Creationist Demands Critical Thinking in Indiana

Creationist Indiana state Sen. Dennis Kruse wants students in Indiana schools to demand scientific evidence for anything they doubt. His stated intent is to get Creationism into the classroom, along with Global Warming denial. But what happens when the students demand evidence for Creationism?

After creationism bill failed, Indiana senator will push ‘truth in education’ measure

I find Creationists endlessly fascinating and endlessly amusing. I collect instances of how much science they have to deny and claim to be part of the conspiracy against Jesus in how many areas. I summarized my findings on my education blog the last time a Creationism-in-the-schools bill was proposed in Indiana.

I wrote to the Indianapolis Star newspaper to express my feelings on hearing of this proposal. An edited version of the letter below appeared in the paper yesterday, and was well received, except of course by the wacko Creationist commentator who totally missed the point.

Also published on Daily Kos.

As a reality-based educator working with the One Laptop Per Child program worldwide, I must applaud Rep. Dennis Kruse’s misguided attempt to bring Creationism into the classroom by demanding critical thinking of students. (“After creationism bill failed, Indiana senator will push ‘truth in education’ measure”) Sen. Kruse’s bill proposes that any student will be able to challenge any scientific statement made in a classroom, and demand evidence for it.

“If a student thinks something isn’t true, then they can question the teacher and the teacher would have to come up with some kind of research to support that what they are teaching is true or not true.”

I am delighted at the thought of Hoosier schoolchildren demanding research papers from Creationist schoolteachers or fellow students. I even prepared a list of questions that they can use.

I didn’t know that they would come in handy this time. I was merely laughing at the last Indiana legislator to try this on, and at his willfully ignorant supporters.

I have amused myself over the years by collecting statements by Creationists about how much science, how much geology, biology, physics, chemistry, astronomy, cosmology, and so on they have to deny in order to maintain their fundamentally unChristian beliefs. The last time Indiana was considering allowing Creationism into the classroom, I wrote up a summary in my education blog, https://replacingtextbooks.wordpress.com/2012/02/01/creation-science-in-indiana/ “Creation Science” in Indiana

It warms my heart to think of little children asking for the research proving that Quantum Mechanics does not work inside the sun, so that it has not been fusing hydrogen to helium and thus shining for billions of years, or the explanation for being able to see stars and galaxies so far away that their light has taken millions, even billions of years to get to us, and how it is that we have more than 10,000 annual layers in deep ice cores from Greenland and Antarctica. For starters.

I have a million of them.

Perhaps Sen. Kruse supposes that because all Global Warming models are wrong, that this disposes of the entire theory, and all the facts about warmer, more acid, rising oceans; about melting glaciers, permafrost, and sea ice; and about warmer air, with more and bigger storms that cause worse flooding because the ocean starts off a foot higher, and with more and worse droughts.

Yes. I said that all of the Global Warming models are wrong. They are all wrong. Global Warming is worse than any of them predicted. The errors in our understanding of such a complex system as the global climate do not mean that warming is a figment of scientists’ imaginations, or “the Kool-aid of the left wing Liberal conspiracy” as some would have it. It means that we missed some kind of feedback that is resulting in more warming, more melting, more acid ocean water, more dying corals, and more of all the rest.

You want evidence? How high do you want it piled?

Perhaps Sen. Kruse is unaware that we have a century and a half of research on Natural Selection, genetics, and molecular biology to back up the facts, already evident before Charles Darwin, of evolution.

Again, how high would he like the evidence piled? And what does he have on his side?

Any other questions?

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Women in science and technology: a challenge

I just now replied to this message from the Black Data Processing Africa mailing list. How much of this did you know about?

to BDPA-Africa
On Tue, Oct 16, 2012 at 2:14 PM, chifu_wa_malindi <chifu2222@gmail.com> wrote:
> Ada Lovelace Day: Celebrating Women’s Genius
> Posted 16 October 2012 17:59 GMT
> Written by Renata Avila
>
> I want to challenge you. Yes, you, who are reading this article: mention five, just five names, of amazing women in science and technology you know, from five different countries in the world. The average person will likely fail to complete the challenge.

What, only five? I admit that I have an advantage in this area. I have
studied the question over the years, even before I got involved in
global education for all children in the One Laptop Per Child program.
We have a great emphasis on equal opportunity for girls and women
everywhere, including the end of poverty and oppression for all.

> Many will just mention some names they heard in recent news, like Marisa Mayer, the new CEO of Yahoo.

Not only CEO, but a mathematician and Computer Scientist specializing
in applications of AI to search, and Google employee #20.

  • Theano, early Pythagorean mathematician, wife of Pythagoras, Greek colony in Italy
  • Hypatia, Librarian of Alexandria, scientist, mathematician, philosopher, Egypt
  • Hildegard of Bingen, abbess, science writer, Germany
  • Émilie du Châtelet, mathematical physicist and Voltaire’s mistress, France
  • Marie Sklodowska Curie, double Nobel Prize winner (physics and chemistry), Poland
  • Hedy Lamarr, actress with an important wireless patent, Austria
  • Of course Ada Augusta Byron, Countess of Lovelace, UK
  • Captain (retired as Rear Admiral) Grace Murray Hopper, computer pioneer, US

If we can argue that medieval Germany is not the same country as
unified modern Germany, then we can add one of the greatest women in
mathematics and physics, Emmy Noether.

OK, that was nine countries, depending on how you distinguish
countries, off the top of my head.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_female_scientists

from which we add

  • Aglaonike, astronomer, Greece
  • Dorotea Bucca, physician, Italy
  • Eva Ekeblad, agronomist and chemist, Sweden
  • Maria Sibylla Merian, biologist, The Netherlands
  • Sofia Kovalevskaya, mathematician, Russia
  • Inge Lehmann, seismologist, Denmark
  • Amanda Barnard, physicist, Australia
  • Ada E. Yonath, crystallographer, Israel

Somebody should add all the names below to this list. It is a pleasure
to see that we are making such progress, and a great shame that we are
not making more. In particular, that Malala Yousafzai was shot by
Taliban extremists in Pakistan for the crime of promoting education
for girls, and remains in critical condition.

> Ada Lovelace Day, celebrated every October 16, honor international women who are contributing with effort and little praise in the fields of science, technology, engineering and maths – women whose skills are urgently needed for the future of the world.
>
> Here we highlight some of these extraordinary women from all over the world.
>
> For example:

  • Brazilian molecular biologist and geneticist Mayana Zatz is heading the University of São Paulo’s (USP) Human Genome Research Centre
  • Mexican Environmental Engineer Blanca Jiménez Cisneros is the Director of the Division of Water Sciences and Secretary of the International Hydrological Program from UNESCO
  • Sijue Wu, from China, was awarded with the Morningside Medal, considered the most prestigious award for Chinese experts in Mathematics. Wu is also the first female recipient in the medal’s history.

> ‘Introduce a girl to engineering’ by Argonne Library
>
> `Introduce a girl to engineering’ by Argonne Library (CC-BY-NC-SA)
>
> Leading the list of women scientists is

 

  • Fabiola Gianotti who is directing the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN in Switzerland, considered the world’s biggest scientific experiment. Gianotti is followed by Sunita Williams, an Astronaut who holds the record for the longest space flight by a woman.
  • Meanwhile, Jennifer Seberry is well known as The Grandmother of cryptography and computer security in Australia. She is a globally recognized cryptographer, mathematician, and computer scientist who took part in the discovery of the foundations of what is computer security today.

> All the women listed above are at the peak of their consolidated careers. They are role models and examples who are inspiring many girls around the world. A new generation of scientists, computer experts, and researchers are taking the first steps to lead science and technology all over the world.

  • In Cuba Martha Zoe, a specialist in natural medicine in Cuba using native herbs growing in the island, discovered how `anamu’ pills help those who are sick with terminal diseases.
  • In Tunisia, Sarrah Ben M’Barek is engaged in similar research, discovering innovative uses of plants. She also advocates to teach children how fascinating science can be with a creative approach.
    Meanwhile, Esther Duflo, from France, founded the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, a network of professors from all over the world who use Randomized Evaluations to answering questions about poverty alleviation.
  • Computer Scientist from Princeton University, Nadia Heninger, scanned the entire Internet and found hundreds of thousands of instances of insecure Internet connections.
  • While Linet Kwamboka, from Kenya, is a computer expert leading the Open Data Initiative and the Open Government Partnership at the Kenya ICT Board.
  • In Argentina, Evelyn Heidel is building DIY scanners for libraries and hackerspaces to preserve access to knowledge.
  • Ana Domb, from Costa Rica-Chile, is a researcher studying distribution systems and thinking about the intersection of culture and technology.
    Erinn Clark, a self taught computer expert, is one of the bright minds behind Tor Project, updating the Tor Project code and by doing so, allowing hundreds of users to communicate privately and securely. She combines her coding activities with public advocacy.
  • Berglind Ósk Bergsdóttir, for her part, is an amazing developer of mobile apps from Iceland.
  • Twelve years ago, Chiaki Hayashi founded LoftWork, which comprises more than 7,000 creators, including web and graphic designers, illustrators, photographers and fine artists and is allowing hundreds of digital creators to work together, share their portfolios and build projects they would have never created in isolation.
  • Debbie Sterling is an engineer and the founder of GoldieBlox, a toy and book series starring Goldie, a girl inventor who loves to build, seeking to attract girls to mechanics and engineering.
  • Naeema Zarif in Lebanon is leading a sharing revolution, promoting open digital models.
  • Architect Joumana Al-Jabri, meanwhile, is using her technical skills to foster human rights with a variety of technology projects, including Visualizing Palestine.
  • In Costa Rica, Giannina Segnini is leading a team of scientist and journalists working in the most ambitious data driven journalism iniatiative in the region.
  • Kate Doyle, in the United States, is the director of the Evidence Project at the National Security Archive, and uses data science to uncover human rights abuses and hold criminals accountable of the most horrific crimes.

> Models to follow, lives to inspire us, and names we must not forget to tackle stereotypes pushing women away from science. While some names mentioned above belong to very bright and famous senior experts, one must not forget the amazing women leading and forming communities such Mitchell Baker leading Mozilla, Cathy Casserly as CEO of Creative Commons, Kat Walsh as the Board Chair of Wikimedia, and all Global Voices Online female authors and editors, who make up a majority of our community. We should also remember those groups of women who are the custodians and guardians of traditional knowledge in all cultures.
>
> Women have been at all times the keepers of culture, the depositories of knowledge and the seeds for the future. Lets honor all of them today.
>
> http://globalvoicesonline.org/2012/10/16/ada-lovelace-day-celebrating-womens-genius/

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Local Content and Political Will in Rwanda

Rwanda is trying to become the third country to roll out XOs to all of its primary-school children, after Peru and Uruguay. The eventual aim is to make Rwanda the high-tech hub of Africa, beating out even South Africa. Here is an excerpt from an update on the situation.

Rwanda: With Locally-Made Content, Laptops Become Real Education Tools

It’s been over two years that the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) project, under the Ministry of Education, started the distribution of XO laptops, as they are officially called, to children of P4 to P6 across the country. As many as 105,000 XO laptops have already been deployed so far.

However, only 185 out of 2,388 public primary schools have so far been served mainly due to the fact that the majority still has no electricity (only 473 do, although a program of setting up solar power in the remaining ones is being rolled out)…

Until now, students were being introduced to the pre-loaded general content, most of the time unrelated to the curriculum. Yet this is changing, and the integration of the curriculum is already being carried out.

“The integration of curriculum is a fundamental step in our strategy,” says Nkubito Bakuramutsa, the OLPC Coordinator. “The idea of integrating technology in schools goes beyond just the deployment of laptops. It is a full transformation of the role of the teacher who becomes a facilitator, a moderator between the digital knowledge in laptops and the students.”

We used to get a lot of complaints that Nicholas Negroponte claimed that the XO was a silver bullet for education and ending poverty, that he claimed that nothing else was needed, such as electricity, Internet access, curriculum development, support, maintenance and repair, or teacher training. It is true that the OLPC and its Sugar software were designed to work in schools that did not have adequately-trained teachers, even in the absence of Internet connections, and that they are having successes in such situations. But Rwanda is demonstrating precisely what Nicholas intended: We provide what nobody else can provide, and governments do what they already know how to do in order to provide the rest.

Peru and Uruguay are considered middle-income countries, with Gross National Income (GNI) per capita of $4,710 and $10,590 respectively. Rwanda is far less developed, with GNI of $540. It just shows you what political will is worth in a country that truly understands that it cannot afford continued poverty.

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Collaborative lesson planning in Japan

A basic idea of the Prussian system of education starting in the 18th century was the application of factory automation principles of production efficiency from the Industrial Revolution. In this system, every student would learn the same lesson from the same textbook on the same day. Teachers were to be trained only to be able to present the lessons as written, not to have any deeper understanding of the subject themselves. Although this is no longer the driving principle of education systems in many countries, teachers are still undertrained, and still under heavy constraints imposed by curricula and standardized testing. In addition, teachers are mostly on their own when creating lesson plans, particularly in the problem of adapting existing lessons to the abilities, prior knowledge, and learning styles of the children in their classes.

It does not have to be so. I have a notion of a global collaboration among teachers to find the best ways of teaching, even when those methods are not part of the curricula imposed from on high. But to get there, we must start on a smaller scale. It turns out that Japan has a working model for this, which is now being brought forward in the United Kingdom by Stephen Twigg, the shadow education secretary in the British Labour Party. It has two components, known in Japanese as kounaikenshuu (校内研修 in-school training), for lifelong professional development organized by the teachers themselves, and jugyou kenkyuu (授業研究 lesson study), for collaborative lesson planning.

For those who are not familiar with British parliamentary practice, I must explain that the shadow education secretary shadows the actual education secretary in the ruling party (currently the Conservatives), as others in the opposition party (currently Labour) shadow the rest of the government, that is, ministers and secretaries in the ruling party. Shadow ministers and secretaries are, among other things, responsible for putting forward alternative policies, which can become issues whenever there is an election.

This idea of using Japan as a model did not come into the UK out of nowhere. For example, here are two books that raise these ideas strongly.

  • The Teaching Gap: Best Ideas from the World’s Teachers for Improving Education in the Classroom, by James W. Stigler and James Hiebert
  • What Works in Schools: Translating Research Into Action, by Robert J. Marzano

So now you know just enough to begin to make sense of the story itself:

BBC News – England’s schools should learn from Japan, says Twigg

By Hannah Richardson, BBC News education reporter

Stephen Twigg
Mr Twigg said teaching styles had changed little since Victorian times

England’s schools should take lessons from Japan and the Far East on how to improve performance, the shadow education secretary says. Stephen Twigg says despite many school reforms, there has been little change to the style of classroom teaching since Victorian times. Labour’s number one priority for education is raising the quality and status of teachers, he says. And he plans to visit Japan to see how education has been reformed there. This will form part of Labour’s review of its education policy.

Along with other Far Eastern countries, such as South Korea and Singapore, Japan constantly outperforms England in international studies on maths and science. This is something that has been highlighted by Education Secretary Michael Gove.

Mr Twigg says that although Labour improved results in the core subjects during its time in office, it was clear that “more of the same isn’t the answer”.

‘Trial and error’

He added: “We must learn from high-performing nations like Japan to radically transform education in England. “Labour will bring reform into the classroom by learning from the Japanese system of lesson planning, known as jugyou kenkyuu.” This involves teachers meeting regularly to collaborate on the design and implementation of lessons.

He continues: “Education in England has had years of reform to structures, exams and accountability measures. But the style of classroom teaching has changed little since Victorian times.” In Japan, teaching practices have changed markedly in the last 50 years, through a process of gradual, incremental improvements over time. Japan gives teachers themselves primary responsibility for improving classroom practice.” He highlights how participation in continual professional development, known as kounaikenshuu, is considered a core job requirement in Japan.

Mr Twigg also points out that in England, teachers lead students through a series of steps to help them learn how to solve problems. In Japan the focus is on allowing students to develop their own methods for solving problems, through trial and error.

He adds: “If we want to change teaching, we can’t just change teachers – we must change the culture of teaching, its very fabric and DNA.”

Indeed.

Note particularly that in Japan, groups of teachers are allowed to make mistakes without being punished. When they succeed, their reward is not gold stars or special bonuses, but the satisfaction of seeing their ideas adopted by others. What do you think most motivates a teacher? No, not tenure. Being able to teach better. Seeing children’s eyes light up with understanding more often. What the psychologists call intrinsic motivation, not external rewards.

What we need, then, is to change the culture around teaching, to allow teachers and students to succeed, not to straitjacket them in outmoded practices and ideology.

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EduJam! Prizes for Sugar Activities by children

The much-criticized article in The Economist claiming that OLPC has been a failure in Perú begins:

GIVING a child a computer does not seem to turn him or her into a future Bill Gates—indeed it does not accomplish anything in particular.

It then claims that advances in computer and cognitive skills by Peruvian schoolchildren don’t count if their scores on standardized math and reading tests didn’t increase.

Neither claim turns out to be the case. The second is just self-contradictory nonsense. For the first, we need evidence.

And look! Here it is. In his regular report to the Sugar Development and It’s An Education Project (IAEP) mailing lists on recent Sugar Labs news, Walter Bender wrote

EduJAM! presented awards for the best Sugar activities. Although they were not singled out in any special way, the youth of Uruguay managed to walk away with six of the prizes. Congratulations to Christofer, Agustin, Daniel, et al. for your contributions. A tip of the hat to the adult contributors too: Flavio, Gabriel, Alan, Andres, and Alejandro. By my rough estimate, approximately 10% of all Sugar activities have been written by kids who grew up on Sugar. It would interesting to understand the phenomenon. But we must be doing something right.

I have translated just enough of the Spanish for you to follow.

Y LOS GANADORES SON…
And the winners are…

1er Puesto (empate):
First prize (tie)
JAMedia (Flavio Danesse) y CeibalRadio (Flavio Danesse)

2do Puesto: Simple Graph (Agustin Zubiaga)

Voto Popular: Simple Graph (Agustin Zubiaga)

1er Puesto: Conozco Uruguay (Gabriel Eirea)
I Know Uruguay

2do Puesto: Conozco América (Alan Aguiar)

Voto Popular: Conozco América (Alan Aguiar)

1er Puesto: PlayGo (Andres Ambrois y Ridderman)

2do Puesto: Ceibal-Chess (Alejandro Segovia)

Voto Popular: Busca Terrones (Agustín Zubiaga y Daniel Francis)
Similar to minesweeper

1er Puesto: JamEdit (Agustín Zubiaba y Daniel Francis)

2do Puesto (empate): Agubrowser (Agustín Zubiaga ) y Conozco Elementos Químicos (Cristofer Roibal)
Agubrowser and I Know the Chemical Elements

Voto Popular: JamEdit (Agustín Zubiaba y Daniel Francis)

Walter continued:

I did learn that Christofer has been in an on-going dialog with Rosamel Ramirez, a teacher in Duranzo about his activity development. Their latest collaboration is JAMuliples. Good stuff.

JAMultiples is a game where you click the multiples of numbers indicated.

Need I say more?

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¿Español? ¡Sí!

I have copied and reformatted the following from the WikiEducator mailing list, as an illustration of how easy it is now to find OERs on a particular subject:

On Fri, Mar 16, 2012 at 02:27, Tom Caswell <caswell.tom@gmail.com> wrote:
> Hello OER Friends,
>
> I’m putting out a call for college-level first year Spanish OER, especially
> open textbooks.

There are many sources of OERs listed at

http://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/Open_Education_Resources

This includes many modules on particular aspects of Spanish language, literature, and culture, and whole courses. OpenCourseWare in particular is for college-level materials, while OER Recommender goes for the greatest volume and the broadest range, with more than 100,000 items.

Here are two Spanish courses that stand out.

MIT has one under CC-NC-SA
Spanish I
As taught in: Fall 2003

Spanish I is very different from other classes at MIT. The central component of the text and workbook is a series of 26 half-hour video episodes. The videos allow students to learn authentic Spanish and experience its cultural diversity while following a good story full of surprises and human emotions. Students also listen to an audio-only program integrated with the text and workbook.

In the classroom, students do a variety of activities and exercises, which include talking in Spanish about the video program, practicing pronunciation and grammar, and interacting in Spanish with classmates in pairs and small groups. The class is conducted in Spanish as much as possible, but English is used where necessary for clarity and efficiency. This course deals with all basic language skills: aural comprehension, speaking, reading, and writing. This class assumes no previous knowledge of Spanish.

The Foreign Service Institute of the US State Department developed courses for many languages, and placed them in the Public Domain, including textbooks and audio. They are now freely available on the Web.

Welcome to fsi-language-courses.org – the home for language courses developed by the Foreign Service Institute.
These courses were developed by the United States government and are in the public domain.

This site is dedicated to making these language courses freely available in an electronic format. This site is not affiliated in any way with any government entity; it is an independent, non-profit effort to foster the learning of worldwide languages. Courses here are made available through the private efforts of individuals who are donating their time and resources to provide quality materials for language learning.

Spanish Programmatic Course
Student Text
Workbook
Instructor’s Manual
Tapes for 45 units

> The Open Course Library is building a Spanish I course, but
> our faculty course designers are struggling to use 100% open materials. I
> want them to avoid building around a copyrighted publisher text because it
> will limit the usefulness of the course materials in the long run. But that
> may be the only choice if they cannot find enough existing open materials.
>
> If you know of college Spanish OER, especially open textbooks or other
> curated curriculum, please share them here (the page is editable by anyone
> with the link):

Done.

> Thanks,

Thank you for your work. I am in the middle of the FSI course, and can make good use of several of the other resources you listed. One Laptop Per Child and Sugar Labs have more than 2 million Spanish-speaking students using our XO laptops and Sugar education software.

> Tom
> –
> Tom Caswell
> Open Education Policy Associate, SBCTC
> (w) http://opencourselibrary.org (p) 360-747-7301
> (b) http://tomcaswell.com (t) @tom4cam


Edward Mokurai (默雷/धर्ममेघशब्दगर्ज/دھرممیگھشبدگر ج) Cherlin
Silent Thunder is my name, and Children are my nation.
The Cosmos is my dwelling place, the Truth my destination.

http://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/Replacing_Textbooks

The resources that Tom has gathered so far are

Spanish I (Wikiversity) (CC-BY-SA)

Spanish (wikibooks) (CC-BY-SA)

http://www3.open.ac.uk/study/undergraduate/course/l194.htm

http://www.openculture.com/free_spanish_lessons

http://www2.ku.edu/~spanish/acceso/

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Vote early and often–legally

This is part of a series I intend to write on the issues of civics:

  • How should government work?
  • How does government work (or not)?
  • What can we do about it?

These essays are intended to form the basis for a series of digital textbooks on civics for students in OLPC XO and other one-to-one computing deployments. It will of course be necessary to have others contribute, discussing the issues in their own countries, states, provinces, and localities.

A lot of people in the United States claim that their individual vote doesn’t count for anything in elections, so why bother? This is of course an idea much promoted by certain political interests who do everything they can to motivate their own people to the polls, and everything else they can to discourage or prevent the opposition from voting. Today is not the day for me to discuss vote suppression tactics (gerrymandering, illegal purges of voter registrations, allowing election officials to serve in candidates’ campaigns at the highest levels, outright lies and crimes, shortening early voting periods, burdensome and discriminatory voter ID requirements, making it harder for the other side to register and vote in general, etc.) in spite of their great importance. Yes, we need to help individuals vote, and we need to address laws and criminal activities interfering with voting, not just in the US, but everywhere.

But today, I want to encourage Americans to just go and vote on the issues. You do this every day, regardless. You vote implicitly for the interests of various businesses every time you spend money with them, or with others up or down their supply chains. You vote by tuning in to television, radio, and Internet broadcasts and social media. You vote by participating in politics (formally, in the activities of party organizations or issue organizations, or informally, by speaking to your fellow voters or to non-voters, including children, as the case may be), or by not participating, as you choose. You vote by making the effort to be informed about the issues, or by not making that effort, or by relying on sources of misinformation, as you choose. You vote by reading history, or learning enough of statistics and Internet search techniques to tell whether you are being fed something like the truth, or utter rot, or by learning the language of any region of political significance, or by anything else you do to increase your understanding of the world and the people in it.

In addition to all of that, you can vote explicitly on any number of issues at any time. You can sign petitions put forward by all manner of organizations, or propose petitions of your own, and you can vote on issues directly using the telephone, the mails, or electronic communications with your representatives in legislatures and administrations. You can vote on legal issues by supporting organizations that file lawsuits or amicus briefs in lawsuits brought by others, either against violations of law, or against unconstitutional laws.

In particular, you can vote on issues at the White House, and give President Obama ammunition in his dealings with Congress, and in his re-election campaign. Or, if you prefer, you can take note of the petitions on the White House Web site, and organize counter-petitions in favor of other positions or other candidates. It is, to a fair degree, a free country no matter what some doom-crying politicians may claim. Here is an anti-Obama petition from the White House site:

Rescind the HHS Mandate Requiring Catholic Institutions to Provide Insurance Covering Contraception to Their Employees

This blog is in favor of ending poverty around the world, and with it oppression of many kinds, government corruption, unnecessary death and disability from treatable and preventable disease and other calamity, and even war. That makes me a Progressive, at least. There is no point in me pretending to be neutral on the issues of the day. So here are a few petitions I have just signed, in no special order:

That’s not all, but it will do for the purpose. I should note that you can ask to see petitions by category, and you can search for particular words in petition statements.

What would you like to tell the President, his advisors, his opponents, and the world? Don’t be shy. Don’t pretend that it doesn’t matter. Only a few hundred thousand people have voted there so far, so your influence is out of proportion to your number. And let any students that you come into contact with know that they can do the same, without having to reach legal voting age for official elections.

Added later:

I have created a new petition requesting Federal funding for a program to create Open Education Resources for all subjects at all levels, giving the reasons that readers of this blog are familiar with. We need 150 votes to get this to be visible to everybody on the White House Web site. Please vote, and pass it on. I’m off to Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and elsewhere to spread the word.

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