Friday, December 28, 2007


One of the key ideas in stopping nuclear proliferation is to actually help countries enrich their nuclear fuel and monitor the entire process. A country like Iran which threatens to use its own facilities to enrich fuel can be lent assistance by another country. The goal would be to allow such a country to engage in some preliminary steps of fuel processing (eg. converting uranium to uranium hexafluoride gas). The preliminary processed materials can then be shipped to another country for further processing and enrichment and the enriched fuel could then be returned to the other country. Thus, countries which claim that they want to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes should then have no problem in accepting such an arrangement, and it will be much harder for them to then justify indigenous fuel enrichment. Russia seems to be working on such an agreement with Iran, and leading arms expert Pavel Podvig writing in The Bulletin is optimistic about it. Surprisingly, it also seems to have received a semblance of a blessing from His Majesty George Bush the Second:
"It's possible that by delivering the first 180 fuel assemblies to the Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran on December 16, Russia scored a critical victory for the nuclear nonproliferation regime. Early acknowledgement of the event's importance came from an unlikely source--President George W. Bush. Commenting on the Russian shipment, he publicly urged Iran to now suspend its controversial enrichment program, arguing that with Russian fuel, Iran no longer needed to enrich uranium on its own. Of course, it's unlikely that Iran will stop its centrifuges--at least not any time soon. But if Washington accepts the shipment of rector fuel to Bushehr as legitimate--despite the continuing controversy surrounding the Iranian nuclear program--it will set an important precedent that should help build a workable system of fuel supply guarantees."

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007


After much procrastination (especially because my university had partial access), I finally purchased a print subscription to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (known to aficionados as "The Bulletin"). The magazine was launched in 1945 by nuclear pioneers and Manhattan Project scientists out of concern that the public was not getting enough and reasoned information about nuclear energy and weapons policy. The Bulletin is probably most famous since then for the Doomsday Clock, whose hands are moved closer to 12 o'clock whenever there is a perceived nuclear crisis in the world. The magazine publishes articles by leading scientists and policy makers on everything related to nuclear energy and weapons, including analyses of disarmament, fissile material, nuclear terrorism, missile defence, nuclear proliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy to name a few.

One recent article from The Bulletin I remember is by a guy whose name I am blanking out on right now, about the futility and dangers of developing "small" "bunker buster" nukes with "only" sub-kiloton yields, designed to destroy underground installations. This was a typical way for the administration to blur the boundary between nuclear weapons and conventional weapons and promote more spending on "better" nuclear weapons. The project was finally shelved temporarily.



This is what a "Reverend" said after Borders playfully handed out books about atheism with the tag "O come here all ye faithless".
"Christians have always been used to being punch bags but I would have hoped that, in a society in which we are seeking to show respect to all people and beliefs, we might have grown out of this kind of nonsense."
So you force people to accept something written in your little book, you prohibit them from marrying the person they love because their act defies your unsubstantiated scripture, you lobby your government and courts to change laws that would restrict other people's freedom, and you talk about respecting people and beliefs?

This is probably what is most appalling of all to me about so many Christians and religious people in general. They display in the most blatantly obnoxious manner a quality which their own saviour spoke against- hypocrisy. Enough to drown the world.

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Tuesday, December 25, 2007


Discovery Institute IDiot William Dembski's new book has been reviewed by sensible people at Amazon. The most shameless thing is that Dembski seems to have persuaded Amazon to remove a negative review of his book. Of course we sympathize with you Bill. That's what all authors wanting to promote their book do, don't they?

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Saturday, December 15, 2007


Here's one more reason to have Barack Obama as president; he could very likely be the president who does the most for non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. In a talk on C-SPAN, Richard Rhodes indicated the formation of an exceptional group of experts including Senator Sam Nunn and Reagan Secretary of State George Schultz. Barack Obama has signed on to this group's plan for the abolition of nuclear weapons. One of the most significant obstacles facing this goal has been the still-grotesque nuclear arsenal of the US and of course the Bush war-mongering. With its belligerent bombastic about Iran, the Bush administration itself has been the greatest obstacle to achieving nuclear peace. The next president may change that. The fundamental point to be understood is that you cannot be safe unless your enemies feel safe, and the current president is doing everything in his power to make all his enemies, not to mention friends, feel unsafe. The next president could go to the UN and declare that the US is cutting down drastically on nuclear weapons or is getting rid of them entirely. And then he could ask, "Who else is with me on this?". That could be the way out of the current dilemma. To be sure, it is a little utopian to expect complete elimination of these weapons. But even if the next president could get down the number to a few hundred -currently it is a senseless ten thousand or so- there would be immense progress. As an aside, in a book in 1993, former National Security Advisor to JFK McGeorge Bundy and physicist Sidney Drell had suggested a maximum estimate of 1500 weapons, an estimate that's still quite high. But Bundy and Drell set reduction to this number as a goal for the year 2000. We don't need to reiterate how dismally far the country still is from it. Perhaps Obama will change this.

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Friday, December 14, 2007


After the debate about what Prof. Rao said in his article a few days ago, here's a guy putting things in the right remember that software guy from Seattle? I think he succinctly conveys a balanced perspective, recognising the importance of both IT skills and the fundamental importance of a good basic science background. One more message; read books.
"A solid working knowledge of productivity software and other IT tools has become a basic foundation for success in virtually any career.

Beyond that, however, I don't think you can overemphasise the importance of having a good background in maths and science.

If you look at the most interesting things that have emerged in the last decade - whether it is cool things like portable music devices and video games or more practical things like smart phones and medical technology - they all come from the realm of science and engineering."
That's the point. When you climb high on the branches, you may forget the roots. But there would be no branches without them.



No, seriously. Otherwise why would he be so fond of straw men? In the case of D'Souza, there's the added complication that he doesn't even understand the purpose for which he erects those fine men of straw.

Consider his endearing latest attack on Daniel Dennett in which he lambasts Dennett for making the contention that children should be handed over to secular educators rather than their parents for a more balanced and secular education. While I don't completely agree with Dennett's generalisation- after all parents can also be marvelous secular educators like mine were- the essence of his argument is very important. Many if not most parents invariably even if with well-meaning enthusiasm foist their religion upon their children. Even if parents don't wish to indoctrinate their children in a fundamentalist sense (although many still do), the religion of the parents inevitably becomes the religion of the children.

Dennett clearly wants to wean children away from such a religious atmosphere at home. Now I agree that this is a complicated issue, because a "religious atmosphere" at home entails much more than worship and rituals; it introduces some values and elements of culture which are important for molding the individual. But irrespective of the complications, Dennett's fundamental thesis is spot on, that parents have no right to foist their religion on their children, and that most schools are secular schools that could inform the child better.

But the straw-loving D'Souza does not understand this fundamental thesis, or he probably willfully dismisses it. Instead, he launches into a strategy commonly used by anti-secular religious people these days; to brand secularists and atheists as worshipping their own brand of dogmatism ("Darwinism" being a favourite label to describe this "religion). That is hogwash. Secularists want children to keep an open mind. There's no "secular fundamentalism" that encourages keeping a closed mind. Unlike religious people, secularists would discard their ideas if the evidence proved otherwise. Except for a very few, no secularist or atheist wants to completely avoid exposing their children to any religious ideas. In fact atheists would be happy to present both religious and secular ideas in front of children and ask them to judge. The point is that most children are quite intelligent. If they are truly exposed in an unbiased way to religious ideas and informed that there's no evidence for most of them, they will have the sense to reject religion and embrace an open-minded way of thinking. All secularists want to do is to teach the children to keep an open mind.

Perhaps people like D'Souza are afraid of this, that children will actually have the good sense to reject religion if its tenets are laid bare in front of them with all their gory limitations. In fact that's why I think creationists are more intent on finding flaws with evolution than declaring evidence for creationism that's nonexistent. They want to create reasonable doubt in the minds of children because they know that if both ideas are presented in a truly balanced way to children, if children are flatly told that there's no evidence whatsoever for creationism, then most children would reject it as they would many other religious dogmas. Maybe that's why they want to keep children away from the "secular fundamentalists" by branding them as such in the first place. Many times I think it's just a political ploy. But then, given his growing misunderstanding of issues and his spouting of erudite gibberish, I wonder if D'Souza is just stupid as opposed to politically shrewd. I am leaning towards thinking the former these days.

Previous posts on D'Souza's boring "scholarship": 1, 2

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Thursday, December 13, 2007


I don't know what's more tragic, that people believed in the "healing" powers of a man's leg, or that thieves brutally amputated and took off with it.

It's a little disconcerting to think how many educated, middle-class people in India believe in astrology and faith-healers. But then with role models who regularly consult astrologers and marry trees, what can we expect?


Wednesday, December 12, 2007


This is what happens when there is inertia towards construction of reactors for peaceful purposes:
"Hospitals across North America have been forced to cancel tests for cancer and heart disease because the unexpected closure of a Canadian nuclear reactor has led to a sudden shortage of medical isotopes.

The 50-year-old National Research Universal (NRU) reactor located in Chalk River, Ontario, was shut down on 18 November for scheduled maintenance and was due back online by mid-December. But Atomic Energy Canada, which owns and operates the facility, extended the outage to install safety-related equipment, including upgrades to the reactor cooling pumps. The reactor supplies about 60% of the molybdenum isotopes used in medical applications globally, including molybdenum-99, which decays into technetium-99m and is used in about 16 million nuclear medicine procedures annually in the United States...The shortage has reignited a discussion over securing the US supply of medical isotopes by building a reactor in the United States."
Again, there's no sense if the debate about nuclear weapons and terrorist attacks is regularly conflated with peaceful and necessary uses of nuclear energy.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Prof. C N R Rao, the doyen of Indian science, seems to have ruffled a few feathers over at The Acorn with his labeling of IT workers in an Outlook piece as ones who are akin to "coolies who are working for wages and not producing great intellectual material". Rao's thrust was at what he sees as a worsening intellectual milieu in Bangalore because of this drain of bright minds towards "lesser" tasks. Naturally people are galled at his unkind words and wonder what he wants to say.

I think there are several points that need to be addressed in his piece. Some of his points seem justified to me, others are not. In general, it seems like he starts off on the right foot and ends up on the wrong one. The right one pertains to lamenting the siphoning off of young, bright people to the IT sector, possibly at a loss to pure scientific research. There is more than a modicum of truth in this fact. In the 1960s, when private engineering and management colleges were very few, bright students chose to study science if only because there were few other options. If you were lucky, you would get admitted into COEP in Pune or VJIT in Bombay, but what other options were there for an aspiring engineer? Many of these aspiring engineers then chose to study science and get into industry or academia. This led to a constant supply of bright, intellectual minds in universities and colleges as well as a constant turnover of talented professionals in R & D and teaching, and I can empathize if someone misses this atmosphere and its benefits. I myself would have loved to have some of my friends who studied engineering study the sciences with me. I would have greatly benefited from their intellectual abilities, and ultimately the whole field would have done so. I am sure the intellectual atmosphere in colleges and universities in the 60s was much more vibrant especially in the sciences than it is now. These days, many students who study science only want to do it as a doorstep degree to get into other fields like management. Naturally their heart is not in the discipline unlike that of many of those in the 60s or 70s.

The result of this is that there is a steadily weakening trickle of highly intelligent and intellectual people who are studying science and the humanities. IT workers are many, gifted young scientists are few in our country. Many of those who would have studied science 25 years ago have been "lost" to IT, there's no doubt about this fact in my mind. And in saying that Rao is absolutely right.

Rao is also not the first or only scientist who laments this decline of young people in basic R & D. Many senior scientists say the same thing, that there were many more talented people in the sciences before than there seem to be now. They bemoan the fact that the generation of Vikram Sarabhai, C. R. Rao, Jayant Narlikar, M S Swaminathan and and in fact C N R Rao himself might have been permanently lost to history. P. Balaram, the present director of IISc. and also one among these stalwarts, also mused over similar matters in many of his fine editorials for the magazine Current Science. The reasons for this decline are also acknowledged and manyfold. The simple financial criterion that attracts people towards fields like IT is a true fact. Add to that declining government salaries, nepotism in science, reservations and the problems therein and a lack of scientific temper among young people and their parents, and it is not surprising that there are few students opting to study the sciences or humanities.

Perhaps most importantly, Rao and others are also right in saying that this negligence of basic scientific research will have serious consequences that may not be visible now. All the applied technology that we take for granted currently, including the foundation of IT, has had its origins in basic scientific research. The development of quantum theory for example was key to the development of electronics. In the past, many private companies like Bell Labs and IBM have been pioneers in this kind of research. But whether funded by private or public funds, the point is that it's only basic research that can sustain technological productivity in the long term. While IT generates jobs, ideas, connectivity and economic benefits, it cannot directly bring about the kind of research that led to the invention of the transistor, the integrated chip, superconductors and Giant Magnetoresistance (GMR) which won a Nobel Prize this year. All these inventions were made possible by basic science. All of them constitute the backbone of the information age. Without such basic scientific research, we are steadily going to lose the raw material of ideas that lead to future technological advances.

To be fair, this problem does not exist only in India. Scientists and policy makers in the US have also lamented for a while now the decline in basic research in private corporations like IBM which in the 80s was a focal point of such research and a nurturing home for Nobel Prize winners. However, it should also be understood that with the growing focus on product development and pleasing investors, companies are going to be increasingly hard-pressed to come up with research pipelines that have a low risk to returns ratio. Basic research by definition does not fit into this category; it is highly risky, promises no immediate returns, and can go on for protracted periods of time before any breakthrough is possible. And yet history has shown that it is the only way to generate ideas and intellectual capital for long-term, path-breaking technological development. For this reason too, it is only the government that will have to increasingly fund such research, even though private corporations will continue to play an occasional pivotal role.

But back to Prof. Rao. Until now, he has gotten it right. A lack of attention to basic research and to scientists who do it will have serious repercussions. It is true that many promising students are pursuing IT, students whose intellectual skills could be valuable in basic R & D. But when Rao blames the IT sector for this, there are some problems with his argument. Some of them have been noted at The Acorn. Clearly, blaming the IT sector is like cursing the darkness. It is better to light a candle. In this case, the only way would be to revamp the scientific curriculum, ramp up salaries and financial incentives for aspiring scientists, improve the teaching of science in school including better communication of popular science, make science attractive for young people by removing prejudices, regionalism and mediocrity in it and in general improve the image of science as an attractive career option. The private sector can also significantly contribute to this awareness with their increasing focus on some university-like research. Pharmaceutical companies for example can fund basic biomedical research in universities. I was disappointed that while Rao criticises the IT sector, he says nothing about how to galvanize his own sector. I share his disappointment with the decline in the intellectual milieu of research and science, but lamenting the virtues of this milieu says nothing about how to reform it.

But one of Prof. Rao's statement which I think galled many was his perceived denouncing of IT workers as everyday Joes who don't do anything creative. Let us put this in perspective. His statements made it sound like he was somehow judging routine work to be inferior compared to intellectual work. First of all, criticising IT work as being routine is not necessarily an insult. Many IT workers I know have acknowledged that much of their work is routine. There is much virtue in doing an honest job, no matter how routine it is, if you do it well. In addition, even routine jobs can benefit from flashes of creativity. We have to realise that human growth and national development needs every kind of individual input; from the matchmaker's to the poet's. In my opinion, one needs a critical mass of every kind of worker to sustain a healthy economy, vibrant intellectual culture and prosperous technological growth. Clearly we need more clerks than poets, we need more gardeners than fiction writers, and so we also need more IT workers than pure scientists. There is nothing wrong with that. What I would agree with Prof. Rao about is that we have more than the critical mass of IT workers in India right now, while the mass of scientists is dwindling. Whether the current scientific mass is critical or not I cannot say; I often get the feeling it is not. But what I think is certain is that compared to the mass of IT workers, the mass of new scientific talents is not increasing. If this mass becomes less than a certain value, we will face serious long-term effects which won't be ameliorated fast. And it is in recognising this fact that I fully share Prof. Rao's concern. We definitely need more young scientists. While historically the IT sector may have siphoned them off from science, it leads to nothing of value to curse the IT sector to justify the problems in pure science. However, while IT workers are not obliged to fund basic science, there is no doubt that scientific development will get a great boost if they do. So many such cases abound in universities in the US, where wealthy entrepreneurs including IT entrepreneurs have funded highly successful institutes, departments and centers of basic research. These centers have been very productive and contributed immensely in some cases to the science and technology of this country. Clearly it is not too much to ask like Prof. Rao does that such wealthy entrepreneurs in our country too fund some of our science.

But finally, I need to say a word about Prof. Rao's article. Amidst the reaction to his criticism flows the painful nostalgia he feels for his beloved Bangalore. As someone who has been born and been there all his life, we should empathize with the change he disappointedly documents. I can imagine that any senior distinguished citizen of that beautiful city would have felt this change and felt saddened. To blame this change on IT is too narrow-minded a view. But the fact that this change includes some bad aspects inherent in it cannot be doubted. We need more intellectuals and more scientists irrespective of IT or anything else. We need more poetry and music. Anything that treads on these deeply ingrained and important human values needs to be examined. We should not look for a way that would stifle it. But we do have to find a way around it.

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Monday, December 10, 2007


Christopher Hitchens has an article in Slate dripping with typical Hitchenesque indignation about the incompetence of the CIA and the current imbroglio about the agency destroying interrogation tapes which in Hitchens's mind is nothing less than "mutiny and treason" (on the other hand, make what you will of Hitchens's utterances about Iran)
"And now we have further confirmation of the astonishing culture of lawlessness and insubordination that continues to prevail at the highest levels in Langley. At a time when Congress and the courts are conducting important hearings on the critical question of extreme interrogation, and at a time when accusations of outright torture are helping to besmirch and discredit the United States all around the world, a senior official of the CIA takes the unilateral decision to destroy the crucial evidence. This deserves to be described as what it is: mutiny and treason. Despite a string of exposures going back all the way to the Church Commission, the CIA cannot rid itself of the impression that it has the right to subvert the democratic process both abroad and at home. Its criminality and arrogance could perhaps have been partially excused if it had ever got anything right, but, from predicting the indefinite survival of the Soviet Union to denying that Saddam Hussein was going to invade Kuwait, our spymasters have a Clouseau-like record, one that they have earned yet again with their exculpation of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It was after the grotesque estimate of continued Soviet health and prosperity that the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan argued that the CIA should be abolished. It is high time for his proposal to be revived. The system is worse than useless—it's a positive menace. We need to shut the whole thing down and start again."
Indeed. And what is shameful is that this is hardly the first time this has happened. Throughout its history, the CIA has had an unbroken thread of incompetence, bungled up operations that led to the death of thousands of foreign agents, obstruction of justice, and an assertion of a fundamental right to act above Presidential, Congressional or any other authority. This is the same agency which among other things collaborated with ex-Nazi criminals to fight the Russians, has fewer case officers in the world than the FBI has agents in New York City, operated secret prisons in dozens of countries, routinely fell for con men and double agents in spite of its proclaimed abilities, and of course supported despots and dictators when it suited their whims and interests. The history of the CIA is one of the most sordid histories of any intelligence agency (I highly recommend Tim Weiner's devastating recent history of the CIA, which was one of the top 10 historical books of 2007 on Amazon)

But more importantly, if one wants to look for treason in the CIA, in my opinion one should look no further than the CIA's constant refusal in the 90s to share crucial information about Al Qaeda and its operatives with the FBI, rather preferring to dangle tantalizing and incomplete pieces of information like photos without names in front of the FBI. As Lawrence Wright documents in his superb history of Al Qaeda, The Looming Tower, one of the agents who later found out about the 9/11 hijackers threw up instantly; he had known about them all along and would have been able to apprehend them if only the CIA had cooperated. Why should this self-aggrandizing and dangerous behaviour of the CIA not be called treason? Seriously, the US has had enough number of people dying because of the incompetence and selfishness of its so-called premier intelligence agency. Ron Paul should really push for the abolition of this substandard institution.



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Extraordinary desert creature , the long-eared jerboa, captured for the first time on tape. But what is a little unnerving is
"These amazing, remarkable creatures are on the verge of extinction and we know almost nothing about them," warned Dr Baillie.
I wonder how many other creatures we have already rendered extinct without knowing anything about them. I wonder when we will render extinct the species of frog whose skin holds the cure for AIDS. Then again, blame God. She rendered 99% of species extinct in the past.


Saturday, December 08, 2007


The Bush administration has reached new highs in suppressing sound science and manipulating scientific evidence about key national issues to suit its whims and to divert funding towards politically expedient projects. But even more disturbing is the lack of scientific thought and skepticism and complicity of a public which cannot evaluate the actions of the administration for itself and which lets the government spend its tax dollars wherever it wants to. Important issues will never get funded if the public is not well-informed. If this trend continues, the price the country may pay for scientific ignorance would not just be a poor standard of living and retarded technological growth, but liberty and freedom themselves...

Read the rest of the entry on Desipundit...

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Thursday, December 06, 2007


Supposedly it is going to be boycotted because it is "anti-Catholic". Again, an example of the remarkable leeway religion gets in criticizing anything, while viewpoints that criticize it even mildly are instantly condemned because they "tread upon personal faith, and that is a personal issue". The damn thing is anything but personal. Trust religious people to interpret everything the way they want and find offense in it, even in a harmless fantasy fictional story. I look forward to the movie and boycott the boycott.


Wednesday, December 05, 2007


Here's something I wonder about creationist/IDist Michael Behe- what does he say in class? He is a tenured professor of biochemistry at Lehigh University. Lehigh has a disclaimer on their site divorcing themselves from his creationist views and emphasizing nicely that the real and perhaps only reason ID cannot be taught in science classes is because it is not science. Period. (Noted by Sandwalk)

But I wonder what Behe teaches in his classes if he teaches them at all. If you are teaching a biochemistry or biology class, you cannot help but occasionally run into evolutionary concepts. In fact biochemistry is one of those disciplines which has provided significant support and credence for evolution. The discovery and analysis of homologous proteins can help trace the tree of life and biological ancestry. I wonder how Behe tackles these topics in class. Is he like a zombie who when in class has no problem saying that evolution is true, and then switches to "creationist mode" when he walks out of class? I would sure like to sit through some of his lectures.

As an aside, while the disclaimer says that he is entitled to his views, he almost certainly does not mention ID in his class, otherwise he could, and should, be fired. That's what makes me wonder even more just what is it that he exactly mentions in his classes.

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Bush: Be afraid of Iran my fellow Americans. Be very afraid.

NIE declares that Iran has not pursued nuclear weapons since 2003

Bush to himself: Shit. These neocons of mine messed up.

Bush on the air next day, trying to desperately salvage vestiges of the fear that he had earlier induced: Ummm...Iran still poses a threat to us my fellow Americans. Look how satanic their scraggly leader looks. Be very afraid America...

I find it really ridiculous that the US could even contemplate an attack on Iran because of fear of a nuclear strike. They must be the most insecure nation in the world. And George Bush has completely messed up the minds of Americans.

Monday, December 03, 2007


Amit has a post on the hypocrisy of Indian politics. For me, politics always comes with some dose of hypocrisy but I agree that Indian politics seems to be especially fond of it. Then he says that this seems to be less of a case with American politics, where candidates actually seem to care about voters' concerns.

So it was interesting that I was reading Noam Chomsky's Failed States" yesterday. In this book, Chomsky makes the accurate observation that in the past elections, true voter preferences have actually not entered the presidential campaigns and debates as major concerns. For example, surveys regularly showed and continue to show that the majority of the population is in support of signing the Kyoto treaty or a variant thereof. Yet this issue did not figure prominently in the 2000 and 2004 presidential debates.

More importantly, for all the hype about "socialized medicine" created by spin doctors, polls also regularly show that the majority of the population is actually in favour of large-scale government intervention in healthcare and in fact willing to pay higher taxes for universal and cheap or free healthcare. This issue clearly did not figure at the top in the 2000 and 2004 elections when public opinion was largely the same as it is now. Chomsky's point, increasingly true, is that just like in many other corrupt "democracies", the elite of the government in the US don't really care about public opinion but manage to make a good pretense that they do. Chomsky also emphasizes that in this context, it really does not matter who gets elected. Democrats might be a little better than Republicans but basically they also cater to elite opinion and lobbying than popular public opinion.

To me, this election campaign seems to be different. At least the Democratic candidates seem to talk about those issues that really matter to people; healthcare, the environment and of course the war in Iraq. Why has this change come about? Could we be so optimistic as to think that it is because the din made by the public finally has forced the candidates to put real public issues at the top of their concerns (irrespective of whether they will address these concerns when they come into office!)? Or could it just be because John Edwards, Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama are fundamentally better and more concerned people than George Bush (duh) and John Kerry? I might be idealistic but I would like to think it's a little of both of these factors. There might be some hope for a proper democracy after all.