Saturday, February 11, 2006

This story made me so angry that I swore out loud while reading it.

I try not to worry too much about the diversity of religious beliefs or political opinions that other people hold in good conscience. But I don't see the good conscience here. I don't understand what kind of conscience permits doing such a thing to small children, or to the professionals who do the hard work of helping children develop their curiosity.

I'm trying to imagine the public outrage that would occur if this tactic was used by Holocaust deniers, or by the idiots who think that slavery couldn't have been all that bad. ("Were you there?") Or, maybe, by AIDS/HIV deniers. ("Did you see the virus?")

And in the meantime, 2300 kids -- some of them "voraciously curious", and all of them at an age when they should be developing a sense of what civility means in an open, democratic society -- are being taught to shout down their teachers, disrupt the education of their classmates, recoil from the wonderful adventure that is the study of natural science, and thoroughly disrespect both learning and the work that it requires.

This man isn't just misguided -- he's an evil, egotistical, obstructionist ignoramus. And teachers don't get paid enough to have to endure this crap.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Okay, Victoria, you're on.

Four Places You've Lived:

1.) Enfield, CT
2.) Watertown, MA
3.) Kalamazoo, MI
4.) Rochester, NY

Four Jobs You've Had:

1.) Scanning electron microscopist
2.) Technical writer
3.) Computer and network support wretch
4.) Insect molecular ecologist

Four Movies You Could Watch Over & Over:

1.) Diner
2.) Best In Show
3.) The Tall Blond Man With One Black Shoe (original French version w/subtitles)
4.) Good Night, and Good Luck

Four TV Shows You Love to Watch:

1.) Futurama
2.) Red Dwarf
3.) Waiting for God
4.) Blackadder(any series)

Four places you've been on vacation:

1.) Badlands National Park, South Dakota
2.) Dunedin, New Zealand
3.) Kangaroo Island, South Australia
4.) Catalina Island, California

Four websites you visit daily:

1.) The Panda's Thumb
2.) EvolDir
3.) Weather Underground
4.) Wikipedia

Four of your favorite foods:

1.) Spinach and cannellini beans
2.) Pan-grilled scallops with garlic butter
3.) Key lime pie (with whipped cream -- NOT meringue!)
4.) Spaghetti with fresh chopped tomatoes, avocado, garlic, and grated cheese

Four places you'd rather be:

1.) Australia, New Zealand, or anywhere else you can get a nice cold lemon Lift
2.) Devil's Lake State Park (Wisconsin) in midsummer
3.) Kalamazoo, Michigan
4.) Any place that's warm and has good bugs

And I'll add a few:

Four songs you could listen to a hundred times in a row:

1.) "Rocky Mountain Way", Joe Walsh
2.) "Outside", The Fixx
3.) "Video Killed the Radio Star", Buggles
4.) "Fifty Mission Cap", Tragically Hip

Four books you could read until the covers wear out:

1.) United States, Gore Vidal
2.) The Earth Dwellers, Erich Hoyt
3.) Modern Manners, P.J. O'Rourke
4.) Harry Potter and the [insert rest of title here], J.K. Rowling

Four things you've done that would surprise at least some of your friends:

1.) Voted in a Republican primary (for John Anderson, in 1980)
2.) Wrote several dozen rock songs, and played guitar in a garage band
3.) Briefly took the controls of a small plane
4.) Stopped at McDonald's on a quiz bowl road trip without getting coffee

Four things you'd like to do if you ever get a chance:

1.) Live and work in another country
2.) Visit all 50 states (8 more to go)
3.) Have a kitchen with a gas range
4.) Finally get an NSF grant

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Believe it or not, I actually have the TV on and tuned to the Super Bowl. I haven't watched one all the way through since we lived in Boston (make that 1991 or earlier), and the last time I saw even a few minutes of the big game was at a friend's Super Bowl party in Michigan in, I think, 2003. Or maybe it was 2002. All I know is that it was one of the years before Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunctioned, and I was not one of the people following the football action; I was sitting in the kitchen eating great potluck food and talking politics. (One interesting thing about activist gatherings: Some people love sports and some don't, but it doesn't seem to break down along gender lines.)

Anyway, I'm only catching fits and starts of this one, mostly in solidarity with all of my friends who are Pittsburgh fans, because I'm dashing in and out of the kitchen to do what I need to do in order to cook dinner. Rick is doing homework upstairs; although I don't know whether football alone will lure him downstairs, the Rolling Stones may eventually do the trick.

But here's what I want to know: I know that Super Bowl ads are usually mostly good-humored, tongue-in-cheek tributes to masculinity. But why do the purveyors of light beer spend so much money on this event? I mean, what's so macho about light beer? (Besides being a partisan of McEwan's Scotch Ale myself, I have several female friends who rarely drink alcohol of any kind, and only occasionally indulge in beer, but won't touch the "light" stuff -- they prefer the nice heavy dark imports.)

Maybe this has all been turned on its head. The message I'm getting: Real women drink porter or oatmeal stout at room temperature, while real men drink ice-cold, mildly alcoholic fizzwater that possesses less flavor than your average vodka and soda. (Don't tell me the breweries are marketing the stuff to the guys who count carbs. The whole point of the exercise, if you'll excuse the expression, is to wash down a bag o' chips per head. And along with the carbs comes the fat, in the form of not only the chips, but the onion dip and guacamole.)

I guess I just don't understand these secular sacraments. (Okay, I admit it -- I'm currently sipping a vodka and Polar Diet Orange Dry, which is not something you'll be served at the finer cocktail bars in town So I'm not being an alcohol snob -- just honestly curious.) As for the beer: I'm saving the imported dark brew for Darwin Day, which is a week ahead of us. That is, as soon as I remember to score some in the supermarket, since I keep forgetting that I live in a state that prohibits the sale of beer in liquor stores.

Don't ask ....