Tag Archives: Liberal Media

Dandelion Sex, Or The Lack Thereof

Dandelion (From Wikipedia)

Dandelion (From Wikipedia)

I’ve just finished reading Frogs, Flies, & Dandelions: the making of species by biologist Menno Schilthuizen –an engaging and informative book on species formation. Here’s a little taste of what I learned; it illustrates that genetics isn’t perfect, and evolution is beautifully adaptive.

Historically, the common dandelion, that ubiquitous and irritating weed found in gardens and fields throughout North America and Europe, has been a puzzle to botanists. For a long time, no one was sure how many species existed. In the 1700’s, Carolus Linnaeus said only one; in the 20th century, Scandinavian botanists claimed more than two-thousands existed. But with DNA testing, came the answer. Many dandelions are, in fact, clones. In place of normal sexual reproduction with two sets of chromosomes being divided into sex cells, the ovules and pollen, some dandelions reproduce by parthenogenesis, or virgin birth, because at one point in their history they mutated into having three sets of chromosomes, a number which is sexually indivisible. The mutant dandelions instead produce unfertilized –but still viable– seeds, each with a triple set of chromosomes –in other words, a clone.

What’s most illuminating is that the same mutation has popped up several times. So there are several strains with triple chromosomes, all sexually isolated from one another because they can only reproduce by cloning themselves. But it gets better; the clones still produce pollen, except it is completely sterile. Only in the light of evolution does this sordid asexual tale make sense. Why waste the time and energy producing “irregular pollen” if it’s never going to be used? Perhaps god takes a sadistic pleasure in irritating people’s allergies. Or he’s invested heavily in big pharmaceuticals. If so, I hope he had Bernie Madoff sitting on his nest egg.

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Filed under Biology, Evolution, Science

The Presidential Election Is Over, Obama Won

The best method of grabbing people’s attention – and selling more advertising – is dramatically covering daily events in a simplistic manner, which is what the news media does every day. People don’t like having things explained to them in detail. Example, I never hear reporters actually mention more than one poll at a time. They typically shove the most dramatic poll in our faces, the one with the largest spread. And they ignore the mass of polls – the bigger picture – which would give us the most accurate measurement of what’s actually going on.

Check out the electoral map of the presidential election at RealClearPolitics. Some media people give the map a superficial glance and claim McCain has the advantage or that Obama and McCain are tied. But if we look at the list of polls for each state, and count how many polls Obama and McCain actually won we see a different picture emerge. (Averaging can be deceptive; a modal analysis is often better).

In the above video, the commentator asks what if McCain were to win Michigan. But he doesn’t delve into the details of the Michigan polls. Out of 30 polls McCain barely wins 7. So, is it even a realistic scenario to begin with? I don’t even see why the media keeps defining Michigan as a battleground state. Michigan is going to Obama.

From the mode of the state polls Obama is also likely to win Colorado and New Mexico. If the solid blue states stay blue, then Obama has the advantage and will win the election with 273 electoral votes. At least this is my prediction. Don’t forget to vote.

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Filed under Politics