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[ 20050327 ]

What I Said Then

Three Easters ago, that is.

Jay Manifold [6:35 AM]

[ 20050326 ]

The Matter With Kansas (II) - Where I Stand

As noted previously, I want to get this out of the way. I will have other opinions to pass along in this series, but they will relate to individual incidents that occurred during the events I'll be describing. This post is more for general background.

Be forewarned that I represent an intersection of sets which is popularly supposed not to exist. Well, it has at least one member. It may have many others; I don't know, and although it would be nice to meet a few, ultimately I don't care. I'm sure there's a famous quote out there about how the number of adherents a position has having nothing to do with its validity. Consider it invoked.

Consider something else invoked too: if you reproduce the list below, do so in full. Or I'll make you wish you had. Misrepresentation of my arguments on this point is something I intend to take very seriously indeed, should anyone be foolish enough to selectively quote the following.

If you are an antievolutionist ...

If you believe the Kansas science education standards should be left as is ...

Assuming I have any readers left at this point, the above will have, I hope, made my positions clear. I believe that I am required to respect the institutions that have uncovered and organized our knowledge of the past (and yielded, as linked above, antibiotics and vaccines, among other things). But I cannot and ought not force anyone else to show the same respect, and I do not believe that any supposed authority should attempt to do so. A decent society is a voluntaristic one; my country has been the greatest exemplar of such decency; and I'd just as soon have the part of that country where I live lead the way.

Jay Manifold [9:09 PM]

[ 20050322 ]

The Matter With Kansas (I) - Introduction

For the next few weeks, or even months, I will be devoting much of this space to the ongoing controversy over science education in Kansas. I have attended several relevant events over the past year or more at which I have taken extensive notes that have never been reduced to blog posts -- for one event I did manage to blog, see Kansas Science Standards 2004.

My decision to do so is motivated by a desire to add value during a time when it has become difficult -- for a variety of reasons, some logistical, some involving competing emotional/recreational needs -- for me to maintain Arcturus at the level where I would prefer to see it. I don't live in Kansas (though I do pay plenty of taxes there), and the controversy is not my favorite subject, but it and many of its principal players have become familiar to me, and I believe my observations from the events I have attended are sufficiently unique to be worth passing along. And in many cases, they are simply observations, not opinions, but not likely to be encountered elsewhere. This can provide a focus for my blogging and thereby increase the likelihood that the material here will be worth reading.

Notwithstanding the conceptual nature of the above, I have some quite definite ideas about who is right (and wrong) in the dispute, and what they are right and wrong about. Few if any of the participants are individually fully in agreement with me. The political process may nonetheless yield a result which pleases no one fully but is very nearly the best possible outcome for the larger society of the state immediately to my west. Or, again, it may yield something monumentally silly; while I believe that, in general, the West North Central census region of the United States is arguably the most successful area of the most successful polity in human history, I know perfectly well that it is not, and never will be, a utopia.

If the participants in the dispute don't agree with me, not much of my readership will, either. Prepare to be occasionally annoyed (while, of course, still finding it worthwhile to return, I hope). I have, perhaps presciently, never maintained a comment feature on this blog, so if you need to pass anything along, you'll have to do it the relatively hard way, by hitting the feedback link at the top of the page and composing an e-mail, which unless you've already e-mailed me about something else before will merely generate a bounce message from Spam Arrest that forces you to enter a confirmation code. From then on, though, you'll be able to send e-mails to me unhindered.

Next: getting my background opinions out of the way.

Jay Manifold [6:10 AM]

[ 20050314 ]

He Knew

This search is racking up 1,540 hits at the moment, for good reason. So kick back, graze through a few of these, and have a listen to this.

Jay Manifold [5:01 PM]

[ 20050310 ]

"Meteorite Impacts and Extinctions" Lecture Tonight

Something I should have posted a few days ago ... this lecture promises to be excellent. I suspect it will be quite well attended and plan to be there by 7 PM.

Jay Manifold [7:33 AM]

[ 20050307 ]

Partial Explanation of Free Ice Cream Shortage

Long work hours.

It's not a full explanation mainly because this isn't a day-in-the-life blog; I'm trying to add value here, and it is, to be polite, unclear that turning this thing into an online diary would be of much value to anyone.

Having said that, I will share a few recent developments:

  1. I have a new telescope, actually purchased used at well under half list price from a fellow ASKC member. I first looked through it during a school science night last Thursday at which several of us volunteered.

  2. These events, by the way, seem to be sweeping the KC metro area; there has been one every couple of weeks somewhere during this school year. I don't know whether they're a new phenomenon or the ASKC is just now getting involved in them. The breadth of activities is tremendous -- astronomy to zoology and everything in between -- and the students and parents are wonderfully enthusiastic and grateful to the presenters. In this instance, notwithstanding that it was held at Barstow, few of the parents seemed to be familiar with telescopes, and they can certainly afford them! We wowed 'em with Saturn and M42.

  3. Within six hours of making the purchase mentioned above, I was setting the 'scope up (along with my main instrument) on the 10-acre property of a friend who lives 8 miles south of Louisburg, KS, or a bit over 40 miles south-southwest of downtown Kansas City, MO. It was an unseasonably warm and almost completely clear night, and I treated the other guests to an Iridium flare (all praise to Heavens Above for their excellent predictions) and a tour of the winter sky.

  4. There was also another gorgeous Friday night at Powell Observatory on the 25th of February, at which I used the main 'scope to spot 6 members of the Trapezium (there being more than the usual 4 stars visible in a sufficiently large telescope), among other things. I also discovered that it's very, very hard to step away from the eyepiece after viewing Saturn at 290x in a 30" telescope. I could easily make out Encke's Division and the Crepe Ring, and spotted the moon Iapetus for the first time. Couldn't quite see that monolith, though ...

  5. Finally, I have at last retired my venerable Odyssey I (mine's blue instead of red/black), which is now resting comfortably in a storage shed on the property mentioned above.

Jay Manifold [8:50 PM]

A Voyage To Arcturus on DVD!

No, it's not some kind of video rendition of the posts listed under "Important Stuff" in the left sidebar (which you should, however, read at your earliest convenience, if you haven't already). Further proof that I have the coolest readers in the world is provided by "TJIC," who besides having, whaddaya know, a blog, found this:

In 1970 an independent 35mm feature film was made of A VOYAGE TO ARCTURUS. Distributed by Brandon Films on 16mm (before videotape was popular) as part of their underground film series, the film is available for the first time in 33 years in this expanded DVD version.

TJIC also asks that I link back to him at technicalvideorental.com. Done!

Jay Manifold [8:49 PM]

[ 20050302 ]

Almost Forgot

Happy Texas Independence Day!

Jay Manifold [10:30 PM]