Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Coretta Scott King

Coretta Scott King passed away today. Well done, good and faithful servant.

Lift every voice and sing
Till earth and heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the listening skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us,
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun
Let us march on till victory is won.

Stony the road we trod,
Bitter the chastening rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat,
Have not our weary feet
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered,
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,
Out from the gloomy past,
Till now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.

God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
Thou who has brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who has by Thy might
Led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, Our God, where we met Thee,
Lest, our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee;
Shadowed beneath Thy hand,
May we forever stand.
True to our GOD,
True to our native land.

Saturday, January 28, 2006


I had just come home from physics lab and switched on CNN to watch the Challenger launch. It was pretty clear seeing the two divergent contrails that something terrible had happened. It was an incredibly sad day.
The crew of the space shuttle Challenger honored us by the manner in which they lived their lives. We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and "slipped the surly bonds of earth" to "touch the face of God."
-Ronald Reagan

God bless the crew of Challenger.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Random dandelions

I'm still basking in the euphoria of the Seahawks' first Super Bowl appearance. I have the Seahawks throw out on the bed - I was waving it around like crazy on Sunday night. This weekend, I'm breaking out the old Rick Mirer jersey and washing it so it will be ready for the Super Bowl next weekend.

Tomorrow (1/27) is my 9 year anniversary with my current employer. Now, I never thought I'd be here more than about 3 or 4 years. It just wasn't my nature to stick around a place longer than that. Who would have guessed? This week was a good week. My shadow actually darkened my bench this week as I managed to start doing experiments again for the first time in several months. All of my recent time has been spent on project planning. Perhaps picking up the pipettes again explains my particularly good mood this week. My project team working in Cambridge is kicking some serious ass. Those guys and gal are doing a great job. It's pretty cool watching all these new employees work so week so quickly. Someone must be noticing. I got pulled into another project this week. For some reason, after 9 years, someone must have noticed that I actually work here. None of this would have happened 3 years ago.

Well, this wouldn't be a post in my blog without a political comment. Funny how George W. Bush's post-election democratic Iraq was supposed to be a beacon bringing democracy to the middle east. Well, that's started off so well. The Islamist militant group Hamas won the Palestinian elections. I know W is stupid, but surely this isn't what he had in mind. Of course, what it really shows is that when people are given the choice between a group that has shown that they can provide a social structure and essential services (schools, hospitals, charities), or a group of corrupt fools, they'll reject the corrupt - even if the victors are militant terrorists.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Super Bowl Seahawks!!!

The Seattle Seahawks are finally going to the Super Bowl.

Seattle Times front page
Seattle Post-Intelligencer front page

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Type 2 Diabetes and Genetics

For those of you with Type II diabetes or who may be at risk, this Science Friday Podcast should be of interest. It's only about 12 minutes long, but the first 6 minutes are probably most relevant for the non-scientist. You might want to pay particular attention to the statements about diet and exercise.

Type 2 Diabetes and Genetics : "Scientists report finding a gene that seems to increase the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes."

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


In one of the comments below, my lovely neighbor D., who apparently thinks I'm primarily a shit-stirrer, ;o) asked if I would blog about sailing; sailing being one thing that makes me happy. So, ever the accomodating person, here it is.

I'm a pisces - born in the sign of water. And to quote the old Little River Band song, "it is there that I feel my best; the albatross and the whales they are my brothers."

As a young boy, I recall spending time at a friend's lakehouse. They had a boat and we used to go out on it. A few times, I was even convinced to ride the water sled behind the boat. Now, I should make it clear that I love to be ON the water, not IN it. At any rate, I did enjoy riding in their boat as a kid. Growing up in the dry, flat plains of Texas, that was about the best it would get. However, some time back in high school, I fell in love with Maine - I'll save that for another story. I've blogged about Maine a few times (scroll back in the archives). So, in 1996, we made our first trip to Maine. A part of that trip entailed going on a whale watch. This was my first excursion on the ocean. Now, it was late September, and it was very cold, but the experience was life-altering. Whenever we got out on the ocean, I felt at home. Seeing those marvelous, huge creatures was like seeing that old friend from the song. We've been back a couple of times since and we always went out on a boat.

Those trips were always in some motorized boat - a lobster boat, an island ferry, or a tourist excusion boat. This past fall, we finally went sailing. We went out on a two-masted wooden schooner from Boothbay Harbor. We sailed for two hours all the way out to the mouth of the harbor - the edge of the open ocean - and back. It was the most peaceful and relaxing thing I have ever done. The boat was so smooth. The seabreeze refreshing. The popping of the mainsail was like a heartbeat. It was a million times better than a motorized boat. McK got to raise the jib as we headed out of port. She had a blast. As we were coming back into port, McK asked that whenever we move to Maine and get our boat if she can be my first mate. I just smiled and told her that she was already my first mate.

So, that's part of the reason I love sailing.

Monday, January 16, 2006

James Madison

"I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations."

"If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy."

"It is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged to the provisions against danger, real or pretended, from abroad."

"Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power."

"No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare."

"The executive has no right, in any case, to decide the question, whether there is or is not cause for declaring war."

"The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become the instruments of tyranny at home."


I wrote this piece a couple of years ago on MLK day and put it in the journals I keep for my children. I had been reading the speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr. and listening to some of the recordings available on the internet. The words of the past resonated with the current events of the day and this was the result.

Many people rested today, thankful they got another “holiday.” A holiday paid for by the blood, the sweat, the tears, the undying spirit, and yes, the deaths of those Earthly bodies that fought before so that they, too, might share in the dream. A dream, that one day, our great nation would live up to its creed, that it would not default on that promissory note granted with the Emancipation Proclamation. Yes indeed, they died, but through their struggle, they showed that the bank of justice was not bankrupt. Those little black girls who were brutally murdered outside a house of God in Birmingham by the bombs of racist cowards are getting their justice some forty years later. Yes indeed, the dream is still alive. The children of former slaves and former slave owners can now sit down at the table of brotherhood. Little black boys and girls now hold hands with little white boys and white girls down in Mississippi.

The dream is not finished however.

Forty years later, the legacy of racism still casts its dark shadow upon many in our nation. Many of our cities both north and south are still “crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination.”

The dream is not finished.

Forty years later, many still live “on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity.” Forty years later, many still “languish in the corners of American society and find themselves an exile in their own land.” Forty years later, many of our children are robbed of fatherly love because that dream is not finished.

The dream is not finished.

Forty years later, many of our youths are ravaged by the evils of drugs, lured by the promise of prosperity only to find themselves shattered in an endless circle of hopelessness. Forty years later, many of our young men are still victims of profiling and police brutality. Forty years later, our prisons are filled with many of our young men who could not reach that dream, buried by the burdens of the past.

The dream is not finished.

Forty years later, it is time. Forty years later, it is time, that we as a people rise up and make real all the promises of the dream. It is not time to sit back and say that it is enough. It is time to march forward.

Forty years later, it is time. It is time to ensure that all of our children and their children, and their children are given the education that will allow them to fulfill the dream. Forty years later, it is time. It is time to give our children the love and nurturing of a father and a mother.

Forty years later, it is time. It is time to give our young men a beacon that will guide them away from the yoke of drugs and the bondage of prison. Forty years later, it is time. It is time to put an end to the death penalty which is disproportionately handed down to our young men.

Forty years later, it is not enough. It will not be enough until all of our people are allowed to partake in the dream.

The dream is not finished.

Friday, January 13, 2006

UPDATED: Speechless

Homeless man beaten to death by young men.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth...

Update Sunday evening 8:14pm: Florida teenagers surrender in beating/murder of homeless men. Evil little bastards.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Fourth Amendment

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Big Brother is watching me

Well, unless you've been living under a rock the past month, you've seen the stories about how our President King decided that the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution didn't apply to him and he and his Administration Court could spy on US citizens without a warrant. The most recent reports say that email communications between the US and foreign countries have been monitored. Given that in the last couple of years, I've had email correspondence with other scientists in Europe, I guess that means King George is watching me. I suppose some might be glad the King is watching. Given how badly this one has fucked up everything he's touched, you'll pardon me for wanting to puke.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

A 21st Century Thomas Paine

This is a must read. It is long, but it perfectly frames the current crossroads at which our nation finds itself.

"At what point will our party realize that it's not just the midterm elections at stake here? Politics is secondary to the fact that our country has changed, drastically, over the last several years. What is that change? It is the unraveling of the American flag thread by thread. It is erasing the Bill of Rights letter by letter. It is, ultimately, about waking up one day and not recognizing this great society as the "America" we know and love."

Saturday, January 07, 2006

The end of the academic search

This pretty much sums up the reason I decided to stop looking for an academic job. I'm too old to risk fighting for tenure under the current government funding situation. I can't chance not having a job in my mid 40s with a child rapidly approaching college entry. But this wasn't unexpected whenver we got a president who would rather fight wars than fight cancer.

Budget for Research - SciFri Podcast - 2006010624: "We run the numbers on the money for scientific research and development in the 2006 federal budget."

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Happy New Year

You people are so predictable. I drop some hint about a bombshell and the hits to this blog each day skyrocket. The exciting news doesn't come and readership starts to drop. I mention it again in passing and *boom* here come the hits again. I finally get the exciting news and you guys stop coming around. Y'all sure know how to make a guy feel needed. :op

Good riddance to 2005 and hello 2006.