A lick of sense in a forest of trees

I see where Kansas has jumped on the freedom of religion/anti-science educational bandwagon.  I have a few problems with this, but before I mention them, let me tell you a bit about my background.

I’m a registered Republican.
A Christian white male of fundamentalist training
Raised in the conservative state of Montana
Have had long hair at one point in time but have never smoked weed and detest the idea of it.

So, having said that, let me be the next to say that the religious and conservative groups pushing for faith based science education are out of their goddamned minds.

More to follow…

 

 

Why History?

Dave posted recently on one of the purposes of history.  Or rather, he pondered a little bit on the purposes and then went on to use history as a means of illustrating some observations he was making.  He looked at history, made note of some useful contexts related to what he was thinking about, and then used those historical points to explain himself.   I thought that worked out pretty well.  History is a great tool for understanding many things, it provides much needed context.  In today’s world, where context is ignored or manipulated in so many things, I have a very hard time of coming up with something more valuable than that.

When I was younger, around 9 or 10, history reinforced in me skepticism and mistrust of what I was taught.  Although I would not realize it for for another 15 or 20 years, I had a huge trust issue with anything resembling authority.  Not like James Dean, or your typical teenager, but more along the embodiment of, “Trust, but verify.”  Facts at face value were only the starting point, they had to be checked.  Context and subtext had to be explored, reasoning followed, motivations understood.  History was my lens, and my mechanism, for all of my social interactions with people.  Suffice to say, when I learned that Columbus did not actually discover America, as we had been taught since I was a wee lad of five, it was enough to send me into a fit of righteous indignation.  I laugh about it now, but I remember with a great deal of clarity, the feelings of anger and betrayal at realizing the teachers that I trusted would lie to me like that, especially since I could see no reason for doing so.  At that age I lacked perspective and the ability to distinguish subtleties, but still-  trust, but verify.

To each their own…decision.

I happened to be reading this article when my oldest son looked over my shoulder and started reading along with me.  This lead to a conversation of sorts with him, which I rather enjoyed.

At first my son was actively against the shop owners.  He said he would have sued the owners, too.  Not because of any particular leaning so much as he views all discrimination as wrong.  I explored his thinking on that for a bit and I was satisfied with where he was coming from, but then I told him how things might have been different in Montana.  I shared with him how, in lot of states, the right to refuse service to anyone is available to business owners.  I also shared with him how customers have the same right not to go to a particular business.  They can complain to others about it, too, which usually works out better that just suing somebody.  It was fun to discuss the various alternatives.

We spoke on a lot of different topics related to the situation and the fun thing for me was watching him consider other viewpoints than his own.  He didn’t dismiss things out of hand, he spent time thinking about where the shop owners were coming from and why.  He considered other ways to handle the conflict and what some of the results were.  At the end of the day he held to his own opinion, for his own reasons, but he thought about things!  It was a great father/son moment, but it also made me laugh and think about how often I can’t have that kind of conversation with an adult…

The New Economy by Emma Lazarus

Yesterday I got to thinking about the influence of a bad mustache on modern foreign policy.  The effect is dramatic, I think.  Today, I want to offer up an alternative to a good mustache gone bad.  It’s time for a little competition and some good marketing.

Emma Lazarus wrote a poem containing this very famous line,

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Of course, many people know that this sits at the base of the Statue of Liberty as she greets all those who wish to enter our country via Ellis Island.  The United States has long been a country populated by those who, for various and storied reasons, left their former country of origin behind.  This land was, and still is, a nation of resources that these people tapped into to create a life, a country and a destination…

A destination you say?  Why yes, yes I did say.  Now stop interrupting me.  We call it the American Dream.  The idea that anyone can move to the United States and make of themselves what they will was, and is, a powerful aphrodisiac to all those people in other countries that were not satisfied with their lot.  More importantly, it was our single greatest marketing fete of the last three centuries.  Offer a person the hope of a better future, or, in some cases, a future at all, and they will suffer much to make that future come true.  More importantly, they’ll move…

A nation’s greatest resource is its people, for they are the ones that create new ways to utilize and exploit all other resources.  Take away a nation’s people and you have effectively crippled them, and made yourself stronger in the process.  Along the way, many nations, including ours, have forgotten this truth and the reasons for why we should be competing like no other for such a valuable resource.  This is where our marketing engine and our policies should combine to combat the likes of countries like Syria, China, Korea, etc.  Don’t like the oppressive policies of your homeland?  Tired of facing war, famine, torture, murder and worse at the hands of your government and fellow citizens?  Well, we have a deal for you.  We have schools, universities, health care and jobs that need people who want to work.  Commit to an education and a career and we can use somebody like you.  Need help leaving your country?  No problem, we can put you in touch with several organizations that can assist you in your travels to your new country.  And if you accidentally happen to pack some important information about your government in your sock, which is in your shoe, that is hidden in an uncomfortable and anatomically unlikely location?  No problem, we know just the people to had that off to.  Welcome to America!

 

*These ideas, and my expression of them, are a work in progress.  I have communicated, albeit poorly, the general idea of what I mean.  Now I need to work on fleshing it out.