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Just some photos from an afternoon sitting on the Tampa Bay seawall in St Petersburg, FL.

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Fri May 01, 2015 at 12:00 PM PDT

May Day History: The Haymarket Riot

by Lenny Flank

Reprinting this diary from last year's May Day:

In the US, May Day used to be the internationally-recognized day of recognition and celebration for Labor and its struggles--at least until the Soviet Union ruined it with their idiotic military parades. But in honor of the true meaning of May Day, I offer this account of its history . . .

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Hold on to your tinfoil hats, folks----Obama's military is about to invade Texas and impose martial law. Or something.

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In 1831, four naval countries of Europe--Britain, France, Spain, and the then-independent kingdom of Sicily--argued over ownership of an island in the Mediterranean Sea. An island which lasted less than half a year before vanishing.

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Florida's tropical habitat makes it well-suited for reptiles and a population center for turtles and snakes. Most of our snakes are secretive and nocturnal, and despite their numbers are not often seen. One exception, however, is the Black Racer.

The Daily Bucket is a regular series from the Backyard Science group. Here we talk about Mother Nature in all her glory, especially the parts that live nearby. So let us know (as close as you are comfortable) where you are and what's going on around you. What's the weather like? Seen any interesting plants, bugs or critters? Are there birds at your feeders? Deer, foxes or peahens in your yard? Seen any cool rocks or geological features? Post your observations and notes here. And photos. We like lots of photos.  :)
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Wed Apr 29, 2015 at 12:00 PM PDT

The Voyage of the "Trieste"

by Lenny Flank

In January 1960, two ocean explorers named Don Walsh and Jacques Piccard took the manned submersible Trieste to the bottom of the Challenger Deep in the Marianas Trench, the deepest spot in the ocean. It was a feat that would not be duplicated for another half-century.

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Most Americans assume that Sally Ride, who flew on the Space Shuttle in 1983, was the first woman in space. But in reality, the first women had flown in orbit almost 20 years before--and she was a Soviet.

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During a recent walk, I decided to focus my attention on all the little things around me--the life that mostly goes unnoticed by everyone as they walk by...

The Daily Bucket is a regular series from the Backyard Science group. Here we talk about Mother Nature in all her glory, especially the parts that live nearby. So let us know (as close as you are comfortable) where you are and what's going on around you. What's the weather like? Seen any interesting plants, bugs or critters? Are there birds at your feeders? Deer, foxes or peahens in your yard? Seen any cool rocks or geological features? Post your observations and notes here. And photos. We like lots of photos.  :)
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Everyone is familiar with the story of Roswell, New Mexico, where an extraterrestrial
spaceship supposedly crashed and alien bodies were recovered and hidden by the US
Government. But if the flying saucer fans are to be believed, Roswell was not the first
time that alien space travelers died in a crash in the US. The first fatal extraterrestrial traffic accident happened in the tiny little village of Aurora, Texas, in 1897. And according to conspiracy fans, the dead alien pilot may still be there.

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Napoleon once famously said that an Army travels on its stomach. And it is thanks to Napoleon that the modern world has canned food. Troops, of course, grumbled about the quality of their rations anyway—just as they always have throughout history.

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Science Deniers come in all stripes. Some are right-wing, some are left-wing. Some are anti-government, some are anti-corporate. But if you look closely at all of the anti-science fringe, everyone from global warming deniers to anti-vaxxers to flying saucer fans to moon-landing-was-faked advocates to "alternative medicine" quacks to evolution-denying creationists to 9-11 Truthers to the anti-science element of the anti-GMO movement, we can see that they all use the same basic arguments and rhetorical trickery. These all have the same underlying purpose: to avoid any need for the Science Denier to actually present any evidence or data demonstrating that the scientific consensus is wrong and the Science Denier is right, since the Science Deniers do not actually have any such evidence or data.

So I present to you: "Science Denier Bingo". A board game that you can play any time you run into one of the Science Deniers who infest the Internet. Every time you see one of these anti-science rhetorical arguments, check off a box. Get five boxes in a row on your bingo card, and you win!!!

And in any "science debate", if you see anyone using these arguments and excuses, then you are listening to a Science Denier.

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Tue Apr 21, 2015 at 11:59 AM PDT

Pi-Ramesse: Egypt's Oddest Mystery

by Lenny Flank

During his reign, the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses II built an extraordinary number of monuments in his capitol city, Pi-Ramesse. In later centuries, Pi-Ramesse was abandoned and forgotten, lost in the sands of the desert for thousands of years. In modern times, the location of the lost capitol of Ramses II was eagerly sought by archaeologists. But when Pi-Ramesse was finally found, it was in the wrong place--a place that did not even exist at the time of Ramses.

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