Archive for February 1st, 2009
It seems to me that people who are obese seem to spend lots of time around with other people who are obese. Smokers tend to pal around with other smokers. This raises an important question: Do friends cause each other to pick up bad habits? Not that I’m claiming it to be intentional, but do people pass bad habits to their friends through some form of social osmosis?
Allow me to begin with a story that embarrasses me. When I was 18, I met a guy named “Ray” who was smart, funny and an accomplished athlete. Ray also had a noticeable tic . He sporadically jerked his head whenever he talked with others—he did this several times per minute. I spent some time with Ray while visiting my then-girlfriend at college back in the 70′s. After a few days up at her college, I noticed that I was starting to exhibit the same tic. I can assure you that I didn’t do this intentionally. When I noticed the problem I consciously forced myself to stop doing it, lest it became an ingrained habit. Did Ray’s bad habit cause me to pick up my new bad habit? Based on the timing, there’s not much doubt in my mind.
Similarly, I’ve noticed that when I like someone and I’ve spent considerable time with them, I sometimes start talking like them, picking up their dialect, their expressions, their gestures and their vocabulary; the clues are usually subtle but often undeniable. I’ve caught myself doing this dozens of times over my life.
Great Britain is catching up to the U.S. when it comes to the rejection of evolution by natural selection. Consider the following from The Guardian: Half of British adults do not believe in evolution, with at least 22% preferring the theories of creationism or intelligent design to explain how the world came about, according to [...]
It’s not that I’m infatuated with the words of Potus44, but Barack Obama’s inaugural address (that I’ve already addressed) hit quite a few notable notes. One of which was the promise to “restore science to its rightful place”. He also said,
“Promoting science isn’t just about providing Resources-it’s about protecting free and open inquiry… It’s about listening to what our scientists have to say, even when it’s inconvenient – especially when it’s inconvenient.
That’s a breath of fresh air, indeed. But the real question and challenge will be: What exactly is this Rightful Place? The previous administration acted as though they believed that science belongs after political expedience and the Bible, not necessarily in that order. They fired or censored anyone whose carefully calculated conclusions disagreed with their prejudged opinions. It will be a long time cleaning up the resulting mess.
Mike the Mad Biologist posted: To Restore Science to Its Rightful Place, We Need to Redefine Elitism. In brief, science is not easy to follow once you reach the discoveries of The Enlightenment and beyond. It takes a certain amount of education and dedication to know good science from pseudoscience. And this is anathema to American principle of Democratic Populism, the idea that all men are not only “created equal”, but are in fact equal.
It didn’t take long to realize what that that “Photo Enforcement Program” letter from the City of St. Louis was all about. As I opened the letter, the only thing that occurred to me was to make sure whether the letter was for me (as opposed to my wife). It was for me. I had gotten nailed by the new photo traffic enforcement system that the City of St. Louis installed near my house. Over the past 30 years, I’ve received a total of 2 traffic tickets. I guess I was due.
I was pissed, of course. This was going to cost me $100 even though I didn’t do anything flagrant. I had rolled a right turn onto a high entrance ramp through a red light. This occurred at a traffic light 1/2 mile from my house. I had done it hundreds of times; hundreds of other safe drivers do it every day. My crime is that I failed to come to a complete stop before turning right to accelerate down that highway ramp. I was going about 5 mph around that corner. I remembered the strobe flash going off that day last week; at the time, I wondered whether it was aimed at me. Sure enough. I should clarify: I don’t always roll through that right turn. If ever there is any traffic in the area, or any pedestrians, I always come to a complete stop.
I saw the sign on the back of the van and I understood that I was to “Stay Back.” I just didn’t understand why. Not that I was tempted to disobey.
I wondered, “Did they forget to lock the back door? Will a prisoner throw the door open and scratch my car’s bumper?”
I suppose the sign means that drivers should give the sheriff lots of room to get the prisoners in and out of the van. Perhaps the warning could be better phrased, though.