1/3/16

Trump Holds Rally in Biloxi

In case you missed "the largest campaign event in Mississippi history" yesterday in Biloxi, you can see it here. I was not able to go to Donald Trump's rally, so it is nice to have the video available. The turnout looks pretty good, although I suppose there is no way to know how many of those attending are there to see the show or how many really plan to vote for Trump. Trump's appeal, whatever you and I might think about it, appears to be alive and well as we move into 2016.



12/24/15

Harrison County Nativity Scene Joined By Atheist Sign

Proven├žal Nativity scene
Proven├žal Nativity scene (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Nativity scenes do not belong on government-owned property. They are perfectly fine on private property (e.g., your front yard, the front yard of your church, the front yard of a business you own), but placing them on government property amounts to the sort of promotion of religion that violates the separation of church and state. Having said that, it is not at all uncommon to encounter nativity scenes in government buildings this time of year in many predominately Christian parts of the United States. And nowhere is more predominately Christian than right here in Mississippi!

The Harrison County courthouse in Gulfport has a nativity scene in their lobby. The American Humanist Association had threatened the county with a lawsuit but recently called it off. Why? Harrison County agreed to allow the addition of a secular display to join the nativity scene. Specifically, the Mississippi Gulf Coast Humanist, Atheist and Freethinking Association was permitted to put up a sign next to the display.

11/4/15

Sorry Kids, Voters Reject Initiative 42 in Mississippi

Historic Wechsler School in Meridian, MS
Historic Wechsler School in Meridian, MS (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I am surprised that Mississippi's Initiative 42 to fully fund public education failed to pass. The pro 42 side was relatively well-funded and did a decent job of getting the word out. The coalition of people supporting 42 was not limited to the handful of poorly organized liberals scattered throughout our state. Most major newspapers, educators, some religious groups, and at least a few atheists (e.g., Neil Carter) supported Initiative 42.

At work, nearly all of my co-workers were convinced it would easily pass. As one woman with a young family put it, "With all the attention this has been getting, it is difficult to imagine how anybody could vote against improving education in our state." I wasn't quite so optimistic. I have learned that our local conservatives have a way of going against what most of us would regard as common sense. Still, I did think Initiative 42 would likely pass.

11/1/15

Initiative 42

English: Greenwood High School in Greenwood, M...
Greenwood High School in Greenwood, Mississippi (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
On Tuesday, Mississippians will go to the polls (I hope) to vote for or against Initiative 42, the measure requiring our legislature to fully fund public K-12 education. The whole thing is fairly confusing because of of how the ballot is set up, but it is also confusing because it deals with a complicated question with few easy answers: how should we fund public education, and how much of a priority should it be? As a result, I know plenty of smart people in our state who still have not decided how (or if) they will vote.

At the public university where I work, we have been bombarded with anti-42 messages from the administration. My guess is that such political messaging is not entirely legal, but that certainly doesn't prevent it from happening. Essentially, we have been told that if Initiative 42 passes, state universities will have their budgets cut to make up for the added money going to K-12 education. The not so subtle implication is that passing Initiative 42 could place our jobs in jeopardy or at the very least could deprive us of resources we already don't have necessary to do our jobs.

10/3/15

Time to Get Your Flu Shot

English: Entrance to the headquarters of the C...
Entrance to the headquarters of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
According to the Centers for Disease Control, less than half of Americans get a flu immunization each year (reported in the Jackson Free Press). Are that many people afraid this vaccine could give them Autism? Or maybe they have an alternative means of escaping the flu.

But seriously, I admit that there have been a couple of years when I forgot to get my flu shot. This is unwise since I work in a busy university setting where I can count on being exposed to nearly every contagious illness that seems to sweep through the students. I need to get my shot not just because I don't want to get sick (which I don't) but also because I don't want to spread it to others. Perhaps I do have a bit of humanism in me after all.