Science is more than a body of knowledge

[S]cience is more than a body of knowledge; it is a way of thinking. I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time – when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the key manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness.

The dumbing down of America is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30-second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance.

— Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark (New York: Ballantine Books, 1996) at p.32.

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The Greatest Run of Super Bowl Halftime Shows

I may be showing my age, but there’s no question that the greatest run of Super Bowl Halftime Shows happened from 2005 — 2010 (Super Bowls XXIX — XLIV). This run included the following artists:

  • Paul McCartney
  • The Rolling Stones
  • Prince
  • Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
  • Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
  • The Who

This run followed the now-infamous “wardrobe malfunction” halftime show: Jessica Simpson, Janet Jackson, P.Diddy, Nelly, Kid Rock and Justin Timberlake with special guests Spirit of Houston and Ocean of Souls marching bands, and was followed by The Black Eyed Peas with special guests Usher, Slash, Dallas/Ft. Worth area high school drill teams and dancers, and the Prairie View A&M University Marching Storm.

It’s easy to see that the greatest run features quality, and the preceding and following shows feature quantity, which is unfortunate.

Remembering the ‘Faith-based Initiative’ we call 9/11 (2022)

I essentially re-post this every year:

Those in authority should take appropriate precautions to protect our citizens. But we will not allow this enemy to win the war by changing our way of life or restricting our freedoms. (emphasis added)

–George W. Bush, 43rd President of the United States, remarks made during press conference/photo opportunity with the National Security Team, Wednesday, September 12, 2001, 10:53–10:56 AM EDT.

 

Sadly, it didn’t take long for us to ‘change our way of life’ or for us to allow the government to ‘restrict our freedoms’, did it? And of course, today those freedoms have been restricted more than ever…

 

Good Times! 😉

 

FRONTLINE: The Power of Big Oil

In an epic three-part documentary series, FRONTLINE investigates the decades-long failure to confront the threat of climate change and the role of the fossil fuel industry.

Part One charts the fossil fuel industry’s early research on climate change and investigates industry efforts to sow seeds of doubt about the science. Part Two explores the industry’s efforts to stall climate policy, even as evidence about climate change grew more certain in the new millennium. And as leading climate scientists issue new warnings about climate change, Part Three examines how the fossil fuel industry worked to delay the transition to renewable energy sources — including by promoting natural gas as a cleaner alternative.

Talk about “eye opening.” This documentary is revelatory, and a great example of why we still need — desperately need — long-form investigative journalism.

Some States Could Tax Recipients of Student Loan Relief

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel reporting for the Washington Post:

People in line to benefit from President Biden’s plan to cancel up to $20,000 in student loans could be taxed on the one-time relief depending on where they live.

Mississippi, North Carolina and Indiana plan to levy state taxes on federal student loan forgiveness, while decisions in Wisconsin, West Virginia, Minnesota, California and Arkansas were in flux as of Friday, according to the state’s respective tax agencies.

We are taxed enough in this country. Any way you want to put it, this is low-down, shitty politics.

The Taylor Hawkins Tribute Concert at Wembley was an Amazing Show!

An amazing show! Given that it clocked in at just under 6 hours, it’s great that they already have the footage up on YouTube (click title link).

ATTENTION QANON, MAGAT FASCISTS

Words of wisdom from Dee Snider.

Slavery By Another Name

“[In the Spring of 1921, John S.] Williams [became] the first Southern white man since 1877 to be indicted for the first degree murder of an African American; it would not happen again until 1966.”

— Slavery By Another Name (PBS 2012).

 

PBS:

Slavery by Another Name “resets” our national clock with a singular astonishing fact: Slavery in America didn’t end 150 years ago, with Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation. Based on Douglas A. Blackmon’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book, the film illuminates how in the years following the Civil War, insidious new forms of forced labor emerged in the American South, persisting until the onset of World War II.

 

“As late as 1930, roughly half of all African Americans, or 4.8 million people still lived in the Black Belt region of the South. The vast majority were almost certainly trapped in some form of exploitative labor arrangement.”

My Family’s Doll Test

Dr. Ibram X. Kendi* writing for The Atlantic:

Regardless of your race, it’s never too early to consider the messages a child is receiving from the world around them. Color blindness is not an option. Research has demonstrated that even at 1 year old, our children notice different skin colors. We can impress upon children the equality of dark and light colors.

As the white grandparent of a biracial or mixed-race grandson, I’m very cognizant of the racial information he’s picking up from toys, books, tv shows, etc., as well as his grandmother and myself! It’s never too soon to start trying to be aware of this.

yeah, in a minute…
* Dr. Kendi is the author of many wonderful books, among which is 2019’s revalatory How to Be an Antiracist which I strongly suggest you read immediately, if you haven’t already.

Human-Caused Climate Change More Powerful Than the Fall of the Roman Empire

María Luisa Paúl repoting for The Washington Post:

Every year, farmers in France’s central region of Auvergne repeat the same process. During summer and fall, their cows graze in pastures, eating to their hearts’ content. It’s only during this time that farmers can produce salers, a highly regulated semihard cheese with the same buttery depth as a well-aged cheddar.

That seasonal cycle remained uninterrupted for over 2,000 years until last week, when salers became the latest casualty of severe heat waves wreaking havoc across Europe, where human-caused climate change has intensified temperatures. France’s severe drought shut down the cheese production that had continued through two world wars, collapsed monarchies and the fall of the Roman Empire.

Elvis +45 years

On this day, 45 years ago (that’s 1977, for those who aren’t great at math), Elvis Presley died.