Category Archives: Education

altruism is dead — Long Live Altruism!

The time is coming when the paper pellet must be replaced by the golden bullet and altruism, with all its good intention, is to be taken barn side and shot in the head. There it shall remain buried until further notice. It is of no benefit for a man to attempt a conviction of my soul from this point forward. No man will dictate that I give to my neighbor, nor will he plead to my mind the largeness of his own needs or the usefulness of my donations, nor will an elected official argue the point that I must pay more in order to adhere to the moral responsibility I have to my brother. I have no moral responsibility to my brother, other than that which I deem to be moral. I have no moral responsibility to anyone but myself, nor does my neighbor have a moral responsibility to me. With that, both he and I, can now exist knowing that what we give to each other, we give freely from our hearts, not because a governmental body has decided to play the role of clergyman and convict our souls while tugging at our heartstrings, all the time sneaking in and about our purse strings. But along the way, I suspect that altruism will attempt an escape from his grave and look to rise from his confinement back to his moral high-ground. But when he does, I will be there. On bended knee, my mouth will let drip whispers and suggestions that will saturate the very dirt through which his compassion claws away. Leave me alone, I will tell him…leave me be and I will take a step toward you on my own, in my own time, at my own pace. Though while you wait, my altruistic friend, take notice of your precious Collectivism waiting in the hand basket as your Russian revolution burns away in hell. Yesterday’s rebel is awake and it wasn’t your science that saved me, it was the way that He and they prayed and prayed for me and now I am no longer THEY or WE…I am individual…I am I. — Mike McMannes 2012

Archaeologists from Bonn discover in Mexico the tomb of a Maya prince!

WEBWIRE – Monday, July 30, 2012

Cup provided the clue!

Archaeologists from the Department of Anthropology of the Americas at the University of Bonn have been excavating for the past four years together with the Mexican National Institute of Anthropology and History in the Maya city of Uxul in Campeche, Mexico. The aim of the excavation project under the direction of Prof. Dr. Nikolai Grube and Dr. Kai Delvendahl is to investigate the process of centralization and collapse of hegemonic state structures in the Maya Lowlands using the example of a mid-sized classic Maya city (Uxul) and its ties to a supra-regional center (Calakmul). Research at Uxul, located close to the border with Guatemala, is being funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG).

Since 2011, excavations have concentrated on the royal palace complex, which is located directly south of the main plazas in the center of Uxul. The palace extends 120 x 130 meters and consists of at least eleven individual buildings which surround five courtyards. “The palace complex was built around 650 AD, a time when the neighboring ruling dynasty from Calakmul was extending its influence over large areas of the Maya Lowlands” explains Professor Grube. In 2011, six sculpted panels were discovered during excavations of the southern stairway of the largest building of the group, Structure K2. Four of these panels depict kings from Calakmul, playing ball. The similarities in the layout of the centers of Calakmul and Uxul and especially of the main palace complexes in the two cities let the researchers to suggest that Uxul, originally a smaller independent kingdom, may have been temporarily ruled and inhabited by members of the Kaan Dynasty of Calakmul. Through recent excavations in several of Uxul´s central buildings, the changes in the physiognomy of the city´s center can be linked directly to the time of military and political expansion of the Kaan Dynasty during the reign of Yukno´m Ch´een II, in the first half of the 7th century. However, the influence subsided after 705 AD, and there is a strong likelihood that a local ruling family came back to power for a few generations. At the start of the 9th century, Uxul was almost completely abandoned.

“During this year´s excavation below one of the southern rooms of Structure K2, we have discovered a richly furnished tomb, which can be dated to the time right after the influence of Calakmul in Uxul had ended” explains Dr. Delvendahl. The walls of the crypt are made of rough stone and the chamber was covered with a corbel vault, typical for the Maya culture. In the interior of this tomb chamber which dates back about 1,300 years, the remains of a young man were discovered who was buried on his back with his arms folded. Deposited around him were four ceramic plates and five ceramic vases in an exceptionally preserved state, some of which were decorated with spectacular paintings and moldings. A unique plate, painted in the famed Codex-Style, was covering the skull of the deceased.

Vessel with dedication may point to the identity of the deceased.

“On one of the vases, there was a simple dedication, written in elegantly molded hieroglyphics, which read: ’[This is] the drinking vessel of the young man/prince’. Also a second molded vessel appears to mention a young man or prince” says Professor Grube. Although these references are not definite clues as to the identity of the departed, the location of the tomb and the absence of certain status markers, such as jade jewelry, would indicate that the deceased was a young male member of the ruling family who was not in direct line for the throne. A possible date on one of the vessels corresponds to the year 711 AD; therefore the death of the young prince and the construction of his tomb can be dated back to the second or third decade of the 8th century. The exceptionally preserved ceramics in particular make this tomb one of the most significant discoveries of its kind in the entire Maya Lowlands.

Duncan Faces Political Battle Over Education Reform – ABC News

Chicago Public Schools chief Arne Duncan nominated to be education secretary by Obama

Duncan Has Ear of Basketball Buddy President

Once a professional basketball player, the 6-foot-5-inch cabinet secretary also has the ear of President Barack Obama, a personal friend and long-time pick-up basketball buddy.

“We’ve played a few times since we’ve been here, haven’t played a ton,” Duncan said of the president. “We’ve both been a little bit busy.”

Since arriving in Washington, Duncan has been on the road one or two days a week, visiting schools and colleges and meeting with students, principals and teachers.

“The solutions are never going to come from Washington,” Duncan said. “So when I go out, I’m not just listening to the problems; I’m really challenging folks to come up and tell us the answers.”

This fall, Duncan, former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Rev. Al Sharpton will embark on a five-city tour to raise awareness of the achievement gap between white and minority students.

“The gap is absolutely, morally unacceptable,” Duncan said. Planning is in the early stages and no dates or places have been decided, he said.

Watered Down State Proficiency Standards

Making an end run around the Bush administration’s controversial No Child Left Behind law, Duncan has argued many states and districts aren’t using data to reward good teachers and some states have watered down their proficiency standards so students and parents believe they are doing much better than they are.

Despite the problems, Duncan, a former Chicago schools chief, insists the states are ready for education reform.

Read the Entire Article: Duncan Faces Political Battle Over Education Reform – ABC News

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How do ‘I’ Learn? I shock myself…often!

‘The Unexpected Outcome’ Is A Key To Human Learning
ScienceDaily (2009-03-15) — The human brain’s sensitivity to unexpected outcomes plays a fundamental role in the ability to adapt and learn new behaviors, according to a new study by psychologists and neuroscientists. Using a computer-based card game and microelectrodes to observe neuronal activity of the brain, the Penn study, published March 13 in the journal Science, suggests that neurons in the human substantia nigra, or SN, play a central role in reward-based learning, modulating learning based on the discrepancy between the expected and the realized outcome… > read full article

White House Plan Would End Subsidies to Student Lenders

By Alejandro Lazo and Maria Glod
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, February 27, 2009; A08

arne_duncan

The Obama administration has proposed a sweeping change in the $85 billion-a-year student loan industry, one that could fundamentally alter the business of lenders such as Sallie Mae.

The proposal, included in yesterday’s budget outline, would end a program that pays government subsidies to private student loan companies. The administration said the shift, which would mean that all federal loans would come directly through the government, would save $4 billion annually and $47.5 billion over the next decade.

The changes could be a blow to companies such as Sallie Mae of Reston that receive subsidies to originate federally backed student loans. Shares of Sallie Mae, formally known as SLM Corp., plunged 31 percent yesterday on the news. The profitability of the student loan industry has faltered in recent years, first as Congress cut subsidies and then because of turmoil in the credit markets. Last year, dozens of lenders stopped issuing federally guaranteed loans, prompting concerns about whether students would get the money they needed for college. The Bush administration took several steps to shore up student lenders. 

Yesterday, Education Secretary Arne Duncan signaled a shift from that approach, saying the program that subsidizes private lenders is “on life support.”

“Rather than continuing to subsidize banks, we want to help dramatically more students get more access to more aid,” Duncan said in a conference call with reporters. “Big picture . . . We’re going to save about $24 billion dollars over the next five years, and we want to actively invest that money in our students.”

aaaSince the early 1990s, federal student loans have been implemented through two programs. The program that the administration proposes ending, the Federal Family Education Loan Program, uses private-sector lenders such as Sallie Mae and Citigroup to originate and service the education loans, keeping the debt off the government’s books. Under this program, the government pays a subsidy to private lenders. Congress sets the interest rate on loans, and the federal government covers nearly all the losses if a student defaults.

The other program, Direct Loan, is administered by the government and includes student loan debt in the government’s deficit. Under the proposal, this program would handle all federal loans. The approach outlined yesterday echoes one long favored by Democrats. House Education Committee Chairman Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), who has been a vocal critic of what he has called “corrupt practices” in the student loan industry, said the proposal was a “a solid plan to make federal student loans more reliable while saving taxpayers billions of dollars.”

The proposal to do away with the Federal Family Education Loan Program stunned investors and Wall Street analysts who follow Sallie Mae, the nation’s largest student lender. Loans originated through that program made up about 80 percent of the company’s total student loan portfolio at the end of 2008, with the rest being private loans.

“It could precipitate a collapse of the . . . industry because a lot of the lenders were holding on and hoping to survive until the end of the credit crisis,” said Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of the Web site FinAid.org. “But they could pull out completely because if there is no future, then there is no reason to stay.” Under the administration’s proposal, the private sector wouldn’t be completely cut out of the equation. The Education Department would contract with companies to service loans and collect payments. Officials yesterday said they expected some companies that now participate in the loan program to take part in a competitive process to service the loans. Sallie Mae made clear yesterday that it intended to bid for such contracts.

“We also note that the budget proposal looks to obtain ‘high-quality services for students by using competitive, private providers to service loans,’ ” the company said in a statement. “Sallie Mae is the largest and lowest-cost provider of student loan services, and we deliver the highest quality for students, schools and families.

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