Sunday, September 28, 2008

Can you tell which is which?

Chris Rock on David Letterman

Click here for more.

Henry Kissinger

I was more than a little surprised to hear Henry Kissinger's name praised so often at the debate and during the past few days. Have we forgotten his role in Watergate? In supporting nearly every fascist and communist dictator of the last century? In his disastrous involvement in the Vietnam War? It's amazing to me how everything in America can eventually be forgotten, even if our leaders continue the same path. It's like giving Elliot Spitzer his old job back as the Harvey Dent of New York corruption.

Here is an article that gives some perspective on this issue, concluding that Kissinger is neither hawk nor dove, but vulture, which I would agree with if of weren't such an insult to the vulture.

And here are a couple more editorials that do a pretty good job of summing up my feelings about the debate. Watching the backflips, cartwheels and handsprings that McCain has been doing over the past couple of weeks is entertaining, and would just be funny if it didn't remind me so much of Karl Rove.

Sound but No Fury

McCain's Suspension Bridge to Nowhere

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The West Wing

A terrific article that is a collaboration between Maureen Dowd of the NY Times and Aaron Sorkin, who created and wrote The West Wing. The article imagines a meeting between Barack Obama and The West Wing's president, Jed Bartlett.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Front Fell Off

Church of England Apologizes to Darwin

Here's a great article in which the Church of England apologizes to Darwin, having written an essay called "Good Religion Needs Good Science." Amen to that. Of course, good science may need good religion too (in my opinion), but I doubt if that realization will come any time soon.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

How we got in this mess.

If you are wondering why the US is in such a huge financial mess right now, what happened with Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers, AIG, and what will be happening with other banks and companies that are going to be closing soon, and why America, which has traditionally been seen as a beacon of stability in the financial markets now no longer holds that reputation, then you might want to listen to this radio show, which examines the origins of this financial whirlpool we seem to be caught in. It's an entertaining and often shocking story of greed gone wild.

Here's the original version from This American Life, and here's a shorter version that aired on All Things Considered.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

McCain’s Health Plan

This article examines some elements of McCain's health plan that have gone unnoticed by most people because of all the attention being paid to Sarah Palin. The health plan treats employer paid health plans as income that employees would pay taxes on. In addition, 20 million Americans would no longer have employer paid health insurance. McCain would also offer a tax credit to help pay for health insurance, but it doesn't look like enough to me considering how much insurance is now. Regardless of how you feel about the proposals, I think this deserves more attention and debate since it is such a sea change in terms of how we handle this important issue.

BBC NEWS | UK | Education | 'Creationism' biologist quits job

I find this whole debate so mind boggling. Here is a science teacher castigated for saying that teachers should address the issue of creationism if it is brought up by a student. Sure, creationism doesn't hold up as science (Jesus taught by parables - why do we insist on trying to apply scientific principles to a series of metaphors?), but not addressing a student's curiosity on a genuine and considerate level is just rotten teaching. I also don't understand the conflict. Metaphors and parables are not less true than science - they are just less factual. Metaphors and parables can actually point to much deeper truths than fact, and science really can't prove truth anyway. They are two different domains. But what surprises me is the vehemence with which scientists attack the creationism argument. What is there to be so afraid of when the facts are on your side?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Electoral Map

Here's a great resource if you're wondering how to cut through all the fogginess about this election.  It's an electoral map that will let you enter projections.  For instance, if you click on "2008 Swing States" under Select a Starting View, then you can see which states seem undecided.  You can then click once to turn them Republican and twice to turn it Democrat.  When fewer than 12 states remain, it will give probabilities below the map - such as the probability of whether in that scenario, either candidate can win, and the different scenarios needed to win by each candidate.

The problem with most polls coming out now is that they are general opinion polls.  Since we have an electoral college, those opinion polls really don't mean anything.  It's actually much more difficult for McCain to beat Obama than it appears in the press, especially considering that the latest poll puts Obama ahead in Pennsylvania and Ohio, while putting McCain ahead in Florida.  If they win those 3 states in that way, then the likelihood that McCain can win shrinks to 7%.

I keep looking everywhere I can to find tools that help cut through the fog...

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Our Amazing Congress

"Suppose you were an idiot. Now suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself."
-Mark Twain

The best Daily Show ever

They really outdid themselves on this episode. Their use of juxtaposition is nothing short of breathtaking. Each of the segments is worth watching. Truly amazing.

John McCain's Acceptance Speech

The Reformed Maverick

Small Town Values

The Top 10 Mad Scientists

I love mad scientists. This brief Top 10 does a good job of
highlighting how diverse the curiosity of a true mad scientist can be.
Translating Mayan hieroglyphics, sailing with no wind, learning
Sanskrit, inventing helicopters 500 years before the technology was
available - their imaginations are on fire.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Daily Show Response to the Republican Convention

Jon Stewart on the reactions to Sarah Palin.

Some pretty great stuff on the rest of the show, which you can find here.

And here's one more clip about the other Republicans, just for good measure. The best part starts at 3 minutes.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Palin Start in Alaska - Not Politics as Usual -

All the hoopla about Sarah Palin is sort of tough to sort through. The media has gone into a tail spin over it, either looking to dig up controversy or fall over themselves fawning on her. It's a bit

This article from the NY Times is the first sort of clear headed analysis I've seen. Some intriguing insights both positive and negative about her actual record.