Beyond the Palin

By Phil Plait | October 25, 2008 3:00 pm

OK, why be coy? I think Sarah Palin is a disaster. You know all the reasons: no experience, chosen cynically, a past that can charitably be called checkered, no understanding of the job for which she’s been picked, stirring up vile emotions in the base, blatant hypocrisy, $150,000 for clothes (how much sporting equipment could your standard Hockey Mom buy for that?), so on and so forth ad nauseum.

John McCain has shown a weird contempt for science education, repeatedly, though he does seem to support some science. But now Palin has opened her mouth once again, and dontcha know, garbage has spewed forth.

Palin is criticizing research into fruit flies, presumably because it’s a waste and takes away money that could be spent on helping learning disabled kids.

I would rail and froth at the sheer evil and willful antiscience of these statements, but PZ makes the case pretty well, showing why this research is vital into understanding genetics and molecular biology. Skeptico has, too, and Daily Kos has an awesome smackdown of her ignorant ravings.

Keith Olbermann interviewed Richard Wolfe about this, who didn’t hold back either, calling this comment from Palin, "mindless ignorant [and] uninformed."

But Think Progress points out the real stupidity of Palin’s claims: research into fruit flies has led to understanding autism better.

Republicans used to stand for good science, way back in the 60s and 70s. What happened to this party? I can guess the massive pandering to the "religious right" is what destroyed their ability to support reality. I am strongly of the opinion that people like Palin, Inhofe, Brownback, and others in the government don’t represent the majority of citizens of the country or even their home constituents… and if they do represent them, it’s because science has been misrepresented to those citizens.

November 4th marches toward us like a tsunami. Vote.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Antiscience, Piece of mind, Politics

Comments (257)

  1. Davidlpf

    About 9 days left of Palin gaffes, hopefully, just imagine 4 or 8 more years, repeat 4 or more 8 years remember that when you vote.

  2. RawheaD

    Interesting, coming from a woman that asked for earmarks to study crab mating habits

    http://dyn.politico.com/printstory.cfm?uuid=4E2E5BFD-18FE-70B2-A815903CFF648F68
    ;-)

  3. Davidlpf

    Ivan3man maybe we can get her Lost in Sapce.

  4. Mena

    Between the $150k on clothes and the uproar from Fox about Newsweek not retouching that close up photo on the cover I really do think that the people who are still supporting her are completely unable to see her as anything other than a MILF. Unfortunately that isn’t what she is running for, and, besides, Tina Fey is much prettier.

  5. Rob Zuber

    The Republican party more than just panders to the religious right, they ARE the religious right. That’s what the party is.

  6. IVAN3MAN

    Yes, Davidlpf, just imagine: Palin As President

    Hint: Run your computer’s cursor over the picture and click on the numerous links.

  7. Davidlpf

    The only group Palin is helping are the comedians.

  8. Jane Renson

    It’s disappointing you had to delve into the sexism of bring up the cost of her warddrobe. It has nothing to do with anything, other than useless snarkiness by white men who feel the need to treat women like Barbie Dolls.

    Way to go Phil. Perhaps you need to read something outside of “Clueless White Male” magazine.

  9. Travis McDermott

    I don’t think she is referring to drosophila research. T. Ryan Gregory has a post up saying that Palin probably is referring to the olive fruit fly; which is a major agricultural pest. Apparently, the research is conducted in France because the pest has been endemic in the Mediterranean for decades.

    More here:

    http://genomicron.blogspot.com/2008/10/fruit-flies-i-kid-you-not_25.html

  10. BaldApe

    So she doesn’t want scientists to do genetic research on fruit flies? Maybe she’d prefer that they did their developmental research on Trick, or Track, or Truck, or whatever (to paraphrase Bill Maher) screwed up Redneck name she chose for her kid. She’s a hunter, so she probably doesn’t buy in to that PETA idiocy that computer models will tell us anything.

  11. Fruit Fly

    She’s not only displaying her ignorance. She sounds like she doesn’t have a clue what she’s talking about. A fruit fly would have a higher IQ.

    Remember: This is the person who will be representing us in front of other World leaders. Imagine her talking like that to Putin, Sarkozy, Merkel, Brown or anyone else?

    Is that what you want for the next 4-8 years.

  12. IVAN3MAN

    Yes, Davidlpf, get her Lost in Space with directions to the nearest black hole.

  13. Fruit Fly

    Tick, Trick and Track are Huey, Dewey and Louie (Donald Duck’s nephews) in German.

    http://www.welt.de/multimedia/archive/00163/Tick-Trick-Track_DW_163430g.jpg

  14. Can't wait for the 5th of November

    To quote an old SNL skit….Jane, you ignorant…..

    Never mind, the right side ain’t listening anyway.

  15. Gary Ansorge

    ACK!!! The Stoopid, it Burnzzzz,,,

    Even if we get a rational group of people in the House, we will still have to oversee everything they do.
    Ah, the cost of Democracy, it really is eternal vigilance.

    I expect what the religious fruit cakes have done to this country in the last 30 years will take twice as long to undo. Ah well, what else do we have to do???(Like cure cancer, degenerative disease, hunger, energy, conquer space, etc, etc, etc,,,)

    So much stupid. So little time.

    GAry 7

  16. Jane: Bzzzzt. Nice try, but you’re totally wrong. Amazingly so, in fact.

    First, it’s not sexist. If I said she’s not qualified because she’s a woman, that would be sexist.

    Second, if McCain had spent that much on clothes, I’d be tagging him on it as well. Note that his wife’s wardrobe budget dwarfs Palin’s, but I haven’t commented on that in my posts. Wouldn’t I, if I were “sexist”? I didn’t, because it’s not relevant. She has a ton of money and can spend it as she likes… but that does make McCain less of an “everyman” (see point 4 below).

    Third, the Repubs made a huge deal of John Edwards’ haircuts. Was that sexist?

    Fourth, she is portraying herself as a hockey mom and part of the average Joe culture. Do you spend that much on clothes in a few weeks? Do you know anyone who does?

    Fifth — and here comes the irony — is that you calling me a clueless male makes you sexist, because you assume — wrongly, as I have shown — that I am sexist. And, as a fun added bonus, you threw in the word “white”, making that a racial comment as well!

    So congratulations. You win the pentafecta of fail.

  17. “It’s disappointing you had to delve into the sexism of bring up the cost of her warddrobe. It has nothing to do with anything, other than useless snarkiness by white men who feel the need to treat women like Barbie Dolls.”

    Sorry, but wrong. It’s not sexist, and it is important to mention.

    When a candidate is portraying themselves as ‘Joe Six-pack’, a ‘normal American’ and from ‘a small, hardworking town’ and then has over a hundred thousand dollar wardrobe, you don’t see that as a basic hypocrisy? Not to mention the fact that the economy is tanking, and this huge amount of money, enough to pay for the homes of many Americans, is being used on clothes!!! How does that not anger you!?

    How is that sexist? Because she’s a woman, and somehow women need hundreds and thousands of dollars worth of clothes? I don’t think so. And besides the point, I’d be just as mad to find out that the Obama campaign was spending that kind of money on designer suits for Biden.

    So please, stop with your baseless claims of sexism.

  18. And Phil beats me to the pwnage. Aww shucks.

  19. Daniel

    Good grief this woman truly scares me. Two words comes to mind VOTE PEOPLE!!!!!!!!

  20. Elmar_M

    Oh dear! This woman knows nothing, really. If you make a comment about something inform yourself about the matter first! I cant believe she really said that!
    There are some people truly thinking that she could become a candidate for president in 8 years from now… If this woman ended up president it would proof that it can get even worse than G.W. which we all thought was impossible to beat.
    About democracy: The good thing about a democracy is that you can leave if things get impossible to bear. This is getting close…

  21. Jamie G.

    Don’t get me started on Inhofe! Blue Oklahoma (http://www.blueoklahoma.org/) has been covering him quite nicely. Although it’s a long shot, I’d be proud to see Andrew Rice (who is running against Inhofe) replace him. Funny thing that we can elect a great governor like Brad Henry (D) in OK, but all our federal reps have to be religious right-wing nut jobs (oh, and Republican).

  22. Elmar_M

    Oh, we know that Mccain is incompetent to write even an email. I guess that Palin is not far behind, since she seemingly dones not have enough skills to browse to Wikipedia and check the article about Drosophila there:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drosophila

    Reading this should have been enough to prevent her from farting something like this out of her mouth, however that would of course require her to also have the basic brain skills of understanding the article…

  23. Davidlpf

    Phrases like “you can dress her up but can’t take here anywhere”
    or “lipstick on a pig”, meaning no matter how much you dress her up she is still someone who is very right winged and knows very little about science.

  24. Jane,

    You are actually demeaning charges of sexism by applying them to cases where sexism is not at work. Save that label for times where sexism is actually being applied. And next time you post, think through what you are saying before you hit that “submit comment” button. You just played right into everybody’s perception of those who yell “sexism” when it isn’t warranted. Nice going.

    Neither Phil nor anybody who is criticizing Ms Palin are the ones who thought it necessary to drop 150k on her wardrobe in hopes of making her more “photogenic” or whatever it is they’re trying to do. The clothes are nice, sure, but at a time when Palin is playing up her “everywoman” image, the clothing binge doesn’t help. When pe0ple are losing their homes and jobs and savings accounts, the timing stinks.

    Palin is not only unqualified and unknowledgeable about the job she is running for, she just doesn’t know what she’s talking about in general, especially when it comes to science. She’s also under a HUGE ethics cloud that is not going to go away.

    I’m a woman and I am criticising her for the clothing, too. Not because she’s a barbie doll or I’m objectifying her. It’s because it was one of the stupidest things she could think of to do — or allow to be done to/for her. That doesn’t make me sexist. It makes me 0bservant of the dumbness of her nomination and the way the RNC is treating her (which, by the way, borders on paternalism and sexism).

    Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Jane.

  25. John Ellis

    You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still pig ignorant.

    Was that sexist enough for everyone? I do hope so :-)

  26. Pop

    On the matter of voting for either party: “jumping out of the frying pan, into the fire” is a phrase that comes to mind. A vote for either party is a wrong vote. We just can not win this time around. I hope that we survive the next four years and have some good, solid candidates next election. And I’ve already voted for ???. Have I made a mistake? I think so.

  27. Hevach

    While we’re on the topic of sexism, the Republicans cried sexism when legitimate questions on her service and policy stance were brought up, claiming that no male candidate had ever been asked, for example, what tax policy they supported while in elected office, or how they respond to existing claims of ethical violations. Both Obama and McCain (and their primary opponents before them) faced and answered such questions, in some of their opponents in the primaries were damaged by the answers.

    Palin herself in the past railed against women running for office running to hide behind sexism when legitimate questions about themselves, their policies, and the running of their campaigns are brought up. She said they do women a disservice, and she was right.

  28. John

    Phil’s entire blog summed up into two words : “Vote Obama”

    If McCain wins I do feel absolute sorrow for your great country.

  29. Jose

    @Jane Renson
    And don’t disparage “Clueless White Male” magazine. I bet you’ve never even read it.

  30. twilightened

    I can’t believe how anybody in this world, i mean anybody, when given the media coverage and a shiny paint job with some exaggerated self confidence (pimp my ride style), could easily get support of the masses, and even love, and i mean “real love”, from people who have no idea about who the hell this person is. Oh my poor anarchist forgotten philosophers in the history. Wake up and see this. We miss you dearly.

  31. Americans, don’t just vote once, vote twice!

  32. sdrDusty

    What’s sick is the very real possibility that in 4 years she will be positioned as lead contender for the Republican nomination.
    With all the documentation at hand, people seem to have a really poor memory.

  33. Melusine

    The thing is, they are French fruit flies, and we all know how French fruit flies are “anti-American.”

    We had fruit flies in terrariums in our 4th grade class, which was located in the un-real America section called New England.

  34. Robbie

    Phil Plait: “You know all the reasons: no experience, chosen cynically, a past that can charitably be called checkered, no understanding of the job for which she’s been picked, stirring up vile emotions in the base, blatant hypocrisy, $150,000 for clothes (how much sporting equipment could your standard Hockey Mom buy for that?), so on and so forth ad nauseum.”

    She has roughly as much experience as Obama. I don’t see how this is still an argument from anyone on either side.

    Speculating on how she was chosen is ridiculous. How do you know it was cynically?

    What is checkered about her past? The only thing that’s even made news is the so-called “troopergate” which is entirely one person’s word against another’s.

    Blatant hypocrisy? Well, she did support the bridge to nowhere at some point, but do you have other evidence?

    $150,000 for clothes. Did she spend that or did the RNC/McCain campaign buy them for her? Did you know they will be donated to charity afterword?

    Phil Plait: “Palin is criticizing research into fruit flies, presumably because it’s a waste and takes away money that could be spent on helping learning disabled kids.”

    That research may well be fine and good and useful, but it is not the federal government’s job (which means they aren’t allowed to do it – see 10th Amendment). That’s not evil or anti-science.

    Phil, the more I read your political posts the more I think you have gone off the deep end.

  35. RJ

    The two campaigns have raised over $400 Million for this election. Yet for some reason there’s outrage over a $150,000 expenditure? I wonder how much Obama’s acceptance speech with Greek columns cost? Oh, I just remembered, I DON’T CARE.
    She is the VP candidate. They are campaign expenses. How they spend the money is their business.
    There are plenty of good reasons to oppose McCain/Palin and clothing is not one of them.

  36. stopgap

    I’m thinking about voting for McCain in spite of your rants. Where is the astronomy?

  37. ABR.

    “The thing is, they are French fruit flies, and we all know how French fruit flies are “anti-American.”

    Ah. Melusine, I believe you meant to say “freedom” fruit flies!

  38. “Palin is criticizing research into fruit flies, presumably because it’s a waste and takes away money that could be spent on helping learning disabled kids.”

    As the father of a disabled child, that lives in the States, with my ex, I completely disagree with that comment of yours. If I had to make a choice between research for fruit flies, or funding to help my child get the education and assistance she needs, the choice is clear. However, I suppose it WAS our fault for choosing to have our daughter instead of aborting her. I vehemently disagree with Palin’s politics, and think it would be a huge disaster if she were elected, but, in my opinion, the ONE positive thing is that special needs children are getting some type of recognition. (Our daughter also has Down syndrome).

  39. tw

    >>all the reasons: no experience, chosen cynically, a past that can charitably be called checkered, no understanding of the job for which he’s been picked, stirring up vile emotions in the base, blatant hypocrisy<<

    Wow. That describes Obama to a tee…

  40. Jose

    What is checkered about her past? The only thing that’s even made news is the so-called “troopergate” which is entirely one person’s word against another’s.

    There’s that little problem of her being married to a man who was a separatist from 1992 to 2006, attended separatist parties, and even addressed and praised the separatist party in March of this year. It seems a little un-American.

  41. Robbie

    Phil Plait: “no understanding of the job for which she’s been picked”

    The VP has the simplest job in the government! A monkey could be VP.

    Great point tw.

  42. Robbie

    Alaska has every right to secede if the US violated its contract with Alaska that brought it into the union. I have no idea if they did or not, but secession isn’t immoral or anything like that. I don’t see a problem.

  43. RJ: You have missed the point. She says she’s just a hockey mom, but who spends that much on it?

    Robbie: I’m not going to do all the work for you. Just look into these issues, and you’ll see. For example, she talks about Obama “palling around” with terrorists, but McCain has a far more important link to domestic terrorists. She calls Obama anti-America, but she is the one who is affiliated with a secessionist group. Etc. etc.

    Stopgap: my blog, my rules. Feel free to read my policy on politics and religion. It’s in the sidebar blogroll.

    RObbie: exactly a monkey could do it, yet even after two months, and she still can’t say what the VP does. I don’t want to think she is not intelligent — running a state takes a certain amount of smarts — but not being able to name what the VP does is pretty shocking. And if you don’t understand why it’s bad for her to call Obama anti-American, but be affiliated with a secessionist party, then no amount of information I can provide here will help you pull your head out of the sand.

  44. Davidlpf

    If a monkey could be VP why is Bush not VP and yet the president.

  45. Sarah Palin clubs baby fruit flies.

  46. Jane: You’re going to have to point out where Phil made sexist remarks. Color me a Clueless White Male (I don’t get the magazine though, am I missing out?) but I don’t see it.

    John B. Sandlin

  47. Stopgap: If you vote for McCain, there won’t be any more astronomy… (I hope I’m kidding).

    John B. Sandlin

  48. @Robbie. The VP has to be prepared at any moment to assume the office of President (or Acting President of the President is temporarily incapacitated) that’s no job for a monkey — not even a chimpanzee or bonobo. And that individual states do NOT have the right to secede was sort of covered during a period in history known as The Civil War. However, since Alaskans receive more federal subsidies per capita than the citizens of any other state, I don’t the majority of them would ever be for secession anyway.

  49. Michael: That Fruit Fly research might help create the cure for autism and other learning disorders. It might not. One small point, though, that supposedly vast quantity of money for the study if spent on education might by a few minutes of additional education across the nation.

    A few years back, a clueless USA Today reader commented on how all of the NASA budget was a waste of money and it all should be spent on education. It’s been a while since I did the math, but I remember the result was that if the entire NASA budget were instead spent on education, we’d add $300 per child for that year. And we’d loose all the benefits NASA brings. Things like Hurricane warnings and the daily weather reports, the vast increase in our capability to grow food due to climate research enabled by NASA satellites, and so on. The same argument can be made for studies of fruit flies. We’ve learned a lot, from genetics, to the functioning of various part of the nervous system (simple systems like a fruit flies are easier to study than say, humans).

    Yes, some science studies are a waste of money. The trick is knowing that before paying for them. Research is seldom so straight forward that you can guarantee the good studies will bring results without funding the bad ones, too.

    /soapbox

    That’s my $0.02.

    John B. Sandlin

  50. Jose

    I have no idea if they did or not, but secession isn’t immoral or anything like that. I don’t see a problem.

    I’m not making a judgment on whether it’s moral or not. I just think someone that still supports a group that advocates her home state no longer being part of the United States, probably shouldn’t be in charge of the United States. It would be like voting for Ralph Nader to head the NRA.

  51. Daniel

    @John
    As the newly labeled Heratic arts…Fruitflys, Planetariums, and Astronomy will have to go underground. They might burn them at the stake ;-)

  52. Robbie: The VP job might be easy… but it’s one ancient dude’s heartbeat away from the presidency if McCain/Palin win.

    John B. Sandlin

  53. Charles

    “Speculating on how she was chosen is ridiculous. How do you know it was cynically?”

    Charles Fried, who was the solicitor general in Reagan’s second term and a McCain campaign advisor said as much when he retracted his support from McCain and endorsed and voted for Obama. Among others: Scott McLellan, Bush’s former Press Secretary, Arne Carlson, former governor of Minnesota, William Weld, former governor of Massechusetts, Ken Adelman, a former Rumsfeld and Cheney advisor, not to mention Colin Powell — all notable Republicans.

    What is checkered about her past? The only thing that’s even made news is the so-called “troopergate” which is entirely one person’s word against another’s.

    First, Troopergate: it was far more than her word against one other person’s — it was several witnesses, all of whom testified, which is recorded in the Troopergate report. Annette Kreitzer, Talis Colberg, John Glass and others corroborated Walter Monegans allegations — which recordings of also corroborate.

    This investigation was conducted by a Republican controlled legislature and the committee that released the report has eight Republicans and four Democrats on it.

    She said it exonerated her. Precisely, the wording was:

    “Governor Palin knowingly permitted a situation to continue where impermissible pressure was placed on several subordinates in order to advance a personal agenda … to get Trooper Michael Wooten fired,” Branchflower’s report says.

    “Compliance with the code of ethics is not optional. It is an individual responsibility imposed by law, and any effort to benefit a personal interest through official action is a violation of that trust. … The term ‘benefit’ is very broadly defined, and includes anything that is to the person’s advantage or personal self-interest.”

    Yup, that’s an exoneration all right.

    Next, she abused her position of governor of Alaska and a state employee to fly her children to events that they were not invited to on state money.

    Also, the AP found that Palin’s pipeline building team crafted terms that favored only a few independent pipeline companies and ultimately benefited the winner, TransCanada Corp. and did not conduct a fair and open bidding process.

    That research may well be fine and good and useful, but it is not the federal government’s job (which means they aren’t allowed to do it – see 10th Amendment).

    According to your interpretation, which has as much weight as the proverbial fruit fly because it has lost repeatedly in court cases.

    Bottom line: there are good reasons that over one half of Americans polled said that they distrust Sarah Palin and that they feel she is unqualified to be the President of the United States. You may willfully ignore abuse of power, demagoguery, hypocrisy and other illegal activities because she wraps herself in your favorite political banner but an increasing majority of voters and citizens in this country disagree with you, something you will find out in certainty on the evening of November 4th.

    Welcome back to the fringe of American politics. It’s a trip long overdue for NeoCon Artists.

  54. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:

    We should totally change the name to “freedom flies”.

    Meanwhile, this post sure had brought out the political crazies where we can see ‘em. Yowza!

    Jane: Sexist because Palin spent more money on clothing that, even if you divided it by a factor of ten; is more than I have for rent, food, and clothing (I’m excluding university tuition) in an entire year? Give me a #$@%ing break!

    Methinks you need to reevaluate your definition of feminism if you think that women need that much money for clothing.

    P.S. Read the constitution! The VP’s most important function is to REPLACE the president should anything happen to him (knock on wood). Everything else (okay, the ONLY other thing) is just gravy. I would never imagine Palin to be a half-a-quarter decent president. Personally I think the constitution should be amended to guarantee a split ticket vote for vice president and remove the electors. You can keep the electoral college if you want.

  55. Sorry! I forgot to close the bold tag. I’m really not that mad!

  56. Mad Hussein LOLscientist, FCD

    LOL @ CafeenMan!

    @ Jane: $150k for clothes and $22k (in 2 weeks) for makeup (not to mention tax breaks for everyone who can afford to dress like that). There’s no sexism in pointing out the absurdity of expenditures like that, any more than there is in pointing out the absurdity of a man paying $600 for a freeking haircut (Edwards? I forget).

    Ironically, if there’s any sexism here, it’s in crying “sexism” just because someone has criticized Palin and the GOP for their ridiculous, unnecessary expenditures on her behalf. Wasting money is wasting money. Period. That’s what this is about.

    (p.s And don’t go hollering “sexism” at me. I’m an XX. :-P )

  57. RJ

    >RJ: You have missed the point. She says she’s just a hockey mom, but who spends that much on it?
    Phil,
    I think you missed MY point. The Obama campaign is all about the poor and middle class too, yet they spend hundreds of thousands on fluff (Greek columns, for instance). What’s the difference? This “controversy” about Palin’s wardrobe budget is selective outrage and seems more like something the Republicans would pull. How the campaigns spend their money is not my concern. I care about science and technology.
    Stick to what matters, there’s enough important stuff out there to criticize McCain/Palin about. You are a prominent voice of reason. Quit wasting your time on nonsense.

  58. @John P. Sandlin:

    Yes, I know that’s true. When we deal with things directly, I think it tends to hit us more.

  59. LOL, some Rep. strategists are now saying Palin is going rogue. Is that like when Jack Bauer goes rogue???

    Actually, I think she is clearly intending to make a run in 2012. Hmmm, 2012… What is it about that year? That date seems to ring a bell… Something ominous… O yeah, the world is supposed to end.

  60. Robbie

    Michael Canfield: “And that individual states do NOT have the right to secede was sort of covered during a period in history known as The Civil War.”

    I think you got that history wrong.

  61. Robbie, stopgap, RJ, et al Palin apologists, you imply that Phil is being overly partisan or that his posts are nothing more than rants but you guys seem to be able to rationalise anything McCain/Palin says or does. Anything. There is nothing stupid, outrageous or obscene that they do that you don’t seem to have an answer for. No matter how lame. The best we get from apologists is something like “that’s once instance, but betcha can’t name two…”.

  62. Davidlpf

    Micheal, that is one possible way the world could end.

  63. Robbie said,

    Michael Canfield: “And that individual states do NOT have the right to secede was sort of covered during a period in history known as The Civil War.”

    I think you got that history wrong.

    And to that I say:

    ORLY?

  64. Joe

    OK I usually just pass over these post to look at space based blogs, but I got to say its a dam shame- OK we get it You Hate Palin – politically. (Well maybe you do have a dislike to her personally that’s you choice). The fact of it all no matter who gets elected the world is still going to spin. There seams to be a war with those anti-science people. What ever happened to agreeing to disagree, and letting parent raise their own children? I can’t wait to this crap is over because neither one of them is any better then the other. There is about a dime difference between the two candidates. That’s my $0.02 Now can we get back to Science and the future of space?

  65. Charles

    Shane,

    Let them have their fun. Their opinions are to be rendered officially irrelevant a week from Tuesday.

    Conservative columnist David Brooks called her a “fatal cancer to the Republican Party”. After the election, we will all get to watch that cancer metastasize in the rush of fingers pointing at one another. Already, many McCain aids have started looking for jobs in the private sector.

    The best part:

    These people are going to try and shred her after the campaign to divert blame from themselves,” said a McCain insider, referring to McCain’s chief strategist, Steve Schmidt, and to Nicolle Wallace, a former Bush aide who has taken a lead role in Palin’s campaign.

  66. @Davidlpf:

    I’m stocking up on Canadian Beer now. It could be a rough year!

  67. Robbie

    Shane: Shut up. You don’t know what you are talking about. I reject your assertions about me.

  68. Davidlpf

    @Michael I suggests to get some Keiths.

  69. Shane: Shut up. You don’t know what you are talking about. I reject your assertions about me.

    I have a t-shirt for ya.

  70. Robbie, nice. You sound like a Fox News sound bite. As Adam Savage’s t-shirt says I reject your reality and substitute my own.

    @Michael Lonergan, mmm Canuck Beer… La Fin du Monde.

  71. Mad Hussein LOLscientist, FCD

    @ Michael Lonergan: If McLame wins, can I come live with you? :-)

  72. perpetualsecond

    Ah political posts, always a good way to get all of those “I thought this blog was about astronomy” folks to make snarky comments. I wonder where they were when the post ‘Sad’ was made yesterday, that’s certainly not about astronomy…

    As for my thoughts on Palin’s shortcomings, the reason that the $150k becomes an issue is mostly because the McCain/Palin ticket is making a big deal about wasteful spending with their attacks on pork projects. Then the campaign or whoever spends an astounding amount on clothing. Perhaps $150k isn’t much compared to pork project waste, but then the pork project waste isn’t much compared to the overall budget.

    Also the day to day duties of the VP may not be much to speak of, but what the primary purpose is is to be the backup for the president. Palin doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence in me to make an executive decision on the level which the president might need to. Obama lacks experience but I have more confidence in his ability to adapt.

    But in the end, only time will tell.

  73. Jose

    When it starts to get political and insulting towards ANY of the idiots running, it’s time for me to cancel my subscription and say adios to Salon..er Discover for you jumped the shark.

  74. Jose: bye! Enjoy some other blog!

  75. Robbie, you are on the line with violating my one commenting policy. It’s linked in the sidebar. Read it. Live by it.

  76. Davidlpf

    My general if you are in public spotlight and do or say something stupid you are far game.

  77. Davidlpf

    Like to add it has been target rich enviroment lately.

  78. Greg

    Id say People want to criticize her experience, yet nobody in here wants to consider the issue that Obama has no executive leadership experience, he represents the murder capital of America, he has violated numerous federal law through CSI/ACORN with a RICO on the way most likely, and for the life of me, the guy wont get into details about the marginal tax rate and how horribly its going to screw everyone over. Im no straight ticket voter, i vote on the issues. Why is it that Federal Funds must be used to fund fruit fly research? Do our universities not gain enough revenue to support themselves? If not, maybe the academic community should be asking their administrations where the capital is going? I know many of those folks are not seeing the money either. Lets get real in here folks.

  79. I’ve read a lot of comments on here (and other posts) that usually have to do with the following notion(s):
    “They’re all crooked to some degree or another”
    “The lesser of two evils”
    “Why can’t we just agree to disagree? Why do we have to try to convince other people?”
    “Just let it go! This is supposed to be about astronomy!”
    “I disagree with Phil’s politics, so I’m leaving, and never coming back!”

    As a Canadian with a poltical science degree who has been watching this increasingly bizarre campaign sink into terrible depths of vitriol, naked racism, sexism, and a loose-change understanding of feminism (expensive clothing has NOTHING to do with feminism!!!), it’s comments that espouse apathy that really get under my skin.

    Firstly, it’s your country. Care about it. Don’t berate others for caring enough about their country enough to try and express themselves.
    Secondly, everytime your country shivers, the rest of the world quakes. I think no other country on earth knows that quite as well as Canada. The idea that one candidate is just the same as the other, and people should stop getting so uppity is not only demonstrably false, but it is flat-out irresponsible. America fought, bought, lied, cheated, outwitted, stole and conqured its way to the top of the heap, and it is sad to see how so many of its denizens now want to shed off the responsibility it now has to the rest of the world. Like it or not, if U.S.A. is number 1, then f***ing act like it (like you did for post-war Europe). Your economy is the engine that drives the world’s economy, and you have the responsiblity to make sure its cogs are well oiled. The kingdom can’t afford to have an apathetic king.

    The United States is teetering on the very edge of collapse. You won’t find many economic/political theorists INSIDE the country claiming that, as they’ve long been held prisoner by American hubris. But the rest of the world is watching Rome burn and we’re aghast at how many people are a)drinking all the water and b)lighting more matches (or in Palin’s case, burning books….okay, BANNING books. I had to get that jab in there!). 9/11, Iraq, Afghanistan, Katrina, the housing market, and the credit crisis have taken terrible tolls on your great country. Yet, only Katrina (and possibly 9/11) could have been avoided. Do you REALLY want a man who up until 5 months ago proudly stood by Bush and all of his DISASTEROUS decisions, and a woman who thinks that the VP “runs the senate” and can “get in there and expand the authority of the office” to run your country?

    As nearly any poltical observer (again, from OUTSIDE the U.S.) can see, McCain/Palin will very nearly cripple your country past the point of repair. This is not alarmist, it is plain as day (an in perfect concert with history). “Cutting earmark spending”, which seems to be the McCain/Palin mantra (after Joe Sixpack), will account for but a small pitance of what is needed. And what is needed, is widespread overhaul.

    However, Obama will not deliver you into salvation. The damage is far too extensive (and no, the damage is not just Bush. If you want to get specific, Bill Clinton almost single-handedly demolished the welfare-system, forcing millions of Americans into poverty with no way out. And more generally, this is the result of 50+ years of failed laissez-faire capitalism which not only allows for widespread corruption, but actively encourages it).

    But with Obama, you have a chance. Your country has fallen into disrepair, and it saddens the rest of us. With Obama, he MAY be able to slow the damage enough that you can regain some of your lost-respect in the world, and once again be the model of freedom, prosperity and opportunity.

    I realize that many people will be upset with this post, but as a Canadian, I have don’t have a say in an election which I will surely feel, in a very real and direct way, the outcomes of. I’m also getting sick of people b**ching at Phil for having the audacity to express his own opinions on his own blog, as if it he’s doing an impression of Huffington Post or something, rather than speak only about astronomy. Maybe, JUST MAYBE, a McCain/Palin white house would be disasterous for astronomical research, and the campaign has suggested this would certainly be the case.

    From a loving, and frozen northern neighboUr,
    peace.

  80. kuhnigget

    I would just like to note that I haven’t made a snarky comment yet on this post.

  81. @kuhnigget, allow me:

    Hey, somecanadianskeptic! Ya don’t like this country, then you get the h*ll out!

  82. llewelly

    But Phil!! If Obama wins, MEN WILL HOLD HANDS!! Everywhere!

  83. kuhnigget

    somecanadianskeptic: fetch me some donuts first, ohkay?

    And for the record, I think your comments were spot-on.

  84. Palin defenders, I rest my case. She’s loony tunes. Or a plain old liar. Certainly hypocritical, since McCain would raise our taxes more than Obama would.

  85. One more thing: SOCIALISM IS NOT AN EPITHET!!!!

    Sorry. Caps lock was on. Also, I was actually yelling it as I typed, so it all works out well. Except for my cat. Who was scared.

  86. Oh– Campbell Brown just drank freely from the “sexism” koolaid herself, ignoring the John Edwards feeding frenzy on the right, and the whole “I’m a hockey mom” stance of Palin. Wow.

  87. llewelly

    by the way, people, Phil’s real fear is that McCain/Palin will force science satellites into semi-permanent storage .

  88. My only comment re: the 150,000 USD for clothing is, based on Campbell Brown’s insistence that women have to look good because of the double standard…

    Couldn’t she look good for well under 150,000 USD? If any of the men had spent 50,000 USD on their clothing I’d also be dropping my jaw in my lap. We’re supposed to be looking for someone that can figure out how to spend money wisely, are we not?

    Even I could look good for 150,000 USD.

    John B. Sandlin

  89. Greg

    To the Canadian guy, you exalt Americans for apathy, not willing to discuss the issues. Yet, you fail to give any economic theory or basis for your assertion that an Obamafied America is going to lead America and Canada back towards prosperity? How? By squashing the goose that lays the golden egg with punishing taxation? Most of my family are small business owners and successful at it. All of them have plans or have already begun laying workers off to prepare for rising costs of business. They are a small business as defined by the SBA, yet make more than 250,000 gross a year. They are going to have their brains taxed out of business. Does anyone really think that the markets swings are related to simply credit liquidity and housing? Nope, thats been priced in mostly. Whats happeneing as you can see by comparing polling numbers is that investors, average americans, are scared of an Obama-economy. Capital, Growth, whats that?

  90. tw

    >>since McCain would raise our taxes more than Obama would.<<

    So you are saying Obama will veto Barney Franks tax increases?

  91. Phil,

    You rest your case in repeated misconceptions that fit your political bias.

    This is unscientific. Instead of attempting to approach this election with a skeptical attitude you are pushing the outright bias and manipulation of the truth by the left-wing media.

    Not one of your links to Palin is based on much other than innuendo and hyperbole. Yes, the campaign spent $150,000 on her wardrobe. But you know what? Unlike McCain, Obama, or Biden, Palin doesn’t own $150,000 worth of clothes in which to choose from to present her views. So instead you ridicule her for not being as rich as Obama or Biden?

    Where is you skepticism? Where is your intuition?

    Where is your critcism of Obama for spending millions on a set piece for his speech? Where is your criticism of Obama for breaking the law by revealing private info about Joe the plumber?

    Where was your criticism for Obama when he wanted to shelve the Constellation program?

    Nowhere to be found, that’s where is was. You are a disappointment from a skeptical opinion because you refuse to turn the same spotlight on Obama/Biden that you do with McCain/Palin.

    You, of all people, should know better. And it’s too bad.

  92. Actually, Greg, my understanding of Obama’s plan for the folks making over $250,000 a year is to raise their rate from the current 33 percent to 36 percent (and from 35 to 39 for folks well above $250,000), and only for that portion over $250,000. So the effect of the change isn’t as dire as it’s made out to be – it’s 3 or 4 percent of their income above $250,000. If you make that much money, it still isn’t great news, but the impact is fairly small for a that 2% of the population.

    So, if Joe Plumber makes $300,000 next year (after Obama makes the change), that’s 50,000 that gets taxed at an additional 3% or 1500 on a tax bill that is likely closing in on $100,000. Not great news for Joe, perhaps – but that’s roughly equivalent to a increase of $15 if you pay $10,000 in taxes.

    John B. Sandlin

  93. Naomi

    You know, I’m kinda glad I live in Australia, now.

  94. Tman said : “Yes, the campaign spent $150,000 on her wardrobe. But you know what? Unlike McCain, Obama, or Biden, Palin doesn’t own $150,000 worth of clothes in which to choose from to present her views. So instead you ridicule her for not being as rich as Obama or Biden?”

    This is a perfect example of what I said above, that some people will rationalise almost anything if someone they support did something no matter how obscene. This the argument from “Oh yeah, well…!”.

  95. Tman: You assume Obama has $150,000 in clothing. I find that hard to accept.

    He mentions he has four or five suits. So even if they are $1,500 each (not a difficult number to accept for a top level lawyer or politico), that’s about $7,500 worth – still a lot of money, but a long way from 150,000. Of course he has other clothing, but still. That’s a ridiculous amount to spend in a few weeks.

    As for releasing Joe’s personal information, that information is easy to access but many people, Obama’s included. That is a long way from proving it was actually Obama’s folks that did so, however. It’s just as likely the media did it all on their own. Or do you believe that the press is too lazy to do their own investigations. In fact, Obama’s campaign has called for an investigation to find and prosecution of who ever accessed those records – sounds like they have a lot to hide, or not.

    I do have to say I’d like better sourcing on the information about the $150,000 for the clothing – it is a ridiculous amount to spend on clothing and I’m finding it difficult to actually credit that story. If each outfit cost $7,500, then it only takes 20 outfits to reach the magic number – but if the outfits she’s been wearing cost $7,500 each, they were robbed.

    Maybe they meant $15,000 – $750 per outfit is certainly more reasonable.

    John B. Sandlin

  96. stopgap

    “Stopgap: If you vote for McCain, there won’t be any more astronomy… (I hope I’m kidding).

    John B. Sandlin”

    *chuckle*

    I wasn’t going to vote anyways. Maybe in 2012 if there is a candidate that is strong on civil liberties.

  97. I see the mythology dies hard. A trooper electro-cooks his stepson with a taser, his sorry ass gets fired (as it should), and charges of abuse of power hover like the fruit flies. Let’s recap. Oh yeah, her teen getting pregnant is “hypocrisy”…somehow……

    Trig is not her baby. She is a member of a separatist movement. (also untrue, grief). She banned books not even around when the handy lists got passed around the Net. What else?

    Well, seeing that a human shaped department store manikin called Obama has…well..let’s see here……how much foreign policy experience, and exactly when was it the Serbs or the Croats invaded Chicago’s southside?’

    I thought so.

    (Obama can see the Sears Tower from the ACORN office, no doubt.I guess that makes him a titan in the world of brass ring, high powered finance! WOW!)

    Speaking of his economic experience, while I’m not expert, it has come to my attention that his lobster dinners and his dear Belle’s attire are not particularly cheap. Nor is the Waldorf Astoria. Nor Iranian caviar.

    And I’m rather curious as to his math skills. Or perhaps nobody at this point gives a crap. Run the numbers, and ask yourself out of the alleged 95% of “tax break” recipients how many…..never paid taxes. Rather odd way of handing out….”rebates.”

    Not a new idea in that empty skull of his. Ideas from smelly hippies still reeking from Woodstock, yes. Or perhaps, oddly enough, from the people we used to aim missiles at. But nothing new here under this particular sun.

    Now obviously this election is about the plupart of the people thinking they’re gonna be gettin’ some goody outta dem rich folk. That’s about where things stand. It’s that simple and you can’t argue much against that kind of passion for the Messiah. After all, like he and his dear bride say, white folk greed runs a world in need. Bless him for taking class warfare to a new low in American politics.

    But at what point do we figure out (scientifically if you please, since apparently few people think ideology means much) that Democrats do not lower taxes in the long run.

    Indeed, how the hell could they, with trillions tacked on for every imaginable social ill to heal by government—albeit they DO shift money around from point A to point B. Or, that we can’t tax ourselves into prosperity with the planet’s number two corporate tax rates (something also rarely mentioned), or that the real message American need to hear is not one of government coddling them and turning them into big mushy babies, but (as William Henry III argued) to inculcate them with a sense of personal responsibility. Most social programs would be horribly immoral even if they are paid up by Bill Gates every month. It’s the morality, stupid economists. The issue here not so much money in the pocket kept out of government coffers but responsibility placed back into the noggin. None of us prosper under the Messiah’s take on this; government is to handle all for you.

    So other than waiting 18 months for an MRI under a “free” health care plan that is SURELY not going to suppress private health insurance options (even though it actually did in Hawaii, when people figured out why the hell pay for something if you can get it for nothing, and then the plan had to be CANCELLED), asking the French their opinions on the Muslim communities increasing boldness of their, um, “youthful activists” burning cars in Paris in rights for Allah, flag raising ceremonies for Hamas and other contributors to the Obama campaign who either used to blow people into chunks, or still do, or Iran’s vested interesting in dragging things out with anytime talks while its readies itself with nukes, I think an wonderful case could be made for Obama. I mean, well, other than the fact that there IS some bleed over for business owners who file 250 K a year on their personal taxes.

    As economist Robert Samuelson wrote a while back, free handouts and goody bag politics for all! Wow! What a deal!

    And why turn down a freebie here or there? Surely as the Euros know it’s no skin off the nose! Just tax the living hell out of “the rich”—-which in the Universe called Reality means you eventually have to sock to everyone down to the burger flippers. And what now is the Messiah’s sage advice for the very problems he and his fellow Democrats helped to cause with EZ credit advocacy. What, other than some 200 days as a JUNIOR senator (Palin was a governor, you chimps) voting “present” most of the time, is his experience? Nothing.

    But what they hell should we care, right? He makes journalists get tingly legs just having his mug on the tube. I guess that’s good enough for the American Idol crowd.

    Obama’s knowledge of world affairs and foreign policy is more than just “seeing Russia from Alaska”! Pah! We know this from the last time ACORN operatives invaded the southside of Chicago!

    Also:

    Obama picks cool friends! Neato. Now THIS is the guy we need writing curricula for school kids!
    And that ratbag of a pastor in whose pews he sat for over 1000 Sundays surely can sling the sweat to the third row. So he got that old timey religion just like Palin. If not more.

    He NEVER shows hypocrisy in critiques of others!

    He is NEVER contradicted by actual events.

    Behold, the people sing paeans to his very noble name, and praise the Change!

    Of course, I meant to say a case to be made in some alternate Universe. Not that this is impossible. But who knows?
    Until further notice, the man looks more phony than a 3-dollar bill.

  98. stopgap said : “Maybe in 2012 if there is a candidate that is strong on civil liberties.”

    Yeah, but which way?
    ;-)

  99. PrimerX

    I love it.

    $150,000 for clothing which will go to charity bought legally is the Democratic headline right now.

    While Obama is raising and spending hundreds of million of dollars sometimes obtained illegaly via overseas donations. While he associates with radicals from an anti-white preacher (which he left for political PR reasons alone) to domestic terrorists to other criminals that kick started his career. He is utterly inexperience in foreign policy and got it dead wrong on Iraq (where 25 million people now live free of Saddam under democracy) and is happy to court other terrorist sponsors without conditions. The same man that recieved the second most donations from the failed banker that brought us this current economic crisis and the same person that represented ACORN who are now involved in massive voter fraud. All along the way he has been slippy as an eel, flip flopping as fast as Kerry.

    Fortunately for you, this is not a debate of right and wrong. The media is heavy biased in their protection of your champion and you will continue to see them focus on such superficial issues. I’m just surprise you folks swallow it so readily.

    Palin is going for VICE PRESIDENT and she has more experience running government than Obama who is going for the top job. I wish the republicans had better candidates but in this time of war, I’ll take a strong conservative as opposed to a populist hollywood type.

    Btw, I’m an academic working in applied physics within the same liberal ivory towers that lets a domestic terrorist teach our youth and the likes of Chomsky to spit on the US.

  100. Naomi said “You know, I’m kinda glad I live in Australia, now.”

    Naomi, don’t speak to soon…

    http://www.smh.com.au/news/technology/biztech/how-government-tried-to-gag-censor-critics/2008/10/23/1224351430987.html

  101. @John B. and shane:

    The $150,000 on womens clothing doesn’t even come close to the sweetheart real estate deals that Obama received from his former associate Anthony Rezko. Nor does it begin to even dent the $5.3 million spent on the Barackopolis.

    Your damn right I’m going to turn the spotlight in the other direction when people accuse Palin of somehow being some sort of elitist for letting the RNC buy her wardrobe for the campaign when the opposing party is anything BUT a middle class family.

    Palin is far more like those who don’t get sweetheart real estate deals like Obama than anyone else in either party and it’s an incredibly weak argument to make.

  102. I hear a lot about how the wardrobe costs as much as the Greek columns. Yet I see no dollar value attached to the columns. I’m told they costed 14.1 million, but that can’t be right, that sounds like the cost for the entire convention. Could someone please provide evidence that the columns were comparable in cost to Palin’s wardrobe? Or are they extending their roles are props, only this time, political ones?

  103. Thomas Siefert

    I thought they were called Freedom Flies now?

    Joke aside, does Obama even have to do any campaigning any more?

  104. Surely the columns weren’t real marble? I’d expect a team of carpenters and painters can knock that together for a few grand.

  105. Buzz Parsec

    I can’t say “freedom fruit flies.” It keeps coming out “freedom flute fries” :-(

  106. Craig

    Bringing it back to fruit flies for a moment, Gero Miesenböck’s mob has done some fantastic work lately with fruit flies and genetically engineered optical neuroimaging and control. Mindblowingly cool stuff.

  107. DrFlimmer

    My dear Americans.

    On November 4th you have a responsibility to vote. Not only for your own sake, but for the sake of the WHOLE world. Please, do us a favor and change the development of history before it’s too late.

    Maybe it’s speculative, but think about it: If Bush had not become president in 2001, the world would be a different place, it would look different today! Probably better, probably without a Sep11 and definitely without those wars (i.e. Iraq).

    Do yourself and the rest of this little planet a favor!

  108. # DrFlimmer Says:
    October 26th, 2008 at 4:30 am

    “My dear Americans.

    On November 4th you have a responsibility to vote. Not only for your own sake, but for the sake of the WHOLE world. Please, do us a favor and change the development of history before it’s too late.

    Do yourself and the rest of this little planet a favor!”

    ———————————–

    Ok, but only because you told me to.

  109. Elmar_M

    [EMBED DELETED BY THE BAD ASTRONOMER; it was hanging the page.]

    The “useless” research on Fruitflies made that possible!
    The family had to go to CHINA (!) for that. Still think that the government should not spend money on research for that? If you do, then think about how much money society could save by reducing the number of blinds.
    If even that does not convince you yet, then I hope for your sake that you never get an illness that requires you to get therapy that was developed from genetic research. The ignorance of people is hard to believe!

  110. Jen

    Accusing Phil of overwhelming liberal political bias in a post that praises past Republican science policies and mourns their loss doesn’t make any sense. It means he’s obviously willing to see good in the “other side” when it’s there, and the reason he’s made the political decisions he has is because he doesn’t see it now. It also means those crying bias are dismissing whatever doesn’t fit their kneejerk assumptions about his political views and arguing on basis of their assumptions alone.

    As for Wardrobegate and charges of sexism, give me a break. I’m about as sensitive to sexism as it gets, as well a political independent, and this doesn’t have a thing to do with Palin being a woman or even Republican. It has everything to do with her deliberately building up her entire persona as an ordinary, financially struggling American and then being inconsistent with that persona. She herself made that the key to her character. Any action she takes that contradicts her own self-constructed and self-congratulated image not only can be questioned but should be. She’s certainly not the only one who has done something like this, but that doesn’t make criticism of her invalid. If we let every politician who lies slide because “they all do it,” we’d end up, well, where we are.

  111. SLC

    Re Greg

    I have a flash for Mr. Greg. The flap over ACORN is a pile of horse pucky. Attached is a link to a blog by Ed Brayton who, with his colleagues at the Michigan Messenger has investigated the ACORN issue and found it to be totally without foundation. This is nothing but the big lie spread by the Rethuglican Party to cover up their plot to steal the election.

    http://michiganmessenger.com/5366/gop-sound-and-fury-about-acorn-is-a-little-bit-nutty

  112. Harold McTestes

    Phil,

    Calling Palin a “Disaster” is the best you can come up with? Be honest and tell us what you really think. If it’s overly bad you can delete your own post and chastise yourself publicly… :)

    I’d love to spill the beans on what I think of her cheeky, power hungry, ignorant, dumb, hypocritical, shady, Fargo-ish, Miss South Carolina speech giving ass but I’m afraid the comments would be deleted.

  113. Beacon

    Wow I can’t believe how incredibly WRONG Phil is.
    Phil’s inability to see his error is very troubling as he is a PH.d scientist.

    Sarah Palin NEVER for a second has said that fruit flies research is worthless or wrong or ANYTHING to that extent. That is Phil’s bias showing through.

    What she did SAY was that EARMARKS into science research into fruit flies is wrong and IT IS!
    Science funding, as Phil should know, is based on a competitive basis!!
    It should not be earmarked. It is as simple as that.

    I don’t know how anyone can possibly read anything more into this than that.
    She simply never made a value decision on science and specifically science research into fruit flies.

    This election has shown how evil, mean, stupid and ignorant the democrats can be.

    Get used to it Phil because she is going to the white house and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. Take solace in the fact that CO is staying red this year.

  114. True Conservative

    “OK, why be coy? I think Sarah Palin is a disaster. You know all the reasons: no experience, chosen cynically, a past that can charitably be called checkered, no understanding of the job for which she’s been picked, stirring up vile emotions in the base, blatant hypocrisy, $150,000 for clothes (how much sporting equipment could your standard Hockey Mom buy for that?), so on and so forth ad nauseum.”

    True but she agrees with us on abortion and gay marriage, which is far more important than some elitist research.

  115. Beacon, I’m not sure you watched the same video I did. She had a go at earmarks and the projects the earmarks were funding. She said, “…projects having little or nothing to do with the public good. Think (?) like fruit fly research in Paris France. I kid you not”.

    Not overwhelming support for scientific research I think you would agree regardless of the mechanism through which the funding is achieved.

    Unless I’ve been Poe’d.

  116. Ray

    Phil,

    “OK, why be coy? I think Sarah Palin is a disaster. You know all the reasons: no experience, chosen cynically, a past that can charitably be called checkered, no understanding of the job for which she’s been picked, stirring up vile emotions in the base, blatant hypocrisy,”

    Each and every one of your arguments can be laid squarely on your hero Obama too.

  117. colin

    There are two chances of Palin being in the Whitehouse this year, somechance and nochance!

  118. ND

    True Conservative,

    That elitist label again. What does it mean? Elitist research? Important advances in medicine comes from some of the most counter intuitive research out there. Yes, studying fruit flies helps advance human medicine.

  119. Peter B

    Wakefield Tolbert said: “Speaking of his economic experience, while I’m not expert, it has come to my attention that his lobster dinners and his dear Belle’s attire are not particularly cheap. Nor is the Waldorf Astoria. Nor Iranian caviar.”

    Maybe not. But what claims about the Waldorf Astoria and Iranian caviar are you making? The ones debunked on Snopes?

  120. Wanna get rid of Palin?

    Easy

    Just hand Alaska back to the russians.

    There: problem solved.

  121. José

    @Phil

    Jose Says:
    When it starts to get political and insulting towards ANY of the idiots running, it’s time for me to cancel my subscription and say adios to Salon..er Discover for you jumped the shark.

    This wasn’t me by the way. By “me” I mean “Jose who normally posts here”. It was someone with the same name, or someone playing games. I’ll start including the accent on the “é”.

  122. José

    @True Conservative
    You sound like a Marriage elitist.

  123. Alaska’s biggest newspaper, The Anchorage Daily News, just endorsed Obama. Hopefully it adds a little salt to Palin’s wounds when she limps her happy arse back home in a couple of weeks. May we never hear her irritating voice and utter gibberish EVER again.

  124. Well José, if that is your real name, I’m pretty sure Phil can see the IP of where you, or the person you are purporting to be, post from as well as the email you post with so you have nothing to worry about. Or he doesn’t if it isn’t you and he didn’t do what you did… or something.
    :-)

  125. Mad Hussein LOLscientist, FCD

    One of our candidates was a kid from the wrong side of the tracks who lived part of his life in poverty, was raised largely by his grandparents, went to Harvard Law (and later became president of the Harvard Law Review) on his own merits, went on by dint of hard work to become a successful lawyer and politician, and has focused much of his career on efforts to better the lives of people in the community of his youth. The other was born into a distinguished military family, had every advantage growing up, married into wealth, and doesn’t seem to remember how many houses he has. So tell me honestly: Who’s the “elitist” in this picture?

    @ Some Canadian Skeptic: You rock! Why is it that so many foreigners and immigrants seem to have a better handle on what’s going on here in the good old Hew-Hess-of-Hay than regular Amurricans do? One of my favorite political commentators is Bora Zivkovic, AKA Coturnix, who came here from Serbia right after Yugoslavia broke up.

    @ Elmar_M: I think your link got screwed up. We can has repost?

  126. Will. M

    The vice president must be intelligent enough to step into the president’s job and either carry on the programs of his party – the man who’s job he’s assuming was the head of his party and did exactly that – or else lead the country in his own direction.

    To claim that the R’s lower taxes is to ignore their entire philosophy of government and finance and what it has done to this country since the Reagan era: smaller government has meant that our nation’s infrastructure has become dangerously compromised; the spirit of compromise – once a part of political debate in Congress – has become polarized, with all pols trying to get a limited piece of the pie for their constituents; the military has become severely compromised by outsourcing to mercenaries, by no-bid contracting, by the limited war philosophy of the neocons – in spite of having the largest budget in the history of this nation; the institutions of government – the Supreme Court, the FDA, the FCC, NASA, etc. etc. have all been compromised by partisan political hackery and ineptitude, and so on.

    As to raising taxes: just what the hell is the country going to do to try to cover the gigantic debt run up by the twenty plus years of the disaster that was the fiscal policy of the R’s begun under that B actor Reagan? Where are we going to get the money to pay for the indebtedness? Print it? The savings and loan scandal of the “80′s, the dot.com bust of the 90′s, the current housing and banking meltdown – even the chief architect of these disasters – Alan Greenspan – has said that his ideas were wrong. Taxes aren’t just deductions from your paycheck: they’re the hidden costs of mismanagement, neglect, corruption, malfeasance which are always added to the increasing burden of debt a nation’s economy must deal with sometime down the road.

    Good flaming god; no taxes, they’ll raise our taxes, government’s too big, creeping Socialism, the Welfare society – yadda yadda yadda on infinitum. Compare us in any area: infant mortality rates, health care coverage, educational level, infrastructure, university graduates in science and math, and yes, the tax rate – to any other developed Western nation and were not among the top ten.

    So, vote for the people who’s policies brought this nation to this economic and cultural and social disaster once again. That’s always rational thinking.

  127. Elmar_M

    Beacon, no you are wrong. Look at the video again and then eat your words. It is exactly what she meant.
    Btw, when people talk about elitist. Someone who manages to spend 150,000 USD in two months on clothing for anything less than a whole army of soldiers, is IMHO an elitist (and before someone comes crying “sexist”, I would say the same if it was a man spending that money).

  128. Mad Hussein LOLscientist, FCD

    Oops. “Regular Amurricans” was a poor choice of words. (That’s what I get for posting before my coffee kicks in.) Substitute “people who have lived all our lives here.” Of course naturalized citizens are “regular Americans”!

    I’m down on my knees, I’m begging you please, BA: We can has preview button?

    I think I’ll scuttle back under my rock now.

  129. Rodney

    Charles said,

    “Let them have their fun. Their opinions are to be rendered officially irrelevant a week from Tuesday.”

    I hope you’re right. I really do.

    Dems are all too good at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory (besides, isn’t it about time for Bin Ladin to scare everyone into voting Republican, with another video message? I would if I was him, those right wing lug nuts couldn’t catch a cold!)

    I say don’t just vote, grab all your friends, in the neighborhood, and go out to vote together.

    rod

  130. José

    @Shane
    Oh, I know he can see them. I’m just worried he wouldn’t look if he had no reason to… and I have major self esteem issues.

  131. IVAN3MAN

    José:

    This wasn’t me by the way. By “me” I mean “Jose who normally posts here”. It was someone with the same name, or someone playing games. I’ll start including the accent on the “é”.

    We would not have this problem here if people were required to register first before posting a comment, as is the case on RichardDawkins.net and JREF.

  132. José

    besides, isn’t it about time for Bin Ladin to scare everyone into voting Republican, with another video message?

    Does anyone else think Bin Ladin most likely died at Tora Bora? He loved releasing threatening messages before that point. Now all we get are infrequent audio messages, and a couple of videos that are impossible to date.

  133. Lawrence

    “I didn’t leave the Republican Party – the Party left me” Christopher Hitchins, formally of the National Review.

    How true – where Republicans were once small government, get government out of people’s lives, low tax rates & responsible business, we have now seen the Federal Government grow to unprecedented size, individual rights trampled on a daily basis, corrupt government & politicizing of the bureaucracy, and a national debt that will crush the economic future of this nation (and that doesn’t even cover the disaster of Wall Street & the slow collapse of the world financial system).

    At least Obama is level-headed, surrounds himself with reputable experts & listens to advice. Everything else that has been thrown his way is nothing but a smokescreen by arch-conservatives that are grasping for straws, as all of their policies have been shown to be bankrupt.

    I once respected John McCain & would have voted for him in a second. But he sold his soul to the RNC & has been in lockstep with them since the convention.

    I am glad that our long national nightmare will be over in a little over a week. I am proud to call myself a member of the “Lincoln Republicans” and wish we could get back to the core values that actually make sense.

  134. Mr. Says.

    Either socialism has meaning, or it does not. So while people can mock the use of the terminology, whether it creeps or not, the fact remains that over the last several decades the definition is settling in, in some very real and rather unpleasant ways. The problem is not taxation or lack of, however. It is the programs, and these would be immoral even IF they could be paid out many times over. The issue is not so much money in the pocket, but as I said elsewhere, more responsibility in the life. Palin repreents, like Alaska, the last bastion of cultural confidence that moribund and demographically stultified places like Europe cannot stand. She is the antithesis to multicultural mush and PC-ness. The obnoxious and odious idea, accepted on baloney premises, that all cultures and lifestyles and notions provide for the commonweal and culture equally. It is on this idiotic basis that mutli-culti and liberalism even gets accepted. But I note that liberals rarely migrate to the socialist pestholes of the world or do more than “honor” the tribal enclaves in more than word.

    In Europe, however, it IS true the secular state and all its mush and slush and handouts that sap people’s initiatives cannot compete with the more culturall confident ways of Islam. Why are so many young men turning to this violent creed, we wonder? Golly gee. The Muslims are not about to make the mistake of the Reformation where religion is banashed to the periphery. No sir. They play to have the car keys turned over completely.
    Which is why we now have Sharia law in Britain, of all the cockamamie thing to have happen. Palin for her part, though not an expert on fruit flies (and the direction of this nation does not hinge on that any more than it does on what Lindsey Lohan has to say…) stands against the liberal pieties that big government can save us. It cannot. Or that as in Europe we’ll find a way to transplant life’s primal struggles of health and jobs with yet another program or handout. It didn’t work there. It cannot here either. And while the Obama’s are paying homage to Teddy Kennedy and claiming that “single payer” health insurance would NEVER force out or transplant private health insurance, yet again the nasty details elude him. But not Palin, interestingly. Nor McCain. In Hawaii, the clientele did the logical thing and just dropped their private carriers. Why the hell not? If you think the coverage is even approximately the same and are not willing to plunk down a big deductable for every sniffle, you go to government. That’s not a good thing in the long run. So belying the sales pitch of “free health care”, Hawaii had to scale back the program.

    My oh my–the laws of unintended consequences. That never happens in big goverment programs either, does it?

    PC, Multi-culti mush and secularism are present tense situtation that disconnect people from culture. Religion used to be this link. In Europe the new one is Islam, even as secularism elsewhere empties the churches out. New construction on mosques that will someday hail the ways of Allah next to Big Ben are booming businesses. Religion here in America for our part is competition to the religion of big government, where liberals can’t stand the competition, and have transplanted private concerns over primal impulses to declare that government is now going to handle it all for us.

    Now. You grow the economy by helping to grow business. American corporations are not going to be competitive here or abroad with corporate tax rates some of the highest in the world. Yes, there are infrastructure needs galore. Rather than have this Rube-Goldberg complexity in a tax code, I’d prefer a consumption tax that both simplifies the process and prevents politicians from trying to manipulate behaviors.

    If however we are to follow Europe into some moribund abyass where government is to handle all of life’s primal concerns from womb to tomb, then let us just say so and stop pinching and nipping. Unfortunatley it IS true that the Republicans, trying yet again to not learn any thing and to curry favor with various groups, grew the government to sizes unknown. And when such programmed largesse is made it never shrinks. Government is like plutonium. It is eternal. Still curious about those nifty “tax breaks” that really are giveaways. Thus not tax breaks.

    As to Waldoff, it does appear that story was apocryphal.

    But then, so are other items that keep getting rehashed:

    http://www.snopes.com/politics/palin/palin.asp

    I seriously doubt the Obama’s have been clipping many coupons and struggling to make ends meet for years on end now. Neither has a salary anything less than sumptious for most Americans. Please.

    As to baggage, Obama has a hell of a lot more baggage than Palin and Troopergate.

    Still curious also about when the Russians or Iranians last invaded the Chicago southside. Did they overturn an ACORN office or something? What is Obama’s insight into foreign policy other than the looney advisors he’s gathered among his flock?

    As to infanct mortality, we are not a homogenous society, and the Welfare State has unfortunatley produced an uncomfortable social dependency on government. This in turn, as Charles Murray showed, created a sitation where family structure was destroyed and transplanted by various agencies in some sectors. If the Great Society did this to us (and it did), then this should stand as a big flashing warning sign detailing (and the stats are available on this too from Robert DiLorenzo among others) that since the dour stats did not improve and things even got worse, this casts a BIG shadow on the notion that government is the solution. Now, in some nations as in Scandinavian ones, infant mortality is not really accurate stacked up to ours, as live births are counted differently. A child who dies two days after delivery is NOT inluded in the infant mortality rates. There are no doubt cultural differences among nations that account for such factors as well. Our culture is also different in how it responds to social programs. Again, we are not homogenous and will not behave in the hive-like, collective manner as Europeans do in their own slumber to extinction.

    As to educational achievment, you might want to ask your local NEA operative or school board to check into why American education remains locked in concerns over benefits and union issues more than real acheivement. A little competition is in order. See John Taylor Gatto on this one, if it bothers you. There’s an answer for this too. At the college level, though, where the crap hits the fan, for some darn reason we are loadd down with foreigners a-plenty. Apparently they’re not aware of your sour claims about science.

    As Wardrobegate, no one has gotten more unaccountable graft and payout than B. Obama in the last several years.

    As to those darling fruitflies, the issue is not science funding, which I’m sure Palin was not railing against. But it IS legitimate to question the way in which certain things get the dough. This earmarking crap MUST come to an end at some point. We can’t do it all at the Federal level. No one has stopped savvy venture capitalists from donating to this kind of thing or for that matter studying the mating habits of beetles. While its true that you never know where some research will lead or what insights, we can’t do everything that any group or organization wants. It will be like that hilarious movie Christmas Vacation when gungy cousin Eddie pulls out a handy shopping list when Clark offers to “help” with Christmas for the kids. The list is so long it unfolds and hits the floor.

  135. @ Lawrence:
    Sorry to pick nits here, but that was a quote by Christopher Buckley, not Hitchens.

  136. @ Jose (with an accent)

    I too believe, as well as former CIA agent Robert Baer and a number of others, that Bin Laden is dead. Hell, many of the Wahhabist sympathizers I know think he’s dead. Still, he is a convenient boogey-man.

  137. Radwaste

    “Certainly hypocritical, since McCain would raise our taxes more than Obama would.”

    Phil – and others – let us not be like the mindless masses, who are severely challenged to name anyone but the President whenever any issue comes up.
    You know that Congress has 100% of the Constitutional duty to establish the budget and tax policy.

    You who rant: do you know who your Congresspeople are? Have you corresponded with them, at least as much as you have attended this and other blogs?

    Where is the skeptic’s wizardry on the clothing issue? Does anyone really believe that one hundred and fifty one-thousand-dollar outfits either a) really exist, b) are really in Gov. Palin’s wardrobe, or c) are hers to keep? Clothing? Gack!

    I sure hope you’re consistent when evaluating your favorite movie star’s commitment to a candidate.

    This blog should be collecting savvy people, yet I wonder if anyone can actually state one thing in their candidate’s achievements that, by itself, is enough to indicate Presidential material. I’ve asked for that on a forum at my local newspaper, and all I’ve gotten is commentary from the schoolyard at recess, first-grader stuff. So far, most people just want to whine and smear. They’re not looking at the race critically and thoroughly – absent any personal bias they have.

    Maybe you’ve seen questions like this, maybe you haven’t. These are mine:

    1) Claims have been made that some agent will test the new President. These are directed at Obama now because of how Joe Biden presented the idea. But how much of this is true because of the division of the American public (which will be seen as unwillingness to act), how much of this is due to Sen. Obama’s or Sen. McCain’s experience levels and Congressional ties?

    2) How much attention was expended on past VP choices, and why is it apparently greater today? Should you worry so much about the VP instead of the Presidential candidate?

    3) What is the utility of a VP, and why is it apparently a bigger deal than before? Is somebody predicting the death of a President more than in years past – are we “overdue”?

    4) What does the list of past actions of each candidate mean relative to the post they seek? (Asked because I see Sen. Obama and Gov. Palin compared constantly – apparently because Sen McCain wins in such comparison). Compare Sen. Biden to Gov. Palin, or rate all four, but just like any experiment, explain the test used.

    5) Is the yardstick by which you pick a candidate really how capable they are, or how they irritate you personally? Admiral Hyman Rickover was possibly the most abrasive SOB ever to hold a position of power in the US military (he disqualified an officer for the Naval Nuclear program for salting his dish at dinner without tasting it first – tales abound), but when you have a nuclear-powered vessel near you, it’s simply no issue because of his personal demands that the plant comes first. Great results come from people you don’t like.

    Humor: Have you seen the ad claiming that the other candidate has no tax breaks for the middle class, and ours has three times that much?

    You don’t have to answer me, of course, but if you haven’t thought of stuff like this before, you’re not bringing any brains to the voting booth.

  138. @BA “$150,000 for clothes (how much sporting equipment could your standard Hockey Mom buy for that?)”

    What is the particular point about the $150,000 spent by the McCain campaign on Palin’s clothes? Is it that it’s excessive campaign spending?

    If so then why is there not one peep about the Obama campaign which is about to buy up a half hour of national prime time television time on October 29th on ALL the major TV networks. That’s right, ALL of the major TV networks – ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, CNN, etc., etc. The Obama campaign will not tell us how much money this will cost them but typical costs of prime time television run from $80,000 to $125,000 for 30 seconds of air time. Let’s assume something in the middle, say $100,000 per 30 seconds. So a half hour is $6 million and that’s just one network. Let’s multiply that by 10 for complete saturation of all the TV networks at the same time, and it runs to $60 million. This is 400 times the cost of Palin’s clothes.

    But this is no sweat for the Obama campaign which just raised $150 million during the month of September alone. Projections are that by the time this campaign is over Obama will have spent three quarters of a billion dollars which is more than Bush and Kerry spent combined in 2004 and will probably be three times as much as McCain spends. Public financing of campaigns is usually an issue which liberals support, but the supposedly liberal candidate in 2008 has single-handedly managed to destroy the system by opting out (after previously promising to accept public funding and its associated limits on spending). Probably never again will any candidate for president accept public financing.

    So Palin’s clothes are really nothing in the big scheme of things. The whole system is awash with dirty, corrupt cash and its strings to special interests.

  139. Utakata

    Tman wrote inpart:

    “This is unscientific. Instead of attempting to approach this election with a skeptical attitude you are pushing the outright bias and manipulation of the truth by the left-wing media.”

    If you think that…then you’re no more skeptical than a young Earth Creationist (who would ironically claim the same thing).

    Yes…I stopped reading beyond that.

  140. ND

    Wakefield Tolbert,

    I’m sorry but I’m sure you could have found a better person than Palin to put up on the high and mighty pedestal of morality. I had bad vibes when Bush and Cheney got into power and I’m having the same bad vibes from Palin. She is interested in the expanded power of the VP thanks to Cheney, but she will not be as discreet and reserved as Cheney in abusing that power (yes I believe Palin will abuse powers more than Cheney). She’s also playing with power with her use of inflammatory language. Her accusation of “palling around with terroristS” and that “he’s not like us” is very very dangerous and show what she’s willing to do achieve political power. Yes everyone running for a seat in washington wants politcal power but Palin disturbs me. And not because of difference in world views but the calamities she can bring.

    “Who is Obama” says Palin, who is *she*?

    As for McCain, he has let his reputation be tarnished. I’m still willing to accept that allowing the inflammatory rhetoric was a bad judgment on his part rather than something he supports.

  141. @Tolbert

    Wow. Paranoid much?

    I don’t even know where to start, the level of inane and insipid thoughts is so high. I can tell what books and articles you’ve likely been reading, the ideas you spout are that banal. Yes, I’m sure you feel that Islam is a monolithic cabal, set to destroy the ways of the west single-mindedly. Of course, you never really looked hard at the history of its ideology and the manner in which it has changed over the centuries.

    You obviously never taken a basic world history class, where it becomes clear that multiculturalism has been the rule, not the exception. I you think for a moment that Islam’s history has been any less fractured than that of Christianity, or that millenarianism arises out out ideology rather than circumstance- then it’s fair to say you are completely uneducated about the things on which you speak.

    Then again, who am I kidding? You think Europe is devolving into a cesspit. Ever convert dollars to euros? It’s a humbling experience.

  142. M. Renfro

    Phil,
    I first heard you on Coast To Coast last week. You had some pretty interesting ideas as they relate to astronomy. Enough so, that I wanted to check out your website to investigate further. What I found was nothing more than a political post forum that has absolutely NOTHING to do with astronomy. If I had wanted to witness a bunch of political hacks promoting their candidate, I could have turned to nearly any media outlet and got that! With that said, I’ll leave now and search for a true site dedicated to the science of astronomy. Good luck with your agenda.

  143. ND

    Correct me if I’m wrong here but didn’t the Republican party traditionally outspend Democrats in presidential elections? Didn’t they on average raise more money? If so, then I think Obama is giving the Republican party a taste of their own medicine.

  144. ND

    The sentence from my post
    “She’s also playing with power with her use of inflammatory language.”

    should read

    “She’s also playing with FIRE with her use of inflammatory language.”

  145. Lawrence

    Sorry about that guys, I asked the wife & she told me the wrong Christopher.

    The issue people have is that the RNC spent $150,000.00 (much more than the average person makes in a year) on clothes from places like Neiman Marcus & Saks 5th Avenue, where the average person nowadays couldn’t even afford a handbag – what ever happened to Talbots or even Ann Taylor? They could have stocked Palin with a whole wardrobe for about $10,000.00 & I don’t think anyone would have blinked.

    This coming from Republicans that blasted Edwards for a $400.00 haircut – the hypocricy is amazing. This is was really ticks me off – it is perfectly fine for Republicans to question Democrats about anything, but as soon as you say anything about Republicans it becomes a huge deal – how dare we want to know Palin’s beliefs? Seriously, this is one screwed up election.

    Oh, and from above – the whole ACORN thing is a smokescreen….there have been numerous prosecutions of people who submitted fraudulent registrations & in every case, ACORN fully supported the prosecution of those individuals, and in most cases they called in the AG to prosecute (after firing each of these people on the spot).

    I’m been a dyed-in-the-wool Republican for years now. I was at the RNC victory party in 1998 when we captured both the House & Senate. Now, I can say that the Party has abandoned its ideals, put the future of this country at risk & we need a real change in Washington to get back on course.

    For all of those that think Obama means Socialism – try really doing research on the issues instead of listening to Limbaugh. And is Europe was so bad, how come Ireland & Portugal had two of the most dynamic economies over the past several years?

    I know what you guys are feeling – I felt the same way about Clinton. I mean, how the heck could the American people vote for the Governor of Arkansas as President? But even then, the level of anger wasn’t nearly at the level I see from people today – the political discourse in this country has broken down completely. The Republicans need to see things from the outside again to get a little perspective….seriously guys, take a breather & get your acts together. Maybe you’ll have a chance next tim around.

  146. Nice try, M. Renfro, but have fun elsewhere. Don’t let the internet hit you on the derriere on the way out.

  147. Steve Morrison

    Two points which I can’t believe haven’t been mentioned yet:

    1) The fruit fly research Palin mocked wasn’t genetics research on Drosophila, it was research to combat the olive fruit fly, which has been damaging California’s olive crop.

    2) The controversy over her wardrobe purchase is in large part about the legality of spending any campaign funds on clothing ‒ it may be a violation of the McCain-Feingold Act!

  148. M. Renfro

    “Nice try”????? My comments were sincere. I had looked you up so that you might expand my knowledge of astronomy. “Don’t let the internet hit you on the derriere on the way out.” Cute. You certainly did not portray yourself as a hater on Coast To Coast AM. Hmmmm…. Well again, you were interesting on the show. I wish that I could have learned more from you. Have a nice day, and God bless you.

  149. @Renfro “I had looked you up so that you might expand my knowledge of astronomy.”

    There is lots and lots about astronomy here. I’d say the break-down is about two thirds astronomy, one third politics. You may have to click on the older entries to get to some of them. I believe there was a recent post on pictures from the Cassini spacecraft of Saturn’s moon Enceladus. Believe it or there are lots of heated discussions on the astronomy posts, not just the political ones. So don’t give up. If Phil’s politics (which even he would admit lean more towards the left wing) aren’t your cup of tea, just ignore them and go onto the science posts.

  150. M. Renfro
  151. Mad Hussein LOLscientist, FCD

    @ ND: You’re right. Republicans have been outspending Democrats for decades. The fact that Obama has fundraised rings around McCain – not to mention that an amazingly high proportion of Obama’s funding has come from small donors – says a lot about who’s the real “people’s candidate.”

  152. kkozoriz

    In 1993 Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) spoke on the Senate floor about proposed restrictions on the use of campaign contributions:

    “MCCAIN: Madam President, the amendment before the Senate is a very simple one. It restricts the use of campaign funds for inherently personal purposes. The amendment would restrict individuals from using campaign funds for such things as home mortgage payments, clothing purchases … and vacations or other trips that are noncampaign in nature[…]

    The use of campaign funds for items which most Americans would consider to be strictly personal reasons, in my view, erodes public confidence and erodes it significantly.”

    It seems that Senator McCain was against it before he was in favor of it.

  153. José

    @Radwaste
    You know that Congress has 100% of the Constitutional duty to establish the budget and tax policy.

    Yes, and the president has this thing called a veto. Because of that, the president has enormous sway over the direction the federal budget and tax policy.

    1) Claims have been made that some agent will test the new President. These are directed at Obama now because of how Joe Biden presented the idea. But how much of this is true because of the division of the American public (which will be seen as unwillingness to act), how much of this is due to Sen. Obama’s or Sen. McCain’s experience levels and Congressional ties?

    I’m not sure I even understand what you’re asking here. I must be at recess. I can say that I don’t expect something like what Biden says to happen, and Joe Biden is no stranger to saying crazy sounding things.

    2) How much attention was expended on past VP choices, and why is it apparently greater today? Should you worry so much about the VP instead of the Presidential candidate?

    It’s a bigger deal because McCain made a worse choice than anyone else in memory. I’m more worried about McCain, although for different reasons

    3) What is the utility of a VP, and why is it apparently a bigger deal than before? Is somebody predicting the death of a President more than in years past – are we “overdue”?

    People aren’t saying we’re overdue, but of course the death of the President is more likely than in past years. McCain is old and has potentially serious medical problems.

    4) What does the list of past actions of each candidate mean relative to the post they seek? (Asked because I see Sen. Obama and Gov. Palin compared constantly – apparently because Sen McCain wins in such comparison). Compare Sen. Biden to Gov. Palin, or rate all four, but just like any experiment, explain the test used.

    For the most part, Obama is compared to Palin by McCain supporters in a poor attempt to belittle Obama. Obama Supporters don’t shy away from comparing him directly to McCain, and don’t think McCain wins.

    5) Is the yardstick by which you pick a candidate really how capable they are, or how they irritate you personally? Admiral Hyman Rickover was possibly the most abrasive SOB ever to hold a position of power in the US military (he disqualified an officer for the Naval Nuclear program for salting his dish at dinner without tasting it first – tales abound), but when you have a nuclear-powered vessel near you, it’s simply no issue because of his personal demands that the plant comes first. Great results come from people you don’t like.

    It’s how capable they are. Great results can come from people you don’t like, but terrible results from people you don’t like as well.

  154. M. Renfro: You may want to note a previous post in this thread complaining about the same thing. This is Phil’s blog, his rules. He hears the refrain “I thought this was a science blog” frequently. So frequently that he puts up a reminder about it (being his own blog).

    He’s passionate about science and it comes through in his writing. Like most passionate people, he’s passionate about many things. Most of his political “rants” come about because something in the stand he opposes or supports directly affects the pursuit of science.

    This blog started because of some very bad thinking about science, things like people thinking we faked the moon landing, that eggs can only stand on end on the equinoxes, see the image of the Virgin Mary in french toast, and similar odd things. He writes about astronomy first (moon landing, equinoxes), science in general second (pareidolia), and those things they may affect how we do science third (politics). Very seldom do we slip beyond these three. That said, this is his blog and if you happen to stumble in on one of the forth category, go back to the Post Categories drop down – you’ll see the full spectrum of posts. Phil is very good about tagging his posts appropriately (this one is “anti-science, piece of mind, politics”).

    Despite, or because of, the political rants, Phil’s blog is well worth reading – and this is true even if you disagree with his politics – perhaps especially so. If you don’t see the view from the other side, you will never experience the empathy so important to a cohesive society (hence the familiar “walk a mile” saying).

    So, read the astronomy posts, there is always a fresh one near, read the general science posts, since they’re quite common, and skip the politics if you must, but remember that this is the blog of a human being, not a corporation (they just kindly host his blog), and as such reflects the insights of that singular human.

    John B. Sandlin

  155. Jake

    OK, why be coy? I think Barak Obama is a disaster. You know all the reasons: no experience, chosen stupidly, a past that can charitably be called checkered, no understanding of the job for which he’s been picked, stirring up vile racist emotions in the base, blatant hypocrisy, $5.3 million for greek columns at his coronation (how much sporting equipment could your standard high school buy for that?), so on and so forth ad nauseum.

  156. Jake: it’s not terribly cute when you project like that.

    Racism? From Obama’s side?

    Riiiiiight.

  157. Incidentally, Jake, just to increase your FAIL: Obama was picked through the democratic process via the primaries. Palin was obviously picked by the RNC, cynically, to get women voters who may have been disenfranchised by Hilary Clinton. It didn’t work, of course… and can you think of a Republican woman who might have been better? Anyone? I can think of several without breaking a sweat, and yet they chose Palin.

    Of course, she was also chosen because her antiscience stance and hard-right religious beliefs will appeal to the base, again cynically, because the base (correctly) probably doesn’t believe in McCain’s sudden appeal to the same people he called “agents of intolerance” just a year before.

    Interesting.

  158. M. Renfro: I’m not a hater. However, I keep seeing people coming in here and complaining about what I write about on my own blog. These people are almost by definition drama queens, since it’s pretty easy to find my email address and ask me in private why I write about non-astronomy topics.

    Instead, many make a federal case out of it, then make a big dramatic exit. Note that you are not the first person to say what you did, even in this thread.

    If I have misjudged you, then I submit my apology.

  159. Lawrence

    Let’s see, as far as experienced Presidents go:

    1) Lincoln – State Representative & one term Congressman

    2) FDR – Four (4) years as Undersecretary of the Navy & two (2) years as Governor of NY

    I don’t think “experience” means what you think it means. Some of the greatest Presidents this country has ever had, in its darkest times, have been relative unknowns, with little experience with the Washington “machine.”

    I will take the level-headed, straight-forward and rational candidate over McRage any day of the week. Since he can’t win on policy or issues, he is attempting to win on smears – that does not bode well for someone who might be in charge of the largest arsenal of nuclear weapons on the planet.

    I have yet to see one ad or hear one thing from the Obama campaign that can even begin to touch the negativity & depravity that has been issued forth from the RNC & McCain’s camp. I’d like to see anyone, and I mean anyone, quote something from either Obama or Biden that is even close to the blatantly false charges issuing right from the mouth of McCain or Palin.

    Palin has shown herself to be very much at home with Washington insiders – heck, her tactics involving secrecy (non-government email addresses for official business, because she was told they could not be subpeoned) is right up there with Bush.

    I will be so glad when this is over.

  160. Davidlpf

    I am just tired of the election campaign in general.

  161. Wakefied Tolbert

    Chemist:

    Euros aside, for however long that lasts, I have had more than a few years experience in western political philosphy, but even here I find one does not need to hash out that regimen to understand the basic point to know that monolithic is not the point–the power is. And with wahhabism taking the lead and forcing out the mom-and-pop versions of Islam and Europe making sure it’s own dying culture–both demographically and culturally (since that’s where all things start and end, btw) and bringing new life to the wonderous ways of Allah, I think the point is already made.

    And even if this side note to history (which Europe is about to become within two generations at the most) is untrue for the prophetic powers, I still find no answer on whether Obama had to tangle with the Serbs in Chicago, or REALLY if whether his advisors can fill in the details on foreign policy, or for that matter his oddball math on….tax breaks.

  162. SLC

    I would like to address the experience issue relative to Senator Obama because I think that it is a legitimate concern. In doing so, I will harken back to the situation in 1861 where we have the Southern states seceding from the union. For the union side, we have President Lincoln who had virtually no military experience whatever. For the confederate side, we have President Davis who was a graduate of the US Military Academy, a veteran of the Mexican War and a former Secretary of War in, I believe, the Fillmore administration.

    Any outside observer would, in 1861 have concluded that the union president was greatly overmatched by the confederate president, based on experience. However, what was the result. President Lincoln was a great war leader, President Davis was a dried up old stick, more suited to the seminary then the presidents’ office.

    The difference betwen the two men was that Lincoln had a fine mind, as Napoleon, said the first requirement for a commander in chief. Davis did not have a fine mind. Davis at no time showed any feel for military grand strategy while Lincoln turned out to be a great military strategist. As further reading on this subject, I would recommend, “Lincoln and His Generals,” by T. Harry Williams and “The Military Genius of Abraham Lincoln,” by Brigadier General Colin Ballard.

    Now some might inquire as to the relevance of the previous musings. Well, as even one of his harshest critics, Charles Krauthamer, admits, Senator Obama has a first rate intelligence, as evidenced by his sterling academic record at Columbia, Harvard, and the Un. of Chicago. There is no evidence that Senator McCain has a first rate intelligence as evidenced by his spotty record at the US Naval Academy where he finished in the bottom 5% of his graduating class and was only admitted in the first place due to the influence of his admiral father and grandfather. As for the vice presidential candidates, the evidence is that Senator Biden is at least moderately intelligent, based on his academic record at the Un. of Delaware. As for Governor Palin, attendee at 5 different colleges over 6 years before finally graduating with a degree in sports journalism, everything we have seen from her indicates someone who is not only unintelligent but is also incurious and arrogant in her ignorance. The current issue of her dismissal of fruit fly research goes along with her dismissal of global climate change, the theory of evolution, the threat of extinction of polar bears, and her belief in a 6000 year old earth.

    The bottom line here is that Governor Palin is the most unqualified candidate for the vice-presidency in the last 50 years. to compare her with Dan Quayle or Bill Miller is an insult to both of those men. Even Spiro Agnew had better qualifications for that post.

  163. Greg

    I would still like to know why the government should be funding fruit fly research, why is it not better funded by private entities that would place less restrictions and rules on the research? If you were an physicist, and wanted to study hydrogen and the sun, and the government said fine, but only if you do this..this..this..this; is that preferable over a non-profit or foundation grant? Under Federal Grant guidance, wouldn’t your findings be limited to the grant limitations? Is that progressing science, or destroying science?

  164. Davidlpf

    The thing is Greg is that the govermnet usually the only one with deep enough pockets. The only group that puts a lot restrictions is the replubicans on things like stem cell research. I do not what exactly what the fruit fly experiment is for but the cost is small compared to lets see a little conflict in the middle east somewhere.

  165. Wakefied Tolbert

    ND.

    I don’t specifically recall putting Palin on some MORAL high horse.

    I remember saying she had a cultural confidence that most of the West sneers at and thinks with their false mathematics don’t matter all that much, even as they bring in mounds of immigrants to fill in the gaps in the social safety nets that have to be paid for.

    However, while on this particularly unpleasant tour of duty, I might ask of Phil the following:

    Is this then Discover Magazine’s version of hard core “science.” Or yours?

    The Daily Kos and PZ Myers, as inside info? If memory serves, Myers is the perinneally hateful chimp who spends more time attacking religion than talking about the lofty fruit fly and other niceties government needs to pay for. Kos is worse for its intellectual prowess, and has devolved into the lunatic fringe, and is the site of many shinanigans including the claim that the Iraqi contractors mutiliated a few years back with internal organs and limbs and brain tissue dangling from a bridge deserved it, as they were agents of US imperialist asperations. Nice. You just lost all credibility, unless by that term you mean the credibility of gleaning information from the People’s Daily Worker type papers.

    Then again, more fool me, the NYT is not far from this, nor is NPR.

    And what about this terminology? Is this “hypocrisy” reference one to Bristol Palin? Or to the tasered bonehead of Troopergate fame (who certainly got his just rewards–he worked hard for it)? Well, in the case of Bristol (whom we know more about than Obama, btw), it seems liberals once again don’t know their own terminology they toss around. Bristol Palin is the one who got knocked up from premarital sex. Not her mom (that would be Sarah Palin, VP pick). Whether Sarah (that would be MOM, the VP PICK) preached abstinence like a sunday tent revival is largely beside the point here. So what? Things happen. My kids have disappointed too. Is the lesson here that we should just say nothing to our kids at all about premarital sex? Which, btw, is not considered a social grace by civilized people of most political leanings. I’d hate to think the moral failings of kids is a deep reflection on parents. Sometimes you can influence. Sometimes not. But surely you have to try. In today’s sex-sodden culture it is, granted, very difficult.

    That said, it is true that while liberals aimlessly toss the “hypocrisy” charge on many issues (meaning, one guesses, they feel some need to moralize after all?????), I’m not sure they understand this and other terms.

    The charge of “hypocrisy” is outrageous and funny in light of seeing that for most liberals what used to be considered immoral is now either neutral or just plain fun. How convenient to make sure you escape the charge completely. Indeed, how in blazes can we affix the label of conservative to most libeals???? What on earth would the test even BE?????

    How could this be falsified? There is no methodology for this. Liberals are exempt from this charge precisely because certain moral approprations and sausions don’t even apply, nor are expected. Certainly in the realm of sex there is not charge to be even be had. It’s all a matter of (as the Clinton years told us), personal issue.

    Other issues abound.

    Whether the issues are ACORN, bomb throwers who now write curricula guides for teachers in Chicago, EZ Credit Fannie Mae scams initiated mostly at the behest of Democrats, or grotesque accusations about Palin actually being the caregiver of Trig and not the mother, it seems none of this even matters.

    How convenient.

  166. Davidlpf

    Actually if you want to look at the repuublicans they want to restrict who gets married, what you can teach at school, what you can beleive, what you do in your own bedroom, yet the are about getting goverment out of your life.
    (yes government and republicans are spelled wrong above.)

  167. Lawrence

    Yeah – people don’t seem to have a problem spending $10 Billion dollars a month in Iraq, but god forbid the government spend a few million dollars on research.

    It is a question of perspective – people need to get some.

  168. Lawrence

    Exactly – individual freedom, unless you mean – religion, marriage, sexual orientation, education, etc.

    Funny thing, huh?

  169. José

    If all funding for research done to improve humanity was supplied by the free market, the world would be a different place. Something like the polio vaccine might never be created. And even if it was, there’s no way it would have become as widely available as quickly as it was.

  170. kuhnigget

    “These people are almost by definition drama queens”

    Dr. BA, I demand an apology! Lumping drama queens in with carping trolls! Indeed!

  171. ND

    I think I found the definition of elitist!

    “There is no evidence that Senator McCain has a first rate intelligence as evidenced by his spotty record at the US Naval Academy where he finished in the bottom 5% of his graduating class and was only admitted in the first place due to the influence of his admiral father and grandfather.”

    Yes that’s it, getting to high places and having doors opened for you because of connections when others have to work their ass off is elitist! Now this applies to both Democrats and Republicans. How many in congress have a son/daughter serving in Iraq? Getting a university education and excelling at it based on your merits is not elitist.

  172. M. Renfro

    Phil,
    I am quite able to understand that this is “your” blog. I can assure you that I am no drama queen. (funny that should mention that since from my perspective, there are many more posts in my opinion would better deserve that title.)Please pardon my ignorance, but this MAY be the second time I have blogged anything. Based on the info I gleaned from the radio show, I was under the impression that if I entered the address http://www.badastronomy.com, I would arrive at your website concerning the subject. Instead, I was directed here. Some of your bloggers have been kind enough to point out that there is indeed subject matter that I am seeking on your website, but that I am looking in the wrong place. You are right about one thing……..this is your blog and you can allow anything on it you wish. Maybe some of the complaints that you reference (similar to mine) are from people like me who expected to read about your ideas concerning astronomy. I have wasted enough of your time, but thought it worth mentioning one possible cause of those complaints. Again, please forgive my not being a pro at blogging, but my original intention was not to blog anything, just to read some ideas that were outside the box.

  173. Lawrence

    You should see the science posts – they absolutely rock! If Phil, every once in a while, decides to blog about the absudity of the election – he is more than welcome to do it.

    Just like TV or Radio – if you don’t like or agree with a post, why don’t you just not read it? But, if you don’t agree – polite discourse is the way to go. We should all respect the opinions of others – though please, please, please, try to bring something new to the table & not regurgitate the same old tired lines.

    It reminds me of the way parents complain about what is on TV, without taking any responsibility to police what their own kids are watching (and darn it, just turn off the set every once and a while & talk – families need to communicate more!!!!).

  174. OtherRob

    @Tom Marking: “There is lots and lots about astronomy here. I’d say the break-down is about two thirds astronomy, one third politics.”

    I’d say it’s more 2/3 astronomy, 1/6 politics, 1/6 Doctor Who. :-)

    Not that there’s anything wrong with that….

  175. Davidlpf

    I say less politics more Dr Who.

  176. Davidlpf

    We forgot about pareidolia, so the breakdown is about 2/3 astronomy 1/12 pareidolia, 1/12 politics and 1/6 Doctor Who.

  177. José

    And you forgot skijoring. Oh wait, that’s my other favorite blog.

  178. Davidlpf

    I forgot his man crushes so it is about 2/3 astronomy 1/24 pareidolia, 1/24 man crushes 1/12 politics, and 1/6 Doctor Who.

  179. IVAN3MAN

    Davidlpf, you forgot about Phil Plait’s #1 pet — plugging his book Death From The Skies!

  180. Davidlpf

    Hopefully this is the final time 1/2 astonomy, 1/6 Death From The Skies,1/24 pareidolia, 1/24 man crushes, 1/12 politics and 1/6 Doctor Who.

  181. Davidlpf

    I put the book out of astronomy because it is astronomy book.

  182. Davidlpf, what? Phil has a book?

  183. Beacon

    Shane and Elmar_M — – you are both clearly wrong i watched the video. Her whole point was about EARMARKS- that was her thesis. Her thesis was not about fruit flies.

    if you want to this play the game let’s play:
    she maybe insulted .000001% of the population that does research into genetics using fruit flies. obama insulted 150 million people who live in small towns and cling to guns and religion because they need an escape from their depressing lives.

    obama spent 140,000 on a greek temple for his inauguration speech. he has managed to outspend hillary and mccain 4 to 1 without having an significant lead in many of the places he is advertising. obama has spent hundreds of thousands of money on suits.
    palin is the only NON millionaire running. the clothes are not even her!
    they are the rnc and will be donated to charity or auctioned off to charity afte mccain wins.

    the dnc = the new sexism

  184. Davidlpf

    Shane since I do not have a copy yet in my hands I try to ignore the fact myself.

  185. @Beacon,

    I’m calling you on your bull, where do you have evidence that the columns costed that much?

    As for Palin’s thesis, her thesis was earmarks=bad. Thesis is not enough, so she gave evidence and her evidence sucked as a demonstration of wasteful spending.

    She insulted everyone who thinks that the answers for autism lie in scientific funding, and I guarantee that there are more than 0.000001% of the population who do. By the way, 0.000001% of the population is 3 people. There are more scientists than that.

  186. Peter B

    Greg said: “I would still like to know why the government should be funding fruit fly research, why is it not better funded by private entities that would place less restrictions and rules on the research?”

    Who says the government would place more restrictions on research?

    “If you were an physicist, and wanted to study hydrogen and the sun, and the government said fine, but only if you do this..this..this..this; is that preferable over a non-profit or foundation grant?”

    Can you give examples where the government has placed such restrictions?

    “Under Federal Grant guidance, wouldn’t your findings be limited to the grant limitations? Is that progressing science, or destroying science?”

    The problem with private funding for science is that private companies usually want returns on their investments. This means that research purely for its own sake is rare in the private sector; not entirely absent, but not very common.

    By contrast, government science can often result in benefits for the private sector, saving them the need to pay for the research themselves. NASA’s aeronautical research in particular comes to mind, but so does a lot of the research conducted here in Australia by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).

  187. @Wakefied Tolbert,

    Holy smoke. Lots of uncorroborated assertions there mate. Have you even been to Eurabia Europe?
    You really think that Europe is going to become a side note to history within 2 generations? An EU with around 500 million inhabitants?
    That share a strong unified currency?
    Where students out perform US students in maths and sciences?

    Wakefield also said : Now, in some nations as in Scandinavian ones, infant mortality is not really accurate stacked up to ours, as live births are counted differently. A child who dies two days after delivery is NOT inluded in the infant mortality rates.
    Frankly Wakefield this is just crap. Infant mortality refers to the death of an infant under one year of age. It really doesn’t matter from where you define the mortality anyway. The US still comes out worse than the EU. As a matter fact mortality rates are worse all the way up to the average age of death.

    You didn’t mention poverty but I will. This is where the US tops the table. There are far more Americans living well below the poverty line than in the EU too.

    The teen pregnancy rate in the US is double the rate of the worst place in the EU.

    The US has a prison incarceration rate 4 times higher than the worst place in the EU.

    One last point for now. You say social dependency on government. We in the more enlightened parts of the world refer to this as social responsibility.

  188. Beacon,

    Yes Palin implied earmarks were bad.

    She also said “…projects having little or nothing to do with the public good. Think (?) like fruit fly research in Paris France. I kid you not”.

    What part of that do you not understand?

    What does “obama insulted 150 million people who live in small towns and cling to guns and religion because they need an escape from their depressing lives.” have to do with fruit fly research?

  189. SLC

    Re ND

    Just to be fair about this, Senator Biden, Senator McCain, and Governor Palin all have sons serving in Iraq. Obviously, Senator Obamas’ children are too young to serve in the armed forces.

  190. Robbie

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iivL4c_3pck

    Can people stop saying Obama is not a socialist now? And that when Palin says he is, she’s not being insane or lying.

  191. ND

    SLC,

    Yes thank you for that clarification. Those examples feel more of an exception tho.

  192. @Shane,

    Please cite your source(s) for the infant mortality, poverty, teen pregnancy, and incarceration rates. I am skeptical.

    8)

  193. Joker

    John Ellis Says:

    “You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still pig ignorant. Was that sexist enough for everyone? I do hope so.”

    Nah! More sexism please! :-D ;-)

    Actually a pig is I think by definition masculine -a male pig as the female word is sow.

    That’s S-OW as in “OW teh Stoopid! It burns! It burns!” ;-)

    Sexist, racist, Islamophobic, anti-Semitic, whatever-it is-ist : For freks sake screaming out such things doens’t change the basic facts of any given situation! Or do much to hide what we know is true even if we dont say it aloud.

    I’m all for tolerance and diversity and all that sludge but can we have a bit of honesty and calling spades, spades with it too ..?

    Its not just that its silly – PC driven censorship on both sides doesn’t actually change thinking it just hides it and doesn’t allow for straight talk.

    Express!

    Thinking of which : Talking straight Mr McCain, you did a good job in Vietnam – atleast you did after getting shot down and captured & all but really, dude you’re 72, your times up. Relax, retire. Enjoy your .. er .. however many houses it is now .. And that Sara Palin hockey-mum-aire-lite? She ain’t no presidential material either. :-(

    Oh & Obama, I can’t say I’m that impressed with you either – yet. :-(

    Still I’m starting to think you’re the lesser of the two evils on offer and there’s an old political adage that politicans are like diapers – and need to be changed regularly for the same reason! ;-)

    Now just don’t tell us that you hate planetariums for some unfathomable reason now … ;-)

    I’ll drink to the next President, whoever he is being better than the last one – lets keep our expectations low. :-(

    Oh and ourselves drunk! ;-)

  194. themadchemist

    “I would rail and froth at the sheer evil and willful antiscience of these statements”

    Evil…Seriously? When I first learned of skepticism I was excited and I read everything I could. Here was a supposed group of people that reasoned through things instead of reacting with emotion. Only now to realize that the more I read the rabid comments from you guys the more I feel like I am back at church camp only the names have changed. Seems to me to be two sides of the same stupid coin and me left out in the cold again.

    Regards,
    Caleb

  195. @themadchemist,

    Evil may sound a little strong, unless of course you are talking about rejecting or suppressing medical science which can and does save childrens’ lives. In which case, what would you call it?

    And you must not have been reading here for very long if you equate skepticism with religion. Sure, there are nut cases on both sides, but the the vast majority of people here question everything from a scientific fact point of view. That is way different than religion, and is pointed out quite frequently.

    8)

  196. Calli Arcale

    *sigh*

    One of our local congressmen (John Kline) is running for reelection again. He’s just started running a bunch of ads condemning various science research as examples of wasteful earmarks. The fruit fly research was on the list, as was sheep research in Montana. He seemed to be taking a multi-pronged approach:

    * this stuff is bad because it’s earmarks and thus was snuck in on the American people
    * this stuff is bad because it’s not for stuff like bridge repair and education (swallow the irony, about science taking away from things that depend on science)
    * this stuff is bad because it doesn’t directly benefit Minnesotans (swallow the irony there too, that earmarks and pork are bad but spending should always be about the financial benefit to particular congressional districts)

    So he was reaching for a pretty broad scope of people’s fears with that one. It was shrewd, I must admit, but depressing, especially to realize that this is probably an effective campaign strategy.

  197. themadchemist

    @Greg in Austin
    I have been reading this blog for about a year and a half so maybe that isn’t long. I agree with Phil on most topics(though most are just about astronomy so not very controversial) I have been interested in skepticism since college so that would be about 8 years now. Growing up I was in an evangelical household and went to an evangelical church and all that goes along with it. What I saw there led me to leave it because it was full of a bunch of people who equated anything they disagreed with or misunderstood as evil(i.e. evolution, communism, plate tectonics) I now see the same within the skeptical/scientific community. For instance, I do not support embryonic stem cell research. However, I do understand that to some people the embryo is not human yet so have no problem with that. I don’t call them evil because I understand that we have a differing opinion on what is human and what is not. Now if they believed it was a human being and still did that I would call them evil as they would be committing murder under their own definition. I believe I am correct in asserting that some skeptics are beginning to label anything and everything they don’t agree with as anti-science/evil.
    “That is way different than religion, and is pointed out quite frequently.”
    I think their is an arrogance that the skeptic movement will be immune to all the pitfalls of other religious and nonreligious movements of the past is becoming their undoing as instead of rational approach to their fellow humans there is instead an overly emotional name calling overreaction. I say this because I had great hope for it when I first learned and have since become disillusioned.

    Regards,
    Caleb

  198. IVAN3MAN

    Phil Plait, I have two comments “awaiting moderation”. Will you please delete the first one because I messed up the font color HTML tags and associated links.

    We seriously need a preview facility here, Phil.

  199. themadchemist

    Sorry for writing “their” when I meant “there”

  200. @themadchemist,

    I totally understand, and mostly agree. I don’t always agree with Phil either, but I support vehemently his right to post whatever he wants.

    As I was pointing out, his use of the word Evil comes from his argument that suppressing science affects the lives of living folks. I’m not sure its evil either, but what is it? Certainly a blatant disregard for what science has done for you and me.

    Since scientists and skeptics are also humans, there will certainly be emotional responses to any particular topic. Again, I totally expect and support the varied discussions these bring, because it helps most of us learn. I sincerely hope that the actions of a few bloggers hasn’t really affected your newly found freedom from religion. In the end, science bases its conclusions on evidence and fact. Maybe you can put your “faith” into the process and results, rather than the people.

    8)

  201. Tom Marking

    @themadchemist “I believe I am correct in asserting that some skeptics are beginning to label anything and everything they don’t agree with as anti-science/evil.”

    In my opinion the whole skeptic movement began to go south after the death of Carl Sagan in 1996. I have most of his books and I’ve never found a single passage in any of his works where he called people who disagreed with him evil. Heck, he even co-authored my favorite astronomy book of all time, “Intelligent Life in the Universe” with Soviet astronomer I.S. Shklovskii in 1966, even though he had vehement political disagreements with him. He supported dialog with the other side (whether it be religious or political) and even frequently agreed to lecture at various religious institutions. Sadly, there is no one of his stature and extraordinary temperament left to represent the pro-science side.

    He put up with the most astonishing woo from the UFO believers, Velikovskians, etc., etc. and never seemed to lose his temper. He would go to debates with them and patiently explain why their conclusions were wrong. I can’t recall him ever saying to Velikovsky or Hynek, “Hey, you’re stupid. You’re evil, etc.”. He took it all in stride with good grace.

    Also, he was no blind adherent to the benefits of science while ignoring its dangers. Go read his chapter “Who Speaks For Earth” in his Cosmos book and you’ll see that he clearly recognized that it was science and technology which were threatening humanity with nuclear annihilation during the 1980′s. If only he had lived another couple decades I think we would be much better off and skepticism would be a much healthier and better movement than it is today.

    That’s my two cents.

  202. TheBlackCat

    In my opinion the whole skeptic movement began to go south after the death of Carl Sagan in 1996. I have most of his books and I’ve never found a single passage in any of his works where he called people who disagreed with him evil.

    Here are a few quotes from Carl Sagan’s foreward to James Randi’s “The Faith Healers”:

    “Randi is angry not so much about the survival into our day of andedeluvian mysticism and superstition, but about how this mysticism and superstition work to defraud, to humiliate, and sometimes even to kill.”

    “In this book, which can properly be described as a tirade, Rani turns his attention to faith-healers. He has done more than anyone else in recent times to expose pretension and fraud in this lucrative business.”

    “…he invites local and federal governments to enforce the laws against fraud and medical malpractice; he chastises the new media fro their studied avoidance of the issue. He shows concern for the sick who are being bilked and remorse that, even after they’ve been take to the cleaners, they will not acknowledge that they’ve been bilked. It’s simply too painful to admit.”

    “Randi is rambling, anecdotal, crotchety, and ecumenically offensive. He raises questions that many of use would rather not consider. But I think it is important that we pay attention. It is not only a matter of rooting out bunko and cruelty directed to those least able to defend themselves and most in need of our compassion, people with little other hope. It is also a timely reminder that mas rallies and television and mail-order technology permit other kinds of lies to be injected into the body politic, to take advantage of the furstrated, the unwary, and the defenseless in a society with politicall illnesses that are not being treated ineffectively if at all. We may disagree with Randi on specific points, but we ignore him at our peril.”

    So yea, he doesn’t use the exact word “evil”, but he does use the word “fraud”, “lies”, “bilked”, “cruelty”, “political illnesses”, “medical malpractice”, and “hypocrisy”. I may be projecting, but he seems genuinely angry in that forward, and he certainly is not mincing words or being generous. He is telling it how it is.

  203. Todd W.

    A thought occurred to me regarding the $150K in clothing for Palin and her family. Is she going to be paying taxes on those? I might be ignorant of some of the more intricate loopholes in tax code, but I would venture to guess that the clothing, paid for by the RNC for the personal benefit and use of the Palins, constitutes a gift. Now, since I highly doubt that the Palin family is a 501(c)3, my guess is that they are not exempt from taxes on such things and that it is not a charitable contribution.

    Even if the clothing is going to be donated after the elections, they haven’t been, yet, and Palin and her family have taken possession of and benefited from the clothing. Once they donate the clothing, then they can take a tax deduction for it, but they should need to declare it in their taxes as income.

  204. Todd W.

    @IVAN3MAN

    I think you broke the colors…

  205. IVAN3MAN

    @ Todd W

    You’re telling me? I tried telling Phil Plait to delete my previous post before last, while it was still “awaiting moderation”, because I had messed up the HTML font color tags, but the man didn’t listen. What can you do? Now the whole thread is FUBAR!

    Like I said earlier, we seriously need a preview/edit facility here.

  206. TheBlackCat

    Everything looks fine to me. Maybe it is a browser-specific issue.

  207. IVAN3MAN

    I’ll now attempt to fix it…

  208. Wakefield Tolbert

    You really think that Europe is going to become a side note to history within 2 generations? An EU with around 500 million inhabitants?
    That share a strong unified currency?
    Where students out perform US students in maths and sciences?

    That’s what I’m telling you, especially if within 50 years half that population is Islamic and has little interest in gilding the grandpas of the older generation.

    Check with John Taylor Gatto on why students are lackluster here. For all their socialism, the Euros got it right when they place students on clear tracks. We don’t do that. But that’s only part of the issue.

    Wakefield also said : Now, in some nations as in Scandinavian ones, infant mortality is not really accurate stacked up to ours, as live births are counted differently. A child who dies two days after delivery is NOT inluded in the infant mortality rates.

    It depends on the cause of the “death”, and if the baby was deemed a “person” in that stat.

    http://www.answers.com/topic/infant-mortality

    The United States counts an infant exhibiting ANY sign of life as alive, no matter the month of gestation or the size, but some other countries differ in these practices. For example, in Germany and Austria, fetal weight must reach one pound to be counted as a live birth, while in some other countries, including Switzerland, the baby must be at least 12 inches long. Both Belgium and France report babies as born lifeless if they are less than 26 weeks’ gestation.[2]

    Another well-documented example also illustrates this problem. Historically, until the 1990s Russia and the Soviet Union did not count as a live birth or as an infant death extremely premature infants (less than 1,000 g, less than 28 weeks gestational age, or less than 35 cm in length) that were born alive (breathed, had a heartbeat, or exhibited voluntary muscle movement) but failed to survive for at least 7 days.[3] Although such extremely premature infants typically accounted for only about 0.005 of all live-born children, their exclusion from both the numerator and the denominator in the reported IMR led to an estimated 22%-25% lower reported IMR.[4] In some cases, too, perhaps because hospitals or regional health departments were held accountable for lowering the IMR in their catchment area, infant deaths that occurred in the 12th month were “transferred” statistically to the 13th month (i.e., the second year of life), and thus no longer classified as an infant death.[5]

    Another challenge to comparability is the practice of counting frail or premature infants who die before the normal due date as miscarriages (spontaneous abortions) or those who die during or immediately after childbirth as stillborn. Therefore, the quality of a country’s documentation of perinatal mortality can matter greatly to the accuracy of its infant mortality statistics. This point is reinforced by the demographer Ansley Coale, who finds dubiously high ratios of reported stillbirths to infant deaths in Hong Kong and Japan in the first 24 hours after birth, a pattern that is consistent with the high recorded sex ratios at birth in those countries and suggests not only that many female infants who die in the first 24 hours are misreported as stillbirths rather than infant deaths but also that those countries do not follow WHO recommendations for the reporting of live births and infant deaths.[6]

    Infant mortality refers to the death of an infant under one year of age. It really doesn’t matter from where you define the mortality anyway. The US still comes out worse than the EU. As a matter fact mortality rates are worse all the way up to the average age of death.

    True– but that is for reasons I explained earlier. Soceities don’t respond the same to similar programs. We do NOT have an homogenious society like Sweden.

    And you breeze past your own advocacy here. If the Great Society’s tedious transfer of 7 trillion buckaroos did not get the deed done, then it is highly doubtful this trend should continue. The Welfare State in OUR country has not made significant gains, either significant to the stats (by your own reckoning, too) or to the politicians.

    Social science is a messy proposition for any kind of advocacy. After all, that same table at the bottom of the link lists Singapore has having a better rate than Sweden. I SERIOUSLY doubt Singapore’s social services net is advanced as Sweden’s.

    In any case poverty is not solved through government transfers of wealth in the long run. It is the GROWING of the economy.

    AS to the phrase “social responsibility”–the problem is that phrase can be used to justify anything.

  209. Wakefield Tolbert

    So how was Biden picked, Phil?

    You mentioned that Palin was picked in an undemocratic way?

    Was this different from Senator Biden?

    Geezzz.

  210. Todd W.

    @Wakefield Tolbert

    I think Phil’s point was that the people are the ones that choose the Pres. candidates, while politicos in the RNC and DNC pick the VP candidates for a variety of reasons. The point is not that the pick of Palin was undemocratic but the pick of Biden was. Rather, that the reasons for choosing Palin were rather cynical and did not reflect her suitability to the job. I.e., she was picked because she would (hopefully) attract the Hillary supporters as a woman, as well as to attract the more religiously conservative base of the Republican party, as an apparently fundamentalist Christian, that McCain had kinda alienated. There appear to have been other candidates that would have been more qualified for the job of VP.

    That, I believe, is what Phil was trying to get at.

  211. Wakefield Tolbert

    Re ND

    Just to be fair about this, Senator Biden, Senator McCain, and Governor Palin all have sons serving in Iraq. Obviously, Senator Obamas’ children are too young to serve in the armed forces.

    Not to put too fine a point on this, but Biden’s son is a LAWYER in this capacity, is he not?

    Risky proposition, but still. Not in the direct line of fire.

  212. Wakefield Tolbert

    ND Says:
    October 26th, 2008 at 9:39 pm
    Wakefied Tolbert, this is for you regarding the caviars http://www.nypost.com/seven/10212008/gossip/pagesix/room_disservice_134490.htm

    I readily acknowledged earlier this is an urban legend. Just as many other ditties that get passed around the Net.

    Thanks.

  213. Wakefield Tolbert

    Todd Said:the reasons for choosing Palin were rather cynical and did not reflect her suitability to the job. I.e., she was picked because she would (hopefully) attract the Hillary supporters as a woman, as well as to attract the more religiously conservative base of the Republican party, as an apparently fundamentalist Christian, that McCain had kinda alienated. There appear to have been other candidates that would have been more qualified for the job of VP.

    I understand that, and you can call many appointments cynical. Biden was obvisouly chosen as the perceived need for a “counterbalance” to the ticket despite (or perhaps because?) he and Obama do NOT see eye to eye on many issues going all the way back to the Iraq war and Obama’s tedious remake of certain terms like “tax break.”

    Political pow-wow’s in offices will smooth all this out. Likewise McCain, who “reached across the aisle” and was warned the Democrats would bite him on the nose in the end after years of proclaiming him to be a “jut-jawed maverick”, was always considered a moderate DEMOCRAT who happens to have an “R” behind his name. He tried to counterbalance his ticket also.

    Call that cynical if you like. I don’t actually disagree with the point on McCain. At least not in this sense: The Republican party has truly not played its cards well and ended up with someone not suitable for the base after all the sound and fury. I say this for the reason that it was a day late and a dollar short, and McCain should have tackeld the tough issues head on (say, illegal immigration, and some other terms that have vanished from discourse, amazingly.). That time is now past.

  214. José

    @IVAN3MAN
    I expect this type of behavior from Celtic Evolution, but not you!
    p,cite,li { color: #000000}

  215. Robbie on October 27th, 2008 at 7:58 am Says

    Can people stop saying Obama is not a socialist now? And that when Palin says he is, she’s not being insane or lying.

    Somehow your argument seems weaker after viewing your linked video. You’re going to have to go a lot further than a suggestion that change requires legislation before shouting to the world the man is a Socialist. His political ideals are definitely liberal, but they stop well short of Socialism.

    Your accusations remind me of a certain junior senator from Wisconsin a few years ago.

    John B. Sandlin

  216. ND

    themadchemist,

    I’m a little puzzled why you do not consider stem cell research evil. If I understand you correctly you consider an embryo a human and should not be destroyed or experimented with. This would be a moral issue from your point of view no? I’m not in line with your view but I would accept that you would call stem cell research evil from a moral stance. To make this point, lets take slavery, something that we both would consider immoral and therefore evil. Those who practices slavery (and still do in this world!) did not see slavery as evil, but there is a moral problem with this and I and you would label this as evil. Compare this to plate tectonics and evolution. Is there a moral issue here? Would the term evil apply. I don’t think you would (correct me if I’m wrong). These two ideas deal with natural phenomenon and not a human act.

  217. IVAN3MAN

    @ José

    That font colour cock-up was a total accident, due to an over-sensitive touch pad on my note-book computer, which caused me to prematurely submit my post with links before I had a chance to check that the HTML tags were in order. That’s why a preview/edit facility here would be useful!

    In future, I’m gonna write out my comments/links on Word-Pad first and then thoroughly check it before transferring it to the comment box prior to submission.

  218. OT: IVAN3MAN…: I have the touch pad on my laptop turned off and use a regular optical mouse instead. My touch pad will “tap” on its own even when I’m not touching the laptop (I also use an external “ergo” keyboard so seldom actually have the laptop in my lap).

    John B. Sandlin

  219. IVAN3MAN

    @ John B. Sandlin

    Yeah, it has been my intention to get an external “ergo” keyboard, but I haven’t got around to it yet. However, it is possible to lower the sensitivity of the touch pad, which is what I have just done.

  220. @Wakefield Tolbert said “After all, that same table at the bottom of the link lists Singapore has having a better rate than Sweden. I SERIOUSLY doubt Singapore’s social services net is advanced as Sweden’s.”

    You haven’t been to Singapore have you? One of the cleanest most efficient cities I have ever been to. Medical tourism, ie. foreigners seeking medical services, is one of the fastest growing industries in Singapore. Singapore has one of the highest literacy rates in Asia. English is the official language. It is one of the largest sea and air hubs in the world. Serious amounts of dollars pass through Sinkers. I can certainly see why its service net is as advanced as Sweden’s. On the down side. Nominally it is a parliamentary republic but is essentially run as a one party state. They still use corporal and capital punishment. An American youth got 6 lashes of the cane a few years ago for 2 bobbing a car (scratching a car with a coin) and a few Australians have been executed over the years for drug trafficking.

    Your comment reminds me of just how Amero-centric Yanks are in their ignorance. I have discussions with Americans overseas that love their country – not that there is anything wrong with that. However, on occasion they will a tell a foreigner that they should move to America because it is obviously better than where they come from (France, Sweden, Singapore… whatever). They become mortified when the foreigner will say that they would love to visit but as to living in the USA – no thank you. The American can really not understand that other places can be just as good, if not better, than the USA and that you’re not dying to get in. The funny thing is not one American has tried this on me – an Australian. :-)

    @Wakefield Tolbert continued with “In any case poverty is not solved through government transfers of wealth in the long run. It is the GROWING of the economy.”
    Hmmm, the socialised democracies of western Europe that have better statistics in all the social indicators may well disagree with you there. The proof is in the pudding as they say. And their economies are growing… well they were until a couple of weeks ago. Nearly everywhere is in negative growth now except for places like China… and… um… Australia (yay us).

  221. @Wakefield Tolbert regarding the Islamification of Europe: “That’s what I’m telling you, especially if within 50 years half that population is Islamic and has little interest in gilding the grandpas of the older generation.”

    The only proponents of that particular fantasy that I can find are the pro-islamists and the decidedly anti-islamists. Most of the independent estimates I’ve seen reckon the islamic population of the EU will double over the next 50 – 100 years. The birth rate should decline for the immigrants too because the existing evidence says that it does. Even a delusional novel I read by Tom Kratman, Caliphate, based in a majority Islamic Europe 100 years hence required a massive intake of refugees (millions) from the middle east after it is nuked to fulfil that particular fantasy.

  222. Wakefield Tolbert

    Shane,

    It does no good to talk about the demographics of the OTHER guy EVENTUALLY falling over the waterfall–when you’re already THERE.

    The last man standing sets the policy, because the last man standing (and his cohorts) sets the culture.

    And no, it is NOT only the PRO or ANTI this or that, Shane.

    The American can really not understand that other places can be just as good, if not better, than the USA and that you’re not dying to get in.

    Thanks to the wonderful windfall of public education, I have no doubt, to your credit, that we Yanks often can’t tell Copenhagen from the Cameroon.
    True enough. But I do have a degree in Western political philosophy, and am more than aware of the major players out there.

    As to clamoring to get in our own nation–we have quite the flow inward, with little end in sight without reforms in legistlation. We have people the world over coming here, legal–to stay–and otherwise.

    Demographers with no dog in this fight say this too:

    http://wakepedia.blogspot.com/2006/03/liberals-doomed-to-extinction-darwin.html

    http://www.chroniclesmagazine.org/?p=731

    As to this:

    The American can really not understand that other places can be just as good, if not better, than the USA and that you’re not dying to get in. The funny thing is not one American has tried this on me – an Australian

    The issue was not the “niceness” of places per se. As you just mentioned, being paramilitary can GET things done. No question. I shant take up residence there, however booming it is on the economic side of things.
    Nor do I want the “communitarian” ways of Sweden. I realize government often needs to step in on some areas. But I always try to default to freedom.

    That being said, Singapore IS one of the Asian Dragons–noted for capitalist ethics that would make Charles Dickens shiver with horror. Except as you point out in this case the malnourished starvlings are long gone.

    And you DID mention the English language.

    Shane have you ever wondered how in holy blazes a tiny island in northern Europe shares its queen (or did) with Canada and Papau New Guinea? Why English is the language of commerce and aviation and of foreign correspondence above all others–and understood by most of the world?

    England was the first to conquer infant mortality. All else flowed henceforth.

    Demographics, and then culture–is the beginning and end of all. People mention “root” causes, but the bottom tap is culture. Minus English imperial aspiration and a little boost from the Charles Martel, the world may very well be run already by sultanates and a crazy quilt arabys.

  223. Wakefield Tolbert, speaking of the ol’ British Empire. Look at Africa. Troubled continent to be sure. If you make two lists – colonised by Britain and speak English and colonised by other (Spain, Belgium, France, Portugal et al). Now make another list of reasonably decent and safe places to visit in Africa and another of dangerous armed escorty type places. With a couple of exceptions the English speaking places are significantly better/safer places to visit than say a former Belgian colony.

    This is a gross generalisation to be sure and the colonial period by all the colonial powers simply meant varying degrees of the bastardisation and sodomising of the colonies. None of the colonial powers deserve any kudos in this regard. However, the British rule was way more benign (your definition of benign may vary) than the Belgian rule for example.

    Having said that place like Rwanda and Mozambique are bouncing back. Whereas Zimbabwe has taken a backwards step. What did I say about generalising?

  224. Peetle

    As ever there’s lots of talk about the “religious right”. You never hear much about the “religious wrong” do you ? That being all of them.

  225. Crilltog

    Obama seems just as likely to “kill science”.

    “We are about to find out whether our traditional devotion to free speech and free enquiry can survive real, incontrovertible results from the human sciences; and in particular, in the event of an Obama victory, whether that devotion can survive under a left-liberal administration headed by a cultural Marxist — an administration much more interested in shoring up the soft totalitarianism of “diversity” and “multiculturalism” than in permitting the discovery of true facts about human nature.”

    Link:
    http://www.johnderbyshire.com/Opinions/HumanSciences/obamavshbd.html

  226. José

    @IVAN3MAN
    Oh, I know. I think it was Celtic Evolution that accidentally did a similar thing with italics on an old thread.

  227. José

    Your comment reminds me of just how Amero-centric Yanks are in their ignorance.

    Why is it that when my wife and I travel outside the US, people always greet us with “Lemee guess, you’re Canadian?”, when it’s so easy to recognize traveling Canadians. They’re the one’s wearing the giant maple leaves so people don’t think they’re American.

    We’ve just been trying to figure out what American stereotype we’re not living up to. Maybe we should be wearing baseball caps.

  228. @ Wakefield Tolbert

    > It depends on the cause of the “death”, and if the baby was deemed
    > a “person” in that stat

    While this is relevant, your presentation is misleading. For example:

    > For example, in Germany and Austria, fetal weight must reach one
    > pound to be counted as a live birth

    While I will accept that this statement is true on the face of it (without bothering to research it myself), even a cursory search of Google shows a vanishingly small number of children under this target weight as surviving.

    Your listed challenges are all similar. I’m not an expert in reproductive science by any means, but all of them seem likely just by the description offered to represent a very very minor statistical impact in any study involving sufficiently sized populations (for the purposes of comparing birth rates in the EU vs the US… completely negligible). While I certainly believe that you may have a point, you’d have to provide much more compelling evidence before I’ll take your analysis seriously.

    In short, sir, I call shenanigans. Rather than describing a myriad of ways in which these population studies may have equivalency problems (which is true of any two population studies), you’ll have to actually show that these equivalency problems exist.

  229. IVAN3MAN

    José:

    We’ve just been trying to figure out what American stereotype we’re not living up to. Maybe we should be wearing baseball caps.

    Everybody here in Britain and in Europe wears baseball caps now, and you can always spot the idiot — he’s the one wearing the baseball cap backwards!

    Typical American stereotype? The late actor Slim Pickens.

    So try wearing a cowboy hat, fringed jacket, and the cowboy boots — which was how Slim Pickens arrived in England to appear in the film Dr. Strangelove — on your next visit.

  230. Pat,

    My point was that one must be VERY careful with broad brush stroke stats, when some of the finer hairs of those brushes get ignored.

    There is a reason–and not good ones, but ones that place things in perspective–about why the US tends to lag all the “good” stats commonly shown in impressive tables for how we stack up next to the Euro kin:

    http://www.reason.com/news/show/127038.html

    https://www.reason.com/blog/show/119199.html

    The first link in turn links to links (yeah, a mouthful, I know) that show that the problem can be traced in no small part to cultural differences. Murder and mayhem tend to rub hell with longevity stats.

    Medical advances and star-wars level miracle preemie care at the other end of life–the start–actually makes the stats worse than they probably otherwise would be stated.

    As to Shane–you demostrated my point. The Brits came, they say, the conquered, had no “exit strategy”, had not phrase for such until things got Ghandi-ized in some areas, and bequeathed to the planet commonlaw and representative government. Britain’s sun did set on the empire, but not before midwifing many of the world’s more civilized nations and outposts from what the raw material used to be called “savagery.”

  231. José

    @IVAN3MAN
    I wasn’t being completely honest. I lived in England for about 6 months in 2002, and tested the hat thing. I did get more dirty looks, although that could have been because they hate the Mets. Or it could have been that I only tested snooty Windsor. It didn’t make people think I was American though.

  232. Half the backpackers wearing the maple leaf flag are Americans.

    I shouldn’t stereotype but Americans they do stand out when travelling. You have the ability/confidence/whatever to project your voices. You’re not trying to be obnoxious but we can be sitting in a quiet restaurant in, say, Paris and you will hear every word from across the room about “aunt flossy who now lives in Switzerland, dontcha know, well she’s got the cancer but I’m really not sure how good the treatment can be from, you know, socialised medicine dontcha know” and you can barely hear the people at the table next to you chatting.

    And what is with the contemptuous manner in which many many Americans seem to treat service staff (waiters etc) overseas?

    Don’t worry it isn’t just you guys. The ugly Australian has started to appear in recent years and don’t forget the Germans… the Americans of Europe.

    I love Yanks but these are just a few impressions from years of travel.

  233. > My point was that one must be VERY careful with broad brush stroke stats,
    > when some of the finer hairs of those brushes get ignored.

    The converse is also likely to be true; broad brush stats can cover statistical aberrations that are not significant discrepancies in the larger view.

    > The first link in turn links to links (yeah, a mouthful, I know) that show that
    > the problem can be traced in no small part to cultural differences. Murder
    > and mayhem tend to rub hell with longevity stats.

    Absolutely cultural differences can make a difference; any decent social scientist would correct for those cultural differences in a rigorous study. And absolutely murder can rub hell with longevity stats. However, pretty close to exactly ~1 million people die each year from heart attack, stroke, and cancer, and only about 12-14,000 from murder. That’s less than 1%. I come up with a rough chicken scratch estimate of 2,487,415(.9) deaths in the U.S. in 2008, based upon the CIA factbook estimate of the population and the mortality rate.

    But I digress… you’re performing a classic bait-and-switch here, my good man. Longevity stats are only tangentially germane to the question of infant mortality, and you’re not buttressing your earlier proposition that infant mortality rates in the EU and the US are not within a reasonable delta for comparison purposes, which is after all what I called shenanigans on :)

    It has been proposed that the U.S. infant mortality rate is not comparable to other industrialized nations. You have challenged the validity of a statistical comparison on intellectually possible grounds, but I reiterate -> your proposed grounds lack sufficient evidence (at this time) for me to take your claim with sufficient weight to counterbalance the initial proposal.

  234. @ shane

    > And what is with the contemptuous manner in which many many Americans
    > seem to treat service staff (waiters etc) overseas?

    This is often based upon one of those cultural differences. Americans, in the general, are foolish enough to consider the consumption of a daily meal as a means to an end rather than an experience in and of itself. The general expectation is that the service staff appear promptly, provide food quickly, clear the table immediately after the end of the meal and provide the reckoning so that the customer can vacate the table (to the benefit of the restaurant) and go about the business enabled by the fueling stop.

    People elsewhere, on the other hand, often prefer the wait staff to let them experience their meal as a social event… a much more sensible and enjoyable experience :)

    In short, Americans wonder what is *taking so long*, and we’re culturally bombarded with impatience. It’s why we invented “fast food”, after all.

  235. Jose

    And what is with the contemptuous manner in which many many Americans

    That’s why we tip so well.

  236. TheWalruss

    Hahaha – you tip well because waiters in the US are paid just a small fraction of minimum wage, with the expectation of a tip. It keeps prices for a meal looking lower than they are in reality – the same reasoning behind “only $19.99″ instead of “$20″ and not including sales tax in the sticker price.

    In most European countries, the waiters are paid reasonably to start with, and tip is generally included in the bill, so you only tip if the service was truly extraordinary.

  237. Jose

    @TheWalruss
    I’m aware of that. You can tell by the number of European waiters that can afford to visit the Grand Canyon. American waiters can’t afford to ride the bus. Most Americans still tip abroad though.

    @shane
    Nobody who used the phrase “dontcha know” could possibly have an aunt Flossy who lives in Switzerland. Aunt Flossy lives in Florida.

  238. Hmmm, José or is it Jose!

    Aunt Flossy? Couldn’t think of a name Aunt Flossy of the Virginian Whozits.
    :-)

  239. José

    My darn é keeps changing!

  240. any decent social scientist would correct for those cultural differences in a rigorous study

    Yes, and quite often they DON’T.

    Numbers are just numbers on some of these tables.

    Thus for example longevity in the US would be 1st in the world possibly if we had a homogenous society where the mix of gunshots from gangbangers don’t get plunked in.

    Infant mortality stats are made WORSE for the fact that many preemies are placed in the “try and save” category, whereas this is not done accross the board.

    It’s like tossing out the chaff (those who, in the judgement of some physicians, will NOT make it) from the wheat (those who probably will).

    If this is not accounted for then we have no better stats than the wonderful people’s democracy of……….Malta.

    AS the article indicated.

  241. However, pretty close to exactly ~1 million people die each year from heart attack, stroke, and cancer, and only about 12-14,000 from murder.

    Absolutely, and heart ailments hit Americans like no other nation. Bad health care?

    Possibly some screenings need to be refined.

    What about diet and sedantary lifestyle?

    Since fatty meats and richer diets are symptomatic of sumptious living and wealth (gout and related ailments used to be the province of kings and sultans, for example, but not the peasant), it seems a better explanation than:

    “we just don’t have a good health care system or support network, etc” is warranted.

    No health care system in the world can hold down costs, treat millions successfully, and have fantastic cure rates for diets and lifestyles that stuff the guts with meat and don’t have excercise. Not even a technologicallly advanced one.

    It’s the equivalent of saying that the US military is just so lackluster compared to others (!?)

    Until you find out we’re head to head with both the Red Chinese and Russians all at once and we wonder why we’re not winning FASTER, compared to the army, of say, a Swiss canton, fighting local tribesmen.

    Socialized medicine is fine, for example, in wiping runny noses in the local clinic, but not for getting faster MRIs and open heart surgery waiting lists (of which the US has plenty need, unfortunately)

  242. Todd W.

    Just a quick note on health care costs. In the U.S., we have some of the highest expenditures in the world on health care, yet we’re pretty low on the spectrum of developed nations in terms of longevity. So, where do our dollars go? Much of the cost of health care in the U.S. is not necessarily on medicine or doctors, themselves, but rather on comfort items. Relatively comfortable beds with all kinds of electronics built into them instead of, say, a simple cot with a decent pillow.

    Not that this necessarily has anything at all to do with the capitalism vs. socialism argument that’s popped up, but just thought I’d throw it in there.

  243. Wakefield Tolbert said “Socialized medicine is fine, for example, in wiping runny noses in the local clinic, but not for getting faster MRIs and open heart surgery waiting lists (of which the US has plenty need, unfortunately)

    Too sweeping a generalisation Wakefield. For example cancer survival rates for four specific cancers the top 3 nations are the US, France and Japan. Australia and Canada also rank highly. Quite a mix of countries with a mix of socialised and fully private servicing.
    http://www.webmd.com/cancer/news/20080716/cancer-survival-rates-vary-by-country

  244. @ Wakefield

    > Yes, and quite often they DON’T.

    Again (and for the last time), I accept this may be true. Without a specific, critical analysis of a particular study what you’re doing here is blowing hot air. You’re accusing scientists of bad science without offering any evidence of such. Repeating your existing allegation is not necessary, providing specific analysis is. Or you’re just trolling…

    > Thus for example longevity in the US would be 1st in the world
    > possibly if we had a homogenous society where the mix of
    > gunshots from gangbangers don’t get plunked in.

    This is another repeat. Longevity in the US would be first in the world possibly if we all had magic fairy dust that protected us from harm. Longevity in the US would be first in the world possibly if we started counting age at birth -9 months. You can claim whatever you wish, sir… but you need to start providing some… you know… evidence. Crunch numbers and show me that your proposal at least has some statistical merit instead of providing unsubstantiated claims. On the face of it, I find this highly implausible given the number of gunshot deaths vs. the overall fatality rate in the U.S., but if you want to take the time to look at the numbers more rigorously to illustrate your point effectively I welcome the analysis. Otherwise you’re complaining that studies don’t have statistical rigor by… failing to provide a statistically rigorous analysis. Pot, meet kettle!

  245. You win, chief. Congrats. Happy Holidays.

    Except that……

    http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/the-doctor-is-in-infant-mortality-comparisons-a-statistical-miscarriage/

    The stats have been skewed for some time.

    To what degree the WHO standardizations are flexed for the propagandistic joy of various nations’ sales pitches is of much debate. As is the overall effect. But to say there is no effect on the very categorization differences on what constitutes a “live birth” is absurdist.

    What is the statisically significant digit we can distill here?

    I have no idea. But the author above suggests it might be substantial.

    NOBODY can nail down for you what overall effect this has on the core numbers.

    How the hell could we, since no one can even agree to what level other nations are not abiding by these lofty alleged WHO numbers and standardizations for counting “live births?”

    Not sufficiently acknowledged here is the other fact–which I consider heroic and not a failure(if being on the “Good Side” of the Force is our colletive societal goal here–is that in the US we try our damndest to save EVERY tiny life once born. Not so in other hamlets and in those of socialized medicine across the globe.

    NOW, granted:

    Even allowing for this, and for what is a very suspect comparison in the first place between what are generally homogenous Euro societies (and a more mixed bag of apples and oranges in the US), of course there’d still be some differences.

    And?

    Well, to what end are we to take this? For example, other articles have pointed out that in some communities even with TWICE (or more) the health care spending increases for government sponsored clinics, preemie prevention efforts, and similar community outreach programs, some groups are STILL faring worse that their Euro counterparts when the stats regard premature births (and this is also at the heart of much of the cultural reason for infant mortality).

    The problems appear to be multiple, societal, cultural, and have probably far more to do with the remains of paternalistic care leftovers from the Great Society’s destruction of minority and inner city family units, supplanting the father figures and other structures with government presence, etc. One could take the ugly and cynical tack–regardless of feelings on the matter overall–that just aborting all less than prime babies upon ultrasound discover of any and all abnormalities and/or if the mother is less than 18 years of age would also improve the stats.

    No question it would. But that’s not fairy dust. (in fact, it MIGHT oddly enough be the ideal for some folks), and neither are the stats skewed for b abies less than “X” number of centimeters whose deaths are kept off the official charts.

    Happy Kwanzaa. Or Solstace. Or whatever.

  246. Bill Thompson

    Plait, the amature politician !!

    The Dem’s social programs leave little room Space Exploration.
    How can you say Palin is a disaster and not say that Biden is not a disaster?

NEW ON DISCOVER
OPEN
CITIZEN SCIENCE
ADVERTISEMENT

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

ADVERTISEMENT

See More

ADVERTISEMENT
Collapse bottom bar
+

Login to your Account

X
E-mail address:
Password:
Remember me
Forgot your password?
No problem. Click here to have it e-mailed to you.

Not Registered Yet?

Register now for FREE. Registration only takes a few minutes to complete. Register now »