Molecular biologist, dad joke enthusiast, Texan and Texas history buff, non-believer, skeptic, fan of Pratchett, Asimov and Sagan.
Sep 18, 2018 • 4 tweets • 2 min read
#Texas political affiliation, according to 2014 Pew Survey.
Top level: Texas is a preponderance Democrat state run almost entirely by Republicans. In some areas, the only challenger to Republican candidate is a Libertarian.
Let's drill down one level...
A mystery starts to unravel. Texans who are strongly Republican. Latinos are mixed/lean Democrat, and blacks are Democrat.
This makes voting rights and gerrymandering issues extremely important to how a Republican minority dominates elections in a state with equal D & R.
Sep 16, 2018 • 7 tweets • 2 min read
Richard Feynman, "The Uncertainty of Science"
"Scientists, therefore, are used to dealing with doubt and uncertainty. All scientific knowledge is uncertain. This experience with doubt and uncertainty is important." /1
"I believe that it is of very great value, and one that extends beyond the sciences. I believe that to solve any problem that has never been solved before, you have to leave the door to the unknown ajar." /2
Sep 16, 2018 • 11 tweets • 4 min read
Strap in for some crazy #Texas#history:
"The time they lynched Santa Claus for robbing a bank."
Let me set a scene:
1927: Texas Banker's Assn. responds to rash of bank robberies (3-4/day) by offering $5K reward for shooting a bank robber in the act.
Group of 4 criminals plan December 1927 heist of Cisco, TX bank: 1. Robert Hill 2. Harry Helms 3. Marshall Ratliff 4. Louis Davis
Ratliff was veteran bank robber, Helms and Hill he knew from Huntsville prison.
Davis was a cousin of Helms brought in because safe cracker got flu.
Sep 16, 2018 • 5 tweets • 2 min read
Unintentional drowning rate tells an interesting story to me.
It's *almost* completely preventable, in principle...
but are there narratives we can construct from the data?
- Under 1 yr old are high risk for drowning in bathtubs.
- 1--4 yr olds more likely to drown in swimming pools or lakes/ponds
- Older ppl drowning deaths show a broad distribution of locations.
Sep 4, 2018 • 4 tweets • 2 min read
I understand a lot of people don't like George W. Bush for very legitimate reasons (he was deeply flawed & not up to the job most days) ... but you have to admit that he really seemed to have cared about people, individually.
He would have made a fine youth minister, or small business ower, because I believe in his heart, he cared about people he met.
My wife met him during his years as TX Gov. when she was donating blood, and he spent some time joking with her, thanking her, being kind.
Aug 31, 2018 • 6 tweets • 2 min read
In 1784, a Royal Commission headed by Benjamin Franklin & Antoine Lavoisier designed a series of experiments to debunk France's greatest medical rogue, Anton Mesmer, and his bizarre healing of illnesses based on his bogus theory of animal magnetism.
Let that sink in:
Lavoisier was the father of chemistry.
Franklin did experiments in physics, was an avid inventor.
They took on the fraud that gave us the word "mesmerize".
And the process they developed was the blueprint for every CLINICAL TRIAL of modern times.
Aug 18, 2018 • 4 tweets • 2 min read
Was the Battle of the Alamo fought over slavery?
Yes, but almost trivially.
1833-35: Mexico had a new President, Antonio López de Santa Anna, who suspended the Mexican Constitution, abolished state legislatures, consolidated absolute power in a centralized govt. he controlled.
An end to all Anglo immigration, outlawing of slavery, and the imposition of a series of punitive new taxes (all in response to US offers to purchase Texas) were seen as violations of the settlers autonomy. It would have crippled the economy of the Mexican state of C y Tejas
Aug 16, 2018 • 5 tweets • 2 min read
This day in 1935, Wiley Post (famed Texas aviator) and Will Rogers (Okie, highest paid Hollywood actor and humorist) crashed their self-built/hybrid plane into the water near Point Barrow, Alaska; both died instantly.
I'm going to share some Will Rogers quotes in his honor.
"This country has gotten where it is in spite of politics, not by the aid of it. That we have carried as much political bunk as we have and still survived shows we are a super nation."
Aug 8, 2018 • 4 tweets • 2 min read
Here's the trick: 3% of all lung cancer in men may be result of asbestos exposure, but most men are never exposed, so we have to know more about odds ratios in individual professions or exposure categories to determine if 3% is low or high.
Until you get all the data carefully arranged, it's hard to even communicate whether asbestos is a serious health risk or not. In this case, I would call it a moderate risk to people with medium to high exposure: Less than cigarette smoking, more than just living in a city.
Aug 8, 2018 • 4 tweets • 2 min read
What I won't defend:
Statues or images glorifying the image of Robert E. Lee, General of the Army of Northern Virginia, CSA for a period of three years.
I would like to point out that Lee spent 6 years guarding the Texas frontier, providing court martial services in Texas, fighting in Texas for the US Army during the Mexican-American war that cemented Texas independence as a US state.
Jul 30, 2018 • 6 tweets • 3 min read
Cancer is sustained abnormal growth, the loss of tightly regulated mechanisms to control cell division and growth.
Every species of multicellular organism gets #cancer.
Naked mole rats.
Let's talk about tree cancer.
When a tree is injured, infected, or stressed, the cells affected can undergo a loss of normal function and out of control growth. These outgrowths show poor cellular organization, producing odd wood-grain patterns and blobby outgrowths we call burls.
Jul 25, 2018 • 6 tweets • 3 min read
I've spent some time observing amateur religious apologetics, and my feeling is that #science and apologetics are precise opposites.
Science starts with observation and reaches conclusion.
Apologetics start with a conclusion and re-interpret observations to fit.
The same rational method (starting from a conclusion) is observable in other types of denialism. #FlatEarthers are a clear illustration, as they reinterpret everything we know about our Solar System, but you see it in vaccine denial and AIDS denialist movements.
Jul 22, 2018 • 4 tweets • 1 min read
When you unpack your new multichannel pipette...
...And find a robot inside...
Jul 2, 2018 • 6 tweets • 2 min read
The Economic Lessons of Star Trek’s Money-Free Society wired.com/2016/05/geeks-…
It seems to me that if we wanted to devise a better socio-economic system, we should start with an understanding of where we want to end up, and try to build a bridge to that future.
1. Charles on his beloved horse, Tommy. 2. Charles Darwin (age 33) and his eldest son William Erasmus Darwin, 1842.
This is the only known daguerreotype of Darwin, and was taken 3 yrs after the technique was invented.
Jun 27, 2018 • 6 tweets • 3 min read
For ~10 years, we lived the #Texas country life on 10 acres, surrounded on all sides by ranch lands. It was a brisk walk to the end of the driveway to get the mail.
We had (pet) goats, ducks, chickens that were pretty much "free range". Deer and armadillo were daily sightings.
We even had a terrible backyard garden. Here it is in the off-season. If you look carefully, you can see the problem we had.
Jun 26, 2018 • 4 tweets • 2 min read
Largest all-female air base in American history was established in Sweetwater, TX; Avenger Field.
The women pilots trained there, the Women Airforce Service Pilots, or WASPs, ferried USAAF airplanes to bases and ports, towed targets for anti-aircraft live fire training exercises
25,000 women applied to the program. 1,830 were accepted. 1,074 earned their wings.
1942-1944, they delivered 12,650 aircraft, relieving trained combat pilots.
Jun 25, 2018 • 4 tweets • 2 min read
From Cato Institute study: "Criminal Immigrants in Texas". In 2015:
- Illegal immigrants are 56% less likely to be convicted of a crime than native Texans, 25% less likely to be convicted of homicide.
- Of 995 homicide convictions in TX in 2015; natives accounted for 885, illegal immigrants 51, and legal immigrants 15.
Mar 18, 2018 • 6 tweets • 3 min read
Today, March 18th, marks the anniversary of the 1937 New London School explosion, the single deadliest school disaster in US history.
Natural gas lines under the Texas school led to explosion that killed 295 students and teachers, at 3:17 PM.
Natural gas lines for heating were run under the school that took residual gas from oil wells ("wet gas") that would otherwise have been flared off. The feed was inconsistent, unregulated, which led to accumulation of gas under the school. Trigger was probably electric sander.