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Comment Who benefits from teaching Anti-Science (Score 5, Insightful) 813

It's not just about Evolution - that's a hook for getting one particular voting block supporting the Republican Party, and a favor to them for cooperating, but there's more to it than that. Teaching Anti-Evolution Anti-Science makes it easier to teach Anti-Global-Warming Anti-Science - same tools, same skepticism and unwillingness to believe the real world instead of the authorities.

The Republican Party doesn't really care much about evolution. But their Corporate Sponsors really do care about global warming, and about anything that might force the government to make laws that affect their business. Anti-Evolution is fun, but anti-global-warming is where the money is.

Comment Teaching different religions' theories (Score 4, Interesting) 813

At least some states have said that teachers have to teach Intelligent Design, but aren't allowed to teach any particular religion's view of who the Intelligent Designer is, because that would be establishing religion and therefore blatantly unconstitutional.

But that doesn't mean that different cultures don't have different beliefs about the design process that lead to different world views separately from the issue of the Designer's identity. For instance, did it happen quickly or slowly? Recently, or a long long time ago? Just once, or repeated in multi-million-year cycles? Did the stars, Earth, plants, animals, and humans get designed together, or in some order? How could you tell? Did the design follow song-lines? Were only natural processes involved, or supernatural beings, or pirates or other tricksters? Does there seem to have been just one designer, or multiple designers in the process? Does the design process appear to have been personal or impersonal? Can we learn anything from the distribution of genetic material in different human populations, or the genetic differences between modern humans and Neandertals and other apes? Why are we more closely related to fungi than to plants? How does Death affect design?

If you want to teach Intelligent Design as Science, not just as philosophy, you can do it, but you'll find it's a much harder problem than its proponents think, and they may not like all the questions you'll be asking, much less the answers your students come up with.

Comment Teaching The Controversy - Properly (Score 5, Interesting) 813

I don't know if the anti-evolution folks really understand what they're asking for when they say that teachers should "Teach the Controversy".

One theory of evolution says it took billions of years. Another says evolution all happened in six days back in 4004 B.C. and then stopped, and that it may have gotten further restricted a thousand years or so later when all the land animals drowned except one boatload of them. How would you compare those two theories? What kind of evidence would let you reject or tentatively accept one of them? Are there fossil records that fit better with either? What about historical records from different cultures around the world? Does the distribution of animals around the planet tell us anything that would let us pick one of the theories, or lead us to modify either of them?

So yeah. Teach The Controversy. Proudly.

Comment Re:Not so fast. (Score 2) 813

I don't see how that's relevant - many parts of the Bible are history, and good history includes talking about people who did bad things, dumb things, and morally questionable things, not just talking about good people doing good things.

One story that I've seen anti-Bible people use to claim the Bible's offensive is a conversation between an invading general and whoever was in charge of one of the Jewish cities. The general trash-talks about how the Jews had better surrender or here's what he'll do to them, and uses some language that's still offensive today. (Well, duh! He's the bad guy in that scene - he was trying to offend the people he was attacking.)

Comment Re:It's because of the police abuse (Score 1) 188

I was last in Egypt back in the mid-80s, mostly in Cairo but we also crossed Sinai. Everybody was really friendly, the buses were very crowded, the bureaucracy was really weird but as a tourist I didn't have to deal with much of it (the US got rid of stamp taxes as part of our revolution; Egypt still had them.) Didn't get very lost wandering around the city, and never felt unsafe. Couldn't go some places because the trains were on strike, but that happens in lots of places.

But I also had friends of friends who were arrested because they had converted from Islam to Christianity. Sorry, not safe, not sane, not a government I'd be willing to live under, even if it's claiming to be secular (as it claimed back then.) And while it's always dangerous to be around during a revolution, religious and ethnic bigotry against the Copts seems to still be a big problem today, though there were also a lot of brave people opposing it, and it's not like there aren't western countries with severe race problems.

Comment No, Rule 34 still applies (Score 1) 171

The TSA folks have apparently been passing around X-ray porn for a while, in spite of official claims that the machines don't support it. And the standard images of the naked TSA official that they keep putting in press releases are low-res newspaper-quality versions, not the full resolution that the actual operators can see if they want.

Comment Backscatter X-Ray Cancer Risks (Score 1) 171

The primary risk is that the radiation is concentrated at the skin, but the "safety" studies the TSA was claiming to have used assumed that it's spread out through the body. Nobody wanted to take responsibility for doing an honest risk assessment. And because they were able to take them out of use because they didn't have a censorship feature, they didn't have to address that, but if they get deployed in Federal buildings, they might have to face serious challenges that they can't deflect by saying "Terrorist Underwear Bombers!"

Comment Fireworks for Everybody! (Score 1) 307

My sister lives in Hawaii, and they not only celebrate July 4 with fireworks because it's haole national day tradition, and firecrackers for Chinese New Year because it's cultural tradition, and Jan. 1 New Year because they've got fireworks. Technically most fireworks are illegal most of the time, but holidays are a standard exception.

They may not have a tradition of setting them off for Bastille Day, but it's a good excuse too.

Comment Not Just China! (Score 1) 307

Lunar New Year isn't just China; it's also celebrated by a number of other east Asian countries, particularly Vietnam (Tet), Thailand, Korea, parts of Japan, and Chinese-style celebrations happen anywhere with large Chinese populations.

There are a lot of traditional Chinese holidays. The People's Republic of China has , some of which are traditional, some Western (New Year and Labor Day), and National Day. Hong Kong and Taiwan have somewhat longer lists.

Comment Re:Does China have a holiday on Jul/4? (Score 2) 307

July 4th is a nationalist holiday, not a cultural holiday - the equivalent would be Threw-Out-Chiang-Kai-Shek-Day, err, National Day, Oct 1.

Lunar New Year is a cultural holiday that many of the east Asian cultures celebrate, not just China, just as many of the European cultures celebrate Solar New Year or May Day (either as Labor Day or Pretend-It's-Not-Beltane cultural holiday.) And in fact, China does celebrate Solar New Year and May Day as official public holidays.

Comment Re:Also 19 September (Score 2) 307

Yarrr! But ye don't have ta take that day off, as long as yer boss is ok with ye talkin' like pirates at the office and doin' bad statistics!

The place I worked in the 80s started getting more culturally sensitive and having a rotating variety of ethnic foods for lunch in the office cafeterias. It was in New Jersey, and that meant they did a much better job of doing Italian than other ethnic groups. But hey, if you want pasta for lunch, they can set you up.

Comment Re:Vacation days for holidays (Score 1) 307

I don't get Good Friday off at work, and have to take a vacation day or floating holiday if I want the day off (though we do get floating holidays that are intended for days like that or Jewish holidays.) And most companies don't give you a day off for Eid, or, for Hindu holidays, or for the various neo-pagan holidays, nor do most of them even have a clue about the Zoroastrian holidays (even though they may have Iranians or Parsees working for them) or Baha'i holidays, and those are just the ones I can think of on short notice that have affected coworkers.

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