Saturday, October 18, 2008

Tips for Science Grad Students

This is going to be an odd sort of a post, so I'll apologize now and get it over with- though I'm not really sorry. It is a response to a member of the geoblogosphere who gave a recent talk, and felt it didn't go so well. In that context, why am I not simply leaving this as a comment? First, it's going to end up being much too long to feel right as a comment. Second, I think the topic I'll develop is of broad enough interest that it needs its own "space." Third, many of my readers here at my favorite coffee shop are college students who have been or eventually will be in the same situation, so I want them to see it. I will not identify the original writer out of respect for the person's privacy, though I will put a link to this in the comments to said post. If you're visiting from the geoblogosphere, you've probably already read the post I'm referring to.

Undergraduate degrees can feel very intense, and are often a challenging experience. Each major has dreaded classes (in geology, structural, stress and deformation, crystallography- all heavily math-oriented classes- are often considered the killers, though for me mineralogy was the nadir- more on that another time). But the fact is, you are being told specifically what to learn and how to learn it. Graduate level degrees go far beyond that. At the master's level, you need to become proficient- not just comfortable with, but good at- pulling meaning from the professional literature. You also need to develop a healthy skepticism of it- that is, an ability to recognize what is not being addressed, alternative explanations, counterarguments against the proffered explanation of the data, and so on. In other words, not just mindless nay-saying, but an ability to take an intelligent contrary position. Every author is first and foremost a human being- we want to be right, and it's difficult to recognize flaws in our own reasoning. Science as a discipline has institutionalized a counter to this- each of us is expected to critique without mercy. That does not imply viciousness or antipathy (though sadly that does work its way in from time to time), but it does mean that concern over "feelings" is not part of the consideration. If you spot a flaw, you identify it.

To someone who is not ready for it- that is, a person whose experience is mostly at the undergrad level- this can be intensely painful. So the first bit of advice would be, "Keep in mind that it's not meant to be personal (especially if you don't have professional rivals), and don't take it that way."

At the undergrad level, most of the reading and other sources you use will be basic materials that are familiar to your professors. As you move into the masters level, you start to spend time with speciality sources that are not as familiar to the discipline as a whole. So, for example, recent articles on magmatic petrogenesis are not going to be familiar to the department geowhizzics guy, nor the petroleum engineer, though both will be familiar with Bowen's reaction series. As an undergrad, one typically will have an advisor in the department, but it doesn't much matter who. At the Masters and PhD level, a student needs to have someone who is pretty darned good in the area in which the student is working. That is not so much because the student will learn most of the curriculum from that advisor/mentor, but because that mentor knows what resources to point the student toward.

The second bit of advice: At the BS level, your professors are mostly responsible for telling you what you need to learn. At the graduate level, you have to take that responsibility on. Your advisor should be able to help, but YOU need to figure out what you need to learn- then learn it.

Next, at the undergraduate level, the idea of "socializing" brings to mind drinking beer, music, dancing, and other aspects of bacchanalia. At the graduate level, socializing may involve any of that, but almost certainly also involves discussing what you're doing, interesting material you've read or thought about recently, what your area of interest is- in other words, a great deal of discussion of professional interests. To someone outside of science this probably sounds horrible, but the fact is, if you've gone on to an advanced degree, it better be because you love the subject- otherwise you're going to lose motivation at some point. If you do love your subject, the opportunity to pick the brain of someone who knows as much as you do- maybe more- in a social situation is pure gold. You can bounce ideas around- they may get knocked down, or they may not. You can engage in reckless speculation- something may come of it, or maybe not. But it's nonthreatening; you're not in front of an audience, trying (and investing serious emotional energy) to make a positive impression. It's in these unguarded, "pointless" social moments that most of the creative work in a discipline happens. This is why professional meetings are so very important- not the presentations, or the posters, but the partying that takes place afterwards, or the cup of coffee shared between sessions. The posters and presentations are important, but they're the result of two or a few smart people socializing. Some random thought gets fixed in someone's mind, and like a seed dropped into a super-saturated solution, a full blown idea crystallizes around the nucleus. Everything else is shaping, testing, polishing, retesting- then hopefully, communicating. All that other stuff, which occupies the vast bulk of our work lives, obscures the fact that it's the informal settings where we most often get that brief instant of inspiration. Social settings also provide a place where we can get and give criticism in a non-threatening, non-judgemental, and even fun, manner. At the very least, there's a good chance you'll get a "have you seen..." or "have you read..." sort of a comment. The astute student learns to follow up on these; the really sharp student learns to ask follow-up questions to judge whether it's going to be worthwhile following up on those sorts of recommendations.

So the third bit of advice is to learn how to use your colleagues and peers as sounding boards. I don't like that phrasing- the idea of "using" people is smelly to me. Let's say, "learn to use socializing with your professional peers as a source of mutual inspiration and feedback." Much better.

Finally, if most of the feedback you're getting says "you did OK," take it at face value. You almost certainly did fine. I know it stinks, I know it hurts, but we tend to be our own harshest judges. The positive aspect of that is that we do tend to put those self-judgements behind us with time.

As an undergraduate, I went to quite a number of seminars and defenses- I practice I recommend to all undergrads. (actually, I think it ought to be a requirement for undergrads to attend, let's say, a dozen over the course of their degree- that would amount to one a season for four years. Sound reasonable?) I've got three illustrative stories:

1) A student was working in some carbonates in eastern Nevada, looking primarily at Permian brachiopods. During his introduction, discussing the overall structural framework of the area, he briefly mentioned the Roberts Mountain thrust. The actual trace was nowhere near his area, and there was no apparent deformation in his area related to that fault, but he noted that some of the work implied that his rocks might have been exhumed after that thrust sheet was eroded off the area. As it happened, one of the profs in the audience had done a lot of work on that fault, and during the Q and A, wouldn't let it go. In one of the best parries I have ever seen, the student responded, basically, that he would review the literature, but that he wasn't certain he saw the relevance of the feature to what he was trying to study. Could (the prof) explain its relevance? End of discussion.

Lessons: a) Be aware of the professors' backgrounds- they do tend to pick up on and doggedly hang on to anything related to what they consider "their" area- another example of this next. A little bit of prep here can go a long way- just show you've done due diligence to something that they consider the center of the universe. If you can show you know a little they'll ask for more, but they'll be satisfied with a little. Obviously, if it really is relevant to your topic, you should know more than just a little. In this case, as best as I could tell, it really wasn't relevant. b) state that you'll follow up on it and read some more. Do follow up on it- in a later slack moment, go to the prof, and say "I was quite interested in your comments on (whatever), and I was wondering what you would recommend that I look at." This is quite shameless ego stroking, but it goes a long way. The fact is, these people are not just in charge of your degree, they're in charge of your future. You want to make them feel respected and valued. If you do, by and large, they'll return the favor. And sometimes their recommendations really are worth following. Sometimes they're just irrelevant. c) Be careful here, but politely asking someone to explain how their concerns are relevant to the study you've done can get them to back off. I say be careful because while no one knows everything, all disciplines have their canonical knowledge. An undergrad degree provides this to an extent- masters degrees are about learning how to use it. But each professional has a slightly different idea of what that "common knowledge" ought to be. It's fair to ask "how is that relevant," but a prof will definitely take umbrage if you seem to be implying that something he/she thinks everyone in the discipline ought to know is simply unimportant.

2) I don't remember the context here, because the Q and A was a train wreck I could never quite get out of my head. But the presenter mentioned "conodonts" in passing, and commented that some people thought they might be teeth. As it happened (wouldn't you know) one of the profs was a conodont guy and wouldn't let it go. I don't know how many times I heard the question "But are they teeth?" I could tell the student was shaken, and I never trusted that prof again. It seemed cruel and vicious and just mean. The prof should have let it go. What should the student have done? First, as a sophomore, I knew more about conodonts than he did. As I mentioned above, there is a set of common knowledge that everyone in the discipline should have. He didn't. My response then (and now- I haven't learned much more about them, except I think the most widely accepted idea is that they're structural elements of a chordate-like organism) would have been, "I know there's some studies that claim that they lack wear patterns that would indicate teeth, but I know others just keep going back to that idea. I think the best answer right now is that they most likely are not, but it's not completely out of the realm of possibility."

Lessons: a) patch any holes in your basic knowledge of your discipline. b) don't drop irrelevant comments into your presentations- they can blow up in your face. c) Never be afraid to say "I don't know." Especially if you don't. That's a tough one, and I don't know how to help, except to say with practice you learn to love it. It ends conflicts. It shuts down arguments. Above all it's an admission of opportunity- look back through some of my older science posts and see how excited and breathless I get when I use the phrase "I (or we) don't know." It's positively obscene, is what it is... but I do love that phrase. d) see lesson "a" in story "1."

3) A student was doing a survey map (i.e. not high detail, petrographic conclusions about geochem, but no detailed chemistry) in a mildly mineralized area punched through with about a dozen highly mineralized hydrothermal breccia pipes. A prof asked him about the nature of the clasts in the breccia. The student basically tried to blow him off. Turns out, he hadn't done any thin sections on the breccia clasts- he had looked at some of the interstitial material where most of the mineralization was located, but he hadn't really looked at the clasts at all. The professor got pretty aggressive- which I think in this case was justified, the student tried to play the "it's just not important" card again, and it escalated. I've never witnessed out-and-out screaming at a presentation (though I've heard it does happen), but this was getting close. Finally, the student sort seemed to come to his senses and realize he was not helping himself. It was a fairly large area at a decent elevation, which means field season is limited, There was a tremendous variety of rock, with the alteration/hydrothermal episode imposed on top of that, so it was a messy area. His support and time was limited, so he couldn't do everything he might have liked to. Finally, it just never occurred to him to do a few sections of the clasts (The insight into underlying rocks could have been useful, and I didn't have the sense he'd even taken a hand lens to them). Overall, it was one of the less impressive presentations I saw as an undergrad.

Lessons: a) Don't get hostile. Period. As a student, you lose. Even as a seasoned professional, it makes you look like an ass, and does nothing for your reputation. As a student, you lose. b) Always, always, always treat the faculty with respect. Especially the department Secretary. No joke. c) Don't overlook the obvious. As I implied above, I do think that happened here. d) Don't confuse "reasons" with "excuses." I think that happened here as well, but if the student had started with the "reasons" he basically ignored the breccia clasts, rather than first trying to dismiss the question, then escalating into hostility, then finally tucking tail and whining like a whipped dog, I would remember this very, very, differently- a weak, but nevertheless interesting discussion of an area where I've spent a fair amount of time. Rather than a disaster narrowly averted. e) Cultivate a healthy curiosity- I don't know how he could have paid so much attention to the ground mass and ignored the clasts- they're altered like crazy, but they're clearly some sort of intermediate volcanic material- not rhyolite, not basalt, definitely volcanic. If he could have said just that much...

Now here's the punchline: all three of these were master's defenses, and all three passed.

I've spent way too much time on this, but here's a few other generalities for surviving grad school:

  • Don't let it get you down. You'll have good days and bad days, that's life. If all the days start feeling like bad days, hie thee to a doctor. Stress can trigger depression, which is a seriously life-threatening disease. Take my word on that.
  • Explicitly: foster positive relations with everyone in your department, faculty, staff, grad students, undergrad students. As you work on a project, take breaks from time to time, wander around and talk about it to others. "What am I missing?" "This was an interesting thing..." and so on. Show through your social interactions that you are welcoming others to think about (maybe help with or criticize) your stuff. They'll like you for it, they'll appreciate your enthusiasm, and they're likely to be surprisingly helpful. They're also likely to be more considerate in seminars and presentations.
  • Do understand that ideas are only accepted in science after they've been brutally examined and cross-examined. This is a reality. Given our nature, it's difficult for us to separate our ideas from our selves, but they really are different things. When your idea or statement is being questioned or attacked try to keep this in mind. It makes it much easier to accept "constructive criticism." It still hurts, but not as much.
  • Have faith in yourself. Know that you will get through. Know that your ideas and thoughts might be improved- nothing is perfect- but "room for improvement" does not equal "bad."
  • Set aside time for yourself. This is specifically time for you to be happy. Nothing else. For me, that was mental permission to read for pleasure for a few minutes each night, and Friday Night Burgers and a pitcher of diet coke for a couple hours each week. Not much, but for the first four or five months of my masters program, I wasn't giving myself even that. Want to talk about a squirrelly SOB...
  • Get enough sleep. 'Nuff said.
  • Understand from the outset that an MS is not just a continuation of undergrad schooling. It represents a whole new level of taking responsibility for yourself, your learning and your life. I get very prickly about those who derrogate higher education, but many undergrads don't really use the experience to develop adult habits- I know I didn't. A graduate degree requires that you develop such habits, and quick.
I guess in closing, I'll tell a story that I've always loved, that's not only heartwarming, but I think illustrates science (and most especially geology) at its best. Our department used to do a spring break field trip to Death Valley every other year. On my second trip we were tooling down the road, and there were two older guys waving their arms at each other and the outcrop. Now if you've ever been on a geology field trip, you know you can't pass by such a scene without stopping. As it turns out, they were like the Deans of Death Valley Geology- even I was familiar with a number of their papers, though I don't recall their names now. [Folllow up, July 24,2013: Dr's Lauren A. Wright and Bennie W. Troxel] OMG! The language! They greeted us politely enough, but when they got back to the outcrop, it was "You effing idiot, this," and "You blind old **** that." It was pretty obvious they couldn't stand each other. Us youngsters were not comfortable. We did stop at another couple of spots with them, but as I say, it was sort of disconcerting- we were not comfortable with the rancor. Except...

They found our camp that evening, and came over to visit. And it was clear from the outset, they were good friends, each really enjoyed the other's company. Want to talk about cognitive dissonance...

Finally someone had the presence of mind to actually ask what we were all thinking, basically, WTF? I have never forgotten their response. In essence, They really didn't agree on how to interpret much of what they were seeing. They didn't see eye-to-eye on much of anything beyond the basics with respect to the geology. But neither thought there was anyone else out there that they trusted as much as the other to challenge them. Their language was partly game, partly social signal (I think a polite smile and nod of agreement would have been interpreted as smug, condescending, and a message that the comment wasn't worth responding to) and partly a gimmick to trigger free, rapid-fire thinking and response. They weren't even really aware of it, since they'd been working together off and on for nearly (at that point) three decades.

So the point is, having your ideas challenged is not only part of the game, but eventually (even if it doesn't feel like it now) it's a part of the game you'll come to value and appreciate. And you'll seek out those who can do it best.

Good luck.

Shared Items

I skim over about 800 items in my RSS feed each day. Some I read carefully, some, like comics, LOL cats, and the like, a quick glance is all it takes. And some, I just read the headline and the first few lines of text. Out of all this stuff, there are a few central themes that have made the strongest impression, things that have most fully occupied my mind- and these themes form the core of my blog posts. Lately, I'm sure you've noticed, these topics focus most heavily on presidential politics. If you follow the news and the blogosphere, much of what I post is redundant; if you don't, I hope you've been enjoying my distillations.

But for each item I blog on and post, there are about 15 to 20 that I've read and enjoyed for one reason or another. Since early August, I have been "starring" and "sharing" many of these items. Each shared item is compiled onto a page called, logically, "Lockwood's shared items." I have now put a link to that page at the top right of this blog page. So if you feel like burning some time with amusements and amazements that I have enjoyed, click on over there. Each item can be seen in it's natural environment by clicking on the title- the way it's displayed on the shared items page is often very different from the way it was displayed on its original home. Additionally, each of these items is coming from a blog or web page that I like well enough to follow in RSS- meaning at the very least that I glance over every item published there.

Have fun!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Betty White on the Campaign

I had seen this around a number of times, but never watched it until just now. It's worth the 90 seconds it takes. Well worth it.

Stayin' Alive

...has about the perfect rhythm with which to apply CPR compressions. One of the doctors interviewed for the article says he doesn't really care for Disco. Apparently, Queen's song, "Another One Bites the Dust," has a similar beat, but he says, " didn't seem quite as appropriate."

Speaking of Disco, there were bumper stickers in the late '70's saying "Disco Sucks." We (my friends and I) used to joke that there would be bumper stickers in the year 2000, saying "Disco Still Sucks." And there were.

The Caped Crusader

Full-sized here. Also, kind of a nice story about what seems to be practice, or maybe dress rehearsal, for the White House Correspondents' Dinner over at CNN. Both candidates play nice, and make mildly self-deprecating and satirical comments about themselves. Obama sample: "Contrary to the rumors you have heard, I was not born in a manger. I was actually born on Krypton and sent here by my father, Jor-el, to save the planet Earth." (For corroborating evidence, see this post) McCain sample: "What they don't know is that Joe the Plumber recently signed a very lucrative contract with a wealthy couple to handle all the work on all seven of their houses."

See, now isn't that a whole lot more fun than those nasty ol' debates? I for one would much rather watch that than a debate. Say....

Followup: Huh. Found this today... can't help but wonder if it inspired the poster at the top.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Hee, Hee, Hee

I did watch the debate last night (maybe more on that later), and McCain did have some memorable moments. I was pleased that so many people said, in essence, "McCain did a much better job than expected. Obama still wiped the floor with him, but given that, McCain did an exceptional job of being a mop."

And his expressions when Obama was speaking were, well, quite memorable.

Followup: The above picture is supposed to be an animated GIF, but it's not posting correctly. Click through on the link below to see what eyebrows should never be asked to do.

From Wonkette, The D.C. Gossip, front page here. Bonus! When I went to get the front page URL, there's more! Didn't catch this Kodak moment. Hope it's not photoshopped, but I'll put in a correction if it is.
From this post, called "What Monster Did McCain Become Last Night?" The article provides an in-depth analysis of exactly what monster John McCain was turning into. A good, seasonal read, but may be too scary for younger teens and Republicans. And OMG! He's after Obama!

And further Bonus! Obama has already taken McCain's best (only?) quip of the whole campaign and turned it against its maker. Lots more McCain expressionism, from this post.

Thanks, Wonkette! Hope you don't mind the shameless borrowing!

And "How's That for a Slice of Fried Gold?" reminds us that Fearless Running Mate also has a scary arsenal of expressions of mass destruction. Update: Yet another addition, from here. Johnny doesn't play well with cameras.
Last update: Anything else I'll put in a new post. Promise. This video puts the above moment in a more understandable context. A little more.

Joe the... Uh... Um...

I've been meaning to mention Medium Large (Front page, above comic) for a while now. Apparently this web comic was on hiatus for some time, but recently was revivified. It came to my attention when the artist, Francesco Marciuliano, did a guest spot on Bizarro, so Dan Piraro could take a well-deserved break. (One example below, from here; other posts I've done on Bizarro and Piraro here and here. Also see Bizarro stuff here) 'Cesco's warped humor has been growing on me rapidly, and today's comic was all it took to motivate me. In the RSS reader, there is a note that "Joe" is not actually registered, though a comment following the above cartoon says he is registered as a Republican. And at the blurb linked above is a further link to an article saying he's not even a registered plumber. I actually kind of feel bad for Joe- it would really stink to meet a candidate, and have a simple question blown up into a media frenzy, suddenly finding yourself under interrogation lights and a microscope. But I think the question on everybody's mind today, is "Exactly who is this Joe guy, really, and is he actually qualified to become president?" Enquiring minds want to know.

OMG! Good Call Natalie and Justin!

So I'm up earlier than usual, and I've been sitting here at my favorite coffee shop reading the intertubes and all. Got up for my second cuppa, and decided I was hungry. Not just "Once in a Lifetime" Muffin hungry, but for something approaching a real meal. Natalie said "The pesto is really good."

"The Pesto muffin?" I asked.

"Smartass," Justin helpfully commented.

So I got the Pesto Breakfast Bagel Sandwich.

"Would you like a soysage patty with that?" Justin helpfully asked.

Yes. And here's what I got: a mouthwatering meal. Everything bagel with a fried egg, pesto cream cheese, portobello mushrooms, tomato, spinach and black olives. And of course, the soysage patty. (Soysage, for those who don't know, is vegetarian sausage. I like sausage, but soysage is pretty good)

OMG! Good Call Natalie and Justin!

Infant Mortality

Or, shall we say, reason number 679 we need national health care. According to an article in today's NYT, "In 1960, the United States ranked 12th lowest in the world, but by 2004, the latest year for which comparisons were issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that ranking had dropped to 29th lowest." Yeah, well, we're still ahead of Bulgaria and Romania. A couple of other quotes:
"In 2006, 6.71 infants died in the United States for every 1,000 live births, a
rate little different from the 6.89 rate reported in 2000 or the 6.86 rate of
2005. Twenty-two countries had infant mortality rates in 2004 below 5.0 infant
deaths per 1,000 live births, with many Scandinavian and East Asian countries
posting rates below 3.5."

Yeah! We're doing nearly twice as well as those other guys! Oh, wait a minute...

Uh-huh. And on top of that, we spend nearly twice as much per capita on health care as other industrialized countries. "We’re spending twice what other countries do," Ms. Davis said, "and we’re falling further and further behind them in important measures like infant mortality." The American way: Spend twice the money for half the benefit.

So according to the graphic attached to the article, we are now in a three-way tie with Slovakia and Poland, and behind Cuba and Hungary.

Read the article.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Oh No! The Cold, Hard Vacuum of Space! No, Mr. Bill!

I was really planning hard to skip the debate tonight. Really hard. I had, like, 10,000 things I wanted to do more. #2781 was "Pound nails into my temples." #2782 was "Drive dull pencils into my eyes." I don't want to put up the whole list; after about #5500, it starts getting a little gruesome.

But shoot, everyone seems to be talking about it. It's, like, the big "do" of the season. Be there or be square. I think it's more the Circus Maximus mentality than expectations for content. So what the hey, if I saw Billy jump off the roof, I would too. If Billy's going to eject himself from the pod, sans spacesuit, I will too.

But I won't like it.

The title, BTW, is an allusion to the closing comment of this post. See, if there's nothing there, it's a vacuum. Get it? Huh?

OK. I Don't Even Want to Know.

Was this rehersal before the UN speech? Partying after the resignation? The truth is out there. And this strikes me as seriously weirder than anything Mulder investigated. From Sadly, No!

Followup: I showed this to Ben, who extemporaneously remarked:
"He's a Hip-hop-po-totamus,
His rhyming is bottomless...
Oh. My. Gawd."

Now maybe those first couple of lines are actually from some hip hop song, I dunno. But I'm pretty sure that last line was his own composition. I thought it fit very, very well.

Followup II: For those who don't recognize him, that's Colin Powell in the middle, Secretary of State 2001-2005. Very weird.

On the Other Hand

There's an old joke that what the world needs is a lot more one-armed geologists, so we wouldn't always be hearing (re-read the post title).

But referring to the previous post, if McCain does win, this is what we have to look forward to. (mouse and click around to see the results... if you dare)

The Best of Outcomes

...would be as follows: Obama wins big time. This looks more and more likely with each passing day, but given the last two elections, I'm not complacent.

I have been asked if I think Goopers will blame Palin; I think not. Just as I blame Kerry and Gore for two terms of Bushwackery, I think Conservatives will blame McCain (rightly) for a fumbling, disorganized and unfocused campaign. McCain will not try again in 2012 (just as Kerry did not in this election).

Palin, on the other hand, is an egocentric narcissist. This campaign has probably been the biggest "O" of her life. For a sports star, beauty queen, TV news reader, she has been sucking this up, and she will not want to let it go. She will run for the GOP nomination in four years.

But it has become clear that much of the right is not happy with Palin. I really doubt she could get the post. And she will run independent. The fundamentalist freaks, who have burdened the Republican Party since Reagan, will have their own little toy steering wheel. They can merrily tool down the campaign trail, beeping their little horn, and have a wonderful time.
Conservatism used to stand for some things I can support- such as keeping expenditures down, and balancing the budget. Such as the idea of everyone equal under the eyes of the law. Such as minimizing the government's interference with adults making decisions for themselves. Such as going with tried and true solutions when those look like they'd work best. But my adult life has seen a refutation of every one of these principles. And I blame, first and foremost, the religious right. The idea that God hates everyone who doesn't believe what I believe. The idea that those who Jesus loves, prosper- and by extension, why if someone is prosperous, then Jesus loves 'em. That if God has forgiven you, everyone else should too. The idea that the US was, in its inception, a Christian Nation- no, a Protestant Nation, no a Southern Baptist Nation. Narrow it down, exclude, divide, find more things and people that God hates, hates, hates.

Now don't get me wrong: on most issues, I'm a liberal at heart. I don't expect to outlive my distrust of Republicans, given their history over the last 30 years. I just think Liberalism, and yes, the whole country, would benefit from strong, principled conservatism. I don't think anyone on the planet has benefited from the buffoonery of the last eight years, aside from a few selected members of the administration, oil company execs and stockholders, and Osama bin Laden.

So the best of all possible outcomes would be for Sarah Palin to break off from the conservatives (folks, you might want to consider re-branding at that point- you know, call yourselves the Conservative Party, and mean it). She could call her breakaway the Rapture Party. I think it would be good to remind all the zealots that you really really believe the world is going to end anytime now, and it would be a good time to get right with God. It also means that the fact she knows nothing and can't speak one sentence coherently, is irrelevant. 'Cause, you know, if the world's gonna end, why not elect a complete ditz to be in charge.

The religious right can take their spooky theocratic beliefs, and their spooky beauty queen, plant them behind their steering wheel, and go beep-beep-beeping off down the road.

And the grown-ups can get back to the business of governing.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Double Check...

your registration (Oregon only). Tomorrow is the last day to register to vote in Oregon. I received part one of my Voter Pamphlet on Saturday, so I figured I was registered. But no harm in double checking, right? Well, a word to the wise: if you're not paying attention and get your first and last names in backwards positions, you might be in for a little shock. Just sayin'.

But I am registered. You should be too. (Registration info here, but hurry- you have less than 24 hours. Actually, it needs to be postmarked by tomorrow, so mailing it before midnight should get it.)

News notes today: Washington (state) is anticipating a voter turnout in the 83% range. I'd sure like to see Oregon beat that. Also the Oregon Legislature has proposed a bill to return to registration as late as election day- which was the case up to 1986. If passed by the leg, it would need to be approved by voters as a measure.

Breaking News

I hate colds.

That is all.