Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The World Just Keeps Getting Weirder

"The poor world is almost six thousand years old..."—As You Like It.

Thanks to those Trojan Horses of stupidity (a.k.a. school vouchers), during the coming academic year some Louisiana school children will be taught at taxpayer expense that the Loch Ness Monster is an argument against evolution. Eternity Christian Academy in Westlake, Lousiana uses textbooks provided by Accelerated Christian Education Ministries, which raises the bar on toxic nuttiness to staggering heights. Students at schools following the ACE curriculum will be taught that South African apartheid was good for everyone because it enabled "each group to maintain and pass on their culture and heritage to their children," that the Ku Klux Klan fought "declines in morality," and that evolution clearly never happened because there are no "transitional fossils" (you can read what's wrong-headed about this belief here).

And then there's this gem:

 Are dinosaurs alive today? Scientists are becoming more convinced of their existence. Have you heard of the ‘Loch Ness Monster’ in Scotland? ‘Nessie,’ for short has been recorded on sonar from a small submarine, described by eyewitnesses, and photographed by others. Nessie appears to be a plesiosaur.

Why is this important to these nut jobs? If the Loch Ness Monster exists and it's a plesiosaur, then it's a surviving dinosaur. And (the reasoning* goes) the survival of a dinosaur is much more plausible if the world is only 6,000 years as old as opposed to millions of years old.  One of the strategies employed by creationists is to contrive arguments that the world is much younger than it actually is.

It's bad enough that these "schools" exist. Unfortunately they're not confined to the U.S. In the U.K. approximately 2,000 young people are being subjected to this insanity. What's more, the National Recognition Information Centre, the UK office that evaluates educational degrees for universities and employers, has declared an ACE diploma comparable to an A-Levels diploma, the prerequisite for entering a British university.

A kid that's been through the ACE curriculum is in for a shock when he gets to a secular college (or most religious ones, for that mattter).

*If you can call it that.

Addendum: If you want to read  a superb takedown of the ACE from a medieval perspective, go here.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Onward, Christian Kickboxers

By now most of you have probably read about the trend among some Evangelical Christians to use mixed martial arts as a way to lure young men into the fold. The practice is the subject of a documentary in the works: Fight Church—not the most imaginative title, I'll admit, but it works. I won't even get into how theologically and ethically problematic it is to encourage young men to "Beat the Shit out of Each Other for Jesus" (as The Gawker put it), but it seems to be part of a trend for men who want a Christianity in their image (i.e., one with outlets for testosterone), whether it's founding a religion that allows men to have multiple wives, or something as comparatively harmless as artwork depicting a ripped, macho Jesus

That Jesus of "turn the other cheek" or "blessed are the meek?" Forget that loser.

On the off-chance you haven't seen it, here's the trailer for Fight Church. While there are a lot of unintentionally funny lines, my favorite occurs in the scene in which a pastor is praying over a battered guy hold an bag of ice to his crotch: "Dear God, thank you for the win. Thank you that he's okay. And thank you that he's walkin' and I pray that there's no damage and that nothin' swells up bad later, in Jesus' name, Amen."

The juxtaposition of words and the visual is priceless.

 But I also like it when a small boy gets a godly pep talk before going into a boxing ring, and he says to himself, "I'm gonna rip that kid's head off."

"And a child shall lead them." Isaiah 11:6

Sunday, June 17, 2012

I'll have a lobster and cod pizza with caviar on the side, please.

A town that actually wants a Taco Bell is in pretty bad shape.

Eat like it's the Neolithic.

If  you want to support restaurants that treat their employees right, don't eat at these establishments.

Don't be alarmed: your calamari is just mating in your mouth.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

File Under "Loaded Language"

A headline from Boston.com:

"Mass. House Approves Bailout for Troubled T"

Bailout? Bailout? The T is not an ineptly managed investment bank. It's not run by a gang of greedy Wall Street vermin who gave themselves bonuses as a reward for crashing the global economy. This "bailout" is merely the state legislature forking over money to temporarily address a problem they created.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Week in Food

If you're in Maine and want donuts, don't buy five. Buy six. They're cheaper by the half-dozen.

British food: the Diamond Jubliee edition.

Mmmmm...cricket bars....

Sweet, veal-like, fishy? What do we taste like?

This would kill me.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

What Wisconsin Means

Walker's defeat of the recall effort has been the subject of a number of op-eds, blog posts, and screeds today. Ezra Klein at WaPo's Wonkbook went so far as to write, "Wisconsin Recall Shows Labor Isn't Coming Back." And even more prematurely (but inevitably), some are talking of higher office for this creep.

Is Walker's victory a setback for labor? Absolutely. Is it the death knell of unions? Too soon to say.

Let me add that I have some ambivalence about unions, given that I am a member of a union that privileges seniority over competence, which has burdened my workplace with some serious dead wood and cost a good friend her job. On the other hand, without the protections unions afford, I honestly believe city government would have made all librarian positions half-time so they could weasel out of providing us health insurance. And the better wages and working conditions unions provide usually force some private employers to keep in step to stay competitive in hiring.

But back to Wisconsin: the vote shows nothing more than the unpopularity of union employees during recessions. If you're working two jobs just to pay your bills and you've got terrible insurance (if you have it at all), it's natural to resent somebody who can go home at five every day and who can get sick without becoming destitute. Furthermore, the pro-union forces were at a severe disadvantage in campaign finances (a shocker, no?), although the ubiquitous "outspent 7-1" seems to be debatable.Nevertheless, it's not a complete victory for Walker: the Democrats may re-take control of the Wisconsin Senate.

And while the failure of the Wisconsin recall has emboldened opponents of unions, the labor movement is still winning some victories. Last year the Ikea factory in Virginia unionized (think about that: Virginia). Also in Virginia a group of Eastern Shore chicken catchers who work for Tyson Foods have voted to unionize, after getting fed up with horrendous working conditions and making $40 a day.  Here in Boston workers at the Hilton Boston Downtown are joining the local hospitality workers union, and in Chicago the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees will soon be negotiating wages and benefits for the registered nurses at Loretto Hospital.

And back in Wisconsin, Scott Walker shouldn't feel too smug: odds are he'll soon be facing criminal indictment.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Quote for the Day

“I need the rest of you to help me fix the world. The rest of the world is getting stupider.”

—Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, speaking at Mount Holyoke's commencement.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

I'm Back

After a long neglect of this already seldom-updated blog, I've decided to resume posting. Given my longtime obsession with the instruments of government intended to drive us all completely insane keep us safe, I'm restarting this blog by telling you what words to avoid using in social media posts if you want to stay off government watch lists. Recently (and uncharacteristically), the government actually responded to a Freedom of Information Act request and released the Department of Homeland Security's National Operations Center's Analyst's Desktop Binder, which includes a "current list of terms that will be used by the NOC when monitoring social media sites and to provide situational awareness and establish a common operating picture" (starts on page 20). Some of the words seem like sensible choices, like "anthrax," "dirty bomb,"  "assassination," and "Artistic Assassins" (the name of the contract killers for the Sinaloa cartel, but which could just as easily be the name of a rock band).  Other words seem plausible depending upon what other words they appear with, like "El Paso" (since it's on the US-Mexico border, which is where the Mexican drug cartels operate), "crash," "bridge," "port," or "delays." Then there are choices that seem utterly bizarre, like "pork."  So if I send a Facebook message to a Texas uncle,  "I've experienced some delays in my trip to El Paso for the family barbecue because there have been traffic delays due to a car crash on the San Luis Rey bridge; but don't worry, I'll be there in time to help cook the pork," the gubmint might start monitoring my online activities? Seems unlikely on the face of it, but given their track record, they might well waste time on little ole me. The staff of  Homeland Security are, after all, the same people who waste time on nonsense like asking a 79-year-old if she's wearing a sanitary napkin, and yet a guy without a boarding pass manages to bypass TSA staff and get on a plane without a boarding pass, only to be busted by a stewardess.

(Hat tip to Scribd).

Blog Archive