Monday, March 31, 2008

I believe in education.

Given the facts on the ground, maybe I should believe in the Easter Bunny instead.

I teach for a living. There are several reasons. One is that I think I’m doing some of my students some good and therefore the society some good, and of all the things I can do for money, teaching is the one for which I show the most aptitude and enthusiasm. I might be able to make more money in software, but the highlights of my resumé are now decades old and in many ways I went into teaching as penance for the ill my old profession, namely video games, have brought to the world.

But education is not a panacea. Some people will believe any ridiculous horseshit they hear because they want to believe it, not because it’s true. I could fill my blog with examples, but this is one this week that has put me in a funk. 20% of Hillary Clinton supporters believe Barack Obama is a Muslim.

Let’s get that in perspective. 1 in 5 people who support one moderate Democrat believe something that is 100% false about another moderate Democrat. (Don’t believe that National Journal bullshit about Obama being the most liberal senator. Their methodology is very bad, but that’s another lie for another time.) As Clinton supporters, I don’t expect these people are Fox News watchers or Rush Limbaugh listeners. Still, they heard this shit somewhere, and something inside them makes them want to believe it.

A supermarket checkout tabloid called the Weekly World News started publishing back in the 1970’s. It was published in black and white by the same company that published the National Enquirer, and started the new paper when the flagship went to color. I loved the Weekly World News. So did Padre Mickey and Wonders of Science bassist Travis Hunt. It was hilarious. Everything was complete crap. The most famous character they created was Bat Boy, so they kept bringing him back. They also had an alien who met with presidential candidates, but even he wasn’t as popular as Bat Boy.

The Weekly World News no longer prints, but it is available online. I don’t know if they just gave up the joke or they are ahead of the curve on the death of print. The thing I wonder about is this. How many people believed it? More than 1%? My gut feeling is yes, more than 1 in 100 people who saw it in print every week believed it.

Education is supposed to give people some idea of the world they live in, but there are so many toxic waste dumps of bullshit and bigotry and the education budget is so small in comparison, it feels like a losing battle. This sack of shit in a suit is Sean Hannity, a radio talk show jackass and Fox News host. Hannity will say to anyone who will listen that we found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Not that Saddam had them or that they have been hidden in Syria or whatever.

We. Found. Them.

Bush said this once in 2003 on a trip to Poland but quickly recanted. Even that liar Cheney, who swears by the discredited Saddam-al Qaeda connection, won’t say we found weapons of mass destruction. The real American expert on the subject, Dr. David Kay, is now only interviewed by people making liberal documentaries because he says outright that the evidence shows Saddam destroyed his stockpiles sometime after the first Gulf War, but didn’t tell anyone to avoid being attacked by any one of the many neighbors he pissed off in his long and dismal reign.

But Shithead Sean still says it. And he’s on the radio and TV five fucking times a week. And he’s just one toxic waste dump on the list of the Truth Protection Agency’s Superfund, if we even had such a thing.

I won’t give up on education. I might give up on this country. If it’s McCain vs. Clinton, I have to think more seriously about leaving. The two main factors keeping me here are 60% laziness and 40% my parents are still alive. I want to be a part of their lives as long as I can be, but watching the lies and liars win in this country again and again and again is making me sick in my heart. As for the laziness, I’ve overcome that before and I can do it again, if necessary. I certainly hope it isn’t.

Much in the same way I hope education will work. Eventually. But I’m not blind to the situation we have right now.


Padre Mickey said...

Ya does fine work there, Professor.

Ah, the Weekly World News! I still have a large file of clippings from Weekly World News and the Globe on religious items. It started when the Lovely Mona brought home a WWN with a headline screaming: The True Cross Found! Yes, they had found the True Cross and proved this using Scientific Methods: they compared the DNA from the blood stains on the cross with the DNA from the blood stains on the Shroud of Turin! Try arguing with THAT, Secular Humanists!!! I kept collecting such items and in seminary I wrote a paper on Tabloid Eschatology. My favorite story was one in which Bible Scholars had discovered that Judas was a vampire and didn't kiss Jesus, he BIT him! Which, of course, explains EVERYTHING which happened afterwards.

Matty Boy said...

Wait a second. That means Jesus is a vampire! That's why he rose from the dead! That's why Anne Rice is writin' books about him now!

The world makes no sense unless you read the Weekly World News.

Tanks, Padre.

Karla said...

On the subject of Education, I just finished a book called Your Inner Fish, by Neil Shubin, the paleontologist who discovered Tiktaalik, the "missing link" between dem fishies and us mammals. Except Cheney. He's still a segmented worm.

It's a fascinating book, and nowhere does Shubin go on an evolutionary soapbox. But he does write a masterful piece about the many types of eyes and how eyes like ours clearly evolved from very primitive optic patches.

Actually, he shows how every part of us evolved, and there's even a bit at the end about the diseases we get through Dumbass Design!

I'm thinking that his approach, to make evolution science seem fun and focus on how we came to be us, might just put a bit of a kibosh on the silly ID stuff.

CDP said...

I loved the WWN, most particularly the "My America" column by Ed Anger. I still remember a column about how the traditional family was being destroyed by gay fashion designers forcing women into garments that either led them into promiscuity or lesbianism. High-larious.

Anonymous said...

I tagged you over on my blog for a six word memoir. Read mine at:


Matty Boy said...

Karla - sounds interesting. I'm between books, so I might look for it over in Berkeley this week.

cdp - Ed Anger was/is the best. He still has a column at the online version.

z&m - I'll take a look today, but I might not get to it until Thursday. I have some stuff lined up for the next few days.

dguzman said...

First off, let me say that you took the thoughts right out of my addled brain. Many is the time that I've wondered why people will believe anything they see on TV or in print. I've finally settled on plain old laziness. It's the only answer that keeps me sane.

My new Gigantic Child Bride(TM) Kat LOVED the WWN; she used to buy one whenever she was really stressed out, so she could laugh her ass off.

My little sister Mary and I actually used to save up our allowances to buy the National Enquirer, and then we would do a "news broadcast" (with Mom's bed acting as the news desk), reading to our many viewers all the stories, including those of fey Hollyweird reporter R. Couri Hay, whom we knew, even as naive little children, was somehow not quite right.

Ah, the classics. I luvs dem.

As for the public and their level of belief of complete bullshit--it's embarrassing, man.

Distributorcap said...

was WNN the one with Batboy?