Allowable political satire, or attack on the President?

December 20, 2007

So, is this allowable parody, political satire, in the nature of a political cartoon?
Mug shotsOr, is this an untoward attack on the President?

Will children be confused if they find these photos in a display of political art at the New York Public Library?

Is it not acceptable satire?

Tip of the old scrub brush to Gallery of the Absurd.

Texas Citizens for Science: Report on creationist certification

December 20, 2007

To provide a little greater access, below the fold I reproduce the complete report from the Texas Citizens for Science on the Institution for Creation Research’s bid to get approval from Texas to grant graduate degrees from the ICR’s Irving, Texas, campus.

If you are tracking this issue, you should also see these posts and sites:

The TCS report is also available at the TCS website.

Read the rest of this entry »

Creationism for profit

December 20, 2007

It’s not God driving the creationists to grant degrees in Texas; it’s Mammon.

See the press release from the Texas Citizens for Science, below:


For immediate release
10:00 a.m., Thursday, December 20, 2007

CONTACT: Steven D. Schafersman, Ph.D.,
President, Texas Citizens for Science

TITLE: The Institute for Creation Research (ICR) wants the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) to Give ICR Certification to Grant Graduate Degrees in Science Education in Texas for Monetary Reasons

In a major report on the ICR’s quest for official certification by the THECB, Texas Citizens for Science (TCS) believes it has identified the major motivation for the rapid, incompetent, and–until now–stealthy process of the ICR site evaluation and approval by two committees of the THECB. ICR is on-track to make millions of dollars by charging Protestant Fundamentalist students from many foreign countries tuition at its new on-line distance education graduate school. ICR says:

“The graduate school of ICR also offers resident Master of Science degrees in astronomy and geophysics, biology, and geology. These degree programs are currently being developed for web-based, distance education platforms to accommodate a growing number of students who desire quality advanced science instruction from a thoroughly biblical perspective.”

The certification to award Master’s Degrees in Science Education will apply to distance degree programs as well as on-site classroom study. In fact, ICR’s Henry Morris Center in Dallas has only a single equipped classroom. ICR, therefore, intends to sell its Young Earth Creationism graduate program to students from all over the United States and foreign countries who would be interested in obtaining a science master’s degree that is legal, authentic, and fully-certified by the State of Texas. With Web-based distance education so powerful and available today, he potential market contains thousands of individuals, and ICR is on-track to make many millions of dollars.

In the Report on the ICR, TCS President Steven Schafersman writes, “The only thing better than offering distance education courses for thousands of Protestant Fundamentalist students in India, China, Africa, and South America is being able to give them certified and legitimate Masters of Science degrees from the United States. And the only thing better than that is charging each of those thousands of Protestant Fundamentalist students all over the world many thousands of dollars for tuition. With a fat Texas-certified Master’s Degree in Science Education thrown in, every student will get super-extra “value added” for their money. ICR stands to earn tens of millions of dollars
from tuition fees if they can award real Masters of Science degrees to thousands of distance students over the world. Likewise, they will lose those millions of dollars if THECB certification is not granted on January 24, 2008, in Austin.”

The financial motivation for the so-far successful progress of the ICR to obtaining its official Texas certification to award legal and authentic master’s degrees in science has not been uncovered until now.

The Report is now available at

Evolution on display in Austin

December 20, 2007

Header for evolution display at Texas Memorial Museum

No, unfortunately, not at either the State Board of Education/Texas Education Agency nor the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

At a better place, perhaps. A permanent exhibit on evolution, “Explore Evolution, opened October 1 at the Texas Memorial Museum at the University of Texas. The exhibit, funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, explains evolution for students. It appears essentially the same at six different museums in the Midwest:

  1. Museum of Natural History at the University of Michigan
  2. Kansas Natural History Museum and Biodiversity Research Center
  3. The Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History
  4. Science Museum of Minnesota
  5. University of Nebraska State Museum, and
  6. Texas Memorial Museum at the University of Texas.

Explore Evolution permanent exhibit opens Sept. 10 at NU State Museum

Lincoln, Neb., Sept. 7, 2005 — Using cutting edge research, a new exhibit at the University of Nebraska State Museum gives a modern shine to Charles Darwin’s 146-year-old theory on evolution. The permanent exhibit, Explore Evolution, which opens to the public Sept. 10, was developed by a consortium of six partner museums led by the NU State Museum and prominently features the work of two UNL scientists.

The project is made possible by a $2.8 million, three-year grant from the National Science Foundation’s Informal Science Education program and consists of nearly identical permanent exhibit galleries at six partner museums in the Midwest and South — regions where evolution education is controversial. Other components of the project include a Web site, inquiry-based activities for middle-school children in the form of a book titled “Virus and the Whale, Exploring Evolution in Creatures Small and Large,” and collaborations with five statewide 4-H programs.

“Interested 4-H’ers will have the opportunity to explore exciting scientific concepts and cutting-edge research methods,” said Bradley Barker, UNL 4-H.

Priscilla Grew, director of the museum, said the exhibit is a big win for Nebraska.

“By funding the Explore Evolution project, the National Science Foundation has elevated UNL’s State Museum into a national leadership position in museum science education,” she said. “Evolution has been called the cornerstone of modern biology. The scientific understanding of evolution is fundamental to advances in modern medicine, agriculture and biotechnology. It is essential both to scientific research on the biodiversity of today’s world, and to the scientific interpretation of the fossil record through geologic time.”

The museum exhibit features seven current research projects, each presenting a major discovery about the evolution of life by a leading scientist or team of researchers. Through graphics and interactive displays, museum patrons explore evolution in organisms ranging form the smallest to the largest.

UNL’s contributions to the project are significant. While the exhibit galleries were built by the Science Museum of Minnesota, a team from UNL played major roles in the creation of the artwork and content. Judy Diamond, professor at the NU State Museum, wrote the original grant request for the project and is the team leader on the project. Research from two UNL scientists — virologist Charles Wood and geologist Sherilyn Fritz — is featured in two of the seven sections of the exhibit.

Wood’s research takes him to central Africa to study how the HIV/AIDS virus is transported from mothers to their infants. Wood’s research showcases the virus and how it evolves rapidly in newborns, with new strains being produced that are resistant to the infant’s immune system.

Fritz, working with Edward Theriot from University of Texas at Austin, used core samples from Yellowstone Lake to investigate the evolution of an organism called a diatom. Sampling tracks the diatom’s evolution from the lake’s formation 14,000 years ago and shows how diatoms — which are good barometers of climate change — developed within the first 4,000 years of the lake.

Other scientific endeavors featured in Explore Evolution include Cameron Currie’s work on farmer ants and their coevolving partners; Kenneth Kaneshiro on sexual selection among Hawaiian flies; Rosemary and Peter Grant on Galapagos finches; Svante Paabo on the genetic ties between humans and chimps; and Philip Gingerich on fossil discoveries of walking whales.

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Howard Zinn’s blog

December 20, 2007

Did you know infamous historian with a view to the left, Howard Zinn, has a blog?

Howard Zinn, photo:  City Lights Books

And you didn’t tell me?

Actually, it’s more of a website. Many teachers use some of Zinn’s writings, and your library really should include a copy of Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States. Note the on-line collection of essays from The Progressive and ZNet. Links go to audio and video of Zinn lectures and debates, and this series of dramatic readings from A People’s History featuring James Earl Jones, Alfre Woodard, Marisa Tomei and other stars. Students will find his site entertaining.

And notice, revealed in the note about a movie coming from the book, there is a connection between Zinn and Matt Damon. Any mnemonic device will do in a rising tide . . .

Deck stacked against science, against education?

December 20, 2007

Mike Thomas at Rhetoric & Rhythm wonders if the deck was stacked against science: The review team sent to evaluate the science education offerings at the Institute for Creation Research does not look like a fair cross-section of educators, had no science representation, and had an odd surplus of creationism connections, he learned from reading the San Antonio Express-News:

What happened is that a delegation of so-called experts made a formal site visit to the ICS in Dallas and gave them a glowing report which led to a unanimous vote of affermation from the accreditation committee. Now the issue will go to the full committee in January.

But who were these “experts” that evaluated the ICS? The E-N reports thusly:

The trio consisted of two scholars at Texas A&M University-Commerce, reference librarian David Rankin and educational leadership professor Lee “Rusty” Waller, and Gloria White, managing director of the Dana Research Center for Mathematics and Science Education at the University of Texas at Austin.

A reference librarian and an education leadership professor? Where are the scientists?? Oh, and here is the kicker. The educational leadership prof is also a Baptist minister.

And the third person, Gloria White, is a graduate of Abilene Christian University, a private religious school in West Texas.

It certainly sounds like the deck was stacked in favor of the fundamentalist crowd.

I’m still wondering why the legal evaluation does not include a question about whether it would be legal to do what ICR trains people to do. Public schools hiring people with graduate degrees in creationism should probably ask for indemnity from ICR against the inevitable lawsuit that comes when they teach what ICR trains them to teach.

The audacity of this plan takes one’s breath away, doesn’t it?

‘Twas DDT nearly killed the beast

December 20, 2007


This University of Buffalo South Campus resident keeps a watchful eye over the nesting box in the Mackay tower that was custom-designed by UB facilities staff. - See more at:

This University of Buffalo South Campus resident keeps a watchful eye over the nesting box in the Mackay tower that was custom-designed by UB facilities staff. – See more at:

It was DDT that nearly did in the peregrine falcon, not habitat destruction, not hunters, not egg collectors.

Dr. [Tom] Cade, who said he had been fascinated by falcons from childhood and who did his Ph.D. dissertation on the peregrine and gyrafalcon in Alaska, recalled that at first the peregrine’s plight was mistakenly attributed to overdevelopment, molestation by falconers, collection of its brown speckled eggs by admirers and wanton killing by people who simply did not like falcons. But at a conference at the University of Wisconsin in 1965, experts realized that the crash of falcons was a worldwide problem, and, as Rachel Carson suggested in ”The Silent Spring,” DDT was probably the main culprit.

DDT is an organochloride compound that breaks down into DDE, a highly persistent chemical that is stored in the fat of animals that consume it, especially predators like peregrines that are at the top of the food chain. DDE interferes with the deposition of calcium in the shells of the birds’ eggs, leaving them too fragile to survive incubation by females weighing two or three pounds.

Remarkable story of the dedication of one ornithologist, a successful program to revive an endangered species, and serendipity with a happy ending, in an often-overlooked article by science writer Jane Brody at the New York Times, February 15, 2000.

Junk science advocates claim that DDT did no serious damage to birds; the story of the peregrine falcon indicates that DDT was the major culprit in a worldwide decline of raptors. (This is direct refutation of claims by Steven Milloy and the late Gordon Edwards.)

Apart from the rebuttal points, Brody’s story tells how scientists work, how they make mistakes and recover, and how luck plays a huge role in some endeavors.

Peregrine falcons were delisted from the endangered species list in 2000, due largely to the success of Tom Cade’s captive breeding program, coupled with a decline in DDT in the wild after DDT use was restricted.

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