Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Flat Tire

I'm depressed about many things at the moment: the state of Louisiana's recovery, the lack of political leadership, our public education system, and the Saints are 0-3 and we don't have Notre Dame on our schedule. But the biggest bummer at the moment is that my bicycle chained to a pole outside has a flat tire. I have several meetings all around town today from noon until 8PM, and I really needed the bike. Usually Therese bicycles on Tuesday and I use her car, but this morning Therese was unable to bike. So I'm going to try to run the bike home at 1:30, repair the tire, and then try to be on time for a 2 PM meeting near Bayou St. John, and then be at Notre Dame seminary for class by 3:30. On days like today I really hate meetings.


Anonymous Karen said...

You should have stolen the Katrina Car

6:47 PM  
Blogger Kely said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:43 PM  
Anonymous Howie Luvzus said...

I know how much you hate to ask for help, but next time let me know.

Stubborn Bastard!

8:34 AM  
Blogger James F. McGrath said...

Here's some Louisiana news that I was forwarded. I'll understand if other concerns are more pressing for you at the moment!

The junior senator from Louisiana is hoping to provide $100,000 of federal funds to a local creationist group to "develop a plan to promote better science education."


"Sen. David Vitter, R-La., earmarked $100,000 in a spending bill for a Louisiana Christian group that has challenged the teaching of Darwinian evolution in the public school system and to which he has political ties," reports the New Orleans Times-Picayune (September 22, 2007). Buried in the Senate Appropriations Committee's version of the appropriations bill for the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education is a provision allocating funds to the Louisiana Family Forum of Baton Rouge "to develop a plan to promote better science education." The bill is presently awaiting action on the floor of the Senate.

In a written statement, Vitter explained, "This program helps supplement and support educators and school systems that would like to offer all of the explanations in the study of controversial science topics such as global warming and the life sciences." The Times-Picayune added, "The money in the earmark will pay for a report suggesting 'improvements' in science education in Louisiana, the development and distribution of educational materials and an evaluation of the effectiveness of the Ouachita Parish School Board's 2006 policy that opened the door to biblically inspired teachings in science classes."

Adopted in 2006 with the backing of the Louisiana Family Forum, the Ouachita Parish School Board's policy permits teachers to help students to understand "the scientific strengths and weaknesses of existing scientific theories pertinent to the course being taught"; "biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming and human cloning" are the only topics specifically mentioned. A local paper editorially described it as "a policy that is so clear that one School Board member voted affirmatively while adding, 'but I don't know what I'm voting on'" (Monroe News-Star, December 3, 2006).

Although the Ouachita policy reflects the stealth creationist campaign of "teach the controversy," the Louisiana Family Forum is not always so coy. The Times-Picayune reported: "Until recently, its Web site contained a 'battle plan to combat evolution,' which called the theory a 'dangerous' concept that 'has no place in the classroom.' The document was removed after a reporter's inquiry"; that document was written by Kent Hovind, the flamboyant young-earth creationist who is presently serving a ten-year sentence in federal prison for tax offenses and obstruction of justice.

Charles Kincade, a civil rights lawyer in Monroe, Louisiana, told the Times-Picayune that "The problem is, except for fringe people, evolution is an accepted fact of science. To suggest otherwise is misleading. They are trying to backdoor creationism." Steve Ellis of Taxpayers for Common Sense, a group that opposes earmarks and compiles searchable databases identifying their congressional sponsors, commented, "Using an earmark to dictate that the Louisiana Family Forum receive the funding to develop a science education program ironically ignores a hallmark of scientific research, making decisions on the basis of competitive, empirical research."

Writing in the New Orleans Times-Picayune (September 26, 2007), columnist James Gill took Senator Vitter to task for his proposal to grant $100,000 of federal funds to the Louisiana Family Forum "to develop a plan to promote better science education." The Louisiana Family Forum, as Gill observes, "has said the theory of evolution 'has no place in the classroom' and has blamed Charles Darwin for Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot." "The Web site," he adds, "leaves no doubt that they would ban evolutionary theory altogether if they could; there is no incentive to give equal billing to what they see as heresy."

Acknowledging that the director of the Louisiana Family Forum, Gene Mills, "does his best to adopt a moderate tone, declaring that he wishes not to supplant but to supplement Darwinism," the columnist remains skeptical nevertheless. Quoting Mills's claim that "We think that in order to teach controversial topics successfully, you have to teach both sides," Gill retorts, "But that would make sense only if the scientific questions really were unsettled. Creationists will always trot out the occasional deranged Ph.D. who supports their cause, but, to the vast majority of scientists, evolution is not up for debate."

For the story in the Times-Picayune, visit: http://www.nola.com/timespic/stories/index.ssf?/base/news-9/1190529501310280.xml&coll=1

For James Gill's column, visit: http://www.nola.com/timespic/stories/index.ssf?/base/news-0/1190786581155740.xml&coll=1

1:14 PM  

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