Robert P.'s blog

A few interesting science stories....yes, I said Science Stories.

I love me some Google Reader. One of the reasons why is that on some days I can just delete whole segments of posts, like science, because I am not in the mood. Then, on a day like today when I am in and out of my office, I can take five minutes to glance at the National Geographic news page. Cool stuff today, starting with the tantalizing story "Did the Rise of Germs Wipe Out the Dinosaurs?"

Amber is a semiprecious gemstone formed from fossilized tree sap. Sometimes the sap entombs ancient insects, preserving them in exquisite detail. By examining such creatures—including mosquitoes, ticks, and other bloodsuckers—Poinar has found evidence that they carried the same deadly diseases that affect animals today. (Related news: "Mastodons Driven to Extinction by Tuberculosis, Fossils Suggest" [October 3, 2006].) For example, "some of them carry malaria," he said. "We also got parasitic protozoa and worms from dinosaur dung."

How cool is that, this parasitologist goes on to become a paleontologist and realizes that the big bad dragons might have died from asteroids AND ticks.

More after the fold.

Why I will be giving my time and money to John Edwards this Weekend

I think the people behind this money bomb are being overly enthusiastic about the amount of money they can raise. (BTW, I am so annoyed I have to write this whole thing again because the machine ate it). However, the fact that I don't think they can raise $7 Million does not change the fact that once again, this Friday, I will be giving my money to John Edwards for President. Then, on Saturday, I'll be giving him my time.

I know something about John Edwards that not many other people know, I know that his supporters are still 100% behind him, all the way. Since the Iowa caucus I have done about 30 hours of phone banking in one form or another (staffing, working, calling) and I can tell you that phone calls to former donors end up one of three ways.

    The supporters give you another donation.
  1. The supporters tell you they just gave a donation.
  2. The supporters ask for a pledge card to be sent, because they don't like giving their credit card numbers out over the phone.

I can also tell you what DOESN'T happen...

How I got my account.

I'm enjoying life.

NOTE: I started this diary back in December. As you will read below, I was volunteering full-time with the Edwards campaign. However, unless you've worked with a Presidential campaign, you really don't know what "full-time" means. It means that there really isn't an extra hour or two laying around to write a blog post if that isn't your job. It means two or three hours of sleep a night. It means...the best time of my life!!!!

Many of you might have seen my pro-JRE diaries at Daily Kos. "The year we stole a Christmas Tree" was popular recently. Maybe some of my John Edwards Mashup diaries from earlier in the year. Or, maybe some of you might know me from the things I focused on before the 2008 election, like MRDD, the original Scientist Registry at Daily Kos, or health care. In fact, after 2004 I really thought my entire focus would be on North Carolina issues and North Carolina races. Not the Senate or Congress, I was diving into the weeds of the legislative races. I even wrote a series of diaries about it at BlueNC. But, along the way something happened.

Electability versus Likability in the Lt. Governor's race

Okay, it is time to come out of the Lt. Governor's closet. I have narrowed my choices down to two candidates. Of those two, I feel one is better poised to win the primary election, while I find myself more comfortable with the strong progressive history of the other. I'll give you two guesses who is who and any guesses that start with "Dalton" don't count.

Bradley Effect?

I've tried to write a quick post about this three times now and it keeps getting deleted (by me). So, without all the hubbub, the Bradley Effect:

Bradley effect derives its name from a 1982 campaign involving Tom Bradley, the long-time mayor of Los Angeles, California. Bradley, who was black, ran as the Democratic party's candidate for Governor of California against Republican candidate George Deukmejian, who was white. The polls leading into the day of the election consistently showed Bradley with a lead.[4] However, Bradley narrowly lost the race. Post-election research indicated that a smaller percentage of white voters actually voted for Bradley than that which had said they planned to vote for him, and that voters who had been classified as "undecided" had gone to Deukmejian in statistically anomalous numbers.[2]


On markets and health care, who is to blame?

Today's Quote of the Day, from Physicians for a National Health Plan (PNHP) deals with two types of markets and their relationship to health care. It is based on an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The theory of the various market systems is not my specialty, however, this articles does a good job of simplifying the competing market models.

Individual resources and choices determine the distribution of health care, with little sense of collective obligation or a role for government. Known as market justice, this approach derives from principles of individualism, self-interest, personal effort, and voluntary behavior. The contrasting approach, social justice, allocates goods and services according to the individual's needs. It stems from principles of shared responsibility and concern for the communal well-being, with government as the vehicle for ensuring equity.

Now, I actually think that Ayn Rand did a good job of "imagining" the worst case scenario in the social justice market in Atlas Shrugged. If you are looking for the worst-case scenario in the market justice model, look no further than health care in America.

Software development - I believe in market justice. Auto manufacturing - I believe in market justice (more so than many Democrats and Republicans that feel we should prop up Michigan's failing auto industry). A system which decides the very life and death of people - not so much.

...Social justice in health care requires universal coverage and ensured access to care, whether through social insurance, private insurance, or some combination.


I don't know quite how to feel about this. BCBS is doing something good...sorta. Their "Healthy Lifestyle Choices" program is basically preventive medicine through healthy living. I'm all for that. I mean, you do away with fast food, television, video games, and computers and America gets a lot healthier instantly. So, anything they are doing to make that better, well, that is a good thing.

BCBS of North Carolina Says Wellness Program Has Reduced Costs, Improved Members' Health Habits

Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Steroids, and Baseball

I gave up on baseball back when they had their first strike, I was a kid in a struggling blue-collar family and it destroyed any respect I had for the game. So, it doesn't effect me too much to see that there are 60ish baseball players "named" in the Mitchell Report on steroids in baseball. MVPs, All-Stars, Golden Glove winners.

50 State Blog Network Roundup - 12/7/2007

Today's 50-state blog roundup is brought to you by the letters B, N, and C - BlueNC. Major, major hat-tip to Betsy, who really did all the work. If you aren't reading your state's blog, you should be, because "all politics is local" should be more than a motto. This is an interesting week, the Presidential Primary is heating up in the early states (see below), while Virginia holds a special election next Tuesday. At the same time state legislatures seem to be trying and sneak in some iffy legislation before the holiday season. Enjoy!

p.s. It's my birthday this weekend, I'll keep celebrating until I turn 40.

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