Could Abraham Lincoln ever live up to Millard Fillmore’s record?

March 4, 2010

Alexander Stephens, Portage Publications image

Alexander Stephens, Portage Publications image

Elektratig found the most delightful thing, and wrote about it on his blog — Georgia politician and future vice president of the Confederacy, Alexander Stephens wondering about this new guy on the hustings, Abraham Lincoln, and comparing him to Millard Fillmore, in a letter from July 1860.  You gotta read it there.

You couldn’t make this stuff up.  Real history is always better than fiction.  There’s a delightful surprise around every bend of the river.

Also:


Arctic Ocean gives up more methane than scientists predicted

March 4, 2010

Here’s another point of science that will give rational people concern, and which cannot in any way be explained as “no problem” by stolen e-mails:  Methane releases from the floor of the East Siberian Arctic are much larger than predicted.

Methane hydrates releasing methane gas in bubbles in the ocean - i.treehugger image

Underwater methane gas plumes, Photo: NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program, 2013

Methane is a more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.  Frozen forms of methane dot the bottoms of our oceans.  Warming of the oceans might be able to trigger an explosive thawing of the methane hydrates, as the frozen forms are known, seriously adding to our worldwide greenhouse gas problems.

Story here at Global ChangeScience article on which that post is based, here.

Cool SONAR pictures of methane bubbling up from the floor of the Arctic Ocean, but scary once you realize what they are, at this vintage post at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub.

Is there any chance this research will merit a mention at the climate denialist blogs?


Shakiest states — geologically, that is

March 4, 2010

USGS map of states with the most quakes

Quake rankings of states

Which states shake the most?  Here are the top 20.

Surprised that Maine makes the list?

Much more from the US Geological Survey here, “Top Earthquake States.”


Diane Ravitch’s “U-turn”: The teachers were right

March 4, 2010

Were I to advise Diane Ravitch right now, I’d tell her to change all her computer passwords and redouble the security on her servers.  Why?  After what happened to the scientists who study global warming, I expect many of the same wackoes are working right now to get her e-mails, knowing that the mere act of stealing them will be enough to indict her change of heart on education in America.

It’s much the same mob crowd in both cases.  [I’m hopeful it’s not a mob.]

Dr. Ravitch thinks big thoughts about education.  She stands in the vanguard of those people who are both academically astute in education, and who can make a case that appeals to policy makers.  Working under Checker Finn at the old Office of Educational Research and Improvement, we quickly got familiar with Ravitch’s works and views.  Finn and Ravitch, good friends and like-minded in education issues, were the running backs and sticky-handed receivers for any conservative education quarterback, back in the Day.

Finn was Assistant Secretary of Education for Research under Bill Bennett.  Ravitch succeeded Finn, under Lamar Alexander.  While Bennett and Alexander took troubling turns to the right, and Finn stayed much where he was, Ravitch has been looking hard at what’s working in schools today.

Ravitch doesn’t like the conservative revolution’s results in education.  She’s changed her views.  Says one of the better stories about her changing views, in The New York Times:

Once outspoken about the power of standardized testing, charter schools and free markets to improve schools, Dr. Ravitch is now caustically critical. She underwent an intellectual crisis, she says, discovering that these strategies, which she now calls faddish trends, were undermining public education. She resigned last year from the boards of two conservative research groups.

“School reform today is like a freight train, and I’m out on the tracks saying, ‘You’re going the wrong way!’ ” Dr. Ravitch said in an interview.

This is big stuff, and good news to teachers who, since I was at Education in 1987, have been telling policy makers the same things Ravitch is saying now.

David Gardner and Milton Goldberg wrote in the report of the Excellence in Education Commission in 1983 that America faces a “rising tide of mediocrity” because of bad decisions.  That’s true of much education reform today, too.

Gardner and Goldberg also said that, had a foreign nation done that damage to us, we’d regard it as an act of war.

Maybe Ravitch’s turn can help mediate an end to the Right’s War on Education and pogroms against teachers.

Here in Texas the conservatives on the Texas State Board of Education didn’t like Ravitch’s views when she was in the conservative camp, so Texas has started, finally, to vote out commissioners who don’t get it, who prefer a state of war on Texas’s children to promoting public education

Let’s hope more people listen to Ravitch now.

More:

Be sure to listen to the NPR interview from Morning Edition, yesterday (you can read it, too).

And, in next Sunday’s New York Times Magazine, a story about how to build a better teacher; do you know the difference between testing and teaching?


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