November 4, 2008


Obama reached the 270 electoral vote mark on Nov. 4th, 2008, becoming the 1st African American President-Elect in the history of the United States of America.

God bless this country, the history we are making and road we have ahead of us.

We did it. Its over, and it begins...


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15 Minutes Until Polls Start Closing!!!

and although I won't have updates today here's a good place to check to support your local Texas liberal blog. The Left of College Station will be updating numbers as they come in.

As for me, I'm recovering from my beautiful trip to the bahamas and will be with about 1 million other partiers celebrating Obama's win in Grant Park in Chicago. Hopefully I'll get some pictures up, should be a good time!

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October 20, 2008

Attention Texas Voters!!!

I was gonna write something on this but this said everything I was going to and and be scared.

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October 8, 2008

Make That 63...

Nobel prize season is upon which makes me a little giddy, along with the rest of the science community. So far prizes in medicine, physics, and chemistry have been handed out, with literature, peace, and economics still to come.

Today three Americans were rewarded for their work on Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP), which I'll try to get to later this week (damn development exam tomorrow). Well one of those winners, Martin Chalfie, made quick work to put his name on the list of laureates who have signed an open letter in support of Obama's presidential aspirations.

Just today Martin was announced as one of the winners of the Chemistry prize and he called up his friend and fellow laureate Robert Horvitz (Medicine, 2002) in order to join the list.

"I said, 'Bob, the one thing I really want to do is, I understand there’s a list of Nobel Prize winners supporting Barack Obama, and I want to get my name on the list.’”
That takes the count from 61 to 63 as shortly after the letter was published Murray Gell-Mann (Physics, 1969) came forward to add his name to the list.

This is by far the largest number of top Nobel laureates to ever endorse a candidate. I have yet to hear of any putting their support behind McCain, but I could be wrong, or they could be scared to be shunned by the scientific community.

I am interested to see if any other winners of this year's prize add their name to the list, and tomorrow I'll have the opportunity to talk with one of the 2008 awardees in physics, Yoichiro Nambu from the University of Chicago, to discuss his thoughts on the presidential race! I am honored to be able to share a bit of time with him and look forward to being able to share first hand experience here on stifledmind with one of the brightest minds on the planet.

Here's the link to the updated Nobel endoresement letter.

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October 7, 2008

Obama v McCain Debate II - LiveBlog

I love it, two debates in one week. Politics junkies like myself are definitely getting our fix.

This should be an interesting debate. McFAILin's campaign has taken a nasty turn this week, both in tone and in polling. They have apparently decided that discussing the issues facing the nation is a losing strategy, and looking at the polling as of late, coupled with McCain's disastrous policy history and proposals, I kinda have to agree with them.

So he's taken a drubbing in the polls, but this debates format is supposed to be McCain's strong point. For some reason, the conventional wisdom is that McCain excels in "town hall" style events, while Obama does not. I know, I laugh too. The idea that in any speaking role, McCain could surpass Obama in coherence, eloquence, or poise is completely ridiculous.

The bottom line, the economy is still the number 1 issue facing Americans today, followed by the Bush/McCain wars. Both issues are losers for McCain; public opinion and reality both favor Obama's positions in each area. So whatever character assassination, slime politics, "Johnny Drama" bullshit McCain wants to throw around is only going to further alienate him in the eyes of American voters. Americans are smart, whatever McCain may think, and they want to see answers. They want strong leadership, not playground politics. We shall see tonight which candidate can offer us what we are looking for.

Edit: Damnit Barack, that was such a non-answer. Gonna need to do better than that. Eh, McCain's answer was no better.

Edit: Did McCain just tell that questioner that he was wrong? Bailout vs rescue, who gives a damn? And here he goes on a Freddie and Fannie rant. Johnny Drama, there are more than 2 companies involved in this crisis. Jesus.

Edit: Fantastic rebuttal by Obama. Well done.

Edit: What the hell is he talking about? An overhead projector? Who gives a damn? Can McCain please answer a question?

Edit: I hate it when Obama starts talking about offshore drilling and "clean coal." Bullshit proposals that don't offer any solutions. We need to move away from these archaic energy sources, towards new, cleaner types of energy. And damn it, he should be leading on that point, not merely co-signing the same tired policy that has gotten us where we are.

Edit: I'm not happy. Obama keeps making the same points over and over again. Move on man. Make a new point, or change the damn topic. I know, 95% of tax payers will get a cut under your plan. Move the fuck on! Talk about McCain's plan to tax employers healthcare expenditures. Something. McCain is actually talking about policy, Obama is floundering. Shit...

Edit: Shut the hell up Tom.

Edit: Ok, Obama recovered a little on the healthcare debate. M looked petty and spiteful on his "how much is the fine?" comment. On to foreign policy.

Edit: Shit. I give the debate to McCain. It was exactly what he needed to do to get his campaign back on track. I hate to admit it, but Obama looked befuddled and slow. McCain was crisp and likable. I'm going to have a drink and try to not think about politics for a while. As a better man than myself likes to say, good night and good luck.

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October 2, 2008

Biden Palin Debate - LiveBlog

Let the madness begin. How will Palin embarrass herself, her campaign, her party, and her country tonight? Let us count the ways.

Seriously, Biden needs to just sit back, answer his questions succinctly, and let Palin talk. If he does that, he will win. But what the R's are praying for is for him to lay into her (i.e. he is picking on the poor little hockey mom), or for him to be overly-respectful (i.e. patronizing the powerful and respected Governor of Alaska. They'll bitch either way. Biden doesn't need to beat Palin, he just needs to stay out of the way while she beats herself.

Edit: Palin sounds good. Doesn't sound smart, but she's speaking English, so its a start.

Edit: HAHA! Holy shit, did she just say that she may not answer the questions the moderator asks? Awesome. Nice burn by Biden, calling her on the bogus charge that Obama voted all those times to raise taxes.

Edit: She's just like McCain, smiles at the wrong times.

Edit: Oh damn! "the ultimate bridge to nowhere." Well said.

Edit: Oh my God, a plan to remove troops from Iraq is a "white flag of surrender"? Jesus....

Edit:This is intense. Good debate so far. Biden seems sure of himself and knows his stuff. Palin is cute, I guess. Still lacking some substance as I see it.

Edit: "Dog-gone-it Joe?" Are we electing fucking Howdy Doody to the VP office?

Edit: Jesus, these "beauty pageant" answers are freakin' killing me. Can she answer a damn question?

Edit: I dunno, Biden looked great, but Palin didn't piss herself either, so I'll reserve judgment for tomorrow.

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October 1, 2008

I Need to Stop Talking About Sarah Palin

But she makes it so easy. Does Palin even have a running mate? I've lost track.

Interesting article over at A conservative argument for Sarah Palin excusing herself from the GOP ticket to save McCain's chances in November. Seems pretty compelling to me, but I'd also be dancing naked in the streets if the McPalin ticket imploded like that (The author, Conor Friedersdorf, is a HuffPo writer, so apply grains of salt as needed).

Then on the same site, some guy, Joe Conor, rebuts Conor's position, claiming that Sarah is only bad on television. Outside TV, she's got a great personality, and personalities, not issues, are what this election (supposedly) is all about.

Making judgments about Palin — or any candidate — based on how they come across on television seems to me to be irrational and dangerous.
Did this guy see those interviews? Sarah Palin isn't just bad on TV. John Kerry was bad on TV, so was Nixon. Sarah Palin is an atrocity, on TV and in person. She's a god damn journalism major who can't name a single newspaper or magazine she reads to keep up on the news; she shouts contradictory campaign positions in Philly sandwich shops; she lies her damn head off!
She has, however, revealed she has the character to make the right decision on such issues, even at great personal cost. This, in my view, is the core of leadership and the primary reason she is more qualified to be the chief executive than anyone on the Democratic ticket.
More of that gut-feeling decision making, W. style. That hero-worship of "instinctive" leaders and demonetization of intellectual prowess has done wonders for the country these last 8 years, hasn't it?

The folks at Redstate are feeling pretty down about this stuff lately.

Makes me all warm and fuzzy inside.

Yes, I'm sorry, I visit Redstate from time to time. I guess I like the pain. Teh stoopid, it hurtz.

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September 30, 2008

30 Real Issues in 30 Days

Brian Lehrer's radio show is taking on actual issues of the campaign for the next 30 days (actually today is day 7).  I've listened through the first week of it and someone should give this guy a broadcast medal, he is covering issues that matter in a fact-based forum with experts, historians, policy wonks, and real callers.

To cut through the play-by-play campaign noise and focus on a long view perspective this is a must listen.

The full listing, with streaming, is available here.

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The Palin Expectations

Ya'll seen this Palin chick? She's freakin' hilarious! I don't know who her writers are, but she is a comedic genius. That Borat guy better look out, there is a new kid on the block of awkward humor, and she looks like the big leagues. This whole PR stunt she's puling with the faux-VP bid is revolutionary. Obviously, no one really believes she wants to be the Vice President, but the publicity Palin and her comedy troupe have received is priceless. /snark

Seriously, Sarah Palin is a train wreck by any standard. Her anti-science, fiscally unsound policy and debilitating lack of experience should be enough to disqualify her for the 2nd highest office in the country. The woman wants Creationism taught on par with Evolution and actually tried to ban books from the Wasilla Library. Done. The argument is over at this point, she should not be VP. Period.

But oh no, Palin is the candidate that keeps on giving. Get comfortable. Pour a second cup of coffee and settle in.

She's packing major baggage in the "personal" area, such as the influence of "first dude" Todd Palin in her administration, her 17 year old daughter Bristol's pregnancy (not a problem at all in itself, but a poignant highlight of Palin's defunding Alaskan programs to help teenage mothers and emphasis on abstinence-only sex education), and the infamous "Troopergate" scandal. So this religious wacko who (allegedly) acknowledges the existence of witchcraft has been using her government office to wage personal vendettas against the former husband of a slighted family member. Again, done. The argument against her election is over, a second time. She should not be VP.

And friends, there is more. Apparently, Sarah Palin has a little problem with coherence and sentence structure. Her (few and meager) media interviews have been physically painful to watch. I seriously had to leave the room when I saw that poor Governor sputtering on about Russia and Canada sharing boarders with Alaska and Putin "rearing his head" over her state. During her interview with Couric, Palin's answer about the bailout bill will go down in history with that Miss Teen America contestant's response.

Notice the similarities? I did.

She has exhibited less-than-perfect message discipline as well, contradicting McCain's Pakistan policy when talking to voters. Then when called on it, McCain issues this doosy:

"I don't think most Americans think that that's a definitive policy statement made by Governor Palin,"
Come on guys, just because she said it, doesn't mean she meant it.

So this debate looks like its over before it began. On both substance and style, Palin looks dead in the water. Biden, a career vet of foreign policy and the intricacies of policy and government, ought to be able to pick her apart with relative ease at the VP debate on Oct. 2nd. The man is a hell of a speaker and an amazing personal story as well.

So on paper, this thing is over. Whatever happens with the top of the tickets, the VP question has been answered. Yet if my party affiliation has taught me anything, it is to never underestimate the Democrats ability to really knuckle down, do some hard work, and completely blow a "gimme" election. Or issue. Or vote. Democrats are pretty much the leading experts in the field of professional fuck-ups and are more than capable of adding this VP debate to the long list of pathetic foot shots in our history (for further reading, see 2004 Presidential Election, or even better, the FISA debate).

So we need to shut the hell up. Palin is a joke, we all know that. Even the Republicans know she's isn't even approaching "ready," as is evident by the Great Palin Media Blackout of 2008. She has been ridiculed into the ground. Tina Fey, of SNL, doesn't even change her dialogue when she mocks Palin. She doesn't need to. Palin mocks herself. The poor woman must cry herself to sleep at night, I know I would. But then, I don't have an army of handlers insulating me from the scary media, or any outside contact at all for that matter.

At this point, if Palin spells her name correctly on the debate sign-in sheet, she's going to be a freakin' all-star. The media and the public are going to expect her to tank in epic fashion; come on stage with her head shaved or with a plug of chewing tobacco in her lip or something. So now, if she shows up fully dressed and speaks passible English, this debate will be a "win" for the McCain/Palin ticket. She is already expected to make very little sense and play defense the whole 90 minutes, so when she does just that, the talking heads are going to be crowing about her "meeting expectations" and "holding her own." She is already being held to a lower standard for success than anyone else on this campaign trail, and it is only getting worse. We used to care about a candidates qualifications in this country. We ought to still. As citizens, we should be demanding well-qualified, educated, knowledgeable statesmen and women run this country, not just some lady who manages to make it through a debate without wetting herself.

There is enough to disqualify Palin to be the VP without running her mental capacities into the ground. All we are doing is making it easier for her to exceed those expectations. So lets be honest, Sarah Palin is dumb, vicious, and incompetent, but you don't become the governor of a state by being a complete waste of oxygen. She will eventually exhibit some ability during this campaign, and we should be asking if that paltry offering is enough. I'm sure there is some kind of mental process going on behind those glasses, but the issue should be the quality of that process, not that we are all "so impressed" that this infant-woman actually does possess a functioning mind.

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September 29, 2008

Best Perspective I've seen on the "Bailout"

I'm not the economic guru so I've been wading through a bunch of sensationalized reports about everything going in the tank and how Congress needs to step up now to save us. I've been very skeptical about the whole 'bailout' plan but realize something needs to get done.

Here is the most level-headed, non-partisan analysis I've seen about the finance meltdown with some good ideas about dealing with it.

So, really, a lot of it comes down to how well such a government fund is managed -- and right now that's a huge open question. If it's managed well, by folks who actually have the ability to get a pretty good read on the likely real value of these distressed assets -- then the splurge plan could work wonders. But how often do you see the government do anything right -- especially when it comes to managing money? So, while, in theory, I don't have a problem with the government entering the market as a buyer, you have to worry significantly about the fact that it's the government, and they're prone to screwing things up badly -- especially once politicians get involved. Once you have people trying to get elected on a regular basis messing around with the decision making, you know things are going to get bad fast.
Honestly I think we need this bailout, but in incremental steps and with an oversight committee who knows what they're doing.  I'm thinking an actual group of economists, and being in Chicago I've gotten some great input from some of the most awarded financial guys on the planet at the U of Chicago.  And here are Robert Shimer's (University of Chicago) thoughts in an email to Greg Mankiw (Harvard University).  The wheels have been churning lately at the U of Chicago's world renowned Department of Economics (and with 6 Nobel laureautes in the economic sciences currently on faculty you'd expect it) and the news has been diverse, interesting, and way over my head.  I wish I understood more, but all I know is that it's bad news for me once I get out of school, good thing I'll be in medical training for the next 15 years!

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September 27, 2008

Bears to Blame for Failing Economy

I'm taking a short break from my NYC trip today to bring you a post about reality and rationality. If you watched the first presidential debate last night you saw a lot of talk about the economy.

When questioned about what to do about the financial crisis in the US John McCain fired away at the government for funding a $3 million study on the DNA of bears in Montana.  This was his first attack on the financial subject and of course as a science guy I was a little pissed that he would go after the funding status of science agencies (which have seen stagnation and declines in funding under Bush).  Here's a nifty chart put together to keep funding and government excess in perspective when you hear the candidates speak about stuff like this.

3 million is 0.0005% of 600 billion (cost of Iraq war so far).  Perspective and priorities noted.

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September 26, 2008

61 Nobel Laureates Endorse Obama

Back to the science posting while I have a second. Yesterday, Obama's campaign released a letter of endorsement signed by 61 Nobel Laureates. This is the largest number of Nobel prize winners to ever endorse a Presidential candidate and it shouldn't be surprising.

Obama's answers to the ScienceDebate2008 questionnaire were scientifically sound and gave the impression that he had a very good scientific advising team. This was confirmed last week when Wired detailed the five members on Obama's scientific advising team (which included 2 signees of the Nobel letter). The team is very strong, with a former NIH director and some well respected researchers.

McCain has yet to release his scientific advisory committee members.

A short blurb from the endorsement letter:

During the administration of George W. Bush, vital parts of our country’s scientific enterprise have been damaged by stagnant or declining federal support.  The government’s scientific advisory process has been distorted by political considerations. As a result, our once dominant position in the scientific world has been shaken and our prosperity has been placed at risk. We have lost time critical for the development of new ways to provide energy, treat disease, reverse climate change, strengthen our security, and improve our economy.
Senator Obama understands that Presidential leadership and federal investments in science and technology are crucial elements in successful governance of the world’s leading country. We hope you will join us as we work together to ensure his election in November.

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September 24, 2008

McCain Suspends Campaign

McCain is apparently putting his campaign on hold in response to the economic crisis at hand. He is calling for a meeting of both party's leaders, himself, and Obama to address the financial meltdown and the governments response.

Seems very level headed, responsible, and surprisingly bipartisan. Damn. So that means the post about McCain's unacceptably partisan tone during this crisis that I have been writing is now worthless.

We must meet as Americans, not as Democrats or Republicans, and we must meet until this crisis is resolved.I am directing my campaign to work with the Obama campaign and the commission on presidential debates to delay Friday night's debate until we have taken action to address this crisis.

I know, its from Drudge. It hurts me to even admit that I read that garbage. But damn, the man breaks some stories.

So, is this some cheap trick to give McCain some breathing room for the debate he is about to lose and to give him further excuse to keep Sarah "Delicate Little Flower" Palin out of the harsh, scary media sunlight? Doesn't seem so at first blush. This does actually sound like a smart idea. As the economy veers towards the cliff of depression, maybe a little time away from soap opera politics and some focus on nuts and bolts legislation is a good thing.

Or perhaps what we need is precisely that, a focus on the politics that will determine the next 4 or 8 years of our country's future. Honestly, I cannot think of a more pertinent question to this crisis than which governmental philosophy we will follow going forward.

I am not ready to make a pronouncement yet, but my political lean obviously makes me slightly skeptical of this new-found love of legislation that John "Absentee Senator" McCain has developed.

I eagerly await Obama's response.

Update: Obama wont play McCain's game.

"I believe that we should continue to have the debate," Obama said. "It's my belief that this is exact time when the American people need to hear form the person who in approximately 40 days will be responsibly for dealing with this mess and I think that it is going to be part of the president’s job to deal with more than one thing at once."

Obama said that unlike McCain, he will not suspend ads, or campaign events scheduled between now and Friday's debate.

"I think it's very important that the American people see the people who potentially could be in charge of this problem within the next couple of months and so my attitude is that we need to be focused on solving the problems, as I have been," Obama said. "It's also important that we communicate where we need to go in getting us out of the situation."

Obama said he will stay in Florida for the time being and will not return to Washington unless asked by Congressional leadership.

"I've told the leadership in Congress is that if I can be helpful then I am prepared to be anywhere at anytime," he said.

Emphasis mine. I like it. I'm still not sure if McCain's idea is a good one or not, but it is nice to see a Democrat not asking "How high?" when a Republican says "Jump."

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September 22, 2008

Elitism Definied

Via Kos. I love it.

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September 18, 2008

Layman Economics

Today the Dow closed at 10609.66, a full 50 points lower than the day George W Bush took office (how's that market economics working out for you?). That means that in 8 years of Republican stewardship the economy has shown a net negative movement.

I wish I had more time to devote to this subject, but as a lowly medical school student I honestly don't know much about the economy, probably about as much as John McCain.

What I do know is the Bush administration, as well as his surrogate nominee John McCain have proposed that our tax money to fund Social Security should be placed in private markets.  Some of the names mentioned for these holdings should sound familiar right about now; Lehmann Brothers and the no-longer-independent Bear Stearns and Merrill Lynch.

Say we would have bet our Social Security future on the market in 2001 assuming that the stewardship of the Republicans would have led to larger gains in those investments.  Remember a lot of their platform is based on larger tax breaks for the wealthy which leads to higher investment in the market and large returns.  Those assumptions would have been wrong.  According to the Center for American Progress, the Bush economic plan (the same one John McCain is pushing, "make the Bush tax cuts permanent", let Phil Gramm who created this mess continue his policies as he is McCain's top economic advisor to the campaign) has stifled the average familial income (PDF) and given large gains to the yacht riding wealthy of the country.

Again, I know next to nothing about the economy, but I can read a chart and seeing the Dow Jones head down down down is not a good sign.  More of the Same????

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September 16, 2008

John McCain Reveals His Jackassery Once Again

John McCain has been in the news quite a bit recently. His comments on the economy are the definition of irony, and the media has finally begun calling a spade a spade, and McCain's campaign press, well, bullshit. Not to mention the Palin soap opera/Law & Order episode.

Little noticed news item, McSame finally answered the ScienceDebate2008 presidential candidate questionnaire. Obama's answers here. On the energy question, McCain made a passing reference to wind, solar, geothermal, tide, and hydroelectric energy potential, without mentioning a serious effort to increase the use of these technologies. Seems like he was primarily concerned with explaining away all those votes he had cast against renewable energy. He mumbles something about "reforming" the tax credits for the industry (in repubspeak: remove all responsible regulation). Just more lip-service, no policy.

Then he rants about nuclear power. He proposes building 45 new reactors by 2030. Thats a lot of nuclear power plants folks. You want one in your backyard? I don't. And he completely whitewashes the reality of this option as well.

Nuclear power is a proven, domestic, zero-emission source of energy and it is time to recommit to advancing our use of nuclear energy.
"Zero-emission?" Yucca Mountain, anyone? Was he even awake when his lobbyists/advisers were writing this tripe?

Under the previous topic "Climate Change," he plugged for 30 billion dollars over the next 15 years for the freakin' coal industry. "Clean coal" is still coal, my friend, euphamisims wont change the fact. Filtered cigarretes will still kill you. And really? I'm no econimist, but $30 billion seems like a lot for an industry we should be moving away from anyway.

Read his other answers at your own peril.

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September 15, 2008

Thank God We Bailed Out

Bear Stearns back in March, if we hadn't we may have lost Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch, and who know's what else.  Oh wait...

Brought to you by that economic genious Phil Gramm, who just happens to be the guy who will be in charge of our whole economy under John McCain.  Chew on that one...

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September 12, 2008

Drill Baby Drill!!!

A Picture is worth a thousand words and although I've previously covered why offshore drilling is a pander with no real substance I think this graph does a much better job of getting the message across.
Props to Ezra for the graph and check out his article accompanying it, energy expert indeed!

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September 7, 2008

Evolution and Indoctrination...From a Christian Studies Scholar

The "teaching the controversy" canard that many anti-evolutionists roll out concerning fairness is something that irks me to no end. I always fall back on the point that disagreeing with a viewpoint is not a controversy, and now a Christian and religious scholar from Butler University has brilliantly put my thoughts in his own words.
Is it "indoctrination" if we teach the history of the Holocaust and do not give equal time to the deniers of the Holocaust?

Is it indoctrination if we teach astronomy and make no mention of astrology?

Is it indoctrination if we teach the heliocentric view of the solar system without giving equal time to geocentrists?

Asking for equal time for "alternatives" to evolution is in exactly the same category. It is asking that a point of view with nothing but questions and complaints to offer be treated as the equal of a scientific field of research that has been remarkably productive and consistently confirmed by all sorts of evidence not available when the theory was first formulated. The media makes much of being "fair" in trying to always hear another side of the story, and there is something indeed laudable about checking to see if there is an opposing viewpoint. Too many of us forget to do that, and forget too often. But not every opposing viewpoint has merit, and the reason we have education standards is to ensure that educators do not waste time on nonsense to the detriment of things that are truly important, valuable, and (ultimately) true.

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Political Training Wheels

The McCain campaign has decided Sarah Palin is off limits for interviews at this time until she can be fully brought up to speed on the issues at hand. Of course the news media is up in arms over this decision but let's face it, it is McCain's campaign and it is fully within his right to run it this way.

My concern is over someone who is 57 days away from possibly assuming a vice-presidency needing secret meetings to make sure she can fully communicate her (supposed) own ideas concerning the platform.

For all I know about Sarah Palin she is a very well-spoken woman who has little experience outside of firing museum directors, librarians, teaching creationism, banning books, denying human caused global warming, and asking for $27M in federal earmarks for the "bridge to nowhere".

She also lives really close to Russia which the Republicans would like you to believe means she has great international relations experience even though she only recieved her passport in 2006 and has visited a total of 4 countries.

All of this makes me believe she doesn't know a whole lot about what she's talking about or what her job would be as vice-president, I think she says it best:

For me this all adds up to one thing, it was a highly political decision by John McCain, who has touted his campaign as getting away from the Washington influence and doing what is best for our nation.  It seems like this decision is better for him personally in his quest for the presidency, a stance that politicians in Washington have held forever.  The reformed maverick showing his true intentions again.

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September 5, 2008

Obama Embraces Reality; Will McCain Follow His Lead?

Just ran across this on kos. I'm sure Tye will have much more to say about it than I will (or can), but I am very pleased with the responses Obama made to the ScienceDebate 2008 questionnaire. The questions addressed climate change, stem cell research, Math and Science education, defense research, healthcare and several other areas, but this is the line that got me excited.

I will restore the basic principle that government decisions should be based on the best- available, scientifically-valid evidence and not on the ideological predispositions of agency officials or political appointees.
After the anti-science, ideology worshipping we have seen from the Bush Administration and its appointees in areas of science and public health, some professional integrity in these crucial fields will be a welcome change.

I can't wait to see McCain attempt to answer these questions without destroying either his batshit-crazy, Religious Right street-cred or his appereance of sanity by attempting to appease their flat earth ideology. Should be fun to watch.

I bet Palin's responses would be hilarious.

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And All The Pundits Say...

The love of truth lies at the root of much humor
-Robertson Davies

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September 4, 2008

RNC Roundup: Night 2

Big night tonight for the Republicans. McCain's acceptance speech. How will it match up with Obama's in Denver? The Palin travesty unfolds....

More to come.

Update: I almost feel bad for McCain. He faces this election alone. Biden will be a source of strength and advise for Obama in the coming months, and his experience in both Congress and on the world stage will be a effective response to the Right's "inexperience" arguments. But Palin is a millstone. She is half a candidate. The campaign itself has decided she will have no interaction with the public except through prewritten speeches, no Q&A. They are claiming that she will fill in her considerate policy and experience gaps under the wing of McBush over the next 4 years, but until then, she will require that McCain spend his political capital on her validity as a candidate for VP. That is capital McCain can ill afford in the face of the Obama/Biden ticket.

Update: I hate to admit it, but I'm watching Billo, he's showing his interview with Obama. Bill is an asshat. Surprise surprise. Trying to tell Obama that he wont go after Bin Laden in Pakistan. Who the hell is he to tell the future President what he will or wont do?

Update: I think MSNBC just reported that the teleprompter isn't working. McCain is gonna fall apart. This will be ugly, either way.

Update: Lindsey Graham is a douche. Claims Obama somehow advocates defeat for our forces in the Middle East by not throwing around empty rhetoric about some ill defined "victory."

Update: I must admit, Cindy McCain is pretty amazing. She is a perfect example of using wealth correctly. Presentation was very well done as well.

Cindy is killing me, that monotone is brutal. She talks about McCain making a better world for our children and her families hardships in the same tone of voice.

RNC 2008: Only the Finest Canned Speeches!

Update: Ok, McCain has started, so I need to pour a drink, we'll see if I can stand to be in the same room with a television for the next 50 minutes.

I'll see you in an hour...

Ok, I lied, protester just held up a sign saying "McCain Votes Against Vets." /salute and well said.

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September 3, 2008

I Need A New Dictionary

reform - noun
   1.  the improvement or amendment of what is wrong, corrupt, unsatisfactory, etc.  The Bush policies have shown a great need for reform. with someone 90% of the time is not reforming their policies.  At least Sarah Palin only said it 9 times tonight in her acceptance speech.

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Republican Roundup II

And awesome...

Update: Listen to the love people. The wolves are hungry...

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Republican Roundup

Sarah Palin is an amazing choice for John McCain's running mate. Incredibly stupid, as has been noted. An inexcusable blunder of judgement and politics by McCain on paper, but there's more going on here. This could be the dumbest luck in history or a move of considerable genius, in that we have talked of little else since the announcement. McCain's name has been all over the news show banners for something like 48 straight hours. Obama's historic speech be damned. If you believe "there is no such thing as bad press," Sarah Palin is a freakin' homerun.

The RNC is hilarious.

McGrumpy struck again.

Fred Thompson needs a cough drop.

26 minutes, 72 throat clearings (phlegm count courtesy of Keith Olbermann) and a whole lotta yawns.
From Nicole Belle at C&L.

Mitt Romney is a jackass of epic proportions.

So I've been looking for a little more substance on Gov. Palin, and TP has come though again. Great "Sarah Palin Digest" from

9iu11ani and then Palin on deck, so thoughts to follow.

Update: Alright, Giuliani is at it again, he's stroked off into another 9/11 rant. Its just hard to watch this train wreck. But it does have this pack of RNC clowns howling, these people are thirsting for blood tonight.

Update: Rudy is out of his damn mind. Claiming Palin's few years as mayor make her more experienced than Senators Obama and Biden. Madness and lies. A dark night in St. Paul.

Update: Palin is killing me. I think she might cry before the speech is over. She just claimed she said "Thanks but no thanks," to the Bridge to Nowhere funding. This pic from Kos says otherwise. Teh stupid, it hurts...

Update: The Man Himself makes an appearance. Reminds me of a game show host. Says hi and then...its over...weird.

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September 2, 2008

Preparedness in the White House

 Great question Sarah, maybe you should take a look at the last 200 years of our republic and figure it out.  It looks like we have our first candidate for "Fucking Moron of the Week" incumbent.

I can't believe this lady will be 1 heartbeat away from being the most powerful person in the world if McCain is elected.  Judgement in politics has reached an all-time low.

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August 31, 2008

Federal Court Blocks Testing For Mad Cow Disease

The USDA tests 1% of cattle for "mad cow disease." Kansas-based Creekstone Farms Premium Beef exporters want to test 100% of their cattle for the disease. But the Bush administration, in an effort to protect your safety has sued the company claiming it is illegal for them to test all of their cattle.

And guess who agrees with Bushie? Of course, the large meat packing corporations who "fear they too will have to conduct the expensive tests" if Creekstone Farms Premium Beef began advertising that all of its cattle had been tested.

The administration cites the the "low level of testing reflects the rareness of the disease." Maybe we should apply this logic to the TSA as well. Terrorists are extremely rare, only 1% of passengers ought to be checked by airport security.

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August 30, 2008

President Palin

John McCain made an interesting pick for VP in Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin. The 44-year old mother of 5 is a heartbeat (or heart attack) from being the President if McCain is elected. John McCain's grandfather died of a heart attack at the age of 61 and his father died at the age of 70 of a heart attack. McCain is currently 71 years old so this isn't me being cynical but rather taking account of his family history.

Anyway, on to Sarah Palin. Here's the only two things you need to know about her. She opposes all forms of abortion (fair enough) and severely wants to limit women's reproductive rights. And in possibly the stupidest comment said in the last year here is her response to Newsmax regarding global warming.

What is your take on global warming and how is it affecting our country?
Palin: "A changing environment will affect Alaska more than any other state, because of our location. I'm not one though who would attribute it to being man-made."

Its called judgment and obviously this beauty pageant winner of 44 years old has more of it than the overwhelming majority of scientists (and even recently the Bush administration) on whether global warming is a man-made phenomenon.  I hate to do it to such a pretty lady but you're getting the first of our new weekly award for "Fucking Moron of the Week".  Let's not even consider McCain's judgment in putting this woman one accident/heart attack/dementia induced resignation away from being the most powerful person in the world.

More After the Fold...


August 29, 2008

No Words Needed

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August 28, 2008


Tonight Barack Obama becomes the first African American to be nominated by a major political party for the office of President of the Untied States of America.

But it is about so much more. The movement embodied by this man has the potential to heal the great wounds of the past eight years and fundamentally change the political system and landscape for the better.

Yes We Can.

Edit: The Gettysburg Address, I Have A Dream, and Obama's Acceptance Speech. Its History. I'm calling it.

Video to come.

Still no video on youtube, but I did find this ringing endorsement of the Speech.

You can actually see Bloody Bill wince in pain at those admissions.

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August 26, 2008

Another "Victory" for Bush's Foreign Policy

Last October, it seemed as if The Bush Gang had proved the "stopped clock" theory and had "gotten one right" on the foreign policy test. A major development in the nuclear situation in North Korea involved six-party talks and an agreement stipulating that N. Korea would end their nuclear programs in return for removal from the "State Sponsors of Terror" list. They did. We didn't. Surprise!

Now, as the US and other nations bicker about the method of verification of the disarming, N. Korea has stated that as of Aug. 14th, they have halted the dismantling of their enrichment program.

Way to go George. The immaturity of this guy is astounding. He got what he wanted, the feather in his cap for disarming N. Korea, but when it came time for him to keep his end of the bargain, guess what he did? Yup, changed the rules and yelled "Psych!" And now the world once again must face the consequences of the Bush Cabal's ignorance/incompetence; a potentially re-armed North Korea.

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August 25, 2008

I've Moved To Chicago!!!

Sorry that it has been so long since I've updated but things have been rather hectic lately as I moved to Chicago on one week's notice.  Hopefully things will get settled down pretty fast and I can start posting again.  Dean will still be in Texas and if he ever gets time will be posting from there still.

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August 18, 2008

Presidential Candidates: "Screw Science! I wanna talk about Pixies!"

So I did a bit of talking about ScienceDebate2008, anyone remember that? It was going to be a public forum debate in Philadelphia concerning the science policies and knowledge of the Presidential candidates. Remember how all the idiots running for President turned it down? They were just 'too busy' or 'washing their hair' or something?

Amazingly though, both Obama and McCain found the time to participate in this shit-fest:
The Rev. Rick Warren, author of the best-seller "The Purpose-Driven
Life," will spend an hour interviewing each candidate at his
20,000-member Saddleback mega-church in Southern California.
Yes, good idea guys, turn down the request of the most brilliant fucking minds on this planet and every major science organization, but accept the opportunity to be questioned by RICK FUCKING WARREN IN A FUCKING MEGA CHURCH. Seriously guys, what the fuck?!?!?

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August 15, 2008

Are We Really Ruining the Earth?

Sometimes I feel like no matter how much text I spew out about climate change and damage to the environment I just can't get the point across that we really are affecting our planet.  So I've gathered a few visuals to do the explaining, you can't argue with this.



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August 12, 2008

Birth Control Pills Soon to be Abortion

That's right folks, the Bush administration continues its war on science and its practitioners by redefining the term "abortion". This move attempts to try and cover more people under pre-existing laws concerning medical procedures and provider's abilities to refuse them.

Under the new definition of "assist in the performance" people such as the instrument sterilizers can now refuse to participate if they feel abortion or any other procedure goes against their personal beliefs. No word yet on whether the custodians who clean the operating floors will come under this protection (though I severely doubt it considering the intent of this move).

The definition of abortion though is the one that people should be scared of. Traditionally an abortion has involved terminating pregnancy after the embryo has successfully implanted in the uterus. The new definition, one which more closely resembles the religious beliefs of the administration at the expense of the science and medical tradition, is much, much, much broader:
Therefore, for the purpose of these proposed regulations, and implementing and enforcing the Church Amendment, Public Health Service Act AS245, and the Weldon Amendment, the Department proposes to define abortion as "any of the various procedures--including the prescription and administration of any drug or the performance of any procedure or any other action--that results in the termination of the life of a human being in utero between conception and natural birth, whether before or after implantation."
This is a major, major change in the definition which brings every form of contraception under its umbrella. Birth control pills, plan B, even IUD's.

Women should be appalled at this, as well as the myriad reproductive rights and care the administration has taken away from them. Please contact your representatives and tell them where you stand on this. Things start off on a slow roll, such as allowing Viagra to be covered under insurance but not birth control, and eventually take a mind of their own (now we'll just adjust the definition of abortion to bring those techniques under scrutiny).

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August 10, 2008

Unitarian Jihad

I almost didn't want to write about this because of the recent tradgedy in Knoxville, TN, but there really doesn't seem to be any harm. This group (this joke, really) has no connection to the Unitarian Church, and obviously does not encourage or condone violence. Some humor and peaceful talk is probably the best remedy.

But this article is awesome. I know, its old, but I love the idea of radical rationality, that measured dialogue has become fringe. Some time it does seem that the country has decided it will only pay attention to the squeakiest, and craziest, of wheels. Voices of intelligence and thoughtfulness have been marginalized and replaced by screaming faces like Rush and BillO and (yes, him too) even Olbermann. Even the sounds coming out of our government have become more belligerent and opinionated. Irrational Ideology has become mainstream, demands loyalty, and has thrust Reason into the realm of Extremisim.

This was the best line:

We will require all lobbyists, spokesmen and campaign managers to dress like trout in public.
I totally agree, with this particular jackass as People's Exhibit A.

Mark Penn, not Joe Trippi.

My Unitarian Jihad name is Brother Shotgun of Quiet Contemplation. I love it.

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August 9, 2008

Wall Arch Collapses!

One of the most photographed arches in southern Utah collapsed earlier this week.  I remember standing under Wall Arch in Devil's Garden area of Arches National Park and getting my photo snapped by my mother.  Now the photograph opportunity is gone and most likely the area will be closed to the public as the structure continues to collapse as it's weight is shifted.
Gravity and erosion are the culprits for the arch's collapse.  Over time the slow march of natural forces took its toll on the arch, which joins the 1991 collapse of Landscape arch is merely a memory.  All other arches in the park will meet this same fate over time.  Something like this should remind us all of the incredible power of time.
The arch was once just a solid rock whose center was eaten away to reveal a beautiful formation.  This arch stood for hundreds of thousands of years until eventually the same forces which shaped its pleasing aesthetic caused it to collapse under the delicate frame that time had left it with.  This is one of those punctuating events of geology and the evolution of earth's mass, similar to an earthquake that builds tension for hundreds, if not thousands, if not millions of years.  Every point in time in which the earthquake doesn't begin but builds the potential for action is just as important as the event itself.  Over time this slow build up, like drops in a bucket, wields heavy penetrating power which is released in the geologic equivalent of blink.  A geological bomb, assembling to reach critical mass, punctuates these events.

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Anyone following the race between Obama and McCain has been constantly bombarded with this idea of Obama's "presumptuousness." That he's some elitist liberal, looking down his nose at the rest of the country. He ordered arugula lettuce at one point, which obviously indicates how out of touch he is, right? His Ivy League education is another evident smudge on his "average Joe" record, despite Bush's (C average) degree from Yale which wasn't an issue in 2000 or 2004.

But the worst of it came during Obama's recent trip abroad. He was greeted with massive crowds at each campaign stop and met with various heads of state in Europe and the Middle East. And at each appearance, Obama carried himself with the dignity and courtesy of, well, a president. He was respectful, inspiring, and noble, and the foreign crowds and dignitaries he met with responded in kind. Yet he has been slammed as merely "acting" the part, that he thought he already had the election in the bag and was putting on the airs of his assumed victory.

Of course, I never bought that criticism. John Stewart said it best when he pointed out that both Obama and McCain are running for the office of the freakin President of the United States, of course they are going to have egos. But watching the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics, I think I now understand where these ideas are coming from. This is what we have become accustomed to from our Leader.

Can you believe this putz? He is on the world stage, for Christ's Sake, maybe he could act interested, or at least grown up. This guy, who we elected twice (/shame), is bouncing his knee, looking at his watch, looking bored as hell. He's like a toddler in church! When I saw that I started yelling at the TV, telling George to "fucking behave yourself!" I mean, the whole damn world is watching, and you can tell that all this jackass wants to do is go back to the hotel room and make a fort out of the extra pillows. The man has pissed me off too many times to count, but damn it, I never thought I would be so embarrassed by the POTUS. Next to his shredding of the Constitution, torture policies, Iraq, the economy, etc, this isn't such a big deal, but it is such a slap to our national image. Behaving like an adult at major state functions is kind of the bare-minimum, I would guess, of the President's job description, and this immature frat boy can't even get that right.

So no wonder everyone thinks Obama is being snotty. We're used to a leader who probably shoots spitballs at the Joint Chiefs during briefings and has his old drinking buddies over for late night toilet-papering runs on the Hoover Building.

So if that is presumptuousness, I'll take that over juvenile jackassery any day.

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July 31, 2008

Accepting Bipolar: Join the Club

They tell us that one in every hundred people has some form of manic-depressive illness.  My question is where are all these people?  The gays have come out of the closet, those with physical disabilities have the American Disabilities Act, but where the hell are all the basket cases?  Frequently, we're hiding it from the rest of the world. But on the other hand, many people just don't know why, or in some cases notice, a massive change in personality has happened.  To realize you have a mood disorder is tricky, to accept it is a struggle.  My struggle towards acceptance was probably a typical one, presenting challenges that most people with bipolar disorder (BPD) face, but it definitely is worth telling.

I was a pretty normal 12 year old boy; curious, hyper, unattentive, always looking to make a joke.  If you saw me at that age you wouldn't have concerned yourself much with my mental health future.  You would have seen a straight A student who was active in sports, had plenty of friends, was well-spoken to adults, and very independent.  What you wouldn't have seen were the subtle signs and the changes I was going to go through. 

I had a tenuous relationship with my father, he had lived 6 hours away from me since I was 3 and our interactions were limited to holidays and summer.  No matter the circumstances between us, I had a strong bond with my Dad which originated deep in my DNA.  Somewhere around the age of 12 my father and I lost contact, the particulars are rather unimportant, but what was important was the effect this had on me.  I thought I was strong and would be ok, so what if my father didn't want me, I didn't need his approval to feel good about myself.  But somewhere deep in my brain, forged through generations of fathers and sons, a disturbance happened.  Abandonment became my issue, one that follows me around to this day.  The knowledge that someone who is supposed to love you unconditionally has rejected you weighs heavily on the mind.  A boy searching for a father's love and coming to terms with his sexuality and transition into adulthood is not a pretty sight.

The changes weren't noticeable right away, the evolution towards recognizable bipolar disorder was a slow process which seemed to keep encroaching deeper and deeper into my life.  And although the trajectory of my life was changing I was blind to the process.  One person who did notice a change in me was my mother.  By age 17 she had seen enough of the inflated self-importance, high irratibility, striking independence, and disregard for consequences to understand that something was going on.  She took me to a psychologist who I met a total of one time.  As I walked out of the office I decided I would never see a mental health professional again.  I felt attacked, scared, insecure, and exposed.  How could this person observe me for one hour and pin me into this group of highly affected people?  Why didn't anyone else say anything?  The truth is that they either couldn't see it or if they could were scared to approach me.  How is it that you tell a friend/relative/co-worker that they need mental help without them feeling betrayed and judged?  Even having gone through the process I don't know that I can tell you a good way to go about it.  But regardless of my feelings about that meeting with the psychologist I walked away with a very important step, realization.

I may have fought it and not wanted to believe it, but I realized after a time that maybe the psychologist was right, everything I could put my hands on about bipolar disorder seemed to be a reading of my biography and inner thoughts.  But this didn't precipitate me doing anything about my disorder.  As with many people diagnosed with a mental health issue I thought I could control the effects on my own.  I simply would not accept that my brain did not function correctly in certain situations.  This was magnified by awareness of how intelligent I was.  I hate to blow my own horn, but I did very well in school and stood out in all subjects, competed for the top of my class, and was active outside the classroom.  How was it that the brain which breezed me through calculus had a problem?  Wouldn't I be a little dumber if my brain had a malfunction?  The answer was obviously no, and I learned over time that intelligence and mental health do not follow along the same path, many of the greatest thinkers of our time dealt with severe mental health issues.

So I began to believe that I had bipolar disorder at the age of 18, but still had not come to accept it.  This started to change my freshman year of college.  Two aspects of college life brough about a dramatic change in my bipolar disorder; freedom of schedule, and the escalation of relationships outside the boundaries of parents.  Suffice to say that my freshman year was a roller coaster in which I balanced the stressors of college life but also those of relationships.  I became very serious with a girl that lived in my dorm which brought me to the heights of ecstasy, a placed I relished and thrived in.  When things started to sour though I would deny and pretend everything was going to be ok just to get back to that mania, a short shot of that drug.  Eventually that plan won't work in a relationship and of course it failed.  Things got hard and the stress for both of us was continually mounting. 

One morning I sat on the fountain that had become my morning retreat, waiting for the bus to arrive so I could start my day of classes.  Suddenly an impressively clear thought crossed mine, "just walk out in the front of the bus, simple solution."  This image has stuck with me for over 7 years, and not just the vagaries.  I was wearing a yellow Brisbane rugby shirt as well as the Ralph Lauren jeans I hated, Ocean Pacific sandles were firmly glued to my feet and in my hand a blue folder with my research articles for my class.  The bus driver had very short blonde hair, a girl I hadn't seen drive the bus before, the number 7 seemed to be dominated by male drivers (possibly due to the fact it was the busiest busline and sometimes it became a little disorderly), she had on her 2001 Maroon Out shirt and a smile that doesn't belong on someone at work. 

Two people sat next to me on the fountain, regulars at the fountain who shared the same class with me.  I had introduced myself to them a week earlier which suddenly weighed heavily on my conscience.  If I step out in front of this bus these two people are going to see someone they know and had met commit the ultimate of mistakes.  Perhaps if I hadn't spoken with them earlier that apprehension to hurt those around me would have never stopped me.  I would have simply been a troubled stranger who they were unconnected to and could go on about there lives without wondering what they did or didn't do that caused my rash decision making.  As it was I stood up and froze, suddenly acutely aware of the thoughts running through my head.  An immediate rush of adrenaline shot through my body, my senses heightened, a light coat of perspiration seeped onto my skin and the urge to run came over me. 

My dorm was only 50 yards away but it seemed like an eternity, by the time I reached the door my excitement had turned into nausea.  Although the story ends with me vomiting in my bathroom and calling my girlfriend it could have easily ended with me flattened on the pavement and having the coroner visit a place I'm sure he would rather avoid.  I was lucky the way it turned out, a single thought had scared me, almost to death.  Acceptance became very much easier after that, a simple turning point with profound and eternal consequences convinced me that something needed to be done.

The next time I went to the psychiatrist I didn't feel attacked or insecure, but the feelings of being exposed and scared were still there.  But this was enough to establish a relationship with the psychiatrist and eventually my negative feelings towards the visits evaporated.  I learned a little then but was still rather arrogant about my situation.  My father came back into my life and I allowed this lull in tension to catch me off guard, and when he left again I had not prepared myself for a shock like that.  The depressive and manic issues I dealt with through that situation claimed another one of my relationships as I again buried myself deep in denial, far away from the acceptance that had brought me such progress.

Now the story is different, after sacrificing two different relationships due to my inability to accept my disorder I am facing it full force.  The pain of losing those close to you far exceeds that of personal deficiency.  Admitting and accepting those things that come with a mental health issue is a painful experience that leaves one feeling alone, stigmatized and exposed.  But this is a far cry from the pain of losing family, friends and significant others because you're scared to face your own problems.

So come on, join the club, I promise there are a few of us here that you wouldn't expect.  The club offers you peace for what is by definition an unpeaceful existence, but you have to want to join, you need to accept what qualifies you entry into the club.  Doing that is the only way you'll solve all of those other problems you have running through your mind.

More After the Fold...


July 30, 2008

How to End a Terrorist Group: A Survey from 1968-2006

The RAND Corporation has conducted the first systematic review of terrorists groups and the primary reason that the group ends its operations. Between 1968 and 2006 the study identified 648 terrorist groups, a total of 286 ended during that period while another 136 groups splintered and 244 remained active.

Policing (penetrated and ended by local police and intelligence agencies) and political accommodation accounted for 83% of the termination of group activities. Two reasons (victory and military force) included fighting until one side achieved victory, and interestingly enough the terrorists won (10%) more than a state's military (7%). Looking closer into military force reveals that it is far more effective against a large, well armed, and well organized group; indicating that military force was usually too blunt an instrument to deal with most terrorist groups.

Religiously motivated terrorist groups took longer to eliminate than other groups but rarely achieved their objectives; no religiously motivated group achieved victory during the period studied. The report continues to offer suggestions on how to more effectively deal with al Qa'ida.

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Logical Fallacies in Politics

On Sunday, George Stephanopoulos presented Justin Wolfers "gas tax challenge" to John McCain. The challenge, which still remains unanswered, is to find any coherent economist willing to support Senator John McCain's proposed gas tax holiday. Here's the bizarre conversation:

Stephanopoulos: Not a single economist in the country said it'd work.

McCain: Yes. And there's no economist in the country that knows very well the low-income American who drives the furthest, in the oldest automobile, that sometimes can't even afford to go to work.
This is a pretty good example of the fallacy of ad hominem (Latin: "argument to the man, argument against the man), something that has taken the political world by storm. Th fallacy works like this; Person A makes claim X, there is something objectionable about Person A, therefore claim X is false.

Using that formula we can break down the argument into it's pieces.

Economists claim that the gas tax holiday will not benefit the public.
Economists are not part of the lower class who struggle to pay for gas.
Therefore the claim that the gas tax holiday will not benefit the public is false.

This type of logical fallacy can be powerful and cause people to shake their heads in agreement, "those who aren't like me can't understand." The reality of the situation though should be clear using a few other examples. By McCain's reasoning only those infected with HIV should be allowed to assess the potential good or harm a new treatment program will offer HIV patients. Also by his reasoning only those in government are able to hypothesize about the effects of a new law or directive. These examples should make it pretty clear that this type of reasoning in false.

Dissenters love this type of attack because it avoids the question of whether or not the policy would work and falsely associates the presenters faults as faults of the argument. Here's the real truth behind this type of fallacy. It doesn't matter whether Hitler or Gandhi was the person presenting the argument, their personal characteristics have no bearing on whether or not the statement is true or false. If both were alive today to give their assessment of the gas tax holiday there is a possibility that they would reach the same conclusion. On the same token two people who have lived awfully similar lives and hold the same values could come to different conclusions. A gas tax holiday will act according to the laws of the market and large economic principles I don't understand, nobody's personality will change its effect so it is false logic to attack the personalities and characteristics of those presenting an argument.

Economists by and large base their decisions off of the optimal societal outcome, that is, they analyze the proposal and base their judgments off of the merits of the argument in question alone in determining whether there will be a net gain, loss or push due to the proposal. It is disturbing that we can appeal to expertise when it is convenient, yet dismiss it as out of touch and irrelevant with it conflicts with illogical policy prescriptions. Who turned on the rationality vacuum?

Besides, wasn't this supposed to be a summer gas tax holiday, my calendar says summer is almost over!

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How to Talk to a Climate Sceptic

I've been using this resource for a little while now and I thought I'd pass it on, How to Talk to a Climate Sceptic. The material has grown into a well received and used web resource for those willing to continue the fight against those who deny the reality of anthopogenic climate change.

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July 29, 2008

Evolve - Eyes

Tonight on the History Channel the first episode in a new series is coming on Evolve: Eyes.
They are one of evolution's most useful and prevalent inventions.
Ninety five percent of living species are equipped with eyes and they
exist in many different forms. Learn how the ancestors of jellyfish may
have been the first to evolve light-sensitive cells. Discover how
dinosaur's evolved eyes that helped them become successful hunters.
Finally, learn how primates evolved unique adaptations to their eyes
that allowed them to better exploit their new habitat, and how the
ability to see colors helped them find food.
I'm going to record it and check it out, hopefully I'll enjoy it more than it will anger me, these types of shows seem to do it to me with their overgeneralizations and inaccurate story lines. The History Channel though has pretty high standards and I am looking forward to checking this one out.

More After the Fold...


July 28, 2008

Thomas Friedman on Two Leaders in Oil Independence

Although I detest T. Boone Pickens, the guy is on to something and will be close to powering the whole state of Texas after his massive wind farm is built in the panhandle. Thomas Friedman writes an article in the NYT about Pickens and an Israeli leader in oil independence, Shai Agassi.

Op-Ed Columnist - Texas to Tel Aviv - Op-Ed -

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July 27, 2008

NYT Gives a Voice to Bipolar Disorder

The New York Times has an interesting audio piece about bipolar disorder. Listening will definitely help you feel a little less alone and help those who love someone with the disorder to get a better understanding of what it is like to live with it. It's pretty short and well worth the listen.

A few extreme cases in there but it is interesting to hear people living with the disorder speak about their experiences.

More After the Fold...


July 31 is National Orgasm Day

Not here in the US but in Britain, either way it is a good time to celebrate with the one(s) you're close with. This holiday is promoted by Scarlet magazine and the makers of the PelvicToner who conducted a survey of over 2000 women across the UK and found that shockingly 46% of British women never or rarely achieve orgasm. The study is still ongoing and can be found here if any ladies want to participate.

The survey found that women with better pelvic floor muscles were enjoying better sex lives, which I'm sure will please Arnold Kegel, who developed an exercise program that in 1952 was tested in a 3000 patient study and highlighted the link between muscle strength and tone and orgasm achievement. Of those women who were deemed "sexually dysfunctional," being taught and practicing a resistive exercise program helped many of them achieve orgasm for the first time. The technique Kegel developed is rarely taught to women.

Now there is the PelvicToner(TM), which is a progressive resistance vaginal exerciser designed to help women meet the fundamentals of Kegel exercise to help identify and isolate the vaginal (pubococcygeal) muscle and then to exercise it properly against a variable resistance with the appropriate bio-feedback.

Exercise in this area is definitely important but just as important is a woman's mindset as well as personal knowledge of their own sexuality. I have been with women who have been helped to orgasm by simply settling their fears and building trust, this is probably a big thing with younger women as guys are simply worried about the act while there is certainly more going on inside the woman's head (social stigma, abandonment issues, emotional connection, etc). Another reason I think women have trouble achieving orgasm is the unwillingness to masturbate. If you want to do really well on a math test you will practice the problems by yourself in a low stress setting and then when you get into the test room when the pressure is on and your professor is expecting a good performance you know how to solve the problems, what the steps are and how to complete them. In contrast, if you simply walked in cold-turkey and expect to perform well you would most likely be unable to perform as well as if you had practiced.

It is a crude analogy but masturbation is about equal to sexual practice, for women it is an important part of learning their bodies and what it takes to reach orgasm, which to men probably sounds a little ridiculous. But I remember being told by a woman, after having been with her for a reasonable period of time and working to achieve regular multiple orgasms, that now she knows "where it is" and "what it takes" to reach orgasm (Hi mom and dad, glad you read this blog!). What a novel concept to men, learning how to orgasm and what it takes is usually a very rapid process once puberty is reached. For women though it is a much more complicated process (there's a lot more than just one big piece) that does require a bit of knowledge and practice. In my mind this is easier to achieve individually instead of with a partner. Being with a partner requires you to worry about another person's needs and worrying about whether you're pleasing them, individual masturbation though doesn't require you to worry about anyone but yourself. You can try different things without having to build up the courage to ask or worry about the response you'll get for a request. This takes the pressure off of performance and you can concentrate on yourself and what you're feeling. After a little practice I'm sure everyone can find out what hits their buttons and how to translate that into sex. Remember, practice makes perfect.

Let's take a look at the survey results so far:

Nearly half of all women are not getting their share of orgasms!
75% of older women claim they have a G-spot, but a third of under 25s can't find it.
Women with a "good" pelvic floor have twice as many orgasms.
Women who followed the PelvicToner exercise program reported a much improved sex life within 4 weeks.

More results: Over 2000 sexually active women have already completed the 2008 Orgasm Survey

72% say they are aware of their G-spot but its location varies significantly!
50% place it just inside their vagina nad 35% deep inside. The remaining 15% locate it elsewhere!
46% never/rarely achieve vaginal orgasm during penetrative sex.
Only 31% claim to do so often or always.
69% are aware that the strength of the pelvic floor muscle is implicated in the ability to achieve orgasm.
70% of women claim to exercise sometimes or often but 92% would like to be shown how to exercise properly.

Those women who rate their pelvic floor as good or very good, or who exercise regularly, are twice as likely to achieve vaginal orgasms as those that rate their pelvic loor as poor or very poor. (42% v 22%)

Two thirds of women who rate their pelvic floor as poor or very poor never or rarely have vaginal orgasms.

42% of women using the PelvicToner said they became more aware of their pelvic floor immediately, rising to 85% within 2 weeks.

62% of women using the PelvicToner reported an improved sex life within 2 weeks rising to 82% after 4 weeks.

62% of PelvicToner users said that their partner noticed the improvement in muscle tone/tightness

Just because the PelvicToner was the promoted product by the survey conductors don't let that fool you. Any exercise program designed to strengthen the vaginal muscle will produce improved sex results, and if you're embarrassed to go looking ladies send your man, if he's not willing to jump up and help when you say you want to improve your orgasms (or achieve an orgasm) you need to find one who will. The internet has plenty of good advice about how to perform exercises and here's a little secret to you ladies who go once a year or every 6 months to a gynecologist; ask them, they are very informative and can find you literature on the subject.

(Due to a concern raised by a female friend) Gynecologists should never judge or make you feel uncomfortable talking about sex, this includes simple concerns to the safety of a certain fetish. It is their job to maintain the safety and performance of your reproductive organs and I promise any good gyno will be willing to discuss aspects of your orgasms (or lack thereof) and give you good answers, if not you need to find another gyno. It is not their job to judge your actions, morals, or beliefs and if you're scared to ask then take someone with you (a bf, you'd be surprised how uncomfortable you thought you were until you bring him in with you, maybe the scariest experience of my life) and have them either talk to the doc or just be there to give you support while you're discussing your concerns.

Either way ladies, simple exercises are really a great way to improve your sex life and can be done easily, such as in the car or before bed. Your partner will appreciate it as all men want the feedback an orgasm gives and hopefully it will reduce stress surrounding sex that can come with a non or rarely orgasmic woman. So go out and celebrate one of the great British holidays, maybe we should petition for the introduction on this side of the pond.

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July 25, 2008

Randy Pausch Has Passed Away

A very sad but expected moment for those who were touched by his "Last Lecture". Randy was a Carnegie Mellon University computer scientist who chose to speak about facing terminal cancer in his "last lecture." These lectures are given by professors when they are retiring to look back and think about their successes and failures, imparting it on the audience, usually family and co-workers.

Randy's last lecture caught the nation by storm by becoming an internet phenomenon, quickly spreading through the academic circles and eventually earning him a spot on the New York Times Bestseller List with his book, aptly titled, "The Last Lecture".

In Pausch' last lecture he saw an opportunity to teach his kids and give them life lessons in a form that would last far longer than his body. "The lecture was for my kids, but if others are finding value in it, that is wonderful," Pausch wrote on his website. The theme of Randy's lecture was to never let go of your childhood dreams, chase them but don't be disappointed if they don't all come true, be grateful for those you were able to experience.

I have all of the respect in the world for Randy Pausch, he tried to leave as much as he could for his children and wife, packing up and moving closer to her family so she could better deal with his impending death. Today his wife Jai, three children Dylan, Logan, and Chloe I imagine are spending time processing the actuality of a situation that is never easy to accept, hopefully with those close to them and with the same amount of fearless joy their husband and father exuded. At 47, Randy Pausch has passed away due to terminal pancreatic cancer, but he accomplished another dream of his, to leave a legacy, a written and spoken account of what he would've said to his sons and daughter as they grew up, touching so many other lives in the process.

We offer our condolences to the family as well as the friends of Randy Pausch.

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