Altering Science

The LA Times is reporting on a survey from the union of concerned scientists that says U.S. Scientists Say They Are Told to Alter Findings. The results of the survey suggest that many researchers with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife have seen conclusions reversed to weaken species protection and favor business interests.

It’s one thing to take scientific research and choose to ingore it; it’s a completely different thing to fake the science. It’s called lying. And as fond of calling the Bush administration Fascist, this really is a perfect example. But take it a step further; the Nazi party was famous for cooking “science” to champion its message. I don’t like Nazis.

New Rushdie Fatwa

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei renewed the fatwa against author Salman Rushdie last night. Though his blood may be spilled with impunity, I doubt Salman could wish for better publicity. Not that it has made his life easy.

This is one of those long standing quasi-religious, quasi-political things that I fail to see any logical reason for and merely chalk up to ideological idiocy. Like the Cuban Embargo, denouncing birth control, the royal family, etc…

Its somewhat unfortunate that the limited exposure I’ve had with Iranians has been those in academia because they aren’t able to paint a picture of Iran that differs much from the one I already have. I’m quite curious how normal citizens feel about this fatwa.

Mutts against Hate

Not in my dog park!

Barley was all about the anti-fascist rally today. Sporting a NIMDP (“not in my dog park”) sign, we all strolled around the park in attempt to make clear that we don’t really want neo-nazis in our neighborhood. We had some trouble picking out slogans for Barley because we didn’t want to make them seem like they were making light of a serious issue, so we settled on NIMDP and Mutts against hate.

Hair is cool and Mutts against a master breed were both nixed. But I think Elwood Blues was right when he said “I hate Illinois (or Oregon) Nazis”, not that we saw any.

Election Day, still no clue

I’ve been reading people’s reason’s for voting for different candidates, and they seem to be genuinely misinformed about what each candidate stands for. Or conversely, they don’t care what they stand for.

There seems to be a preponderance of questions about what Kerry actually stands for. I think this is a testament to how well the FUD machine on the GOP side is working. But I also think it points out why there is still an electoral college. Sure you can complain about the popular vote not mattering, but can you unglue yourself from your tele-ma-vision long enough to google the Kerry Campaign or read any number of articles and interviews where it is apparent who he is as a human and where he stands as a public servant? Democracy involves a bit more than watching political ads and touching the TFT screen or filling in the circles. Make sure you get your receipt too.

There also seems to be a general lack of interest in what Bush has actually done. I think the same gripe above applies to you folks too. Stop watching the TV (or listening to that radio) and read something. A lot has been written about this guy, and I must inform you, its not very positive. So you’re a Republican voting for a deficit spending, world policing, domestic policing, big government, anti-competition candidate? That doesn’t make sense. By your own definitions, that doesn’t make sense. Would a real moral leader ask churches to risk their tax exempt status to stump for them? Would an isolationist invade and occupy 2 countries on the other side of the word? Would someone concerned for your safety gut 30 years of environmental and occupational health laws or out a CIA agent as a vendetta? You need a new party, yo. Maybe its time to vote Libertarian? Maybe you should take back the Republican party and make them start their own. Anyone need a brownshirt?

I don’t mean to suggest that the entire debate has been vapid. Its been quite informed. But there has been so much noise that meaningful discussion has been diluted. That’s one of the benefits to reading – no noise.

The “L” word and the “F” word

The “L” word is being thrown around so much right now that I can’t help but wonder if the ghost of Joe McCarthy is being channeled by Karl Rove. I personally don’t believe that John Kerry is that liberal. But I would like to bring up another loaded term. Yup, the “F” word.

No, not that word. Though it could just as easily be used to label the Republican candidates. I’m talking about Fascism. I know most people think primarily of the Nazis, but the jackboot, genocidal warmongering image is a little excessive…

Well, I suppose you could argue that requiring a loyalty oath to attend political gatherings, massive campaigns of misinformation and propaganda, ignoring the genocide in Sudan, and labeling people based on their religion a very Gobbles thing to do, but that’s not the Fascism I’m talking about.

Fascism proper is characterized by the following traits which I’ve borrowed from Wikepedia:

  • Exalts nation and sometimes race above the individual
  • Uses violence and modern techniques of propaganda and censorship to forcibly suppress political opposition
  • Engages in severe economic and social regimentation, and
  • Espouses nationalism and sometimes racism (ethnic nationalism)

I know how dramatic this sounds. I generally get annoyed by the zeal with which people throw hyperbolic labels around, but really, how much further do we need to go? We’re well beyond traditional conservatism now.

Vienna Circle, where are you now?

In the 1920’s, a group of logical positivists formed the Vienna Circle. Positivism is the belief that nothing can be considered true until there is empirical evidence for it. This outlook of systematic doubt is anti-authoritarian because it will not accept anything without scientific evidence.

As is the case with most rational groups, they found themselves at odds with the Nazi party, which formed policy and carried out scientific experimentation tainted with its own ideology and mysticism. As you can imagine, most of the Vienna circle were driven from the country.

I bring this up because the Union of Concerned Scientists finds itself in a similar place. The Bush administration is also loading scientific panels and federal agencies with scientists with similar ideological tainting.

I also bring this up because in capitalism, any limitation based on discrimination impedes efficiency, the near-utopian goal of the method. This definitely includes ideologically-bent policy.


Hulk Hogan from Bushgame

For a while, I only suggested this game to friends because of the somewhat grotesque collection characters and story, but the actual in-play lessons are startlingly accurate glimpses of what the Bush White House (and the others since 1984) has done to our country. It primarily focuses on economic issues, but spices things up with Stem Cell research, etc.

Plus, it has cameos from Hulk Hogan, Howard Dean, Mr. T, and others. If you’re not much for absurdity, I’d suggest passing on this one.