Archive for: June, 2009

Quote of the Day: 17 June 2009

Jun 17 2009 Published by under Politics

“It is not right to mold marriage to fit the desires of a few, against the wishes of so many, and to ignore the important role of marriage.”

Senator John Ensign (R-NV)

13 July, 2004

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STS-127 Scrubbed Until July 11th

Jun 17 2009 Published by under Science

NASA called off today's planned launch of the shuttle Endeavour earlier this morning when a hydrogen leak was discovered near the Ground Umbilical Carrier Plate. The GUCP was also the location of the leak that shut down Saturday's launch attempt, so it appears that the repairs made to that system over the last few days did not quite have the desired effect.

According to NASA's website, the launch has been rescheduled for 11 July, at 7:39 pm EDT.

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Packing Up Again

Jun 16 2009 Published by under Misc

For those of you who are wondering where I've been, we're currently in the middle of our third family move in the last 25 months. We're starting to get good at it, but it still takes a while. Since I've got a few minutes to spare this morning - and I'm fed up with boxes and tape - I thought I'd share a few of the tips I've picked up.

Given how often academics move, I'd guess that some of you have your own hard-learned moving tips. Feel free to share them in the comments.

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14 responses so far

The Day I Learned What Courage Was

Jun 04 2009 Published by under Do Something

On June 5th, 1989, the world got to see exactly what courage is. One man, in a white shirt and dark pants, carrying shopping bags, faced down a company of tanks. The whole world saw the images of his simple courage. His name and his fate remain a mystery - all that is known about his entire life is what he did for a few brief minutes on one terrible day.

A Facebook page has been created to celebrate the legacy of the Tank Man. Please take a few minutes to help demonstrate how important those moments were by becoming a fan.

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Dr. Tiller's murder, terrorism, and Christianists: a few (more) thoughts.

Jun 03 2009 Published by under Misc

James Kirchick has an op-ed up in today's Wall Street Journal that addresses the reaction to the murder of Dr. George Tiller. Or so he might want to believe. In actuality, Kirchick is responding to the portion of the reaction that he wants to see, and not to the range of opinion that is out there.

There is no appreciable number of people in this country, religious Christians or otherwise, who support the murder of abortion doctors. The same cannot be said of Muslims who support suicide bombings in the name of their religion.

Not only has Kirchick clearly missed the moral munchkins capering through internet comment threads as they sing the "ding, dong" song, he's also managed to miss some of the semi-official reactions. Take, for example, this press release from the president of Vision Forum Ministries:

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28 responses so far

Vegan Ghouls

Jun 03 2009 Published by under Flaming Small-Minded Stupidity, From the Left

PETA is continuing their ever-successful quest to prove that mind-numbing insensitivity and flaming stupidity are not restricted to any particular portion of the political spectrum. This time, they're using the murder of Dr. George Tiller as the hook for a new set of pro-Vegetarian billboards in Wichita.

5 responses so far

Silence is the Enemy.

Jun 01 2009 Published by under Medicine, Misc

It's easy, as Nicholas Kristof points out, to think and talk about international affairs in abstract terms. Most of us are living comfortable lives in comfortable countries. We have the luxury of being able to afford to think about things that are happening beyond our own borders, even when they're unlikely to affect us directly. We can talk and think about what's happened or what is happening in Bosnia, in Darfur, in Cambodia, in the Sudan. We can think and talk about things we can do to make things better in those places, and sometimes we can carry through with our plans.

It's not as easy to talk about some of what's happening in concrete terms. It's easy to talk about what is happening in various places without overly disturbing our bourgeois happy feelings. It's not as easy to talk - or write - about what's happening to people who live in those places. That's particularly true when what's happening lies far, far outside our comfort zones. In some cases, it's harder than others. Talking about children being killed makes me uncomfortable. Talking about little girls being violently raped is harder. Even thinking about a 7-year-old named Jackie jumping rope in a center for rape victims alongside other girls in the same age group is - yuck. It's easier to talk about people being "killed, or worse".

But playing ostrich isn't going to help. When it comes to atrocities - even atrocities in places we've barely heard of and will never visit - silence is complicity.

Sheril Kirshenbaum and Isis are spearheading a blogosphere drive to try and increase awareness of rape in war-torn areas. They will be donating all the income from their blogs this month to Médecins Sans Frontièress, as will several other bloggers (including me). We'll also be discussing the issue in more detail throughout the month.

If you want to help, there are a few things you can do to help. Get in touch with your elected officials, wherever you are. (A Congressional directory for US readers is here.) A sample letter will be available shortly, and I'll link to it when it's up. I'm honestly not sure if this is a case where international pressure will slow or stop the problem in the short term, but it can't hurt.

If you want to do something that can have an impact, you can donate to Médecins Sans Frontières. They're providing help to rape victims in a number of different countries. If you can't donate yourself - or if you want to increase your impact - check with the blogs that will be donating their income often. The more you click over to Sheril or Isis' blogs, the more money they'll raise.

And if you can think of anything else that will help, let us all know about it.

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A few more measured thoughts on Dr. Tiller's life, career, and death.

Jun 01 2009 Published by under Medicine, Politics

As you might have guessed from my earlier post, I was angered and saddened when I learned of the death of Kansas doctor George Tiller earlier today. Dr. Tiller was gunned down while serving as an usher at his church while services were underway. As I mentioned earlier, the suspect arrested in the case - reportedly a 51 year old named Scott Roeder - was apparently an almost stereotypical far-right-wing extremist nutjob, with a long history of radical and potentially violent behavior.

I'm a member of a large Catholic family, and I spent 13 years in Catholic schools. I know many people who have very strong anti-abortion beliefs, and I love some of them very much. The vast majority (but not quite all) of them are extremely unlikely to be anything other than appalled by the murder of Dr. Tiller. Although I'll readily admit that I am often unreasonably optimistic, I think that's likely to be true for the majority of the people who classify themselves as "pro-Life".

Under the circumstances, I find the idea of dismissing today's homicide as nothing more than the actions of one deranged man to be quite appealing. Unfortunately, it would also be quite wrong.

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20 responses so far