Why Texas Matters

I’ve railed before against the misguided Texas State Board of Education and its agenda driven rewrite of the state’s science curricula.  And my concern is not only with the students of Texas, but for us all.  Because of the size of the Texas market for school books, publishers will produce and release books adhering to the Texas curricula for the nation as a whole.  That’s why Texas matters.

Not content with just messing with science class, the Texas Board is now futzing with Social Studies.  Students are required to learn about key organizations and individuals of the conservative resurgence of the 1980s and 90s.  These include the Moral Majority and the NRA.  However, requirements to cover Edward Kennedy, Sonya Sotomayor, Thurgood Marshall, and Hillary Clinton were voted down.  Students will also learn there was a factual basis for Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s contention the U.S. government was infiltrated with Communists in the 1950s.  On the plus side, efforts to remove Hip Hop music and the Scopes Monkey Trial failed.  Still, the bottom line is, even if you’re not a science junkie you should be worried about what’s going on down there.

Alley OopIn a possibly related story, a recent poll of Texans showed that 41% of them believe that humans and dinosaurs did not live at the same time.  The remainder were apparently overly influenced by Alley Oop, The Flintstones, the Raquel Welch epic One Million Years BC, or other multimedia documentaries of their youth.

I suppose this means we shouldn’t really be expecting too much from Texas.  Maybe it’s okay that they don’t know so much about science or history.  After all, there’s a lot of brush down there to clear.  And I’m sure Houston can import the necessary rocket scientists from other states.  We just need to figure out how to make sure they don’t drag the rest of us down with them.

Hockey Queens

Classy CanadaI have great respect for women hockey players. Let’s face it, I’m not brave enough not to.  This picture may explain why.  And it brings back a few memories.

I went to school in the great frozen north where hockey wasn’t just a sport, it was a religion.  And it was also the first time I realized that there was even such a thing as women hockey players.  There were a few of them living in my dorm.  And while they were great girls, they were also the toughest women I’ve ever met.  They are better men than your dad will ever be.  So the notion that Women’s Team Canada might celebrate with a cigar and a can of beer is not remotely a stretch.

Congratulations ladies!

Aural Lensing

Not surprisingly, we all hear through our own lens that shapes the conversation.  Our brains try desperately to hear the things we most want to hear as well as the things we are most afraid to hear.   While this is sometimes amusing when applied to the differences in the sexes (especially if it’s about somebody else’s relationship), it’s not remotely a gender based phenomenon.
Said vs. HeardLately, we see this potently in politics where the far left, the far right, and whatever the Tea Partiers are make mountains of the opposition’s molehills.  Often the actual message is lost in the sea of sound bites and inflammatory opinion.

Perhaps Deborah Tannen’s advice for men and women might be applicable in our national discourse as well.  Her essential thesis was that we don’t lack the skills to express ourselves, we lack the skills to listen.  We need to hone our ability to hear the message the speaker intended rather than the message our lens was amplifying.  Much like in personal relationships, we may find that we have more common ground and shared goals than we think.

Dogs of Hell

Hot DogThis is America dammit.  A place where we tackle the big issues and let the small stuff take care of itself.  That’s why in an effort to save the children we are not focusing on trivial stuff like poverty, healthcare, and schools.  Nope, we’re going after the real threat to future generations… hot dogs.

Yes, the venerable all American wiener is at the heart of the country’s greatest threat to kids: obesity nutrition ketchup allergies choking.  Wait… what?

That’s right, mom’s throughout the nation are unwittingly stuffing pork filled corks down their children’s throats, and the Academy of American Pediatrics thinks it’s high time the carnage stops.  Minimally they are calling for warning labels on hot dogs.  But ideally, it would be safer for all if the shape changed.  Dr. Gary Smith, immediate-past chairman of the AAP, was quoted as saying:

“Any food that has a cylindrical or round shape poses a risk, but hot dogs were high on the list of foods that could be redesigned — perhaps the shape, although it would be up to the manufacturers to figure out the specifics.”

I’m thinking a nice square edged bar-shaped dog would be perfect.  Not only would the sharp angles prevent the complete sealing of the unfortunately cylindrically shaped throat.  But square dogs would provide more surface area for condiments and a natural space between the dog and the bun to stuff them so dogs with the works wouldn’t be so top-loaded.  Further, the square edges would grip the buns and prevent that annoying tendency of the dog to squeeze out the top of the roll.  And they wouldn’t roll off the grill or the plate anymore!  They could be stacked like lumber rather than cord wood.  The advantages are apparently endless.

So waste no time.  Write your Congressman to support legislation requiring the redesign of the hot dog.  If Congress won’t listen, then let’s get Glenn Beck behind it.  Nobody can play up a threat to America like he can.  For mercy’s sake, at least join a Facebook group supporting the cause.

After all, it’s for the children.