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kwassa's Journal - Archives
Posted by kwassa in Religion/Theology
Sat Jun 18th 2011, 05:38 PM
Speaking of historical revisionism.

Atheism, as traditionally understood, as most people understand, and as it is defined in any dictionary.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/ath...

a·the·ism
   
–noun
1. the doctrine or belief that there is no god.
2. disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings.
Origin:
1580–90; < Greek áthe ( os ) godless + -ism

—Related forms
an·ti·a·the·ism, adjective, noun
pro·a·the·ism, noun
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Posted by kwassa in Religion/Theology
Tue Jun 07th 2011, 11:18 PM
You, like many, blame religion for cultural norms, when in fact culture creates interpretive norms of religious texts.

Many of the critiques of Christianity are completely unhistorical. Suppression of women and gays was not created by religion, such cultural norms, repulsive as they might be, were the norm in their eras and influenced the interpretation of religious texts. You claim it as the source when there is no proof that it is the source of oppression; it is merely cited selectively by oppressive people.

Sexism and homophobia are rife in cultures around the world, among believers in different religions, and have been for thousands of years. The liberation of both women and gays is a recent historical phenomenon. Gay marriage is a completely new idea.

Next weekend I am going to a celebration of a year and a half anniversary of a single-sex marriage. We went to the original wedding reception; the wedding itself was too far away to attend. One of the brides is the cousin to my wife.

I am a white heterosexual male, which you deem as a privileged position. My wife and daughter are African-American. I have a number of gay friends, most of whom are Episcopal clergy. The assistant rector of my church, a friend, was married in a same-sex marriage by the Bishop of Washington on the grounds of National Cathedral.

The restrictions on abortion and gay marriage are cultural, not religious, otherwise there would not be religious supporters of choice and same-sex marriage.
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Posted by kwassa in Religion/Theology
Wed Jun 01st 2011, 10:18 PM
My point is about behavior, not belief, or lack thereof.

I actually find it quite amusing that some who claim most stridently a lack of belief behave like the most ardent believers of all.
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Posted by kwassa in Latest Breaking News
Sun May 22nd 2011, 01:35 AM
It is hard to measure merit in teaching accurately. Many of the assessments of teacher performance are either very subjective, or no measures currently exist to measure them at all, outside of administrator observations.

Teachers rightly fear that they will be held accountable for factors over which they have no control, such as lack of parental support for education in the home, and the impact of poverty and instability in the student's life. Any teacher has a student for only a small part of the day, relative to the parent's potential time with the child. The responsibility for overseeing the total education of the child lies with the parents. Teachers assist in that, but they can never take over that responsibility.

A teacher may have a great impact on the student's life, but that influence may not be seen for a long time after the student leaves that particular teacher, and wouldn't show up in any measure.

The false reform movement in education now is the attempt to apply business models to a non-business environment. Businesses can fire workers for not performing; a teacher can't fire a student for the same thing, and therefore doesn't have the type of control over the worker output that a business would. Most of the money in the so-called reform movement comes from rich business owners such as Bill Gates and Eli Broad, who mistakenly believe that a business model can be used.

What will finally make a difference is identifying and utilizing best practices in teaching, and that knowledge comes from educators, the vast majority who are completely excluded from this "reform" movement. I would point out that the reformers themselves have no actual educational ideas about HOW to reform education; they simply want to make the teachers figure that out for them by offering them higher pay for doing so. Figuring out how to do it in a high-poverty environment on a cost-acceptable basis has defied almost everyone.
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Posted by kwassa in General Discussion
Fri Mar 04th 2011, 09:07 PM

They are really private educational contractors, as this writer points out.

http://gothamschools.org/2010/03/26/are-ch... /


The primary argument that charter schools are public schools is that they are paid for out of government funds. While they do get most of their budgets from tax dollars, that is not enough to render them public schools. There are many other organizations that pay for operations with public funds but are still private organizations. Defense contractors receive enormous sums of money from the government to provide design and manufacturing of weapons systems, but they remain private corporations. Blackwater provided labor, training and services to the Department of Defense and the State Department, but it remained a private organization.

If a construction firm is hired by a school district to build a school, it remains a private firm. If a new firm is formed to bid for a school construction job, and wins the project, it still remains a private firm. Even if that firm does such a good job that it wins future bids and does all the district’s construction work, it remains a private firm.

Frankly, I’ve not heard any other arguments that charter schools are public schools. Meanwhile, there are lots of ways in which they most definitely are not public schools

.................

Charter school principals cannot be removed by elected officials. Their board members are not subject to removal by public elections. The executives of charter management organizations are not accountable to the government for their jobs.

More important, however, is the difference in moral mission. It is the responsibility of the public schools to educate every child who shows up. All children who live in a school district have a right to attend a district school. Furthermore, no public school can in good conscience “counsel out” a student. Private schools are well known to engage the practice of “counseling out” when a student does not seem to fit in or is too disruptive or the school believes that it cannot well meet that student’s needs. As the student has the public schools to fall back on, the moral import of this practice is surely debatable. But the public schools must find another placement for students whose needs they cannot meet, because they – in the form of the district – have a moral and a legal obligation to educate every child that shows up.

Charter schools do not have that obligation, either legally or morally. To the extent that many charter schools are oversubscribed, it would be difficult or impossible for them to do so. While the public schools have to cram in more students – hopefully, eventually, leading to more classrooms and even schools – charter schools only have to serve as many students as they specify. Charter schools are free to say that they do not offer support services for English language learners or autistic children, but the public schools must provide schooling for every child. Charter schools are free to “counsel out” students.

Charter school employees do not work for the government; they are not public employees. While the government has contracted with charter schools to provide a service, they do not act as the government when the provide it. Their operations are not subject to democratic or public oversight; rather their contracts (i.e. their charters) come up for review for possible extension periodically.

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Posted by kwassa in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Sat Jul 24th 2010, 11:39 PM
That is how it works in the rest of the world. Someone doesn't do their job, they are fired.

A student can't be fired, though, but the teacher can get blamed for the student who doesn't care about their grade. If the student doesn't care, and the parents don't care, what recourse does the teacher have?

A teacher who is but a small influence in the totality of the student's life. In the new educational reform movement, no mention is made of the responsibility of the parents of the student. Or of the effects of poverty. Or of the student themselves for their own responsibility in their own education.

In the new educational mythology, all that is required is that a teacher have high expectations for each and every student.

It is akin to a religious belief, as there is little objective evidence that the high expectations belief actually works. Nonetheless, it is taking over education. There is no evidence that charter schools do a better job than public schools, (they actually do worse) yet it is a key reform initiative in Race to the Top.

and the identified bad guy is the teacher, who is to blame for circumstances they can't and never will control.

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Posted by kwassa in Religion/Theology
Thu Jun 10th 2010, 02:14 PM
but that is just you.

This is a good article on the religious left.

"The Religious Left
It is fruitful and has multiplied."

By Steven Waldman

http://www.slate.com/id/2139365

Posted Wednesday, April 5, 2006, at 12:41 PM ET

"Lo and behold, there is a religious left. The Catholic Church is helping to lead the fight against immigration restrictions. A week doesn't seem to pass without some group convening a conference on religion and liberalism. Last year, Rev. Jim Wallis' progressive manifesto, God's Politics, became a best seller; now Jimmy Carter's book attacking the religious right is on the list. "

(jump)

"Pious peaceniks: This group is composed of white liberal Protestants, Catholics, Reform Jews, and an occasional Buddhist. Its members are carrying on the spirit of the anti-war movement of the 1960s and 1970s and the nuclear freeze movement of the 1980s. They have mobilized in opposition to the Iraq war and have a strong interest in environmentalism and antagonism toward corporate America. Exemplars are Cindy Sheehan, the National Council of Churches, the Catholic Church, Faithful America, and the Christian peacemakers who camped out in Iraq as human shields. Some of the hostages who were recently rescued in Iraq were also part of this group.

Along with Bible-thumping liberals, the peaceniks joined and helped lead the effort to derail strict immigration reform. Unlike the Bible-thumpers, they tend to align almost down the line with secular liberals. They were, for instance, suspicious of Clinton's New Democrat philosophy, especially its emphasis on welfare reform and crime fighting, which they thought demonized the poor and minorities. And they tend to be pro-choice or silent on abortion."

Here is an example of activism.

"U.S. religious left wades into healthcare fight"

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE5794...

There are religious left organizations like the Network of Spiritual Progressives, holding a conference in Washington this week.

read the site and see what they stand for.

http://www.spiritualprogressives.org /

Conference focus.
"Creating "The Caring Society": A Progressive Alternative to Tea Party Extremism and Corporate Domination of American Politics and Culture"

and as I am Episcopalian, I can direct you to the huge liberal vs. conservative fight within our church through some excellent liberal discussion blogs. The liberals have already won, the conservatives don't know it, and it concerns the entire Anglican Communion, not just the US. The subject of the fight is the ordination of gays as bishops within the denomination, and we are the first major mainline denomination to do so, and there is a lot of fallout happening from this principled stand.

These blogs would be Father Jake Stops the World, Thinking Anglican, Preludium, and some others if you have any interest, and I doubt that you do.

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Posted by kwassa in Latest Breaking News
Mon Mar 15th 2010, 10:17 PM
and your argument wanders all over the place and is hard to respond to.

I'll make my points as simple and concise as possible:

1) Not all charter schools are run the same way, or with the same standards, therefore most of your comments about them are off the mark. Different states do them differently.

2) There is no evidence, or should I say, NO EVIDENCE, that charter schools do a better job of educating students. That is the real issue. This brings up the wisdom of throwing so much money at them.

3) Obama's recent support for the mass firing of teachers in Central Falls, Rhode Island has alienated me and many other teachers. The entire concept of doing this shows how fundamentally stupid much of this so-called reform effort is. This concept comes from those who blame the teachers for all the ills, of course.

4) related to that, the belief underlying this is that teachers should through high expectations and best practices should be able to overcome in a short time each day the forces of poverty and/or a bad home life without parental support for education. This is magical thinking, of course.


Obama's policy is run by ideologues without facts, only beliefs.

edit to add:

5) I work for a great public school system. There are many great public school systems, and they are all in relatively affluent areas, of course. Public school education is not broken; it is broken in poor areas. It is a difficult problem to solve, but kicking the teachers won't help. What teacher in their right mind would head to Central Falls, knowing that they will be next on the chopping block?
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Posted by kwassa in The DU Lounge
Thu Jan 21st 2010, 12:34 PM
got good medical attention, had a stent placed in a heart artery through a catheter, and am now recuperating at home.

I am looking for some DU feedback from members here who have also had heart attacks, and maybe situations like mine.

Up to now I thought I was in great health. I am a 57 year-old male, in good shape, very active, and have none of the major risk factors involved in heart disease. No one else in my extended family has any history of heart problems. My parent's generation, on both sides, are in their mid-to-late '80s and every last one of them is alive and well. I have longevity on both sides. My diet is 95% very healthy, and I am neither overweight or a smoker. I also had a major cardiac work-up 18 months that said I was in great shape. I do have slightly elevated cholesterol levels, but have been taking a statin for 3 years and had dropped those numbers.

So, that is Mystery #1. Why do I have this?

Mystery #2, the symptoms.

This all started as a pain under my left shoulder blade. I have had problems with muscle spasms in that area for 25 years, and had remedied them through light weight training. I hadn't been doing that lately, and blamed myself. Still, it was very painful. I had a series of attacks over five days, most only in the morning at breakfast time. In the more severe ones I felt other pains, some slight pain in the chest muscles and a sharp pain in the back of my throat. I called my doctor on the third day, he couldn't see me, but called in prescriptions for a muscle relaxer and an anti-inflammatory to my local pharmacy. That was Friday morning. These didn't work, but I didn't have a really severe attack until Sunday breakfast, when it was time to peel me off the ceiling. I had my wife take me to the ER of the local hospital, where after some tests they told me that I had a myocardial infarction, and took care of me.

So, my questions. I am now doing extensive research on these issues, and everything about my situation seems atypical.

Is it? Has anyone here had a similar situation or symptoms?

What type of therapy did you do to recover from this?

Do you know of any good web sites with particularly good information about heart attack recovery?

and any other advice you could offer on this subject would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance!

kwassa
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Posted by kwassa in Religion/Theology
Thu Oct 22nd 2009, 10:30 PM
This is pretty much what you've been arguing

http://www.ziztur.com/2009/08/fallacious-n...

Arguer-A: No atheist would murder people.
Arguer-B: But atheist communists murdered 100 million people.
Arguer-A: Those people weren’t true atheists. True atheists would never murder 100 million people.
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Posted by kwassa in Editorials & Other Articles
Thu Feb 19th 2009, 11:55 AM
Your test ignores history.

Historically, in racist cartoons and depictions, black people have been compared to monkeys. It is a sore point among African-Americans who are very aware of that use of this derogatory symbol. Calling a white person a monkey carries no such historical meaning or personal impact, because there is no real history of such depictions.

The meaning of this cartoon is DIFFERENT to you and to a black person, because you don't have the same history. To you there is no racism, because the symbol of the monkey is not indicative of anything to you. You simply judge it from your personal vantage point, which is fine, for you.

But it isn't political correctness, it is real offense. Whether the cartoonist intended this, or is just ignorant of the meaning of a chimp as a symbol, I don't know, I suspect the latter. But from his other work, he doesn't shy away from being offensive, particularly in his depiction of Muslims, as shown in the other cartoons posted in this thread.
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Posted by kwassa in Latest Breaking News
Fri Jan 30th 2009, 12:46 PM
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/29/us/polit...

Mr. Obama said in a campaign speech last June, “If you get a federal grant, you can’t use that grant money to proselytize to the people you help and you can’t discriminate against them — or against the people you hire — on the basis of their religion.”



This has been standard procedure forever in federal dealing with religious charities.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/29/opinion/...

Politicians from both parties have come to realize that faith-based programs are indispensable even if they are not miraculous. America’s churches, synagogues, mosques and other congregations supply dozens of major social services — like day care, homeless shelters and anti-violence programs — worth billions of dollars each year, as Ram Cnaan, a professor of social work at the University of Pennsylvania, has proved in several studies. Dr. Cnaan is not even counting the work done by inner-city religious schools and other local faith-based programs. From coast to coast, the primary beneficiaries of these services are low-income children and families who are not otherwise affiliated with the religious nonprofit organizations that serve them.

The Constitution is no longer a potential obstacle to a successful faith-based initiative in the White House. In several cases decided since 2001, the Supreme Court has clarified that even “pervasively sectarian” religious nonprofit organizations remain tax-exempt and can receive government social service grants on the same basis as secular nonprofit organizations. Their eligibility is constitutionally secure so long as they do not proselytize or engage in sectarian instruction; serve all persons without regard to religion; follow applicable federal anti-discrimination laws; and use public monies only to serve grant-specified secular purposes.

1 2
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Posted by kwassa in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Wed Jan 21st 2009, 09:31 PM
Good taste is my taste, and the sooner you understand that, the happier you will be.

Basically, people are arguing over the inarguable; what makes a good-looking dress. Nobody will agree, but everyone will insist their taste is correct. She gets good reviews from the fashion press, just not here on DU.

and it is, at it's most basic level, unwarranted criticism of Michelle Obama over each individuals subjective taste.
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Posted by kwassa in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Fri Jan 09th 2009, 03:50 PM
I'm fully in favor of gay marriage, but it is a historically new social concept that really hasn't existed in western society before. Like it or not, it is a new social paradigm for many people to grasp, that marriage is something different than what it has been considered for at least the past thousand years or so. The gay community has embraced and understood this concept, but the majority of the American public has not, at least judging by public opinion polls. I think most people that are not gay or have close contact with gay people even think about it at all, and when it is presented to them as an abstract question out of context reflexively respond in the negative. To them, the definition of marriage is what it has been for so long, and why should it be anything else?
I really think that most who voted for Prop 8 never thought of it as the civil rights issue that it is. This simply demonstrates the need for education on the subject.

Prop 8 was one type of poll, but the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life does the best national polls that I know of on the subject.

http://pewforum.org/docs/index.php?DocID=2...

In the time since the Massachusetts high court declared the state’s ban on gay marriage unconstitutional in 2003, public opinion on the issue has remained relatively stable. Indeed, majorities of Americans have consistently opposed legalizing same-sex marriage – from 53% opposed in a summer 2003 survey conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life and the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, to 55% opposed in an August 2007 Pew survey. The 2007 poll found 36% of the public in favor of allowing gay and lesbian couples to wed, about the same as in 2003. (See An Overview of the Same-Sex Marriage Debate.)

As with many other social issues, opinions about same-sex marriage are closely linked with partisanship, ideology and religion. For instance, opposition to gay marriage is lowest among self-described liberal Democrats (26%) and highest among conservative Republicans (83%), with other ideological and partisan groups falling in between. Those who identify themselves as independents are roughly divided on the issue, with 49% opposed to same-sex marriage and 41% in favor of it.

Religion also plays an important role in determining the public’s views on the issue. Those who attend worship services once a week or more are much more likely to oppose same-sex marriage (73%) than those who attend less often (43% opposed). Opinion also varies quite dramatically across religions. About eight-in-ten evangelicals (81% of white evangelicals and 79% of black evangelicals) oppose gay marriage, while Catholics and mainline Protestants are much more divided on the issue. Indeed, the proportion of white, non-Hispanic Catholics and white mainline Protestants who oppose gay marriage (49% and 47%, respectively) is significantly smaller than among the population as a whole (55%). Hispanic Catholics’ opposition to gay marriage is similar – at 52%
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Posted by kwassa in African-American Issues Group
Fri Dec 12th 2008, 11:33 PM
This does not mean that they necessarily have any knowledge or sensitivity to the oppression of others. Although I think many gays are sympathetic and supportive of black civil rights, I find that many do so in the abstract, as most gays and most blacks are socially segregated from one another. Because of that segregation, each group reflects the viewpoint of it's community and culture, and each group doesn't particularly know the other. Of course there are exceptions to this, I'm speaking in broad generalities.

I think the cause of gay marriage can be sold to at least a majority of African-Americans if presented that separate is not equal, a principle they fully understand. I don't think there has been any attempt to do that yet, and I hope to see that, soon.

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