Location: St. Vincent & Grenadines

You were driving home in the dark on one glass-slippered heel, window sliced open and bathing in the snowliquor of the night air. We heard you singing, and couldn't bear to wake you.

14 May 2005

Don't you monkey with the monkey.

As I wrote in a letter to my dad a while ago, I've always had an affectionate reverence for the unknown and the unknowable (or Mystery, if you want to capitalize something) but I've also always had an allergy to the word God. I try not to get too attached to any one philosophical stance, but I guess I'm more or less an agnostic these days. It's not so much that I believe or don't believe in a higher power; it's more that the question seems rather unimportant to me, and the answer even more so.

It's kind of like the way I feel about Tom Waits, my all-time favorite musician, who happens to live in my neck of the woods and who I occasionally find myself in line behind at D's Diner. It would be hard to overstate the impact his music has had on my creative life, or the intensity of its appeal to me. As I write this, in fact, I am struggling mightily to hold back the slobbering superlatives. But although I've seen Waits around town many times, and have had many opportunities to speak with him, I never actually do. First of all, the music and the man are two different things. Just because the art is spectacular does not mean the artist is; consider James Brown. Second of all, I don't have anything important to say to the guy. My opinion that his music totally rules would not, I think, be of much interest to him, particularly if it was unsolicited. What good does worship do anyone?

If there is a Big Kahuna behind all this, I don't know him and I don't particularly need to. I appreciate his work; let's leave it at that. What I definitely don't appreciate are his fan clubs and self-appointed spokesmen. The world is full of cut-rate Colonel Tom Parkers.

Some of them, you will be unsurprised to know, are in Kansas. Recent hearings by the Board of Education on the issue (the issue?) of whether or not to teach creationism in science classes fell apart, according to the Kansas City Star (free registration required; annoying pop-ups). Some members of the board appear to be unclear on the definition of the word "theory", let alone the concept of separation between church and state. David Klepper at the Star reports:

"A proposal now before the board would incorporate greater criticism of the theory of evolution and allow alternatives to be taught. It also would change the definition of science to allow for explanations that do not rely on natural causes." [Emphasis mine.]

Change the definition of science, in other words, to make it . . . uh . . . not science anymore.

Jesus. Fucking. Christ.

The good news is, most of the 26-member panel of educators and scientists who review the state science curriculum do not support the proposed change. Steve Case, a University of Kansas professor who leads the panel, said that if the proposal were adopted, he would support school districts that refuse to give the assessment tests. "I would encourage schools and districts to practice civil disobedience," he said.

Go Steve Case!


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