Not that hard to believe

Chiropractors in Connecticut are fighting against a proposal that would require them to inform ‘patients’ about the link between cervical manipulation and strokes. The article here is more or less an op-ed, but it had one part that especially stood out.

I just can’t believe that chiropractors are against informing patients because they fear losing business.

Really? Really? They’re chiropractors. They range from offering vaguely effective physical therapy (which is a manner of non-chiropractic training) to being expensive masseuses to causing strokes. Maybe worst of all, they are always attempting to raise their status.

“This measure would be redundant,” Pagano said, because it would be “singling out” chiropractors. Under state law, all doctors must inform patients about potentially risky treatment.

Since chiropractors are not doctors, it would not be redundant.

Egyptian Christians riot

It isn’t just Muslims who get upset.

Thousands of enraged Christians clashed with the police in Egypt on Thursday in response to a drive-by shooting the night before that left six Christians dead and nine wounded.

The attackers, who are still at large, had opened fire on several groups of Christians gathered to celebrate Coptic Christmas in the southern Egyptian city of Nag Hammadi, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.

The killings seemed to be an act of revenge tied to accusations in November that a Christian man raped a Muslim girl, the statement said.

Take religion out of the equation and there is no excuse for this violence. Not all violence disappears (despite the strawmen often drawn from the previous sentence), but there lacks a motivation for these type of attacks. Religion is largely what divides these Egyptians.

Clashes between Muslims and Christians have grown increasingly common in recent years, especially in Upper Egypt, where there is a large Christian population and a strong culture of vendetta killings. Those killings typically spring from unexceptional disputes that spiral into full-blown conflicts that have to be settled by security forces. There are no official statistics on the size of the Christian minority in Egypt, but the generally accepted figure is 10 percent of the population.

Again, that 10% share a number of commonalities with the 90%. The key dividing factor, as always, is religion. And if there was any doubt,

During a funeral procession on Thursday for the victims of the shooting, thousands of angry Christian protesters chanted, “With our souls, with our blood, we will sacrifice ourselves for the cross,” and pelted police cars with stones. The police fired tear gas to disperse the crowds.

“There is a prevailing atmosphere of sectarianism and religious incitement which has led to this behavior,” said Gamal Asaad, a Coptic intellectual and former member of Parliament. “People deal with each other now as Muslims or Christians, not as Egyptians.”

First image from WISE

WISE is a survey telescope recently launched by NASA. Here’s what Phil Plait had to say over at Bad Astronomy.

Nice. It may not look as pretty as a Hubble or Spitzer shot at first glance, but to an astronomer it’s the Mona Lisa. The images are sharp (it’s in focus), the stars are not overexposed, diffuse sources are detected, and the diffraction spikes (the crosshairs centered on stars) are clean.

I would have just called it sexy, but maybe that’s why I’m not an astronomer.

The mountains of Maine

Being that I’m 1) busy and it’s 2) winter, hiking is hard to come by. As such, I’m getting antsy. So here are a few pictures for your (but really my) viewing pleasure.

This first one is from the Cathedral Trail heading up Mount Katahdin. That’s looking at The Knife Edge, a relatively narrow 1 mile trail going from the peak (out of view on the right) to Pamola Peak (visible toward the left, just before the thicker cloud cover).

The Knife Edge

This one is on Little Spencer. Katahdin is actually easily visible while summiting here, though I do not believe it is the mountain in the distance. That’s me in this picture (taken by friend Matt Doyon). His brother got nervous when I was that close to the edge (which actually had plenty more rock below, just not visible from this angle), so naturally I had to play it up.

Atop Little Spencer

This next one is from Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park. (I’m on the left.) We started around 2:30am to make it up for the sunrise over Bar Harbor, but alas we were thwarted by cloud cover. Going up, however, was fantastic because Bar Harbor is actually the only nearby town really and it isn’t very big (especially in the off-season). That meant low light pollution, giving us fantastic views of a clear night (but not morning) sky with a new moon. Again, photo by Matt.

Cadillac Mountain

This one is from Mount Blue in Mount Blue State Park. Again, Matt took the photo (my camera is just too bulky sometimes). This was my second winter hike (before Cadillac). We pretty much couldn’t have asked for a better day. Fresh, deep snow to make it a challenge, but not obscenely cold (except in the wind of the summit). And perfect sunshine all day.

Mount Blue

This final one is from the 100 Mile Wilderness, one of the toughest parts of the Appalachian Trail. I have no idea what mountain I was on nor what mountain I photographed. I do know that I at least have the excuse of trying to photograph an eagle here, hence the crooked horizon. This was taken right after the rainiest, wettest, perhaps most miserable day of my life. It was nothing but glory to have this much sunshine.

100 Mile Wilderness

Neglected point

One point I neglected about Tiktaalik is that its ability to walk on land was limited. Its limbs wouldn’t have been able to support it terribly well to do terribly much. Its life was likely spent more in the water than on land.

Coupled with the recent discovery of tetrapod footprints in a marine environment, the way to think of all this is that tetrapods did evolve at least 400 million years ago, but there were clearly still viable alternative lifestyles to go alongside fully terrestrial life (and still are). Nothing demands evolution be perfectly linear. (Neanderthals lived at the same time as our direct ancestors as recently as 30,000 years ago.) A further important fact is that while probably 90% or so of all fossils come from the ocean, they tend to be from the more settled sediments, i.e., not the shoreline, the evident habitat of these newly discovered tetrapods. That indicates a possible sampling bias. Just looking at Tiktaalik, it’s clear that its freshwater habitat lent itself to preserving fossils – aside from the area being targeted for its fossilizing properties, there were several examples extracted from the site.

Thought of the day

Christians lie about homosexuality.

So do most other religions, conservatives, and secular bigots, but Christians seem to have the market cornered.