Daily Archives: December 1, 2012

Michele Bachmann: Waiting for the other shoe to drop?

Michele Bachmann. Photo by Flickr User Gage Skidmore.
Or, maybe just waiting for a pin to drop, to break the silence? Bill Prendergast at Minnesota Progressive Project has floated an interesting, if somewhat complicated, hypothesis. He notes that Michel Bachmann has been very silent, out of the news, since the election which is now (though it seems like yesterday) nearly a month in the past. He suggests that the GOP establishment has shut her down, something they may have wanted to do for some time but would have been able to do because of her independent support from the coalition of players in the Christian Religious Right and the Batshit Crazy People who seem to be sprinkled around everywhere. He also suggests that Bachmann’s uncanny quietitude may be a test, that she is passing. Bachmann has been notably ignored by the GOP leadership in the House, which they still control, in the current round of doling out responsibilities. Bill Pendergrast’s idea is that Bachmann is attempting to demonstrate that she can do something no one really has ever thought that she could do: STFU for several weeks at a time, avoid making over the top outrageous statements that cause all sorts of trouble.

All interesting ideas. I’d like to add to this one small twist: Bachmann could have been overlooked for positions of responsibility by the GOP establishment because she is a woman. The GOP engaged in a Gettysburg Level attack on women (and others) over the last year, and were summarily defeated. This led me to recently suggest that the war on Gay Marriage, at least, had reached it’s “High Water Mark.” In the case of the War on Women, having lost that, the GOP establishment may be taking out their frustration on their own women, the members of their own party who happen to have two X Chromosomes.

Anyway, back to Pendergast’s point. When I read his post, I had to ask myself, being a scientist and all, if Bill was using the correct null model, or at least, the correct assumption. Might it be the case, I wondered, if CongressCritters are generally quiet this time of year, after the election? Is it possible that Michele Bachmann is not being unusually silent, just normal? As shocking as that prospect may sound, it is something that needs to be considered, to be fair, honest, and scientific. So, pursuant to that, I went back in time to the period in 2008 that corresponds to the last few post-election weeks, running a bit into December for good measure. It turns out, Bachmann was not being quiet.

And so, I give you here a sampling of post-election Michele Bachmann:

November 19th 2008
Bachmann says Franken stuffing ballot box, anti-American comments urban legend

Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann appeared on FOX’s Hannity & Colmes last night to spew some more great quotes to get everyone riled up. She knows what people hate to hear.

In her interview, she accused Al Franken of stuffing the ballot box. She then continued pushing the “ballots in the car” rumor despite it being proved false and clarified by Gov. Tim Pawlenty. Then she said her statements on MSNBC’s Hardball were “urban legend” even as the host reads the transcript aloud to her. What is going on here?

November 19th, 2008
Bachmann rips Obama, Franken denies anti-American remark

Michele Bachmann, appearing Tuesday night on Fox News show with Sean Hannity and Alan Colmes, derided President-Elect Barack Obama as “more of the same” over reports that many of his new appointments are recycled Clintonistas.

The Minnesota Republican also accused DFL Senate candidate Al Franken of trying to “stuff the ballot box” in his recount struggle with GOP incumbent Norm Coleman.

All the while, Bachmann managed to reserve enough ammo to dismiss as an “urban legend” reports that she had suggested on a pre-election episode of the “Hardball” show with MSNBC host Chris Matthews that Obama and other members of Congress were “anti-American,” and that the media should investigate them as such.

Resident Fox liberal Alan Colmes, who read a transcript of Bachmann’s “anti-American” quote from her appearance on MSNBC, offered to have her watch the video clip of her remarks on his own web site. But the segment ended before Bachmann could fully respond.

Not, however, before Bachmann pummeled Obama over some of his recent presidential appointments, including the pick of former President Clinton official Eric Holder as Obama’s new attorney general.

Novemer 20th, 2008
Bachmann can’t stop talking about socialism

Rep. Michele Bachmann loves coming up with the zingers. Apparently she still loves talking about how the United States is slowly becoming a socialist nation. Run for your lives!

In her latest Fox News interview (which she won’t let us embed on our site) she continues to scare Americans that the Democratic House and Senate will slowly suck our country into socialism and ruin our lives.

There’s more, but that’s probably enough.

Yeah, it seems that Michele Bachmann is being, relative to herself, quiet.


… And I don’t mean the good kind.

A feature of WordPress blogging software is that you can turn off commenting on old posts, older than a specified number of days. I don’t like doing that because some of the most interesting comments trickle in on some of those old posts. Like this one.

But, for some reason, old posts are spam magnets, and I’m not talking about the canned meat. I opened up commenting on old posts a while back, and suddenly the spam is rushing like Atlantic Seawater in a New York Subway. So, I’ve re-closed comments on those old posts.

In the mean time, I deleted a LOT of spam. The spam filter was not catching it. If you are a real person and you think a comment of yours got deleted by accident, let me know.

Thank you very much, that is all.

Rabies (and Autism)

I have discussed rabies before. In Attack of the Hound of Malembi. Or, “Whose are these people, anyway?” I discussed a personal encounter with a rabid dog, which killed my cat and bit six friend. In Ode to Rocky I discuss an encounter with a cute little raccoon which probably did not have rabies, but since this was during the Great Rabid Raccoon Scare a few years back he got busted anyway.

And now, we have Skeptically Speaking #190 RABID … last Sunday’s show which is now a podcast available for you to download.

This week, we’re talking about a viral menace that’s one of the scariest – and deadliest – known to science. We’ll talk to WIRED editor Bill Wasik and veterinarian Monica Murphy about their book Rabid: A Cultural History of the World’s Most Diabolical Virus. And on the podcast, we’ll speak to post-doctoral researcher Elisabeth Whyte, about a crowd-funded project to use computer games to help adolescents with autism improve social skills and face processing abilities.

Get your rabies shot first, then CLICK HERE.

Dark Matter, Energy Drinks, and Gender

These three things are intimately connected.

Well, OK, they’re not really connected at all, but all will be the subject of discussion on the next Skeptically Speaking. I believe Desiree will be speaking on Sunday, December 2nd with James Pinfold about Dark Matter … apparently there is new information bringing an explanation for it into question … and the other items will be added into the podcast to be released on Friday, December 7th. Details here.

Nature's Compass: The Mystery of Animal Navigation

I’ve been interested in Animal Navigation for years. I’ve always been interested in things like orientation and maps and so on, but it was when I started working with the Efe Pygmies in the mid 1980s, and noticed that there were some interesting things about how they found their way around in the rainforest, that I started to track and absorb the literature on the issue. Back then, there were a few researchers who felt that some animals, possibly including humans, had built in navigation equipment, possibly using magnetics. Some of those researchers oversimplified their models and took the position that if pigeons could home with a built in compass, than so could humans, for instance. Some of the research was a bit zany and I think the world of zoology was not quite ready for the idea that organisms had built in electronic (magnetic, actually) parts. The physiology of navigation remained controversial for some time, and many of the researchers who had valid findings, it seems needed to be careful how much they pused their ideas.

We’ve come a long way since then, and a recently published book, Nature’s Compass: The Mystery of Animal Navigation by James Gould and Carol Grant Gould is an excellent entree into the science of animal navigation.

This book covers navigation in a wide range of animals living in a diversity of habitats around the world. Navigation by animals is not simple. Most animals use multiple systems, though one system or another may be primary. Some of the things animals do to navigate can only be thought of as the use of senses other than the ones we usually assume exist. It turns out that humans are nothing special in the area of navigation. Many other creatures have us beat in keeping track of time and space relationships. This is as expected, since primates are rarely migratory and rarely cover large distances. (Humans are unique in this regard, I’m pretty sure.)

The book covers basic problems in navigation, keeping track of time, internal compasses, internal maps, and important issues related to conservation and extinction. Enough of this book addresses birds that I’m listing this review under “bird books” but it is by no means limited to Aves.

Related reviews:

The Science of Good Cooking

Does grinding your own meat make a better burger? How does adding fat to your eggs create the perfect tender omelet? Why should you have patience before carving your roast?

Discover the science behind everyday cooking with Christopher Kimball from America’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Illustrated. Join us as we explore the fundamental science explaining how — and why — your recipes work.

Here is something you can do to help…

(This is for US citizens)

President Obama speaks to the American people from a busy factory floor in Pennsylvania about the urgent need to pass the middle class tax cuts, which will give families and businesses preparing for the holidays the certainty they need going into the New Year. Democrats and Republicans must come together to pass one thing that everyone agrees on—extending income tax cuts for 98 percent of American families and 97 percent of small businesses, and there is no reason to wait. The President urges Congress to take action to help grow our economy and strengthen the middle class.

Click here and fill it out.

Then… call or write BOTH of your members of Congress.