A very angry Bruce Garrett, who works at the Space Telescope Science Institute, has figured out why the Bush administration is so woeful when it comes to science (and just about everything else):
“This is exactly why they hate science. Lies are what brought them to power. Lies are what hope will keep them in power. Lies, and whatever fear of their power they can manage to instill in others. Theirs is the morality of thugs and criminals. The practice of science represents everything they loath and fear and resent about the human status, that they themselves have long since renounced. It empowers, because knowledge is power, whereas in their zero sum view of life and existance, any power gained by others, is less for themselves. Science proceeds from the evidence, not the dictates of authority. Science is a noble endevor, encouraging and rewarding the best within us, curiosity, thoughtfulness, a desire to learn, a courage to follow knowledge wherever it leads, a habit of truth. More then the contradictions to their cherished dogmas, it is the vision of the nobility which is possible to the human race, reminding the thugs and cheats of the world of what they sold out, of the empty void they’ve made of their inner selves, that they hate about the practice of science. It’s not just that they want the facts bent to suit their policies, it’s that they want practice of science to be finally regarded as the heresy they have always regarded it as being: the heresy that says there is more to life, and to what it is to be human, then the gutter they live in.”
A lot of people I like were thrilled at president Bush’s plan to send a manned spacecraft to Mars. I hope they’ll see the flip side of his policy now that the death knell has been sounded for the Hubble space telescope. The Hubble is real science being consigned to the scrapheap.
Chris Lydon on the election:
“We begin to imagine three levels of politics in this final churn. The internet realm is where the self-organized Dean campaign has made a fresh and potentially historic force for 2004. But then there is the media zone that drives the polls, a media zone where Howard Dean has been hammered in debates and in the press for anger, gaffes, shrillness and other mostly invented sins. Third, under everything is a foundation of paleo-politics, the bonds of union hall, farm organizations, and the traditional democratic party forums we’ve been sampling. It’s the mix of these three layers of history and political technology that makes the mystery.”
Gene on Harry’s Place quotes the non pareil AJ Liebling:
|“There are three kinds of writers of news in our generation. In inverse order of worldly consideration, they are:|
|1. The reporter, who writes what he sees.|
|2. The interpretive reporter, who writes what he sees and what he construes to be its meaning.|
|3. The expert, who writes what he construes to be the meaning of what he hasn’t seen.|
|To combat an old human prejudice in favor of eyewitness testimony, which is losing ground even in our courts of law, the expert must intimate that he has access to some occult source or science not available to either reporter or reader. He is the Priest of Eleusis, the man with the big picture. Once his position is conceded, the expert can put on a better show than the reporter. All is manifest to him, since his conclusions are not limited by his powers of observation. Logistics, to borrow a word from the military species of the genus, favor him, since it is possible to not see many things at the same time. For example, a correspondent cannot cover a front and the Pentagon simultaneously. An expert can, and from an office in New York, at that.”|
I am a huge Liebling fan. About ten years ago I was on holiday on Nantucket. My wife and I were in a bookstore and I came across a reissue of one of Liebling’s books. I exclaimed about it, saying, “He’s the greatest journalist of all time.” A man in the store overhead me and said, rather petulantly I thought, “Who’s the greatest journalist of all time?” “AJ Liebling,” I replied. “Oh. You’re right,” he said.