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Category archives for Politics

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…

A group of scientists have done the right thing: they authored an environmental report, and are now publicizing the changes the Texas state administration tried to impose on it. This is going to backfire on the politicians: rather than hiding away the science that conflicts with their ideology, the censorship is highlighting the corruption and…

Last chance for Troy Davis

The state of Georgia is planning to execute a man for murder tomorrow, on the basis of a very shaky case in which most of the witnesses have recanted their testimony, and who have said the police pressured them into their initial accusations. I can’t make any judgments on whether he is guilty or innocent…

There was another Republican debate (I skipped it; there are limits to the horrors I can endure), and apparently, many people think Michele Bachmann trumped Rick Perry by jumping on his ‘liberal’ endorsement of using the HPV vaccine to prevent cancers in women. Bachmann ranted about the federal government forcing innocent little girls to get…

Laugh at the Libertarian

There’s a reason I really despise Libertarianism…but still find them hilariously twisted. Here’s a case of a columnist defending the science of Rick Perry. You know that evolution stuff? It’s not that important. Creationism is a waste of time and it makes Perry look “unsophisticated”…but so what? There’s a real problem here, and it is…