Sunday, February 23, 2014

Science v. Belief; or Not!



David Brooks’ opinion (expressed via: Sidney Awards Highlight Conflicts in Belief and Science; published in the Austin American Statesman’s Viewpoints) attempts to support the right wing ideologues’ insistence that there is conflict twixt belief and science; there is not. 

Brooks oversimplifies, as conservatives are wont to do, and imagines a one or the other version of reality.  Beliefs can explain all, but can not be checked using an independently verifiable proof.  Science (facts) can be checked via said proofs, but can not (as yet) explain everything.

Facts require no belief and beliefs require no facts, but neither functions well alone.  Belief, once proven, becomes fact; as Alchemy morphed, through experimentation, to become Chemistry. 

D v R_Family Planning



A Democrat sees family planning, a Republican sees abortion.

A Democrat sees women’s preventative health care, a Republican sees abortion.

A Democrat sees treatment of feminine disorders, a Republican sees abortion.

This is what happens when your whole Republican committee on women’s health is grumpy, older, white men!

@Wealth and Power.edu



The root of government is the organization of society. The root of politics and politicians, in government, is power. Power is a means to wealth. Knowledge is the offset and access to both power and wealth.

That is why some seeking or protecting wealth and power often seek knowledge as well. Others abhor knowledge's ability to stymy pursuit, or protection, of wealth and power.

It is in the best interests of any society to educate everyone, because potential can't be known till it can be expressed.

None but government has the means and motivation to accomplish the education of everyone. It is a large, expensive and long term (from pre-k to post Doctoral) investment that for-profit businesses will not undertake.

Even if you aren't in, and don't have children or grand children, etc... needing education, it is still in your best interest to invest in the type of society that can happen only when everyone is educated as well as is possible. That is the only type of society that has a history of shared, reasonably universal success.

Govt., “of, by and for the people,” is the ideal, but in TX it is not the fact.



Of the people...  A TX legislator has a salary of $7,200 per year; a salary nobody can live on. You work 140 days, every other year, with the occasional 30 day, mandatory, special session. How many employers allow an individual the flexibility to accommodate that schedule; make a sufficient second income? 

None.  It helps to be independently wealthy. 

If you are a legislator long enough you can qualify for a retirement pension, based on a judge’s salary! 

Who can retire on, say, 80% of $7,200 a year? 

Nobody.

By the people... If a Texan wants to vote you must have one, of a specific and limited kind, of picture id. If you don't have such an id, and/or you don't have the specific document needed to attain said id, the state offers no assistance. The cost and travel involved in getting your picture id are going to be all yours! All to solve the problem of voter fraud that, study after study has discovered, happens a very small fraction of 1% of the time votes are made in person.

If you want to communicate, especially if you want to visit in person, with your candidate or legislator (or any other elected official) it helps to be a campaign donor; the larger the donation the better the odds.

Who is easily able to participate in the day to day functions of government in TX?

It helps to be wealthy, generous, older, white and male!

For the people... Corporations are legally defined as people. As the owner of a LLC (Limited Liability Corporation) I know it to be my property; not a person in any way, shape or form. 

Political contributions are protected as free speech, not as paid access to elected officials that it actually is. Political Action Committees are tax exempt entities that can collect large amounts of money, from anonymous donors, for political expenditures. If you don't have enough money, to compete with those who do, for the attention of your candidates and elected officials, oh well.

Tough luck!

This must change! 

Give, “Hope and Change,” a Chance... and a Push!   

Help Turn Texas Blue!

Monday, November 4, 2013

GMO and GE Products are Science Commercialized Too Quickly...



or: Profit Now!!!  Responsibility?  When Ever!

I dabble in science and scientific methodology, not a scientist by trade and training, but still have found peer reviewed research about genetically modified organisms (GMO) and genetically engineered (GE) crops comes up well short of sufficient. 

Industrial (read: unsustainable without enormous assistance from chemical and mechanical agents) agriculture has led to many a problem (e.g., desertification and dust bowls on multiple continents, red tides and other algae blooms in the world’s oceans, etc…)  and we’ve mentioned naught of the problems associated with Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO).  Now there is problematic GE that has led to GMOs that are untested in the lab and yet are already being grown down on the farm.  I greet these new, and insufficiently tested, additions to industrial agriculture (that is GE created GMOs) with great skepticism.

One of the earliest of the GMOs is golden rice; potentially increasing the rice's vitamin A content.  The extra genetic material was added, via GE, to a variety of rice that is not grown in the regions where vitamin A deficiency is most prominent.  Bt, Bacillus thuringiensis bacteria, corn is genetically modified to be herbicide resistant and is probably hastening the evolution of herbicide tolerance, negating the effectiveness of said chemicals, in the targeted weeds.  Herbicide resistant pollen has been wind borne to places where it was not supposed to go and is cross pollinating with plant species that aren’t corn.  The herbicide resistance leaves fields of corn and weeds  resistant to multiple types of patented agricultural herbicide formulas.  This is leaving crops unable to be treated with generic versions of said chemistry when patents expire (increased cost for farmers) and interferes with the most sustainable form of agriculture known as, “no-till farming.”

The research I’ve read, over the decades, suggest that genetics are more analog than digital in character: put this gene here, to do that there, but who knows if it will do as predicted, or whether it will stay only where it was placed.  What other reactions are changed hundreds, thousands, millions or even billions of genes down the double helix?  Only long term testing, in isolated biospheres, can even begin to tell if the intended consequences are happening as predicted, or are beginning to display the signs of unintended consequences that always occur when changes are made to incredibly complex systems.

Until such long term, isolated and peer reviewed testing is done and published I, at a very minimum, want GMO products clearly labeled: clearly specified in produce (fruits and vegetables), protein (meat and fish) and when used in processed food.  That way those modified products can be avoided when I go grocery shopping.



Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Turning TX Blue!!!



Robert Draper’s fine article, Game On in the August issue of Texas Monthly, finishes with the two most salient points…  First: the Democratic Party is surging from the bottom up…  Second: What the Democrats need is simply a fighter; can’t win with nobody in the ring.

Leaders of the state Democratic Party have acted as if there are two major political parties in TX; there’s not.  First and foremost the party leaders wanted money; I was told, in 2012, to raise between $500,000 and $1,000,000!  Don’t know for sure who’s on the ballot; do all available offices have Democratic candidates?  How or what are we going to spend this money on?  Don’t worry, just get more money! 

Against the party of: Ayn Rand, Laffer, Emanuelson, Weyrich, Kristol, a legislator for every Ob Gyn, Mexican border walls and troops, ballot box access chicanery,  etc…   We need good people filling all the slots on the ballot and ads on the, still neutral, Internet.

As a three time candidate against incredibly ensconced incumbents, (2012 - Carter; 2010 - Ogden; 2006 - Ogden) with really large campaign funds and long donor lists, my job wasn’t to win (although hope springs eternal) it was to find and encourage folks in the counties, precincts and neighborhoods; give them some one to vote for.

Why?

Because Republicans (the party of NO!) have repeatedly insulted and offended large blocks (the sum of whom is a large majority of Texas’ population) of eligible voters while discouraging those same constituents from using the one power they do have: to register and vote!

Conservative, white people have effectively controlled political power (for many, many years) in Texas with the innocuous phrase, “majority rules.”  However, the population of Texas leads in a national demographic trend: the minority-majority.  This trend is when the total of Americans of: Latin, African, Asian and Indigenous descent is greater than the percentage of people who identify themselves simply as White. 

The new two step approach of the NO! (dominated by white, extreme, conservatives) is to: 1. Gerrymander districts to make elected office safer for Republican incumbents and candidates; 2. Voter id regulations to make access to the voting booth more difficult. 

Voting restrictions have been justified as attempts to eliminate voter fraud, even though study after investigation has found less than an incredibly small fraction of 1% of votes cast in person are determined to be fraudulent.  The second excuse, when investigations discover that voting access discrimination affects non-whites most, is that regulations are meant to discourage those who might vote for a Democrat; that is also illegal.

This election cycle Democrats, and their money, are not just staying in Texas; they are to be aided and abetted by the national Democratic Party and ancillary groups’ efforts.  The luck of the NO! is waning and they may soon have to realize just how vulnerable their insistence on a return to the, “good ole days,” (the 1850s); their prejudice and their own inflexibility has made them.

Turning TX Blue!!!

 

Response to BS from my US miss-Representative's Office.




This post is in response to a load of BS from my US miss-Representative’s, John Carter’s, office.  They’re trying to blame the US government’s shut down on President Obama; the administration’s inability to accept the US House’s (more than 40) attempts to repeal the ACA (a.k.a., Obamacare).

The ACA (Affordable Care Act) was approved by the US House of Representatives, the US Senate and then signed into law by our President.  The ACA was challenged in the US Court system and was found, by the Supreme Court, to be compatible with the US Constitution: constitutional. 

Repeal is not possible, because the US Senate won’t vote to repeal the ACA.   The US House’s Republican majority has voted to repeal Obamacare more than 40 times, but it can’t make it to President Obama’s desk, for a promised Veto, because it won’t be repealed by the Democratic majority in the US Senate.

If the ACA were going to fail the GOP need only sit back and watch a program called Obamacare come to naught.  The GOP is scared out of its mind, literally, because the ACA is most likely going to succeed!

If you go to Massachusetts and ask what the folks remember fondly from Governor Romney's administration, the only answer you'll get is Romneycare.  The ACA (a.k.a., Obamacare) is as close to a direct copy of Romneycare as is possible; including the MIT consultants and the Heritage Foundation's individual mandate.

One simple thing happened and the GOP went psychotic about its own creation: a black guy in the White House (a two term President named Barrack Obama) adopted their ideas!

Who caused a government shut down?  The GOP did.  The Republicans let irrational bullies (a.k.a., Tea Party) dominate their party and have done/will do anything, including the grossly irresponsible, to keep our president from success.

You are giving people, who previously paid little or no attention to politics, all the motivation they need to vote to make Republicans irrelevant! 

Enjoy the responsibility!  You’ve earned it!