Nearly two thirds (65 percent) of Americans think that President Obama would be a better leader than Mitt Romney if an alien invasion were to happen. Hm, well, yes... and? So? A survey for National Geographic finds extraterrestrial visits not that crazy an idea to most Americans. Thirty-six percent of Americans think aliens have visited Earth, and almost 80 percent believe the government has kept information about UFOs a secret from the public.
Sci Fi and aliens here... and I am in the 12% who say “not!” But that
hasn’t stopped me from issuing taunts at alien lurkers. Which you can
laugh at (aloud!) in Existence.
Is this a sign of the times -- correlated with the public's attitudes toward science?
Congress now speaks a full grade level lower than it did in 2005.
Falling from grade 11.5 to 10.6. Using the Flesch-Kincaid test that
gives your kids the "reads at a 10th grade level" score, the Sunlight Foundation has measured
the vocabulary used in Congressional speeches over the years and found
that the level has dropped suddenly. For both parties, but particularly
amongst Republican Congressmen, particularly amongst the newest batch,
such as Rand Paul (3rd worst, speaks at an 8th grade level.) Indeed the
entire worst ten are Republicans (eight of those are freshmen.) And the
more conservative they are, the worse their speech (dropping by three
full grades from center to fringe.) Interestingly, amongst Democrats
with less than 10 years in Congress, the trend is similar, those closest
to the political centre have the most complex speech, while those
further to the left drop by about a grade. But for Democrats in Congress
for more than 10 years, the trend is sharply reversed. Are candidates
dumbing down their speech, or are parties dumbing down their candidates?
And North Carolina legislators
want to stop planners from using the state's own science panel's
prediction of sea level rise (about 1m by 2100, fairly conservative).
Alack! There is one potential salvation from this madness. For the insurance companies
to make clear that, in 20 years, they plan to go after all the doofuses
who delayed prudent measures by squelching the reasonable advice of the
scientists who actually knew what they were talking about.
of the hysterical incantation that “government is never good” comes from
folks who actually believe we would have had jets, rockets, telecom,
weather forecasting, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, the Internet, or
countless other things, without the advanced R&D that we, as
citizens, agreed to pay for because the benefits and ROI lay beyond any
plausible Return on Investment horizon of major corporations. (And if
we - as a people - had drawn only a small “businesslike" 5% royalty on
those things, all red ink in the budget would today be erased.) HALF of
economic growth in the last 60 years is attributed to Science and
Technology. And here is just one of many documents making that point.
Hence, the War on Science...
and on all other intellectual or knowledge castes is a lot more than
just politics. It is a stab at the very heart of any chance for your
grandchildrens’ prosperity. Think about it. (But then, people who come
here are already thinkers. You already HAVE thought about it. So I’m
See also: Unscientific America: Denying Science at Our Peril
==Politics & Economics for 2012==
What is Bain Capital?? Co-founded by Mitt Romney in 1984, Bain
would buy a company and increase its short-term earnings through firing
workers and shuttering plants in order to borrow enormous amounts of
money. The borrowed money was used to pay Bain dividends, however, those
businesses needed to maintain that high level of earnings to pay their
debts. When they couldn’t, that meant plant closures, more layoffs,
bankruptcies, and in many cases, the end of the business. Yet these
bankruptcies still meant huge profits for Bain’s investors. Furthermore,
Bain continued to collect management fees even as companies failed. As
the New York Post reported, during his 15 years as head of
Bain, Romney “made fortunes by bankrupting five profitable businesses
that ended up firing thousands of workers.”
Our Wall Street friends are offshoring even their own subordinates’ jobs...
David Cameron held his first meeting with Francois Hollande and threatened to veto the new French president’s plan for a European tax on financial transactions.
The Prime Minister made clear he will block any French move that would
harm the (banker-financiers) of the City of London. Many of you have
seen how firmly I support the transaction fee which - at 0.1% - would
scarcely be noticed by humans like you or me, but shift power away from a
few brokerage houses doing High Frequency Trading (HFT) which inflates
bubbles, creates wild speculative swings, dashes in to rob buyers and
sellers of the “price difference” they count on... and may (as I explain
elsewhere) lead to the "Calamity of Skynet.” I have lived in both
London and Paris. I know the quirks of their inhabitants. In this case,
the London quirks add up to -- wrong!
On NPR I listened to an interview with Arthur C. Brooks of the American Enterprise Institute, about his new book The Road to Freedom, which is clearly a take-off from Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom. Now,
I started out hostile, since I consider the AEI to be one of the core
nexi that gave us neoconservatism and almost every rationalization for
the monstrous hijacking of American Conservatism, turning it into a
force that has done indescribable harm to America and the Western
Those of you who know me can attest that I parse this denunciation not from any “leftist” position, but as an acolyte of Adam Smith
and a believer in the proved creative power of fair and vigorous human
competition. As Smith declared - and as 6000 years of history have
shown - the worst enemy of markets, freedom, and (yes) capitalism has
always been monopolistic oligarchy. The very force that pays AEI’s
bills and bribes its boffins to concoct a rationalizations for a return
of feudalism. And yet...
And yet, listening to Brooks, I got a
sense of a rather reasonable fellow! An intelligent person who believes
in nuance and even something anathema on today’s right -- the
possibility of negotiation and mixed/pragmatic/innovative solutions to
modern problems. Fr example, he takes the attitude that government
should be working to prepare us for a world of climate change, whether
or not the worst fears prove valid.
How much of his stance is
feigned? Perhaps as part of an effort to keep despairing
smart-conservatives from bolting the GOP, as nearly all the formerly
republican scientists, teachers, journalists, economists, medical
doctors and others already have? Or else, is he the real deal? An
archetype for the dreamt-of return of the Goldwater-Buckley
conservative? That nearly extinct species who spoke with gentility and
calm willingness to negotiate with their neighbors? How I miss em.