Saturday, 18 January 2014

How to Make Learning Science More Fun

Many countries worldwide have registered the growing trend for students to choose humanities over sciences both at a school and university level. There is a common misconception that humanities are "easier" to pass. Today's most wanted jobs are also mostly related to the humanities - media, PR, politics, business.

Make pupils and students want to study sciences by injecting a touch of creativity in your lesson plans.

Science and related subjects such as Biology, Physics, and Chemistry can be among the most exciting to learn and teach at school. That's provided you bust some age-old stereotypes, and are willing to try new things.

Most people associate science classes with being plonked on a chair wearing a white lab coat, being paired up with your number one enemy, and having to carry out rat dissections, mixing potions, and causing the occasional explosion.

Recently, the award-winning comedy series "Community College" featured yet another laughable experiment that most people have had to endure at far too late a stage in their education - growing a yam in a jar. This may be a great activity for children at a kindergarten and primary level, but certainly won't impress older students so be warned. It's time to get creative!

Science projects should be so much more than just putting two drops of one liquid into another and waiting to see the reaction, with one lab partner doing all the work and the other taking notes. In the 21st century, science projects and experiments have so much scope to be really captivating, hands-on experiences, building and creating structures and fully functional devices such as solar cookers and fruit batteries. These are fantastic ways of teaching children and teenagers about how the world has changed, and increasing their awareness of sustainable resources such as solar energy.

Many of these activities are best done or can only be done outdoors so the spring and early autumn months are best. Try to plan the syllabus accordingly.

Fortunately, with a bit of creativity, and the increasing availability of the internet, many science projects can also be carried out indoors.

Teaching resource websites provide interactive activities like building your own star, testing air resistance, and designing your own seismographs. These can be done both outdoors and indoors so are perfect for chillier times of year.

A noticeably enthusiastic teacher is much more likely to get kids interested in learning science. Practical activities will be fun for everyone, and informative.

It's Time For Change In Our Political Process: Political Suggestions For An Enlightened Voter

I think it's time for change in our nation's political process. There has to be a better way of electing our nations leaders.

The election rhetoric has hardly begun and the petty wrangling, the distortions, the blatant use of fear, and the unwillingness to address the critical issues facing our nation is already beginning. Once again we seem to be sliding into the darkness and shadows of our unevolved human nature.

I am frankly embarrassed at the lack of substance and self-focused narcissism present in the political wrangling. We are turning into a country led by politicians who are too often immature, uneducated, lacking in vision, and unable to provide true leadership.

Leadership requires seeing the problems clearly, dealing with them head on, and the ability to envision a better future; a vision that offers solutions focused on the greater good; solutions that offer real hope.

It's common knowledge that the world is facing some very serious challenges; challenges that are going to require leadership capable of courage and clear thinking.

This is the United States of America. We should be modeling global solutions to the problems facing our world; solutions that bring hope and the possibility of a better life to everyone on the planet. That is the responsibility of true global leadership.

As an American, I find myself once again embarrassed by the primitive emotional tone present in the political dialogues. The Law of Attraction is clear: we manifest into the world our internal feelings and emotions. Instead of offering thoughtful solutions, our political process is too often openly condoning and encouraging emotional conflict and violence.

I think we can do better. Our Stonyhill community is only a small part of the voting population, but we can make a difference; we can model a more enlightened form of thinking.

I would encourage all of us to embrace one or more of the ideas listed below, and be willing to talk about these ideas to our friends, colleagues, family members and our neighbors.

#1: Keep Religion Out Of Our Nation's Political Process
When interpreted through the lens of conservative fundamentalism, all religions advocate a regressive first century, mythic, scientifically illiterate worldview consciousness that should not direct or dictate the political process of any modern, 21st century nation. America is a democracy, not a religious theocracy.

The founding fathers of our country intentionally kept religion out of our political process. They knew from experience that when the religious ideology of any particular faith presumes to speak with authority or impose its religious beliefs or ideologies on those who do not hold those same religious views, it only breeds division, bigotry, hatred, repression, and violence; a very dangerous way to determine social and economic policy for a nation or the world; especially in the 21st century.

A healthy religion, and it's spiritual teachings, should manifest values based on love, compassion, mutuality, diversity, tolerance, and inclusiveness; "not" on the social ethics and morality of ancient ethno-centric cultures that passed into the fog of history thousands of years ago.

We need leadership with the vision to lead us into the future, not a regressive return to first century primitive values and ethics.

#2: The Refusal To Embrace Reality Has Created The Challenges We Face
The problems that are facing us were essentially created by our collective unwillingness to address and embrace reality. Science may provide some insights on how to externally solve or cope with problems such as global warming or global hunger, but real solutions to the challenges facing our world, and our nation, will emerge only when we are able to embrace reality and change the way we think internally. Blaming any one person or political party as having created the problems that face us is simply an unacceptable form of ignorance.

Our collective scientific wisdom is telling us global warming is a major problem. Our homophobia against gay marriage is a religious denial of scientific knowledge. We are headed toward a global population of 9 billion people; 9 billion people who will aspire to achieve a middleclass life style. Yet environmental scientists are warning our planet can sustainably support a middleclass standard of living for roughly one billion people. In other words, we are already 6 billion people beyond sustainability. Ignoring reality is a form of ignorance that we can no longer tolerate.

Our collective wisdom is telling us we are running out of inexpensive energy sources. Our collective scientific wisdom is clear. Our human species is directly responsible for the extinction of other living species on our planet at a rate not seen in over 65 million years. We are running out of fresh water. Children are dying of starvation and lack of medical care. This list could continue, but I'm sure you get the point. We are ignoring the evidence. We are ignoring reality.

We are a great nation because we have embraced the collective wisdom of hundreds of years of verifiable modern scientific discovery. When we collectively allow our politicians and special interest groups to introduce doubts about scientific evidence; evidence that warns we are clearly headed toward biological, ecological and social crisis, we are embracing a form of collective ignorance that makes absolutely no sense.

We are in a dangerous, collective denial of reality when we refuse to acknowledge that "unlimited economic expansion" is a fairytale myth currently embraced by every government on the planet.

#3: Our Grandchildren's Future Will Depend On How Well We Support And Evolve The Individual and Collective Consciousness Of Our Species Today
We need politicians capable of national leadership. We need spiritually enlightened leadership; leadership focused on both our future as a nation, and our future as a species.

I would encourage members of the Stonyhill community to think about adopting some or all of items contained in the Voter Guidelines listed below. Our primary power is the power of our collective voice, and the collective power of our individual vote. It's time to speak clearly about the future we want to create for future generations; a future that makes possible the unlimited creative potential available to all of us as we lean into that future. Together, we can make a difference.

If these ideas make sense to you, pass them along.

Guidelines For Enlightened 21st Century Voters: Political Leadership Your Grandchildren Will Be Thankful You Voted For

I will vote only for those politicians who:

  1. fully embrace the concepts listed in Idea #1 and Idea #2 above,
  2. openly embrace the ethics of compassion and care for every person under his or her political care.
  3. refuse to use immature all-or-nothing, black-and-white thinking that turn those who disagree with them into an enemy.
  4. use middlepath thinking to intentionally look for the truths found on both sides of every issue.
  5. embrace compromise and hold the welfare of the country to be more important than the a) welfare of their own political party, or b) their own ideological beliefs.
  6. refuses to intentionally distort the truth or in any way lie to voters. Politicians are asking our vote to make them leaders. Leaders should have the ability and ethical responsibility to verify their "facts". White lies, or any intentional, misleading distortion of the facts is still a lie. We don't condone it in our children and we shouldn't condone it in our politicians. We need leaders who manifest and model high ethical standards.
  7. refuse to put his or her ideological "beliefs" above the welfare of our nation or the world. We are all in this thing called life together. Our success, at the expense of others, will eventually destroy not only our nation, it might very well destroy our world.
  8. refuse to use or imply bigotry, racism, homophobia of any kind in their bid for political office....overtly or subtly.
  9. refuse to inflame or openly encourage voter anger, fear, or prejudice; or in any way encourage violence, hatred, or name calling as a way to get votes. Prejudice against others, regardless of their race, ethnic background, nationality, or religion is a primitive thought process grounded in ignorance. We need leaders that reflect an enlightened high standard of care and ethics for all human beings.
  10. refuse to support financial deregulation, tax policy inequality, or support the greed of the few at the expense of the majority. We are all part of what makes our nation what it is. Unless all of us are valued, successful, and able to live our dreams, our nation will fall.
  11. refuse to support or encourage, in any way, the growing gap between those who have and those who don't. Dismantling our middleclass is the most dangerous thing we can do for the economic well-being of our children and future generations. The "gap" between the extremely wealthy and the poor has eventually led to the downfall of every nation or empire in human history.
  12. embrace the collective verifiable wisdom of our world's scientists. Change is the engine of creation. Change is what creates the future. Evolution is accepted by every credible scientist in the world. Rejection of evolution is a religious "belief". The direction of evolution is toward increased life, consciousness, complexity, diversity, and systemic cooperation. A nation that ignores these evolutionary realities will not survive in the 21st century.
  13. openly support and encourage equality for women in all aspects of our culture......religious, political, and economic.
  14. refuse to put the needs of any one person, group, political party, corporation, or organization over the needs of all Americans, or the needs of our country. We need enlightened leadership, not self-serving bureaucrats.

Art and Science

What is the basic motivation for art and science? To understand the basic motivation for art and science we need to nurture the balance of the masculine and feminine principles in all of us. A balance in the nature is achieved when there is a balance of the feminine and masculine principles deep within us as well as in the external universe. This balance of energies is the perquisite for creative and generative change in the internal and external universe.

We can increase the use of the creative as well as the logical part of our brain equally by manifesting deep within us the feminine and the masculine principles of nature. The feminine principle will open up the awareness of universal love, compassion, nurturing and healing through our super conscious mind where as the masculine principle will initiate creative & generative action through the subconscious and conscious mind. Thus the willful and determined action emancipating from the subconscious and conscious mind will be under the guidance and overall control of the feminine principle and the super conscious mind.

Art and science: Awareness of the self

Balancing the feminine and the masculine will lead to an increased awareness of the self and the environment around us. This profound awareness of what we are, who we are will give genesis to artistic and scientific creativity for a new world order based on unification, generation, creation and forward movement rather than a world which is based on reductionism, unabashed individualism and consumption of natural resources leading to destruction and turmoil all around. Therefore we need to appreciate the fact that art and science need the expression of the creative as well as the logical part of the mind represented by the feminine and the masculine respectively.

Art and science: Misconceptions about science

Some people have great misconception about art and science especially science. They believe that science means a logical way of explaining things within the existent rules and theories. But people fail to understand that science is all about creative intuition substantiated by logical conclusion. Without creative intuition no laws of science can be ever postulated, no inventions and discoveries can be ever made.

Even the greatest of scientific thinkers have explained that the inspiration for their path breaking scientific contributions have come from creative intuition which was then substantiated by logical conclusion. The creative intuition comes from the feminine principle which helps us to look at the larger picture of nature encompassing universal love and compassion.

On the other hand the masculine principle is responsible for putting things into action which were thought based on the creative intuition. The masculine principle helps to deduct a logical conclusion to a thought based on creative intuition.

Art and science: Opening up the mysteries of nature

We can open up the mysteries of nature by scientific thinking based on a balance between the feminine and masculine principles of nature. The feminine principle helps us to think creatively with universal love, compassion, nurturing and healing. The masculine principle initiates creative and generative action with an extraordinary amount of will power, grit and determination. By manifesting a balance of feminine and masculine in us, we become in sync with nature and inherit the abilities to unearth the mysteries of nature for progression and development of humanity.

Medical discoveries need a very high amount of the feminine principle because here we are trying to directly understand and work on the mysteries of nature in the form of living cells, tissues, organs and the whole living systems. Here an attitude of universal love, compassion, nurturing and healing is required for success. Women have a natural disposition towards the medical sciences because of the feminine that manifest in them so naturally.

Art and science: The Artistic expressions

Coming to the artistic developments again there is a balance of the feminine and the masculine that is required. Here the manifestation of the feminine and the masculine principle is highly necessary to create an original artistic expression in terms of writing, painting, singing, dancing etc. Here the feminine principle allows us to dream and visualize and to become creative and generative where as the masculine principle leads to the expression of the creative and generative thoughts in terms of actions like writing, painting, singing, dancing etc. These artistic expressions latter become part of the cultural expressions of the human civilization and they become the great strength for the forward movement of human existence in sync with the nature. In simple words, life becomes a celebration.

Life would not have been possible without artistic expressions. Artistic expressions allow human beings to dream, to visualize and to connect with the larger universe and see the manifestations of the larger universe. Today's artistic expressions can become tomorrow's scientific, social, cultural, religious and political revolutions.

Therefore to bring about original scientific & artistic expressions, awakening the feminine is very-very important. Just by working with the masculine principle exclusively we will be never able to become generative, creative and constructive in nature.

Was Andrzej Lobaczewki Correct About Pure Evil and Political Ponerology - No, I'll Explain

Not too long ago, I wrote an article on the nature of Good and Evil in human society, and then later wrote a book review on Political Ponerology, which is basically the pseudo-science of pathological leaders, those who lack any conscience whatsoever. In these articles I completely dismissed this work and more so, those who promote such notions against the powers that be in order to stir up conspiracy theorists and claim foul play.

Indeed, there are far too many folks out there who prey on the weak and put forth such manuscripts, claiming they know the secret to some deep-dark group conspiring to rule over humanity. It appears the author of "Political Ponerology - The Science of the Nature of Evil," has been carefully adjusted to serve the political will of an individual who has an axe to grind - a political axe indeed.

Anyway the work pretends to be accumulated research of Stalin and Hitler's regimes, and then relates such evil leaders to present day political figures. The work is a political hit piece in every regard, and I suppose it plays well to those who believe in such things, perhaps due to their religious persuasion, cynical political views, or their inability to accept their own mistakes and thus blame others, especially political figures.

It is a dangerous book, as it might coax a low-IQ or mentally deranged person to do something evil, right after they convince themselves they were stopping evil, and thus, on a noble mission of some type. It's the type of book I'd expect an assassin to own, the uni-bomber, or John Hinkley Jr. Now then, after 27-years of observing folks go out of their way to take away other's rights, I've noted (mind you this is in the real world - not pseudo-science lacking any empirical evidence like this book) - that those who have been psychologically damaged are much more dangerous than others.

Indeed, I believe that Andrzej Lobaczewki was a damaged soul, and the editor of that book for some reason felt a kinship, perhaps also damaged material. The concept of Political Ponerology and 4% of the population being of no conscience is invalid as science, as there is no evidence or verifiable data to back it up.

In fact, I do not even believe that, that which was presented as evidence is even close to reality. So, to answer your question; NO, political ponerology is basically non-sense, but it might get the editor and book publisher PR team on Coast-to-Coast Am late night conspiracy theorist talk show one day! Ha ha ha. Please consider all this.

Wanted Heroes - Fire Science Technology

This particular degree can be used by firefighters, fire inspectors, hazardous materials specialists and arson investigators. One who chooses this path in life is well aware that each calendar day will be overflowing with enough activity that a day in the workplace will always fail to be unexciting.

Champion Required

Fire science technology is a step towards saving lives. Lives, land, belongings, natural worlds and neighborhoods will be saved by the FS professionals. Their education and preparation includes that of fire deterrence, emergency health service, hazardous material response, disaster management, and search and rescue. These individuals are habitually the earliest encounters to a crisis location. FS professionals occupy a vital position in the escalating needs of homeland protection and disaster awareness and find their remuneration in the support they grant to society.

As a champion, one must be courageous, patient, and stanch. FS technology requires excellent judgment and impeccable decision making under extreme circumstances. The need for psychological attentiveness, resolution and teamwork is an unquestionable demand in this field.

Agenda Report

This Technology is an AAS (Associate of Applied Science) degree. The program is designed to achieve the requirements of safety and defense recruits. If one is interested in the field of fire science, courses are offered through the conventional classroom, as well as for autonomous study and internet based classes.

Experienced fire service personnel are capable of earning credits for their already established experience, education and training. All he or she would have to do is complete a few concentrated courses to complete their AAS.

Fire science technology is a highly esteemed profession. As an FS professional, one is capable of taking on such titles as Arson Investigator, Industrial Hazardous Materials Coordinator, Industrial Safety Officer, Public Education Specialist, Fire fighter, and Inspector with plenty of opportunity to advance in their field.

A Major in Fearlessness

A fire science major cultivates the understanding, proficiency and aptitude required for direction in fire defense. It involves disaster planning and the organization of fire safety services, adjoining all sections of arson administration.
It imparts a perception essential for fire deterrence, emergency dispensation, controller and arson investigation. The syllabus will embrace diagnostic methods to fire defense and examination, staff administration, catastrophe and protection development, hazardous materials regulation, fire safety composition and structure, political makeup and fire proliferation.

Tendency of Science: To Unify the Religion and Prove the Existence of God and the Spirit

The gap between science and religion occurred in the late Middle Ages, with the historical movement called the Renaissance and its ideal rationalist Enlightenment. The Enlightenment was a general movement - that is, a philosophical movement, political, social, economic and cultural - which advocated the use of reason as the best way to achieve freedom, autonomy and emancipation.

As always, the movement of the reaction force, over time, distort and manipulate history to justify their goals and ideas.

In classical antiquity, although Greece was the cradle of rationalism, of its thinkers had linked to some deep mystical currents, like the Orphic, Pythagorean, Neoplatonic, and institutions mysteries of Dionysus, Eleusis and Samothrace. There was also a great fascination of the Greeks by the Egyptian mysteries. These ancient cultures had a long tradition of priests doctors and scientists, with no separation between science and religion.

However, it was in Greece that brought the first attempts to create a purely scientific knowledge, regardless of the myths and religion, and generated a long series of independent thinkers rationalists.

With Christianity, has widened the gap between science and religion, even though it has recorded the existence of religious dedicated to science as Roger Bacon and Albertus Magnus.

The Inquisition was the extreme and pathological reached by intolerance and religious persecution. Thousands of people have been sacrificed at the stake for heresy or suspicion of heresy. The medieval religiosity reached such points of affirmation of faith and curtailment of freedom of thought and choice, which caused an uproar and a quest for the opposite extreme: the negation of all values of faith and spirituality, seeking in classical Greek philosophers and artists Roman inspiration for new forms of thought and expression. The man became, then, the reference center of the world, removing God from his throne (theocentrism), replacing them with reason.

This whole atmosphere of bigotry that has proliferated in the Middle Ages was the breeding ground for the opposite reaction to freedom of thought and expression, making it inevitable separation between science and philosophy of one hand and religion on the other, that actually occurred from the sixteenth century. This separation was a major cause of alienation and confusion of our time.

In the nineteenth century, all educated people tended to materialism, while the simple souls and emotional religiosity tended to extreme and thoughtless. The advent of Spiritualism - opened this century - of theosophy, Christian Science and other mystical rationalist movement was a first attempt to unite science and religion into a unified knowledge.

As can be seen, the first attempt of unification of religions from the ground. Not exactly the religions, but of alternative religions or "philosophies" of life in which there was greater freedom of thought and expression. The official religions had become powerful, authoritarian and inflexible, no longer serving as a vehicle suitable for the expression "eternal truths". The renovation was necessary.

The side of science, the attempt of unification came in unexpected ways. Freud developed a theory about the human unconscious, on a totally materialistic. His chief disciple, Jung, other than master, developed a complementary theory of the human psyche, based on archetypes, that comes very close to the mystical land. Jung was a great scholar of mandalas, the I Ching and alchemy, having finished his life as an occultist in his house in Switzerland to which he called "the castle".

Among the great scientists of the twentieth century, Einstein and Niels Bohr had remarkable mystical tendencies. Thomas Edison, the greatest inventor of all time, was recorded Theosophist. Einstein, in turn, had claimed that a small science moves away from God, but much science leads us back to God.

At the end of the twentieth century, the physical world famous Fritjoff Capra published two masterpieces, The Tao of Physics and The Turning Point. These works definitely put the new physics (quantum physics) in alignment with spirituality. Many physicists, inspired by such works have become Buddhists, Taoists or adherents of other branches of mysticism.

The various discoveries made by neuroscience, brought with them a current that is indicative of the existence of the spirit in the brain, bringing the assertion that science and religion can go together. Researchers in the area are close to the conclusion that the human brain is a computer. But no computer program and produces the very same as do we need to install a program to make it work and the soul or spirit of the computer has the software that is installed on it. The brain is the same thing, he has no ability to self-management and to work, it is necessary to introduce a force that is the spirit.

In the late twentieth and early twenty-first century, there were other theories and metaphors for the interpretation of reality, holographic-inspired models and monistic, as the Gaia Hypothesis, the unified field theory and superstring theory. The latest theory, "The Theology of Science" - is written by a Polish researcher. Michael Heller, one of the most respected scientists in the field of cosmology and also one of the most renowned theologians of his country, was a pioneer in formulating a new theory which unites God and science. In their work, the scholar has addressed the question of the origin of the universe on advanced aspects of the general theory of relativity, quantum mechanics and noncommutative geometry. Thanks are also some fundamental tools based on the principal theory of relativity, Albert Einstein. He delved into the mysteries of cosmic conditions, the absence of gravity interferes with the laws of physics, and quantum physics.

All these theories are attempts to establish a bridge between religion and science, creating a new era for humanity, based on the principle that there should be a unified knowledge, corresponding to the unity of life.

No one knows what will be the new religion of humanity, but one can say with absolute certainty, which will eliminate the gap between religion and science, since all jobs precursors moving in this direction.

National Book Festival 2010 Hits the Science and Technology Topics

Recently at September 25, 2010, the 10th National Book festival 2010 took place on the National Mall in Washington DC. Science and Technology books draw the attention of the visitors. Some books written by the famous writers were the hot topic of the entire festival. In the festival some writers gave presentations followed by the question and answer session. This was one of the main attractions of the fair. Each and every author tries to highlight their recent works and try to pinpoint the significant of his/her writings.

Edward O. Wilson, biologist, has published his first fiction book named Anthill. Richard Rhodes, a nuclear weapons historian tried to promote his forth volume of the series the creation and spread of nuclear weapons is another attraction of the festival. In this book history was given from the cold war to the present time. The extension of the nuclear weapon of mass destruction is the main focus in his writings.

Harold Varmus, a Nobel Laureate for his contribution came up with his recent memoir, The Art and Politics of Science. This book discusses about different aspects of politics of science got good attention in the civil society. Those three books and speech of the writers were very much informative and touching for the book lovers.

Henry Petroski who is professor of civil engineering at Duke writes about why things fail. In his recent writings "The Essential Engineer: Why Science Alone Will Not Solve Our Global Problems". In his writings he focused on solving problems using science. Scientific facts in various problem solving issues got attraction of the visitors of the fair. He also tries to distinguish between science and engineering using the linear model. He claims that contemporary policy to science is very much short-sighted.

There are some other scientific topics highlighted in the fair. Allegra Goodman wrote new work "her novel intuition" and Richard Holmes in his book "the age of wonder" tries to discover the scientific discoveries, prominent scientists of the late 18th and early 19th century. These two pieces were much talked books in the festival.

The recent national book festival 2010 can be said the science and technology dominating fair. Various new books about modern science and technology are published and inaugurated in the books fair. Country renowned writers try to bring new books in the festival to attract. So in a nutshell national Book Festival 2010 was seen dominated by the science and technology.

A Political Handbook

It is often said that the Bible is not a handbook to, well, anything. Those who make this assertion are typically opposed to Christian involvement in activities outside Sunday morning worship. They want to see Christianity remain safely within the four walls of the church building. It may be all right for Christians to become involved in warm and fuzzy local charity but anyone who would suggest that Biblical principles should be applied to "real-life" is labeled a fundamentalist wacko intent on creating a theocracy.

The truth is much different. The Bible is in fact a handbook. You see, according to Webster, a handbook is simply a book that is capable of being conveniently carried as a ready reference manual. It is a concise reference book covering a particular subject. In the case of the Bible, it is a reference book covering all areas of life. It is not limited to a single subject like politics or education; instead, the Bible proclaims the truth necessary for the redemption of every individual and his arena of activity. In this way, all things are reconciled to the Father (Colossians 1:19-20).

This means that there is no part of life that is not subject to biblical oversight. True, the Bible does not provide a periodic table of elements but it does provide the worldview necessary to do science properly. Again, the Bible does not mandate a particular form of government but it does present a distinct political philosophy. For instance the Bible says, "when a land transgresses, it has many rulers" (Proverbs 28:2a). In other words, God multiplies rulers over a wicked people and this vast bureaucracy exacting its pound of flesh from the hapless citizens under its care is a sign of God's displeasure. Thus, "Behold, we are slaves this day; in the land that you gave to our fathers to enjoy its fruit and its good gifts, behold, we are slaves. And its rich yield goes to the kings whom you have set over us because of our sins. They rule over our bodies and over our livestock as they please, and we are in great distress" (Nehemiah 9:36-37).

Furthermore, "by justice a king builds up the land, but he who exacts gifts tears it down" (Proverbs 29:4). Hence, virtue strengthens a nation whereas Cornhusker kickbacks and a Second Louisiana purchase will tear it down. In other words, to ignore biblically defined justice means that the nation will begin to fall apart and move steadily toward anarchy and then tyranny. This does not mean blood will run in the streets as order breaks down. Instead, the strong central power will increase its hold on the populace as the general unrest becomes more apparent. As a result, the central power will increasingly force its will on the nation in the name of the people. After all, the totalitarian regime never likes to let a good crisis go to waste - especially when it is a crisis of its own making.

If we want good government we must be willing to look to the Bible for answers. The Bible is a handbook on political science (and on economics, natural science, education, marriage, business and so on). In this brief article it is impossible to do more than touch on a couple verses that pertain to the subject. As I have previously written in this column, we need to engage in a thorough study of the Bible and understand how to apply the principles therein to our current circumstance. Until we do, we will continue to get what we deserve.

Science Activities for Kids Assist in Optimizing the Success of the Future

Educational professionals have established that science activities for kids assist in outlining certain types of understandings and thought processes that are considered essential for all individuals. While many believe that science education is to teach certain skills and facts to children, others believe the highest purpose of this form of literacy is to prepare individuals to lead lives that are considered to be both responsible and personally fulfilling.

Focusing on certain aspects of science such as general science, mathematics and technological science helps children develop the knowledge and productive habits that assist in succeeding in these two very important aspects of life. Whether the activities are engaging in trivia games in science or science experiments for kids - science literacy is absolutely crucial for the successful development of the world's future.

One of the main challenges facing the individuals of today's society is that they lack the ability to properly think for themselves. As a result, they are unable to face the obstacles that are affecting the world, such as a declining economy, food harvest complications and unemployment. The future of the world is heavily dependent on several different factors. First, a society that is considered to be "just" be created.

Second, the individuals that are part of the society must be able to sustain the core economic vitality in the regions that they reside in. Third, the society must be able to effectively retain a high level of security against the various types of hostilities that are consistently present in the world. While it may seem hard to believe, simple science activities for kids have the ability to create success in each of these areas. This is because of the fact that science literacy is considered a core element in each of the factors required for the success of our world.

If you have a hard time believing that science experiments for kids may have a dramatically positive impact on the future of our world, simply sit back and consider the complications that we are currently facing as a civilization. Most of the issues are considered to be global. Examples of these issues include, but are not limited to, the following:

· In several regions of the world, we are suffering from population levels that are considered to be excessive.
· Based on statistical studies, it has been established that the rain forests are quickly diminishing.
· The pollution of our environment is so immense that it is resulting in many complications, such as global warming.
· There are several types of diseases spreading from one person to another and other sicknesses developing that are highly misunderstood.
· There are several different types of inequities associated with the wealth that is present throughout the world.
· There are several political complications that are considered to be worldwide.

When you consider the fact that science has a role in nearly all of the problems of the world, it only makes sense that science should play an important role in the resolution of those problems. By simply purchasing science activities for kids or science experiments for kids, you are laying the foundation for a more structured and productive future. There are several different types of science activities for kids that are considered to be productive to the growth of their knowledge and skills.

Examples of these include science experiments for kids that require problem solving skills, flash cards, science games, math games, and even educational software. By purchasing science activities today, you may be playing a role in the productivity and success of tomorrow - not just with your child, but with the world as a whole.

Another Doomsday, Another Dollar: Shifting Science Towards Peace & Ecology

In his book, "Our Final Hour," Cambridge professor and Britain's "Astronomer Royal" Martin Rees predicts humanity has no more than a 50/50 chance of survival into the next century and that by 2020 a million people will perish due to scientific error or terror. Some would call him prescient, while others would interpret his words as alarmist, resembling a layer cake with environmental fears on top of nuclear fears on top of chemical and biological threats, ad infinitum. With a sci-fi flare, he warns of runaway technology, human clones and an ability to insert memory chips into the brain.

Doomsday predictors get much the same respect as the "toxic fumes" sign at the local service station; they impart their wisdom, yet we yawn. Situations which seem grim and overwhelming, even potentially lethal, tend to be ignored. Attention on more immediate and "American" concerns, such as consumer goods and personal advancement, monopolize our daily thoughts. This is arguably foolhardy and indicative of the "another doomsday, another dollar" mentality.

Rees is not a lone voice on the scientific stage. The "Bulletin of Atomic Scientists" reports we have seven minutes until our final bow at midnight. Other reputable experts surmise that a "gray goo" or nanotechnological catastrophe poses the greatest threat. This involves the invention of miniature, self-replicating machines that gnaw away at the environment until it is devoid of life. It need not be deliberate sabotage--as in technological warfare by one nation against another--but could result from a laboratory mishap.

Astronomers speak of fugitive asteroids that could destroy major sections of our planet within the next 30 years. Others point to atom-crashing tests and their potential for a lethal strangelet scenario. Strangelets are malformed subatomic matter, which could distort all normal matter and dissolve the earth in seconds.

There are streams of alerts from environmental experts who tell us natural disasters are on the rise. They warn of climatic change and tell us the world's species die at a rate 1000 times greater than they did prior to human existence due to habitat destruction and the introduction of non-indigenous species into the ecosystem. Their conclusion? If we do not reverse the damaging trend, Earth itself will be extinct.

Should we open our minds to doomsday predictions? And if we accept them, what is the next step to insure or increase our chance of planetary survival?

In his book, "Science, Money and Politics," Daniel Greenberg follows a trail of suspicion. He condemns what he believes to be the self-serving, greedy scientific community with its bungled research, conflicts of interest and findings that never see the light of day due to suppression by corporate sponsors. But this seems to be an overly cynical, embellished perspective; there are surely many scientists dedicated to discovery and social responsibility, apart from any personal gain. And we should not forget that offering controversial insights can be at a cost; proponents of "radical" theories often expose themselves to public and professional ridicule.

Regardless of skepticism, the "Pascal's Wager" game plan seems a good bet. This essentially means we should not gamble with eternity, but instead urge the scientific community to take precautions since Armageddon allows no second chance. Better to err on the side of life, even if it means some black holes will go unexplored and some research grants will be pulled.

Precaution means building contingency plans--such as shields and containment measures--into emerging technologies so that if an experiment goes awry, a safety net will kick into place. It means the scientific community should better police itself. It means committees or boards--both local and international--should be established for oversight and regulations, much like Albert Einstein proposed in 1947 to maintain worldwide peace. Many nation-states and multinational corporations are known for fighting even minimal efforts to regulate dangerous technology, and they must be countered.

There are pragmatic hurdles to be negotiated when trying to impose rules on private parties or on authorities in renegade lands, but the ozone hole "near disaster" demonstrates how the world can cooperate when it comes to life-and-death matters. As cultures dovetail, as communications rise, as borders become more porous, and as the world figuratively shrinks, it will be easier to impose structure and scientific parameters on nations that seem combative today

Science must shift its course and find new mountains to climb. It looks to us for cues. Due to our materialistic bent as a culture, our cursory endorsement of "progress" and our captivation with the Prometheus-like aura of technology, we subtly ask the scientific community to scale those mountains that are the highest (great accolades can be received), the easiest (the path of least resistance) or the most profit-oriented (grant money from special interests or an emphasis on reducing labor so companies can realize greater proceeds) rather than those that are the most ecological and peace-enhancing.

The research community has rivers of creativity and forests of energy that could instead be directed towards rivers and forests. It could move towards ecological preservation and restoration, peaceful alternatives to conflict and a furthering of life on this planet.

We will know a cultural transition is underway when news reports following fires, earthquakes and other disasters address the impact on natural systems and nonhuman species, rather than just the human and economical consequences, such as the number of homes lost. Our capitalistic culture thrives on the fact that nature is cost-free, which in turn, reinforces the notion that it is expendable and devoid of value. This reality must change. Our reality must change. And science must change. It must shift towards peace and ecology. It's as plain as doomsday.

Top 10 Best Science Fiction Books

#1: Dune (Frank Herbert)

Science Fiction doesn't get much better then this. Dune is every Science Fiction aficionado's wet dream. Many people claim Dune is Science Fiction's answer to "Lord of the Rings" and I have to agree: it sure is. There are many good science fiction books, but Dune is indeed a giant among giants. It truly is a pinnacle of Science Fiction literary achievement. If you haven't read Dune, doesn't waste any more time. Read it now!

# 2: Starship Troopers (Robert Heinlein)

War is beautiful according to Robert Heinlein. This is a novel about the glorification of war. The premise: space-marines wearing special armor battle vicious alien insect aliens. This is classic "old school" science fiction at it's best. It's a rip-roaring ride through the galaxy that you don't want to miss.

#3 : Ender's Game (Orson Scott Card)

This is one of the corner stones of science fiction and one novel that you shouldn't miss. A critique on society, the story of a boy who refuses to give up, a battle to save the fate of mankind - this science fiction book combines them all into one addictive and compelling mix that shouldn't be missed.

#4: Foundation (Isaac Asimov)

This is undoubtedly on of the finest works of science fiction ever written. If you a fan of science fiction with grandiose and epic storylines, get your hand on this book.

A corollary: Foundation is a series for people who love grand and complex ideas. If you are looking for a book heavy on the action but thin on concepts, this may not be the book for you. The strength of the ideas presented are the focus of this story, not the characterization. Regardless, this is one of those Science Fiction books that you just need to read. You will never think about Science Fiction the same way after reading the Foundation series.

#5: Snow Crash (Neal Stephenson)

Part-time hacker and pizza delivery boy and full time samurai swordsman, meet Hiro Protagonist. Snow Crash is breath taking novel with action and pacing thick enough to drown in. Snow Crash redefined and rejuvenated the Cyberpunk genre. If you want a novel with bucket loads of action, futuristic technologies ala The Matrix, and the gritty futuristic dystopia of the Blade Runner world, Snow Crash is the perfect recommendation.

#6: Forever War (Joe Haldeman)

The Forever War is pretty much The Vietnam War in space. It's brutal and bloody and makes a strong case that war really is pointless. Don't let the strong political statement of the novel deter you, however; this is Science Fiction at its finest: a complex, disturbing novel that makes you think...and feel. It's a great science fiction story that you don't want to miss, a true masterpiece of the genre.

#7: The Night's Dawn (Peter Hamilton)

This is space opera science fiction done right: Massive space battles, a large cast of compelling characters, political tension between planets, and an all out grand adventure. There is a good deal of space opera in the science fiction genre already, but Peter Hamilton is one of the best character writers in the genre and his plots are just so damn interesting. He really knows how to write a rip-roaring adventure that keeps you up into the late hours of the morning. Those in the mood for something big with lots of action, both in and out of space, Night's Dawn trilogy delivers.

#8: Gap (Steven R. Donaldson)

This disturbing series is a dark ride into hell that you don't want to miss. It's one of the darkest set of books I've read, period. But the world that Stephen Donaldson draws is superb. Stephen Donaldson is an author that cares deeply about characterization, and he excels at crafting anti-heroes. If you are looking for some dark space opera, I highly recommend the Gap series.

#9: Otherland (Tad William)

Those looking for something like the Matrix in written form need look no longer. Otherland is about as close as you'll get. With less mumbo jumbo psycho babble and more realism, Otherland makes for a really compelling read. Otherland starts slow, but those willing give it a chance will be greatly rewarded.

#10: Altered Carbon (Richard Morgan)

This is one dystopian cyberpunk with a lot of style and some seriously punishing action. I guarantee that once you start reading this novel, you won't be putting it down. Morgan is a man with some visionary ideas; he always has interesting characters, twisting plots, and heart-pounding action. Those that love Blade Runner, Snow Crash, and Neuromancer are in for a treat.

Global Science Research and the Value of International Collaboration

Science research spending around the globe has increased by 45 percent to more than $1,000 billion (one trillion) U.S. dollars since 2002. In 2008, 218 countries generated more than 1.5 million research papers, with contributions ranging from Tuvalu's one paper to the U.S.' 320,000 papers. The U.S. leads the world's production of science research, accounting for 21 percent of publications and nearly $400 billion worth of public and private science R&D. BRIC and other developing countries, including China, India, Brazil and South Korea, account for much of the increase in scientific publications.

Science Research in the BRIC Countries of China, India and Brazil

A study by the U.K.'s Royal Society points out that the BRIC countries, along with South Korea, "are often cited as rising powers in science." From 2002 to 2007, the China, India and Brazil more than doubled their spending on science research, bringing their collective share of global spending up from 17 to 24 percent.

Engineering is a common focus of science research in China, India and Russia. Scientific fields in which China has developed a leading position include nanotechnology and rare earths. Agriculture and biosciences are two important fields of emphasis in Brazil, which is a leader in biofuels research.

In keeping with their rapid economic development and massive populations, China and India, the world's first and second most populous countries, produce large and growing numbers of science and engineering graduates each year. In 2006, about 2.5 million students in India and 1.5 million students in China graduated with degrees in science and engineering.

International Collaboration

Today, over 35 percent of science research articles are the result of international collaborations among researchers from different countries, a 40 percent increase from 15 years ago. The number of internationally co-authored papers has more than doubled since 1990.

The U.S., U.K., France and Germany continue to be key hubs of international collaboration in science research. Researchers in other developed and developing countries actively collaborate with scientists from these countries. According to the Royal Society report, "while links between the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) have been growing in recent years, they pale in comparison to the volume of collaboration between these individual countries and their partners in the G7."

International science research often takes the form of regional collaboration. Regional political institutions, including the European Union (EU), African Union (AU) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), each have their own research strategies that foster and facilitate regional collaboration in science research.

"South-South Collaboration" between developing countries is a growing form of international science research. The International Centre for South-South Cooperation in Science, Technology and Innovation was inaugurated in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 2008 under the auspices of UNESCO. An initiative of India, Brazil and South Africa promotes South-South cooperation in several arenas, including science and research collaboration in fields such as nanotechnology, oceanography and Antarctic research.

Collaboration's Benefits and Drivers

There are a number of important benefits, motivations and enabling factors that help explain the growth of international collaboration in science research, including:

1) greater impact;
2) scientific discovery;
3) scale of research projects;
4) scope and complexity of research topics and international issues;
5) capacity-building; and
6) advances in technology and communications.

Fourteen countries experienced more than a three-fold increase in their standard domestic publication impact by collaborating with one or more of 22 partner countries. Each additional international author leads to an increase in a paper's impact, up to a tipping point of about ten authors. By collaborating with one another, scientists can access complementary skills and knowledge and stimulate new ideas.

The scale of some major science research projects is too large for most countries to undertake on their own. In such cases, international collaboration is necessary to meet extensive requirements for human, financial and other resources. The scope and complexity of certain science research topics and objectives can also drive international collaboration.

Many of the world's most pressing social problems are international issues that call for collaboration and cooperation. Climate change, food security, public health (e.g., AIDS/HIV, malaria and tuberculosis) and sustainability are just a few of the global issues that require international collaboration and solutions.

Collaboration allows scientists in one country to build their capacity to conduct significant science research by leveraging the resources of partners in other countries. Collaboration can be particularly beneficial to partners from developing and developed countries.

Advances in technology have contributed greatly to the feasibility and appeal of international collaboration. For researchers in developing and developed countries alike, improvements in communication technologies and services have made international collaboration simpler, faster and cheaper than ever before.

Success Stories

The Royal Society study presents several encouraging examples of cases where science research and international collaboration have contributed greatly to addressing important international issues.

The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) encompasses an international network of independent centers of agricultural research in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. Despite operating on a modest yet significant annual budget of $550 million, every $1 invested in CGIAR is estimated to yield a very healthy return of $9 worth of additional food in developing countries.

The World Health Organization (WHO) set up FluNet in 1996 as a global tool to monitor and evaluate influenza virus strains by leveraging data from a number of national influenza laboratories around the world. When the epidemic of severe respiratory illness broke out in Hong Kong in 2003, the FluNet network contributed to a coordinated, rapid response from the international science and medical community that identified the virus and helped minimize the related public health threat and consequences.

The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization has immunized more than 200 million children and prevented over 3.4 million premature deaths since receiving a start-up grant of $750 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 1999.

Royal Society Study - Knowledge, Networks and Nations

These are some of the key findings published recently in the Royal Society's examination of global science research entitled Knowledge, Networks and Nations: Global Scientific Collaboration in the 21st Century.

The Royal Society study is based on statistics from international organizations, including the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and the Society's own analysis of data on science research articles published in roughly 25,000 separate scientific journals by the more than 7 million researchers around the world.

Science research encompasses both research and development, the "R" and "D", respectively, of public and private R&D efforts, which range from abstract and conceptual exploration through to market-oriented development of scientific applications.

Research Findings

The Royal Society study paints an encouraging picture of growing international investment in science research. International collaboration is a highly valuable mechanism for promoting scientific discovery and maximizing the impact of science research. Publicly and privately funded science R&D has played a key role in successfully addressing key issues related to public health, food security and the environment, among others.

Are Politically Correct Search Algorithms Quelling Writer's Free Speech - I Am Concerned

It sometimes amazes me that all the high tech gurus in our society and throughout industry believe in free-speech, and they go out of their way to make sure that no one tries to limit free speech anywhere in the world. Unfortunately, on the other hand this same group is writing algorithms which are quelling free-speech, even if they don't realize it. Welcome to the world of high-tech political correctness and search engine algorithms. Okay so let's talk about this for a second shall we?

In MIT Technology Review, volume 116, No.2, there was an article titled; "Free Speech in the Era of ITs Technological Amplification - A Letter to John Stuart Mill" by Jason Pontin. Indeed, the author of that particular article brings up a very good point. If only certain voices, certain opinions, and certain political statements are allowed to go viral, or appear in high rankings on the various popular search engines, then those indeed become the default setting for our overall society. You must remember that people believe what they read, hear, and see even if it is on YouTube, or on someone's blog.

If those with a different opinion don't get heard, they don't get replayed, re-tweeted, or liked. In that case they get drowned out, and isn't that censorship in another form? We keep telling ourselves in our society that the individual is important, and we need a diversity of opinions to help get to what's real, and to allow everyone to belong. However if people who disagree are silenced in any way including being eliminated from the first three pages of a particular search engine query, then in essence their voices are not heard.

It seems to me there is a little bit of hypocrisy going on, and no one is talking about it. Worse, if people write about it - who is to say that those observations, experiences, or even perhaps opinions will show up in the search engine? How many hits, views, or "likes" do you think this article might get? Probably not that many, and yet each and every day people go about their business searching things online, and are brought to pages as long as those pages reflect the political correctness of some search engine algorithm writer.

Indeed, I find this a little bit troubling. Why you ask? Simple, because many of those algorithm writers might be very good at computer science, but they may not have experienced all there is in the rest of the world, and yet they are filtering data and information for mass consumption, and only letting through that filter what they see fit, or what they believe to be the politically correct trends of our age, trends which will surely change. Of course, they will change faster and perhaps in a different direction if the computer science algorithm writers choose that to be the course for humanity.

How on earth would they know what's best? It's arrogant for anyone to believe that they alone should have that level of power, especially if we really truly do care about free-speech, the individual, and the creative genius mind. Please consider all this and think on it.

My Political Stance

Energy - Clean energy will benefit both the economy and the environment. People will have everything they have now and more with vastly fewer destructive effects. Hydrogen, solar, wind, clean coal and other renewable sources of energy will provide all of people's energy needs at present and greater levels through processes that are non-polluting and non-destructive. Ultimately this will even be better for the oil producers; as oil would last longer and be used for production of higher-level goods such as plastics and pharmaceuticals, making more money in the end than if it is burned.

Environment - The greatest shortage in capitalist theory is its failure to put value on nature. Property is defined as "nature converted into productive use," but no value is seen for nature. This results in incentivization of brainless, destructive practices, such as burning the rainforest and flooding the atmosphere with CO2, and in failure to incentivize the ingenuity and intelligence that actually make capitalism work as advertised. There needs to be a price put on nature - both on its destruction and on its pollution - to disincentivize these brainless, destructive practices, and to incentivize the economy toward ingenuity and intelligence. It must be prohibitively expensive to do such things as ranch in the rainforest or burn dirty coal. Putting the price on nature will disincentivize destructive activity and incentivize activity that benefits people more than it hurts nature - incentivizing ingenuity and intelligence in the process.

Subsidies - The agricultural subsidies must go. America's farmland, with present technologies, could support 2 billion people. But because of the beef subsidy that makes beef artificially cheap, most of this land is used to raise cattle feed, resulting in it feeding a fraction of that number. Instead of reaping vast economic benefit from selling the food abroad and vast political benefit from giving it away in time of famine, America reaps obesity, diabetes and debt. Ending these subsidies will result in more of this land being used to grow lower-energy crops, creating not only a healthier diet but vast economic gain.

Taxes - While many Republicans claim that tax cuts have always created prosperity, that claim is false. The Bush tax cuts did not create prosperity. They created vast debt and an economic crisis. America has had a period of fiscal sanity and economic growth in recent history. It was called the Clinton administration. Through a combination of responsible taxation policies and growth-generating policies, the Clinton administration was able to achieve both fiscal sanity and a vast economic growth, resulting in 23 million private-sector jobs created during the eight years of the Clinton administration.

Raising taxes on highest incomes is neither envy of wealth, nor is it punishing success. It is simple reason. Such policies maximize revenues while minimizing suffering. A multi-millionaire is not made to suffer by paying a slightly higher tax, whereas revenues gained that way for the government are substantial.

Clinton has shown how it is possible to achieve economic growth and fiscal sanity. It is time to restore the successful taxation and economic policies of the Clinton administration.

International Trade - International trade results in prosperity for all parties involved in it. When everyone lowers tariffs and quotas, everyone benefits. However a party that does this unilaterally puts itself at a disadvantage. This is the reason for there being regulatory bodies such as the WTO to maintain free trade environment and to arbitrate trade disputes.

There are two problems associated with free trade. One is that countries with low labor and environmental standards become competitive as a result of these low labor and environmental standards. The other is that there is actually at this time a tax incentive for American companies to move production off-shore. This is ridiculous as well as unpatriotic, and tax incentives of this sort must be ended immediately. Labor and environmental standards, at least at a minimal level, must become an issue for discussion, and there should be an international discussion as to what standards are needed.

Defense - America's biggest, most wasteful and most inefficient bureaucracy is the Department of Defense. It takes $900 billion a year in taxpayer money and uses it to buy $200 hammers and $600 toilets and throw away perfectly good tools after a week in use. This spending can be reduced vastly without compromising the power or effectiveness of the military. America could have a military as powerful as it has now for one half the price, or a military twice as powerful as it has now for the same price as today. All that is needed is an audit of the expenditures of the Department of Defense and an end to wasteful and corrupt practices that take place in it.

A related issue that the people who want a restoration of draft keep bringing to public attention is the supposed shortage of willing recruits. There is an easy way to maintain the size of the military and to increase it if such is needed. And that is as following: Step up recruitment efforts in inner city. This will help the military avail itself of highly capable and experienced recruits: Young men who are exceptionally tough and courageous and who are already living in what amounts to conditions of war. These young men will be spared getting shot in a gang dispute or spending a life in prison and will instead become defenders of America. In the military they will learn skills and discipline that will last them through life and make it possible for them to become effective people. And, with all the scholarships that the military has, these young men will be able to pursue a better life for themselves and become productive, law-abiding, tax-paying citizens instead of becoming gansters and spending their lives behind bars.

Taliban - Taliban remains a threat to everyone. While most of their rhetoric is against America and Israel, in reality they want the world. They continue to infiltrate vulnerable populations all over the world and subverting them to their tyranny. Fighting Taliban must be done in a twofold manner. One is distributing facts and information to vulnerable populations in order to inform them of what they are being faced with - an effort similar to the Voice of America broadcasts that were beamed during the Cold War into the Soviet Union. The other is an international military effort to which every major country should contribute money or troops.

Guns - I believe the Left should concede this issue. The Constitution clearly says that American people are allowed to have guns. In places where guns are disallowed, only criminals have guns, and that results in criminals dominating; whereas in places where guns are allowed, the law-abiding people can defend themselves. Instead of wasting time and energy on this issue, it is better to move that time and energy to more important issues. Let people have their guns.

Drugs and Prostitution - It is not up to the government to tell adults what they can put into their bodies, and it is not up to the government to tell consenting adults what they can do with their bodies. Most of the violent crime surrounding drugs and prostitution are not a result of drugs and prostitution but a result of these things being against the law. When something that is in demand is criminalized, only criminals can supply it. The illegalization of drugs and prostitution fills prisons with people who have done nothing unconstitutional. It also creates the demand for drug cartels, pimps and organized crime. If drugs and prostitution become legal, these brutal criminal entities will have nothing to do, and their members will have to become productive citizens. The jail population will be cut by up to 80%. And people will have the rights and liberties that are afforded to them by the Constitution.

Prisons - America has the highest incarceration rate in the world, and most of the incarcerated are there for things that should not be criminal. It takes as much money to incarcerate a person per year as it does to send the person to Harvard. While the person is in prison, he is taught by the wards that he is trash, and he is taught by other inmates how to become a more skilled criminal. Far from being a place where criminals are rehabilitated, prisons are a place where they are hardened as criminals. Two things need to be done to correct this state of affairs. One is to legalize drugs and prostitution, resuling in an end to crime that comes presently with drugs and prostitution and in ending the criminalization of people who shouldn't be regarded as criminals, resulting in prison population falling by as much as 80%. The other is to get people in prison to work, thus reimbursing the taxpayer and allowing the inmates to learn work skills and discipline that they will need to stay out of the system when they get out.

Domestic violence - The greatest wrong facing women today, and in most of known history, is family violence. While severe violations such as rape, and minor offenses such as sexual harassment, are one-time events that one can move past, domestic violence is an ongoing grinding daily ordeal from which it is in many cases very difficult to escape. Strong measures must be taken to stop domestic violence and to help women and children at the receiving end of family violence to get away from it.

I propose two changes to laws that will do away with much of this wrongdoing. One is to illegalize false advertising in relationships. Most men who become abusers don't tell the woman that they are wooing that they will be abusers. They put on a nice and warm front, then spring the abuse on the woman when she is theirs and when they think that she cannot escape. Most abuse situations can be prevented, and others can be overcome, by making it as illegal to falsely advertise in relationships as it is now illegal in business.

Another change I propose is a sliding scale for domestic violence, with severity of the punishment being tied to severity of the crime. A man who breaks a woman's skull should get heavier charge and heavier punishment than a man who slaps a woman. I propose a sliding scale for domestic violence, with the following degrees:

Severe brutality (life-threatening, guns, knives, severe injuries)

Brutality (broken bones, smaller injuries)

Severe violence (whips, sticks, visible bruises)

Serious violence (fists, dragging by hair)

Mild violence (slaps)

Each charge should bear an appropriate sentence, with mild violence bringing a fine and severe brutality an extended prison term.

Incest and pedophilia - Given that one third of American girls, and one tenth of American boys, have been victims of incest or pedophilia, this is clearly a vast problem. Being vast it must be addressed in an intelligent and rational manner. It should not be acceptable to silence the victims of these practices, as has been going on for as long as anyone can remember. Nor should anyone be convicted without due process. There needs to be a due process in these crimes as there are in all other crimes. The people who commit such wrongs should be punished in manner severe enough to deter these practices. Ending the wrongful wars on drugs and prostitution will see enough prison space freed to make room for real abusers.

Abortion - The core of this issue is the belief as to when life begins. If you believe that life begins at conception, then you will be anti-abortion; if you believe that life begins when something exits another's body, then you will be for abortion rights. I believe that nothing has rights until it is out of somebody else's body; and for as long as something is inside somebody else's body, that person has full rights as to what to do with it.

Experience has shown that in many cases it's better to have abortion than to carry the fetus to term. An unplanned pregnancy can not only be life-ruining for the mother, but it can also result in life being brought into the world that is not properly nurtured. In the ghetto, where girls who get pregnant do not get abortions, we see 15-year-olds giving birth before they have any job skills or any parenting skills. Many of the children raised that way become gangsters, which we don't see happen in middle-class settings where teenagers who get pregnant get abortions.

Health Care - The real reason for the obscenely high costs of medicine in America is the shortage of doctors. Not enough doctors and high demand for medical care will in all cases result in demand meeting supply at a very high rate. This is an ongoing structural problem with American medicine; and while Obamacare reduces the pain for a lot of people, it does not address this core structural problem.

This shortage of doctors is maintained by the AMA through two practices: Maintaining a low level of medical school admissions and graduations, and having exceptionally high requirements on licensing of foreign medical professionals. The exceptionally high standards for admission into medical school, as well as the length and expense of medical training, makes medical profession only accessible for a tiny minority of people. One should not need to have a 4.0 GPA in order to be a good doctor, nor should one have a debt equivalent to having a house for going to medical school.

America needs more doctors. It needs to graduate more doctors, and it needs to license more foreign professionals. Only when this problem is addressed will medicine in America become anywhere close to reasonably priced.

Medical Threats - There needs to be an international effort, both public and private, to anticipate new pathogens. We have been lucky that swine flu did not become a major pandemic; that does not however mean room for complacency. Bacteria constantly evolve, and there are any number of bacteria these days that are resistant to treatment. The situation is dangerous. There needs to be an international body to anticipate and confront new medical threats.

Education - The weakness of America's primary education system is a grave threat to America and to the rest of the world. An under-educated population is a bonanza for conmen; and when the majority is under-educated, a skilled conman could forge out of them an electoral majority by telling them lies that only those who have higher education would know to be lies. With a country as powerful as America, which is a democracy, this is extremely dangerous.

The problem with America's primary education system is not shortage of funding; it is the weakness of the curriculum. Students don't learn nearly enough, when for similar or smaller expenditures a number of other countries teach students much more. There needs to be a stronger curriculum, more homework, more learning. This can be achieved at present levels of funding but through strengthening the curriculum.

A related problem is learning-resistant cultures in places such as the inner city and some areas in the country. These learning-resistant cultures attack serious students, frequently traumatizing them to render their efforts worthless, while training other students to disregard the efforts made to educate them and instead to direct their energies toward beating up one another or getting pregnant as teens. This results in brain drain that severely weakens America. These destructive school cultures must be overcome, with those who take part in them disciplined, and those at the receiving end of their nastiness getting the assistance they need to rise out of them and excel.

Higher Education - The costs of higher education have been out of control. This denies higher education to most Americans, resulting in lower social mobility and a denial of American dream to more and more American citizens. The response to Ronald Reagan asking "Why should I pay for anyone else's education?" is that higher education creates a more informed citizenry as well as more people capable of higher-level careers such as medicine and engineering. Higher education funding must be restored to a level necessary for this to take place.

Science - Science is at the root of all technology, which means that it is at the root of all prosperity. Science must receive adequate funding for that reason, whether through public or private funds. More importantly still, respect for science must be instilled at all levels of society in order that real knowledge rather than conmanship and deception be formative to people's understanding of the world and to choices that they stand to make on the basis of that understanding.

Space Travel - Both public and private efforts to explore and to colonize outer space should be welcome. It is known that the earth will not remain habitable forever, and there needs to be a way for humanity to go elsewhere when the sun goes nova or if there is an asteroid heading to Earth. Human life does not have to end when the Earth becomes uninhabitable. There need to be settlements on Mars in our lifetime, and technology must be worked on to make possible travel outside the solar system when the solar system becomes no longer capable of supporting human life.

Public Works - Projects such as the Interstate and the Internet have been vastly beneficial in American prosperity. They have provided an infrastructure for business to do its work. Respect needs to be cultivated for such projects appropriate to the benefit that they exercise toward the economy. Government has shown to do significant economic good. It is wrong to portray it as a universally parasitical, destructive or wasteful force.

Immigration - Whatever is done, must be done with intelligence. Mexican illegals were welcome, or at least tolerated, when economy was good; they became less welcome when it became harder for American citizens to get jobs. Whether they are allowed to remain in the country or whether they are deported, one must keep in mind the future, including the possibility that the economy will improve and they will again be welcome. Brutal deportation practices or severe violence, such as took place under Idi Amin's deportation of Indian businessmen, would prevent these people from coming back when they are again wanted.

Civil Liberties - Patriotism cannot be coerced through oppressive and unconstitutional legislation. Patriotism is instead enhanced when the nation allows people meaningful liberties, resulting in people valuing the nation for having given to them these liberties. The whistle-blowers provide a service of informing the taxpayer of what the government is doing with the taxpayer's money. Instead of prosecuting whistle-blowers, America should welcome them as people who are providing a public service to the taxpayer, to the voter and to American democracy as such.

Lifestyle and Family - Freedom means freedom, and that means freedom to either practice a 1950s lifestyle or not to practice a 1950s lifestyle. There should be no coercion toward a single lifestyle in a nation that is intended to be free. People should be able to choose what kind of life to have. That is the meaning of liberty, and such should be uninfringed - both for those who want to live a 1950s lifestyle and for those who seek to the contrary.

Religion - Religious freedom does not mean the freedom to force one's religious views upon others. Religious freedom means freedom from those who would force their religious views upon everybody else. There should be protection for those who do not embrace conservative Christianity from those who would force conservative Christianity upon them, just as much as there should be protection for those who embrace conservative Christianity to live according to it. That is the true meaning of religious freedom.

Regionalism - Each region has a right to its own character. At the same time, people in a free country have a right to move between regions to find a place that works for them. There needs to be affirmation of both regionalism and freedom to roam. This will result in freedom being protected at all levels: With each region having a right to its own identity apart from whatever is in Washington - and each person having a right to choose a region whose identity is closest to their temperament.

Which Candidate Is Best for Science?

In the wake of a traditional presidential debate it seems like an interesting time to recognize a call from the scientific community for a Presidential Science Debate. I suppose many people in the country might be swayed upon hearing how their president or a candidate might vote on various science issues.

In the eyes of many, this is a central issue to the future of the country. How will federal dollars be used to advance technology and mitigate potential "scientific" phenomena (or catastrophe)? I took it upon myself to do a little research to see what has been happening in the Presidential race, and what it might mean for science.

Both Romney and Obama have recently answered science questions posed by a large group of U.S. researchers. However, the answers proved too political. Shawn Otto, a researcher who led much of the effort to compile questions for the candidates, said, "Some of the questions aren't fully answered when they become politically difficult, others could really benefit from followup discussion.." But who does that surprise? They are, after all, just politicians.

A transcript of the candidates' responses to these questions can be found on the New York Times homepage. I will highlight just a few important topics to which each candidate responded:

1. Education

Obama was first to bring out the need for better training of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) teachers. He alluded to a program he began four years ago to fund better training of STEM teachers. Romney's concern over expenditure was loud and clear and should perhaps also be a concern to scientists. Despite leaning towards allowing cuts in education funding, Romney obviously seems in favor of experimentation with various MOOC style education and open access instruction. Romney is a stronger proponent of using evaluation to hold instructors responsible for their efforts in the classroom (something that might frighten the unions but anyone halfway honest must admit it is needed).

2. Investment and Research

Obama chose to highlight his spending on green initiatives, clean energy, and information technology. He cited unprecedented spending on such programs totaling $190 billion during his administration. Despite declines in the access to grant funding through the NSF and NIH it seems likely that an Obama administration will keep the grants flowing. Romney came down hard on Obama's clean-energy spending, citing a Harvard study that the funding was provided to an industry not yet ready for large capital infusions. Romney outlined what smart science spending would be like. He was quite adamant that he would not decrease NIH funding, though one must suspect what that might mean for the NSF. From his response, it seems that tech transfer will be a more simple process under Romney given his concern with hamstrung start-ups in the medical science industries.

3. Science in Public Policy

Both candidates spoke of the importance of informed public policy. While that is no surprise, the real question is: to what extent will policy yield to politics and ignore science? It is hard to ignore the concentration of TARP funds that went to small groups of large companies claiming to be doing revolutionary science. While this track record does the President no favors, plenty of G.O.P. administrations have been guilty of the same behavior (there have been so many it isn't worth giving an example). The question for science is: do we believe Romney when he says, "I will pursue legislative reforms to ensure that regulators are always taking cost into account when they promulgate new rules."

4. The Internet

How a scientist feels about the candidates' responses really depends on how she sits on the issue of intellectual property. I doubt anyone would disparage the need for proper attribution, but many feel like pay-walls on publicly funded research should be eliminated. Obama's comments seemed to come down on the side of a controlled internet. While open to those who wished to contribute to a wholesome net, it would have nine-foot walls to all others. Romney described the internet as an exciting place of innovation and change, without government deciding what can and can't be done. Without clear answers on the issue of open access, we are left to speculate on which administration would provide a clear but quick pathway to increased dissemination of research.

While I won't offer my opinion on the election. It should be clear that science is not the only issue, but it should be taken into consideration when deciding who would be best for the future.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Red Judge, Blue Judge - Science and Sonia Sotomayor - Research Reveals Judicial Bias to Be Common

According to last count on Google News, over 23,000 news stories have recently been written about a certain "wise Latina woman" named Sotomayor. Despite this voluminous coverage, however, something crucial has been missing from the debate surrounding the nomination of Justice Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court. 

As with previous Supreme Court nominations, the media has reminded us that American conservatives are opposed to judges who are "judicial activists," while liberals tend to support President Obama's criterion of judicial "empathy." Despite this conflict, both sides do agree on one key, common principle: the best kind of judge -- the right kind of judge -- is an impartial judge who applies the law in a precise, dispassionate and  unbiased fashion. 

Unfortunately, this is just bi-partisan hypocrisy. The harsh truth, which our society must finally began to admit, is that such judges don't exist. Modern psychology has taught us that humans are extraordinarily subject to personal bias. Logic and experience tell us that judges are approximately as human as everyone else (true, some of them may seem waxy and lifeless as Madame Tussaud figures, but if you poke a sleepy one you'll see that their judicial reflexes are as lively and automatic as everyone else's). It follows that our judicial population will be just as politically-biased as the general population, ranging in ideological hue from fiery conservative red to liberal cobalt blue. 

By convention we refer to law and justice as unified, monolithic concepts. However, in reality law is a motley creation of a highly-diverse group of human beings. Since human beings are normally distributed along a left-to-right ideological spectrum, the same duality inevitably reproduces itself in our law. Our judiciary is composed of red judges and blue judges (and in-between purple judges). According to this view, the red judges are more likely to create red case law while the blue judges will prefer to do the opposite. We also have red legislatures (think Texas or Kansas), which write red laws, and blue legislatures, which write blue laws (Massachusetts). The red judges are more likely to overrule or challenge a blue law than a red one, while blue judges are likely to do the opposite. 

When Sotomayor states that her guiding principle as a judge is the pole-star of "fidelity to the law," she is making a true statement with which both Antonin Scalia and William O. Douglas would doubtless agree.  However, it remains nonetheless true that these judges would each disagree about what the "law" is.  Scalia looks at law through red-tinted glasses, and it is quietly likely that Sotomayor will view the same cases through blue-tinted ones (though perhaps not as blue as Douglas's). 

Whom might we first expect to take issue with this theory of ubiquitous judicial bias? Of course: judges. Judge Harry Edwards of the D. C. Circuit expressed a typical judicial view when he lambasted those who "seem determined to characterize judges as knee-jerk ideologues, who act pursuant to a blind adherence to ideological precepts and decide cases wholly without regard to the law." (1) Judge Edwards' over-stated defensiveness is instructive. It will not be easy to get judges to do anything about judicial bias even if it turns out that something should be done - because they won't admit it exists. The ostrich-like refusal of the judiciary to recognize the existence of bias was once again on view in the recently-announced Supreme Court decision of Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal Co. (although the Supreme Court did remand the case on the basis of judicial bias, the sharp split among the justices signaled their unwillingness to get involved in any but the most egregious and obvious cases of bias, instances bordering on bribery or subornation). (2) 

Given their extreme reticence, let us begin by extending an olive branch to the judiciary. Let us accept that Judge Edwards does make a valid point: in all likelihood, the vast majority of court cases are not decided by judicial bias. Judges are undeniably constrained by statutes and precedents, by juries, by the arguments of counsel and by the possibility of appellate review. Even the most biased judge may have little discretion or power to express bias in a harmful way. Furthermore, we have little evidence that the vast majority of judges do not strive successfully to render impartial decisions regardless of their personal views. 

Having made that amicable gesture, let us now take off the gloves with Judge Edwards and brethren. Judicial bias may not be all-important in most court cases, but it definitely exists, and it is a problem. The presence of judicial bias has now been convincingly established by empirical research from a new legal school which has been dubbed "The New Legal Realism." (3) Using statistical and demographic techniques borrowed from economics and political science, the New Legal Realists have established that there are significant differences between the judicial decisions made by Democratic appointees and Republican appointees. Moreover, it has been shown that such differences are augmented or diminished by panel composition - partisan judges are more likely to express their political bias when sitting with like-minded judges than when they are alone or out-numbered. (4) 

The threshold question that we have to ask about all this bias is: so what? By convention we have long assumed that judicial bias is a bad thing. However, if it is an inevitable and universal fact, perhaps we should be less dogmatic. The same modern science that accuses the judges also provides them with this excuse: if all humans are biased, we have no reason to expect any better of our judges. Moreover, it's not clear that there is anything we could do about judicial bias that wouldn't just make things worse. Thus, University of Chicago Law professor Eric Posner, a critic of the New Legal Realism, has argued that judicial bias is probably not harmful in most circumstances. The courtroom is an extension of society. If we live in a red state like Texas or Kansas, we should not be surprised to find that a majority of our judges are conservative. In Massachusetts, the contrary will be the case. But is that not as it should be? How could we "fix" that? (5)  

Even if we were determined only to combat the most pernicious and harmful instances of judicial bias, it is not clear how we should go about doing so. We can always provide for more appellate review, but won't that review also be performed by biased judges?  And, how will we determine who is biased, and how much?  As law professors Joshua Fischman and David Law have pointed out, judicial ideology is frustratingly difficult to measure. For example, a judge may be considered to hold a liberal bias on intellectual property matters while holding a conservative bias on criminal law matters.(6) Is such a judge liberal or conservative? The question is particularly relevant in the case of Justice Sotomayor, who allegedly possesses precisely such a mix of liberal and conservative "streaks." 

Arguably, therefore, the New Legal Realists do not yet have much for us in the way of helpful advice. However, this is because their discipline is rudimentary, not because judicial bias is not a problem. If you doubt the power of judicial bias to create social harm, consider the curious case of  the Georgia penal system, where court records have established that first-time felons receive sentences which are strangely correlated with the defendant's skin color.  Black felons serve longer than white felons for precisely the same crimes. Not only that, but dark-skinned blacks serve longer than medium-skinned blacks, who in turn serve longer than light-skinned blacks, who in turn serve slightly longer than white defendants. In one study, the total average difference in sentence between white convicts and dark-skinned black convicts was 571 days. In another study, it was found that dark-skinned defendants with "Afrocentric" facial features were twice as likely to be sentenced to death in capital cases as defendants who were not similarly categorized. (7)  

Sometimes, bias obviously goes too far. If we are killing or imprisoning people on the basis of the lightness or darkness of their complexion, that is too far. Judicial bias and its negative consequences may be difficult to identify, measure or control, but that is no reason not to get started, and no time better than now.  The first step to take is to begin to admit that bias exists and is simply part of the system. When conservatives favor "strict interpretation" over "activism," and liberals do the opposite, that is just another way of saying that conservatives prefer conservative judges while liberals prefer liberal judges. It makes perfect sense for liberal politicians and voters to select liberal judges, because conservative politicians and voters do the opposite. 

It is time for the legal community to respond to the urgent challenge to judicial impartiality placed on the record by the New Legal Realism.  Law schools and bar associations are cheating their constituents if they do not engage in vigorous study and analysis of judicial bias.  It needs to be better measured, and we need to develop an analytical framework for devising better options to counteract its negative impact.  Perhaps, for example, additional forms of speedy judicial review should be open to litigants.  At present, appeals are extremely costly and time-consuming, and therefore a powerful ratifier of judicial fallibility. 

Will a wise Latina woman respond differently to legal cases than a Wonder Bread white boy like Chief Justice Roberts? 

Duh! Of course she will.  She had better, or President Obama will rue the day he appointed her. For all their notorious ideological rigidity, the Republicans succumbed to their own non-partisan rhetoric when George H.W. Bush appointed David Souter to the Supreme Court. Souter proved so moderate that he was an enormous disappointment to Republicans, to the point that he was routinely reviled as a "traitor" in conservative circles. There is no reason for the Democrats to make the same mistake. I don't think Las Vegas yet offers odds on Supreme Court performance, but I am willing to bet my Blackberry that Justice Sotomayor will become a stalwart member of the Court's liberal wing.  So what?  That's politics; and that's the law. 

What would a wise Latina judge do, given the above-described constraints, if she hoped to someday become a member of the Supreme Court? My advice would be for her to develop a judicial career in which she meticulously avoided any appearance of bias in her legal decisions or official statements (in order to preclude serious Senatorial opposition), while at the same time telegraphing subtle public hints sufficient to attract the attention of the President and to reassure him/her that there would be no reason to regret an appointment. Except for a single regrettable reference to wise Latina women, I think that's precisely what the wise Latina judge has done.


[1] Harry T. Edwards, Public Misperceptions Concerning the "Politics" of Judging: Dispelling Some Myths About the D.C. Circuit, 56 U.COLO.L.REV. 619, 625. 

[2] Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal Co., 556 US___ (2009) (Slip Op. 08-22) 

[3] Frank B. Cross, Political Science and the New Legal Realism: A Case of Unfortunate Interdisciplinary Ignorance, 92 New U L Rev 251 (1997). 

[4] Miles, Thomas J. and Sunstein, Cass R., The New Legal Realism. University of Chicago Law Review, Forthcoming ; U of Chicago Law & Economics, Olin Working Paper No. 372; U of Chicago, Public Law Working Paper No. 191. 

[5]  Posner, Eric A., Does Political Bias in the Judiciary Matter? Implications of Judicial Bias Studies for Legal and Constitutional Reform. 

[6] Fischman, Joshua B. and Law, David S.,What Is Judicial Ideology, and How Should We Measure It? (October 19, 2008).  Washington University Journal of Law and Policy, Vol. 29, No. 1, 2008; 3rd Annual Conference on Empirical Legal Studies Papers; San Diego Legal Studies Paper No. 08-47. Available at SSRN: 

[7] Hochschild, Jennifer L., Weaver, Vesla. The Skin Color Paradox and the American Racial Order , Social Forces - Volume 86, Number 2, December 2007, pp. 643-670