Welcome to the new USA

I’ve been saying for some time that the change in American attitudes toward privacy and liberty since the September 11 attacks has been disconcerting at best.  The USA Patriot Act began us on a road which, should we fail to turn away from the direction we’re now moving in, will eventually lead to a true police state.  I’m apparently not the only one who’s noticed this.  I was thrilled to find this article on the Internet a few days ago and truly believe it’s important to share.  Please take a moment to read it before we intentionally, or through inaction, give away more of our rights and find ourselves in the police state we’ve always feared.

Cool little phone

I recently upgraded my cell phone and service with AT&T.  For two years I've carried a TDMA Motorola V60i cell phone.  I was thoroughly happy with the phone and the digital TDMA service, but times and technologies change.  As is the case every year or two, I knew it was time to upgrade.

I've been with AT&T Wireless for many years and have been thrilled with the service.  My first cell phone (back in the early nineties) was a massive piece of equipment that required its own trailer for mobility.  New networks and technologies guided me from that humble beginning through the Nokia craze and eventually left me with the V60i.

I was quite happy with the digital TDMA network and service, and AT&T's Digital One Rate plans were perfect for me since I never had to worry about roaming or long distance charges.

But the CDMA and TDMA networks are things of the past.  Two years ago when I purchased the V60i, AT&T had only recently begun their implementation of a GSM/GPRS next-generation network.  I knew then that I would be upgrading in 12-24 months.

Last week I finally concluded that it was time to upgrade phones and change cell networks, so I went to my local AT&T Wireless store.

I had already done my homework.  After the announcement of the first Windows Mobile-based SmartPhone in the US, I knew which phone and which plan I wanted, so I skipped the introductory phase of my visit and jumped directly to the wheeling and dealing.

Shortly thereafter I was walking out the door with a new Motorola MPx200 phone on a new GSM/GPRS next-generation One Rate plan from AT&T.

The MPx200 runs Microsoft Windows Mobile and comes packed with great features and applications including Pocket Outlook, Pocket Internet Explorer, instant messaging (MSN, AIM, Yahoo!, etc.), Windows Media Player, and many others.

Of course I've spent the last week playing with it and trying to figure out all of the features.  Thus far, I'm still learning.

I've already found some great new applications that I've installed (like a caller ID package that allows me to associate real photos of people with their contact entry so their actual picture is shown when they call).  I have the general impression that it'll take some time before I'm satisfied with the phone given the many applications I can install to modify its behavior and enhance its functionality.

I've also added a 64 MB Secure Digital (SD) Memory Card to give me more versatility.  As I continue to broaden my use of the phone's features, I can always upgrade to a 128 MB SD card.  The extra memory gives me more versatility with the phone and allows me to expand its functionality more extensively with applications and upgrades.

I'm not entirely satisfied with the limited scope of AT&T's GSM/GPRS network, but it is new and still growing.  Despite its prolific reach, the CDMA and TDMA networks are things of the past and will eventually go away.  That means next-generation is the way to go, so I'm there.

Overall I've been more than pleased with the phone and am learning to adapt to the new network service.  Knowing that the network will continue to grow and gain new features makes it easier to deal with the coverage shortcomings (which I remember clearly with the migration to the first digital networks, so I'm familiar with the process and can wait for the network to expand).

Georgia, you must be kidding

The state of Georgia, via it's public school superintendent, recently announced its intention to strike evolution, Charles Darwin, and many other scientific facts and theories from the biology curriculum for high school students.  Could there be a more religiously pedantic attack on science and truth?

It's lunacy to think that removing Charles Darwin, evolution, actual fossil evidence, and even the emergence of single-celled microorganisms from a truthful study of biology is anything more than an attempted religious coup of public education.  When Superintendent Kathy Cox, a Republican of questionable mental ability, announced the changes, I convinced myself that I was suffering from a mental break and could no longer trust my own senses.

To ensure that the theological offensive on science would be complete, the new curriculum also eliminated other details about the origin of life, including Gregor Mendel's identification of genes, the appearance of primitive life forms 4 billion years ago, and the long-term dynamics of evolution.  In its place is a statement listing five "historical scientific models of change" that includes the sole mention of Darwin.  The word "evolution" disappears entirely and is replaced by the phrase "l;change over time."

Heralded as a way to take pressure off of teachers "on the front lines" and to promote consideration of the new curriculum, this attempt to push public education back into the Dark Ages is truly the most offensive religious invasion of public education that I have ever seen.  If teachers do not wish to face the controversy inherent in education (especially science), they should find a different career and leave teaching to those who will face the discussion with an eye toward the free flow of ideas rather than with fear.

Teachers who support the move, such as Susan McKinney, who teaches biology to high school students in Crisp County, say they never believed earth could have come into existence without a divine hand.  McKinney went on to say she believed in natural selection, but when her course touched on the fossil record and single-celled organisms believed to be among the first life forms on earth — information she considers a "tentative hypothesis" — she skims over it, recommending that students study the material independently if they wish.

Since when are teachers allowed to modify facts and figures to fit within their own narrow, incomplete idea of what children should be learning?  When this is allowed, the truth in education is lost to the spin of politics and religion.

Sharing in my own acute embarrassment that such a move could take place in today's society, John Avise, a genetics professor at the University of Georgia, responded to the announcement by saying, "I hope we don't have to change the word 'chemistry' to 'the movement of molecules across space' next.  I'll have to rewrite a lot of my texts."

It seems to me that excluding scientific facts and theories in order to promote a single religious agenda to students who look to the education system to provide a balanced and honest learning experience is reprehensible at best.  It's unnecessary to teach children that the world is once again flat and is indeed the center of the universe since we learned long ago that these ideas were not correct.  In fact, when we stifle the free flow of ideas to our children, we cripple future generations from continuing to learn and grow and expand our scientific knowledge.

The advancement of humans as a whole is endangered by such selfish attacks on truth.

This decision, if it stands, will mean that Georgia will have taken a very large step backward in science.  Students of such an education system must be considered under par and inadequate for the real world.  With a crippled and incomplete — if not entirely inaccurate — picture of the universe around them, these children are clearly being betrayed by those entrusted with ensuring their education.

I can only hope that this decision is reversed, either by the educational system or the courts, before much damage is done to the unsuspecting next generation from Georgia.

Welcome message archive – February 28, 2004

Here’s the archive of the latest welcome message from the front page.

guu ker jean

Welcome to my little corner of the Internet.  My name is Jason (duh, right?), and this is my experiment in self-expression.  It’s about life, the universe, and my kids.  I had no grandiose ideas when I started it and continue on in the spirit of ad hocism.

You can learn a little something about me and my life from what I divulge here.  It centers around my kids (the four cats who are very much in charge around here), my tattoos (those I have and those I intend to get), piercings (again those I have and those I intend to get), working out and trying to build a better body, my experiences, and exercising my free speech by discussing politics, local, national and world events, technology, science, national security, and a host of other things that I’m interested in.

Hopefully some of the things you’ll find here will entertain you.  If I’m lucky, you might find something here that will make you think. 

So take a look around and feel free to let me know what you think either by sending me an email or signing the Guestbook.