February 26, 2010

Much ado about (healthcare) nothing

I don't want this blog to be overtaken by political arguments, but I get so frustrated trying to have a civil debate with certain individuals. I present facts and studies that support my statements and edit my litany so that it doesn't contain any unfounded comments. I expect these individuals to review the submitted literature before they respond, to analyze what I'm saying and juxtapose it to what they believe, and to address my points in their answer. And yet I am continually disappointed by what actually occurs. They fail to do any of those things! It is as if they have their fingers in their ears and are screaming at the top of their lungs. God. How can we (the public) expect the elected politicians to be civil in discussions, to work together and compromise, to do what is best for all, when some of them behave as children?
"But I don't want to go among mad people," remarked Alice.
"Oh, you can't help that," said the Cat. "We're all mad here."

February 23, 2010

Opinion vs. Fact

A friend of mine on Facebook posted an article about the difference between opinions and facts. While he and I differ significantly in political views, we both agree that facts -- studies and statistical data collected by reputable organizations -- hold more merit than a rambling individual who has no former training or education. Editorials and opinions are just that. You are entitled to your opinion, and I'll do my best to respect it even if I disagree with it. But opinions are not, and will never be, facts.

Editorials & Opinions: Don't confuse them with facts

You see, like me, she can remember a time when facts settled arguments. This is back before everything became a partisan shouting match, back before it was permissible to ignore or deride as "biased" anything that didn't support your worldview.

If you and I had an argument and I produced facts from an authoritative source to back me up, you couldn't just blow that off. You might try to undermine my facts, might counter with facts of your own, but you couldn't just pretend my facts had no weight or meaning.

But that's the intellectual state of the union these days, as evidenced by all the people who still don't believe the president was born in Hawaii or that the planet is warming ...

To listen to talk radio, to watch TV pundits, to read a newspaper's online message board, is to realize that increasingly, we are a people estranged from critical thinking, divorced from logic, alienated from even objective truth. We admit no ideas that do not confirm us, hear no voices that do not echo us, sift out all information that does not validate what we wish to believe ...

But objective reality does not change because you refuse to accept it. The fact that you refuse to acknowledge a wall does not change the fact that it's a wall ....

February 22, 2010


I adore Jennifer Love Hewitt -- her laugh is infectious! -- but even I was surprised to hear her boldly declare that she had "accessorized" her privates.

National healthcare

The debate rages on, but President Obama has put together a new proposal. The link is listed below.


February 18, 2010

Public perception of science

I read an article today that said 84% of the general public believes science has had a positive impact on society and has made life easier for most people. [And that is despite the fact that 36% of those surveyed said that science conflicted with their religious beliefs!] Scientists were listed 3rd, below military personnel and teachers, in terms of overall contribution to society.

The vast majority of scientists, however, feel that the public's lack of scientific knowledge is a major problem and that the media is to blame. Scientists also differ from the general public in the belief in or acceptance of the theory of evolution (87 vs. 32%) and global warming (84 vs. 49%). 

Not surprisingly, those who believe in creationism -- that humans existed in their present form since the beginning -- are more likely to hold a negative view of science and scientists.

The article does reference the Bush administration's refusal to publish reports that conflicted with their point-of-view, but I'll have to look more into that. Science should be considered valuable regardless if it supports or doesn't support a given hypotheses. Science is about learning, and sometimes the best lessons are those that don't turn out as expected.

The article also has a link to a quiz with 12 questions to test your knowledge of science. [I can't tell if the quiz is designed to test general topics or more complex ones.] I'm happy to report I got a perfect score.

Public praises science; scientists fault public, media

The science knowledge quiz

February 17, 2010

Academia and Motherhood - Why the two are not mutually exclusive.

A blog I frequent had a link to an article titled "The Academic-Motherhood Handicap". It outlined practices and expectations that are out in the open, but seldom internalized by women pursuing a science career in academia. The requirements to gain tenure are immense, so it makes sense that the dedication in its pursuit must be intense. Departments value those who put in long office hours, rake in large grants, publish umpteen journal articles, and push out numerous graduate students. But the time required to achieve these feats has to come from somewhere, and often that is one's social or family life. 

Imagine the difficulty then in being a woman in science, who wants to have a family and knows the biological clock is waning, but who also knows that the decision to get pregnant could (and probably will) hinder or derail her career. To spend almost 20 years in school to obtain a Ph.D. diploma, only to be sequestered as an adjunct faculty member -- forever underpaid and under-appreciated for the degree you hold. I know this is a fate that awaits many women in science because for every successful man receiving an award for his outstanding achievements, stands a woman who gave up her career to raise the children and manage the home.

For the full article, click here.

February 16, 2010

An A&E Marathon

Yesterday, I stumbled across the A&E show "Intervention". It's about individuals who are addicted to alcohol, illegal drugs, or food and their families and friends who can no longer watch the person slowly die. After 30 minutes of watching the addict live his/her daily life -- which depends on frequent daily substance abuse -- the family stages an intervention with an addiction specialist. The most disturbing part of the program is what happens at this meeting because in every case, the addict is in complete denial about how bad the situation is. [One guy in his twenties, who was homeless and estranged from his family, was shooting heroin 8 times a day and had been doing so for a few years, but felt that he hadn't hit rock bottom.] I can't believe that individuals who have to have a drink/hit right after they wake up in the morning, who pass out in some form of undress on their front lawn, who are unable to care for their children, who steal money and lie to their friends, can think that they have everything under control and can quit whenever they want to. Amazing!
"The abuse dies in a day, but the denial slays the life of the people, and entombs the hope of the race." (Charles Bradlaugh)

February 10, 2010

50 car pileup

Today's high winds -- in excess of 35 mph for most areas -- and light snowfall resulted in whiteout conditions that led to a 50 car pileup in Williamsburg, Virginia. Just horrific.


February 09, 2010


So I've been stuck at my apartment since Friday thanks to a seemingly endless barrage of snow. The blizzard of 2010 dumped 26 inches where I am, though nearby counties reported over 32 inches! The entire area shutdown as plows attempted to clear roads and electrical lineman attempted to restore power to some 112,000 people. 

And just when things are starting to be under control -- primary and most secondary roads have at least had 1 pass; 6,000 people still without power -- another storm is coming. The news reporters cheerily tell me I could see another 8 to 10 inches of snow. And, if that isn't bad enough, the winds tomorrow will be around 35 mph, so whiteout conditions and drifting are expected. Omigod! I've cleaned everything I can think of from sinks to toilets to furniture to carpet to light fixtures. I've written letters and watched movies. What else is there to do? 

Snowmageddon is here and refuses to leave!! Someone please save me from this wintery hell. 

I hear Hawaii is nice this time of year ....

February 05, 2010

Valentine's Day

Another year, another Valentine's Day. God, how I despise this holiday. A commercial fabrication to force people to buy tacky gifts and overpriced roses for one another to "show" how much they care. Shouldn't you do considerate gestures for your significant other throughout the year? I would rather date someone who made an effort to show me how much he cared with random gifts or cards than only on the one day I would expect it. Of course, I am single and bitter, which exacerbates the mindset. Valentine's Day has always made me feel like there must be something wrong with me. Why else would no one want to spend an insane amount of money on tacky heart-shaped candy and a sappy card for me? Ugh. I'll be happy when it's March.