Monday, April 21, 2014

Common Core Razes Charter School Standards

Common Core Razes Charter School Standards. A battle is raging between those who would challenge our public school monopolies and those who wish to nationalize school curricula. There is much more at stake here than how Jane and Johnny learn to read.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Obamacare is Working...

Obamacare is Working....

. . . for the 8 million people who’ve enrolled and may or may not have paid their premiums and may or may not have been among the 6.2 million people who liked their health-care plans but lost them because they were substandard plans with low deductibles, more benefits, more doctors, larger networks, and affordable premiums but that didn’t provide contraceptives for 63 year-old women who can’t stay on their parents’ plans because of the Republican war on women like Lois Lerner and Kathleen Sebelius who turned Obamacare around. So now a mere 44 million people remain uninsured after spending only $1.7 trillion on a program that will save or create shovel-ready jobs for more than 15,000 more IRS agents to protect the country from conservative terrorist organizations who oppose high unemployment, trillion-dollar deficits, massive tax increases, restrictions on religious freedom, dangerous defense cuts, suffocating regulations, feckless foreign policy, wanton disregard for the rule of law, out-of-control spending, and failed economic policies mainly because they’re bitter, mouth-breathing, climate-change deniers and racists who want to force frightening black women like Condi Rice and Ayaan Hirsi Ali to speak to sensitive white college professors and students who have enough problems dealing with skyrocketing tuition rates which they could easily handle if they could find a 28 hour-a-week job and Republicans would just vote for a $10.10 an hour minimum wage, which is good bit less than an Obamacare navigator makes for directing illegal immigrants undocumented Americans to the local health-care Exchange and board of elections. Those institutions are working at least as well as the reset button we gave to Russia to show Vladimir we have enough flexibility to allow him to invade Ukraine or, preferably, the Bundy Ranch, provided no big turtles get scared which is a red line that would prompt serious consequences such as the deployment of warm socks, MREs, or the Bureau of Land Management, all of which would be as terrible as Iran getting a nuclear weapon — which would never happen because we asked them not to — or even as catastrophic as the rollout of the Obamacare website which everyone knows was George Bush’s fault.

Friday, April 18, 2014

National Review: Should global warming alarmist Michael Mann of "hockey stick" fame be put in the penalty box

The cover article of the new National Review:

"The Climate Inquisitor"
by Charles C. W. Cooke

Climate scientist and opponent of free inquiry Michael E. Mann has built a noisy public career sounding the alarm over global warming. Secure as he appears to be in his convictions, Mann has nonetheless taken it upon himself to try to suppress debate and to silence some of the “irrational” and “virulent” critics, who he claims have nothing of substance to say.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Jerry Coyne's Precambrian Rabbits

When last we left Jerry Coyne, we had coined the term "coyning, v." to mean attempting to disprove the arguments in a book without having read it. Apparently determined to clear his name, Coyne has been reading David Hart's new book and writing about it, to somewhat comic effect.

Coyne's arguments are deeply premised in his facile understanding of religion, despite his claim to have spent years studying theology. For example, Coyne identifies the claim that God refers to the "Ground of All Being" (Coyne's words) is a notion that begins with modern theologians such as Tillich. This claim is, of course, falsifiable--and false.

Just as a pre-Cambrian rabbit would falsify the current account of evolutionary history, so a statement by a pre-Modern theologian would disprove Coyne's "history of dogma." And Coyne's pre-Cambrian positively teems with rabbits.

John of Damascus, born in 676 AD, said of God:
God does not belong to the class of existing things: not that he has no existence, but that he is above existing things, nay even above existence itself.
And John of Damascus offers this as a summary of the Christian theologians who lived before him. This is well known to anyone who has studied the history of theology. One of the most famous aspects of the theology of Augustine and Aquinas is their claim that God is Being, the ground of all beings. In fact, the view that God is a particular being is a distinctively modern view, peddled by the likes of William Lane Craig and Alvin Plantinga.

So the question is this: will Coyne revise his position in light of the evidence falsifying it? Or is his ignorance indefatigable? Will he hold on to his faith that the notion of God as the ground of being is modern, in spite of the evidence disproving it?

My suspicion--and I am happy to shown wrong--is that Coyne faith is so desperate that he will hold onto his beliefs even after they have been falsified. And if he does so, he will have proven that his supposed commitment to evidence is a smokescreen that hides a blind faith.

Where are the defenders of science when it comes to claims about gender by the postmodern left?

Every few days it seems, we hear the alarms being rung by the defenders of science, who, in the process of patrolling the borders of their discipline, announce that there has been a breach in their lines. But the warnings almost always concern threats from the right. It is creationists or Intelligent Design advocates that get all the attention and little is said about the multitudinous forms of left-wing political abuse of science that now run rampant.

It's not that violations of scientific integrity from the postmodern left are never mentioned. In fact, one of the best books I have read in recent years is Higher Superstitions: The Academic Left and It's Quarrels with Science, by Paul Gross and Norman Levitt. The authors of this cogent and extremely well written book (which I reviewed for the Lexington Herald-Leader a few years back when that newspaper actually had a book section).

There is also Alan Sokal's now legendary exposure of the postmodern journal Social Text, to which Sokal submitted a bogus and nonsensical article on science and hermeneutics (a legitimate term when properly used, but which is widely abused by postmodern scholars) pretending to be by a posmodernist scholar which was accepted. After its acceptance and publication, Sokal announced his hoax, after which Social Text, and its editor Stanley Fish were rightly ridiculed.

But since these two incidents, the Science Patrol has largely ignored the threats pointed out by Gross and Levitt, choosing to train their sights almost exclusively on threats they perceive coming from religion and the political right.

When was the last time you heard New Atheists (the most active faction of the Science Police) like P.Z. Myers, Jerry Coyne―or people like Gross and Levitt―call out feminists or "gender studies" scholars for their ludicrous, unproved, and many times unprovable claims about sexuality―claims for which they constantly claim scientific warrant?

For example, where are the scientific voices questioning the claims of gay rights advocates who now assert that there are multiple gender categories―fifty-one of them, by Facebook's count? Surely this claim falls within the wide definition now used by the Science Police of a scientific claim.

When I debated the issue of gay rights on "Kentucky Tonight" a couple of weeks ago, I asked Chris Hartman, the executive director of the Kentucky Fairness Alliance, if all of these gender categories were genetic. At first he refused to answer the question, but later came back and said they were.


Why do such claims get a pass from the defenders of Science? Surely its not because of political bias.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Two classrooms, two philosophies of education

The following is the text of my "Letter from the Editor" in the spring issue of the Classical Teacher magazine:

If you were to walk into a public school primary classroom one day, and into the same grade level classroom in, say, a classical Christian school, you would see two entirely different things.

And you wouldn't have to wait to notice some of the differences. There would be certain things evident immediately.

In the classical school, you would likely see students sitting in straight rows of desks either listening to a teacher or working on an assignment they have been given—the same assignment they are all working on at the same time. In the public school classroom, the students would be sitting at long tables or busy at learning centers, many of them working on different assignments.

After a few minutes, you would notice not only the different physical structure of the classroom and location of the children, but the different way the teacher interacts with the students. In the classical school, the teacher is likely to be standing in front of the class guiding the students, whereas the public school teacher will likely be roaming the room, making sure everyone is working on something and trying to keep order.

While the classical teacher is clearly running the classroom, this is looked down upon in public schools. In fact, if there is any image that symbolizes modern progressive education, it is this: a teacher sitting with her students on the floor.

Is this all coincidental or is there something unseen behind these surface differences?

Behind the obvious physical contrasts, there is a very different idea of what education consists of and a different view of the nature of the child.

More likely than not, the classical school sees it as its job to teach a specific body of basic skills and cultural knowledge—one very similar to other such schools—through an organized curriculum, and it sees the child as a potential adult who needs to be formed in order to take his place in society as a responsible adult with obligations to himself and others.

The public school sees its job entirely differently. It has no specific body of knowledge it must pass on to children—a specific curriculum—and is less concerned with a child's mastery of a set of basic skills.
A classical homeschool would be slightly different than both of these, but it would share with the classical its basic principles, however differently applied to the home.

Two different philosophies underlay each of these cases: In classical education, the school's job is to pass on a culture to the next generation. Under modern progressive education, the school's job is to change the culture or fit children to the existing one.

And there are also two views of the nature of children: For classical education, children are adults to be formed. For modern education, they are children to be "developed."

The differences in what we see make perfect sense when we know the philosophy behind it.

India's Supreme Court enshrines "the right of every human being to choose their gender"

Next up: Everyone gets to choose their species:

India's Supreme Court was roundly criticized for reinstating a 1861 ban on gay sex, so it may seem odd that the same high court just made India one of the foremost nations in recognizing transgender rights. The Indian Supreme Court not only created a legal "third gender" category, it also broadly declared that "it is the right of every human being to choose their gender."

The ruling applies only to transgender people, or hijra (a term that also encompasses transvestites/cross-dressers, and eunuchs), not gays and lesbians. But the justices asked the government to consider transgender Indians a...


More tabloid climatology: gloom and doom about the jet stream, winters, and global warming

More tabloid climatology: gloom and doom about the jet stream, winters, and global warming. From the University of Utah, an argument that makes you wonder “what started it 4000 years ago”? Looking at another similar study, Joltin Joe Romm called that study Bombshell: Study Ties Epic California Drought, ‘Frigid East’ To Manmade Climate Change While they focus on the recent winter as being an example of this errant jet […]

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The gay marriage bigots strike again

The gay marriage bigots strike again. Five and a half years ago, over seven million people in the state of California voted for Proposition 8, the ballot initiative that (temporarily) eliminated the right of same-sex couples in the state to marry. An influential faction of the pro-gay marriage movement now apparently believes that those seven million should be barred from positions of power and influence in the United States.

That may be an exaggeration. Brendan Eich — who resigned as chief executive of Mozilla, a company he helped found, after OKCupid launched a boycott against the company for placing him in a senior position...


Supreme Court Rejects Gay Wedding Photography Case

Supreme Court Rejects Gay Wedding Photography Case. An appeal by a company that refused to photograph a gay wedding was turned down. The justices also refused to review a ruling that corporations cannot contribute directly to political candidates.

Jesus didn’t care about being nice or tolerant

Jesus didn’t care about being nice or tolerant. There is no shortage of heresies these days. If you want to adopt some blasphemous, perverted, fun house mirror reflection of Christianity, you will find a veritable buffet of options. You can sift through all the variants and build your … Continue reading