find time to read all ten parts of this series on eliminationism in America. Sensing a long-term, if not permanent loss, the wounded beast of the Right is lashing at everything in sight and they are not shy to use physical force if needed.
I regret to say that I have also resigned from the Edwards campaign. In spite of what was widely reported, I was not hired as a blogger, but a part-time technical advisor, which is the role I am vacating.
I would like to make very clear that the campaign did not push me out, nor was my resignation the back-end of some arrangement made last week. This was a decision I made, with the campaign's reluctant support, because my remaining the focus of sustained ideological attacks was inevitably making me a liability to the campaign, and making me increasingly uncomfortable with my and my family's level of exposure.
I understand that there will be progressive bloggers who feel I am making the wrong decision, and I offer my sincerest apologies to them. One of the hardest parts of this decision was feeling as though I'm letting down my peers, who have been so supportive.
There will be some who clamor to claim victory for my resignation, but I caution them that in doing so, they are tacitly accepting responsibility for those who have deluged my blog and my inbox with vitriol and veiled threats. It is not right-wing bloggers, nor people like Bill Donohue or Bill O'Reilly, who prompted nor deserve credit for my resignation, no matter how much they want it, but individuals who used public criticisms of me as an excuse to unleash frightening ugliness, the likes of which anyone with a modicum of respect for responsible discourse would denounce without hesitation.