Texas HS school pulls teen mother feature from yearbook

This is old news, because I was asleep at the switch, but it’s a timeless topic, pitting well-meaning students against stuffy administrators. The editors of the Burleson (TX) High School yearbook, The Elk, planned a two-page photo feature on two teen mothers at the school, to show how they overcame the difficulties keeping their children created. The deadline for the book was Saturday. When the editors presented the book proofs to the principal, he vetoed the pregnancy spread, saying it “glamorized” teenage sex and contradicted the district’s abstinence-only sex-education curriculum. The editors took the matter up the chain of command, but heard the same response: no features on teen mothers. According to the Dallas Star-Telegram, yearbook editor Megan Estes wanted the yearbook to reflect the experiences of the entire student body, not just the jocks and brainiacs. Seniors Brittani Shipman and Robin Robertson agreed to appear in the teen mother feature. “It really hurts [the girls] when they hear people talking about them … These are people with real lives — not just something you gossip about in high school,” Estes said, according to the Student Press Law Center. The yearbook adviser, a former professional newspaper woman, and the staff ...

Thinskinned Kentucky lawmaker Gooch wants to silence editorialists

Well, with a name like Gooch, who can blame him for being touchy? The lawmaker in question is Jim Gooch, a Democrat in the Kentucky House who tried to kill a mine-safety bill in committee last year. Editorial writers and cartoonists had a field day with Gooch, implying he was in cahoots with mine operators. Cartoon by Joel Pett, Lexington Herald-Leader Gooch was not amused, and in this session of the state house, introduced a bill that would reclassify editorial writers and cartoonists as “lobbyists” and not journalists, making it impossible for them to visit the House while in session. This strategy is so wrong from so many aspects that one wonders how any lawmaker could be so dumb. First, keeping journalists out of the House while in session (if it were legal) would not keep them from writing about the sessions. So Gooch’s stupidity could still be publicly aired. Second, editorial writers and cartoonists are not lobbyists by any stretch of the imagination — who are they lobbying for? The readers, aka the voting public? I would say that’s a good thing, not a bad one. Gooch told the Lexington Herald-Leader that editorialists were essentially lobbying for the mine-safety ...

ABC columnist questions role of religion in presidential race

It’s not news that religion and politics have gotten mixed up with each other in the USA. It is remarkable, however, for someone to use his soapbox at a US mass-media website to question the advisability of mixing the two. Commentator John Allen Paulos, an author and professor of mathematics at Temple University, imagines a panel pinning the candidates down on their views of God, religious tolerance, predestination, evolution and several other related topics. In real life, no one would ask these questions, and if they did, the candidates would dodge giving honest answers. Even Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney, who wear their religions on their sleeves, are political enough to avoid saying too much in the middle of a tight race. Read Paulos’ column, then check the comments. They range from the sympathetic to the outraged. Some folks are so touchy about religion that they apparently have missed his message. Once upon a time, I would have agreed with Paulos wholeheartedly. Now I’m not so sure. We had a president not too long ago who sought advice from the stars (aka astrology) and one now who apparently believes his ascendancy to the White House was a gift from God. ...

In Ireland and the UK, ‘Obi-Wan’ is not a nice man 5

In the interests of free expression and free press, I am jumping on the bandwagon to publicize the quashing of a fellow blogger’s criticism of a homeopathic “doctor,” Joseph Chikelue Obi. Le Canard Noir, a skeptic who runs the Quackometer blog, wrote a couple of articles about Obi, a self-styled expert in all things medical, in which the Black Duck implies that Obi is full of shit. Obi then promptly threatened the blogger with a libel suit, and the blogger’s web host forced Le Canard Noir to pull the offending posts. Libel laws there favor the complainant, not the defendant, so a libel suit would have expensive and perhaps damaging to the blogger and the web host. Fellow bloggers are coming to Le Canard’s assistance and reprinting his articles on their sites, partly to stick it to Obi but mostly to print the truth. So-called medical practitioners like Obi are frauds trying to hide their medical quackery (and thriving businesses) behind the screen of libel laws. So, these posts may seem like they are out of context here, but I am trying to serve the higher good by reprinting them verbatim. ============== Right Royal College of Pompous Quackery – Dublin, ...

Physics in the strangest places …

Caption: Áurea (Fernanda Torres) talks to Luiz (Enrique Diaz) in Casa de areia. On our day off Monday, I ended up watching TV in the afternoon and stumbled upon a Brazilian movie on Starz, Casa de areia (House of Sand), that to my surprise had references to Einstein’s relativity theory in it. The plot is minimal. The movie’s effect comes from the acting and the ironic turns in its main characters’ lives. Áurea is a young, city-bred woman whose husband has the crackbrained idea of moving to a godforsaken plot of land on Brazil’s arid northeast (O Nordeste). Her mother, Dona Maria, accompanies them. The husband dies before the birth of Áurea’s only child, Maria, leaving the women essentially stranded in the middle of nowhere. Áurea wants to leave in the worst way, while Dona Maria would prefer to stay. There are no men to tell her what to do, Dona Maria says. After nearly a decade stuck in O Nordeste, Áurea arranges to leave with a wandering peddler who sells salt and other sundries to the few people living in the region. But the peddler dies en route to the women’s house. Áurea and their neighbor, a reserved man ...
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