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Mondays at Dottie's are what Tuesdays used to be - it's dead, Jim.
Perfect for those of us that want to play pool and chat over cheap
beers. The music is excellent too with some DJ doing all funk. So
don't forget the new weekly schedule - Mondays at Dottie's, Tuesdays
at Starlight Drive In, the rest of the week you must heed the
I was wondering how long it would take for some of your pundits to latch onto (and suck the life out of) the now nationally-available- media-circus tit that is the Kansas State Board of Education. Our thanks to Degenerate RVI for the primer in the scientific method. Just thought you all might like a report from the front line, from your faithful midwestern correspondent. Getting your report from a professional biologist (and an adherent to the celebrated theory of
evolution) living and working in the state of Kansas should be exciting. First, the good news: Nothing has really changed, except the national perception of the KSBOE as a bunch of ignorant, religious zealots (which they by- and-large are). The decision to include discussion of Darwin's theory remains with local school boards, as it has for many years. This doesn't rule out the possiblity that certain school systems within the state will opt to eliminate mention of evolution, but it does guarantee that classes presided over by responsible local school boards will have access to the theory. Personal note: I can't imagine a biology class that doesn't focus on the theory of evolution since this theory is as essential to the framework of modern biology as the theory of gravitation is to physical mechanics... Then again, there was my own high school biology class, taught by a basketball coach who may have been missing a chromosome (or two). Now, even better news: Although the state high school biology curriculum remains unchanged, this fiasco has prompted action from the state university system (of which yours truly is an employee). The board of regents of the university system of Kansas (NOT under the jurisdiction of KSBOE) is considering policies that will put pressure on high schools by requiring incoming freshmen to have had a biology course with evolution in the curriculum. This, of course, does nothing for the kids who don't want to go to college, but the university system is betting that most schools will have at least a few kids interested in college education. Finally, some thoughts on what this may mean to the already threatened self esteem of Kansans: I took a ride on my own personal cyclone, and was deposited in Kansas for graduate school ("we're not in Athens anymore, Mofo"), and after 3 years, I have put together a series of observations on the state and its natives. To grossly generalize, I believe that all native Kansans have a sneaking suspicion that everyone else in the world makes fun of them when they aren't looking. This not unfounded suspicion has led to a remarkably insular society. Rugged individualism is rampant, and outsiders are not welcome. Kansans feel no attachment to any geographic region. The state is not truly in the West, nor is it cosmopolitan enough to be considered East, has no ties to the Deep South, has no Great Lakes to boast of, and is not buckled to the Corn Belt. Kansas is alone in the proverbial Middle of Nowhere (for confirmation, check your Rand-McNally road atlas, and you will find that the town I live in is obliterated by the crack in the middle of the US interstates map). This leaves Kansans with noone to talk to but themselves, and these conversations with noone eventually lead to madness (as evidenced by KSBOE). The problem was that Kansas not only thought that nobody cared, but also that nobody was paying attention. Indeed, the national media found out just how backwards things are there, and made it news. So, I forsee two possible consequences of this latest attention to Kansas for the state and its people. The first is that Kansas will realize that it's not alone, and that other (sane) people are watching, and thus attempt to join the rest of society. The second is that Kansas will turn even further inward to nurse its wounds, to become more sullen, more bitter, and more ignorant. The interesting thing is that the same type of drama is played out daily in real life. Someone gets made fun of for some stupid thing he/she did. Only rarely is such fun-making productive in the long run. The only profound thing here is that Kansas is an entire state. RVI pointed out that its not just Kansas that we need to be worried about, but that Kansas is an unheard of macrocosmic embodiment of smaller places. The sullen, bitter, and ignorant can be found everywhere. The devaluation of learning by our society as a whole is terrifying. The popular perception that pursuit of higher education is more about avoidance of "the real world" than advancement of ideas is vexing. Mistrust of the contents of any book but the GOOD one is enough to paralyze. But all these persist. However, the conceit of the learned is in part to blame. Should we attempt to thwart this assault on bookishness by the unread mob by calling that same mob ignorant? Does charging the mob with ignorance impel it to seek enlightenment? Are there not more subtle means of convincing this mob that learning has value? I have this theory: critical thinking is the way to go. Teaching critical thinking is the challenge. Providing the "mob" with the tools to learn for themselves, and the tools to separate the wheat from the chaff presented to them by various media outlets is a good place to start. But it's just a theory... degenerate MAC
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