Watcha doin’ on Sunday after church?

godsnotdead2

The Morris Theater is having a special, one-time only, matinee showing of a special movie on Sunday at noon. It’s God’s Not Dead 2! If you saw the first one, you know it’s going to be nauseating experience, and I just can’t miss it. Anyone out there in the Stevens County area want to join me? Even if the movie sucks (and it will), you can at least enjoy the spectacle of watching me turn purple and splutter.

I think afterwards I’ll stroll over to the Old #1 bar and do my best to forget the movie.

No guarantees that we’ll get in, though. This is the only showing in town, so I kind of expect all the worst people in town — you know, the kind who wear homophobic t-shirts — will be packing the joint. If we can’t get in, though, we’ll consider it a shortcut to Old #1.

None of this money portraiture stuff makes any sense

I’m picturing an army of bureaucrats at the Treasury Department, all waiting on the decisions of a smaller collection of old, cranky, conservative banker-types before they can do anything. Kind of like a slimy wad of used condoms clogging up a sewer line.

They say it’ll be 2030 before they can change anything, and they’re making all these weird compromises. Why, I don’t know. I think it’s all because Rich Uncle Pennybags is a colossal douche.

richunclepennybags

Same-sex marriage kills babies

At least that’s what the Heritage Foundation says. It’s going to kill 900,000 babies.

On the surface, abortion and same-sex marriage may seem unrelated. However, as explained in an amicus brief of 100 scholars of marriage, filed in the pending Supreme Court marriage cases and summarized here, the two are closely linked in a short and simple causal chain that the Supreme Court would be wise not to set in motion.

[Read more…]

Sanders is definitely trying to win me over

Have you seen his academic proposals?

The plan Sanders proposed in Congress calls for providing “an assurance that not later than five years after the date of enactment of this act, not less than 75 percent of instruction at public institutions of higher education in the state is provided by tenured or tenure-track faculty.” This use of federal funds to restore tenure represents one of the many policies that one does not find in Clinton’s proposal.

Well, that would staunch the hemorrhaging of qualified faculty into low-paying adjunct positions. I approve, emphatically. There’s also this delightful requirement for where federal money goes.

Sanders also wants to make sure that more money ends up in the classroom: “a state that receives a grant under this section shall use any remaining grant funds and matching funds required under this section to increase the quality of instruction and student support services by carrying out the following: A) Expanding academic course offerings to students. (B) Increasing the number and percentage of full-time instructional faculty. (C) Providing all faculty with professional supports to help students succeed, such as professional development opportunities, office space and shared governance in the institution. (D) Compensating part-time faculty for work done outside of the classroom relating to instruction, such as holding office hours….”

Spend the money on education? Shocking. And then you get the bit where he tells us what you may not spend the money on.

In perhaps his most radical and needed proposal, Sanders pushes these institutions to return to their core missions: “A state that receives a grant under this section may not use grant funds or matching funds required under this section (A) for the construction of nonacademic facilities, such as student centers or stadiums; (B) for merit-based student financial aid; or (C) to pay the salaries or benefits of school administrators.” Sanders’s plan would thus decrease the cost of making public higher education free by decreasing the costs associated with administration, athletics and merit-based aid that goes mostly to the wealthiest students.

Oh, swoon. Make it so, please.

And before you start telling me that Sanders doesn’t stand a chance of getting the nomination, I know. But I will continue to support him in the hope that his policies might be advanced beyond his campaign. I’ll also suggest that Clinton would win me over if she adopted some of these ideas.

Morris gets noticed!

Some big organization just noticed our little school district!

Uh-oh. It’s the ACLU.

And it’s not because our schools did something good.

lookbeyond

As part of their celebration of a Day of Silence (a student-led national event that brings attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools) students at Morris Area High school donned t-shirts with the slogan “Look Beyond”. The same day a group of anti-LGBT students wore shirts that said “Loud and Proud”, the dark blue shirts had an image of an American flag and a pickup truck on the front. Students who were a part of the Gay Straight Alliance efforts said that they were shouted at and harassed by the students wearing the Loud and Proud t-shirts, but school officials did nothing to stop the harassment that day.

Yeah, I heard about this, and it’s troubling — not just because some of the students were assholes, but because this was organized assholery. Somebody designed and ordered a bunch of those stupid t-shirts with a pickup truck and a flag — I guess those are internationally recognized symbols of American jerkiness — and distributed them to the students with a suggestion that they disrupt a day of silence.

But, although the school district did nothing the day of the disruption, surely they got their act together and eventually responded appropriately? You don’t know our school district.

Morris Area High School has banned t-shirts with two slogans — “Loud and Proud” and “Look Beyond” — after student demonstrations turned disruptive last Friday, April 15.

On Wednesday, Morris Area High School Principal Bill Kehoe announced the decision to ban the specific slogans on shirts or other clothing at school and school-sponsored activities.

“We will not tolerate demonstrations or any conduct by any student or groups of students that disrupts the school environment or puts the safety or well-being of students at risk,” Kehoe said in a statement read over the intercom at the end of the school day.

Morris Area Superintendent Rick Lahn said the district’s decision is designed to keep students safe.

They banned them both, of course. To keep the students “safe”, they silenced the peaceful, non-disruptive message as well as the asshole message. Which means, of course, that the assholes who distributed those t-shirts got exactly what they wanted out of it.

The ACLU is coming down hard.

This is not the solution. The t-shirts themselves are not the problem, the harassing of students who were a part of the Day of Silence is the problem.

Schools should be a safe space for all students to attend. Morris Area High School has a responsibility to address any bullying that occurred regardless of the clothing worn by the perpetrators. Instead they just chose to limit the free expression of both sides by outright banning the shirts. This won’t get rid of bullying.

Instead of banning the slogans and t-shirts the school should be focused on making the school a safe and welcoming environment for its LGBT students. This is not the first time the ACLU has heard that Morris High School is an unwelcoming climate for LGBT youth. The school should use this opportunity to talk to its students about bullying and harassment and figure out steps it can take to make it safer.

The ACLU of Minnesota sent a letter to the school district telling the school that they should lift the ban on the t-shirts and instead focus on the heart of the problem.

This is a common problem around here — every once in a while, the religious totalitarians bestir themselves and try to assert their mightiness by slapping down kids. Especially kids who are in some way slightly different.

It’s like the author read my mind

uonfire

Or maybe it’s just that the situation is so obvious. This past weekend, I gave a talk in Minneapolis about how messed up higher education in general was becoming, and specifically about the problems facing science education. And then this morning I run across an article from a couple of years ago that basically says many of the same things. I should have just phoned in How Higher Education in the US Was Destroyed in 5 Basic Steps and spared myself all that thinking and planning and preparing stuff.

Here are the 5 steps in the article:

Step I: Defund public higher education.
Step II: Deprofessionalize and impoverish the professors (and continue to create a surplus of underemployed and unemployed Ph.D.s).
Step III: Move in a managerial/administrative class that takes over governance of the university.
Step IV: Move in corporate culture and corporate money.
Step V: Destroy the students.

Dang. I talked about all of those things. Now you can just read the article to get the gist of my discussion.

The title confuses me

fighters

It’s an article in The Humanist titled “Why Science Is Not in Conflict with Religion”…but its whole point is that religion is completely wrong. It argues that the existence of an interventionist deity is a question of science; it mentions that religions make scientific claims all the time.

All religions, particularly the “big three” Abrahamic religions, make claims about the natural world that clearly fall under the purview of one or more fields of science.

I’m reading the whole thing and agreeing with it, and wondering how they’re going to argue themselves out of this discussion of major conflicts to deny the existence of a conflict, and they sort of do, at the end.

Science will continue to advance. Predictions will be made and conclusions drawn, many that are accurate but others that will be in need of revision as further evidence is compiled. Humans will continue to gather information about every aspect of the natural world, and if findings don’t correspond with or support religious beliefs, as has happened throughout history, then the theists do themselves and humankind a disservice by denying objective evidence. The scientific process is neutral; it is objective and seeks only to discover new information, and thus is not in conflict with any entity besides itself as it self-corrects and achieves greater accuracy over time. If there is indeed a conflict, that conflict was fabricated by those whose agenda is driven by subjective beliefs and who fight to preserve positions that are no longer tenable in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Oh. There’s the problem. Science is objective and neutral and just plain true, therefore it’s not in conflict with mere subjective beliefs.

I’m sorry, you don’t get to do that. You don’t get to simply declare that your position is ultimately the correct one, that your authority is the universe itself, and therefore you aren’t really conflicting with anything that matters. This is a kind of bland scientism that obliviously steamrolls right over the issues in question.

There clearly is a conflict when a majority of Americans believe in a divine authority as the cause of the entire universe, and claim the authority of a supreme being greater than the universe as the source of their information. Waving that fundamental assumption aside as irrelevant because Science is not a valid way to address the question. The points the author brings up are valid, and they may refute the existence of a deity, but do not refute the existence of a conflict.

Anyone who is at all involved in science also knows that there isn’t simply a truth laid out in a clear path before us. We struggle within science to figure out what’s true, so it’s unfair to pretend it’s obvious what’s right in a conflict outside of science. Do the work. There is no shortcut.

It’s as if two fighters climb into a ring, and the referee looks them over and announces that A is 5 pounds heavier than B and has a longer reach, therefore this fight does not exist and A has won it. There are no victories by fiat, and you’d better realize that we really are in a battle here.