Well, deadline day is today, the U.N. is in all likelihood not going to budge, and we’re due to leave for Hawaii on Saturday. Makes for a very freako situation. Welcome to my life.

Kelson and I were discussing this last night and decided that if anything happened between now and then, we weren’t getting on the plane. Now that it’s about 95% likely we’ll have to fish or cut bait on that decision, I’m thinking we’re probably no more in danger on the plane than either here or in Hawaii. First off, Hawaii is U.S. soil. There’s not a lot of other soil around, really. Plus, it’s already been bombed once, and as Lilo says, “It’s nice to live on an island with no major cities.” Second, there aren’t many tall buildings in SoCal. Sure, somebody could crash the plane into Disneyland, but what a way to go. Third, and probably most important, security is going to be on red alert from today forward, no matter what happens. It’ll probably mean I have to wear a non-underwire bra at LAX and mail my Swiss Army knife to the hotel, but I’d like to see a terrorist try to get through. (Try. Not actually do.)

And if they shut down air travel when we’re due to come home, well…..see above.

I heard an NPR report that 83% of Americans 18-24 cannot find Afghanistan on a map. Following it up on their website, I found a link to the National Geographic survey they used.

Of course, what the report neglected to mention is that nobody had a good rate at finding Afghanistan. The only country where a majority of respondents could identify it was Germany, and they only made 55%. In fact, many people think Sweden’s pretty obscure (although Swedes scored 97%). Across the board, more people could locate Argentina than Sweden or Afghanistan.

It’s all in what you’re looking for. National Geographic was looking to see how well American youth stacked up against those in other countries, and most of us aren’t doing that well. But the fact is, they aren’t doing much better. (NG’s summary page notes that Mexico, Canada, and Great Britain scored almost as poorly.) What the results really show is that people everywhere have an astounding lack of geographical knowledge.

(Still wondering about the 3% of Swedes who couldn’t find Sweden.)

I hear our President has signed legislation supporting the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance (search for bill S.2690 in THOMAS). It passed the Senate unanimously and the House with only 5 objections. It’s intended to be a response to this summer’s ruling by the 9th District Court of Appeals that the law that placed those words in the Pledge is unconstitutional on the grounds that it violates the separation of church and state.

Now regardless of whether you believe those words should be in there or not, you have to consider: If the original law is unconstitutional, isn’t this one too?

I’m sorry, but this decision isn’t up to the legislature or the executive office. It’s up to the judicial branch to determine whether the original law can stand under the Constitution. If Congress doesn’t like the decision, they don’t have the authority to overturn it. They can take it up with the Supreme Court or amend the Constitution. If the Supreme Court agrees with the appellate court, then this law is equally invalid. If it disagrees, or if the Constitution is amended, then this law says nothing new.

Can you believe they spent almost five months crafting and debating a law that has no effect one way or the other?

What does someone’s religious belief have to do with “teaching boys moral and ethical values through an outdoor program that challenges them and teaches them respect for nature, one another, and themselves?”

Everything, according to the Boy Scouts of America, who have just kicked out an Eagle Scout with 37 merit badges for being an atheist. [edit: originally linked to a Yahoo News story]

Let me point out that it takes a lot of time, work and dedication to become an Eagle Scout, the highest rank in scouting. It takes several years to work through the ranks, you have to earn a number of merit badges, each representing that you have learned or demonstrated some skill (anything from wilderness survival to accounting), most hold some leadership position, and you have to finish up by organizing and running a community service project, then go through a review board. It’s tough to become an Eagle Scout, and you really have to prove yourself to get there.

So not only did this scout prove himself through years of dedication to the program, extra effort to earn more merit badges than are required, a major service project and an interview with a review board, but he refused to lie when threatened with expulsion. He sounds to me like the kind of person they should be thrilled to have on board.

So I say to Darrell Lambert: they can kick you out of scouting, they may be able to kick you out of NESA, they may even be able to take back your badge (though I’d like to see them try to justify that), but they can’t take away the fact that you were – are an Eagle Scout. You proved that beyond a doubt when you refused to compromise your principles and say you’d changed your mind.

To the BSA: you make me sick. I am still proud to be an Eagle Scout myself, but today I am ashamed to have been a part of your organization.