Saturday, February 02, 2008

Religion editor suggests "opt-out" option for evolution.

I suspect part of this is a tongue in cheek given to the religious community, part in a serious vein. The last sentence seems rather to say to the religious minded that they should stop holding back progress. There is a movement here in Florida especially in the Southern Baptist churches to urge parents to remove their children from publics schools which obey the state rules in teaching the new standards.

Our society is used to conscientious objection to all sorts of things. It is an accommodation we have made in the public square for military service, for sex education, for medical treatment in some cases. We should allow those whose beliefs clash with this teaching of modern science to exempt their children on the same grounds.

It's not a perfect solution, but it would allow society to move forward.

I have read a lot of his work, and I think he is rather upset with those who simply deny science. I think he knows that fellowship well enough to know they will not change, and this might allow "society to move forward."

Evolution And the Opt-Out Option

For the first time, Florida's students would be explicitly required to learn about the theory of evolution. Until now, the standards have had some vague language about "biological changes over time." From the experience my children have had in science classes, I can testify that they did not learn much about the theory of evolution, and I'm sure that instruction about the theory varies from one school to the next, even from one classroom to the next in the same school.

So it's no wonder that changes are being considered. The independent Thomas B. Fordham Institute gave the state a grade of F in science. Because the federal government is pushing for improved math and science education, the heat is on the state board. The new standards under consideration are comprehensive and generally get high marks - except when it comes to high school biology.

The battle is heating up between a vocal minority who oppose the teaching of evolution and those who think the teaching of scientific principles shouldn't be, well, monkeyed with. As many as seven county school boards - most in Northern Florida - have passed resolutions opposing the evolution standards, according to the St. Petersburg Times, and more could follow. A majority of school board members in Polk County, where I live, have gone on record expressing their opposition.

..."Let's cut to the chase - those who object at all costs to having their children learn about evolution are conservative Protestants who have a religious basis for their objection.

First, these folks must realize one thing: The theory of evolution eventually will be taught in public schools. It is as inevitable as the sunrise. There are far too many people who not only have no objection to the theory of evolution, they insist their children learn it as part of a complete education. And, the nation's security depends on having its children literate in science, including biological science.

So here's my proposal: Let those parents who have a religious scruple about this part of the curriculum sign a waiver exempting their children from learning it.

He then reminds the parents who are objecting that their kids who go on to higher education with be tested on it anyway, whether of not they believe it.

A final caveat to conservative Protestants: My proposal would not get your children entirely off the hook. It's unlikely they would be exempted from being tested about evolution in the battery of standardized tests mandated by the state and federal governments. And colleges are not going to be interested in your children's explanations about why they scored poorly on the science sections of the SAT and ACT. Even if you tell your children not to believe it, it would not hurt them to learn what the theory of evolution is.
In case you missed it, here's some background on the battles on evolution going on here in this state. Even school superintendents believe there are holes in the evolution theory you could drive a truck through.

Florida...shades of Kansas and Tennessee.

Haloscan comment thread

"Yes we can" video

Thanks to Holly for posting about this powerful video in the comments earlier today. And since every other liberal blogger in the world (at least it seems that way to me) has front paged the video, it occurs to me that I should too.


Alexandra Lynch at Street Prophets just reminded me that, in addition to being Groundhog Day, today also marks the Celtic festival of Imbolc.

Some links:

Imbolc: Feeding the Body & Soul

The Wheel of the Celtic Year: Imbolc

By the way, I didn't learn until today, as I was searching to find out more about Imbolc, that there actually was a connection with Groundhog Day:
Imbolc was much concerned with fertility and weather prognostication. According to Gaelic folklore, the hag goddess Cailleach would gather firewood on Imbolc. If she intended to prolong winter she would make the day bright and sunny, the better to gather firewood. If Imbolc turned out overcast, it meant that Cailleach was asleep in her den and that there would be an early spring. Sound familiar? Most Groundhog Day reference sources cite this bit of Scottish verse:

If Candlemas be fair and bright,

Winter has another flight.

If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,

Winter will not come again.
Amazing how many things I've gone most of my life not knowing...

Haloscan comment thread

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Open Thread

I'm not sure if I mentioned this--maybe I mentioned it in the comments, but not on the front page here, but Demetrius and I have been doing some work for Maryscott O'Connor on the My Left Wing store. Here's a design Demetrius just added...

And here's a picture of Bart, the new pup Mom will be raising for Canine Companions for Independence.

Talk amongst yourselves...

Haloscan comment thread

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Actually, Hillary...

you can't make those delegates from Florida count just by coming to this state and saying you will count them. It is a little bit of grandstanding you are doing, isn't it?

Here is a scenario presented by the blog at Convention Watch 2008.

How would the Florida and Michigan delegates actually be seated?

And we have a vote, state-by-state, the first meaningful state-by-state roll call at a Democratic Convention since 1980. Clinton would need a majority of the delegates (not including Florida and Michigan) to approve the Minority Report.

And then reality strikes. If Clinton can get a majority of delegates to support the Minority Report, than she has a majority of the delegates supporting her anyway, and she doesn't need Michigan and Florida.

But if she doesn't have a majority of the delegates supporting her, its hard to see why delegates supporting other candidates would vote to seat the two delegations, essentially helping her out. After fighting for the nomination for 2 years, why would Obama or Edwards and their delegates give up the fight in this way. It's just not going to happen. The delegations will NOT be seated if the nomination is contested.

Bottom line is my vote won't count at all toward choosing the nominee. It did not count in 2000 because the Supreme Court took it. It did not count in 2004 because my candidate dropped out a month before our vote.

It does not count this time because my state party leaders and legislators preferred get the limelight a week before Super Tuesday. They could have waited a week, and we could have helped choose the nominee.

Haloscan Comment Thread

Monday, January 28, 2008

D.I.Y. Thread

If anyone wants to post some new content, here, go ahead. But if nothing else, here's your new thread for comments. --Renee

Update: A few shared items.

Haloscan comment thread

Sunday, January 27, 2008


Thankful and I, wearing multiple Dean buttons, went to see Heath Eiden's Grassroots movie today at the Roxy Theatre in Burlington.

                       ~ listener and Thankful

One of my sons joined us there, and I saw a few other people I recognised, but not as many as I expected. There were probably 60 people present. Heath was present and took questions and comments afterward.

This is my take on it. Thankful is on the road home now, and will offer her take after she's home, maybe later tonight.

Members of my family and I were present when Dean announced his campaign's beginning and it's end, and were volunteers at Dean HQ in Burlington. I mostly stuffed envelopes for meet-ups and fund-raising from October 2003 (just after a son's wedding) on through the beginning of 2.0., but also answered phones during the wildest 8 weeks of mid-December 2003 to mid-February 2004. So I was braced for a rough ride today, not sure I had really prepared myself to "see it all again" and to reflect again on the events of those painful days, which remain largely unresolved.

The movie was 88 minutes and really different than what I expected. At Deanfest I, I had seen a video that made me cry. Some of you will remember how hard it was to see the vivid memories and the clips of Howard Dean speaking, shaking hands, and shaking up the political world, all while smiling and raising his eyebrows and offering the occasional wink.

There was some of that in this video as well, even a good close-up of a twinkly wink. But it didn't make me cry like before. I will say I definitely got misty-eyed when it hit a bit too close to home, and I saw my eldest son on camera, larger than life, at the Blogger's Breakfast in Iowa...with an inrush of memory of his hopes at that time, his diligent work for and donation to the campaign, and his loss (as well as all of ours) when it floundered there.

Otherwise, though, it was ... well ... description doesn't reveal itself easily. As Thankful said, and will surely expand on later (after mulling it on her long drive home): "something was missing." I'm not quite sure what. It is not a documentary. There are no voice-overs. It is the splicing together of a lot of video clips and TV event sound bites, with a little human interest video (even clips of Heath's children) thrown in. So it's a bit organic, and it's a bit limited, but it also has some merit. Bloggers will want a copy if only to have some video from the Blogger's Breakfast (we saw Nurse Teri!) and a comment by Charlie Grapski.

I'd say it's one observer's collection of those days. Heath goes to a lot of events, from house parties to canvassing to conventions. He sees a few people multiple times, such as a young reporter from Massachusetts (whose comments I found quite interesting) and pundit Tucker Carlson. Carlson is friendly toward Heath, says great things about Dean when not on media camera, then speaks of Dean as angry when on live TV. There is a priceless clip Heath got at the peaceful demonstration during the Republican convention, when a plain-clothes police officer runs his motorcycle into a crowd, seemingly to incite a riot, then calls the police to come break up the riot with force. There are comments from average Americans and celebrities alike, here and there, some simple, some begrudging, some poignant.

Nonetheless, we would probably need videos from a spectrum of participants to get the full picture. In some ways we each have that in our memories, from all we have seen and heard. I didn't really need a voiceover to tell what was going on; but as Thankful pointed out, most people probably would. There was less of Dean than I expected ... not comprehensive of his views or policy or happenings. But there were also clips I had never seen, bits of speeches I had never heard. And Heath only lightly brushed up against the reality that what happened in Iowa was engineered by the Kerry and Gephardt camps. He showed more bits which speak to what Harvard professor and commentator David Gergen described well in the movie: that Howard Dean's appeal was at the local, in person mode, during which he really connected with the people and became one with them; but this appeal somehow did not translate the same way in the bits and sound bites (even commercials) in the media at the national level.

I still can't quite put my finger on what's missing, so I hope Thankful has a revelation on the way home. My suggestion is that this movie be shown at Deanfest this summer, that there be a gathering afterwards (perhaps the next day to give folks time to mull it or see it twice) during which the movie is discussed (maybe over a Blogger's Breakfast?). Then maybe some bloggers would offer their personal take on it, on camera, which clips could be added to the end of the movie, allowing a spectrum of reflections to help viewers begin to reflect on that time. Perhaps this would serve to bring the movie full circle...back to the people.

As I said to Heath at the end of the comments time today, the movie is a slice of history. Howard Dean gave articulation to our voices and helped us realise that we have the power. When the campaign crashed, we crashed with it (I heard a murmur of assent when I said that), but it also exposed what was going on in the media and the political sphere, and we will never see it the same again. We will never be the same again.

~ listener

Haloscan comment thread