For all the wrong reasons

Kristin Maguire, chair of the South Carolina State Board of Education, has resigned from her position for all the wrong reasons. She has been a shill for the religious right, and has opposed the teaching of evolution in the public schools; she has also promoted that worthless ‘abstinence only’ sex education. She should have been fired for basic incompetence. But no, that is not sufficient reason to kick someone out of office in America. What gets American politicians in trouble?

You guessed it: sex. There were unverified rumors of inappropriate behavior, but what really got her was that she has a history of publishing hard core erotic porn on the internet, under a pseudonym — ordinary stuff, of the sort you can find on all kinds of sites, like Literotica, all over the place.

I say, good for her. There’s nothing wrong with a healthy sexual outlet, especially since it harmed no one at all. The hypocrisy of fostering a repressive social agenda in her work while indulging in fantasy play in private is a bit bothersome, but that a human being enjoys sex personally and in a way that does not interfere with his or her work should not be a bar to working in government.

Pushing creationism…that ought to be a serious problem. She did not lose her job for that, annoyingly.

At least now she’s free to write more stories!

How dare you disrespect the Krishnas?

Steven Novella has an excellent analogy for the Sedalia evolution t-shirt nonsense: What if the Krishnas had complained about a t-shirt that showed a rocket going to the moon? Apparently, they don’t believe in space travel at all, so it would have been just as offensive to them — and it’s amazing how well the arguments the evolution-sneerers used would apply.

Except, of course, that non-Christian religions do not receive the degree of deference granted to even the wackiest dogma that has Jesus floating around in it somewhere.

Sedalia has a poll on the t-shirt ‘controversy’

Via ERV and Coyne, I’ve learned that there was a poll associated with that story about the yanked evolution shirts for the Smith-Cotton band program. You must pharyngulate this poll!

Should the Sedalia school district have pulled the Smith-Cotton High School band T-shirts?

Yes, the evolution image was inappropriate
No, critics and the district are overreacting

Missouri’s shame

This is the t-shirt worn by the marching band of Smith-Cotton high school of Sedalia, Missouri.


The ‘ascent of man’ image is a bit irritating — it is a portrayal of a fallacious idea of directionality in evolution — but the designers had a reasonable goal in mind.

Assistant Band Director Brian Kloppenburg said the shirts were designed by him, Band Director Jordan Summers and Main Street Logo. Kloppenburg said the shirts were intended to portray how brass instruments have evolved in music from the 1960s to modern day. Summers said they chose the evolution of man because it was “recognizable.” The playlist of songs the band is slated to perform revolve around the theme “Brass Evolutions.”

All right, I’ll let ’em pass…but wait! There’s a problem? Parents freaked out over the shirts? Could it be because they’re even fussier about scientific accuracy than I am?

No, I don’t think so. You can guess what people complained about.

Band parent Sherry Melby, who is a teacher in the district, stands behind Pollitt’s decision. Melby said she associated the image on the T-shirt with Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.

“I was disappointed with the image on the shirt.” Melby said. “I don’t think evolution should be associated with our school.”

“I don’t think evolution should be associated with our school.” That says it all right there — they don’t want science to be a part of their children’s education. Well, either that or it’s a statement about the Ms Melby’s current state: perhaps her knuckles drag on the floor, and she’s teaching courses in flint-knapping and gnawing hides.

It’s a shame, but there will always be a few ignorant cretins yowling about demanding respect for their religious ignorance in every school district. Responsible, intelligent school administrators will put the students’ needs at the highest priority, and recognize that they don’t need to kow-tow to every crank opinion. They should support science, and know that they do want evolution associated with their school.

Ooops. The assistant superintendent of the schools has yanked the t-shirts and demanded that all of the students turn them in…for a really stupid reason.

“I made the decision to have the band members turn the shirts in after several concerned parents brought the shirts to my attention,” Pollitt said.

Pollitt said the district is required by law to remain neutral where religion is concerned.

“If the shirts had said ‘Brass Resurrections’ and had a picture of Jesus on the cross, we would have done the same thing,” he said.

Evolution is not a religion, no more than sky-is-blueism or gravityism or medicine or mathematics or their shop class. Would they shut down an auto repair class if an Amish family decried their heathen English ways? Pollitt is a pandering moron.

Their school really does need more education in evolutionary biology. They’ve got some quotes from students that reveal they really don’t know much.

High School junior Adam Tilley said he understood why the shirts were repossessed.

“I can see where the parents are coming from,” he said. “Evolution has always been controversial.” The 17-year-old trombone player said his parents “didn’t care” about the shirt because it was the “name of the band’s show.”

Nope. Evolution is not controversial as a science. It is socially controversial, but only because a) people are ignorant of the science (and people like Pollitt contribute to that problem), and b) there are lots of people who profit from perpetuating lies (like, say, Ken Ham).

Here’s the worst:

Senior Drum Major Mike Howard said he was disappointed when he had to return the shirt.

“I liked the shirt because it was unique,” Howard said. “The theory of evolution never even crossed my mind.”

Huh? Adam Tilley says it’s controversial! Students don’t even think of the theory of evolution when they see a t-shirt with the word “evolution” and a picture of evolving apes? There’s a problem.

Pope says it’s all our fault

The Pope has become an environmentalist, and he has figured out who is causing all our ecological difficulties: the atheists.

Is it not true that inconsiderate use of creation begins where God is marginalized or also where his existence is denied? If the human creature’s relationship with the Creator weakens, matter is reduced to egoistic possession, man becomes the ‘final authority,’ and the objective of existence is reduced to a feverish race to possess the most possible.

Terry Sanderson, President of the National Secular Society, has a pithy reply.

This is rich coming from the leader of an organisation that has plundered the world to enrich itself. As he sits in his golden palaces, surrounded by unimaginable luxury and material wealth, he lectures the rest of us about restraint and greed. We have nothing to learn about environmentalism from this hypocrite.

I think I’d have a few questions for this pope. Like, “What about over-population, Ratzi dear? What’s the devout Catholic plan for dealing with that rather serious environmental issue?” and “Hey, have you noticed all those hell-holes of destruction in Africa? How does catholicism help people achieve economic and individual autonomy, huh?”

Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus!

Whew, dodged a mistake — the movie is on RIGHT NOW! An alert reader caught me in time and let me know I live in the Central Time Zone. I haven’t even touched the hooch yet.

It starts with Deborah Gibson, Submarine Pilot, dodging angry whales, and…breaking a giant octopus out of a block of ice? And it then destroys an oil drilling platform? I’m confused. That means I have to take a sip. (No, not a drink. I plan to survive this event.

A shark just leapt up and ate a jetliner? What the hell? OK, big drink. Never mind survival.

I may not make it through this abomination. It’s not just the drinking and the bad movie, it’s the commercials every 5 minutes.

I don’t understand. Suddenly the navy is involved in giant shark hunting? Firing a battleship’s cannon at it? And it survives?

It just ate a battleship. I didn’t buy enough hootch for this thing.

A plan! Corral each monster in a bay: Tokyo Bay and San Francisco Bay. Yeah, I can tell this plan will work just great.

Why do the fake scientists in this movie keep peering into microscopes and pouring colored fluids back and forth? They’re studying something the size of a freight train!

Debbie and Asian scientist she just met get lusty over death talk, have sex, and get inspired to use pheromones to draw monsters into bays. Pheromones are made suddenly in lab, and are fluorescent green. Weird.

Asian scientist talks about it’s fate that he and Debbie will be together. Prediction: he’ll be eaten soon.

The octopus just ate a jet fighter. Tally so far:

Octopus: One oil platform, one small jet fighter.

Shark: One jetliner, one battleship.

PZ: One glass of wine.

For some reason, placing the tiny beaker of pheromone bait requires Debbie to drive a submersible to place it in just the right spot. It’s supposed to attract a monster across half the width of the Pacific Ocean!

The submersible claw gets jammed, of course. And here comes the shark. At 500 knots! Don’t worry, the submersible outruns it.

Shark just ate another battleship and the Golden Gate bridge.

The octopus is not getting enough screen time here. If I wanted all sharks all the time, I’d be watching the Discovery Channel.

Octopus was apparently wreaking havoc offscreen. Debbie Gibson’s lover reports that they shot it with artillery and just made it mad.

Since big guns did nothing, they’re obviously going to have to nuke it.

Until Debbie has a brilliant idea: have the two fight each other to the death. Saw that one coming from a mile away.

The only way to get the two monsters to fight is deliver another tiny container of pheromone from a submarine piloted by Debbie. Of course. This is insane.

Debbie is now lustfully hoping for a bloodbath. What happened to the earlier insistence on catching them alive?

Shark has eaten an oil tanker now, and is chasing Debbie Gibson’s sub. At 500 knots, probably. Debbie shoots it with torpedos that miss, until the entire US submarine fleet shows up to shoot at it, too.

And then the octopus shows up to eat 5 submarines! Yay octopus!

Shark and octopus finally meet: octopus is winning with nice strangle hold, until shark bites off one of his arms. Dirty fighter! They separate so SyFy can squeeze in another commercial.

The shark is trying to eat Debbie’s submarine. Just ate it in half, but Debbie is getting away in a submersible.

The octopus just destroyed the submarine containing Debbie’s sensitive Japanese lover. She’s going to rescue him, apparently.


They wrestle around for a bit, then…both dead? Just like that/ How anticlimactic.

Final tally:

Shark: One jetliner, two battleships, an oil tanker, and the Golden Gate Bridge.

Octopus: An oil platform, one small jet fighter, and six submarines.

PZ: Two glasses of wine.

I think the octopus was robbed. Maybe if his diet had been as robust as the shark’s, he would have won at the end.