Jan 162015
 

It’s an upbeat day for science / environmental news. I started my day reading the cover of the New York Times as I waited in line for my coffee this morning.

Ocean Life Faces Mass Extinction, Broad Study Says

So that’s a little light reading.

Followed by the following two posts from the Washington Post…

It’s Official: 2014 was the hottest year in recorded history

and

Scientists react to warmest year: 2014 underscores ‘undeniable fact’ of human caused climate change

So, thanks for that, everyone who doesn’t give a shit, actively works against any measure for mitigating this looming disaster or just has their head in the sand (or other places where the sun doesn’t shine). Unfortunately, that includes my own parents. Unbelievable.

May 052008
 

Is that title too long to catch on? My morning troll through news feeds brought up two things that I think are somewhat related and that I want to highlight.

Today is the 83rd anniversary of the day that John Scopes was arrested in Dayton, TN for teaching Darwin’s theory of evolution to his high school biology class. Until roughly 8 years ago, I would’ve told you that we’d made significant progress since that day and that we were still making progress. Now, in 2008, I’d say that we’ve backslid because of a culture of ignorance, a president who shows no intellectual curiosity whatsoever, stories like this. and movies like this. 83 years later, it’s not safe to take a deep breath. We still have to fight against ignorance.

Also in the news today, Mildred Loving has died. She and her husband, Richard, were the couple behind the 1967 Supreme Court case that overturned many state laws banning mixed race marriages. Until then, it would’ve been illegal for my wife and I to get married in Texas and fifteen other states. My parents were married that year and my wife’s parents were married two years later. My parents were not mixed race, while my wife’s were. My in-laws encountered a lot of resistance at the time that they were married though they were in Minnesota, a state that never had any restrictions on interracial marriage. Loving Day is coming up on June 12. It’s amazing that only 40 years have passed since then, only a bit longer than my own lifetime. Thankfully, we haven’t backslid here as far as I can tell, but it’s still important to remember things like this, especially in light of the same-sex marriage debate that rages today.

I suppose it’s not surprising that the same people who want to put science back in 1925 also want to perpetuate the same ignorance with same sex marriages that existed in 1967 for mixed race marriages. Maybe McCain should just promise his constituents a time machine and be done with it.

Feb 052008
 

So, the biggest day for primaries coincides with Mardi Gras. I guess this has happened before, but I just like saying “Super Fat Tuesday”.

I’m obviously for Obama. I think he’ll do well enough to keep in the race today. I posted the letter from GYWO’s David Rees yesterday. I’ve got several video links today, so you don’t even have to do much reading.

The Will.i.am, celebrity-studded, Yes We Can video – this is adapted from Obama’s New Hampshire Primary speech

Lawrence Lessig’s 20 minutes on why he’s for Obama and not Clinton. Lessing is a Stanford law professor and is very tech savvy with an amazing record on copyright. He’s also got a personal story that I’ve always connected with, so I give his opinion a lot of weight. I think the first 3/4 is right on. I do think Lessig overstates the impact of Obama’s election on peace at the end of the video.

Here’s the Lorna Brett Howard video referred to by Lessig’s video on why she switched from Clinton to Obama.

And if you’re not reading Robert Reich’s blog, you should start.

Ok, one more that I forgot, Questlove from The Roots reminds us of some things that we shouldn’t forget.

[tags]obama, clinton, lessig, yeswecan, lornabretthoward, switch, videos, election, primaries, democrats, questlove[/tags]

Jan 302008
 

Stop the Spying!

Let’s imagine a situation where I get to ask a town hall forum-type question of my two current senators, John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison. Two Republican senators who have pretty much rubber stamped everything their fellow Republican Texan President has done in the White House for the past 7 years. Two senators who are standing with the President on the current FISA bill and against the American people. I’d ask them,

“Senators, I’d just like to ask you if you’re going to treat the next President of the United States in the same way that you’ve treated the current one? Presumably, you’re ok with the next President and the one after asserting ‘unitary executive’, issuing dozens of signing statements in which he or she decides to selectively ignore sections of bills that have been passed by the legislature and signed into law? Presumably, you’re ok with getting rid of a system of checks and balances that has served us well over the past 232 years? You’d prefer to let a President and his administration run the country on their own without any input from the people or their elected representatives? Because that’s what you’ve done for the last 7 years and that’s what you’re doing right now.”

Dec 212007
 

Two things cropped up today and I think they tie together nicely. I’ve got plenty of immediate concerns to worry about, but these are two “big picture” items.

First, Sean, linked I Am Not Afraid from Downsize DC this morning. I completely agree that the Bush administration and the GOP in particular have used fear of another terrorist attack as the reasoning for doing all sorts of ill-advised, bone-headed and criminal things over the past 6 years. However, I don’t want to blindly endorse another push to downsize the government. There’s no doubt that bureaucracies are bloated with waste, but we can’t use the method employed by the current administration to kill it off, namely incompetence and privatization. I’m still baffled as to how I’m drawn into left and right, us and them arguments with friends and co-workers whose viewpoints I have a lot more in common with than somebody like George W. Bush. We’re arguing with the wrong people and about the wrong things.

The second, somewhat related, news item is the death of Nataline Sarkisyan. Jason Calacanis is all over this with posts to his own blog and Mahalo. Speaking of bloated bureaucracies, if it turns out that hers was a legitimate case for a transplant, one was available and she died because of wrangling from Cigna, then this case will be a rallying cry for everyone who’s ever had to deal with the crap that health insurance companies can dish out. This is exactly the sort of thing that illustrates how all of the free market whackjobs need to STFU. Some things can’t be evaluated on their profit potential and if that’s the sole criterion, then you end up with a dead 17-year-old who could and should have been saved. How does fear play into this? I fear that one day; I might have to face a similar situation with my own children.

[tags]fear, terrorism, healthcare, natalinesarkisyan, bureaucracy, policy, failed[/tags]

Dec 062007
 

Keith Olbermann goes off on GW. I know it’s for theatrics and that Olbermann has carved a niche for himself as the anti-O’Reilly, but this quote is too good not to repeat:

A bright man, or an honest man, would have realized no later than the McConnell briefing that the only true danger about Iran was the damage that could be done by an unhinged, irrational Chicken Little of a president, shooting his mouth off, backed up by only his own hysteria and his own delusions of omniscience.

I’d laugh harder if it didn’t scare me so much.

Dec 032007
 

The subject pretty much sums it up. At the recommendation of the dental hygienists at our pediatric dental office, we bought Crest Pro Health Rinse for our kids, especially the older one, who got a poor score on the last visit. True to form, The Boy hasn’t been very good about using it, but The La has been very conscientious, using it every night for the past month or so. This past week, we noticed brown staining near the gums on several of her teeth. It looks terrible and since I’m the one who typically brushes her teeth, I felt really bad and started to worry about what was going wrong.

Well, The Wife googled about teeth staining and, lo and behold, there’s tons of comments on several sites about Crest Pro Health staining people’s teeth brown and causing some to lose their sense of taste, including an Amazon product page. I also found this snarky, but spot on editorial and this article.

I e-mailed Proctor and Gamble this morning and they responded within an hour or two with this message:

Thanks for contacting us, Tim.

I’m sorry about your daughter’s recent experience while using Crest Pro Health Rinse. Some people who use an antimicrobial product such as Crest Pro Health, may experience some tooth discoloration. This is true especially among those people who experience a lot of tartar. Unlike stains due to smoking or beverages which can discolor the entire tooth, antimicrobial tooth discoloration can occur in hard to brush areas like between the teeth and at the gumline. This type of staining is only temporary and on the surface of the tooth. This temporary tooth staining can be reduced or eliminated by using a power brush and a tartar control or whitening toothpaste. I’m sending you some free coupons for other Crest products. Watch for my postal reply to arrive within 2-3 weeks.

Meanwhile, to help us understand your daughter’s experience, we would like to request some additional information. We will share your information with our Health and Safety Team who will follow-up with you regarding your dental expenses.

For answers to medical questions, we recommend you speak with your dentist who will be able to give you the best advice.

Thanks again for getting in touch.

Amy
Crest Team

I love how the main thrust of their response is to buy more of their products and that they readily acknowledge that Crest Pro Health will stain your teeth brown. Of course, if they did The Right Thing™ and warned you about it on the bottle, they’d lose sales, so there’s no chance of them doing that. I contacted our dentist’s office and the person that I spoke with on the phone hadn’t heard of the brown staining problem. We’ve already got an appointment for a regular cleaning next Wednesday, so I’ll report back with what they say. I’m also going to add photos to this post tonight.

Sep 112007
 

This is the sixth year that my mother has had to share her birthday with that favorite GOP talking point. I wonder if she’ll ever get it back. I’m not going to post much because I think I covered it pretty well last year.

Six years later and we’re still dealing with poor decisions made in the wake of the attack. Osama Bin Laden is still releasing videos. Here’s a proper remembrance from Tony Pierce.  DailyKos has a proper interpretation of Petraeus’s testimony yesterday (anybody surprised by the timing?). And the Rep for my old ‘hood in Queens tries to get to the point. Of course, his original question never gets answered.

[tags]9/11, anniversary, remembrance, tonypierce, dailykos, crooksandliars[/tags]

May 292007
 

In a press conference last week, Preznit Bush answered a question from David Gregory:

Q Mr. President, after the mistakes that have been made in this war, when you do as you did yesterday, where you raised two-year-old intelligence, talking about the threat posed by al Qaeda, it’s met with increasing skepticism. The majority in the public, a growing number of Republicans, appear not to trust you any longer to be able to carry out this policy successfully. Can you explain why you believe you’re still a credible messenger on the war?

THE PRESIDENT: I’m credible because I read the intelligence, David, and make it abundantly clear in plain terms that if we let up, we’ll be attacked. And I firmly believe that.

Look, this has been a long, difficult experience for the American people. I can assure you al Qaeda, who would like to attack us again, have got plenty of patience and persistence. And the question is, will we?

Yes, I talked about intelligence yesterday. I wanted to make sure the intelligence I laid out was credible, so we took our time. Somebody said, well, he’s trying to politicize the thing. If I was trying to politicize it, I’d have dropped it out before the 2006 elections. I believe I have an obligation to tell the truth to the American people as to the nature of the enemy. And it’s unpleasant for some. I fully recognize that after 9/11, in the calm here at home, relatively speaking, caused some to say, well, maybe we’re not at war. I know that’s a comfortable position to be in, but that’s not the truth.

Failure in Iraq will cause generations to suffer, in my judgment. Al Qaeda will be emboldened. They will say, yes, once again, we’ve driven the great soft America out of a part of the region. It will cause them to be able to recruit more. It will give them safe haven. They are a direct threat to the United States.

And I’m going to keep talking about it. That’s my job as the President, is to tell people the threats we face and what we’re doing about it. And what we’ve done about it is we’ve strengthened our homeland defenses, we’ve got new techniques that we use that enable us to better determine their motives and their plans and plots. We’re working with nations around the world to deal with these radicals and extremists. But they’re dangerous, and I can’t put it any more plainly they’re dangerous. And I can’t put it any more plainly to the American people and to them, we will stay on the offense.

It’s better to fight them there than here. And this concept about, well, maybe let’s just kind of just leave them alone and maybe they’ll be all right is naive. These people attacked us before we were in Iraq. They viciously attacked us before we were in Iraq, and they’ve been attacking ever since. They are a threat to your children, David, and whoever is in that Oval Office better understand it and take measures necessary to protect the American people.

Oh, where to start? First of all, yes, Al Qaeda is a threat to the U.S. . It is inevitable that someone claiming affiliation with them (whether it’s true or not) will succeed in pulling off another attack on U.S. soil and it doesn’t matter who’s the President when it happens. It’ll happen anyway. Whether or not I blame an administration for it kind of depends on the circumstances and magnitude of the attack and if I believe that we reasonably did all that we could to prevent it.

However, the argument that we’re fighting them over there so we don’t have to fight them here is a load of horseshit. On top of that, nobody is advocating that we leave Al Qaeda or any other terrorists who intend to attack us alone. To insinuate that anyone is advocating that is offensive, petty and wrong. The majority of the violence is sectarian violence that we unleashed by attacking a country that didn’t have any credible ties to Al Qaeda.

Here’s a few good links from over the weekend:

I’m currently reading The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, the 2007 NonFiction Pulitzer Prize winner from Austin-based author, Lawrence Wright. It’s reinforced for me even more that giving up the moral high ground with incidents like Abu Ghraib, Jose Padilla, etc. is one of the biggest mistakes we’ve made over the last 7 years. We’ve given Bin Laden way more power than he ever actually had and it’s the fear mongering of the Bush administration and it’s propaganda machine, Fox News, that’s to blame.