Wrong side of history and science

“Give Me Liberty or Give Me COVID-19” (actual sign)

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33 Signs From “Reopen” Protests Across The U.S. That Are 100% Real
I am simultaneously utterly fascinated and incredibly irritated by the protesters of the physical distancing protocols. They see themselves as the heroes in the story. Some high-ranking governmental official has been a provocateur, tweeting “liberate Virginia,” “liberate Minnesota”, “liberate Michigan” et al., and they are listening.

Meanwhile, the guy doing the daily press conferences at the federal level has been saying that he would let the science decide when to open up the country. I really wish those two guys could get on the same page.

Maybe he is, as Truthout noted, gone off the rails — “gaslighting the American people, instigating armed rebellion via tweets, interfering with deliveries of PPE to frontline health care workers, and ultimately making it abundantly clear that they won’t be taking an ounce of responsibility for this disaster.”

The protesters, I gather, believe that they are on the right side of history, demanding “freedom”. They may think they’re disciples of Martin Luther King Jr. But as someone pointed out – somewhere in this blog, I believe – they are not the heroes of the piece. They are the violent uprising as James Meredith tried to enter Ole Miss in 1962. They’re the jeering crowd when the Little Rock Nine integrated Central High in 1957.

Poor physical distancing

And their violence is their very gathering. As health officials warn against anti-social distancing protests, we should note the risk. It’s one thing to risk one’s own well-being. But they are threatening everyone they come in contact with, and everyone THEY in turn meet. It is a slap in the face to every health care worker.

Some of them carry American flags, while others display symbols of hate – Nazi insignia, Confederate flags, anti-Semitic bamnners. A few are armed with guns, to prove…something, I think. The Weekly Sift guy wrote: “They aren’t patriots at all in any real sense. If you ask them to do anything for the common good — stay home, do without a haircut, wear a mask in public, pay taxes — it’s too much.

“Their vision of America is that the government builds us roads, delivers our mail, protects us from criminals, educates our children, and sends helicopters to pluck us off the roof when the flood comes, but in return, we wave flags and otherwise don’t have to do anything we don’t want to do. JFK’s idea that we should ask what we can do for our country — that’s tyranny. All that ‘pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship’ crap — we don’t do that anymore.”

Sidebar

I was going to write about how, 50 years ago, members of the National Guard killed students at Kent State in Ohio. What I wrote five years ago is sufficient. I should note that today’s National Guard has been vital in assisting states in the time of COVID.

Feb. rambling: Love Me Again

A Touch of Glee

Rebecca Jade.Elton JohnUnaccountable Accounting in the Pentagon.

Facial Recognition Technology and AI Are Tainted With Racial Bias.

Jared’s Plan for Mideast Peace.

Homelessness Czar Seeks to Further Criminalize the Homeless.

Politifact has looked into 42 of Limbaugh’s controversial statements, and found zero of them to be entirely true. Thirty-five were rated Mostly False, False, or Pants on Fire.

BUT… Let’s Talk Each Other Down.

Sir Nicholas Winton, the hero who rescued 669 Jewish children on the eve of WWII.

Son rebukes his racist dad who asked immigrant, “Why didn’t you stay in Mexico?”

We can become more prosperous while taking better care of our planet.

Amy Biancolli on Daniel P. Richardson.

Lin-Manuel Miranda gives us a lesson in the slang of Broadway.

Science and technology

TED talk: “Bonk” author Mary Roach delves into obscure scientific research to make 10 surprising claims about sexual climax.

What it’s like to live without a sense of smell.

Concussion risk in youth football.

The color of your clothing can impact wildlife.

Key challenges, collective insights, and possible futures for the music industry.

Verizon’s latest dirty trick. Planned obsolescence.

Teevee

James Corden: The late-night TV host sees his job as a chance to spread joy and he “comes clean” on the subject of whether he drives the car in his “Carpool Karoke” segments.

John Oliver: asks questions and is interviewed by Ali Velshi and Push Notifications.

In response to a Facebook meme about putting up pictures of sci-fi shows, I posted one from The Wild, Wild West, which we decided was steampunk. Just a couple days later, Robert Conrad had died at 84.

RIP Gene Reynolds.

Pushing Daisies – the great show that never got a fair shake.

Cookie Monster crashes The Washington Post.

One Second from Every Muppet Show Episode.

Mark Twain Award: Jonathan Winters (1999) and Bob Newhart (2002) and David Letterman (2017).

Actor and game show panelist Orson Bean, born Dallas Frederick Burrows, has died. He was the correct response that I got on my first JEOPARDY! appearance. Later, one of the competitors I did not play was happy for that fact, because he had no idea who Orson Bean was.

Now I Know

The Anti-Labor Origins of the Oscars and Why Are There Random Colored Squares on My Box of Almond Milk? and A Creative Way to Pay the Czechs and A Frank-ly Kind Act and The Drones With Brains of Their Own.

MUSIC

Rebecca Jade.Oscars
Rebecca Jade, the niece: (I’m Gonna) Love Me Again – Elton John at the Oscars, 9 Feb 2020. In the video, Rebecca Jade is screen left, in the middle. Also, listen to Miss You.

Overture to Hector Berlioz’s Benvenuto Cellini.

Coverville: 1294: Covering the 2020 Inductees for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and 1295: The 40th Anniversary Tribute to London Calling.

Hoopla: A Touch of Glee by George Walker.

Everybody Wants To Be Sondheim – Alan Chapman.

Non nobis domine by Patrick Doyle from Henry V.

Hooked on a Feeling– Swedish Royal Guards.

That time Johnny Rotten called me a “stupid, filthy sod.”

Top photo: copyright Rebecca Jade, 2020

X is for X-rays, WWI and Marie Curie

One major obstacle was the need for electrical power to produce the X-rays. Marie Curie solved that problem.

Marie Curie, née Sklodowska, is probably the most famous woman of science ever. She engaged in “groundbreaking work on radioactivity”, and became the first person to win the Nobel Prize in two different fields.

“In July 1898, Marie along with her husband Pierre Curie, announced the discovery of a new chemical polonium, naming it after her native country Poland. The same year, the Curies discovered radium.

“In 1903, she was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics alongside Pierre and Henri Becquerel. Eight years later, she won her second Nobel Prize in Chemistry.”

It’s less well known that she was a major hero of World War I.

“At the start of the war, X-ray machines were still found only in city hospitals, far from the battlefields where wounded troops were being treated. Curie’s solution was to invent the first ‘radiological car’ – a vehicle containing an X-ray machine and photographic darkroom equipment – which could be driven right up to the battlefield where army surgeons could use X-rays to guide their surgeries.

“One major obstacle was the need for electrical power to produce the X-rays. Curie solved that problem by incorporating a dynamo – a type of electrical generator – into the car’s design. The petroleum-powered car engine could thus provide the required electricity.

Eventually, using her fame, “she had 20, which she outfitted with X-ray equipment. But the cars were useless without trained X-ray operators, so Curie started to train women volunteers. She recruited 20 women for the first training course, which she taught along with her daughter Irene, a future Nobel Prize winner herself.”

“Not content just to send out her [eventually 150] trainees…, Curie herself had her own ‘little Curie’ – as the radiological cars were nicknamed – that she took to the front. This required her to learn to drive, change flat tires and even master some rudimentary auto mechanics, like cleaning carburetors.”

Yet she experienced the Matilda Effect, the marginalizing of women in science, named for Matilda Gage, an early suffragette. The French Academy of Sciences, founded in 1666, excluded women, such as Marie Curie, though her husband got in, Nobel winner Irène Joliot-Curie, and mathematician Sophie Germain, for nearly three centuries. “The first woman admitted as a correspondent member was a student of Curie’s, Marguerite Perey, in 1962.”

Marie Curie is included in the 2018 book She Persisted Around the World: 13 Women Who Changed History by Chelsea Clinton.

For ABC Wednesday

Faith and science: compatible?

Religious Americans by and large support science.

For Ask Roger Anything, Chris asks:

How do you spiritually reconcile your faith with your acceptance of science?

I don’t really see a problem with this. Faith is what I believe, and science is what I know, or what is reasonably knowable. There’s no contradiction. My running joke used to be “God allowed the Big Bang,” which is overly simplistic, I suppose.

This Slate story about a 2015 Pew Research Center survey on religion and science, indicates: “Highly religious Americans are less likely than others to see conflict between faith and science.”

I think this is true: “The people who are farther away from religion themselves tend to see stronger conflict, because they’re not as close to actual religious people… They aren’t seeing all those people who don’t have a conflict.”

The problem happens, I think, when people use, for instance, the Bible as a history book – mostly, it is not – or as science book – surely, it is NOT – rather than as a series of stories, written by a bunch of different writers, over a long period, that help shape a theology.

And of course, this was established long ago, well before Galileo and Copernicus got jammed up with their heliocentric “heresy”.

Currently, “the media tends to focus on those rare flashpoints of controversy, such as fights over evolution and the content of science textbooks, and to highlight the most outspoken conservative fundamentalists. For the nonreligious, these strong voices become the faces of religion, and these flashpoints become evidence that religion and science are in conflict. In fact, religious Americans by and large support science.”

What was your favorite or most memorable science demo as a kid?

It was almost certainly at the Corning Museum of Glass, an hour west of Binghamton, with a bunch of “I didn’t know they could do THAT with glass” moments. We went there at least four times before in 1972, when it was damaged in the flooding caused by Hurricane Agnes and was subsequently rebuilt.

J is for scientist Joseph Henry

Joseph Henry created a program to study weather patterns in North America, a project that eventually led to the creation of the National Weather Service.

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Joseph Henry (December 17, 1797 – May 13, 1878) was born in Albany, New York, to William and Ann Henry, two immigrants from Scotland. “In 1819 he was persuaded by some influential friends to pursue a more academic career, he entered Albany Academy, where he was given free tuition. He was so poor, even with free tuition, Joseph Henry had to support himself with teaching and private tutoring positions.”

Henry excelled academically. He “discovered the electromagnetic phenomenon of self-inductance,” Continue reading “J is for scientist Joseph Henry”