Algebra is not just for math geeks

Via Pharyngula, a very misguided column by Richard Cohen, where he addresses a struggling L.A. 12th grade student, telling her that Alegbra is superfluous and its all right that she’s not good at it, since she will never need it.
Hogwash. Innumeracy is part of the reason why Bush has been able to get through these corrosive tax cuts: people don’t understand the hard iron logic of the math behind them. Innumeracy is as big a handicap in the modern world as illiteracy, and Cohen’s column does not help the problem.
Math is tough. But it doesn’t mean that its better to give up studying it and go shopping. Besides, if I wanted to go to Borders, and had a 25% off coupon, and 6 dollars in my pocket and a sales tax of 6.5%, how would I figure out how expensive of a book I could buy?
You guessed it. Alegbra. And the answer is $7.51.

White House Knew of Levee’s Failure The Night Katrina Struck

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Bush administration officials said they had been caught by surprise when they were told on Tuesday, Aug. 30, that a levee had broken, allowing floodwaters to engulf New Orleans.
Investigators have found evidence that federal officials at the White House and elsewhere learned of the levee break in New Orleans earlier than was first suggested.
But Congressional investigators have now learned that an eyewitness account of the flooding from a federal emergency official reached the Homeland Security Department’s headquarters starting at 9:27 p.m. the day before, and the White House itself at midnight.
Read the entire article at the NY Times.

New tomb found in the Valley of the Kings, Egypt – Intact tomb found in Valley of the Kings – Feb 9, 2006
My “sister in Michigan”, Liz, pointed me to this CNN Article about the discovery of a new intact tomb in the Valley of the Kings, Egypt.
An American team has found what appears to be an intact tomb in the Valley of the Kings, the first found in the valley since that of Tutankhamun in 1922, one of the archaeologists said on Thursday.
The tomb contains five or six mummies in intact sarcophagi from the late 18th dynasty, about the same period as Tutankhamun, but the archaeologists have not yet had the time or the access to identify them, the archaeologist added.

It wouldn’t necessarily have to be royal, of course, and there are aren’t heaps of treasure, a la Tutankhamen’s tomb. The archaeology, with modern techniques, of an intact, preserved tomb, though, ought to be quite exciting.

Super Bowl XL: Pittsburgh 21 Seattle 10

So I was wrong, so very wrong.
Bill Cowher and Jerome Bettis get a long-awaited Super Bowl Victory, winning 21-10 over the Seattle Seahawks.
Some notes:
Pittsburgh won on three plays, really: The long pass on 3rd down that got them close to the goal line to punch it in; The 75 yard rushing play (a Super Bowl record!) by Parker, and the gadget play TD pass by Randle-El.
Seattle kept shooting themselves in the foot. Honestly, Pittsburgh did too with the big interception on Ben Roethlisberger by the Seahawks, just when it looked like Pittsburgh was going to put the game away. However, Pittsburgh recovered from their mistakes. Seattle could not and did not.
Pittsburgh is now only one of three teams, with SF and Dallas, to win five Super Bowls.
This was the lowest scoring Super Bowl in 30 years (31 total points), and Pittsburgh won with the lowest winning score since Super Bowl X, when Pittsburgh beat Dallas 21-17.
For the second consecutive year, a WR has won the MVP Award. Last year it was Deion Branch of the Patriots, and this year Heinz Ward got it. He deserved it because two of the three big plays for the Steelers had him as the receiver. He had a big run on a reverse that was for naught since it immediately was followed by the other Roethlisberger interception.
Its sad, though, that Bettis is now retiring–but he retiring on top, as a Super Bowl Champion.
Congradulations to Pittsburgh.

Science, Bush Style Part CXIV

NASA Chief Backs Agency Openness – New York Times
Most of us know that the Bush administration tries to shoehorn science into their political philosophy, at the cost of the science itself. Be it denying Global Warming or throwing fundies a bone by mentioning “human-animal” hybrids, or by suggesting that Intelligent Design be taught in high schools, the Bush administration clearly believes that politics trumps science.
This paragraph, though, from this Times article, is yet another example of this stupid viewpoint:
In October, for example, George Deutsch, a presidential appointee in NASA headquarters, told a Web designer working for the agency to add the word “theory” after every mention of the Big Bang, according to an e-mail message from Mr. Deutsch that another NASA employee forwarded to The Times.
Update: Bad Astronomy has a good take on all of this nonsense.