Thursday, April 30, 2009

Oklahoma GOP platform requires teaching creationism

Even if Sam Brownback is elected Governor in 2010, Kansas won't be the clear cut favorite to be the most backward state. Look what the Oklahoma GOP platform calls for"

7. We believe that the scientific evidence supporting Biblical creation should be included in Oklahoma public schools curricula, and if any evolution theory is taught, that both should receive equal funding, class time, and material. Teachers should have the freedom to cover creation science without fear of intimidation, reprimand, or lack of professional respect.


1. Curricula should include [...] the option of using the Bible as HISTORY [emphasis added] or literature text.

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Class Realities

From Ryan Avent

Two thirds of the kids with average math scores and low-income parents wind up not going to college, while almost two-thirds of high-income kids with average math scores do go.

One of the most remarkable findings from the Pew Charitable Trusts' Economic Mobility Project is that a child from a family in the top income quintile who does not get a college degree is more likely to wind up in the top income quintile himself than a child from a family in the bottom income quintile who does get a college degree

Left should push for democratization of Cuba

Wise words from Marc Cooper

Obama's move Monday, his clean break with the last half-century of American policy, in itself begins to rob the Cuban government of its convenient bogeyman. Who in Cuba is going to believe that an Obama-led America poses a threat of invasion? (Answer: only a few dozen "revolutionary" Americans who at any given moment can be found in a Havana hotel bar telling themselves they are vacationing in Paradise).

I never bought the argument that the reality of a belligerant Bush admin in Washington somehow justified censorship, repression and oppression in Havana. It's a non-sequitor. We don't believe the threat of Al Qaeda justifies suspension of the U.S. constitution, do we? Are Cubans somehow entitled to a lower grade of civil liberties than we are?

So those of us who wish to lift the embargo now have the obligation to demand that the Cuban government start to make some tangible concessions toward democratization.

Raul Castro putting a few cell phones up for sale and his family members suddenly embracing the same gays and lesbians that were once relegated to UMAP labor camps ain't gonna cut it.

If Obama can enact a policy -- no matter how modest-- of creating an opening toward a "hostile" nation, then the Cuban government ought to be able to do the same in regard to its own population.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

AFL-CIO and Change to Win Issue Immigration Statement

134 Broadway, Cincinnati, Ohio. Harry McShane,...Image via Wikipedia

America's two union federations( the AFL-CIO and Change to Win) have released a common policy statement on comprehensive immigration reform.

Immigration reform is a component of a shared prosperity agenda that focuses on improving productivity and quality; limiting wage competition; strengthening labor standards, especially the freedom of workers to form unions and bargain collectively; and providing social safety nets and high-quality lifelong education and training for workers and their families. To achieve this goal, immigration reform must fully protect U.S. workers, reduce the exploitation of immigrant workers and reduce employers’ incentive to hire undocumented workers rather than U.S. workers. The most effective way to do that is for all workers— immigrant and native-born—to have full and complete access to the protection of labor, health and safety and other laws. Comprehensive immigration reform must complement a strong, well-resourced and effective labor standards enforcement initiative that prioritizes workers’ rights and workplace protections. This approach will ensure that immigration does not depress wages and working conditions or encourage marginal low-wage industries that depend heavily on substandard wages, benefits and working conditions.

This approach to immigration reform has five major interconnected pieces:

1. An independent commission to assess and manage future flows, based on labor market shortages that are determined on the basis of actual need; 2. A secure and effective worker authorization mechanism;
3. Rational operational control of the border;
4. Adjustment of status for the current undocumented population; and
5. Improvement, not expansion, of temporary worker programs, limited to temporary or seasonal, not permanent, jobs.

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Friday, April 17, 2009

April 21 Call in for Higher Education and a Progressive Budget

For more information, see this great briefing from Campus Progress.

Don't Follow Tea baggers, Read the Traffic Signs

I shot this picture from the window of my car while driving by the Tea-baggers (here and here) protest in Wichita.

I didn't notice the traffic sign, until I got home.



Sunday, April 12, 2009

Reading, Writing, and Union-buidling

Talking Union has an important post by Steve Early on books about labor, the obstacles to getting them bought and read, and steps that might be taken to create a synergy between university presses (and other publishers) and unions. It is a very important article. I encourage you to read it.

And buy and read some of the books.

Here's a couple of paragraphs from near the end.

If more unions took similar initiatives, there could be far greater book-selling synergy with university presses (or any cooperating labor book publisher) whenever union members are being trained at university facilities like Cornell’s or union-operated education centers, like the George Meany Center or the Maritime Institute, both located in Maryland. In an earlier era, some unions like the Auto Workers even operated book clubs for their members. Les Leopold’s The Man Who Hated Work recalls how OCAW leader Tony Mazzocchi, a ninth grade drop-out, launched a book discussion group among local union activists on Long Island, in the mid-1950s.

“Tony’s group saw itself as part of a working-class culture that encouraged self-education. Soon there were more than twenty people enrolled in the University of Mazzocchi. The introductory curriculum packed a political wallop. It started with Howard Fast….books such as Freedom Road, Spartacus and Citizen Tom Paine. Then, the group turned to the history of American class struggle through such works as Labor’s Untold Story and The History of the Fur and Leather Workers. For some, the reading group opened the door to more traditional literature as well. [One member] recalled how they passed around the Iliad and the Odyssey.”

Mrcyn Dylla--classical guitar concert

Saturday after a noon political meeting and a quick stop by State Representative Delia Garcia's Health and Job Fair, I went to a classical guitar concert at the Wichita Art Musuem.

I've been doing lots of politics and lots of meetings and lots of web stuff, so I was in the mood for music. It was an excellent concert.

The artist is Marcin Dylla.
Check out his website. There are even some mp3s.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Mark Brenner on the Economic Crisis

Mark Brenner, director of Labor Notes, gave a presentation on the economic crises at a conference last week end in Kansas City. It's about thirty minutes and packed with information.

[I'm still figuring out how to make good title frames. What looks great in my video editing software does not look so good once it goes through compression for streaming and Google's processes]

Lessons in Movement Building from Oklahoma Socialists

"American Marxism: Lessons in Movement Building from Oklahoma Socialists"

An evening with Jim Bissett, Chair and Professor Department of History and Geography, Elon University, North Carolina

Introductory Comments by Scott Carter, Assistant Professor, Department of Economics, The University of Tulsa

April 20, 2009
7 PM
Lecture Hall Helmerich #219
Collins Business Building, The University of Tulsa
800 South Tucker Drive, Tulsa, OK 74104

In his provocative book "Agrarian Socialism in America: Marx, Jefferson, and Jesus in the Oklahoma Countryside, 1904-1920", Professor Bissett chronicles the rise and fall of the Socialist Party of Oklahoma during the first two decades of the twentieth century, when socialism in the United States enjoyed its golden age. To explain socialism's popularity in Oklahoma, Bissett looks back to the state's strong tradition of agrarian reform.

Drawing most of its support from working farmers, the Socialist Party of Oklahoma was rooted in such well-established organizations as the Farmers Alliance and the Indiahoma Farmers Union. And to broaden its appeal, the Party borrowed from the ideologies of both the American Revolution and Christianity. By making Marxism speak in American terms, the author argues, Party activists counteracted the prevailing notion that socialism was un-American.

Come hear Professor Bissett speak about this fascinating history and the lessons that can be drawn from it for 21st Century movement building.
Sponsored by the Social Science Interest Group of The University of Tulsa

Spell check turns Mormon leaders into apostates

It seems that spell-check programs ought to come with a consumer warning.

PROVO, Utah (AP) — Thousands of issues of Brigham Young University’s student newspaper were pulled from newsstands because a front-page photo caption misidentified leaders of the Mormon church as apostates instead of apostles.[...]-

An apostate is someone who abandons a previous loyalty (to a faith, movement, politcal party, cause, etcetera).

The newspaper staff retrieved as many of the 18,500 copies of the paper as possible and reprinted them with the correction. And it issued an apology to the apostles. The staff also explained how it happened: an error in spell-checking.

It started when a student misspelled the word “apostle” when writing the photo caption. When the caption was put through the editing software’s spell checker, it was flagged, and the editor accidentally clicked the first word that came up on the correct list: “apostate.” The mistake made it past two proofreaders before being sent off to the printing press.

Source: Associated Press, April 7, 2009 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

A few years, the Newton Kansas newspaper had a front page headline about an addition to the Pubic library.

A study with college students found that those using spell-check and grammar-check programs made more errors than those doing the job manually.

I've made my share of errors both ways. Proof-reading is one of the hardest tasks to do well.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Why is this President different?

A Sever at Tapped

the first African-American president of the United States, who will be hosting the first
ever Seder at the White House.

Read the whole thing.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Google to restirct Google Video

Google has this announcement on its Google Video website

In a few months, we will be discontinuing uploads on Google Video. Since this is a big change for our site, we wanted to make sure we answered your questions about it.

I had just begun to use Google video for longer videos that wouldn't fit in YouTube's 10 minute limit. Now I guess I will have to look into the other alternatives.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Flutter: the New Twitter