“Rational Public Discourse” Our Only Hope

2 10 2006

“End of Faith” and “Letter to a Christian Nation” author Sam Harris was interviewed (clumsily I thought but at least HE wasn’t clumsy) on NPR today. Provocative stuff about love, peace, spirituality and morals — and whether we benefit or suffer from religious dogma in public policy.

Politics & Society
Keeping Religion Out of Public Policy

Listen to this story…

Talk of the Nation, October 2, 2006 · In his new book, Letter to a Christian Nation, Sam Harris advocates keeping religion out of public policy.
He calls religion the biggest obstacle to a rational public discourse.

Cool — and Clean! — Science

2 10 2006

I can tell Cognitive Daily will be one of my new best friends. This reminds me of the Hawthorne Effect except with real sensory triggers rather than feigned ones:

“Smells Like Clean Spirit” is a report by Rob Holland, Merel Hendricks, and Henk Aarts, in which they use smells to unconsciously modify their victims’ participants’ behavior. In some ways, this research is nothing new. cookieAs the researchers point out, if we smell chocolate chip cookies, we may decide to eat; if we smell a garbage truck, we may walk faster down the street. We might associate pine scent with Christmas, or pheromones with sex.

But most of these associations involve people being conscious of the odor and its impact. Holland’s team wanted to demonstrate that scent could impact behavior even if people aren’t conscious of it. . .

They created a “cleaning-related” odor in the office where they conducted their study by putting a citrus-scented cleaning liquid in a large bucket of warm water hidden behind a cubicle wall.

fanned out mop and bucket

Next, they asked volunteers to do a simple word-identification task where real words and nonsense words were flashed on a computer screen. Participants pressed a button when they saw the real words, and reaction time was measured. Half the time, the room was citrus-scented, and half the time, there was no scent.
Here are the results:

(There are color graphs, go see!)

Spanked, Not-Spanked Teens Learn Different Power of Story

2 10 2006

Authoritarian (if not draconian) methods to control the lessons children and their parents learn fill the news this week, so I thought I would throw our own real-life story into the mix.

To Redefine “Paternalism” I hope!

2 10 2006

Schott Somerville blog headshot

Lawyer and homeschooling dad Scott Somerville was known to us until today as the personification of the HomeSchool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) online – but he’s making a life change, to wit:

The First Day of the Rest of My Life

I’m hard at work today… but not at HSLDA. As of this morning, I am off the HSLDA payroll (although I’m still on the letterhead, as an “of counsel” attorney).
With HSLDA’s enthusiastic support, I’m off to tackle what I see as the biggest (non-legal) challenge that Christian homeschoolers face today: the “disengaged dad.”…
I’m calling this new project the “K-Dad Network.”
I chose that name because I don’t think a lot of dads will get involved until we shatter the paradigm of “K-12 education” (age-segregated, subject-by-subject “school”) and replace it with a whole new model of family-wide integrated learning and living.

Why Not Paddle Naughty Parents?

2 10 2006

If School controls both kids and parents, and if School methods of control and punishment include a large wooden paddle, then what’s to stop schools from just bending the parents over the desk for a few swats, to get it over with and be on their way to work, to make more money for teacher salaries and school buses?

For that matter, parents could face double jeopardy — if they’re late to work, the boss could punctuate the lesson, applying the staff to his staff bent over HIS “office desk” for worse than they got at school.

There’s no protection from it I can see, once parents accept the authority of School over their family lives. It extends the meaning of getting “sent to the office” to the whole clan, in a way that seems Read the rest of this entry »

Dress Code Breaking News??

2 10 2006

From my breathlessly fraught online news this morning –

Schools continue to address dress codes

Every year, teachers and principals exhaust themselves trying to coax students to adhere to the dress code. When the kids violate it, they get sent home or — even worse — the schools call the parents to come and get them.

Check back with Tallahassee.com today for more updates to this story and tomorrow in the Tallahassee Democrat for the full story.

That’s it, the whole “front page” item, the first thing I saw opening the Monday “paper.” AFAIK there is no dress code hard news, while there’s plenty of actual news to be following, even at School and certainly in the capital city where our president’s brother presides as governor.

But check back with me throughout the day for breaking dress code news updates!!!!!!