Saturday, May 22, 2010

Thank You, Texas Board of Ed...

For demonstrating so clearly why tenure is so important.

The Texas Board of Ed has voted to turn social studies textbooks into conservative propaganda fliers. Under the new guidelines, students will be required to learn about the conservative revolution of the 80s but not about the counter-culture revolution of the 60s. Ronald Regan will be elevated to near God-like status but Ted Kennedy will be more or less absent from the discussion. Joseph McCarthy is to be rehabilitated. Studetns are to learn, basically, that conservativism is great and liberals are a bunch of terrorist loving whiners.

Not only is it bad policy. Not only does it border on fascism. It is also the best argument in favor tenure we could have. This is why tenure is important--because politicians, sometimes on the right and let's face it sometimes on the left, are constantly trying to politicize education.And teachers are in their cross-hairs.

I would not want to be a teacher in Texas right now, required to teach things which are of such dubious educational value, ideas that are so biased and (in some cases) "facts" that are just flat out wrong. Hell, I'm not talking about being a liberal teacher in Texas, I'm talking about being a moderate or even a conservative and being told by a bunch of politicians with an obvious agenda what I should and should not be teaching students. Woe unto she who decides to tell her students the truth about Joe McCarthy, or that Regan violated international law and established the small government and de-regulation movements that led to the current financial crisis, the reaction to Hurricane Katrina, and the Gulf oil spill. Armed with nothing but the truth in the face of the Texas School Board, I'd be afraid for my job.

The fascists under Mussolini, the Nazis under Hitler, the Soviets under Stalin, the Cubans under Castro, and the Red Chinese under Chairman Mao all re-wrote textbooks so that they would conform to their narrow political ideology, turning education into indoctrination. Now the Texas Board of Education has done the same.

For shame!

(cross posted to Livejournal)

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Tuesday, May 04, 2010

People Are Crazy

Here's a truth about the internet: it allows people to interact with the news. Here's another truth: those who do so are crazy. More than 90% of the comments on any news story will be from people who complain about it. The internet is a big license to whine. It fuels a culture of complainers. I used to fall into the trap of trying to post an intelligent comment on a news story, but not any more. It's impossible, because no matter what your political persuasion, a lot of people will read your comment and decide that you are the anti-Christ, flame you, and on occasion threaten you. This is true if you are liberal, conservative, or moderate. It doesn't matter if your posting about politics, crime, or sports. The people who respond to a news story, or to comments about a news story, will nearly always be certified nut jobs with an ax to grind. This not true, incidentally, of most blogs. Amateur blogs, and even some professional blogs, tend to be read by people who already agree with the opinions of the blogger.

Or they get read by their mothers.

But not news blogs: so what's got me riled up today is this story from my favorite news site,, the website of the San Francisco Chronicle. Now, right away I can here my Jersey friends starting to grumble, and in this case they are right. While San Francisco is still home to me, and while I fit in politically there better than almost anywhere else (I happily voted for Nancy Pelosi every election she ran in and would do so again if I still lived there), there is one issue--animal rights--where I am not in sync with my liberal brethren around the bay. Apparently, cops in Oakland cornered a button buck that was roaming through an East Oakland neighborhood and, after animal control officers said they couldn't do anything about it, shot the deer seven times, killing it. Naturally, the whack jobs in Oakland are treating this deer like he was Amadou Diallo or something. They are talking about excessive force, out of control cops, etc. The big question is "couldn't the cops have done something else?" And this isn't just the PETA nazis. This is regular people who probably eat at McDonalds and wouldn't think twice about serving ribs at a back yard barbecue.

Ok. Shooting a deer in a suburban neighborhood in front of children, not really a good idea. If they had had more experience with this type of thing they might have trnaqued it and taken it away (the Oakland Zoo was right near by, and even if Animal Control couldn't handle it very likely the zoo had a dart gun and someone who knew how to use it). But they don't have that kind of experience. The cops saw a public safety hazard and they did something about it. End of story.

The real problem here, as with most issues involving animals and people, is Disney. People think animals are people. People think animals are rational. People think deer behave just like Bambi does. The headline on the story was "Oaklan Police Shase and Gun Down Bambi." What more proof do you need that Disney is responsible for this stupid attitude? Sure the children were traumatized, but whose fault is that? Is it the fault of the cops who shot down a poor defenseless animal? Or is it the fault of parents who have never taught their children about nature--that all life ends in death, that all nature can be summed up in the verb "to eat", and that animals are not people.

Had this happened in Fallon Nevada, or the U.P., or West Texas, nobody would have thought twice. If this had happened in 1960 instead of 2010, nobody would have blinked. But people today are crazy. They think animals are people.

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