February 2004 Archives

Monster

The wife and I just got back from seeing the movie, Monster. It was an interesting movie about the true story of a serial killing, Florida hooker. I did manage to learn one thing, though.

Lesson: If you’re going to pick up a serial killing hooker in Florida, don’t carry a gun with you or she will freak out and blow you … away.

My wife thinks I should have learned to not pick up hookers. Pssh–women–what do they know?

Creationist Deceit in Oklahoma

Apparantly at the last moment in the Oklahoma House, two rejected creationist bills were tacked on to a popular bill about Braille textbooks. One rider had been rejected by the OK senate and would allow local districts to use state funds to buy textbooks that had been rejected by the state textbook committee. It was obvious from the beginning that is was an effort to get creationist and idist textbooks into public education classrooms. The other rider had been rejected multiple times in the past years in Oklahoma. It requires an “evolution disclaimer” to be placed on offending biology textbooks. My neighboring state of Alabama has had this disclaimer for years, and it blows my mind that somone would be trying so hard to be like Alabama. See this IIDB for more information.

PZ Myers is all for this disclaimer and has already drafted a lesson plan around them.

Why is it that creationists have to use deception? Kathy Cox tried it in Georgia by claiming that only one word was changed. She held on to the lie even after being call on it by GCISE and AJC. In fact, she repeated it in her “truth about Georgia’s proposed biology curriculum” press release, which tried to do damage control after Pres. Carter’s statements were passed around the globe. That press release has since quitely vanished from their website, but I still have a copy.

Updated LaTeX Support

I’ve updated my LaTeX hack to so that inline equations are properly aligned with the text. The plugin now uses a “\cdot” to mark the midline in the rendered LaTeX equation. It then examines the rendered output to find the dot and then adds space to either the top or the bottom of the png so that the dot is in the middle of the picture. The width of the picture is then reduced so that the dot disappears. When vertically aligned with the setting “middle,” browsers now perfectly align inline equations with the associated text. This process currently leaves a little bit of space on the left of the png, but that can be compensated for in the webpage.

The Hardy-Weinberg Principle states that a population satisfying certain primary conditions will not evolve. This result is very important because any departure from these conditions will result in an evolving population. Three scientists in the early 20th century (G.H Hardy, Wilhelm Weinberg, and W.E. Castle) independently discovered this principle which is now used as the null model of population biology.

Consider a group of interbreeding organisms (a population)…

LaTeX Support

De Rerum Natura now has LaTeX support. I had to hack together an MT plugin to convert LaTeX equations to .pngs. I tried the itex2MML plugin, but gave up on it because of the incomplete support for MathML in today’s browsers.

Mutation-Selection Balance

New Drafts are Out

GADOE Website

As far as MS and HS biology are concerned, all AAAS benchmarks are back except one in MS dealing with sexual reproduction. That might have been moved to a health class. I’ve sent an email out to GCISE asking if anybody knows the reason behind it.

Quiz Revisted

On second thought, I guess I’d only change two of Grober’s questions: 1 & 5.

Question 1. True or false: The designs of animal systems (eyes, ovaries, spleens, etc.) are perfectly adapted to each animal’s environment.

Question 5. When an antibiotic is used too often in the treatment of some bacterial infections, the bacteria can develop a resistance to the antibiotic. A key reason for the development of antibiotic resistance is:

  • Bacteria compete with humans for access to resources
  • Bacteria evolve more rapidly than humans develop antibiotics
  • Bacteria come genetically equipped to deal with all types of antibiotics

Incorporate controversy into the curriculum

Surprisingly, there is a way to teach evolution that will benefit students and satisfy all but the most extreme partisans and ideologues. Rather than ignoring the controversy (as many educators have tried to do), teachers should teach about the scientific controversy that now exists over Darwinian evolution. This is simply good education.

Before one can advocate that a scientific controversy should be taught, one much first demonstrate that it exists. This is what Meyer, Campbell, and their pals at the Discovery Institute, “a public-policy think tank,” continuously fail to do.

Referring to the fact that some scientists doubt parts of science does not work because science is a large amalgam of disciplines, and no one can be expected to understand it all. A chemist doubting the theory of evolution carries as little scientific weight as a biologist doubting the theory of the atom.

For the 300 “scientists” that the Discovery Institution could find, there are hundreds of thousands of scientists who do not doubt the concensus of modern biology. As conservatives are wont to say in politics, “minority, shut up and sit down.”

The Discovery Institute’s column was supposed to “balance” the results of the evolution quiz. I don’t like the quiz. I think it could have been better written. Too many of the questions/answers ending up being tricks or hinging on a single word. It might work if I had taken a class by Grober and understood his style, but this was the AJC.

Victory is at hand!

Cox’s Revised science curriculum includes evolution, big bang”: Plate tectonics, sexual reprodiction, and environmentalist concepts are also back in. It still has some flaws, but GADOE is listening to the scientific community and science educations now. These new draft standards should be posted with in the next week, for public review.

Now the trick is to rebut Idists and Creationists who will bitch about their pseudoscience not being considered.

The Petition

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I’m working on some statistics for the petition. Out of the 12380 signatures that I am working with, 10048 or 81% are residents of Georgia; 6718 or 54% are educators, academics, or scientists; and 5148 or 42% are both. There are also 181 Steves.

These signatures represent forty-five institutions of higher learning, both public and private, in the state of Georgia. They also represent forty-eight states, the District of Columbia, and twenty-three foreign nations.

Cox’s Motivations?

Colin Cambell has an interesting column in the AJC.

On Tuesday I asked again for an interview, e-mailing her spokesman, Kirk Englehardt, that I wanted to ask Cox who, if anyone, had helped her change the curriculum in the first place. Also, “Where and when did Ms. Cox learn about ‘intelligent design’ [a religious explanation with scientific trappings] as an alternative theory worth teaching in Georgia’s biology classes?”

Englehardt e-mailed back that “we are no longer doing interviews on this topic.”

I asked for clarification. The response: “We are now focused on the topic of improving education in the state of Georgia.”

I guess that means she won’t be owning up to her lies. That’s also the same Englehardt who claimed:

All of the theories and the education is in there. The only thing that’s missing is the one word.

Yeap, liars the lot of them.

Happy Birthday Mr. Darwin

To celebrate I’m sending a petition with 12,000+ signatures to Georgia’s politicians, in support of national science standards.

What are you doing to celebrate Darwin Day?

By the Georgia Board of Education

2/12/04

The Georgia Board of Education expects the new Georgia curriculum to be world-class, beginning with full inclusion of the recognized national standards in each curriculum area, and enhanced by proven curriculum successes both within the state and beyond. We expect the new Georgia curriculum to be in alignment with national assessments.

The Georgia Board of Education expects the new Georgia curriculum to be a document which is embraced by education professionals, respected internationally, and will result in Georgia leading the nation in improving student achievement.

The Georgia Board of Education recognizes our state curriculum as a living document, requiring continuous improvement and professional learning.

The Georgia Board of Education knows that the success of such a curriculum will depend on aggressive support of teachers and local system leaders in its implementation.

Let the word go out that the Georgia Board of Education fully intends to provide this support to educators and seek the funding necessary for its successful implementation.

This is a great sign. I am glad the BOE is recognizing the significance of scientific and educational outrage over the standards. These are the people who have final say over the standards. Perhaps the difference between Georgia and other states in which the BOE tried to scuttle biology education is that our board members are appointed not elected.

Cox now appears to have admitted that she was the one who tinkered with science education. Will she also admit that she intentionally mislead the people of Georgia about the actual changes?

SSL Support

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Yea.…

I just finished getting mod_ssl to work on this server and protect my blog software.

Evolution should be back in the state’s proposed curriculum by next week – but how much of it remains to be seen.

The teacher team that wrote the biology curriculum wanted the word “evolution” and all of its concepts taught. The team will meet Thursday to revise the draft. If approved by the Board of Education, the reworked draft will be posted for additional public comment.

I hope the teacher team puts back all the standards that Cox had removed. If everything gets put back then the only thing we have to worry about is the Discovery Institute trying to include its erroneous evidence “against” Darwinism/evolution.

The only drawback to this is that it speeds up the timeframe of the petition, which needs to be in the hands of the Board of Education by next week.

Test of Blockquotes

Aeneadum genetrix, hominum divomque voluptas, alma Venus, caeli subter labentia signa quae mare navigerum, quae terras frugiferentis concelebras, per te quoniam genus omne animantum concipitur visitque exortum lumina solis:

te, dea, te fugiunt venti, te nubila caeli adventumque tuum, tibi suavis daedala tellus summittit flores, tibi rident aequora ponti placatumque nitet diffuso lumine caelum.

Linville Falls

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Here is a picture my wife took of me at Linville Falls last spring.

cartwright.jpg

The real falls are actually in front of me.

GA Bill for National Standards

Good news from the Georgia House of Representatives. Democrats have introduced a bill that would require Georgia’s k-12 curriculum to conform to national standards.

I’m hoping that this gets passed to send a message that we do care about education in this state.

However, this bill probably will not affect the current curriculum process. That is why we still need to keep the pressure on the Department of Education and the Board of Education.

De Rerum Natura

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Aeneadum genetrix, hominum divomque voluptas, alma Venus, caeli subter labentia signa quae mare navigerum, quae terras frugiferentis concelebras, per te quoniam genus omne animantum concipitur visitque exortum lumina solis: te, dea, te fugiunt venti, te nubila caeli adventumque tuum, tibi suavis daedala tellus summittit flores, tibi rident aequora ponti placatumque nitet diffuso lumine caelum. nam simul ac species patefactast verna diei et reserata viget genitabilis aura favoni, aeriae primum volucris te, diva, tuumque significant initum perculsae corda tua vi. inde ferae pecudes persultant pabula laeta et rapidos tranant amnis: ita capta lepore te sequitur cupide quo quamque inducere pergis. denique per maria ac montis fluviosque rapacis frondiferasque domos avium camposque virentis omnibus incutiens blandum per pectora amorem efficis ut cupide generatim saecla propagent. quae quoniam rerum naturam sola gubernas nec sine te quicquam dias in luminis oras exoritur neque fit laetum neque amabile quicquam, te sociam studeo scribendis versibus esse, quos ego de rerum natura pangere conor Memmiadae nostro, quem tu, dea, tempore in omni omnibus ornatum voluisti excellere rebus. quo magis aeternum da dictis, diva, leporem. effice ut interea fera moenera militiai per maria ac terras omnis sopita quiescant; nam tu sola potes tranquilla pace iuvare mortalis, quoniam belli fera moenera Mavors armipotens regit, in gremium qui saepe tuum se reiicit aeterno devictus vulnere amoris, atque ita suspiciens tereti cervice reposta pascit amore avidos inhians in te, dea, visus eque tuo pendet resupini spiritus ore. hunc tu, diva, tuo recubantem corpore sancto circum fusa super, suavis ex ore loquellas funde petens placidam Romanis, incluta, pacem; nam neque nos agere hoc patriai tempore iniquo possumus aequo animo nec Memmi clara propago talibus in rebus communi desse saluti. omnis enim per se divum natura necessest immortali aevo summa cum pace fruatur semota ab nostris rebus seiunctaque longe; nam privata dolore omni, privata periclis, ipsa suis pollens opibus, nihil indiga nostri, nec bene promeritis capitur nec tangitur ira. …

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