Friday, October 10, 2008

Sarah Palin and Mirrors on the Moon

No, as far as I know, Sarah Palin isn't advocating mirrors on the moon; astronomers are. But an interesting response to Sarah Palin came across my desk today, and so did a piece about, you know, mirrors on the moon. So, two birds with one stone.

In the recent VP candidate debate, because it was clear that with Sarah Palin's looks and folksy charm, Joe Biden was in a match with both hands tied behind his back, and maybe his feet, too. I thought he did just fine. Probably the best commentary on the debate was Saturday Night Live's dead-on impersonation of Palin by Tina Fey. If you missed it, you can catch it on NBC's web site.

Today, though, I saw a particularly incisive written commentary from England, by Michelle Goldberg of The Guardian, who said in part:

At least three times last night, Sarah Palin, the adorable, preposterous vice-presidential candidate, winked at the audience. Had a male candidate with a similar reputation for attractive vapidity made such a brazen attempt to flirt his way into the good graces of the voting public, it would have universally noted, discussed and mocked. Palin, however, has single-handedly so lowered the standards both for female candidates and American political discourse that, with her newfound ability to speak in more-or-less full sentences, she is now deemed to have performed acceptably last night.

By any normal standard, including the ones applied to male presidential candidates of either party, she did not. Early on, she made the astonishing announcement that she had no intentions of actually answering the queries put to her. "I may not answer the questions that either the moderator or you want to hear, but I'm going to talk straight to the American people and let them know my track record also," she said.

And so she preceded, with an almost surreal disregard for the subjects she was supposed to be discussing, to unleash fusillades of scripted attack lines, platitudes, lies, gibberish and grating references to her own pseudo-folksy authenticity....

Read the whole column. It's so, so true.

On a far cheerier note, NASA's science newsletter today reports on proposed plans to place giant, liquid-metal telescope mirrors on the surface of the Moon. The reason? Huge mirrors outside Earth's atmosphere could do astronomy that would make the Hubble seem like a school science project. And liquid mirrors could do that for far less money. Basically, you put the liquid in a stable basin, and you spin it at a very moderate speed. The result: a nearly perfect parabolic mirror surface. At Science@NASA.

"No amount of skillful invention can replace the essential element of imagination." —Edward Hopper

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At 8:36 AM, Blogger Charlza said...

Wow, that liquid-metal telescope sounds very cool.

As for Palin, dare I say the obvious...she's...a...maverick :) tee hee

At 11:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love the moon telescope idea, seeing how much "payoff" there's been in the form of scientific data from Hubble over the years i'm all for other projects that are relatively inexpensive and help us understand the universe a little better. After all with the financial crisis going on these days every project is going to be required to justify itself even more so than before.

As for Palin, well lets just say that her being chosen removed any chance that I might even consider voting for McCain. Maybe after the election she can be appointed to a position that plays to her strengths. Like put in a helicopter flying over the Afgani/Pakistani border area and give her a snipers rifle and maybe she'll get lucky and end up w/ Osama Bin Laden's head as a trophy to put on her wall next to the moose, elk and deer she likes to hunt.


At 9:50 PM, Blogger substandardTim said...

I was pretty disgusted in the VP debate when Biden said he doesn't question the motives of his fellow senators! There's so much corruption in the senate and he doesn't want anyone questioning their motives.

How about someone questions the motives of Obama giving $800,000 to ACORN, an organization under investigation for voter fraud in ten states.

The liquid mirrors definitely sound cool.

At 11:23 PM, Blogger Jeffrey A. Carver said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 11:41 PM, Blogger Jeffrey A. Carver said...

That didn't work too well. Let me try again.

>> How about someone questions the motives of Obama giving $800,000 to ACORN, an organization under investigation for voter fraud in ten states. <<

New York Times says in part:

"Acorn, whose political action committee has endorsed Mr. Obama, has said that the investigations into its voter registration work are politically motivated.

“Rumors of Acorn’s voter fraud have been greatly exaggerated and to a large extent manufactured,” Bertha Lewis, the organization’s interim chief organizer, or chief executive, said Monday in a conference call to announce that the organization had registered 1.3 million people to vote.

Ms. Lewis said it was Acorn itself that informed state officials about some questionable registrations collected by its employees that are now under investigation. Acorn said it had terminated the workers involved.

In 1995, Mr. Obama was on a team of lawyers that represented Acorn in a lawsuit to compel Illinois to comply with federal laws intended to enhance access to the polls. The team also represented Equip for Equality, a group that promotes the rights of the disabled, and four individuals.

Mr. Davis [McCain campaign--MY COMMENT]said that as their lawyer, Mr. Obama had “an intimate relationship” with Acorn “against the State of Illinois and the federal government.”

In fact, the Justice Department was on the same side as Acorn in the lawsuit, as were other organizations, including the League of Women Voters. Those plaintiffs won the case.

Mr. Davis urged reporters to question Mr. Obama about training sessions he had done for Acorn. “What were you teaching them?” Mr. Davis asked. “Were you teaching them how to evade the law?”

Lewis Goldberg, a spokesman for Acorn, said Mr. Obama conducted two leadership training sessions of roughly an hour each for Acorn’s Chicago affiliate over a three-year period in the late 1990s. He was not paid for that work, Mr. Goldberg said."

The article goes on to say that the $800,000 was paid to a group called Citizens Services, which contracted with Acorn and other organizations for get-out-the-vote efforts. "Mr. Goldberg, the Acorn spokesman, said that less than $80,000 of the Obama campaign’s payment to Citizens Services went to Acorn."

Of course, if you read the Fox News accounts or the McCain campaign accounts, it sounds a lot worse, as you might expect.

The McCain campaign also tried to accuse Obama of promoting sex education to kindergarten students, when they knew perfectly well he supported a measure to help teach kids to avoid sexual predators. The McCain campaign has not hesitated to lie, and I don't see that changing.

At 11:44 PM, Blogger Jeffrey A. Carver said...

Sorry, here's a reference for that last paragraph:
NY Times article

At 1:20 AM, Blogger Jeffrey A. Carver said...

More on Acorn at

At 3:23 PM, Blogger substandardTim said...

i seem to have stirred the issue a bit. I don't want to argue with you on your own blog, I think it's a bit rude when people do that.

There is actually another court case where Obama was involved with ACORN which hasn't been nearly as widely publicized. He was one of a team of lawyers representing ACORN in a lawsuit against Citibank. The lawsuit was designed to try and force citibank to make home loans to low income families that really couldn't afford to buy a house. So who is Obama trying to blame for the housing crisis?

Also the NY Times has consistently disregarded the facts and presented Obama's associatians with many organizations and individuals in a way that make the idea of journalistic integrity a joke.

I wish I was able to watch FOX news, in fact the only cable news station I receive is MSNBC, and most of them might as well be wearing Obama t-shirts.

At 12:31 AM, Blogger Jeffrey A. Carver said...

I don't mind that you disagree with me, Tim. I think by now we've pretty well agreed to disagree on national politics. So don't feel that you can't or shouldn't state your opinion here. It's fine. I'm glad that you still come back, even if we never see eye to eye on these things.

On the other hand, I'm not interested in turning this into a primarily political blog, so after we've gone round once or twice, I'm happy to drop it and move on.

I don't get any of the cable news channels, and I hardly ever watch network TV news anymore. My news comes from the newspaper, NPR, magazines, and online sources. I used to joke that I counted to Doonesbury to make me aware of important news threads. Now it's Doonesbury and xkcd. :)

At 7:07 AM, Blogger substandardTim said...

haha my own blog has become nothing put politics lately. it all started with the economic stuff which is loosely on topic for my blog and now i can't seem to get away from writing political articles for the moment.


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