Ashley F. Miller on Salon

Ashley F. Miller has an OpenSalon post up on Salon about Prop 8. I enjoyed it.

Give it a read.


Death penalty is about revenge

The death penalty is an angry response by people who don’t know how to cope with their grief like adults. It’s only ever about revenge, one of the most petty acts available to humans. One of the family members of Ronnie Lee Gardner’s victims embodies this notion perfectly. (Gardner is soon to be put to death by firing squad for a man he murdered 25 years ago.)

Tami Stewart’s father, George “Nick” Kirk, was a bailiff who was shot and wounded in Gardner’s botched escape. Kirk suffered chronic health problems until his death in 1995 and became frustrated by the lack of justice Gardner’s years of appeals afforded him, Stewart said.

She said she’s not happy about the idea of Gardner’s death but believes it will bring her family some closure.

“I think at that moment, he will feel that fear that his victims felt,” Stewart said.

Well, there you go. If Gardner feels the same fear he caused in someone else, then all is well with the world, right? No? But surely something has been made better! No? Nothing?

Oh, wait, wait, wait. That’s right. Two wrongs still don’t make a right. It’s almost like what everyone teaches every child ignores those lessons when understandable but unjustifiable emotion takes over.

Paul LePage is a creationist

Like several other states, Maine recently had its party primaries for governor. Three candidates have emerged as the overall front runners. Libby Mitchell won the Democrat primary, Eliot Cutler didn’t have to worry about any of that since he’s running as an independent, and Paul LePage won the Republican nomination. And that’s where the danger is.

Paul LePage isn’t too far from the ideals of the Teabaggers. He hates government, poor people, basic services, and most of all, education. In an interview from May 27, he was asked “Do you believe in creationism, and do you think it should be taught in Maine public schools?” Here is his answer.

I would say intelligence, uh, the more education you have the more knowledge you have the better person you are and I believe yes and yes.

It’s unclear what the word “intelligence” is doing in his answer as the concept is nowhere to be found.

Few if any who visit FTSOS are going to vote for LePage, I know. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t important to get the word out that he is anti-science. One way to do this is to buy a bumper sticker which reads “No Creationism in Public Schools. No to Paul LePage.

This is the last guy any state needs as a leader.

Save money, stop wasting funds on alternative malarkey

If alternative medicine had any evidence about it, we’d all just call it medicine. Unfortunately, most of the people within the alt-scam are good at lying. They’re good at making people think they have something to actually offer, when in reality they’re a bunch of anti-science quacks. That’s why it’s unlikely the alt-med scene is where we can start saving funds for real scientific research. But it’s also why we should be saving funds there.

This past week, President Obama called on all federal agencies to voluntarily propose budget cuts of 5%. Well, Mr. President, you might be surprised to learn that there’s a way for you to cut the National Institutes of Health budget without hurting biomedical research. In fact, it will help.

Here’s my proposal: save over $240 million per year in the NIH budget by cutting all funding for the two centers that fund alternative medicine research–the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) and the Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine (OCCAM). Both of them exist primarily to promote pseudoscience. For the current year, NCCAM’s budget is $128.8 million, an amount that has rapidly grown from $2 million in 1992, despite the fact that not a single “alternative” therapy supported by NCCAM has proven beneficial to health. OCCAM’s budget was $121 million in 2008 (the latest I could find) and presumably higher in 2010. That’s over $240M, not counting money these programs got from the stimulus package (and yes, they did get some stimulus funding).

Whereas anti-science, Republican/teabagging mooks like Sarah Palin can’t see the value in fruit fly research, pseudoscientific organizations like the OCCAM and NCCAM are managing to bleed funds from worthwhile scientific research (like that done on fruit flies). And they’re doing it on some of the silliest programs imaginable.

These two organizations use our tax dollars – and take money away from real biomedical research – to support some of the most laughable pseudoscience that you can find. To take just one example, NCCAM has spent $3.1 million supporting studies of Reiki, an “energy healing” method. Energy healing is based on the unsupported claim that the human body is surrounded by an energy field, and that Reiki practitioners can manipulate this field to improve someone’s health. Not surprisingly, the $3.1 million has so far failed to produce any evidence that Reiki works. But because there was never any evidence in the first place, we should never have spent precious research dollars looking into it.

It’s all a big, ugly scam.

That’s fair enough

Don’t mess with this guy.