It’s the second day of my new semester, and I spent it at home with some kind of flu bug that set in during class last night and made the 45 minute subway ride home far more harrowing than usual. But by this afternoon, I was feeling peppy enough to tackle the “bug” that invaded an aging (all of 3 years old) laptop. Three hours later, I was consumed with hatred for computers – despite their making things like this blog possible. Whatever my computer caught awhile back, it first killed the antiviral software, then made it impossible to install any other. The firewall has worked, but who knows what viral and spyware devilspawn got in during the (I’m not going to say how long) time the other defenses were down. I ran a spyware detector, then a registry cleaner, lathered, rinsed, repeated… Finally I decided to reinstall the drivers with the manufacturer’s reinstall disk. That didn’t work, so I next reinstalled XP (swearing the whole while that I will convert to Linux one day), and watched as the process wiped out the graphics card so that, upon rebooting, there is nothing to look at — only those lovely little Windows loading chords to listen to.
All this to say that any of the nifty links I had stored up on that particular computer (between work, home and school, I’m spread out over several) to share with you are gone.
Taken literally, Utah’s provision could deny hospital visitation or survivor’s property rights to children being brought up by grandparents, or to senior citizens who live together but do not marry for financial reasons. Siblings living in the same household also could find themselves without customary rights.
Utah’s Legislature – overwhelmingly Republican and Mormon, and one of the most conservative bodies in the nation – ignored warnings from the state’s Republican attorney general that the amendment went too far. Utah voters ratified it with 66 percent approval in November.
Now, in a moment of sober reflection, the same lawmakers are looking at giving back to adults who live together but are ineligible to marry – a category that includes same-sex couples – some of the rights of husband and wife…
…In districts around the country, even when evolution is in the curriculum it may not be in the classroom, according to researchers who follow the issue.
Teaching guides and textbooks may meet the approval of biologists, but superintendents or principals discourage teachers from discussing it. Or teachers themselves avoid the topic, fearing protests from fundamentalists in their communities…
There is no credible scientific challenge to the idea that all living things evolved from common ancestors, that evolution on earth has been going on for billions of years and that evolution can be and has been tested and confirmed by the methods of science. But in a 2001 survey, the National Science Foundation found that only 53 percent of Americans agreed with the statement “human beings, as we know them, developed from earlier species of animals.”
And this was good news to the foundation. It was the first time one of its regular surveys showed a majority of Americans had accepted the idea. According to the foundation report, polls consistently show that a plurality of Americans believe that God created humans in their present form about 10,000 years ago, and about two-thirds believe that this belief should be taught along with evolution in public schools.
These findings set the United States apart from all other industrialized nations, said Dr. Jon Miller, director of the Center for Biomedical Communications at Northwestern University, who has studied public attitudes toward science. Americans, he said, have been evenly divided for years on the question of evolution, with about 45 percent accepting it, 45 percent rejecting it and the rest undecided.
In other industrialized countries, Dr. Miller said, 80 percent or more typically accept evolution, most of the others say they are not sure and very few people reject the idea outright.
“In Japan, something like 96 percent accept evolution,” he said. Even in socially conservative, predominantly Catholic countries like Poland, perhaps 75 percent of people surveyed accept evolution, he said. “It has not been a Catholic issue or an Asian issue,” he said.
In the October 11, 2004 “Non Sequitur” comic strip (archived on U Comics, but you’ll need a subscription – or a trial registration) the little kid and her pony friend are studying the campaign debates on TV. She explains what she has learned to her father: “it’s more important to demean the opponent’s integrity than to be right about anything… and never ever admit that you’re wrong.” Her dad tells her she was born for this era, and she says, “I just hope some stupid ‘age of reason’ doesn’t come along by the time I grow up.” Sadly, I must agree with her pony: “Oh, I don’t see much chance of that…”