Wiley Drake is an illegal alien

July 19, 2009

Wiley Drake cannot show us his green card, and so, by his standards, he is an illegal alien.

What’s that you say?  Drake was born in the U.S.?  So was Obama, and it doesn’t stop Drake from claiming Obama illegal.  The only criterion Drake offers is that Obama doesn’t have a green card.  On that criterion, Drake is also an illegal alien, since he has no green card, either.

As God is our witness, we could not make this stuff up.

Do  you think Drake is part of the reason California is having such great fiscal difficulties?

Seriously, Wiley Drake does not speak for God, nor even for other Christians.  That was a shameful performance on Drake’s part not least because he didn’t have a clue how shameful it was.  The Bible says Christian elders have an obligation to rebuke false doctrine, false preachers and hooey.  Consider Drake rebuked.

Not that Drake would ever listen to a Christian elder.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Savior Breath posting at Pharyngula.


Scientist steps in to try to save the day

July 19, 2009

On the one hand, you hope he’s got a good copy of the original cast recording of “Man of La Mancha,” with the late Richard Kiley singing the importance of dreaming the impossible dream.  On the other hand, you hope it’s not an impossible situation at all.

Mathematics Professor Lorenzo Sadun declared his candidacy for the Texas State Board of Education seat representing District 10. He’ll be running against incumbent Cynthia Dunbar in a district that has a history of electing people with little or no education background and a commitment to scorched Earth conservative policies — if Dunbar chooses to run again.  Dunbar has not announced her intentions.

Sadun is professor of mathematics at the University of Texas, in Austin.

Mathematics Prof. Lorenzo Sadun, University of Texas - Daily Texan photo by Mike Paschal

Mathematics Prof. Lorenzo Sadun, University of Texas - Daily Texan photo by Mike Paschal

In the 2006 election, there was no Democratic nominee. Dunbar ran against a Libertarian and won approximately 70 percent of the vote. The 2010 primary election is scheduled for March, and Sadun declared last week that he will seek the Democratic nomination.

The Place 10 seat-holder may become very influential. With the board almost evenly split, a negative or positive vote can greatly affect educational policy and standards.

If Sadun is elected, he will be the only scientist on the board. He said that even though he may encounter opposition from members of the board, he will find a common ground with his colleagues and will pursue agreement without sacrificing the quality of education for Texas students.

“Despite my taking a fairly hard line, I am a conciliator,” Sadun said. “I have not met a person who knew so much I couldn’t teach them something, and I’ve never met someone who knew so little that they couldn’t teach me something.”

District 10 includes 14 counties surrounding Travis County to the east of the county, and the northern part of Travis County.  Travis, home to the Texas state capital Austin and one of Texas’s five supercounties, was split in education board districts to limit the influence of its  highly-educated, more liberal voter population.

District 10, Texas State Board of Education

District 10, Texas State Board of Education

Burnt Orange Report wrote that Dunbar will face opposition if she chooses to run again.

Events in District 10 offer a sign of hope that the era ended when apathy from candidates and voters allowe anti-public education forces to dominate the Texas State Board of Education.  And if Sadun were to win, it would be the first time a working scientist was elected to SBOE.

Who knows?  Sadun could succeed — but if he wins a seat on the SBOE, it’s not likely he’d sing that other song Richard Kiley made famous, “Stranger in Paradise.”  He’s no stranger to quality education, and SBOE isn’t paradise.


Probably not the way to get a good reputation among scientists

July 19, 2009

Tensions between science and religion, and science and business, continue to drag down Texas’s hopes to be known as a major research location.

A hard look shows it’s not just the Deliverance-style local politics at the State Board of Education on science standards.  Texas has trouble in a lot of areas.

For example, imagine a hurricane wiped out the town where one of the state’s major medical schools resides, and in the aftermath, rather than working to preserve the jobs of professors who agree to come back to the damaged buildings and storm-wracked town, the university uses the troubles as an excuse to get rid of faculty — not bad faculty, necessarily, just faculty the administration doesn’t like, or doesn’t know, or just for the heck of it.

This ain’t no way to run a medical school.

The rolling disaster that hit the Universityof Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, starting with Hurricane Ike, continued through unexpected layoffs of faculty on top of the 3,000 people laid off due to storm damage.  The layoffs were unjustified, too, many thought, and so they appealed.  The appeals process seems to have offered only a semblance of justice, to many of those involved, according to an article in The Scientist (free subscription required).

The story hasn’t got much traction in Texas media.


World history sources and images from the Library of Congress

July 19, 2009

World Treasures of the Library of Congress looks like a good source of images and information for world history classes and student projects.

Magna charta cum statutis angliae, (Great Charter with English Statutes). Library of Congress

Magna charta cum statutis angliae, (Great Charter with English Statutes). Library of Congress

These links are to exhibits that are closed, but whose images are still maintained on line.  The Library promises to update exhibits, and on line collections will grow, too.

There really is some remarkable stuff, most of it obscure enough to be really cool, still.

A 16th century miniature pictures Rustam, the hero of the Persian national epic, The Shah Namah, tossed into the sea by the demon Akwan. (Library of Congress, Near East Section).

A 16th century miniature pictures Rustam, the hero of the Persian national epic, The Shah Namah, tossed into the sea by the demon Akwan. (Library of Congress, Near East Section).


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