Skepticism

$cience

This morning, I found more sad news about the underfunding of science museums by the Federal Govt. Today, it’s the closure of the Dinosaur Park Quarry:

“A National Park Service visitor center that was built over a dinosaur bone quarry has been deemed unsafe and closed indefinitely.”

Yesterday it was the underfunding of the Smithsonian, including major structural issues in the Air and Space Museum.

“According to the GAO, the Smithsonian will need at least $2.3 billion for building costs, anti-terrorism protection and scheduled and deferred maintenance by 2013. The problems extend beyond capital improvements to the day-to-day as well. In an attempt to lower energy costs, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden recently restricted hot-water use in its building.”

This is of great interest to me, because over the years I have seen more and more “partnerships” form between a Smithsonian desperate for cash, and corporations desperate to look green, or like good corporate citizens. Some of these partnerships are a little ironic, such as the Orkin Insect Zoo. (note that one of the main exhibits is a house filled with insects.)
Then there are things like the removal of the electric car from display, and replacing it with an SUV. I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that GM is a major donor to the Smithsonian.
So, what are the feds doing with their money? Perhaps focusing on protecting important targets on the The National Asset Database from terrorism?

“Old MacDonald’s Petting Zoo, the Amish Country Popcorn factory, the Mule Day Parade, the Sweetwater Flea Market and an unspecified “Beach at End of a Street….The inspector general questions whether many of the sites listed in whole categories — like the 1,305 casinos, 163 water parks, 159 cruise ships, 244 jails, 3,773 malls, 718 mortuaries and 571 nursing homes — should even be included in the tally.”

I’m guessing that a lot of legislators and state officials saw the terror list as an opportuntity to get some boosted funding by including anything and everything on this terror list. I wish I could think of a way to create a similar sense of urgency about the need to fund preserving the opportunity to discover and interact with history and natural science in museums.

And since I don’t want this post to be a total downer: Some very strange fireworks packaging. Expecially this one.

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Bug_girl has a PhD in Entomology, and is a pointy-headed former academic living in Ohio. She is obsessed with insects, but otherwise perfectly normal. Really! If you want a daily stream of cool info about bugs, follow her Facebook page or find her on Twitter.

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6 Comments

  1. 718 mortuaries… When I read this comment just now someone at the office piped in. Damn those terrorists, they're after the working stiffs again.

    The largesse of the goverment has long passed the point where the word ridiculous dosen't describe it. I propose a new word to aptly describe the stupidity of the situation. Redonkulous.

    Non-Iraq war defense spending is running slightly more than $480,000,000,000 and total defense speading hitting apx $669,000,000,000. Wish we could find some money in there to protect archives of what it was we were defending in the first place.

    Using completely internet based sources and very poor methodology I arrived at a figure of $1,721,987 spent per minute on total defense and security. Wonder if we bummed $500 a minute out of that fund if anyone would really notice. Would take like 8 years to pay for the needed repairs listed above ($2.8B).

  2. Actually, the database was a "national asset" database, which most states didn't know was being used as a resource for potential terrorist targets.

    So while the "Mule day parade" may be a uniquely and typically American event, and perhaps worthy of preservation towards the future, I think whoever compiled the list of potential terrorist targets should have realised that this wasn't one.

    For what it's worth, I think they'd be better off dividing their list up into categories, ranging from "very much in need of protection" (like power plants and dams and such) to "local landmarks and cultural or historical sites" (such as Old McDonald's petting zoo).

  3. No, sorry Exarch. It was clearly listed as a place where potential terrorist targets could be registered. You can read the actual homeland defense report somewhere online–i have to go to a meeting and will post the link later.

  4. You can blame my state for the Mule Day most likely. Columbia, TN is where Mule Day is celebrated. I happen to live about 20 minutes from there in a close by town. Feel free to look it up as people (for some reason) do actually come from other states to see it. I wish it were exciting enough to warrant that though. >.>

    Btw, my first post/comment here ever! I found this site about three days ago (thanks to the BA's website) and have already read the entire contents of the blog. Ah, summer.

  5. It seems to me that beating up gays has little to do with religion, it's more of a pretext. They got the short end of the stick even on Soviet Union:

    http://community.middlebury.edu/~moss/RGC2.html

    "The modern Soviet fervor for sciencemeant that homosexuality was now treated as a subject for medical and psychiatric discourse, an illness to be treated and cured. Furthermore, in the popular mind, homosexuality was still associated with bourgeois and aristocratic values, with the pre-revolutionary bohemian elite."

    "The sexual liberation that accompanied the Revolution was to be short-lived. The egalitarian and pro-women policies that had liberalized divorce and marriage laws and promoted abortion gave way by the early 1930s to Stalinist pro-family policies. It was in this context that the Soviet Union recriminalized homosexuality in a decree signed in late 1933. As an article by the writer Maxim Gorky demonstrates, it was also a context in which homosexuality was connected with Nazism at a time when German-Soviet relations were strained; Gorky writes, "eradicate homosexuals and fascism will disappear." Of course, the Nazis themselves criminalized homosexuality only a year later."

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