“Expelled”: Another Comedian Craving Credibility of Drama?

24 08 2007

Will his upcoming issue movie “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed” seriously cast ID-ealogues as champions of academic freedom, the persecuted victims of evil scientists and power-mad professors in super-atheist academe? Has Ben Stein, once the out-of-touch teacher in Ferris Bueller’s coma-inducing high school classroom, now typecast himself in the same role for real life? Are we teetering on America’s Rational Edge being pushed into the abyss by legalistic scrambles of sophist distortions served up to put us back in our divine place as mere creatures?

See trailers here.

The movie’s official website compares Expelled to Fahrenheit 9/11 and An Inconvenient Truth, but on a “controversial” scale rather than a “credibility” scale. I think maybe the credibility comparison will prove apt.

Here’s what the Discovery Institute thinks.
Here’s what the Skeptic Friends Network thinks.
Here’s what first came to my mind.
What do you think?


Real-Life Education Minister Rivals Evil Schoolmarm in Harry Potter Movie

23 08 2007

or so says Australia’s National Union of Students.

The student union says federal Education Minister Julie Bishop is like the character in the latest movie [Dolores Umbridge] who takes over the wizard school and implements a series of ideological changes.

Upon which Umbridge-Bishop retorted tartly that students couldn’t be trusted to know what was good for them and they were a bunch of negative whiners (I’m paraphrasing but still) so ungrateful for their nationalized education, that they should be called the National Union of Slytherins.


Hey, maybe she should hook up with Old Lady Wheelwright?


And don’t even get me started on NCLB-spellcasting control freaks like Clinton and Pelosi. If there’s anything feminists should disavow rather than flaunt imo, it’s this all-too-real, all too evil fiction of empowered schoolmarm as liberal, democratic or any kind of social progress.


(More Umbridge-Wheelwright-Bishop mocking here and here.)


22 08 2007

Dear Deer,

Yes, seeing you outside the other day was wonderful. But seeing your fellow native wildlife INSIDE my house this morning was decidedly not. It was unacceptable! Suddenly happening upon a very alive and plenty big enough snake inside my house has never happened to me, not in a half-century of Florida living.

Now that it has, I’m not sure I will ever feel really comfortable in my own little habitat again.

You know that maladaptive deer-in-the-headlights frozen thing you did in the middle of the road? That was me, in the middle of my own kitchen. It took me half an hour to get off the stool — and now what?

Dealing With Snakes in Florida’s Residential Areas – Introduction
Steve A. Johnson and Monica E. McGarrity

This is not academic, it is PERSONAL!

As Florida’s human population continues to grow, remaining green spaces continue to be fragmented into even smaller areas of natural habitat. The outcome of this insidious process is the creation of small pockets of wildlife habitat in an otherwise urban or suburban landscape. As a result, encounters with snakes in residential areas are increasingly likely to occur.

When you say residential areas, I thought you meant towns and developments, like in the bushes or on the roadside. If you mean where I reside, as in IN MY HOME, that’s a whole different kettle of, um, tolerance for the environment, way past the reach of what I (until today) liked to congratulate myself for cultivating . . . Read the rest of this entry »

Death to the SAT?

22 08 2007

If the SAT has been statistically shown to be nothing but a shiny distraction, a mirror reflecting what we already know rather than a window to a brighter future of knowledge and wisdom and social progress, then are we smart enough to NOT show how smart we are with a shined-up test score?

The ever-controversial Charles Murray argues that society would be smarter, happier and most just if none of us had these shit-for-shinola scores in our heads in the first place.

The cognitive stratification of American society—for that’s what we’re talking about—was not a problem 100 years ago. . . (consider that in 1907 roughly half the adults with .high intelligence were housewives) . . .Because upper-middle-class families produce most of the smartest kids, there is no way to reform the system (short of disregarding intellectual ability altogether) to prevent their children from coming out on top. We can only make sure that high-ability students from disadvantaged backgrounds realize . . . that the system is not rigged.

The most immediate effect of getting rid of the SAT is to remove an extremely large and bright red herring. . .

Read the rest of this entry »

Rationality Can Rise Above Anti-theism

20 08 2007

Dawn at Day by Day Homeschooling admires Michael Shermer for advancing the cause of calm rationality and quotes his open letter to “antitheists” in the September Scientific American:

Rational atheism values the truths of science and the power of reason, but the principle of freedom stands above both science and religion.

Mob Power of Public Story

19 08 2007

From WaPo, how using the word “mob” as Karl Rove just did, and even a simple shift in article — “a” mob versus “the” mob — makes political meaning worth lots more words to understand:

The word is rooted in mobile vulgus, an ancient Latin phrase used by politicians, which translates into “the fickle crowd.” Mobile (pronounced mo-bi-leh) referred to the crowd’s tendency to change its collective, uneducated mind. In the 17th century, “mobile” was shortened to “mob.”

The official definition of “mob” now:

(a) The disorderly and riotous part of the population.

(b) The common mass of people; the lower orders; the uncultured or illiterate.

I do not think that word means what he thinks it means. Doesn’t Rove mean to disdain the overprivileged, liberally educated and intellectual effete, not truly uncultured, barely literate simpletons led by the rod, the staff and the sappy soundbite?

Generation Rx Through Favorite Daughter’s Viewfinder

18 08 2007

It’s been a long, hot summer without FavD’s power of story but she’s saddling up again with “Don’t Need No Drugs to Calm Me”:


My mom related to me a harrowing tale of sitting amongst a group of 12 to 13-year-olds we know.

“And they were all just one-upping each other about how many drugs they took,” she said. “It was, oh, I take this for my anxiety, and when I can’t sleep my mom gives me benadryl, and one of them was talking about how when she had to get a shot she screamed so much that eleven nurses had to hold her down, so now they have to give her something before she gets the shot to calm her down…..”

I think this last is the most superfluous of all these superfluous drugs. . . if I protested getting a shot my mother would jerk me back home so fast my head would spin, and that the car ride there would consist entirely of a discussion about how grievously I embarrassed her. That’s Southern discipline: you do not embarrass your mama. . .

But not today. Today you give your children anti-anxiety drugs so that they won’t be anxious about how many drugs they take. . .