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August 28, 2010

Free speech

I tried to post this rant from my friend Kate Baker Tilton on Facebook-- but it turns out Facebook doesn't do more than 450 characters and Kate's rant is much longer than that.

I'm sorry if this offends you, but I think Kate brings up a number of points that we need to think about. Polite comments very welcomed.


Not only does this egomaniacal, undereducated, under-read, overinflated windbag dare to poach on MLK's territory, but now he tells us that "TODAY, America turns back to God". Like... with his help. Like... he's Moses, taking us out of Egypt to the Promised Land. If it's the latter, he'd better go back and re-read. Moses got egotistical, God didn't like it, Joshua came in from the bull pen. God got the victory, Joshua got the save. > Once again the mouthpiece for the Radical Right claims ownership to religious purity and good old flag lapel pin patriotism in a way which we mere mainstream mortals could never know. Without his help, we'd never have known there were Nazi Icons emblazoned on Rockefeller Center either.

> Listen up, Glenn. Obama was born in Hawaii. A majority of American citizens voted for him. The French health care system (single payer, government run) is rated "best in the world" by the WHO. In Canada it costs more to take your dog to the vet than to take yourself to the doctor. And you don't have to wait five years for that appointment. Shipload after shipload of immigrants landed on these shores, including many to Oglethorpe's penal colony of Georgia. It was not until generations later that the descendants of these undocumented aliens began to demand something called a greencard.

> And... for hundreds of years, Americans of every faith have found their way to God without your help. Our churches have preached social justice. Our churches have searched deeply into their collective souls, and found a home for the disenfranchised, for people of color, for people whose lives are challenged by their gender, or their sexual orientation. You tell us "if your church preaches social justice, run the other way". And yet, you hold yourself up as a paragon of American Religion. Perhaps this is your Waterloo, Mr. Beck. There is no such thing as "American Religion" There is religion. It takes many forms. We have Christian churches of infinite variety, all of whom have preached some form or another of political position over the centuries. In the middle ages, the Catholic church sent warriors into the Crusades, against the "infidel" Muslims, without any regard at all for the Jews who had lived there forever. Our country was begun in part by settlers who were fleeing religious persecution. Young women in Salem MA. might have made the case that once their own skins were safe, those Christians began flaying others. From Quakers in eastern Pennsylvania, down the coast to Creoles and Cajuns, then heading west to where the Catholic faith had been flitered through the Mexican experience... wildly different from the French Canadian influence in the East. Pockets of Native Americans held out... and religions from afar joined us. Asians brought us Buddhism, Shinto, Hindu. Although most Africans became Christian while held in slavery, elements of their former faiths stayed with them, and as more Mediterranean Africans and Middle Easterners came to America, we gained Coptics, Chaldeans, Muslims of varying types, and Orthodox Christians whose practice was greatly different from that of the Roman church.

There is no American Religion, Mr. Beck. There is no American Church, there is no God who singularly blesses America. This is what our founding fathers wanted, this is what they tried to guarantee for us. That no way, no how could any single religious group ever impose their faith on all the rest of us.

Founding Fathers, Mr. Beck - Washington, Jefferson, Hancock, Adams, Madison,Gerry, Hamilton, Franklin, so many more, whose names are on the Declaration, on the Constitution. They were supported by their faith, yes, of course. By whatever faith worked for them. And they tried their best to save us from idiots like you.
> The Right keeps talking about grass-roots. What they seem to mean is the Tea Party, funded largely by Dick Armey's lobbyist corporate money. This diatribe is purely grass roots. It's me, that's all. If it's at all you too, then send it on. Can we flood the internet with anti-beckian common sense?

August 26, 2010

Women Vote: 90 Years and Counting

90 years ago today US women (ok in reality white women) got the vote. At one level 90 years seems like a long time; but it's not. Our grandmothers and for the older among us like me, our mothers, were born before women had the vote. The struggle for the vote was long and hard. We honor those who fought for the vote, and ourselves, when we vote. If you're not registered, register, if you're registered- vote every darned chance you get!

August 23, 2010

Why I love my friends so much


We are just back home after a very, very rainy weekend in NY, sadly we got flooded out on the Taming of the Shrew (outdoor tent production-- worst rain I've ever seen-- rain beating on the tent so loudly that the actors couldn't be heard and then the tent started to leak...) I was really bummed because it was set in the 60s (Kate burned her bra (I know I know it never happened in life but it was effective on stage); just before they stopped Pertrucio and his servant came in on motorcycles (ok fake but cool fake motorcycles)). Since the director consulted with Dar Williams (who lives in the area) about how to deal with the epilogue, I really wanted to see that.

My friend:

OK. Sorry about the play but reread your email. It is hilarious. You can see a play anytime but how often do you get a story like this to tell everyone? Hell, I'd burn my bra to have watched the tent start leaking in the middle of the play.
Well at least the leaking tent didn't put out the burning bra!

However I still want to see how they dealt with the epilogue. BTW thanks to the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival for this and all the other plays I've enjoyed over the years. The rain-- not their fault.

August 17, 2010

Hooray for the Senate Appropriation Committee

Senate FY 2011 National Science Foundation Appropriations Bill

Broadening Participation

The Committee denies the NSF's request to merge initiatives to broaden participation by consolidating three existing programs, the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Undergraduate Program [HBCU-UP], the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation [LSAMP] and the Tribal Colleges and Universities Program [T-CUP]. These three programs each have different purposes and engage students and colleges and universities in a different manner. One size will not fit all. The Committee directs NSF to maintain HBCU-UP at $32,000,000; LSAMP at $44,750,000; and T-CUP at $14,000,000. Any remaining funding available for Undergraduate/Graduate Student Support may be used for an integrated broadening participation of undergraduates in STEM that includes institutions eligible for these three programs as well as institutions eligible under section 7033 of the America COMPETES Act (Public Law 110-69).

My very cool new friend Monica Gaughan said today "all research training is federally subsidized" and you know she is right. The Appropriations Committee just helped to make sure that the subsidized training remaines available to students at colleges like Johnson C. Smith and Fort Belknap College just as it is for students at places like Johns Hopkins and MIT. "One size will not fit all."

August 14, 2010

Fund Science

No this isn't a request, a hope or a lobbying effort. It's a really interesting concept and non-profit. The mission of Fund Science is "To enable the public to fund pilot research projects."

Their goals:

* Enabling public philanthropy through tactical funding of small pilot research projects up to $50,000.
* Educating and walking the public through the research process by providing direct interaction between researchers and their donors.
* Applying open source methodology to aid program participants in the research process through simple collaboration tools.

Fund Science was started by a graduate student David Vitrant who was concerned about the lack of research and funding opportunities for young scientists (42 is the average age of scientis receiving their first major NIH grant.)

The Chronicle of Higher Ed article about Fund Science explains that Fund Science gives each research project 10 percent of its proposed budget and expects young scientists to raise the rest through the online platform Fund Science has created for the researchers to explain their work.

Making researchers explain their work to people outside of the scientific community, ah that makes my FairerScience heart so happy; especially the researcher who ran her presentations of her research by her grandmother first.

See I told you it was a really interesting idea. I'm off to check out the studies.

August 12, 2010

How the Google/Verizon proposal could kill the internet in 5 years

Just read this, it's important.

FairerScience friend and io9 guru Annalee Newitz has written a column on "How the Google/Verizon proposal could kill the internet in 5 years"

I'm not going to do an excerpt, just read this, it's important. Ok fine I know I said this before but just read this, it's important.

August 02, 2010

It's that time of year again

What time of year? Well- it's the lazy hazy crazy days of August where you get the opportunity to read a really excellent Scientiae over at Apple Pie and the Universe and to submit your PhD dissertation to the 2010 Dance Your Dissertation Contest.. You can also check out last year's winners . I think my favorite is the Isotope Square Dance.

August 01, 2010

What's the secret?

The question:

Is there a secret to helping minority students succeed in science?

The answer:

It's the faculty. It takes researchers to produce researchers. That's the difference: faculty involvement paired with nurturing, high standards and high expectations.

The wise responder:

Freeman Hrabowski

You can read the whole interview here.