Sunday, May 11, 2008


Out and About the Intertubes

Freshwater, Stale Brain:

There is more on John Freshwater, the crazed teacher who thinks he was hired with public tax money to be a preacher.

Among other things, Freshwater used a device to brand a cross into the flesh of some of his students, which turned out to be a BD-10A High Frequency Generator, about the same size and shape as a power screwdriver, the tip of which puts out up to 50,000 volts of electricity. It is used to ionize gases in a test tube so that students can identify them by their glowing colors. While the manufacturer states that it delivers the equivalent of a static shock generated by "touching a metal doorknob after walking across carpet on a dry winter day," it also said:

We have instructions to warn people that it's not a toy. If this device is directed for seconds (on the skin), that's a clear misuse of the product.

Jessica Philemond, attorney for the parents of one of the boys who was branded, objected that the school did not do enough when the branding came to light:

Principal William D. White wrote a letter to Freshwater in January, telling him not to shock children with the device. The letter noted that it would not be placed in his personnel file unless he shocked his students again.

Indeed, the administration apparently didn't take Freshwater's antics seriously at all, until the parents started making noise:

Philemond sent a letter to Short on April 14 saying that she would suggest the family sue the district if nothing was done.

The same day, administrators ordered Freshwater to remove religious items, including Bibles, the Ten Commandments and posters with Bible verses, from his classroom. Freshwater complied but objected to removing his personal Bible from his desk.

The horse didn't even feel the wind of that barn door closing behind it. Furthermore, Philemond says that Freshwater teaches religion in his classroom:

"When Mr. Freshwater disagrees with teaching material based upon his own religious beliefs, he advises the students that, although he is forced to teach from the textbooks, the teachings are wrong or not proven according to the Bible," Philemond's letter states.

And Freshwater's crazy keeps coming:

As moderator of a meeting of Christian athletes in the school, she said, Freshwater led a healing ceremony to drive Satan from an ill school visitor and asked students to distribute Bibles to other students.

This man's disrespect for the law of the land is enough to morally, if not legally, disqualify him as a holder of the public trust.

Northern Lights Out:

A school district in central Maine is threatening to become the next Dover:

[School Board] Director Matthew Linkletter claims evolution is an unprovable theory and shouldn't be taught as fact. He's urged the [School Administrative District 59] Board of Directors to consider his view during its May 19 meeting in Madison, with a goal of removing evolution from science classrooms.

Mike O'Risal at Hyphoid Logic sounded the alarm but the news has been slow to be picked up around the science blogging community. These sites have noticed: Further Thoughts and Science After Sunclipse.

Other news stories about SAD 59.

Not All Is Lost:

Tom Megeath, an assistant professor of astronomy and physics at the University of Toledo, has a very good guest editorial in the Toledo Blade:

Just as the physical theories of motion, electromagnetism, and quantum mechanics led to the technologies that transformed society in the 20th century, modern biology will enable technologies that will transform human society in the 21st century. ...

Unless we move the debate over evolution and the teaching of biology from the 19th century to the 21st century, we as a nation will sail into this uncharted territory with our eyes shut.

Well said.

Ah, good! PZ Myearshertz has picked up on the story from Maine.

Some days it seems that there are too many crazy doings to keep up with them all. :)
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