The atheist writer S. T. Joshi, 55, born in India, raised in Indiana and now living in Seattle, has written or edited more than 200 books, including a novel of detective fiction, a bibliography of writings about Gore Vidal and numerous works about H. L. Mencken.
He edits four periodicals, including Lovecraft Annual, the major review of scholarship about the horror writer H. P. Lovecraft; The American Rationalist, a journal for unbelievers; and The Weird Fiction Review, which is what it sounds like. He once spent years scanning into his computer — and typing what could not be scanned — every word ever written by Ambrose Bierce, about six million total.
And this month Mr. Joshi got a call from a friend who works for Barnes & Noble, asking if he could edit a new edition of “The King in Yellow,” the 1895 collection of supernatural stories by Robert W. Chambers. It seems that the book was a major inspiration for “True Detective,” the popular HBO series. “I am one of maybe three people in the world who knows anything about Robert W. Chambers,” Mr. Joshi said, by way of explanation. His new edition will be out in April.
Education Week reports on the challenges facing Indiana school districts as they implement the Affordable Care Act. The main complaints are predictable: more paperwork, more administrative headaches, and more costs. But, judging from the article, no one seems vehemently opposed to the law.
Support staff, however, are being cut to just below 30 hours a week, to save the districts money. Unlike private employers, like Wal-Mart, who have flexible budgets, school districts have to work within annual budget appropriations.
Backers of the law have argued that employees who work 30 or more hours, in education and other fields, deserve insurance, and Mr. Coopman said he was sympathetic to that view.
But many Indiana districts have been hurting financially for years, he said, partly because state funding has not kept up with costs.
“Many school districts in the state of Indiana are operating with a 2006 budget in 2013,” Mr. Coopman said. To provide health insurance for workers, he said, would mean “cutting pieces out of a pie that’s already thin.”
The Southeast Dubois County district relies on about 50 support-staff workers, in addition to more than 80 teachers and administrators. Providing all of them with health insurance would have cost the district, which has a general-fund budget of about $7.4 million, an additional $257,000, a cost that the district could not afford, said Mr. Allen, whose district is not part of the lawsuit.
School districts “can’t just go up to the state and say, ‘We just offered all our employees health insurance, give us more money,’ ” he said.
The lawsuit mentioned was filed in federal court by Indiana’s attorney general and joined by several of the state’s school districts. It challenges IRS regulations regarding coverage of employees working 30 hours or more.
House Bill 1283, introduced in the Indiana House of Representatives on January 23, 2013, and referred to the House Committee on Education, is the seventh antiscience bill of 2013. Although evolution is not specifically mentioned in the bill, the previous legislation introduced by its sponsor, Jeff Thompson (R-District 28), and the similarity of its language to the language of previous antievolution bills together make it amply clear that the teaching of evolution in the state’s public schools is a main target.
HB 1283 begins by asserting as legislative findings that “(1) an important purpose of education is to inform students about evidence and to help students develop critical thinking skills necessary to become intelligent, productive, and informed citizens; (2) some subjects, including, but not limited to, science, history, and health, have produced differing conclusions and theories on some topics; and (3) some teachers may be unsure of the expectations concerning how the teachers should present information and evidence on these topics.”
HB 1283 requires state and local education officials to “endeavor to create an environment within accredited schools that encourages students to explore questions, learn about evidence, develop critical thinking skills, and respond appropriately and respectfully to different conclusions and theories concerning” such topics, and also requires them not to prohibit teachers from “helping students to understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the strengths and weaknesses of existing conclusions and theories being presented in a course being taught by the teacher.”
HB 1283 further provides, “A teacher shall be allowed to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the strengths and weaknesses of conclusions and theories being presented in a course being taught by the teacher.” And, attempting to immunize the bill from accusations of its permitting unconstitutional activity in the classroom, it insists that it “may not be construed to promote: (1) any religious or nonreligious doctrine; (2) discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs or nonbeliefs; or (3) discrimination for or against religion or nonreligion.”
In 2012, the bill’s author Jeff Thompson was the House sponsor of Dennis Kruse’s Senate Bill 89. As originally submitted, SB 89 would have allowed local school districts to teach creation science, but the Senate, before passing it, amended the bill to allow local school districts to teach various theories of the origin of life, which “must include theories from multiple religions, which may include, but is not limited to, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Scientology.” SB 89 as amended eventually died in the House.
Also in 2012, Thompson was the author of House Bill 1140, which would have required teachers to discuss “commonly held competing views” on topics “that cannot be verified by scientific empirical evidence.” Although evolution was not specifically mentioned in the bill, its coauthor Cindy Noe (R-District 87) cohosted a controversial dinner at the Creation Evidence Expo in Indianapolis in 2009, according to the Fort Wayne Reader (August 23, 2010): the Expo’s organizer claimed that Noe was a supporter of his organization. In any case, HB 1140 seems to have died in committee.
HB 1283 is the only antiscience bill in Indiana in 2013. As NCSE previously reported, state senator Dennis Kruse (R-District 14) disclosed in November 2012 that he intended to introduce a bill that would encourage teachers to misrepresent evolution as scientifically controversial. He subsequently changed his plan, saying that he would introduce a bill that would allow students to challenge teachers to provide evidence to support any claims the students found suspect. Apparently, however, no such bill has been introduced, and deadlines for filing Senate bills and for Senate bills to be assigned to committee have passed.
When Pat Wilson arrived in Columbus, Indiana, in the early 1970s, it was because she’d left behind Hazard — the small, Kentucky coal-mining town that inspired The Dukes of Hazzard. To her, Columbus was a way out, she says.
Situated about 50 miles south of Indianapolis, Columbus was also a way in. It offered Wilson things she couldn’t find in Hazard: access to a small but growing population, plenty to do around town, and, most importantly, a good job with benefits.
She started working as a recruiter for Cummins, Inc., the multinational engine manufacturing company headquartered in Columbus, where she’s lived ever since. She semi-retired in 2001 and then delved into public service, first working for Columbus’s mayor and later for the city’s economic development board, where she remains to this day.
”Finding work has never been too difficult here,” she says.
Working for one manufacturing company for 30 years and then semi-retiring might not seem too thrilling on its surface. But in an era when “rust belt decline” has become a sad cliche and national unemployment numbers are consistently near 8 percent, it’s worth thinking about the American cities where recessions have been remarkably absent, where manufacturing thrives, where populations continue to rise.
That’s exactly what Area Development magazine did this summer when it compiled its list of “Leading Locations” for 2012.
Republican chances of capturing control of the Senate in Tuesday’s elections could be dimming, amid signs that the party’s candidate in the state of Indiana has fallen behind after his incendiary remarks about rape and pregnancy.
Republicans have little margin for error in their quest to win control of the Senate from the Democrats, and controlling the upper chamber will be essential for either President Barack Obama or Republican challenger Mitt Romney to get their agenda through Congress, where Republicans control the House of Representatives. Republican failure in Indiana, combined with the likely loss of a seat in Maine and quite possibly in Massachusetts, would put the party in a deep hole. Democrats control the Senate by a 53-47, so Republicans need a net pickup of four seats if Obama wins reelection, or three if Romney wins.
If Republicans lose their seats in Indiana, Maine and Massachusetts, they face an uphill battle in gaining control of the Senate. They would have to win all the competitive open seats now in Democratic hands — Nebraska, North Dakota, Virginia and Wisconsin — plus knock off incumbents in Montana, Ohio and perhaps Pennsylvania. Analysts predict that Democrats will narrowly hold the Senate, while Republicans are expected to keep the House.
It sounds like a mash-up of Indiana Jones’ plots, but German researchers say a heavy Buddha statue brought to Europe by the Nazis was carved from a meteorite that likely fell 10,000 years ago along the Siberia-Mongolia border.
This space Buddha, also known as “iron man” to the researchers, is of unknown age, though the best estimates date the statue to sometime between the eighth and 10th centuries. The carving depicts a man, probably a Buddhist god, perched with his legs tucked in, holding something in his left hand. On his chest is a Buddhist swastika, a symbol of luck that was later co-opted by the Nazi party of Germany.
“One can speculate whether the swastika symbol on the statue was a potential motivation to displace the ‘iron man’ meteorite artifact to Germany,” the researchers wrote online Sept. 14 in the journal Meteoritics & Planetary Science.
On March 16, 1925, in the muted morning light of a hotel room in Hammond, Indiana, 29-year-old Madge Oberholtzer reached into the pocket of the man sleeping next to her. She found the grip of his revolver and slid it out, inch by inch, praying he wouldn’t stir. The man was D.C. Stephenson, political power broker and Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan in 23 Northern states. With shaking hands she aimed the gun between his closed eyes. What passed for a lucid thought came to mind: She would disgrace her family if she were to commit murder; instead, she would kill herself.
She crept into an adjoining room and faced a full-length mirror. Beneath her dress chunks of her were missing. Bite marks covered her face, neck, breasts, back, legs and ankles, a macabre pattern of polka dots etched along her skin. She was bleeding from the mouth; he had even chewed her tongue. Her hand was steadier this time, lifting the gun to her temple, when she heard a step outside the door and the squeak of a turning knob. It was one of Stephenson’s associates. She buried the gun into the fold of her dress and slipped it back into the sleeping man’s pocket. She would find another way to kill herself, if he didn’t kill her first.
It was the beginning of the end, in different ways, for both Madge Oberholtzer and D.C. Stephenson, although the politician had long believed himself infallible. “I am the law in Indiana,” he famously declared, and with reason. At age 33, Stephenson was one of the most powerful men in the state, having controlled the governor’s election and the movements of several state legislators, influencing bills on nutrition, steam pollution, fire insurance, highways and even oleomargarine, all of which would line his pockets with graft. His hand-picked candidate for mayor of Indianapolis seemed certain to win election, and Stephenson himself dreamed of running for the U.S. Senate, even president.
Stephenson’s political success was directly tied to his leadership within the Klan, which by 1925 had a quarter-million members in Indiana alone, accounting for more than 30 percent of the state’s white male population. At the height of its popularity, the Klan was a mainstream organization whose roster included lawyers, doctors, college professors, ministers and politicians at every level, most of them middle- and upper-middle-class white Protestants who performed community service and supported Prohibition. The Klan exploited nativist fears of foreign ethnic groups and religions, Catholicism in particular. (Prejudice against African-Americans was not as much of a motivating factor to join the Klan in Indiana as it was in the South.) “Out in Indiana everybody seems to belong,” reported the New York Times in 1923. “Easterners have been surprised at the ready conquest by the Klan of a state which seemed of all our forty-eight the least imperiled by any kind of menace.”
It could be several more days before electricity is restored to areas hit by vicious storms that killed at least 13 people and left 3 million power customers to negotiate sweltering temperatures without air conditioning.
Across a swath from Indiana to New Jersey and south to Virginia, officials warned the heat wave could take a toll on the elderly, young or sick. Problems from the storms that began Friday ranged from a damaged prison in Illinois to tree-strewn train tracks that stranded 232 Amtrak passengers for more than 20 hours in West Virginia.
Emergencies have been declared in Maryland, West Virginia, Ohio, the District of Columbia and Virginia, where Gov. Bob McDonnell said the state had its largest non-hurricane outage in history, as more storms threatened. “This is a very dangerous situation,” the governor said.
Governor Mitch Daniels has a bold strategy to make his state the new destination for outbound sunbelt businesses. But making Indiana a tech magnet will take more than low taxes.
Some Californians may have recently noticed an advertisement with a coffee mug and the word “Indiana” written in the milky latte foam. A crumpled napkin sits next to the mug with this scribbled on it: “Admit it, you find me fiscally attractive.” On another napkin it reads, “Indiana: low taxes, pro-business, fiscally responsible.”
Ads like this are part of the Hoosier state’s new push to lure California companies 2,300 miles east, trying to convince them to give up the morass of California regulations and high business taxes, in exchange for the regulation-light, low tax business nirvana of Indiana.
“I always say, Midwest quality at sunbelt cost structure,” said Mitch Daniels, the Republican governor of Indiana. When we met in his office at the Indiana state capital, Daniels said the two states in his scopes are neighboring Illinois and California.
“It’s a big world, and you have to look for your targets. So we look at American states, which are, as we see it, inordinately expensive, or even hostile to business.”
Under Daniels’ guidance, Indiana is cutting corporate income taxes from 8.5 percent to 6.5 percent, phased in gradually over the next four years. California’s corporate tax rate in California is 8.84 percent.
Governor Daniels likes that comparison. “If I were being sarcastic, I’d say thank you. For reasons best known to them [California], they are so actively hostile to business. And it’s reflected, business people tell us, not just in ever-higher taxes, but in punitive and hostile attitudes toward business.”
“That’s quite accurate,” said Joseph Vranich, reflecting on the governor’s quote after I read it to him. Vranich is a consultant in Irvine, Calif. who helps companies find places to relocate. “The top three reasons why companies leave California are taxes, the costs of regulatory compliance, and a hostile attitude.”
According to Vranich’s research, with his company Spectrum Location Solutions, at least 254 companies moved all or part of their businesses out of California in 2011. He says they’re not being pulled to other locations, they’re being pushed out.
“It always starts with a push. I’ve never had anyone call me and say, hey you know what, we’re pretty happy here in California, but is there a place that’s even a better Shangri-La for us?’ I’ve never heard that once.”
But after that push, are low taxes enough of a draw to South Bend or Bloomington?
“We got an email from two young people asking to join our klavern,” said Silversmith, as she perused several editions of TheDurango Klansman. “I had to explain that we were a library, and the KKK documents were just research materials,” she laughed.
The youths’ request may not have been a prank. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, 12 white supremacist groups are currently active in Colorado.
“Membership is booming in Colorado,” said Cole Thornton, Imperial Grand Wizard of the United Northern and Southern Knights of the KKK, which claims to be the largest KKK offshoot in the United States and is active in Colorado.
Mark Potok, SPLC’s spokesman, said, “the truth is that the radical right in the U.S. has grown enormously in the last 10 years, particularly since Obama’s election in 2008.”
While white supremacy appears to be enjoying a minor renaissance nationally, it has a long history in Durango. Historian Duane Smith said that La Plata County was entirely “Klan dominated, about the 1920s and 30s.” In those years, the KKK - America’s most notorious white supremacist organization - boasted 5 million members, including the governors of Colorado, Indiana, Oregon, Texas and Arkansas.
Today, many view the Klan - which killed more than 3,440 black people between 1882 and 1968 - as a terrorist organization. Yale history professor David Blight said, “other than the American Nazi Party, the KKK is probably the most denounced, discredited and scorned organization in the country. Whoever has a toehold in the mainstream - even someone within the radical, evangelical right wing - wouldn’t claim membership.”
“It’s an uphill battle,” agreed Thornton. “There’s some of us that have taken on the challenge to rehabilitate our image. We’re working on publishing a book on the Klan’s good deeds.”
That book - along with adopt-a-highway initiatives, pamphleteering and aggressive use of the Internet - is just one part of the modern KKK’s awkward, increasingly sophisticated, advertising.