Abitibi restructuring – recycling hangs by a thread

July 10, 2009

Texas being Texas, recycling is not a big deal.  Oh, it makes a lot of money where it’s done, but there are cities where officials and citizens are happier making big, nasty landfills, rather than recycling to save money.

Across Texas one company has set up voluntary recycling deals with schools that both get some recycling done in cities, and provide money to the schools.  That company, Aabitibi, now AbitibiBowater, is in bankruptcy.  In Dallas, schools have been bouncing the recycling bins off of school grounds due to an ordinance that requires the bins to be hidden by fences (they are not that unattractive).

New guy on watch to finish the restructuring.  Good luck!

Tip of the old scrub brush to Waste News.


Historical anniversary: July 10, 1850, Millard Fillmore succeeds to the presidency

July 10, 2009

Millard Fillmore was elected vice president largely because he was on the ticket with the very popular Gen. Zachary Taylor, hero of the Mexican War.

About 15 months into his presidency, President Taylor took ill  after presiding over July 4 festivities in blazing heat.  He died on July 9, 1850; Vice President Millard Fillmore took the oath as president the next day, and served out the term.

Millard Fillmore in an 1850 lithograph by Francis DAvignon after a photograph by Matthew Brady (unclear if this was before or after his ascending to the presidency) - Library of Congress image

Millard Fillmore in an 1850 lithograph by Francis D'Avignon after a photograph by Matthew Brady (unclear if this was before or after his ascending to the presidency) - Library of Congress image

Taylor had encouraged New Mexico and California to draw up state constitutions, which would have disallowed slavery in those states.  To southern leaders who threatened secession, Taylor promised to personally lead the army that would hold the union together by force, and personally hang those who had proposed rebellion.

Fillmore had presided over the Senate during months of furious debate on issues that always seemed to come down to slavery.  Because he didn’t hold to the views of the Whig Party which had elected the Taylor-Fillmore ticket, even more than Taylor had strayed, the cabinet resigned.  Fillmore appointed Daniel Webster as Secretary of State, and proceeded to push for compromise on issues to avoid war.  His machinations helped get California admitted as a free state, but left New Mexico as a territory.  His support of the Fugitive Slave Act alienated even more Whigs, and by 1852 the Whigs refused to nominate Fillmore for a term of his own.  He left office in 1853, succeded by Franklin Pierce.

Fillmore’s greatest accomplishment as president, perhaps, was his sending a fleet of ships to Japan to force that nation to open up to trade from the U.S.  The political furor over the Fugitive Slave Act, the Missouri Compromise, and other issues around slavery, tend to eclipse the memory of the good that Fillmore did.

Nota bene:  Controversy surrounded the death of Taylor.  Because he had threatened southern secessionists and incurred anger from several other groups, from the time of his death there were rumors he had been poisoned with arsenic.  Officially, the cause of death was gastroenteritis; popular accounts note that he had, in the heat of July, drunk milk and eaten cherries and cucumbers.  Certainly strep, staph or other bacteria in the milk could have created a problem.  In 1991 a team led by George Washington University Law Professor James Starrs exhumed Taylor’s body from his Louisville, Kentucky burial plot, and tested his remains for arsenic at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.  Analysis presented to the Kentucky medical examiner indicated aresenic levels way too low for a poisoning victim.


Perry to Texas Education: “Drop dead, but not as fast as before”

July 10, 2009

Texas Gov. Rick Perry named Gail Lowe, R-Lampasas, to chair the State Board of Education.

Texas senators rejected Perry’s earlier nomination of Don McLeroy, R-Beaumont, due to McLeroy’s divisive tactics on board issues.  The chair must come from one of the board’s 15 elected members.

Perry was thought to favor a radical conservative to push the anti-education wishes of hard-core Republicans in Texas, whose vote Perry hopes to have in a tough fight for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in 2010.  U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison will try to oust Perry for the party’s nomination.  Some feared Perry would nominate Cynthia Dunbar, R-Richmond, who is even more radical than McLeroy.

In contrast, Lowe has been a relatively reliable vote against Texas teachers and science curricula, but she is not known to be as polarizing as McLeroy.  She has compromised on some issues, voting with educators and students.

Perry’s turning to Lowe indicates his disregard of education as an issue, and his writing off of the vote of Texas teachers and parents of students.  Perry could have named an experienced administrator and peace maker who could push the board to do its legally-mandated work on time, by nominating Bob Craig, R-Lubbock.  Perry’s turning to Lowe instead indicates that a working board is not among his priorities.

Lowe’s appointment to the chair probably is not so bad as a Dunbar appointment would have been.  But unless Ms. Lowe makes serious efforts to push for journeyman policy-making from board members, avoiding intentional controversies and simply resolving controversial issues that cannot be avoided, the SBOE will contined to be little more than political theatre in Austin, except when it actually rules on curricula and textbook issues.

Few expect the board to be a fountain of wisdom, or an example of education excellence over the next two years.

Perry’s action becomes not so bad as the potential slap in the face to Texas education that he might have delivered.  It’s the slap without a windup.  Texas students deserved a kiss instead.

Lowe will serve at least until the State Senate can act to approve or disapprove the nomination; the legislature will meet next in January 2011.  Lowe can serve for 17 months before the legislature meets.

Information:

Pre-nomination information:

Also at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub:


More Christo-totalitarianism: Science not welcome

July 10, 2009

Ooooh, I guess I push the buttons on these guys.

I’ve been banned from two more blogs run by smiling Christo-totalitarians, Dr. Doug Groothuis in Denver (second or third banning, I can’t recall), and another pontificator of Christography, Paul Adams in Arizona.

My sin?  I dared call their hand as they post false bloviations from the Discovery Institute’s Stephen C. Meyer in Meyer’s national anti-science campaign.  Adams claims I violated his guidelines.  Since I was polite, but sharp, I assume that they regard any dissent as “ad hominem” or discourteous.

And, since they banned me, they wiped out my posts.  No need to answer the difficult questions if they can just pretend the questions don’t exist.

They especially do not like my noting creationism and intelligent design as voodoo science, and the bizarre accounts creationists tell of the origins of evolution theory as voodoo history.  Truth hurts too much, I guess.

Creationism might be on its last legs, when otherwise Christian people are driven to totalitarian actions like this, baby camel nose that it is.   Christianity generally flourishes when it’s oppressed.  When Christianity is the basis of oppression, however, the faith falters.  There is a darker possibility:  It may be Christianity that totters with creationism gnawing at the legs and tunneling through clay feet of the Christian monolith.

You may have seen with the kerfuffle with the Kommissar of Houston, Neil Simpson, I don’t censor these Christ-claiming yahoos even when they get patently offensive.  One, their inability to muster rational arguments to defend their unholy War on Science always exposes them.  And two, there is always some hope that they might see the light, open their eyes and take their fingers out of their ears — at least there is hope on my part.

Both Groothuis and Adams are otherwise edified philosophers (which only makes their actions more amusing).  What is it about philosophers that makes them try to philosophize away the world they do not like?

On principle I am open to Groothuis or Adams trying to defend their assault on science in comments here, if they can.  This is an invitation to them to discuss their claims. I ask them to keep it clean and polite.   Since there is no rational or factual basis to their claims of intelligent design, they will have little to say.  Nor will they bother, I predict.  Creationism, including intelligent design, can only function in a fawning, unquestioning atmosphere filled with ignorance of science.

If you want some good clean fun and you can stand a little aggravation when they get all huffy about it, Dear Readers, stroll over to Groothuis’s inaptly named Constructive Curmudgeon or Adams’s In Christus, and post the facts of science that Stephen Meyer wishes to ignore. Be aware, they are likely to censor comments and ban commenters who assault them with science.  Even Christians with Ph.D.s fall victim to Ray Mummert’s disease.

These are two men who should know better.  These are two men whose faith claims should prevent them from supporting voodoo science, junk science, and the War on Education.

Vampires of fiction and cockroaches of reality are negatively phototropic.  They avoid light generally, they cannot stand sunlight, the light of day.  Oddly, creationists share that trait.

Update: Adams, whose philosophy appears to include neither manners nor good science, will not do me the courtesy of saying why he banned me despite two e-mails, but he will respond at his blog when a fellow totalitarian writes in, leaving off any evidence of what he claims is true.  Adams said today:

I spent some time crafting my guidelines and intend on holding to them, expecting everyone to do same.
They’re not optional. Perhaps I should change to “Rules.”

In my estimation, Mr. Darnell committed the ad hominem fallacy violating guideline #2 when speaking to Doug’s inability to respond, rather than addressing the content/substance of Dr. Meyer’s presentation.

How convenient that is.  Adams can claim that I posted nothing of substance against Meyers’ unscientific diatribe, and then Adams doesn’t have to answer.  As best I can figure it, when I note Meyer’s errors, Adams regards that as “ad hominem.”   If Adams were consistent, he’d take down Meyer’s piece. Meyer cannot talk without ad hominem, especially since he has no science to back his claims.  Don’t take my word for it.  Go look at Adams’ blog — warning, he’s unlikely to leave your post up if you point out any of Stephen Meyer’s many errors, or rudenesses, or ad hominem claims — and see for yourself.  If you think for a moment or two that Meyer starts making sense, keep that thought and go look at a serious review of his claims by professionals, here. Adams can’t tell you why he completely disregards Dr. Gotelli, nor will he explain why a link to Gotelli’s critique of Meyer is unacceptable on his blog.  There is no good reason other than Adams’ bigotry against science.  Gotelli, of course, is a practicing scientist in the field in which Meyer polemicizes about.


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