Saturday, February 14, 2009

Arlen Spector Playing the Political Game

What is politics? It's about developing political ideas, fighting in elections, representing your electorate. But sometimes it's about wheeler-dealing and negotiating to get something you want. That sometimes gets a bad name .... but here's a positive example ....

WASHINGTON — For years, Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania has been the National Institutes of Health’s most ardent champion on Capitol Hill. Having survived two bouts with cancer, open-heart surgery and even a faulty diagnosis of Lou Gehrig’s disease, he has long insisted that research that results in medical cures is the best service that government can provide.

Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania arrived Friday at the Capitol to cast a crucial vote on the economic stimulus bill.

But even lobbyists are stunned by the coup Mr. Specter pulled off this week. In return for providing one of only three Republican votes in the Senate for the Obama administration’s $787 billion economic stimulus package, he was able to secure a 34 percent increase in the health agency’s budget — to $39 billion from $29 billion.

After money intended for highways, schools and states, it is the largest of chunk of financing in the budget and is almost three times the $3.5 billion first approved by the House. Nearly $2 billion is intended for building and equipment projects at the N.I.H. campus in Bethesda, Md., as well as at universities across the country. But most of the money will go to pay for as many as 15,000 additional grants submitted by scientists at universities across the country.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Centre Of The Scientific Universe

Just for today, unglamorous Rochford District is very close to being the scientific centre of the known universe.

Following last week's surprising revelation that Britain's first airfield was probably in the tiny village of South Fambridge, we can celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, knowing that the last resting place of HMS Beagle was near the equally tiny village of Paglesham

All we need now is to find some remains of Cavorite in Rawreth....

Here's To You , Mr Robinson

Like maybe 99.5 % of Europeans, I'm not a baseball fan, and I had barely heard of Jackie Robinson until last week. I'm now aware that he was the guy who broke through the colour barrier in baseball in the late 1940s.

The reason I know more about him now is that I stumbled upon this account of his fight before he was famous. A fight to sit where he liked on an army bus. A gripping story...

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Atkinson- The Ace Of Recycling

When he travels overseas, he is always sure to carry over a suitcase with a thousand or so British power cables (server manufacturers include both U.S. and U.K. cables with their products, so every data center regularly throws away the foreign leads). He sells them in London for a pound each, financing his round-trip airfare and hotel with his e-waste arbitrage.

But how does he get all these cables?

The story is here and the guy's own website is here.

Hat-tip : Andrew Sullivan

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Could Churchill Have Come Back To the Liberal Party?

It's alternate history - and this guy is asking.....

Reasons To Be Cheerful - Part Two ... Non-racial Politics

....I stumbled on this old article from the Times of India from 2005.

The author is genuinely shocked that British Asians don't feel obliged to vote on racial lines:

Punters agree on the state of Asian political impotence. Many believe Asian political disinterest is starkly revealed by the shocking fact that Asians will not automatically support Asian candidates in at least four key constituencies.

Instead, the Asian vote in Gujarati Muslim-dominant Blackburn, Sikh-dominant Wolverhampton South and Edinburgh West and Muslim-Hindu-dominant Leicester South is expected to go to white candidates.

Explains Jagtar Singh: "I know we have Sandy Parmar, a Sikh woman married to a Hindu, standing in Wolverhampton South. But she is not a practising Sikh. The Sikh community would be loathe to lose its sympathetic MP, the Labour incumbent Rob Marris. He has done a lot on Sikh issues. Sikhs don't care if their Wolverhampton South MP is Sikh or not. They do care that he is interested in Sikh issues."

Long may we avoid electing politicians because of their racial background...

Reasons To Be Cheerful - Part One... Tom Petty

... This live version of Tom Petty's "Yer So bad". Petty is at his sardonic best here.....

If you prefer it , the original video - the one with an inflatable doll - is here.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Would You Credit It? 39.9 % !!!!

I found this advert on Facebook tonight:

If you've got poor or no credit history, you can still apply for the Vanquis Visa card and get an instant response. Typical APR 39.9%.

What Would Jesus Do On the Basketball Court?

The Covenant School of Dallas, Texas operates under the mission statement

"The Covenant School exists to glorify God by equipping students with the tools necessary to pursue a lifetime of learning so that they may discern, reason, and defend truth in service to our Lord, Jesus Christ. . ."

It's got itself some bad publicity - not for it's science teaching -

"Various supplementary articles will be provided throughout the year to provide information about current findings in science and to support a Biblical worldview of origin topics."

- but for it's girls basketball team.

As the Likelihood of Success blog reports it:

A Texas high school girls basketball team has apologized for winning big. The Covenant School, a private Christian high school in Dallas, defeated Dallas Academy last week in a blowout: 100-0. . . .

During the lopsided Jan. 13 game, spectators said the Covenant School ran up the score, playing aggressive offense, even with their 59-0 lead at halftime. The girls kept on the pressure until they scored the 100th point.

The Dallas Academy, a small private school with 20 girls, is for students with learning disabilities.

But the coach didn't agree with the apology , and has now quit.

I'm a definite believer in competitive sport at school. But it's interesting to see a case where competitiveness is pushed too far....

There's a whole load of stuff about this on the ESPN website here. With some heated audio debate here.

You Learn Something New Every Day.....

"maître-pêtre" - literally 'master-spider' - is the word for webmaster in Jerriais

A complete "vocabulaithe du compiuteu" is here.
Chris expresses his own views on this weblog.

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