Saturday, June 02, 2007

Open Thread

I got a chuckle out of this picture

A few new posts in the shared items, by the way.

Talk amongst yourselves.

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My God does not fear science

I struggled for a title for this post--indeed, I struggled with what to post about the Creation Museum, or even if I should post about it. It does seem ripe for mockery--anything so utterly filled with animatronic creatures is probably going to get a lot of that. The thing is, I *don't* want to make fun of what these people believe. But it does make me sad...

A photo from the official Grand Canyon web site.

During some down time at work, I read an article from last week's Columbus Dispatch about the opening of the Creation Museum. It's not available for linking any more, so I looked for another article and found this one at Salon. The teachings about the Grand Canyon are fairly new to me...
In Ham's view, the great flood explains not only where scientists find fossils today but also the topography of the modern world. The Grand Canyon, he informs me, was made in a matter of days or weeks as the waters of the flood rushed away and the land was reclaimed. In the exhibit, you walk through a winding canyonlike corridor with spinning, dizzying lights into a wide-open room with videos, exhibits and diagrams explaining the hydrology of instant canyon-making. Ham says that instant canyon-making is based on the fact that volcanoes, such as Mount St. Helens, created reservoirs of water for a time in their altered topography. When those reservoirs breached, deep grooves were cut by the flowing water, leading to the fast formation of canyons.
Inside the Confusion exhibit, I strike up a conversation with Tim Shaw, a high school student visiting from Florida. "I don't care how long it took to make the Grand Canyon," he tells me. "It's not how old it is that matters to me. What matters is being right with God. Darwin's theory has no God. It can't be right. I don't know if this story is truer than Darwin's theory, but I do know it's better."

I do empathize. When I first started to tenatively question some of the things I'd grown up believing, it was kind of anxiety-inducing. Sort of like I was tugging at a loose thread and could end up unraveling *everything* if I wasn't careful.

I suppose I should point out, though, that it wasn't creationism versus evolution that I was struggling with. *That* was never presented as problematic, and I was taught the theory of evolution in science class at the Catholic elementary school I attended. In the Dispatch article, Ham is quoted as saying that there is a "cultural war" going on between secular humanism and the Christian worldview. I disagree. Maybe evolution is threatening to *his* version of Christianity, but it has never been anything but compatible with mine.

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Friday, June 01, 2007

Write to the Archbishop of Canterbury

I just saw this on the web site of Integrity, and thought it was worth front-paging.

On May 22, the Archbishop of Canterbury announced (through a spokesperson) that the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson, the openly gay Bishop of New Hampshire, would not be invited to attend the Lambeth Conference in the summer of 2008. Integrity responded with a strongly worded press release.

The Lambeth Conference is still over a year away. It may yet be possible to persuade Rowan Williams to change his mind about inviting Bishop Robinson to Lambeth. Integrity encourages all of its members and friends to write the Archbishop of Canterbury about this issue... (Click)
Susan Russell, President of Integrity, discussed the Lambeth invitations with Welton Gaddy on State of Belief last week. Click here for a transcript of that segment.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

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Thursday, May 31, 2007

From the annals of unhelpful advice

This past Monday, I spent my day off from work trying to help my son salvage a project for his science class. I explained the course of events that led to this emergency data collection here and elsewhere. The basics--Son in Ohio is almost 14, has a diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome, and is taking 8th grade science and math as a 7th grader. Demetrius was told on Friday that Son's grade was in jeopardy because he didn't have the data collected for a major project that was due this week. I put out an appeal for help, and the response was amazing. Son ended up with about 50 subjects for the study he was doing, when he was only trying for 32. Since I asked for help publicly, it seemed right to offer a public update of how the project went.

I wish I had a happy ending to report, but at the moment there isn't one. At least not for this project, but we continue to press forward in our efforts toward positive academic outcomes for our gifted, special needs son. We don't expect the job to be easy, or to have any magical "happily ever afters", but after all these years, it's kind of disappointing that we still need to butt heads like this with people who are supposed to be helping.

From a very unhappy e-mail I received from Demetrius when I was at work on Tuesday:

Apparently, after (teacher) told us on Friday that (son) might be failing science and math, we were supposed to spend our weekend consoling him to that fact instead of trying to help him. She keeps going on that (son) needs to take responsibility for his procrastinating.
Son's grade may still be salvagable, but the bigger issue is that his teacher is still saying stuff like this. "He has to take responsibility", he "has to learn" to do X, Y, or Z. Thank you for that headline from the esteemed research journal, Duh. Yes, of course he has to learn those things. When is someone going to start teaching him those things? Or even talking seriously with us about putting together a plan for how we are going to work together to teach him those skills?

I mean, what kind of social Darwinian attitude is it to say of an individual with any deficit, whether it be physical, cognitive, or emotional, "you're just going to have to learn"? How about tossing a non-swimmer into the deep water, and then "helpfully" shouting "You'd better start swimming or you'll drown!"

Shocking as it may seem, I really expect better than that from the people who are charged with providing my son with that Free Appropriate Public Education to which he is legally entitled. I'm even so bold as to expect that his teachers remember that Asperger's Syndrome is, by definition, a pervasive developmental disability--meaning that it affects many areas of his life. It's not just a social deficit. Yes, my son is classified as gifted, but that pervasive disability of his still has a cognitive component. He has trouble with something called "executive function", a set of skills involving

1. Working memory and recall (holding facts in mind while manipulating information; accessing facts stored in long-term memory.)

2. Activation, arousal, and effort (getting started; paying attention; finishing work)

3. Controlling emotions (ability to tolerate frustration; thinking before acting or speaking)

4. Internalizing language (using "self-talk" to control one's behavior and direct future actions)

5. Taking an issue apart, analyzing the pieces, reconstituting and organizing it into new ideas (complex problem solving).
And since that is a deficit our son has, it's something he needs help with. More effective help than urging him to "get organized" or "stop procrastinating". As far as helpfulness goes, those suggestions are right up there with "You'd better start swimming or you'll drown!"

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New thread

Thank you to Cat for this link to Al Gore's appearance on the PBS Online News Hour. MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann has video of Gore's segment on that program posted online as well.

I took down the Cafe Press topic ads, because they won't work after today. Need to make our own ads to replace them, but in the meantime, here's the link to our store.

Haloscan comment thread

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Open Thread

Just a couple of links and a picture tonight...

The Rev. Susan Russell, President of Integrity (a coalition of lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Episcopalians) was a guest on Air America's State of Belief this past weekend. I've posted a transcript here.

I've got a new post up at My Left Wing: Becoming a butterfly (and other "uplifting" thoughts). Some of you may have seen at least part of that before when I posted the butterfly metaphor here last October. But it seemed like time to pull that one out again, along with some other things.

Finally, if I go with a baby moo-cow for tonight's moment of cuteness, ya think Phil might mosey his way over here and comment in person? Just a thought...

And one more thing--which I know won't work for everyone, but I figured those of you who can watch videos might appreciate it...

P.S. Happy birthday to Bishop Gene Robinson.

Haloscan comment thread


I'm not the only person who cares for a disabled loved one at home, but sometimes it feels that way. As I read about the wounded veterens returning from two failing wars, my heart breaks for those family members who were just getting by and now have lifetime responsibilities dealing former soldiers with brain injuries, post traumatic stress disorder, or other conditions that will prevent them from having a normal life themselves with those who love them.

Folks here know that I'm rarely away from for more than a few hours at a time. In fact, if my wife's daughter hadn't agreed to spend the weekend at our place, I'd never be able to do something like DemFest. I also have a unique form of therapy for myself for when the stresses of caregiving overwhelm me. I can take my guitar into the subway and scream at the world for a couple of hours, and this has kept me balanced through the years.

I've heard about the ways that our veterens are being screwed nine ways to Sunday by the greedy cowards that sent them off to fight their war crime. Men and women who have sacrificed so much are being screwed out of their rightful benefits. They return home and for many, their middle class existence is a thing of the past and wife or husband, parent or sibling is now faced with the double hardship of caring for a severely disabled person at home and trying to keep the roof over their heads, or their children in school.

If only this great nation could provide for these caregivers with the same benefits we afford to foster parents, we could lift some of the burdens that they bear, and even help to keep these families in tact. The cost to the system for home care by a family member is far less than care in a nursing facility, and far less than that of sending someone from an agency. A way should be found to share the cost saving with the overstressed, burned out and forgotten people who are in fact on the frontlines for those who cannot otherwise help themselves.


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Cindy Sheehan resigns as "face" of the anti-war movement

In a Memorial Day essay, Cindy Sheehan wrote, in part:

This is my resignation letter as the “face” of the American anti-war movement. This is not my “Checkers” moment, because I will never give up trying to help people in the world who are harmed by the empire of the good old US of A, but I am finished working in, or outside of this system. This system forcefully resists being helped and eats up the people who try to help it. I am getting out before it totally consumes me or anymore people that I love and the rest of my resources.
From the comments here at HEP:
True prophets always run ahead of their time.

It takes time for the words of a prophet to come true.

In my experience, visionaries are enough ahead of their time that they are resisted every step of the way by the people in power. For reasons I do not understand, however, once the prophet stops speaking, something frees up and changes. I have lived this over and over, and I too needed to step back. Any of us is only called to speak out for a time.

You did it, Cindy. You were heard and what you have done has changed the situation. We may not see the true results of this for awhile.

But consider that most mystics and visionaries -- all through history and cross culturally -- were persecuted by their own people in their day. John of the Cross and Martin Luther King, Jr., for example, were both thrown into prison and wrote golden things from there. Now John of the Cross is considered a "doctor of the church" and King has a national holiday.

You have definitely not failed your son, or us, or failed at all, Cindy (and the spirit of your son knows this). It is the greedy and the arrogant (in any of us) that has failed. But the opera ain't over.

If you do not feel you have the words and energy anymore, then this calling is no longer on your shoulders. {Hallelujah, eh?} Thank you for carrying the torch for us, lighting up some wrongs, and for passing the torch when the time came.

Just go ahead and continue to be authentic. That's what got you into this and that's what got you out of this. Authenticity is good stuff. May you know in your own day the peace of seeing the fruit of some of your heroic efforts.

With Gratitude and Hope, listener in Vermont
Haloscan comment thread

Monday, May 28, 2007

Open Thread

From Cute Overload.

Halocan comment thread

Gore: Drive for domination has put us in greater danger

For anyone who hasn't seen this, Al Gore has a commentary in a recent edition of The Guardian:

A drive for global domination has put us in greater danger

The pursuit of "dominance" in foreign policy led the Bush administration to ignore the UN, to do serious damage to our most important alliances, to violate international law, and to cultivate the hatred and contempt of many in the rest of the world. The seductive appeal of exercising unconstrained unilateral power led this president to interpret his powers under the constitution in a way that brought to life the worst nightmare of the founders. Any policy based on domination of the rest of the world not only creates enemies for the US and recruits for al-Qaida, but also undermines the international cooperation that is essential to defeating terrorists who wish to harm and intimidate America. Instead of "dominance", we should be seeking pre-eminence in a world where nations respect us and seek to follow our leadership and adopt our values.
Click here for the rest. I found this via a front page post by gottlieb at My Left Wing. The picture is from gottlieb's essay.

Haloscan comment thread

Sunday, May 27, 2007

And it isn't even April 1...

The source isn't The Onion, today isn't April Fool's Day. So, help me out here--how can these people POSSIBLY be serious about this...

Business chiefs and lawmakers criticised the use of the term McJob Thursday as fast food chain McDonald's launched a campaign to get an influential dictionary to change its definition.

Figures including Sir Digby Jones, former head of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and David Frost, director-general of the British Chamber of commerce, complained that the term was "insulting" and "out of touch".

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED), seen as the definitive guide to the English language, describes a McJob as "an unstimulating, low-paid job with few prospects, esp. one created by the expansion of the service sector."
Okay, I fully understand the business industry folks not liking that definition, but the proposed change is going to make people laugh out loud.
But Jones, Frost and 13 others said in a letter to the Financial Times that the dictionary should change this "to reflect a job that is stimulating, rewarding and offers genuine opportunities for career progression."

Their letter coincided with a push by McDonald's to get the OED to change the definition -- it is launching Thursday a public petition in British restaurants and on the Internet.
In recent days I've heard Al Gore speaking on The Daily Show and elsewhere, as part of his promotional tour for his new book The Assault on Reason. It's pretty distressing to realize how much financial interests have morphed the "news" into a different sort of creature entirely. That's bad enough. But, the freaking dictionary?

The letter has to be, at least to some extent, tongue-in-cheek. Jones, Frost et. al. can't seriously expect the OED to change a definition to the opposite of its everyday usage. If society ever sinks to that level, the chimps may want to deny that they're related to us.

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Exciting DemocracyFest News!

From Jessica

Greg Palast, author and progressive journalist, has joined the list of speakers for the 4th Annual DemocracyFest. Other speakers include Sen. John Edwards, Gov. Howard Dean (free and open to the public), Sen. Mike Gravel, Bev Harris, and more! See the schedule and get your tickets at

Trainings and panels offered include Impeachment, Creating Community Websites, Service Politics, Anatomy of a Grassroots Campaign, Framing, Peak Oil, Election Law, Democracy and the Religious Right, Pollworker Training, Making the Most of Grassroots Volunteers, the DFA Training Academy, and more!

All this plus lots of live music, films, and most importantly, networking with liberal activists from across the country. Don’t miss this chance to form working relationships that will have a lasting effect on our issue-based activities and our efforts to elect fiscally responsible and socially progressive candidates.

The 4th Annual DemocracyFest will take place June 9-10 at the Wayfarer Inn near Manchester, NH. More information is available at

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