Monday, January 31, 2005


This is an excerpt from the keynote address given at the
Integrative Biology and Human Biodynamics Commencement,
University at California at Berkeley, May 16, 1999.

Americans are woefully inadequate both in their
understanding of how science works and in their knowledge of basic
scientific facts. The National Research Council (NRC) questioned a random
sample of Americans with ten science questions. Let's see how you do on
that same quiz. This will be your last quiz. I'll let you keep your own score,
and I'll give you only eight of the questions.

1. How long does it take Earth to go around the Sun? One day, week, month
or year? Forty-seven percent knew it took a year. The other choices,
however, did not add up to 100%, because some people (15 percent)
thought that no answer was correct, because the Sun goes around the

2. The oxygen we breath comes from plants. Eighty-five percent agreed,
and it's right, and I have no idea how they knew that one.

3. All radioactivity is man-made. Seventy-two percent agreed but you know
that's wrong.

4. Humans lived with dinosaurs, and I don't mean birds, I mean T. rex.
Forty-eight percent of Americans agreed, and every single one of you
graduates know it is wrong. Interestingly, that percentage is identical to
what newspaper editors believe! And they control our news.

5. Cigarette smoking causes cancer Ninety-one percent agreed, and it is
true, yet 30 percent still smoke! Why is this question answered so
positively? Because it is an issue that has been in the press and on TV for
years. Advertising works!

6. 6. Earth's core is very hot. Seventy-eight percent agreed. As a geologist,
I was especially happy about this, because I thought we must be doing a
good job teaching about plate tectonics, convection, and Earth structure.
I said so at a talk on this same literacy topic at UCLA to over 1,000
people. At the end, someone stood up and said, "Jere, you are so naive the
reason that so many people agree with that is because that is where
they think Hell is!"

There were two short answer questions:
1. What is DNA? Almost any definition was acceptable. The NRC would
accept answers like "the blueprint for life," but only one out of five
Americans were even that close. Every one of our graduates knows a
much better answer for that question.

2. What is a molecule? Only nine percent could come even close to the right
answer. I thought we learned that kind of stuff in grammar or high

So the scientific knowledge of our population is pathetic. Here we are,
critically dependent in our daily lives on science, yet hardly anyone knows
how it works. I'd point out that in the U.S. Congress, the rate is probably
even lower. After all, most of them are lawyers. This general condition may
well be at the root of numerous problems in the world.

Photo: me, back in the organic chemistry days

Friday, January 28, 2005

At Red Cross Paul pulled me aside to tell me the good news about purchasing two new G5's. Just 3 weeks ago I went to work with my computer to set up a database for the clients and the mac daddy must have caught his eye. I guess when you are old and your kids are out of the house you have to keep yourself entertained with toys. It all works out because he and I have so much more to talk about.

P.S. shout out to Aguilar in italy

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

I was studying at Panera a few weeks ago, enjoying the free wireless internet and I noticed that this elderly woman was staring at me out the corner of her left eye. I was confused for a bit but I was so focused that I had no time to try to figure things out. About twenty minutes went by and this woman slowly made her way to the couch where I was studying. She got my attention and informed me that I should take my laptop off my genitals because that could cause infertility. I was puzzled and didn't really know how to react. All that came out of my mouth was "yeah, I wouldn't want that now, would I?" and I scooted my laptop to distal end of my lap.

Of course, the next thing was to look it up on Google and the following is what I found.

laptops on laps

Might as well get dual processor G5.

Monday, January 24, 2005


Escaped to Rochester just to sleep in my room and wake up to eat breakfast with the family. Sometimes when things are going bad, all you need is to change of scenery.... even if it has to be for less than 15 hours.

"Do you promise to funk
the whole funk and
nothing but the funk?"

Wednesday, January 19, 2005


Nearly two million people have gathered in mecca. It is a great feeling to see all these pictures and be able to point out palces where i have walked around, slept and eaten. All these people are in the same place in absolute harmony and peace. I can't wait till the summer.

Monday, January 17, 2005

hip hop ksquared

Even though, I had to use the services of AAA twice in one day I still ended up having a wonderful time. There was a hip hop show at Mac's; Hagar-18 and Onebelo a.k.a. One man army are some new names to check out. Happy M L K day.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Long tuesdays

I have been to all my class by now, seen all my professors and gauged out how this semester will turn out. Tuesdays will definitely be the toughest; I get done with class at 9 pm. In the middle of classes I have one-hour breaks and that is exactly enough time to hang out at a coffee shop and study. ERC

I have come to the conclusion that I absolutely love accents. It is so much more interesting to sit in a class taught by a brit. professor. Even though, they cannot donate blood because they have been in Europe too long. My epidemiology prof. had a great discussion about how data is presented. There were two graphs, both representing how much money the US had donated for the tsunami. In one graph the US had the highest bar (bar graph), based on how much money we donated. On the next slide the US was rockin' the smallest bar, based on how much money we have and how much we given to the cause. That is a great example of Brit. professors. If the person that told me that didn't have an accent I would have never remembered.

Notice: i rolled my first cigarette. It feels really good to suck on it when it is not lit. It has an amazing taste, I am sure this is not true if you start smoking.

Monday, January 10, 2005


Originally uploaded by pomgernate.

I have my first class of this semester in almost five hours and even though my bed is extreamly cozy I can't seem to fall asleep. This has been a routine since early elementary school days in Pakistan. I have been slowly fixing my sleeping schedule so that this semester doesn't hit me too hard. Definitely not tonight, but tomorrow will be a great night of sleep.

I spent my last few hours of freedom with some quality friends. Hopefully I can still see these faces when I am doing some slave labor at this academic factory. When I wake up, I have some vegan chocolate chip cookies to look forward to, so I am going to go and try to count some sheep.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

ere we, ere we, ere we freakin' go

It seems that most things are much harder to start than to keep up. That first step in a direction seems the heaviest. I have thought about this new world of blogging for a while and I had so many things I could write about but the most challenging part of it all was this first entry. So, unfortunately I have to lower the bar and jot down what you are reading so that i can get on with some real hard core blogging.

peace and lots o' love