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Letters for May 26

Readers sound off on Nic Nak dispute, redevelopment agencies, Oakland nightlife, and more.

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Nina Wise, San Rafael

"Reading, Writing, Replanting," Feature, 4/28

The Kids Are Leaders

Namaste dear siblings from East Bay Express!

May this e-mail find you well.

I just read the incredible article "Reading, Planting and Replanting" by brother Luke Tsai and I'd like to congratulate you all for being bold enough to put it as the cover. The shining eyes and smile of the kid in the cover speak by themselves. What a beautiful way to call our attention! (I have to confess that I have read two of your stories and I have been around here for six years).

I love science and the awe and wonder of the Universe. This article taps into the foundations of learning. What graded oriented education often misses, is that when art and science are balanced the beauty of life blossoms at its best.

As a scientist, I'd rather have responsible citizens of the world who know how to grow, harvest and cook their own food, than having blind paid "scientists" developing nuclear weapons at the labs of the University of California. When they went to middle school, they might have aced the "standard" tests, but today they are miserably failing as human beings. That is a greater ignorance and these people (not true scientists) need to understand that violence and science are mutually exclusive in the long term. And if they don't understand reasons, let them eat numbers.

Thus, the children of Berkeley's Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School are not only honoring the name of the man by growing beloved community and healthy food (the foundation of social justice), but they are also taking care of the Earth (and all of us!) in this age of climate change. They are leading a nonviolent movement, they are the inspiring example of possibility, they are the champions of world citizenship, the slow food, slow down, slow science movement at its best.

Thank you for sharing this powerful inspiration with all of us in the Berkeley community and the Bay Area. This is what we need to replicate all over the Planet. [Just in case you haven't seen the latest TED prize, here is Jamie Oliver addressing the same topic: Teach every Child About Food.]

Once again, congratulations and please keep planting more seeds of critical thinking/feeling and keep awakening more hearts and consciousness, because where ignorance is your master there is no possibility of peace. We must educate the hearts of our children and learn from them in the process.

May all become compassionate, courageous and wise.

Have a ONE-derful week! :-)

If you want to be a rebel be kind. Human-kind, be both.

In big smiles + big hugs + service + solidarity + insurgent learning,

Planetizing the Movement of the Ahimsa (R)evolution from some corner of our round borderless country...

PS: Thanks to brother Luke, now you will have one more frequent reader/commenter ;-)

Pancho Ramos-Stierle, Berkeley

"California Ready to Legalize Pot If Youth Rock Vote," Legalization Nation, 4/28

Christ Approved Of Cannabis

Cannabis (marijuana) should be RE-legalized whether or not young citizens show up to vote. The small majority should not be allowed to persecute and discriminate against the large minority.

Another reason to end cannabis prohibition and extermination that doesn't get mentioned is because it is Biblically correct since Christ God Our Father, The Ecologician, indicates He created all the seed-bearing plants, saying they are all good, on literally the very first page (Genesis 1:11-12 and 29-30). The only Biblical restriction placed on cannabis is that it is to be accepted with thankfulness (see 1 Timothy 4:1-5).

Stan White, Dillon, Colorado

"The Lecture's Online, Let's Play Hookie," News, 4/28

No Proof, But Students Like Them

Having created the Berkeley Lecture Webcasting system, I have a few comments. Many people ask about the effect of the webcasting system on class attendance and student learning. Studies done by Dr. Diane Harley when we were running the system showed that student attendance declines for the majority of classes regardless of whether they are webcast. And, the one formal study done comparing student learning with and without access to lecture webcasts showed no measurable effect on learning outcomes. On the other hand, students and faculty find the webcast system a valuable addition to a class. My personal belief is that the system does improve learning, but like most educational technology tools, it must be used appropriately. As in most situations, some students do and some do not.

The majority of students use the webcasts to study for exams. Their primary motivation is to review what the instructor said about a specific topic or scheduled event.

The biggest challenge is finding where the instructor discussed a particular concept or topic amongst the forty hours of lecture in a typical course.

Recently I have been working on a research system that will allow people to search through lecture videos to find discussion about a particular topic. The system, which is called TalkMiner and will be released for public use on the Internet in the next month, identifies slide images in the video and OCR's the text to create a search index. Early experiments with course lectures have been extremely positive.


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