An Open Letter to Betsy DeVos, From an Educator

Despite our best efforts, Betsy DeVos was confirmed as Secretary of Education. This is terrible news for our nation’s public schools. Those of us concerned about science education will have to pour our efforts into protecting our schools on a local and state level. We’ll also have to push hard for accountability. Just because DeVos was confirmed doesn’t mean she gets free rein to destroy our schools. She now has a responsibility to provide all of America’s children with a quality free primary education, and we will hold her to that.

My friend J.S. recently retired from a twenty-eight year career as a teacher at one of our nation’s public schools. He has some sage advice for DeVos. I hope she hears it, and takes it to heart. Please feel free to copy this open letter and send it directly to her.

Dear Secretary DeVos: Continue reading “An Open Letter to Betsy DeVos, From an Educator”

An Open Letter to Betsy DeVos, From an Educator

Adventures in ACE XXIX: Gusty With a 100% Chance of Drivel

Oh, joy, ACE weather forecasting! I forecast showers of creationist nonsense and gusts of boredom.

Our vocabulary for this section includes such difficult science words as chirp, cricket, mattress, and wispy. Bet you all remember struggling over these in your 8th grade science class, right?

Image is a drawing of a night scene, with stars in the top half, fading to midnight blue skies, and the silhoutte of tall grass at the bottom. At the center, white lowercase letters say "...crickets chirping"
Well, maybe not. But at least, thanks to ACE, we can define that noise and what’s making it.

The cartoon is cutting-edge humor, as always.

Image is a cartoon strip in two panels. The first panel is an aerial view looking down at two boys playing basketball. One is sinking the ball in the basket while saying, "Racer, when you plant a garden, why should you not plant onions next to potatoes?" The other boy is saying, "I don't know, Ace." In the next panel, Racer now has the ball and is dribbling, while we see Ace from the back trying to block him. Ace is saying, "So that the potatoes will not cry their 'eyes' out!" and Racer is saying, "Ha-ha!"
Cartoon from page 12 of ACE Science PACE 1089.

I’m so glad my parents didn’t send me to an ACE school. I’d have either died of pathological boredom or stabbed my eyes out with a pencil. Anything to get away from these awful jokes.

Anyway. So we’re back with Dad and Ace, just after the whole barometer convo, and Dad is keen for Ace to know that there’s more to forecasting than a barometer. He also wants us to know that “the laws that govern weather are orderly.” That’s quite a simplistic view of matters. Or maybe they’re defining “chaos” as “order.” It’s true that we’ve gotten better at forecasting, but even if we become capable of measuring almost every condition at particular moments in time, there will still be a considerable level of uncertainty to our forecasts, because weather is a chaotic system. Tiny perturbations have large effects. Butterflies and all. Continue reading “Adventures in ACE XXIX: Gusty With a 100% Chance of Drivel”

Adventures in ACE XXIX: Gusty With a 100% Chance of Drivel

(Repost) Adventures in ACE XII: Wibbly about Water

It’s about time we finish with the risible ACE PACE 1086, and the subject matter segues nicely into the chapters on oceans we have coming up in our other “science” textbooks. Besides, after last week’s installment, I’m sure you’re all on the edge of your seats wondering if the Loyaltons are about to go splat against a mountain. So let us continue our flyover with them, and see where we end up. Continue reading “(Repost) Adventures in ACE XII: Wibbly about Water”

(Repost) Adventures in ACE XII: Wibbly about Water

(Updated) Trump’s Presidency Will Be a Disaster for Public Education

I didn’t post to Rosetta Stones for most of November because America’s election of the least qualified president in our history has me scrambling to assess and mitigate the damage. Much of what he’s done so far doesn’t yet touch on geology, which is what that blog is mainly concerned with – but we will be talking about the threat to our national parks, and there will doubtless be impacts on the USGS and other agencies responsible for essential geological services like volcano monitoring, seismic studies, and similar, which we’ll address.

Trump is already showing which direction he’s taking the country’s public education. If you care about kids being taught science, you’d best gird yourself for a war, because we’re going to have to fight to preserve our children’s right to a strong STEM education.

To begin with, Trump’s Vice President, to whom he plans to delegate most of the actual presidential work, is an evolution-denying Christian extremist who wants creationism taught in public schools. He’s also brought all his political power to bear on overturning the will of Indiana voters while he pushes for expansions of school vouchers and charter schools.

Trump also plans to slash NASA’s earth science division, which would not only cripple our nation’s climate change research, but also have a terrible impact on earth science research.

That rather sets the tenor for what’s to come.

But Pence is merely the beginning. It gets worse. Continue reading “(Updated) Trump’s Presidency Will Be a Disaster for Public Education”

(Updated) Trump’s Presidency Will Be a Disaster for Public Education

Adventures in ACE XXVIII: Windbags

Awright. We just did four pages out of a thirty-one page PACE and got only one paragraph of something resembling science out of it. Let’s see how we fare on page 5 (five) of ACE Science PACE 1089. (And no, the ACE writers spelling out the number, in parentheses, on every single page, will never stop being hilarious to me.)

We left Ace dutifully beginning to wash Dad’s car. As he begins to spray, he mentions that the ball kept getting blown off-course while he and Racer played kickball. Dad tells him “that God’s laws control wind and weather.” That’s just precious. I begin to wonder if they’d be more amenable to actual science if we started saying “God’s theory of evolution” and “God’s radiometric dating.” I’m going to do this the next time a creationist argues with me. “Well, God’s geologic column clearly shows there was never a global flood,” “God’s principle of original horizontality demonstrates that…” and so forth.

Report back to me if you do this, and I’ll do the same.

So Ace asks Dad to ‘splain “the factors that determine wind speed, strength, and direction, as well as other weather conditions,” which doesn’t sound like writers clumsily stuffing words in a character’s mouth at all. Dad launches into a very dull explanation of what he calls the “world-wide system of air movement.” Why he couldn’t just call them global wind patterns like most everybody else is beyond me. Sometimes, I think conservatives like these very clunky phrases because they think it makes them sound educated. Dad also has to dare to be different by talking about the direction the winds are blowing to, not from, as is customary. He also gets all fancy and says the earth “whirls to the east.” Someone needs to put Dad’s thesaurus in time-out.

The Coriolis Effect is boringly explained. Then Ace trots out his mad logick skillz and says, “If latitudes between the equator and 30° north or south are known for their dependable winds, other latitudes must be known for their lack of dependable winds.” This allows Dad to repeat the old myth about how the horse latitudes were named.

People need to stop flogging that story. Seriously.

And all of this is so dreadfully dull that I’ve been alternating a sentence or two with long sessions on Reddit. Yes, I’d rather be reading about terrible boyfriends/husbands than putting up with this ACE shit. I have no idea how the kids who went through this curriculum survived. I see you, and I salute you. Extra salute for those of you who figured out this stuff is 99% pure crap.

At least the bit on “air tides” is slightly more interesting than the rest. Shame it’s only a tiny paragraph in their dry, pompous tones. It could’ve been awesome with better writers.

After a ho-hum but largely accurate description of land-sea and mountain-valley wind cycles, we’re on to temperature. I want to beat them over the head with this sentence:

“Our Earth is constantly receiving heat energy from the sun.”

Yes! It is! And this is why evolution doesn’t break the second law of thermodynamics, you jackasses!

Otherwise, there is nothing remarkable in their bit on temperature. It’s generally hottest in the afternoon, coldest just before sunrise, etc. blah. Ace gets to regurgitate learnings at Dad and get praised. I am so bored. Hey, did you hear about the dude who called his girlfriend selfish for making clear that she still didn’t want children even after he’d decided he did? Yeah, and he was somehow surprised she broke up with him. I’ll bet Ace would pull that shit without even 1/68th of this dude’s self-reflection. “She said she didn’t want kids, but God says we have to be fruitful and multiply! Reddit, why did she leave me just because I told her she’s sinning and has to start having my babies?!”

Gah. Focus. Must. Read PACE.

The next section is about moisture. It’s illustrated by a photo that claims to be fog, but actually just looks over-exposed.

Image shows downtown highrises. It's captioned "Fog," but there's little evidence of fog. The photo just looks a touch over-exposed.
They can’t even stock photo properly. How pathetic.

Ace’s dad explains how everyone’s a special snowflake:

“Even though snowflakes have some identical features, each one of the trillions of flakes is different from every other one. In the same way, though all men possess similar features, each individual is unique in the sight of God.”

And then he takes the opportunity to repeat the nonsense from a previous PACE about how “Snow and hail are mentioned in the Bible as ‘treasures’ reserved by God for judgement and war.” So, just a reminder: the next time you get caught in a hailstorm, God’s either trying to kill you, or you’re collateral damage, cuz it means he’s either delivering judgement or fighting a war. That’s just science.

The Facts from Science box has the least funny cartoon outside of jokes produced by MRAs.

Image shows a cartoon golfer in a kilt, with his golf club bag fallen over behind him. He's standing with his arms spread, saying "I didn't order any ice!" There's a huge lump of ice behind him with the word "WHUMP!" written on it, trying to indicate it has just fallen. There's a castle that looks more like a short pile of bricks, and a huge sun on the horizon.

Much clever. So wit. Wow.

Section One ends with a piece on low vs. high pressure, and it’s super half-assed and dull. Hey, did you hear about the boyfriend who’s obsessed with how often his girlfriend pees? Talk about high pressure!

Stay tuned. They’re going to be on about weather forecasting next. I get a feeling we won’t want any of them as our local weather dudes, if for no other reason than we’d fall sound asleep halfway through the forecast.

Image shows a black cat plopped down atop a carpeted perch with wooden sides. It's got its front legs draped over the sides and its chin down in the carpet. Its green eyes gaze into the distance with a very bored expression. Caption says, "UGH! So BORED!"

Adventures in ACE XXVIII: Windbags

(Repost) Adventures in ACE X: Misinformed About Metamorphic

There comes a point when, during the perusal of an ACE Science PACE, the brain bluescreens. The system shuts down for self-protection. It’s usually at about the point where you’ve encountered the umpteenth wrong thing in as many sentences, and you begin wondering how any adult can be so bloody fucking ignorant. You suddenly realize that more than one bloody fucking ignorant adult was involved in writing this pablum. And you begin to consider that some of the children being subjected to this shit will never recover, but will someday regurgitate this shit with updated pictures and errors, then expect a whole new generation of kids to lap it up. This is about the point where the brain crashes.

It’s hard to get through without multiple system failures, is what I’m saying. Continue reading “(Repost) Adventures in ACE X: Misinformed About Metamorphic”

(Repost) Adventures in ACE X: Misinformed About Metamorphic

(Tier 1) Adventures in ACE XXVII: Stormy With a 0% Chance of Science

We start a brand new ACE PACE today, kids! 1089 is all about meteorology. Since the ACE writers firmly believe God is completely in control of the weather, this should be pretty much like a non-stop train wreck. We are also going “To learn to do right and show a sense of what is proper before the Lord and others – to be honest.” Because apparently we 8th grade level learners haven’t been taught those things yet. I begin anew to suspect that the ACE writers think their audience consists entirely of children below the age of accountability, and that they probably repeat the same set of lessons through every single series of PACEs. I’ll have to get my hands on a complete set of K-12 PACEs and test that hypothesis someday. It’ll be more science than we ever actually get inside of these things, anyway.

Our verse to memorize for this PACE is II Corinthians 8:21. Of course it has nothing to do with the weather. Don’t be silly.

The full-page cartoon begins with a stereotypical old lady, complete with gray bun, cane, and shawl, looking out the windows and talking gleefully about how she just knew a storm was coming, and gosh, look at that red sky this morning! She then goes out on her porch so she can be all cranky at Ace and Miss Mary for wanting to hang a plant when it’s obviously going to storm. Miss Mary shuts that shit right down: Continue reading “(Tier 1) Adventures in ACE XXVII: Stormy With a 0% Chance of Science”

(Tier 1) Adventures in ACE XXVII: Stormy With a 0% Chance of Science

(Repost) Adventures in ACE IX: More Senseless about Sedimentary

We left our merry band of Creationists, so ignorant even other YECs can’t stand ’em, breezily ignoring all the sedimentary rock in previously-frozen wastes. Now we shall continue on while they butcher the rest. I hope you have hair. You’re gonna need some to pull out. If nature has blessed you with a pate that requires no shampoo, you may wish to glue some locks to your noggin. Don’t worry about having to acquire appropriate hair-care products: they won’t be there for long.

Now just imagine having to read this tripe repeatedly…

Image is a polar bear standing against a rock wall with its front paws over its face. Caption says, "Ahhh, the horror! Make it stop."

Continue reading “(Repost) Adventures in ACE IX: More Senseless about Sedimentary”

(Repost) Adventures in ACE IX: More Senseless about Sedimentary

(Repost) Adventures in ACE VIII: Senseless About Sedimentary

Please tell me you’ve set up a padded room so you can read these posts in safety. I’d be inconsolable if you did yourself an injury because of these explorations in the whacky world of ACE.

I’m telling you right now: don’t keep reading until you’ve rage-proofed your room.

You know enough Flood “geology” bullshit by now to know that nothing good can come of creationist ignoramuses talking about sedimentary rocks. So let’s ease in by noting some good news: turns out you can be a dentist if you’re a brown person in ACE world, as long as you’ve got the proper equipment. No, not that equipment – I mean the biological stuff. Y’know, the ol’ meat-n-taters. You cis women are supposed to be too busy squeezing out babies to drill teeth. You trans folk are either miserably in the closet or you’ve gotten the heck out of that toxic Dodge. Regardless, the only dentists in ACE world are the cis men.

Image shows a two-panel comic. First panel shows a dentist's office with the chair and dental equipment. A South Asian or African American dentist is poking in a blond white boy's mouth, asking, "Well now, Happy, what kind of filling would you like in your tooth?" Second panel is a close-up of the boy and the dentist. Happy is saying, "Strawberry! Ha-ha." The dentist says, "Ha-ha!"
Cartoon from ACE PACE 1086.

And what a horrible dental joke has to do with sedimentary rock, I’ll never know. I suppose it’s what happens when you’ve rotted your brain with too much Bible.

Anyway. The spectacularly ignorant Mr. Wheeler will now proceed to explain about sedimentary rocks. He tells us that the ocean floor’s lots like the continents. It’s got “mountains, hills, valleys, and plains as features of [its] surfaces.” He then says that “the ocean floor is covered mainly with sedimentary rock.” Which is a little deceptive. Yeah, the floor’s covered in lots of places with sediments, but those sediments aren’t all lithified, and the floor itself, along with most of the mountains and islands, is overwhelmingly basalt. Continue reading “(Repost) Adventures in ACE VIII: Senseless About Sedimentary”

(Repost) Adventures in ACE VIII: Senseless About Sedimentary

Adventures in ACE XXVI: God Piles on the Pressure

We’ve survived a lot of atmospheric nonsense and learned that you should never allow anyone associated with ACE to water your lawn. Now things are about to heat up. Yes, they are on about temperature. And in looking it over, I don’t think this section has been updated since the Cold War.

Seriously. All their talk of thermometers and thermographs and such like make no mention of digital thermometers or computers. None of the equipment mentioned for monitoring temperature over time records observations electronically. The photographs look like they’re straight out of the 70s.

Image shows a double set of maximum and minimum mercury thermometers nailed to a wooden plank inside of a white slatted enclosure. There's a hand reaching toward the first set of thermometers. It all looks tres last century.
Photo from page 22 of ACE Science PACE 1088

It’s pretty sad.

There’s some mildly-interesting history of the Fahrenheit and Celsius scales, but delivered in that pompous and pedantic ACE tone that sucks any joy out of it. Continue reading “Adventures in ACE XXVI: God Piles on the Pressure”

Adventures in ACE XXVI: God Piles on the Pressure