Saturday, September 29, 2012

Scott Simon Can't Handle The Truth

Teachers work hard and they deserve to be paid well.  An investment in the education system and educators is an investment in our children and the future of America itself.  Unfortunately NPR's Scott Simon doesn't seem to feel that way.

Here is my letter to NPR's Weekend Edition regarding Simon's comment's during last weekends interview with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

To Whom It May Concern,

I was shocked and saddened by Scott Simon’s repeated insistence last weekend that teachers do not work hard nor deserve to be paid better or even well for the work that they do (Duncan On Chicago: 'When Adults Fight, Kids Lose' Weekend Edition, 9/22/12).  Not to mention Simon’s ridiculous insinuation that he has as much effect over whether the Cubs win the World Series as the Secretary of Education has over the state of the American public school system.

Mr. Simon’s tone and dismissal of the incredible work that many of our nation’s teachers do was insulting; he owes the nation’s teachers, and his listeners, an apology.

You can read or listen to the interview here.  A recent study from The Gates Foundation determined that American teachers work 10 hours and 40 minutes in an average day, and research conducted by the Economics Policy Institute has found that American teachers are paid 12% less than other professions requiring a comparable amount of education and training. 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Sarah Silverman Is Not Amused With Voter Suppression (NSFW)

Sarah Silverman got a shout out in the last post for her work in the last election cycle and now she's getting her own post complete with video.

Silverman wants to make sure that everyone can vote, even in the face of new voter ID laws.  One thing to do is to go get yourself a gun (only sort of a joke, you'll see)

(this video is NSFW due to all kinds of language, and no there isn't a cleaned up version thank you very much.)

More on voter suppression and supposed voter fraud here and here.

(via NYer)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Sam Jackson Thinks You Should Vote For Obama (NSFW)

And he's not messing around...

(this video is NSFW due to f-bombs; edited version here)

This video is from the Jewish Council for Education and Research, who put together The Great Schlep project with Sarah Silverman the last time we elected a President.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


In order to exercise the franchise (as none of the kids have probably ever said, but maybe should have) you need to be registered to vote.  Yes, some states will let you register on election day at your polling place, but why wait.  Get it done today - it is National Voter Registration Day after all.

Rock The Vote will help you out as will the NVRD website.  If you live in the DC area you should check out the great new resource that is  The site will help you check your registration status, get yourself registered, and figure out absentee and early voting as well.

Be sure you're ready to get out there and do your thing, it's your chance to participate in your democracy and you should do it.  Too few people vote in the US these days with only about 60% of potential voters in Presidential election years and less than 40% showing up to vote in the midterm elections.

Read This Now - The NFL Refs And Labor Union Struggles

Brad Plummer has a good quick look at how the locked out NFL Refs are just like every other labor union fighting for a better deal for it's members...

In many ways, however, the NFL referee feud is perfectly representative of modern labor battles playing out in Wisconsin and elsewhere. In this case, one of the biggest sticking points, as Dave Jamieson explains, involves pensions. The league wants to replace the defined-benefit pensions for referees that have been in place since the 1970s with riskier and stingier 401(k)s. The referees, by contrast, point out that the NFL hauls in $9 billion per year and can afford to provide generous retirement packages.
If you read the whole thing, and you should, you'll be left wondering if Scott Walker knows the real refs are union guys.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

A Refreshing Campaign Ad

Being in DC and not watching much TV means that I only really see spill over VA campaign ads during the Skins games, so I have it pretty good (friends in Boston say that they're about ready to start throwing things at the screen if they see Scott Brown's truck one more time).  Even if I was on ad overload I think I'd enjoy this one...

Not only is it fun, this ad also brings up an important non-partisan election and voting issue.  You can get the back story on the ad from the WaPo.

Make sure you vote and that you fill out the entire ballot this fall.

I miss the West Wing...

(via all over the place)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Fraggles and Five

Ben Folds got the band back together and threw in some Fraggles, and it was good and the people were happy...

(via Nerdist w/ an assist from LS)

Monday, September 10, 2012

Read This Now - Use It Or Lose It

It should be a fairly common sense acknowledgement that walking more is good for your overall health.  So the flip side of that notion being true shouldn't really come as a surprise either; sitting around all day can kill you (more or less)...

"Those who were sitting more were substantially more likely to die," Blair says.

Specifically, he found that men who reported more than 23 hours a week of sedentary activity had a 64 percent greater risk of dying from heart disease than those who reported less than 11 hours a week of sedentary activity. And many of these men routinely exercised. Blair says scientists are just beginning to learn about the risks of a mostly sedentary day.

"If you're sitting, your muscles are not contracting, perhaps except to type. But the big muscles, like in your legs and back, are sitting there pretty quietly," Blair says. And because the major muscles aren't moving, metabolism slows down.

"We're finding that people who sit more have less desirable levels" of cholesterol, blood sugar, triglycerides and even waist size, he says, which increases the risk of diabetes, heart disease and a number of health problems.
NPR has the rundown on the research and some tips for moving around more (from a year and a half ago no less).

It isn't that hard to walk a little more each day; take the stairs instead of the elevator, park a little farther away, get off the bus a stop early, go out for a spin around the block at lunch or in the afternoon, walk over to your co-workers' desks instead of calling them, and so on and so forth.

Basically just do what the man says...

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Read This Now - Obama & Romney On Science Issues

Scientific American asked the Presidential candidates 14 questions on the top science issues of the day and you should check out what they had to say.  Remember that a huge amount of the funding for scientific and technological research and development comes from the federal government and that funding may well hang in the balance of the upcoming election.

Here are the questions; click through to read the candidates responses...

1. Innovation and the Economy. Science and technology have been responsible for over half of the growth of the U.S. economy since WWII, when the federal government first prioritized peacetime science mobilization. But several recent reports question America’s continued leadership in these vital areas. What policies will best ensure that America remains a world leader in innovation?

2. Climate Change. The Earth’s climate is changing and there is concern about the potentially adverse effects of these changes on life on the planet. What is your position on cap-and-trade, carbon taxes, and other policies proposed to address global climate change—and what steps can we take to improve our ability to tackle challenges like climate change that cross national boundaries?

3. Research and the Future. Federally funded research has helped to produce America’s major postwar economies and to ensure our national security, but today the UK, Singapore, China, and Korea are making competitive investments in research. Given that the next Congress will face spending constraints, what priority would you give to investment in research in your upcoming budgets?

4. Pandemics and Biosecurity. Recent experiments show how Avian flu may become transmissible among mammals. In an era of constant and rapid international travel, what steps should the United States take to protect our population from emerging diseases, global pandemics and/or deliberate biological attacks?

5. Education. Increasingly, the global economy is driven by science, technology, engineering and math, but a recent comparison of 15-year-olds in 65 countries found that average science scores among U.S. students ranked 23rd, while average U.S. math scores ranked 31st. In your view, why have American students fallen behind over the last three decades, and what role should the federal government play to better prepare students of all ages for the science and technology-driven global economy?

6. Energy. Many policymakers and scientists say energy security and sustainability are major problems facing the United States this century. What policies would you support to meet the demand for energy while ensuring an economically and environmentally sustainable future?

7. Food. Thanks to science and technology, the United States has the world's most productive and diverse agricultural sector, yet many Americans are increasingly concerned about the health and safety of our food. The use of hormones, antibiotics and pesticides, as well as animal diseases and even terrorism pose risks. What steps would you take to ensure the health, safety and productivity of America's food supply?

8. Fresh Water. Less than one percent of the world’s water is liquid fresh water, and scientific studies suggest that a majority of U.S. and global fresh water is now at risk because of increasing consumption, evaporation and pollution. What steps, if any, should the federal government take to secure clean, abundant fresh water for all Americans?

9. The Internet. The Internet plays a central role in both our economy and our society. What role, if any, should the federal government play in managing the Internet to ensure its robust social, scientific, and economic role?

10. Ocean Health. Scientists estimate that 75 percent of the world’s fisheries are in serious decline, habitats like coral reefs are threatened, and large areas of ocean and coastlines are polluted. What role should the federal government play domestically and through foreign policy to protect the environmental health and economic vitality of the oceans?

11. Science in Public Policy. We live in an era when science and technology affect every aspect of life and society, and so must be included in well-informed public policy decisions. How will you ensure that policy and regulatory decisions are fully informed by the best available scientific and technical information, and that the public is able to evaluate the basis of these policy decisions?

12. Space. The United States is currently in a major discussion over our national goals in space. What should America's space exploration and utilization goals be in the 21st century and what steps should the government take to help achieve them?

13. Critical Natural Resources. Supply shortages of natural resources affect economic growth, quality of life, and national security; for example China currently produces 97% of rare earth elements needed for advanced electronics. What steps should the federal government take to ensure the quality and availability of critical natural resources?

14. Vaccination and public health. Vaccination campaigns against preventable diseases such as measles, polio and whooping cough depend on widespread participation to be effective, but in some communities vaccination rates have fallen off sharply. What actions would you support to enforce vaccinations in the interest of public health, and in what circumstances should exemptions be allowed?

It isn't quite a science debate, but it's a lot better than not addressing these issues.

(via kottke

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Downsizing America

One of the common refrains around the GOP convention was that we should be running the US more like a business.  The Daily Show took a look at what America might look like from a private equity standpoint...

I was amused.

(via TPM)