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Welcome to STop, the Seattle Times Opinion blog where our editorial writers and editors share their evolving thoughts on a variety of issues. STop is a place where opinion writers and readers can exchange views and readers can learn more about how editorial positions are formed.

The opinions you read below are those of the individual writers, not necessarily views that will become formal positions of The Seattle Times. Respond to STop
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Currently, STop cannot automatically post readers' comments on the blog. However, the editorial staff will regularly post readers' comments. Your comments are sent directly to the individual editor or writer.

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Jim Vesely
Jim Vesely
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Lee Moriwaki
Lee Moriwaki
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Joni Balter
Joni Balter
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Eric Devericks
Eric Devericks
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Lance Dickie
Lance Dickie
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Bruce Ramsey
Bruce Ramsey
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Kate Riley
Kate Riley
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Lynne Varner
Lynne Varner
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Ryan Blethen
Ryan Blethen
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February 27, 2004

Swapping responsibilities

USA Today ran a story today that highlights an increasingly destructive problem in high schools and colleges: high schools are jumping ahead to teach college-level courses, while colleges must stoop to teach remedial-level courses that high schools didn't get right the first time.

The fastest growing classes in high school are Advanced Placement (AP) classes, while the fastest growing courses in college are remedial math and English courses. In the past 10 years, students taking AP exams has risen from 400,000 to more than 1 million. Meanwhile, just over half of college students in the nation take at least one remedial course.

Probably not a direct correlation but nonetheless interesting--and expensive. Remedial courses cost colleges about $2 billion a year, and students have to pay tuition for the courses but get no college credit.

Poor preparation for college-level courses in high school is the main reason why fewer than half of those entering college graduate, a recent report shows.

Shouldn't we hammer the basics first, before pressuring students to take AP courses? I'm actually a fan of AP courses, but let's make sure students have the foundation first before we rush them into college-level courses.

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Posted by Colleen Pohlig at 10:50 AM

February 26, 2004

Davey case

The First Amendment demands that government tolerate all religions and promote none above the others. (It may promote all, for example, by allowing all church property to be tax-free.) In the Davey case, the state said to a student, “You can have $3,000 in taxpayer money to pay for any sort of study or training you like, and you may spend it at a religious school or a non-religious school, with one exception: you may not use it to train for the ministry.”

In his dissent, Antonin Scalia argues that the state is actively disfavoring religion here. He says, “The First Amendment, after all, guarantees free exercise of religion, and when the State exacts a financial penalty of almost $3,000 for religious exercise--whether by tax or by forfeiture of an otherwise available benefit--religious practice is anything but free.”

He adds: “This case is about discrimination against a religious minority…. One need not delve too far into modern popular culture to perceive a trendy disdain for deep religious conviction. In an era when the Court is so quick to come to the aid of other disfavored groups, see, e.g., Romer v. Evans (1996), its indifference in this case, which involves a form of discrimination to which the Constitution actually speaks, is exceptional.”

And finally: “What next? Will we deny priests and nuns their prescription-drug benefits on the ground that taxpayers' freedom of conscience forbids medicating the clergy at public expense? This may seem fanciful, but recall that France has proposed banning religious attire from schools, invoking interests in secularism no less benign than those the Court embraces today. When the public's freedom of conscience is invoked to justify denial of equal treatment, benevolent motives shade into indifference and ultimately into repression.”

I think Scalia had it right.

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Posted by Bruce Ramsey at 06:11 PM

Devices and desires

"Training someone to lead a congregation is an essentially religious endeavor," Chief Justice William Rehnquist wrote in a 7-2 decision upholding this state's decision not to finance theological education with public scholarship money. A good call.

The distinction rides on the difference between religion and theology courses in college. The former explore religious beliefs of all faiths, or selected faiths in depth. The latter is brand-specific inquiry into a particular system of worship with the idea of propagating that faith and embracing a religious calling.

A college degree in religion is wholly different than preparing for the ministry, and taxpayers should not have to pay for it. The Supreme Court wisely left that decision up to the states.

The Spokane student who brought the case eventually graduated with a degree in religion and philosophy. He is now enrolled in Harvard Law School. He was not exactly ground asunder by the jack-booted heel of the state.

He remains free to steer back toward a life in the ministry. The only expectation is that he foots the bills, and not the taxpayers of Washington. Or, roughly, the same deal he has with Harvard.

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Posted by Lance Dickie at 02:41 PM

February 25, 2004

From a reader responding to "Should Paige resign?"

Rod Paige, Bush's Education Secretary, called the NEA 'terrorists', and went on to explain that he often refers to teachers as 'terrorists.' It's easy to see why--the NEA might point out when Paige is lying.

In common with other Bush appointees, Paige made his reputation with an "education miracle" that never happened. When CBS investigated they found one school that had claimed zero dropouts actually had 463 dropouts in that year. Other schools in the district were just as bad, and the real bottom line was that no miracle, or positive change of any kind, had actually happened.

For Paige and the other Bush appointees, diverting attention from their lies by talking about 'terrorism' is as natural--and as common--as breathing. When they want to dodge bad news, pass another tax break for the rich, or hand out sweetheart contracts to their friends, it's time to talk about 'terrorism'.

They're right about one thing: the rest of us should be worried and afraid, because the nation is at risk.

Written by a STop blog reader

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Posted by Colleen Pohlig at 01:59 PM

Should Paige resign?

Should Sec. of Education Paige resign because of one intemperate remark regarding the teacher's union? I don't think so. Calls for resignation have less to do with the remark than the direction of the Bush Administration--that's fair meat for any critic, but Paige's remark is about the same level as a union leader calling Howard Dean "nuts" in print. Should that union leader resign because he blew off steam?

Our level of being shocked by off-the-cuff statements has reached the point of making politicians and leaders afraid of offending anyone, any time, anywhere.

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Posted by Jim Vesely at 09:42 AM

February 24, 2004

Re: Still leaving children behind

From a reader responding to "Still leaving children behind":

I notice that the printed response to “no child left behind” centers around money rather than improving education. It appears that some would-be journalists have chosen a different path because of money.

Some seem to be obsessed with educating those that don’t speak our language. If we were to move to a non English speaking country would those citizens be falling all over themselves to provide us with an education in our native language or would we be expected to learn their language? I think the answer is obvious.

The federal government does provide some financial support to education and they are asking for some proof that it is being well spent. Much of the criticism directed at the federal government is oriented around the level of funding since they feel it is inadequate.

I have a lot of respect for most teachers but I think there is some room in education system for improvement. First, a teacher should be judged on his or her performance just like their students are graded. Most people who work for a living are rewarded for how well they perform the job and not for just filling the position. In the business world (including journalism), organizations compete with like organizations and those that are the most successful are rewarded. I think there is a message here for our educational system.

Most recommended repairs to the educational system center around throwing more money at the problem rather than solving the problem. We have all heard about the inefficiencies in military contracts and I think there are similar occurrences in the world of education.

Everyone seems to want to blame George Bush for the current state of education but we didn’t get to this point in the past three years. Many of those casting the blame should look in the mirror because they have had a lot to do with creating the problem and with perpetuating it.

Written by a STop blog reader

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Posted by Colleen Pohlig at 01:45 PM

Which is it?

The Evergreen Freedom Foundation, a conservative budget watchdog group, has been railing at Gov. Gary Locke for giving the Boeing Co. too many tax breaks and enticements to persuade the aerospace giant to assemble the new 7E7 jetliner in Washington state. Maybe the governor et al did give Boeing too much stuff, but the alternative--Boeing assembling the project elsewhere--was worse.

Yes, even to the same Evergreen Freedom Foundation.

Turns out the group also was riled up that the governor was not doing enough to keep Boeing here.

The Evergreen Freedom Foundation sent a letter to state lawmakers June 3, 2003, that said: "Seventeen days and 76 votes will tell us if our state has what it takes to keep Boeing and its thousands of jobs in Washington...

"Governor Locke's response has been to issue news releases and host press conferences, but it's clear that glitzy headlines and ambitious words will not convince Boeing (or any other company) to stick around. Those words must be backed by immediate and decisive action.''

Which is it, folks? Granted, whining is part of the job description, but it would be more credible if the lament was consistent or easy to follow.

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Posted by Joni Balter at 01:20 PM

February 23, 2004

Re: Still leaving children behind

From a reader responding to "Still leaving children behind":

Back in the 60's when I was in journalism school, one of the things that the journalism school dean taught us early on was to FOLLOW THE MONEY. Something I would like to see one of you practicing journalists to look into would be this: Who does this NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND financially benefit? From a power base, who does this benefit by taking away the forced responsibility of paying for and maintaining public schools, especially for kids who don't look or speak like "us?"

It really doesn't have much to do with education, and has a whole lot to do with tax-breaks and continuing to set up a greedy and distant upper class. Gee, maybe I had some of that education back when it was provided, but it seems to me that the US went through this greed and gluttony stuff during the westward expansion, and during the end of the 1800's?

One big advantage to providing inadequate education is that no one is left to question the actions of those in charge. Or, does Halliburton have an education contract, too?

Written by a STop blog reader

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Posted by Colleen Pohlig at 05:00 PM

Ralph's nadir

The only thing worse than being talked about, is not being talked about. Ralph Nader is living proof.

After 40 years as part of the national conversation--from inventing the consumer movement to Green Party candidate for the White House--Nader has been a source of piquant chatter. On the cusp of his 70th birthday, his phone is not ringing.

His weekend announcement changed all that.

Nader should enjoy the initial fuss, but not expect a repeat of the 2000 presidential campaign. Legions of his supporters learned a hard lesson that translates into a belated but steely pragmatism. Nader will not attract even half the votes he received four years ago.

Democrats will lose fewer votes to Nader than the Republican Party will lose to the Democratic candidate, presumably John Kerry. For all of the muffled glee among the GOP about Nader's candidacy, the party has bigger problems at home.

Nader returns to the national stage on a unicycle with a ukulele and clown nose. He is better, much better, than his apparent campaign slogan: Hey, look at me.

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Posted by Lance Dickie at 11:31 AM

February 20, 2004

Regulated flags

The House of Representatives in Olympia has passed, 94-0, a feel-good bill, SB 2934, sponsored by Rep. Deb Walker, D-Vancouver. If agreed by the Senate and signed by the governor, it shall be illegal for any homeowner’s association to ban the display of the Stars and Stripes.

It is ridiculous that any association would do that, but I suppose someone did, somewhere.

A couple of questions: Why only the Stars and Stripes? How about a Mexican flag? A UN flag? A Revolutionary War flag, like the Pine Tree flag or the Gadsden flag? A Confederate battle flag? Under this law, a homeowner association could ban even the Washington flag but not the U.S. flag.

It seems to me that you either have the right to display a flag or not, but that the law should not specify which flag.

Most of all, it amazes me that an association of homeowners would get into the business of regulating flags. Flags are not such a great problem.

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Posted by Bruce Ramsey at 04:16 PM

Give us your thoughts

The fight inside the Sierra Club should be a hot issue in Seattle where the organization has many members. Some club members charge the distinct value and good name of the Sierra Club is being taken over by anti-immigration and animal-rights groups.

What should the editorial position of The Seattle Times be on the upcoming vote for Club board members? Should the Sierra Club be part of the call for immigration reform and caps? Should the Sierra Club be against whaling by the Makah Tribe? Tell us your opinion.

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Posted by Jim Vesely at 11:00 AM

Still leaving children behind

Oh thank you, President Bush and Education Secretary Rod Paige for finally giving schools some slack in the No Child Left Behind law. Schools will no longer be required to count the test scores of recent immigrants to determine whether a school is meeting annual targets for academic progress.

So generous, these guys. The Bush administration decided Thursday to allow immigrant students one year--one whole year!--to learn English. Then, schools must include their scores in the schools' overall progress reports to the feds.

One year to learn English? If the consequences weren't so dire, this would be comical. Many educators say it takes three to five years to learn a new language. The feds say about 30 percent of US schools are already failing the No Child Left Behind standards, and are labeled "in need of improvement." They say by allowing schools one year to teach recent immigrants English, this could knock it down to 20 to 25 percent still failing.

Consider the town of Sunnyside, in central WA, where many schools have close to 90 percent Hispanic students, with the same number on the free lunch program. Try asking these educators to do the impossible: in one year, teach these kids English, many of whom never stepped foot in a classroom in Mexico.

The same goes for our state's WASL tests, which most recent immigrants are expected to take even though they can't read them. It's not fair to these students and it's certainly not fair to the hundreds of strapped schools nationwide trying like mad to raise test scores--and escape federal sanctions--while faced with such major language barriers.

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Posted by Colleen Pohlig at 09:47 AM

February 19, 2004

Who loses? Who gains?

Gregory Mankiw, chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, has been flayed for his “gaffe” about outsourcing. Here is what he said:

“The gains from trade that take place over the Internet or telephone lines are no different than the gains from trade in physical goods transported by ship or plane. When a good or service is produced at lower cost in another country, it makes sense to import it rather than produce it domestically. This allows the United States to devote its resources to more productive purposes.”

That’s the economics I learned. It seems to make sense, too. Consider the following case:

An American, A, earns $100,000 creating software for another American, B. In India, C earns $15,000.

Now suppose the American B switches his business to the Indian C, who creates the same software for $25,000. What has happened? Well, A has lost his job. And as long as A is out of work, there is a net loss to the American economy. But most people displaced do find work. Assume that A cannot find another $100,000 job, but finds one at $60,000. Here are the gains and losses for A, B, and C:

A, the American producer: -$40,000
B, the American consumer: +$75,000
C, the Indian producer: +$10,000
The net gain is $45,000, of which $35,000 is in the United States.

These are all made-up numbers. You can make up different ones. But if you assume the American gets another job, it’s pretty difficult to come up with a net loss for the United States-and the lower the wage level of our trading partner, the more difficult it is for America to come out behind.

None of this reasoning makes the process any kinder to A. But let us not forget B and C. They gain from trade more than A loses.

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Posted by Bruce Ramsey at 12:04 PM

A-Rod in pinstripes

Two visceral reactions to news that former Mariner Alex Rodriguez has joined the New York Yankees: More reason to resent the Yankees for their unlimited resources to build a team that is tough to beat, and more reason to resent Rodriguez' departure from the Ms for unfathomable riches. With Rodriguez on the Rangers, there was at least some solace that the Mariners were doing better than he was.

Maybe Rodriguez in pinstripes will provide some extra incentive for the Mariners to really put the Yankees in their place this year. Let's hope.

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Posted by Kate Riley at 11:58 AM

February 13, 2004

Day of Bigotry

Organizers promoting abstinence among students have declared the day before Valentine's Day the Day of Purity.

But take a look at who's backing the event. Day of Bigotry might be a more accurate description.

One endorser is the Traditional Values Coalition, which features anti-gay rhetoric prominently on its Web site. "Homosexuals Recruit Public School Children" is just one of many inflammatory headlines. Another endorser is the Jerry Falwell Ministries, which offers tips on its Web site about how to "overcome" homosexuality.

Sure, some participants may really want to focus on reserving sex for marriage. But look out. There's a much bigger and more insidious agenda at work behind the scenes.

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Posted by Susan Byrnes at 03:49 PM

Response to Bush and WMD

In reaction to my column about President Bush and chemical-biological weapons, a reader objects to my statement that Bush “essentially admitted” in the Tim Russert interview that the weapons were not there.

The reader points out that Bush never made a flat admission, and that later he said weapons might yet be found in Iraq or elsewhere. "Per the records, Bush did NOT, and still has not, admitted any error,” the reader says. “How do you come to your conclusion in light of these facts?"

Here is my response: We're not dealing with facts here, but something more slippery: what to say publicly about tentative conclusions. If we insist on a flat admission, "I was wrong; the Weapons of Mass Destruction were not there," of course, Bush is not going to say that. In today's political world, he can’t. I conclude that he has "essentially" said that by no longer insisting the WMD are there.

When Russert says it appears the weapons are not there, Bush says, "Yeah," and does not immediately object. Later he comes back and says, "They could be hidden. They could have been transported to another country." This is a flat admission that he is no longer claiming to know, which in my view is essentially the admission of error.

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Posted by Bruce Ramsey at 01:26 PM

February 09, 2004

Re: E-mail postage and spammers

A reader's response to E-mail postage:

Interesting comments. The problem, however, is not spam. The problem is the major e-mail service providers' desire to cash in on one more area of the Internet.

Spam is not a problem. Spam is more like junk mail. I don't know about you, but I simply toss any junk mail that comes into my mail box. Unopened. Unread. Simple solution.

For spam, I use a product called "Mail Washer." (There are many other, similar products out there.) I get a list of e-mail subject lines, click the check box next to ones I don't want, and click the "process mail" button. Mail Washer then deletes all checked e-mails before I download to my inbox. Unopened. Unread. Simple solution. Cost of the product? Whatever you want to contribute. (I gave the programmer $25 three years ago.)

I recognize that the major e-mail service providers have to provide substantial amounts of equipment to handle the volume of all e-mail. That cost we, the consumers, already pay in service fees.

I have no problem paying corporations or developers money for solutions that solve my problems. I have a huge problem paying for solutions that solve THEIR problems when I do not contribute to their problems. One proposed solution is to segregate e-mail from spammers from all other e-mail, and only charge the spammers. This solution would reduce their equipment needs. Would this reduce other charges to the consumer? No way!

The technology to segregate e-mail senders does not exist today. The development costs, I suspect, would be very large. Once developed, most spammers would stop sending e-mails. The costs, however, still exist. And those companies would use the cost of their "protection" as justification for charging every user for using e-mail. That is the real goal. Just another way to enhance revenue by putting another layer of cost on the consumer.

Spam is not a difficult problem. The simple solution is to just throw it away like junk mail.

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Posted by Kate Riley at 03:28 PM

February 06, 2004

Just round up--or leave

One more penny on the sales tax, which is now proposed, would have one fine effect: It would make it much easier to estimate the tax. Now the tax in Seattle is 8.8 percent and at restaurants, 9.3 percent. Using either of these factors is hard on the brain, but 9.8 percent is so close to 10 that you can just move the decimal point.

A $600 laptop, $60 tax. A $2,300 plasma monitor, $230 tax. Now everyone will be able to calculate the tax in advance, and know how much he or she is paying--or not paying--by using the Internet, or going to Portland.

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Posted by Bruce Ramsey at 03:55 PM

The Liberal Corvair

Ralph Nader, the man who fired the first shot in the consumer revolution 40 years ago, is talking about running for president again. He was the Green Party nominee in 2000, and lots of people believe he fuzzed the margins on enough state tallies to elect George Bush. News of Nader's interest does not so much trigger the imperative, don't, but the question, why?

He offers nothing new to the conversation. Entering the race would confirm an ego the size of Al Sharpton's. The only conceivable reason for Nader to run is a another book to promote.

Nader dealt with spoiler questions four years ago. His answer in an editorial meeting at The Seattle Times was that it did not matter. So what if the Republicans captured the White House, the president and GOP would never tamper with established values such as environmental protection and women's reproductive rights. For him the two parties were indistinguishable, nothing would change.

Ralph pretty much got that wrong.

A figure of true historical significance is flirting with being a lanky, goofball young voters need help to identify. Give it a rest, Mr. Nader.

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Posted by Lance Dickie at 10:23 AM

February 05, 2004

Reichert's in

They're off and running in the 8th Congressional District. King County Sheriff Dave Reichert, who for the longest time didn't want anyone to know he was a Republican, became first on his block to announce for Jennifer Dunn's seat. He joined the race as a Republican. Dunn declared last week she is retiring at the end of the term.

Reichert soon could be joined by a number of other members of the GOP, including King County Councilman David Irons and Republican National Committee member Diane Tebelius. The Democrat in the race is Alex Alben, a Mercer Islander and former RealNetworks executive.

Newcomers to the Northwest wonder what all the fuss in the 8th district is about. Well, before Dunn's announcement and the declaration last summer by Gov. Gary Locke that he would not seek re-election, politicians were lined up seeking advancement with few places to go. Dunn and Locke have opened the gates of opportunity.

Reichert is the front-runner so far because he is in early, he has huge name familiarity--and he gets to wear his cop uniform whenever he wants.

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Posted by Joni Balter at 03:17 PM

The role of an editorial 'toon

I got a great email today that had a link to a column by E.J. Dionne Jr. in which he chastises those that would make a comparison between Michael Dukakis and John Kerry.

Turns out that's exactly what I did about a week ago. Which got me thinking about editorial cartoons, how they work, don't work and what their role is.

Sometimes I think of myself as a columnist who writes one very opinionated sentence a day. Take my Dukakis/Kerry cartoon, for example. If it were a column it might read: "As a liberal Democrat from Massachusetts, John Kerry cannot win the general election."

No supporting evidence, no sources, just blunt opinion designed for half of this country's electorate to disagree with, calling out the masses to defend their candidate. That's exactly what a good editorial cartoon does. It sparks debate, disagreement, and sometimes even polite discourse.

Now consider a more even handed approach to the same cartoon: "The war hero and patriot John Kerry may possibly have a bit of trouble winning the general election, as did Michael Dukakis. All because his home state of Massachusetts is viewed by many in the south and midwest, some say wrongfully so, as the mecca of liberalism."

Both are fair opinions. The difference is one sparks debate, the other a coma.

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Posted by Eric Devericks at 02:27 PM

Beware of scam spam

Another email from eBay--or so it seemed. There was the familiar red, blue, yellow and green eBay logo: “Dear Sir or Madam,” the text began, “eBay Account Management regrets to inform you that your eBay account has been suspended…” It went on to ask for my credit card number and expiration, the code on the back and my personal identification number.

A scam, of course, run by varmints. eBay doesn’t send out messages like this--ever. But it was fun to note the mistakes that gave it away. The “Dear Sir or Madam,” for example. And the “regrets to inform you.” It reminded me of business letters when I lived in Hong Kong. American companies don’t write like that. This was British commonwealth, probably.

"If you have any questions,” it said, “or feel that this message has been delivered to you by a mistake please send your complaints to these emails,” and listed two addresses that were not Note also the phrase, “to these emails.” A computer company would have said “to these addresses.”

Then comes the clincher. The letter signs off, “Trully your.”

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Posted by Bruce Ramsey at 10:16 AM

February 04, 2004

A gift for all of us

Kennewick Man is free!! Or soon ought to be, thanks to an unequivocal opinion today by the Ninth Circuit of Appeals.

Eight years after the 9,200-year-old remains were found in Columbia River shallows in their namesake city, the appeals court sided with prominent scientists who sued the U.S. government for the right to study the bones.

The Interior Department had intended to give them to Native American tribes who claimed the remains as that of an ancestor under a federal law that basically applies to all remains that date to the days before Columbus. The law ignores the earlier Viking landings, by the way, and we know about those..

While the Native American claims are understandable, their claim to these bones is particularly tenuous because of their exceptional age and their appearance. The remains' features more closely resemble modern Polynesian people or the Ainu of Japan, which, for those studying the peopling of the Americas, suggests a long-sought-after link to Asia.

The appeals court used that fact in deciding modern American tribes could not reasonably claim the remains: "...because Kennewick Man's remains are so old and the information about his era is so limited, the record does not permit the (Interior) Secretary to conclude reasonably that Kennewick Man shares special and significant genetic or cultural features with presently existing indigenous tribes, people or cultures."

No doubt the case will be appealed to the Supreme Court before the scientists finally get a chance to mine the knowledge that rests with Kennewick Man's remains now stored at Seattle's Burke Museum. (What's another couple of years compared to nine millenia?) But the scientists have prevailed unequivocally at the U.S. District Court level and the appeals level.

Kennewick Man belongs to all of us, not just to Native American tribes.

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Posted by Kate Riley at 03:45 PM

February 03, 2004

E-mail postage?

So apparently Microsoft and Yahoo, operators of the two largest e-mail systems, are considering finding a way to require postage with email, not necessarily to make money, but to ferret out the spammers.

At first blush, I don't like the idea of having to pay for what I enjoy now for free. How easy it is to dash off a thought to an old friend, remind my spouse about our son's appointment or communicate with a busy teacher. If each push of the "send" button was accompanied with a "cha-ching," I probably would continue to do some of that but would stifle my witty response to my e-correspondent's last post. I'd probably use the phone more and grow wistful for the days of free-and-easy e-mail chitchat.

On the other hand, I would like to charge the spammers to death!! Just today I got an email from some jerk spammer, thanking me for my subscription to three months of child porn. It was so annoying I was tempted to click on the button to cancel the service to complain about it. Instead I deleted it and went on to delete bogus emails about my bank account and from several spouses, cousins, nephews of deposed rulers of African countries. Then there were the soliciations for Viagra and enhancement of body parts.

We all get them--and some spam has turned predatory. U.S. Bank's name was used for chicanery by spammers asking people to verify their information before their account could be unfrozen. Many people, like me, who got that one, didn't even have a US Bank account. Cops say the bad guys were trying to steal personal information to steal identities. Nice.

Maybe charging these goons wouldn't be so bad if it would at least stop the deluge. Maybe there's a way to charge companies who send out large quantities of e-mail (say 30,000). Gosh, I can't imagine many people ever fall for these things, so the return on investment would be pretty low.

Stop the spammers!!!

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Posted by Kate Riley at 03:56 PM

Man to monkeys

It's a funny twist in this era of higher standards to see conservatives pushing for students to know less. But that's exactly what they're doing in Georgia.

Luckily, the proposal by state education officials to delete evolution from public school science classes is backfiring.

Georgia's state superintendent says "evolution" is a buzz word that provokes negative reaction. That "man-to-monkeys" thing. Officials prefer to call evolution "changes over time" and skim over the origins of living things. The proposal has outraged Peach State scientists. Even Baptist Jimmy Carter is embarrassed.

I can just picture Georgia students in their first college biology class: "evo-what?"

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Posted by Susan Byrnes at 03:46 PM

February 02, 2004

Sugar nannies

Several bills in the Legislature would ban soda pop from the first eight grades of public school. This is more government treating us like children, but at least these are children, so something can be said for it.

But there is a disconnect here. The health argument is against sugary drinks. But Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles’ bill, introduced last year and still pending, would allow only water, milk and unsweetened fruit juice. But 8 oz. of commercial apple juice has the equivalent of 6.75 to 7 teaspoons of sugar--about the same as Pepsi. Commercial orange juice has almost as much sugar, though it may redeem itself with Vitamin C.

But Diet Coke, Diet Pepsi and the like have no sugar at all. Why ban them? Why not ban apple juice?

I know, it feels more healthy to drink apple juice than diet pop. But if your concern is weight gain and tooth decay, then it isn't.

A later Kohl-Welles bill would ask only that an advisory committee draft a model policy, and that school districts adopt some policy. That is wiser, though it is probably a foot in the door to an eventual mandate.

Before they get to determining the contents of vending machines by state law, our legislators should figure out what they really care about, say it plainly, and make sure their law aims at it directly.

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Posted by Bruce Ramsey at 04:20 PM


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