Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics


One more thing anti-vaccers don’t get…

I wasn’t going to jump into this conversation, but I want to add another dimension to the discussion of the benefits vs. dangers of vaccinating. I feel qualified by the fact that my first-born child had a severe reaction to her first DPT vaccination many years ago.

We got her first vaccination on time when she was two months old. Within ten minutes, she was screeching non-stop, like a threatened animal. We got sent home anyway, where she continued to screech for many hours until she had a seizure and went into a coma for three days. Happily, she woke up and seemed perfectly fine. She didn’t have any long term neurological damage.  

In the News: Ebolinsanity

Found on the Internets …

A series of tubes filled with enormous amounts of non-contagious but highly infectious material


Threat of Lawsuit Could Test Maine’s Quarantine Policy

A nurse who cared for Ebola patients in Sierra Leone was headed for a legal showdown with the State of Maine on Wednesday over whether the state can quarantine her against her will.

The dispute is heightening a national debate over how to balance public health and public fears against the rights and freedoms of health care workers, and troops, returning from West Africa.

“This is a tipping point in this whole process,” the nurse, Kaci Hickox, said in an interview, one of several she did from her home in northern Maine on Wednesday, as state troopers and television trucks stood outside.

“So many states have started enacting these policies that I think are just completely not evidence-based. They don’t do a good job of balancing the risks and benefits when thinking about taking away an individual’s rights.”[…]

Ms. Hickox, 33, returned last Friday from a month treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone with the rescue group Doctors Without Borders, She was isolated in a tent at a New Jersey hospital after she registered a low-grade fever on a forehead scanner, though she had not previously registered a fever and has not since.

She has never shown symptoms of the virus and tested negative for it several hours after being quarantined. […]

“I understand how fear spreads,” she added. “But if I’m a nurse and I have a patient in the hospital, it’s our responsibility as medical professionals to advocate for our patients. Now, it’s the medical professionals who are being stigmatized. Even if there is popular public opinion, we still have to advocate for what’s right.”


Connecticut father sues after Ebola fears keep daughter from school

Oct 28 (Reuters) – A father sued a Connecticut elementary school on Tuesday, saying his 7-year-old daughter was discriminated against and banned from school for 21 days based on irrational fears of Ebola because she attended a wedding in Nigeria.

Stephen Opayemi filed the lawsuit in federal court in New Haven, Connecticut. He asked a judge to order the schools in Milford, Connecticut, to immediately permit his daughter to return to her third-grade class.

Opayemi’s daughter has not experienced any symptoms associated with Ebola and her health is fine, but parents and teachers were concerned she could transmit Ebola to other children, the lawsuit says.[…]

According to the suit, a city health official said in an Oct. 15 meeting that the risk of the girl infecting anyone was minor but that she ought to be quarantined because of rumors, panic and the climate of the school.


Louisiana To Ebola Experts: Stay Away

Louisiana state officials wants scientists and medical researchers who have dealt with Ebola patients not to come to the state’s annual American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene conference next week in New Orleans.

In a letter to the organization, reported by Bloomberg News, the heads of Louisiana’s health and homeland security departments effectively disinvited those who have recently cared for Ebola patients.

Just who are these folks who dare to gather in Louisiana?

The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH), founded in 1903, is a worldwide organization of scientists, clinicians and program professionals whose mission is to promote global health through the prevention and control of infectious and other diseases that disproportionately afflict the global poor. Research, health care and education are the central activities of ASTMH members, whose work bridges basic laboratory research to international field work and clinics to countrywide programs.

Specific ASTMH goals include:

   Improving the health of people worldwide

   Advancing research in tropical diseases

   Fostering international scientific collaboration

   Supporting career development in tropical medicine and global health

   Educating medical professionals, policymakers and the public about tropical medicine and global health

   Promoting science-based policy regarding tropical medicine and global health

   Recognizing exceptional achievement in tropical medicine and global health

Certainly there would be no discernible benefit from their meeting. Sigh.


More …

Sun, sun, sun … here it comes!

Today marks the Summer Solstice. Astronomically, it looks like this:

The Summer Solstice occurs exactly when the Earth’s axial tilt is most inclined towards the sun at its maximum of 23° 26′. The seasonal significance of the Summer Solstice is in the reversal of the gradual shortening of nights and lengthening of days. That will occur on June 21st at 10:51 UTC (6:51am Eastern, 5:51am Central, 4:51am Mountain, and 3:51am Pacific Time).

Today and tomorrow the sunrise (near where I live) will be 5:15am and sunset will be 8:29pm … 15 hours and 14 minutes of sunlight. On Winter Solstice, six loooong months ago, sunrise was at 7:15am and sunset was at 4:22pm, barely 9 hours of sunlight.

On Monday, the sunrise will be one minute later, signalling the waning of the year. But that’s Monday and today we have 914 minutes of sunlight to enjoy!!

(Don’t forget to hover!)  

Climate Change and Apocalypticism

 photo climate_zps9971c235.jpg

I’ve never really considered myself an environmentalist. I don’t live a particularly “green” life, though I recycle, don’t litter, and don’t leave lights on or other electronic devices running. But I increasingly find opposition to climate science (I don’t think they are skeptics as much as scoffers) infuriating.

I don’t even know quite what is motivating this post at the moment. But I have a family member with a science based Ph.D. who consistently raises his opposition to the findings of climate scientists every time he sees me. He argues that he’s “read the science” and that his work has always been about modeling and that the models they use cannot hope to capture the complexity of the phenomenon of climate change and that ultimately belief in anthropogenic climate change is nothing more than belief, even religious belief. This last point resonates with those who often compare the dire predictions of climate scientists and environmental activists to the apocalyptic speculation that has occurred so frequently across western history.

Padden Creek Salmon Habitat Restoration Project


                                          Padden Creek at Fairhaven Park

Among the icons associated with the Pacific Northwest are evergreen trees, rain, streams, and salmon. These PNW icons have existed in symbiotic relations with one another for probably millions of years. A change in one can affect the others. But apparently this fact was unknown or at least unappreciated by the early American settlers of this region. They over-logged the trees which allowed the abundant rain to wash mud and whole hillsides into the streams which became uninhabitable for the salmon that had used these streams for eons to maintain their life cycles. They also dammed up spawning rivers to provide electricity to run their sawmills and salmon canneries. The irony is that they destroyed the very things that made them wealthy.  

The stupid!!!! It burns!!!!!

I just can’t not write this diary, although I wish it didn’t have to be written. We all know how the adherents of reactionary politics get branded “anti-science” – deservedly so. Problem is, an anti-science trend among the left also exists. It’s less pervasive, but when one suddenly encounters it, it’s both quite dumbfounding (surprise factor) and damaging to discourse, credibility, and any underlying progressive cause involved. One recent example made me write this diary, and it wasn’t even particularly glaring.

More below.  

Nobel Prize Announcements: Wednesday Chemistry – Theoretical Winners

2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2013 was awarded jointly to Martin Karplus, Michael Levitt and Arieh Warshel “for the development of multiscale models for complex chemical systems”.

Nobel is 1:23 from the announcement.  Of course, yesterday was delayed.  


Did someone not answer their phone?  

Ian Tracey is head of @CERN UK – he shared this photo of a panel being ignored because their audience was waiting for the Nobel announcement.  Which is delayed a bit longer.  


Best new hashtag is FakeNobelDelayReasons


Early speculation is it will be Peter Higgs.  Or a combination of Higgs and the experimentalists at CERN.  Or a lot of people will be left out.  Or no one will be happy. There is concern about giving due credit, and not diluting the prize.  Etc.#twittersummary

@upulie shares some other possible contenders.  


Cellular Transport Mechanisms, basic science research.  

aww heck, just go read her twitter stream:  An enthusiastic scientist

And here’s the official site:  Nobel Prize dot org

Tomorrow is Physics.  

Entering the Quiet Time as We Leaf the Light Behind

An equinox occurs twice a year, when the tilt of the Earth’s axis is inclined neither away from nor towards the Sun, the Sun being vertically above a point on the Equator. The latitudes +L and -L north and south of the equator experience nights of equal length and the celestial equator has intersected the ecliptic in the axial precession.

This year’s autumnal equinox, when the light and dark are equal but moving towards dark, arrives at 3:44pm Central Time on Sunday, September 22, or about 4 hours from now.

But seasonal celebrations should not be bound by dates and times and such. In fact, it is a good idea to pre-celebrate Equinox so that you do not miss that last fleeting moment when ceiling cat has equal time. So …

Let the Fall Celebration Begin !!

Saturday Morning Nature Gossip

I’m thinking that it might be fun to have a regular place to gossip about what’s happening in each of our natural neighborhoods. It could be a safe place to reveal your inner bug geek, or ask about the odd bird or lizard hanging out in your back yard, or just describe what you saw on a walk you took during the week.

So, with that introduction, here goes:

Ice Age Floods, The Columbia Plateau, and Terroir


Some of the largest cataclysmic geologic events on earth occurred in what is now the Pacific North West. About 11 million years of volcanic flow activity, ending about 6 million years ago, created the Columbia Plateau with basaltic lava formations up to two miles deep. This huge basaltic plateau covering much of Eastern Washington and Oregon and adjacent parts of Idaho was later inundated by massive Ice Age floods ending about 15,000 calendar years ago. The scale of these events has been seldom seen elsewhere as it carved a landscape that appears œother worldly. (In fact, the resulting terrain so closely matches that seen on Mars that NASA tested the Sojourner robotic rover here before its 1997 mission to Mars.


                                                                Scablands from basalt and flooding


                         The Columbia River continues to cut into basalt

As many as 100 floods deposited layers of sediment atop the basalt that today provide the soil for growing some of the best wine grapes and hence wines in the country and in some cases, the world. These are the wines of Oregon and Washington State.