Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Friday, October 19, 2012
And by that same age of 14, in a different corner of the world, this amazing and courageous young woman, Malala Yousafzai, had already expressed the pain of her people through her words, written under the nom de plume of Gulmakai and published by BBC Urdu in 2009 (excerpts here); spoken out for children of her generation, articulating the need for education in her part of the world (see video below); and for all her efforts, she - all of 15 now - has been shot in the head - shot in the head! - by gun-wielding ignorant, religion-soaked, pathologically-misogynistic bastards collectively known as the Taliban. I know! Life of a teenager, right?
By virtue of valiant and skilful efforts of doctors and surgeons across two continents, military neurosurgeons in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, and trauma specialists at the Queen Elizabeth hospital in Birmingham, UK - no thanks to any effing god anywhere - she is going to be fine. Guardian reports today, she retains her higher neural functions, and will possibly make a complete recovery. She can't talk yet because of a tracheotomy tube, but is able to stand with help and write. She has expressed a desire to share with people her details and her gratitude for their support.
Thursday, October 18, 2012
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
For those who may not be aware, ScienceDebate dot org, founded by Shawn Otto and Matthew Chapman, is a US not-for-profit agency that engages elected officials, including presidential candidates, to talk about science and technology policy. Otto and Chapman are both screenwriters and authors, and Chapman has the added street-cred of being a great-great grandson of Charles Darwin (yes, that Darwin!). One of the major achievements of ScienceDebate in recent times has been to get President Obama and the Presidential hopeful, Mitt Romney, to present their answers to 14 top science policy-related questions, chosen from thousands of questions submitted by scientists, engineers and concerned citizens. The variety of topics covered in these questions ranged from innovation, research and economy, education, climate change, energy, biosecurity, public health, to conservation of natural resources, thereby underscoring the importance of science in all walks of life and the critical need to incorporate it in national policy-making. I invite you all, dear readers, to take a look at the answers by Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney. I, personally, thought that Mr. Obama had a better understanding of the situation and what needs to be done, whereas Mr. Romney was perhaps more interested in treating the answers as his stump speeches, big on rhetoric, short on solid policy, with a soupçon of climate change denial. But don't take my word for it; as always, YMMV.
Unfortunately, the first presidential debate (October 3) and the vice presidential debate (October 11) ignored science and science-policy questions almost entirely, and the second presidential debate yesterday (October 16) paid lip-service to science policy in terms of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, and some rudimentary discussions of energy and innovation.