Martian soil is apparently 2% water

http://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/curiositys-sam-instrument-finds-water-and-more-in-surface-sample/#.UkYMXH87xSM
http://news.discovery.com/space/this-scoop-of-mars-soil-is-two-percent-water-130926.htm

And in happier news, more info about Martian soil and water.

Yup.

Advertisements

Those Specific Drugs We Like To Use When We Kill People

OK, let’s start off with the news that brought this to my awareness (this, plus a coincidental conversation last weekend- where, might I add, I was glad I had decided to keep this blog/actually had successful interactions with fellow human beings where I had interesting things to say, so we can totally score one for the silly blog concept):

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/09/25/226112703/ohio-other-states-running-out-of-lethal-injection-drug
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/sep/26/ohio-execution-drug-pentobarbital-eu-boycott

If this issue is interesting enough to you, you can certainly click around from the two articles and find other things, and/or Google (or DuckDuckGo, if you want more privacy) some of the stuff that comes up.

Discussion about the death penalty (and broad discussion about how effed the criminal justice system is) aside, can I just say. For one second. Srsly…

Big pharma decided to have morals? Like, for realsies??? Since when? Is this a Europe thing, or is it just that it stopped being profitable to the companies, or what?

OK, anyway, assume the above paragraph went on for several more pages of me wanting to believe that there can be good in this world at levels it seems unlikely to continue to exist at, and let’s move on. Because there’s another layer, one step back.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/jul/01/pentobarbital-lundbeck-execution-drug
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/jan/23/lethal-injection-sodium-thiopental-hospira
http://www.npr.org/2013/07/30/207026540/where-do-drugs-for-lethal-injections-come-from-nobody-knows

Apparently the people-killing drug we’re running out of *now* is actually the drug we *started* using when we ran out of the *original* drug that we liked to use to kill people.

So here’s the kind of amazing part. We’ve been getting our lethal injection drugs from a very limited number of suppliers. Guess I never thought about it, but it strikes me as truly amazing that one company can have a monopoly on… well, death. Or, state-ordered death, anyway. Perhaps that’s partly because my job, in particular, serves to remind me on a more-frequently-than-I’d-like basis that it’s not exactly difficult to come up with lethal drugs.

We’ve got drugs that we can use in assisted suicides (and legislation for allowing that is becoming increasingly popular). We sure as heck have drugs we can kill ourselves with *accidentally,* and we can go (start to finish) to fascinating underground lengths to get ahold of the illicit ones. The country regulates the heck out of “illegal” drugs and encourages and in some cases outright enforces the use of ‘”legal” drugs in ways that often only make sense when you assume someone somewhere is getting bribed. We’ve got, in short, all kinds of issues with drugs in this country, and all kinds of drugs, and lots of the drugs we have do, in fact, end up killing people.

And yet, somehow, with all that, we can actually *run out* of That One Drug We Like To Use When We Kill People On Purpose.

Because… why? The American criminal justice system is concerned with minimizing suffering and being humane? *That’s* the justification we’re using? because, seriously. Just sit and think about that one for a second. Ponder it. *Digest* it. Well, maybe take some Pepto Bismol preemptively first.

I guess it’s just one more “what the $*&%?” to add to the long list of issues and rants about, well, a whole bunch of topics at once, really.

How Much Longer Can Earth Support Life?

http://www.livescience.com/39775-how-long-can-earth-support-life.html

Let’s just have this one up as a counter to my “everything will be underwater someday” blog.

*gently places this little bit of hope into the text box, clicks submit, and backs away slowly, before I can start angrily ranting about how this probably actually doesn’t really mean much in a practical sense for myself or anyone who will ever read this blog*

A Hospital Tells Police Where Fights Happen, And Crime Drops

http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/09/19/224052451/a-hospital-tells-police-where-fights-happen-and-crime-drops

There’s pros and cons to everything.

In many ways, this is a wonderful example of research actually being used in a useful way, in my opinion.

I do wonder what the responses were on the parts of consumers and business establishments to these mandates, though. Plastic cups, for example- brilliant, in a sense, but what was the cost to the pubs and clubs to make the switch? What are the fines and/or costs to violating the no-glass-cups order? What’s the cost to the environment to be using more plastic? More to the point- *is it patronizing?* (Couldn’t we also just force all drunk people to wear helmets and mittens?)

Always interesting to consider the tradeoffs that can be made between safety and freedom. I greatly like the idea of harm reduction and policy change towards that, as an extremely general rule. But the
closure of “trouble spots” starts to wander into “too-far” territory. Before I could judge it one way or another, I’d need to know exactly what these “big trouble spots” were, and what options were provided to their owners. Heck, I’d need the whole history and backstory to the culture around each “trouble spot,” the “trouble” it tended to attract, why that was the case, and that sort of thing. And, of course, as this is a study done within a specific location, whether eliminating these trouble spots actually *reduced* violence, or just moved it. (Best guess: It probably did both.)

Not that my judgement means anything. I certainly hope that the people behind making this policy also thought through all the subtle nuances. They may have. If they did, they’re better than most.

Goal!

Time to set a new tangible goal. Because goals are good, and setting new and better goals is even better. I met my goal, and then just kept on running with it for awhile, but it is time to crank it up a notch.

Goal for now through… let’s say the end of October, eh? Is to, first off, continue to post at least one interesting thing per week.*

The twist shall be that, now that I properly understand wordpress “tags” vs “categories,” I shall be *tagging* my posts. At least one tag per post. I went back and hastily did this for previous posts, as well, but I may end up getting a better feel for how to “best” tag, over time.

Worth noting is that through some odd wordpress quirk, the fact that I tagged one or two posts with “SCIENCE!!!” at some point means that everything I try to tag with “science” comes out in all caps with three exclamations. I tried a couple of brief fixes, then decided it’s both easier and funnier if I just leave it this way.

*per as previous goal, I can post more, but this is not an “on average” goal, so posting a dozen things right this very minute will meet my goal for this week, but won’t actually complete the goal.

After that, it shall be time to re-eval. Hooray!

ig nobel prize winners 2013

http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-09/2013-ig-nobel-prizes-drunk-people-feel-sexy-more-years-silliest-science
http://www.improbable.com/ig/

If you haven’t heard of the ig nobel prizes before, then, dude, where have you been???

I shall try to focus on delusional drunk people, walking on water, and shrew-pooping, rather than the peace prize. Because Oh My God, The World Is Screwed Up.