Politics

Pharyngula

Category archives for Politics

Our illness is their profit

Have you ever walked around an 19th century (or earlier) graveyard? It gives you a depressing snapshot of the old reality: so many young women dead in childbirth, so many children reaped by diseases. We’ve been fortunate, we residents of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, that so many of those lethal conditions are…

Big Charity

It must be tough running a charity. You’ve got a cause you care deeply about, and you’re constantly juggling the game of having to spend money (in administration, advertising, staff) to raise money (for the cause!), and worse, of sometimes having to compromise to achieve your goals — you sometimes have to work with your…

The miseducation committee of the Indiana legislature recently approved a bill to allow the teaching of creationism in the schools, and now the Indianapolis newspaper approves, with the usual tepid and illegitimate arguments. Much would depend on how teachers handle the origins of life in a biology or science class. No, it doesn’t. A bill…

Indiana fails

Indiana is preparing to promote creationism in their science classrooms. A legislative committee has advanced a bill that endorses creationism and “alternative theories” to the vote of the full senate. So it’s not a law yet, but it’s advancing down the path. Here’s the horrifying part: it was approved 8:2 by the Republican-controlled Senate Education…

Elsevier = Evil

Along with SOPA and PIPA, our government is contemplating another acronym with deplorable consequences for the free dissemination of information: RWA, the Research Works Act. This is a bill to, it says, “ensure the continued publication and integrity of peer-reviewed research works by the private sector”, where the important phrase is “private sector” — it’s…

Well, aren’t we an optimistic bunch?

First we had Steven Pinker writing about The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, with the thesis that we’re getting more peaceful over time. Now John Horgan has declared the potential for The End of War — that we have the ability to stop fighting and cooperate. Horgan makes the point that…

I have really been looking forward to seeing David Attenborough’s latest, Frozen Planet, here in the US. I’ve seen brief snippets of the show on youtube, and like all of these big BBC nature productions, I’m sure it’s stunning. And then I hear that the Discovery Channel has bought the rights! Hooray! But wait, experience…

Minnesota tuition rates have also been skyrocketing. My salary has been creeping upward at single digit percentage rates — low single digits, and we also had a freeze for a few years — and also, we haven’t been hiring swarms of new faculty, but only replacing retiring faculty (which, by the way, immediately reduces salary…

I’ve heard of the Scoville scale, which measures the potency of spicy peppers. Those boring green bell peppers get a 0; habaneros get a score of 350,000. The stuff those UC Davis police officers so casually hosed into the faces of peacefully demonstrating students? between 2,000,000 and 5,300,000 Scoville units. But we’ve taken to calling…

You must watch this episode of the Daily Show — it’s all about science. Lisa Randall is on it plugging her new book, Knocking on Heaven’s Door (she actually doesn’t get to say much about it, but I’ve ordered it for my iPad anyway — I know what I’ll be reading on the plane to…