The Bad Astronomer on Obama’s Science Policy

From DiscoverMagazine’s Bad Astronomy blog:

Both Senators Obama and McCain have made cursory statements about various aspects of science, but that’s not enough. Science is critical, absolutely critical, to the health of the US, so we need better and more in-depth answers. To get them, a group of six citizens created Science Debate 2008 to “… restore science and innovation to America’s political dialogue.”

They asked each candidate a series of science questions. As of this moment, Obama is the only one who has answered, though McCain says he will.

Obama’s answers to these questions are, to me, very heartening. He has been accused of giving no specifics when answering questions, but that is misleading at best (the noise machine is very good at making noise). In these answers he does indeed give many specifics, and to my eye is taking the right road to scientific progress and innovation in this country.

I won’t detail all his answers, but I do want to point out some specific things he wrote.

Some really good answers on this list. Here’s what Obama has to say about Stem Cell research:

I strongly support expanding research on stem cells. I believe that the restrictions that President Bush has placed on funding of human embryonic stem cell research have handcuffed our scientists and hindered our ability to compete with other nations. As president, I will lift the current administration’s ban on federal funding of research on embryonic stem cell lines created after August 9, 2001 through executive order, and I will ensure that all research on stem cells is conducted ethically and with rigorous oversight.

I am also aware that there have been suggestions that human stem cells of various types, derived from sources other than embryos, make the use of embryonic stem cells unnecessary. I don’t agree. While adult stem cells, such as those harvested from blood or bone marrow, are already used for treatment of some diseases, they do not have the versatility of embryonic stem cells and cannot replace them.

Christian Fundies Praying for McCain’s Death

From Talk To Action:

Antiabortion militant and all-round theocratic activist Jay Rogers of Florida, whose blog is called The Forerunner, writes:

Pray for John McCain’s salvation and speedy death. (Google The Forerunner’s articles on Imprecatory Prayer if you think this is harsh.)

And then there is this guy, a self-described Christian Reconstructionist whose blog handle is Ixion, and is apparently from Tennessee:

McCain’s VP choice, Sarah Palin, suddenly made me want to vote for him, as long as the LORD smites him while he’s in office. She’s consistently conservative on all the issues, and if she’s good enough for The Forerunner, she’s good enough for me. The Forerunner agrees with me that McCain must be smitten, as well, so I’m obviously not alone in my viewpoints.

After a long response to a well-researched Daily Kos diary by Dogemperor, discussing Palin’s religious history and raises some important concerns, Ixion comes back around to his main point.

May the LORD cause McCain/Palin to win the White House in 2008, and then smite the godless McCain in favor of Palin. Amen.

Note: The Forerunner blog has since changed the “speedy death” part.

A Review of Spore

From Ars Technica:

With Spore, Will Wright intends to make you an Intergalactic Galactic ruler who begins life as a bottom-feeding primordial soup dweller. When I first saw the game back in early 2006, I wondered if Wright and his team over at Maxis be able to pull this off? I didn’t mean “pull it off” in the technical sense, but in the gaming sense of making it fun. I’ve waited a long time to see if Wright succeeded, and when my review copy arrived in the mail recently, I found out the answer.

Looks like a lot of hype without much substance. I’ll pass.


The Amazon reviewers REALLY hate the DRM.

The 11 Lamest Supervillains in History, Ever

Including the dreaded Asbestos Man:

Chemist Orson Kasloff became a criminal after years of being a respected scientist failed to pay off the way he expected. He envied his fellow scientists, who he often saw riding around in Maseratis and banging supermodels, like, every night, because that’s obviously what scientists do all the time. He didn’t get much respect as a criminal, though, and decided the best way to quickly gain a rep would be to defeat the Human Torch. So he challenged him to a fight in a letter and created an asbestos costume.

The Asbestos Man created a flame-retardant asbestos suit to fight the Torch and used a fancy net to rope him in. The Torch rendered him instantly useless when he broke his net. Then he laughed at him for wearing a suit that would cause him to inhale particles of a known carcinogen. That’s just stupid, kids!

Palin Won’t Do Interviews Until She Will Be Treated With “Respect and Deference”

Nine days now without an interview. Anybody else surprised that they haven’t even let a Fox news interviewer lob a few softballs her way so they could at least pretend that she met the press?

Rick Davis, campaign manager for Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., just told Fox News Channel’s Chris Wallace that McCain running mate Gov. Sarah Palin won’t subject herself to any tough questions from reporters “until the point in time when she’ll be treated with respect and deference.”

Davis assailed the way the media had discussed Palin and her family in the last week and said the campaign would wait until a less hostile media environment.

So when will she subject herself to questions?

“When we think it’s time and when she feels comfortable doing it,” Davis said, praising a Fox News Channel profile of Palin that ran last night.

Why is she scared of answering questions? Wallace asked.

Road Runner Rules

From Wikipedia:

1. Road Runner cannot harm the Coyote except by going “beep, beep”.
2. No outside force can harm the Coyote — only his own ineptitude or the failure of Acme products.
3. The Coyote could stop anytime — IF he was not a fanatic. (Repeat: “A fanatic is one who redoubles his effort when he has forgotten his aim.” —George Santayana).
4. No dialogue ever, except “beep, beep”.
5. Road Runner must stay on the road — for no other reason than that he’s a roadrunner.
6. All action must be confined to the natural environment of the two characters — the southwest American desert.
7. All tools, weapons, or mechanical conveniences must be obtained from the Acme Corporation.
8. Whenever possible, make gravity the Coyote’s greatest enemy.
9. The Coyote is always more humiliated than harmed by his failures.
10. The audience’s sympathy must remain with the Coyote.

These rules were not always followed, and in an interview years after the series was made, writer Michael Maltese said he had never heard of the “Rules”.

(via Kottke)