Slave narratives in Flash animation

August 31, 2007

Wow!

Graphic for Slave Narratives on-line exhibit

Teachers, take a look at this Flash animation about slavery, from the Museum of African Diaspora (MoAD) in San Francisco. Yes, that beautiful, distinctive narrator voice is Maya Angelou — this is a high quality, high-impact presentation.

This MoAD piece, “Slave Narratives,” gives a glimpse of the potential of on-line learning, and what can be done with computers to supercharge a subject. Here slavery is presented as not only a colonial American problem, but is instead carried on through salvery issues in the 21st century. It’s part of the MoAD “Salon,” a site that world geography, world history and U.S. history teachers need to visit right away.

Cyberspace Nova discusses the site in a quick review of recent great Flash animations:

Imagine how it looked like taking a people freedom, torturing them, killing them and moving them far far away from their home. Tears can follow very easily if you just put one picture on your mind how it looked like. Yet, Slave Narrative put thousands of pictures in front of your eyes if you listen to the stories of slaves who lived to write them and share with people that will live after them. Let’s never forget this, because it’s happening today, like some stories from Slave Narratives tell… I love that this site is done in Flash, it is so powerful, it tells a story that we cannot hear a lot… Narrative part not just only justifies use of Flash, whole interactivity makes it great. 5/5

Opening to Photographs from the African Diaspora exhibit

Also look at this photographic exhibit of from MoAD, featuring more than 2,000 photos of people of African descent and places and things important to them — again, with great flash animation.

Bookmark the home page of the museum while you’re there.


“Teachers are morons”

August 31, 2007

Not my view.  Vox Day.  I can’t resist kicking his arguments when he’s down.

Agree or not? Put it in comments.


Vox Day: Trapped in a quote mine cave-in

August 31, 2007

Vox Day, who claims to know more than most mortals can even think about, has fallen into a quote mine. (Quote mine defined.) Worse, the mine appears to have caved in.

Vox Day wishes to make the claim that Darwin is responsible for the evils of the Soviet Union. Apart from the prima facie absurdity of the claim, Vox has a dozen highly tenuous links he wishes to torture into supporting his claim, despite their refusal to do so.

This just in: Since I started out on this particular Fisking, Vox has popped up with this gem:

Unsurprisingly, evolutionists are reacting strongly to my column today. They swear up and down that there is no connection whatsoever between evolution and Communism, despite the fact that every single major Communist not only subscribed to Darwinist evolution but considered Darwin to be second only to Hegel as a pre-Marxist socialist figure.

There is no evidence Stalin or Lenin ever subscribed to evolution theory, and at any rate, Stalin expressly rejected Darwin and evolution, eviscerating the Soviets’ lead in genetics in 1920 by banning the teaching of evolution, banning research in evolution or research that had Darwinian overtones, stripping Darwin-theory subscribing biologists of their jobs, exiling a few to Siberia and death in several cases, and executing a few just for good measure. In place of evolution, Stalin backed Trofim Lysenko who advocated, apart from his creationist-like hatred of Darwin, an odd, almost-Lamarckian idea that stress in utero would change characteristics.

So, for example, Lysenko ordered that seed wheat be frozen, and then planted in winter. The freezing, the Stalin-Lysenko idea held, would make the wheat able to grow in cold weather. The crop failures were so spectacular that at least 4 million people died of starvation in the Soviet Union. By 1954 the crop failures were so massive the Soviet Union had to purchase wheat from the U.S., with loans from the U.S. These loans crippled any hope of the Soviet economy ever breaking out of its doldrums, and started the long slide to the collapse of the Soviet Union. You’d think Vox Day, who professes to be a libertarian and a Christian, would approve of the collapse of the Soviet Union by any cause — but he does not approve of the collapse if it came by a lack of evolution theory.

Vox Day never lets the facts get in the way of a rant. (As evidence that Marx was so deeply influenced by evolution theory, Vox notes that a fellow who knew Darwin, Edward Aveling attended Marx’s funeral. If that doesn’t convince, you, Vox says, Aveling later wrote an article saying it’s true, Marxism was based on evolution theory. So take THAT all you people who think Marxism emphasizes collectivism and the state: Darwin’s individual competition for survival is the REAL root of socialism. No, I’m not making this up — go read it for yourself. Then get some facts — read this account, which includes the guest list of Marx’s funeral. There were only nine people at Marx’s funeral, and Vox got the guest list wrong: Aveling wasn’t there. One more Vox claim refuted.)

Back to the regularly scheduled Vox Day quote mine cave-in, below the fold.

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Giant spider community – in Texas, of course

August 30, 2007

Bug Girl has all the details — spiders being closer to her blog’s core topic – but this news is just about 90 minutes from here, much closer for North Dallasites.

Giant web at Lake Tawakoni State Park, Texas - Star-Telegram photo

Did you see the giant web at Lake Tawakoni State Park? It was on the CBS Evening News tonight, and it’s all over the blogs today. The Washington Post has this delightful quote (delightful to those of us who think of all the West Nile virus that won’t be spread):

“At first, it was so white it looked like fairyland,” said Donna Garde, superintendent of the [Lake Tawakoni State] park about 45 miles east of Dallas. “Now it’s filled with so many mosquitoes that it’s turned a little brown. There are times you can literally hear the screech of millions of mosquitoes caught in those webs.”

Ah, the screech of millions of mosquitoes, about to be eaten.

Map to Lake Tawakoni State Park, from Dallas

By the way, DDT kills these spider very well. DDT spraying, in such a case, is a favor to the mosquitoes — spiders can be significant contributors to pest control.

See Bug Girl’s post for all the science — her post is practically a lesson plan just waiting to be downloaded.

And, it’s pronounced tuh-WOK-uh-nee. Named after a local tribe of Native Americans, “a Caddoan tribe of the Wichita group.”


Life-saving mine communicators: No deal, operators say

August 30, 2007

Via The Pump Handle, a very good blog on public health issues, we get an article by Tom Bethell noting that a revolutionary mine communication system saved 45 lives in Utah during a mine fire in 1998.  Unfortunately, most U.S. mine operators refuse to use the system, including the Crandall Mine in Huntington Canyon, Utah, where nine miners have died in the last three weeks.

Bethell is an old United Mine Workers Union writer, and might be considered biased because of his past affiliations.  However, I’ve watched his work since I staffed the Senate committee that dealt with mine safety, and my experience is that his work is very good, tilted toward workers and increased safety for very good reasons.

Bethell’s article ran in the award-winning weekly newspaper, The Mountain Eagle in Whitesburg, Kentucky — operated by Tom and Pat Gish since 1956.   Though nominally a small-town weekly, the newspaper’s influence is multiplied by solid reporting and followup on stories and issues that are vital to the local community.  Coal mining is a big part of life in that area of Kentucky.

I cannot improve on Bethell’s writing, nor on the drama his story has naturally from its topic and the tragedy it reveals.  Bethell’s article is below the fold:

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Historic moment: Texas commutes a death sentence

August 30, 2007

Gov. Rick Perry commuted a death sentence today. This is the first commutation in eight years so close to an execution. Any commutation recommendation is rare in Texas.

Is this just one commutation, or does it signal a change?

Gov. Perry’s press release:

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Preacher looks again: Did Hubble kill God?

August 30, 2007

Sometimes religion and science don’t clash at all.

Hubble Ultra Deep Field Image Reveals Galaxies Galore

Unlike the last time we visited this remarkable photograph, some people of faith look at it and see beauty, insted of seeing conflict between reality and their holy books.

I know of a Real Live Preacher who doesn’t abuse the science in finding a religious message in the photo.

Image of man and stars, from Real Live Preacher

So first vertigo, then panic, then longing. After that I generally calm down a bit. My tiny mind and delicate emotions cannot bear even my small thoughts of the universe for more than a few minutes. I relax. Sometimes a shrinking reality can be a comfort. My sins, the things that I have done wrong and the ways that I cannot be what I should be, also shrink. I feel I can forgive myself for them, small man that I am. Why the hell not? Look at the size of the universe!

This forgiveness is the Grace that Christians speak of. The main story of our faith tells us that we must be forgiven and can be. Funny how it takes science to bring that reality to my guts.

For some reason, this experience always ends with a crazy happiness that I cannot easily explain. I become giddy with the knowledge that ultimate reality is so far beyond our grasp. This lets me off the hook, to a certain extent. We’ll never know reality. We’ll never even map our solar system, you and I. We’re small people, but we have grasped the idea of existence. We know love, seek knowledge, and recognize goodness and evil.

Our saintly scientists, single-minded and incredibly committed to the search for truth, draw down amazing pictures from the ancient light in the sky. These pictures help me to know that it is okay to be nothing more or less than what we are.

One might visit Real Live Preacher just for the art, too (see sample above). A remarkable site.

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