Friday, October 31, 2008

A Republican recently accused her challenger of "taking Godless money." Isn't all money Godless?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Terrific Nova special about fractals

Photo at left is the original Mandelbrot set.

Click here to see four up close details of the image at left.

What do movie special effects, the stock market, heart attacks, and the rings of Saturn have in common?

They're all connected by a revolutionary new branch of math called fractals, which changed the way we see the world and opened up a vast new territory to scientific analysis and understanding.

NOVA tells the dramatic story of a group of pioneering mathematicians who developed fractals from a curiosity that few took seriously to an approach that is touching nearly every branch of understanding - including what happened after the Big Bang and the ultimate fate of our universe.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Whose idea was this? Did George Bush really want all this power?

In a May 2007 White House directive, the Bush administration gave itself control over all public institutions, even at the state and local level, as well as tribal areas and some private institutions in the event of an emergency.

Did any of the people who worked on this directive study American history? Do they understand the true source of our country's power? It's our democracy, our institutions. You can't throw out checks and balances, and two out of three branches of the federal government, and still call ourselves a democracy. We would have a monarchy.


Australia premieres "open phone tests"

Phone a friend in exams
August 20, 2008

A Sydney girls' school is redefining the concept of cheating by allowing students to "phone a friend" and use the internet and i-Pods during exams. The Sydney Morning Herald reports.

"Presbyterian Ladies' College at Croydon is giving the assessment method a trial run with year 9 English students and plans to expand it to all subjects by the end of the year.

... An English teacher, Dierdre Coleman said her students were being encouraged to access information from the internet, their mobile phones and podcasts played on mp3s as part of a series of 40-minute tasks. But to discourage plagiarism, they are required to cite all sources they use.

"In terms of preparing them for the world, we need to redefine our attitudes towards traditional ideas of 'cheating'," Ms Coleman said. "Unless the students have a conceptual understanding of the topic or what they are working on, they can't access bits and pieces of information to support them in a task effectively.

"In their working lives they will never need to carry enormous amounts of information around in their heads. What they will need to do is access information from all their sources quickly and they will need to check the reliability of their information."

... International education consultant, Marc Prensky threw out the following challenge to educators in a British Educational Communications and Technology Agency publication: "What if we allowed the use of mobile phones and instant messaging to collect information during exams, redefining such activity from 'cheating' to 'using our tools and including the world in our knowledge base'?

"Our kids already see this on television. 'You can use a lifeline to win $1 million,' said one. 'Why not to pass a stupid test?' I have begun advocating the use of open phone tests ... Being able to find and apply the right information becomes more important than having it all in your head."

Friday, October 24, 2008

Fear of HIV in St. Louis high school

School Tests Students Amid HIV Scare
Oct. 23, 2008

NORMANDY, Mo. Students at a suburban St. Louis high school headed to the gymnasium for HIV testing this week after an infected person told health officials as many as 50 teenagers might have been exposed to the virus that causes AIDS.

Officials refused to give details on who the person was or how the students at Normandy High School might have been exposed, but the district is consulting with national AIDS organizations as it tries to minimize the fallout and prevent the infection — and misinformation — from spreading.

"There's potential for stigma for all students regardless of whether they're positive or negative," Normandy School District spokesman Doug Hochstedler said Thursday. "The board wants to be sure all children are fully educated."
A teacher in a neighboring district singled out a girl who dates someone at Normandy High and instructed her to get tested, Hochstedler said. A competing school's football team initially balked at playing Normandy's 8-0 team.

Jasmine Lane, a 16-year-old sophomore, said her boyfriend from a neighboring high school broke up with her on learning of the news — after she bought them tickets to homecoming.

"I cried so hard," she said.

Hochstedler said that as far as he knows, no other district has had to handle a similar situation. Students at the school of 1,300 are being tested voluntarily, and the district is getting advice on the best ways to support kids in crisis.
Sophomore Tevin Baldwin said that many of his classmates in this working-class city of about 5,000 residents want to transfer out of the district, which encompasses other towns.

"Nobody knows what's going on," he said. The district declined to respond to his assertion...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Some ACORN workers did what lots of low-paid registration workers do:

Registration workers for all political parties often get paid a set amount for every person they register. A few of them create phony registrations to get a few more bucks. This does not mean that anyone will show up on voting day and claim to be fictional person whose name is on the registration. The goal is, and has been for as long as I can remember, to get a few extra bucks to live on.

It's wrong of Ohio Republicans to claim that ACORN itself has done anything wrong, much less that it is trying to steal an election.

It is possible that Republicans simply want an excuse to show up at the polls themselves, and challenge legitimate voters in order to get them to leave without voting.

Friday, October 17, 2008


10/15/08 - During the debate today, Obama declared that solving our education problem is a major solution to our financial crisis. The answer to how to fix our schools will be presented this Saturday. Neither presidential candidate appears to know the answer. Do not miss this event.

Contact: Josh Fertel, River City Marketing at 703-218-1750 or, or Myra Sawyers, EPIC, at 571-233-6735 or,, or Karen Horwitz, NAPTA, at 312-397-1940 or (cell during March - 312 498-9074)

Thousands of Teachers Expected to March on Nation's Capitol Oct. 18 to Bring Attention to Teacher Abuse; Some Wearing Bags on Heads to Hide Identities; Presidential Campaigns Alerted

Thousands of teachers and their supporters, some wearing paper bags on their heads to hide their identities, are expected to converge on the nation’s Capitol Oct. 18 to send a strong message that abuse of teachers must stop because teachers are the anchors of the education system. The organizers have alerted both presidential campaigns about this momentous event.

Education leaders organizing the rally say that the country's educational system is about to implode as have our financial institutions and for the very same reasons - a lack of regulations and greed. In addition to marching on the National Mall, there will be an array of speakers whose message is to convey just why schools are so dysfunctional and what must be done for education reform to work.

This march will be an historic presentation of teachers as individuals, rather than as extensions of the teachers' unions, sponsored by Educators for Progressive Instructional Change (EPIC), a non-profit organization focused on empowering teachers to dramatically impact the process of education reform. These teachers will talk about how administrations operating with too much power and hollow regulations have held schools hostage from the public.

Karen Horwitz, M.Ed., Chicago area native and author of the book, White Chalk Crime: The REAL Reason Schools Fail (2008), will speak about how teachers have been silent about what has been really going on in our schools due to their fear of teacher abuse. ( offers more information about her book as well as an opportunity to blog about education concerns.) In 2002, she cofounded the National Association for the Prevention of Teacher Abuse (NAPTA) to unify what she calls a disenfranchised group of teachers and an intentionally divided group of parents and teachers.

This group, whose website is, now exceeds 1,000 members, all of whom are eager to attest to the depravity of teacher abuse and its negative effects on students, but up until now have had no voice because it is simply too unbelievable that a first class nation could be treating its teachers this way, Horwitz said. Teachers from her group will be present at the rally later this month to explain why legislators must bail out teachers from the powerless state in which they find themselves despite their unions, she said.

However, due to the imbalanced playing field in education, few teachers can afford to expose what Horwitz called in her book the "EducRAT$" with their unlimited access to propaganda that blames teachers, parents and children and that instead protects those who are cannibalizing American schools. Thus, EPIC is providing bags to hide the faces of currently employed teachers who fear retribution from school authorities or their unions.

“We need to send a strong message to draw attention to the need for educational reform in this country. Teachers need to Speak Up and Speak Out for their profession and their students, and teachers need to be given the power to do so,” explained Myra Sawyers, M.Ed., President and Founder of EPIC. “This is an advocacy movement FOR teachers. It’s about giving teachers the support, power and respect they deserve.”

“We are holding the March in Washington D.C. because that is where we can create the biggest visual message for all government leaders and the public,” Sawyers said. “Teachers must have a greater role in influencing standards and policies. Amazingly, teachers – those who actually know what education needs – are not consulted. So EPIC is here to give teachers a voice. We want to empower teachers to change the educational world."

From 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Oct. 18, related events will be held on the Mall in preparation for the March, including presentations by nationally-recognized education reformers who will engage the public in lively discussions about the challenges of modern educational practices. From 1-4 p.m., the rally and Teachers' March will take place at the foot of the Capitol as what organizers are calling a solid show of unified concern. Registration tables, vendors and supporters will be visible along the mall.

"This will be a day of answers, solutions, and enlightenment for all who care about education," Horwitz said. Topics from teacher shortages to avoiding more Columbine shootings will be covered. Participation is free and advance registration is encouraged. Register at

About EPIC
Educators for Progressive Instructional Change (EPIC) is a non-profit organization focused on empowering teachers to dramatically impact the process of education reform. It was created by teachers and teacher advocates with the belief that today's educators have the power to transform the teaching profession and must play an essential role in developing education policy. It is not a Political Action Committee (PAC) but a non-partisan organization with no political mandate. EPIC does not lobby for any particular issue. Rather, it inspires teachers to become their own self-advocates. To achieve this objective, EPIC offers members a speaker series, annual conferences, policy forums, activism workshops, participation in political activities, one-on-one support and guidance, an annual newsletter, and other events and activities. Visit for additional details about EPIC.

National Association for the Prevention of Teacher Abuse (NAPTA) is a non-profit, non partisan organization founded to educate the public about teacher abuse and its role in obstructing school reform. In addition to helping teachers, educators, parents and citizens navigate within an education system that is increasingly hostile toward them, it is uniting disenfranchised teachers and giving them a voice. Its 1000 plus members post their stories of teacher abuse and thus student abuse at its website: Membership is free and all who care about children, teachers, and this nation's future are welcome to join.

For more information, please contact Josh Fertel, River City Marketing at 703-218-1750 or, or Myra Sawyers, EPIC, at 571-233-6735 or,, or Karen Horwitz, NAPTA, at 312-397-1940 or (cell during March - 312 498-9074)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Anti-gay marriage: Conservative Christians are forced to violate the duty to love, and not to judge

Is gay marriage good or bad?

It seems to me that two people committing to love and support each other is a good thing. After all, sex with more than one partner can be dangerous since there are vicious viruses and bacteria that have chosen this avenue to infect human beings.

But let's say, for argument's sake, that we want to consider the possibility that some Christians are correct and that the Old Testament proves that God is against gay sex.

While we consider this, we must keep in mind that Jesus made it abundantly clear that love and kindness are the guiding principles of the New Testament, and that the Old Testament also says, "Judgment is mine, sayeth the Lord."

What we are left with are competing moral principles.

Some people don't know how to weigh competing moral principles. They just choose
one and ignore the others.

Conservative Christians today must weigh the options; they must violate one or more of their principles. If they choose to maintain hostility toward gays, they must violate the directives to be kind and loving, and not to judge.

School board considers endorsement of Prop. 8
October 14, 2008

VISTA: The school board is to decide whether to formally endorse Proposition 8, the state ballot measure that would ban same-sex marriage in California, at its meeting Thursday night.

Vista board president Jim Gibson said he asked that a resolution in support of Proposition 8 be added to the agenda. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the multipurpose building at Temple Heights Elementary School, 1550 Temple Heights Drive in Oceanside.

The ballot measure arose in May after the state Supreme Court struck down Proposition 22, an initiative that voters passed in 2000 to ban same-sex marriages. Proposition 8 seeks to amend the state Constitution to recognize marriage as only between a man and a woman.

Yesterday, Gibson said he's urging the board of the Vista Unified School District to support Proposition 8 in part because the California Teachers Association opposes it.

“These types of agendas filter into education, so if this decision by the judges stands as is that means the school will eventually have to teach that it's acceptable for two dads, two moms type-of-thing,” Gibson said.

[Blogger's note: Two dads and two moms is a fact. Why teach children to condemn? I don't believe people have a choice whether to be gay or not. Heterosexuals can't choose to be gay, and vis versa. Why not just accept that this is how human beings (and other species) happen to be, and that there's nothing we can do about it?]

In July, trustees of the Grossmont Union High School District voted 4-0, with one abstention, to endorse Proposition 8. Trustee Richard Hoy, who abstained, said at the time that the measure didn't directly affect the public schools. –B.L.

Friday, October 10, 2008

When is an elementary school like an anti-Obama rally?

McCain booed after trying to calm anti-Obama crowd
October 10, 2008

The anger is getting raw at Republican rallies and John McCain is acting to tamp it down. McCain was booed by his own supporters Friday when, in an abrupt switch from raising questions about Barack Obama's character, he described the Democrat as a "decent person and a person that you do not have to be scared of as president of the United States."

[This situation is similar to what happened at Castle Park Elementary in Chula Vista, California when the school district supported teachers who claimed that a fellow teacher might kill them and possibly "everyone else" at the school. In fact, the district forced those teachers to repeat their false accusations under oath. Lowell Billings, the current superintendent, has been dealing with the fallout from the actions that he and the school board approved. The teachers who initiated the problem committed only misdemeanors, but the district's actions included felonies. The California Teachers Association was concerned because two of the local affiliate's past presidents (and Peg Myers, the current CVE president) were involved in the original wrongdoing, and so CTA lawyers also suborned perjury.]

A sense of grievance spilling into rage has gripped some GOP events this week as McCain supporters see his presidential campaign lag against Obama. Some in the audience are making it personal, against the Democrat.

Shouts of "traitor," "terrorist," "treason," "liar," and even "off with his head" have rung from the crowd at McCain and Sarah Palin rallies, and gone unchallenged by them.

McCain changed his tone Friday when supporters at a town hall pressed him to be rougher on Obama. A voter said, "The people here in Minnesota want to see a real fight." Another said Obama would lead the U.S. into socialism. Another said he did not want his unborn child raised in a country led by Obama.

"If you want a fight, we will fight," McCain said. "But we will be respectful. I admire Sen. Obama and his accomplishments." When people booed, he cut them off.
"I don't mean that has to reduce your ferocity," he said. "I just mean to say you have to be respectful."

Presidential candidates are accustomed to raucous rallies this close to Election Day and welcome the enthusiasm. But they are also traditionally monitors of sorts from the stage. Part of their job is to leaven proceedings if tempers run ragged and to rein in an out-of-bounds comment from the crowd.

Not so much this week, at GOP rallies in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida and other states.

When a visibly angry McCain supporter in Waukesha, Wis., on Thursday told the candidate "I'm really mad" because of "socialists taking over the country," McCain stoked the sentiment. "I think I got the message," he said. "The gentleman is right." He went on to talk about Democrats in control of Congress.
On Friday, McCain rejected the bait.

"I don't trust Obama," a woman said. "I have read about him. He's an Arab."
McCain shook his head in disagreement, and said:

"No, ma'am. He's a decent, family man, a citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with (him) on fundamental issues and that's what this campaign is all about."

He had drawn boos with his comment: "I have to tell you, he is a decent person and a person that you do not have to be scared of as president of the United States."
The anti-Obama taunts and jeers are noticeably louder when McCain appears with Palin, a big draw for GOP social conservatives. She accused Obama this week of "palling around with terrorists" because of his past, loose association with a 1960s radical. If less directly, McCain, too, has sought to exploit Obama's Chicago neighborhood ties to William Ayers, while trying simultaneously to steer voters' attention to his plans for the financial crisis.

The Alaska governor did not campaign with McCain on Friday, and his rally in La Crosse, Wis., earlier Friday was much more subdued than those when the two campaigned together. Still, one woman shouted "traitor" when McCain told voters Obama would raise their taxes.

Volunteers worked up chants from the crowd of "U.S.A." and "John McCain, John McCain," in an apparent attempt to drown out boos and other displays of negative energy.

The Secret Service confirmed Friday that it had investigated an episode reported in The Washington Post in which someone in Palin's crowd in Clearwater, Fla., shouted "kill him," on Monday, meaning Obama. There was "no indication that there was anything directed at Obama," Secret Service spokesman Eric Zahren told AP. "We looked into it because we always operate in an atmosphere of an abundance of caution."

Palin, at a fundraiser in Ohio on Friday, told supporters "it's not negative and it's not mean-spirited" to scrutinize Obama's iffy associations.

But Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania an author of 15 books on politics, says the vitriol has been encouraged by inflammatory words from the stage.

"Red-meat rhetoric elicits emotional responses in those already disposed by ads using words such as 'dangerous' 'dishonorable' and 'risky' to believe that the country would be endangered by election of the opposing candidate," she said.

Doctors Without Borders

Charity watchdogs at the American Institute of Philanthropy and Charity Navigator give Doctors Without Borders the highest ratings. Worth Magazine says, "They focus tightly on their missions and don't venture into areas in which they lack expertise. And they involve local leaders in program design and implementation, which helps ensure lasting results after they move on."

Doctors Without Borders won the 1999 Nobel Peace Prize.