Thursday, November 10, 2005

Perhaps we're doomed after all

In my previous entry, my friend Pete commented on the Kansas Board of Education adopting standards that casts doubt on the theory of evolution.

While this is extremely disturbing, it doesn't come as a shock to me. Kansas has proven itself to be as backwards as the huckleberries in Tennessee who were aghast that John Scopes was teaching his students Darwin. What does shock me is this sentence from the Associated Press story:

In addition, the board rewrote the definition of science, so that it is no longer limited to the search for natural explanations of phenomena.

Read that again. The Kansas Board of Education is saying that ANYTHING can explain phenomena. If science is not limited to the natural world, I guess that means it can include the supernatural. So if I want to say the sky is blue because of ghosts, then so be it.

Why does the air contain oxygen? Because of little green men from Mars.

Are they going to teach children The Force in Kansas science classes?

Are they going to teach children that water freezes at 32 degrees farenheit because God decreed that it freeze at 32 degrees?.........Never mind.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

There is hope for humanity

From today's New York Times:

All eight members up for re-election to the Pennsylvania school board that had been sued for introducing the teaching of intelligent design as an alternative to evolution in biology class were swept out of office yesterday by a slate of challengers who campaigned against the intelligent design policy.

Among the losing incumbents on the Dover, Pa., board were two members who testified in favor of the intelligent design policy at a recently concluded federal trial on the Dover policy: the chairwoman, Sheila Harkins, and Alan Bonsell.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Election day

Today is election day. The feeling is very different from a year ago, when the American people inexplicably gave George W. Bush another four years in the White House. Only a handful of interesting gubernatorial races around the country--specifically in New Jersey and Virginia--are worth the national eye, but many communities held local elections.

Here in Ward 6 of Somerville, MA, a fascinating Alderman race reached its climax today. Twenty-seven year old Rebekah Gewirtz challenged Jack Connolly, who has served as Ward 6's Alderman for 22 years. The campaign was eye-catching because of its symbolic old Somerville vs. new Somerville dynamic.

For many years, Somerville garnered the same amount of respect as, say, South Amboy does in New Jersey. With its poor, working-class base, Somerville was snobbishly called "Slummerville." Somerville's make-up, especially in the Davis Square area in which I live, began to change about ten years ago. With the booming economy of the mid to late 90s, yuppies infiltrated Somerville. In 1997, Utne Reader named Davis Square one of "the hippest places to live" in this country.

On many levels, the Rebekah Gewirtz-Jack Connolly showdown represents the changing nature of this city. Look at the names--a very Jewish one and a very Irish one. Look at Gewirtz's website and look at Connolly's. Listen to their accents.

For Gewirtz to win, she depended on voters like me--young, professional...okay, yuppies (I hate admitting I'm a yuppie). I must say I was immediately attracted to her candidacy. For the first time, I could understand the mindset of the southern voter who only votes for southern candidates for president. Like the southerner who feels he can relate to the Bushes and Clintons of the world, I felt like I could relate to Gewirtz, who like me is young and Jewish.

But I didn't want to fall into that trap. I rarely follow local happenings, so I read the local newspapers, talked to a couple people, and learned that Connolly has done a good job. While some of his decisions may be open for criticism, it doesn't sound as though he deserves to lose his job. So I voted for Connolly.

Update: In a big upset, Gewirtz defeated Connolly.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Honoring a brilliant comic strip

Back in my tumultuous middle school years, I was a relentless promotor of the brilliant Calvin and Hobbes. My friends at the time lacked my emotional maturity, and as a result, gave me a hard time. They thought it was weird that a stuffed tiger could talk. I'm sure they look back at that time and realize just how right I was, just as I'm sure they now realize I was correct about the unprecedented awfulness of Vanilla Ice.

A three volume hardcover anthology of every Calvin and Hobbes strip was recently released. This would look really nice on my bookcase. Too bad it costs nearly $100.

Today, Slate published a slide-show essay explaining the appeal and timelessness of Calvin and Hobbes. It's worth a gander.