24 February 2012

Snow Trees at Home And Fermilab

Last night's snowfall turned the trees near our home and Fermilab into bases for beatiful and fleeting snow sculputres.

If this images make you a little uneasy, you may be a fan of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

19 February 2012

Helping Each Other Fly With Decency

I am opposed to the use of backscatter x-ray, millimeter wave, and other advanced imaging technologies used to scan through clothes at US airports.  At TSA Status, travelers can report on the use of these machines and help each other avoid them.  There is at least one update from me on the site.

12 February 2012

Practical Benefits of Particle Physics #6

My colleague Xinchun Tian writes that someday we may be able to use neutrinos to predict earthquakes!

How I Shall Choose to Vote

With the Presidential primary season already well underway and Illinois primary coming up on March 20, I have been thinking about my process for decided which candidates to vote for.  In past years, I have tried to judge candidates based on a wide range of issues and criteria from foreign policy to economics to bicycle policy.

However, I have realized that, at least for me, such an approach is impractical.  My time is finite and with many local candidates, it is difficult or impossible to find the answers to all the questions asked in such an overarching approach.  Instead, I think it is better for me to focus on a few particular areas that are of most importance to me or in which I am unusually expert. I am an evangelical Christian, a husband, and a scientist by training and career.

This year, four areas stand out to me, and I have arranged them in order from least to most specific.

Forthrightness:   Before I can make judgements in any other area, I first must be able to discern what a candidates opinions and stands are.  Do they fill out voter guides, appear at candidates forms, or have a web site where this information is available?  If not, I am much less likely to vote for them because I do not have enough information to make an informed decision.  This area is particularly difficult for judicial elections where the candidates are bound by law to reveal little.

Integrity: Once a candidate's apparent views are determined and I agree with them enough to consider voting for the candidate, I must asses whether his or her actions and words are consistent with those apparent views?  Does he or she have a voting or other record consistent with the stated views, and do I expect it to remain consistent in the future?

Justice:  Once I have some idea of what the candidates believe and would do in office, I need to assess whether I agree with those beliefs, past actions, and hypothetical future actions.  I believe that, from a Biblical perspective, justice is the most important function of any government.  This includes honoring the good (Romans 13:3-4), ensuring the guilty are punished (Romans 13:4-5 ), confirming the punished are guilty (Deuteronomy 17:6), preventing crime when possible, and defending those who cannot defend themselves (Jeremiah 22:15-16).

Science:  In any government, no matter how large or small, some decisions will need to be made with regard to scientific findings and technological developments.  The myriad of examples include the validity of arson investigations, DNA testing, obesity, energy policy, nuclear weapons, evolution, global warming, and funding for scientific research.  I include bicycle policy in this area because of its connection to obesity, energy policy, and global warming. Regardless of the absolute importance of any of these examples, this area is the one where I am best trained, most knowledgeable, and can be most confident of my discernment.

01 February 2012

Office Fridge Label Win!

It contains so little information, yet it is all I need to know.