If not for a politician’s painful act of hypocrisy, last night’s Nevada Medal banquet was a fabulous event.  Every year the Desert Research Institute here in Reno awards the Nevada Medal and $20,000 dollars to one of the world’s outstanding scientists, and last night they gave the prize to Dr. Steven Squyres, principal investigator for the Mars Exploration Rover mission that successfully landed twin rovers (Spirit and Opportunity) on opposite sides of the planet for ninety day missions each.  After six years engineers finally lost contact with Spirit, and Opportunity continues to rove and capture data today.  I support DRI and its mission, and Steve Squyres is a brilliant, driven man well deserving the recognition of the Nevada Medal; but the most notable moment of the evening came when Nevada governor Brian Sandoval addressed the gathering.

I carefully monitored and documented the wrangling over education funding last legislative session here in Nevada, and the Republican governor showed himself willing to decimate the state’s already decimated education budget.  His contact with paid lobbyists is shameless, and while he ran for office, one of the state’s largest lobbying firms retained the would-be governor as a consultant; so when he stabbed the state’s primary, secondary and higher education systems in their collective heart last session, I was not surprised when he dutifully served the client lists of R&R Partners and Jones Vargas; but last night, at the award ceremony, he had the temerity to stand at the podium and extol attendees about the importance of education.  He said science and technical education was central to the state’s economic success … I could tell he really loves education.  He loves learning so much, last year he had his photo taken reading Dr. Seuss to grade school kids to prove it.  Sandoval’s address was PR politics as usual, and I believe this governor is a boardroom mouth piece who will put corporate profits ahead of schools every time.   What was stunning was the ease with which he delivered his lines.  Truly a disgusting display of hypocrisy.

No Turd Left Behind

Lately I have been communicating with the larger world through chalk notes on the sidewalk in front of my house.  I walk my dog Abigail around our lovely tree rich neighborhood every day of the year, and we uniformly subscribe to the No Turd Left Behind Act of 2011 (NTLB), but not all dog owners pick up after their pets, and there is a serial pooper who, over the past month, has left a half dozen turds on my stretch of sidewalk, so yesterday I took action with sidewalk chalk: