Category Archives: Science

The Worst and the Dumbest in the Trump Administration

David Halberstam once wrote a book about the Kennedy and Johnson men called The Best and the Brightest. The theme of that book was despite the qualifications and acclaim these public servants had earned before and during most of their White House Service, most still offered the Presidents poor advice on how to handle the war in Vietnam.

Now if most of the people regarded as the best and the brightest at that time helped lead this country into one of the worst foreign and military policy periods in our countries history, imagine what the President’s aides, probably some of the worst and dumbest to serve, can do to us.

Saturday Night Live actually captured the problem with a segment (link below) with actor Bryan Cranston, reprising his role of Walter White from “Breaking Bad,” becoming the nominee to head the Drug Enforcement Agency (D.E.A.) illustrating that the Administration’s goal to put people who oppose these departments at the head of them.

It has become so bad with the Trump choices that most sane people are scared if Jeff “I never met an immigrant I liked” Sessions resigns as the Attorney General. Just who are among this cast of incompetents in or headed to the Trump Administration.

Betsy DeVos

This ultra-rightwing fanatic became our Secretary of Education despite promoting policies such as vouchers so religious schools can be partially subsidized with public monies. Since becoming the Secretary of Education (after a less than stellar performance at her confirmation hearings where she thought guns were needed in some schools to fight off grizzlies), she has been a champion for student loan companies who want to make the industry more profitable for them.

DeVos has also turned off people with her inattention to special education and civil rights. Walking out of a question and answer session with the Parkland High Students was not helpful either With no background in any sphere of public education, one has to ask, what is she doing there if not to undermine public education?

Scott Pruitt

Not a week goes by when there is not some controversy involving Scott Pruitt, the former anti-Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A) Oklahoma Attorney General who, wait for it, became the head of the E.P.A.  Pruitt has fashioned himself as a cross between a Sun King and a mob figure between not allowing scientists to speak their mind about the environment, making environmental rules and regulations more business-friendly and wasting public monies on first-class travel (to avoid contact with the people), installing a new “Bat Phone-Cone of Silence” communication system, and increased security detail that most other cabinet heads do not get.

This is all while he had a very nice residential rental arrangement courtesy of lobbyists whose pipeline expansion he approved. Finally, his arrogant behavior displayed when he asks his motor entourage to blast sirens so he can arrive at events quicker make people wonder if Scottie needs to be beamed out of the E.P.A. at the earliest opportunity.

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Ann Kirkpatrick Says Economic Growth, Healthcare, Gun Safety Will Win Back Tucson’s CD2 Seat

Ann kirkpatrick at the March 24 March For OUr Lives against gun violence.

Ann Kirkpatrick (2nd from left) at the March For Our Lives against gun violence.

In an exclusive Blog for Arizona interview, Democratic Congressional candidate Ann Kirkpatrick identified the big issues to win back the seat in Tucson’s CD2: the economy, healthcare, gun safety and immigration reform.

The district is rated as “leaning Democratic” and was carried by Hillary Clinton in 2016, who beat Donald Trump in CD2 by 4.9%. Many Democrats (and Republican opponents) see her as the front-runner to win the August 28 primary with a field of at least seven other Democrats.

Total donations of $1.3 million

She advanced her lead by raising a total of $1.3 million in donations with $850,000 cash on hand. Results for other candidates will be released soon by the Federal Election Commission.

Kirkpatrick had two record quarters in a row for donations. In the 4th quarter of 2017, she raised $400,000 and in the 1st quarter of 2018, she raised $535,000. Fundraising is a key measure of a candidate’s strength because it pays for staff, office space, phone lines, computers, travel, events, and campaign materials. A candidate with low fundraising is not a serious candidate.

A Congress member for CD1 in northern Arizona from 2013 to 2017, Kirkpatrick has key endorsements: Emily’s list, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, and unions representing electricians, building trades, typesetters, and food and commercial workers.

At least 6 of the other Democratic contenders will appear at a candidate forum on Thursday, May 3 from 6:30 to 8 pm at Catalina High School, sponsored by Represent Me AZ. Kirkpatrick had notified the event sponsors that she could not appear because of a long-scheduled private meeting.

Growing the economy
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Modern-Day Galileo’s Assemble to March for Science

Science March

Second annual March for Science

For the third time in a month, citizens in the Phoenix’s Valley met and marched for a cause that affects our children and the coming generations. The first two marches dealt with school safety and education funding.

This second annual March for Science dealt with those issues in different ways and more as the assembled crowd of several hundred people at Margaret T. Hance Park (by the Burton Barr Library) gathered to call for an end to ignorance and an embracing of science and analysis for people of all beliefs and ethnicities.

Like Galileo all those centuries ago as he implored the Catholic Church to accept reason and scientific discovery, the speakers and crowd today (which included a collection of high school and college instructors and students, science advocates, and political candidates including both Democrats running for the Superintendent of Public Instruction — Katie Hoffman and David Schapira) made veiled and direct jabs at the current conservative leadership for abandoning reason and fact-based evidence.

science signLike the March for Lives last month at the State Capital, there were many vendors and dignitaries promoting the cause of Scientific Awareness. Virtually every discipline of science ranging from forensics to astronomy to zoology to chemistry was present. There were also vendors representing the Progressive Movement, Save Our Schools, Voter Registration, and “Outlaw Dirty Money” petitioners looking for support against the inflow of dirty money and to fight for alternative energy options in the valley. There were S.T.E.M. camps looking to attract recruits. There were homeschool science advocates.

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GOP legislators reject equal rights for women, because abortion (Updated)

This week Arizona’s GOP legislators reaffirmed, once again, that they believe women are second-class citizens who do not enjoy the full panoply of rights that white men do (they’re not convinced that men who are minorities do either), because abortion.

Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley

Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley proposes the Equal Rights Amendment.

On Tuesday, Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley (D-Tucson), for the second year in a row, attempted to use a procedural maneuver to bring up a bill for debate on approving the Equal Rights Amendment. And for the second year in a row, white men moved to adjourn the House rather than debate the bill and take a vote.

The Republic reports, On Equal Pay Day, Arizona Republicans block vote on Equal Rights Amendment:

Democrats in the Arizona Legislature fell short Tuesday in their attempt to force a vote on ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.

For the second consecutive year, they failed to persuade Republicans to allow debate on the ERA — a proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution that broadly guarantees equal rights between men and women.

State Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley, D-Tucson, tried to use a procedural move to bring an ERA resolution to a vote in the House of Representatives, but the House adjourned before that could happen.

Hannley said she chose Tuesday to push the issue because it marks Equal Pay Day, the day on the calendar when the average American woman’s earnings catch up to what a male peer earned in 2017.

Nationally, women earn about 80 cents for every dollar a man makes. In Arizona, women earn about 82 cents for every dollar.

‘No time limit on equality’

“Arizona women want equal pay for equal work,” Hannley told fellow lawmakers. “Let’s make history. There is no time limit on equality.”

But Majority Leader John Allen, R-Scottsdale, intervened to prevent a vote on Powers Hannley’s motion. His motion to recess the chamber for the day passed 32-25, along party lines.

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Social media killed the truth

A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” – attributed to Mark Twain.

Ironically, he never said this. But Jonathan Swift did write “Falsehood flies, and the Truth comes limping after it.”

A new study proves that lies (fake news) spread faster than truth. Robinson Meyer reports at The Atlantic, The Grim Conclusions of the Largest-Ever Study of Fake News:

It was hyperbole three centuries ago. But it is a factual description of social media, according to an ambitious and first-of-its-kind study published Thursday in Science.

The massive new study analyzes every major contested news story in English across the span of Twitter’s existence—some 126,000 stories, tweeted by 3 million users, over more than 10 years—and finds that the truth simply cannot compete with hoax and rumor. By every common metric, falsehood consistently dominates the truth on Twitter, the study finds: Fake news and false rumors reach more people, penetrate deeper into the social network, and spread much faster than accurate stories.

“It seems to be pretty clear [from our study] that false information outperforms true information,” said Soroush Vosoughi, a data scientist at MIT who has studied fake news since 2013 and who led this study. “And that is not just because of bots. It might have something to do with human nature.”

The study has already prompted alarm from social scientists. “We must redesign our information ecosystem in the 21st century,” write a group of 16 political scientists and legal scholars in an essay also published Thursday in Science. They call for a new drive of interdisciplinary research “to reduce the spread of fake news and to address the underlying pathologies it has revealed.”

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Space X successfully launches Falcon Heavy Rocket

Permanent musical accompaniment David Bowie- Space Oddity Original Video (1969).

For here am I sitting in my tin can
Far above the world
Planet Earth is blue
And there’s nothing I can do

Screen Shot 2018-02-07 at 4.51.47 AM

This is so cool! The Jetsons predicted that we would have flying cars by now, and here it is. SpaceX successfully launches the world’s most powerful rocket, the Falcon Heavy, as it sends a Tesla on a path near Mars:

SpaceX successfully launched what is now the world’s most powerful rocket Tuesday, a towering behemoth known as the Falcon Heavy that tore through the sky with the thundering force of 18 Boeing 747 jetliners.

Lifting off at 3:45 p.m. from the same launchpad that sent the crew of Apollo 11 to the moon, the rocket sent up a mountain-sized plume of smoke and a rattling roar across Florida’s Space Coast, where thousands gathered to watch. The mission represented the first test of the massive rocket, powered by 27 engines in three first-stage boosters that are essentially strapped together.

The maiden flight also marked the first time a privately financed venture ever attempted to launch a rocket so powerful that it was capable of hoisting a payload out of Earth’s orbit. As a promotional stunt, SpaceX founder Elon Musk loaded the Falcon Heavy with his own cherry-red Tesla Roadster carrying a spacesuit-clad mannequin named “Starman” in the driver’s seat. Musk said he planned to send the convertible, built by another one of his companies, into an orbit around the sun that would take it near Mars.

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