Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for December 25th, 2019

An even better explanation of how 1+2+3+4+… = -1/12

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Written by LeisureGuy

25 December 2019 at 10:32 am

Posted in Math, Video

White Evangelicals Are Terrified That Liberals Want to Extinguish Their Rights

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Kevin Drum blogs at Mother Jones:

As we all know, white evangelicals are convinced that their religious liberties are under attack from liberals and atheists. But are they really? Political scientists Ryan Burge and Paul Djupe looked at survey data to find out:

[Among] white evangelical Protestants, we found that 60 percent believed that atheists would not allow them First Amendment rights and liberties. More specifically, we asked whether they believed atheists would prevent them from being able to “hold rallies, teach, speak freely, and run for public office.” Similarly, 58 percent believed “Democrats in Congress” would not allow them to exercise these liberties if they were in power.

Is this true? The authors go to a second survey to find out, but it has different questions and different groups of respondents and doesn’t really address the question. Nonetheless they try to tease out an answer, and unsurprisingly the answer is no. Most atheists and Democrats are pretty tolerant of basic religious liberties even if they really, really hate evangelicals. Conversely, evangelicals who hate atheists are pretty intolerant of their religious liberties:

Conservative Christians believe their rights are in peril partly because that’s what they’re hearing, quite explicitly, from conservative media, religious elites, partisan commentators and some politicians, including the president. The survey evidence suggests another reason, too. Their fear comes from an inverted golden rule: Expect from others what you would do unto them. White evangelical Protestants express low levels of tolerance for atheists, which leads them to expect intolerance from atheists in return. That perception surely bolsters their support for Trump. They believe their freedom depends on keeping Trump and his party in power.

I’d add to this that it’s all unfolding against a background in which the biggest real-world fights are over abortion and contraceptives and cake decorators. Conservative Christians believe that their freedom to refuse these services is also a basic religious liberty, and there’s no question that liberals are pretty determined to take those particular liberties away. Given that, it’s a short step to believe that liberals might someday decide to remove their rights to “hold rallies, teach, speak freely, and run for public office.”

In any case, this is something I’ve written about occasionally: it’s impossible to understand evangelicals and their support for Donald Trump without first understanding just how frightened they are of the steady liberal march toward secular hegemony. They consider the aughts and teens to have been a nearly complete disaster, capped by the 2015 Supreme Court ruling forcing states to recognize gay marriage. Many prominent evangelical leaders literally gave up after that, and the ones that didn’t had little hope for the future.

Then, suddenly, Donald Trump showed up and promised them everything they wanted. In short order he became their Joan of Arc, rallying them back to a fight he assured them they could win as long as he was on their side. And rhetorically, at least, he delivered. The fight was back on.

It’s not clear to me that there’s much we can do about this. We can’t do anything about the “inverted golden rule,” and we’re certainly not going to stop fighting for gay rights or reproductive rights. That leaves only a more concerted effort to assure evangelicals that they have nothing to fear regarding things like teaching, speaking, and holding rallies. And even that’s a tough nut when evangelicals can look to other countries and see that, in fact, those rights have occasionally been circumscribed to some degree. This may seem like a pretty small and distant issue, but I assure you that Fox News and talk radio report on every single example no matter how small, and they keep it front and center forever and ever.

Understanding your opponents is usually useful because it provides some guidance about how best to respond. In this case I’m not sure it does, but . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 December 2019 at 7:57 am

Rhode Island students sue for the right to learn civics

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It has come to this. Stacy Teicher Khadaroo reports in the Christian Science Monitor:

Last Thursday, the same morning that Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that the U.S. House of Representatives would draft articles of impeachment, a federal judge began considering another matter with deep implications for the democracy: whether students have a constitutional right to an adequate public education to prepare them for civic life.

As lawyers argued over moving forward to trial, dozens of teenagers crammed the gallery of the U.S. District Court here, with lead plaintiff Aleita Cook, a recent graduate of a Providence high school, observing from one of the armchairs normally reserved for a jury.

Fourteen named plaintiffs – students and parents – filed the class-action lawsuit, Cook (A.C.) v. Raimondo, against Gov. Gina Raimondo and other state officials last year. It argues that Rhode Island violates students’ constitutional rights by leaving many of them without key skills and knowledge to exercise such basic civic responsibilities as voting or jury duty.

If they win, the case could go down in history as the Brown v. Board of Education for their generation.

It goes to the heart of the relationship between education and the success of the American experiment. Like other fights over educational fairness, the plaintiffs root it in the struggle for civil rights and the nation’s long reach toward ideals of equal opportunity and participatory democracy.

“What I’ve learned as far as civics is, I guess kind of the presidents,” Ms. Cook says after the hearing. “I didn’t learn my voting rights through school,” she says. Nor was she taught about the balancing roles of the three branches of government.

On her own time, she says found her way to a youth activist group that has helped fill in some holes in her civics education. Now that she’s 18, she’s excited to be able to vote. But if students want to learn about civics in school, “it’s more in an AP [Advanced Placement] course rather than a required class,” she says.

Real life as civics lesson

Among the inadequacies noted in the legal complaint are that many immigrant students here are not taught English well enough to qualify to serve on juries once they become adults, and that low-income schools lack not only civics education, but also activities such as debate and student newspaper, the types of training grounds that wealthier districts typically offer. In Providence, schools were recently taken over by the state.

Whether the lawsuit succeeds or fails, for the youths involved, working with lawyers to build a case has already been the civics lesson of a lifetime.

“You’re really the national test case,” Michael Rebell, lead counsel and an education equity advocate at Teachers College, Columbia University, tells the students. “If we can win this, then all kids throughout the United States will have a federal constitutional right.”

Many states have redistributed education dollars in response to state-level court battles seeking justice for students in poor districts. Traditionally, education is a matter of state and local control, so it’s a big hurdle to persuade a federal judge to move forward.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is considering similar questions in a lawsuit by Detroit students against Michigan officials for what they argue is a constitutional right to literacy.

The current case could boil down to how Judge William Smith interprets the 1973 Supreme Court opinion in San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez. The 5-4 decision left the funding equity matter in the state’s hands and noted that the U.S. Constitution doesn’t mention education specifically.

Mr. Rebell told the judge Thursday that Rodriguez left an opening for future cases to show a link between an inadequate education and the ability to exercise constitutional rights.

Anthony Cottone, representing Rhode Island education officials, countered that Rodriguez closed the door on federal involvement. There is “no fundamental right to education under the Constitution,” he said.

Rather, Mr. Cottone argued, it is up to local school districts and the state legislature to determine educational standards and funding.

Judge Smith peppered both lawyers with questions. He brought up that only 14% of students in the U.S. were found to be top performers in reading in a recent comparison, the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA). The remaining 86% couldn’t distinguish between fact and opinion in complex texts, he said, asking Mr. Cottone whether that might raise reasonable concerns about the future of the democracy.

Such concerns are valid, Mr. Cottone said, but federal litigation isn’t the solution.

(Neither of them mentioned that U.S. students outperformed the average of 9.9% of students globally who had mastered those complex reading skills. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development administers the PISA in 79 countries.)

One reason Rhode Island community groups have helped bring the federal lawsuit is that two lawsuits in state court to establish a state constitutional right to education have failed.

Plaintiff June, a third-grader with blond hair in a loose ponytail, sat in the jury box to observe with her mother, Moira Hinderer, and Ms. Cook. But the legal volleys couldn’t compete with her penchant for drawing, and she frequently ducked down to pluck colored pencils out of a purple box in her backpack.

“I have the privilege to have a job where I can take a half day off to take her to court and have a discussion about what a court is,” Ms. Hinderer says. “For a lot of families that’s just not reality. So the school needs to be providing an equitable experience where kids get what they need … to know how you participate in a democracy.”

For many of the urban teens attending the hearing in the statue-flanked limestone Federal Building downtown, it was their first visit to a courthouse.

“The experience was really amazing,” says Jayson Rodriguez, a junior at the Met High School. It “pushed forward my desire to pursue the path of being a lawyer and to eventually understand the vernacular that these people are using,” he says during a pizza lunch with other youth organizers at the office of the Rhode Island Center for Justice, whose executive director, Jennifer Wood, is co-counsel for the plaintiffs.

Symone Burrell found her first court hearing exciting but frustrating. “It was really concerning to hear [the state’s lawyers] just keep stating the point that education was not a right. They just kept repeating it and repeating it,” says the community college student who is active with ARISE, a group that helps Southeast Asian youths. “It’s kind of scary that the people who are running our education think that way.”

It could take several years for potential appeals to play out, if Judge Smith allows a trial to go forward. . .

Continue reading. There’s more.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 December 2019 at 7:38 am

A petite Christmas shave

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Notice how global warming has threatened the little bear cub in the Klar Seifen logo…

Soon we shall leave for Christmas on Salt Spring Island, but first things first, and each day one of my first things is the shave — a fine way to start the day on a pleasant note. My pre-Vulfix Wee Scot produced an abundance of superb lather from the little Klar Seifen tub of shaving soap, and RazoRock’s Lupo did a very nice job indeed. This razor has a very nice handle along with good feel and performance.

Three passes to smoothness, then a splash of Klar Seifen aftershave (the only aftershave that has garnered a compliment from someone in passing), and Christmas day begins.

Best wishes to you and your family and friends for a fine holiday season and for a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 December 2019 at 7:27 am

Posted in Shaving

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