Thursday, August 28, 2008

Saratoga Springs Racing

This is our annual weekend at the track in Saratoga Springs. Our group has grown from 7 to 12. Maybe I'll have some pictures when I get back.

John McCain and Honor

John McCain refuses to define honor in this interview.
There's a theme that recurs in your books and your speeches, both about putting country first but also about honor. I wonder if you could define honor for us?
Read it in my books.

I've read your books.
No, I'm not going to define it.

But honor in politics?
I defined it in five books. Read my books.

What's McCains problem? Couldn't he think of a definition? Was he worried that the concept of honor would be discussed in relation to his campaign? Is he just mentally deficient compared to the man he was 4 years ago?

McCain Worse Than Bush?

Here is a good post from conservative Andrew Sullivan called "The Christianist Triumph At The GOP". The GOP platform is calling for the banning of stem cell research not only in publically funded research but also in privately funded research.

The Bush administration actually encouraged privately funded research on stem cells.

John McCain was also in favor of stem cell research before he was against it.

Briggs-Rauscher Reaction

This is a popular classroom demo that shows an oscillating reaction. It basically shows that two reactions can switch back and forth - the product of one reaction is the reactant for the other reaction.

I'm guessing this might be an applause getting demo. I've just ordered the chemicals for my own demo.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Denying Evolution

I'm currently reading "Denying Evolution: Creationism, Scientism and the Nature of Science" by Massimo Pigliucci. Chapter 3 is titled "One side of the coin: the dangers of anti-intellectualism". The first thing Prof. Pigliucci points out is that there is some justification for the distrust of rationalism. Basically, he points out that "sterile" rationalism a la Star Treks Spock can be as equally devastating as someone who is completely irrational.

But the point that first caught my eye concerned education, evolution and the "right" of the majority. A 2004 poll showed that 55% of Americans believe that God created humans in their present form. This is a completely irrational belief based on evidence. But it is a majority opinion. Should we then teach that God created humans in their present form in our schools and do away with the concept of evolution? Or, are we going to teach the best of what we currently understand about the natural world? Prof. Pigulucci asks whether we should vote on other scientific issues. Is the Earth flat or round? Does the Earth revolve around the Sun or is it the other way around? Prof. Pigulucci asks, do we base our teaching on the best science available or on political demagoguery?

These are questions worth pondering during this Presidential election year. Republicans tend to behave in an anti-intellectual fashion for some reason. Especially when it comes time to elect a President. Wouldn't you rather elect a guy you'd like to have a beer with than some effete, intellectual that actually thinks about problems? Well, G.W. Bush has answered that question for me. Still, John McCain, who cannot operate a computer, doesn't know how many houses he owns (or his wife owns), and can't remember which countries no longer exist, is the preferred Republican candidate for President. McCain, by the way, graduated near the bottom of his class at Annapolis. McCain probably wouldn't have been qualified to be admitted to Annapolis if it wasn't for his father's position in the US Navy. Yeah, yeah, I know John McCain spent 5 1/2 years as a POW so I need to cut him some slack.

Now, on the other hand, the Democrats are nominating a younger, thinking person, who wasn't brought up with a silver spoon in his mouth. He worked his way into an Ivy League university and got a law degree. They nominated a guy who doesn't think the answer to the question "when does life begin" can be answered in two words.

So based somewhat on anti-intellectualism, Republicans are arguing that we need at least 4 more years of what G.W. Bush brought us....maybe even worse.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Bob Casey is Awesome

A great line from Bob Casey's speech at the DNC.

"McCain likes to call himself a 'maverick,' but he votes with George W. Bush more than 90% of the time. That's not a maverick; that's a sidekick."

McCain: Maverick or Sidekick? Good bumper sticker.


Today was my first day of full-time work as a professor. Believe me, it pays much better than at the adjunct level. No students yet, that won't come til next Monday. My first lecture section will be on Wednesday with a class of 68 students. Tuesdays and Wednesdays will be spent in Malone. My prime goal is to teach students to think rationally, but I don't have high hopes in this regard. My life as a semi-retired individual has come to a close, at least for awhile. I'm going to miss my afternoon naps.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Should Terrorists Be Allowed to Purchase Handguns?

There is a "gap" in Federal Law that allows persons on the terrorist watchlist to purchase guns in the United States. Seems like that might be a loophole that you might want to close.

Where does John McCain stand on the issue? He doesn't know or refuses to say. Of course he refuses to say. He needs the votes of the members of the gun lovers organizations.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Too Rich To Be President

From Glenn Greenwald's post at Salon:
But if there is one characteristic of Kerry's life that should disqualify him absolutely as a candidate for president, it is the fact that he has sought out millionaire wives to take care of him. Not to put too fine a point on it, he's a serial gigolo.

What do you consider a fair wage? John Kerry considers a fair wage a wife with 500 million

ANN COULTER: ... a kept man. He lives off the money made by other men and left to their daughters or wives.

Comedians have tried the Rich Guy persona along with a variation of the Gold Digger, which Jay Leno used in explaining how Mr. Kerry would eliminate the federal deficit: "He said all we have to do is find a really rich country like Switzerland and marry it."

[Kerry] has lived the life of a millionaire living off the inherited wealth of his two wives. As an Ivy League educated millionaire who did not have to work for his fortune, Mr. Kerry never had to worry about the money he earned, the taxes he paid

Now, having a wife who provides you with a private jet and eight multimillion-dollar vacation homes provides for a comfortable life. But is this the right preparation for becoming president? . . .

Will any of those above quotes by conservatives be applied to John McCain? I doubt it.