Yea I'm not too surprised

Here we go…Obama’s first supreme court nomination. Judge Sonia Sotomayor of the 2nd circuit court of appeals. The would-be first latino supreme court justice. A very intriguing personal story for sure, growing up in the projects going no to Princeton and Yale and clearly gaining the esteem of her colleagues in the profession and the notice of President Obama. But unfortunately it looks like she is a bigot. Yup an old fashioned racist. How do I know it? Well she pretty much made it clear with statements like,  “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion (as a judge) than a white male who hasn't lived that life.” Lets contrast that with the views of O’Conner and Ginsburg who take the, “A wise woman will make the same decision as a wise man.” Not a better decision but the same decision because if you are wise then you will pass down opinions with wisdom that will be correct, well thought out, etc.  regardless of your gender. It seems Judge Sotomayor doesn’t feel that way but rather that her life story allows her to be in fact better than people like…me. Shall we go further?

How about the case recently argued before the supreme court of the New Haven Firefighters. The department gave an exam for promotion and decided to throw out the results of the exam when not enough minority candidates qualified for promotion. A few white firefighters sued to have the exam kept saying that they had worked hard for their results and that affirmative action policies are no reason to throw out the results and penalize them. Right on guys. Furthermore…of all professions why would we ever have affirmative action with firefighters. I mean seriously no one’s life is put in danger if we give a leg-up to some young minority scientists or secretaries or stewardesses but firefighters? Don’t we want the best people in that job regardless of what color they are. If my house is burning down I don’t want someone who got extra points on his exam because of his race. I want whoever is the MOST likely to save my ass.

Back to Judge Sotomayor, she even ruled on one of my favorite cases from the last few years. The highschool student in Connecticut who was barred from running for class office after she called the superintendent a douche-bag on her blog. Of course, Sotomayor ruled with the school administration furthering the preposterous precedent that students’ first amendment rights are not fully protected. Absolute BS if you ask me. As a student with limited protection I’m going to go out on a limb here and say, on the record, that I think the 2nd circuit court of appeals may in fact be a bunch of douche-bags. Yup, full on douche-bags.

Of course that has never been a disqualifier for supreme court justices (look at scalia) so I’m pretty sure she’s gonna get confirmed which I think means we can expect a whole lot more appreciation on the bench for backwards race based policies. Oh wait you say the court doesn’t set policy? Not according to Judge Sotomayor who said that “the court of appeals is where policy is made.” Do you get a complimentary copy of the constitution when you become a justice? I hope so. Patrick OUT!!!



So I’ve decided what I want to do for the rest of my life. OK, I’ve said that before and it never sticks but for the moment…I want to work for NASA. I’ve almost entirely resigned myself to the fact that I’m going to be continually in search of research patronage from tax payer dollars. I had always assumed that it would be at a university or research institute. But then I thought what if I could be at the ULTIMATE expenditure of tax payer dollars (no, not the military), NASA. I mean seriously, its like the epicenter of geekdom right here in the US of A. Perhaps the only thing geekier is a postion at CERN but being an American and not into particle physics I think my chances there are limited.

I know what you’re thinking, “Patrick, you don’t know the first thing about being an astronaut.” That’s true…but I could learn. No no, that’s not really my plan. They actually hire a good number of biologists (even burgeoning young plant biologists like myself). What do they do with them? Lots of things. First off they need people to plan out long term manned missions to other places (the moon, mars, etc.) They are also looking for ways of maintaining astronaut health and well being which means food supplies (mostly plants because we haven’t mastered the space chicken yet), and also medical supplies (remember I work with medicinal plants). Also, I’ve read the Andromeda strain three times which I think makes me something of an expert in exoplanetary virulence factors (note to self: include Andromeda strain on resume).  

But seriously…how cool would that be? I mean even if we put the immensely cool job aside the ego boost (What? I could always use a little more) from introducing myself as, “Dr. Arsenault…I work for NASA.” Um yea, I can hear the supermodels running my direction now just itching to get a piece of my lab coat. Sweet! Plus there is always that off chance that they’ll pick you for a space mission and all that good stuff. I can’t wait to get my space suit fitted. Patrick OUT!!!



Climate Conference Sex Boom


All I can say is, “Its gettin’ hot in here”


Patrick OUT!!!


Cognitive Dissonance

An excellent post on cognitive dissonance with some relevance to yesterday’s commentary.

Patrick OUT!!!



Just Don't Know

Had a nice trip down to the cape this weekend for memorial day. Did a good deal of time on the bike, went fishing (didn’t catch anything but is that really the point?), and spent some quality time with friends. On the way down I rode with a good friend of mine who is the only person I know (I think) that has gone from being an atheist to being spiritual in any sense. I’m not going to go too far into how that process happened because I don’t really know but what did strike me is the idea that she presented that I wasn’t going to convert her. Well that’s fine…I don’t have any desire to convert anyone (though I admit I might help push people over the atheism cliff if the opportunity presents itself) but I don’t find any great satisfaction in converting those with faith. What strikes me about the whole thing I suppose is the idea that she thought that I wouldn’t be able to “convert” her. Of course I initially took this as a challenge and then realized that I shouldn’t because I would say the same thing. The question was why do we both feel the same way about opposite sides of an argument. Certainly for me, my particular life view is very focused on the idea that we can exist without (thankfully) a creator of any sort. The idea that the universe can be subjectively beautiful for its own sake and not as a gift to us and that we can find objective morality also without a creator. I think that I’ve picked one of two sides to the argument that makes sense and is the more likely scenario to be true. Of course, I would not be doing any justice to the opposite side of things trying to recreate the arguments here but suffice it to say she was just as sure of her side of things. Then it came to how we get to where we are…why are we so sure of these things and so sure that we will not be convinced of our error. She proposed that it must be a personal discovery, that you need to come across it on your own accord and not be led to it by others. This, I’m not so sure of. In my admittedly biased mind, I’m prone to thinking that one could certainly discover atheism and deduce its probability through a priori arguments but that no such thing could exist for the existence of god or anything supernatural for that matter. I don’t understand in the slightest how an individual with no prompting at all could come to believe in the supernatural. Of course, I have evidence to suggest that this probably does happen but I really wish it didn’t. The idea that people make things up to explain things that are unexplainable (to them at least) or to put reason into instances of happenstance is almost understandable. I find it to be of questionable worth but not beyond the realm of my comprehension. That being said, how far can we get when people believe something they may have made up (or at least have no objective evidence for) and then hold onto it for dear life insisting that their minds will not be changed. Why does this happen so often? How can I avoid it? Have I already fallen for it? Is there a way back…perhaps through personal discovery or is the idea of a protecting god and a purpose (however unknowable) so enticing to people that the suspension of reason seems a reasonable trade-off? Patrick OUT!!!

Money for Nothing


Zombie Attack

Boston Cops will Inform of Imminent Zombie Attacks


I can’t tell you how much better I feel after finding out that the Boston PD will in fact be informing the public about any zombie attacks. Obviously the potential for a police cover-up of such activities is great and so this display of governmental transparency really puts my mind at ease. I hope that other departments around the nation will respond in kind to the zombie scourge. As a side note: this almost makes me want to get twitter…almost. Patrick OUT!!!



Teachers Fail at Math


Apparently the prospective teachers in Massachusetts aint doin so hot on their teachers exams. More specifically they can’t do math. In fact, almost 3 out of 4 of them failed their exam on the math portion. It’s a good thing there are lots of subjects for them to teach other than math but man I wouldn’t want to have my grades computed by these people. I was all ready to judge the whole lot of them harshly but I decided I would be more fair than that so last night I took the practice exam to see how I did. There were 45 questions and it took me about 1 hour to complete (note: the allotted time is an amazing 4 hours). I used nothing but a pen and paper (i.e no calculator because I couldn’t tell if that would be allowed or not). Out of 45 questions I did get 2 wrong. For those wondering, I have included a link to the practice test below. The ones I missed were #13 and #17. I missed the first one because I was stupid and I feel bad about that one. The second one was just a dumb question based on a contrived means of multiplication that no one would ever use and so I kind of glossed over it and guessed…poorly. Other than that…the test is easily passable (actually I don’t know what passing is but I’m assuming that a 96% is good enough). Take the test for yourself and see how you do. Keep in mind…I might have a lot of formal education under my belt but I haven’t looked at elementary school math in a LONG time. Hopefully you’ll do better than me and hopefully better than the people teaching our state’s children. Ugh how depressing. Patrick OUT!



Take the Practice Test



Times are Tough

With the economy on the rocks major corporations are trying to cut corners as best they can. For some that means the lay-offs of thousands of employees or cutting back on company travel, for others it means giving out large bonuses to employees who ran said corporations into the ground (thanks AIG). In an age of telecommuters, VPNs, and instant messaging…the office has become a bit passé. Companies have figured out that people just don’t need the office anymore…they can work from home and still do their jobs. This has become remarkably common but some firms are a bit slow to catch on and realize the gains that are involved with eliminating the buildings those employees used to work in. In light of that, at least one major American company is taking a decidedly different approach to cost-saving. Inside sources (the first and only time I can say that here) tell me that a new study is underway in real-estate utilization. The study will use state of the art Posterior Indexing Super Sensitive Employee Determination (PISSED) technology.

In short, every seat will have a sensor fitted to it to determine if someone is sitting in it or not. Keep in mind…this isn’t measuring productivity whilst in said seat but rather just if you are sitting in it. Data will be collected over a period of weeks to determine if sites are being utilized fully and if consolidation of space is possible (i.e. are there empty chairs). I’m no expert in space utilization but to me it seems that they are walking down a road towards corporate musical chairs wherein an office as just enough chairs for almost everyone but they leave a couple less than the number of people to account for those just standing around. Get up to go to the bathroom and DAMN someone just stole your workstation. Coffee break near the watercooler…better wheel your chair down the hall with you or you’ll be standing the rest of the day. Ahhh…can’t you just feel the cost savings rolling in. I kind of wonder if ALL the seats will have sensors in them. Will the lobby benches have sensors, maybe to measure wait times like at McDonalds. How about the toilet seats so that you can get a better sense of the gastrointestinal health of your employees? If I was working there, I’d be investing in about 150 lbs of sand and putting that right onto my chair 24/7…think of how dedicated I would seem…no lunch break…no sleep…beat that. Patrick OUT!!!




Criminal Hubris

Nancy Pelosi has found herself embroiled in a controversy concerning what she knew or didn’t know about the use of torture or “enhanced interrogation techniques” on suspected or avowed terrorists. I really think this woman doesn’t understand that attempting to fool the whole country so you can have it both ways is just dumb. Does she honestly believe herself to be that much smarter than EVERYONE? Furthermore is it really a surprise that a politician might switch their views to go along with what happens to be popular at the moment…riding the wave. John Kerry made a career out of it and George H.W. Bush found jesus before his run for president. So yea…the idea that Pelosi is a bit hypocritical should come as no surprise. I think the most important part of the story is the heartening display of party disunity on the parts of Pelosi and Leon Panetta. I’m not sure I agree with Mr. Panetta being in his current post (CIA director for those not paying attention), but I’m glad at least he is sticking up for himself and his agency and calling bullshit on one of the most powerful people in congress. Give that guy a pat on the back for being righteous.

Pelosi on the other hand should be a bit embarrassed for being caught. I don’t know if it really calls for her resignation from the speaker’s position but she should at the very least acknowledge that she is a political hack and made a mistake and then apologize to “the Agency.” I’m also hoping just a bit that she gets a serious contender for her house seat in the next election because having to defend her inaction on torture to her very liberal constituency will be fantastic political cinema. This is a little bit reminiscent of the Clinton sex scandal, where everyone with half a brain knew what he did…most didn’t really care about the nitty gritty details but rather were offended by his almost instinctual display of hubris and ability to lie so poorly to prosecutors (a bit out of character for willy).

All in all, I’m pretty done with this story because it doesn’t accomplish much except for political embarrassment. We aren’t advancing any public policy here or making the country a better place. Its kind of like a summer blockbuster…pretty entertaining for a short time but you know its not going to win any awards and it ain’t gonna make it to the DVD collection either. Patrick OUT!!!



Creation Minute

Link Below

Eric Hovind’s Creation Minute


My new FAVORITE website…don’t stare at it for too long though, it will rot your brain. Patrick OUT!!!



Christian Scienctists...what?

The Church of Christ Scientist is furnishing a speaker in Framingham this coming week. The Title of his Talk: “Prayer: God's Stimulus Plan.” Holy Shit…literally. This guy wants to tell me that the downfall of my business or economic status can be mitigated through prayer. Ummmm…no. Lets keep in mind that these are the same people who deny the basics of modern medicine in favor of health through prayer. Why would they do such a crazy thing? Well they believe that disease is not necessarily caused by viruses or bacteria but rather is caused by a deviation from god. So OK…I can maybe get that they’ve never seen the evidence for bacterial disease and don’t just want to take someones word for it (of course they don’t hold those same standards with the bible). But doesn’t their theory fall apart with the 1.8 billion Chinese people who seem to live alright and yet don’t worship their god (some may have never even heard of him/her/it). Or for that matter…there’s me. I not only don’t worship their god…I actively deny his existence. You would think that would piss him off royally…and yet I remain pretty healthy. Hmmm…so what DO they get out of this? Well they get higher morbidity and mortality rates. It costs them money because some of them pay professional “prayers” to try and get them well when they are ill. Their children suffer because they contract diseases we have vaccines for and subsequently miss school and fall behind. Wow…what a trade off for the opportunity to worship a non-existent deity. Note to self: Start career as professional “prayer” for gullible Christian scientists. Patrick OUT!!!

On being vegetarian

I don’t think I get the whole vegetarian thing. Rather I don’t get the people who don’t eat meat but still buy things that taste like meat (you know who you are fake bacon eaters). I’ve heard about the health issues of eating meat but I’m not sure I buy that because its really all about moderation. If you ate nothing but avocado all day then you wouldn’t be in super good health that same is if you ate nothing but prime rib every night. This is especially true of those partial vegetarians that just don’t eat pork or beef (hey sis)…what the hell? Is there something wrong with tetrapods? Is it because they are cuter than their avian and ichthyian (I might have just made that word up) cousins? Back to my original point…why deny yourself something? At least for some its clearly not because they just don’t like it because the market for non-meat imitations is huge. Of course, I can’t discount the moral argument from you vegans out there. I don’t really get it but I can’t discount it. I suppose my main gripe with it, is the issue of why we need to hold humans to a higher standard than the rest of the animal kingdom. Sure we’re a bit smarter but not particularly well adapted to our environments or that much more evolved than some other species (most of us can’t hunt our own food anymore and we are very prone to killing each other without just cause…something fairly rare in most other species). And why not eggs? If we didn’t eat them they would go to waste and if we let the chickens go in the wild they would be eaten by something else…isn’t it better to just make the best of the situation and have an omelet (maybe filled with some bacon, sausage, cheese and every other good thing in life that vegans deny themselves). I’m off to have a bacon cheese burger. Patrick OUT!!!


What I’m Listening Too: Aaron Copeland – Rodeo (conductor: Leonard Bernstein)


It just can't be

Please let this just be a bad joke…I’m not sure I can tolerate this from people we elect to high public office.


Patrick OUT!!!


Note to Self: Move to Georgia and run against Paul Broun for House seat.

What now?

Discover Magazine: Texas is Doomed

It appears to me that we are entering a new age of the religion and reason battle. The state of texas state board of education has now voted to remove references to the age of the universe. The presumption is that the generally accepted age of the universe (14 billion years) may somehow be at odds with some religious fundamentalists. I kind of get why they don’t like evolution and all that stuff…but the age of the universe…I mean really that only conflicts with the bible if you take every word literally. How many could their possibly be that read the bible and say “yup…that all sounds like the literal truth of the matter and then decide that all the science must be flawed…probably just a test of our faith delivered from on high.” WHAT?!?! Then, of course, the board of education votes to, indeed, weaken the states stance on the age of the universe there by opening up the door to young-earth creationists.  Well shit…that’s crazy. I can just barely get my head around the absolute inanity and absurdity of that action. These people are IDIOTS…seriously, there is something wrong in their heads. If you want to believe that the earth is flat or any other off the wall thing then that’s your business but if you sit on the school board and are in charge of the science curricula…you need to keep it to yourself. If they go off and willfully weaken the education of our young people because of a delusion…its criminal. Just plain WRONG. I know I’ve called for people to perhaps not go off bashing religion at every turn and that I’ve been guilty of just that but this goes too far. You believe what you want to believe but the denial of reason in matters of public policy is the lowest of the low. This is North Korea low. We might as well just start referring to that board of education as our “dear leaders.” UGH! The NCSE is fighting the good fight here and I would appreciate any and all of you to either join with them or donate some money to the cause. Patrick OUT!!!


A Little Much


My lab is being meticulously swabbed down by the custodial staff with disinfectant today and thus smells horribly of Lysol. This is not a good thing. I can only imagine that it is a swine flu prevention measure but that really is just a guess. At this point…I’d rather get swine flu than have this smell. The idea that we are really preventing anything by this action is pretty silly. I mean, one infected person and a good solid sneeze and the whole effort is ruined. If there was already swine flu present (or any other disease for that matter) we would probably already have contracted it and thus the momentary sterility induced by this action would quickly be wasted. If only they could find a biologist to explain these things to them…oh wait, we work in a whole building full of them…funny, how that works out. I think to protest the situation I’m going to go ahead and touch every surface I can get my hands on to reinfect the place with all my bacterial flora…think microbial imperialism. This does bring to mind the late George Carlin who said, “ I don’t wash my hands every time I go to the bathroom. Can you deal with that? You know when I wash my hands? When I SHIT on them.” Perfect. Patrick OUT!!!


Grades have been turned in for (hopefully) my last teaching assignment for a while. Next year should be pedagogically free for me and that is a welcome change. I was grading a lot on participation in class which is always tricky (because it always has this awful subjective component to it). Of course their exams constituted the bulk of the grade which was good for some and certainly not for others. I think that the class did surprisingly bad considering the format (take-home open book). I tried to be generous with it and it helped some people out. I guess I’m just glad that the semester is over and looking forward to getting the summer started now. The lab is going to be very quiet for some time but that might be OK in some respects so I’m not fretting it as much as I might otherwise. Patrick OUT!!!


What I’m Listening Too: “Hot for Teacher”- Van Halen…why is it that my students don’t feel this way? : )


Welfare Cars


Good old Massachusetts is now putting more money into providing cars for people on welfare. You read that right…cars…and insurance, repairs, and even AAA membership (just in case). What?!?! This blows my mind. Every year I get charged an excise tax on my vehicle (that  I paid for mind you) because the state considers it something of a luxury that I own my vehicle. But apparently now it’s a necessity…I don’t get it. I don’t make a whole hell of a lot of money and yet the state has never offered to buy me a vehicle or waive my taxes. Get this…I even pay for my own AAA membership…woah! We give them food stamps…why not give them bus passes instead (its more environmentally friendly that way anyways). This is welfare gone CRAZY. Patrick OUT!!!


There is still HOPE

President Obama is going to be skipping the national day of prayer this year. Wonderful. I’m not sure if this is just that he doesn’t feel like doing it or if it really is a symbolic break with the religious nuts trying to control Washington…either way, I’m happy. The conservative, Washington Times, reported on the whole thing trying to point out Obama’s disconnect with the religious and to say how angry all these religious leaders were. My favorite quote

"At this time in our country's history, we would hope our president would recognize more fully the importance of prayer," said Mrs. Dobson, who occupied a prominent seat in the front row for the ceremonies during the Bush administration.

Right…in a time of crisis when decisive action must be taken, we want a president who will just HOPE that things go well. Maybe if he thinks super hard about the banking crisis God will reach down with his mighty hand and fill the coffers of Bank of America once again…oh, gee that would be just swell. Or maybe if he prays enough then the whole Iran thing will be solved and they wont be able to make nuclear weapons. Wait…what if Ahmadinejad is praying too. What if he prays more than Obama? Shit…that could be awful…this skipped prayer breakfast could be the end of western civilization? Do the north Koreans have a prayer breakfast….gee wiz I hope not. Hopefully our own evangelicals will save us

Some evangelicals said they were not surprised by Mr. Obama's decision. "For those of us who have our doubts about Obama's faith, no, we did not expect him to have the service," said Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America. "But as president, he should put his own lack of faith aside and live up to the office."

I think he is living up to that office. Ya know the part about protecting and preserving the constitution of the United States…that document that mandates a separation of church and state. With that…who the hell are the “Concerned Women for America.” What exactly are the concerned about? America? In general? That seems like an awfully big thing to be concerned about…and yet they spend their time on the lack of a prayer day breakfast…hmmmmmm. I think we need a truth in advertising law for lobbyist groups. Come to find out the “Concerned Women for America” was founded by Bev LaHaye who is married to Tim LaHaye who wrote that horrendous “Left Behind” series that got people all riled up about the rapture and the rest of that hocus pocus bullshit.  What do these people believe in well their website tells you in its “Statement of Faith”

  • We believe the Bible to be the verbally inspired, inerrant Word of God and the final authority on faith and practice.
  • We believe Jesus Christ is the divine Son of God, was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died a sacrificial death, rose bodily from the dead on the third day and ascended into Heaven from where He will come again to receive all believers unto Himself.
  • We believe all men are fallen creations of Adam's race and in need of salvation by grace through personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • We believe it is our duty to serve God to the best of our ability and to pray for a moral and spiritual revival that will return this nation to the traditional values upon which it was founded.

Sweet Jesus Mary and Joseph these people are batshit crazy and they claim to be the largest women’s public policy group in the country. If you’re a woman, I would encourage you to start a counter group…something along the lines of, “Women Always Concerned Knowng Overtly Brainless Statements (WACKO-BS).” I would give the first donation for your political activities. Patrick OUT!!!




Just in case you forgot that sharia law can be crazy. A man in Iran was stoned to death for adultery. Reasonable people??? Right…

Patrick OUT!!!




After a short hiatus…I’m back from Memphis. I’m sure some of you didn’t even notice I was gone but I’m over that now. I was there for the Memphis in May/ Beale St. Music Festival which was pretty good…wet…but good. I went with a good buddy of mine, Brian whom I hadn’t seen since last October. It was a good sort of reunion with a guy who was once described as my heterosexual life partner (I can’t deny it). Anyways the music, and food and beer were all great. Susan Tedeschi, and Elvis Costello were the clear highlights of the event. Johnny Lee Hooker was also great and Steve Miller band was just as good as expected. The atmosphere was phenomenal with lots of people in a really good mood despite the foul weather and muddy conditions. I would definitely go again but I think my next stop will be the Chicago Blues Fest which I hear is amazing though a bit different in terms of atmosphere. Of course now its back to work…err, almost because clearly I’m not doing that now. Soon enough though…nose to the grindstone to try and churn out enough data for a couple more papers over the next three weeks…yup, you read that right three weeks. Later this week I’m going to finally write about the swine flu because I feel that I haven’t added anything to the hype and I don’t want to let you down thinking I haven’t noticed it. Patrick OUT!!!



I'm a joker. I'm a smoker. I'm a midnight toker. - Steve Miller
Topics overheard on the plane: softball and piercings 'down there,' botox, ryan seacrest gay? Mike lowell is wicked hot. Most vacuous 3 hours of my life
Flight time 3 hours. Four women behind time silent: 3 minutes
Passing through new logan terminal A looking for flights on northwest but none to be found...shit. Oh wait airline merger means i'm flying delta now...crisis averted.