Friday, February 03, 2006

The State of Our Union is... meh.

Well, the Internet is good for instant repsonses to things that happen, right? Perhaps, though, the true strength of the Internet is that it allows us to harp on things that happened one entire week ago!

The State of the Union Address is, and has been as long as I've been watching it, one of the best political dog-and-pony shows out there. Fortunately, Bush is more than a one-trick horse. There were a few things that particularly enraged the party, and myself, and I shall simply hold myself to commenting on these things. This is not meant to be a cogent political analysis of the content of the speech; plenty of other people have done this online. Instead, this is simply an expression of my rage at the current King and Court of our country.

First of all, I don't know if you were counting, but there were 63 applause breaks during the 52 minute speech. We know this, because we were counting. Lisa won the $17 in the applause break pool by betting high on the completely unreasonable guess of 34 applause breaks. Ah well. However, if we were to assume a mean of 15 seconds per applause break - and some were far longer - then we're talking almost 16 minutes of clapping during an overall 52 minute speech. You can finish the math.

The speech. I'm almost not sure what to say from here. Everything that smarmy jerk says offends me, okay? I am enraged when I see his face on the screen. When I hear his voice. But there were a few things that he did that really drove me over the edge:

1. Promoting coal as an alternative energy source. Like for serious? I mean, I'm no huge fan of nuclear power, but there's damn good reasons we've been moving towards nuke plants from coal plants. Coal is not an alternative energy source. Coal is more polluting than oil, is just as limited as oil, and is far uglier to extract from the ground. The idea behind alternative energy is sustainability and cleanliness, and coal is neither of these. What is this man thinking?

2. "No human-animal hybrids." While, on one hand, I'd dearly love to have centaurs and minotaurs running around the place, I somehow don't think that this is what Bush is talking about. No, what he's talking about are the Stanford mice with more-human brains. Which is not to say human brains, of course, but animals used as research models, mostly for drug research. Now, I have to say here, I'm not a huge fan of animal research, and look to work in a field to help cut down on it through computer modeling. So in that very same vein, I'm in favor of this. Let me explain:

The main objection to this stuff is religious, that we shouldn't put human DNA in mouses because it's wrong, because our DNA is holy or some such. Well, it ain't, and there's not that much difference anyhow in brain structure between us and mice. Which is not to say no difference; just not as much as you'd think. So if (some) mouse brains were carefully modified to be closer to human brains in some respects, we'd get better models for research. And better models for research means less animal research overall. Would it be better to get away from animal research entirely? Sure. Of course it would. Unfortunately, the systems that biochemical research deals with are too damned complex to cut out animal research entirely. What we should be looking for are ways to cut down on the amount of research that needs to be done. Computer modeling is one way to do that, and using better research models are another way.

3. "History is written in courage before it is written in books." What does that even mean?

So how was the party, you might ask? Well, if you watched the address, then just scroll down and look at the game shown two posts below. How was the party? Fan-freaking-tastic.


Post a Comment

<< Home