Encore post: Jefferson on religious freedom, “infidels of every denomination”

July 31, 2008

Jefferson on religious freedom

Thomas Jefferson

August 1, 2006


In his Autobiography Jefferson recounted the 1786 passage of the law he proposed in 1779 to secure religious freedom in Virginia, the Statute for Religious Freedom:

The bill for establishing religious freedom, the principles of which had, to a certain degree, been enacted before, I had drawn in all the latitude of reason and right. It still met with opposition; but, with some mutilations in the preamble, it was finally passed; and a singular proposition proved that its protection of opinion was meant to be universal. Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed, by inserting the word “Jesus Christ,” so that it should read, “a departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;” the insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and the Mahometan, the Hindoo, and the Infidel of every denomination.

Life and Selected Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Modern Library 1993 edition, pp. 45 and 46.

* Image is a photo of detail from a painting of Jefferson by Rembrandt Peale, courtesy of the New York Historical Society by way of the Library of Congress.

[Encore post from August 1, 2006]

An encore post; fighting ignorance takes repetition.



Carnival of Education 182 – Gossip edition

July 30, 2008

At the culture change project at AMR Corp., Committing to Leadership, we had this wonderful computer-based business simulation. It was programmed to simulate the operation of a real workplace, with crises facing the executive every day, serious budget issues, information coming from many quarters, partial information, and tough decisions.

One way to “win” the simulation every time was for the executive to take a spin around the organization every morning and collect all the gossip — at the big presses, at the coffee bar, at the water fountain, in the stairwells, in the restrooms. Inaccurate gossip always stuck out and could be dismissed; accurate gossip always was more accurate than other sources. I pulled out my old business communication text we taught from at the University of Arizona (back in the early Cretaceous) which stressed the use of “informal communication channels,” and found the exercise fun and stimulating. Those who genuinely listen to to news from the unofficial channels stand a better chance of getting things right. (We switched to a different business simulation more suited to group cooperation, The Flying Starship Factory, which I highly recommend).

The Chancellor’s New Clothes hosts the Carnival of Education 182 as a gossip session, “Heard Around the Building During Beginning School Year PD.

It’s a great carnival, not only because a post from the Bathtub is featured. As we head back to school over the next four weeks, stopping to peruse this particular Carnival of Education would be a good idea.

Four Stone Hearth 45 and 46

July 30, 2008

Summer travel has me farther behind than I imagined!

Two editions of Four Stone Hearth whizzed by in the past three weeks. Number 45 was hosted by Remote Central, “Caves, Graves and Audio Files Edition (with a tip to a post from Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub); Number 46 is out today at Testimony of the Spade.

In #45: Open Anthropology notes concerns about archaeological digs in Iraq during the U.S. military operations; you’ll need to follow threads around, since some of the sources referred to were deleted after the post appeared. This is the 100th anniversary of the finding of a famous Neandertal specimen which has fueled all sorts of misconceptions about Neandertal and evolution; Writer’s Daily Grind has a remembrance, “Happy 100th, La Chapelle aux Saintes!” Some people even worry about how we will structure our societies when we take to touring the stars. There’s a lot more, at Remote Central.

Check out these things in #46: Texas history teachers, and U.S. history teachers will want to look at the “dig” in the Gulf of Mexico from Remote Central; also, check out the post at Hot Cup of Joe on the Serpent Mound in Ohio (pre-history should come fairly quickly in August or September, no?). Be sure to check out this post at John Hawks’ Weblog on teaching science, and teaching humanities.

Particle physics rap: Making the Large Hadron Collider sing

July 30, 2008

In the tradition of Richard Feynman’s ode to orange juice, but spiced with actual information: Tommaso Dorigo at A Quantum Diaries Survivor found a video on YouTube showing a rap about the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

Katie McAlpine, on temporary assignment to CERN, put the rap and video together in her spare time. (CERN is the European Organization for Nuclear Research)

The video fills an educational need. It explains some of the work in high-energy particle physics going on there on the border between France and Switzerland.

Will it quiet the internet worries about whether the creation of tiny, disappearing black holes might accidentally lead to the end of the planet? Don’t bet on it.

This video could make a key part of a geography warm-up, noting research in the European Union. CERN’s premier position in nuclear particle research is due to the cancellation in 1993 of the Superconducting Super Collider, which was then under construction near Waxahatchie, Texas. A little bit of digging could produce a lesson plan on government funding of research, especially in nuclear physics, or on geography of such massive cyclotrons, or on the history of particle physics, black holes, or uses for atom splitting.

Other resources:

Typewriter of the moment: Ian Fleming, the man with the golden typewriter

July 30, 2008

Ian Fleming at his typewriter

Ian Fleming at his typewriter

[Apologies.  Several of the links in this post simply don’t work any more.  I’ve tried to make sure the photos are there. Watch for an updated post — and be sure to read the comments.]

Ian Fleming, the creator of secret agent James Bond, at his typewriter, the gold-plated one:

Gold-plated?  According to IanFlemingCentre.com:

Ian Fleming’s first biographer, John Pearson, has identified 15 January 1952 as the “birth date” of James Bond and reports that CASINO ROYALE was finished on 18 March. Andrew Lycett’s IAN FLEMING points out that Ian “may have completed the job in an even shorter time”.

Ian Fleming married Ann Rothermere on Monday 24 March in that same year and often joked that he wrote CASINO ROYALE to take his mind off the forthcoming wedding. Whatever the timing, he had left his time working in naval intelligence with the determination to write “the spy story to end all spy stories”. He was forty three, about to marry and have his first child; his ambition and his experience came together at this moment in the creation of James Bond. He rewarded himself by buying a custom-made typewriter – plated in gold.

There you have it.

Is this a close-up of that typewriter? From AtomicMartinis.com:

Ian Flemings gold-plated typewriter

Ian Fleming’s gold-plated typewriter (Formerly at Atomic Martini; James Bond Shop)

I first saw a James Bond movie in 1964, “Goldfinger.”  I spent the rest of the summer reading all the James Bond books then in paperback.  Bond adventures reflected the attitudes, tone and tension of the Cold War.  They also provided great escape for a teenager with a summer of little else to do in central Utah.

The books proved much better than the movies.  While I’ve seen most of the movies as they’ve come along, I encourage people to read the books.  The stories are different from the movies, especially the movies coming after “Goldfinger.”  The gadgets are less spectacular, but the characters and travelogues are more spectacular.

Mostly the stuff is just fun.  Bond was sort of a Harry Potter for slightly older kids, and still can be.

I have not read any of the post-Fleming Bond novels.  Does anyone recommend them?

Other Resources:

Uganda and malaria, from the inside

July 30, 2008

This is probably as close to we can come to know what’s going on inside Uganda, especially with regard to malaria and efforts to fight it there.  Go see Mars and Aesculapius, “World Malaria Day.

As you can see, simply pumping DDT into the countryside is unlikely to solve the problems.

Tricks to deal with dementia: Give them a clue – lie if necessary

July 29, 2008

If your family has not been touched by a member with Alzheimer’s Disease, senile dementia, or some other form of memory-killing disease, you’re in a lucky minority.

A good friend told how her brother-in-law eased the pain of her mother’s slide into dementia, with little lies. The mother developed an invisible friend who had to accompany her on most outings. The problem was that the invisible friend was also invisible to the mother. The brother-in-law, frustrated at the mother’s refusal leave her room for an outing because the friend was not apparent to accompany them, finally told the mother that the friend was already in the car. Mom happily scooted to the car and forgot about the friend completely by the time they got to the car.

The friend was “already there” for much of the rest of the mother’s life. It was a lie, a falsehood, but it made things so much easier.

CBS Evening News tonight featured a story on a potential new treatment for dementia. In one segment, a husband was quizzing his dementia-affected wife, and she could not recall what he had told her just a few minutes before, how many years they had been married. Frustrating for the victim as well as the family.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “CBS report on Alzheimers“, posted with vodpod

A British psychologist, Oliver James, has a new book out that suggests such quizzes do more damage, and are unnecessary. Help the victim along with cues, he says. It’s a trick he got from his own mother-in-law, Penny Garner, from her experience working with her mother.

In Dorothy’s case, Garner found that while she [Dorothy] had no idea what she had done moments before, she automatically tried to make sense of her situation by matching it to past experiences. Dorothy had always enjoyed travelling, and so if she was asked to sit with other people for any length of time, she assumed she was in the Heathrow departure lounge. By not challenging this assumption, Garner found that her mother would sit peacefully for long periods. If she did wander off, Garner found she could encourage her to return by reminding her of her former skill as a bridge-player, telling her that the other players were waiting for her. “Given a properly set up bridge table, my mother would spend hours happily looking at her cards and waiting to play,” she says.

People with dementia are often exhausting to care for because they forget what they are doing during routine activities. Garner found that she could enable her mother to remain relatively independent by providing cues. “If while getting ready for bed, I noticed she had lost track of whether she was buttoning up the cardigan ready to go out or taking it off to go to bed, I would fiddle with my buttons alongside her and say ‘Oh good! No more travelling for us today! Glad we’ve got a bed for the night!’ I found that this simple cue was all she needed. Without it, she was inclined to get half-way through undressing and then start getting dressed again.”

We all look for such cues in everyday life, and we use them to remind us of what we are doing, where we are going, and why. Why not make it easier for victims of dementia?

Who is president of the United States? Half the time I’d prefer to forget it’s George W. Bush. Don’t quiz me on it. Ask me if it isn’t great that we’re electing someone to replace him, this fall.

Smart human tricks.


%d bloggers like this: