In Carlisle, Pennsylvania, children are taught that allegiance to the flag of the United States of America isn’t optional. They learn that the United States gains allegiance through bullying people, exploiting their vulnerabilities.
This lesson is taught by the school nurse at the town’s Wilson Middle School. When a student visiting the nurse’s office failed to say the Pledge of Allegiance, the nurse yelled, “Leave! I have the right not to service you!” Refusing medical attention to a public school student in retaliation for refusal to recite an ideological oath is actually not within the rights of a school nurse, the American Humanist Association points out. The organization has sent a letter to the Carlisle’s school administrators, explaining the student’s constitutional rights, and seeking a resolution to the conflict that respects all students’ freedom of conscience.
Everyone thinking and talking and deliberating and having any say in the relationship between a government and its people should be talking about this 15 seconds right now.
Those in power must be watched.
Source: Washington Post, Heavy
“It’s definitely not an if, it’s a when.”
That’s the kind of statement that was made by NASA scientists during a press conference yesterday at which technical advances in the search for life on other planets were summarized.
“We’ll find life in the Solar System before we find it in the exoplanets, but we’ll find it there, too,” said one scientist. Another predicted, “Within our lifetime, we’re all going to understand that there is life on other bodies in the solar system. We’re going to understand the implications of that for life on Earth… That’s all going to happen in the next 10 to 20 years. How exciting is that?!?”
The mood was very eager among the NASA scientists, though many people in the audience seemed bored during the press conference, fighting off yawns or checking their smart phones rather than listening attentively to what was being said.
The eagerness of the scientists at times veered off into a kind of missionary zeal. The scientists advised children that they had all better learn science, math and engineering, because they will need those skills to study life on other planets. Such statements led me to wonder what kind of future vision the NASA scientists at the press conference had. It seemed that they were eagerly looking forward to an entire generation that would do nothing else but engaging in scientific study of exobiology. I wondered, do these scientists genuinely believe that we will not continue to need farmers and artists in the future? Will we be so consumed by the discovery of life on other planets that history and literature will become irrelevant?
Here at Irregular Times, we often make fun of hucksters like Jim Rickards, Thomas John, and David Wilkerson – people who seek to exploit other people for their own personal gain, making wild predictions to gain money and attention. Should we exempt scientists from the same scrutiny?
I don’t believe that the scientists at this week’s exobiology press conference are primarily motivated by personal self interest, but they did seem deeply concerned about gaining attention for their chosen profession, and in pursuit of that attention, they began to creep toward the kind of extravagant predictions made by professional hucksters.
It is possible that there is life in the universe beyond our planet. However, no convincing evidence of any such life has yet to be found, after decades of serious searching. It remains possible that there is no life anywhere in the universe but on our own planet.
The truth is that no human being knows that life on other planets is anything more than a science fiction fantasy. The responsible position of a scientist at NASA would be to acknowledge this, and say that nobody really knows if we will ever discover life anywhere beyond Earth. The responsible position is to admit that, even if extraterrestrial life is discovered, nobody knows when its going to happen.
In order to whip up enthusiasm about their work, and to gain attention for themselves as individuals, NASA scientists are becoming willing to make definite predictions about future scientific studies, claiming to know what will happen before it happens. Really, they were just guessing, but they cast their speculation as an informed prediction. When scientists engage in this kind of exaggerated claim to knowledge, they cast doubt on their credibility as individuals and as a collective.
If NASA scientists are worried that todays children aren’t as excited by the idea of space aliens as their parents were, they ought to remind themselves that the work of a scientist is to pursue knowledge through adherence to disciplined standards of evidence, not to pursue a modern mythology that makes the heart swell.
If you’re thinking of sending your children to a Catholic school in order for them to be given an education in moral values, you might consider the example offered by Dowling Catholic High School in Des Moines, Iowa. Tyler McCubbin was denied a teaching position at the school because of who he chose to marry – he is engaged to another man.
When they found out about the discrimination, over 100 students walked out in a protest of support for McCubbin. One student protester explained, “Just because our school officials or diocesan leaders might have made this decision, it does not directly reflect what we believe as students.”
It’s as encouraging to see that, even as Catholic schools work to teach their students bigotry, Catholic school students remain open to learning from larger society – and they’re teaching the Catholic administrators of their school a thing or two about what moral values like compassion and generosity really look like.
Jim Rickards predicted that a major economic collapse would begin by, at the latest, February 27 2015.
It’s April 8 2015, more than a month past the deadline, and the major economic collapse just hasn’t begun. Regardless of whether you like the current economic system, it hasn’t started to collapse like Jim Rickards insisted it would. Jim Rickards pushed his followers to make investment decisions on the basis of his bogus predictions; that can’t have worked out well for those he duped.
What do you do if you’re Jim Rickards on February 28, and on March 1, and in the days that follow, when your dire predictions turn out to be absolute flops?
Do you hang your head?
Do you shut your mouth?
Do you admit your mistake?
Do you take up another profession, like pottery?
Not if you’re Jim Rickards. Despite his failure in predictions of doom, Jim Rickards can be found making more dire predictions… and media outlets are still treating him seriously:
On his own website, Jim Rickards has revised his predictions using the classic postpone-the-date strategy. Hoping you’ll ignore his previous insistence that our monetary system would collapse by the end of February 2015, he now declares:
“So as to what will cause the global monetary system collapse, my answer is it could be a lot of things, but it doesn’t matter. What matters — and what investors need to be concerned about — is the instability is already baked in the pie. Now, as to when this will happen, it will be sooner than later. By that I mean three, four years.”
Three, four years? Well, maybe not, says the prediction-happy Jim Rickards elsewhere. It looks like this year is a dandy:
“Early signs indicate that the greatest unwind in modern economic history could begin this year in China.”
Taking to the Darien Times, Jim Rickards — the prediction flopper — issues another prediction:
“Central banks may even encourage an increase in the price of gold by 2017 in order to raise inflationary expectations.”
Jim Rickards has learned the lesson of the huckster… if no one remembers, it doesn’t matter if you’re right or wrong. If no one stops you, you can just keep right on going.
Six activists from Greenpeace have boarded the Polar Pioneer oil drilling rig in the Pacific Ocean, and are camped out on the underside of the gigantic vessel as it moves north. The oil rig has received the go-ahead to begin drilling for crude oil in the Chukchi Sea, in Arctic waters north of Alaska.
Safety equipment for oil drilling in icy Arctic waters is largely untested, and Shell Oil lacks complete plans for cleaning up an oil spill in polar seas. Furthermore, Shell Oil gained approval from the Obama Administration to begin drilling in the Arctic even as it left huge areas pollution from its drilling in other areas around the world.
The Shell Oil corporation is seeking the removal of the protesters. Updates can be seen on Twitter at #PeopleVsShell and @aliyahfield.
Whatever else you might think about Republican Senator Rand Paul, he’s no Jeb Bush. Since Jeb Bush launched his #RightToRise hashtag on Twitter in January, it’s mostly been empty, only occasionally visited by people making fun of him. Jeb Bush has little popular support as a presidential candidate. Rand Paul clearly has a following, on the other hand. His #StandWithRand hashtag has been spoofed — spotted with “supportive” photoshopped campaign messages from fictionalizations of the mass killers Timothy McVeigh and James Holmes. But the Twitter stream for #StandWithRand is also quite active beyond the spoofing, featuring 756 “Tweets” within just the past 15 minutes. In these Tweets, the following words appear most often:
What words do you have to offer? What do you think of Rand Paul as a candidate for President?
As Republican presidential candidates go, Senator Rand Paul is more reasonable than most. Of course, as asteroids go, Ceres is more hospital to human colonization than most.
The following are the pros and cons of the Rand Paul for President campaign
– Rand Paul is a firm supporter of the constitutional power of Congress to decide when the United States goes to war.
– Rand Paul cosponsored the Ending Secret Law Act, legislation that did not pass through Congress, but would have required the disclosure of the secret legal opinions of that the FISA court uses to justify widespread surveillance by the American government that snares the private information of millions of Americans.
– Rand Paul wants to take power away from democratically-elected government officials, and give it unelected corporate executives and religious priests
– Rand Paul claims to want to get government out of the way, but then insists that the power of government be used to prevent gays and lesbians from having access to equality under the law, as the Constitution requires
– Rand Paul opposed the Climate Protection Act, legislation that would have shifted the cost of carbon dioxide and methane pollution away from the general public that currently pays the bill, back to the polluting corporations that actually release the foul substances in the first place.
– Rand Paul opposes an increase in the minimum wage, even though minimum wage workers earn far less real value now than they did in previous decades.
– Rand Paul did not support the Follow the Money Act, US Senate legislation that would have required additional disclosure of large sources of money that are used to distort the outcome of public elections.
– Rand Paul voted in favor of doubling the interest rate that students pay on the loans they use to go to school.
– Rand Paul supports the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, and seeks to eliminate environmental protections that keep our air, water, soil and food safe and clean from corporate pollution
– Rand Paul supports large cuts to Social Security
– Rand Paul claims to stand against the “Washington Machine”, but then lists, as his primary qualification to become President, before any experience or policy positions, the amounts of money that people are donating to his presidential campaign.
A water fountain at a hotel in San Diego shows a sign saying that it has been closed because of the ongoing drought.
A swimming pool at the same hotel shows no such sign.
What kind of water conservation is this?
Consider the State of Ohio’s Department Job and Family Services record of the pattern of resettlement of Somali refugees from 1999 to 2011. Consider it in the context of Uniform Crime Reports data for Columbus, Ohio, the city with the second-largest influx of Somali immigrants in the nation:
Now consider those trends in comparison to crime rate data in the same years for Akron, Ohio, which has not had nearly as a strong an influx of Somali refugees as Columbus:
But here come the anecdotes, so never mind…
The Conservative Campaign Committee, announcing its determination to replace the corrupt Republican congressman Michael Grimm with another politician in the same mold, has released a statement reading:
“Should we try to work with Obama in the spirit of cooperation, since the mainstream media keeps insisting this is what voters want and that this is best for the nation? My friends, I have an answer for that question: Conservatives Must Take A Stand And Fight. Quite frankly, we are sick and tired of…”
Hold on a minute. Did you catch that pivot?
The statement from the Conservative Campaign Committee swerved all of a sudden from “I” to “We”. So, who is really making the decisions at the Conservative Campaign Committee?
There are a number of donors to the Conservative Campaign Committee, and many of them come from frighteningly violent industries, such as Curtis Debord, who works at US Ordnance, and Philip Gibbs, who works for a place called The Gun Shop.
The President of the Conservative Campaign Committee is Ryan Gill, who has worked for the campaign of Sharron Angle, who paid NewsMax to write puff pieces praising her virulent right wing campaign for the U.S. Senate. The Chairman of the Conservative Campaign Committee is Lloyd Marcus, who writes that “The mindset of the American left is a spirit of Antichrist.”
Taking money from people who sell weapons for a living, using that money to create the false appearance of widespread support for the most reactionary Republican candidates, why would the Conservative Campaign Committee want Republican lawmakers in the federal government to learn how to compromise? The people at the Conservative Campaign Committee feel most comfortable when there is discord.