Monday, April 27, 2009

Obama at NSA

Obama speaks before the NSA today (here's the link to his speech). Some interesting bits.

And we have watched as scientific integrity has been undermined
and scientific research politicized in an effort to advance
predetermined ideological agendas.

...We know that our country is better than this.

That is why I have charged the White House Office of Science and
Technology Policy with leading a new effort to ensure that
federal policies are based on the best and most unbiased
scientific information. I want to be sure that facts are driving
scientific decisions – and not the other way around...

On March 9th, I signed an executive memorandum with a clear
message: Under my administration, the days of science taking a
back seat to ideology are over. Our progress as a nation
– and our values as a nation – are rooted in free
and open inquiry. To undermine scientific integrity is to
undermine our democracy.

In reference to the importance of space exploration and the American moon landing:

The scientific community rallied behind this goal and set about
achieving it. And it would lead not just to those first steps on
the moon, but also to giant leaps in our understanding here at
home. The Apollo program itself produced technologies that have
improved kidney dialysis and water purification systems; sensors
to test for hazardous gasses; energy-saving building materials;
and fire-resistant fabrics used by firefighters and soldiers.
And, more broadly, the enormous investment of that era –
in science and technology, in education and research funding
– produced a great outpouring of curiosity and
creativity, the benefits of which have been incalculable.

Here's a bit that will enrage flat-earthers, young-earthers, anti-evolutionists,
and the teabag crowd:

Fifth, since we know that the progress and prosperity of future
generations will depend on what we do now to educate the next
generation, today I am announcing a renewed commitment to
education in mathematics and science

That is why I am announcing today that states making strong
commitments and progress in math and science education will be
eligible to compete later this fall for additional funds under
the Secretary of Education's $5 billion Race to the Top program.

I am challenging states to dramatically improve achievement in
math and science by raising standards, modernizing science labs,
upgrading curriculum, and forging partnerships to improve the
use of science and technology in our classrooms. And I am
challenging states to enhance teacher preparation and training,
and to attract new and qualified math and science teachers to
better engage students and reinvigorate these subjects in our

Cool. Here's the link for the full transcript.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Cleopatra's Tomb may be found

Cleopatra's Tomb Believed To Be At 1 Of 3 Egyptian Archaeological Sites

A find of coins bearing Cleopatra's image and a mask of Antony my point the way to the famous lover's tomb:

...Archaeologists looking for the tombs of the celebrated queen of Egypt and the Roman general will begin excavating three sites at a temple where tombs may be located, Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities said in a statement Wednesday.

Always the defender of all things ancient Egyptian, Zahi Hawass chimes in, attacking a recent reconstruction of Cleopatra by a British team:

...Zahi Hawass, Egypt's top archaeologist, said the Cleopatra statue and coins _ which show an attractive face _ debunk a recent theory that the queen was "quite ugly. The finds from Taposiris reflect a charm ... and indicate that Cleopatra was in no way unattractive," said Hawass, according to the statement.

The British scientists based their reconstruction on Roman coins, which may have portrayed a less than flattering image of the Queen. But I'm with Hawass on this one: Cleopatra was HOT!

Sunday, April 12, 2009


I saw this gem at HuffingtonPost (direct link):
DOBSON POINTS TO CULTURE WAR DEFEAT.... James Dobson delivered a farewell speech to the Focus on the Family staff, and conceded that the culture war he helped start hasn't turned out well for the agents of intolerance. Indeed, Dobson almost sounded resigned to defeat...James Dobson, 72, who resigned recently as head of Focus on the Family -- one of the largest Christian groups in the country -- and once denounced the Harry Potter books as witchcraft, acknowledged the dramatic reverse for the religious Right in a farewell speech to staff...

Said Dobson:

"...We are awash in evil and the battle is still to be waged. We are right now in the most discouraging period of that long conflict. Humanly speaking, we can say we have lost all those battles."

The hieroglyph above is "Rejoice, exalt, support". In other words, 'Weeeeee!"