Digital Chum - Virtual fish guts and other nonsense

May, 2009:

I support stem cell research

Human Stem Cell ResearchNeil Gaimen supports stem cell research, too.

Since President Obama removed the restrictions on stem cell research funding, the National Institute of Health has been working on a set of guidelines for scientists wanting said funding. A draft of the guidelines has been issued and the next 14 days are the public comment period for those guidelines, so this is the chance to let your opinion be heard on the matter.

According to Don Reed, a national stem cell research advocate, the guidelines are a bit more conservative than hoped, but more importantly, are being flooded by stem cell research opponents. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued an action alert to oppose the funding and evidently, of the 6,000+ responses received so far, 99% of them are opposed to stem cell research.

You can add your comments in support of stem cell research on the NIH’s website using their comment form.

Don Reed said (emphasis mine)…

Your comment can be as short as “I support embryonic stem cell research, and am glad some of the restrictions are being loosened.”  That matters.

Anyone who clicks on the comment box, and writes in a sentence-that message will be tallied as one citizen in support. Of course, you may say more if you want. If you are a long-term research supporter,  our letter will be put in the expert witness category.

He also notes that more than one person in a family can comment. It takes less than 60 seconds to complete the information in the comment form and add your support to stem cell research.

Let’s not let religious dogma hobble this research… research that has some of the greatest potential for critical healthcare advances in science today.

Please take the time to comment using the NIH form before the May 26th deadline.

(crossposted via RationalityNow)

Fighting Giraffes

I found this clip from a post on the Why Evolution is True blog. Two male giraffes fight by doing what’s called “necking” (it isn’t sweet). Watching it really made me cringe because of the power of the hits… and it’s just so incongruous with the stereotypical image that most people have (including me) of the tall gentle giant.

This combat is one of the ideas proposed for how and why giraffes evolved their long necks. The article linked above is quite interesting and explains the idea in more detail.

200 by 12/31/09

Today I started my goal to weigh 200 pounds by December 31st, 2009. That’s a weight loss of 54 pounds and it’s a reasonable, healthy rate of weight loss.

Healthy food in smaller amounts combined with moderate exercise should get me there.

I’ll post my progress here from time to time.


I think this pretty much speaks for itself. No need for me to make any further comment.

Torture Rationalizations


Uber-cool Astronomical Sciencey Stuff!

Galaxy NGC 3021I found this article on today about how fast our universe is expanding… and how astronomers figure this kind of thing out. After reading the whole thing, I was in awe… for two reasons.

First, the size and content of our universe is just completely mind-blowing. Carl Sagan’s “billions and billions” quote seems to understate it to an extreme degree. Just looking at a single galaxy and trying to wrap my head around how many stars it contains… and that just one of those stars (among billions) is like our Sun, one infinitesimally small fireball in a whirling mass of billions of similar fireballs… and that our tiny planet revolves around one such tiny star… it makes my head hurt.

Second, that there are people on this planet who have the intellectual wherewithall to actually measure the distance between galaxies and the speed of universal expansion by using supernovas and the pulsating brightness of stars. I mean, I can’t really grasp the idea of how small we are in just a galaxy (one of billions) without misfiring neurons in my brain causing me physical pain, but these guys are discussing the expansion of the universe, pulsating Cepheid variables, type I supernovae, and dark energy. I imagine them doing it casually over a beer or two at their local pub, but I’m sure they work exceptionally hard in labs and observatories and classrooms. Either way… wow.

So kudos to astronomers… misfiring neurons never felt so good!