Hey-yo. Check out my birthday present from Little Lizzie Sheld:
Anyway, the rational brain I carry around that is dominant (sometimes) has noticed something and it was articulated by Liz at lunch. Here recently, more times than make me comfortable, I’ve noticed that there’s a tendency for kids younger than I (20 somethings) to behave in the virtual world the way I remember people behaving in the halls of high school or at the bars in college. When people get desperate — over whatever it is they consider a scarce commodity — most will behave in a desperate way. And that can include jungle behavior that is, at the very least, not at all subtle nor generally productive. Remember that scene from Mean Girls?:
Yeah, like that. But not just over boys and not just between girls. Although, as a woman, I notice that kind of thing more I think. Liz says it’s because these kids were raised in the virtual world. Whereas we had to temper our behavior in person for fear of going too far and getting punched in the lip (and trust me I saw it happen and, ahem, might even have been involved once or twice), these kids had the freedom to go to any extreme in the long-distance, virtual world of marking territory or one-upping competition or power grabbing for status or any number of other ways that people socially assert themselves. It’s something I’m just now becoming aware of and I’m certain that’s laughable and I should be ashamed of myself for being behind the curve. But there’s an element about it that makes me a little sad because it seems — and I’m not sure this is the right word — a little cowardly. And I tend to ignore the stuff that makes me sad unless I can do something to affect a change. There is, however, the possibility of flipping how I see it and finding the abject absurdity in it. And then, it just becomes a joke. And God Bless laughter without cynicism. One of the purest and greatest things on earth.
So, the whole “Republicans hate Science!” meme that is — I’m pretty sure — the next theater of the partisan war leading up to the election, is cracking me up. I mean, I can accept that the fundamentalism of a Michelle Bachmann might not be everyone’s cup of tea (it’s not, for example, mine) but Krugman is just so transparent in his attempt to malign Rick Perry for his statements that evolution, as a theory, has gaps. Um, as a theory, it most certainly does. Theories, because they are not proven, have, by definition, gaps. Intelligent Design also has them. I know Perry is frightening to the left side of the political machine. But if they’re honest they’ll admit that what scares them is not so much what he believes (or, more to the point, what he doesn’t believe) but that he doesn’t think the way they do and he might win. I’ve recently been reminded of something my dad used to always say about why those who call themselves liberals hated — viscerally, unabashedly and without conscience HATED — George W. Bush. “He has a standard,” Pops said. “He thinks there are proper ways to do things and proper ways of behaving. Not everything is okay. Not everything is relative. That scares the shit out of some people.” I’d say it’s the same with Perry. Doesn’t bother me a bit, although I’m certain Perry is more conservative than I in many ways. Where I get hazy is WHY doesn’t it bother me? Is it because I don’t need everyone around me to think exactly the way I think? That I’m comfortable with differences of opinion and, in fact, welcome them because I accept that I don’t know everything and have no problem being shown a better way if one exists. Yes. I think that’s exactly why. It feels good to live in that place. I feel sorry for those that live elsewhere.
Speaking of religion, The Coach recently undertook the task of answering some questions on the subject posed by Krugman’s own NYT. I thought his answers were brilliant. So I give them to you as one man’s thoughts on the subject. Enjoy.
1. Is it fair to question presidential candidates about details of their faith?
To the extent that the candidate makes faith an issue in their campaign, and to the extent that faith is a major factor in their decision making, yes. Is it fair to ask them questions about their faith for the purposes of dividing the electorate? No.
2. Is it fair to question candidates about controversial remarks made by their pastors, mentors, close associates or thinkers whose books they recommend?
3. (a) Do you agree with those religious leaders who say that America is a “Christian nation” or “Judeo-Christian nation?” (b) What does that mean in practice?
(a). Yes. The vast majority of the citizenry in Christian, or I suppose, Judeo-Christian. That’s just a demographic fact. (b) “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” That doesn’t mean, however, that government property must be devoid of religious symbols. If a court house wants to have a copy of the 10 Commandments, or a city hall wants to have a Christmas Tree (or Menorah, for that matter) they are free to do so.
4. If you encounter a conflict between your faith and the Constitution and laws of the United States, how would you resolve it? Has that happened, in your experience?
I can’t think of any circumstance where that would occur. There’s nothing in the Constitution that is against my religion, and there’s nothing in my religion that violates the Constitution as currently written. I’d need a plausible hypothetical to really make a decision.
5. (a) Would you have any hesitation about appointing a Muslim to the federal bench? (b) What about an atheist?
(a) Provided that they have a Constructionist/originalist view of the Constitution, a judge’s religion is of no concern to me. (b) Provided that they have a Constructionist/originalist view of the Constitution, a judge’s lack of religion is of no concern to me.
6. Are Mormons Christians, in your view? Should the fact that Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman are Mormons influence how we think of them as candidates?
What else do you call people who accept Jesus of Nazereth as their savior? And no, Romney and Huntsman should be viewed no differently than anyone else because of their mormonism. Some of the nicest, most trustworthy people I’ve ever known have been Mormons. So if anything, it’s a net positive.
7. What do you think of the evangelical Christian movement known as Dominionism and the idea that Christians, and only Christians, should hold dominion over the secular institutions of the earth?
I hadn’t heard of this “movement” until I read about it on a liberal blog, so it seems to me that the concern over it exists almost exclusively on the left. I don’t think it’s nearly as much of a problem as the aforementioned liberal bloggers seem to.
8. (a) What is your attitude toward the theory of evolution? (b) Do you believe it should be taught in public schools?
I honestly haven’t studied it enough to have a truly informed opinion on it. But anyone who knows anything about basic animal breeding knows that species can, and do, change over time. I’m more skeptical of the idea that natural selection and random mutation can explain the sheer diversity of life on this planet. It seems implausible, or at least unlikely, to me that all plant, animal, microbial, etc., life evolved from the same batch of primordial goo.
I also resent that the theory of evolution has become a blunt object with which to bash people of faith, or some sort of litmus test for seriousness. Plenty of stupid people believe in evolution, so I don’t see how it’s intellectually superior.
As for teaching it in public schools, of course it’s valid. But only in the context of “this is our best guess at the moment, and is subject to change based on new data.” There seems to be quite a bit of “epistemic closure” (and in some cases outright hostility) on the part of evolution advocates, which I think is counter productive.
9. Do you believe it is proper for teachers to lead students in prayer in public schools?
Not really, but it has nothing to do with it being a public school. In any non-religious school, it’s impractical for a teacher to lead a class in prayer because they would either have to gear it to the lowest common denominator, or alienate various students. Both of which I think undermine the purpose of prayer in the first place. That said, if the class is religiously similar and the parents agree, they can pray all day for all I care. Most importantly, it’s not the concern of federal policy.
Finally, I’ve been listening to this album a lot lately again. This song ranks as one of my top 10 favorite songs. Not sure what that means except that I really dig the low-tuned guitar.