Science Tuesday and Tea Party Eve….

I’ll save the stuff on the Tea Parties and my thoughts for the very last.

President Obama’s Weekly Address

Science (Via Cosmic Variance)
This interesting article comments on how the brain works: The past (which can be accurately reconstructed from data) and the future (which can be predicted by extrapolation) are very different; it is far easier to figure out what happened than it is to accurately predict what will happen. But our brains process both directions in a similar manner; and yes that means our memories are often faulty!

Via Why Evolution is True Yes, we do share 99 percent of the DNA with a chimpanzee. But we are different (I think); one crucial difference is the way our ankles are constructed. That makes a difference when it comes to climbing and walking and running.

Speaking of being built to run very long distance: this article from Seed Magazine discusses just that. Is it true that we evolved a huge aerobic capacity (or the potential for one) to be able to chase down faster prey and to wear them down?

Now back to chimps: did you know that male chimps that offer female chimps more meat have more, ahem, reproductive success? Maybe that is why we offer to take our sweeties out to eat? 🙂

Religion, Science and Society

Satire: Richard Dawkins admits that he can find no “evolutionary reason” for the existence of creationists. 🙂 (note to dimwitted wingnuts: the article I linked to is satire)

I can find one reason: creationists are fun to laugh at! 🙂

Religion: Religion might have its uses, but it does NOT generate morality. Any honest look at the Bible can tell you that neither Judaism nor Christianity is responsible for the generation of morality. The only reason that these religions are at all tolerable is that they have grown away from their holy text; the more rational practitioners cherry pick what is good (and good is there) and ignore or rationalize away what is unpalatable.

Religion and the United States: President Obama is right: America might have many Christians, but it is not now, nor has it ever been a Christian nation (not officially anyway).


Yes, our local racist groups are still active. Recently they left plastic Easter eggs with racist flyers in them. Yes, this is free speech; after all, if you make it illegal for these idiots to spread these, then it would be illegal to, say, go door to door with fliers for, say, a city council candidate. Free speech does expose one to unpleasantness from time to time.

Aaron Shock: our Representative speaks about his recent overseas trip.

Significant strides toward free trade agreements with Colombia and Panama were realized during an overseas trip by several members of Congress last week.

U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Peoria, who was among only three Republicans on the nine-member congressional trip led by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, said such agreements would benefit the top two employers in his 18th Congressional District: agriculture and manufacturing.

Free trade agreements “would be huge boons to companies here in Illinois and around the country that do international trade,” Schock said. “Caterpillar (Inc.), for example, will benefit greatly. Right now there are more D-11 tractors in Colombia than anywhere else in the world.”

In addition to visiting Colombia and Panama and meeting with their top leaders, the delegation also visited Mexico, where they discussed moves to weed out corrupt police officers and curtail the drug trade with the attorney general. In Brazil, the group learned about efforts to reduce deforestation and advancements in alternative energy sources, Schock said.

Hoyer publicly pledged support for a Colombian free trade agreement and said he will ask U.S. President Barack Obama to send language to Congress for approval after the delegation meetings with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe.

The agreement has faced opposition from Democratic lawmakers as well as labor and human rights groups that criticize Colombia’s human rights policies. However, Colombian lawmakers recently approved measures to protect the rights of unions to organize and ensure they are not retaliated against.

Colombia already benefits from selling goods, including sugar and coffee, to the U.S. without tariffs. But without the trade agreement, U.S. companies pay a significant tariff on their goods to Columbia, Schock said, adding the trade agreement would eliminate virtually all tariffs between the two.

“There is no industry that benefits greater from free trade than the agriculture community,” Schock said. “Our ability to sell our grains and goods to countries like Panama and Colombia will only help to strengthen the ag economy in the United States.”

I am no fan of Rep. Shock, but it appears to me that he is on the right track here.

The Tea Bag Protests The Republicans appear to be in panic mode. This planned tea-party appears to be a desperate tactic.

Nobel Laureate Economist Paul Krugman calls it “embarrassing to watch”:

Republicans have become embarrassing to watch. And it doesn’t feel right to make fun of crazy people. Better, perhaps, to focus on the real policy debates, which are all among Democrats.

But here’s the thing: the G.O.P. looked as crazy 10 or 15 years ago as it does now. That didn’t stop Republicans from taking control of both Congress and the White House. And they could return to power if the Democrats stumble. So it behooves us to look closely at the state of what is, after all, one of our nation’s two great political parties.

One way to get a good sense of the current state of the G.O.P., and also to see how little has really changed, is to look at the “tea parties” that have been held in a number of places already, and will be held across the country on Wednesday. These parties — antitaxation demonstrations that are supposed to evoke the memory of the Boston Tea Party and the American Revolution — have been the subject of considerable mockery, and rightly so.

But everything that critics mock about these parties has long been standard practice within the Republican Party.

Thus, President Obama is being called a “socialist” who seeks to destroy capitalism. Why? Because he wants to raise the tax rate on the highest-income Americans back to, um, about 10 percentage points less than it was for most of the Reagan administration. Bizarre.

Going back to those tea parties, Mr. DeLay, a fierce opponent of the theory of evolution — he famously suggested that the teaching of evolution led to the Columbine school massacre — also foreshadowed the denunciations of evolution that have emerged at some of the parties.

Last but not least: it turns out that the tea parties don’t represent a spontaneous outpouring of public sentiment. They’re AstroTurf (fake grass roots) events, manufactured by the usual suspects. In particular, a key role is being played by FreedomWorks, an organization run by Richard Armey, the former House majority leader, and supported by the usual group of right-wing billionaires. And the parties are, of course, being promoted heavily by Fox News.

My take on the tea parties

I grew up as an Air Force brat. So I had tax payer funded schools, subsidized housing, food and free medical care. I went to college at the US Naval Academy (federally funded). My first job was in the US Navy. My graduate education was funded by a mix of GI-bill benefits, federal fellowships and state funded teaching assistantships.

Now I am a mathematics professor. Some of my conferences were funded by the National Science Foundation. Students get tax payer funded aid to attend our university.

Under the radar: the military works its ass off to keep us safe, US interstate highways take us were we want to go, and rest areas let us recharge our batteries in route. I enjoy national parks with all of the perks.

So, were I to whine about taxes….maybe I’d feel just a wee bit hypocritical?


April 15, 2009 - Posted by | 2008 Election, Aaron Schock, atheism, Barack Obama, creationism, Democrats, economy, evolution, Fox News Lies Again, free speech, IL-18, morons, politics, politics/social, ranting, religion, republicans, science


  1. I don’t believe this tea bag crap has anything to do with taxes and everything to do with the failed GOP party struggling to find leadership. Thus far they have trotted out some fairly poor examples such as Rush, Steele and now Dick Armey takes another shot at it. The party of NO.

    Comment by Michael | April 15, 2009 | Reply

  2. […] Bus Leagues Baseball created an interesting post today on Science Tuesday and Tea Party Eve….Here’s a short outlineI enjoy national parks with all of the perks. […]

    Pingback by Topics about Silence-day » Archive » Science Tuesday and Tea Party Eve…. | April 17, 2009 | Reply

  3. […] I find this conjecture to be interesting, and I’ve even blogged about it. But there are lots of interesting conjectures that haven’t panned […]

    Pingback by Link Dump for 26 April 2009 « blueollie | April 26, 2009 | Reply

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