State of Wisconsin Christmas Plea

My friend Jie back in California alerted me last week to news on my own doorstep. Apparently, the Wisconsin State Assembly has been wasting its time this holiday season. Hard up for productive things to do, they proposed, debated, and as of yesterday voted to rename the “Holiday Tree” in the rotunda of the Capital building, the “State of Wisconsin Christmas Tree.” Apparently, 20 years of calling it a fairly religiously-neutral name pissed them off so much that they had to spend their taxpayer-paid time to not only rename it with a specific religious name – but also make sure everyone know’s that it is the State of Wisconsin’s specifically religiously-named decoration. Oy, Madison, this is how my new home makes itself known across the country these days?

I’m surprised at how, even though they decided to spend valuable time on this issue in the state assembly, their arguments for renaming it were weaker than the skin of the ornaments on the tree they were debating. “Most people in Wisconsin are Christians.” “Kids call it the Christmas Tree.” “I thought it was the Christmas Tree when I first joined the assembly.” “We also allow other religious stuff to be displayed.” “They called it the Christmas Tree from 1916 to 1985 when they renamed it – we’re just changing it back.” Simplistic arguments for what is really an involved, nuanced issue. Continue reading State of Wisconsin Christmas Plea

Obama in Madison

Illinois isn’t that far away from where I am, but it still seems really cool that Senator Barack Obama from Illinois is making a visit next Monday. He’ll be at the Monona Terrace Convention Center, doors open at 10:30 AM and the event begins at 11:00.

I submitted an interview request for a tiny 10 minute slice of his time during his visit, to ask him a few questions about his approach to science and science policy. I’ll see if I hear back from them. It’s short notice, but also a short interview, and a timely discussion.

If anyone has an idea for a particular question they think would be good to ask, there’s plenty of room in the comments thread!

First Pro-Science candidate

(via Chris Mooney at The Intersection)

On the 50th anniversary of the launch of Sputnik, Senator Hilary Clinton attacked the science policies of the Bush Administration, and has laid out a plan for science in her administration, should she be elected. Clinton is the first presidential candidate (to my knowledge) to address science directly like this, and

50 years after the launch of Sputnik 1 is a very good day to do it. Sputnik was a scientific and technological wake up call right to the United States’ bedroom telephone. An elegant satellite was launched into orbit and transmitted a radio frequency beep that was heard around the world. It had a scientific payload, too, as the beeps themselves contained information about the electron density of the ionosphere, and whether or not the spacecraft was punctured by meteors. Continue reading First Pro-Science candidate

Speaking Science 2.0: Oh, it’s ON!

Oh yeah. Not less than a week after I got back from California, it’s time to go on the road again. This time it’s Minneapolis, Minnesota – I’m heading to Speaking Science 2.0!

Hosted by Seed Magazine, and a whole host of others, it’s going to feature PZ Myers of Pharyngula, Greg Laden of Evolution… It’s not just a theory anymore, versus Chris Mooney of The Intersection, and Matt Nisbet of Framing Science. The main topic is, of course, Framing. As some of you may know, PZ, Chris, and Matt have been getting into frequent scuffles over the framing of evolution – in what context it is discussed and conveyed to the public. PZ presents the details: Continue reading Speaking Science 2.0: Oh, it’s ON!

Fudged Facts, and CNN’s new A-hole, thanks to Moore

Last Saturday, I saw Michael Moore’s Sicko. Very good film, and well-timed to affect the political discourse early on in the election campaigns for next year. So then I was browsing onegoodmove, where many of Michael Moore’s interviews have been posted, and I came across a fecal storm. Continue reading Fudged Facts, and CNN’s new A-hole, thanks to Moore

Al Gore should run for…

I just read this marvelous article about Al Gore:

The Last Temptation of Al Gore

And I think I have decided what I think about Al Gore running for President.

It has come up a few times on my show, mentioned in passing. The idea that Al Gore, reinvigorated by the urgency of the cause of dealing with global warming, resurging in popularity, and delving into our country’s political and environmental mistakes, should run for President. People everywhere are telling him “please run,” and many more people agree that he could probably win as a stealth candidate added to the roster right before the deadline. He himself has left the possibility open, but clearly stating that he has no plans to do so.

If you could talk to Al Gore and tell him what you think about him running, what would you suggest? Use his popularity and momentum to be lifted to the top and change it from within, but risk the slime of politics and losing another bid for President? Or instead focus on the environmental problem that he has been worried about for longer than anything else, already reshaping the public discourse, but risk missing out on a golden opportunity to enact change directly? What would it be? My answer is below the fold. Continue reading Al Gore should run for…