Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Rodney Davis Tele-Town Hall, February 15, 2017

Oh yeah, I have a blog... Anyway, I listened in on Rep. Rodney Davis's tele-town hall this evening. I wanted to be at home and had a question, but I was actually in Meijer for most of it, so I couldn't take notes. Fortunately, @AnUncivilPhD live-tweeted the whole thing. I've taken the liberty of creating a Storify of that here.

  • I knew the tele-town hall was coming today, but there was no indication of what time. So it's a matter of stay by the phone all evening and you might get to listen.
  • There's no indication of when or even whether a recording of the town hall will be available. 
  • About half the TTH was spent talking about repealing and replacing Obamacare. Presumably, that's why Davis had Texas Rep. Michael Burgess on for about half of it. 
  • It's pretty clear Davis and the GOP have no clear replacement plan for Obamacare. There were two questions about how the replacement would pay for its provisions and they were mostly evaded. There was some vague talk about increasing competition (no indication of how) would cause rates to plummet.
  • They intend to repeal the individual mandate. I think it was Burgess that said this would cause individual enrollments to increase, which doesn't make the slightest bit of sense. He claimed that requiring people to sign up for health insurance increases costs? 
  • Davis is clearly proud of his bill requiring insurers to not discriminate against pre-existing conditions, but again, no indication of how he will pay for it.
  • Several times Davis plugged the GOP's "Better Way" health reform framework. Republicans have had seven years to come up with a replacement for Obamacare, so I expect actual policy and analysis, not a framework.
  • When asked about the repeal of the Stream Protection Rule, Davis's answer was basically: coal, more coal, coal jobs, oh and maybe some nuclear, in an obvious mention of the Clinton nuclear plant. No mention of the fact that it's cheap natural gas that's coal's main competitor, not poisoned streams.
  • He did say that he wanted to see an investigation of the Russian interference in the election and that he was happy to see Flynn get fired. That's easy to say since none of his committees would have anything to do with such an investigation.
  • When asked if there would be any in-person town halls, his response was basically, tele-town halls are great! Come on Rodney, we all know why you're doing this via telephone: because you don't want to give your constituents an opportunity to embarass you face-to-face.
This is a bit disjointed, but I wanted to get my thoughts down quickly.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Exactly who does Deb Feinen intend to work for?

I've been a lazy blogger and haven't pontificated about the upcoming mayoral election much. (On Twitter, now that's a different story.)

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, Deb Feinen got the endorsement of the Business Empowered PAC, which is basically the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce. One thing in the PAC's endorsement really stood out to me like a sore thumb:

we believe Mrs. Feinen to have the most solid record of being a pro-business advocate and has been the most active candidate to embrace the business community for their expertise in forming policy for city government for the past several years.

 So in other words, this "pro-business" group is endorsing Feinen because they think she is going to let them determine government policy for Champaign. That doesn't sit right with me.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Is "thug" the modern day n-word?

It seems the cops have been killing a lot of people lately. Every time that happens, I've noticed if the victim is black, it's only a matter of time until someone call him a "thug." It seems to be a word that conotes "violent black man whose life is of no value."

Maybe this has been obvious to everyone else, but I've only just noticed it and now that I have, I can't stop seeing it. I thought maybe it was just my imagination, so I did some quick Google comparisons and the idea that this word is applied disproportionately to black men seems to hold true. These numbers are from doing Google News searches. I tried the same just using regular Google web searches; the numbers there were larger, but the trend remains.

Take these three high-profile cases, for example:

  • "michael brown" "thug" -- 8140 hits
  • "eric garner" "thug" -- 5960 hits
  • "trayvon martin" "thug" -- 4100 hits
  • "Tamir Rice" "thug" -- 694 hits (12 years old with a toy gun, shot within 2 seconds)
  • "John Crawford" "thug" -- 223 hits (man buying a BB gun, shot by police in Walmart)

Now compare it to these:

  • "Dzhokhar Tsarnaev" "thug" -- 342 hits
  • "anders breivik" "thug" -- 93 hits
  • "scott peterson" "thug" -- 42 hits
  • "Elliot Rodger" "thug" -- 75 hits
  • "Jerad Miller" "thug" -- 9 hits (one of the two Bundy Ranch protesters that killed two cops)
So even when white men commit mass murder they are not thugs (accused, in the case of Tsarnaev). When black men are killed as a result of police violence, they are thugs. 

This is Karl Rove on Hannity talking about Common, a hip-hop artist, invited to perform at the White House in 2011:

President Obama last week said he wanted to recapture that special moment we had after 9/11. And here week later, we have an example of how this White House can recapture that moment by inviting a thug to the White House... And whose lyrics are sexually explicit and misogynist. This guy is a thug... If he believed last week that he wanted to reestablish the great tone in the country after 9/11, why would he invite a thug to the White House who said, he wanted to kill President Bush for having taken the country to war in Iraq.

I'm not saying Common's lyrics about Bush II weren't controversial or even appropriate. But Ted Nugent has threatened to kill the President multiple times and he is a regular guest on Hannity. Why isn't he a thug?

I'm not even going to mention Nugent's reference to "Ferguson thugs." I think we all know who he means.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Is anybody still out there?

Wow, been almost a year since I made that last post. I keep thinking of stuff I should post, but never getting around to writing anything. Should I bother? Is anyone paying attention?

Friday, November 08, 2013

Because I'm busy, that's why!

(Not really, I have a couple of things rolling around in my head that I might get around to blogifying, shortly.)

Meanwhile, Glock21 is blogging again. Go. Read.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Quackademic medicine comes to UIUC VetMed

A few weeks ago, I was dismayed to see this article, "UI group visits China to study veterinary acupuncture" in the News-Gazette. Two faculty and seventeen students took a 10-day trip to China to study veterinary acupuncture and learned about "'yin-yang theory,' 'five elements,' 'qi, blood and body fluid,' and the acupuncture points of the horse and dog." It's upsetting because veterinary acupuncture, like all acupuncture, doesn't work but, this time, it involves the suffering of pets and animals.
And what a waste of money this was! A ten day trip all the way to chine for nearly twenty people to study pseudoscience? The cost of the airfare alone was probably close to $20,000. God knows how much the courses to study nonexistent qi and pseudoscientific theories of disease like the five elements cost. This is irresponsible and wasteful. It's no different than a group from the Chemistry department traveling to Greece to learn about the Aristotelian four elements or students from the College of Medicine going to Italy to learn about the four humors theory of disease. 
Everything in the original article is completely credulous; no attention to a skeptical voice is given. That's not surprising considering that it is simply a word-for-word republication of a press release put out by UIUC's Office of Public Engagement. From the press release:

According to Dr. Clark-Price, acupuncture can be used on any species at any age. Dogs are his most common acupuncture patients, followed by horses and the occasional cow.

Well, yeah, it can be used on any species because it doesn't do anything. It's amusing that he mentions acupuncture on horses. The meridians (the invisible lines along which magical qi flows) for horses were drawn from those of humans, including the gallbladder meridian, even though horses don't have gallbladders.
I use the term "quackademic" in the title of this post (actually I'm stealing it from Orac, who apparently got it from someone else), because this kind of pseudoscience has been increasingly spreading throughout the medical community in recent years. I understand why; it's profitable, it poses no threat to the patient (because it does nothing), and they keep coming back for more of it (because it does nothing). But teaching pseudoscientific quackery as medicine is poisonous. Is this really the kind of education students get at VetMed? What's next, homeopathy and crystal healing?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Crappy science denialist arguments from Illinois Review

I'm only now getting around to it, but a few weeks ago, there was a rather badly-argued climate change denialist post over at Illinois Review by Nancy Thorner. It comes after President Obama's ObamaHitler's speech where he referred to global warming denialists as "the flat-earth society." (Ironically, there actually is a Flat Earth Society and their President accepts climate change.) It always kind of pisses me off when science gets distorted for political means.

Thorner, who's primary qualification is apparently that she writes a lot of Letters to the Editor of local newspapers, can't even seem to come up with a coherent argument. First she quotes the Heritage Foundation quoting a denialist think tank:

But let's pretend we were able to stop emitting all carbon immediately... No talking. The Science and Public Policy Institute found that the global temperature would decrease by 0.17 degrees Celsius -- by 2100.

What she fails to mention is that the "we" in the above quote is the US only, not worldwide. It's not at all surprising that a global problem can not be fixed by the action of one country with a fraction of the world's population. This might be an argument that global warming is irreversible, but it's not a valid argument that it's not happening.

It should be a warning sign when your first go-to authorities on a scientific matter is a bunch of interlocking political think tanks, not scientists.

Next, she punts to a video, no longer available, put out by the Heartland Institute, another right-wing think tank.

Thirdly, she quotes Alan Caruba the founder of the National Anxiety Center, which sounds like it should be a medical organization, but is actually a right-wing think tank. Caruba is also a member of -- again -- the Heartland Institute. This has got to be the dumbest fucking argument I've ever heard for anything, anywhere:

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is not a pollutant. It is essential to all life on Earth insofar as it is vital for all plant life, from a blade of grass to a giant redwood, but most essential to the growth of the crops that are the basis of feeding humanity and the livestock it depends upon as a food source.

The Earth and of living things on it would benefit from more carbon dioxide, but the president is asserting the very opposite of this while vilifying CO2 and the business and industrial sectors that produce it in the process of manufacturing everything a society requires.

Seriously, because CO2 is used by plants, we can't possibly ever have too much of it. That's a mind-numbingly stupid as saying because sunlight is necessary for plant life, it can't cause skin cancer. Or that because we all need water, the flooding along the Missouri river the past couple of years couldn't possibly be bad for farms or homes.

And it's this next argument that really fucking pisses me off. Unfortunately, it's probably going to need a blog post of it's own because it will probably be long. But, no, NASA has not disproved global warming.