September 30, 2010

What kind of speech needs protection?

This is the question asked by Hemant. He goes on to say...

"The Center for Inquiry recently held a video contest for their Campaign for Free Expression. Today, on International Blasphemy Rights Day, they announced their winner — and it’s a great pick"

Hemant then quotes CFT...

"Center for Inquiry (CFI) is pleased to announce that Gregory Walsh and John Schmid of Maryland are the Grand Prize winners of its Campaign for Free Expression Video Contest, which asked contestants to submit short videos in the form of a public service announcement that addresses the importance of free expression. The Grand Prize provides Messrs. Walsh and Schmid with a cash award of $2000"

A tiny, little award for a very simple yet dynamic work. Hemant is correct; it is a great video. My heartfelt contrats to Walsh and Schmid.

September 29, 2010

Sand castles

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has been on TV a lot lately. Even though he is running ahead in the polls, I guess Bill White is getting a bit too close for comfort so Goodhair is shelling out some of those bucks the oil and insurance companies have been giving him.

I just watched his newest ad, in which he "confronts" President Obama and takes credit for "keeping our border safe." It hasn't hit You Tube yet or I'd show it. A previous ad had birds and butterflies flittering around, with Goodhair showing his dental work bragging about the wonderful state of the Texas economy.

If only it were true.

Just taking the example of education in Texas we can see where 10 years of Perry leadership has gotten us. For example, our K-12 public schools have performed so poorly that our high schools are now required to implement a fourth year of science. We have a new TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills), but thanks to the creationist wingnuts on our State Board of Education, some of these have no foundation in science.

There is no money for textbooks. For some unexplained reason a Senate proclamation that would have provided money for new science textbooks was not adopted by the State Board of Education. Next year, as a requirement of graduation, there will be end-of-course exams for Biology, Algebra, English and World Geography, but there is no funding for testing.

At a minimum Texas schools have an $18 million budget deficit, and the TEA (Texas Education Agency) is recommending cutting $260 million in education programs, including eliminating money for new science labs (required by the new science requirement), teacher mentoring, teacher professional development, and new textbooks.

Are we kidding ourselves? If we are serious about graduating students from Texas public schools we are going to have to find the money somewhere to ensure we have the trained personnel, facilities and instructional materials to make that happen.

Rick Perry, it seems, is not interested, and Bill White is the only candidate for Texas Governor talking about fixing it.


September 28, 2010

Wholly Baloney

Talk about your fear mongering... Bill Bennett is at it again.


September 27, 2010

September 26, 2010

For a day that started out with “You’re going to die,” this was turning out all right

Mike Celezik, news reporter and sports columnist for MSNBC, a contributor to the Today Show, and one of the right wing's despised "lame stream media," died today following a year-long battle with T-cell lymphoma. Mike was a true journalist, striving mightily to be objective in reporting the news, all the while recognizing the irony and wishing to interject some reason. 

Somewhat over a year ago, when first diagnosed, Mike did what most any hard core journalist would do. He reported on it. On August 19th, Mike made his last entry. It is worth reading.

UPDATE: It appears that Mike was a fan of PZ Myers.

Sunday Funnies

September 24, 2010

Predatory banking

A neighbor owns a credit card issued by Chase. She never uses it. Doesn't even carry the card with her. Without ever using it, she has gotten into the habit of never opening the bill. She just tosses it.


Apparently a couple months back Chase instituted a new fee. They call it a minimum interest charge. This is a charge that is supposed to be added if there is any small balance on the account that would not incur at least the minimum interest, but my neighbor never used the card and there was no balance.

But they charged her $1.00 anyway. Probably a mistake, but possibly not.

The end result, since my neighbor knew she had no balance and therefore tossed the bill... was a service charge of $35.00 for a late payment.

She is still fighting it.

These are the guys our tax money bailed out.

September 23, 2010



September 19, 2010

The Tea Party: Not just for breakfast anymore

Tea party candidate: “Hitler invented separation of church and state

Delaware is fielding some interesting tea party Republicans this election. Businessman Glen Urquhart of Rehoboth Beach narrowly defeated the endorsed Republican candidate, Michele Rollins, to secure the GOP nomination for Congress by roughly 550 votes out of more than 50,000 cast. Why do I call him interesting? Watch the video and you shall see.

Hitler instead of Jefferson, eh? Well why don’t we take a look at what Thomas Jefferson actually wrote to the Danbury Baptists.

“Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”

And what exactly does Hitler say that would give Mr. Urquhart the idea that the reviled German Chancellor was the origin of the quote, and where did Urquhart get such an idea anyway? I suspect it may have come from right wingnut Bryan Fischer. Fischer is talk-radio DJ, former executive director of the Idaho Values Alliance, racist, homophobe, bigot, and white supremacist.

It was January two years ago that Fischer published a piece on the Teabagger Renew America site, titled Separation of Church and State: Straight from the Mind of Hitler. In this piece, Fischer quotes Hitler as stating, "Politics do not belong in the Church," and "The Church must be separate from the State."

So I suppose we could give Urquhart points for being technically accurate, because Jefferson says “separation between church and state” and not “separation of church and state,” but even if we were to allow that technicality, it still does not detract from the asininity of the sentiment, and even if Fischer could be trusted to accurately quote Hitler, those quotes are technically incorrect as well.

Perhaps Mr. Urquhart should spend a bit of time actually studying history. I bet the history teacher in the audience would quite happily tutor him.

Sunday Funnies