Random stuff found while procrastinating :P

Posts Tagged ‘McCain

A bunch of interesting reading

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Sorry for a bit of delay between posts.  Have been too busy with study/work/touch football (I have 4 nights of touch this week :/).

Anyway here are the favourite things I’ve read lately;

Christopher Hitchens rightly has a massive swing at the Republican’s strong anti-science platform.  Anti-science seems to be all the rage these days.  In fact just recently the Tasmanian Premier, David Bartlett dismissed what actually amounts to over 400 peer reviewed scientific journal articles that show that logging forests reduces their carbon carrying capacity as “bullshit.”  In doing so he ensured that I will never vote for him any higher than just above the religious political parties.  It’s also interesting to note Bartlett’s view that emissions from forestry are not a big deal because they represent such a small portion of global emissions.  The same can be said for every single persons individual emmisions, all of us make an almost insignificant impact on global warming, and it’s only when you add up all those almost insignificant impacts that you end up with a very significant impact.  People in Qatar (the country with the highest per capita emissions) emit 0.0000002% of annual global emissions.  Using Bartlett’s logic they don’t need to bother doing anything about climate change either – and everybody in the world emit even less than them.

There is a good article about Richard Dawkins here.  He addresses some criticisms well and demonstrates that he’s a funny guy too (although anybody who reads his stuff would know that already :P).

Speaking of religion, there’s a interesting, but heavier, essay about it from Pascal Boyer in Nature.  Definitely worth a read.


Some US election stuff

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So I’m starting to get into the spirit for the US election, and even making plans for celebrating Obama victory.  There was a bunch of interesting stuff today about the election.

This article about rumours was particularly interesting, especially since it involves evolutionary theory and the application of mathematical models, to show that the best response to dispelling them is to respond publically to them, rather than ignore them.

Chris Hitchens wrote a typically awesome attack on McCain and Palin.  Worth reading, if just for laughs.

The 2008 Nobel Prize for Chemistry winner, Marty Chalfie has put out a video describing who he’s voting for and why  🙂

Written by beast9

October 14, 2008 at 12:17 pm

McCain hates science

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So I kind of missed the presidential debate earlier in the week, but it’s generated a lot of comment from science blogs because of the criticism about Obama supporting a “$3 million overhead projector.”  Andrew Kravtsov from the University of Chicago sums it up beautifully in this comment to a New York Times article on the story.  Quoted because I’m not sure if that’s a perm. link.

I am an Associate Professor of Astronomy at the University of Chicago (the University that today has added yet another Nobel Prize winner in the sciences for the US). I would like to comment on Sen. McCain’s statement during the today’s debate that Sen. Obama has earmarked “$3 million for an overhead projector at a planetarium in Chicago, Ill. My friends, do we need to spend that kind of money?”

The way Sen. McCain has phrased it suggests that Sen. Obama approved spending $3 million on an old-fashioned piece of office equipment (overhead projector).
The 3 million is actually for an upgrade of the SkyTheater – a full dome projection system, which is probably the main attraction of the Adler Planetarium and is quite sophisticated and impressive piece of equipment.

I find it appalling that Sen. McCain would call a science education tool for public (largely children) for
a historic planetarium with millions of visitors a year a wasteful earmark. The planetarium’s focus, as stated on their website ( is “on inspiring young people, particularly women and minorities, to pursue careers in science.” Is an investment in such public facility at the time when US
competitiveness in math and sciences is a constant source of alarm a waste?

“American’s ability to compete in a 21st Century economy rests on our continued investments in math and science education,” said Rep. Brian Baird, Chairman of the Research and Science Education Subcommittee in Congress, after the passage of The 21st Century Competitiveness Act of 2007.

Considering such investments “wasteful earmarks” today, even in the face of the financial crisis, will severely cripple US economic competitiveness in the increasingly high-tech world down the road.

— Andrey Kravtsov, Chicago, IL

The other thing worth briefly mentioning is that there are oranges out there with THC in them.  I’m not sure how you get your hands on them, but it’s pretty interesting anyway.  The story of why the scientist in question developed them is even cooler (check the link 🙂 )

Written by beast9

October 10, 2008 at 1:04 pm

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If politicians were trains

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Written by beast9

October 8, 2008 at 11:58 pm

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Bit of delay between posts as I have been away.

I have a better option for the US president – Big Foot.  Whatever happened to that guy?

This is also an awesome pony.  I want one.

In more serious news, this article from rolling stone has been getting a lot of attention everywhere.  It’s basically a massive attack on McCain and worth a read from anybody who cares about the upcoming election or has the opportunity to vote.

Leaving politics and returning to the more interesting subject of science, this is a really interesting article from this months SEED about human evolution.

Some recent research published in the journal Neurology show that some specific types of headaches can be cured by LSD.  Now Harvard Medical School is doing some experimentation to confirm the results.

Interesting post on Kevin Kelly’s blog, The Technium, about the expansion of ignorance as a result of the expansion of information.  Of course he really means that we’re turning more “unknown unknowns” into “known unknowns” – ie. we’re expanding the amount of things we know that we don’t know, rather than actually becoming more ignorant.

Nikon’s Small World photo competition is amazing.  Here are some of my favourites from last year;

There are so many more good ones worth looking at as well.  I would be here forever if I kept posting the ones I like.

Finally, and still on the subject of photography, the Boston Globe “The Big Picture” is always stunning.  The current set is from photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand and are all arial photos.   Favourites posted of course (but really they are all amazing).

Written by beast9

October 8, 2008 at 11:58 am

A Space Elevator!! (and some other stuff)

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Japan has announced that it’s going to try and build a space elevator!!  Pretty awesome stuff.  I’m unsure if it’s really possibly or not, but $9 billion is a lot to be investing on potentially nothing.


Ever wondered how big China’s population is?  This map gives a better idea, with each province labelled with an equivalent sized country.  Initial source here.  


This is a little old now, but a really cool machine that’s been built that can essentially build itself (and pretty much anything else, so long as it’s made from plastic :P).  Unfortuantly it needs a person to do the actual construction, but maybe that will change.


113 new species of sharks and rays have been “discovered” in Australia!  Pretty exciting, although many are very rare and straight onto endangered lists.  One has only ever been found inside the stomach of another shark.  Here is one of the new sharks.



Interesting article by George Dyson (son of Freeman) about economics in the 13th Century! Ok, only interesting to a select group of people I guess 😛


Finally here is an excellent summary of the environmental positions of Obama and McCain.  I don’t think there is any doubt that I’d be a very strong Obama supporter if I were American.


Oh and my camera has arrived, so I’m pretty much going to spend the next month just taking photos and reading about how to take photos 😛

Written by beast9

September 25, 2008 at 11:13 am