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The Big Vote November 4, 2008

Posted by Sarah in random.
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It’s a day like any other: we all got up this morning, went to work, are having coffees at the office and bitching about meetings – only it’s not quite the same here in the US. It’s election day! I’m a total outsider and it’s very exciting to be able to witness this “historic” election from inside the country. To know that the whole world is watching feels pretty special.

On a lighter note, I found this great blog called the Twitter Vote Report. A number of software developers used Twitter as a platform to collate news about the election today. One cool feature is that it creates tables of waiting times in various cities, with the information coming from the actual voters standing in line. Or you can view maps of voter tweets from individual states.

Anyone can contribute to the Vote Report in the following ways:

  • Twitter: include #votereport and other tags to describe the scene on the ground
  • SMS: Send text messages to 66937 (MOZES) starting with the keyword #votereport plus other hash tags
  • iPhone: We have a Twitter Vote Report iPhone app in the App store!
  • Phone: Call our automated system at 567-258-VOTE (8683) to report about conditions, using any touch-tone phone

They also have a telephone line with a human being on the line to record your experiences. So call: 1-866-OUR-VOTE, Tweet, text or get the iPhone app!

McCain vs. The Astronomers October 9, 2008

Posted by Sarah in science.
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I think we astronomers are generally a gentle bunch. We fight hard for money from our governments for our pet projects, fully aware that our work ranks somewhere below fighting wars, drilling for oil, trying to prevent global financial meltdown, curing cancer and the like in the list of priorities for the national budgets.

But when a candidate in the US presidential elections, and in probably the most important elections the US has seen in almost half a century, singles out astronomy as a wasteful way to spend money, hey, that really pisses us off. That’s precisely what John McCain has done, not just once, not just twice, but THREE times, including twice on US national television, in the 2nd presidential debate that took place on Tuesday night.

What makes things worse, so much worse, is that he didn’t pick on Obama’s support for some obscure and esoteric observing project, but he criticised Obama’s $3m earmark for a new projector for the world-renowned Adler Planetarium in Chicago. I mean, it’s a planetarium! We all love those, and they play an absolutely fundamental role in getting people excited about science and the Universe. Furthermore, the projection technology used in planetaria (if they can pay for it!) is really state of the art – hardly an “overhead projector” as McCain charmingly called it.

Anyway I’ll stick to this short rant for today, but do follow these jumps to read more from Phil Plait the Bad Astronomer, Jules Siegel on the Huffington Post, Alan Boyle on MSNBC’s Cosmic Log (with lots more links) and Julianne Dalcanton on Cosmic Variance.

UPDATE: The Adler Planetarium has issued a statement in response to Senator McCain’s comments. Read it here! (in PDF format)

Snigger September 30, 2008

Posted by Sarah in random.
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Spotted in the Washington Post….

Shame on You, Sarah Palin September 12, 2008

Posted by Sarah in women.
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I wasn’t going to get too carried away with this – after all it’s not my country, which has plenty of troubles of its own – but what the heck, it’s Friday, I’ll have a rant. I’ve been reading, talking (arguing), thinking more about Sarah Palin as every tidbit of news is thrust in our face by the (still) overexcited media. And really, where does the woman get off?

First of all I think she’s a formidable woman. She clearly has a lot of ambition, spark, and is not intimidated by anyone – and good for her. But that’s where my compliments will stop. The woman, or anyone sharing her views and beliefs, shouldn’t be in the White House (and preferably nowhere near it either).


On Sarah Palin September 9, 2008

Posted by Sarah in random.
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The media frenzy over Sarah Palin’s nomination for John McCain’s vice presidency is quite astonishing. Here in Europe too she’s been a big topic of conversation. Although she’s obviously a formidable woman with lots of charisma, good looks, and a brain to boot, I can’t really muster much support for her as a woman or a politician.