Tuesday, November 4, 2008


I'm coming out of hibernation here!

After a long period of inactivity (caused mainly by my new job and a general lack of time), I'm planning to return to blogging sporadically. Today was too important to pass up. 


Tuesday, April 8, 2008

ScienceDebate 2008 update

I just received this update from the ScienceDebate 2008 team:

...after declining our invitation to debate science in Pennsylvania, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton yesterday agreed to attend "The Compassion Forum," a forum of "wide-ranging and probing discussions of policies related to moral issues." CNN will serve as the exclusive broadcaster of the "presidential-candidate forum on faith, values and other current issues" at Messiah College near Harrisburg, Pa., April 13 at 8 p.m. You can read more here.

Perhaps among the moral issues discussed should be whether they have a moral obligation to more fully engage on science issues, since the future viability of the planet may hang in the balance, for starters. Is there a larger moral imperative? How about the future economic health of the United States and the prosperity of its families? Science & engineering have driven half our economic growth since WWII, yet but 2010 if trends hold 90% of all scientists and engineers will live in Asia. Then there are the moral questions surrounding the health of our families with stem cell research, genomics, health insurance policy, and medical research. There's biodiversity loss and the health of the oceans and the morality of balancing destruction of species against human needs and expenses, there's population and development and clean energy research, there's food supply and GMO crops and educating children to compete in the new global economy and securing competitive jobs. Science issues are moral issues.

I would encourage you to write letters to the editor, emails to the campaigns, and blog postings pointing this out. And if you can, support our ongoing effort to turn this country around.

I second these comments - I find it incredibly disturbing that the candidates are more than happy to debate their relative positions on fairy tales, yet refuse to engage the public in meaningful debate on the future of the country's pre-eminent position in science and technology, which will be critical as we move deeper into the new century.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Sign me up!

I know this is an April Fool's joke, but a part of me would love for this to be real.Where do I sign up?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Stupid AND Poor.

Here's something interesting. Religious people, on average, are less wealthy than non-religious folks. Probably has something to do with them not being as smart as rational people, I would have thought. Let's face it, if you believe in a magical malevolent sky fairy, I'm sure it's pretty easy to be taken in by pretty much any old scam, I would think.

The study examines why conservative Protestants are dramatically overrepresented at the bottom of the U.S. wealth distribution and concludes that the cultural understandings that accompany conservative Protestant beliefs influence wealth ownership directly and indirectly.
But there is a reason for it, it seems. According to Lisa A. Keister, Duke professor of sociology and author of “Conservative Protestants and Wealth: How Religion Perpetuates Asset Poverty,” published in the March issue of the American Journal of Sociology,
The direct influence stems from conservative Protestants’ unique approach to finances -- in particular the belief that people are managers of God’s money and excess accumulation of wealth should be avoided.
In addition, conservative Protestants have tended to be less educated and have large families beginning at younger ages; and fewer conservative Protestant women work, all of which indirectly contribute to slow asset accumulation.
A couple of the reasons made me laugh out loud. Apparently, conservative christians tend to ask for
...Divine advice, advice from clergy and other religious advice about money and work...More conservative Protestants than other people surveyed are likely to pray about financial decisions, for example.
Clearly, it's not helping. Let's be real here, you can't trust your kid with a priest, so why would you trust him on money matters also? And, not surprisingly, low educational attainment is a factor too:
Education is one of the strongest predictors of wealth, and conservative Protestants have significantly less education than members of other faiths.
So there you go. Christians: Stupid and poor.

Late Easter....

I know it's a little late for Easter, but I thought since it was a festive time, I'd add a few quotes from George Carlin (courtesy of the "Orgy of George" desk calendar for last weekend):

I have as much authority as the pope, I just don't have as many people who believe it

Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and Billy Graham will lead a nationwide prayer vigil and ask God to do something about America's moral climate. God will promptly strike all three of them dead.
(Note - Jerry met his maker, or not, depending on your viewpoint, last year)

Friday, March 21, 2008

Religion at work.

According to CNN, religion in the workplace is on the rise:

Religion, like sex and politics, once was considered inappropriate watercooler talk. Not anymore. Prayer sessions, religious diversity groups and chaplains..., along with rabbis and imams, have become more common across corporate America in the past decade.
This makes no sense. Work is for, well, work and religion is for Sundays. Please keep the two separate. I may just have to start a pink unicorn or yellow bunny (appropriate for Easter) worship group just to keep things fair. I like the last quote though:
There are more places to pray in America than (there are) pizza parlors. Go to them.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Religion, Obama and McCain

Religion is once again rearing it's ugly head in American politics. Barack Obama has been forced to distance himself from the words of his pastor, Jeremiah Wright. It's possible that it may be enough of a "scandal" to ensure Hillary Clinton's victory in the democratic race for President. And that's sad.

The culture here in the US is one where even the slightest whiff of scandal can drag down even the best candidates. We have to stop focusing on minor issues - here, it's what someone close to a campaign (not the candidate, note) said a few years ago that is controversial. We need to be listening to the candidate's views on the big issues of the day - the economy, the war for example, rather than the scandal of the day.

It's worth noting that associating with anyone religious can get you into this kind of trouble. If it's not Obama, it's McCain with John Hagee, who has preached that Hurricane Katrina was the result of God's wrath against gay people, and that he's happy about the Iraq war because it will hasten Armageddon. And McCain is "proud" to have his support.

Candidates are caught in a quandary. They need to pander to the religious nuts, but come off just looking stupid. They have to decide whether stupidity will get them more votes than rationalism. Unfortunately, it looks like it does.