Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

Science, for Women and Guy(s)

August 28, 2012

Mike Huckabee describes the political debate I want to see.

August 26, 2012

“This could be a Mount Carmel moment. You know, you bring your gods. We’ll bring ours. We’ll see whose God answers the prayers and brings fire from heaven. That’s kind of where I’m praying: that there will be fire from heaven, and we’ll see it clearly, and everyone else will too.”

Mike Huckabee, rallying Southern Baptists to support Representative Todd Akin (R-MO) in his campaign.

This is very interesting to me even aside from the implication that “good Christians” should believe like Romney, Ryan, or Akin – and the Republican Party Platform – that abortion should never be legal, and like Akin and Romney that rape somehow isn’t rape if it results in pregnancy.

I mean, look at that quote: I am sold. I want to have these charlatans who claim to know the mind of god stand before the world and have a miracle competition. As the judges we can get The Amazing Randi, Penn and Teller and any other stage magicians willing to watch for fraud. To enter the competition, contracts must be signed saying that anybody who tries but can’t perform a miracle has to tithe to the National Center for Science Education for the rest of their lives.

Anybody who actually performs a miracle before all the world suddenly has a much greater reach and audience.

I can see no possible downside… except to charlatans.


Mike Huckabee quote found through Political Wire.

Is it news if it’s not reported?

August 24, 2012




Since corporate profits keep going up- showing that corporations are benefiting from the many services that our government offers- the fact that corporate tax revenue is decreasing seems relevant and necessary to our political discussions.

Does the very idea of those discussions happening strike anyone else as extremely unlikely?

Apparently so. (Note the third panel especially)


Chart found through Wonkwire. Comic through Political Irony.

Military vs. Space: why the Mars Rover is a great deal.

August 6, 2012

The United States military budget was 711 billion dollars for 2011, more than the next 5 highest military budgets combined. Some of the projects that Congress supports are things the Pentagon doesn’t want. Such as 3 billion dollars for refurbishing tanks that the Pentagon plans to replace anyway: with a model that doesn’t have a glaring weakness to IEDs. Or the drones and ships that Congress is forcing on the Pentagon to the tune of 4 billion dollars.

And yet, the 2.5 billion dollars spent on Curiosity is described as “budget busting.” In contrast to the 711 billion dollars in military spending, the entire 18.4 billion dollar NASA budget seems downright piddling. If the entire United States Federal budget for 2011 was represented by a dollar, the NASA portion would be about half of a penny. And the rate of return? A study by the Midwest Research Institute concluded that “the $25 billion in 1958 dollars spent on civilian space R & D during the 1958-1969 period has returned $52 billion through 1971 — and will continue to produce pay offs through 1987, at which time the total pay off will have been $181 billion.”

Maybe the reason war has a reputation for being so good for scientific advancement and the economy is because during wars is when governments are willing to spend money on research and development. Maybe if we took that knowledge and used it for R&D for things other than weapons, we could advance without blowing each other up. After all, you can’t tell me that this didn’t require advances in our engineering:

More than the present engineering challenges though, space exploration is inspiring. Some of the kids who are in elementary school today, who stayed up late last night, the kids who are writing reports about the Mars Rover, who are going to be naming their next pet Curiosity… those are the kids who will go into science and engineering to follow their newly ignited passion. When we make advances into space… the excitement, the wonder, the joy of discovery creates the next generation of explorers.

And for those of you who think that international affairs are more important than space exploration, consider how much smoother diplomacy would go if these were the mental images associated with Americans:

NASA’s Curiosity rover and its parachute as seen by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

People watching the Curiosity landing from Times Square.

…rather than this:

Tell you what: If you are really paranoid, we could reduce our military by 450 billion per year and still be the number one military spender on the planet – and have 450 billion per year to put into science, education and infrastructure and to eliminate the deficit.

To follow Curiosity’s progress, here is its Twitter feed.

(Edited to correct a “m” to a “b” for one of those “illions.”)

Americans should be led, not driven by fear.

July 26, 2012

We have some serious issues in the United States:

We are embracing majority rule while turning our backs on individual rights.

We are complacent in the status quo and frightened of the other.

Our media and culture is trained to ignore the harm done by familiar institutions, while focusing on the harms of unfamiliar institutions.

We are told that immigrants will take our jobs – despite economics telling us immigration is a net good and emigration the net harm- and we are told that established multinational chains wouldn’t do anything to harm us because of the invisible hand of the market.

We are willing to give up our rights of privacy and freedom from bodily search for the sake of – not security – but the mere illusion of security.

We have public monies going to prop up a thousand intellectually bankrupt dogmas, and schools sacrificing scientific understanding in our children to the shrine of “teaching the controversy”: a controversy which only exists in culture, not in scientific fields.

We have the middle class and small businesses taking on a disproportionate share of taxes, while the ultra rich and mega corporations keep their money in tax havens and get the lion’s share of subsidies and services. And this is cheered on by those who cannot face the fact that they are more likely to get hit by lightening twice than to ever win that lottery which would still not make them of the 1%.

The American Dream still exists, but few can see it for fear.

Vacation, Day 8: Our future, the stars

July 22, 2012

To the planets, to the stars!

Vacation, Day 7: A change of scale

July 21, 2012

Vacation, Day 6: Children of Africa

July 20, 2012

Vacation, Day 5: The brain

July 19, 2012

How far we have risen, to know how far we have risen.

Vacation, Day 4: The greatest show on earth

July 18, 2012