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HuckleB's Journal
HuckleB's Journal
November 15, 2013

Skepticism 101, with the Skepchicks, Transcript

Skepticism 101 with the Skepchicks is obviously one of the panels meant to appeal to people new to skepticism, although it’s also a very entertaining video for those of us already well-versed in skepticism, if only because it was a chance to get so many of the Skepchicks together and joking around in one place.

November 13, 2013

A Generous Offer to Dr. Huber -Turned Down



"I offer to sequence the genome of the pathogen and identify what it is," I said. "If Dr. Huber could kindly give me a small amount of the culture we could identify this new life form before Christmas."

I'm not bluffing here. We could do that. I could pay to have the libraries made and get several lanes of Illumina sequencing done in a few weeks. We'd get several hundred million 'reads' (small bits of data) that could be computationally assembled into a whole genome of his novel organism, if it actually existed. If it was real, we could have 300-fold coverage of its sequence. Completely do-able, and I'd pay for it.

"So can you send me cultures?" I asked.

What do you think his answer was? After a ten minute talk about the organism and how it is killing cattle and causing problems he said he would not send it.

I said, "Don, you say this is a crisis, that a new pathogen is causing disease in humans and plants, and you won't release it to the broader scientific community for eight years?"

November 9, 2013

The Media's Obamacare "Horror Stories" Continue To Collapse


Is the ACA perfect? Heck, no. There are clearly big problems with the roll out, and the bill itself is not going to treat everyone equally. Still, compared to what we've had, the ACA offers a vast improvement.

Oh, ... Should we continue to promote a move to single payer? Heck, yes.

The sky is not falling.
November 7, 2013

Rodolfo Walsh and the Struggle for Argentina


"Rodolfo Walsh was a rare man of words and action, though by all accounts he struggled to reconcile the two. In a relatively short and restless life, he was a masterful chess player, a self-taught sleuth and code breaker, an award-winning fiction author turned investigative reporter, an artist and intellectual who took up a gun against his own government.

As a journalist and activist in post-revolutionary Cuba, Walsh personally intercepted and decrypted the secret CIA telex that gave Fidel Castro advance warning of the Bay of Pigs invasion. Later, in his native Argentina, he was a chief intelligence officer for the Montoneros, leftist urban guerrillas who opposed the country’s ascendant right wing.

Many Montoneros, including Walsh’s daughter Maria Victoria, became casualties of the undeclared and unofficial “Dirty War” that started some time before the military coup of 1976 and ended with the general election of 1983. On March 24, 1977, the one-year anniversary of the coup, Walsh addressed an open letter to the generals and admirals who had seized control of the state, itemizing their crimes and listing their victims: “15,000 missing, 10,000 prisoners, 4,000 dead, tens of thousands in exile.”


Those pieces were soon compiled into a book, Operation Massacre, by the tiny press Ediciones Sigla, at considerable risk to the publishers and to the author himself. In his introduction to that first edition Walsh wrote, “I happen to believe . . . in the right of every citizen to share any truth that he comes to know, however dangerous that truth might be.” Almost 60 years later, the book was like an unexploded ordinance, dug up from a forgotten battlefield.


I bought a copy of the book yesterday. Whether it's something you want to put yourself through or not, this piece from Boston Review is worth a few minutes of your time.
November 7, 2013

GMO Labeling Fights: Corporation vs. Corporation.

I know the folks here are probably well aware of this, but...

The bottom line on the labeling BS is that it's all about marketing for some companies against other companies. I know you know such labeling offers no actual information that helps one decide what's best to eat. Still, this graphic, but a supporter of labeling, tells the story.

"Let's All Reward The True Organic Heroes"

No, there is no shame in corporate America, on any side.

November 6, 2013

The Pointless GMO Label



However I ask, ”What is the purpose of a label and why should we mandate labeling?”

The purpose of a label on food is to inform. To inform about nutritional value, ingredients or allergy warnings. GMOs have nothing to do with any of those. A GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) is a product of biotechnology.

Biotechnology is a method of planting breeding just like hybridization or altering plant genes with radiation. Ever since Gregor Mendel crossbred peas we have been genetically modifying plants just using different methods. Read: Genetic engineering vs. natural breeding: What’s the difference?

Biotechnology itself has been around for 30 years. Thousands of studies have been conducted on the safety consuming products of biotech. The consensus says they are safe. Read: 2000+ Reasons Why GMOs Are Safe To Eat And Environmentally Sustainable.


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