American Elephants

Government Knows Best! (Except When it Kills You) by American Elephant

The Federal Government has been telling us for years to avoid the sun, wear sunscreen, don’t tan. Democrat busy-body, control-freaks, always looking for new ways to save people from themselves, control their choices, and steal their money in the process, have recently passed increased taxation and regulation on the use of tanning beds.

But now comes new research by Professor Hakan Olsson, a leading cancer specialist at the oncology unit at Lund University in Sweden, who believes the risk of skin cancer is “far outweighed” by the benefits of sunlight to womens’  health:

He said there was overwhelming evidence that exposure to the sun helps protect against blood clots in the leg, which claim the lives of 25,000 Britons a year.

These clots, known as deep vein thromboses, have been shown to be far more prevalent in winter than summer.

Professor Olsson, who was presenting his research at the Swedish Society of Medicine, cited other studies showing that more patients are diagnosed with diabetes in the colder months, a phenomenon attributed to a lack of vitamin D.

For his study, he examined tanning habits and the incidence of illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes or malignant melanoma.

‘Our studies show that women with active sunbathing habits live longer,’ he said. [read more]

Which, if Professor Olsson’s research proves true, means busy-body, command-and-control “progressives” have driven countless women (and possibly men, the research was done only on women) to an early grave by scaring, regulating, and taxing them out of the sun. As they have caused countless deaths by forcing automakers to make lighter, less safe cars, killed countless millions around the world by blocking the use of DDT to kill malaria carrying mosquitoes, and caused countless more deaths by starvation by driving up the costs of food by getting farmers to grow crops for gas tanks instead of kitchen tables.

Yet more evidence that “consensus” in science is utter horsepucky. And yet another excellent reason that health decisions should be made between doctors and their patients, not by command and control government.

Exit question: You think Democrats will repeal their tanning regulations and “sin” taxes now that they have virtually destroyed that industry for no justifiable reason?

Japan Dumps Kyoto Protocol. by The Elephant's Child

At the Cancún climate change summit: Japan has refused to extend the Kyoto protocol.  The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in Japan in 1997 as a binding international treaty that requires most of the world’s riches countries to make binding cuts.

Jun Arima, an official in the government’s economics trade and industry department,  made a brief and strong statement.  He said “Japan will not inscribe its target under the Kyoto protocol on any conditions or under any circumstances.”

The U.S. Congress has refused to ratify it and remains outside the protocol.  The G77 countries, the group of developing nations who view the Kyoto protocol as a way to restrain the richer countries expressed dismay.

Diplomats were urgently trying to clarify the position, which seemed pretty clear.  They were hoping it was only a negotiating tactic,  which seems unlikely.

How Does This Video Relate to Education Today? by The Elephant's Child
December 5, 2010, 7:49 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Education, Freedom, Politics | Tags: , ,

Hans Rosling’s 200 countries, 200 years, 4 minutes.

This fascinating video got me to thinking, first about the place of visualization in learning.  Most young people can quote extensive lines from their favorite movies, but have trouble getting the Civil War in the right century. Does this visualization inform you in a new way?  Will you retain what it communicates longer?

Not that I think that education must be fun, but somehow we need to get the love of learning turned on.  Far too many kids are simply bored in school, yet are willing to learn all the words to dozens of rap songs. My mother could name all the elements, but her list was a lot shorter than today’s 112.  (Elements 114, 116, and 118  have been discovered recently, but 113, 115 and 117 have not yet been discovered, but then we’re getting into unobtanium territory).

I think there are a number of industries that are committing suicide.  One of them is higher education. Universities are adding more and more ‘fun’ classes, more useless majors, and more county-club style amenities, to the tune of about $50,000 a year, and the increase in cost is unrelated to inflation or anything else.   A college graduate could theoretically face $200,000 in student loans.  You would need to land a very well-paid job to cope with that.  More and more people are suggesting that college simply isn’t worth the expense.

Colleges and universities do not have a good record of preparing students for careers.  Many industries do their own training after they employ someone who has done well enough in college to indicate that they can actually read, write and communicate..  The military can take kids of the same age and train them within a relatively short time to operate the most incredibly complicated machinery.

This video visualizes a complex idea,and  suggests new and different ways of communicating ideas. There are videos attempting to show geographical changes over long times in only a few minutes, but I’m not sure that they are effective.

What if you had access to the techniques used here, and the techniques used by movie professionals and design professionals.    What if a class in the history of World War II ranged through the Imperial War Museum, and the museums of Germany and Russia, with several of the best historians of the War interspersed with footage from the war news of the time, readings from the works of the participants, and interactive workbooks.

College has become far too expensive, and far too little related to expertise and love of learning.  We are constrained by the customary shape of learning.  Classes  last an hour, 3 days a week, for either a quarter or a semester.  A subject is taught by one professor in a classroom, usually with lectures, films, required papers and tests. The sciences require expensive equipment and therefore labs which provide the use of the equipment.

What if you threw out all the customary shape of learning and opened it up, allowed a student to move through the class curriculum at their own pace, demanded mastery of a subject, and gave credit only when it was mastered. What if subjects were no longer constrained by the need to fill a semester with one-hour classes? What you spent a 2-month-long full-time immersion in one subject?

I am writing with poorly thought out ideas, no clear recognition of  the end product of my ramblings. I think education will have to move out of the shape to which we are accustomed.  We’re not doing a good job of educating. Kids are unprepared for college level work. Cost has been exceeding the rate of inflation by huge amounts.  Because costs have climbed so much, grade inflation is rampant — how can you flunk someone what is spending so much?  Tenure is unrelated to excellence in teaching.  The near-yearly efforts to “reform” education succeed only in making it worse.

What do you think?  I’d be interested to hear your ideas.

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