Get a reflective bicycle for night riding

Data Safety Sheet for Water

water molecule


From Kausik Datta at In Sciento Veritas over on SciLogs we have a bit of nerdish humour: The Material Data Safety Sheet for hydrogen hydroxide, or was that dihydrogen monoxide?

Math professor develops better car side-mirror

New mirror above standard mirror

R. Andrew Hicks, a mathematics professor at Drexel University in Philadelphia, has designed a mirror that shows a much wider field of vision and will eliminate the blind spot where side and rear-view mirrors fail to overlap. The mirror covers about 45°, compared to about 16° for the mirrors in use now. See New Side-Mirror.

Mythbusters cannonball!

The Mythbusters show–which relies heavily on blowing things up for ratings, I mean skepticism–aimed a cannonball too high and it sailed into a neighbourhood: “Mythbusters apologize for cannonball.”

One day after a cannonball experiment went awry in a Bay Area suburb, Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman of Discovery Channel’s popular science show said Wednesday they were headed to meet with families affected by the incident.

No injuries were reported, but the 30-pound cannonball flew 700 yards off course from a police firing range, bounced off a roof and ripped through another home in Dublin before settling in a nearby van. While Savage and his team are still investigating the incident, he said the cannon involved in the experiment was aimed too high.

The culprits were the other team: Tory Belleci, Kari Byron and Grant Imahara.

P.S. Does anyone else ever wonder why we almost never see the two teams together?

Whence the vitriol?

At the Center for Inquiry conference, skeptic Rebecca Watson, of the Skepchick blog, commented on someone else’s critique of her reaction to the Elevator Incident, which was, “Guys, don’t do that”—hardly inflamatory.

I have seen people write that Rebecca Watson insulted the blogger who had named her and criticized her reaction, and whose whose comment her she dissected.

She named her, a writer who had already publicly associated herself with the discussion. She “insulted” her. And yet “ignorant of a certain subject” is a description, not an insult? Rebecca Watson didn’t insult the person who had already publicly called her out by name, who pointed out that the writer was ignorant of sexism as it exists now and that she had absorbed a lot of misogynistic ideas. Both conditions are fairly common in young women who have been sheltered in a fairly egalitarian educational system and immersed in popular culture. And any young woman who showed a spark of feminism would be showered with disincentives–case in point: Rebecca Watson. Young women are likely disavow feminism as unfeminine, at least until they get older and wiser.

So, there wasn’t any insult. The writer of the critical blog post was there and could respond during question period if she so chose.

Now, can anyone explain the 8-week storm of insults, accusations, and threats—not reasoned arguments and counter-examples—that has been hurled at our clear-thinking feminist?

That elevator kerfuffle

Not everybody wants to be accosted in an elevator, whether it’s an invitation to a date or a debate.

For context, see Rebecca Watson’s “The Privilege Delusion.”

Common sense says, Don’t make people feel uncomfortable. And if you’re a confident sort, don’t belittle those who are nervous. Your landscape is not their landscape. Richard Dawkins has probably never been raped in an elevator. Or a stairwell. Or a washroom. Or a car. Or at work. Or at home. Or in the street. Or behind a church, or in a church.  And from his security, he can be sarcastic about people who don’t want to be propositioned in a moving steel box in the dead of night.

Promising vaccine for cattle against E. coli O157

A study of 30,000 cattle has shown that two spaced inoculations against E. coli O157 can dramatically reduce the number of bacteria shed in manure and passed around the feedlot.

BELLEVILLE, ON, October 17, 2008 – Bioniche Life Sciences Inc. (TSX: BNC), a research-based, technology-driven Canadian biopharmaceutical company, today announced that the results of a large-scale commercial beef feedlot study with the Company’s E. coli O157 vaccine have been published in Foodborne Pathogens and Disease (Vol. 5, Number 5, 2008), a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

The article is entitled, “A Two-Dose Regimen of a Vaccine Against Escherichia coli O157:H7 Type III Secreted Proteins Reduced Environmental Transmission of the Agent in a Large-Scale Commercial Beef Feedlot Clinical Trial” (David R. Smith, Rodney A. Moxley, Robert E. Peterson, Terry J. Klopfestein, Galen E. Erickson, and Sharon L. Clowser).

The clinical vaccine trial of commercially-fed cattle tested the effect of a two-dose regimen of a vaccine product against type III secreted proteins of enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli ( E. coli) O157:H7 on the probability of detecting the organism on environmental sampling devices.

Vaccine was administered to all cattle within treated pens at arrival processing and again at routine re-processing. Pens of cattle were sampled for four test periods – one week after the second dose of vaccine and every three weeks thereafter. Test samples were taken from seven ropes per pen hung overnight from the feed-bunk neck-rail (the ROPES method). The study involved 20,556 cattle, held in 140 pens at 19 feedlots, over the period between February and October of 2004. Vaccinated pens of cattle were less likely to test ROPES-positive (OR=0.59, p=0.004). Because ROPES testing identifies organisms in the mouth of cattle, and its outcome is proven to be both associated with presence of the organism in the pen environment and correlated with the prevalence of fecal shedding, the researchers concluded that the two-dose vaccine regimen reduces the probability for environmental transmission of E. coli O157:H7 within commercial cattle feeding systems.

TTC beta test survey: FAIL

The Toronto Transit Commission has given the public access to their new Web site, which is in beta test. I urged:

Take time to visit the new site and leave your feedback. We can help the TTC to improve their user experience if we act now.

First, go and roam around the TTC beta site. Then return to its home page. At the bottom is a link to a survey. Follow the link and fill out the survey.

Now I have to add—if it works!

Maybe an e-mail to the TTC’s Webmaster? No, there’s no e-mail address.

What about the Contact Us page? No.

Contact Us info coming soon

There’s no link back to the old site, so no way to get back unless you have the presence of mind to use the Back button in your browser enough times to get to the introduction page.

This is getting funny. It’s reminding me that many editors have called the TTC over the years, offering to help improve their signs and instructions, only to be told, “We’re all right. We have the best safety record in North America, so everything is fine.” Meanwhile, their warning on the in-car alarms still ask people to set off the alarm in case of vandalism or passenger safety!

I will try to get in touch with them via the old site and tell them that the survey form isn’t working. Of course, it could be my computer. But I hope they tested it on external computers.

UPDATE: I phoned the TTC and they said, as help-desk people often do, “That shouldn’t be happening.”  I described the problem, then read them bits of the error message, then offered to send a screen shot. So I’m doing that.

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