The Presidential Debate

I’m listening tonight, so I thought I’d make some remarks.

One of the annoying things is John McCain repeatedly talking about Barack Obama seeking a $3 million earmark for, as McCain keeps saying, an “overhead projector”. Sen. McCain, an “overhead projector” is a device used for presentations where one marks on a transparent sheet. You might be able to buy a new one for between $100 and $200 dollars. What Barack Obama requested, though, was a projection system for a planetarium, and not just any planetarium, but one in one of the largest urban centers in our country. These projection systems are sophisticated optical devices under computer control, and are critical for education and science outreach. Calling a Carl Zeiss or Perkin Elmer optical instrument an “overhead projector” demonstrates amazing ignorance. Doing it over and over again just makes you look like a doofus. I see from a bit of Google that you called planetariums in general “foolishness”. I think that is a telling comment, and what it tells me is that you don’t have much use for science education.

Wesley R. Elsberry

Falconer. Interdisciplinary researcher: biology and computer science. Photographer. Husband. Christian. Activist.

3 thoughts on “The Presidential Debate

  • 2008/10/07 at 8:53 pm

    I think it has something to do with unfamiliarity–unfamiliarity with planetariums, with science, with things people don’t interact with every day. In my interactions with people around the country I’m often amazed at the indifference that people show toward things that aren’t what they’re having for dinner that night or who they’re trying to pick up at the bar.

    A lack of curiosity and a lack of appreciation for things others do is killing American education.

    A planetarium? Who the hell goes to those things? They just show Pink Floyd Laser Shows right?

    A dig site? People can just do that with their shovels right? We don’t need to fund that.

    Soccer? That’s that European thing right? They don’t score any points? You can tie? That’s not a real sport; we need to get that gym teacher fired….

  • 2008/10/08 at 4:36 am

    Thanks for addressing this, Wesley. I wondered at the time what McCain has against planetariums.

  • 2008/10/16 at 6:39 pm

    The email I sent to MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow:

    Someone with the reach and stature of a Chris Matthews or a Rachel Maddow _must_ publicly take apart John McCain’s sophistry.

    The Zeiss Mark Nine ‘Universarium’ planetarium projector is about as much an “overhead projector” as the NASA Space Shuttle is a “freight

    The Adler Planetarium is one of the oldest and most respected planetaria in the nation. Last year it educated 80,000 school children in
    astronomy, using its 40-year-old, outdated, worn and deteriorating star projector, for which parts and service are no longer available.

    China recently installed a Zeiss Mark Nine in their Beijing planetarium.
    2009 will be the “International Astronomy Year.”

    If John McCain doesn’t give a rat’s ass about science education in this country (as suggested by picking a creationist who says “nukular” as his
    V.P.), that’s one thing, but causing tens of millions of goodhearted people to think of the “overhead projector” they saw in their
    gradeschool classrooms, when the truth is _so_ _greatly_ _different_ from that, is tantamount to lying and he should NOT be allowed to get
    away with it.

    John Brawley
    Eureka, Missouri

    ( P.S.:
    If you want a graphic illustration of the depth of McCain’s self-serving prevarication, take from this URL the photograph of a Zeiss Mark IX
    planetarium projector, show it your audience, and ask them if they remember seeing _that_ in their gradeschool classrooms…. )

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