Arizona State Senator opposes Common Core, in part, because ALGEBRA!

According to the Arizona Daily Star, the Arizona Senate Education Committee passed a bill that would prohibit the state from implementing the Common Core standards. Quoth the Daily Star (emphasis mine): [Gubernatorial candidate and state Senator Al] Melvin said he understands “some of the reading material is borderline pornographic.” And he said the program uses “fuzzy math,” substituting letters for numbers in some examples. Later on in the same article, Senator Melvin is quoted as expressing concern about the rigor of American academic standards, arguing that “We have cheated several generations of Americans out of a decent education.

My hope in the wake of the Zimmerman verdict

My hope, in the wake of the Zimmerman verdict, is that people don’t interpret the “not guilty” verdict as an exoneration of George Zimmerman’s actions leading up to Trayvon Martin’s death. The jury concluded, perhaps justifiably, that the state failed to prove that Zimmerman committed a crime. But that doesn’t mean that what Zimmerman did that night was honorable or ethical. It wasn’t.

It’s just not a good idea for people to act like police officers when they don’t have the training and authority. It’s dangerous for both you and the people you accost. The dispatcher was absolutely correct to attempt to dissuade Zimmerman from following Martin. I agree with Jay Smooth that “The fundamental danger of an acquittal is not more riots, it is more George Zimmermans.”

I’ve read a number of blog posts and opinion articles in the wake of the verdict, but here are two observations I found especially insightful:

Yay for Minnesota!

Earlier today, Gov. Mark Dayton signed into law a bill to recognize same-sex marriages! The law will take effect in August. Minnesota will become the 12th state to recognize same-sex marriage. Yay for Minnesota! I am very proud of my new state!

A moving speech on marriage equality

I’m a newcomer to Minnesota, having lived here only 9 months. But one thing that has made me proud to be a new Minnesotan is how this state has handled the issue of marriage equality. In the November 2012 election, Minnesotans defeated at the polls a proposed state constitutional amendment banning on same-sex marriage. And yesterday, the Minnesota House of Representatives passed a bill to legalize same-sex marriage. Today, on Minnesota Public Radio, they were replaying speeches made in debate the Minnesota house yesterday during the floor debate before the historic vote.

Policies aren’t the only thing that matter in elections

Much of the talk about “values” and “character” that surrounds elections is phony, not uncommon for campaign rhetoric, but it’s a mistake for voters to disregard these issues. Every once in a while, I’ll run across some online quiz where you answer some questions about your policy preferences—e.g. should we spend more or less on war—and it identifies the presidential candidate you should support. I regard these results with some skepticism.

socialized pot

A few months ago, I made a half-joking post about the government monopoly on the retail sale of liquor in many states, including my native Oregon, calling it “socialized booze”. Part of the point of that post is that I am tired of people calling things (like certain recent laws to improve health care) “socialism” that don’t involve public or government ownership of capital. When people misuse the word “socialism” to mean “government subsidy or social welfare program”, I have an urge to hit them over the head with a political science textbook.


By the way, if you want to know what I think about this whole reddit experience – NOT BAD! I’d like to point out, not only did the president of the United States do an AMA on Reddit today, he threw in an allusion to a rage face he inspired.

Fact checking Mitt Romney

Let’s wade into some poly-ticks. The British media is having a field day making fun of Mitt Romney’s recent stumbles in London, where he insulted his hosts by criticizing their preparation for the 2012 Summer Olympics. (The Guardian‘s headline yesterday: “Mitt Romney’s Olympics blunder stuns No 10 and hands gift to Obama”.) This has lead some bloggers and journalists to reprint this passage from Romney’s book, No Apology: The Case for American Greatness:

Facebook is not a good forum for political arguments

Every once so often, I get sucked into a political argument on Facebook. Sometimes someone will post one of those “share this if you agree” pictures, and I don’t agree with it. Sometimes one of my liberal friends’ conservative friends will make a comment, and because (I’m not proud to admit) I sometimes suffer from the tendency illustrated by xkcd #386, I will feel moved to respond. Every one of these encounters has left me increasingly convinced that Facebook is not a good forum for political arguments. I’ve identified two reasons:

  1. The way Facebook displays comments is poorly suited for discussion.
  2. People who post political content don’t necessarily want to spark a discussion, and it’s hard to tell.