Sunday, September 30, 2007


This woman is:
A) The White House entry into the Mardi Gras Drag Race?

B) Paris Hilton at 40 (with Harley-Davidson Iron Cross Award)?

C) A Pentagon "counsellor" coordinating Coalition (of one) Forces who "Hates all Iranians?"

D) Lead singer for the Rolling Stones?

E) The real Jenna Bush?
And the answer is:

Ta Da

Friday, September 28, 2007

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Our President the Black Pot

Bush: Kids' Health Care Will Get Vetoed

The Associated Press
Saturday, September 22, 2007; 11:04 AM

WASHINGTON -- President Bush again called Democrats "irresponsible" on Saturday for pushing an expansion he opposes to a children's health insurance program.

"Democrats in Congress have decided to pass a bill they know will be vetoed," Bush said of the measure that draws significant bipartisan support, repeating in his weekly radio address an accusation he made earlier in the week. "Members of Congress are risking health coverage for poor children purely to make a political point."
Let's just see. Bush is asking for $50 Billion, again, to fund his Wars (I still think he will bomb Iran). Yet, he can't even come up with $7 Billion a year for poor kids. Kids who were stranded out there in the ragged American econoscape because their parents lost their jobs when all the factories were sent to Mexico or China (happened in our town).

This strikes close to the heart and, given the rubberized spine of this current crop of congressional Democrats, I may be in for some serious decisions. You see, Bush can veto and Dems can waffle, but when the bill hits the pavement the person who ultimately has to pay the cost is, you guessed it, me. Either I see the patients who have lost coverage for free, or they go to the obscenely crowded ER.

We'll see them for free.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Friday Crab Blogging

Yes! The Crabs are running again! (but not in Pamplona)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Data and Vision

I have been very remiss in replying to the rather overwhelming and diversified posts that come my way via The Growlery and Jim Putnam. I am sure I am so far behind that I'll never catch up; but I'll try.

I owe the Growlery a reply to his recent post on data, and still to comment on the interesting exchange about racism last month.

The Growlery has some pithy comments concerning my rant questioning the commitment of young people, especially those that want to be scientists (a decreasing number, to be sure, too much work) to the gathering of data hands on. This is interesting in many ways because the fascination with the data processing step is a far cry from the fascination with data (collection) as exemplified by Darwin in his voyage of the Beagle. Of course there was an entire class of well to do Victorians who devoted their lives to doing nothing but collecting beetles (this thread runs through the Aubrey-Maturin sea series by Patrick O'Brien). On the other hand, I am sure that if a Victorian data collector had access to the mathematical analysis tools we have today they would have felt that they had died and found their 70 virgins (what an awful metaphor, bad boy, Dr. C.).

Then I got to thinking that human beings are essentially the quintessential data collectors. We collect billions of bits of data every minute via our senses. And, yes, The Growlery is right, this data collection that we call experience has been greatly blunted by the modern world. But, it is still true that students are in a daily data collection experience; teachers collect, distill, and distribute; doctors must rely on instantaneous interpretation of data. When it comes to data, though, scientists are supreme.

All of us learn data collection and interpretation on our mother's knees, or have it built into the neural circuits determined by our hox genes. Our ability as humans to do this, and to project the future, is why we have taken over the world. (I would cite this as the reason for our ascend ency rather than the ability to communicate as postulated by the author of "The Singing Neanderthal.) The Australian bushman lives so close to his data, and is so facile in its interpretation, that when he reflects, he considers it an entirely different world (c.f. the Aboriginal Dreamtime experience).

Many years ago I was asked to give a talk to a conference of teachers (professors) of Organic Chemistry at a well known school. The topic was one that really struck a nerve with these worthies. The question was, why the medical school establishment used the Organic Chemistry course to weed out prospective medical students causing Chemistry departments to become "service" departments for the hoards of premeds. I tried very hard and was very unsuccessful in conveying to them that to study Organic Chemistry was equally about thinking scientifically as much as it was about conveying the basics of biochemistry.

I won't bore you with any more anecdotes because the situation has changed so dramatically in the ensuing years. I'm sure that the remaining premeds still take Organic Chemistry. Hopefully, they learn to think. But the numbers of these students is so decreased and their orientation so changed from either our training, or even that of 25 years ago, that it isn't worth talking about.

Is this to to information overload? Possibly. Is the rise of the radical right and its trashing of science (particularly that inanity of "Intelligent" Design) a rebound effect? Probably. Is there anything to "do" about it? Not!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The End of Discourse

Glenn Greenwald has one of the defining post of our era up at Salon:

Friday September 14, 2007 09:10 EST
The endless, meaningless blather from the Washington establishment

In a nutshell, Glenn reviews all the whoop t'do for the last 9 months about the "surge" in Iraq and comes to the conclusion that what comes out of the mouths of the politicians and MSM is totally meaningless. (Not that this is surprising, mind you). In example after example, a leading politician or pundit will say one thing only to directly contradict it at a later point, sometimes within the same week!

That this is a characteristic of propaganda of the worse sort. Clearly, a country cannot function if there is this complete inconsistency in its discourse.

So, if you are wondering why I haven't been blogging for a while, it is because I simply do not know what to do. Ranting and raving about the disaster in Irak or the impending disaster in Iran is like all of those light beams heading out into interstellar space from the events on earth. Gone, irretrievable, irrelevant and ultimately meaningless.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Friday Crab (Caterpillar) Blogging

Every year about now the caterpillars metamorphize into crabs. It is a little known but beautiful example of Nature at her best!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Nose deep in the Big Muddy

From here:
On the eve of the long-awaited US progress report on the key benchmarks in Iraq, the weekly civilian casualty figure in the country was its lowest of the 12-week monitoring period to date.

The civilian death toll for the period 30 August to 5 September was 175, with 117 wounded civilians. This means the total number of civilian casualties was below 300 for the first time since the BBC World Service began monitoring the surge (emphasis added).
Since when did any sane person greet the death of 175 innocent persons (including many children) as good news?

And the worse is yet to come. The following is a letter to the editor that the local paper refused to print. Why, I don't know:

To the Editor:

There is growing evidence that George W. Bush plans to launch a massive bombing attack on Iran and, if that does not happen, then Israel, our supposed ally, will carry out such an attack without our protest. It is hard to speak dispassionately about such an impending horror. First and foremost, such an attack will result in the killing or maiming of an untold number of innocent children. No matter how allegedly “surgical” such a strike, collateral damage (a euphemism in this case for murder) would be high. There is a good chance that the military would have to resort to nuclear weapons to achieve their mission. We need to do everything in our power to stop this disaster.

Please remember that this is the same group of people that brought us “Shock and Awe,” the illegal invasion of Iraq, and the subsequent killing of up to a million innocent civilians in that devastated country. Please remember that the invasion of Iraq was based on a four flush of untruths, including the presence of WMD (never found) and support by Iraq for al Qaeda (never documented).

It is my humble opinion that if George W. Bush orders such a military strike, especially without the full concurrence of our elected representatives in Congress, this will irrevocably and dramatically alter the lives of everyone. We cannot let him do this.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

All Quiet in Anbar Province

As quoted in today's Juan Cole:
' "To say Fallujah is quiet is true, and you can see it in the city streets," said Shiek Salim from the Fallujah Scholars' Council. "The city is practically dead, and the dead are quiet.' (emphasis added)
Although Erich Maria Remarque's best known work is "All Quiet on the Western Front" I prefer his "the Black Obelisk" which tells you what happened in Germany after the War.