Pterosaurs over the Sahara

I know I’m mixing up times and environments. Here’s the real news: A fossil pterosaur has been found in the Sahara desert. It has a wingspan of about five metres. The fossil comprises most of the bones of one wing and a number of long, slender teeth, which indicate a fish-catching habit.



What’s new in politcal and population control?

  • Eight ways the Roman Catholic Church exercises control over Catholics by Stephen D. Mumford. “In 1980, Jean-Guy Vaillancourt, a Canadian Roman Catholic pro­fessor of sociology at the University of Montreal, published a book entitled Papal Power: A Study of Vatican Control Over Lay Catholic Elites.[11] This is a study of the techniques intensively used by the Vati­can in many countries to control Catholic laypersons in Italy over the past one hundred years. In 1875, the Vatican created a system of local parish committees of at least five members each, called Catholic Actions. These committees were created to organize laypersons to assist the Vatican in seizing control of local, state, and national politi­cal machinery.”
  • From 2004:  a Vatican-linked branch of WHO creates demand for abortions, known in 1994 as the Human Reproduction Program (HRP). For years HRP has been able to wield inside power with many governments to stop the adoption of methods of family planning well-suited to the needs of these countries, including China, Indonesia, and Vietnam, as well as several in Latin America. Their interference may have caused the deaths of 40,000 women in Vietnam, 115,000 women in Indonesia, and 115,000 women in India.
  • From 1984: American Democracy and the Vatican by Stephen D. Mumford. Free download.  “Until those of us who are concerned about these social justice issues are willing to confront the Catholic hierarchy, there will be no significant advances in these areas of social justice. So long as the Church can act ‘undercover,’ it will continue to be effective in thwarting significant advances. Our willingness to permit the Church to act in secrecy in America vastly enhances its power. It is absolutely essential that our silence be shat­tered.”


Mesa of sedimentary rock coloured by sunset

Rocks rock!

This image from the Grand Canyon comes to you from Schurs Astrophotography.

I like that they refer to the growing dark after sunset as the Earth’s shadow.

Food safety: The struggle to pasteurize milk

Pop quiz: The scientist who discovered that pasteurizing milk prevented it from transmitting diseases was told that if it were important, someone else would have discovered it already. What sex was the scientist?

Alice Catherine Evans proved that unpasteurized milk spread disease, and improved the health of any nation that was listening.

It was an exceptionally stubborn microbiologist named Alice Catherine Evans who was the first scientist in the United States to definitively show that microbes in unpasteurized milk can sicken humans as well as animals. She went on to fight for the heat-treating of milk to protect the public and stands today as the mother of pasteurization in the United States. And the male heroes embodied in De Kruif’s book were hardly supportive. She was mocked, belittled and assured that if she was right, “someone much more outstanding” would have made the discovery long before.

De Kruif included her [in Men against Death] to both acknowledge her contribution and protest her treatment. “Such,” he noted sadly, “is the silliness of scientists.”

Still, by the time his book was published, Evans had won her battle to such an extent that she had already been elected president of the Society of American Bacteriologists—a forerunner of the Society of Microbiologists—in 1928. And she had done that with significant support from male colleagues, willing to “honor one woman whose findings dramatically advanced their field of research and improved public health in this country,” wrote Maryland biologist and former National Science Foundation director Rita Colwell in a much later tribute of her own.

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