Archive for the ‘ Politics ’ Category

Art as Propaganda

As it turns out, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency was using artwork from the abstract expressionist (AbEx) movement to glorify the freedoms afforded under a non-communist government during the Cold War years (link). Work from the main-stays of the AbEx movement (e.g. Pollock & De Kooning) were on tour throughout Europe in at least one show known as “The New American Painting.” A complete list of the artists included can be found here (Wiki link).

Would be interesting to know more about the effectiveness of such a campaign, or the effectiveness of similar propaganda efforts. I do know that Psychological Operations units still exist in the military.

Seated Woman (J. Tworkov)

The Name I (B. Newman)

– Posted by Tyler


Arm Yourselves: The West is Not Won

The drug war in Mexico and the United States is too close to home for one town in West Texas, residents there were recently warned by the Sheriff to “arm themselves.”

Fort Hancock, Texas is a “sleepy agricultural town” near the Mexico border and looks like a set from No Country for Old Men (NPR story). The sherrif recently gathered the residents in a school gymnasium and told them to “arm themselves” and that it was “better to be tried by 12 then carried by 6.” Truer words were never spoken.

It’s stories like this that make me both discouraged and relieved that 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is in place. Discouraged because it’s needed and relieved because if violence like this came to my town, I would want to protect myself and my family.

There is no telling what kind of fear people along the border feel right now. There’s a nice post at Brain Blogger about excessive fear, its side effects, and treatments.  A new treatment that uses extinction during a critical window after exposure to fear stimuli is showing promise for longer lasting desensitization.

Lets hope Obama’s top priority on the Mexico agenda does some good (linklink).

-Posted by Tyler

H1N1 Flu Vaccine: Supply & Demand

After the newest strain of the flu (H1N1) was reported and the first death was a child the public was confused and scared (calling the microbe “swine” flu probably didn’t help). Schools in New York City were being closed by the Mayor and the Governor at press conferences. People everywhere were infected and everyone was vulnerable because no one had immunity. In June, 2009, the World Health Organization declared the flu a pandemic. Models predicted millions would die. People didn’t know whether there was enough time to manufacture vaccines and demand was HIGH. Hysteria abounded.

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Obama’s Science Budget

Great news coming from Obama’s 2011 proposed budget. It appears that both the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will get major funding boosts. NSF is proposed to receive an 8% increase in its budget and the NIH could receive a 3% boost. While the increase is more substantial for NSF, the NIH remains the better funded agency.

With funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and this news,  it is definitely a good time for science! (well, except for those scientists at NASA).

See the budget here.

-Posted by Tyler

UPDATE: Freedom in Academics

I’ve long known that university professors enjoy Academic Freedom but did not know what freedoms it allowed or rather from what persecution did it protect. Early on, I was sure academic freedom meant something like the joy of having summers off and a long winter break or not having a traditional 8-5 Monday thru Friday work week. Later I thought maybe it related to living the life of the mind, being an intellectual, and being free from more physically demanding laborious occupations. Today, I know academic freedom as it is conceptualized by the American Association of University Professors, is “the free search for truth and its free exposition.” [1]  The AAUP outlines academic freedom as a) Freedom of research and publication; b) freedom to discuss one’s research and express opinions in the classroom; and c) freedom from institutional censorship when speaking or writing as a citizen.

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