texbook propagandists may be foiled by technology, lake house storm wallpaper, your germs leave a unique trail

The Texas School Board recently attempted to – and will probably succeed – in contributing to the watered down, revisionist and dangerous rewriting of United States history. One hopes they enjoy the near dictatorialish power they have over the entire nation’s textbooks while they can. Technology is on the verge of making them a lot less relevant. Though the children of Texas may remain the victims of this campaign by zealots to create their own reality, Deliver Us From Texas.

MacMillan recently introduced something called “Dynamic Textbooks,” which are not only electronic but allow the authors to update them. They allow teachers using them to make changes, and allow students to write and share comments within them, in kind of a Textbooks 2.0 model. Other publishers are pushing their own electronic textbook formats. Whichever of those features become standard practice, I think it’s safe to say that within a few years, your average high school student is going to have something like an iPad on her desk, instead of a stack of textbooks.

What does this have to do with the Texas Troglodytes? Well, when textbooks become electronic, the cost of producing multiple editions with different content drops dramatically. If Texas doesn’t want to have a chapter about evolution, a few keystrokes will be all that’s necessary to remove it from the texts that are beamed to their tablets. That doesn’t help students in Texas escape the bozos who decide what’s in their books, but at least they won’t have the power to make kids outside their own borders dumber.

The Texas School Board is not composed of Nazis to my knowledge, but the majority of its members display the same authoritarian propagandist tendency to do away with whole facts, bend curriculum toward certain world views and thus to some extent indoctrinate students into the ideologies espoused by those members. As important as teaching the facts is, teaching critical thinking skills and knowledge is supposed to be built on a rational and empirical foundation. Do they see a textbooks cloaked in a shroud of liberalism. They are probably sincere in that assertion. Liberalism, in the classic tradition of fairness and accuracy, regardless of where the facts leads us is a tradition among scholars. Inevitably such an approach is contrary to what extreme ideologues imagine history and current events to be. Fair and balanced, as it were, is the opposite of what is desired, Anti-Semitism and Schooling under the Third Reich.

Anti-Semitism and Schooling under the Third Reich attempts to establish definitively that the anti-semitic ideas in these curriculum documents represent both change and contintuity, seen in “historical context,” and that “Hitler represents a critical juncture in the history of European racism in that he was the first ruler of a modern state to legitimize anti-semitism through racial terms…(by) his clever propaganda strategy of integrating contemporary elements of race with older religious and economic forms of anti-semitic prejudice.”(p. 7) One of the means to implement this policy was the “myth of Nordic pedagogy,” a concept Wegner borrows from Hans-Christian Harten (1993), which refers to the foundational idea that a true, “Nordic” bloodline and genealogy existed that was to be protected and transmitted. (pp. 65, 88, 89, 126, and 251) Race science was to be the “conceptual glue” that held the curriculum together (p. 68), while “Volkish thinking provided part of the cultural glue for this chapter in the history of prejudice.” (p. 5) Thus, the curriculum materials selected for presentation are of interest both as pedagogical materials and as documents reflecting the history of education in the Third Reich in Germany.

The study is organized into six chapters, with each of the first five based on a particular aspect of anti-semitism, depicting how each aspect was brought directly into specific subject areas in elementary level curricula.

Conservatism, as defined by most political science textbooks and even Wikipedia, does not sound like such a bad philosophy. In general terms most of us would agree that some traditions are worth keeping and that fiscal responsibility is a virtue to strive for. The devil is in the details. Details of which modern conservationism is a distorted image of its actual history – one filled with fiscal chicanery, corruption, denial of responsibility – as a virtue, the worship of decadence and twisted notions of morality. Why does it take such extraordinary 24/7 manufactured issues and news. It is not impossible to sell a lie, but they are easily exposed. The torrent of noise is meant to drown out any attempts to expose the distortions, lies and partial truths. Manipulating textbooks is just another way to achieve those goals.

lake house and storm clouds wallpaper

People leave unique trail of germs

People leave more than fingerprints when they touch stuff — they also deposit a tell-tale trail of germs that could help investigators solve crimes, U.S. researchers reported on Monday.

They were able to map a unique bacterial genetic signature left by nine different people, and said this germy DNA lasted though day-to-day temperature changes, humidity and sunlight.

“Each one of us leaves a unique trail of bugs behind as we travel through our daily lives,” Noah Fierer, a researcher at the University of Colorado at Boulder who led the study, said in a statement.

“While this project is still in its preliminary stages, we think the technique could eventually become a valuable new item in the toolbox of forensic scientists,” he said.

Researchers have been learning that people are colonized with billions of microbes, both inside and on the body. And studies have shown that these colonies are unique to the individual and even to the place on the body.

Fierer’s team wanted to see how much of a trail might be left by these mostly benign bacteria. So they swabbed the computer keyboards of volunteers to show that indeed, each person left not only a trail of unique bacteria, but one that lasted.

Such rapid sequencing of DNA is being made possible by advances in sequencing technology. Researchers are now undertaking a  larger project to sequence all the DNA in the human “microbiome”. Which consists of all the bugs that live on the skin, in the nose, hair, ears and digestive tract. It will not become more difficult to commit crimes in the future, but it will be a lot more difficult not getting caught.