Daily Archives: June 22, 2009

Third-trimester abortions

In light of the recent assassination, by a member of a right wing Christian anti-abortion cabal, of a physician who specialized in late term abortions, it may be worth having a look this medical phenomenon.

Well, my blog colleague Monado contacted me a week ago or so and we discussed this, and I felt that she should write up what she had, since she had done some research. I would then hope that my readers who are interested in this will go and have a look at her post.

The bottom line is that third trimester abortions are done for a diverse set of reasons, and a lot of what is said in the public debate is not accurate.

Have a look at “What causes third-trimester abortions?” at Science Notes.

Stop violence masquerading as political activism

Citing recent killings in Arkansas, Kansas and the nation’s capital, Attorney General Eric Holder on Tuesday said new hate crimes law were needed to stop what he called “violence masquerading as political activism.”

The attorney general’s call for Congress to act came as a civil rights coalition said there has been a surge in white supremacist activity since the election of the first African-American president and the economic downturn.

“Over the last several weeks, we have witnessed brazen acts of violence committed in places that many would have considered unthinkable,” Holder told the Washington Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs.


Is this legislating thinking? Or is it legislating stupidity?

Girls Doing Math

This is a struggle I can relate to:

Perez Hilton thinks that hot chicks can’t do math. I have taught math to children of a variety of ages. It is difficult to convince young women in our society that they can do math. Young women often lack self-confidence about mathematics. Many of them think that “only the ugly, unpopular girls” do math. One high school student once told me that she didn’t want to go to a summer math program because if she did “everyone will think I’m uncool.”

See this post for the big picture and the gory details.

I can tell you that there was a lot of stuff going on in my household this year regarding math, and anti-math socialization. Just so you know, Julia got a lot of helpful support in the nitty gritty of algebra from the household math expert, which of course is Amanda.

Watermelon Dan is at it again

Republican Congressperson Dan Burton calls for a Plexiglas shield to be built over the congressional chamber to protect the congresspeople from attack. This is the same guy who carried out the famous and embarrassing reconstruction of Vince Foster’s suicide:

Burton gained attention for re-enacting the alleged crime in his backyard with his own pistol and a pumpkin standing in for Foster’s head. After hearings into Democratic fundraising (see section below) began, a Democratic National Committee staffer appeared in a pumpkin suit with a button that read, “Don’t shoot.”


South Carolina Governor AWOL?

UPDATE: There are reports that the missing governor is tweeting. These reports are unconfirmed.

His wife does not know where is his. The lieutenant governor does not know where he is. It is said that “he needed some time away from his children to write something.” It is said he is working on a book. No one has seen him since Thursday.

Makes sense to me.

His chief of staff claims to know where he is. But he would say that even if he didn’t.

Apparently, not having a governor for a few days is not that big a deal. I say, give it a week then maybe go looking for him.

BTW, this Thursday? I’m outta here for a few days. Gotta write some stuff. If you want me get me before then. (Unless you want to go fishing, of course.) My chief of staff will know where I am if anything really important comes up.

Physics, To A Dog (A poem)

To a dog, a balloon is a rock that floats.
To a dog, a lever is a perch for stoats.

To a dog, particle decay1 is not about nooks
To a dog, gravity is just another way to puke.

To a dog, a quantum is a kibble
To a dog, a quark is to nibble.

To a dog, where the yard ends begins the cosmos
To a dog, periodic tables2 iz a no-nos.

To a dog, dark matter is what cats must do
To a dog, string theory is for cats too.

To a dog, it is better to sleep
To a dog, don’t tickle the heap.3

1Bone munching
2Do not take food off the table. Periodically.
3A veiled reference to “tickling the dragon’s tail” during early A-bomb research. Dogs prefer if you tickle their stomach instead.

Why this poem?

On a Mission from God

Lately I’ve been reading the 19th and early 20th century traveler’s accounts of what is now known as the Western Rift Valley and the Ituri Forest, Congo. Some are written by the famous ‘explorers’ such as H.M. Stanley, others written by scientists on expeditions in the area, and still others by missionaries. Reading these accounts puts me in mind of my own experiences, as a scientist working in that same area, with the missionaries that live and work, or sometimes just visit, there.

So, a few missionary stories are in order.
Continue reading On a Mission from God