Science in the USA

This Reuters article summarizes my greatest fear about the USA today: the growing hostility to science. And it’s not just the Evolution / Intelligent Design “debate” either. It really does seem like the whole concept of rational argument is being debased in this country. When scientific reasoning is reduced to “just another opinion” along with those of lobbyists and fringe groups when it comes to setting major policy in Government, you’ve got to worry where the country is going.

I live in the reality-based community, and so does most of the rest of the world. The US is in danger of being left behind.


Lyrics to the original Frosty the Snowman song by Steve Rollins and Steve Nelson in 1950, make no mention of any religious icons. But later, Frosty was picked up by Rankin Bass, who made all those cartoons that my generation grew up watching at holiday time. Rankin Bass added the Santa factor, and no amount of love or money will convince me that Santa is secular, so please don’t try. Once you’ve got Santa added, it’s all over and Frosty gains religious overtones.

Please don’t mistake this as an anti-Frosty or anti-Santa or anti-Christmas diatriabe. (Aside: Doncha think it’s interesting that the anti-Santa campaign is religiously motivated?) It’s just that I was reading about how scAlito, the new Supremes nominee, has ruled on various things and one of the cases listed mentions Frosty. Here’s a quote from the NY Times:

The court held that the display didn’t violate the establishment clause of the First Amendment because in addition to a creche and a menorah, it also had a Frosty the Snowman and a banner hailing diversity.

I’m just saying that I’m not convinced that Frosty represents a secular icon, or that Frosty is even really secular. It appears that he was conceived as a secular icon, but that pop culture has created a partnership with Santa that belies his secular roots.

Yeah, I’m obsessing over the details. It’s because the big picture freaks me out. And no, I haven’t forgetten about Scooter. Have you?

Good Night and Good Luck

I won’t fill this post with spoilers other than to say that the “romantic” subplot doesn’t really make sense. I will say that it’s a gorgeous film that makes me wish I did the kind of work where I got to sit in a newsroom with a typewriter while George Clooney slouches on a beat up leather sofa nearby, tumbler of scotch in hand.

Here are the questions I asked myself walking away from Good Night and Good Luck:

1. Are the times we’re in now as paranoid as the McCarthy era?
2. Was it a gradual shift, or is there a specific historial moment when TV news became useless twaddle?
3. What would happen if a news anchor or a reporter all of a sudden got a backbone? Does anyone remember seeing that happen in the last 10 years?
4. When is the last time I saw something truly controversial on the evening newsfotainment?
5. Now that Bill Moyers is off the air, who’s doing real news? The News Hour is still on, but increasingly, that seems to be going to the talk show format. You get one pundit on the left, one on the right, and they duke it out. There’s no real reporting. Now is a shadow of its former self. And if I see the trailers for one more Dateline about some marrying guy with 9 wives, well, where’s the news, already?

There were more.

I vote yes for a thought provoking movie. Plus, George Clooney appears to be entering his Robert Redford years – I’m an actor and a producer and a screenplay writer! – and that just makes him hotter.

When community fails

Nicholas Carr has a great article he titles The amorality of Web 2.0. For me, the most interesting perspecive is on the reasons why community processes — open source, online collaboration, even blogs — sometimes don’t work. Sure, Wikipedia may be useful, but does it succeed in what it bills itself to be: an online encyclopedia? Well worth the read.

Next Big Apple Cash Cow Pt. 2

I wonder how long it will be before we’re rating our favorite music video’s on David’s rating scale and composing mixes of our favorite shows, movies and music videos

I’m sure everyone by now has heard about the video iPod. In the presentation to the world Steve Jobs one-upped portable media players. Although I’m disappointed that they didn’t go with my suggestion for vPod I’m happy to see network tv totally onboard with this idea (commercial free I might add) and movie companies are soon to follow. A lot of people (see Mark Cuban’s blog about How Bob Iger Saved Network TV) are taking note of the speedy adoption of this new format.
2 questions come to mind:
1) I wonder how long it will be before we’re rating our favorite music video’s and Lost episodes on David’s rating scale and composing mixes to play on our tv or in our car during the next road trip.
2) Will advertising try to infiltrate this media as well and how will they do it? Will they offer commercials you can download for free (I can then watch all those Vonage commerical I love non-stop)? Will they try to sue to keep the commercials in? Will they offer lower priced versions of the show with commercial interruption? I expect an answer from some of you marketing virtuosos.

Jay, it looks like Audi has plans to integrate soon ;0)

I don’t know much about opera…

…but I know what I like. And I like Black Box Opera Theater. They’re just getting off the ground as an ensemble, but they’re all pros. Last time, all the hair stood up on my arms and I broke out in goosebumps when their tenor sang; it was that incredible. I finally GOT it. “Oh! THIS is why people like opera! OH!”

The company is having another open house, this time at the Columbia City Theatre. I have’t been down there yet, but it’s supposed to be a remarkable old place. The recital is Sunday the 16th, 2-4, but come at 1:30 for a bite to eat. There’s more information here.

Disclaimer: Carolyn, the mezzo-soprana, is a good friend of mine. In spite of the fact that I’m an opera philistine, she still invites me to her events.

Talk about a committed call to action

Via my pal Grace. It’s too funny to trim. I’ll just post the whole thing:

Theodore Roosevelt Heller, 88, loving father of Charles (Joann) Heller; dear brother of the late Sonya (the late Jack) Steinberg. Ted was discharged from the U.S. Army during WWII due to service related injuries, and then forced his way back into the Illinois National Guard insisting no one tells him when to serve his country. Graveside services Tuesday 11 a.m. at Waldheim Jewish Cemetery (Ziditshover section), 1700 S. Harlem Ave., Chicago. In lieu of flowers, please send acerbic letters to Republicans.

Cocaine is a helluva drug

OK, obviously everyone who reads this knows that George Bush is either a sociopath or a complete idiot, but sometimes I am struck fresh by how embarrassing it is. Maybe it is that I haven’t slept for longer than 4 hours in six months (new baby), or maybe it is that I watched an old Chapelle Show last night, but this morning when I read this I couldn’t even focus on the content of his words, but could only focus on the similarities between our president and the late Rick James:

“And she has got a judicial philosophy that I appreciate. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have named her to the bench; which is, I nominated her to the bench; which is that she will not legislate from the bench but strictly interpret the Constitution.”

Cocaine is a helluva drug.