Trumped!

I guess this is what you get when you say ridiculous, racist things on TV – you get beaten with sticks in effigy. Viva Mexico!

pinata

Scientific evidence

I have a small quibble with Neil deGrasse* Tyson’s statement in Cosmos:

In science, the only thing that counts is the evidence and the logic of the argument itself

Depending on the scientific pursuit in question, logic may have very much to very little if nothing at all to do with what the evidence shows. Biological research can sometimes fly in the face of logic. In my mind, the relative weight of logic to evidence follows a downward trajectory from physics to chemistry to biology to social and behavioral sciences.

The reason I point this out is that for many individuals not exposed to research or science on a deeper level than grade school and television, science can have the veneer of a logical endeavor. When faced with evidence that seems illogical to some, such as the enduring confusion around evolution, the tendency is to reject it on a basis of logic. So I would rephrase the above statement to say “In science, the only thing that counts is the evidence and that the evidence has been repeatedly and independently verified.”

*deGrasse is a recognized word in my browser’s dictionary

MJ

One of my first musical memories is hearing Vincent Price’s creepy intro to Thriller echoing through my grandmother’s dining room. I distinctly recall crawling under the table across the room to seek solace from the huge, dusty console radio. I guess it freaked me out a little.

I, like so many kids my age, was also obsessed with dancing like Michael. And like so many other lanky, awkward kids, I thought I could. Or at least, I knew I might be able to, if I could only convince my mom to buy me that rad red leather jacket with all the zippers.

So thanks, Mr. Jackson. I never got the sweet jacket, but I have always and will always enjoy your music. I hope you’re creeping out Vincent Price right now, wherever you are.

Yeah, Bill, we can hang

Bill Murray has taken to just dropping in at parties and chilling with random kids. Apparently he’s not being particularly creepy, just hanging out, having a drink, dancing a bit, sharing conversations. It’s an interesting story in the Post that finishes with a funny uban legend:

Then again, perhaps he’s just toying with us all. There’s an urban legend that’s gone round until no one is sure who it happened to, or if it happened at all. It was late one night, a few years ago, when a young man was walking through Union Square Park. He suddenly felt someone behind him, their hands over his eyes. When he turned in surprise, there was Bill Murray, his creased face leaning in close. Bill whispered, “No one is ever going to believe you,” and then just walked away.

RFK Jr. as Possible EPA Chief?

I’ve railed against RFK, Jr.’s conspiracy-theorist, anti-science, anti-vaccine ways before, as have many others. I only hope someone on Obama’s team is reading some science blogs out there. According to the WSJ, RFK Jr. is one of the names being considered for new EPA Chief (thanks to Orac for the heads-up):

So who’s on the short list? Plenty of names, starting with environmental lawyer and activist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., according to Politico. That doesn’t have too many environmental types very happy—beyond Mr. Kennedy’s prior adventures in linking vaccines and autism, or opposing offshore wind power, many fear he doesn’t have the managerial expertise to handle a sprawling agency that will only get bigger.

As the WSJ suggests, an RFK, Jr. appointment would be a big mistake, and certainly wouldn’t indicate ‘change’ from a previous administration that was decidedly anti-science and anti-evdience. I’ll join Orac’s call to drop a line to Obama’s team and let them know you oppose this appointment.

Founding Floyd member Wright dies

Sad news:

Gilmour said: “He was such a lovely, gentle, genuine man and will be missed terribly by so many who loved him.”

Writing on his website, he added: “And that’s a lot of people. Did he not get the loudest, longest round of applause at the end of every show in 2006?”

Wright’s spokesman said in a statement: “The family of Richard Wright, founder member of Pink Floyd, announce with great sadness that Richard died today after a short struggle with cancer.