Video of the day

I’d love to see this outside with a Labrador.  Pretty awesome:


Journalism win!

Well, that nutcase Dianna Lightfoot has already withdrawn her name for the position to lead NC’s pre-school programs upon revelation that she is an extreme and fringe ideologue.

This simply would not have happened without the intrepid reporting of WRAL’s Laura Leslie.  Throw in the power of social media (this really blew up on FB- and I assume twitter– yesterday) and you’ve got actual democratic accountability.  Good solid journalism kept an unqualified nut out of an important position she had no business overseeing in state government.  Hurray!  This is why thriving state/local news organizations are so important to our democracy.  How many nuts like this get appointed all over the country where news organizations lack the resources to do the job?  Thank God we’ve got WRAL and the N&O here.  Nonetheless disturbing at all the Republicans are trying to do.  At least we get some daylight on it.

Infographic of the day

You might be surprised to learn I get a surprisingly high number of requests to share infographics on my blog.  Usually, I ignore them, but if I actually think they share interesting information in an effective way, then, well, there you go.  This one actually looks at the achiement gap between advantaged and disadvantaged kids across a number of indicators.  It is actually mostly Australian data, but there are some cross-national comparisons and, assuming the data here is solid, the US actually does fine in an international perspective.  I’ve copied in that portion below:



Photo of the day

Well, I guess it’s kind of depressing to look at the winners of a kids photography contest to realize that 10-year olds are better than you.  Still, some pretty cool photos– including this winner:

Picture of a dog jumping

Congratulations to the winners of the U.S. edition of the National Geographic Kids International Photography Contest! Check out the International Grand Prize Winner!


First Place

Jack Girton, 10, Minnesota

Why textbooks are so expensive

How’s this for a recent email from a college textbook publisher:

Dear Professor Greene,
Greetings from Cengage Learning’s Political Science team!  We would like to invite you to our first ever Political Science Symposium, which will take place in beautiful and conveniently-located Asheville, NC at the luxurious Grove Park Inn on Feb. 8-9, 2013.  The symposium is a unique experience for a select group of educators, and you have been chosen to receive an all-expenses-paid trip to this event…
Sessions end in the early afternoon on the 9th, and Cengage is happy to provide hotel accommodations from Feb. 7th through the 10th, so that you can stay on and enjoy Asheville for the weekend!  Once you are registered, we will be in touch regarding booking your airfare and hotel.  Explore what there is to see and do in Asheville here:
Yeah, that’s right, they are paying a bunch of political scientists to stay up to three nights here (plus travel costs):
All in the hopes said political scientists will adopt Cengage textbooks.  And since nothing in life is actually free, how is this being paid for?  Well, the cost of Cengage textbooks, of course.  If I didn’t have a family to worry about, I’d take them up on this.  One of my friends will be enjoying Cengage’s largesse this weekend (he does have a family to worry about, but doesn’t care).

And the hits just keep coming

Again, apologies to the non NC folks, but it truly is amazing what can happen when the inmates completely take over the asylum after being pent up so long.  I’m sure there’s some perfectly reasonable Republicans in NC (I think) and they really need to come out against this anti-science, anti-intellectual absurdness that the Tea Party types just keep pushing:

At least three lawmakers were among about 60 people on hand today for a special presentation on climate science by John Droz.

Droz is a well-known figure in conservative circles. He’s a senior fellow at the right-wing think tank American Tradition Institute, a group that targets environmental regulation, as well as a featured speaker for the John Locke Foundation. He was invited to address lawmakers by Onslow Republican George Cleveland.

In his lecture, Droz told lawmakers that current environmental science, especially in regards to climate change, is “faith-based” and at odds with the Judeo-Christian tradition.  [emphasis mine]

“We and our students are being brainwashed to accept a new secular religion with its own value system,” he warned. “Sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces.”

Riiiiight, because science should be determined by the Bible.  Is this guy living in the 15th century?  And as for Droz’s scientific background:

Droz is a retired solid-state physicist and realtor with no formal background or peer-reviewed research in climate science, environmental science, or geology.

In fact, his presentation, available here,dismisses the peer-review process as inconsequential at best and misleading at worst, and says misconduct among published scientists is increasing rapidly.

Oh, and as for all those real scientists who are scamming us with global warming?

In fact, his presentation, available here,dismisses the peer-review process as inconsequential at best and misleading at worst, and says misconduct among published scientists is increasing rapidly.

“We are telling these degree people that they need to follow the scientific process,” said Droz.

Reporter Laura Leslie earns my ever-lasting admiration for this line in the story:

Scientist Sam Pearsall, recently retired from the state Nature Conservancy, is one of those “degree people,” with a PhD in ecology.

Awesome.  Pearsall’s critique is not bad either:

“Instead, he delivered an anti-scientific, propagandistic speech in which his own arguments demonstrated every fallacy he claimed to warn against. He presented no facts to support his own case. Meanwhile, he also made absolutely no case that climate change is not happening, nor that it is not urgent, nor that it is not caused by human combustion of fossil fuels.”

“There was no science in his talk,” said Pearsall. “On the whole, it was entertaining, not informative, and potentially dangerous to the gullible.”

In all fairness, it was just three legislators who attended this, but I would argue strenuously that that is three too many.  Again, the I’m not even going to say “moderate” but rather “non-crazy” Replicans in this state really need to step up and put the kibosh on this non-sense.  Sadly, though, even the “non-crazy” Republicans seem to buy the anti-science loonies on global warming.

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