Sunday, February 17, 2008

Forecast: not fair.

One of my activities this week was reading a book on avoiding self-sabotage. From that, I have only a couple of thoughts worth mentioning.

One main point had to do with knowing what you stand for. What is your main belief that defines you.

I believe that things should be fair. I want honesty and equality. It's an ideal, not realistic given human nature. But it seems an ideal worth striving for.

I'm just not sure how best to strive for it.

Another main point was to be aware of when you are in conflict with yourself.

My central conflict, as you all know from reading this blog, is that part of me really wants a faculty position, and part of me wants to quit science altogether.

I realize that wanting to quit anything is a combination of immaturity and a genuine need for re-evaluation.

So yes, I am in conflict. Big conflict. But the book did not get me any closer to resolving it.

One thing that amused me about this book is how the author defines reality (I am paraphrasing here): the only real things are those which are tangible, for which we have scientific proof.

If there is one thing I've learned in science, it's that very little can really ever be proved. And a lot of science is intangible in a very real sense.

And there is so much more to getting an idea accepted than just having proof!

And that, in a nutshell, is my problem with science.



So I had this daydream that I wish I could run for President of Science (if there were such an office) on a platform of Change.

Not that I would ever win a popularity contest, I'm too divisive (like Hillary).

But if we had to vote on a theme for science, I would vote Change.

We don't really have a President of Science, but maybe we should. I was talking to someone the other day about what a joke it is that the head of NIH is a presidential appointee.

Let's say that's the highest scientific office in the nation (it is in my field, in terms of funding).

Let's pretend we elect that person, and everyone is required to vote.

I'd like to daydream that things would have to change, since there are so many more postdocs and grad students than there are faculty.

But I am just letting my imagination run away from me. This would never happen, since the average demographic now is that about half of US Scientists (maybe even a majority, depends on how you count) are not Americans.

And then we would have to have a big debate about whether or not to let non-citizens vote. And that question always brings everything to a screeching halt.


In other news, Hillary is slipping and I find it depressing.

A friend who lives in a caucus state said he attended the caucus, and that it was a complete joke.

Apparently Barack tends to do better at caucuses than Hillary does.

But the way they are conducted- in a totally informal manner- means that if someone wanted to rig a caucus, it would be a whole lot easier than tipping a vote.

I'm not saying Barack would do that. But there's something fishy about the argument that Super Delegates are just a bunch of people in a room, when that's basically all a caucus is.

The only difference is which people, and how much does it count for. And nobody can seem to agree on that.

I've been saying since the days of Al Gore that I don't understand why we don't get rid of the whole delegate system and just decide based on popular vote.

The delegate system made sense when you had to have a man (women rode side-saddle by then!) ride a pony to get information across the country.

It just doesn't make sense anymore.

We have the technology, why don't we use it?

I think the primary should be national, all on the same day.

This crap about whether or not to count Florida or Michigan is just crap.

We need to cut the crap.

You want change? FAIRNESS would be a big change.

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At 3:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry to disagree with you, but the caucus system, and the delegate system, and even the electoral college: all of these are fair. The rules were set up in advance, and voted on. If you don't like having a primary or caucus in your own state, then you can try to get other people in your party to change it.

As for why not a national primary - because part of the point of having a primary is to allow people with just a little bit of money and fame time to get known as serious contenders. That's how we got Bill Clinton (who lost Iowa and NH, but showed he could compete, and went on to win other states), and thats how we got Obama.

Now, you like Clinton I guess, so that may be why you don't like the primary system... but in a national primary, she would have won the country with about 40% of the vote split 3+ ways with obama edawards et al. and is that any more "fair"?

At 7:39 PM, Blogger Unbalanced Reaction said...

I'm impressed that you're able to articulate your internal conflicts so well. Perhaps *I* need to read that book, too!

At 11:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

obviously, i don't know you personally but i wonder if you are really sabotaging yourself. it's not like you are not working and not sending out job apps. for now, i will assume you are just reading a book with a catchy title. you may perceive yourself having conflicting needs/wishes, but that is not sabotage.

as for presidential candidates, i'm all for someone who doesn't want to keep increasing the defense spending to upwards of $515 billion, and i believe that is separate from the war costs which congress decides on. woohoo!

At 10:59 AM, Anonymous vodalus said...

I'm sorry, but the electoral college will not be fair until the electoral votes are forced to be split amongst the candidates according to the distribution of the popular vote. Until that happens, every minority party voter in a Red or Blue state will continue to be essentially disenfranchised in the Presidential election.

Caucuses are one thing and the electoral college is another. One was developed a bit over 20 years ago, while the other was instituted more than 200 years ago.

At 6:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know it is not your area of expertise, but before you go making judgments about what is not fair, learn the facts.

One Democratic candidate seems to know the rules and is willing to play by them. THe other, not so much, though I guess it depends on what the meaning of is is.


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