Here’s a terrible idea

I bet it passes:

A bill put forward by Gov. Paul LePage proposes allowing religious schools in Maine to qualify for public tuition dollars.

LePage unveiled the proposed bill with the state’s education commissioner Stephen Bowen in Skowhegan on Wednesday. Currently students in ‘school choice’ communities can attend some private schools and have their tuition paid for by the school district they live in.

I can see both sides of this argument. I went to a Christian school from K through 8 and I know it was an excellent education (minus the time wasted on religion). My class alone produced 4 high school valedictorians around the area. That’s 30 students who spread into various high schools with hundreds of kids per class and managed to succeed at a very high rate. That point acknowledged, none of this justifies using public dollars to send children to such schools. This is little more than an excuse to promote Christianity.

It’s too bad I fully expect to see a few more “Christian children” (as if there is such an absurd thing) running around in the coming years.

Please run again, Eliot Cutler

Because the guy we’ve got now is a dolt:

I can’t believe people take this idea seriously

One of the absolute worst ideas I have ever heard in regard to education has to be Maine governor Paul LePage’s idea to add a 5th year to high school so students can earn their Associate degrees.  He mentioned it during the campaign season but had gone silent on it since. I was hopeful he had abandoned the thought. It’s just awful:

  • High school teachers are not qualified to teach college level courses
  • Associate degrees typically take 2 years to get
  • High schools are not accredited institutions (I feel bad for the students that will get laughed at when they attempt to transfer their credits to real colleges and universities.)
  • This insults everyone who has a legitimate Associate degree

Unfortunately, it looks like people are still taking this stuff seriously, including the local newspaper:

A high school diploma is not enough for today’s job market, and current school programs work well for many students but still leave too many behind. Too often, students finish high school without the skills they need to get a good job or make the transition to college-level work.

Making it easier for more people to move from high school to college will not only improve their economic prospects, but everyone’s. It’s still an interesting idea and well worth pursuing.

Except this is not college-level work. There is not a single teacher in the state of Maine – or anywhere else – that is qualified to teach at the college level except in cases of special instruction and other, relatively rare exceptions – or when they are also professors. A sociology teacher at a high school cannot teach a sociology course at the college level. A high school biology teacher cannot teach me about genetics under any formal requirements. The same goes for all the major subjects. Until colleges start offering gym courses, high school teachers need to stay in their own buildings, teaching at their own level.

This is just the worst idea I’ve ever heard. I’m not saying that because LePage is a Republican and generally a bad governor. I’m saying it because it’s so ridiculous and demonstrates an extreme poverty of understanding of the differences between high schools and colleges. If this dolt wants to subsidize real college degrees, earned at real colleges, then great. Do it. Or if he wants to trim many of the useless classes high school students have to take so that they can more easily be sent to classes at universities and community colleges, then great. Do it. But if he wants to add a 5th year of high school without accounting for the quality of instruction, the new class space needed, the space needed for the added students – the high school in my city already has taken on 7th and 8th graders in addition to the other students – or why he believes it’s okay to give away two year degrees to under-taught students in a hugely compressed time frame, then no. That’s awful and Paul LePage needs to keep his face away from anything to do with education. He obviously has no idea what he’s doing and he hasn’t bothered to think through this idea in the least.

At least LePage isn’t pretending he doesn’t mean the Christian god

Maine’s governor, Paul LePage, has declared August 6 to be a day of prayer and fasting:

WHEREAS, in times of trouble, even those who have been granted power by the people must turn to God in humility for wisdom, mercy and direction. In the spirit of the Book of Joel, Chapter 2, Verses 15-16, I urge a solemn gathering of prayer and fasting. As those verses admonish: “15Blow the trumpet in Zion, declare a holy fast, call a sacred assembly … 16 Gather

the people, consecrate the assembly… “As Jesus prayed publicly for the benefit of others in

John II :41-42, so should we express our faith in this way.

NOW, THEREFORE, I PAUL R. LEPAGE, Governor of the State of Maine, do hereby proclaim

August 6th as

A Day of Prayer and Fasting for Our Nation

This is highly exclusionary and a misuse of public office. LePage cannot constitutionally use the government of Maine to endorse a day of prayer. (The fasting will be good for him and other Mainers of his girth, though.) The only positive thing that can be taken from this is that at least LePage is being honest and not pretending like he’s declaring a day for all religions. It’s pretty obvious he just means his.

Maine governor removes own picture

In an effort to be consistent, Maine governor Paul LePage has announced that he is removing his own picture from the official state of Maine website. “I just don’t see how I can show my face and not be a contradictory asshole”, said LePage.

LePage was referring to his previous douchebaggery act of removing a mural featuring great moments in Maine’s labor history from the Department of Labor building. When asked why he was being such a prissy little dick, he told reporters that the mural was hostile towards business owners who enter the Labor building. Now in an effort to be consistent, LePage has said he will take down his own image from Maine.gov.

“It wouldn’t be fair of me to leave my fat fucking face up there. It’s clear that not only am I hostile to the simple aesthetics of the website, but my face represents an anti-common sense, anti-labor, anti-poor people, anti-black people, anti-paying taxes honestly, anti-science, anti-intelligence point of view. If the Department of Labor mural’s hostility to business values justifies its removal, then certainly my anti-all things good values justifies the removal of my mug.”

Opposition to LePage was stunned. Democratic leader Emily Cain of Orono expressed utter amazement. “This guy has been a pure douche for the past 3 months. He has made Maine look like a fucking joke. I can’t believe he would actually go and do something intelligent for once.”

LePage’s supporters were less enthusiastic, but all said they understood. “This is a real hit to the Republican party, but at least the dickface is being consistent”, said Bangor council member and frequent radio guest Cary Weston.

The reaction of the Maine people is yet to be seen, but early comments indicate an appreciation of the first grain of honesty from the current administration.

“Ayuh, I don’t like the douche, but I’ve always felt his face made Maine’s website pretty hostile to a whole lotta common sense things. Gotta agree with LeDouche on this one”, said Joe Blow.

The administration reports that its replacement of LePage’s mug with a black hole is only temporary, however no objections have been raised. In fact, everyone has so far agreed that the new image really makes a lot of sense.

Thought of the day

As most Mainers know by now, our governor has taken to removing a labor mural from the Department of Labor. His whole point is to be a prissy little dick to everyone who isn’t a Teabagger. That is frustrating enough. But what really gets me is that he keeps telling people to get over it and to talk about something important – Hey, Paul LeDouche, you started this conversation. This is purely your fault. Own your idiocy.

The great governor of Maine

LePage pulls a Porky’s

Remember that scene from the movie Porky’s in the boy’s locker room? There’s the one kid who hates Jews, just hates them. So after gym or practice, he starts calling the one Jew in the group a “kite”. Naturally, the high flying kid made of light material attached to a string says, “It’s kike, not kite. You aren’t even smart enough to be a good bigot.” It’s the one funny line in an otherwise ugly scene of ignorance.

So that brings me to Maine governor Paul LePage (R):

In his comments last week, LePage said he has yet to see enough science to support a ban on BPA, a common additive to plastics that some research suggests may interfere with hormone levels and could cause long-term problems. LePage said until scientists can prove BPA is harmful, the state should not rush to restrict its use.

“Quite frankly, the science that I’m looking at says there is no [problem],” LePage said. “There hasn’t been any science that identifies that there is a problem.”

LePage then added: “The only thing that I’ve heard is if you take a plastic bottle and put it in the microwave and you heat it up, it gives off a chemical similar to estrogen. So the worst case is some women may have little beards.”

This is such a huge facepalm. I mean, wow. Wow. Wow. Wow. Not only is LePage overtly ignoring the huge mass of evidence on the dangers of BPA, but he’s also making moronic claims about estrogen and what it does. The guy doesn’t know a damn thing about science. We should never listen to this guy on these sort of issues (or, really, any other issue). He’s as ignorant about science as the character in Porky’s was about Jews; a bigot to science, if you will.

So let’s summarize what we know about LePage so far: he believes the NAACP is a special interest but anti-abortion groups aren’t, he thinks it’s okay to teach creationism in schools, he wants to tell Obama to “go to hell”, he and his wife purchased a home in Florida so they could save money on tuition for their kids and then they lied about it, he thinks BPA is just a fine chemical, and he believes estrogen grows male traits.

Awesome.

Remember when LePage was against special interests?

Yeah, that was Friday. But come Saturday he must have had a change of heart.

The activists rallied Saturday at Augusta’s St. Michael School and later marched to the State House to trumpet the anti-abortion cause. Gov. Paul LePage, an abortion opponent, joined them for part of the rally, which was organized by the Maine Right to Life Committee.

St Michael’s School is where the last Maine governor, Baldacci, sent his children. As it happens, back when it was known as St. Mary’s School, I also received a big hunk of my education there. I never saw Baldacci. But then, he wasn’t the sort of governor to say he believed one thing one day and another thing another day. At least not this blatantly.

And LePage’s handlers in all this? Not very good so far.

Asked Saturday whether the Maine Right to Life Committee represented a special interest, [Dan] Demeritt said special interests inevitably would end up on LePage’s schedule.

“This isn’t about politics,” he said of Saturday’s rally. “This is about supporting a group that’s worked very hard to make sure that life is a choice that everybody can make.”

What about supporting groups that have worked very hard to make sure a chance at equality is possible for people who are actually alive? Or maybe giving black people as a group the time of day in Maine isn’t something political advantageous enough for LePage.

2010: FTSOS in review, April to June

Here is the second installment of the 2010 FTSOS review. See the first installment here.

April:
Easily the top post of the month (in fact, it is number 5 all time) was the one about the topless march in Farmington. It resulted in a lot of people clicking the Photography tab on FTSOS in search of all the topless women who were marching through the small town of Farmington up here in Maine. Because I guess topless women are rare.

When I set up this blog, I never had the intention of giving a good focus to quacks and charlatans. But I just had to write about the scumbag Lawrence Stowe. The guy was caught on a CBS special stealing from the sick and desperate. He was ought ruining lives and families, laughing all the way to the bank. The guy is easily one of the biggest pieces of shit about whom I have ever read.

There was also the issue of FTSOS commenter Jack Hudson chiding a family member of mine through texts. I made mention of the issue on his blog, but he very quickly edited my comment so as not to reflect his misdeed. As a result – and being someone who hates dishonesty – I had to make a post on FTSOS explaining what had happened. This caused Jack to first deny his actions and then vow never to return to this blog. I later granted the small possibility that he was not guilty, but that did nothing to dampen the hissy-fit. Of course, since the texts came from Minnesota (which is where Jack lives) and since they all referenced a specific Facebook interaction he had with my family member, I had to remain unwilling to retract anything. I stand by that.

May:
The big science news of the month was that Craig Venter created synthetic DNA that worked when put in a cell. It is a phenomenal technical achievement that opens up the door to a whole world of synthetic creations. We can now, at least in theory, go into a computer program, change a few amino acids and come up with new genes and gene products. I suspect this will prove invaluable to cancer research.

About midway through the month I decided to tackle, for the nth time, the idea of objective morality. The truth is, even if theists are right that there is an objective morality, they do not arrive at their conclusions objectively. People are always picking and choosing what they want to believe, how to interpret the things they use for their beliefs, and how those things fit into what they already believe. As I said back in May, even a claim of objective morality is a subjective position.

I also talked about the fact that atheism has never been responsible for an act of evil. Two things arise from this. First, people often go back to that old chestnut, “Ideas don’t hurt people! People hurt people!” Of course, this just ignores the fact that people are composed of ideas. If we are not willing to say that ideas lead to actions, then it is no longer clear that we can even say ideas are good or bad. And what does it even mean to say people – explicitly not ideas – are responsible for actions? If people are not just packages of ideas, then what are they? What does it mean to say “Joe punched Suzy” if we deny that underlying that statement is that Joe had the idea to move his fist towards Suzy? Second, people will point to Stalin, Hitler, etc and say “What about those atheists?” This is silly first because Hitler was an evolution-denying, Christian creationist. The silliness then continues when we look at Stalin (and any other leader who was an atheist) because atheism is not a normative position. Since it is purely descriptive, it does not result in any “ought” or “ought not”; it says nothing of what we should or should not do. Stalin and co never acted out of atheism. It is not logically possible.

June:
The most popular post of the month had to be the one where I told people not to talk to the cops. If the police suspect a person of something, it serves the interests of the police, not the suspect, to get a discussion going. The job of the police is to find out information they can use against people. And even innocent people are at risk. The best way to avoid the whole mess? Don’t talk to the cops. Seriously.

In the race for governor of Maine, we learned that the eventual winner of the election, Republican Paul LePage, is a creationist. He later danced, obfuscated, and dodged the issue. The fact is, the guy is not going to object one bit when some Maine school board thinks it will be a good idea to teach creationism to students.

In skin cancer news, researchers found a certain drug, ipilimumab, which allows the immune system to run free and more effectively fight cancer. Responses to the drug were impressive for those with late stage skin cancers and it is hoped that the treatments can be improved. It was thought the FDA might approve the drug for use this year, but it looks like the decision date is going to be March 26, 2011.

Expect July to September tomorrow.

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