World of Wonders

When we see things that aren’t, we miss the wonderful things that are.

October 9, 2008: Yes, John McCain, the world does need more $3M “Overhead Projectors”

During the October 7, 2008 U.S. Presidential Townhall Debate in Nashville, Senator John McCain claimed that Barack Obama “voted for nearly a billion dollars in pork-barrel earmark projects—including, by the way, $3 million for an overhead projector at a planetarium in Chicago, Illinois. My friends, do we need to spend that kind of money?”

A $3 million “overhead projector”!? Okay, I’ve been following the U.S. election intently since the beginning of the year. But, as former Senior Producer at the McLaughlin Planetarium of the ROM in Toronto, it just got personal.

Where to begin? Well, for starters, the “overhead projector” is not that suitcase-sized light-box we’re all familiar with from grade school that our teachers used to project transparencies of graphs and maps onto a screen. The “overhead projector” McCain refers to is a planetarium star projector: the complex, highly-sophisticated optical instrument that projects images of stars, planets, the Milky Way, and the Sun on the dome-shaped screen of a planetarium, simulating the night sky.

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Filed under: planetarium, politics, science education, , ,

About me

I am a Toronto-based writer, author and photographer who is inspired and fascinated by science. Science is our best way of understanding the natural world, but it is much more than that. Science is culture, and its pursuit ultimately leads to meaning, values and wonder.  My interests include evolution, Darwin, the Galapagos Islands, secular humanism, religion, skepticism, climate change, and science culture.  For many years, I wrote and produced astronomy programs for the McLaughlin Planetarium of the Royal Ontario Museum. I am author of many books for young readers (Sterling Publishing and Penguin Young Readers, N.Y.) and articles for children's magazines. I also write non-fiction related to the themes reflected in this blog. You can read some of my longer non-fiction and view my photographs at, and follow me at


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