Why votes need to be on paper ballots

Techdirt has a video from Video the Vote with a West Virginia official showing how to calibrate the voting machine and it not working. Obama's laywers are going to be busy! Obama really needs our money now.

It seems the only safe way to vote is via paper-based early/absentee voting.

Thank goodness South Kingstown government has the sense to continue to use paper ballets with OCR-based counting. At least here it is POSSIBLE to do a manual recount here.

Callie Shell's Obama photographs

A great set of Obama photographs taken by Callie Shell: "I loved that he cleaned up after himself before leaving an ice cream shop in Wapello, Iowa. He didn't have to. The event was over and the press had left. He is used to taking care of things himself and I think this is one of the qualities that makes Obama different from so many other political candidates I've encountered. Nov. 7, 2007."

Vote to strengthen RI by strengthening RIPTA.

An open letter to Rhode Island's elected officials:

Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) need not be profitable. Its operation is in the public good. At this time, with real decline in wages, a higher percentage of unemployed than elsewhere in the US, and the need to move people around the state to take advantage of employment opportunities, we should be expending RIPTA. RIPTA is not a service: it is an infrastructure. Judge its utility based similarly to other infrastructures. When have the roads and bridges been profitable? They never have been and never will be, but we continue to expand and maintain them because they are in the public good.

If you are paid anywhere near the minimum wage then it takes you more than a full day's pay to buy a tank of gas (sightline.org). And gas is only part of the operating costs. How to you get to work if you can't afford a car? Without RIPTA then you must walk. Employment opportunities within walking distance are severely limited especially in RI where we have relatively small urban cores.

If RI wants to build the 21st Century Innovation Economy let us start by innovating and supporting public transport. Please vote to strengthen RI by strengthening RIPTA.

Rhode Island Voter Information Center

Rhode Island voters can use the tool http://www.sec.state.ri.us/vic/ to verify their voter registration and voting location.

Teaching has become automated, measured and homogenized

H&O no longer attend public school. They now attend a small private school.

They attended kindergarten through 3rd grade at the nearby Peace Dale Elementary public school. Kindergarten was great. H&O had a dedicated and effective teacher and teaching assistant. For 1st grade they attend the Kaleidoscope program -- a small school within the larger public school. Kaleidoscope looped 1st and 2nd grade and 3rd and 4th grade so that there were fewer transitions, greater student and teacher understanding, and generally a longer time for teaching and learning the core subjects. First grade was great; they had dedicated and effective teachers. Then the school abruptly canceled the program. Second grade was not great for O; a bad teacher and then a change in teachers. O hated school. Third grade was not great for H; four teacher changes in one year. H hated school.

What Chris and I also saw during this time was teachers losing teaching time to administrative tasks, more and more testing, more and more busy-work homework, and, frankly, a chaotic syllabus, advanced beyond the capabilities of most children, and with prescribed instruction. When the best that you can do is instruct and not teach how long would you stick around? Great teachers retired rather than face this. And finally, any attempt to attend to the character and the spirit of the children was gone.

So H&O are now at a school where teachers teach. They also are the administration. And they do attend to the character and spirit of the children. We are all much happier.

I had told myself when H&O were of school age that they would attend public school. I believed in local public schools and the public school system in general. We live in a town with highly regarded public schools. Unfortunately, we also live in a time where teaching has become instruction -- automated, measured, homogenized.