Archive for September 2nd, 2008|Daily archive page

Large hadron collider rap

The world’s largest particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider, is scheduled to begin operations next week. The device will search for fundamental subatomic particles and hopefully will be able to tell us more about the every early universe.

It is also a good subject for a rap. Kate McAlpine, a 23-year old graduate of the University of Michigan and a science writer who works at CERN, which operates the collider, wrote a rap about the $4.6 billion machine; the video has been viewed over 750,000 times on YouTube in the past few weeks. Here it is:

Physicists report that the rap is scientifically accurate and I think it actually can help people understand the purpose of the LHC and what particle physicists are up to these days. It is very likely that we’ll see some significant breakthroughs in physics in the coming decade, as described in the song. How exciting!

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Palin picking process

Well, more information has come to light on Sarah Palin, Alaska’s governor and presumptive GOP Vice Presidential nominee  (previously blogged about here and here).  The most salacious detail is that Palin’s 17-year old daughter, Bristol, is five months pregnant.  This detail is newsworthy–but only barely–on account of the culture wars which often play a role in politics.  I’m sure the past few days have been terrible for her, and hopefully the press will leave Miss Palin alone henceforth.  That said, McCain has been vague about when and how he learned of the pregnancy, which, since it is potentially embarrassing, is the sort of thing a person needs to mention when he or she is being considered for the Veep spot.

The New York Times reports that the vetting process for Ms. Palin doesn’t appear to have been very thorough.  Party, government, and business leaders in Alaska report not having been contacted for information on her background, nor was a background investigation conducted on her by the government agency which normally handles that and did handle that for other possible candidates. 

The aforementioned article puts forth a good case that the vetting process for Palinwas woefully inadequate and that her selection was made at the last moment in an attempt to shake up the race and placate the social conservatives who have so much control over the Republican Party.  Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty and Mitt Romney would not have stirred things up enough, according to the Times article.

Apparently, McCain preferred either his good friend Joe Lieberman, Independent Senator from Connecticut who caucuses with the Democrats, or Tom Ridge, former Governor of Pennsylvania and adviser to the McCain campaign.  However, both of those gentlemen are pro-choice on the abortion issue, and thus totally unacceptable to social conservative power brokers in the party.

Tom Ridge would make a totally kick awesome Vice President.  As indicated, he has a sterling resume: he was twice elected Governor of vote-rich swing state Pennsylvania, in 1994 and 1998, before resigning to become President Bush’s Assistant for Homeland Security and then as the first United States Secretary of Homeland Security.  He thus has experience as a chief executive at the state level and as an executive official at the Federal level.  He earlier served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1983-95.  After leaving government, he has served on the boards of Hershey and Home Depot, gaining private-sector business experience. 

But, he’s pro-choice so none of that matters and we get a small state governor with 20 months of experience after being a small town mayor, who is now under investigation for possibly misusing her power.  This reminds me of the Harriet Myers nomination, which I opposed at the time and was glad to see withdrawn.  I’m also opposed to this nomination: Sarah Palin, despite her legitimate strengths and accomplishments, should not be on the Republican ticket.  She’d make a great convention keynote speaker, but she needs more grooming and experience for any higher office.  Her nomination is a gimmick; do you really think there is any chance she’d be the nominee if she were a man?  I sure don’t.

My best wishes to Bristol Palin, her fiance, and their unborn child.  Congratulations–and God bless.