Tag: Neil deGrasse Tyson

Cosmic Thought of the Day

A little mental health break from the Super Tuesday madness. Listen to this and you’ll know why Neil DeGrasse Tyson usually has a flock of trailing admirers at conferences (and yes, cheesy music does actually follow him around):

The answer and the video remind me a lot of Tree of Life, which I recently saw and loved but others hated. My long-winded and long-haired defense of the film is here.

Bring Back the Pundits

The NYT has a little article today trying to “enter a pundit-free zone” by asking supposedly smart people what they would do if they were President. The opening paragraph — which castigates the media for focusing on stupid things like an election that’s 15 months away — is OK. But the result look like a collection of “What I would do if I were President” essays from grade school, only not as intelligent or informed.


If I were president, I’d appoint a blue-ribbon committee of 14 accomplished citizens — one each representing these nonpolitical walks of American life: arts, science, sports, big business, entrepreneurs, tech, medicine, law, education, environment, defense, religion, farming and philanthropy — and charge them with imagining innovative industries that put Americans to work and add value to our world. I’d prioritize among the committee’s ideas, then advocate for a tax code rewarding sustainable job-rich industries, especially those that liberate us from imported oil.

Yes, because successful industries can just be created by 14 people. And how many government panelists predicted the iphone?

The essays tend toward the very liberal, except a couple that say “I would do something” but not as succinctly:

I would require members of Congress to participate in a weeklong workshop on dialogue, negotiation and compromise before the next session. All sessions would begin with 10 minutes of silence.


I would invite all of the members of Congress to join me in an improvisation retreat. We would spend the time practicing saying “yes” to each other and really listening to one another’s offers. We would create stories of well-being. We would encourage thinking “inside the box.” We would look for innovative ways to use the resources at hand to solve our problems. We would make some mistakes, and we would laugh a lot. Real laughter has been absent in the White House lately.

Yes. Because real political differences and special interest pull can be resolved by bonding experiences we learned at summer camp. Fucking hell, why don’t you just get it over with and have them sing Kumbaya?

The sample is ridiculously narrow. The author basically called up 12 well-off white colar friends. I count three academics, three authors, one artist, one theologian, one community organizer and one alternative medicine crank. Only two could be counted as being in business, one of which is James Dyson. With the exception of Dyson, I doubt that any of them have worked a blue collar job or made a business payroll. I would describe none of them as representative of working Americans. And their answers represent appalling ignorance of our economy with the possible exception of Dyson, who talks about risk, and Neil deGrasse Tyson, who wisely ducks the question in favor of talking up science. It just illustrates what Heinlein noted: Expertise in one field does not carry over into other fields.

This may be the stupidest thing I have ever read. Well done, NYT.