George Bush Not Embarassing Enough For Texas: Sanctions Creationist “Degree”

18 03 2008

I wouldn’t really have thought you could blame the state of Texas for the intellectual shortcomings of President George W Bush, but they seem to be trying to make that case.

Buried in the middle of a story about attendances at Kentucky’s Creation Museum is something even more shocking – the state of Texas may be about to approve an online master’s degree in science education provided by the Texas-based Institute for Creation Research. The “degree”, which has already been given preliminary approval by a Texas state advisory group, is now awaiting the final go-ahead from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

Needless to say, bona fide scientists are unimpressed with this development. Alfred Gilman, dean of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center told the Dallas Morning News: “The latest round of so-called creation science truly scares me and all of my colleagues here at UT Southwestern Medical Center. Approval of this sort of nonsense as science in Texas will have a significant negative impact on our ability to attract the best minds to the state. How can Texas simultaneously launch a war on cancer and approve educational platforms that submit that the universe is 10,000 years old?”

Indeed, it’s going to become increasingly difficult to be taken seriously as a scientist if you have Texas on your educational resume.

The Texas Education Board is expected to make a decision in late April, 2008.





E-Voting Firm Threatens Researcher: 1984 Arrives 24 Years Late

18 03 2008

Ed Felten, you may remember, is the Princeton professor who accepted the recording industry’s challenge to hack their copy protection scheme, succeeded, and was promptly threatened with a lawsuit for breaking the anti-circumvention clause of the DMCA. The recording industry eventually backed down and effectively established Felten’s bonafides as a public technology expert and freedom of speech advocate.

Felten is also one of the top computer science experts raising security concerns with e-voting machines and has published numerous stories revealing serious problems with the machines in use. So when election officials in New Jersey asked him to run some tests on a Sequoia e-voting machine Sequoia, instead of embracing this test as an opportunity to prove the exceptional security of their systems, instead sent a threatening email to Felten, saying that election officials who sent a machine to Felten would be breaking the state’s terms of service with Sequoia, and that the company has:

“retained counsel to stop any infringement of our intellectual properties, including any non-compliant analysis. We will also take appropriate steps to protect against any publication of Sequoia software, its behavior, reports regarding same or any other infringement of our intellectual property.”

We’re not talking preventing people from making mix-CDs here but the very security and trust in our democratic elections which, some may recall, has of late been suffering a crisis of confidence. For Sequoia, a firm entrusted with our elections, to threaten someone for merely testing its product to make sure it lives up to necessary standards is far from confidence inspiring and should call into question any locality choosing to use Sequoia e-voting machines.

(credit: Techdirt)





Quote Of The Day

18 03 2008

“There is no such source and cause of strife, quarrel, fights, malignant opposition, persecution, and war, and all evil in the state as religion. Let it once enter our civil affairs, our government would soon be destroyed. Let it once enter our common schools, they would be destroyed . . . Those who made our Constitution saw this, and used the most apt and comprehensive language in it to prevent such a catastrophe.”

— Justice H.S. Orton of the Supreme Court of Wisconsin, concurring opinion in Weiss v. the District Board, decided on March 18, 1890, ruling bible readings and devotionals in public schools unconstitutional

Credit: ffrf