The Quantum Pontiff

Politics Friday: What a Bore

What with the U.S. presidential election dominating the news, could you ask for anything more this Friday than more politics blogging? Pain below the fold.

  • Gordon Watts asks a good question about the zeroing out of funding for the ITER. Treaties? We ain’t got no treaties. We don’t need no treaties! I don’t have to show you any stinkin’ treaties!!”
  • With Huckabee (What is Huck? Huck be a creationist and opponent of the separation of church and state) winning Iowa, I’m sure you’ll be hearing for commentary about the “FairTax” (WAR IS PEACE!) If I’m taxed 30 cents on a dollar is that a 30 percent tax or a 23 percent tax? See how many times you can spot the “23 percent tax” without the explanation of whether that is exclusive or inclusive? BTW I’d love to see a survey about how many people know the difference.
  • My baseline is 56 percent as of 2004. That is I take 56 percent of Republicans to be bat shit crazy enough to vote for Alan Keyes in the 2004 Illinois Senate race (for those who don’t recall, Keyes ran against Obama having never lived in Illinois and when he was confronted with his previous criticism about Hillary Clinton moving to New York to run for her Senate position, Keyes declared that “You are doing what you believe to be required by your respect for God’s will, and I think that that’s what I’m doing in Illinois.” He also called Mary Cheney a hedonist and said that Jesus wouldn’t vote for his opponent. The later I kind of agree with considering the guy’s been dead for a few thousand years. Insert joke about Republican’s and dead voters here.) So if Huckabee got 34 percent of the Keyes vote, where did the remaining 22 percent go? Does this make me more or less optimistic about the country?
  • Want to know why the U.S. government’s failure to adequately fund its science and technology research is such a bummer? Read Ed Lazowska’s 2004 testimony on the ecosystem of billion dollar industries whose very existence owes a large debt to long term basic science and technology funding. (Via the Computing Research Policy Blog)


  1. #1 Joe Renes
    January 4, 2008

    geez, I guess I never thought of quoting the “tax rate” as a fraction of the total (price + tax). Here in Germany there’s a 19% (!) value-added tax on nearly everything, but at least they don’t claim it’s a 16% tax. Which they easily could, since the retail amount already includes tax.

  2. #2 Jonathan Vos Post
    January 5, 2008

    We shift from Theomathematics and Theophysics to Theopolitics.

    Never mind “for whom would Jesus vote?”

    Question 1 is: who would vote for Jesus?

    Question 2 is, could Jesus be elected President of the United States?

    He was nor born in the USA, but (as was the case for Alexander Hamilton) he could be grandfathered in as having been born before the key date in that exception. If he showed up (since his stay as reported by missionary Romney) he’d risk being arrested as an illegal immigrant, profiled for long hair and Middle Eastern look.

    No, the key question is whether he was over 35. Not sure that time from date of death until second coming should be added. I consider that a sabattical.

    Jesus’ Age at Death

    Q: How old was Jesus when he died?

    Scholars debate the exact time of Jesus’ birth, so fixing His age at death is difficult. Estimates vary from 33 to 38, with some even going as high as forty years. The Bible is not specific, but using the background historical record of who was in office at different times in His life leads most to assume an age of between 30 and 35 years when He was baptized and began His ministry. This is in line with the age of religious maturity observed by many of the Jews. Among them, no one would be accepted as a rabbi before his thirtieth year.

    In parts of Judaism, certain Scriptures were not supposed to be read by anyone younger than thirty, thus keeping one from becoming a rabbi until he reached that age. These books were sometimes referred to ones requiring the washing of hands. Some Jewish leaders taught that their contents might lead one to ritual uncleanness or be a burden on their faith. Because of its somewhat erotic content, the Song of Songs was one of these. Many moderns are surprised to find that Ezekiel was also one of the proscribed books for younger Jewish readers. This was for several reasons, including both God’s Glory abruptly withdrawing from his holy city, Jerusalem, and specific action prophecies commanded by the Lord for Ezekiel which were counter to Levitical law.

    While I think it quite possible that He was a few years older, tradition remains that Jesus was thirty-three years old when He died. Vestiges of this thought remain among the worship practices in parts of Christianity. For example, the traditional cassock worn in the Roman Catholic Church often has 33 buttons and I’ve read encouragements for priests to meditate and pray upon Christ’s Passion as they fastened these buttons. Also, some churches, including my own congregation, ring their bells thirty-three times before the start of the service as a reminder that it is because of “Christ and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2)” that we gather. I’ve also discovered that some ancient monastic practices, such as patterns of prayer, are based upon a cycle of 33 occurrences.

  3. #3 Paul B.
    January 6, 2008


    If you have been watching the IA results *that* closely, what would be your impresson of Dr. Paul?

    Just kidding, you know…

    Paul B.

  4. #4 Dave Bacon
    January 6, 2008

    Unfortunately I was forced to watch the IA results closely. Can someone explain to me what is representative about our primary election system?

    As for Dr. Paul, I am forced to conclude by watching him, once more, that very few Doctors are actually scientists 😉

  5. #5 Ian Durham
    January 6, 2008

    I was at the Republican debate last night (it was a lottery system for faculty tickets). I disagree about Ron Paul, however. While I do not agree with all his positions, see my comments about last night’s debate on my blog:

  6. #6 Michael Bacon
    January 7, 2008


    On your Blog you wrote: “[i]n any case, in a morning recap of last night?s debate MSNBC referred to Paul’s campaign as a “quixotic quest,” conveniently ignoring the facts that a) he beat Rudy in Iowa and b) he polled well enough to get invited to this debate.”

    Really? You don’t think it’s a quixotic quest? That is, you think he has a realistic chance of actually winning (as opposed to merely representing some political and policy positions that you find attractive)?

    I do hope that it’s the later.

  7. #7 JohnQPublic
    January 7, 2008

    The problem with Ron Paul from an is-he-electable standpoint is he will not play the fear of Islam card. He may be right, I’m not sure, but more than any of his Libertarian views the fact that he is not paranoid enough to protect us is what undermines his campaign. It seems that on both sides you must buy into the radical Islam struggle to get anywhere.

  8. #8 Gordon Watts
    January 8, 2008

    I have heard that there is a way to shuffle cash around without violating the ITER treaty. But I’ve not been able to get that from someone in ITER — that group has been very quiet…

  9. #9 Michael Bacon
    January 8, 2008

    JohnQPublic wrote: “[t]he problem with Ron Paul from an is-he-electable standpoint is he will not play the fear of Islam card.”

    Well, in the current climate this will probably make him look soft on “security” issues and as a result would hurt his chances to get elected. However, even if he had a more “nuanced” position on the threat from radical Islam, I seriously doubt if it would substantially boost his chances.

    I suspect that given the ideological make up of its electorate, New Hampshire will be the high water mark for Paul. He has many ardent supports and has raised a good deal of money on the Internet, but I don’t see any other State where he can make a respectable showing. Of course, in some non-zero proportion of universes, he will be the nominee, so I guess it just depends on how typical we happen to be 🙂

  10. #10 Dave Bacon
    January 8, 2008

    Why I’d never vote for Ron Paul: “Neither party in Washington can fathom that millions and millions of Americans simply don’t want their tax dollars spent on government research of any kind.”

  11. #11 Michael Bacon
    January 8, 2008


    You gotta love what comes out during elections. Here’s the real Ron Paul — perhaps one can find a couple of other reasons, apart from his view of science funding, not to vote for him.

    The full story is in the New Republic on-line today at:

    A list of the quotes from his publications (with the publications cited) can be found at:

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