Today Texas A&M was a bit of a madhouse. Huge crowds, hundreds of police, unseasonably-suited and grim-faced men with mirrored sunglasses, unmarked helicopters circling overhead, TV cameras circling below, and completely borked traffic.
Why? Not just one but two Presidents of the United States are making speeches this afternoon. Obviously most of the fuss is about President Obama, but George H.W. Bush is there as well since he’s the one putting on this particular shindig. It’s is a non-partisan service-oriented civic pride sort of thing. I’d like to see them it but it’s an invitation-only event and only a few hundred students and faculty were invited.
The vast majority of the crowd was of the interested bystander variety. Non-protesters outnumbered protesters at least 20:1 by my unscientific estimate, and the protesters themselves were not so unevenly split between pro and con with a few surrealist fauxtesters (“Toy Story 2 Was Ok!”, “I like turtles!”) thrown in for good measure. Everyone I saw was well-behaved on both sides. The uninformed reader might have suspected that A&M is overwhelmingly conservative (Hey, I’m a proud and unrepentant reactionary and I go there), but in fact it’s a very typical flagship state university with a wide and fairly representative variety of student politics. There was certainly no shortage of Obama fans.
News photos show a few crazies, but in my N>5000ish sample I didn’t see any. Presumably throngs of non-noteworthy people behind rope lines don’t sell papers.
As for Science, well, it marched on unimpeded. I went to class, analyzed some data, and did two presentations for my group about the progress of our new experiment. Then I went home. Not as exciting as our President’s day, but I like it that way.