The Letter that frightened the Texas Education Agency

We now have a copy of the vile, biased e-mail that cost Chris Comer her job. It’s unbelievably one-sided and horrible — I swear, it’s like using your office network to harrass co-workers with explicit porn. It turns out that this offensive e-mail was from the NCSE, and referenced the Center for Inquiry; if only it had mentioned the ACLU, it would have achieved a hellish trifecta.

The mind-blowing e-mail is below the fold, to protect innocent eyes.

[Read more…]

Fear of Barbara Forrest

In the Dover trial, you got the palpable sense that the creationists were terrified of Barbara Forrest’s testimony. I did not know quite how deeply the dread was until today, though: the Texas director os science curriculum, Chris Comer, was pressured into resigning because she forwarded an e-mail announcing a talk by Barbara Forrest. One Lizzette Reynolds, Republican hack and senior advisor to the Texas Education Agency, was freaking horrified.

This is highly inappropriate. I believe this is an offense that calls for termination or, at the very least, reassignment of responsibilities.

Barbara Forrest is a philosopher of science with special expertise in creationism. Inappropriate? She’s exactly the kind of person boards of education ought to consult before going down the road of attempting to legislate religion into the public schools.

This is something that the State Board, the Governor’s Office and members of the Legislature would be extremely upset to see because it assumes this is a subject that the agency supports.

Well, that’s honest, at least. I did assume that the Texas Education Agency would support science education. I guess I was wrong. The situation is really bad, though, if learning about science is a subject that gets the Texas Legislature upset.

This is the word from Chris Comer’s boss:

the forwarding of this event announcement by Ms. Comer, as the Director of Science, from her TEA email account constitutes much more than just sharing information. Ms. Comer’s email implies endorsement of the speaker and implies that TEA endorses the speaker’s position on a subject on which the agency must remain neutral. Thus, sending this email compromises the agency’s role in the TEKS revision process by creating the perception that TEA has a biased position on a subject directly related to the science education TEKS.

Whoa. The Texas Education Agency is neutral on the subject of teaching good science? It’s bad if the TEA takes a position on the subject of science education?

Apparently, TEA members are supposed to close their eyes and maximize ignorance before making decisions. I really feel sorry for Texas.

Otherwise, though, someone unleash Barbara Forrest and set her to smiting the creationists. It’s impressive the way they have this knee-jerk terror of her soft-spoken words.

(You can get more commentary on this issue from
and the

In the spirit of the season

Since we’re entering the holiday season, and I wouldn’t want to be accused of contributing to the War on Christmas (oh, horrors!), here are some fortuitously christmassy entertainments.

If you’re shopping for just the right gift for that devout Christian, look into the Twelve Days of Kitschmas. These are exactly the kind of garish ticky-tack most appropriate for your beloved followers of the prosperity gospel.

But perhaps you want to share with more spiritually minded loved ones. How about some Bible verses? In fact, how about the most badass verses in the entire Bible? 1 Samuel 18 suggests some great presents for your father-in-law, too.

Mysterious case of ethical myopia in Canada

A pathologist in Ontario made some dreadful, stupid, sloppy mistakes, the kinds of errors that can destroy people’s lives.

The mistakes Smith made in conducting autopsies or giving second opinions on autopsies prompted the province to call the inquiry. His work contributed to some parents or caregivers coming under suspicion or being convicted for the deaths of their children.

It took years and many cases for this guy’s incompetence to be caught out. How could that be?

[Read more…]

A brief history of Futurama

The lesson is that you should never, ever give a network executive control of your fate.

Those kinds of macabre twists would be Futurama’s undoing. Fox was expecting something familiar, The Simpsons in space. Executives certainly were not prepared for the bizarre contours of Groening and Cohen’s brave new world. “The network’s attitude quickly went from tremendous excitement to great fear,” Groening says. “They were very troubled by the suicide booth. They didn’t like the ‘All-Tentacle Massage’ parlor.”

How can you not like the ‘All-Tentacle Massage’ parlor? Obviously, Groening and Co. should have just sent the execs a two hour preview clip of HypnoToad, and gone ahead and done whatever they wanted.

At least the good news is that Futurama is coming back for one more year.