White House refuses anti-war petition from Christians

October 13, 2007

Two Christian leaders were arrested after they held up copies of anti-war petitions they were trying to deliver to the White House.

Earlier in the day they had delivered the petitions to leaders in Congress, in both the House of Representatives and Senate.

In unrelated news, surgery to remove George Bush’s fingers from his ears was unsuccessful.

(Would it hurt Bush to just gracefully accept the petitions and deprive these people of a chance to be arrested?)

[Video of the arrest is posted with the press release.  Thanks to those who wrote to let me know whether my attempt to embed the video here worked (it didn’t).]

Bumper sticker science

October 13, 2007

Wes Elsberry at Austringer does a bit of design on the side. Here’s his latest:

ID flunked

Tip of the old scrub brush to P. Z. Myers at Pharyngula

Malaria control: Requires health care system improvements

October 13, 2007

WHO’s former malaria expert, John Litsios, notes that controlling malaria requires integrated programs, especially including overhaul of local health care delivery systems.

Socrates Litsios, from his website

Copyrighted article from Resources for the future. “Chapter 17: Malaria Control and the Future of International Public Health,” in The Contextual Determinants of Malaria (Washington DC: Resources for the Future), Elizabeth Casman and Hadi Dowlatabadi, editors

They do as you do, not as you say

October 13, 2007

If you were wondering whether it’s still true that kids watch what you do rather than listen to what you say — yes, it’s still true. It’s more important to walk the walk than talk the talkGallup Management Journal features an article emphasizing the phenomenon, “The Sixth Element of Great Managing”:

One of the most powerful discoveries about how humans understand the world around them came about by accident. In the early 1990s, a group of researchers led by Dr. Giacomo Rizzolatti, a neuroscientist at the University of Parma in Italy, placed small electrodes in the brains of monkeys near the regions of the brain responsible for planning and carrying out movements. If the monkey picked up something, an electronic monitor that was connected to the wires in the animal’s brain would sound — “brrrrrip, brrrrrip, brrrrrip” — to register the firing of those neurons.

Then something happened — something so unusual that the researchers thought it had to be a mistake. If the monkey saw one of the scientists doing something — eating an ice cream cone, picking up a peanut or raisin, grabbing a banana — the monitor registered the firing of brain cells as if the monkey had done it, when all the animal did was watch.

“It took us several years to believe what we were seeing,” Rizzolatti told The New York Times. The structure behind the phenomenon was discovered to be what they called “mirror neurons,” cells scattered throughout key regions of the brain that mimic everything the monkey sees another do.

Subsequent research found a far more complicated set of mirror neurons in people. This “human see; human do” circuitry is believed to be why a yawn can be contagious, why even a newborn will stick out her tongue if she sees someone else do it, and why American boys sometimes mimic the idiosyncrasies of their favorite baseball players at bat. “It explains much about how we learn to smile, talk, walk, dance, or play tennis,” said a 2006 cover article in Scientific American Mind magazine.

If you want your students to be good at map reading, they need to see you reading maps. If you want your students to read, they need to see you read. The “mirror neurons” phenomenon should affect the strategies we use in the classroom.

File this under the “nothing new under the sun” category, or “oh, yeah, now I remember!”

Utah voucher wars: When very desperate, bribe

October 13, 2007

Salt Lake Tribune political reporter Paul Rolly shows just how desperate are the voucher supporters in Utah, with polls showing the voucher referendum on the November ballot will crush the pro-voucher legislation:  They offered bribes.

Yes, bribes are illegal.  You know that, I know that.  Tell it to the voucher advocates:

With polls showing overwhelming numbers of voters poised to repeal the voucher law that was passed by the Legislature last winter, voucher advocates got so desperate Thursday they sent an e-mail from the FreeCapitalist Project offering money for pro-voucher votes in next month’s referendum election.
    But then someone must have let them know it usually is considered illegal to buy votes, so they sent a second e-mail several hours later retracting everything they said in the first e-mail.
    The original e-mail said Parents for Choice in Education is conducting a “Friends and Family” campaign in which “advocates” are encouraged to sign up friends and relatives who commit to voting in favor of the voucher law in next month’s referendum election.
    If the advocate provides his or her field manager with 25 names committed to voting for vouchers and they actually vote, the advocate gets $10 per person, or $250 for the 25 names, the e-mail said. Plus, the advocate will get $10 for each voter they get beyond the 25.
    The contacts for the program were listed as Brandon Dupuis and Jim Speth, PCE field managers for northern and southern Utah, respectively.
    So, as the old saying goes (a bit amended): If you can’t dazzle them with your brilliance, baffle them with a bribe.
    But then came the Oops!
    “Retraction,”  the second e-mail boomed.
    “We apologize for the previous e-mail . . . . It was simply incorrect and misrepresents the Free Capitalist Projects’ grass-roots efforts. Neither Parents for Choice in Education nor the Free Capitalist Project will ever provide incentives that appear to pay people to vote. The earlier e-mail was sent by determined and sincere individuals who are working diligently, but the Free Capitalist Project and Parents for Choice in Education did not approve, authorize or see the e-mail in advance.”

I’ll wager it wasn’t the illegality that stopped them.  Somebody probably sat down with a calculator and suggested how much it might cost them, at $10.00/vote, if people took them up on the offer.  And for the $10.00, there’s no guarantee that any of the votes would be switches — no guarantee that it would sway any votes their way.

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