Texas

I probably shouldn’t read the Texas Freedom Network the day before I go to Texas. They do good work, but whoa, they need to — Texas is one thoroughly screwed up state.

The creationists are upset that we’re going to be talk about science at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. They’re demanding that we be banned from the museum, because evolution ain’t a science, don’t you know, and we’re just planning to spread anti-Christian propaganda.

When people bind Christianity to anti-science lies, then yes, we’re going to criticize the lies, and yes, the Christians are going to cry that we’re attacking their religion. Christianity is not a get-out-of-jail-free card; it should not give you immunity to criticism.

The saddest part of this effort to mind is that the museum is defending our participation by claiming neutrality — they say “we do not have a position on any religion, politics or other topics of that nature”. That’s tragic. When religion or politics contradicts science, a science museum should take a stand. One of the reasons this country is in such a sad state is that most of our pro-science organizations have been effectively pithed by the first amendment, which has been a great tool to shelter religious idiocy from any opprobrium.

For example, the State Board of Education is going to be reviewing high school biology textbooks this year, and they’re already packing the committee with creationists. These are people whose credentials rest largely on their association with creationist ministries, their recognition by creationist organizations, and their employment in Christian private schools. These are anti-science zealots, and Texas blithely hands over control of science textbooks to these kooks.

So that’s what I’m flying into tomorrow: conservative America on meth and steroids. At least I get to hang out with the rational subset of the state.

Also, I love this song by Wimme Saari.

Comments

  1. Andy Groves says

    Enjoy the palaeontology exhibit while you’re there…… it’s very good.

  2. Francisco Bacopa says

    I love that song. The tourism board needs to use it.

    And don’t miss the gem and mineral collection either.

  3. erichoug says

    I have to agree with Andy, the Paleontology exhibit is wonderful. I am not an expert but I definitely liked this one better than the one at the field Museum in Chicago.

    Also, you couldn’t possibly have picked a worse time to come. It is planning to be in the upper 90s with little likelihood of rain. But, West U is pretty leafy and shady so it will only be like 95-96 while you’re there.
    If you get a chance to go down to Valhalla at Rice that’s your best bet and it’s a beautiful campus. If you came in October you could walk the beautiful campus and enjoy Herman park. But, I would recommend indoor activities like the fantastic MFAH.

    I know that no-one will believe it but there are actually quite a lot of people in the state that are very concerned about this sort of things. The rating of the school district in an area affects the desirability of the area for real estate and development, which is a big thing in much of Texas, so people want the schools in an area to be good and teaching Creationism is one sign that a school is not good.

    Well at the very lest Gov. Hair said he wouldn’t run again next election so that’s some good news.

  4. Rey Fox says

    Breaking news: Gov. Perry calls another special session of the legislature to vote on a bill to ban scientists from Texas.

  5. mjmiller says

    And many of us are working actively to turn this into a progressive state, PZ. I invite all Texas residents to join me in groups like Progress Texas (and other groups) which are striving to turn this state blue and join the 21st century.
    (climbs down from soap box)

  6. says

    I get to hang out with the rational subset of the state.

    That sounds kind of mathy, PZ. Could be risky. Is math allowed in Texas?

  7. sqlrob says

    It is planning to be in the upper 90s with little likelihood of rain.

    Houston is that cold? 102 in Austin heading home from work yesterday.

  8. erichoug says

    @Sqlrob

    It is funny but a few weeks ago we had temps up into the low teens but with a low humidity. When it finally dropped a bit it was so happy to see the high temp at (only) 96degrees. I suppose everything is relative.

    @Reyfox, Isn’t it funny that they couldn’t get the highway bill passed in the second legislative session, but the all important anti-abortion bill, which will likely cost Texas tax payers millions of dollars in legal fees alone let alone the horrendous human cost before it is struck down by the supremes, was so all important that they managed to force it through, pink tennis not withstanding.

  9. Thumper; Atheist mate says

    I really like the song :)

    Also, I wish you’d stop using Farenheit. “Upper nineties” confused the fuck out of me before I converted it. I was under the impression the Great Poopyhead was about become calamari.

  10. raven says

    Texas is already a minority majority nonwhite state.

    Obama won 40% of the vote in Texas. Considering it’s Texas, that isn’t bad.

    Demographic trends are not in favor of the christofascist racists in Texas, a fact that even they realize.

    It’s entirely possible that someday Texas will join the 21st century although it is hard to say when. Right now it looks a few decades away.

  11. magistramarla says

    I love the Houston Museum of Natural Science. We were there a few years ago with some students for a Latin competition. Before visiting the Pompeii exhibit at the Museum of Fine Art down the street, we took the students to see the Lucy exhibit at the Museum of Natural Science. I told them that actually seeing Lucy was a once in a lifetime experience.
    I didn’t even think about it at the time, but I suppose it might have pissed some fundi parents off that I took their kids there, but oh well!

  12. Karen Locke says

    I haven’t been to Texas in a long time, and don’t have any ambition to revisit it. But as my dad-in-law (a native Louisianan) likes to say:

    The sun is riz, the sun is set,
    and you ain’t out of Texas yet.

    Of course, Dad has had many years in California to, er, moderate his Southern views.

  13. erichoug says

    @Thumper,

    I am trying to self convert to the metric system, since I work in engineering this is actually a little bit easier. BUTthe larger US stubbornly, stupidly, ridiculously continues to try to cling to the Standard system.

    @Lesterly

    Great song, they used to play it every night at the club I used to work at back in the nineties and it would always get everyone out on the dance floor.

  14. says

    cross-posted from the Lounge:

    On page 1 of the most recent chapter of the [Lounge] thread, Texas sauntered into the spotlight with bad news, all kinds of bad news: EPA hobbled, abortion rights abridged, science textbooks adulterated with creationism, voting rights denied, etc.

    Okay, time to keep the Texas-WTF!? list going.

    Texas wants women seeking abortions to take adoption classes first. And, oh horrors, it is a Texas Senator that is a Democrat who is pushing this new bill.

    … Eddie Lucio, the only member of his party to vote in favor of the state’s sweeping new abortion restrictions.

    Lucio’s bill would require the Health and Human Services Commission to develop an “adoption education course” that women would be forced to take, in person or online, before being approved for an abortion. After completing the course, a woman would present a certificate of completion to her doctor….

    And wait, there’s more. Texas Republicans want Wendy Davis to foot the entire bill for their recent special sessions during which Davis filibustered the draconian anti-abortion bills. Link.

  15. raven says

    On page 1 of the most recent chapter of the [Lounge] thread, Texas sauntered into the spotlight with bad news,

    1. When Texas defunded Planned Parenthood, everyone said the single mother-welfare case load was going to go up.

    2. Which is exactly what happened. If you are going to force young, single women to give birth, you are going to have more women and children on the welfare rolls.

    You can force women to give birth but you can’t force the vacuum to create money and food to support them and their children.

    3. Texas has one of the lowest welfare payment rates in the USA.

    Being poor and on welfare in Texas must be pretty miserable. I can’t even imagine it.

    4. Texas leads the US in children growing up in poverty. This is an important metric because children growing up in poverty tend to never leave poverty. It’s a measure of dysfunction and hopelessness.

    I almost took a job in Texas back towards the Dark Ages. Cthulhu must have been looking out for me because I went elsewhere.

  16. maddogdelta says

    One bit of good news here in H-Town… Houston Independent School district is switching to a 1:1 program for all students (starting with a few selected schools, including mine…yay!) where each student gets a laptop computer, and very inexpensive broadband internet services.

    What this means, from a practical standpoint, is that the schools will stop buying the textbooks, and start using online resources, instead. So rather than “Ken Ham approved” Texas stamped textbooks, teachers will be free to go to phet.colorado.edu for simulations, discovery learning, Ck12.org, openstax and other places to get real information.

    @lesterley
    My theme song for the Gov and his buddies in Austin is :

    Shallow End of the Gene Pool

  17. DLC says

    I am reminded again of the old Saturday Night Live sketch involving a bookstore where the staff have to dodge bullets in order to find books for the customers.

  18. anchor says

    ATTENTION TEXAS:

    YOU ARE SO BIG. GIANT EVEN.

    YOU ARE SO TREMENDOUSLY ENORMOUS THAT YOU SHOULD NOT BE MUCH BOTHERED BY PESKY LITTLE ATHEIST CONTRARIANS.

    YOU ARE SO COMPLETELY IN CONTROL OVER YOUR IMMENSE DOMAIN THAT SUCH PALTRY LITTLE BUGS SHOULD NOT MERIT THE SLIGHTEST FURTHER CONCERN.

    So what’s the problem? What exactly are you so afraid of?

  19. Nick Gotts says

    It is planning to be in the upper 90s with little likelihood of rain. – erichoug

    Wow! I didn’t realize surface temperatures on this planet ever got that high! Still, just a few degrees higher and you can be certain any rain will turn to steam before it arrives :-p

  20. David Marjanović says

    102 °F? That’s, what, 37 °C, maybe 38? Parts of Austria are going to hit 40 tomorrow, higher than the highest temperature ever recorded in the country, and the record is just from yesterday or something.