There will be minimal or no blogging today. At the moment I'm too busy, and putting together Tangled Bank took up too much time.

However, I did come across a post on a blog called Kung Fu Monkey that interested me. It's a few months old, but it caught my attention because it almost perfectly encapsulates why I became disillusioned with the Republican Party. He exaggerates a bit (remember, it was Kennedy who made the push to go to the moon), but I think his basic points are pretty sound. Selected excerpt:
Remember Republicans? Sober men in suits, pipes, who'd nod thoughtfully over their latest tract on market-driven fiscal conservatism while grinding out the numbers on rocket science. Remember those serious-looking 1950's-1960's science guys in the movies -- Republican to a one. . . How did they become the party of fairy dust and make believe? How did they become the anti-science guys? The anti-fact guys? The anti-logic guys?
Discuss while I recover from yesterday.


  1. Because they're just like any politician - they go where the votes are, even if the tether to who they are snaps. Folks like Karl Rove are more interested in packaging, marketing and selling a product than in principles. It's the same for both sides, really.


  2. Didn't the Republicans need to do a lot of compromising in order to gain power? Won't that eventually catch up to them like it did to the Dems. Too many issues and not a big enough base to care about them all. That has been the Republicans' strength, staying on message and keeping the message very simple. But the cracks are beginning to form.

    Dems really got rolling with folks being disillusioned with the '50s and the Vietnam War, with causes like Civil rights (although lots of Dixiecrats were replaced by the party of Lincoln) and the war on poverty.
    Then when the welfare state didn't work out so well it gave way to the 80's and the decade of "Me" or as I remember it, the "Al Franken" decade ;-}. Dems became complacent, had been in power for a long time. Meanwhile, somewhere in America, Newt was energizing a simple base of support, maybe Nixon's silent majority, with a watered down civics class that appealed to the masses and they started to gain a momentum. Snowball rolled down hill and took out a lot of complacent Dems who had many causes to get the populace behind. I can't remember where I read it, but when people have too many choices they just throw up their hands, too much trouble to follow all the causes.

    Dems need to narrow the focus on some issues, I think "Invasion of privacy courtesy of Terri Schivo" "Social Security means shared responsibility (not personal or private accounts)" and "Energy Independence (make it a national goal like the moonshot)" should be our main goals.

    When enough people begin to see that absolute power corrupts absolutely no matter if it is Republicans or Dems, then they will look toward the Dems or someone who will throw out the corrupt (insert party here) and bring in an agenda that concerns the most voters. Dems don't have to believe in the Republicans causes, just have to coop their means of getting their message out. Consolidate under a few good ideas that resonate and maybe the ball will start rolling down the other side of the hill.

  3. I pretty much agree with you on the BS of most of alternative medicine as a part of the irrational nonsense in our current culture.

    Now it is true that natural products were our original medications and the basis of many current ones (opiates, cocaine, aspirin, digitalis,...). There is also likely good stuff out there. But every anecdotal marketed herb is not useful. Some are even harmful.

    There is this bias I have seen since my internship where patients attribute benefits to alternative treatments like the chiropractor, rather than the medical treatment.

    Rather than preach to the choir, I think I can offer insight into medical irrationality and that of beleifs as a whole.

    We the doctors are limited in our knowledge and ability to help people. Most of our illnesses are chronic and not curable. Many times we have no satisfying explaination either. We are however wise in our ignorance. I hope. Such is the state of our science. And art.

    Not that we are a perfect profession. We have huge egos, greed, misperceptions, biases,... We are only human. And as a group much better in all ways above than chiropractors, psychologists, therapists, lawyers and politicians to name a few.

    We are also contrained by those who pay, the legal profession and the lack of cooperation of our patients themselves. It is not an easy climate to practice medicine or do science.

    We also have some real gaps in what we cover. If a procedure or medication doesn't do it, we are often without solution. The musculoskeletal system is a huge example. I certainly would like some magic to rebuild my joints.

    So into the gap come the snake oil salesmen. The supplement of the month. The new bestseller. The newest fad. A good used book store is a treasure house (or trash pile) of old ideas that didn't really hold up. I'm all for new ideas, but let's get some evidence before the infomercial and multi-level marketing.

    This also plays on our emotions. I remember seeing Charles Atlas ads in the comic books. Muscles for sure! Then later in porn mags it was the secrets to getting laid. Now my porn is mailings on how to make a killing in the market. And supersize my you-know-what on the Internet.

    The more general issue is the distrust of science. People do not understand the philosophy and method of science. Several classes covered this for me as an undergrad and pretty much blew my mind.

    Still, reason and science leave many unanswered questions. There is a lack of absolute certainty. It has been a struggle for me to live with the question marks.

    But it is human nature to desire certain things. To trancend death. To finally get moral justice.

    The gig is to play this on others. Blow yourself up for me and get those virgins. Be a serf and pay your money for a ticket to heaven. Vote for me so Jesus wil smile. In times of uncertainty and ADHD media as our environment, irrational emotional solutions seem to make sense. Vote Bush.

  4. It's not hard to explain, in my opinion. Two reasons:

    1) in the last thirty-odd years, the scientific establishment went too far in allying itself with the Democratic Party, with the result that now "scientific" = "liberal" in the minds of all too many ordinary folk. Thus the anti-liberal shift in the 1980s also became an anti-science shift. Pro-science conservatives are now almost as rare as pro-war liberals, and for the same reason.

    2) those sober men in business suits (aka Rockefeller Republicans) made the same mistake in the early 1980s that the Democrats made a decade before: they thought they could safely absorb and control a faction that had a looney political philosophy, but could deliver lots of votes. The Democrats did it with the postmodernist Left; the Republicans did it with the Religious Right. Both parties promptly discovered that when you try to ride a tiger, it's even more dangerous to let go than to hold on. Thus we have both parties now dominated by the fringe extremists that their leaders once thought they could safely control.


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