Friday, September 25, 2009

Well, I'll be a trumpet's uncle

Speaking of the rabid right's war on science and the ongoing march to stupid: 

In Sedalia, Missouri a high school marching band had t-shirts printed up that showed the "evolution" of brass instruments from the 1960s to today and they used the evolutionary template of a monkeys evolving into humans to add to the visual punch.  It's actually quite clever, especially considering that their playlist is based on the theme "Brass Evolutions"

Well a couple of the parents got a look at the shirt and went apeshit. (I love a good primate pun)  They complained about the concept and the school superintendent actually made the students turn in the shirts because "the district is required by law to remain neutral where religion is concerned".  One parent said "I don't think evolution should be associated with our school." 

That parent, by the way is a teacher in the same district! 

So, evolution is now a religion.  All hail the great god... uhm.... MonkeyMan and his prophet Charles. 

Are you kidding me?  These idiots are the ones molding young minds?  It's no wonder so many people buy the lies spun by right-wing talk-show hosts and the nuttier politicians (Word to Michelle Bachman.)

I really don't know that there's much else I can add to this story except to say: WTF? 

For a somewhat more in-depth response check out noted blogger Phil Plait's take on the story here.

Wow.  Just wow.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Groaning Pains

Many of you probably remember Kirk Cameron from his 80's gig as a sit-com star.  If not, well, you're not missing much. Apparently he didn't think that yukking it up for 22 minutes a week wasn't funny enough so now he's branched out into a whole new line of comedy: creationist fundamentalism.

[I'll pause here while I wait for you to finish laughing.]

Ok, welcome back. He and a loony named Ray Comfort have decided that the 150th anniversary of the printing of Darwin's "On The Origin of Species" would be a good time to reprint the book.  So far so good, right?  Only theirs comes with a 50-page fundamentalist introduction explaining the evils of evolution and modern society versus the holiness of creationism and fundamentalism.  Seriously!  Oh, it gets better: they're going to give away 100,000 copies of this book at "the top 100 colleges and universities" in the US. All you, the rabid believer, need to do is log onto their web site and (wait for it.......) donate money so they can, uhm.. "print more books".  And of course laugh all the way to the bank.  It's a money-making ploy, plain and simple.

Speaking of laughing if you want to spend the rest of the day in stitches spend some time googling Ray Comfort.  To get you started what the man does with a Banana will have your mouth hanging open.  Don't worry - this actually *is* safe for work. Further hilarity is left as an exercise for the reader.

Best of all there's a six minute video (feel free not to watch it - the last thing they need is more youtube hits, but I put the link in there to be fair - and, uhm balanced) they put together starting the child star that will have you alternating between incredulity, laughter and anger.  I was working on a blog post to point out the inanity of the whole thing is but someone has already done a far better job than I ever could.  Watch her video - it's worth the six minutes.

What the Christina doesn't address is how toxic this whole stream of obsessive religion has become.  Let me be clear: I have no objection to honest, individual religions or religion as a whole.  If people find comfort and happiness in their faith that's wonderful: the world needs more of both.  But that's where it stops.

I happen to love progressive heavy metal music but I don't want it taught in schools, blared out of speakers in the courthouse, played before football games or shoved down the throats of anyone who isn't one of my brothers.  (Incidentally both of whom have thanked me for introducing them to that particular genre, but I digress).  What's so destructive about the fundamentalists is how they are insistent that their way is the only way to the exclusion of not only other faiths, but of science.  Further advancement of the very science that created our modern way of life is threatened by ignorance, mysticism and superstition. In most civilized countries around the world that medieval nonsense is on the decline, but here in the United States it's growing like a fungus and it must be stopped lest we join the third world countries where this sort of thing is already prevalent.

Fortunately this fungus is easily defeated through ample application of intelligence, knowledge, education. What are you going to do today to shine a light on stupid?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Over the course of the month of August I've been watching the near riots at the town hall meetings and while I may not be the most experienced political observer I certainly don't remember this happening in the past. People have always gotten a bit heated with politicians who don't vote their way, or with complex legislation and that's the American way to be sure. But the screaming, the violence (on both sides), the vitriolic lies, the open carrying of weapons? That's new and I think I know why.

For the past eight years we had an administration that shunned thought, controversy and dissent. To question was to oppose and to oppose was unpatriotic. Shoot first and ask questions..... never. And certainly never admit when a mistake was made or, heaven forbid, offer an apology. We saw it over and over from the lack of preparation for the war in Afghanistan to the invasion of Iraq on trumped up charges and the non-existent weapons; from Katrina to the medicare drug bill to squashing science. Mistakes were to be covered not fixed, and generally the covering was done from the gut with force, violence or intimidation. Sound familiar?

As I've proposed here before, the GOP is terrified not that health care reform will pass, but that it will work. So they've gone into Bush/Cheney mode and they're blasting it with everything they have rather than taking a step back to analyze and figure out how they can be a real contributing part of the conversation. Their followers, fomented to a froth and fed with blatant lies by talk radio and TV, are merely following in their footsteps: Scream at the opposition; bring a gun to terrify them; don't listen to the answers; walk out without learning or accomplishing a thing.

It's the same story: shoot (your mouth off) first and ask questions..... never.

And it's severely absurd.

UPDATE: I've been thinking about this for a couple of weeks but I was inspired to post it by South Carolina Congressman Joe Wilson's infantile (and, yes absurd) "you lie!" outburst during the President's address to the join session of congress on 9/9/09.  Sadly, his descent into rudeness fits the trend and should shock no one.  He apologized for it within minutes but has spent the last two days back-peddling while being lauded by the far right for his "courage" and "speaking truth to power".  Never mind that what President Obama was saying at that moment is demonstrably true, making Mr. Wilson the real liar here.  Many self-respecting and even some self-satirising Republicans condemned his remark but still there are those who think such behavior has its place on the national stage.

Want to put a point on it that even the Congressman will understand?  Send a couple of bucks to Rob Miller, his opponent in next year's election.  So far he's raised almost $750,000 in just the last two days.  Add a couple more to it.  I did.  Felt good.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

More school antics

As if boycotting President Obama's welcome back speech wasn't partisan enough now a school district in Arlington, Texas is going to bus kids to a speech by former President George W. Bush. Even the pastor of a local Baptist church doesn't understand it. saying "I do not understand the duplicity in this situation".  A TEXAS PASTOR!   I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried.  

So, let me get this straight:  The history-making, sitting President's message of studying hard, staying in school, learning from failure and achieving more in life was too corrupting and would "indoctrinate" their weak-minded children.  The message that could have been recorded to be played back during their lunch break so as not to interfere with classroom teaching (never mind that for many this was the first day of school so little teach is actually done).  But it's ok to spend hard-to-come-by school district money (what, you think drivers' time and fuel are free?) to drive kids 30+ miles across town in the middle of the school day to listen to speeches by a former President (and certainly less relevant figure), his wife and other local leaders?  Let's put aside, for the moment, the rabidly partisan behavior of the past administration and give them the benefit of the doubt.  These kids are still going to miss far more than the 18 minutes of school that President Obama's speech lasted.  The hypocrisy is staggering and only serves to prove my point yesterday about the racism behind people's objections to the President's school speech.

What's the message here for kids?  Skipping school is OK as long as you're listening to "us" and ignoring "them"?  That others' opinions, even the most powerful man in the world, don't matter?  That there's nothing a little ignorance can't fix?

I'd weep for our country's future, but so many Texans are talking about secession these days that by then maybe they will actually be a whole other country.  A third-world country, but still....

The absurdity marches on.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

ejukashun is bad!

This story just screamed out for a post here. President Obama gave a speech today to schoolkids across the country to welcome them back and encourage them to stay in school, work hard, do their homework and play a little less X-Box. I fail to see any controversy in any of that, unless you work for Microsoft and take offense at the XBox bit. (Of course the X-Box was recently rated as the least reliable game console so you reap what you sow, there Redmond. )

Right wing talkers like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh protested the speech claiming that the President was going to indoctrinate kids with his communist, socialist propaganda (with a 30 minute speech? I thought he was from Kenya, not Dagobah.) while failing to point out that talking to school kids is a time-honored tradition among Presidents including Reagan, Bush, and we all know about Bush 43's "My Pet Goat" moment on 9/11/01. To be fair, though, the talking heads get paid by generating ratings and they do that by drumming up controversy. Well done, fellas - collect your paychecks while the country burns. And one more note: the Democrats protested Bush 41's speech after it happened though that didn't come within 1% of the fevered pitch of today.

What is even more galling, though, is the school districts that refused to show the speech and the parents who broke down in tears at the thought of the President of the United States speaking to beloved baby. Some protested, some kept their kids home from school. All are insane.

The President's speech was all about how hard work and staying in school was the best path to success. The text of the speech was released on Monday (a national holiday, mind you so there was ample time to read it) so claims of "I didn't know" are lies. How does keeping your kids at home set the right example? On top of that over the last few days those flaming liberals Laura Bush and Newt Gingrich (on Fox News, no less) released statements saying that it was a good speech that children should hear.

So with content and the matching carpets of politics and partisanship yanked out from under these fools what's left? I don't see anything other than garden variety, good old fashioned racism. These people are terrified that their world is changing, that the complexion of America is darkening and they're being left behind. Couple that with the fear being pounded into their brains by Fox News and you get a potent, tear-inducing combination.

Back to the talking heads and politicians for a moment, as they're fueling this for all they've got. Why? Because an uneducated populace is easier to spoon feed garbage like creationism; global warming skepticism; opposition to universal health care; tax cuts as a cure for all ills; the idea of small government meanwhile growing government faster than any previous administration (See Reagan and Bush 43). It has been shown time and again that an educated population is more interested in how we impact the rest of the world and our environment. An educated population is the GOP's worst nightmare. How else can you explain their opposition to science? Their dumbing down of political discourse? The shouting matches in town halls?

Of course the world does need check-out clerks, janitors and fry cooks. So go ahead parents, teach your kids it's ok to skip school, to avoid thoughts that don't fit into their narrow world-view, that challenges them or causes them to think. Follow Sarah Palin's example and teach them to quit when things aren't perfect.

The GOP is banking on stupid and sadly, it's paying dividends.

Absurd and extremely dangerous.