March for Science Chicago

Went to the March for Science Chicago today.  Saw many great signs — in fact, here’s one observation: scientists are big on clever signs, and not particularly into chanting.  So it was a quiet, polite, and civilized march.  Not as many came out as for the March for Women — but then, so much else is going on right now ….

Once again, a glorious day in Chicago for a protest march. Couldn’t ask for nicer. And we actually marched: it wasn’t just a stand. Marching is nice: a lovely walk with several thousand of your closest friends concerned about the same thing: data, the planet, evidence-based decision-making, climate change, the weather, new cures for whatever ails us, and so forth.

The fact that these marches happened all over the world is not just dismay over the current political situation in the United States — though that is a large part of it. It’s a global dismay that our dear leaders are not valuing science to any great degree. What is valued is money and corporate power.  Art and science are getting left behind.  And our world may not survive that choice.

When we can’t do anything about climate change at a governmental level, it’s left to individuals to make choices to protect the environment: and while individuals can do a lot, they cannot do it all. It is more powerful when the governments come in and prevent corporate entities (and themselves) from pushing harmful emissions into the air — and when the push for non-harmful, green efficiencies come not just from consumers but from government standards.

Plus, what good does cutting funds to the Center for Disease Control bring? More people dying from preventable illnesses, less tracking of epidemics, less support for communities experience epidemics: more death.

Add in the EPA, the NIH, the NSF, NOAA, NASA … and the consequences are damning.  More people will die who needn’t have died. More people will have less quality of life than need be.

Bottom line, this world is going to suck if we don’t do something.  Stand up and march, write your legislators, stop using plastic bags, take public transportation, ride your bike — but we need to keep funding research and we need to have government regulation to prevent disaster.

The Dark Ages were not man’s finest hour. Let’s not return to them.

MFS 4 22 2017 DATA

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It’s 61 degrees here and that’s crazy

It’s February.  Here in Chicago where I live, February is usually a dark and dreary month, cold, snowy, slightly depressing, and made for endurance.

It’s wonderful. It makes you feel hardy to go outside, shovel out the car, totter over to the train station, and walk into work.  Where you can complain to your co-workers in a slightly congratulatory way about how bad it is outside, so that your own ability to make it into work becomes a feat worthy of note and praise: truly remarkable that we are able to function in this weather.

But right now, it is 61 and sunny.  You don’t need a coat to go outside, a light sweater or sweatshirt will do. It’s actually quite lovely out. One feels like going for long walks. It could be late May.

And that is very weird indeed. So instead of really enjoying this gorgeous weather, one has an asterisk in your head. “It’s so beautiful* ….” *but it’s February in Chicago and that’s kind of odd.

It begins to feel like we are doomed. While I never doubted the scientists, I wanted them to be a bit off in their predictions: I wanted us to have a chance.

And it feels like … we may not. It may be too late. And there may be nothing we can do at this point to stop it.

This US government certainly won’t save us, as they decline to believe global warming exists, and rush to make everything much worse.

It’s 61 and sunny in Chicago today. It’s gorgeous out.*

Banned

Spent my Valentine’s Day dinner eating in a Yemeni restaurant, prompted by two things: one, there was an article in a Chicago paper (The Reader) about eating in restaurants that wouldn’t exist if not for immigrants from banned countries; and two, the restaurant we were aiming for was closed on Tuesdays (who knew? That restaurant is a Korean BBQ run by a Japanese family — so we weren’t avoiding immigrants with our first choice either).

The restaurant turned out to be delightful. The food was excellent, the Yemeni tea (with milk!) was delicious, and the people were very friendly and helpful. We were the only people eating in — they seemed a little perplexed that we weren’t doing take-out — and we had a lovely time.

Speaking of being banned, there is a website that tracks the stories of banned scientists. One of the unintended consequences of the immigration ban will be to universities: smart people, even from countries that aren’t banned, won’t come here to study – and that creates a loss for us, both economically and with the drain of brains away from the United States.

Whose next? Comedians? Journalists?

Will our culture and our economy survive? How do “business leaders” justify supporting the rank incompetence in the White House? It’s terrible business.