Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Last Call For The Science Of Stupid

FOX News once again proves to be why America can't have nice things, like government or infrastructure or science education.

A Fox News “Trouble With Schools” segment suggested on Wednesday that U.S. kids were behind in the world because a physics teacher in Seattle had tried to teach a lesson to privileged white students on why there were not more black physicists. 
“This probably wasn’t on the curriculum in your high school physics class,” Fox News host Elisabeth Hasselbeck announced. “A high school physics teacher came up with new six-day curriculum that includes lessons on white privilege. He says it will prepare students for institutional racism and social justice! So, what does that have to with physics exactly?” 
“It’s not an open mic night in these classrooms,” the National Review‘s Katherine Timpf opined. “You don’t get to decide you can talk about anything you want to these students. It has to be about what your class is. Physics class, you talk about physics. Really, it’s that simple.”

Well gosh, talking about why there aren't more black physicists seems entirely germane to a physics class, but not if you're an idiot conservative.

But in a guest post at the Quantum Progress blog, University Prep school physics teacher Moses Rifkin explained exactly how his lesson was important at a private school where students “weren’t learning about their own privilege (academic and, in most cases, economic and racial).” 
“I’ve found a way to introduce my students to the ideas of racial and gender privilege, to the idea that our society is far from a meritocracy, and to broaden their conception of who (racially, gender-wise, etc.) does science to include a much broader slice of society,” he wrote. “The project revolves, at least initially, around a question: why are there so few black[1] physicists? [..] Physicists therefore make up a small percentage of the U.S. population (0.06%), but that percentage is 3.2 times higher among white Americans than black.”

So using statistics, in a physics class, to analyze the data and draw conclusions.  Wow.  That is so totally off base for a science class.  Oh, and this is a private prep school.  Pretty much thought conservatives were okay with private schools teaching whatever they hell they want, because free market, right?

This was not enough to convince Timpf. 
“Physics class!” she exclaimed. “He said he was jealous that all the other teachers got to talk about society — English, History — then he also said they’re not learning about. Which one is it?” 
“I don’t’ know what this is really about,” Timpf continued. “I guess it’s just his own agenda. He wants to talk about it.”

You know, I went to a state residential magnet high school for science and math back in North Carolina, and the best teachers I had taught English, US History, and Brit Lit.  And yes, our science and math classes did at times cover the social history of the sciences and the people who were famous for them.

Go figure.  Asking why there aren't more black physicists in physics class seems like a damn good topic to me.

Back To The Orange Dimension

House GOP Speaker John Boehner is convinced that America will blame the Democrats when funding for the Department of Homeland Security expires at the end of the month.  Here in reality, the opposite is true.

Republicans in Congress would shoulder the blame for a shutdown at the Department of Homeland Security if they are unable to enact a new spending bill to keep the agency running, according to a new CNN/ORC poll. The survey finds 53% of Americans would blame the Republicans in Congress if the department must shut down, while 30% would blame President Barack Obama. Another 13% say both deserve the blame.
Oops. That would mean a majority blame the GOP alone, and two-thirds blame the GOP at least in part.

Of course, that didn't stop Dr. Ben Carson from entering the Orange Dimension either this week.

While Democrats and some Republicans want to pass a clean funding bill for the department, many conservatives, including Carson, want to use the DHS legislation to block the president's executive actions on immigration. Carson told host J.D. Hayworth, a former Republican congressman, that if Obama decides to "stand in the way, particularly to things that are vital to the security of this country, then I think we can start talking about treason." 
"If things are done that are contrary to the security of this country, whoever does them is guilty of treason," Carson said.

Oh, awesome.  So then Dr. Carson is willing to accuse the Republicans of treason, yes?   That should be amusing.

How Dare Obama Do A Thing!

I was wondering how long this was going to take.  Friday's BuzzFeed article with President Obama shooting a short viral video in order to get people to sign up for the Affordable Care Act before the February 15 deadline was apparently the worst thing to ever happen to the presidency.  WSJ's Bret Stephens absolutely blows a gasket over this.

With Barack Obama —you won’t mind, SeƱor Presidente, if we call you Barry?—it’s another story. Dignity of office? How quaint. In this most self-infatuated of presidencies, the D-word is at best an accessory and more often an impediment to everything Barry has ever wanted to be: Cool. Chill. Connected. 
So it was that, hours after the U.S. confirmed the murder of Kayla Jean Mueller at the hands of Islamic State, Mr. Obama filmed a short video for BuzzFeed, striking poses in a mirror, donning aviator shades, filming himself with a selfie stick and otherwise inhabiting a role that a chaster version of Miley Cyrus might have played had Hannah Montana been stuck in the White House after a sleepover with the Obama girls. 
Ostensibly, the point of the video was to alert BuzzFeed’s audience to the Feb. 15 deadline for ObamaCare enrollment. If communicating with 20-somethings as if they are 11-year-olds is a way to get them to behave like grown-ups, then maybe the White House has at last found a way to make good on its make-believe enrollment numbers. 
But that’s not what the BuzzFeed clip is chiefly about. What it’s about is showing just how totally relatable and adorably authentic and marvelously self-aware is this president of ours. “Can I live?” the president says when caught shooting imaginary hoops in his study by a young visitor. “You do you,” the visitor gamely replies before walking off. 
Yes, you do you, Barry: It’s what your political career has always been about, from your myth-memoir “Dreams From My Father” to your well-nurtured cult of personality to the coterie of flatterers with whom you have surrounded yourself in office to the supine and occasionally complicit news media that have seen you through six years of crisis, failure and scandal. 
“You do you” is the ultimate self-referential slogan for the ultimate self-referential presidency. It’s the “be yourself” piety of our age turned into a political license by Mr. Obama to do as he pleases. It’s what drives his political choices: the immigration amnesty; arbitrary rewrites of the Affordable Care Act; the Environmental Protection Agency’s coal rules; the $128 billion in settlements the administration extorted from six banks convicted of no wrongdoing.

Stephens goes beyond the usual conservative pundit disrepect for President Obama (not "Barry", asshole) straight into open, inchoate fury.  Once again we're back to a racist code-word diatribe about how President Obama in particular is ruining the office with his uppity, blackity black self and needs to be put in his place by a white guy who knows better.

It was tired in 2009, it's tired in 2015.  But most of all it shows that the right has no better arguments against President Obama and never will have any.


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