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16 Sep 09:45

Mississippi drainage

by Nathan Yau


Horace Mitchell for NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio mapped the massive drainage basin that is the Mississippi Watershed.

The Mississippi Watershed is the largest drainage basin in North America at 3.2 million square kilometers in area. The USGS has created a database of this area which indicates the direction of waterflow at each point. By assembling these directions into streamflows, it is possible to trace the path of water from every point of the area to the mouth of the Mississippi in the Gulf of Mexico.

Redirect to California, please. Thanks.

Tags: environment, Mississippi, NASA

05 Oct 12:00

Indigenous People Have Rights: Why It's Time to Abolish Columbus Day

by Bill Bigelow, Zinn Education Project
Most schools teach students to celebrate colonialism and racism. Enough.

The movement to abolish Columbus Day and to establish in its place Indigenous Peoples Day continues to gather strength, as every month new school districts and colleges take action. This campaign has been given new momentum as Indigenous peoples throughout the Americas assert their treaty and human rights. Especially notable is the inspiring struggle in North Dakota to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline, led by the Standing Rock Sioux.

Dave Archambault, chairperson of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, explains that the oil pipeline “is threatening the lives of people, lives of my tribe, as well as millions down the river. It threatens the ancestral sites that are significant to our tribe. And we never had an opportunity to express our concerns. This is a corporation that is coming forward and just bulldozing through without any concern for tribes.”

The “bulldozing” of Indigenous lives, Indigenous lands, and Indigenous rights all began with Columbus’s invasion in 1492. Columbus’s policies toward Indigenous peoples in the Caribbean were genocidal. On the island that became Haiti and the Dominican Republic, Columbus ordered Taíno people’s hands chopped off if they did not deliver sufficient quantities of gold. His men took women and girls as sex slaves. He had Taínos chased down by vicious dogs. He ordered his men to “spread terror” among Taínos who resisted—and they did resist. And he launched the transatlantic slave trade—from the Americas to Europe, as well as from Africa to the Americas. “Let us in the name of the Holy Trinity go on sending all the slaves that can be sold,” he wrote.

Through the conventional story of the “discovery of America,” the school curriculum has taught students to celebrate colonialism and racism, and to disregard the lives of the Taínos, and other Indigenous peoples. The Columbus-discovers-America story has long been a kind of secular book of Genesis—“In the beginning there was Columbus…”— the original Only White Lives Matter myth. And it has played a central role in the curricular erasure of the humanity of Indigenous peoples.

I taught high school social studies for almost 30 years. One of my first activities in my high school U.S. history classes was to steal a student’s purse. Yes, I wanted to capture students’ attention at the beginning of the school year, but I also wanted them to think about whose lives are valued—and whose aren’t—in the traditional curriculum.

I began by loudly calling for everyone to watch carefully, and then I’d snatch a purse off a student’s desk. Frankly, purses worked better than backpacks, because they are more personal, and my theft seemed more, well, invasive.

“This is my purse,” I would announce to looks of disbelief and annoyance. But annoyance turned to outrage when I opened the purse and started taking things out. (The student who owned this purse, let’s call her Maria, knew what was coming, and had agreed to it, but I’d alerted no one else.) “This is my comb. This is my pen. This is my lipstick.” And when students protested, I demanded that they prove that the purse was Maria’s and not mine. “That’s her stuff in there.” “We saw you take it.” “She knows everything that’s in there, and you don’t.”

“All right, all right. Then let’s say I discovered the purse. That makes it mine, right?”

Students quickly saw where I was going, as we compared my purse-stealing to Columbus’s “discovery": The people who were here first—the Taínos—had “stuff” in their land, they had lived there a long time, they knew the land better than Columbus, etc. “So why do some people call it discovery? Why don’t we use the same language that you used to describe what I did to Maria’s purse? Columbus stole the Taínos’ land. He ripped it off. And because he came armed, he invaded it.”

At the heart of all our schooling is a narrative about whose lives matter—who counts in the world. Even today, if I stand in front of a class of high school students and start rhyming, “In Fourteen Hundred and Ninety-Two …,” large numbers of students will finish with “… Columbus sailed the Ocean blue.” But few of them know the name of the people who were here when Columbus arrived—the Taínos. This tells us that too often our schools still teach young people to celebrate Great White Men and disregard the lives of the “discovered” and dominated.

The Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano used the term los nadies, the nobodies. Nobodies can be ignored and ruled, removed and slaughtered, without consequence. They are people who don’t matter:

Who don’t speak languages, but dialects.
Who don’t have religions, but superstitions.
Who don’t create art, but handicrafts.
Who don’t have culture, but folklore.
Who are not human beings, but human resources.
Who do not have faces, but arms.

“With 50 men we can subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want,” Columbus boasted in his journal about the Taínos—los nadies, the nobodies—on just his third day in the Americas.

This disregard for the lives and rights of Indigenous peoples has long been mimicked in the school curriculum, and so often it begins with the Columbus-discovers-America myth. Students readily learn whose lives matter and whose don’t. Whose lives are they invited to imagine? Whose stories are featured in history classes and the literature read in the language arts curriculum?

The good news is that this is changing. The Black Lives Matter movement has denounced our society’s failure to value all lives equally—challenged the continuous war waged especially on Black men, but on people of color more broadly. And high school students, educators, and communities of color are winning demands for more ethnic studies in the schools—curriculum that interrogates racial inequality and features historic struggles to make society more equal.

And that brings us back to Columbus Day. If we are sincere in our claim that all lives have value, then schools need to refuse to honor the first European colonialist of the Americas, the “father of the slave trade.” This is not about what went on 500 years ago. It’s about what’s going on today: an inspiring struggle for rights and dignity. We need to begin to see Indigenous peoples—in the world and in the curriculum.

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04 Aug 22:09

3 Steps to a Living Curriculum

by admin

3 Steps to a Living Curriculum

Boxed curriculum does exactly that: it boxes in learning, narrows the scope of possibility, and leads kids to believe that learning is a chore. Living curriculum does the opposite: it unleashes learning, opens up possibility and adjacent possibility, and leaves kids excited to continue learning. Living curriculum grows and adapts for a richer, more meaningful learning experience.

3 Steps to a Living Curriculum:

  1. Know your students! This seems like a really obvious first step, but honestly, if you don’t know your students it will be impossible to break free of the box(ed) curriculum. How do you get to know your students? At Anastasis, we dedicate our first days of school to getting to know our students and building a learner profile. We ask all kinds of interest and passion questions, we play a card game that helps us identify their Learning Style preferences, Multiple Intelligence Strengths, and Brain Dominance, and we build a Learner Profile. To take students beyond pre-fab curriculum, you have to know them first. What are their strengths as a learner? Where do they find struggle? All of this information will make you a better guide in the learning. It will also allow your students to understand themselves as learners and their classmates as learners. It will change the ecosystem in your classroom!
  2. Break free of the box. You have to break free of the boxed curriculum before you can truly experience a living curriculum. Boxed curriculum is like teaching students through paint by number. Or like exploring the world via a map. Sure, maps are a predictable. You can see the whole landscape in a simple, two dimensional layout. They give us answers and a 10,000 foot look at a landscape. They allow us to gather some information about the world: where major landmarks are in relation to other major landmarks, what rivers/lakes/mountains we might encounter. With a map, we can chart a course and head a direction. But it isn’t living. Looking at a map is not the same as exploring the world. With inquiry, you may have a guidebook that helps along the way, but it is actually all about the journey. Where boxed curriculum is about answers, inquiry is about the journey to the answer. Living curriculum is immersive learning where students get to create their own map including the features and nuances that are important to them (this is why knowing them is step 1!). Learning is too complex and beautiful to be captured by boxed curriculum. When students are immersed in the journey, they can appreciate the scale of a mountain, the wildlife and ecosystem of a river. A living curriculum is not prescriptive, it is an autobiography of learning written by the student as they learn. A living curriculum uses inquiry because the path to learning is more about following a direction than arriving at a destination. Each year, I create a new set of inquiry guides for our teachers and students. The main inquiry questions stay the same every year (we love the PYP questions!): “Who We Are,” “Where We Are in Place and Time,” “How We Express Ourselves,” “How the World Works,” “How We Organize Ourselves,” and “Sharing the Planet.” Then, under each line of inquiry, I come up with a direction for our inquiry block and additional suggestions for different lines of inquiry that students could follow. Each block has a Pinterest board where we can collect resources for learning during the block. These are books, videos, apps, lesson ideas, articles, experiments, field trip possibilities, etc.
  3. Invite teaching partners and students to collaborate. This is the LIVING part of living curriculum. This is where the curriculum actually comes alive and changes and adapts organically as the learning process unfolds.  Pinterest is a great place for this to happen and, be honest, you are there anyway! Using our Pinterest boards, I start gathering resources I think might be useful, then I invite teachers and students to collaborate with me. As they follow a direction in inquiry, inevitably it leads their learning in unexpected places that I couldn’t have imagined. Inviting teachers and students who are doing the learning to collaborate, the curriculum comes alive. It adapts and changes and grows with us. Living curriculum. Our learning becomes fully immersive, and rich. Students are creating their own maps as they explore learning.

Want to see an example of Living Curriculum in action? Check out this example from Anastasis!

Where to find the card game we use to build our learner profile: The Learning Genome Project

Follow me on Pinterest to see our Living Curriculum grow!

06 Jun 14:56

Ripple Effects --"Gravitational Waves Will Lead to Next Great Theory Replacing Relativity" (Monday's Most Popular)




The British novelist Martin Amis once said we are about five Einsteins away from explaining the universe's existence. We took a step closer this past January,  when  a century after they were proposed in Einstein’s theory of general relativity, scientists have finally verified that gravitational waves and black holes exist.

“This is not just the detection of gravitational waves," said David Reitze, Executive Director of the LIGO Laboratory. "What’s really exciting is what comes next. Four hundred years ago, Galileo turned a telescope to the sky and opened the era of modern observational astronomy. I think we’re doing something equally important here today. I think we’re opening the window of gravitational astronomy.”


“This is just the beginning,” said Gabriela González of aLIGO. “Now that we know binary black holes are there, we’ll begin listening to the universe.” Evidence of “ripples in spacetime” detected by the LIGO Scientific Collaboration marks the dawn of gravitational wave astronomy, say astrophysicists. The gravitational waves were generated when two black holes merged 1.3 billion years ago.

“It tells us something about the power of the human mind to understand nature at its deepest level," said cosmologist Neil Turok, Director of Perimeter Institute, one old the world's leading experts on the cosmological constant and a cyclic model of the universe.

“This was truly a scientific moon shot, and we did it,” said Reitze.

Caltech astrophysicist Kip Thorne, who co-founded the LIGO experiment, describes a simulation of the black hole merger that created the gravitational wave: “The storm was brief – 20 milliseconds – but very powerful,” Thorne said. “The power output was 50 times greater than all power put out by all of the stars in the universe put together. Because it was so brief, the total energy was what you’d get by taking three suns, annihilating them, and putting that into gravitational waves.”





In the early hours of September 14, 2015, during an engineering test a few days before the official search was to begin, aLIGO’s two detectors recorded a very characteristic signal made by both facilities of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) in Washington and Louisiana simultaneously. After numerous consistency checks, the resulting 5-sigma discovery was published.

The measured gravitational waves match those expected from two large black holes merging after a death spiral in a distant galaxy, with the resulting new black hole momentarily vibrating in a rapid ringdown. A phenomenon predicted by Einstein, the historic discovery confirms a cornerstone of humanity's understanding of gravity and basic physics. It is also the most direct detection of black holes ever.


BHmerger_LIGO_3600 (1)


The  illustration above depicts the two merging black holes with the signal strength of the two detectors over 0.3 seconds superimposed across the bottom. Expected future detections by Advanced LIGO and other gravitational wave detectors may not only confirm the spectacular nature of this measurement but hold tremendous promise of giving humanity a new way to see and explore our universe.

“It was exactly what you would expect from Einstein’s general relativity from two black holes spiralling and merging together,” said Reitze. “It took months of careful checking and rechecking to make sure what we saw was something that was a gravitational wave. We’ve convinced ourselves that’s the case.”

Gravitational waves are ripples in the fabric of spacetime, created when two massive objects – such as black holes or neutron stars – hurtle around each other at extremely high speeds and collide. First put forward 100 years ago as a consequence of Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity, they have challenged theorists and experimentalists alike as one of the few elements of the theory that had not been experimentally proven. Until now.

LIGO, a system of two identical interferometers constructed to detect the tiny vibrations of passing gravitational waves, was conceived and built by MIT and Caltech researchers, funded by the US National Science Foundation.

The original LIGO experiment ran from 2002 to 2010 as a proof of concept. After significant upgrades to the detectors in Louisiana and Washington, Advanced LIGO did its first observation run in September 2015.

The first detection, at the Louisiana observatory, had a peak value of 10-21 meters. “For four kilometers [the length of the LIGO detector], that’s a tiny, tiny fraction of a proton diameter. That’s incredibly tiny,” said González. “We know it’s real, because seven milliseconds later, we saw the same thing in the Hanford detector. This is it. This is how we know we have gravitational waves.”

The signals exactly match what Einsteinian gravitation predicts for the merger of two black holes. The signals also indicate the wave carried three solar masses of energy. The signal is so strong, the researchers reported in a paper published in Physical Review Letters, that it exceeds the “five sigma” standard of statistical significance physicists use to claim a discovery.

“The LIGO measurement is a spectacular confirmation of not just one, but two of the key predictions of Einstein’s theory of gravity: the existence of gravitational waves and black holes,” Turok said. “Einstein developed his theory based on clues from experiment and prior theories, but even more on a remarkable intuition that gravitation is due to the bending of spacetime. A full century later, we’re seeing his predictions verified with exquisite precision."

Even more than verifying Einstein, LIGO’s detection of gravitational waves provides science with a new tool with which to potentially answer many more basic questions.

And it might lead researchers to the next great scientific theory, Perimeter researcher Luis Lehner said during the “Ripple Effects” panel hosted by the Perimeter Institute following the LIGO announcement. “When we can get more and more data, we might be able to see departures [from what is expected], and that may guide us in what replaces relativity,” he said.

As more gravitational wave detectors come online in the next few years, scientists will be able to glean increasingly rich information about the universe around us. “That will give us a very important network that will allow us to ... reduce serendipity from astronomy, at least for some sources,” Lehner said.

For many scientists, the most exciting prospect is that gravitational wave astronomy could enable researchers to probe the “dark” universe: objects and forces that don’t absorb, reflect, or emit light, yet make up 96 percent of the universe.

Perimeter Associate Faculty member Avery Broderick said this is a seismic shift in astronomy, which has been studying the light side of the universe for 10,000 years.

“When we get this new window on the universe, history and experience has shown us that we find something totally different, something totally unexpected. This has happened over and over again in astronomy, where we’ve opened up windows in the X-ray and the radio, and we see a totally different universe,” Broderick said.

“I would be shocked if we don’t see the same thing when we look with gravitational eyes, and see the gravitational wave universe as totally different. This is going to be absolutely critical to understanding how the dark universe and the light universe fit together.”

Perimeter cosmologist Latham Boyle is also excited about the unknowns that gravitational waves could now reveal. As he explained during the Perimeter panel, there was a span of decades between the discovery of radio waves and their use in astronomy.

“For 40 or 50 years, nobody built radio telescopes,” Boyle said. “Finally, when they did, there was a flood of all kinds of crazy discoveries. [There was] the cosmic microwave background radiation, which is kind of a cosmic selfie, then they discovered these things called pulsars, and they discovered quasars.

“They discovered all this stuff that people would have called you crazy if you’d suggested it before. As soon as you turned it on, it was out there. It’s just a historical fact that often you see wilder stuff. That’s one of the most exciting things for me.”

The Daily Galaxy via The Perimeter Institute

Image credit: Binary black hole

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07 Oct 14:23

Maths takes flight

by Rachel

Soon you will be able to step inside a mathematical space and experience the beauty and importance of maths!

The plane exhibit

The design for the new maths gallery

Would you like to step inside an abstract mathematical space? Soon you'll be able to do just that, in the maths gallery at the Science Museum in London, due to open in 2016.

read more

08 Feb 17:06

Matt Damon: ‘We would never let businessmen design warheads. Why would you cut out educators when you’re designing education policy?’

by Valerie Strauss
Matt Damon just had an online conversation with Reddit users to promote his new movie, “The Monuments Men,” and he touched on a number of topics, including his opposition to standardized test-based school reform and the exclusion of teachers from the shaping of education policy. The actor has been a vocal defender of teachers and […]

14 Feb 20:33

How ‘data walls’ in classrooms humiliate kids

by Valerie Strauss

Interesting discussion thread. One contributor brings up the very real question of legality, citing the law this practice breaks.

A long time ago I had a math teacher at West Miami Junior High School who changed the seating arrangement in my class every week according to how well each of her students did on weekly exams. Given that math was  not one of my better subjects, this weekly exercise generally left me mortified with […]

30 Nov 16:34

A Look At Stephen Wolfram's New, Insanely Ambitious Computational Paradigm

“Mathematica is this perfect precise computation engine, and WolframAlpha is general information about the world,” Wolfram told me. “Now we can combine the two.” And that's just the beginning.
22 Oct 21:26

Desperate for Work? 10 Things to Know If You’re Thinking of Moving to the Jobs Capital of the U.S.

by Evelyn Nieves, AlterNet
North Dakota boasts the lowest unemployment rate in the country, but living in Boomlandia is not for the faint of heart.

Lost in the government shutdown drama over the last few weeks is the dismal U.S. jobs report. The percentage of working-age Americans either holding jobs or looking for work has dropped to 63.2 percent, the lowest rate in 35 years.

The big, bright exception is the oil boom land of North Dakota, which boasts the lowest unemployment rate in the country (3 percent). You’ve heard the stories: it’s raining jobs in them hills. Big, fat-wallet oil jobs.

So maybe after years of looking for work, any work, in your recession-wracked hometown, you’re thinking of joining the black gold rush of western North Dakota’s Bakken oil field, where corporations like Halliburton and BP, not to mention every Tom, Dick and Harry contractor, construction company and commercial driving school, are cashing in on the frenetic fracking transforming the northern plains.

Join the club. Five years into the boom, this land is teeming with recession refugees from New York to California. For the desperate, it’s the answer to utility cut-offs, the repo man and looming foreclosure. The population in the Bakken oil patch has tripled, with newcomers pouring in so fast officials can’t count them fast enough.

But before you leave hearth and home for the ravaged pastures of the North Dakota prairie, be forewarned: Living in Boomlandia is not for the faint of heart. Keep these facts in mind before you make a life-changing trek to almost-Canada.

10. There will be traffic. Not rush-hour traffic of the here now, gone later, variety. You have never seen traffic like this, even if you’re from D.C, Los Angeles or an exit off the Jersey Turnpike. In and around the heart of the Bakken oil patch—once a site of sleepy farm towns like Williston, New Town and Watford City—semis, cement mixers, oil tankers, wide-load trailers, five wheels, F150s and SUVs will come at you from all sides, swarm you, back to back for miles and miles, day and night.

9. There will be lines. At the supermarket, the Williston Walmart, the Subway inside the Williston Walmart, the drive-thru window at McDonalds, you name it. With unemployment in the oil patch at an estimated one percent, retail jobs, even with starting salaries at $17 an hour, are going begging. Stores close early for lack of help. The downtown Williston shops have even cut whole days for lack of help. So, factor in lines everywhere when you make your rounds. That goes double for essential services. If your truck breaks down, better know how to fix it. Auto repair shops are stretched so thin some have closed their weeks-long waiting lists.

8. Women, prepare for stares. Officially, the ratio of males to females in the oil patch is six to one. Unofficially, to the naked eye? More like 10 to one. So this is what awaits you: Men craning their necks at stoplights to get a look at you, men making thin excuses on line (see above) to talk to you, men following you around store aisles, greeting you with “Hi, do you have a boyfriend?” and generally making you dread stepping outside without a burka.

7. Men, see above. If you’re thinking you’ll meet women in the oil patch, think again. If you’ve grand ideas about having any fun, ditto. Moving to the oil patch is like enlisting in the Army. It’s all about long hours, hard labor and dodging dangers to life and limb. Options to blow off steam remain few. Older workers tend to have families; they work their long shifts—two weeks on, one week off, or some variation—and then hightail it back to where they come from to recharge and reconnect. Many younger men are single and not eager to spend part of their paycheck on airfare or gas, so they stay put, but not happily. Step into any bar in the patch (there are only a few, so it’s easy to hit them all) and you’ll hear more whining than a Hank Williams tribute concert. Men from all over, so lonesome they could cry.

6. Accidents will happen. Locals will tell you that back before the oil boom, when North Dakota was the least-visited state in the country, they’d hear of one, maybe two, fatal road accidents a year. This even though western North Dakota is under snow and ice for six or seven months at a time. Now, accidents happen every day. Bad ones, involving bodily injury or worse, happen every week. Not just vehicular mishaps, but on-the-oil-job catastrophes.

5. The locals will hate you. The hardy ranchers and farmers who’ve populated the prairie lands for generations loved their peace and quiet. That was the payoff for enduring subzero winters and complete indifference from the rest of the world. But that’s over. The amber waves of grain and deep blue skies of summer are history. Smog, diesel fumes, dust and open pits of natural gas have turned the sky dusky. Land not being ravaged by oil drilling is being torn up to build, baby, build. Hastily erected hotels, corrugated steel worker housing (man camps) and new rental buildings and roads have sullied the pristine landscape. Not to mention everything else on this list that is no fun at all. The locals gotta blame somebody. Might as well be you.

4. A lack of housing. A zillion new hotels, motels, trailer parks and man camps and still housing in the oil patch remains in short, expensive supply. If you haven’t secured a place to sleep before you arrive, oopsie. Going rate for a second-rate hotel is upward of $250 a night. The Williston Walmart parking lot, which became famous in the beginning of the boom for letting oil workers stay in their cars and campers until they could find their footing, is strictly enforcing a 24-hour limit for all campers. It cracked down amid an avalanche of complaints that the growing encampment in the lot had become dirty and dangerous, complete with drunken brawls and assaults. Still, hidden illegal camps have sprouted in parking lots all over Williston. Bring a pillow and blankets.

3. Lots of crime. Crime is a big, big problem in the Bakken. Crime was once unheard of in these parts. But now, shootings, rapes (of men and women), drug trafficking, and organized prostitution have overwhelmed police departments. A new study by the North Dakota State University finds alcohol-related violence is forcing police departments to sacrifice proactive community policing as they scurry from one emergency to the next. Meanwhile, people are arming themselves. In 2012, the state issued more than twice the number of concealed weapons licenses than in 2011 and is on pace to break last year’s record. As if we didn’t have enough reasons to call the oil patch the Wild, Wild West again and again.

2. You might not get that dream six-figure job after all. The coveted jobs in the oil patch require expertise and experience. Oil shale drilling—fracking—is complicated and fraught with pitfalls and perils. Companies want workers who know what they’re doing. The second most sought-after jobs—commercial vehicle driving and construction jobs, which are back-breaking and involve rotating, 12-hour shifts—still require background checks and proof of ability (a license for the former and references for the latter). Many a woeful story heard in the local watering holes revolves around a newcomer waiting weeks and weeks for word that he has passed muster. So bring a pillow and blankets…and a good book.

1. You could be endangering your life and health in the oil patch. Setting aside the many environmental concerns about fracking, there are also known carcinogens in fracking materials. Only a study done well after the fact will be able to tell us how many workers and oil patch residents will be severely affected by daily exposure. But a study done by the University of South Dakota has found that just grappling with the effects of a boom—the stresses and changes—could quite literally make a person sick to death. Oil patch workers will tell you: “Nobody knows for sure if this stuff will kill us,” which may or may not be reassuring.


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17 Sep 16:41

Sasquatch sightings

by Nathan Yau


Sasquatch sightings

Josh Stevens, a PhD candidate at Penn State, mapped 92 years of sasquatch sightings, based on data from the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization. Before you furiously type that the map is just population density, Stevens addresses that.

Right away you can see that sightings are not evenly distributed. At first glance, it looks a lot like a map of population distribution. After all, you would expect sightings to be the most frequent in areas where there are a lot of people. But a bivariate view of the data shows a very different story. There are distinct regions where sightings are incredibly common, despite a very sparse population. On the other hand, in some of the most densely populated areas sasquatch sightings are exceedingly rare.

The bivariate view he mentions is the county map on the left. Bright purple is high sasquatch sightings and low population density, and light green is high population density and relatively low sassquatch sightings. So it's not all about population. More likely, it's the vegetation level of the terrain, because as we all know, sasquatches prefer dense bushes and trees with grainy overtones.

20 Sep 18:00

Acetaminophen availability around the world

by Nathan Yau

Acetaminophen around the world

Probublica has a detailed piece on the potential overuse of acetaminophen, commonly known as Tylenol. The photo above, which compares the maximum amount of acetaminophen allowed in a single package, caught my eye. I like the use of jars to provide a second dimension of comparison, versus the formless piles or incongruous containers that we usually see in these photo comparisons.

Of course the next step is to look at dosage restrictions overall for the full comparison. [via @sisiwei]

20 Sep 15:01

12 Impressive Dollar Bill Origami Creations [Photos]

by Alvaris Falcon

How can you make a dollar bill become more valuable than a dollar? Turn it into something else, using origami. And that’s what Won Park does, as a full-time profession (for real). Take a look at his origami koi fish below and you will know why he is dedicating a career to it.

dollar bill origami
(Image Source: Won Park)

Won Park does not just specialize in koi. Give him a dollar bill and he can create just about anything and boggle your mind at the same time. Let’s look at 12 examples that prove the true strength of his origami mastery. Unfold the post to reveal some paper-folding magic!

Recommended Reading: 70 Beautiful Examples of Origami Paper Art

Millennium Falcon. Got a few bucks to spare? You can get the Millenium Falcon, with just a few dollars and Won Park’s crazy skills!

millennium falcon

Koi Fish. This breathtaking origami koi fish once marked the highest achievement in Won Park’s career. He even found the spot on the bill that can be the koi’s eyes and head.

koi fish

Spider. What can you do with two dollar bills these days? With two dollar bills, Won Park can make a spider come to life.

two dollar spider

Butterfly. It’s amazing how he can fold a piece of paper and breathe life into it. Next thing you know this little butterfly is going to fly off your screen.


Ox. It’s… ‘Oxsome’! I want one on my desk!


Bulldog. Wired magazine sent Won Park a 10 pound note and asked him to make something. He did not disappoint, with this English bulldog.


Chinese Dragon. Two one-dollar bills are enough for Won Park to flesh out the details of a Chinese Dragon.

chinese dragon

Camera. Learn to fold this origami camera by getting its diagrams in this Yahoo! group! Patience and skilful manipulation of paper not included.


Phone. An origami phone with number buttons. Now I’ve seen everything.


Battle Tank. If you are wondering, the cannon and tracks are 2 separate pieces of bank note. That’s why it’s named Two Dollar Battle Tank.

battle tank

F1 Racecar. Normally, I’d joke about how easily the money in my wallet disappears after pay day, but rarely are they in the form of an F1 racecar.

f1 racecar

U.S. Capitol Building. How American can a sculpture get? And without any snipping, glue or tape involved. Amazing!

us capitol building

Impressed with Won Park’s origami? For more, head over to his deviantArt portfolio for more magical origami, or join this Yahoo! group to get your hands dirty folding your own paper creations!

Also don’t hesitate to share your favorite works with us!


14 Sep 21:19

7 Totally Crazy Statements by Right-Wing Lunatics From This Week

by Janet Allon, AlterNet

Ya can't even make this stuff up.

What a week: Ted Cruz wishes America had 100 more senators like Jesse Helms.

1. Ted Cruz: We need 100 more like Jesse Helms in the Senate.

Ted Cruz gave a huge shout-out to North Carolina’s late unrepentant racist senator, Jesse Helms. Granted, it was at the Heritage Foundation’s annual Helms lecture, so he wasn’t the only person in the room who worshipped Helms. But he did give a somewhat strange reason for being so fond of the bigot, and wishing there were “100 more” like him in the U.S. Senate.

Apparently the actor John Wayne had praised Helms for being willing to say “Crazy things,” Cruz told the audience. “The willingness to say all those crazy things is a rare, rare characteristic in this town, and you know what? It’s every bit as true now as it was then.”

For those who don’t remember, here are some of the fun-filled, wacky things Helms said and did:

  • He sang the confederate anthem “Dixie” in an elevator with Carol Moseley-Braun, the African-American senator from Illinois, and told Sen. Orrin Hatch in front of her that he was trying to make her cry.
  • He opposed integration, or “mixing of the races,” and called the University of North Carolina the “University of Negroes and Communists” because it was integrated.
  • He led a one-man, 16-day filibuster opposing the designation of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a holiday, and threatened to lead one to save South African apartheid.
  • More comically, as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he seemed unable to absorb the fact that the North Korean president’s name was Kim Jong Il, not Kim Jong 2.
  • Unlike other like-minded Southern politicians Strom Thurmond and George Wallace, Helms never disavowed his racist, segregationist views even on his deathbed in 2008.

One hundred more.

2. Glenn Beck: War is a progressive idea so I am now against it.

Does the radio host and one of the far-right’s most hilarious nut-jobs have any core principles? Does he attach real meaning to actual words? Or does he just make it all up as he goes along? Rhetorical questions, yes, but he may have outdone himself this week when he injected some real seriousness into the deadly serious Syria debate. He just up and changed the meaning of the terms. Singlehandedly. He can do that, you know. He’s Glenn Beck.

So war is now a progressive idea, Beck says, because, of course, a Democratic president has proposed it. Apparently, the rest of the progressive community was not informed, since most of them, and most Americans oppose military intervention in Syria, but never mind. In other news, up is down and black is white. And good conservatives, like Beck are anti-war. It’s a sad day for Beck because he used to thoroughly enjoy how the U.S. would topple dictators and “spread democracy” by doing so, but that was before he realized that this is actually a form of the dreaded progressive thinking.

Sometimes, such mental gymnastics can lead to close encounters with shades of truth, as when the former Fox News personality explained he was against a Syrian invasion because it would be about oil, and that Obama is similar to Dick Cheney in this way.

3. Alex Jones: Globalist cyborgs are coming.

If there is anyone who can outweigh Beck on the looniness scale, that distinction would have to go to conspiracy theorist, fringe conservative radio host Alex Jones. His theory? The effort to avoid a U.S. attack on Syria with diplomacy was actually a United Nations plot for the extinction of the human race, which would be replaced by “globalists” like President Barack Obama who would become cyborgs by using “life-extension technologies.”

Hard to argue with that logic, seeing as it is neither logical, nor based in any sort of shared reality. It may be worth noting that Beck seems much more worried about a zombie invasion than one led by cyborgs.

Jones went on to explain that the proposal to bring Syria’s chemical weapons under the control of the international community was a way for the U.N. to “come into any country they want, that has any type of weapons systems—and call them WMDs, and then dismantle that country’s infrastructure.”

That’s because the U.N. is at the very head of the globalist conspiracy, he explains. The globalists are “the biggest, most organized, eugenics-based, scientific dictatorship, trans-humanists at the top that plan the extinction of almost everybody and a new species to rise up or humans merged with machines.”

“That’s their religion, and no one’s discussing that,” Jones added. “Everyone is going to be deindustrialized, everyone is going to be put back into the Stone Age and controlled. And Obama and the globalists and the robber barons, they’re going to fly around in their jetcopters and their Air Forces Ones and their red carpets, like gods above us. And they’re going to get the life-extension technologies.”

Any questions?

4. Stuart Varney and Monica Crowley: EPA is trying to suffocate children.

Fox News’ Monica Crowley and Stuart Varney were appalled, appalled I tell you, when they revealed the shocking news this week that the EPA, the evil government’s evil Environmental Protection Agency, is providing free lesson plans for “teachers looking to educate their students on climate change.”

“The EPA — the EPA,” said Varney. And they're aiming this “propaganda” directly at innocent middle-school children. Of course, these plans have been openly available online for months, but Crowley suspects there is a hidden agenda to this oh-so-sneaky plan. “Are they going to tell these kids to not exhale? Because every time you exhale, that’s carbon dioxide.”

And, carbon dioxide causes global warming, right? So learn to hold your breath, kids.

Well, no, not exactly. The good news is that very soon, kids will know a good deal more than Fox News does about climate change, although that is not saying much. The EPA materials do explain what carbon is and how it plays an important role in sustaining life on the planet. And how the burning of fossil fuels has led to a surplus of life-supporting gases like carbon dioxide, which has made the planet hotter. And other science-type things that no one at Fox News will ever be caught dead, reading or learning, in their indefatigable drive toward making America, hands-down, the dumbest hot country on the planet.

5. Minnesota archbishop: Satan is behind gay marriage.

Satan has been a very busy guy lately. No, that wasn’t him sawing heads off Syrian rebels in the public square or visiting plagues upon the beleaguered New Jersey shore. He had nothing to do with that creep who brands women’s vaginas to show he owns them. Mostly, he’s been concerning himself with spreading love, same-sex love. Love so strong it wants to get married. Apparently, Satan has not fully read his job description.

Lately, Lucifer has been spending time in Minnesota, where the archbishop of Minneapolis and St. Paul has announced that the devil is responsible for the legalization of marriage equality.

“Sodomy, abortion, contraception, pornography, the redefinition of marriage, and the denial of objective truth are just some of the forces threatening the stability of our civilisation,” Rev. John Nienstedt said in a recent speech to the Napa Institute Conference, and posted to the conference’s website Tuesday. “The source of these machinations is none other than the Father of Lies. Satan knows all too well the value that the family contributes to the fabric of a good solid society, as well as the future of God’s work on earth.”

Despite Nienstedt’s efforts, and because of Satan’s, Minnesota has been issuing same-sex marriage licenses since August.

Mwah hah ha ha ha. Isn’t that how the devil laughs?

6. Texas GOP gov. candidate tweets that Wendy Davis is “too stupid to be governor.”

From the totally ridiculous to the merely very offensive, the top political advisor to Texas Attorney General/would-be successor to Rick Perry, Greg Abbott has attacked Democratic opponent Wendy Davis’ intelligence in a tweet. This follows on the heels of Abbott’s tweeting thanks to a supporter for a sexist attack on Davis, which referred to her as “Retard Barbie” so, clearly a very nuanced, high-minded Republican campaign is evolving in the Lone Star state.

Dave Carney is the enlightened strategist in question, and he took the opportunity not just to call Davis stupid, but also to cheer the results of Tuesday’s Colorado recall elections. His tweet linked to an article in a conservative Texas blog slamming Davis' gun views, calling her “Abortion Barbie,” and dismissing her as “even dumber than her fake blonde hair would imply,” Think Progress reported.

7. Internet advice from a nobody who wants to ruin perfect strangers’ lives: Dads, don’t educate your daughters!

A Louisiana-based certified public accountant cares deeply about the purity of America’s young women, and he has figured out a solution to it. Keep them ignorant. In his spare time, the guy generously makes Internet videos filled with unwanted, unasked for and basically awful advice on how to raise your daughters.

First step in saving the family: Don’t send your daughters to college. Why? Because she is very likely to have sex there. “This is no small matter we’re dealing with here,” he implores fathers. “Is a degree worth the loss of your daughter’s purity, dignity, and soul?”

If they really want to learn, girls can go to the library or use the Internet, since neither of those can lead to genital contact, he allows.

But why bother getting educated, anyway? Jobs for women are not important, this wise sage continues: “My personal impression is that the day-to-day grind of a job is below the dignity of women. In a way, it is like being a hired hand, as a result of the fall and the penalty for original sin.”


Related Stories

30 Aug 22:19

Why Syria Intervention Plan Is Being Pushed by Oil Interests, Not Concern About Chemical Weapons

by Nafeez Ahmed, The Guardian

It does beg the question. So will the question be answered before - or after - a military response?

Massacres of civilians are being exploited for narrow geopolitical competition to control Mideast oil, gas pipelines

On 21 August, hundreds - perhaps over a thousand - people were killed in a chemical weapon attack in Ghouta, Damascus, prompting the US, UK, Israel and France to raise the spectre of military strikes against Bashir al Assad's forces.

The latest episode is merely one more horrific event in a conflict that has increasingly taken on genocidal characteristics. The case for action at first glance is indisputable. The UN now confirms a death toll over 100,000 people, the vast majority of whom have been killed by Assad's troops. An estimated 4.5 million people have been displaced from their homes. International observers have overwhelmingly confirmed Assad's complicity in the preponderance of war crimes and crimes against humanity against the Syrian people. The illegitimacy of his regime, and the legitimacy of the uprising, is clear.

Experts are unanimous that the shocking footage of civilians, including children, suffering the effects of some sort of chemical attack, is real - but remain divided on whether it involved military-grade chemical weapons associated with Assad's arsenal, or were a more amateur concoction potentially linked to the rebels.

Whatever the case, few recall that US agitation against Syria began long before recent atrocities, in the context of wider operations targeting Iranian influence across the Middle East.

In May 2007, a presidential finding revealed that Bush had authorised CIA operations against Iran. Anti-Syria operations were also in full swing around this time as part of this covert programme, according to Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker. A range of US government and intelligence sources told him that the Bush administration had "cooperated with Saudi Arabia's government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations" intended to weaken the Shi'ite Hezbollah in Lebanon. "The US has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria," wrote Hersh, "a byproduct" of which is "the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups" hostile to the United States and "sympathetic to al-Qaeda." He noted that "the Saudi government, with Washington's approval, would provide funds and logistical aid to weaken the government of President Bashir Assad, of Syria," with a view to pressure him to be "more conciliatory and open to negotiations" with Israel. One faction receiving covert US "political and financial support" through the Saudis was the exiled Syrian Muslim Brotherhood.

According to former French foreign minister Roland Dumas, Britain had planned covert action in Syria as early as 2009: "I was in England two years before the violence in Syria on other business", he told French television:

"I met with top British officials, who confessed to me that they were preparing something in Syria. This was in Britain not in America. Britain was preparing gunmen to invade Syria."

The 2011 uprisings, it would seem - triggered by a confluence of domestic energy shortages and climate-induced droughts which led to massive food price hikes - came at an opportune moment that was quickly exploited. Leaked emails from the private intelligence firm Stratfor including notes from a meeting with Pentagon officials confirmed US-UK training of Syrian opposition forces since 2011 aimed at eliciting "collapse" of Assad's regime "from within."

So what was this unfolding strategy to undermine Syria and Iran all about? According to retired NATO Secretary General Wesley Clark, a memo from the Office of the US Secretary of Defense just a few weeks after 9/11 revealed plans to "attack and destroy the governments in 7 countries in five years", starting with Iraq and moving on to "Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran." In a subsequent interview, Clark argues that this strategy is fundamentally about control of theregion's vast oil and gas resources.

Much of the strategy currently at play was candidly described in a 2008US Army-funded RAND report, Unfolding the Future of the Long War(pdf). The report noted that "the economies of the industrialized states will continue to rely heavily on oil, thus making it a strategically important resource." As most oil will be produced in the Middle East, the US has "motive for maintaining stability in and good relations with Middle Eastern states":

"The geographic area of proven oil reserves coincides with the power base of much of the Salafi-jihadist network. This creates a linkage between oil supplies and the long war that is not easily broken or simply characterized... For the foreseeable future, world oil production growth and total output will be dominated by Persian Gulf resources... The region will therefore remain a strategic priority, and this priority will interact strongly with that of prosecuting the long war."

In this context, the report identified several potential trajectories for regional policy focused on protecting access to Gulf oil supplies, among which the following are most salient:

"Divide and Rule focuses on exploiting fault lines between the various Salafi-jihadist groups to turn them against each other and dissipate their energy on internal conflicts. This strategy relies heavily on covert action, information operations (IO), unconventional warfare, and support to indigenous security forces... the United States and its local allies could use the nationalist jihadists to launch proxy IO campaigns to discredit the transnational jihadists in the eyes of the local populace... US leaders could also choose to capitalize on the 'Sustained Shia-Sunni Conflict' trajectory by taking the side of the conservative Sunni regimes against Shiite empowerment movements in the Muslim world.... possibly supporting authoritative Sunni governments against a continuingly hostile Iran."

Exploring different scenarios for this trajectory, the report speculated that the US may concentrate "on shoring up the traditional Sunni regimes in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Pakistan as a way of containing Iranian power and influence in the Middle East and Persian Gulf." Noting that this could actually empower al-Qaeda jihadists, the report concluded that doing so might work in western interests by bogging down jihadi activity with internal sectarian rivalry rather than targeting the US:

"One of the oddities of this long war trajectory is that it may actually reduce the al-Qaeda threat to US interests in the short term. The upsurge in Shia identity and confidence seen here would certainly cause serious concern in the Salafi-jihadist community in the Muslim world, including the senior leadership of al-Qaeda. As a result, it is very likely that al-Qaeda might focus its efforts on targeting Iranian interests throughout the Middle East and Persian Gulf while simultaneously cutting back on anti-American and anti-Western operations."

The RAND document contextualised this disturbing strategy with surprisingly prescient recognition of the increasing vulnerability of the US's key allies and enemies - Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, Egypt, Syria, Iran - to a range of converging crises: rapidly rising populations, a 'youth bulge', internal economic inequalities, political frustrations, sectarian tensions, and environmentally-linked water shortages, all of which could destabilise these countries from within or exacerbate inter-state conflicts.

The report noted especially that Syria is among several "downstream countries that are becoming increasingly water scarce as their populations grow", increasing a risk of conflict. Thus, although the RAND document fell far short of recognising the prospect of an 'Arab Spring', it illustrates that three years before the 2011 uprisings, US defence officials were alive to the region's growing instabilities, and concerned by the potential consequences for stability of Gulf oil.

These strategic concerns, motivated by fear of expanding Iranian influence, impacted Syria primarily in relation to pipeline geopolitics. In 2009 - the same year former French foreign minister Dumas alleges the British began planning operations in Syria - Assad refused to sign a proposed agreement with Qatar that would run a pipeline from the latter's North field, contiguous with Iran's South Pars field, through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and on to Turkey, with a view to supply European markets - albeit crucially bypassing Russia. Assad's rationale was "to protect the interests of [his] Russian ally, which is Europe's top supplier of natural gas."

Instead, the following year, Assad pursued negotiations for an alternative $10 billion pipeline plan with Iran, across Iraq to Syria, that would also potentially allow Iran to supply gas to Europe from its South Pars field shared with Qatar. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the project was signed in July 2012 - just as Syria's civil war was spreading to Damascus and Aleppo - and earlier this year Iraq signed aframework agreement for construction of the gas pipelines

The Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline plan was a "direct slap in the face" to Qatar's plans. No wonder Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan, in a failed attempt to bribe Russia to switch sides, told President Vladmir Putin that "whatever regime comes after" Assad, it will be "completely" in Saudi Arabia's hands and will "not sign any agreement allowing any Gulf country to transport its gas across Syria to Europe and compete with Russian gas exports", according to diplomatic sources. When Putin refused, the Prince vowed military action.

It would seem that contradictory self-serving Saudi and Qatari oil interests are pulling the strings of an equally self-serving oil-focused US policy in Syria, if not the wider region. It is this - the problem of establishing a pliable opposition which the US and its oil allies feel confident will play ball, pipeline-style, in a post-Assad Syria - that will determine the nature of any prospective intervention: not concern for Syrian life.

What is beyond doubt is that Assad is a war criminal whose government deserves to be overthrown. The question is by whom, and for what interests?


Related Stories

30 Aug 22:24

Dave Chappelle Didn't Melt Down

I’m writing this to be fair: it needs to be written, it needs to be read. It needs to be understood. Dave Chappelle walked off stage tonight and Black people understand why.
24 Jul 17:21

Physics of love

by Nathan Yau

Link to parts 1 - 6 all-in-one

Louise Ma, along with Chris Parker and Lola Kalman, started a six-part short video series on what love looks like. Above is the first one. This is part of an ongoing project that Ma started last year, and it's still going strong.

14 Jul 11:21

Why you should set soft goals for your classroom this year

by (Victoria A Davis, Cool Cat Teacher)

When you set your goals for the fall, don't forget your soft goals.

There are hard and fast things you must do in the classroom. There are tasks, standards, and objectives that must be met. However, it is easy to be so busy as a human doing and forget that you're teaching human beings.

This is why I like the Classroom Habitudes so much. (Read the book by Angela Maiers) It gives us a "to be" list before you hit the to do list. Students need to know what we want them to BE as we reach to do the things that they need to do. They need to see the purpose behind the plan.

Make a list of the things you want your students "to be"

Even more so, we, as teachers, need to be intentional about what we want to help our students be. Thankful. Passionate. Curious. Ethical. Perseverant. Creative... and the list goes on.

Intentionally think about your soft goals because these give you a canvas upon which you will paint your class activities. They should influence the posters you select, the projects you design, and the lessons you plan. You can teach math in a way that harnesses the power of passion. You can weave lessons in that will allow students to show thankfulness to others. You can have projects that foster curiosity.

Purposefully determine what these "to be's" are. Know them. Use the language. Discuss them.

These are things you can do, but important things never do themselves. They start with you.

I think it is best to look at these soft goals in the summer. Take some time and write down the important things you want to help students be.

Activity to get you started

Try this activity.

1. At the top of a page write... "this year, I want my students to be more..." then, answer the question. This will help you get started on your soft goals.

2. Brainstorm the books, music, projects, movies, and creative ways you can redesign the lessons you have to incorporate these to be's. Write these things next to each of the items you wrote in step 1.

TIP: State your "to be" in the positive

When you pick them be careful to state your "to be" in the positive. Instead of "don't bully" select "speak up when injustice happens." We inadvertently remove the negative - so when you say "don't bully" - you're really hearing "bully." (This is why most of us teachers are taught to say "be quiet" instead of "don't talk." "Don't talk" will typically have the opposite influence of what we desire.)

Do this now.

School is right around the corner. Educators, we have a huge responsibility to educate a generation. If we forget the human beings in our classrooms we will one day have those humans be so busy doing that they might just forget about being kind, respectful, helpful, and understanding towards our generation. Things have a way of going around. You will reap the results of the soft goals you set now as will society, so choose well.

Schools can set soft goals for their year.

You can also be assured, that schools who are intentional about the "to be's" they select will reap the benefits of emphasizing those to be's. Principals can do the activity above. This is part of having vision and when it starts with the principal and superintendent - it becomes unstoppable. You are casting vision for what you want to be. Just prepare to work hard to be that yourself. If you say you want everyone to be something and you glaringly don't try to be that yourself. (For example, if you emphasize work ethic but find a way to leave early every day, you'll cause a morale problem.)

Please share

What are the "to be's" you want to emphasize this year? I am using Angela's Classroom Habitudes book for mine and adding "Integrity" as one of the to-be's.

What are yours? Please feel free to share them or the links in the comments. Do you create "soft goals?" Why or why not?


18 Jul 18:36

What works for high-need students

by Joanne

Stanford Education Professor Linda Darling-Hammond talked about educational equity and what works for disadvantaged students with as part of Education Sector’s Redefining Equity Up series.

18 Jul 23:36

Bloom’s Taxonomy Paint Palette

by admin

An article I read this week had me thinking about Bloom’s Taxonomy and what learning really is.  It led to me coming up with a new graphic for Bloom’s Taxonomy, this one a Paint Palette.  I like thinking about Bloom’s in the form of an artist paint palette because each color has equal importance.  For an artist, the greatest beauty comes in the mixing of colors.  Using a multitude of shades and blends on a canvas.  I think the same can be said of learning.  Learning that tells you that you can only use one color is rather uninspired.  But learning that encourages you to use all of the colors can create something really meaningful and beautiful.

At Anastasis, we encourage our students to look at learning through a variety of lenses and outcomes.  Bloom’s Taxonomy helps us do that by showing students that there are different ways to approach learning.  Now our biggest problem is that students will find that they really enjoy one way of showing what they know (iMovie) and proceed to use it for EVERYTHING.  I created the Bloom’s Taxonomy Paint Palette with verbs that help describe the different ways of learning.  I created a painting using the same colors from the palette to give students ideas for different outcomes and evidences of learning.  I’m in the midst of working on an app and website catalog organized by the same colors so that students can be introduced to the many options they have for the different types of learning and producing.  I’ll share that when it is finished!  For now, I’ve included screen shots of the Bloom’s Taxonomy Paint Palette, the Bloom’s Taxonomy Painting and a sample page from the catalog.

Bloom's Taxonomy Paint Palette- Kelly Tenkely iLearn Technology



Bloom's Taxonomy Painting- Kelly Tenkely iLearn Technology



Bloom's Taxonomy apps- Kelly Tenkely iLearn Technology

19 Jul 18:33

by Joanne
25 Jul 21:12

Common Core Could Be Disrupted As States Drop Out Of PARCC

In addition to Georgia, a handful of other states — Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, North Dakota, and Alabama — have dropped out of or scaled back their participation in the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness in College and Career (PARCC) consortium. Florida's education commissioner is mulling a similar decision. We discuss what it could mean for the success of the standards.

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16 Jul 19:23

Shopping for online courses and other educational content

by Joyce Valenza

For the growing numbers of us searching for online courses, as well as online educational resources, the portals are quickly growing in both number and size.

Finding the best or most relevant content may be a challenge.  Sites like Kayak take care of of the would-be traveler with a cross-portal search, but what’s the would-be online learner to do?

redhoop 300x105 Shopping for online courses and other educational content

Redhoop is one answer.  The educational search reaches across 4947 courses (1411 of them, free courses) offered by a growing list of portals, including:

Users may search Redhoop by keyword or category and filter their results by price, category or school.  They may also sign up for new course alerts.

Here’s my search for art history courses:

arthistory 294x300 Shopping for online courses and other educational content

And then there’s all the open educational content (not necessarily courses) that I wish was easier for teachers to discover. At the end of the school year I visited the various departments to share some of the resources and portals I was most excited about.  Because I also wanted to demonstrate a few curation tools, I shared my master list visually in an EdCanvas. I am still working on organizing this to make more sense and I am working on breaking it down to create a few more subject- and media-specific lists. (Please let me know what’s missing!)  As for searching across the portals, I created a Google Custom Search, located in the last tile.  (Unfortunately, I am unable to embed the search in this blog.)

printfriendly Shopping for online courses and other educational contentemail Shopping for online courses and other educational contenttwitter Shopping for online courses and other educational contentfacebook Shopping for online courses and other educational contentgoogle plus Shopping for online courses and other educational contenttumblr Shopping for online courses and other educational contentreddit Shopping for online courses and other educational contentshare save 171 16 Shopping for online courses and other educational content

10 Jul 04:00


This is roughly equivalent to 'number of times I've picked up a seashell at the ocean' / 'number of times I've picked up a seashell', which in my case is pretty close to 1, and gets much closer if we're considering only times I didn't put it to my ear.
17 Jul 17:06

Boundaries, people.

by Jessica Hagy

Directly positive correlation


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18 Jul 18:37

Minding what store?

by Jessica Hagy

Wild kids FTW

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22 Jul 07:08

I Used to be a Washing Machine

by Troy Turner

At the end of a clothes washing machine’s lifespan, we have no problem leaving the old thing out on the curb. What’s it good for anyway, right? Wrong! Did you know that inside your old washer is a chair…or 2… or 3??!!  Taking repurposed material to a whole new level, Tony Grigorian shares his “I Used to be a Washing Machine” project with us and shows YOU how to DIY your own chairs from washing machine scrap. Check out the vid to see how it’s done!

Designer: Tony Grigorian

Yanko Design
Timeless Designs - Explore wonderful concepts from around the world!
Shop CKIE - We are more than just concepts. See what's hot at the CKIE store by Yanko Design!
(I Used to be a Washing Machine was originally posted on Yanko Design)

Related posts:

  1. What A Purdy Washing Machine
  2. Hamper is the Washing Machine
  3. Jazzed-up Washing Machine

23 Jul 19:55

Media Warning Signs For The Grand Old White Republican Tea Party

by Mark

The Nielsen ratings for July are coming out soon and there are developing trends in television viewing that portend problems for Republicans. Variety is reporting that…

“Univision is on pace to end the July sweeps in the numero uno spot, a milestone for the U.S. Hispanic network. Market leader expects to dominate July sweeps primetime among both Adults 18-49 and Adults 18-34 demos, in broadcast or cable.”

To be clear, this is not a ratings win among Hispanic networks or a particular genre of programming. It is the top spot for all television programming in the most important audience demographics. They beat ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX.

GOP Rebranding
Be Sure To “LIKE” News Corpse On Facebook

The political significance of this victory is that it affirms the growth of the Latino market, which has already been recognized as the fastest growing segment of the electorate. After the GOP’s dismal showing among Latinos in last November’s election (Romney drew only 27%), the party made a very public case for examining what went wrong, producing a thick document they called an “autopsy.” They concluded that the party “must embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform. If we do not, our Party’s appeal will continue to shrink to its core constituencies only.”

Fast forward to July 2013. The Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill with the votes of every Democrat, but only 14 Republicans. And now the bill sits dormant in the House where the Republican leadership refuses to bring it up for a vote. Many Republicans are openly hostile to immigration reform and have vowed to obstruct any attempt to advance it. Additionally, Republicans back voter suppression schemes that negatively impact Hispanic citizens. They also oppose the Dream Act that allows certain undocumented residents to remain in the country if they were brought here as children, have no criminal record, and are enrolled in either school or the military.

So despite recognition that the Republican Party’s viability in the future depends on broadening their base and appealing to Hispanics, they are doing virtually everything they can think of to alienate and insult the Latino community.

Another segment of the electorate that the GOP has had problems with are young voters. President Obama got a whopping 67% of the youth vote last November. Some of the issues that are important to this demographic include marriage equality, gun safety, tax fairness, health care, student loan interest rates, ballot access, and reproductive rights. These are all issues that the GOP polls poorly on among young constituents. Their autopsy noted that many respondents viewed the GOP as the party of “stuffy old men,” and acknowledged that “If our Party is not welcoming and inclusive, young people and increasingly other voters will continue to tune us out.”

Back to the present, we see that Republicans have done virtually nothing to avert the catastrophes they themselves predicted. And another signal in the media illustrates just how far afield they are in addressing the concerns of young citizens. The New York Times reports that Fox News, the PR arm of the GOP, is increasingly an island of far-right, senior citizens:

“[F]or six of the last eight years, Fox News has had a median age of 65-plus and the number of viewers in the 25-54 year old group has been falling consistently, down five years in a row in prime time.”

This represents the highest median age of any television network. Hence all the ads for Cialis, reverse mortgages, and the Scooter Store. Fox also has the widest disparity between viewers 18-34 and those 25-54. MSNBC, which has been slumping lately, still manages to grab the top spot for for viewers 18-34 in primetime.

Republicans, and their preferred media, are bleeding supporters in key groups that they have already conceded are essential for future victories. Hispanics, youth, African-Americans, and women, are all growing constituencies. But they are being left behind by an increasingly extremist and narrow Republican Party that is only responsive to older, white, Tea Partiers.

While this trend surely portends trouble for the GOP, it is an opportunity for Democrats to show some real leadership and embrace the diversity for which the party is known. Democrats have an uphill battle in 2014 due to gerrymandered redistricting by the GOP. They have to outperform Republicans by 7% just to stay competitive. Consequently, now would be the time to start shoring up support for the faster growing and more populous voter groups that show the most promise for electoral gains. Let the GOP have have the white, senior wingnuts. After all, it’s all they have left.

22 Jul 23:04

Image of the Day: A View of Spaceship Earth from Saturn





In this rare image taken on July 19, 2013, the wide-angle camera on NASA's Cassini spacecraft has captured Saturn's rings and our planet Earth and its moon in the same frame. It is only one footprint in a mosaic of 33 footprints covering the entire Saturn ring system (including Saturn itself). This is only the third time ever that Earth has been imaged from the outer solar system. The acquisition of this image, along with the accompanying composite narrow- and wide-angle image of Earth and the moon and the full mosaic from which both are taken, marked the first time that inhabitants of Earth knew in advance that their planet was being imaged. That opportunity allowed people around the world to join together in social events to celebrate the occasion.

At each footprint, images were taken in different spectral filters for a total of 323 images: some were taken for scientific purposes and some to produce a natural color mosaic. This is the only wide-angle footprint that has the Earth-moon system in it.

The dark side of Saturn, its bright limb, the main rings, the F ring, and the G and E rings are clearly seen; the limb of Saturn and the F ring are overexposed. The "breaks" in the brightness of Saturn's limb are due to the shadows of the rings on the globe of Saturn, preventing sunlight from shining through the atmosphere in those regions. The E and G rings have been brightened for better visibility.

Earth, which is 898 million miles (1.44 billion kilometers) away in this image, appears as a blue dot at center right; the moon can be seen as a fainter protrusion off its right side. An arrow indicates their location in the annotated version. (The two are clearly seen as separate objects in the accompanying narrow angle frame: PIA14949.) The other bright dots nearby are stars.

The Daily Galaxy via NASA/Cassini

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25 Jul 08:36

"Our Star-Trek Future" --NASA Scientists Engineering a Warp-Drive Solution for Faster-Than-Light Space Travel (Today's Most Popular)






Move over Star Trek! According to state-of-the art theory, a warp drive could cut the travel time between stars from tens of thousands of years to weeks or months. Harold G. White, a physicist and advanced propulsion engineer at NASA and other NASA engineers are trying to determine whether faster-than-light travel — warp drive — might someday be possible. The team has attempting to slightly warp the trajectory of a photon, changing the distance it travels in a certain area, and then observing the change with a device called an interferometer.

“Space has been expanding since the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago,” said Dr. White, 43, who runs the research project told the New York Times. “And we know that when you look at some of the cosmology models, there were early periods of the universe where there was explosive inflation, where two points would’ve went receding away from each other at very rapid speeds. Nature can do it,” he added. “So the question is, can we do it?”

In 1994, a Mexican physicist, Miguel Alcubierre, theorized that faster-than-light speeds were possible in a way that did not contradict Einstein by harnessing the expansion and contraction of space itself. Under Dr. Alcubierre’s hypothesis, a ship still couldn’t exceed light speed in a local region of space. But a theoretical propulsion system he sketched out manipulated space-time by generating a so-called “warp bubble” that would expand space on one side of a spacecraft and contract it on another.


          Alcubierre-warp-drive-overview (1)


An Alcubierre Warp Drive stretches spacetime in a wave causing the fabric of space ahead of a spacecraft to contract and the space behind it to expand. The ship can ride the wave to accelerate to high speeds and time travel. The Alcubierre drive, also known as the Alcubierre metric or Warp Drive, is a mathematical model of a spacetime exhibiting features reminiscent of the fictional "warp drive" from Star Trek, which can travel "faster than light/"

Alcubierre-warp-drive-manifold“In this way, the spaceship will be pushed away from the Earth and pulled towards a distant star by space-time itself,” Dr. Alcubierre wrote. Dr. White, the NYT reports, has likened it to stepping onto a moving walkway at an airport.

Alcubierre’s theory, however, depended on large amounts of a little understood or observed type of “exotic matter” that violates typical physical laws.

In general relativity, one often first specifies a plausible distribution of matter and energy, and then finds the geometry of the spacetime associated with it; but it is also possible to run the Einstein field equations in the other direction, first specifying a metric and then finding the energy-momentum tensor associated with it, and this is what Alcubierre did in building his metric. This practice means that the solution can violate various energy conditions and require exotic matter. The need for exotic matter leads to questions about whether it is actually possible to find a way to distribute the matter in an initial spacetime which lacks a "warp bubble" in such a way that the bubble will be created at a later time.

Yet another problem according to Serguei Krasnikov is that it would be impossible to generate the bubble without being able to force the exotic matter to move at locally FTL speeds, which would require the existence of tachyons. Some methods have been suggested which would avoid the problem of tachyonic motion, but would probably generate a naked singularity at the front of the bubble.

Dr. White believes that advances he and others have made render warp speed less implausible. Among other things, he has redesigned the theoretical warp-traveling spacecraft — and in particular a ring around it that is key to its propulsion system — in a way that he believes will greatly reduce the energy requirements. But ”We’re not bolting this to a spacecraft,” he said of the technology.

Richard Obousy, a physicist who is president of Icarus Interstellar, a nonprofit group composed of volunteers collaborating on starship design, said “it is not airy-fairy, pie in the sky. We tend to overestimate what we can do on short time scales, but I think we massively underestimate what we can do on longer time scales.”

Dr. White likened his experiments to the early stages of the WW11 Manhattan Project, which were aimed at creating a very small nuclear reaction merely as proof that it could be done.

“Routine travel among the stars is impossible without new discoveries regarding the fabric of space and time, or capability to manipulate it for our needs,” says Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist at the American Museum of Natural History, said “By my read, the idea of a functioning warp drive remains far-fetched, but the real take-away is that people are thinking about it — reminding us all that the urge to explore continues to run deep in our species.”


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Still, one of the most dubious is Dr. Alcubierre himself. He listed a number of concerns, starting with the vast amounts of exotic matter that would be needed. “The warp drive on this ground alone is impossible,” he said. “At speeds larger than the speed of light, the front of the warp bubble cannot be reached by any signal from within the ship,” he said. “This does not just mean we can’t turn it off; it is much worse. It means we can’t even turn it on in the first place.”

The Daily Galaxy via New York Times and Dr. David Lewis Anderson/Anderson Institute

Image credit: With thanks to


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26 Jul 08:40

What a turn-off: why your phone must be powered down on flights

It's a fact of life for anyone boarding a plane: all electronic devices need to be turned off during take-off and landing.