High school refs may be punished for supporting cancer research

It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month right now and a lot of people are doing a lot of good things to support research. One example comes from Washington where a group of high school refs decided to donate their playoff paychecks to breast cancer research – while using pink whistles. Unfortunately, Todd Stordahl, chair of the Washington Officials Association, wants to be a stupid prick.

The chair of the WOA, Todd Stordahl, told KING 5 News and MyNorthwest.com he has little choice but to discipline officials who used colored whistles. He claims that letting them continue without punishment would send the wrong message to student athletes.

“They chose not to ask for permission, not to go the right route,” Stordahl told KING 5. “It sends the wrong message to kids that are playing the game. ‘If they broke the rules why can’t I do the same.'”

Though no discipline has been decided upon, Stordahl indicated it was likely that pink whistle-blowing officials would be suspended for two playoff games. That would not only keep the referees from working at the annual pinnacle of their sport, but also cost them two game checks.

Ha. The wrong message? The wrong message?! How about this message, Stordahl:

Your mundane, stupid, silly, trivial, unimportant, meaningless rules don’t fucking matter. You’re taking money away from breast cancer research. How about you ask all those high school athletes with relatives with breast cancer if this is what they want? Ask them in 25 years if they feel they learned a valuable lesson from an asshole like you.

Fortunately, the refs aren’t backing down:

Meanwhile, MyNorthwest.com is reporting the PNFOA (Pacific Northwest Football Officials Association) is arguing the dress code for officials does not technically specify that only black whistles be used, which means any suspensions would be unwarranted. That follows a Tuesday PNFOA meeting in which the group’s president, Mike Livingston, said the board voted unanimously to use the colored whistles, regardless of penalty.

The officials themselves seem to be on board with the PNFOA decision, due to a commitment the referees felt to both breast cancer awareness and each other. There’s little indication that the threat that came Thursday night from the WOA will keep them from using the pink whistles they intended.

“A lot of the guys in the association have been touched by breast cancer in some way,” referee Jeff Mattson told MyNorthwest.com. “So we decided to take on the Susan G. Komen Foundation.”

It’s plainly sad that it’s actually necessary for anyone to delve into the legal minutiae in order to win this argument against that scumbag Todd Stordahl. We’re talking about human lives. I hope Stordahl gets fired.

Stordahl’s email: tstordahl@woa-officials.com

Thought of the day

Creationism Intelligent design is based almost entirely upon a faulty analogy.

Hitchens on the Jesus fairytale

Christopher Hitchens wrecks some fundamental Christian beliefs so easily and clearly in this video, it’s a wonder anyone can be a believer.

Six year old boy debunks ID

There’s a wonderful post over at Atheist Nexus about a father teaching his son the facts of life as well as a few creation myths. It’s a good example of how necessary it is to tell kids all the basics in science (and especially biology) at a young age. Give them the facts first and they tend to laugh when they’re told all the silly things (young and old Earth) creationists believe.

I had been spending so much time teaching him about evolution by natural selection that I forgot to tell him the lie he would be confronted with someday. Just a few weeks ago I had asked him what evolution was. He responded by saying, “It’s a gradual change in species that happens slowly over really long periods of time.” I couldn’t hope for a better answer from him. Talk about a proud poppa moment; almost made me cry.

I decided that it was time that he heard the creation story that I grew up with. I hopped on the internet and googled “childrens creation story.” In .2 seconds I was greeted with 2,230,000 results to choose from. I chose the top one from dltk-Bible.com. As soon as I got to “Let there be light,” he started giggling. By the time I got to the morning of the third day he was laughing quite a bit.

I read on, “So, he put all the water in one place and all the dry land in another.” He stopped laughing instantly so I asked him, “What?”

“Why do we have to save water then? Wouldn’t God make enough for everybody?” he asked. I smiled and nodded just a bit before reading on.

After I finished reading about the third day he was beginning to catch on. “So God made everything?” he asked.

“Well that’s what some people believe,” I stated, “but I don’t think so.” This sent him into hysterics.

“He made South America!” I wasn’t sure why this was so funny to him but he continued to laugh and list the things that God had “made.” Squirrels, Dr. Seuss, and cat butts had him laughing especially hard. “Doesn’t he have any brains? Cause he made some weird stuff in this world.” A six year old debunks Intelligent Design with a simple observational idea that ID proponents can’t even grasp. That had me chuckling for a moment before I read on.

When I told him about the creation of the sun on the fourth day he became serious again. He wrinkled up one eye and stated matter-of-factly, “Light has to be from the sun.” And I thought I was the only one in the room that would have a problem with light being created three days before the sun. My six year old was quickly demonstrating that he was a better critical thinker than people who believe the creation story.

Goodness, gracious. I can only hope to have a child this intelligent and insightful one day. I can’t help but imagine just how embarrassed I would feel going up against him if I was an IDiot.

The fundamentally dishonest creationist intelligent design crowd is always whining about not being given equal time and blah blah blah. But the fact of the matter is, these people don’t give a shit about a presentation of evidence – if they did, they wouldn’t be promoting creationism. They want to obfuscate sound science so that children will harbor unwarranted doubts; when those children grow up and realize that they will some day die, it is the hope of the IDiots that they will seek comfort in religion (and, very specifically, Christianity). After all, it was the combination of indoctrination and fear of death that motivated most IDiots to where they are.

I’ll give the final word to the young boy.

“I think the scientists are correct and the other guy sounds crazy. I think I want to be a scientist when I grow up and study water, animals, and space.” What an amusing array of choices. I had to inquire about them. “I want to find out where the water came from, for real, and dig up animal bones and put them together.”

“What about space?”

“I want to go there…”

Because it’s easy to shit all over young people

One thing I’m constantly noticing is how older people tend to give themselves undue favor by virtue of being older. We see it in laws which say work places cannot discriminate against those 40 and older, as if it’s okay to discriminate against someone who is 18. We see it in condescending debates where, once there is either a loss or a stalemate against a younger person, the older person resorts to that old classic, ‘Well, maybe you’ll understand once you’re older.’ It’s all over the place and I can’t stand it. It isn’t that there isn’t value in experience, because of course there is, but experience does not mean someone is therefore well-informed and worldly. Take my university. It’s largely a commuter school designed to accommodate full-time workers with kids who want to attend school part-time. In fact, the average age is about 35 (though among just full-time students, I suspect that average would drop significantly). This means there are a lot of older people* with a lot of experience. Unfortunately, far too many of them feel compelled to sprinkle their life stories throughout class. They’re hardly ever relevant, professors become visibly annoyed, and they serve as a distraction. But do these older people have any clue how much they’re embarrassing themselves? Of course not. They’re clearly under the impression that their experience inherently gives them something of value to contribute; it doesn’t.

I’m ranting about this because I recently read an article about teen driver safety that takes great pains to make sure we don’t even think about giving teen drivers any credit.

Far fewer people are dying in car crashes with teens at the wheel, but it’s not because teenagers are driving more cautiously. Experts say laws are tougher, and cars and highways are safer.

Fatal car crashes involving teen drivers fell by about a third over five years, according to a new federal report that credits tougher restrictions on younger drivers.

The rate of such fatal crashes has been declining since 1996. Experts credit a range of factors, including safer cars with air bags and highway improvements, which reduce the risk of death.

Experts say a chief reason is that most states have been getting tougher on when teens can drive and when they can carry passengers.

“It’s not that teens are becoming safer,” said Russ Rader, spokesman for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, an Arlington, Va.-based research group funded by auto insurance companies.

“It’s that state laws enacted in the last 15 years are taking teens out of the most hazardous driving situations,” such as driving at night or with other teens in the car, he said.

It all sounds fair enough – it isn’t doubtful that better vehicles and better roads and better safety laws have made a big difference. But look at the quote from Rader – “It’s not that teens are becoming safer…” The guy is going beyond the evidence.

About five years back I got my first and only speeding ticket. I was going 81mph on the Interstate (where the speed limit is 65mph), the officer was nice enough about it all, and I knew I deserved what I got (though I do wonder if the relatively low fine – $185 – was a result of me not being a douche to him). For the rest of the day I hovered around 70mph. Part of me wanted to be defiant, but my wallet wanted me to keep it slow. Now I virtually never hit 75mph, probably averaging close to 70mph (which, yes, is still speeding, but every rational person knows that is reasonable in good conditions – that’s why no one ever gets ticketed for that speed).

But what does this tell us? Does it tell us that my speed decreased because an officer enforced the law and ticketed me? Yes. But does that mean it’s fair to say I haven’t become a safer driver? Of course not. I am a safer driver on the Interstate now. The law is what spurred me to drive more cautiously (and now I would go my current average speed anyway, threat of tickets or not), and we ought to credit that officer with not only doing his job but with doing a good deed, but that shouldn’t take anything away from me. Just the same, we can credit tougher laws with keeping teen death rates down on the road, but at the same time we need to credit the teens. Take when they drive for 6 months with no passengers. They’re learning good habits and figuring out how to best navigate the roads without distraction. Thanks be to the law, but let us also thank those teens. By following the law, it’s reasonable to say they’re improving as drivers. It’s tough to necessarily measure that claim, but it’s entirely plausible (and even likely). We want to be cautious not to exceed what we have for evidence, but we certainly can’t blindly go discrediting teen drivers.

At the very least, though, the writer of this article went and got the opinion of some teen. (It’s preferable to stick to what experts have to say, but I just like what this teen said.)

In New York, the driver’s license restrictions can at times be annoying, said Ali Janicki, a 17-year-old high school senior in the town of North White Plains.

Janicki had a “junior” license when she was 16, which restricted her from driving after 9 p.m. and from driving with more than one other youth in the car. She broke the rules a few times, giving her sister and a friend a ride home from school, or driving home from a movie after 9.

Sometimes, she also needed a parent to drive her to nighttime parties. “It kind of bugged me,” she said. “But I understand why.”

She said she was nearly in an accident Thursday, but blamed another — older — driver’s error. “I think older people, past about 40, should have to take a test and make sure their eyes are still working the same way,” she said.

Heresy! Older people have all that driving experience! How dare a dumb little, silly teen question the ability of older people to drive! Amirite?

It’s refreshing to read a quote like that, but I wonder how many people over 40 read that quote and felt an increased sense of hostility towards teen drivers.

*Remember, 35 is the average. Most of the “older people” I have in mind are in their 40’s or beyond.

More presidential rankings

This time I go with my top five:

5. T. Roosevelt
4. Jefferson
3. FDR
2. Lincoln
1. Washington

(I generally consider Lincoln and Washington interchangeable on that list.)

‘It’s my right to make you support my religion!’

At least that’s what many of the residents of King, N.C. may as well be saying. They’re all in a huff over a Christian flag the city council decided to remove from a war memorial after an Afghanistan war veteran made a complaint.

“This monument stands as hallowed ground,” said Martini, a tall, trim man with a tattoo on his right arm commemorating the day in 1988 when he became a born-again Christian. “It kills me when I think people want to essentially desecrate it.”

It now appears that many of the Christians in this small town have replaced the flag with a replica and are now guarding it. (It’s unclear from the article if the new flag is in the same place as the old one.) It’s a great display of ignorance, really. Someone doesn’t want the government supporting religion? Well, that person must just be desecrating everything! Actually, that wouldn’t be so bad – we really should never hold any ideas sacred, sealed off in a box where it’s unthinkable that anyone should ever question them. But that isn’t what’s happening here.

Of course in all this, the ACLU, as usual, has taken the correct position. They’ve praised the town for taking down the flag while allowing these people to hold their silly vigils. It’s no surprise that the ACLU is holding to actual principle. But that isn’t so clear to the residents.

The protesters, though, aren’t satisfied with the vigil. They’re planning an Oct. 23 rally in support of their ultimate goal, which is for the city to restore the Christian flag to the permanent metal pole on the memorial.

At a recent public hearing, roughly 500 people packed the King Elementary School gymnasium, many waving Christian flags. Of more than 40 speakers, no one spoke in favor of removing it.

“We’ve let our religious freedoms and constitutional rights be stripped away one by one, and I think it’s time we took a stand,” King resident James Joyce said.

James Joyce is just being a mook. The separation of church and state is well established; no one’s rights have been taken away by the removal of an illegal display of government-supported religion.

Of course, if the flag was a Muslim or atheist symbol of any sort, there would be an immediate uproar, quick adherence to the constitution, and no one in that town would be holding any vigil of support. It isn’t about principle for the Christian majority in King, North Carolina anymore than it is in the rest of America.