via The Atlantic
Members of Ukrainian feminist group Femen staged protests across Europe as they called for a “topless jihad.” The demonstrations were in support of a young Tunisian activist named Amina Tyler. Last month, Tyler posted naked images of herself online, with the words “I own my body; it’s not the source of anyone’s honor” written on her bare chest. The head of Tunisia’s “Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice,” reportedly called for Tyler to be stoned to death for her putatively obscene actions, lest they lead to an epidemic. Tyler has since gone quiet, leading some to fear for her safety. Images from Femen’s protests in Sweden, Italy, Ukraine, Belgium, and France here: [31 photos]
I showed my masterpiece to the grown-ups, and asked them whether the drawing frightened them.
But they answered: “Frighten? Why should any one be frightened by a hat?”
My drawing was not a picture of a hat. It was a picture of a boa constrictor digesting an elephant. But since the grown-ups were not able to understand it, I made another drawing: I drew the inside of a boa constrictor, so that the grown-ups could see it clearly. They always need to have things explained. My Drawing Number Two looked like this:
- The Little Prince
Happy Women’s Day!
“Safe abortions have always been available to the rich, Dan. You simply want to deny them to the poor, and if you succeed, poor women will be forced to get them anyway. They’ll be forced into the alleys with hangers, plungers and vacuum cleaners, risking death or mutilation. But you’d like that, wouldn’t you, Dan? You sadistic, elitist, sexist, racist, anti-humanist pig!”
-Saturday Night Live
This aired in 1978. Thirty-four years later, it’s still a debate.
1. The action of taking legal possession of assets until a debt has been paid or other claims have been met.
2. The action of taking forcible possession of something; confiscation
The sequester, in short, is a law to implement across-the-board government spending cuts on both defense and domestic programs in order to reduce the deficit. It was designed to have such devastating consequences that it would be grossly irresponsible for our government to allow it to go into effect. It was a poorly thought out plan intended to effectively force bipartisan agreement, however our government is so dysfunctional that agreement was not reached and the sequestration that was never meant to happen is now underway. This includes over 8% cuts to funding for science research, which is the primary focus of my outrage.
We’ve all heard the terms fiscal cliff and debt ceiling thrown around, and we know it’s related to the current budget crisis, but now sequester is the buzz word of the week and most people don’t really know what it means or how seriously it’s likely to affect them. It is perceived to be just another wolf-cry (“manufactured crisis”), and therefore hasn’t elicited the appropriate emotional response and move to action by so many Americans who are going to bear the brunt of the fallout. It was a “manufactured crisis”. Americans shouldn’t have had to get upset about something that wasn’t actually going to happen. But then it did and now a real crisis ensues. What I want to do here is enlighten those who are still out of the loop (no shame intended- I wouldn’t be any different if it weren’t for the AAS CWW Program), especially among my fellow scientists.
I first became aware of the sequester thanks to PhD Comics, a popular “nerdy” comic directed at graduate students. Maybe you’ve seen it:
Science is the foundation of our society, our culture, our way of life; technology, safety, security and defense, public health, medicine, food and agriculture, transportation, energy, clean water, you name it. Let me repeat, it is our foundation. Science moves us forward and ushers in the future, a better future. All of the above issues make regular appearances in political discussions, but the necessity of the underlying scientific research that leads to breakthroughs, which drive innovation and development, which in turn create jobs and drives the economy, is somehow simply forgotten. When the budget gets tight, science funding suffers. Science is not a luxury. It is not a bit of frivolous spending that we can do away with. We are still a global leader in science and technology, but we are rapidly losing ground. Young scientists are leaving academia or moving abroad because they can’t find jobs (in astronomy alone, 75% of new PhDs will not find a permanent job in academia). It’s a major brain drain. Sure we’ll be okay in the end. We have highly marketable skills that will lead us to successful careers in industry, finance, education, or otherwise, but that is not where our training and abilities are needed- doing the fundamental research that is the foundation of everything we are and could hope to become and achieve.
Most science research relies on federal funding. Why?
Major breakthroughs are few and far between. A lot of time and energy must be spent asking questions and studying the minutiae, moving toward a broader understanding. Each experiment, each peer-reviewed journal article, is a tiny puzzle piece of the infinite puzzle that is our universe. Through rigorous and persistent work, scientists collectively put their pieces together until a pattern is recognized. Patterns form pictures and pictures form scenes. A breakthrough is an “Aha!” moment when a single piece connects perfectly, making sudden sense of what you’re looking at and giving you foresight into what it could become. Privatized or industrial funding comes into the play when this moment is reached because they see the picture through money goggles and it’s essentially a gamble for them to invest. They want to have a clear idea of how they’re going to make money on the results.
This is why most science research relies on federal support. Federal support (ironically) also prevents bias, corruption, fraud, and proprietary claims on knowledge and truth.
basic research —> breakthroughs —> innovation —> development—> jobs, economic growth —> national well-being
Science in America currently exists in a famine state, starved of resources. It is well known that academic scientists don’t do it for the money. The sequester, which went into effect yesterday means 8% cuts to already insufferably tight spending on science. Primarily this will halt the formation of new projects, prevent the extension of grants for promising projects, limit jobs even further, and hurt mostly young researchers. Sadly, the young researchers tend to be the most oblivious of and apathetic toward politics. They are busy working long hours to publish results, earn their degrees, and make a name for themselves. They don’t have the time or energy to pay very much attention to the political circus. We trust our government to do what is best, and isolate ourselves from politics as much as possible because it is so frustrating and exhausting to think about from a scientist’s perspective (logic, reason, evidence). I understand. We just can’t do that anymore.
The world needs us, but they don’t realize how much. Out of a sense of moral and fiscal responsibility, or at the very least to protect our jobs, we have to reach out and speak up. No one’s going to do it for us. If there is one thing I gleaned out of my recent trip to D.C., it was that politicians really do listen to their constituents, but there’s a lot of noise, so you just have to be loud enough to get things done. It’s time to start shouting.
Call or email your congress(wo)men and demand a stop to the sequester cuts and urge movement toward predictable and sustained science funding, with a plan to increase investment over time back to internationally competitive levels. We need a strong foundation back if we want to hope for a better future.
Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don’t mean to do harm; but the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves.T.S. Eliot
(The New York Times) - Using taxpayer dollars to finance family-planning services has become politically thorny in Texas, largely because of Republican lawmakers’ assertions that the women’s health clinics providing that care are affiliated with abortion providers. In the fiscal crunch of 2011, the Legislature cut the state’s family-planning budget by two-thirds, with some lawmakers claiming that they were defunding the “abortion industry.” Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin, found that more than 50 family-planning clinics had closed statewide as a result.
Now, amid estimates that the cuts could lead to 24,000 additional 2014-15 births at a cost to taxpayers of $273 million, lawmakers are seeking a way to restore financing without ruffling feathers.
Remember how everyone kept saying this is exactly what would happen if Planned Parenthood was de-funded?
Now Texas republicans are getting bitten in the ass by their own policies, and now have a problem were they can’t reinstate funding because they have been painting Planned Parenthood as the most evil thing in the world.
Lucille Clifton, “it was a dream”
it was a dream
in which my greater self
rose up before me
accusing me of my life
with her extra finger
whirling in a gyre of rage
at what my days had come to.
i pleaded with her, could i do,
oh what could i have done?
and she twisted her wild hair
and sparked her wild eyes
and screamed as long as
i could hear her
This. This. This.