Asking Candidates About Their Faith (and Extraterrestrial) Beliefs

26 08 2011

“God chose me for that moment!” she thrills . . .

Following up after the GOP debate controversy around asking Rep. Bachmann about the implications of her bible-based wifely submission beliefs should she become President:

This year’s Republican primary season offers us an important opportunity to confront our scruples about the privacy of faith in public life — and to get over them. We have an unusually large number of candidates, including putative front-runners, who belong to churches that are mysterious or suspect to many Americans.

Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman are Mormons, a faith that many conservative Christians have been taught is a “cult” and that many others think is just weird. (Huntsman says he is not “overly religious.”) Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann are both affiliated with fervid subsets of evangelical Christianity — and Rick Santorum comes out of the most conservative wing of Catholicism — which has raised concerns about their respect for the separation of church and state, not to mention the separation of fact and fiction.

And let’s not skip too quickly over Read the rest of this entry »





What Will Aliens Really Want From Us?

19 08 2011

Well, damn! 😀

[I]t’s really remarkable, in fact, how often the aliens in science fiction just happen to be preoccupied with the exact same political issues that obsessed intellectuals of the era when the fiction was written. And yet it’s still somehow breathtaking. They don’t even notice that they’re not noticing all their embedded assumptions.

For example, the scientists do not even consider the possibility that the recent decline in church attendance among the citizens of the world’s most powerful nations could be a signal to advanced, god-fearing aliens that we are a decadent and irreligious species who should be wiped out.

Reminded me of other science fiction snooking like:

Science Fiction — and Anti-Science Fiction

Invasion of the Body Snatchers Is True Story

“We Prefer Your Extinction to the Loss of Our Job”

calvin hobbes we prefer your extinction to our job loss

(Source)





Legos and Play Young-at-Heart, Young-at-Smart

5 08 2011

If you haven’t seen this yet and don’t realize what it is, go do your homework! And let your kids both little and big, help.

And when that gets you in the mood to think more about Legos and how we love them, you can go do reading for extra credit here and here.

Oh, and here and here too, geez, JJ is long-winded on the most esoteric topic! 😀

p.s. Young Son says this will confuse alien life about our nature . . .





“Thinking Thoughts No One Has Thunk”

6 07 2011

NPR
July 6, 2011
by Robert Krulwich

Charles Darwin did this, slowly and painfully, and so can you.

Every day we walk through the world. We look around. We think we see what’s going on, but it is hard to remember how routinized we are as we look, how we automatically see things from our accustomed angle, never thinking of alternate possibilities. . .

Darwin knew what he wanted to see, but he knew there are many ways to weigh the evidence. And so for the next few decades he would look at his Big Idea from every possible angle, supportive, contrarian — every way possible. Just to make sure he wasn’t missing a point of view. Just to test his guess against all the other guesses.

There’s a stubborn, happy bravery in that.





Blind Pig Homeschoolers and Truffles of Ham

25 03 2011

Even academically indefensible homeschoolers sometimes wind up doing the right thing for the wrong reason or put another way, even a blind pig sniffs out a mouldering truffle now and then (this is a childish play on the man’s last name, get it, get it?)

Either way, if banning Ken Ham for life from churchy corporate-corrupted homeschool conventions is wrong, I don’t wanna be right . . .

Ken Ham, the man behind the Creation Museum and the future Ark Encounter amusement park, has been disinvited from a homeschool convention in Cincinnati next week because he made “ungodly, and mean-spirited” comments about another speaker, according to the convention’s organizers.

Ham also will be excluded from future conventions, according to a statement by Brennan Dean of Great Homeschool Conventions.

Here’s my favorite part though. Guess who Ham’s ungodly and mean-spirited comments were meant to discredit, the man who was also invited to speak and has NOT been banned?

Read the rest of this entry »





Nothing is Immutable, Including School Rules

31 01 2011

Neither the philosophical nor scientific meaning of of life itself is immutable. The magnetic core of the planet upon which humans live (so we can argue about conflicting rules and broken authority and inhuman corporations and what’s in a name) is not immutable. It’s moving all the time and sometimes even reverses polarity!

Magnetic north has of late moved right out from under our airport landing strips. It literally isn’t where we thought we left it even though we were right at the time; it’s not there anymore.

How much less immutable then, are our standardized textbooks and test scores? Seems to me the smarter and better educated we really are, the more likely we will be to admit and accommodate the reality of change as the closest we come to unchanging.

Nothing about school is immutable, none of the who, what, where, why, when or how, certainly not its administrative authority over the rights of sovereign citizens such as the legal construct of uncrossable school zones say, conceived and enforced as critical borders worth sacrificing children to, nor how to mark the race box on school registration and test forms, much less academic pronouncements even when they aren’t borne of changes in religious or political power of story — which planets aren’t planets anymore when the rules and definitions change, say, or something as seemingly cut and dried as how to spell a word correctly:





“Derailing for Dummies” — How to Sabotage Civility and Ruin Conversation!

30 01 2011

Derailing for Dummies is a major collection, not one article. Here are the section headings:

Just follow this step-by-step guide to Conversing with Marginalised People™ and in no time at all you will have a fool-proof method of derailing every challenging conversation you may get into, thus reaping the full benefits of every privilege that you have. . .

Read on, and learn, and remember… you don’t have to use these in any particular order! In fact, mixing them up can really keep those Marginalised People™ on their toes! After all, they are pretty much used to hearing this stuff, so you don’t want to get too predictable or they’ll get lazy!

If You Won’t Educate Me How Can I Learn
If You Cared About These Matters You’d Be Willing To Educate Me
You’re Being Hostile
But That Happens To Me Too!
You’re Being Overemotional
You’re Just Oversensitive
You Just Enjoy Being Offended Read the rest of this entry »





Fresh News on “Christian Science” Teacher John Freshwater

13 01 2011


[family photo provided to media via school district]

Still remember this guy? He did not live up to expectations. . .even in Ohio. (Maybe he could get a job in freshly radicalized Florida public education though, sigh.)

Teacher gives cross-burning new meaning

Talk about “teaching the controversy!”

The case of whole truth v. holy truth

Sunday school teacher costing schools credibility and cool half-million





What’s in the Word Miracle?

16 10 2010

As the Chilean mine rescue unfolded in real time, coverage in every language suggested we were witnessing a miracle.

So what’s in that word, miracle? Not intelligence and good will. Not good journalism either, not even good theology. So says a man often called a miracle himself:

Roman Catholic theology from the days of Aquinas has tried admirably to build on logical reasoning. . .Such theology is a help is clarifying what we’re really talking about. . .

That is why precision in language is useful. Einstein observed, “Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with the important matters.”

Good slogan for a real news organization or top-flight journalism college, if there remain any of either.

Immediately post-Watergate when I was an honors journalism undergrad and newspaper intern, the least consequential “fact error” led to the student’s sudden death: an automatic, unappealable zero on the assignment, no matter how well-executed otherwise. Einstein’s trust-the-truth principle was the reason hammered home to us.

(Is unappealable a real word? Hope you get my true meaning from it.)

Real news journalism for that brief and shining moment — a few decades at most? — meant lively, liberally educated minds pursuing and expressing truths with precise yet poetic language meant to convey knowledge in both small and important matters. . .you know, more what America’s Founding Fathers really said and did and meant, less what their words have decayed into.

How much better to describe the rescue as the result of the fortitude of the miners and the skill of the good-willed people on the surface who reached them in what was, after all, a very short time. How much better to say the outcome in Chile was the result of intelligence and good will.

But there seems to be a narrative in these matters that requires the citing of divinity. Newscasters, victims and their families alike praise the powers above. This reassures us — of what?

That everybody knows the script.

That’s below the radar of wrong-doing even. It seems just lazy, intellectually and morally, to settle for safe, well-worn ruts of yesterday’s meaning that can’t go where tomorrow’s thinking needs to be, today.

(What’s the commercial shipping slogan, when it absolutely, positively has to get there overnight? Better not just bank on a miracle!)

We can do better.

NPR is no miracle yet in my view it defines intelligent narrative, good will and trustworthy use of language. Today I saw a good f’rinstance: seeking new words to make room for naturally growing thought, instead of allowing the old tightly bound narratives to deform new understanding as Chinese foot-binding once deformed naturally growing girls. So let’s sing its praises! 😉

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet. My question is, does it work the other way around? Does a fuzzy name make fish smell less fishy? Read the rest of this entry »





Consider “Parental Rights” in Light of Friendly Atheist Advice to 14-Year-Old

9 09 2010

UPDATE: Good advice for book banners and burners everywhere: read the supposedly damned thing first!

Here’s a quick test of your knowledge of scripture. Where does the following passage come from?

“Behold! The angels said: “O Mary! God hath chosen thee and purified thee – chosen thee above the women of all nations.”

Let’s try another, with more modern language:

“Behold, the angels said, “O Mary, God announces good news to you by a Word from God named the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, honored in this world and the hereafter.”

The first from the King James Version of the Bible and the second from the Revised Standard?

No on both accounts. . .

**********************

From The Friendly Atheist blog comes the kind of concern that even home-educating Thinking Parents ponder, when religious homeschooling gets caught up in the control meme and forgets the whole purpose of “education” anywhere is more and forward and freedom, not less and backward in a box:

Your parents seem to suffer from an anti-intellectualism that is sadly common and widespread in America. Their upbringing Read the rest of this entry »





Which Vulnerability Do You Feel Most Keenly?

9 09 2010

“This is a battle over which vulnerability you feel more keenly,” he said.

Yikes, these words could apply to SO many aspects of current American life! Talk about Power of Story. Everything all at the same time even. Maybe challenge yourself and guess which, before you click through to see.

Have you stopped to really sort out which vulnerability YOU feel most keenly these days, and how that feeling is affecting your thinking? (I do this a lot because it keeps changing, hmmm. . .)





This Would Explain Greg LadenBlather and his LadenHosen

2 08 2010

Science writers play rough. They like hoaxes, humiliations and Oxbridge-style showdowns that let them use words like “claptrap” and “gibberish.” There’s a reason people don’t call themselves deconstructionists and pick fights with science anymore.

. . .“The ship is sinking,” mused PZ Myers, the writer of the [ScienceBlogs] site’s top blog, Pharyngula . .

[W]hile I found interesting stuff here and there, I also discovered that ScienceBlogs has become preoccupied with trivia, name-calling and saber rattling. Maybe that’s why the ScienceBlogs ship started to sink.

Greg Laden Blog Full of Unscientific Crap [even PZ Myers Calls It Out]

School Sock Puppets “Laden” with Logic Disorders

Evidence Mounts for Greg Ladenblather as Flame War Flashpoint

Unboxing Our Lizard Brains