Open Thread: On Mars, I Agree with Bill Maher

Sure, I want humanity to become “a multi-planet species” — but that won’t happen while we’re treating the one we’ve already got as disposable, something to be used up and discarded.

Hell, just getting to Mars is gonna involve a level of “reduce, reuse, recycle” that we’ve barely contemplated. Let’s practice here, where if/when things go wrong — as they did during Steve Bannon’s Biosphere II experiment — the messy aftermath can be measured in lawsuits, not deaths.



Monday Morning Open Thread: Standing Together and Fighting for Truth

Chaz Danner, NYMag, “Scientists and Their Allies Stage Unprecedented Worldwide Protest“:

Scientists and their supporters amassed in large numbers in hundreds of cities across the globe on Saturday to participate in the March for Science, a worldwide protest in support of science, scientists, and the value of scientific research. More officially, the nonpartisan event was meant to encourage “political leaders and policymakers to enact evidence-based policies in the public interest.” Many attendees in the U.S., however, appeared to be motivated as much by their respect for science as they were by the Trump administration’s perceived antipathy towards it. The sweeping White House-proposed budget cuts to federal agencies that fund scientists and their research was instrumental in driving interest in the march over the last few months, and government science budgets were clearly on the mind of many other marchers across the world too, as was the threat of human-driven climate change. Evidence and reality may be neutral, but in the present political climate, scientists may no longer be able to be so.

Whatever the specific motivations of individual participants, the overall march was undoubtedly a unique event in the history of science and politics. As the Washington Post’s Chris Mooney explains after talking to some science historians, “While scientists and their allies have argued about and even occasionally protested on specific political topics over the years, taking to the streets in a sweeping defense of scientific truth itself and its role in policymaking seems considerably broader and, for the research world, more fundamental.”…

Apart from continued #Resistance, what’s on the agenda as we start another week?
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Sunday Morning Open Thread: For SCIENCE!

From commentor James J, in Madison. First of many from the BJ community, I’m assuming.

Mr. Charles P. Pierce:

In 2017, the country needs a series of marches across the landscape to remind itself that scientific progress and American democracy are inextricably bound for their mutual survival. The current president* has leaked a budget that decimates the federal government’s role in all manner of scientific research, from the fight against epidemic disease to the war on climate change. Which was why, walking through the drizzly day on the White House end of the National Mall, you saw epidemiologists sharing umbrellas with geologists, or a group of microbiologists huddling low under a spreading cherry tree alongside a knot of anesthesiologists. People walked around dressed as bees and as lobsters and as Beaker, the lab assistant from the Muppet Show. People walked around in overalls and in lab coats. They wore the now-classic pussy hats repurposed to resemble the configurations of the human brain and they wore stethoscopes around their necks…

There was a great deal of infighting—”Some very ugly meetings,” said one person familiar with them—about how specifically political the march should be. The older and more conventional scientists—most of them white males, for all that means in every public issue these days—tried to make the march and the events surrounding it as generic as possible.

The younger scientists, a more diverse groups in every way that a group can be, pushed back hard. The available evidence on Saturday was that their side had carried the day. Given the fact that, for example, Scott Pruitt, who took dictation from oil companies when he was Attorney General of Oklahoma, is now running the EPA, they could hardly have lost. More than a few signs reminded the current president* that, without science, he would be as bald as a billiard ball.

Generally, though, there was more than a little sadness on all sides that it ever had come to this, that a country born out of experimentation had lost its faith in its own true creation story, that a country founded by curious, courageous people would become so timid about trusting the risks and rewards of science…

Apart from sharing reports & pics, what’s on the agenda for the day?


(I’m guessing from her twitter bio that this was in Boston. It is very Bostonian.)



Friday Morning Open Thread: March for Science

Question from commentor MarcoPolo:

Have my lab coat & will be at the St Louis march w/ friends. Hoping the weather winds up being more cooperative than is currently forecast (rain & about 50). 50/50 on whether I wind up down @ Howards afterwards to witness the actual physical existence of fellow BJers.

More importantly will folks post their bestest/favoritest Science March sign ideas? I really haven’t seen all that many good ones.

Nice piece from the Washington Post’s science reporters:

The March for Science is not a partisan event. But it’s political. That’s the recurring message of the organizers, who insist that this is a line the scientific community and its supporters will be able to walk. It may prove too delicate a distinction, though, when people show up in droves on Saturday with their signs and their passions.

“We’ve been asked not to make personal attacks or partisan attacks,” said honorary national co-chair Lydia Villa-Komaroff, in a teleconference this week with reporters. But Villa-Komaroff, who will be among those given two-minute speaking slots, quickly added: “This is a group of people who don’t take well being told what to do.”

The Science March, held on Earth Day, is expected to draw tens of thousands of people to the Mall, and satellite marches have been planned in more than 400 cities on six continents…

Rush Holt, head of AAAS, said there was initial hesitation about whether this was the kind of event a scientist ought to be joining but that members of his association overwhelmingly support the decision to participate.

This is not simply a reaction to President Trump’s election, Holt said. Scientists have been worried for years that “evidence has been crowded out by ideology and opinion in public debate and policymaking.” Long before Trump’s election, people in the scientific and academic community raised concerns about the erosion of the value of expertise and the rise of pseudoscientific and anti-scientific notions. Science also found itself swept up into cultural and political battles; views on climate science, for example, increasingly reflect political ideology…

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Apart from protest planning, what’s on the agenda as we wrap up another week?



Protest Open Thread: (Virtual) Green Balloons for the Science March

No real balloons permitted at the DC march, or probably some of the other larger marches as well. Maybe y’all can carry signs that say ‘green balloons’.

After my post yesterday, there were comments announcing that members of the Balloon Juice community will be at the March(s) in St. Louis (hi, Quinerly!), Pittsburgh, DC, Boston, San Francisco, San Jose, Madison, St. Paul, Raleigh NC, London, ‘the Bay Area’, Buffalo, small-town Ohio (hi, Kay!), Sarasota, San Diego, Chicago, Philadelphia, ‘Maryland’, Chico CA, Denver, Hartford CT, ‘Dallas or Denton’, Seattle, Greenville NC, and Kansas City (tell Michael Bersin hello!).

I’ve done my best to strip out the relevant comments, which will (should) be mostly below the fold here. If you can’t organize through comments to this post, send me an email at annelaurie dot verizon dot net, and I’ll forward your message to the commentors in the community you flag.

Here’s who’s spoken up, so far:

geg6 says:
I’m going to the Pittsburgh march
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frosty says:
I’m Planning on the DC march this Saturday. Early arrival, but my colleagues will be leaving before 2:00. I’d be interested in meeting up during the day (if it’s even possible)
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Another Scott says:
I’ll be at the DC march, probably collecting with the DC, NoVA, MD IEEE group.
https://meetings.vtools.ieee.org/m/44343
Here’s hoping for a big turnout!
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Wyatt Derp says:
I’m going to the Boston march. Currently just planning on showing up at the Common around 1 pm
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Quinerly says:
Thanks, Anne Laurie! Not sure how many people I’ve gathered for our St. Louis area march and possible meet up. I’ll be at Howards in my beloved Soulard neighborhood in the City of St. Louis by noon for a 12:15/12:30 launch to Union Station. Howards is at the corner of 13th and Lynch, down by our Anheuser Bush Brewery. Would be cool if any area peeps gather after the march for a meet up, drinks, food. Very good Blues band playing…. If you want, pipe in on this thread. I’ll check it later and get a reservation for a head count. Bartenders know me.??
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pamelabrown53 says:
Spouse and I are eagerly anticipating meeting Quinerly and hopefully other Juicers in St. Louis at Howard’s and the March!
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Origuy says:
I’m going to the one in San Jose. It ends at a park near the convention center, where Silicon Valley Comic Con will be happening. There will be Comic Con activities in the park after the rally, so it should be a lot of fun.
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ceece says:
I’m going to the San Jose march, with some students from my school. The lineup of speakers at San Jose is very diverse, with some overlap of people from the Silicon Valley Comic Con. The march ends at Chavez Plaza, where the free public portion of Comic Con is scheduled, and where the Tech museum is having a free kids day. Definitely take the bus or train, as there will be very little parking downtown.
—- Read more



Open Thread: Who’s Going to A Science March?

Note from commentor Quinerly, whose Travels with Poco enlivened many early-morning threads:

It would be cool if a Front Pager would throw up a dedicated Meet Up thread maybe on a Wednesday before these marches. People could pipe in with their areas, pick places for Juicers to meet, if they wanted to….no pressure, no planning clusterfucks. Just a suggestion.

Look forward to meeting you [St. Louis, Missouri]. I just put up an invite on my Book of Faces page to generate some interest. My neighborhood peeps pretty much hang at Howards on Saturday and Sunday anyway. Soulard is a neighborhood of misfits, hippies, and derelicts….we like our music and cocktails…Ozark will attest to it from his days in the area.

I know various commentors from a number of cities/states have expressed their intentions over the past several weeks. If you’d like to meet up with other Balloon Juicers, or have questions, leave a comment below. (Or you can email me at annelaurie dot verizon dot net, but don’t expect to hear back until late afternoon or early evening.)



Monday Morning Open Thread: Keep Resisting

Bill Nye, star of the megahit “Science Guy” television show of the 90s, announced his public support of the March for Science in a blog post on Thursday. The April 22 march is billed as a call for the world to support and safeguard science in light of recent policy changes disrupting research at the Environmental Protection Agency, National Institutes of Health, NASA, and more. The event will include a teach-in and rally on the National Mall followed by a march through the streets of D.C.

Nye, whose new Netflix series will drop the day before (an air date set long before the march was planned, but presumably also intended to coincide with Earth Day, which is on April 22), will be at the event as a speaker and honorary co-chair. He explained his support for the march in a blog post for The Planetary Society, a science nonprofit of which he is currently the CEO…

What else is on the agenda as we start the new week?
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Hearings on Merrick Garland’s SCOTUS seat are due to start again tomorrow…