Friday, March 14, 2008

How is that fair or democratic?

Markos Moulitasas (kos of the Daily Kos) has been pushing that the Democrats divide the delegates from Florida and Michigan 50/50 (half for Senator Clinton and half for Senator Obama) to solve the problem of not seating the delegates from the two states at the Democratic Convention later this year. You see the Democratic primaries in those two states were held early, against the rules of the Democratic National Committee. The same thing happened on the Republican side. The GOP decided that the punishment will be that the delegate count from each state will be halved. In other words there was a punishment for not following the rules of the party but the votes would count and the Republicans in those states would get a say in who was the nominee from their party for president of the United States.

What did the DNC decide? Well those brilliant Democrats decided to punish those states by not counting them. The major candidates went along. Senator Obama did not even end up on the ballot in Michigan because of this. He was on the Florida ballot. Senator Clinton was on both. She ended up winning both primaries (they were still held). The DNC was betting the nominee would have been secured by now, so it wouldn't matter. Boy were they wrong. Instead we have a situation in which Obama has a slight lead over Clinton in pledged delegates (those won through caucuses and primaries). Neither one may get enough pledged delegates to win the nomination. In that case, superdelegates will decide. These superdelegates are party officials, party elders, and those Democrats who were elected to high governmental offices. That doesn't exactly come across as being well very democratic, especially when the voters in MI and FL will not get a say. It will be a brokered election where back room deals come into play. While that made for fun viewing on West Wing, it will likely not play well in the real world.

This brings us back to Kos. You see he is for Obama. Clinton needs the delegates from MI and FL in order to have a shot at winning (on top of big wins in PA and Puerto Rico). A revote along with the votes in PA and Puerto Rico may mean she will have more "popular votes" than Obama by the time of the convention while Obama will have a slight lead in delegates. This would be shades of the 2000 presidential convention. Gore won the "popular vote" while Bush ended up getting enough electors. Him getting enough electors of course being decided by the Supreme Court. For the Democrats it will be the Superdelegates playing the role of the Supreme Court. Obama camp would be in the uncomfortable position of advocating for a similar scenario that put Bush into office for him to be the nominee. They obviously do not want this but at the same time they don't want to offend the voters in Michigan and Florida, key swing states in the general election. Plus if they don't count and Clinton can convince enough superdelegates that she would have won if Michigan and Florida counted, she can win the nomination. By playing that angle, Clinton comes across as supporting the will of all the people. Obama would come across as attempting to suppress voters.

The solution some are offering and Kos is pushing? Split it 50/50. The states get a "say" and Obama gets his pledged delegates. All is fine in the world. Of course all is not fine since there is a good chance Clinton could win both primaries. In other words the voters would not get a say. It would be sham and the nominee will be selected by the superdelegates, some of whom were part of the decision to strip the two states of their delegates to the convention. Of course this is a party that allows people to vote twice in Texas (they hold a primary and then a caucus, you have to vote in the former to participate in the latter needless to say certain demographics get underrepresented in the latter since they don't have the time). I am no fan of Clinton. Not voting for her in the general nor would I vote for Obama (the electoral college means my vote doesn't count so I say if that is the case I am going to stick to my principles). The Kos method is all about winning over substance, over democracy. This is personally what I think is wrong about American politics. It is all about winning the next election rather than you know actual leading through a democratic process. Not to mention it treats the people of MI and FL like they are idiots, it is patronizing them. Do we really need more of that in American politics?

Obama favors the 50/50 split. Clinton camp not so much. No real surprise. And yes, if positions were reversed, I think Clinton would be pushing a 50/50 split. Principles, what are those?

Friday, January 25, 2008


Well as I mentioned awhile back, I have been busy writing away. Both the wet-lab work and the computer-based results were submitted together to the Journal of Cool Stuff . This was my first time submitting to J. of Cool Stuff. My advisor hadn't submitted there in awhile. The review on the computational work took 6 weeks. Minor revisions, mostly highlighting things for the reviewers that were not as obvious as we originally had thought. Easy fix. It took 8 weeks to hear on the wet lab work. Accepted pending minor revisions which included additional experiments along with curtailing the discussion or doing even more experiments. I took a week did the easy additional experiments (all yielding the negative results I expected with tons of caveats that make it hard to say anything conclusive about them, hence I did not do them in the first place, but we included all of that in the revised paper), and then we curtailed the discussion. The further potential experiments I am now doing and will turn into a short article, which in the end I guess puts me ahead of the game. I guess a thank you to the reviewer is in order.

The work I did for collaborators currently is sitting in their hands as they write their part. Glad there was a delay since in the meantime I wrote a review with another post-doc in the lab for Building Blocks Journal which was reviewed & accepted within the span of two weeks for the holidays. Our lab has submitted research articles to Building Blocks Journal they are also turned around in the same amount of time. We already sent back the proofs. Still waiting on the proofs for the articles for Journal of Cool Stuff. The reviews for BBJ are very complete. Their editors actually push the reviewers to you know actually review in a timely fashion. Wish other journals did the same thing. Nothing worse than waiting, wondering if you are going to have to drop what you are doing to do additional experiments to satisfy a reviewer. Better to get it done sooner rather than latter. You have to be able to move on, move forward, so much better for peace of mind.

And now what? Well, it is work with a post-doc in the lab pushing for a paper, work on the further experiments discussed above for another and then also work on a third project that hopefully will turn out a paper before the year is out. Productive yes, which is good but boy can writing be draining.

Monday, January 21, 2008

A day to remember what we forget as a nation...

Today in the US is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. It is a day in theory we are to remember the work of Dr. King and by extension the Civil Rights Movement in this nation. Usually I am afraid to say we gloss over it looking at through safe feel good frames, of peace and brotherhood. We must force ourselves to remember. There is much still to be done. Equality is still a dream we are striving for.

I offer these reminders on this day of the work still to be done, still to be thought about and discussed. What we must remember.

The March on Washington in 1963 (The one in which Dr. King gave his "I have a dream" speech) was the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. What were they advocating for?

Comprehensive and effective civil rights legislation from the present Congress — without compromise or fillibuster — to guarantee all Americans:
Access to all public accommodations
Decent housing
Adequate and integrated education
The right to vote
Withholding of Federal funds from all programs in which discrimination exists.

Desegregation of all school districts in 1963.

Enforcement of the Fourteenth Amendment — reducing Congressional representation of states where citizens are disfranchised.

A new Executive Order banning discrimination in all housing supported by federal funds.

Authority for the Attorney General to institute injunctive suits when any Constitutional right is violated.

A massive federal program to train and place all unemployed workers — Negro and white — on meaningful and dignified jobs at decent wages.

A national minimum wage act that will give all Americans a decent standard of living. (Government surveys show that anything less than $2.00 an hour fails to do this.)
[The minimum wage at the time of the March is $1.15/hour.]

A broadened Fair Labor Standards Act to include all areas of employment which are presently excluded.

A federal Fair Employment Practices Act barring discrimination by federal, state, and municipal governments, and by employers, contractors, employment agencies, and trade unions.

Dr King on the Vietnam War:
"A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: "This is not just.""

Dr. King on capitalism:
"You can't talk about solving the economic problem of the Negro without talking about billions of dollars. You can't talk about ending the slums without first saying profit must be taken out of slums. You're really tampering and getting on dangerous ground because you are messing with folk then. You are messing with captains of industry… Now this means that we are treading in difficult water, because it really means that we are saying that something is wrong… with capitalism… There must be a better distribution of wealth and maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism."

The latter sentiments lead Dr. King to begin to push for what he thought of as the 2nd phase of the Civil Rights Movement, dealing with poverty across the board (the first phase being taking on the challenge of segregation) with the Poor People's Campaign where he was going to champion for an economic bill of rights. He was assassinated in Memphis, TN before he had to chance to really push the campaign. Dr. King was in Memphis to support striking Black sanitation workers.

We must remember. We have a long ways to go. We have a history of only going so far to deal with the inequalities in our society. We gave up on Reconstruction after the Civil War, turning the South over to the segregationists, rewriting our history to look poorly upon Reconstruction (Gone with the Wind anyone). We only ended segregation in name only. We failed to do the hard work of actual integration. Giving instead into fears of "other" breeding the modern Republican Party and with it the presidency of George W. Bush.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

BCS Nightmare II...

So the BCS title game pits Ohio State (11-1) vs. LSU (11-2). A team with two losses could be the "national champion" of college football (well of the BCS division, aka the division formerly known as 1A). This would be a nightmare for the BCS. Why? Well those Warriors of Hawaii. They are currently undefeated. They play Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. If Hawaii wins, they will be 13-0. In other words they would have done what no other team in the division formerly as 1A could do this year, win all its games. You then throw in the other teams with two losses and you could have really muddled situation. Here are my rooting interesting this BCS season:

Rose Bowl: USC v. Illinois - Got to go with the Pac-10 here. Plus, USC would have two losses (see above why that matters). If they blow out Illinois and LSU barely gets past OSU in the title game then how can you really argue that the Trojans shouldn't also be thought of as national champs?

Sugar Bowl: Hawaii v. Georgia - The Warriors of Hawaii as discussed above.

Fiesta Bowl: West Virginia v. Oklahoma - Going to go with the Mountaineers. Why? Why not. Both teams have two losses.

Orange Bowl: Virginia Tech v. Kansas - Going to go with Virginia Tech. This would move Kansas to two losses and keep Tech with only two.

BCS Title Game: OSU v. LSU - LSU.

If all of the BCS games go the way I hope this will be the end of the season records:
OSU 11-2
LSU 12-2
Kansas 11-2
Virginia Tech 12-2
West Virginia 11-2
Oklahoma 11-3
Hawaii 13-0
Georgia 10-3
USC 11-2
Illinois 9-4

This would be beautiful!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


Well it has been a bit. I have been "productive". I submitted two journal articles and a review. The journal articles were sent off of a month a half ago. The review was submitted on Friday. Last week, I also got the comments on one of the articles I submitted. The reviewers thought the paper should be published pending revisions of clarity and to address their ideas (or lack thereof). Incorporating their comments did improve the paper which is good. The only problem was my PI wanted the revised manuscript submitted on Friday as well. Of course the PI (who I do like and is usually good about work/balance) had to go home (significant other wanted PI home by a certain hour, so did mine but I am not as high up on the totem), so it was me submitting the review and then the revision. Now they are off. Of course, they are sitting there. PI was hoping someone this week would look at them. I don't think that is going to happen. We shall see. The other paper is still listed as "under review" so hopefully I hear something in the new year. If it was to be rejected I would think we would have heard by now. It is much easier to reject outright than accept/accept pending revisions. We shall see on that. Hopefully it is fine. At the very least no new experiments. I have moved on to two other projects with the goal to get them finished and manuscripts submitted before my wedding in July. I can be slightly crazy like that. I hope to apply for faculty positions in the fall so two more papers would be fantastic. I will be an author on another article hopefully submitted before the spring, but I won't be a first author but rather a contributing one. So it will be a busy new year but I do resolve to blog more. It is good therapy as is reading all the wonderful other blogs out there. Happy End of 2007 CE to all.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Rooting interests or the BCS nightmare scenario...

LSU, who was ranked number one in the BCS rankings, lost last night to unranked Arkansas. This sets up the nightmare scenario for the lords of the BCS as the Warriors of Hawaii kept winning (they are 11-0 now). If this week Missouri beats Kansas, UConn upsets West Virginia, and Oklahoma St. beats Oklahoma, and Missouri then looses next week in the Big-12 championship game it would mean Ohio State at 11-1 would be number 1 and going to the championship game. Number two would be unclear but most likely it would be a team with two losses. The same scenario can come to be if West Virginia wins this week but then looses to Pitt next week. In other words a team that has lost twice in a season would be going to the BCS Championship Game over Hawaii, a team, if they beat Washington next week, that went undefeated. Kansas under this scenario would have only one loss and would also be out of the big game. The BCS would be shown to be the joke it is.

Besides how do you pick one two loss team over another? How it is set up now, if a team lost two weeks ago would be in better shape than one that losses this week or next (including one that would have only one). It is absurd.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Sociobiology, evolutionary psychology and Chimps. Oh my!

Over on Evolving Thoughts, John Wilkins is going to make the case for sociobiology. He starts out by distancing sociobiology from evolutionary psychology taking the position the latter takes an overly adaptationist view of evolution. It should be interesting to say the least.

What I am still waiting on is to find someone to discuss the article published in PNAS a couple weeks ago entitled Phylogenetic analyses of behavior support existence of culture among wild chimpanzees. The authors, as summed up in the commentary by Andrew Whiten accompanying the article, "conclude that the phylogenetic trees that best describe the affinities between the behavioral profiles of different chimpanzee communities are not compatible with a genetic explanation and instead support the cultural interpretation." In other words, Chimps might have social learning and the cultures that go with that. An interesting question is then, did the last common ancestral ape of Chimps and humans also have social learning/culture? If so, how does that impact how we view human evolution? If yes, then the evolution of humans in terms of brain development/intelligence/behavior/etc. must be looked at in both a biological and social context (really the interplay between the two).