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Further Science Adventures from North Carolina

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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In North Carolina, as you well know, we like our science with a side of crazy. The old Flying Burrito Brothers tune says, “The scientists say it’ll all wash away, but we don’t believe them anymore,” and we love our country music here, so we made quite a splash with the legislative nuh-unhs about sea level rise a while back. If you recall, we tried to make measuring it illegal.

Now state senator David Rouzer, the same knucklehead behind that legislative enterprise against scientific measurement, wants to simply do without (“devolve,” as he could not possibly have put it better, given the antiscience context) – the Department of Energy. Not because, say, NC doesn’t have a thriving and growing wind energy industry (10,000-plus expected megawatts by 2030); not because we aren’t on the bleeding edge of the fracking controversy; not because we don’t have a biofuels industry; not because the NSF-funded NC State University-led FREEDM Center isn’t leading the way into the Smart Grid future.

No – Rouzer wants to “devolve” the Department of Energy because … well, let him tell it: “When I went over to the Department of Energy one day, you walk down the hall and most of them who are drawing 6-figure salaries are sitting there reading books.” Books! Do I need to remind you that starts with “B” and that rhymes with “P” and that stands for pool?  You start reading books and it’s only a step from books to thinking, which leads to reason, which leads to logic, which leads to scientific theories about things like evolution or climate change. And this is North Carolina, where we don’t hold with such. I mean, how far from that is, say, hug dancing?

Okay, sorry. Carried away a bit.

Fortunately, we have other science stories here, with good news outcomes and a connectivity theme, though, sad to say, they also center on some good old North Carolina dumbassery. To begin: turns out while Jonathan Moss was on his honeymoon, some knucklehead burglarized his apartment. Moss’s landlord emailed him the news, and Moss got busy. He used his iPad to turn on the Prey software he’d downloaded onto his MacBook. The MacBook then began taking pictures of the guy who had the laptop and telling Moss exactly where it was. Moss went to the police in Aruba; they called police in Raleigh, who went to knucklehead’s house and got the laptop.

And that’s interesting because Moss was in Aruba at the time. Much scarier was this crime spree, which started with three knuckleheads stealing an iPhone. An iPhone, of course, is highly trackable, so while the police were tracking it they were able to document the whereabouts of said knuckleheads, which appears to connect them with several other robberies – they took pizza! — robbery attempts, and a shooting. Once the phone stopped moving around, police went to its location and found the knuckleheads. No word, regrettably, on the condition of the pizza.

So, anyhow. Our legislature remains committed to leading the world in science- and learning-related dumbassery, but our citizenry seems perfectly capable of using technology – especially connectivity – to improve the lives of all North Carolinians, save the knuckleheads. I draw no conclusions. But if you come to visit us in North Carolina, don’t let the legislators see you reading any books. And make sure you have your tracking devices turned on.

Scott Huler About the Author: A writer who commonly explores science, culture, and the relationship between the two. Follow on Twitter @huler.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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