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Clinical psychologist explains how Ayn Rand helped turn the US into a selfish and greedy nation | Bruce Levine | Raw Story

Clinical psychologist explains how Ayn Rand helped turn the US into a selfish and greedy nation | Bruce Levine | Raw Story | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

The ‘Atlas Shrugged’ author made selfishness heroic and caring about others weakness.


Ayn Rand’s “philosophy” is nearly perfect in its immorality, which makes the size of her audience all the more ominous and symptomatic as we enter a curious new phase in our society….To justify and extol human greed and egotism is to my mind not only immoral, but evil.— Gore Vidal, 1961

Only rarely in U.S. history do writers transform us to become a more caring or less caring nation. In the 1850s, Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) was a strong force in making the United States a more humane nation, one that would abolish slavery of African Americans. A century later, Ayn Rand (1905-1982) helped make the United States into one of the most uncaring nations in the industrialized world, a neo-Dickensian society where healthcare is only for those who can afford it, and where young people are coerced into huge student-loan debt that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy.

Rand’s impact has been widespread and deep. At the iceberg’s visible tip is the influence she’s had over major political figures who have shaped American society. In the 1950s, Ayn Rand read aloud drafts of what was later to become Atlas Shrugged to her “Collective,” Rand’s ironic nickname for her inner circle of young individualists, which included Alan Greenspan, who would serve as chairman of the Federal Reserve Board from 1987 to 2006.

In 1966, Ronald Reagan wrote in a personal letter, “Am an admirer of Ayn Rand.” Today, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) credits Rand for inspiring him to go into politics, and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) calls Atlas Shrugged his “foundation book.” Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) says Ayn Rand had a major influence on him, and his son Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is an even bigger fan. A short list of other Rand fans includes Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas; Christopher Cox, chairman of the Security and Exchange Commission in George W. Bush’s second administration; and former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford.

But Rand’s impact on U.S. society and culture goes even deeper.


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Nicole Gillen's curator insight, March 25, 8:08 AM

Jeez, blame a woman for our nation's problems.  Jimminy

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PA: Ties between Williams’ campaigns and charter school proponents run deep | Isaiah Thompson | Philly Voice

PA: Ties between Williams’ campaigns and charter school proponents run deep | Isaiah Thompson | Philly Voice | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it
A few weeks ago, state senator and would-be Philadelphia mayor Anthony H. Williams addressed a gathering of self-described "progressive" voters going by the name Philly for Change, making his pitch and fielding questions. Unsurprisingly, the topic of education came up quickly.

Williams, a longtime proponent both of charter schools and private school voucher programs, has accepted substantial — almost monolithic, at times — donations from groups promoting those agendas. When the questions started coming, Williams didn’t deny his support for charter schools (he did not, however, mention the word “vouchers”) but did downplay his connection to his erstwhile donors and their agendas.

“I wasn’t dependent on one interest group,” he said. “I’m owned by no one.”


It’s a point he’s made repeatedly — and no less since public campaign finance reports released in January showed that Williams had received more donations from political action committees associated with groups pushing charter school expansion, especially the same individuals, the pro-voucher managers of the Bala Cynwyd-based Susquehanna International Group, who pumped a staggering $5 million into his 2010 gubernatorial run and contributed roughly a quarter-million dollars to a newly-formed super PAC expected to use independent expenditures to support his mayoral bid.

In the face of attacks over his connections to these groups, Williams has argued his distance. At a recent press conference, as reported last week by NewsWorks, Williams called it “curious” that he would be labeled “the charter school guy.”

But a review of years’ worth of campaign finance filings, lobbying disclosure reports and other public documents by PhillyVoice suggests the ties between Williams’ political campaigns — particularly the Susquehanna International Group and the organizations it has founded to push pro-voucher legislation — run deeper than a few donations, however large.

None of these relationships, according to multiple experts interviewed, violate rules governing campaign finance or lobbying rules.

But they do, perhaps, show a proximity between Williams’ candidacy and the money backing it that challenges the degree to which Williams downplays those connections.


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Hipsters for charter schools: The big lie “Togetherness” tells about race and education | Joshua Leibner | Salon.com

Hipsters for charter schools: The big lie “Togetherness” tells about race and education | Joshua Leibner | Salon.com | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

Michelle Pierson, a 40-ish mother of two, is in a state of confusion over her the direction in life and finds herself wandering down the main drag of her gentrifying, hip Northeast Los Angeles neighborhood. She hears a confident voice coming from Eagle Rock City Hall that entices her in.

Inside, David Garcia, a handsome, charismatic Latino, is speaking stirringly to a group of concerned parents. He says, “There’s like bird shit all over the place — I mean you got kids eating five-day-old sloppy joes. Our public school system is broken. I don’t think we can fix the old schools but I’ll tell you what we can do. We can build a new one. Isn’t a great school no more than a box and an inspired teacher inside of it? We need a great charter school here in Eagle Rock. Let’s create a place for our children to flourish. There’s a big empty hole in our community. And if we don’t do anything about it, our kids are going to be more disenfranchised and lost than we are now.”

Michelle is entranced, and suddenly her life has found a purpose.

Charter school dogma has made it to the Big Time: It just got its own soapbox on the Duplass brothers’ HBO Sunday night series “Togetherness.”

The one thing the aging-hipster parents know of their school district, Los Angeles Unified, is its “broken-ness” — and by extension, the rest of America’s obsession with that term. These “thoughtful” parents don’t waste one breath discussing the possibility of their white middle-class children attending their neighborhood school, saving it instead for lengthy wails of anxiety about private school applications and liberal guilt about isolating their kids from “the community.”

Who cares what a Hollywood show about “disenfranchised and lost” film industry workers and their precious progeny does?

We all should, because “Togetherness” very much reflects the state of national discourse on education and its corrosive effects on public schools, particularly as it has played out in Los Angeles. (I taught in LAUSD public schools for 20 years.) The show also presciently mirrors a current school board race in that district that is pitting a charter school reformer against an old-time public school advocate.

With “Togetherness,” we witness the battle through the intersection of art, politics, race and class.


The show’s creators, Mark and Jay Duplass, are the very talented Hollywood powerhouse titans of smart, artsy films about the white middle class and its obsessions; their work dominates Sundance and they have a four-picture deal with Netflix. The brothers also live in Eagle Rock, Los Angeles School Board District 5, and that’s where they’ve set “Togetherness.” It also happens to be where I live and will send my son to school when he is old enough. Although the show is ostensibly about the marriage and lives of Hollywood sound man Brett and his wife, Michelle, the charter school plotline is enlightening and can be discussed in light of not only LAUSD’s relationship to these characters, but to the nation as a whole.


The charter school speech-maker, David Garcia, an aspiring politician, begins with the mantra that has been drummed around the country for the last 20 years: “Our public education system is broken.”


Is it broken in Palos Verdes? In Beverly Hills? In Malibu? Or any of the richer districts that surround L.A.?  No, but definitely, apparently, in Eagle Rock.


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NV: Education will unlock benefits of development | John Solari | Reno Gazette-Journal

NV: Education will unlock benefits of development | John Solari | Reno Gazette-Journal | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

Economic development is booming in Northern Nevada. Tesla, a new Switch data center, Ghost Systems, Clear Capital, Koch Business Solutions and the recent expansion of drone companies all are bringing thousands of jobs to Reno and the surrounding area.

As the job numbers rise, the demands on the local workforce are becoming apparent. But this round of new jobs is not being measured only in quantity; it is also being measured in quality. Local colleges and technical schools are working hard to close skills gaps in the local workforce in an effort to wring the most economic impact out of this latest round of economic development.

The hope is workforce development will help Northern Nevadans fill the high-paying technical jobs for these new companies, not just the lower-paying and less skilled positions that become available.

Local schools like Truckee Meadows Community College are adding technical courses specifically tailored toward jobs created by these companies even as the Economic Development of Western Nevada is recruiting new technical businesses to relocate to the region. This unified approach to economic development is the formula that will transform the region's economy.

Even unexpected organizations like the Carson City Library are supporting the effort. The library was the first in the nation to launch a manufacturing certification program in collaboration with organizations like the Nevada Manufacturers Association.

The new courses being offered are a direct response to the new technical skills needed for these positions in manufacturing and technology companies. The construction industry is requiring more training as the industry has adapted, using new advanced equipment and products. In many cases these are new jobs requiring technical skills that employers will expect new hires to have as a requirement for the positions.

These new skilled jobs are blurring the lines — and the pay scales — between blue-collar and white-collar jobs. Highly skilled technical jobs like welding, machine-controlled manufacturing technicians are positions that pay at white-collar job levels and can support middle class families, which sets off a chain reaction of benefits in the local housing market and local business community.


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The Nordic Biophilia Educational Program | BiophiliaEducation.org

The Nordic Biophilia Educational Program | BiophiliaEducation.org | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

The Biophilia Educational Project is a large-scale pilot project that builds on the participation of academics, scientists, artists, teachers and students at all academic levels. It is based around creativity as a teaching and research tool, where music, technology and the natural sciences are linked together in an innovative way.

The project presents an example of dynamic collaboration between different areas in society, such as the education system, cultural institutions, science and research institutes. It creates a platform for dialogue and debate which encourages both personal and social development, thereby contributing to a sustainable society where new approaches are actively explored.
The project was originally developed by Björk Guðmundsdóttir, the City of Reykjavík and the University of Iceland, in connection with the release of Björk’s 2011 album Biophilia.

The Biophilia Educational Project aims to inspire children to explore their own creativity, while learning about music, nature and science through new technologies. The project has thus far mainly been aimed at children aged 10-12 years, and the programme is based on Björk’s Biophilia app suite of music and interactive, educational artefacts.

Students learn through hands-on participation, composition and collaboration. Participants acquire the skills to develop their musical imagination, to push their creative boundaries and make music in an impulsive and responsive way, inspired by the structures and phenomena of the natural world. The Biophilia Educational project has the potential to bring arts experience to children who might otherwise not have access to it.

To commemorate its 2014 presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers, the Icelandic government sought collaboration with the other Nordic countries to further develop the project. Local collaboration networks are being set up in all Nordic countries.

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NYC: Coalition for Queens announces new funding to teach tech skills | Bill Parry | Times Ledger

NYC: Coalition for Queens announces new funding to teach tech skills | Bill Parry | Times Ledger | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

Coalition for Queens is getting some major funding from leading technology, philanthropic and public supporters. The non-profit, based in Long Island City’s Falchi Building, fosters the Queens Tech ecosystem to increase economic opportunity and transform the borough into a leading hub for innovation and entrepreneurship.


Google, Reddit, Blackstone, Verizon and Capital One are among the companies behind a $1.75 million grant that will be used to expand C4Q’s computer programming course, Access Code, and expand its existing entrepreneurship and urban planning initiatives. The Access Code program is uniquely designed to provide adults from non-traditional and low-income communities with the skills and resources to learn mobile development and gain well-paid jobs in tech.

“C4Q offers computer programming training that opens career opportunities in tech and entrepreneurship to our talented students, bringing them from poverty to middle class in the process,” C4Q Founder Jukay Hsu said. “Creating economic mobility via our tech education is something we can quantify: our average graduate income goes from $26,000 to $73,000 a year.”

The Federal Economic Development Agency, with the support of U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Jackson Heights), also joined in providing a grant.

“The high-tech industry and its jobs are critical to the future of the Queens economy, and this type of smart, job-creating investment now will pay huge dividends in the future for these communities,” Schumer said. “With federal funding, matched with local and private funding, C4Q can move immediately to the next phase of their strategic plan, which will include building support and executing on recommendations like expanding high-tech education programs and improving access to broadband.”


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A New Must-Read for All Educators | Elena Aguilar | Edutopia.org

A New Must-Read for All Educators | Elena Aguilar | Edutopia.org | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

My theme for this year is best articulated in the words of the great singer/songwriter and activity, Pete Seeger, who said, "The key to the future of the world is finding the hopeful stories and letting them be known."


I wrote about this -- and what it might mean for our schools -- in January, Finding and Sharing Hope in Schools in 2015.


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Schools in Finland will no longer teach 'subjects' | Richard Garner | The Independent

Schools in Finland will no longer teach 'subjects' | Richard Garner | The Independent | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

For years, Finland has been the by-word for a successful education system, perched at the top of international league tables for literacy and numeracy.

Only far eastern countries such as Singapore and China outperform the Nordic nation in the influential Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) rankings. Politicians and education experts from around the world – including the UK – have made pilgrimages to Helsinki in the hope of identifying and replicating the secret of its success.

Which makes it all the more remarkable that Finland is about to embark on one of the most radical education reform programmes ever undertaken by a nation state – scrapping traditional “teaching by subject” in favour of “teaching by topic”.

“This is going to be a big change in education in Finland that we’re just beginning,” said Liisa Pohjolainen, who is in charge of youth and adult education in Helsinki – the capital city at the forefront of the reform programme.


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Jane Schmude's curator insight, April 11, 3:23 AM

As an Australian educator, it is always interesting to look at what is happening in Finland. They are always leading the way in educational innovation.

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Iowa school funding battle crescendoes; Davenport rallies around superintendent | Amanda Litvinov | NEA.org

Iowa school funding battle crescendoes; Davenport rallies around superintendent | Amanda Litvinov | NEA.org | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

Over the past several months, the school board and district administrators in Davenport, Iowa, have had some tough conversations about where they would make over $3 million in cuts.

Educator layoffs seemed inevitable—as many as 25—which would increase class sizes by two students.


But Davenport Superintendent Art Tate changed the conversation entirely when he announced last week that he would violate state law if necessary by using money from the district’s $29 million reserve fund in order to avoid cuts to staff and programs that directly impact students.


Some state legislators have denounced Tate’s actions, which could result in his firing and losing his license; he could even be charged with a misdemeanor. Yet the state legislature has itself failed to comply with the law for five years by failing to set the education budget by the deadline specified in the Iowa Code.


“Legislators have an obligation to follow the law as well and listen to their constituents,” said educator and Iowa State Association President Tammy Wawro. “Shame on them for calling out the Davenport schools for flouting the law when in fact, they have broken their own laws for the past five years.”

“And, shame on them for characterizing our school funding emergency as ‘beating a dead horse,’ when school districts across the state are shouting that they have received inadequate funding for too long and cannot make ends meet,” she added.

Wawro says there is a simple solution: “Setting supplemental state aid at 4 percent would negate the need for school districts to contemplate violating state law.”


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AZ Gov Ducey — Koch bros. acolyte — slashes school and university budgets | NEA.org

AZ Gov Ducey — Koch bros. acolyte — slashes school and university budgets | NEA.org | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

Already-reeling Arizona public schools will have to make do with even less, despite the heated objections and protests of educators, parents, students and residents. Passed in the middle of the night without any opportunity for public debate, the budget, assembled by Gov. Doug Ducey and signed last week, also eliminates all funding for the state’s three largest community college districts while imposing deep cuts on public universities.

“Arizona is already last in the nation in per-pupil spending; this budget will keep our children at the bottom unless voters take action,” said Tucson high school English teacher and president of the Arizona Education Association Andrew Morrill. “This budget ignores the priorities of our citizens and shows no respect for the majority of parents.”

The $9.1 billion budget slashes $113.4 million from classroom materials, technology, building repairs, and more, representing an overall loss of $352.4 million to school districts when combined with the prior year’s cuts (for a reduction of more an 83 percent). The loss amounts to approximately $135 per student.

The final deal also cuts $15.6 million from Pima and Maricopa college districts and Central Arizona College — eliminating all state funding. State universities also came under the knife, losing $104 million, or 14 percent of their state support.

Prior to this budget, Arizona legislators had cut education funding by $1 billion over the last five years.

“Education is not something extra. It’s like water. It’s not something we can do without. I’ve been in education for 40 years and I’ve seen a lot of changes, but I have never seen anything like this,” Michael Cady, a retired teacher, told The Arizona Republic.

Touted by Ducey and his allies in the legislature as a lean blueprint consistent with the state’s resources and needs,the budget nevertheless includes funding increases for private, for-profit prisons, $267 million in corporate tax giveaways, $500,000 to Teach for America, and more than $100 million for a corporate tuition tax credit program for private school vouchers. Ducey was elected to office last November thanks in large measure to financial support from the Koch brothers’ political network.


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In the Age of Information, Specializing to Survive | J. Peder Zane | NYTimes.com

In the Age of Information, Specializing to Survive | J. Peder Zane | NYTimes.com | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

Jonathan Haber majored in philosophy at Harvard University. And Yale. And Stanford. He explored Kant’s “The Critique of Pure Reason” with an Oxford don and Kierkegaard’s insights into “Subjectivity, Irony and the Crisis of Modernity” with a leading light from the University of Copenhagen.

In his quest to meet all the standard requirements for a bachelor of arts degree in a single year, the 52-year-old from Lexington, Mass., also took courses in English common law, Shakespeare’s late plays and the science of cooking, which overlapped with the degree in chemistry he earned from Wesleyan in 1985.

Here’s the brilliant part: Mr. Haber didn’t spend a dime on tuition or fees. Instead, he gorged from the smorgasbord of free courses offered by top universities. He documented the project on his website, degreeoffreedom.org, and in a new book exploring the wider phenomenon of massive open online courses, or MOOCs. He didn’t earn a degree — the knowledge may be free but the sheepskin costs dearly — but he was satisfied.

“I wouldn’t call myself a philosopher,” he said, “but I learned as much as most undergraduates.”

Mr. Haber’s project embodies a modern miracle: the ease with which anyone can learn almost anything. Our ancient ancestors built the towering Library of Alexandria to gather all of the world’s knowledge, but today, smartphones turn every palm into a knowledge palace.

And yet, even as the highbrow holy grail — the acquisition of complete knowledge — seems tantalizingly close, almost nobody speaks about the rebirth of the Renaissance man or woman. The genius label may be applied with reckless abandon, even to chefs, basketball players and hair stylists, but the true polymaths such as Leonardo da Vinci and Benjamin Franklin seem like mythic figures of a bygone age.

They don’t make geniuses like they used to.

Perhaps we need another Franklin to explain why. Thanks to the power of technology and the brute force of demographics, the modern world should be teeming with people of wide accomplishment. In Franklin’s era, the world’s population was about 800 million; today it’s seven billion people, many of whom enjoy the brain-building blessings of good nutrition and access to education. Indeed, the researcher James R. Flynn has found that I.Q. scores have been rising around the world for decades. Known as the “Flynn effect,” it is especially pronounced in developed nations such as the United States, where average scores have increased about three points per decade since the early 1900s.

Nevertheless, it is much easier to feel like Sisyphus than Leonardo nowadays, because one thing that has grown even faster than I.Q. scores is the amount of information the brain must process. Google estimated in 2010 that there were 300 exabytes (that’s 300 followed by 18 zeros) of human-created information in the world, and that more information was created every two days than had existed in the entire world from the dawn of time to 2003.
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No doubt those numbers have increased vastly since then. But does it really matter?

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Jared Bielby's curator insight, April 20, 6:23 PM

The question I've posed in my research reinterprets the concept of the technological singularity and applies it to information: Will information in its entirety surpass the point at which we, as its creators, can collectively account for it? At this point, does information reach a point of dissolution or "information entropy"? Perhaps specializing and categorizing a specialist ontology is the answer to maintaining such an accountability.

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Education 'experts' may lack expertise, study finds | PHYS.org

Education 'experts' may lack expertise, study finds | PHYS.org | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

The people most often cited as "education experts" in blogs and news stories may have the backing of influential organizations - but have little background in education and education policy, a new study suggests.

The findings are cause for concern because some prominent interest groups are promoting reform agendas and striving to influence policymakers and public opinion using individuals who have substantial media relations skills but little or no expertise in education research, say the authors of the study, Joel R. Malin and Christopher Lubienski, both at the University of Illinois.

To examine possible links between individuals' media presence and their levels of expertise, Malin and Lubienski compiled a diverse list of nearly 300 people who appeared on the lists of experts prepared by several major education advocacy and policy organizations, including the conservative American Enterprise Institute and the liberal National Education Policy Center.

Malin and Lubienski also added to their sample a handful of scholars not on those lists but who are prominent and influential in the field of education.

Each person's level of expertise was then scored using a formula that included their number of Google Scholar citations; their years of experience, calculated by subtracting the year they attained their highest degree from 2014; and whether or not the person had earned a doctoral or equivalent degree.

Each person's level of media influence was calculated based upon the number of times they were quoted or mentioned in education press, U.S. newspapers or blogs during 2013; whether they had a Twitter profile; and their Klout score, which is a proxy for social media influence.

Experts were more likely to be quoted or mentioned in newspapers and blogs if they had higher scores on Google Scholar, Malin and Lubienski found. Every 1-point increase in an expert's Google Scholar score was associated with a 1-percent increase in blog mentions.

Accordingly, each 1-point increase in years of experience corresponded with an increase of about 1 percent in newspaper citations, the researchers found.

However, affiliation with a policy or advocacy organization also substantially increased an expert's media presence. People associated with the American Enterprise Institute were nearly 2.5 times more likely to be cited in education media.

Likewise, experts were 1.78 and 1.5 times more likely to be mentioned in blogs if they were affiliated with Cato or the American Enterprise Institute, respectively.

Although the initial list included 287 experts, Malin and Lubienski could not find the necessary information to estimate 52 of these individuals' years of experience. More than half of these people were connected to organizations such as Cato and Heritage.


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The World's Biggest Physics Experiment Is About to Reboot  | Jamie Condliffe | Gizmodo

The World's Biggest Physics Experiment Is About to Reboot  | Jamie Condliffe | Gizmodo | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the most audacious physics experiment in human history. Now scientists are about to restart the giant particle collider for a new set of experiments. Last time, they did the almost-impossible and found the Higgs Boson. This time, they might find something even more exciting.

Back in 2008, just nine days into its first run of experiments, there was a significant incident at the Large Hadron Collider. A faulty electrical connection between two magnets stopped superconducting, then melted and caused serious mechanical damage to the facility. The accident delayed use of the LHC for six whole months as repairs and testing was undertaken—but it also meant that the facility ran for three years at much lower capacity than envisioned.

Clearly the collider coped. On July 4th 2012, scientists from two experiments at the LHC—CMS and ATLAS—announced that they had discovered a new boson. It was the Higgs Boson; the invisible particle that gives everything mass and, in turn, holds the universe together. The finding was arguably the biggest scientific finding of the decade, perhaps even more.

But all the while it was running below par. The LHC shut down for maintenance in 2013, though, and over the past two years, engineers have beefed it up. They've upgraded the superconducting interconnections between a series of magnets on the accelerator, adding extra shunts and more powerful magnets. The shunts provide a route through which current can escape if high-power accidents—like the one that caused the break back in 2008—happen again, meaning it's safer to run at higher energy levels.

Just 27,000 shunts around the 16.7-mile circumference accelerator later, the LHC is back in business. And more powerful than ever.


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What If Education Reform Got It All Wrong in the First Place? | Bill Raden | Pacific Standard Magaine

What If Education Reform Got It All Wrong in the First Place? | Bill Raden | Pacific Standard Magaine | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

It’s been just over 30 years since war was declared on America’s public schools. The opening salvo came with 1983’s A Nation at Risk, the Ronald Reagan-era Department of Education report that alleged that lax schools and ineffective teachers constituted a dire threat to national security.

Yet three decades later, and in spite the opening of a second front comprised of school vouchers, a 2.57-million student charter school network, and a classroom culture tied to test preparation, the nation’s education outcomes have barely budged, and rather than narrowing the education gap, the chasm between rich and poor appears only to be significantly widening.

But what if it turned out that education reform, with its teacher-blaming assumptions, got it all wrong in the first place? That’s the conclusion being drawn by a growing number of researchers who, armed with a mountain of fresh evidence, argue that 30 years of test scores have not measured a decline in America’s public schools, but are rather a metric of the country’s child poverty—the worst among developed nations—and the broadening divide of income inequality.


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This Louisiana radio station likes their news 'en Franglais' | Nina Porzucki | PRI.org

This Louisiana radio station likes their news 'en Franglais' | Nina Porzucki | PRI.org | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

If you ever find yourself driving through swampy southwest Louisiana some morning, tune your dial to KVPI 1050AM and enter a world that’s part English, part French and all Louisiana.


“Bonjour! Qui c’est qui parle? says Jim Soileau, the host of morning call-in show, La Tasse de Café.  That’s “The Cup of Coffee” for you English speakers.


And the show indeed lives up to its name. I recently visited KVPI and sat in on a broadcast one rainy Wednesday morning. Soileau and co-host Mark Layne were fielding phone calls and drinking cup after cup of coffee.


KVPI, or, as locals know it, Keeping Ville Platte Informed, is nothing fancy. It’s a one-story brick building, one car out front, a small wooden sign and an American flag. But even if the station looks nondescript, the radio program is anything but, says Layne. Anything goes. Nothing is pre-planned for the show, not the topics of conversation, not even the language

“We can talk in French. We can talk in English. We can do half and half. We call it Franglais. One of the interesting topics is how you say a particular word in French and we invite people to call in and it’s always interesting," Soileau says.

That particular morning, the word of the day was “command,” specifically the French phrase for commanding a cow to get in position for milking.

“Poteau Caillett! I wonder how many people can remember this,” Soileau says.

Oh boy did people remember. The phone was off the hook with one caller after another eager to share tales of milking. There were electric cow milking stories and thoughts about how tiring it is to milk by hand. One man remembered milking cows in the ice storm of 1951. Another remembered herding the cows home as a teenager.


French culture in Louisiana dates back to the late 17th century when Europeans first settled here. About 100 years later the Cajuns, or Acadians, arrived. They fled British rule in Nova Scotia and settled down in Louisiana.


At one time, you might travel through small towns like Ville Platte and not hear a lick of English. But today it's a bit different.


In the 1920s, the state outlawed teaching French in public schools. French was relegated to the home and gradually young people stopped being able to speak the language. And while Cajun and Zydeco music and gumbo continue to thrive, Louisiana's French dialects are dwindling.


As recently as the late 1960s, about a million people in Louisiana reportedly spoke French. The 2010 census reported just 175,000 native speakers in the state. KVPI is fighting hard to halt that downward trend. 


The station signed on in 1953 and it has been broadcasting news and programming in French ever since. In the town of about 8000 people, it seems like everyone is listening. I mean everyone.


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Pat O'Neill plays fast and loose at Cherry and Martin | David Pagel | LATimes.com

Pat O'Neill plays fast and loose at Cherry and Martin | David Pagel | LATimes.com | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

If computers could dream, Pat O’Neill might be their Sigmund Freud.

His multilayered films, sculptures, collages and drawings — in a mesmerizing mini-survey at Cherry and Martin — seem to be made from the deleted files, trashed photos and lost messages that are beyond the reach of our phones and notebooks but still out there in the ether, with the capacity to come back to haunt us, sometimes savagely.

Think of O’Neill’s exhibition as the digital unconscious in action. That puts you well on your way to understanding what he’s up to as an artist and why his work is so important.

As a whole, the show is a stimulating stew of stuff, a hodgepodge of snippets and fragments and unresolved relationships. Its mess of non sequiturs has a vividness and intensity that charge every element with a potent jolt of energy while never settling into a story line that lets you think you’re over and done with it.

If you like your art cut and dried and easily summarized, you’ll find nothing but frustration in O’Neill’s, which is all about loose ends, rough edges and patterns bigger than any of us.

In the first gallery, an old-fashioned slideshow that O’Neill made this year introduces visitors to his way of working. Its three projectors are all aimed at the same spot on the wall so that the pictures and texts they project produce a single image that changes, sometimes abruptly, with the clunk of the 35-millimeter slide dropping into place, and sometimes subtly, with a fader mechanism softening the transition.

The story that unfolds has the intangibility of daydreams, the resonance of memories and the atmosphere of homemade documentaries. Its rhythm and structure are integral to its effect. Like the weather, it can’t be compartmentalized or taken out of context.


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Goodbye, math and history: Finland wants to abandon teaching subjects at school | Kabir Chibber | Quartz.com

Goodbye, math and history: Finland wants to abandon teaching subjects at school | Kabir Chibber | Quartz.com | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

Finland already has one of the best school education systems. It always ranks near the top in mathematics, reading, and science in the prestigious PISA rankings (the 2012 list, pdf) by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Teachers in other countries flock to its schools to learn from a country that is routinely praised as just a really, really wonderful place to live.

But the country is not resting on its laurels. Finland is considering its most radical overhaul of basic education yet—abandoning teaching by subject for teaching by phenomenon. Traditional lessons such as English Literature and Physics are already being phased out among 16-year-olds in schools in Helsinki.

Instead, the Finns are teaching phenomena—such as the European Union, which encompasses learning languages, history, politics, and geography. No more of an hour of history followed by an hour of chemistry. The idea aims to eliminate one of the biggest gripes of students everywhere: “What is the point of learning this?” Now, each subject is anchored to the reason for learning it.

Pasi Silander, Helsinki’s development manager, says the world has changed with the spread of technology and many of the old ways of teaching have no practical purpose. “Young people use quite advanced computers,” he told the Independent. “In the past the banks had lots of bank clerks totting up figures but now that has totally changed.”


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hennessy vargas's curator insight, April 23, 1:08 AM

This is so accurate. I am that student that asks the biggest question on campus "What is the point of learning this?" I want to take courses I know will make sense to take because I know I put them to use.

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If You Try the HTML5 Drum Machine, It's All You'll Do for the Next Hour | Mario Aguilar | Gizmodo.com

If You Try the HTML5 Drum Machine, It's All You'll Do for the Next Hour | Mario Aguilar | Gizmodo.com | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

This dead simple drum machine that runs in your browser is so much fun.

The HTML5 Drum Machine borrows its aesthetics from classic beat boxes like the TR-808 Rhythm Composer. It's got five different sound banks: Hip hop, electro, house, techno, and acoustic. Each bank has 13 different sounds for which you can tweak the individual volume and tone. Pick your bank, hit play, and lay down your instruments on the 16-step sequencer interface that runs across the bottom. After you've laid down your beat, you can export it as a Wav.

Even if you don't have any experience with drum machines, this simplified beat maker is intuitive enough that you'll impress yourself within just a few minutes. You can probably figure it out on your own, but if you're a total noob here's a tip: The important thing to remember is that for each of the 16 "steps" in the sequence you can play each of the 13 sounds in a bank. So when you click on one sound—say the Kick— you can place that sound in any or all of the 16 slots. When you click on the next instrument, you again have the option of sticking it in all of the 16 slots.


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'The Orbital Perspective' Book Excerpt | NASA Astronaut Ron Garan | Space.com

'The Orbital Perspective' Book Excerpt | NASA Astronaut Ron Garan | Space.com | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

We all have moments like this in our lives, where something shifts, clicks into place. For me it was in June 2008, when I clamped my feet to the end of the robotic Canadarm2 on the International Space Station (ISS) and was flown through a maneuver that we called the Windshield Wiper, which took me in a long arc above the space station and back.


As I approached the top of this arc, it was as if time stood still, and I was flooded with both emotion and awareness. But as I looked down at the Earth — this stunning, fragile oasis, this island that has been given to us, and that has protected all life from the harshness of space — a sadness came over me, and I was hit in the gut with an undeniable, sobering contradiction.


In spite of the overwhelming beauty of this scene, serious inequity exists on the apparent paradise we have been given. I couldn't help thinking of the nearly one billion people who don't have clean water to drink, the countless number who go to bed hungry every night, the social injustice, conflicts, and poverty that remain pervasive across the planet.

Seeing Earth from this vantage point gave me a unique perspective — something I've come to call the orbital perspective. Part of this is the realization that we are all traveling together on the planet and that if we all looked at the world from that perspective we would see that nothing is impossible. It is possible to have peace in the world, to end wars, violence, and terrorism, but this can be done only once poverty is wiped from the face of the earth. And the good news is that it is also possible to lift the entire population of the world out of destitute poverty.


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Fantasy Meets Folk Art: Afro-Caribbean Inspired Paintings by Paul Lewin | Paul Caridad | Visual News

Fantasy Meets Folk Art: Afro-Caribbean Inspired Paintings by Paul Lewin | Paul Caridad | Visual News | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

Although he only lived in Kingston, Jamaica for 4 years before moving to Miami, Florida with his family, the impact of the Afro-Caribbean art left a lasting imprint on Paul Lewin’s style as an artist. Surrounded by cultural artifacts and art from around the world, Lewin’s paintings celebrate folklore, indigenous cultures, world religion, and ancient societies. Intricately detailed with a surreal twist, his acrylic paintings blend his global experience into a fantasy world. Currently based in Oakland, Lewin has a unique style that includes traditional Caribbean and African motifs as well as science fiction.


Lewin explains, “The work reflects on the journey of my ancestors through the diaspora and of ourselves today as our stories continue to unfold. In the Caribbean much of the folklore has been passed down from generation to generation,dating back to ancient Africa,and kept alive through the traditional art of storytelling.” His art exemplifies this tradition beautifully.

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Curtis Allen's curator insight, March 22, 10:51 AM

I really do need to go check out the Caribbean! It's where my dad's family are from.

Alex and Jacob's curator insight, April 7, 5:04 PM

Religion: This article explains the different forms of art in folk art and inspired paintings. These paintings are inspired from the Afro- Caribbean. His paintings connect to his global experiences. His styles include African motifs and traditional Caribbean Styles.

Nathan and Joseph's curator insight, April 8, 4:56 PM

Africa

Arts

This article is about the new forms of art found in Africa. These new art forms are actually really pretty, and I think they look pretty cool. This new art revolution is being lead  by Paul Lewin, who is originally from the US. He is a pioneer for the people of the african arts, and I cannot wait to see what he does next.

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Digital storytelling handbook | David McGillivray | ISSUU.com

This handbook is a product of the Digital Commonwealth project which sought to facilitate a creative response to the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. However, the handbook is designed to be of use to a wider range of individuals, community groups and third sector organisations interested in using digital media (blogs, audio, video and social media) to tell their stories. Please use and share!


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PA Gov. Wolf aims to bring back furloughed teachers | Jeremy Deaton | NEA.org

PA Gov. Wolf aims to bring back furloughed teachers | Jeremy Deaton | NEA.org | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

Four years ago, Pennsylvania teachers watched as then-Gov. Tom Corbett slashed education funding, a move that cost the jobs of thousands of devoted educators. Among those furloughed was Katy Beth Klinger, a first-year English teacher for the Reading School District. “It’s something you never really get over,” said Klinger. “I finally felt like I found my calling. To have that ripped away from me was dreadful.” A single mother, Klinger has continued to work as a substitute teacher in Reading, but the loss of a stable income has weighed on her heavily.

Now, there may be hope for Klinger and other furloughed Pennsylvania educators. Earlier this month newly elected Gov. Tom Wolf put forward an ambitious plan to dramatically increase funding for public education. “Our state is never going to get stronger as long as we make our schools weaker,” noted the governor. “That is why the very first thing my budget does is to restore the $1 billion in cuts to public education that occurred under the previous administration.”

Gov. Wolf said his plan would lower property taxes while raising the state’s share of education funding from 35 to 50 percent. PSEA President Mike Crossey offered his support, saying the budget “shows that our state can reverse the school funding cuts that have put our schools in crisis at the same time that we make our tax system fairer for working Pennsylvanians.”

The proposal would also allow school districts to begin rehiring furloughed teachers like Ms. Klinger, whom Gov. Wolf recognized in his March 3 budget address. “Katy just wants to teach and help the students who she saw making real progress before the education cuts,” said Gov. Wolf. “When people ask her why she doesn’t change careers or seek a position in another school district, she says she can make a bigger difference in the city of Reading with the children who need help the most… We need more teachers like Katy in our schools.”


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U.S. House GOP proposes budget that would hurt families and students | NEA.org

U.S. House GOP proposes budget that would hurt families and students | NEA.org | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

More than half of the nation’s public school students now qualify to receive free and reduced-price meals, and 15 million children live in families with incomes below the federal poverty level.

Unfortunately, rather than focus on the needs of students and working families, the House of Representatives GOP released a budget proposal today that would cut billions from essential programs over the next decade while protecting tax cuts for the wealthy.

“The wash, rinse and repeat governing style ushered by Republican leaders on Capitol Hill has to end. If enacted, the Republican budget will endanger economic growth and rob working and middle class families of economic opportunities now and in the future,” said Lily Eskelsen García, elementary school teacher and president of the National Education Association.

The House leadership is proposing yet another budget around austerity that would damage schools and hinder job growth. Many vital programs are on the chopping block; for example, Medicaid—which provides healthcare for one-third of American children—would be cut by more than $900 billion over the next ten years.

“They are about to repeat the budget mistakes of the past. Congress can and should do better than that,” said Eskelsen García

“This budget does not ask the wealthiest to pay their fair share. Instead, it aims to balance the budget on the backs of families and students by slashing investments in education, job training, health care and nutrition assistance for families and children in need.”

The proposal put forth by House Budget Committee Chair Tom Price (R-GA) would:


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New Orleans, LA: Mardi Gras Indians Celebrate St. Joseph's Day 2015 | Laura DeFazio | OffBreat.com

New Orleans, LA: Mardi Gras Indians Celebrate St. Joseph's Day 2015 | Laura DeFazio | OffBreat.com | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

Fresh on the heels of Super Sunday—the well-known, city-wide Mardi Gras Indian celebration that falls every year on the third Sunday in March—came last night’s neighborhood revelry to mark St. Joseph’s Day itself.

As early evening rolled around, a couple of Big Chiefs and Spy Boys emerged from houses on North Rampart Street to dance, drum, and chat with families and neighbors, biding their time before heading towards the hallowed, acoustically-superb gathering spot under the Claiborne Bridge.

Drum beats stopped and started, teenagers took turns breakdancing, and passerby snapped pictures. As the crowd grew and the sun began to set, the Indians and their followers slowly began the march over St. Claude and onward.

Like a snowball, the procession picked up more people as it climbed further into the 7th Ward.

Big Chiefs spotted one another more and more frequently, clearing the path between them with shouts of “Fire in the hole!” and charging into mock-battles where taunts and dances determined who was the “prettiest.”

By the time we reached Villere St., the whole neighborhood was turned outside for a giant block party, and there was a new tribe of Indians dancing, drumming, chanting, and stomping at almost every clogged street corner.

The mayhem rose as darkness fell, and fire torches and the glowing lights many of the Indians had sewn into their suits illuminated the lush night and gave the scene an otherworldly feel.

The supernaturally eerie, black-and-white-clad Fi-Yi-Yi Indians, dancing fiercely with members of the Baby Dolls, were especially spellbinding.


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Large Hadron Collider Could Detect Extra Dimensions | Stephen Luntz | IFL Science

Large Hadron Collider Could Detect Extra Dimensions | Stephen Luntz | IFL Science | Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks | Scoop.it

A paper in Physics Letters B has raised the possibility that the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) could make a discovery that would put its previous triumph with the Higgs Boson in the shade. The authors suggest it could detect mini black holes. Such a finding would be a matter of huge significance on its own, but might be an indication of even more important things.

Few ideas from theoretical physics capture the public imagination as much as the “many-worlds hypothesis,” which proposes an infinite number of universes that differ from our own in ways large and small. The idea has provided great fodder for science fiction writers and comedians.

However, according to Professor Mir Faizal from the University of Waterloo, "Normally, when people think of the multiverse, they think of the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, where every possibility is actualized," he said to Phys.org. "This cannot be tested and so it is philosophy and not science." Nonetheless, Faizal considers the test for a different sort of parallel universes almost within our grasp.

“What we mean is real universes in extra dimensions,” says Faizal. “As gravity can flow out of our universe into the extra dimensions, such a model can be tested by the detection of mini black holes at the LHC.”


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Elaine J Roberts, Ph.D.'s curator insight, March 21, 1:22 PM

Come on, the picture is cool. And it piques your interest just a little bit. Admit that Star Trek and Star Wars, even Harry Potter, captured your imagination just a little bit. That while Alien scared you and Avatar might have fascinated you and the quaint and quirky "normalcy" of Dr Who entertains you, somewhere in the recesses of your brain you have wondered "what if?" This article reminds us there are scientists busily and seriously striving to answer that question. How terrifyingly and wondrously cool is that?