SSOE member Dunbar: Aquinas led American revolution, not Jefferson

March 17, 2010

It’s astounding in its error.

Cynthia Dunbar told Chris Matthews today that Thomas Aquinas played a more important role in the American Revolution than Thomas Jefferson.

Jefferson, Texas students learn in other places, wrote the great body of the Declaration of Independence, and the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, which is the direct forebear of religious freedom in U.S. Constitutional law.

If you hurry, you can see it tonight (at 6:00 p.m and 11:00 p.m Central, I’m told) on Chris Matthews’ “Hardball.”

Isn’t it astounding people who claim to be Christian will tell such bold lies to children?  It’s as if they think Jesus said “make the children suffer” instead of what Jesus did say.  Voodoo history at its most voodoo; history revisionism of the rankest sort.  Where’s Mermelstein?

You can see it online here, at Hardball’s website.

Dunbar and her fellow travellers are effing idiots.  Strong post to follow.


SSOE?  State Soviet of Education.  Why do you ask?

Sage grouse non-listing: USDA offers $16 million to protect the birds

March 17, 2010

Remember the sage grouse? People groused because the U.S. Department of Interior Fish and Wildlife Service determined most populations of western sage grouse are threatened enough to earn listing as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act — but then refused to list the bird, because other plants and animals are even more threatened, and need attention sooner.  (I was one of those people complaining.)

It’s a new administration.  U.S. Department of Agriculture offered $16 million for projects to protect the bird’s habitat.  This ruling put increased pressure on state wildlife agencies, in an interesting if not unique twist of the issue of federalism, state vs. federal responsibility for wildlife and wild lands.  Wyoming wants $3 million right away, for projects mostly on private land.

In other words, the administration will sometimes find ways to do the right thing without doing the most difficult or controversial thing.  Ranchers and energy developers cheered by original decision are also happy about Ag’s proposed spending.  Environmentalists unhappy with the first ruling shouled be cheered by Ag’s action, too.  State agencies that worked hard to make the case for listing the bird may be cheered, also.

Sage grouse habitat threatened by deveolopment, in Nevada - Las Vega Sun graphic

Sage grouse habitat threatened by deveolopment, in Nevada - Las Vega Sun graphic

Readers of the Las Vegas Sun learned about the program last week — the Sun has covered the sage grouse as part of its coverage of alternative energy programs.  Much sage grouse habitat in Nevada overlaps wind energy and geothermal energy development zones.

Ranchers across the west are being offered millions of dollars in aid from the federal government to make their operations more environmentally sustainable and reduce their impact on the sage grouse the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced today.

“USDA will take bold steps to ensure the enhancement and preservation of sage grouse habitat and the sustainability of working ranches and farms in the western United States,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. “Our targeted approach will seek out projects that offer the highest potential for boosting sage-grouse populations and enhancing habitat quality.”

The Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service will soon begin accepting applications for two federal programs aimed at reducing threats to the birds such as disease and invasive species and improving sage-grouse habitat. The agency will have up to $16 million at its disposal for the programs.

The Wilderness Habitat Incentive Program provides up to 75 percent cost-share assistance to create and improve fish and wildlife habitat on private and tribal land.

Sage grouse face a difficult future.  State wildlife management agencies face a tough future, too, in trying to save the birds.  The nation needs energy resources found, often, where the sage grouse need lands to meet, mate and raise their young.  It’s a difficult balancing act.

More information:

Obama’s EPA looks out for pets, on pesticides

March 17, 2010

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) — Obama’s EPA, we can say, now — announced today it will review pet flea and tick products, to prevent abuse and errors of use.

The flea and tick lobby will be upset, of course.  Will the rabid Nobamistas join them?  I expect someone will complain that this is creeping socialism, unless they say it’s running communism.

Before they get too far down that road, let’s note that pet ownership, and pet protection, were not exactly a high priority of the Soviet Union, nor are they great concerns of the Peoples Republic of China, nor of the Peoples Republic of Korea, nor Cuba, nor Vietnam.  On the political continuum, protecting pets from pesticide abuse is about as bourgeois as it gets, rather the opposite of socialism.

How badly do the  heathen want to yowl?  Watch that space.

Full press release below the fold.

Read the rest of this entry »

Finch meets guitar

March 17, 2010

Totally safe for work (in that way), but you may want to turn down your sound, unless you work with a lot of Hendrix fans.

Hey, I’ve used weird things for picks, too.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Happy Jihad’s House of Pancakes.

Happy Madison’s birthday! Nation expresses revulsion at Texas education follies, Part 1

March 17, 2010

Tuesday, March 16 was the 259th anniversary of the birth of James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, the sponsor of the Bill of Rights, the life-long campaigner for good government based on knowledge of the errors of history, especially in the area of religious freedom.

Under social studies standards proposed by the Texas State Board of Education, Texas students will never study Madison’s views, or Madison’s Constitution, without intervention by their parents or good teachers who run some risk to teach the glories of American history to students.

Newspaper stories across the nation concentrated on Madison’s birthday expressed revulsion and rejection of the crabbed and cramped views of the Texas SBOE, and the cup of revulsion runneth over.

For example, the attempted evisceration and hobbling of science standards occurred last year, but the editorial cartoon in USA Today reached back to remind us just what is going on in Austin.

By Scott Stantis, Chicago Tribune, for USA TODAY, March 16, 2010, on Texas education follies

By Scott Stantis, Chicago Tribune, for USA TODAY, March 16, 2010

More comment to come.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Christina Castillo Comer.

Jerry Coyne in San Marcos: Why evolution is true, even if some Texans don’t think so

March 17, 2010

Steve Schafersman sends along a press release; Texas college biology departments continue to advance science and education despite foggings from the State Board of Education.  Odd thought:  You can be relatively certain that you can avoid Don McLeroy, David Bradley or Cynthia Dunbar, by being at the Alkek Library Teaching Theatre on the evening of March 23; learning will be occurring there at that time, and so it is a cinch that the leaders of the Austin Soviet will not be there:

Evolution expert to deliver lecture at Texas State

SAN MARCOS — Jerry A. Coyne, professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago, will present an evening talk and book signing at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 23, at the Alkek Library Teaching Theatre on the campus of Texas State University-San Marcos.

Jerry Coyne and friend

Jerry Coyne and friend (image stolen from Larry Moran's Sandwalk; pretty sure he won't mind)

Coyne’s presentation is titled Why Evolution is True (and why many think that it’s not) and is based on his latest similarly-titled book.

Admission is free and doors will open at 6:30 p.m. A book signing with light refreshments will take place following the lecture.

Coyne is an evolutionary biologist whose work focuses on understanding the origin of species. He has written more than 100 peer-reviewed scientific papers on the subject.

In addition, he is a regular contributor to The New Republic, the Times Literary Supplement, and other periodicals. He runs the popular Why Evolution is True blog, and is an internationally known defender of evolution and critic of creationism and intelligent design.

The book Why Evolution is True has received widespread praise for providing a clear explanation of evolution, while succinctly summarizing the facts supporting this revolutionary theory.

Coyne’s lecture is sponsored by the Department of Biology and the Philosophy Dialogue Series at Texas State. Contact Noland Martin (512) 245-3317 for more information. For more information about Coyne and his book, please visit his blog: [and Why Evolution is True]

This lecture is part of a larger series on philosophy and science, featuring a few lectures that appear designed solely to irritate P. Z. Myers:

Philosophy dialogue to take up evolution, identity


Texas State philosopher Jeffrey Gordon will be among the speakers at the university’s Philosophy Dialogue Series in the next two weeks. Texas State photograph.


The Philosophy Dialogue Series at Texas State will present evolution and identity as its discussion topic for the next two weeks in Room 132 of the Psychology Building on campus.

Following is the schedule of events, giving the discussion titles, followed by the speakers.

March 16: 12:30 p.m. – Evolution and the Culture Wars, Victor Holk and Paul Valle (Dialogue students). 3:30 p.m. – Arabic Culture 101: What You Need to Know, Amjad Mohammad (Arabic Language Coordinator).

March 17: 2 p.m. – Phenomenology of Humor, Jeffrey Gordon (Philosophy)

March 18: 12:30 p.m. – Stayin’ Alive: Does the Self Survive? Blaze Bulla and Sky Rudd (Dialogue students).

March 19: 10 a.m. – Sustainability group, topic be announced, Laura Stroup (Geography). 12:30 p.m. – Talk of the Times, open forum.

March 23: 12:30 p.m. – Evolution: An Interdisciplinary Panel Discussion, Harvey Ginsberg (Psychology), Peter Hutcheson (Philosophy), Kerrie Lewis (Anthropology), Rebecca Raphael (Philosophy & Religious Studies). Special guest panelist, Jerry Coyne, University of Chicago (Evolutionary Biology). Evening lecture – Why Evolution is True, Jerry Coyne, University of Chicago, time and place to be announced.

March 25: 12:30 p.m. – Constructing a Masculine Christian Identity: Sex, Gender, and the Female, and Martyrs of Early Christianity, L. Stephanie Cobb, Hofstra University (Religion and Women’s Studies).

March 26: 10 a.m. – Sustainability Group: Civic Ecology, and The Human Rights of Sustainability, Vince Lopes (Biology), Catherine Hawkins (Social Work). 12:30 p.m. – Talk of the Times, open forum.

Sponsors of the Philosophy Dialogue Series include: the American Democracy Project, the College of Liberal Arts, Common Experience, the Gina Weatherhead Dialogue Fund, the New York Times, the National Endowment for the Humanities, Phi Sigma Tau, University Seminar, the University Honors Program, the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs and the Vice President for Student Affairs.

For more information about this topic, contact Beverly Pairett in the Department of Philosophy at (512) 245-2285, or email A complete schedule of discussion topics and presentations can be found at

Probably can’t make it to San Marcos from Dallas on a school night.  San Marcos biology and social studies students, and teachers, should plan to be there.

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