Daily Archives: May 4, 2012

Stoned and Confused

Did you ever have something you thought was pretty interesting happen to you, but then when you try to explain it to someone else, they kind of half listen and don’t come close to getting what you are saying, and you realize part way through that it really isn’t that interesting unless you are the person it happened to? Do you know what bloggers do when they experience this?

They blog it! Somebody out there’s gonna relate! Continue reading Stoned and Confused

Everything You Wanted to Know About Indians But Were Afraid to Ask

Here in Minnesota, and in surrounding states, there is some real tension between Native and Immigrant communities. The poorest, most drug-ridden, down trodden and repressed communities here are often Native, and conveniently these communities tend to be (but not always are) located far away from urban areas or other places with a lot of white eyes. Health in Native communities is of major concern to the usual institutions and people that are concerned with such things.

Indians make White people nervous. White people are either worried that the Indian has kooties, or are criminals or something, or they are worried that the Indians will think poorly of them or feel bad about, you know, all that bad shit that happened between our people. And some of that bad shit, here in the Upper Plains and the far western edge of the Eastern Woodlands, is very recent. From here, I could drive to Wounded Knee II in a day. I’ve been told that there are still people…white people…in the southern part of Minnesota with curios made of human body parts taken out of the mass grave filled with those executed at the end of the Dakota War of 1862. Many of our historical monuments, homes, and other sites relate to those troubled times. Fort Snelling, the home of one of the Minnesota Historic Society’s facilities (a State institution) was one of those forts where the guys in blue uniforms parodied on F Troop garrisoned. That is where Chief Shakopee was killed when the blue uniformed soldiers arranged a “running of the gauntlet,” a gauntlet manned by Shakopee’s enemies, as a means of executing him. There were starvation camps set up to cause the population of Native people to go down. There are lakes, towns and counties named after the engineers of those concentration camps. I’m thinking that many Native people know a lot more about these things than the White people do. For instance, my in laws, and many of their friends, and several cousins and relatives have cabins on on lakes in Cass County. I think very few of the White people know who Cass was. Lewis Cass, after whom the county and a major lake in the area were named, was one of those architects. I do end up on a Native reservation for several days a year in that area. The reservation is entirely located within Cass County. That would be like having a Jewish homeland in a province or region named after Himmler.

So, why am I talking about this? Because one of Minnesota’s own, a professor at Bimidji University, just upstream from Cass Lake, has written a book called Everything You Wanted to Know about Indians But Were Afraid to Ask. This is not just another white guy talking about Indians. Author Anton Treuer is Native, and I just saw him interviewed on a Minneosta political and news show, and that made me want to get the book. It seems to be a sort of FAQ of questions that a lot of White people have about Indians. I’m not sure how much of a focus there is on this region vs. the country, or North America, as a whole, but in the interview, Treuer did discuss the issue of diversity; a question one might have about Indians could sound fairly dumb if you reversed the situation and said something like “What do White people think about abortion?” or “What kind of cars to White people drive?” …. There are hundreds of Native tribes.

I’m looking forward to learning stuff I didn’t know. I’ll have to look Anton up and see if he’s around during the summer. Maybe we can grab a cup of coffee and swap tales about academia!

Treuer and his book are also written up here, in the Strib.

Heatland to Take Down Unibomber Billboard UPDATED

Thank you to all the bloggers and others who jumped immediately on the Heartland Institute for putting up horribly offensive billboards equating scientists with the scientist/mathematician killing terrorist Unibomber. I have heard unofficially that Heartland will be taking down those billboards.

We’ll see.

more details:
Continue reading Heatland to Take Down Unibomber Billboard UPDATED

Comparing mainstream scientists to the Unibomber is like …

…. comparing holocaust survivors to Hitler? Hmong refugees to Pol Pot? Well, maybe not exactly but there is a structural similarity.

People at the Heartland Institute have very little to do with science and very little experience in that area of academics. Otherwise they would remember the Unibomber days, when everyone was worried about the packages they were receiving in the mail, but especially those in mathematics. Now, the Heartland Institute has a billboard campaign with a picture of the Unibomber on it, making the claim that only very fringe people, such as the Unibomber, still “believe in global warming.” This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Anthropogenic Global Warming is real, it is recognized as real by science, and those who deny its reality are, in fact, the ones on the fringe.

Continue reading Comparing mainstream scientists to the Unibomber is like …

Introducing Edwina Rogers (updated slightly)

The Secular Coalition of America is a lobbying group and umbrella organization for several different secular, humanist, atheist, and skeptics organizations. The SCA is responsible for lobbying at state and federal levels, supporting legislation that is science based rather than “faith” or religion based.

Yesterday, the SCA surprised a lot of people by appointing a long time Republican operative, Edina Rogers, as the Executive Director. Rogers has been involved in the Republican Party as advisor or staffer to several senators and both Presidents Bush. She was the General Council for the Republican National Senatorial Committee in 1994, and has appeared on Fox News representing the White House on several issues including the war in Iraq and energy policy. Despite some efforts to distance Rogers from the Republican policies of the mid 1990s through recent years, there is no doubt that Edwina Rogers has been part of that process and on board with those policies.

Having said that, Rogers has worked in recent years, as a lobbyist, on projects that would not be expected to be part of the primary Republican agenda. She is a secularist and has shown evidence of having favored some policies that would be in alignment with some of the groups represented by the SCA. Here is the video produced by the SCA in which Rogers introduces herself to her new constituents: Continue reading Introducing Edwina Rogers (updated slightly)

Global Warming is the Real Thing, but "Global Warming" is not the real problem

As is the case with most things that are important, we as a society have done a very bad job of developing an effective conversation about Global Warming. The vast majority of electronic and real ink that I see spent on the discussion of Global Warming (outside of the peer reviewed literature) is not even about climate or climate change. Rather, it is about talking about climate change, the politics of climate change, critique of the rhetoric about climate change, clarification, obfuscation, complaining, accusing, yelling or belly-aching, and the occasional threat of violence. And today, dear reader, I’d like to give you some more of that! (Well, some of it. There will be no threats!)

Continue reading Global Warming is the Real Thing, but "Global Warming" is not the real problem

Restoring Eyesight

Have a look at this story.

The first blind patients to be fitted with electronic eye implants in a UK clinical trial have regained “useful vision” only weeks after surgery….

The implants are basically little camera chips that get hooked up to the neural circuitry in the eye. The results are not normal human developed vision, but the patients can see stuff.

Having gotten your attention with that remarkable story, let me remind you of this:

Dining In The Dark: Hope for Retinal Disease

Thank you very much.