Thursday, June 25, 2009

Support S 696 to end mountain top removal

Senator John Cornyn
517 Hart Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, DC 20510
Main: 202-224-2934
Fax: 202-228-2856

Dear Senator Cornyn,

I am writing to urge you to support the bill to end Mountain Top Removal called the Appalachia Restoration Act (S 696) and co-sponsored by your colleague Lamar Alexander.

Mountaintop mining is one of the most destructive practices which has already destroyed some of America's most beautiful and ecologically significant regions. We must put an end to this mining method that has buried more than a thousand miles of streams before there is nothing left to protect.

No one should have the right to destroy streams that provide drinking water for others downstream by polluting that water with toxic minerals unearthed by mountain top removal. It’s past time to put an end to this horrible practice, please sign on as a co-sponsor to this important legislation.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Today, June 17th, fourteen progressive activists from various parts of Guadalupe County representing met today with Mark Gonzales of Congressman Henry Cuellar’s staff to deliver a letter and supporting documents urging the Congressman to work to strengthen the American Clean Energy and Security Act.

We gathered to show our support for a stronger clean energy bill. Mr. Gonzales promised to pass our request to the Congressman. I asked him to please have the Congressman get back to us on our request and he promised would. I reminded Mr. Gonzales that this was our third visit about this issue and it should be taken as a measure of our commitment to this issue and we wanted to see real action on our agenda. We won’t really know if we have had any impact for some time to come so we’ll have to maintain pressure by continuing to contact Congressman Cuellar. I urge you to call Congressman Cuellar by phone or mail.

The Honorable Henry Cuellar
336 Cannon H.O.B.
Washington, DC 20515
phone: 202-225-1640
fax: 202-225-1641

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Republican hypocrisy knows no limits

Republican hypocrisy knows no limits, Nevada Senator John Ensign who called for President Bill Clinton to resign over the Monica Lewinsky affair has now admitted to an affair with a campaign staffer but he hasn’t offered to resign. Has he had a change of heart about appropriate post scandal behavior for elected officials or does he believe he’s above such considerations?

Republicans in Congress claim they won’t vote for the Iraq War supplemental bill because they don’t trust President Obama to make good on his promise not to release torture photos. When Democrats had enough spine to vote against Iraq War supplemental bills during the Bush administration they met a storm of claims that they were against the troops. So doesn’t that make the Republicans against the troops?

When Democrats in the Senate threatened to filibuster Supreme Court nominees Republicans claimed that they should show deference to the president now that Republicans are in the minority they threaten to filibuster Supreme Court nominee Judge Sotomayor. How is a democratic president’s nominee any different from a republican president’s nominee?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Book Review "Intelligence and How to Get It"

I recently read “Intelligence and How to Get It” by Richard E. Nesbitt, after reading an article written by Nicholas Kristof of the NY Times. Mr. Nesbitt argues, and I believe successfully, that over all genes are not what makes people smarter. Nesbitt goes into some detail explaining the statistics that support his contention that intelligence is far more determined by family life and teachers than genetics. In addition he reviews a variety of programs aimed at improving student performance (intelligence) and discusses why they succeeded or failed and why many studies aren’t sufficiently rigorous to use in determining what works and what doesn’t.

Nesbitt also looks at some very effective and low cost ways to improve student performance including things like small group sessions with at-risk high school students explaining to them how our brains work and that they are truly in control of how smart they become. Nesbitt also points to studies that show that while these simple things can be quite effective they are often offset by lack of employment opportunity for minority workers because when businesses are given two equally qualified applicants one a white male high school graduate with a felony conviction and the other a black male high school graduate with a clean record they will most often hire the white male felon.

The last chapter of Nesbitt’s book entitled “Raising Your Child’s Intelligence … and Your Own” discusses steps that parents can take to improve the intelligence of their children. I found this especially valuable as a parent of a 10 year old child. His recommendations include some that may be obvious but aren’t often followed in low income families like talking to the child using high level vocabulary and reading to the child. Another recommendation is avoiding undue stress because it results in poor learning ability and reduces the ability to solve novel problems. Teaching your child self control and the value of delayed gratification correlate with higher test scores. One of his final recommendations is to avoid rookie teachers for your child and having experienced one with my daughter I can’t say he’s wrong on that one.

Overall for a good review of educational program effectiveness and debunking of the myth of genetics being the key to intelligence I found this book very worthwhile.